Week 9 NFL Game Recaps
Chargers 31, Chiefs 13
What the 30 or so people who watched this game witnessed was a horrible display of football. Both offenses dissected the opposing crappy defenses until they reached scoring territory and then self-destructed. All of this occurred while several prominent players went down with injuries. The Chargers may have won by 18, but they didn't really outplay Kansas City; they just made fewer mistakes and capitalized with two defensive touchdowns.
- Dwayne Bowe fumbled in the red zone to spoil impressive opening drive in which the Chiefs converted four third downs. Bowe, who would later fail to haul in a touchdown, caught eight balls for 79 yards. The stats are decent, but Bowe continues to be an inefficient receiver who is constantly responsible for too many drops and turnovers.
- Matt Cassel was strip-sacked in his own end zone. The offensive line broke down, but Cassel should have at least thrown it away. Even an intentional grounding would have been more favorable, as it would have kept it at 19-6, which is a two-score game. Instead, San Diego went up 24-6, and it was pretty much over.
- Cassel tossed a pick-six as well, but it wasn't his fault. The ball bounced out of Dexter McCluster's and into Demorrio Williams'. Cassel finished 19-of-29 for 181 yards and that interception. He played a solid game overall, but he now has 18 turnovers on the season. Only one team as a whole has more give-aways, and that would be the Cowboys (19).
- Ryan Succop, who had a string of 13 consecutive field goals entering the contest, doinked a 39-yard attempt off the left upright when the game was still close (10-3 in the third quarter).
- Dexter McCluster muffed a punt at the end of the game, but the contest was decided at that point.
- Left tackle Jared Gaither needs to be upgraded because he can't move. Well, he moved prematurely on third-and-inches of the opening drive, but that didn't matter because Philip Rivers converted to Seyi Ajirotutu. Gaither, however, would eventually have an awful series in which he surrendered a sack to Tamba Hali and then committed a blatant hold on Hali on the very next play. This forced the Chargers to punt at midfield.
- Safety Eric Weddle, who is returning punts for some reason, muffed the ball at the beginning of the second half. The Chiefs took over with great field position, but couldn't capitalize because of the aforementioned missed field goal.
- Rivers tossed a horrific interception into the end zone from the 1-yard line near the end of the first half. He rolled right, and despite not seeing anyone open, he forced a pass that was picked off.
That was the only blemish of the evening for Rivers, who finished 18-of-20 for 220 yards, two touchdowns and the interception. He actually began the game 13-of-13 for 172 yards. He misfired on his 14th attempt, but that was just a throw-away.
- Ryan Mathews, who rushed for 67 yards on 13 carries, hurt his ankle in the first half. He eventually reentered the game, but it was a reminder of how fragile he is.
- Jamaal Charles gained just 39 yards on 12 attempts, though he did catch three balls for 27 receiving yards. He was the victim of a vicious helmet-to-helmet collision and was removed from the game. He seemed dazed on the sideline, but the good news is that he wasn't taken into the locker room. With 10 days of rest, Charles should be able to play against the Steelers.
- Other Chiefs who got hurt: Guard Jeff Allen suffered a concussion. Defensive end Glenn Dorsey aggravated his calf injury. Left tackle Branden Albert hurt his leg awkwardly. The Chargers saw linebacker Antwan Barnes damage his hamstring.
Broncos 31, Bengals 23
Well, I think we know where both teams currently stand. Manning, the hottest quarterback in the NFL entering this weekend, picked the Bengals apart despite the fact that Cincinnati strongly believed it had a solid game plan against him based on the success the defense had in its previous meeting. The Bengals were apparently dead wrong.
Manning was pretty much flawless, going 27-of-35 for 291 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The picks were his first since the opening half of Week 6. The first wasn't really his fault; Eric Decker stopped short on his route. The second was pretty bad, as Manning heaved an inaccurate ball from his own end zone. However, he rebounded with consecutive touchdown drives after that.
Manning could have put together an even better performance had his supporting cast not let him down. I already mentioned Decker's blunder on the first pick; the Broncos dropped several passes early on. Decker was also responsible for an offensive pass interference penalty.
Ravens 25, Browns 15
Starting with the victor, Flacco opened up 10-of-12 for 110 yards, leading the Ravens to a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to establish a quick, 14-0 advantage. He was then was four of his next 11 for just 24 yards. He had several passes that easily could have been picked off. However, he came through when it mattered most, engineering a game-winning touchdown drive. The clinching score went to Torrey Smith, though it's worth noting that it was just a short completion that was all Smith (4-46).
Flacco's final numbers were 15-of-24 for 153 yards and a score. He won the game, but this inconsistency is very discouraging for the Ravens, who need their offense to carry them in the wake of the defense's demise.
However, Weeden could have easily tossed a few more interceptions, as the Ravens' secondary uncharacteristically dropped some gifts. Ed Reed, who would ultimately end up with a pick, was one of the offenders, as the ball fell right through his hands. Weeden humorously was intercepted on the very next play, as he forced a poor attempt under pressure.
