It's amazing how sloppy this game was. Both teams made terrible mistake after terrible mistake. The Packers came out with the victory because they committed fewer errors. I'd like to list them all, beginning with the Bears because they lost:
- You could say that the No. 1 blunder was trusting J'Marcus Webb to be the left tackle entering the season. He had no chance against Clay Matthews, who collected 3.5 sacks. Jay Cutler was sacked seven times in total. He was frequently spotted yelling at his linemen and sulking on the bench. He's always going to be perceived as a loser with that attitude.
- Right tackle Gabe Carimi wasn't beat mercilessly like Webb, but he single-handedly ruined a drive when he punched a Packer in Green Bay territory. The 15-yard penalty would help result in a punt.
- Chicago was caught with its pants down during a Green Bay field goal attempt. The Packers executed a beautiful fake, as the holder/punter flipped it to backup tight end Tom Crabtree, who ran the ball in for a touchdown to make the score 10-0.
- Lance Briggs dropped an interception in the red zone. This would cost Chicago three points.
- Speaking of drops, Brandon Marshall was guilty of one in the end zone during the third quarter. As this happened, forum member Green 18,Green 18 commented, "I hope Marshall is assaulted by his wife tonight for that."
Marshall was a huge disappointment, catching just two balls for 24 yards. Dom Capers did a terrific job of taking Marshall out of the game. That, along with the immense pressure that Green Bay generated, is the reason why Chicago had just 168 net yards.
- The Bears false started on 3rd-and-6. Kellen Davis was responsible for that yellow flag. I'm not even sure why the Bears are starting him. Chicago had eight penalties in total.
- Devin Hester dropped a pass on third down at the end of the third quarter.
- Cutler tossed four picks to go along with the rest of his ugly stat line (11-of-27, 126 yards). Only one wasn't entirely his fault, as Earl Bennett didn't come back to the football.
Matt Forte had just 11 touches; seven carries for 31 rushing yards and four catches that turned into 49 receiving yards. Inept offensive coordinator Mike Tice forgot to involve him early on, and then Forte left the game in the beginning of the third quarter with an ankle injury. Michael Bush ran well in relief, gaining 54 yards on 14 attempts.
The Packers made some terrible errors as well...
- Jordy Nelson dropped a pass on the first drive. The good news is that he led the Packers with six receptions for 84 yards.
- The Packers committed a holding penalty on a nice Randall Cobb run. Adding injury to insult, Cobb appeared to hurt his shoulder on the play. He managed to return to the field shortly afterward.
- Aaron Rodgers lost the football while trying to pass on a third down at the end of the first quarter. Green Bay recovered the fumble.
- Jermichael Finley dropped a pass shortly afterward and later lost a fumble. He really disappointed, catching just four balls for 26 yards.
- The Packer defenders dropped two interceptions, so Cutler could have easily heaved six picks. He had an epically horrific performance.
- Rodgers missed James Jones in the end zone at the end of the third quarter. It was slightly overthrown.
- Rodgers threw an interception in the middle of the fourth quarter, but it wasn't his fault; James Jones ran the wrong route. Rodgers finished 22-of-32 for 219 yards and a touchdown otherwise.
Cedric Benson looked great. He had some really tough runs, gaining 81 yards on 20 carries. He also caught four balls for 35 receiving yards.
I don't know what the NFL Network is thinking with having Jamie Dukes sing before each Thursday night game. His performance of Do You Love Football? made my ears bleed.
Panthers 35, Saints 27
Despite all of the Bountygate dramas and suspensions, it's still hard to believe the Saints are now 0-2. They were favored in both contests, yet they've been greatly outplayed by a wide margin.
Weird penalties and uncharacteristic drops plagued the Saints last week, but those issues seemed to be resolved at Carolina. The defense, however, has been the consistent problem. The Redskins and Panthers have combined for 75 points in the two games. The blitzes have been ineffective, while the coverages have often busted. It doesn't help that the Saints have an injury-plagued secondary, which is forcing them to use inept cornerback Corey White.
As a result, Cam Newton had a monstrous performance, as he desperately needed to rebound from last week's debaclation. Newton finished 14-of-20 for 253 yards and a passing touchdown to go along with 71 rushing yards (13 scrambles) and another score on the ground. His only blemish was a lost fumble. He also nearly tossed a pick to Patrick Robinson on an underthrow in the beginning of the third quarter.
The Panthers showed some option in this contest; Newton picked up 40 yards on such a play on the second drive. The option backfired later though, as the aforementioned fumble occurred on a 4th-and-1 inside the red zone.
