This game was absolutely ridiculous. It was never in doubt, as the Falcons scored almost every single time they had the ball. They effortlessly went down the field each time without any sort of resistance in what was the biggest blowout in Thursday Night Football history. They could have scored 100 points if they really wanted to.
It didn't even look like the Falcons were exerting any energy. Ryan completed 11 out of his first 12 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. His only moment of adversity when this game was still remotely close on the scoreboard was a third-and-17 in which he found Julio Jones for exactly that many yards. Devin Hester ran a 20-yard reverse into the end zone on the very next play to make it 28-0 on the first snap of the second quarter. Game, set, match.
Hester made history in this game, as he later ran in a punt return touchdown. That was his 19th return score of his career, surpassing Deion Sanders' record of 18 in the Hall of Famer's old stomping grounds. The officials tried to spoil the moment by throwing a flag for taunting while Hester was high-stepping in an attempt to mimic Sanders, but it turned out to be inconsequential. Hester and Sanders embraced after the contest was over.
The poor Buccaneers had everything go wrong for them. Bobby Rainey dropped a pass early on during a third down. Mark Barron recovered a fumble during an Atlanta drive, but he also lost the ball when Hester knocked it out. Josh McCown was pick-sixed on a telegraphed throw. Rainey lost a fumble on what appeared to secure the team's initial first down. Tampa recovered an Antone Smith fumble at its own 1-yard line, but following a three-and-out, Hester did this thing and expanded the lead to 35-0. All the Tampa players could do was sit on the sidelines, staring vacantly into the distance.
Ryan finished 21-of-24 for 286 yards and three yards. He was pulled in the third quarter because the game was so out of hand. It was nice to see him so locked in after last week's loss. Sure, the Buccaneers were missing some very key personnel in Gerald McCoy, Michael Johnson and Mason Foster, but Ryan didn't have Roddy White's services. He also lost Harry Douglas (2 catches, 14 yards, TD) to an injury in the second quarter. Douglas walked to the locker room with a limp.
With White out, Julio Jones was more productive than usual, catching nine balls for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Not bad for two-and-a-half quarters of work. Jones was the recipient of that third-and-17 heave that helped put this game away, but his best reception was a remarkable over-the-shoulder catch in the third quarter that turned out to be 40-yard score.
Aside from Hester's rushing touchdown, the Falcons scored twice on the ground with Steven Jackson (14-54) and Antone Smith (4-50) in garbage time. Jackson wasn't great or anything, but he didn't look like a slow plodder in this game. The offensive line was most responsible for his production, however, as it blasted open massive holes for him versus a depleted defense. Meanwhile, Devonta Freeman (11 carries, 12 yards), struggled to do much. He lost a fumble in the second half.
As for the Buccaneers, McCown was an absolute train wreck. He went 5-of-12 for 58 yards and the telegraphed pick-six before leaving the game with an injury that he sustained when he banged his hand on a helmet. McCown couldn't do anything while he was in the game, as he missed routine passes badly. The Buccaneers didn't even achieve a first down until the 6:51 mark of the second quarter.
Mike Glennon was better, but only by default. He went 17-of-24 for only 121 yards and a touchdown. Most of what Glennon did was throw checkdowns to Rainey, but that was a huge upgrade over anything McCown accomplished. A rare exception was a near-interception by Desmond Trufant.
Speaking of Rainey, he was a huge disappointment. He lost two fumbles and dropped a pass. Mike James entered the game after each of the two fumbles, but Lovie Smith kept sticking with Rainey, who was filling in for an injured Doug Martin. Rainey finished with 41 yards on 11 carries as well as a whopping seven catches for 64 receiving yards.
Vincent Jackson also struggled. Some of it was the quarterback play, but Jackson seemed to quit on some of his routes. He didn't catch a pass until there were 10 minutes remaining in regulation. Fortunately for his fantasy owners, his second reception, a 3-yarder, was in the end zone. He got away with blatant offensive pass interference by pushing off the cornerback, but the official may have let go because the game was so out of hand. Mike Evans, meanwhile, logged four grabs for 52 yards.
Jackson performed like a lazy bum, but the Buccaneers' worst player by a mile was center Evan Dietrich-Smith. The former Packer kicked things off by botching a snap, giving the Falcons possession at the Atlanta 2-yard line. He was then whistled for two personal foul penalties for headbutting (seriously), and he capped off his night by snapping the ball to Glennon as if the quarterback were under center when he happened to be in the shotgun. Dietrich-Smith was simply not paying attention to what was going on. Lovie Smith should consider benching him, but his center is just one of his many problems.
Bengals 33, Titans 7
It seemed like A.J. Green wouldn't be able to play in this game when he suffered a turf toe against the Falcons, but the All-Pro receiver's health improved markedly as the week progressed. Green made a statement early on, making some great catches. The rest of the offense wasn't as explosive right away, as their red-zone struggles continued, but they eventually solved Tennessee's putrid secondary and came away with a blowout victory.
Green caught six balls for 102 yards. This does not include a deep pass interference that he drew in the end zone when a clueless Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who struggled mightily in this contest, didn't bother playing the ball. Wreh-Wilson was exposed again on a trick play. For the second-consecutive week, Mohamed Sanu threw a touchdown pass, this time to Andy Dalton. Wreh-Wilson tried to half-intercept the ball and half-bring down Dalton, who easily avoided a pathetic cornerback.
The touchdown reception was one of Dalton's few bright moments of the afternoon. He was pretty mediocre, going 15-of-23 for 169 yards and an interception which occurred on a horrible attempt at a screen pass. Dalton is mostly responsible for his team's struggles in the red zone, and it's not going to get easier for him because he just battled two pretty weak defenses.
Cincinnati scored thrice on the ground. Giovani Bernard found the end zone on a couple of occasions, but struggled to find running room, gaining 47 yards on 14 carries. Jeremy Hill (7-39) had a late touchdown.
Excluding Green, only one Bengal accumulated more than a single reception. That was Sanu, who hauled in five of his eight targets for 44 yards.
As for Tennessee, when news broke of Rob Bironas' passing Sunday morning, I wondered if the Titans would be distracted. Many of the players were teammates with Bironas, so the news had to devastate them. Sure enough, the Titans moved the chains well on occasion, but made plenty of mistakes in this game, which seemed to indicate that their minds were elsewhere. Even his non-teammates struggled mentally, as Ryan Succop whiffed on two field goals in the opening half. Succop didn't play with Bironas, but he did replace him this offseason.
