If there is one thing to learn from this week it is to (1) never take your quarterback for granted, and (2) don’t take your backup quarterback for granted, either. What seems to be the never-ending season of horrible injuries continues on, leaving many fans across the league in remorse. This was a weekend of blowouts, but none were surprising, as the contours of the best and worst in the league become more defined.
Major NFC West rivals, the Seahawks and the Cardinals, faced off in Arizona on Thursday night, and it is official, the Seahawks’ Action Green is the best in Color Rush. Richard Sherman, cornerback and key player for the Hawks, had been nursing his Achilles from Sunday, and ruptured it, showing clear frustration on the sideline after he came out. Some believe that the Thursday night games are unfair to those coming off of a Sunday game, because it limits recovery time, and Sherman’s injury may be testament to that fact.
Adrian Peterson had 21 carries, but Kam Chancellor did a great job covering, keeping Peterson’s yards low. Drew Stanton, standing in for Carson Palmer, threw 273 yards, scoring one touchdown, while Rusell Wilson threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson had a tough game, with five sacks and one run that landed him in concussion protocol, which the league deemed to violate their standards by letting him back in the game. No news on the penalty for the infraction has been released. The Hawks’ win of 22-16 means they are now trailing the Rams in the NFC West and will play the Falcons next Monday. The Cardinals face the Texans on Sunday.
The Vikings came off of their bye week to face the Redskins, and it was an emotional day for Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who had been out for two seasons prior. Redskins Maurice Harris, a newbie from the practice squad had a huge one-handed catch from Cousins for 36 yards, giving Washington a small edge before the first half. But Cousins struggled to connect, throwing a pick before the two minute warning. Case Keenum had a clutch performance in the redzone, getting the Vikings to 28-17 before half. Keenum threw four touchdowns, with a final score of 38-30, leading the Vikings to a 7-2 record and first in the NFC North. The Redskins will face another tough game with the Saints next Sunday, and the Vikings will play the Rams.
The Steelers traveled to Indianapolis to face the Colts, but the Steelers have shown a lot of consistency in away games this season. Jacoby Brissett, the former Patriot, became the first Colts quarterback ever to throw four touchdown passes of more than 60 yards since 1966, shaking off the shadow of Payton Manning in the Lucas Oil stadium. Unfortunately for the Colts, Brissett entered concussion protocol after a huge hit, and his status will likely be released Monday. The combined efforts of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster and were ultimately the edge needed for the Steelers to pull the win off, and JuJu celebrated with Le’Veon Ball in the end zone with an epic reenactment of the Green/Ramsey fight last week. The Steelers’ win of 20-17 lands them at the top of the AFC North, leading 7-2. The Colts are a disappointing 3-7, and talk of releasing Pagano is growing amongst critics. The Steelers will play Tennessee this Thursday, and the Colts have a bye.
The Jaguars faced the Chargers in what seemed to be a game of unending turnovers. The Chargers led in the fourth quarter 17-14, but Sacksonville proved its name once more, forcing a fumble and recovery by Tashaun Gipson. Blake Bortles threw two ugly interceptions within a mere thirty seconds of one another, placing a lot of pressure on the Jags’ defense to hold the game. They delivered, and an eventual kick from Josh Lambo tied the game 17-17, sending it to overtime. A.J. Bouye picked a throw from Rivers, bringing the ball back close enough for the Jags to close the game with a field goal from Josh Lambo for a score of 20-17. The Jaguars are now 6-3, tied with the Titans in the AFC south and face the Browns, and the Chargers are dead last in the AFC West, and will play the Bills, both on Sunday.
The Browns have officially set the NFL record for the most losses on a Sunday, at 26. Still, they had one of the best offensive showings of the season, but had the most Browns play of all time in the final seconds of the first half, when DeShone Kizer decided to run the ball into the endzone when they were two yards away, and was quickly stopped without gaining any yardage by the Lions’ defense. Excluding this lapse in judgment by the rookie, he had a pretty good game, throwing 237 yards and one touchdown. Kizer suffered a rib injury and was replaced by Cody Kessler, who threw a total of one completion for five yards. While the score was a little too close for many Lions fans, Matthew Stafford threw three touchdowns and the Lions are now second in the NFC North, and will play the Bears on Sunday. The Browns are unsurprisingly last in the AFC North.