Packers 31, Cardinals 17
Aaron Rodgers, however, did a great job of evading the Cardinal defenders. He scrambled so many times in the first half that it made me realize how often he used to do this. Rodgers hasn't utilized his legs much this season, failing to rush more than five times in any contest entering this weekend. He ran eight times versus the Cardinals. He picked up 33 rushing yards on those attempts, which doesn't seem like much, but they were instrumental in picking up first downs.
It must also be noted that Rodgers didn't have the services of his top two receivers. Greg Jennings is going to be out for several more weeks, while Jordy Nelson made a foolish decision by trying to play with a bum hamstring despite a bye coming up. Player arrogance once again backfired, as Nelson, who failed to haul in a single pass, limped off the field on the second drive.
Texans 21, Bills 9
There are so many things the Bills did wrong in this contest against the sleepwalking Texans. This includes:
- Fred Jackson (6-21) and C.J. Spiller (6-39) received just 12 total carries even though the Texans were never up by more than eight points until the fourth quarter. On the bright side, they each caught five passes for 14 and 63 yards, respectively, so they were at least utilized in the passing game.
- The Bills dropped several passes, particularly in the second half. Steve Johnson (3-29) and Donald Jones had the ball slip through their hands on plays that would have moved the chains. Scott Chandler (3-51) had two drops. Johnson was banged up; he took a fierce hit from safety Glover Quin in the second quarter and didn't look like himself after that.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick was decent overall - 25-of-38, 239 yards - but had a crucial fumble in Houston territory in the fourth quarter, as Whitney Mercilus stripped the ball out of his hand as he was trying to scramble for yardage.
- As mentioned, Lindell completely whiffed on a 37-yard try. In a dome. It wasn't even close.
- The defense was epically fooled on one play-action bootleg play. Every single defender bit on what they thought was an Arian Foster run, allowing Matt Schaub to move left and hit an open Owen Daniels for a 39-yard touchdown in the opening quarter.
Colts 23, Dolphins 20
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Tannehill led an early field goal drive and Luck answered. Rookie tight end Dwayne Allen drew a long pass interference from Koa Misi to set up a nine-yard touchdown pass on a frozen rope from Luck to Reggie Wayne (7-78). Tannehill responded to Luck's first touchdown pass with a 31-yard scoring pass to Charles Clay. Miami scored again with a beautiful 18-yard touchdown run by Reggie Bush (10-41). He zig-zagged his way around defenders to dart into the end zone.
Luck laid out a perfect 48-yard pass to Donnie Avery (5-108) late in the second quarter. It was a great throw that beat the double coverage. Luck then launched a great deep ball to T.Y. Hilton (6-102) that should've been a touchdown, but the pass was dropped. The drive settled for a field goal. Luck had 273 yards at the half, and it could've been a lot more if it his receivers weren't dropping passes.
Luck put the Colts in the lead during the third quarter. He converted a third-and-16 with a 19-yard pass to LaVon Brazill (2-25) and finished the drive with a 36-yard touchdown pass to Hilton. Tannehill answered with some clutch throws to get a field goal and tie the score at 20.
Luck answered with a drive for a 43-yard goal that was the game-winner. He had one terrible decision in the final minutes while trying to avoid a sack, but Sean Smith dropped an interception. Luck was amazing on third down versus the Dolphins. He converted many third-and-longs, including a critical one to Allen on a third-and-11 deep in Indianapolis territory. The Colts finished 12-of-18 on third down. Luck was 30-of-48 for 433 yards with two touchdowns in his record-setting day.
Tannehill had one more shot, but the Colts' defense stopped him. He completed 22-of-38 passes for 290 yards and one touchdown. Brian Hartline (8-107) and Davone Bess (6-67) were his leading receivers. Miami has to be pleased with the way Tannehill played while injured, and the team just need to get him more receiving talent to work with.
Lions 31, Jaguars 14
...Or maybe this was just all about the edge that they had at the quarterback position. By the time it was 21-0, Matthew Stafford was 15-of-24 for 216 yards, while Blaine Gabbert was a pathetic 4-of-7 for 10 yards, with all four completions being checkdowns. Even more laughable was his Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half; throwing from midfield, Gabbert's weak lob sailed only 30 yards and was nearly intercepted at the Detroit 20-yard line.
Gabbert would end up finishing 27-of-38 for 220 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of picks, one of which was a pathetic pass that just seemed to die in mid-air. Don't be fooled by the final numbers; his stats came in complete garbage time where the Lions were just playing prevent. It's clear by now that he's not the long-term solution at the quarterback position. They can't possibly sell their fans on him for another season.
Bryan Anger with a 73-yard punt! The highlight of the Jaguars' 2012 season!
Sad, but true.