Jake Locker was dreadful. He went 17-of-34 for 185 yards and two interceptions, both of which occurred in the opening half. One of the picks was heaved behind his target. The other was thrown way late across his body after Dalton's interception. It was a crushing turnover because it appeared as though Tennessee would be able to get back into the game once Dalton gave it away. Locker could have easily thrown more interceptions, including one that looked like it was going back for six. He made up for a bit statistically with 50 rushing yards on six scrambles, but with more games like this, it's fair to wonder if we'll see Zach Mettenberger anytime soon.
It would be nice if the Titans showcased their other offensive rookie sometime soon. Shonn Greene started again and did absolutely nothing on nine of his 10 carries. His 10 attempts went for 33 yards and a late, meaningless touchdown. Bishop Sankey, meanwhile, got some work and predictably was way more impressive. He gained 61 yards on 10 carries. More than half of that came following intermission.
Kendall Wright led the team with 10 targets. He hauled in five passes for 44 yards, but hurt his team by falling down in the red zone, forcing a Locker incompletion. Meanwhile, Delanie Walker (4-54) and Justin Hunter (3-37) were next with seven targets each. Pacman Jones had issues with Tennessee's wideouts, as he missed several tackles.
Editor's Note: I understand why Buffalo fans got their hopes up - they haven't had a winner this millenium - but next time, the fans should wait until they have a capable quarterback.
The Chargers cruised to an easy win over the Bills as Philip Rivers had an efficient game while the San Diego defense shut down E.J. Manuel and the Buffalo offense with ease. It isn't easy for West Coast teams playing an early start on the East Coast, but with the talent and coaching discrepancy between these two teams, the Chargers had no problems dispatching the Bills.
San Diego got on the board first when Rivers hit a 49-yard pass to Malcom Floyd (2-98) that set up a short touchdown pass to Eddie Royal. In the second quarter, Manuel made a great play as he broke three tackles in the backfield before dumping off a pass to Scott Chandler (5-74), who broke downfield for a 37-yard gain. It was really the only special play that Manuel made all day. That led to a Buffalo field goal. Rivers came back to hit Floyd for a 49-yard catch after he beat Leodis McKelvin down the middle of the field. That set up a field goal and a 13-3 halftime lead for San Diego.
Rivers picked apart Buffalo after halftime to move down the field before firing a bullet to Royal (4-42) for a short touchdown. Following the Chargers' score, the Bills finally put a good drive together that finished off with a short touchdown toss to Fred Jackson. The Bills were starting to move the ball again before Manuel took a terrible loss on a sack, and he was fortunate that a teammate recovered his fumble.
In the fourth quarter, the Bills were at midfield when Donald Butler had a great tackle on third-and-1 for a loss of two. Manuel threw the ball to nobody on fourth down. Buffalo's offensive line played like garbage in the fourth quarter, including allowing a safety in the final minutes.
Rivers completed 18-of-25 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns. Donald Brown (31-62) led the Chargers on the ground. Ladarius Green (4-64) made some plays, while Antonio Gates had only one catch for eight yards. Keenan Allen (2-17) continued to disappoint his fantasy owners.
Manuel was 23-of-39 for 238 yards with a touchdown. The Bills' best offensive weapon was Jackson, as he caught eight passes for 78 yards and ran six times for 34 yards. C.J. Spiller (10-25 rushing, 3-37 receiving), Sammy Watkins (2-19), Robert Woods (3-19) and Mike Williams (2-11) were all held in check.
San Diego's front seven had an excellent game while the Bills' offensive line played terribly. Cordy Glenn, Erik Pears and Seantrel Henderson all had some issues in pass protection. Kendall Reyes, Corey Liuget and Dwight Freeney all collected sacks, plus Liuget forced a fumble. Eric Weddle (10 tackles) and Brandon Flowers played well to lead the Chargers' secondary.
Buffalo's front seven played well with Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus standing out. The team's defensive problems came in the secondary.
Charger running back Danny Woodhead had to be carted off the field after an ugly leg injury. It looked very serious.
Ravens 23, Browns 21
This was a painful loss for the Browns because they seemingly had this one. They maintained multiple leads in the fourth quarter, including one in the final seconds. However, they just weren't able to eat up enough time on the clock, and thanks to a Steve Smith drawn pass interference, the clutch Justin Tucker delivered a game-winning field goal for Baltimore.
The Browns and Ravens played pretty evenly, as the latter won the yardage battle by only two. Baltimore had no answer for the pass, while Cleveland struggled with defending the run. The Raven backs combined for 154 yards on 29 carries despite Bernard Pierce's absence. Cleveland did have a big defensive stand where they stopped both Baltimore runners, but it ultimately did not matter because the visitor prevailed.
Brian Hoyer played well in this loss. He misfired just six times, going 19-of-25 for 290 yards and a touchdown. He had a stupid moment where he threw what briefly looked like a second score, but was flagged for an illegal forward pass because he was five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Hoyer had another pass that was wiped out by penalty when he hit Johnny Manziel - on a trick play in which Manziel pretended to go to the sideline to talk to Kyle Shanahan - for a big gain. However, the play was nullified by an illegal shift.
Hoyer's sole score went to Miles Austin (6-51), but his main target was Andrew Hawkins, who reeled in seven of 10 targets for 87 yards. This was despite Jordan Cameron's return to the lineup. Cameron had just one catch for 23 yards, but made it count, as it came on a second-and-20 that resulted in a scoring drive. Cameron also drew a pass interference in the end zone on that very same possession.
The Browns had their two backs split carries. Terrance West (12-36) started, but was outgained by Isaiah Crowell (11-55). Both scored touchdowns.
As mentioned, the Ravens had so much success on the ground. Justin Forsett was expected to start with Pierce missing in action, but he received just 11 carries compared to 18 that went to Lorenzo Taliaferro. Both looked good, with Taliaferro outgaining Forsett, 91-63. The former found the end zone.
Joe Flacco had a devastating afternoon; not that he played poorly or anything, but because he lost one of his favorite targets, Dennis Pitta, who was carted off when his leg gave out on him. He wasn't contacted; he just collapsed. Pitta was later diagonsed with a dislocated hip - the same one that caused him to miss most of 2013. Pitta might be done for the season.
Flacco still managed to persevere, finishing 19-of-31 for 217 yards, one touchdown and an interception that occurred because he released the ball as he was getting hit. It must be noted that he converted on just eight of 16 attempts following intermission when he didn't have Pitta at his disposal. However, he made that clutch completion to Steve Smith at the very end, which allowed Tucker to ice this game.