Perhaps Newton's most important throw early on was a 35-yarder to Steve Smith on a 3rd-and-15 in the first half, though he later hit him with a 66-yard bomb, thanks to a blown coverage. Smith finished with three catches for 104 yards.
Based on what happened last week, it was amazing how well Carolina ran the ball. Then again, the Saints did make Alfred Morris look like the second coming of Clinton Portis last week. DeAngelo Williams (14 carries, 69 yards) and Jonathan Stewart (11-51) both gashed New Orleans. Mike Tolbert vultured a touchdown, but Stewart made up for it on a 17-yard receiving score on a prior possession.
As for Drew Brees, he did what he could considering that the Panthers constantly applied heavy pressure on him, easily beating both of his inept tackles. He finished 31-of-49 for 325 yards, two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) and a pair of interceptions. One pick wasn't his fault - it was a desperation heave as time was running out - but the other one was an uncharacteristic late toss over the middle as he was scrambling to his right. It was taken back for six.
Brees' lone aerial score went to Jimmy Graham, who hauled in seven passes for 71 yards. The leading receiver was Darren Sproles, who snagged 13 balls for 128 yards. It was nice to see the Saints involve Sproles more frequently after he had just five touches last week.
Pierre Thomas had a big game with numerous tough runs. He rushed for 110 yards on just nine carries also chipped in with four receptions for 33 more yards through the air. Thomas was tackled at the 1-yard line on one occasion, but checked himself out of the game to see Mark Ingram (16-53) find the end zone.
Bills 35, Chiefs 17
You have to love Week 1 overreaction. The Jets destroyed the Bills eight days ago, and everyone thought this Buffalo team, once considered a trendy sleeper by many, to be a complete bust. Well, not so much anymore. The Bills dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in what was a 35-3 rout before the Chiefs scored a pair of garbage touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Buffalo sacked Matt Cassel five times, but Mario Williams did nothing to contribute to that number. The only thing he did was pounce on a Cassel fumble that happened to fall near him. Kyle Williams led the charge with two sacks.
Cassel still managed to throw for 300-plus yards (23-of-42, 301 yards, TDs, 1 INT), but most of that came when Buffalo simply didn't care anymore in the fourth quarter. Both garbage scores went to Dwayne Bowe, who finished with an impressive stat line of eight catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
But speaking of awesome numbers, C.J. Spiller rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns on only 15 carries. He also had three catches for 47 receiving yards. The Bills' offensive line did a fantastic job of blowing open big holes for him, and he did the rest with his superior quickness. Still this made me wonder what the hell happened to all of Kansas City's defensive talent.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a nice rebound game, going 10-of-19 for 178 yards and two touchdowns. His receivers did most of the work, but at least he didn't float soft passes toward the sideline like he did last week.
Fitzpatrick's scores went to Steve Johnson (2 catches, 56 yards) and Scott Chandler (2-53). Spiller was the only Buffalo player with more than two receptions.
The most disappointing player in this game was Jamaal Charles, who gained just three yards on six carries. He curiously had just two touches after halftime. Peyton Hillis outgained him by a wide margin, tallying 66 yards on 11 attempts, but lost a fumble at the 1-yard line just prior to halftime when the Chiefs still had a chance.
Bengals 34, Browns 27
Finally having Trent Richardson at 100 percent made all the difference in the world to the Browns. He was phenomenal, juking defenders and running with power, looking like every bit the No. 3 overall prospect that NFL Draft analysts projected him to be.
Richardson rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries and also caught four passes for 36 yards and a second score through the air. He needs to be given more than 23 touches per game going forward; he was off the field on one third down when backup runner Chris Ogbonnaya lost a fumble at midfield.
With Richardson helping him, Brandon Weeden showed tremendous improvement, going 26-of-37 for 322 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers are a bit deceiving though; lots of the yardage came in garbage time - the Bengals led by two touchdowns for the majority of the second half - and most of what Weeden settled for was shorter stuff. He also nearly threw an interception to Leon Hall in the end zone.
Having said that, Weeden was infinitely better than he was last week, as he did a great job of taking care of the football. I thought the Browns would be doomed when Pacman Jones scored on a punt return in the first quarter and established a lead, but Weeden deserves a ton of credit for playing relatively well.
Weeden's scores went to Richardson and Greg Little, who caught five balls for 57 yards. Mohamed Massaquoi had five catches for 90 yards, but he needs to be ignored in fantasy because he sucks.
The other Ohio quarterback also was much better than last week, though that should have been a given, as Andy Dalton went from battling the Ravens to passing against a Joe Haden-less Cleveland secondary.
Dalton went 24-of-31 for 318 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He had some poor overthrows to open receivers in the end zone, but played really well otherwise.
