San Diego's first road loss was just a fluke. The rain was coming down, Arrowhead was loud, and the Chiefs hit three big plays. OK...
San Diego's second road loss happened because of two kickoff returns for Seattle. That can't possibly happen again, so let's write that off. All right...
San Diego's third road loss was the result of two blocked punts that led to 12 Oakland points. The Chargers will pick it up soon...
San Diego's fourth road loss...? There is absolutely no excuse for this one. The Chargers did not show up. Their defense was pathetic, and their offense and special teams made too many mistakes that cost them the game.
A pair of injuries to San Diego's star offensive players didn't help. Antonio Gates, who dropped a long pass, didn't play in the second half because of an ankle injury. Malcom Floyd, meanwhile, left in the fourth quarter with a hamstring.
With Gates and Floyd knocked out, Patrick Crayon led the Chargers with six receptions for 117 yards.
Philip Rivers went 22-of-37 for 249 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Though the Charger receivers dropped a ton of balls, Rivers should have also thrown a couple more picks.
Oh, and let's not forget that San Diego's special teams screwed up again. The Chargers had yet another kick blocked; this time it was a Nate Kaeding field goal attempt.
Ryan Mathews had more carries (12) than Mike Tolbert (3). While Mathews gained 64 rushing yards, Tolbert scored a touchdown on a goal-line attempt.
The Rams outgained the Chargers, 206-87 in the first half. San Diego had no answer for Steven Jackson (29-109, TD) and Sam Bradford.
Bradford went 18-of-31 for 198 yards and a touchdown. With Mark Clayton out, Bradford focused on getting the ball to athletic rookie Danario Alexander, who caught four balls for 72 yards and a touchdown. Alexander is very physically talented and worth picking up.
St. Louis had a whopping seven sacks in this contest; Larry Grant, James Hall and Chris Long each had two.
Dolphins 23, Packers 20
The Packers are just too beaten down. Missing key defenders like Clay Matthews, Ryan Pickett and Nick Barnett, they had no answer for Miami's offense. The Green Bay team I picked to win the Super Bowl back in July is dead.
The Dolphins totaled 381 yards and 26 first downs in this contest, converting 6-of-14 third downs in the process. Ronnie Brown (19-73) and Ricky Williams (13-64) could not be stopped, as Miami's offensive line pushed Green Bay's front around all afternoon.
Chad Henne was a solid 23-of-39 for 231 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He wasn't sacked a single time.
Henne went to Brandon Marshall 10 times for 127 yards.
Aaron Rodgers went 18-of-33 for 313 yards, one touchdown and a pick. He also scored on a sneak at the end of regulation.
However, Rodgers was constantly under pressure and barely had any time to throw. He took five sacks, including three from Cameron Wake. Mark Tauscher's absence really hurt. Rookie Bryan Bulaga, like Sebastian Vollmer two weeks ago, looked completely lost against the emerging Wake.
Shame on Greg Jennings owners who gave up on the star receiver (myself included). Jennings had an 86-yard touchdown and finished with six grabs for 133 yards.
Patriots 23, Ravens 20
I was all set to write that the Patriots offense is done in the wake of the Randy Moss trade. At halftime, Tom Brady was 7-of-13 for 90 yards, and New England's top rusher (not counting an end-around) was Danny Woodhead with nine yards on three carries.
Well, New England really opened things up in the second half against the league's No. 3 pass defense. Brady finished 27-of-44 for 292 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Woodhead, meanwhile, totaled 63 yards on 11 attempts.
Brady really showed great chemistry with Deion Branch. It was almost as if Branch never left. He caught nine passs for 98 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown. Woodhead (5-52), Aaron Hernandez (4-61) and Wes Welker (7-53) also were big contributors.
This Baltimore loss spoiled a great performance by Joe Flacco. While he was just 4-of-10 in the playoff victory, he went 27-of-35 for 285 yards and two touchdowns. Considering that Flacco was constantly under pressure, especially in overtime, his effort was really impressive.
New England did a great job shutting down Ray Rice. Rice still managed 88 yards on 28 attempts, but his longest gain on the ground went for eight yards. All of Rice's yardage was hard-fought, and he ran really well despite the low YPC.