Steve Smith was once again Baltimore's leading receiver. He caught five passes for 101 yards. Torrey Smith was targeted eight times, but had another dud outing (2-25).
Flacco's sole score went to Kyle Juszczyk. He didn't look much toward Owen Daniels despite Pitta's injury; Daniels had just one reception for eight yards.
Lions 19, Packers 7
The Lions tried their best to blow this game. They really did. They played classic Lions' football, but the Packers "out-Lioned" the Lions, if that makes any sense.
I don't know what's going on with Green Bay, but the team seems to be very interested in trailing almost instantly. For the second-consecutive week, the offense lost a fumble that led to a touchdown for the opposition. It was a botched snap last week, and it was an Eddie Lacy fumble in this contest. Detroit returned the lost ball for six. It was Lacy's first fumble since Week 1 of his rookie campaign.
The offensive line hurt Green Bay big time otherwise. It was responsible for a safety when Lacy was tackled in his own end zone. The unit couldn't protect Aaron Rodgers at all either. The stat sheet says Rodgers was sacked only twice, but he was constantly under siege, which forced inaccurate and thrown-away attempts. He made some nice plays, including one on third-and-10 when he scrambled around and found a diving Jordy Nelson along the sideline, but the positives were few and far between.
Rodgers had a horrifying stat line for his fantasy owners, going 16-of-27 for 162 yards and a touchdown. He was way off all afternoon. The pressure really made him flustered, and some drops and miscommunications with his receivers didn't help - including one with Davante Adams in the red zone - but he missed some routine throws, including one to Nelson in the red zone that iced the game for the Lions.
Rodgers' sole score went to Andrew Quarless. Both Nelson (5-59) and Randall Cobb (3-29) were major disappointments for their fantasy owners.
Lacy seemed to be benched temporarily in favor of James Starks, but it didn't matter because save for two carries, Green Bay couldn't run the ball whatsoever. Lacy mustered just 36 yards on 11 attempts, which included the aforementioned safety.
The Lions would've won this game had they not shot themselves in the foot repeatedly. Of course, this is like saying people would like King Joffrey if he wasn't such a dick. Detroit made so many unforced errors. I publish a list every week. Here's this Sunday's edition:
- Matthew Stafford was picked off by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on a high throw that was tipped.
- Stephen Tulloch injured himself while celebrating a sack.
- Stafford was picked off again on an overthrow to Calvin Johnson. This, however, was a blessing in disguise, as the Packers took over at the 1-yard line (a terrible call that angered Mike McCarthy), where they had their aforementioned safety.
- The Lions missed a field goal right before halftime. Once again, I'll ask where Kickalicious is.
- Stafford was strip-sacked in the red zone by Julius Peppers. The former Bear recovered the ball as well.
Stafford had the three turnovers, but he was sharp otherwise. He finished 22-of-34 for 246 yards, doing a good job of moving the chains when he wasn't giving the ball away. He predictably targeted Calvin Johnson more than anyone else. Megatron hauled in six balls for 82 yards.
Reggie Bush (12-61) saw fewer carries than Joique Bell (15-33), but he had a strong outing, scoring a touchdown and also reeling in six catches for 38 receiving yards. Bush's end-zone trip came because Clay Matthews was out of the lineup with a groin, and his replacement, Mike Neal, failed to set the edge.
Colts 44, Jaguars 17
Everyone trashed the Buccaneers for their Thursday night effort, but this was much, much worse. Tampa was playing a road game on a short week without three of its best defensive players, including arguably the top defensive tackle in the NFL. The Jaguars, on the other hand, got back their stud safety (John Cyprien) and were playing at home on normal rest.
The Jaguars were epically bad in the first half. They managed just two first downs, and they were outgained, 330-55. The crowd continuously chanted, "We want Bortles!" but Gus Bradley seemingly had no intentions of answering their wishes. Instead, he continued to do stupid things like throwing a challenge flag inside of two minutes. He was correct in that it was a bad call, but he cost his team a timeout because he wasn't aware of the rules.
Bradley finally gave the fans what they wanted by using Blake Bortles following intermission. Bortles did not play well, as most of his yardage - 14-of-24, 223 yards, two touchdowns, two picks - came late in the fourth quarter during garbage time, but he was a huge improvement over Chad Henne (4-7, 33 yards). One of Bortles' picks was returned the other way as he threw late across his body. However, a late score of his was highly entertaining, as he pulled a Dan Marino, faking a spike and delivering the ball to Cecil Shorts. The other touchdown was all Allen Hurns, who impressively broke free of a tackle.
There's not much else to say about Jacksonville's inept offense except that it wasn't as awful as the defense. Andrew Luck basically did whatever he wanted in this contest, going 31-of-39 for 370 yards and four touchdowns. He would've thrown a fifth score, but Cody Fleener dropped a pass in the end zone (shocker). Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton tried to ruin another potential victory by involving Trent Richardson early, but the Jaguars were so miserable that they allowed Indianapolis to score every single time it possessed the ball in the opening half.
Luck's four scores went to different players: Hakeem Nicks (4-50), Fleener (4-49), Dwayne Allen (4-43) and Ahmad Bradshaw. However, his top yardage-producer was T.Y. Hilton (5-80) even though the speedy receiver injured his ankle in the second quarter. Chuck Pagano said he didn't think Hilton's ankle issue was too severe.
Richardson, as mentioned, got work early, but finished the game with just 14 carries for 57 yards. He did nothing outside of a 27-yard burst, as he was stuffed at the goal line twice. Bradshaw was once again so much more dynamic, as he generated more rushing yards (65) on fewer attempts (9). If the Colts didn't trade a first-rounder for Richardson, Bradshaw would be starting.
Patriots 16, Raiders 9
The Patriots are completely lost on offense. It's really bad. It seems like they can't do anything correctly, and they were incredibly inept in this contest despite battling a defense that wasn't able to stop Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick during the first two weeks of the season. New England produced just 16 points and only 297 net yards of offense, outgaining Oakland by a meager 56 yards.
The offensive line is the biggest issue. I feel like I wrote the same exact thing about the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but the two sacks Tom Brady took are highly misleading. He was constantly under pressure and couldn't get anything going downfield. The front was also responsible for a bad snap on third-and-goal right before halftime.
Having said that, Brady is not exempt from blame. He put together a dreadful performance, especially considering his competition. He went 24-of-37 for 234 yards and a touchdown. That doesn't look like a terrible stat line, but Brady missed several open receivers, and most of his completions were short throws to Julian Edelman (10-84), who was targeted 13 times. Brady was also nearly picked off a couple of times, including once late in the red zone.
