Week 10 NFL Game Recaps
Colts 27, Jaguars 10
The Colts won this game by 17, but you can't really say that they vastly outplayed the Jaguars, or anything. They had just four more first downs and 22 more net yards. Jacksonville simply made terrible mistakes, and Indianapolis was able to capitalize on them. The Colts deserve credit for that.
The Jaguars' first error came in the first quarter when Josh Scobee, who hadn't missed a field goal since Thanksgiving last year, whiffed on a try from 44 yards. Indianapolis took over, but Andrew Luck tossed an interception to Aaron Ross - except that it was wiped out by a stupid Andre Branch roughing-the-passer penalty because he hit the quarterback in the helmet. The Colts maintained possession and eventually scored on a Luck rushing touchdown.
On the next possession, Laurent Robinson fumbled in Indianapolis territory. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock thought Robinson was down by contact, but official Terry McAuley ruled that it was a fumble after a review - the first of many shady calls to go against Jacksonville in this contest. The Colts took over and scored on another Luck rushing touchdown. Luck ran a quarterback sneak this time and barely got over the goal line. When the refs apparently failed to review the score, head coach Mike Mularkey threw his clipboard in disgust and was flagged for a 15-yard penalty.
The score, at this point, was 17-0. Jacksonville added a field goal prior to halftime amid more mistakes, including a big loss on a Blaine Gabbert sack that ruined a scoring opportunity. The refs also pitched in, ruling a 30-yard Cecil Shorts reception as incomplete. Mayock was even more convinced that Shorts caught the ball along the sideline and was completely taken aback when McAuley ruled it as non-catch.
The Jaguars still had a chance, down 17-3 with possession at the beginning of the third quarter, but Gabbert threw the ball behind Shorts to have it intercepted by Darius Butler for an 11-yard pick-six. Game, set, match.
Gabbert was replaced by a slightly better Chad Henne, who went 10-of-16 for 121 yards, a touchdown to Cecil Shorts (6-105) and an interception.
All of these describe Smith's position. I criticized Smith this offseason for taking the homoclitic stance on the quarterback position (all while members in the front office thought that Gabbert was a lemon). Smith should have admitted that he made a mistake on Gabbert; that Gabbert was a sunk cost and that he had to move in a different direction before it was too late. Well, it is too late, and not thinking outside the box has been Smith's undoing.
Jaguar fans, check out my 2013 NFL Mock Draft for some hope.
Ravens 55, Raiders 20
As for the Raiders? They can't even say they gave any sort of effort.
It was pathetic. Oakland allowed the offensively challenged Ravens' scoring attack to do whatever it wanted. Baltimore picked up 419 yards of offense. Meanwhile, the Raiders once again killed themselves with stupid mistakes. They committed 10 penalties. On one instance, they were guilty of an offensive pass interference in the end zone, which was kind of bogus, but it didn't matter because Carson Palmer overthrew an open Brandon Myers by a mile. Earlier, Palmer tripped over his lineman's feet while going for it on a 4th-and-1 at midfield on the opening drive.
The Raiders had no answer for Joe Flacco and Baltimore's downfield passing attack. Flacco went 21-of-33 for 341 yards, three touchdowns and a fluky interception that was deflected and popped into the air. Oakland failed to sack him a single time, and because of this, Flacco was able to locate his receivers deep down the field on numerous occasions. He completed five passes of 26-plus yards.
I couldn't believe Harbaugh did this. There's no reason to show up the Raiders like that. It's not like there's some hatred with them like there is with Pittsburgh. Just kick the damn field goal, John.
Broncos 36, Panthers 14
Now, could Peyton Manning just have scored on an ensuing drive without the help of Holliday? Absolutely - he was on fire the entire afternoon - but the fact that something so shady went down makes me believe that Carolina never had a chance anyway.
