The Raiders needed a win in this game to save their season, and they sure did it in dramatic fashion. Kansas City led for most of the evening, including the entire fourth quarter. All 15 minutes of it. However, Oakland was given five chances to score at the very end because of a myriad of penalties, in what will go down as one of the craziest sequences we've seen in a long time.
Oakland's final drive was epic. It looked like it would be over quickly, but Derek Carr completed a 12-yard pass to Jared Cook on a fourth-and-11. Carr then fired a deep pass to get out of a second-and-20. With the clock ticking down, he tossed a deep ball to Cook, which was ruled a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining. The play was changed because Cook was down at the half-yard line, and the Raiders lost time because of the stupid 10-second run-off rule. Undaunted, Carr threw a touchdown to Michael Crabtree, but Crabtree was called for offensive pass interference. The Raiders were pushed back to the 11-yard line, and Carr tossed an incomplete ball, but a defensive hold gave Oakland another chance. The same exact thing happened on the next play. Carr, finally, was able to connect with Crabtree in the end zone for the decisive score as time expired.
Carr had a tremendous performance, especially considering his back injury. Carr could barely throw 10-yard passes last Sunday, so I didn't think he'd play well in this contest, considering it was just four days later. However, Carr was prolific, and the stats tell the whole story. He went 29-of-52 for 417 yards and three touchdowns. He had some errant throws, so he's not 100 percent, but he was obviously much better than he was on Sunday. At this rate, Carr should be completely healthy for next week's game in Buffalo.
Like Carr, Amari Cooper broke out of a slump to have a huge outing. Cooper, unlike Carr, wasn't injured, but he was dropping everything in sight prior to Thursday night. Cooper had two drops versus the Chiefs, but he snatched 11 of his 19 targets for a ridiculous 210 yards and two touchdowns. He also drew a deep pass interference. It was clear it was going to be Cooper's night when he hauled in a 45-yard touchdown bomb in the first quarter, pushing off the Kansas City defender in the process. It was an obvious pass interference call, and the officials even through a yellow flag, but they picked it up and mysteriously said there was no penalty even though there was an obvious infraction.
Cooper wasn't the only Raider in triple figures. Cook got there as well, catching six passes for 107 yards. Crabtree's yardage was meager - three receptions, 24 yards - but he had the most important catch of the night.
Marshawn Lynch was ejected in the second quarter. There was a scrum on the field following a late hit on Carr. Lynch ran off the bench and tried to pick a fight with someone. That someone happened to be an official, whom he inexplicably pushed. Lynch went into the locker room and quickly left the stadium. Lynch was barely doing anything for the Raiders anyway - two carries, nine yards - as DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard were taking his touches. The Raiders might as well get rid of Lynch because he's not contributing anything positive, and it's clear that Oakland is better off without him.
Moving on to the Chiefs, their defense was a huge disappointment. They struggled versus the Steelers, as Pittsburgh would've scored way more than 19 points had Ben Roethlisberger been more accurate. In this game, Marcus Peters was torched, being called for a pass interference flag, and he was also guilty of a late hit on the quarterback. Meanwhile, Justin Houston was invisible in the second half. He put absolutely no pressure on Carr despite battling a backup right tackle. Houston had a nice strip-sack in the second quarter that was overturned by penalty, but he looked like a replacement-level player on Oakland's final drive.
I never thought I'd say this, but Alex Smith really carried the Chiefs. He threw so many deep, accurate strikes, and his stat line reflected that. He went 25-of-36 for 342 yards and three touchdowns. Curiously, Smith didn't scramble at all.
Smith's touchdowns went to Tyreek Hill (6-125), Albert Wilson (1-63) and Travis Kelce (4-33). Hill torched David Amerson on his touchdown, while Kelce's stat line was a bit disappointing, considering the matchup. Meanwhile, Demarcus Robinson, a fourth-round pick from 2016, reeled in five of his eight targets for 69 yards. Robinson is very talented, as he fell two Aprils ago because he was suspended four times in Florida. He could be a big factor for the Chiefs down the stretch.
Another game, another 100-yard performance by Kareem Hunt. The rookie runner gained 87 yards on 18 carries, and he also caught four balls for 30 receiving yards.
Rams 33, Cardinals 0
The Cardinals had a completely unexpected performance last week in a blowout, upset victory over the Buccaneers. Adrian Peterson, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald all looked terrific, but this game was a complete reversal of that. The Rams dominated this game, though the injury to Palmer certainly helped matters.
The Rams were up 6-0 in the second quarter, thanks to a missed Phil Dawson 32-yard field goal. Arizona had the ball, which changed when Palmer was hit as he threw, forcing an interception. Todd Gurley scored on the next play, but adding injury to insult, Palmer left the game with a broken arm and was replaced by Drew Stanton. The backup signal-caller was responsible for an interception on a miscommunication with John Brown to set up another Los Angeles score, and just like that, the Rams were up 23-0 at halftime.
Jared Goff made a couple of mistakes in this game, but played pretty well overall. He went 22-of-37 for 235 yards, one touchdown and an interception, which was an inaccurate ball late in the afternoon when the Rams didn't have to throw the ball at all. Goff nearly had another pick early in the contest, but it was dropped. However, Goff had way more positives than negatives, as he made some nice conversions on third downs. He also had a second potential score that was dropped in the end zone, and he managed to rush for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Sammy Watkins, on the other hand, had yet another disappointing performance. He caught just three passes for 42 yards. It looked like he was interfered with on a deep shot in the second half, but no flag was thrown. Still, Watkins' lack of production was understandable in this contest, as he was matched up against Patrick Peterson. Watkins' catches actually happened on the few instances in which Peterson wasn't covering him.
Both Robert Woods (5-59) and Cooper Kupp (4-51) outgained Watkins. Kupp was the best fantasy producer of the duo, as he managed to score a touchdown. However, Kupp didn't have his best showing, as he dropped a couple of passes.
Todd Gurley dominated once again. Gurley gashed the Cardinals for 106 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, and he also reeled in four receptions for 48 receiving yards.