Rob Gronkowski not being healthy is another issue for the Patriots. Gronkowski (3-44) made his fantasy owners happy with a touchdown, but he should have reeled in a second score, but flat out dropped it. The ball was actually in his hands, and it simply appeared as though he let it fall out intentionally.
It's amazing the Raiders nearly won this game despite Derek Carr being 21-of-34 for just 174 yards and an interception. Oakland was in position to tie the game, and it appeared as though they did for a second on a Darren McFadden touchdown, but a weak hold wiped that out. Carr then proceeded to toss a pick to seal this victory for New England.
Carr, who spent most of the afternoon either locking in on covered receivers or mimicking Brady with his dinks and dunks, threw most to Denarius Moore (3-23) and Marcel Reece (3-19). James Jones led the team in yardage (3-43), but couldn't do much because Darrelle Revis shadowed him in the second half.
McFadden handled almost all of the workload with Maurice Jones-Drew out. He didn't do anything spectacular, gaining 59 yards on 18 carries. He fumbled during the first half, but he was fortunate to see his team recover the ball after it bounced around into what seemed like five different players' arms.
Saints 20, Vikings 9
The Saints managed to finally get into the win column, but they're not going to have any sort of chance at reaching the Super Bowl if they don't improve defensively. The stop unit embarrassed itself once again with horrible tackles and blown coverages. It couldn't get off the field at all, which limited New Orleans' offensive output.
It's a shame for Drew Brees because he was on fire to start this game. He opened 9-of-9 for 108 yards and a touchdown on his first couple of possessions. However, he couldn't put any more points on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter. He was able to lead his team on a scoring drive following a dirty hit that energized him. He then completely kept the ball away from the Vikings on the ensuing drive.
Brees finished 27-of-35 for 293 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line was an issue in the second half when center Jonathan Goodwin went down with an injury. The backup center botched a snap on the very next play.
The Vikings did everything in their power to stop the Brees-to-Jimmy Graham connection, yet the athletic tight end was still second on the team in receiving yardage (6-54), though he dropped a pass in the fourth quarter. Brandin Cooks paced the Saints with eight receptions and 74 yards. Brees' scores went to backup tight end Josh Hill and Marques Colston (2-25).
With Mark Ingram out, Khiry Robinson received most of the carries, gaining 69 yards on 18 attempts. However, Pierre Thomas vultured a touchdown while tallying 30 yards on eight tries. Thomas didn't do as much in the passing game as he usually does, logging three catches for 21 receiving yards.
As for the Vikings, their fans saw the beginning of the Teddy Bridgewater era. The crowd chanted for Bridgewater last week, so they finally got their wish when Matt Cassel (5-of-10, 53 yards) was carted off with an injury.
Bridgewater went 12-of-20 for 150 yards as well as six scrambles for 27 rushing yards. He had a mixed performance. He made some nice completions and picked up first downs with his legs. He also showed nice composure amid the insane crowd noise. However, Bridgewater misfired on some passes he definitely should have hit and struggled to keep drives going despite the New Orleans secondary leaving some of his receivers open. No one was near Cordarrelle Patterson on a couple of instances, which was inexplicable.
Bridgewater's preferred target was Greg Jennings, who hauled in five of his seven targets for 70 yards. Patterson (4-61) was also a moderate contributor. Kyle Rudolph (3-27) left the game with an abdominal injury.
It's worth noting that 47 of Bridgewater's 150 yards came on a short dump-off to Matt Asiata, who advanced nearly half the field thanks in part to Rafael Bush's awful tackling. Bridgewater relied on Asiata heavily in the passing game, as the lumbering running back caught three of his six targets for 36 receiving yards. However, Asiata was once again very unimpressive as a runner, mustering just 35 rushing yards on 12 carries. It's fair to wonder why we haven't seen much of third-round rookie Jerick McKinnon yet.
Left tackle Matt Kalil continued to disappoint. He's had issues in all three games thus far, this time struggling to stop Junior Galette, who collected a sack. On one instance, Bridgewater tripped on Kalil's foot because Galette pushed the blind-side protector into the backfield.
Giants 30, Texans 17
The Texans won their first two games, but no one really took their 2-0 record seriously. The reason was simple: Ryan Fitzpatrick is their the quarterback. Fitzpatrick was able to be an efficient game-manager prior to this contest, but he was finally exposed. He completely hampered Houston's offense, and the Giants could have easily won this game by more than just 13 points.
New York appeared as though it was going to blow yet another victory with horrible mistakes. The team began its comedy of errors with a Larry Donnell fumble in the red zone in the middle of the first quarter. The Giants then botched a snap on a field goal attempt after a big Victor Cruz gain. Damontre Moore followed that up by holding on a nice punt return. The Giants tried their best to lose this game, but Fitzpatrick wouldn't let them.
Fitzpatrick was disgraceful. Don't let the final stats fool you. He finished 20-of-34 for 289 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, but almost all of that positive yardage came in garbage time. By halftime, Fitzpatrick was just 4-of-13 for 39 yards and two picks. He couldn't do anything when this game was still in doubt, as the Texans mustered just 83 yards of offense by the time the third quarter began. One of his interceptions was laughable; he heaved a dying ball to no one in particular, and the Giants were able to take possession on a short field and score more points. If Fitzpatrick keeps playing like this, we'll be seeing Ryan Mallett quite soon.
It hurt Fitzpatrick that he didn't have Arian Foster at his disposal. Bill O'Brien gave Foster too much of a workload in the first couple of weeks, so he wasn't able to go. Alfred Blue posted solid numbers in his absence - 13 carries, 78 yards - but as with Fitzpatrick, most of his yardage came after halftime.
Fitzpatrick couldn't connect at all with Andre Johnson. He threw the ball to Johnson 11 times, but the veteran wideout came away with just four catches for 24 yards. DeAndre Hopkins (6-116) paced Houston in both grabs and receiving yardage.
Eli Manning was the far superior quarterback in this matchup. Shaking off his preseason struggles, Manning went 21-of-28 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He targeted Rueben Randle more than anyone else, but the former LSU product managed just five catches for 27 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, Manning's scores went to Victor Cruz (5-107) and Daniel Fells. Donnell, who screwed up early on, snagged all six of his targets for 45 yards.