Dalton's scores went to A.J. Green (7-58), Brandon Tate (3-71) and Andrew Hawkins (2-56). Hawkins needs to touch the ball more frequently; as I'm sure you'll probably see on Sportscenter, he can make some incredibly shifty moves after getting the ball in his hands.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 75 yards on 21 carries. It was disappointing that he couldn't have a better statistical performance, given that the Bengals had a lead for this entire contest.
Colts 23, Vikings 20
I'd say Indianapolis fans needed this. After watching Andrew Luck struggle a bit and Peyton Manning torch the Steelers last week, many Colt fans sent hate mail to Jim Irsay for letting their legendary quarterback walk away. Luck responded with a strong showing in the first home start of his career.
Luck went 20-of-31 for 224 yards and two touchdowns, abusing Minnesota's miserable secondary. He was on fire in the first half - he tallied 146 yards by intermission - but the Colts went conservative because they had a lead, though several overthrows after intermission didn't help. Once the Vikings tied it up, however, Luck fired consecutive 20-yard completions to set up Adam Vinatieri with a game-winning field goal.
Luck still has stuff to work on, obviously. He threw a near-pick in the second half and took a ridiculous 22-yard loss on a sack, which helped Minnesota score its game-tying touchdown. He made up for it, however.
Luck's scores went to Reggie Wayne (6 catches, 71 yards) and Dwayne Allen (1-3). Luck missed Coby Fleener in the end zone on the play prior to Allen's touchdown. Meanwhile, Donnie Avery was targeted a whopping 13 times, as he came up with nine catches for 111 yards. Luck loves throwing to him, so he must be picked up in all fantasy formats.
The Colts struggled to run the ball, which is why they couldn't put the Vikings away. Donald Brown gained just 45 yards on 16 carries. He failed to pick up the first down on a 3rd-and-1 in the first half.
The Vikings, meanwhile, need to be credited with a ferocious fourth-quarter comeback that came out of nowhere. Christian Ponder was clutch yet again, finishing 27-of-35 for 245 yards and two scores amid poor pass protection.
Ponder's touchdowns went to Kyle Rudolph (3-35) both times, but the second-year tight end only came out with one of them. The other bounced off the tip of his fingers and somehow landed into the arms of Stephen Burton. As this happened, I commented in the live in-game thread, "Wow, Stephen Burton has a four-leaf clover up his a**."
Percy Harvin didn't find the end zone, but he hauled in a whopping 12 receptions for 104 yards despite the fact that he was in and out of the game with leg cramps.
Adrian Peterson didn't have a run of longer than six yards, which is shocking given how porous Indianapolis' run defense was last week. The Vikings' offensive line simply struggled to open up lanes for Peterson, who finished with 60 yards on 16 carries.
Texans 27, Jaguars 7
If this game is any sort of barometer, the Jaguars won't be close to competitive in the AFC South this season. This score isn't even indicative of how much of a demolition this was. By the time the third quarter came to an end, the Texans had outgained Jacksonville, 318-84. Houston owned the time of possession, 30:55 to 13:54.
The offense just couldn't sustain drives. The coaching staff did a smart thing by installing a quick-strike offense for Blaine Gabbert because he is too craven to play football, but dinking and dunking is not going to fly against a premier defense like Houston's. Gabbert was abysmal, going 7-of-19 for 53 yards and a touchdown, but even those pedestrian stats are inflated because he was just 3-of-10 for seven yards around halftime. In the third quarter, he had as many pass attempts (13) and passing yards. He's terrible; it's no wonder why half of Jacksonville's front office thinks he's a sunk cost.
The Jaguars couldn't get off the field either. The Texans ran the ball so easily, as Arian Foster (28 carries, 110 yards, one touchdown) and Ben Tate (12-74, 2 TDs) both gashed the defense. Matt Schaub, meanwhile, completed a high percentage of his passes (26-of-35, 195 yards), though he didn't throw for much yardage. He didn't need to though with his two runners trampling the opposing stop unit.
Jacksonville will be better defensively once it gets several of its key players back (linebacker Daryl Smith, cornerback Derek Cox), but Gabbert simply doesn't give this team a chance to win. Gene Smith needs to be fired for taking a homoclitic approach to his quarterbacking situation this offseason.
The Texans had a really clean game, but screwed up just before halftime. They didn't have any timeouts, and the clock was ticking down on what would have been a 4th-and-5. Gary Kubiak hesitated in terms of making his decision, and by the time he called the play in to Schaub, it was too late. The play clock expired, and Houston was whistled for a delay of game. This sort of sloppiness needs to be cleaned up if Houston wants to make a deep playoff run.