As for the Cardinals, they had an ugly offensive showing, which I'm sure you could tell by the final score. Stanton did not look like a functional quarterback, going 5-of-14 for 62 yards and the aforementioned interception. Bruce Arians had an opportunity to upgrade Stanton the past couple of years, but chose not to for some reason. The Cardinals had no chance with Stanton as a replacement for Palmer, who finished 10-of-18 for 122 yards and his pick, which was accomplished in nearly a half of work. Palmer will be out for at least eight weeks, so Arizona's playoff dreams are effectively eliminated.
Peterson also took a big step backward compared to last week. He looked great on a 6-yard run in the first half, but he couldn't find any running room otherwise, as the Rams limited him to just 21 yards on 11 carries.
Things weren't much better for Fitzgerald, who was restricted to just three catches for 29 yards. Jaron Brown (2-37) and J.J. Nelson (2-35) led the Cardinals in receiving.
Vikings 24, Ravens 16
The difference in this low-scoring grinder happened to be on third down. While the Ravens couldn't extend drives at all, the Vikings were able to keep possessions alive on third downs. In fact, Minnesota converted three third downs on the final drive prior to halftime, setting up a field goal. This ultimately wore down the Ravens, who allowed some big plays in the second half, including a 29-yard Latavius Murray touchdown run. This score, the first touchdown of the game, put the Vikings up 12, which was too much of a deficit for Baltimore's anemic offense to overcome.
The Vikings, who had more third-down success late in the fourth quarter, were just able to suck the life out of the game by controlling the clock. They took over, up 21-9, with 10 minutes left. By the time they relinquished possession, the score was 24-9 with three minutes remaining in regulation. That effectively was the final score, as Joe Flacco's sole touchdown came as time expired.
Case Keenum didn't have the prettiest stats, but he was very efficient when he needed to be. He finished 20-of-31 for 188 yards and an interception at the beginning of the game, which was a downfield touch pass. Because of his meager numbers, no one in the Minnesota receiving corps topped 55 receiving yards. Jarius Wright led the way with three grabs for 54 yards, which includes an acrobatic, 30-yard reception that he made as the Vikings were eating up the clock in the fourth quarter.
Elsewhere, Kyle Rudolph and Adam Thielen caught five balls each for 43 and 41 yards, respectively. Thielen saw 12 targets, so he could have put together a better performance, but had some bad luck with a couple of inaccurate balls from Keenum.
Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon split touches almost evenly, but despite McKinnon's recent success, Murray was the one who had an explosive stat line. He gashed the Ravens for 113 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries despite the Ravens having nose tackle Brandon Williams back in the lineup. Murray had been very pedestrian prior to this game, while Williams should have made Baltimore much better versus the rush, so this result just seems illogical.
Moving on to something more predictable, Flacco was atrocious once again. His final stat line is even misleading - he was 27-of-39 for only 186 yards and a touchdown - as he didn't even break the century mark until the fourth quarter. Flacco didn't have a chance once Mike Wallace left the game on a dirty hit by safety Andrew Sendejo in the opening quarter. The Ravens were granted a first down on the penalty, which helped set up a field goal, but the injury was much more consequential, as Flacco didn't have a legitimate wide receiver to throw to in Wallace's absence. Some poor pass protection didn't help matters either. The Vikings accumulated five sacks, with Everson Griffen leading the way with two. Flacco was guilty of three fumbles, but Baltimore recovered all of them.
Baltimore's leader in receiving yardage was Ben Watson, who had five catches for 38 yards. After that, it was Chris Moore (2-36), who caught the touchdown at the very end of the game, and Michael Campanaro (3-31).
The Ravens predictably struggled to run the ball, as the Vikings were able to play close to the line of scrimmage with Wallace out. Alex Collins mustered just 30 yards on 10 carries, while Buck Allen managed only 20 yards on six attempts.
Jaguars 27, Colts 0
The CBS announcers in this game were talking about how it's been unfair that Blake Borles has taken a ton of criticism in Jacksonville, and they cited other quarterbacks who said they couldn't have dealt with it. These people have clearly never watched Bortles before this afternoon, as the criticism has been well warranted. Bortles has been an abomination, as he has refused to watch film or put any effort into improving the mental part of his game. However, he has shown glimpses of his talent at times, and this game happened to be one of those occasions.
Bortles came out of the gate absolutely on fire, shredding an Indianapolis defense that was utterly woeful in the second half of the Monday night game and was in even worse shape when it lost Rashaan Melvin with an injury. Bortles had the opportunity to actually break the single-game passing yards record, as he recorded 282 yards in the opening half alone. That would've put him on pace to eclipse Norm Van Brocklin's mark of 554. Unfortunately, the Colts couldn't do anything on offense, so the Jaguars took the air out of the ball following halftime. Bortles threw just six passes after intermission.
Bortles finished 18-of-26 for 330 yards and a touchdown. He began the game by engineering a scoring drive, but he missed out on a touchdown by overshooting an open receiver in the end zone. Chris Ivory found the end zone on the very next play. However, Bortles made up for it by launching a 52-yard bomb, setting up a nice throw into the end zone to Marcedes Lewis, who made an impressive, leaping touchdown grab over safety Matthias Farley. Bortles' one blemish, aside from the errant throw into the end zone, was a lost fumble that occurred when he was hit just prior to releasing the ball, but Indianapolis obviously didn't do anything with the take-away.
The second half had the Jaguars focus on the run, and that's when T.J. Yeldon sprinted 58 yards for a touchdown. Because of that burst, he had 122 yards on nine carries. Ivory, meanwhile, gained 47 yards and a touchdown on 17 attempts. Oddly enough, he didn't catch a pass, and he also lost a fumble.
Allen Hurns led the Jaguars in receiving, hauling in five of his eight targets for 101 yards. Marqise Lee (4-72) wasn't too far behind him.