Houston's inability to stop Rashad Jennings was a huge reason why the Giants were able to come away with a blowout victory. Though J.J. Watt exploded into the backfield and blew up one of his runs, Jennings still managed to generate 176 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries.
Eagles 37, Redskins 34
All eyes were on DeSean Jackson, who was making his first trip to Philadelphia as an opposing player. Jackson, of course, was a surprise cut in the offseason, so this was his chance to get revenge on his former team. Jackson, who was met with a "wall of boos," as Joe Buck called it, put together a brilliant performance, but the Eagles ultimately had the last laugh because they escaped with a three-point victory.
With all of the Jackson-related emotions, it's no surprise that tempers flared on numerous occasions. It started early when Malcolm Jenkins hit Jackson late. Jackson and Nate Allen punched each other as a consequence, with Allen being the only one who was flagged. A big fight occurred much later when Nick Foles appeared to be intercepted. Chris Baker leveled Foles with a crushing hit on the return, and this was followed by an all-out brawl on the sidelines. Baker and Jason Peters were both ejected for throwing punches.
Ultimately, the Eagles prevailed because Foles was just a bit better than Kirk Cousins. Foles, who was writhing in pain during the final few minutes of the game, went 28-of-42 for 325 yards and three touchdowns. He was way high on some throws, including the one apparent pick that fell through the defensive backs hands and hit the ground. He also missed Brent Celek for a fourth potential score, though he had yet another near-score (to Jeremy Maclin) wiped out by a penalty.
What Foles did was very impressive considering that he had absolutely no help from his running game. Save for an 18-yard carry by Darren Sproles, the Eagle backs did nothing on the ground. LeSean McCoy gained just 22 yards on 20 carries, as Philadelphia's banged-up front couldn't open up any lanes for him. McCoy left the game in the first half with an apparent concussion. The coaches kept McCoy's helmet away from him because of protocol, but McCoy tested negative and was able to return to action shortly afterward. Sproles, meanwhile, lost a fumble in Washington territory.
Two of Foles' touchdowns went to Jordan Matthews (8-59), who redeemed himself after a horrible Monday night performance. However, Maclin was still the team's leading receiver, hauling in eight of his 10 targets for 154 yards and a touchdown. As mentioned, he had a score negated by a penalty. Riley Cooper, meanwhile, wasn't much of a factor with four grabs for 34 yards.
As for Kirk Cousins, he also played well, particularly in the opening half. He went 30-of-48 for 427 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that occurred because of a miscommunication with Niles Paul. Cousins was very hot early, as he got the ball out of his hands quickly and made accurate throws downfield, but cost his team late in the game when he couldn't generate a single yard after his team took over on its final possession right outside of field goal range. Cousins threw way behind Pierre Garcon on fourth down, clinching the victory for Philadelphia.
Cousins went downfield on numerous occasions, and two of his wideouts eclipsed the century yardage mark as a consequence. Garcon paced the team with 11 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown, while Jackson accumulated five catches for 117 yards and a score of his own. Most of Jackson's yardage came on an 81-yard bomb in which he shook off a tackle. He then waltzed into the end zone backward and taunted the Eagle fans with their own celebration. The Philadelphia faithful responded with another chorus of boos.
The Redskins had more success running the ball than the Eagles did, but Alfred Morris didn't have a great performance, or anything. Morris totaled 77 yards on 23 carries. Washington stuck with the ground attack, but couldn't muster anything with it.
Philadelphia lost center Jason Kelce to an abdominal injury. Meanwhile, DeAngelo Hall was carried off the field with an Achilles. He's washington's best corner by far, so if he misses extensive time, it'll make the Redskin pass defense so much worse than it already was.
Cowboys 34, Rams 31
This was a tough one for the Rams. They led 17-0 at one point, and it appeared as though they were going to improve to 2-1. The Cowboys were atrocious early on in all aspects, but Tony Romo caught fire in the second half and was absolutely unstoppable. The Rams had a chance late, but they were down in the first place because their defense couldn't get off the field.
Romo's overall numbers don't look great. He finished 18-of-23 for 217 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. However, these final stats appear to be slightly meager because of a putrid opening half, which included his terrible pick-six that he telegraphed toward Dez Bryant. Following intermission, Romo went 7-of-8 for 128 yards and a pair of scores as well as a 16-yard scramble.
Romo made so many clutch plays in the second half. He picked up a first down on a third-and-13 scramble. He then hurled a 20-yard pass to Terrance Williams on a third-and-14. Romo followed that up by helping Bryant draw a pass interference deep downfield. All of this set up the game-winning score for Dallas, and the team then went up by 10 when Bruce Carter pick-sixed Austin Davis.
Like Romo, DeMarco Murray markedly improved after halftime. Murray lost a fumble in St. Louis territory early on, but finished with 100 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Sixty of his 100 yards came after intermission. He also chipped in as a pass-catcher, hauling in four balls for 31 receiving yards.
Romo's two scores went to Bryant (6-89), who drew that aforementioned key pass interference, and Terrance Williams (2-32). Jason Witten (4-49) didn't do much.
As for the Rams, they were so dominant early on, especially on their opening drive when they went 80 yards on 15 plays. They sucked nearly nine minutes off the clock, and when they were up 17-0, it appeared to be a lock that they were going to pull the upset. However, they did plenty to bungle a potential victory. They made numerous mistakes, including:
- The defense horribly blew a coverage in the third quarter, leaving Bryant wide open. Romo found him for a 68-yard touchdown.
- Jeff Fisher opted to go for it on fourth-and-inches on the Dallas 9-yard line. Zac Stacy was stuffed on a slow-moving play. The field goal that Fisher passed up proved to be the difference in this game. You have to wonder why inept offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer didn't call a quarterback sneak either.
- Jared Cook dropped a touchdown in the second half. He had the ball in his hands, but bobbled it a couple of times. He then proceeded to yell at Davis on the sideline for some reason. He apologized to the team for being a bum afterward.
- Carter, as mentioned, pick-sixed Davis. The Ram quarterback then was guilty of a game-ending interception when he overthrew his receiver. Morris Claiborne snagged the pick, which was huge for him because he struggled all afternoon.
Davis' late interceptions were a shame because he was great for most of this game. He ended up 30-of-42 for 327 yards, three touchdowns and the two picks. As noted, he missed out on a fourth score when Cook let the ball fall through his hands in the end zone. It should be noted though that Davis was nearly intercepted in the opening half by Jeremy Mincey, so he was lucky until the Cowboys began converting his poor attempts.