While the Patriots totaled three sacks, their most impressive defensive statistic was that three players registered at least 13 tackles: Jerod Mayo (17), Brandon Spikes (14) and Patrick Chung (13).
Steelers 28, Browns 10
The story of this game though was Ben Roethlisberger's return. Big Ben was cheered when he took the field, and played pretty well in his first action this season aside from one ugly interception to Joe Haden that set up a field goal for the Browns. Roethlisberger finished 16-of-27 for 257 yards and three touchdowns otherwise.
It's safe to say that Mike Wallace (3-90, TD), Hines Ward (5-54, TD) and Heath Miller (2-50, TD) were all thrilled to have their starting quarterback in the lineup again. Their fantasy owners were thrilled as well.
Rashard Mendenhall owned the Browns in the first half, but struggled to find any running lanes after intermission. Mendenhall rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on 27 attempts.
Lawrence Timmons dominated this game; he had 10 tackles, two sacks and an interception. James Harrison, meanwhile, had the bigger impact; he knocked out Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi with concussions.
A matchup between Colt McCoy and Dick LeBeau's Pittsburgh defense just didn't sound fair. I had the Steelers winning this game, 30-0. But even though Pittsburgh covered, I have to say that I was really impressed with McCoy.
The rookie out of Texas went 23-of-33 for 281 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions (one of the picks was deflected). He also rushed for 22 yards on four scrambles. He didn't just throw short junk either; he stood in the pocket amid a ferocious pass rush (five sacks) and completed some intermediate and deep balls.
As expected, McCoy threw a bunch of passes to Peyton Hillis, who caught six balls for 49 receiving yards. He also had 41 rushing yards, but failed to find the end zone.
Texans 35, Chiefs 31
I'm ashamed to say that this was my October NFL Pick of the Month. I had the Texans -4.5 (though it was -4 at some point during the week). I thought the Chiefs would be down following their emotional loss to the Colts, and I figured that the Texans would be out for respect after getting blown out by the Giants.
I was completely wrong. Kansas City showed up energetic, while Houston displayed absolutely no emotion for three quarters. It especially showed on defense, where the Texans whiffed on tackles all afternoon. For instance, Houston missed three tackles on Dwayne Bowe's second touchdown. On another occasion, three Houston defenders had Jamaal Charles wrapped up for a 5-yard loss, but the quick back shed all of those tackles and sprinted for an 8-yard gain.
It truly was pathetic. The Texans were getting run over, and they just didn't look like they cared at all. DeMeco Ryans' torn Achillies' tendon didn't help, but that occurred near halftime, so it's not like Ryans was out for most of the game.
And I'm saying this amid a Houston victory. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson really saved this team from losing its third of four. Schaub went 25-of-33 for 305 yards and two touchdowns. In the second half alone, he was 17-of-23 for 232 yards and a score.
Kansas City's secondary simply had no answer for Johnson, who caught eight balls for 138 yards and a touchdown. Owen Daniels also showed some life with five receptions for 79 yards.
Arian Foster had a big fantasy day, rushing for 71 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught six balls for 26 receiving yards.
As mentioned earlier, Houston's defense had no answer for Kansas City's offense despite the fact that 90 percent of Matt Cassel's throws were short dump-offs. Cassel had one really nice pass where he zipped a 17-yard dart to Bowe for a touchdown. Cassel went 20-of-29 for 201 yards and three scores.
The Texans' run defense simply didn't show up. Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles combined for 193 rushing yards and a touchdown on 35 carries. Of course, Jones had more attempts (19) than Charles (16) for a lower YPC. That's just how Todd Haley rolls.
Speaking of Haley, his failed gambles in the Colts game didn't deter him from making a few ballsy calls in this contest. He went for it thrice on fourth down in the first half. The first two attempts were successful, though the first was a questionable pass interference on Kareem Jackson (I stupidly wrote "Kareem McKenzie" in my notes when I jotted it down.) The third was negated by a false start.