As for the Colts, they couldn't muster anything offensively because Jacksonville's front line absolutely dominated the Indianapolis blockers. The Jaguars sacked Jacoby Brissett 10 times. TEN times! Indianapolis couldn't do anything when it had the ball, averaging only 3.5 yards per play.
Brissett finished 22-of-37 for 200 yards, but that stat line was a byproduct of garbage time. In the opening half, Brissett was only 5-of-10 for just 37 yards. Brissett has potential, but no quarterback who is sacked 10 times stands much of a chance to accomplish anything.
The Indianapolis receiver stat lines were suppressed because of the offensive line's struggles. T.Y. Hilton caught just two of his eight targets for only 27 yards. Jack Doyle (6-44) led the team in receiving.
Frank Gore mustered only 34 yards on nine carries. It would've been nice to see rookie Marlon Mack handle more of the workload, but he was given just five attempts, which he turned into 26 yards. Mack managed to catch four balls for 40 receiving yards, however.
Dolphins 31, Jets 28
The Dolphins took advantage of the Falcons in the second half last week, as Atlanta appeared as though it was half-asleep following intermission. This week, it was Miami that was incredibly lethargic. The Jets led for most of the afternoon. They hit several big plays, thanks to some atrocious tackling by the Dolphins. On one instance, the Jets were able to convert a third-and-19 on a screen to Matt Forte. This was possible because one of the Miami players lazily went for the strip rather than trying to wrap up the running back.
New York was eventually up 28-14, and Jay Cutler suffered a rib injury. This normally would've spelled the end for any team, but not for the Dolphins, a team whose backups tend to be better than the starters. Matt Moore, who was not much of a downgrade from Ryan Tannehill last year, stepped in, and he promptly threw an interception when he forced a throw into coverage. Moore, however, managed to rebound and put together a couple of scoring drives to tie the game. It appeared as though the teams would be headed to overtime, but Josh McCown made an absolutely bone-headed mistake. He inexplicably forced a late throw when he didn't need to, and the pass was picked off. This set up Miami's game-winning field goal.
Despite Moore's late-game heroics, he had a worse stat line than Jay Cutler, as far as completion percentage is concerned. Moore went 13-of-22 for 188 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Cutler went 12-of-16 for 138 yards, two scores and a pick. Cutler's interception wasn't his fault, as it was a tipped pass that popped into the air. It's a shame that Cutler got hurt, as he was having a solid game.
Kenny Stills was one of the heroes during Miami's late-game comeback. He caught both touchdowns in the fourth quarter, snatching six balls for 85 yards overall. On top of that, Stills made an acrobatic catch in the first half. Perhaps Stills will remain a big part of the offense when DeVante Parker returns, though his targets (9) will likely decrease. Jarvis Landry actually led the team in that category, as he reeled in seven of 11 balls thrown his way for 93 yards and a touchdown. Julius Thomas (3-58) made an impressive, one-handed grab during Miami's comeback.
I remarked earlier that better players happen to be on Miami's bench, and that was the case with Jake Brendel being on the sideline with Mike Pouncey on the field. The reason the Dolphins ran so well in Atlanta was Brendel providing a huge upgrade over the hobbled Pouncey, who needs hip surgery. I don't know why the Dolphins rushed Pouncey back, as it certainly affected Jay Ajayi's stat line. Ajayi mustered just 51 yards on 23 carries.
The Jets, meanwhile, had some decent quarterbacking from McCown until the very end. McCown was 17-of-27 for 209 yards, three touchdowns and the aforementioned interception. McCown's first score was an absolutely pefect touch pass to Jermaine Kearse, and he later found Robby Anderson wide open in the end zone, thanks to a blown coverage. A chunk of McCown's yardage came via screens and blown coverages, as Miami's back seven is an abomination. However, McCown's last pass was atrocious, especially when considering how much experience he has in the NFL.
Forte and Bilal Powell were the leaders for the Jets in receiving yardage. Forte caught five passes for 41 yards, while Powell had two catches for 40 yards. They also had similar rushing numbers, with Powell outgaining Forte, 43-41. Powell had two more carries than Forte (9-7).
I mentioned that Anderson (3-35) and Kearse (1-29) caught McCown's touchdowns. Austin Seferian-Jenkins reeled in the third. I thought Seferian-Jenkins would have a much bigger game against the Dolphins' poor linebacking corps, but he had just three receptions for 21 yards.
Titans 12, Browns 9
The Browns are barely an NFL team, but they have a first-ballot Hall of Famer on their roster in Joe Thomas. One of the most impressive aspects about Thomas is that he never missed a game in his career. In fact, he had never missed a single snap before this week. That, unfortunately, came to an end versus the Titans, as Thomas tore his triceps in the third quarter. Thomas' streak ended at 10,363 snaps, which is arguably more impressive than the Cal Ripken Jr. streak of consecutive games played, given that baseball players don't do anything but stand around most of the time.
Oddly enough, however, the Browns nearly won their first game of the season despite losing Thomas. They actually took the Titans to overtime, but some abysmal quarterbacking did them in. The Titans squeaked out a slim victory in a game that should've been well in hand.
Tennessee allowed Cleveland to hang around because of some unforced errors. It started early when Delanie Walker lost a fumble in his own territory, setting up a Cleveland field goal. Marcus Mariota missed Walker for a touchdown. The Titans then passed up a crucial field goal, opting to go for it on a fourth down at the goal line. Derrick Henry was stuffed in the backfield, as Danny Shelton blew up pedestrian center Ben Jones. A bit later, Tennessee actually tried a kick, but Ryan Succop missed. That made it a very curious decision for the Titans to settle for a 47-yard Succop field goal in overtime, rather than getting closer for their kicker. Succop actually missed, but the whistle blew the play dead because it was the 2-minute warning. Proving that icing the kicker is a waste, Succop hit the decisive field goal following the return from commercial break.
Mariota, still not 100 percent, went 21-of-34 for 203 yards. He moved the chains on a third down with an 8-yard scramble, but that was the only run we saw from him all afternoon. He'll need to get healthy soon if the Titans want to beat real opponents (i.e. not the Colts or Browns.) Fortunately for the Titans, they have a bye next week, so perhaps Mariota will be 100 percent by Week 9.