Davis' touchdowns went to Brian Quick (2-62), Lance Kendricks and Austin Pettis. Cook, despite his late-game blunder and ensuing sideline tirade, led the team with seven catches for 75 yards. Kenny Britt (5-69) also played well.
The Rams wasted too many plays by giving Benny Cunningham carries. Cunningham gained 29 yards on nine attempts, while Stacy tallied 67 yards on 12 tries. Cunningham is the far-inferior player, so it's a complete mystery as to why the St. Louis coaches wasted nine plays.
Cardinals 23, 49ers 14
The 49ers have now blown two games by killing themselves with horrible personal fouls. Chicago was able to come back last Sunday night from down 17-0 because of dumb infractions, and Arizona managed to overcome a 14-6 deficit in a similar fashion.
I'd list all of San Francisco's unforced blunders, but I'd run out of space. It began when an Anquan Boldin headbutt wiped out out a touchdown opportunity. It instead forced a field goal, which was blocked. The 49ers were then whistled for taunting out of bounds when Arizona was flagged for a hold. A second-and-long transformed into a manageable situation, which the Cardinals were able to convert. San Francisco was also flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Larry Fitzgerald, all while dropping several potential Drew Stanton interceptions.
Again, these were just some of the blunders the 49ers committed. There were many more that I didn't mention. It's so strange because San Francisco used to be so well-coached. That's not the case this year, as Jim Harbaugh appears to have lost control of his team.
All of the mistakes ruined what was a solid performance from Colin Kaepernick. The 49er signal-caller ran more than he has in a regular-season game in a long while, as he scrambled 13 times for 54 rushing yards. He showed off great athleticism to elude some sacks, including one instance in which Thomas Keiser had him by the jersey. Kaepernick was able to shed him to help his team put points on the board during that possession.
As a passer, Kaepernick misfired on just eight occasions, going 29-of-37 for 245 yards and a touchdown. He got away with some mistakes early - Antonio Cromartie dropped two potential pick-sixes - and he misfired badly on his final attempt, but he was definitely not at fault for this defeat.
Kaepernick's sole score went to Michael Crabtree, who reeled in 10 of his 11 targets for 80 yards. However, Stevie Johnson paced the 49ers in catches (9) and receiving yards (103). Boldin didn't do much (6-36) aside from costing his team points. You'd think a veteran like him would know better. Harbaugh spent some time yelling at Boldin on the sideline, but the message was lost because his team wouldn't stop shooting themselves in the foot.
The 49ers struggled to run the ball. Frank Gore managed just 10 yards on six carries, and making matters worse for his fantasy owners, Carlos Hyde (3-13) vultured a touchdown.
As for the victors, Drew Stanton went 18-of-33 for 244 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were thrown to third-round rookie John Brown (4-52). As mentioned, Stanton got away with a couple of interceptions. However, he was very hot in the second half, going 10-of-16 for 161 yards and a pair of scoles following the break. The 49ers helped him out with their dumb mistakes, but it was an impressive second-half performance nonetheless.
Stanton struggled to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald, as the future Hall of Famer didn't log a single reception until the fourth quarter for the second time in three games. Fitzgerald finally hauled in his three targets (for 34 yards) in the final period, but he hurt his team by losing a fumble inside the San Francisco 5-yard line. Meanwhile, Michael Floyd had a huge performance, catching five balls for 114 yards. He nearly had a touchdown, but rookie safety Jimmie Ward made a great pass break-up.
Andre Ellington didn't have a great stat line overal - 18 carries, 62 rush yards; three catches, 13 rec. yards - but he was going up against a stalwart front that just put the clamps on Matt Forte. Considering his competition, Ellington had a nice outing.
Arizona's third victory was a bit spoiled in that Cromartie suffered a knee injury. He'll undergo an MRI on Monday.
Editor's Note: Can someone let the Dolphins know that their season wasn't just one game? It's as if they won their Super Bowl against the Patriots in the opener and just checked out.
The Chiefs got their first win of the season with a depleted cast, thanks to a great game by their front seven and just enough of a running attack that was without the injured Jamaal Charles. Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali were excellent for Kansas City. Both teams' offensive lines played ugly football, but Miami's ended up being worse.
After snoozing through the first quarter, Miami started to move the chains, as Ryan Tannehill hit consecutive passes to Mike Wallace (5-74) for 45 yards, but the drive was stifled and Caleb Sturgis missed a field goal. Kansas City then finally started to advance the sticks, and Knile Davis punched the ball into the end zone on a 21-yard run. An Alex Smith 26-yard pass to Joe McKnight and some runs by Davis set up a short dump-off pass from Smith to Travis Kelce (3-36), and the big tight end rumbled into the end zone from 20 yards out. Tannehill then led a drive inside the Chiefs' 5-yard line, but because of the clock, the Dolphins settled for a 22-yard field goal to get on the board for a 14-3 score at the half.
In the third quarter, the Chiefs allowed their fourth sack of the afternoon as Jared Odrick stripped Smith of the ball, which was recovered by Derrick Shelby. That set up the Dolphins at the Kansas City 20-yard line. A few plays later, Tannehill hit Brian Hartline (3-25) for a 1-yard touchdown pass. The Chiefs answered with a pretty drive. Smith and Davis had good runs with McKnight making two big catches, including an 11-yard touchdown.
After some ugly plays earlier in the game, Jarvis Landry redeemed himself with a 73-yard kickoff return. Caleb Sturgis then drilled a 51-yard field goal after Miami couldn't move the ball. Randy Starks and Jelani Jenkins combined to sack Smith for a safety, but after that, it was all Kansas City. The Chiefs' defense held up thanks to some sacks of Tannehill, and Frankie Hammond had a 47-yard punt return. Davis ran it down Miami's throat, and McKnight caught another short touchdown.
After Kansas City's defense had a great series, Knile Davis fumbled the ball away after getting stripped by Brent Grimes. However, the Chiefs' defense shut the door, and running back Cyrus Gray (4-18) added a touchdown in garbage time.
Smith finished 19-of-25 for 186 yards with three touchdowns. Davis (32-132) and Joe McKnight (6-64) were the difference-makers for the Kansas City offense. Former No. 1-overall pick Eric Fisher had some bad plays in pass protection, but he progressively did better in run blocking as the game wore on.
Tannehill was 21-of-43 for 205 yards with a touchdown. Lamar Miller ran well for the Dolphins with 108 yards on only 15 carries. Joe Philbin let his team down by not calling more running plays for Miller and letting Tannehill drop back to pass far too often behind his weak offensive line.
