Week 4 NFL Game Recaps
Ravens 23, Browns 16
That, of course, was the major focus prior to kickoff. The prominent storyline following this game's conclusion, however, is how easily Brandon Weeden moved the chains against Baltimore's defense. The Ravens haven't been able to stop any passing attack this year. They just can't get any sort of pressure without Terrell Suggs without blitzing, which would explain why they were 28th against the pass (8.4 YPA) heading into this contest.
Having said that, I don't want to take anything away from Brandon Weeden, who was terrific for two-and-a-half quarters. He started 5-of-13 for 38 yards, but something clicked toward the end of the first half. Weeden finished 25-of-52 for 320 yards and an interception, a throw that he heaved softly toward the sideline that happened to be returned for six. The completion percentage isn't very good, but he was victimized by at least six drops, including one that would have been a touchdown.
Greg Little was responsible for three of those drops. Two came in the first quarter, but the third was the most egregious - it occurred in the end zone late in the game that would have brought the deficit to 23-20. The Browns ventured deep into Baltimore territory on the next drive, so Phil Dawson, who nailed three field goals from 50-plus, would have been in position for a game-tying kick. It's a shame for Little because he made some tremendous catches otherwise, finishing with four grabs for 77 yards.
Something I didn't get, however, is why the Browns frequently took Richardson off the field on third downs. Why do they think that removing their best player on the most important play is a good idea? I don't understand that.
If it weren't for Joe Flacco's advacement, the Ravens would have dropped to 2-2. Flacco started slow, but finished 28-of-46 for 356 yards, two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) and an early interception in the end zone that was underthrown.
Falcons 30, Panthers 28
With that being said, the Panthers shouldn't be too hard on themselves because Matt Ryan was unbelievable. Ryan, who went 25-of-40 for 369 yards, three touchdowns and an interception despite being sacked seven times, did a masterful job of engineering two field goal drives at the end of regulation. He barely had any time at the end of the final possession, but hit Roddy White on a 59-yard bomb from his own end zone.
Patriots 52, Bills 28
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Buffalo jumped out a 21-7 lead after two Scott Chandler touchdown catches and Donald Jones taking a quick slant 68 yards for a score. He beat corner Kyle Arrington and safety Patrick Chung took a bad angle. Brady answered by catching fire. He threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead. Brady then moved the ball with passes to Wes Welker, and the signal-caller ran the ball into end zone on a short scramble.
Brady followed that by throwing a strike to Ron Gronkowski for a 28-yard score. New England ran in short touchdowns with Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden to route the Bills with 31 points in the fourth quarter.
It wasn't a complete game as Gilmore couldn't hold on for an acrobatic interception and was trucked over on a play in run defense. Still, it was an impressive performance for the rookie.
Vikings 20, Lions 13
Of course, the big surprise is Adrian Peterson. It's almost as if he's never had any sort of knee injury. He rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries and also caught four balls for 20 receiving yards. With the passing attack unimpressive against Detroit's banged-up secondary, Peterson did a great job of moving the chains via nice cuts and keeping Detroit's explosive offense off the field.
Ser Stafford finished 30-of-51 for 319 yards. As mentioned, drops wiped out a touchdown and an interception. It's worth noting that he was able to get a 56-yard pass-interference flag on an attempt to Johnson.
Harvin didn't do much otherwise. He caught three balls for 22 yards and rushed three times for 12 more yards. Ponder's leading receiver was Jerome Simpson, who had four grabs for 50 yards, one of which was a huge reception as the Vikings were running out the clock at the end of regulation. Simpson also drew a pair of pass-interference flags.
Texans 38, Titans 14
Matt Hasselbeck played the rest of the afternoon, and while he did manage to lead his team on a touchdown drive in the second quarter, but he was pretty useless otherwise. He finished 17-of-25 for 193 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of picks. A good chunk of that yardage and one of the scores came on a bogus drive at the very end of the game. Meanwhile, one of the interceptions was returned for six when it was still a one-score game in the third quarter.
Schaub carved up the middle of the field, taking advantage of Colin McCarthy's absence and the Titans' awful safeties. The duo of Owen Daniels and James Casey combined for 11 catches, 108 yards and two touchdowns. Andre Johnson, meanwhile, hauled in two receptions on the opening drive but didn't do much afterward, finishing with just three grabs for 56 yards.