Because overtime could've been avoided - I'm still unsure why the Titans passed on the field goal - Mike Mularkey is at least partly responsible for Delanie Walker's injury. Walker, who led the Titans with seven catches for 63 yards, hurt his ankle in the extra session. Walker heavily out-produced Rishard Matthews (3-40) and Eric Decker (0 catches).
DeMarco Murray was questionable coming into the game, but he started and led the team with 18 carries, which he turned into 59 yards. Henry (13-13) nearly scored, but was stuffed, as mentioned earlier.
Moving on to the 0-7 Browns, DeShone Kizer was benched yet again, this time in favor of Cody Kessler. Kizer, who was just 12-of-20 for 114 yards, threw two horrible interceptions. He had an ugly overthrow in Tennessee territory, and then he heaved a pick late across his body. Kessler was better, but only by default. He was also picked on an ugly overthrow. He finished 10-of-19 for 121 yards. The Browns need to keep thinking about whether they're going to choose Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen or Lamar Jackson (Darnold in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.)
A note on the Cleveland rookies: David Njoku caught two passes for 58 yards, leading the team in receiving. Myles Garrett, meanwhile, was responsible for a neutral-zone infraction that gave Tennessee a first down. He made up for it with a sack, however. Jabrill Peppers missed this game.
Isaiah Crowell had another disappointing outing, gaining just 35 yards on 17 carries. Duke Johnson caught six balls for 45 receiving yards.
Saints 26, Packers 17
It looked like the Packers were going to win this game for a while. They had an impressive touchdown drive to open the game, with Aaron Jones bursting for 15 yards on the first play of the afternoon. Brett Hundley then drew the Saints offside on a third down, clearly showing that he learned something from Aaron Rodgers. Jones then sped by the New Orleans defenders for a 46-yard touchdown run. The defense, meanwhile, stepped up by picking off Drew Brees twice deep in Green Bay territory.
The Packers went into halftime, up 14-7, and they even led in the fourth quarter, 17-16. However, the clock struck 12 and the magic vanished. Hundley turned into an inaccurate pumpkin late in the game, while the defense suddenly couldn't keep the Saints out of the end zone. New Orleans outscored Green Bay in the second half, 19-3, picking up a nine-point victory.
Brees proved to be way too lethal for Green Bay's defense to handle in the second half. Just take a look at his stats following intermission: 14-of-18 for 176 yards and a touchdown. The Packers simply couldn't get off the field against him. Brees' final numbers were 27-of-38 for 331 yards, one score and the aforementioned two picks.
Ted Ginn had a monster afternoon, likely because I bet so heavily against his team. He caught all seven of his targets for a career-high 141 yards. His one blunder was a muffed punt early in the afternoon, but the officials ruled that there was interference to make the catch. Meanwhile, Michael Thomas had a strong second half, catching seven passes for 82 yards. All but one of his receptions came after the break.
The Saints also had a ton of success running the ball once again despite battling a defense that has been solid versus the rush with Mike Daniels back in the lineup. Mark Ingram gashed the Packers for 105 yards and a touchdown on just 22 carries. Alvin Kamara also had great success, gaining 57 yards on just nine attempts, and he also caught five passes for 50 receiving yards.
While Ingram and Kamara were terrific, the best runner was Aaron Jones, who tallied 131 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. The Packers may have lost, but they've at least found a potent running back. I suppose that's somewhat of a silver lining. The Packers wasted some downs feeding the ball to Ty Montgomery (4 carries, 6 yards), but that proved to be a predictable waste of time.
As for Hundley, his final stat line was atrocious, as he was 12-of-25 for 87 yards and late interception that he carelessly tossed into heavy coverage. Hundley did manage to scramble thrice for 44 yards and a touchdown. It's nice that he can be potent on the ground, but Hundley's passing skills are incredibly lackluster, and it takes him eons to process information in the pocket. Hundley was so much worse in the second half, going 5-of-10 for only 21 yards and a pick following intermission. He also was stripped, but the Packers managed to recover the fumble.
Thanks to Hundley's miserable passing, Martellus Bennett led the Packers with only 17 receiving yards. Randall Cobb (1-14), Jordy Nelson (1-13) and Davante Adams (2-12) almost all seem droppable in fantasy, though I'd hold on to the latter two for now.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Bills were able to finally win a game with offense, which was nice. I thought the Buccaneers would prevail if Jameis Winston were 100 percent, and that seemed to be the case. Yet, Buffalo won, which was impressive.
The Bills entered as the top scoring defense in the league, but they struggled defending Jameis Winston. The Bills' offense, however, along with a timely fourth-quarter takeaway, gave Buffalo a late win to help the team improve to 4-2.
Conversely, the Bucs lost their fifth-straight road game going back to last year, and fell to 2-4 on the season. The Buccaneers' defensive issues, including poor pass rush and run defense, were painful as they had no answer for Tyrod Taylor.
The Buccaneers got three points out of the opening drive of the game as Winston moved the ball using Mike Evans and O.J. Howard before penalties limited the drive to a 50-yard field goal from Patrick Murray. Buffalo answered with Taylor, connecting for a pair of 26-yard gains, with the first being a completion to Nick O'Leary (2-58) and the second coming on Taylor scrambling to convert a third-and-10. The Bills also settled for a field goal. Tampa Bay responded with another field goal drive. Buffalo quickly responded with LeSean McCoy ripping off 23 yards. Taylor used his legs to move the ball some more before McCoy scored from a few yards out to go up 10-6.
A Buffalo edge rusher later burned Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith for a strip sack. The Bills recovered the ball, but a missed field goal bailed out Tampa Bay. With about 30 seconds before halftime, Winston threw a terrible pass to a double-covered and blanketed Cameron Brate (6-60). The pass was easily picked off by Bills linebacker Matt Milano, setting up Buffalo inside the Bucs' 30. However, Buffalo had terrible clock management to let the clock run out inside the 15-yard line without getting a field goal attempt off before the half.