Dontari Poe was awesome for the Chiefs, recording 1.5 sacks, four tackles, batting a pass and drawing a holding penalty. Hali and Houston (one sack each) were very good. Allen Bailey, Dee Ford and cornerback Chris Owens also stood out for Kansas City.
The Dolphins' front seven did well in pass rushing, but struggled to defend the run. Jelani Jenkins was all over the field, as he had 14 tackles with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Ben Grimes held Dwayne Bowe (3-32) in check.
Seahawks 26, Broncos 20
This is what the Super Bowl should have been. The Broncos and Seahawks were engaged in a fierce defensive battle for 59 minutes. Peyton Manning took over possession, down 20-12, with less than a minute and no timeouts remaining, yet he was able to lead his team down the field thanks to several great passes, which included the tying, two-point conversion to Demaryius Thomas in the back of the end zone. The Seahawks won the coin toss in overtime and never relinquished possession. Russell Wilson converted first down after first down using both his arms and his legs. He marched Seattle all the way down the field and into the end zone. Manning never even had a chance in the extra session.
What Manning did in the final minute was unbelievable, but he struggled mightily throughout the afternoon. He had issues with the crowd noise throughout the entire contest, and he simply didn't try to convert third-and-longs very much, settling for ineffective Montee Ball draws in those situations. His passes fluttered all over the place, some of which weren't even close to his intended targets. He also nearly threw a second interception - though it occurred prior to his actual one - as Kam Chancellor snagged a pass that just barely hit the ground. Chancellor would redeem himself later by securing what seemed to be a game-clinching pick in the red zone.
However, Manning flipped the switch at the very end and gave his team a chance. He finished 31-of-49 for 303 yards, two touchdowns and that pick. Consider that Manning was just 11-of-16 for only 87 yards at intermission. Also, to be fair, Demaryius Thomas was hobbled with an injury throughout. He left the game briefly, but was never the same upon returning. It didn't help that he had to battle Richard Sherman for most of the afternoon. Thomas caught just four passes for 31 yards. He appeared to lose a fumble, but it was ruled incomplete after a review.
Manning's scores went to Jacob Tamme and Julius Thomas (3-17), who was strangely shut out for the most part after Antonio Gates had a monstrous outing the week before. Thomas' touchdown came on a shovel pass. Meanwhile, Emmanuel Sanders saw a team-high 15 targets, reeling in 11 of them for 149 yards. Wes Welker also contributed with six grabs for 60 yards in his first game back from his suspension.
As mentioned, the Broncos couldn't run the ball very successfully. Ball was limited to just 38 yards on 14 carries. This output was not a surprise considering how dominant Seattle's front is.
Wilson was masterful at the end of the game, and he was pretty sharp throughout. He made one mistake with an interception that he threw up 12 with 11 minutes remaining, but he made up for it with his terrific performance in overtime. He finished 24-of-34 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and the pick to go with his 40 rushing yards on his nine scrambles.
The Broncos barely had any answers for Marshawn Lynch, who found the end zone three times. He scored a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime, but was tackled in his own end zone for a safety in the second half. He also caught three balls for 40 receiving yards.
The Seahawks tried to get the ball to Percy Harvin often, as Wilson targeted him a team-high nine times. Harvin hauled in seven of those balls, but couldn't do anything with them, churning out 42 yards.
Russell Okung scared his team when he was down after injuring his shoulder. He had to leave the game, but he eventually returned.
Steelers 37, Panthers 19
What a difference 10 days can make. The Steelers looked lost in their defeat at Baltimore. Their offensive line was completely abused, as Ben Roethlisberger was pressured on what seemed like every play. It was a complete reversal Sunday night. The Panthers barely got any heat on the quarterback after the first couple of drives, registering only one sack the entire night. It's quite apparent that they miss the suspended Greg Hardy.
As poor as Carolina's pass rush was, the run support was even worse. Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount combined for 265 rushing yards. Some of that came in garbage time - Blount burst for a 50-yarder when this game was out of reach - but the Panthers looked helpless when trying to bring down Bell. The second-year runner gained 147 yards on 21 carries. He showed off some brilliant cuts throughout the evening and exploded for 81-yard gain on a first-and-20 in the second half.
Roethlisberger, meanwhile, went 22-of-30 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He should've had two other scores. On one occasion, Markus Wheaton stepped out of bounds prior to catching a pass in the end zone. Heath Miller dropped a touchdown later in the evening. Roethlisberger was sharp throughout, though he did overthrow Miller in the end zone in the first half.
Both of Roethlisberger's touchdowns went to Antonio Brown, who secured all 10 targets thrown to him for 90 yards. One of the scores featured a pretty toe tap in the back corner of the end zone. Brown also made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch in the first half.
The Steelers won by 18, but this was a prime example of a Pyrrhic victory because they lost several players to apparent major injuries. Ryan Shazier went down first when Lawrence Timmons rolled into his leg. He was ruled out for the rest of the game instantly, so that can't be good news. After that, Jarvis Jones exited with a wrist issue during his strip-sack. It's a shame for Jones because he made a positive impact for once. However, the most gruesome injury occurred when Ike Taylor broke his forearm. It was so horrifying that NBC refused to show a replay of it.
The Panthers, meanwhile, played exactly like Pittsburgh did in that Thursday night loss. The pass rush was non-existent, while the offensive line broke down. The Steelers couldn't get to Joe Flacco at all in their previous game, but they harassed Cam Newton all evening. Even Jarvis Jones registered a sack. He easily beat Byron Bell, who had a rough night. In addition blocking poorly, Bell also nullified a first down with a face mask infraction.
Carolina didn't help matters with dumb penalties and turnovers. Playing like the 49ers, the Panthers continuously shot themselves in the foot with terrible errors. I already mentioned the Bell infraction and that Newton was strip-sacked by Jones. In the third quarter, an encroachment infraction on a field goal attempt put the defense back on the field. The Steelers scored a touchdown one play later. And then there was Philly Brown's muffed punt which he picked up and tried to advance, only to have it knocked out of his hands and secured in the end zone for a Pittsburgh touchdown. That was the nail in the coffin, as the Panthers were down 10 with 11 minutes remaining and receiving possession. That blunder put this game out of reach.
Newton had a night to forget. His numbers don't look bad - 24-of-35, 250 yards, touchdown - but he looked hobbled and resorted to short attempts for the most part. The Steelers hit him hard - which included a violent Jason Worilds shot to the knees - prompting him to start limping. He barely ran, scrambling twice for seven rushing yards. Derek Anderson eventually replaced him in the fourth quarter, though the game was out of hand at that point.