Giants 28, Lions 20
Lock your women, children and quarterbacks when the Giants come to town. New York knocked out three signal-callers in the first five weeks of the season. That number now stands at four; the Giants broke Shaun Hill's arm, forcing Jim Schwartz to use Drew Stanton in the second half. Hill could be done for the year, but Matthew Stafford is due back after Detroit's bye week.
Stanton actually posted pretty decent numbers, going 19-of-34 for 222 yards, one touchdown and an interception, though he fumbled three times. Of course, having Calvin Johnson helped. Megatron caught five balls for 146 yards and an 87-yard touchdown. This just proves that as long as he's healthy, Johnson cannot be stopped no matter who's throwing him the ball.
Stanton, sadly, was Detroit's leading rusher with 30 yards on three scrambles. Jahvid Best continues to be feast or famine; with no running room, Best totaled just 16 yards on 12 carries. His PPR owners were saved by six catches for 31 receiving yards.
Conversely, the Giants were able to run all over Detroit. Ahmad Bradshaw registered 133 yards on 19 attempts. Brandon Jacobs stole two touchdowns from Bradshaw, gaining 35 yards on nine rushes in the process.
Eli Manning had an economical afternoon, though his fantasy owners expected more because he went up against one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Manning was 20-of-30 for just 177 yards and two touchdowns.
Manning's top target was Steve Smith, who hauled in six grabs for 70 yards. For whatever reason, Hakeem Nicks was limited to just three catches for eight yards.
Eagles 31, Falcons 17
I live right outside of Philadelphia, so I'm really interested in hearing what people have to say about the quarterbacking situation now. QB Dog Killer had two great games earlier in the year, but played against two of the worst defenses in the NFL. Coming into this game, the Falcons sported a sound stop unit capable of putting great pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run.
However, the Eagles just seemed one step ahead of Atlanta the entire afternoon. Kevin Kolb was masterful, going 23-of-29 for 326 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Kolb continuously completed long bombs to his receivers. Jeremy Maclin caught seven passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. DeSean Jackson scored on a 31-yard end-around and made just one grab - a 34-yard score - but was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a scary hit by Dunta Robinson. It seemed like Jackson was unconscious for a little while. He could be out for a while.
Matt Ryan went 23-of-42 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that wasn't his fault (the ball went through Tony Gonzalez's hands). Ryan took three sacks, two from Trent Cole.
Gonzalez had just three receptions for 19 yards, as the Eagles really made an effort to take him out of the game after Vernon Davis abused them last Sunday night. Gonzalez saved his fantasy day by hauling in both of Ryan's touchdowns.
It was really surprising to see the Falcons unable to run the football against the Eagles. Michael Turner had just 45 yards on 15 carries.
Seahawks 23, Bears 20
Sometimes the NFL makes absolutely no sense. Last week, Max Hall beat Drew Brees. This Sunday, the Seahawks, who always suck on the road, went into Soldier Field as big underdogs and knocked off the Bears.
I'm not going to call this Seattle victory a fluke though. Multiple Seahawks seemingly were in Chicago's backfield on every play the entire afternoon. I don't know how they collected just six sacks; based on watching this game, it seemed like they had twice that much. The Bears didn't even convert a single third down (0-of-12).
With Jay Cutler constantly under pressure, it's amazing that he was still able to go 17-of-39 for 290 yards. Cutler's top target was Johnny Knox, who caught five balls for 120 yards.
Matt Forte scored a touchdown, but rushed for just 11 yards on eight carries. The Seahawks' run defense continues to amaze.
While Seattle's stop unit dominated, Chicago's was flat-out pathetic. The Seahawks tallied 229 total yards in the first half, and won the time of possession by nine minutes.
Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards and two touchdowns, as the Bears showed no interest in tackling them.
Matt Hasselbeck went 25-of-40 for 242 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, he didn't throw an interception, which has been his problem this year.
Mike Williams needs to be picked up in all fantasy leagues. With Deion Branch gone, Williams has become Hasselbeck's No. 1 option. The former fat, now in-shape receiver had 10 catches for 123 yards.
Saints 31, Buccaneers 6
This was the biggest game for the Buccaneers since December 2008. But you wouldn't have known it based on the result. The Saints completely dominated this contest. They led 24-0 until a late Tampa touchdown ruined the shutout.