In the third quarter, the Bills moved the ball down the field with McCoy before Taylor found tight end Logan Thomas for a 22-yard touchdown. Tampa Bay responded with a long completion to DeSean Jackson (5-73), but a holding call on Donovan Smith canceled out the gain of 54 yards. Winston came back to move down the field using Evans with some runs from Doug Martin. The drive end with a short touchdown toss to Howard.
Taylor to move the ball through the Bucs' defense, connecting with O'Leary for 32 yards to convert a third-and-long. That set up Stephen Hauschka, who, this time, was good on a 52-yard field goal. Tampa Bay responded with Winston finding Howard wide open in busted coverage for a 33-yard touchdown. The Bills left Howard completely uncovered after a boot action.
Taylor soon snatched 23 yards with Deonte Thompson getting wide open, but then Lavonte David stripped McCoy of the ball, and David recovered it for Tampa Bay near midfield. Winston was able to take advantage with a touchdown strike to Evans after he got a step on Tre'Davious White while running across the back of the end zone. That gave Tampa Bay a 27-20 lead late in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo immediately responded as Taylor connected with Thompson for 44 yards and Robert McClain was hit with a 15-yard penalty to move the ball inside the 20. A couple plays later, McCoy redeemed himself with a 7-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 27.
The Bucs' next offensive play saw Adam Humphries get stripped by White and the Bills first-round pick recover the fumble. The Bills then ran down the clock before Hauschka hit a short field goal to give them the win.
Taylor was 20-of-33 for 268 yards with one touchdown through the air. He ran for 53 yards on six carries.
McCoy had 91 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns. He had five receptions for 31 yards, but also fumbled.
Thompson was signed on Tuesday of this week, and he had a phenomenal game for Buffalo with four receptions for 107 yards.
Winston finished completing 32-of-44 for 382 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Evans had seven catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Howard entered this game with only five receptions on the season, but he broke out with six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Martin ran for 49 yards on 20 carries with two catches for 31 yards.
Defensively, David played really well for Tampa Bay with 14 tackles and a forced fumble. The Bucs' Robert Ayers had a sack, and that was only the second sack by a Tampa Bay defensive end this year. Tampa Bay entered the game with only six sacks, the fewest in the NFL.
Bills linebacker Preston Brown played well with 11 tackles, including some clutch stops. Micah Hyde flashed, but also dropped a would-be interception. Edge rushers Ryan Davis and Jerry Hughes gave Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith a lot of problems.
EDITOR'S NOTE: If there was ever a Bobby Boucher kneel-down game, this was it. The Bears could have kneeled on every snap and still won, 14-3.
This was an incredibly boring game to watch. Aside from a few big plays, the offenses for both sides struggled mightily, and they combined to punt the ball 11 times. The Bears ultimately managed to come out on top, but make no mistake, It wasn't thanks to their offense.
Much was made of John Fox's decision to start Mitchell Trubisky over Mike Glennon after the latter's debacle on a Thursday night against the Packers. However, Fox has yet to unleash the rookie's full potential. In fact, he barely used his quarterback at all on Sunday.
Trubisky only passed the ball seven times over the course of the day. Seven times! The Bears didn't have the ball much, thanks to a couple of defensive scores, but that still is a ridiculously low number of passes attempted by the rookie. He had a couple of nice throws during the contest, including one on which he threaded double coverage and demonstrated nice arm strength, but it's impossible to analyze his performance in such a small sample size.
Overall, Trubisky went 4-of-7 with 107 yards. He also had five carries for three yards, but a few of those were kneel-downs at the end of regulation. The Bears need to give him more reps if they want him to grow. Just throwing him on the field and running the ball every play won't accelerate his development. Fox needs to try to give his rookie more responsibility if the team wants to be able to do anything on offense.
Because of Trubisky's lack of production, the receivers made no noise for the Bears. The top target was running back Tarik Cohen (1-70) who had three targets. Cohen nearly broke the one long reception for a touchdown, but he was caught at the 5-yard line. Zach Miller (1-24) was the recipient of a nice pass over the middle. That said, neither will be a reliable fantasy option until Fox decides to pass the ball more.
Though the pass offense performed poorly for the Bears, the running game didn't do too well either. The Bears elected to lean heavily on Jordan Howard in this contest and gave him 21 carries for 65 yards. Howard had some nice looking bursts, but because of the predictable play-calling, the Panthers were able to slow him a lot in the second half of the contest. Howard is a high-end RB2 thanks to the volume of carries he gets, as Fox has completely shied away from using Cohen as a runner.
The real star of the game for the Bears was on the defensive side of the ball. I'm talking about Eddie Jackson. The rookie defensive back out of Alabama was a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he has played much better than that status. Against the Panthers, he used his athletic ability to make a couple of nice returns on defense. He picked up a fumble and brought it to the house, and he also had a nice interception return.
On that return, Jackson grabbed a tipped ball with a full head of steam, ran down the sideline, and juked Cam Newton for another touchdown. It was a great play and demonstrated that Jackson has a lot of promise as a young safety.
For the Panthers, this was an extremely disappointing performance against what was projected to be an easy opponent. The Panthers never got going on offense, and no player had any sort of promising showing.
Most of the players on the Panthers had bad outings, but a good chunk of the blame for this loss can fall on the offensive line. Things did not go well for them, as they lost center Ryan Kalil and Trai Turner to injuries in the contest. The unit was dreadful for most of the day, and they allowed Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks to put pressure on Cam Newton all day.
Newton was sacked five times, and never looked comfortable in the pocket. At points, it didn't look like he was fully healthy, and he seemed to be limping around the field a bit. Without protection, Newton was scrambling too often, and his accuracy suffered as a result. Newton frequently missed his receivers when he was in motion and had to settle for checkdowns.