Why was this so important? Well, even though the final score was 36-14, it was the difference in the game. With a double-digit lead, the Broncos were able to tee off on Cam Newton. They pressured him relentlessly, recording seven sacks - a ridiculous number considering Elvis Dumervil's shoulder injury (he left in the second quarter). Denver even stripped Newton once - a recurring problem this year - and intercepted him twice. One of the picks, which was returned for a touchdown, was an extremely dumb throw. Newton was under heavy pressure and forced a pass to prevent a sack. It was taken back 40 yards by Tony Carter.
Newton went 21-of-36 for 241 yards, two touchdowns (one in garbage time) and the aforementioned two picks. What's puzzling is that he had just four scrambles for seven rushing yards. Newton needs to stop trying to become a passing quarterback. His best trait is running the ball. If he doesn't take advantage of that, he's only making things easier for the opposition.
Bengals 31, Giants 13
You can't say this result is much of a surprise though. The Giants have played sluggishly on both sides of the ball the past few weeks. They were even worse in this contest, though they didn't exactly have to bring their A-effort because this game was largely irrelevant. They were playing a non-conference opponent right before their bye, all while sitting comfortably in first place of their division. A loss like this doesn't exactly mean much.
What New York needs most is rest. Several NFL analysts have concluded that Eli Manning has a tired arm. He may also be fatigued mentally because he made numerous terrible decisions in this contest. He made consecutive poor mistakes in the second half, firing dumb interceptions, both of which led to Cincinnati touchdowns. He was also strip-sacked. Manning finished 29-of-46 for just 215 yards otherwise.
Titans 37, Dolphins 3
How's this for weird? By halftime, Miami had outgained Tennessee, 154-120. Jake Locker had just four completions. But despite this, the Titans were destroying Dolphins, 24-3.
It all started when Reggie Bush lost a fumble after a 15-yard gain on the second drive. Tennessee took over, and Locker quickly threw a touchdown to Kendall Wright. Later on, a Ryan Tannehill pass was tipped, picked and returned for six. Tannehill would then toss another interception because he forced a throw. This led to another Titan score.
As all of this was going on, the Dolphins were killing themselves with penalties (five in the first half). Mix in poor tackling on both Chris Johnson and Locker, and that was the perfect recipe for their complete first-half meltdown.
Vikings 34, Lions 24
Peterson rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. He was awesome, showcasing his unbelievable talent. The Lions simply had no answer for him.
Ponder was locked in on rookie receiver Jarius Wright early. He hit him with a 54-yard bomb on the opening drive and then tossed a 3-yard touchdown to him in the end zone. Wright (3-65, TD) had just three more targets after the score (including one drop), as Ponder began focusing more on Kyle Rudolph (7-64, TD) once again. It was nice to see Rudolph emerge as a weapon in the passing game again because he disappeared for a few weeks, which happened to coincide with Ponder's recent struggles.
The early give-away came via a Matthew Stafford interception. He forced a poor throw on third-and-long for some reason. He would end up finishing 28-of-42 for 329 yards, three touchdowns and that pick, but most of this was junk yardage, as his team was down by double digits for most of the afternoon.
The other turnover was Calvin Johnson's fault. Megatron fumbled the ball near midfield, disrupting what appeared to be a promising drive. On the bright side, Johnson finally caught a touchdown from Stafford - amazingly, his first of the year. Things looked bleak when Megatron was tackled inside the 2-yard line yet again on one instance, only to see another score go to someone else, but he would end up finding the end zone later in the game. He finished with 12 catches for a whopping 207 yards.
Patriots 37, Bills 31
- The Bills had a ridiculous 14 penalties for a whopping 148 yards. It was evident that this would be a problem early. They had a 3rd-and-1 on their opening drive, but that quickly transformed into a 3rd-and-21 because of a series of infractions, one of which negated a 14-yard completion.
- Some of the penalties were more crucial than others. On one New England possession, the Bills committed a pass interference on a 3rd-and-15. Rookie corner Stephon Gilmore then was guilty of a face mask and a pass interference, though the ball landed five yards out of the back of the end zone. This was a gift touchdown awarded to the Patriots when they should have been punting from deep in their own territory.