The Buccaneers had no answer for New Orleans' offense. They couldn't stop the run (Chris Ivory somehow ran for 158 yards on 15 carries), and they struggled to contain Drew Brees.
Brees went 21-of-32 for 263 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that was tipped. It's very apparent that the Buccaneers miss stud safety Tanard Jackson.
Despite the blowout win, New Orleans' biggest problem hasn't been solved. Excluding a late drive when Tampa was deflated, the Saints reached the red zone three times and converted only one touchdown. They were also 1-of-2 on field goals, as Garrett Hartley whiffed on a 33-yarder.
Josh Freeman didn't really do much until garbage time, finishing 25-of-43 for 219 yards and a touchdown. The problem is that Freeman had absolutely no running game to support him. Cadillac Williams totaled just 18 yards on 10 carries (to be fair, he had seven receptions for 63 receiving yards). LeGarrette Blount mysteriously didn't get a single rush. I'm not sure what Raheem Morris is thinking here.
The Saints did a great job limiting Mike Williams (4-45) and Kellen Winsow Jr. (4-43).
Jets 24, Broncos 20
Coming into this matchup, Mark Sanchez was the only regular starting quarterback who hadn't thrown an interception. Sanchez tossed two, but the Jets were able to overcome that and beat Denver in the final minute of this contest. Sanchez engineered a game-winning drive, thanks to a 46-yard pass interference penalty on a 4th-and-6.
Sanchez went 17-of-30 for 198 yards, one touchdown and the aforementioned two picks. Four of Sanchez's targets caught three balls or more: Dustin Keller (3-75), Santonio Holmes (4-47), Braylon Edwards (4-46, TD), Jerricho Cotchery (4-18).
The Broncos did a great job of limiting the Jets' running game. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 55 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. He had a 20-yard score in the fourth quarter, but struggled to break free otherwise.
If you didn't see detailed highlights of this game - and you can thank ESPN for eliminating the real NFL Primetime for that - the Broncos ran a variation of the Wild Horses formation they unveiled last year against the Patriots. They put Tim Tebow under center with Kyle Orton split out wide. Tebow then had the option of handing it off or running the ball himself. Tebow actually was effective; he rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, using Tebow may have disrupted Kyle Orton's rhythm. Orton wasn't sharp for the first time all year, going 14-of-34 for 209 yards and a touchdown. Of course, the Jets' defense had a hand in that (though Darrelle Revis definitely didn't look 100 percent.)
The recipient of Orton's touchdown was Demaryius Thomas. That was his only catch (a 17-yarder) but it looked like his second foot was out of bounds. Rex Ryan didn't throw the red flag because he lost a challenge a couple of plays earlier.
Rounding out Denver's receiving corps, Jabar Gaffney (6-81), Brandon Lloyd (4-74) and Eddie Royal (3-37) were the only other Broncos to catch passes.
49ers 17, Raiders 9
On a rough afternoon pick-wise, this one really hurt. The Raiders led for most of the contest. They had a 6-3 lead until the final seconds of the third quarter. A touchdown and a 64-yard Frank Gore run later, San Francisco went up by eight, covering the spread by one. As if my bad call on the October NFL Pick of the Month wasn't enough.
My degenerate gambling tendencies aside, this was one of the ugliest games I've ever seen. Both quarterbacks were awful, and until very late, both teams were limited to fewer than 200 total yards.
Starting with the winners, Alex Smith went 16-of-33 for 196 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers don't explain how terrible he was. Smith began the contest 2-of-10. Throughout the afternoon, he continuously missed wide-open receivers downfield on blown coverages by the Oakland safeties. The crowd, as you might expect, kept booing him until the 49ers finally established the lead in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders did a good job bottling up Frank Gore until he sprinted for a 64-yard gain late in the contest. Tommy Kelly screwed up on a gap assignment on the play.
Smith's touchdowns went to Michael Crabtree (4-57) and Vernon Davis (4-35).
Jason Campbell, meanwhile, went 8-of-21 for 83 yards and two interceptions. Those numbers are definitely indicative of how he played. Campbell was disgraceful, looking like a skinnier version of JaMarcus Russell.