While this was not Newton's best performance, he still did have some nice moments. Early in the contest, he made some nice midfield strikes to his receivers. But as the game went along, the pressure got to him. He finished 21-of-34 with 211 yards and two picks, though he also ran for 50 yards on nine carries. The second pick wasn't his fault, as it glanced off Kelvin Benjamin's hands. There is definitely room for improvement for Newton, but he needs some others to step up and help him out.
Newton's top receiving weapons were Devin Funchess (4-41) and Kelvin Benjamin (3-65). Funchess was targeted early in the contest on a lot of routes to the sideline, but Newton often didn't have as much time to find him. Meanwhile, Benjamin functioned by working over the middle of the field and also the sidelines. He had a good catch down the sideline, but was limited by the offensive struggles. Benjamin is a low-end WR2 while Funchess is a FLEX guy, at best.
The Panthers' running offense was once again a disappointment. On the bright side, it appears that Ron Rivera is looking to get Christian McCaffrey more involved in the offense. McCaffrey wasn't particularly effective on the ground - he only had 10 yards on seven carries - but he served well as a pass-catching back. He got a team-high seven receptions and turned them into 36 yards. One of the catches was a beautiful, one-handed grab on an overthrown ball that he caught with his injured right hand/wrist. He is on the rise and should have a chance to break out with better blocking.
Jonathan Stewart saw 14 carries and plodded for 48 yards. He had a couple of strong runs, but for the most part, he was mediocre. He should be phased out of the lead-back role in favor of McCaffrey, as he simply isn't the player he once was.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I think it needs to be mandated that if teams have emergency quarterbacks, it should be a quarterback, running back, receiver or a tight end. That way, it could have fantasy football implications. How cool would it have been if Ezekiel Elliott scored two extra points because of a pair of point-after-touchdown attempts?
This historic NFL rivalry wasn't competitive, as the Cowboys controlled this contest from start to finish to end their two-game losing streak. They needed this game coming off their bye to help get their season righted and remain in the NFC East race with Philadelphia and Washington. The 49ers have lost a lot of close games this year, but this game was a complete domination of San Francisco.
Early in the first quarter, diminutive 49ers rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt return that Dallas recovered to be set up at the 49ers' 20-yard line. Ezekiel Elliott bolted up the middle on three carries to find the end zone. Shortly later, Elliott scored again, this time from 25 yards out. The 49ers answered with a field-goal drive where C.J. Beathard found Marqise Goodwin (4-80) for 14 yards and then ran for 16 yards to set up Robbie Gould for a 42-yard field goal.
Early in the second quarter, Dallas moved down the field before Dak Prescott found Jason Witten in the end zone, with Witten making a superb one-handed, 18-yard touchdown catch. San Francisco drove close to the end zone, thanks to Carlos Hyde's running, but then Demarcus Lawrence burned Joe Staley for a strip-sack that the Cowboys recovered to maintain their 17-point lead going into halftime.
Dallas blew the game open in the third quarter when Elliott caught a screen pass and exploded down the field for a 72-yard touchdown. The Cowboys added another drive with Prescott scrambling ahead for a short touchdown run. At the end of the third quarter, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith came on a blitz to strip-sack Beathard, and Dallas recovered the loose ball. Shortly later, Dez Bryant made a leaping touchdown catch in the back of the end zone. That score tied Bob Hayes for the most touchdown receptions in Dallas Cowboys history.
Prescott was 16-of-25 for 234 yards with three touchdown through the air. He ran for 26 yards on four carries with a score. Bryant (7-63-1) and Witten (4-54-1) led Dallas through the air.
Elliott had his best game of the season, running for 147 yards on 26 carries with two touchdowns. He also added that 72-yard touchdown reception.
Beathard was 22-of-38 for 235 yards in his first NFL start. Hyde ran for 68 yards on 14 carries with four catches for 20 yards.
Defensively, Dallas defensive ends David Irving and Demarcus Lawrence played well. The 49ers' defense, meanwhile, was embarrassed, as they couldn't stop the Cowboys. To make matters worse, rookie first-round pick Reuben Foster returned to the field for the first time since Week 1, but he didn't last long, as a rib injury sent him into the locker room just past the midway point in the game. Some sources from other teams had major durability concerns with Foster and thought me might hit his way out of the NFL before long. Another injury lends more credence to the durability concerns.
EDITOR'S NOTE: So, I'd like to know where this crappy Cincinnati offensive line was the three weeks prior to the team's bye when it covered the spread every single time. Handicapping the NFL is f***ing impossible.
When you have Le'Veon Bell on your team, you have a built-in offense, and the Steelers have leaned on him for much of this season. But this week, at least in the first half, the Steelers' offense was clicking on all cylinders, as Ben Roethlisberger led his team down the field on the first possession, capping it with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown.
That quick score didn't go unanswered, and early on we had a game, as Andy Dalton threw two touchdowns in the first half to keep pace with the two touchdowns Roethlisberger threw. Dalton answered Antonio Brown's touchdown with a 6-yard strike to Brandon LaFell as time ran down in the first quarter. And then after Roethlisberger hit a wide-open JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 31-yard touchdown, Dalton answered with a 12-play drive, ending in a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft. But there, tied at 14-14, was the last time Bengals fans had much to cheer about.
After halftime, Andy Dalton and the Bengals had the ball, but were stymied by the Steelers' defense. The Bengals had quick three-and-out to start, and then on their next possession, Dalton was picked off. Then on the possession after that, Dalton was picked off again. The Bengals then produced two more three-and-outs before committing a turnover on downs. Cincinnati ended up with one first down the entire second half!
The Steelers stopped scoring touchdowns, but continued moving the ball and getting turnovers, which set Chris Boswell up for five field goals, of which he made all five. With the game still somewhat in doubt in the fourth quarter, the Steelers set up a beautiful fake punt, with a great pass from strong safety Robert Golden to Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 44-yard gain to help seal the victory.