Some fantasy players of note:
- Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries, but saved his fantasy owners with a weird, short touchdown reception in the third quarter.
- Andre Johnson barely did anything, catching just three balls for 21 yards. Houston's leading receiver was tight end Owen Daniels (6-47).
- I mentioned earlier that Tate scored twice. He nearly found the end zone a third time. A run of his was ruled a touchdown, but was overturned by replay. He was stuffed at the 1-yard line on the next carry. Foster then entered the contest and waltzed into the end zone on the ensuing play. I'd say Tate owners were cheated, but he did have two touchdowns.
- Justin Blackmon was targeted four times but couldn't come up with a single reception. Jacksonville's leading receiver was Laurent Robinson (3-49).
Dolphins 35, Raiders 13
I hope you weren't going against Reggie Bush like I was. In three leagues. FML. At any rate, Bush was a monster, rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries (with three catches for 25 receiving yards). It's a sign of what could have been had Bush not been so injury-prone throughout his disappointing career.
Bush's running opened things up for Ryan Tannehill, who settled for mostly checkdowns early, but opened things up as the game progressed. Tannehill finished 18-of-30 for 200 yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing).
Tannehill was able to abuse the Raiders' secondary because top cornerback Ronald Barrtell was out of the lineup. Going into this game, I never imagined that Bartell's absence would have much of an impact against Miami's beleaguered receiving corps, but it certainly did. Brian Hartline was able to catch nine balls for 111 yards as a result.
Tannehill's only aerial touchdown went to Anthony Fasano (2-19). The only other Dolphin skill-position player of note was Lamar Miller, who picked up 65 rushing yards on 10 carries in garbage time. He also scored. Remember Miller if/when Bush goes down.
Carson Palmer outgained his counterpart, but didn't really play very well. He finished 24-of-48 for 373 yards, one touchdown and an interception, but a big chunk of his yardage came on a 64-yard touchdown reception by Mike Goodson out of the backfield. Palmer, once again, seldom went long, though it's hard to blame him for this loss because his deep threat, Denarius Moore, missed most of this contest with cramps.
By the way, Goodson's touchdown came when Darren McFadden was on the sideline after being poked in the eye. So yeah, if own McFadden, you got screwed over, just as I did in one of the leagues in which I went up against Bush. Of course, McFadden didn't do anything on the ground to offset that lost touchdown, gaining just 22 yards on 11 carries. McFadden is barely averaging two yards per carry this season, and it's time to wonder if he's simply uncomfortable in Greg Knapp's new blocking scheme.
Cardinals 20, Patriots 18
I almost don't know where to begin with this game. I guess I'll start with a few amusing things, as I'm sure hungover Patriot fans need something semi-humorous to read about after drowning their sorrows in the alcohol of their choosing last night:
- Of the 2,378 remaining entrants in our survivor pool, 962 picked the Patriots. Including me. How the hell does a 13.5-point favorite not win at home against a team traveling from the Pacific Time Zone to the East Coast in an early start?
- Tom Brady's stat line in the first half: 7-of-12, 75 yards, one interception. He, with the help of Ahmad Bradshaw's injury, capsized my fantasy day. I know you're all interested.
- Adam Vinatieri kicked a game-winning field goal in the Vikings-Colts game. And then Stephen Gostkowski missed one about five real-time minutes later. I found this pretty hilarious.
- Of course, Gostkowski wouldn't have had an opportunity if Ryan Williams fumbled the ball in the final minute. The Cardinals are 2-0, but I have to criticize the coaching staff for having Williams on the field when he coughed up the ball last week.
- Danny Woodhead (I accidentally wrote "Woodcock" in my notes) had the decisive touchdown nullified by a penalty. I made a note on Woodcock earlier when he was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on a 3rd-and-2 at the beginning of the second quarter. I wondered why such a small back would get a short-yardage work when Stevan Ridley (18 carries, 71 yards) was available.
It took more than that bad call to derail the Patriots' offense, however. New England couldn't move the chains because its offensive line was completely abused by Arizona's front line, particularly Calais Campbell, who notched 10 tackles and two sacks. Bill Belichick called Campbell a "Richard Seymour in his prime," and the the Cardinal five-tech certainly lived up to the praise.
Another issue for the Patriots was an early injury to Aaron Hernandez, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the first quarter. This completely ruined Belichick's game plan, and New England couldn't get anything going until it was too late.
Brady went 28-of-46 for 316 yards, one touchdown and a pick. The score went to Rob Gronkowski (6-75). Wes Welker led the team with 95 receiving yards (five catches), though it's worth noting that he barely did anything in the first half. The decision to involve him in the offense again was clearly made at halftime when it was apparent that Hernandez was not returning.