Bears 51, Titans 20
Chicago established such a massive advantage thanks to a blocked punt, a Devin Hester return to the 10-yard line, a Brian Urlacher pick-six of Matt Hasselbeck and a Chris Conte fumble recovery of Chris Johnson. It's amazing that the Bears didn't even really need to run a single offensive play to get out to a 26-point lead. In fact, it would have been a 28-point advantage had they completely gone with the anti-Bobby Boucher approach because they took a safety on an offensive line penalty in their own end zone.
The Titans were guilty of five turnovers in the first half. I mentioned the blocked punt, pick-six and Johnson fumble; Johnson had another fumble in Chicago territory, while Kenny Britt coughed the ball up at midfield. Jared Cook also fumbled in the second half; his two catches for six yards makes you wonder why no team wanted to acquire him at the trade deadline.
Panthers 21, Redskins 13
Perhaps Obama should have influenced the NFL schedule-makers, as short, home favorites have a dubious history going into the bye. Teams that aren't favored by much at home generally aren't very good, and teams that lack in talent tend not to be focused in these situations, perhaps eschewing the task at hand and instead thinking about where they are going on vacation for the few days they have off.
I say this because the Redskins looked lethargic and out of rhythm all afternoon. The offensive line couldn't block, the receivers couldn't catch passes and penalties nullified positive gains.
Buccaneers 42, Raiders 32
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Carson Palmer burned Mark Barron for a 50-yard touchdown pass to Derek Hagan a few plays later, but a holding call brought the score off the board. A fake punt by Oakland was easily snuffed out by Ronde Barber, and Bucs kicker Connor Barth missed a 54-yard field goal before halftime.
The Buccaneers dominated the third quarter. Martin had a 45-yard touchdown run up the middle of the Raiders' defense. Tampa Bay expanded its lead with a short touchdown pass to Mike Williams (4-68). Palmer ended a promising drive with a pass off the back foot that was intercepted by Leonard Johnson. Martin took off on a 67-yard touchdown run a few plays later.
Oakland found the endzone again in the fourth quarter, but Martin ran up the middle for a 70-yard touchdown sprint in response. LeGarrette Blount fumbled the ball away to aid the Raiders' comeback effort. Martin had his fourth score in the final two minutes. Freeman was 18-of-30 for 247 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Palmer threw another pretty touchdown pass to Marcel Reese (8-95). The Raiders then went for the two-point try. Palmer evaded a sack and tossed the ball up for grabs to Juron Criner who outjumped Biggers to narrow the score to 35-32. Palmer quickly got the ball back, but threw a terrible pass to empty space and it was picked off by Ahmad Black to seal the game. Palmer finished 39-of-61 for 414 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Darren McFadden had an awkward landing in the first half and left the game with a leg injury.
Seahawks 30, Vikings 20
So, what happened? Percy Harvin's injury happened. The dynamic wideout injured his ankle at the beginning of the second half. He missed some action and then reentered the contest, but he was completely ineffective once he took the field again. He was limping around, which really limited the offense. He finished with two catches for 10 yards and four carries for 24 rushing yards.
Peterson also led the team with three catches for 11 receiving yards. Sadly, the leading Minnesota receiver was Jerome Simpson, who had one catch for 14 yards. Kyle Rudolph did nothing yet again. It's unbelievable that the Vikings are struggling to find a way to get him involved offensively.
Steelers 24, Giants 20
I didn't think the Steelers had a chance because of some sort of conspiracy. As it turns out, there was no conspiracy because the Steelers were able to come back and win... meh, there was still a conspiracy. I'll let you know about it in tomorrow's NFL Power Rankings.
There were some other shady calls - a terrible, 41-yard pass interference penalty on Hakeem Nicks, as well a bogus personal foul penalty on Victor Cruz that was not a blow to the helmet - so give the Steelers credit for hanging in despite flying in that morning and having to deal with the emotion the Giants would be playing with in the wake of Super Hurricane Sandy.
Pittsburgh did a great job of sticking with the running game despite falling behind early. Isaac Redman, starting because both Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer were out, rushed for 147 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
Falcons 19, Cowboys 13
On offense, Kevin Ogletree and Miles Austin-Jones both had easy drops on third down that would have moved the chains and kept drives alive in Atlanta territory. This would have given the Cowboys a pair of field-goal opportunities at the very least, which is key because they lost by two field goals. Also, Dallas had seven plays in the red zone in the opening quarter and gained just 19 yards.
On special teams, Dallas had a nice punt to pin the Falcons at their own 6-yard line at the end of the third quarter. The Cowboys committed a penalty, however, which gave Atlanta possession at the 20. The Falcons would go on to score a touchdown on the drive, breaking the 6-6 tie.
On defense, the Cowboys had several opportunities to stop Atlanta and force a punt in the final minutes. However, Orlando Scandrick missed a tackle on Jacquizz Rodgers and then was whistled for a hold on Roddy White, allowing the Falcons to move the chains, eat up more time on the clock and kick the covering 32-yard field goal, prompting Al Michaels to give us his obligatory gambling reference.
For thoughts on Saints-Eagles, check out my updated 2012 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.
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