Roethlisberger and the passing game didn't do much in the second half, instead relying on Bell, who once again showed he is the best back in the NFL, as he totaled 192 yards on 39 touches. He now has an amazing 73 touches in his last two games for 383 yards and a touchdown. If you have Bell in fantasy, you really should get James Conner on your team somehow. I don't know how Bell will be able to hold up under this workload.
The Bengals didn't put up any fantasy numbers this week, but it was good to see Joe Mixon get off to a good start. Unfortunately, he ended up with just seven carries for 48 yards and caught all three of his targets for 20 yards. Dalton was sacked four times, and then in the second half, the Bengals got behind, so there were few times at which the Bengals could commit to the run.
The Steelers looked the best they have all season, as they rolled up 420 total yards and held their division rival to just 179 total yards on the exact same number of drives. They take their AFC-best 5-2 record to Detroit next week to take on the rested Lions, but the Lions could be without their best wide receiver, Golden Tate.
The Bengals take their 2-4 record back home to face the 2-5 Indianapolis Colts, who were just shut out 27-0 by the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars.
EDITOR'S NOTE: It seemed like there were a number of games this week where one team looked like it was going to cover for three quarters and then the other one did. The Giants led at halftime and trailed by just three entering the fourth quarter, but then nonsense ensued.
Two plays completely changed the outlook of this game. In the fourth quarter, the Giants were starting to find some rhythm on offense and looked like they had a chance to tie things up. Trailing 10-7, Eli Manning dropped back to throw a pass, but never got it off. The Seahawks got a lot of pressure on him and he fumbled. Seattle recovered and made a terrific play next.
On the ensuing possession, Pete Carroll dialed up a bit of trickery. Russell Wilson handed the ball to halfback J.D. McKissic, who lateralled it back to Wilson. The Seahawks quarterback then launched the ball downfield to Paul Richardson, who went up and caught the ball. Landon Collins also got his hands on it as well, and shades of the Fail Mary game surfaced as the officials reviewed the call. Ultimately, Richardson's 38-yard touchdown stood, and that was the difference-maker for this contest.
Still, this was not a great performance for the Seahawks. They once again struggled in the first half, and their blocking wasn't good for yet another week. Wilson was under pressure from the Giants' edge rushers for most of the day and constantly had to move outside the pocket. He was called for intentional grounding a couple times and a less-mobile quarterback would have been sacked far more than once. Against a stronger team, the Seahawks may not have emerged victorious in this contest.
Wilson's final numbers look very good; he went 27-of-39 for 334 yards and three touchdowns. But he did have some issues of his own. He had some overthrows on passes, and notably missed Doug Baldwin for what would have been a wide-open touchdown. That said, the positives far outweighed the negatives.
Wilson made some beautiful touch passes and was able to have great ball placement on almost all of his accurate throws. On one of his touchdowns, he found Baldwin over the middle of the field and lofted a perfect touch pass to him for the 22-yard score. The ball lofted over the linebackers and was one of his best throws on the day. In fact, all his touch passes were near perfect today, and that was his biggest strength. Wilson will continue to perform well, but the Seahawks need to get him help so he doesn't have to carry the team.
Wilson's top receivers on the day were Doug Baldwin (9-92, 1 TD) and Jimmy Graham (3-51, 1 TD). Baldwin led the team with a whopping 12 targets. He demonstrated great chemistry with Wilson and was able to find space all across the field and use his elusiveness to gain extra yards. Baldwin has a lot of upside in fantasy, and can be a WR1 some weeks.
Meanwhile, Graham's performance was a mixed bag, but he also had a couple of drops. On one play, he dropped a touchdown that hit him in the chest. The defender was close to him, but it was a makeable grab. The more egregious one came when Wilson hit him in the chest on a deep ball. Graham let it hit the ground, but he could have had a touchdown. Graham is still a TE1, but he needs to improve his hands to help the team.
The run offense was once again an issue for the Seahawks. They used multiple running backs, but it's clear that they are missing Chris Carson. Eddie Lacy saw 11 carries, but only notched 34 yards. Thomas Rawls also saw 11 carries and did about the same, garnering 36 yards. Perhaps the most impressive of the group was J.D. McKissic, who had five touches for 33 scrimmage yards. He has explosive play-making ability, so he may have a chance to earn a bigger role with the team.
,li> For the Giants, they deserve praise for keeping pace with the Seahawks early on. But it's clear that their offense is not going to be able to keep the team competitive this year.
Eli Manning had a poor performance against the Seahawks. The veteran quarterback has regressed, and he's looking like one of the worse signal-callers in the NFL. At halftime, Manning only had 17 passing yards despite the Giants having the lead.
Manning's arm strength is no longer there, and his downfield accuracy has suffered as a result. Of course, Manning has been operating without his top-three passing options in the past couple weeks, but the Giants still had no chance against the Seahawks. Manning was dinking and dunking against a defense known for solid tackling and pursuit abilities. That was not a recipe for success.
Overall, Manning went 19-of-39 for 134 yards and one touchdown. He also fumbled. Manning's numbers are indicative of his declining ability. Manning isn't capable of leading the Giants to the playoffs, so they need to think about replacing him this offseason.
The top target for Manning on Sunday was far and away Evan Engram. The rookie tight end saw a team-leading 12 targets and caught six of them for 60 yards and a touchdown. Engram showed explosive ability and had a long play called back because he stepped out of bounds before touching the ball. He has the potential to become a matchup nightmare, and he can be trusted as a low-end TE1 with upside for the rest of the season.
Elsewhere, Travis Rudolph (3-32) and Roger Lewis (1-12) saw the most targets for New York. They shouldn't be trusted in fantasy, though the currently injured Sterling Shepard is worth adding.
For the Giants' running backs, this was a decent showing. Orleans Darkwa led the way with nine carries and got 35 yards against the tough Seattle defense. It wasn't quite his excellent performance against the Denver Broncos, but he looks like the top option in the backfield. Rookie Wayne Gallman had a tougher time finding space as he saw five carries for 15 yards. Gallman is clearly a backup for the team, so he shouldn't be relied on in fantasy.