Of course, some credit needs to be awarded to the Cardinals, particularly the offensive line, which held up relatively well. Kevin Kolb, who was sacked just once, went 15-of-27 for 140 yards and a touchdown to Andre Roberts. Larry Fitzgerald owners suffered (1 catch, 4 yards), especially because Kolb targeted his No. 1 wideout the play just before hitting Roberts for the 2-yard score. Kolb simply overthrew Fitzgerald in the end zone.
EDITOR'S NOTE: My girlfriend is a Giants' fan, so in full disclosure, I was rooting for them to pull it out at the end (without covering, of course). But I did want to see the Buccaneers tie it at 41 so Eli Manning could break Norm Van Brocklin's single-game mark of 554. He could have easily done it in overtime.
Eli Manning was absolutely unstoppable Sunday afternoon, except for when he stopped himself. The Giants played like hot garbage in the first half as Manning threw three terrible interceptions including a pick-six to Bucs cornerback Eric Wright just before halftime. The other two interceptions set up touchdowns for Tampa Bay as well.
In the second half, Manning ripped the ball through a Buccaneers' secondary that doesn't have the talent to compete with the Giants receivers. Manning moved New York into the red zone on four trips and came away with four field goals. Three touchdown passes were dropped by the Giants, so Manning easily could have had an even bigger day.
Tampa Bay blew a 14-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, allowing an 80-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Victor Cruz. Cruz ran right by Ronde Barber in man coverage and Mark Barron was late coming over the top. Tight end Martellus Bennett dropped two touchdowns before catching a 33-yard score in the fourth quarter to put New York up by seven.
Manning was throwing precision passes downfield and rarely threw the ball short. The Giants' offensive line gave its signal-caller good time to throw and the Bucs' defense had no answer for him. Manning completed 31-of-51 for 510 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He came three yards short of tying the franchise record by Phil Simms.
New York targeted Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib all day and completely abused him. Hakeem Nicks totaled 48 yards in two catches on the first two plays of the game. Manning later hooked up with Nicks on a 23-yard touchdown pass after he beat Talib off the line of scrimmage.
Nicks again beat Talib for a 50-yard gain down the sideline to set up the final score. Running back Andre Brown (13-71) scored the winning touchdown. Nicks torched Talib to the tune of 199 yards on 10 receptions with a touchdown. Bucs cornerback Brandon McDonald was also burned regularly aside from an interception.
The Giants' secondary struggled to contain Vincent Jackson. He beat Michael Coe for a 29-yard touchdown after getting away with a slight push-off that wasn't called. Jackson (5-128) should've been thrown the ball more, but Tampa Bay tried to run the ball without much production. Josh Freeman made some great throws, but also a bunch of passes that were wildly off the mark. New York's pass defense still has coverage issues the team needs to fix.
Freeman threw an interception to Corey Webster at the end of the third quarter to help the Giants' comeback. It was a terrible pass into coverage, and he had plenty of room to run to the outside. Freeman, however, tied the game at 34 with two minutes left on a 41-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams (3-59). It was a pretty catch and throw. Freeman finished 15-of-28 for 243 yards with two scores and two interceptions.
The Bucs couldn't get good yardage out of the ground game. Doug Martin ran for 66 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
Aside from the interceptions, Tampa Bay's defense was incapable of playing any pass defense as New York had 604 yards of offense in the game. Gerald McCoy and Adrian Clayborn were shut down and Manning wasn't sacked once.
when Manning downed the ball on the final play to end the game, the Bucs blasted into the line at the legs of the Giants linemen and knocked down Manning, among others. That led to Tom Coughlin giving Greg Schiano an earful at midfield. It seemed rather bush league by the Buccaneers.
The Giants lost Ahmad Bradshw (neck), Dominik Hixon (head) and David Diehl (knee) to injury.
Eagles 24, Ravens 23
The Eagles are consistent. We know that much. They won last week's game at Cleveland by one point despite multiple turnovers, and they managed to do the exact same thing against the Ravens this Sunday.
Philadelphia had a whopping three turnovers in the red zone. QB Dog Killer was picked on the opening drive by Bernard Pollard, prompting the crowd to shower him with boos. The other two give-aways were running back fumbles, one by Bryce Brown and the other by LeSean McCoy.
This was a pretty chippy game, laden with injuries, angry players and horrible officiating. The former is key, as the Eagles were going down like flies. Center Jason Kelce suffered a knee injury and will have an MRI. Left tackle King Dunlap was pulled because of a hamstring. Jeremy Maclin, who only played due to coaching and player arrogance, aggravated his hip malady. Jason Babin and DeSean Jackson were also knocked out, but their injuries weren't serious.
