Here are some thoughts on an NFL weekend that certainly had its share of monumental moments and “ho-hummers” on Sunday. We will start with the most intriguing and work our way down.
Rams 26, Seahawks 24—This game had everything—a trick play on a punt return, a successful fake punt at the most crucial point of the game, bizarre calls by the officials and a decided underdog holding off a furious comeback by the defending Super Bowl champions. The quote on this game that stands out is by Seattle coach Pete Carroll, mentioning that his team fell behind because of “some unbelievably cool things they [Rams] were able to do.” Even if you are not a fan of the Seahawks, you have to love Coach Carroll.
Broncos 42, 49ers 17—San Francisco simply played the jester in the court of Peyton Manning on Sunday night. Manning surpassed Brett Favre on the all-time passing touchdowns list when he threw No. 509 to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter of Denver’s win. Manning finished with four TDs and a career total of 510, which will undoubtedly grow to unreachable heights before the end of the year.
Dolphins 27, Bears 14—Chicago has not won at home this year in three games. True, one of those losses was to the Packers, but a predictive look at their schedule at the beginning of the year certainly would have included wins over both Buffalo and Miami. They do have three road wins, and maybe a trip to New England this Sunday, and being booed by someone else’s fans, is just what the team needs. A road win was just what the Dolphins needed after a tough loss to the Packers last week in Miami.
Colts 27, Bengals 0—Shutouts do not happen often in the NFL. It is even rarer when the team who is shut out is a potent offensive team like the Cincinnati Bengals. No one saw this coming. True, the Bengals have not been the same since beginning the year 3-0, but even in their blowout loss to the Patriots two weeks ago they scored 17 points. The Colts held them to 135 total yards on Sunday. The star of the game for Cincinnati was their punter Kevin Huber, who had a 50.7 yard average on 11 punts. The Colts just keep getting better every week.
Jaguars 24, Browns 6—This is what happens when an up-and-coming team goes on the road as a favorite. The Browns were clearly unsure about how to act in that situation, as they were favored by almost a touchdown at Jacksonville. The hunted became the hunter, and the hunter shot himself in the leg. This first win for the Jags was not a fluke. They out-gained the Browns 336-266 and their rookie QB Blake Bortles was a very efficient 17-31 for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Browns will be okay. They were in a tough position on Sunday, and could get well when the Raiders come to town this week.
Ravens 29, Falcons 7—These are not your father’s Baltimore Ravens. Gone are the days when the team relied on winning games by scoring two touchdowns and letting the defense do the work. The Ravens have to be one of the freshest teams in the league, after racing out to big leads in the first half of their last two games and coasting to lop-sided wins. Atlanta is an example of what happens to a team when the offensive line goes south. Matt Ryan is good, but it is hard to throw with defensive linemen wrapped around your legs.
Lions 24, Saints 23—It was an embarrassing loss for the Saints, as they held a 13-point lead with less than four minutes remaining in Detroit. A bad defense is something that is not noticed as long as the offense is scoring 40 points per game. Now that New Orleans’ offense is not putting up those gaudy numbers, the accomplishments of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will certainly be questioned.
Packers 38, Panthers 17—Where did that awesome Carolina defense go? The Panthers are the antithesis of the Saints. They could get away with low offensive output last year because the defense was a stone wall. 2014 is a different story. On Sunday, the Packers were ahead 21-0 before the folks at Lambeau Field had downed their second bratwurst. It is interesting to note that the two teams which were involved in last week’s rare tie in the NFL, the Panthers and the Bengals, scored a total of 17 combined points and lost by a total of 48 points between them.
Chiefs 23, Chargers 20—Kansas City coach Andy Reid is now 15-2 in games coming after a bye week. There are few things in life on which you can depend more than giving Reid an extra week of preparation. It will not get any easier for San Diego, as they travel to Denver on a short week to play the Broncos on Thursday night. The Chiefs host the St. Louis Rams this week, and one cannot help but wonder how serendipitous the scheduling would have been if only the St. Louis Cardinals would have made it to MLB’s World Series against the Kansas City Royals this weekend.
Redskins 19, Titans 17—Washington was the victor in this forgettable game. The sad thing is, after the benching of Kirk Cousins, the Redskins will now march into Dallas with Colt McCoy as their starting quarterback. Remember when it was assumed the Redskins were in great shape at quarterback, with Cousins backing up R.G. III? There are many things wrong in D.C., and Colt McCoy is not the answer to any of them. Now LB Brian Orakpo is out with a torn pectoral. The biggest enemy for the Cowboys this week is lethargy.
Cardinals 24, Raiders 13—Arizona was supposed to win this game–and they did. The Raiders fell back to earth after playing a nice game last week against the Chargers. Looking down the schedule for Oakland, as the 0-16 watch gains steam, their best chance for victory might be in the second-to-last weekend when they are home against the Bills. Carson Palmer continues to improve for the Cardinals, who host the Eagles this Sunday.
Cowboys 31, Giants 21—Even though the winning margin was only 10 points, and these two teams were tied at halftime, it never really seemed like the Cowboys were ever in danger of losing this game. There was some kind of energy on the home field in Dallas that made it appear that the Cowboys could impose their will on the Giants whenever they wanted. New York has a bye this week, and the team will face a grumpy Tom Coughlin now for two weeks.
Bills 17, Vikings 16—The Vikings have become an entertaining team to watch since Teddy Bridgewater has taken control of the offense. The only problem is that they have run up against a pair of pretty good defensive teams in the Lions and, on Sunday, the Bills. The Bills clawed out a win with a touchdown in the final seconds, but Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon became the first running back to log 100 yards against the Buffalo defense this season. The running back news was not so good for Buffalo, who lost their tandem of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to injuries within minutes of each other. Jackson will miss up to four games with a groin injury, and Spiller is lost for the season with a broken collar-bone.
Steelers 30, Texans 23—Houston won the statistical battle and most of the game. The problem was, they got routed during a 73-second span in the second quarter. Pittsburgh scored three touchdowns in that time frame and went from trailing 13-3 to leading 24-13 at halftime. The Texans never recovered. Martavis Bryant, a rookie receiver for the Steelers who spent the first six weeks of the season getting healthy, might make a nice addition to someone’s fantasy team.