- Fitzpatrick was strip-sacked for the second week in a row. The turnover gave the Patriots a first-and-goal.
- Fred Jackson fumbled twice, which is amusing because the Bills talked about giving C.J. Spiller more touches all week. The first was a killer because it came at the goal line. The second was reviewed and ruled a non-fumble, but it cost Buffalo its final timeout because Jackson was injured on the play (a possible concussion).
The lack of touches Spiller received was alarming. He had 11 last week and was given just two more at New England. He had nine carries for 70 rushing yards and four catches for 61 receiving yards. He did so much more with the football than Jackson (16-80; 4-35) and didn't even cough it up. You have to wonder what Chan Gailey is thinking with this bizarre strategy.
Saints 31, Falcons 27
The Falcons had some close calls entering this game but managed to win them all despite struggling in the red zone. That finally cost them, as they converted just three of six tries deep in New Orleans territory, including one instance late in the game in which a Matt Ryan incompletion on fourth down all but ensured a New Orleans victory.
Buccaneers 34, Chargers 24
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Two big plays by Tampa Bay's special teams and defense ended up being the difference in this game. The Bucs took the lead in the first half when Dekoda Watson blocked a punt, and it was returned by Adam Hayward 29 yards for a touchdown. San Diego was down 21-24 in the fourth quarter, but close to taking the lead, when Philip Rivers threw a bone-headed interception to Leonard Johnson that was returned 82 yards for a touchdown and a 31-21 Tampa Bay lead. There was no receiver even close and the pass was thrown right between Johnson's numbers for a gimme pick-six. That iced the game for the Buccaneers.
Gates had Barron beaten for another touchdown, but Rivers had a poorly underthrown pass to let Barron recover for the pass breakup. The Chargers took the lead just before halftime with Rivers throwing a fastball for a short touchdown pass to Malcolm Floyd.
Freeman completed 14-of-20 passes for 210 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Martin carried the ball 19 times for 68 yards.
Seahawks 28, Jets 7
There were a couple of instances that epitomized the Jets' futility extremely well. The first occurred when Tim Tebow lined up at quarterback with Mark Sanchez split out wide. Sanchez appeared to false start, though the official whistled another Jet for the infraction. It was hilarious that Sanchez would perhaps subconsciously sabotage one of Tebow's rare plays. So, anyway, New York was called for a 5-yard penalty. What did Tebow do on the next play? Nothing. Because he was on the sideline again!
The other occurrence took place near the end of the second quarter. Tebow was stationed at quarterback, but there was yet another false start. The coaching staff took Tebow off the field and replaced him with Sanchez, who threw an interception on the very next play. It wasn't even difficult for Seattle; second-year corner Richard Sherman baited Sanchez into the pick.
It's a complete joke that the Jets are continuing to lie to themselves at Sanchez. He sucks. He absolutely sucks, and he needs to be benched immediately. He finished 9-of-22 for 124 yards and the aforementioned pick. Tebow, meanwhile, completed all three of his passes (for eight yards) and also picked up 14 rushing yards on four scrambles.
Wilson did finish strongly though. He made some great plays in the second half, which includes a 31-yard touchdown to Sidney Rice (2-54). Rice caught another score from Golden Tate (2-51, TD) on a trick play.
Cowboys 38, Eagles 23
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Aside from the result, the big news of the game was Michael Vick leaving with a concussion. He was popped by linebacker Ernie Sims and defensive tackle Jay Ratliff during the second quarter. The trainers took Vick to the locker room and ruled him out for the game.
Rookie signal-caller Nick Foles stepped in for Vick and had some nice passes in his first plays, but almost threw a pick-six to Orlando Scandrick. Foles put the Eagles in the lead early in the third quarter with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Maclin (8-93). Maclin ran a go route down the seam and was left completely uncovered by the Cowboys' safeties. The rookie rolled out and dropped in a precision pass.