As for the other two elements, a fight broke out following Vontae Leach's first-quarter touchdown. This occurred because Kurt Coleman earlier tried to pry the ball out of Anquan Boldin's hands long after the play was over. Jackson and Cary Williams then had a war of words (and shoves) throughout the entire contest. Toward the end of the contest, the Ravens were robbed of a game-winning Jacoby Jones touchdown. Jones was called for a bogus offensive pass interference, prompting Joe Flacco to lash out at the officials in his post-game press conference.
Flacco was outplayed by QBDK overall, going just 22-of-42 for 232 yards, one score and an interception. He actually threw a touchdown to Jacoby Jones in the second quarter.
Flacco's two leading targets were Dennis Pitta (8-65) and Ray Rice (6-53). Rice also rushed for 99 yards on 16 carries. Torrey Smith disappointed with only two catches for 51 yards.
QBDK, meanwhile, went 23-of-32 for 371 yards, two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) and a pair of picks. He also had 34 rushing yards and found the end zone once on the ground. His one score was fired to Maclin, making his only grab of the game.
The bigger story was all of the fierce hits QBDK took. As Michael Strahan tweeted afterward, "Vick definitely isn't gonna last the whole season taking these hits."
Brent Celek (8-157) and Jackson (7-114) both dominated Baltimore's defense. It's been refreshing to see Celek actually being utilized in the passing game.
It was pretty surprising to see Andy Reid call 25 runs for McCoy, given that he is notorious for passing the ball way too much. Aside from the fumble, McCoy did pretty well against Baltimore's tough defense, collecting 81 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7
So much for the Cowboys being awesome. Their upset victory on opening night seems like a million years ago. Not only did they lose to Seattle; they weren't even competitive.
The Cowboys were just completely out of sorts. They opened the game with a Felix Jones fumble. Then, they had a punt blocked, which was returned for a touchdown. After that, Tony Romo threw an interception late across his body. Romo later found Jason Witten open downfield, but the former Pro Bowl tight end dropped the ball.
This was a major problem for Witten the entire afternoon. He dropped numerous passes, including a potential touchdown, hurting Dallas' ability to move the chains. Romo, as a result, went just 23-of-40 for 251 yards, one touchdown and the aforementioned pick. He was nearly intercepted a second time at the end of the third quarter, but linebacker K.J. Wright dropped a ball that was thrown right to him.
Witten still was the team's second-leading receiver with four catches for 58 yards. Miles Austin-Jones outgained him with grabs for 63 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree really disappointed. Bryant nearly had as many fumbles (2) as receptions (3 for 17 yards). Ogletree, meanwhile, was targeted only once, catching a 26-yarder.
The Cowboys couldn't get anything going on the ground either. The Seahawks, usually stout versus the rush because of left end Red Bryant, limited DeMarco Murray to 44 yards on 12 carries. Murray also had four catches for 31 receiving yards.
While Murray struggled to find running lanes, Marshawn Lynch pummeled through a Dallas defense that lost several players due to injury throughout the game, including Sean Lee, who was absolutely destroyed on a Golden Tate block. Lynch rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
Russell Wilson really benefited from Lynch's tough running, going 15-of-20 for 151 yards and a touchdown. He also scrambled four times for 28 yards. Wilson didn't get to do much in another conservative attack, but he did a great job of managing the game.
Wilson's lone score went to Anthony McCoy (5-41). Sidney Rice (3-33) barely did anything.
Rams 31, Redskins 28
The amount of stupidity that occurred in this game was absolutely astonishing. If you didn't catch all of the dumb antics in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon, here's a breakdown:
- You probably know how this ended. Redskins' receiver Josh Morgan was tackled awkwardly by the dirtiest player in the NFL, Cortland Finnegan. Morgan reacted by firing the ball at Finnegan, drawing a 15-yard penalty. This placed Washington out of field-goal range with seconds remaining. Instead of trying a 47-yarder, the Redskins had to attempt a kick from 62 yards.
- I have to wonder what the hell Mike Shanahan was thinking by allowing Billy Cundiff to try a 62-yard attempt. Cundiff can't even nail one from 30 yards out if the game's on the line. Did he think that Cundiff would suddenly not choke? Shanahan should have just gone for it on fourth-and-long.
- And speaking of Cundiff, kudos to Washington's front office for making him the team's kicker following January's meltdown. Seriously, what were they thinking? They couldn't find a better kicker than Cundiff?