Campbell targeted Darrius Heyward-Bey five too many times (five total). Zach Miller saw just four targets go his way, which is something I don't understand.
Darren McFadden didn't play. Michael Bush got the start, but rushed for just 47 yards on 20 attempts. His longest run was just five yards, and he dropped a pass late in the game.
Vikings 24, Cowboys 21
I don't know how much longer I can defend this team. Despite all the hate mail, I keep putting the Cowboys in the top 10 of my 2010 NFL Power Rankings because they have the most talent in the NFL. But they just continuously beat themselves with dumb penalties and unforced turnovers. Here are this week's screw-ups:
- Miles Austin-Jones had a 68-yard touchdown nullified because of offensive pass interference. Yes, the penalty was on Austin-Jones, but he was open against Asher Allen before the infraction. It was just unnecessary to push off.
- Dez Bryant returned a punt to midfield. It was called back because of holding.
- Austin-Jones was whistled for another penalty for excessive celebration - this one week after that same penalty cost Dallas the game.
- Minnesota scored 17 of its 24 points either off Dallas turnovers or on special teams.
- Tony Romo tossed two interceptions (both to E.J. Henderson), one of which was a severely underthrown short pass. The other pick was left tackle Doug Free's fault, who appeared frozen in time because he refused to move once the ball was snapped.
- The Cowboys had 11 penalties for 91 yards. By contrast, the Vikings committed only five infractions for 45 yards.
With all of this in mind, one thing is evident. I'll capitalize to emphasize: JERRY JONES MUST FIRE WADE PHILLIPS TO SALVAGE THIS SEASON. When a team continuously underperforms, it's on the coaching staff. The Cowboys keep making the same dumb mistakes over and over again. Dallas needs a change because things are not going to turn around as long as Wobbling Wade is on the sidelines.
Aside from the horrible interception, Romo played pretty well, going 24-of-32 for 220 yards. He also had that long touchdown to Austin-Jones wiped out. Austin-Jones, meanwhile, was limited to two catches for 12 yards. Roy Williams (twice) and Bryant caught Romo's scores.
The Cowboys couldn't run the ball with either Felix Jones (14-32) or Marion Barber (10-31). However, Jones caught 10 balls for 61 yards.
Adrian Peterson couldn't get much on the ground either. He totaled 73 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. The Cowboys did a great job defending him.
Randy Moss caught five balls for 55 yards. Visanthe Shiancoe didn't catch a single pass.
Brett Favre went 14-of-19 for 118 yards and a touchdown. That doesn't look like much, but those numbers are great considering that Favre was constantly under siege. He was sacked only three times, but took a ton of hits. After one play, he was crawling around on the ground and looked like he wouldn't be able to get up. Of course, he was in similar pain after his wife had her way with him this past week.
Colts 27, Redskins 24
As with 49ers-Raiders, this one hurt. The Colts dominated this game. They outgained the Redskins by 134 net yards. However, three lost fumbles and two missed makeable field goals helped Washington come back and score a touchdown at the end of regulation for a backdoor push.
Save for the fumbles, Indianapolis' offense looked like an unstoppable machine. Peyton Manning, who went 25-of-38 for 307 yards and two touchdowns, ran a very quick, up-tempo offense (it was even fast by the Colts' standards). The Redskins really had no answer for anything Indianapolis was doing.
Joseph Addai rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. However, he fumbled in the fourth quarter in the red zone, and suffered a shoulder injury on the play.
Pierre Garcon led the Colts with 103 receiving yards off four catches. Garcon dropped a couple of passes, but made up for it with an amazing one-handed grab. Reggie Wayne (6-71), Austin Collie (7-57, TD) and Dallas Clark (6-52) also made a big impact, as you'd expect.
If there's a silver lining in Washington's loss, it's that Ryan Torain looked really good. Torain made some great cuts and broke tackles, rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 20 attempts.
Some good and some bad for Donovan McNabb, who finished 29-of-45 for 246 yards, one touchdown and a pair of picks. He made some great throws, but missed some routine completions.
Santana Moss paced the Redskins with eight catches and 77 yards. Anthony Armstrong, who is seeing more action each week, hauled in five grabs for 46 yards.