Chargers 37, Chiefs 20
It was ridiculous. Kansas City completely self-destructed in the first half, allowing San Diego to build a 27-6 lead. It started when Matt Cassel threw an interception on the opening drive, giving San Diego a chip-shot field goal. Cassel came back to hit Dwayne Bowe for a 36-yard pass, but that was wiped out by an illegal formation. Oh, and then there were two Jamaal Charles fumbles that gave San Diego the ball deep in Kansas City territory on both occasions. The Chargers scored one touchdown off of the fumbles, but Philip Rivers tossed a lazy interception after the other.
If that wasn't bad enough, Cassel followed everything up with two interceptions late in the first half. One was way behind Tony Moeaki and returned for six by emerging inside linebacker Donald Butler. The other was tipped off the hands of Dexter McCluster. The crowd was booing fiercely beforehand, but they barely made a sound after that last one. It was just sad at that point.
Cassel finished 24-of-42 for 251 yards, two touchdowns and three picks. Cassel's yardage numbers are bogus; he was able to compile them when the Chargers were playing prevent in the second half. Kansas City needs to move on from Cassel after this season. The team cannot bench him now, unfortunately, because it doesn't have anyone behind him.
49ers 34, Jets 0
It's really laughable how bad Sanchez is. He takes stupid sacks, makes careless mistakes and can't fire accurate accurate passes consistently. Sanchez went 13-of-29 for 103 yards an interception and a lost fumble on a third down in San Francisco territory. Sanchez nearly tossed a couple of other picks, as the crowd booed him mercilessly throughout the entire contest.
I tweeted (@walterfootball) the following during the third quarter following one of Sanchez's turnovers: "Hey Jets, it's Tebow time." It really is. It has to be. Even if you're not a Tebow believer, you have to at least agree that it's time for New York to give up on Sanchez, and Tebow is the only alternative.
Tebow was on the field on several occasions. He completed his only pass attempt for 9 yards, on a 3rd-and-1. However, his tight end fumbled the football after a fierce hit and the 49ers recovered it.
San Francisco ran a number of plays out of the Wildcat with Colin Kaepernick, who rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown on five attempts. Frank Gore (21-62, TD) and Kendall Hunter (8-56, TD) also couldn't be stopped.
Rams 19, Seahawks 13
Bradford went 16-of-30 for 221 yards and an interception that wasn't his fault because his receiver Brandon Gibson ran the wrong route. His best pass was a beautiful, 52-yard touch pass to Chris Givens that occurred just prior to the fluke pick.
That was Givens' only reception - he was targeted thrice - but Bradford remained locked in to Danny Amendola, who had six catches for 55 yards and a touchdown (the score actually came on a fake field goal). Bradford had no choice, as he had to get the ball out quickly, given the state of his banged-up offensive line. The Seahawks managed to sack Bradford on just two occasions.
Cardinals 24, Dolphins 21
Well, I guess I should congratulate the Dolphins on a valiant effort. The Cardinals were missing stud defensive lineman Darnell Dockett, but Tannehill's stat line of 26-of-41 for 431 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions was impressive nonetheless. Tannehill, who misfired on numerous long attempts against the Jets last week, connected on multiple long bombs to Hartline. However, he made what would be the game-losing pick in overtime, heaving the ball carelessly as he was hit.
It's worth noting that Tannehill was actually intercepted on a third occasion just after halftime, but the turnover was wiped away because of a shaky call on Adrian Wilson. Tannehill also took a terrible sack in the red zone in the first half on what was a loss of 14 yards.
Kolb finished 29-of-48 for 324 yards, three touchdowns and two picks, but couldn't get anything going early on because he was constantly harassed by the Miami pass rush. His offensive line had no chance against the Dolphins, particularly Cameron Wake, who tallied an eye-popping 4.5 sacks. Kolb was sacked eight times in total.
Broncos 37, Raiders 6
Manning was nearly perfect, going 30-of-38 for 338 yards and three touchdowns. He essentially did whatever he wanted, as the Raiders couldn't put any pressure on him.
Bengals 27, Jaguars 10
Cincinnati was able to restrict Maurice Jones-Drew to just 38 yards on 13 carries despite the fact that Jacksonville had its offensive line intact for the first time all season. Even though the Bengals were missing their top three cornerbacks, they showed no respect for the Jaguar passing attack, opting to stack the line of scrimmage. Jones-Drew consequently couldn't find any running lanes. He did, however, help his PPR fantasy owners with five catches for 42 receiving yards.
The Bengals were very smart in completely dismissing Jacksonville's aerial game because Blaine Gabbert sucks tremendously. His supporters will point to his great completion percentage (23-of-34), but he threw mostly checkdowns, which would explain why he managed to compile just 186 yards. He threw a touchdown but also was responsible for an ugly interception the one time he took a shot downfield. It's also worth noting that he lost a fumble on a strip-sack, but that was negated by a face mask penalty.