- The officiating was an abomination. The most egregious blown call occurred on a Steven Jackson rushing touchdown on third down. It was an obvious score, and everyone knew it. They took forever to make the call, angering Jackson, who spiked the ball in anger. The officials whistled him for a personal-foul penalty. Making matters worse, they didn't give him the score, and they didn't let Jeff Fisher challenge for some strange reason. It was so bizarre, and Roger Goodell needs to be embarrassed that he's allowing these shenanigans to continue.
- The Rams ran a promotion called Jeff Fisher Mustache Day, where they handed out fake mustaches to the 50 people who went to the game. Fisher was asked about this, but responded, "Can we talk about football, please?"
Despite all of the ineptness, both quarterbacks played really well. Sam Bradford especially. It was amazing to see him recapture his rookie magic, as he showed no symptoms of David Carr Syndrome while battling two talented pass-rushers. Bradford went 26-of-35 for 310 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The pick was his only blemish; he didn't see London Fletcher in the end zone. Fletcher, by the way, is the only active player from that 1999 Rams Super Bowl team, according to the FOX broadcasters. That's pretty scary because I remember that game like it was yesterday.
Bradford's scores went to Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson and Matthew Mulligan (yes, yes, he didn't need one). Amendola was the only Ram who had more than three receptions. He actually had 15 of them for 160 yards. The Redskins simply couldn't contain him, save for one play early in the first quarter when he was strip-sixed.
Jackson, who had the aforementioned angry spike, didn't see the field after that penalty, though that apparently was because of a groin strain. Sure. Seventh-round rookie Daryl Richardson received all of the carries after that, gaining 83 yards on 15 carries. He looked good until he fumbled when trying to ice the game, giving the Redskins one last opportunity that they threw away because of the aforementioned stupidity. Jackson, by the way, finished with 58 yards on nine carries.
Robert Griffin also had a great performance. He went 20-of-29 for 206 yards, one touchdown and a pick, but he did most of his damage on the ground, scrambling 11 times for 82 yards and two scores.
Griffin's touchdown was a 68-yard bomb to Leonard Hankerson, who burned Janoris Jenkins. Griffin could have launched another long score, but the football bounced out of Aldrick Robinson's hands. Robinson, of course, was replacing Pierre Garcon, who was a late scratch.
The Redskin running backs received 17 carries, with Alfred Morris getting 16 of them. He turned those attempts into 89 rushing yards.
Two Washington defenders went down with injuries. Cornerback Josh Wilson suffered a concussion, while Adam Carriker hurt his knee. Carriker will have an MRI on Monday.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Mark Sanchez is a great quarterback." - Rodney Harrison, after this game. So that's why Tim Tebow didn't play very much, in case you were wondering.
The Steelers proved that Mark Sanchez is still Mark Sanchez: a limited quarterback who is not a play-maker and goes completely ineffective for stretches. Sanchez started the game like he played last week at Buffalo. He moved the ball down the field with some nice passes and finished the drive with a quick slant to Santonio Holmes (3-38) for a touchdown.
However, Sanchez couldn't get in any rhythm after that drive and the Jets struggled to do anything against the Steelers' defense. He had some horrific inaccurate passes that weren't even close to his receivers. Sanchez stunk other than that first drive. He totaled 10-of-27 for 138 yards and a touchdown versus Pittsburgh.
New York couldn't run the ball either since Shonn Greene (11-23) and Bilal Powell (9-33) didn't see good lanes against a Steelers' defense that was dominating in the tackle box.
This would have been a good game to go with Tim Tebow and use his portion of the offense. Tebow had a 22-yard run, but that was his one and only carry and he didn't throw any passes. Tebow torched the Steelers' defense for almost 400 combined yards last January when he was with the Broncos, so it makes no sense that the Jets wouldn't give him a shot with Sanchez struggling.
What was the point of trading the pick and spending time in practice on that portion of the offense if the team isn't going to use it? This is suspect coaching from Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano.
On the other side, Pittsburgh pounded New York and gradually pulled away. The Steelers played their tough brand of football, and while they couldn't run the ball well, their defense and Ben Roethlisberger were enough to get them a win. Roethlisberger came up with some clutch passes to maintain possession of the ball and produce points.
Antonio Brown (7-79), Mike Wallace (5-74) and Emmanuel Sanders (3-33) all contributed. Wallace made a highlight-reel, 37-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter to give the Steelers firm control of the game. Roethlisberger finished 24-of-31 for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Pittsburgh put the game away with a 10-minute fourth-quarter drive that went the length of the field. However, New York was screwed in the fourth quarter by inept officiating. Running back Isaac Redman fumbled the ball after having his knee down on the ground short of the first down. The officials bumbled the challenge and didn't rule that Redman was down or that he fumbled the ball. The Steelers took advantage with Redman powering his way into the end zone.