Foles got lucky in the fourth quarter when a bad interception was negated by a Dallas penalty. His luck ran out on the next drive, however, when he threw a pass behind Jackson. The pass pin-balled around before Brandon Carr snatched it and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown.
Foles moved the ball to set up a short touchdown run with just under two minutes left. The Eagles had one more shot, but Anthony Spencer started a strip sack that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Jason Hatcher.
Foles finished 22-of-32 for 219 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He flashed good and bad, and he doesn't look ready to take the league by storm. Philadelphia's play-calling was once again pathetic about using LeSean McCoy (16-82 rushing, 4-20 receiving).
Romo made an insane play during the third quarter on which he dodged three defenders to make a throw downfield for a 25-yard completion to Miles Austin (2-32). Romo threw for the end zone on the drive, and Bryant laid out for the ball. It was a bad call and ruled a 30-yard touchdown, as the ball had clearly rolled on the ground.
There also was a pass interference penalty called on Rodgers-Cromartie. However, the officials botched the review and kept it a Dallas touchdown to tie the score at 17 entering the fourth quarter. Dwayne Harris gave the Cowboys the lead with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown just a bit later.
Romo finished the game completing 19-of-26 passes for 209 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. Jason Witten (8-47) had a modest contribution.
Eagles right tackle King Dunlap had some costly penalties with a hold to negate a good run by McCoy and a facemask that wiped out a good pass from Foles that would've set up a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Dunlap added another hands to the face penalty in the fourth quarter. As if the penalties weren't enough, Dunlap was getting abused by Dallas.
49ers 24, Rams 24
Having said that, it's very fitting that these teams tied - the first time this has happened since Donovan McNabb's ignorant revelation in 2008 - because both the Rams and 49ers completely mirrored each other. Both ran the ball extremely well. Both tried their best to control the time of possession. And both shot themselves in the foot to sabotage a potential victory.
As for San Francisco, Frank Gore collected 97 yards and a score on 21 attempts, while Colin Kaepernick scrambled on eight occasions for 66 yards and a touchdown.
The infraction that wiped out Amendola's near-game-winner was just one of 13 St. Louis committed. In fact, it wasn't even the only one that eliminated a play by Amendola that almost resulted in a touchdown. An illegal block above the waste negated an Amendola punt return to the San Francisco 2-yard line.
St. Louis had some stupid penalties, like a delay-of-game on a 3rd-and-2 on a good-looking drive. Another delay of game was much more costly, however, as it was called just as Greg Zuerlein nailed the decisive 53-yard field goal in overtime. The Rams were pushed back five yards, and on cue, Zuerlein was wide right from 58.
Texans 13, Bears 6
It might have been apparent that this wasn't going to be the Bears' day when they committed a pair of turnovers in the first quarter. Kellen Davis fumbled near midfield and then Michael Bush coughed the ball up deep in Houston territory after converting a 4th-and-1. Davis, by the way, had a brutal performance. He struggled in terms of blocking, committed that fumble and dropped several passes. He was booed off the field after suffering an injury in the fourth quarter. Somewhere in a Pittsburgh hotel room, Eric Winston was seething.
The worst turnover transpired near the end of the first half. While scrambling, Jay Cutler threw a short completion to Devin Hester. It was incorrectly ruled an illegal forward pass because the officials said he was over the line of scrimmage. However, Cutler was drilled on the play. Later on the same drive, Cutler tossed an ugly interception because he slipped and then apparently misread the coverage. What really happened though was that Cutler was playing through a concussion. He was removed from the contest at halftime and never came back. He finished 7-of-14 for 40 yards and two picks.
Jason Campbell took over right after intermission. He didn't turn the ball over, but he certainly didn't do anything positive either. He threw mostly checkdowns and converted just four first downs, finishing 11-of-19 for 94 yards.
For thoughts on Steelers-Chiefs, check out my updated 2012 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.
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