Newton's sole score went to Greg Olsen, who had five catches for 69 yards. He could've had a second touchdown, but he overthrew Jason Avant in the end zone. Meanwhile, Kelvin Benjamin led the team in both catches (8) and receiving yards (115). He caught a late touchdown from Derek Anderson, which was a pretty, over-the-shoulder reception.
Ron Rivera repeatedly said that DeAngelo Williams would play in this contest, but that didn't turn out to be the case. Jonathan Stewart started, but didn't get much of an opportunity. He gained 31 yards on just five carries.
Bears 27, Jets 19
The Jets legitimately outgained the Bears, 414-257. They also produced more first downs and averaged 1.7 more yards per play. They ultimately lost by eight points, however, because a combination of three things capsized them. Those items were horrible officiating, red-zone inefficiency and Geno Smith ineptitude. Let's break them down, one at a time.
The referees caused a 14-point swing in this contest with a pair of poor calls. The Bears managed a touchdown in the first quarter because cornerback Darrin Walls was flagged for deep pass interference on Alshon Jeffery when he had perfect coverage. In fact, Jeffery grabbed hold of Walls' elbow to break up a potential interception. The officials then blew a Jay Cutler fumble dead when the Jets picked up the ball and began running it back. The New York player had a clear field in front of him and would've scored a touchdown, but Rex Ryan couldn't challenge it because an incompetent official blew the play dead, thinking Cutler was down by contact. Refs are told to let the action play out, so it's unclear why this particular zebra had a quick whistle.
Official Jerome Boger had some other terrible moments. He said the Bears secured an automatic first down despite scoring a touchdown. He missed the fact that someone on his crew tossed a flag for defensive holding. He gave the Jets four timeouts in the second half (seriously). And he messed up the last meaningful play of the game by not flagging a Chicago player for literally carrying Jeremy Kerley out of bounds before he had the ball.
Boger is an abomination and should not be officiating anymore. This is not the first time he's completely bungled a game. If Roger Goodell were the slightest-bit competent, he would remove Boger immediately.
You know how I mentioned that the Jets tallied more than 400 yards of offense? Well, they crossed Chicago's 25-yard line a whopping seven times, yet they were able to muster just 19 points. That's fewer than three points per visit to around the red zone, all without any missed field goals.
How is that possible, you ask? Marty Mornhinweg is the simple answer. Mornhinweg, who has proven to be outmatched in every post he's maintained in the NFL, called for some very strange plays that didn't work at all. Strange bootlegs and designed quarterback runs proved to be completely ineffective, and Mornhinweg, for whatever reason, abandoned the run with Chris Ivory, who was very effective in between the 20s.
Geno Smith Incompetence:
Wow, Geno Smith is bad. Smith's completion percentage and yardage total (26-of-43, 316) might make it seem like he didn't have a poor outing, but he had major accuracy issues throughout the evening. It began when he opened the game with a pick-six on a screen to Chris Johnson. Smith then had a barrage of awful passes. Some of them were thrown directly at defensive linemen. Some were overthrown (I counted three). Some were nearly picked (I counted four).
Smith actually tossed two real interceptions - a dumb jump pass in the red zone was picked off by the emerging Kyle Fuller - but he could've easily had six. They all would've been hilariously brutal. One throw was way behind a wide-open David Nelson. Another dropped out of linebacker Jon Bostic's hands. The kicker is that the Bears do not possess a good defense. What's going to happen once Smith battles a quality stop unit?
The only hope that Jet fans have regarding Smith is that he'll improve once Eric Decker gets healthy. Decker started this game, but left the field when he aggravated his hamstring. Decker managed just one catch for 19 yards. Kerley (7-81) hauled in Smith's sole touchdown.
Something the Jets absolutely must do is stop giving the ball to Chris Johnson. The former Titan is a horrible player who has lost all of his burst. Johnson was sluggish for the third time in three games, gaining 34 yards on 10 carries. He also dropped a pass. Ivory tallied 44 yards on just as many attempts to go along with four catches for 52 receiving yards.
The Jets made plenty of other blunders. For instance, Jalen Saunders muffed a punt in the first quarter, allowing Chicago to take over on a short field. Jace Amaro (3-54) had a terrible drop on a third down. Also, Nelson seemed to lose a fumble, but the Chicago player who recovered the ball was out of bounds when he obtained possession.
As for the Bears, Jay Cutler didn't have one of his best performances despite the fact that the Jets blew plenty of coverages. Cutler went 23-of-39 for 225 yards and two touchdowns, but had trouble maintaining some drives thanks to the pressure the defensive line and Rex Ryan's blitzes provided. Cutler did a good job of squirting out of some potential sacks, but he had so many potential picks. I counted three, as Sheldon Richardson, Demario Davis and Antonio Allen all had a potential turnovers in their hands but simply dropped the ball.
To be fair to Cutler, he lost Brandon Marshall for most of the second quarter. Marshall managed to return to the field, but clearly wasn't the same. He failed to catch a pass until the fourth quarter, finishing with only one grab for six yards. He did manage to score a third-quarter touchdown, but a Michael Ola hands-to-the-face penalty nullified it.
Both of Cutler's scores went to Martellus Bennett (5-54), who let a third potential score slip through his hands. Alshon Jeffery, meanwhile, was targeted a whopping 13 targets. He reeled in eight of those passes for 105 yards. His sole blunder was a dropped pass.
Matt Forte didn't possess much running room, but he had a couple of tough runs. He finished with 33 yards on 13 carries, serving as a bigger factor in the aerial attack, catching six balls for 43 receiving yards.
There were quite a few injuries in this game. The most-prominent player to go down was Muhammad Wilkerson, who hurt his shoulder on a friendly fire hit. The Jets' defense won't nearly be the same if Wilkerson is out. The Bears, meanwhile, had some issues of their own at the safety position. Rundy Mundy, Chris Conte and Danny McCray all left the game.
I'll leave you with a brilliant quote from Jon Gruden:
"Chris Ivory makes more yards after contact than any other runing back in the NFL. I'm sure statistics will back that up."
Wow. With the money ESPN is paying Gruden, you'd think he'd be able to look up stat, or at least give some cash to an underling to do it. I'm motivated to start stating baseless facts without statistically backing them up. For instance, did you know that Gruden uses more verbs per sentence than the average human being? I'm sure statistics will back that up.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.