Both teams got good games from their front sevens. Pittsburgh saw LaMarr Woodley and Cameron Heyward record sacks. Cornerback Ike Taylor was called for a few penalties and looks like age is starting to catch up with him.
Linebacker Garrett McIntyre stood out for New York. He had two sacks and a bunch of tackles.
Chargers 38, Titans 10
If you own Antonio Gates in your fantasy league, I feel your pain. I have him in two of my leagues, and I was pretty pissed when this game kicked off and it was announced that Gates wasn't in the lineup. Gates, who was expected to play as of Sunday morning, was a late scratch. His replacement, Dante Rosario, grabbed all three of Philip Rivers' passing touchdowns.
Rivers was highly efficient in this contest despite missing his top target, finishing 24-of-32 for 284 yards, the three scores and an interception. Tennessee's defensive front did what it could, sacking him four times, but Rivers was able to torch a Tennessee secondary that is clearly missing Cortland Finnegan.
Rivers didn't find Malcom Floyd in the end zone, but he still connected with him six times for 109 yards. Robert Meachem didn't get a single reception. He was targeted four times. I'd say that Rivers has no chemistry with him, but Meachem was never good in the first place.
Ryan Mathews was out again, so Curtis Brinkley got most of the carries, tallying just 43 yards on 18 attempts. Fourth-stringer Jackie Battle scored twice, but he had most of his touches in the fourth quarter.
It's sad that Battle and Brinkley each outgained Chris Johnson. Johnson had just eight carries, but totaled only 17 rushing yards. He was his usual self; he danced around the line of scrimmage because he couldn't find any holes. It's amazing how quickly he has fallen off. He's done.
Jake Locker couldn't get anything going against a suddenly improved San Diego defense. He finished 15-of-30 for 174 yards, one touchdown and a pick, but even those numbers are misleading because he couldn't even reach 100 yards when this game was still in doubt. He was 7-of-18 for 70 yards and an interception in the first half, and his score to Kendall Wright (2-24) was very late when the Chargers just didn't care anymore.
Locker spent the entire afternoon pathetically bouncing balls in front of his receivers, thanks in part to tremendous pressure by San Diego's pass rush. It was also disappointing to see him scramble only twice (21 yards).
Kenny Britt played, but didn't do very much. He was targeted only twice, catching a 5-yard pass. The Titans probably should have waited a week with him.
49ers 27, Lions 19
I don't know if the 49ers are the best team in the NFL, but they're certainly the toughest. It's fun watching them push other teams around with fierce hits and punishing blocks. Even the quarterback suffered a bloody nose on the final drive.
Alex Smith went 20-of-31 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He occasionally settled for checkdowns instead of looking deep, but he did a great job of managing the game. He received tons of help from his targets, particularly Michael Crabtree, who converted a 3rd-and-7, 3rd-and-14 and 3rd-and-9 with impressive gains after the catch, all on the team's final drive. Lobsterbush finished with six catches for 67 yards.
Smith's two scores went to Vernon Davis, who had five grabs for 73 yards. Randy Moss, meanwhile, had just one catch for 14 yards, though he did draw a pass interference that helped set up a touchdown.
The 49ers ran the ball really well, as usual. Frank Gore gained 89 yards and a touchdown on just 17 carries. Kendall Hunter, who had a fumble on a first-quarter kickoff return, chipped in with 23 rushing yards on five attempts.
Having said all that, the Lions had a chance to win this game, but as they did last year, they continuously screwed themselves over with dumb mistakes. This includes:
- Matthew Stafford threw a weird interception in the first quarter to Dashon Goldson that wasn't near any of his receivers. The ball appeared to slip out of his hand. Stafford finished 19-of-32 for 230 yards and a touchdown to Brandon Pettigrew (3-18) and the pick.
- The 49ers nailed a field goal late in the first quarter, but the Lions were whistled for running into the kicker. This gave San Francisco a free first down, which eventually led to a trip into the end zone.
- The Lions had an opportunity to force a long-yardage situation on the first play of the first half, but were whistled for an unnecessary face mask.
- Detroit challenged down by contact, which gave them six yards on third-and-long. They won the review, but were immediately whistled for a false start afterward, so the entire, 10-minute process resulted in a net of one yard.
The Lions' offensive struggles didn't affect Calvin Johnson very much; Megatron had eight catches for 94 yards.
A funny officiating instance occurred in the second half. The ball was thrown to one of the refs, who dropped the ball. He then glanced around nervously, wondering if anyone saw him. Once he remembered he was on national TV for a change, he looked like he was thinking, "Ah s***, what do I do?"