Packers 28, Saints 27
The officials were clearly the story of this game. Packer fans wore yellow t-shirts saying, "worst call ever" and understandably cheered the real refs when they took the field. Those cheers quickly turned into boos, and those boos transformed into constant chants of "bulls***," as the officiating crew inexplicably botched numerous calls against Green Bay. Some of those include:
- Marques Colston (9 catches, 153 yards, TD) committed a very blatant offensive pass interference in the end zone that wasn't called. Colston caught a touchdown, but it shouldn't have counted.
- Jimmy Graham caught a long pass that obviously hit the ground. The FOX announcing crew, particularly Troy Aikman, thought it was extremely apparent that it was a drop. It was ruled a catch, so Mike McCarthy challenged, but it somehow stood as a reception. Aikman was so taken aback that he didn't know what to say.
- McCarthy lost that challenge as well as another one, so he couldn't ask for a review on another obvious play. The Saints clearly fumbled on a kickoff. It wasn't even close. The Packers recovered the fumble, but then the official said that the runner was down by contact. This is when the Packer fans erupted in the "bulls*** chant.
- Despite all of this, the Packers still held a 28-27 lead as the Saints were attempting a game-winning field goal. In an ironic turn of events, a Garrett Hartley successful kick was nullified by a New Orleans hold. Hartley then missed on his next try.
Rodgers, meanwhile, was a near-perfect 31-of-41 for 319 yards, four touchdowns and an interception despite losing Greg Jennings to a groin (again). This was thanks to a clean pocket; he wasn't sacked a single time. Rodgers missed one play in which he was poked in the eye. Graham Harrell took the field, and as he was trying to hand the ball off to Cedric Benson (18-84), he tripped over center Jeff Saturday's feet and fumbled the ball.
Redskins 24, Buccaneers 22
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
After six ugly quarters dating back to last week, Freeman finally got going just after halftime with a 66-yard pass to Mike Williams. He beat Josh Wilson on a go route down the sideline. The drive ended with a short touchdown throw to Vincent Jackson. Freeman and Jackson connected on the next possession for a 54-yard bomb. That helped set up a touchdown run for LeGarrette Blount (6-17). Doug Martin (8-33) was held in check by Washington.
Freeman moved the ball into field goal range later in the game, and the Bucs took the lead with a 47-yarder from Connor Barth. Freeman got away with a pass that should've been intercepted by Josh Wilson, but the signal-caller really played well in the second half against the Redskins. He completed 24-of-39 passes for 299 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Jackson (6-100) and Williams (4-115) played well for Tampa Bay.
Eagles 19, Giants 17
QB Dog Killer, who was responsible for most of the turnovers, played very well. He went 19-of-30 for 241 yards and a touchdown. He also scrambled six times for 49 rushing yards, as the Eagles made it a point to attack Osi Umenyiora's side. Umenyiora did not play disciplined, refusing to stay at home and mindlessly rushing the passer instead.
If there's one dark cloud over this performance for Philadelphia's offense, it's that the team struggled in the red zone. The Eagles had to settle for a quartet of field goals. That's not going to cut it down the road, especially when the turnover issues resurface.
Eli Manning consequently had to do pretty much everything, and he basically did. He went 24-of-42 for 309 yards, two touchdowns and an uncharacteristic interception in the end zone in which he was fooled by the defense. Manning was able to complete multiple long gains against Philadelphia's tough cornerback group, a unit that missed Nnamdi Asomugha for nearly half the game because he was poked in the eye. It was initially reported that he would have to go to the hospital, but he felt better and returned to the field in the fourth quarter.
- Brian Dawkins was due to have his number retired at halftime. He was also the final player introduced prior to kickoff, which really pumped up the team and the crowd.
- The Giants were able to have good field position all evening because of David Wilson's kickoff returns. Wilson averaged 36 yards per attempt, as there were gaping holes nearly every time the ball was kicked to him. The crowd eventually booed after each Giants' kickoff.
- Speaking of an angry crowd, I thought it was hilarious that the fans jeered AndWy Reid when he challenged a DeSean Jackson reception. It's amazing how little confidence Philadelphians have in their head coach.
- Giants' safety Kenny Phillips suffered a knee injury in the first half. This is a devastating blow to a secondary that already had numerous injury concerns.
For thoughts on Cowboys-Bears, check out my updated 2012 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.
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