Chargers 21, Broncos 0
The Broncos dominated the Chargers in Week 1. The final score was a three-point margin, but they led by 17 in the fourth quarter. This game was a complete reversal of the first meeting, as Denver couldn't do anything offensively. The Broncos' atrocious tackle position absolutely crushed them, as they achieved just 10 first downs and averaged only 4.0 yards per play. The Chargers, meanwhile, didn't do much offensively either, but they were able to dominate on defense and special teams to win their third-consecutive contest.
The Chargers racked up five sacks in this game, and it felt like it was double that amount. Trevor Siemian was under siege on almost every pass attempt. Joey Bosa hounded him in the pocket, recording two sacks. Bosa almost nearly forced an interception by tipping a pass into the air, but the potential pick was dropped by linebacker Jatavis Brown. This wasn't the only time that a Siemian pick was dropped, as he tossed an ugly duck in the second quarter because of some horrible mechanics.
Siemian finished 25-of-35 for 207 yards, a stat line that was helped by garbage time; Siemian was 11-of-17 for only 89 yards by halftime. He actually turned the ball over twice, tossing a horrible pass on a desperation fourth-down attempt and also getting strip-sacked to ruin a solid drive in the third quarter. There's going to be a lot of chatter about removing Siemian as the quarterback, and the discussion needs to happen. Siemian sucks. However, he didn't have much of a chance because of his poor pass protection.
Siemian wasn't the only one making mistakes. Tight end A.J. Derby fumbled a ball near midfield on the opening possession, setting up a great scoring opportunity for the Chargers, especially after Hunter Henry drew a pass interference flag. However, the Broncos stuffed the Chargers at the goal line on four plays. It appeared as though the Broncos were going to use this great sequence to propel them to a victory, but an ensuing punt was returned for a touchdown by Travis Benjamin, giving the Chargers an insurmountable 7-0 lead. Derby led the Broncos with six catches for 66 yards.
Demaryius Thomas made a great catch in this game, hauling in a deep pass despite some good coverage by Casey Hayward. Thomas ran down the field for 81 yards, but it was called back because of offensive pass interference. Thomas caught just two balls for nine yards.
Like Siemian, C.J. Anderson was able to get some garbage yardage. He finished with 44 yards on 10 carries, but he didn't even have double-digit yards in the opening half.
Philip Rivers went 15-of-26 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Rivers had some issues with pass protection, and he didn't have much success offensively either. However, he didn't have to force the issue at all because special teams gave him a lead that he never relinquished.
I mentioned that Benjamin scored on a punt return earlier. He also had an offensive touchdown on his only reception, a 42-yarder. However, this occurred late in the game when it looked like Denver's defense stopped trying. Henry was the only player to record more receiving yardage than Benjamin, hauling in four balls for 73 yards. As referenced earlier, he drew a pass-interference flag in the end zone. Keenan Allen (3-41), meanwhile, did what he could versus the "No Fly Zone."
The Broncos did a good job of bottling up Melvin Gordon beyond the epic goal-line stand. Gordon was limited to just 38 yards on 18 carries, most of which came on a 21-yard burst late in the game.
Patriots 23, Falcons 7
The Patriots entered this game having allowed 300 passing yards to every single quarterback they've faced this season. That changed in this contest, though Matt Ryan may have gotten to that milestone in garbage time had he been given one more drive. Still, even if he were successful in that regard, there was a marked improvement from the New England secondary, which blew countless coverages against the Jets last week.
Ryan finished 23-of-33 for 233 yards and a touchdown. He didn't play poorly, but the Patriots were able to easily diagnose whatever Atlanta happened to be doing. It's clear that the Falcons are missing Kyle Shanahan, and his replacement, Steve Sarkisian, might be the worst offensive coordinator in the NFL. His play-calling was so predictable that I felt like Tony Romo watching the game. And on the rare occasions when Sarkisian did something unexpected, it was often stupid, such as a failed sweep with Tayor Gabriel at the goal line to ruin a scoring opportunity.
It's fair to wonder if the Falcons should just consider Sarkisian a sunk cost and fire him right away. The Falcons are now just 3-3, so there's still time to save their season. Otherwise, Atlanta will continue to struggle offensively.
Tom Brady, meanwhile, was extremely precise on a night in which they honored his mother, who had recently fought cancer. Brady made a mistake in the early going when he threw an interception that was negated by a legitimate roughing-the-passer penalty, but he grew stronger as the game progressed. Brady, who was 21-of-29 for 249 yards and two touchdowns, misfired on just three occasions after halftime, which was especially impressive considering the ultra-foggy conditions on the field.
Brady's touchdowns went to Brandin Cooks (4-65) and James White (5-28). Rob Gronkowski didn't find the end zone; in fact, he had just three catches for 51 yards. However, he had a deep reception that was overturned by an offensive pass interference. Meanwhile, Chris Hogan led the team with 71 receiving yards on four grabs.
The Patriots' crowded backfield welcomed back Rex Burkhead, who took six carries for 31 yards to go along with an 11-yard catch. Dion Lewis had the most carries (13) and yards (76), while Mike Gillislee's role was reduced once again; he managed 31 yards on eight attempts.
Going back to the Falcons, Sarkisian limited Devonta Freeman to just 12 carries, which he turned into 72 yards. The whole dynamic is odd. Sarkisian calls too many first-down carries, but doesn't give Freeman enough rushing opportunities. I don't know how Sarkisian does it, but he's that incompetent!
Julio Jones scored a late touchdown in garbage time to reward his fantasy owners. He caught nine of his 13 targets for 99 yards otherwise. Mohamed Sanu (6-65) was the only other Falcon with more than 25 receiving yards.
The Falcons may have lost this game, but they at least had some guts. They went for it on a fourth-and-7 in their own territory on the second drive of the game, and they were able to move the chains with a Ryan scramble. However, they tried a fourth-and-6 in the second quarter, but they failed when Ryan overthrew Sanu on a miscommunication. This helped set up a Brady touchdown to White.
Eagles XX, Redskins XX
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.