The Packers, who have lost three games since the loss of Aaron Rodgers, faced the Bears for a long-standing rivalry. Brett Hundley threw 212 yards, and one touchdown, and the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky threw a career high of 297 yards. The Packers lost their second best running back of the season, Ty Montgomery to a rib injury at the second quarter, but nevertheless they outperformed the Bears. At one point the Bears were able to convert a first down from a throw by Trubisky, with Bennie Cunningham running to the 2-yard line. John Fox made a fatal challenge to the call, thinking that Cunningham had scored. The refs agreed that the original call was wrong, but ruled that instead of a first down, it was a fumble in the end zone, which resulted as a touchback for the defense, giving Packers possession. The final score was 23-16 Packers, who will face the Ravens and are third in the NFC North. The Bears are fourth in the North, and play the Lions next.
The Saints have had seven straight wins this season, and Sean Payton and Drew Brees seem to have reached a winning synchronicity. They seemed to have suddenly transformed into a huge rushing offense: Mark Ingraham had 21 carries, 131 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Alvin Kamara had 12 carries, 101 yards and one touchdown. The Bills had a miserable performance, scoring only ten points, with one field goal in the first quarter and one touchdown with two minutes left in the game. The final score was 47-10, one of the biggest blowouts of the season. The Saints are 7-2, leading the NFC South, and the Bills are 5-4, second to the Patriots in the AFC East. The Bills will plat the Chargers next week, and the Saints will play the Redskins.
Is Ezekiel Elliot suspended? I’ve asked myself this for the entire season and this week the answer was actually yes. You don’t need to know what an injunction is, but without one, the Cowboys are in serious trouble as they struggled in their loss to the Falcons. I wouldn’t bank on his immanent return either, given his recent announcement that he is leaving the country during his suspension to “clear his head”. Fortunately for Matt Ryan, Elliot’s absence may have been the cure to the Falcons’ alleged Super Bowl hangover. Ryan had a record game, literally, becoming the fastest quarterback to throw 40,000 yards. Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn also had a record setting six sacks, the new franchise record, much to Dak Prescott’s demise, who was sacked eight times in the game. Showing that the team truly missed All-Pro LT Tyron Smith more than Elliot. The final score was 27-7. The Falcons are now 5-4 and face the Seahawks next Monday. The Cowboys are 5-4, still second in the NFC East, and play number one in the East, the Eagles on Sunday.
The Rams faced the Texans in what was a surprisingly ugly game, particularly in the first half. The Rams offensive line was noticeably struggling early on and Todd Gurley, running back for the Rams, ran a mere 19 yards with 7 carries. But without their prodigy quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Texans’ offense was almost completely reliant on DeAndre Hopkins, and most of Tom Savage’s success in the game arose out of his throws to Hopkins. The Rams started to look like the team that is leading their conference again in the second half, and pulled off a win of 33-7. The Rams will face the Vikings next week which, both conference leaders, and the Texans will play the Cardinals.
Congratulations to the 49ers for no longer being tied with the worst record in the league (sorry, Browns fans). The 49ers pulled off their first win of the season against the Giants. This is the Giants’ eight straight loss this season. C.J. Beathard started, a surprise given the recent trade for Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, the presumptive future quarterback. Bethard had his best game of the season and possibly of his career, completing 19 of 25 passes and throwing 288 yards. He threw two touchdowns and one interception. The Giants defense struggled to cover the 49ers offense, allowing 189 running yards, and RB Carlos Hyde was unstoppable, rushing 98 yards with 17 carries. Eli Manning had an average performance, throwing 29 of 37 and 273 yards, but he struggled in completions, unable to move the ball down the field efficiently. The Giants will play the Chiefs on Sunday, and the 49ers have a bye. Both are last in challenging conferences.
The Broncos had another foreseeable, but nonetheless embarrassing game against the Patriots. Gronkowski had four receptions for 74 yards , and Martellus Bennett, fresh off of a huge controversy after his release with the Packers, had three completions for 39 yards. Brady completed 25 of his 34 pass attempts for three touchdowns, and backup Brian Hoyer saw some playtime with three passes. Brock Osweiler had a slightly better game than last week against the Eagles, but he still struggled to perform in the red zone, causing Denver to resort to field goals throughout the game, resulting in a final score of 41-16. This is the Broncos’ 5th straight loss of the season, and they are tied with the Chargers in the AFC West at 3-6. The Patriots unsurprisingly remain on top in an uncompetitive AFC East, and will play the Raiders on Sunday. It is uncertain if Osweiler will start for the Broncos in their game against the Bengals next week.
The Dolphins play the Panthers tonight, and it’s still uncertain if Cam Newton knows what happened to the Titanic. Cutler had a strong passing game last week, but he is only a few weeks off of a rib injury. Facing Cutler’s former teammate Julius Peppers on the defensive line will certainly be a challenge for Miami offense. Look to Cam to continue his rushing game, considering the has been the top rusher in the past four games.