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NFL Game Recaps: Week 8, 2018
Texans 42, Dolphins 23
Deshaun Watson was so banged up last week that he wasn't even able to fly on an airplane to Jacksonville. Watson struggled versus the Jaguars, so it was natural to be skeptical about his ability to perform in this game, considering that he had just three days of rest.
The concern, apparently, wasn't necessary, as Watson absolutely dominated the Dolphins. He started slowly, but mercilessly torched Miami in the second half. The Dolphins, despite some trash talking preceding this contest, had no answer for Watson and his two dynamic receivers. Watson was so prolific that he had more touchdowns than incompletions. He misfired just once following intermission.
Watson heaved multiple deep bombs to both DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, finishing 16-of-20 for 239 yards and five touchdowns, with four of the scores coming after halftime. More importantly, Watson was able to convert in the red zone. Things looked dicey when an early Watson touchdown was negated by a lineman being downfield, but Watson was able to bounce back and hit a tight end in the end zone for the score. That jump started Houston's offense, which produced 262 net yards of offense in the second half.
Hopkins told the media that he didn't know who Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard was when Howard called Hopkins overrated during the lead up to this game. It looked like Hopkins would have to learn Howard's name early when he was limited to a pair of catches for just eight yards in the opening half. However, Hopkins had the last laugh, as he reeled in six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns, with his second score occurring as he was being held by Howard. Hopkins also had a ridiculous catch where he snagged the ball with one extended hand and scooped it in between his legs as he was falling to the ground. Unfortunately, this highlight-reel play was negated by a bogus penalty.
Despite Hopkins' play, he wasn't atop the receiving depth chart. Fuller was, as he reeled in five balls for 124 yards and a touchdown. His best play was a 73-yard bomb for his score. He also drew a long pass interference flag in the fourth quarter. There's some concern with Fuller getting injured on that play, as he was down for a while. The good news is that he was able to get up and walk off on his own power, telling his teammates that he was OK.
Meanwhile, the only other Texan with more than four receiving yards was tight end Jordan Thomas, who caught four passes for 29 yards. He hauled in two of Watson's touchdowns.
Lamar Miller had to be licking his chops entering this game, as he just saw Kerryon Johnson trample the Dolphins on Sunday. Miller picked up where Johnson left off, dashing for 133 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Miller's best play was a 58-yard burst to set up a Watson touchdown to Thomas.
Despite the victory, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien had some gaffes. He strangely gave the Dolphins eight free yards by accepting a penalty to begin the game, and he wasted two timeouts within the first five minutes of the second half. The Texans have been winning in spite of O'Brien, as they would probably be 6-2 or 7-1 right now with better coaching.
As for the Dolphins, Brock Osweiler performed well in two games heading into this contest, but he took a step backward against the Texans. Osweiler threw just one interception on an overthrow - which set up a Houston touchdown - but he was lucky he didn't commit more turnovers. Osweiler had several passes that were dropped by Houston defenders, and he appeared to have a lost fumble returned for a score, but it was a close call that was overturned by replay review. Osweiler also overthrew an open receiver for what should've been a long touchdown and missed a receiver on a fourth-and-1 attempt, though pressure from J.J. Watt rattled him. Watt, by the way, dominated Miami's offensive line.
Osweiler finished 21-of-37 for 241 yards and a pick. He wasn't awful, but he certainly shouldn't be started over a healthy Ryan Tannehill. Regardless, the Dolphins need a new quarterback. Here are the 2019 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings.
DeVante Parker had practically been exiled from Miami, as the Dolphins have made him a healthy scratch for weeks. Their decision to do so looks foolish now, as Parker caught six passes for 134 yards against the Texans. He could've had an even bigger game, but Osweiler missed him for a deep touchdown. He also dropped a pass. One interesting play involved Parker catching a variation of the Immaculate Reception, as Jakeem Grant snatched the ball, but had it pop high into the air on a hit. Parker was in the right place at the right time to make the improbable grab.
Danny Amendola was next on the receiving stat sheet with five catches for 43 yards. He threw a touchdown to Kenyan Drake on a trick play. Jakeem Grant (4-36) was inefficient on his eight targets.
Speaking of Drake, he and Frank Gore split carries evenly with 12 apiece. Drake outgained Gore, 58-53, and he found the end zone twice.
The officiating in this game was awful. A bogus penalty early in the game gave the Dolphins a touchdown, as they were awarded a first down after making a field goal. The offensive pass interference call on Hopkins' amazing catch was terrible as well. Also, right before halftime, the officiating crew forced both teams to come out of the locker room because they called a ticky-tack illegal formation when the Texans were kneeling down. All that happened was yet another kneel-down. It was a horrible, embarrassing moment for this crew.
Eagles 24, Jaguars 18
This game was billed as a battle between the defending Super Bowl champions versus the AFC runner-up, but it was really a clash of squads aiming to keep their season alive. Both 3-4, the Eagles and Jaguars had to win to have a viable chance at reaching the playoffs. As many expected, the team with an actual, legitimate NFL quarterback survived.
That said, it wasn't easy for the Eagles. They struggled early, as Carson Wentz was responsible for a pair of turnovers. He was strip-sacked on the opening drive and then was intercepted in the end zone when Jalen Ramsey made a great play. Adding injury to insult, Wentz fell on Lane Johnson when he fumbled. Johnson was knocked out of the game with a knee injury, and making matters worse, Jason Peters exite with a concussion. Fortunately, Peters returned in the third quarter, while Johnson was diagnosed with an MCL sprain, so he shouldn't be out for too long.
At any rate, Wentz continued to have some problems, as he had two possible interceptions that were dropped. However, he caught fire in the second half, as he is wont to do when he figures out what the opposing defense is doing. Wentz had just two incompletions following halftime, and he made some clutch third-down conversions to lead the team to victory.
Wentz finished 21-of-30 for 286 yards, three touchdowns and the two turnovers. He also picked up 28 rushing yards on six scrambles. Wentz, as mentioned, was on fire in the second half, as he was 10-of-12 for 131 yards and two scores following the break.
Wentz's touchdowns went to Zach Ertz (4-26), Dallas Goedert (1-32) and Wendell Smallwood (2-42). Philadelphia's top two receiving leaders didn't find the end zone, as Jordan Matthews caught four balls for 93 yards, while Nelson Agholor (3-49) was disappointing because he couldn't take advantage of a great matchup. And speaking of matchups, Alshon Jeffery (4-35) didn't do much because of Ramsey's elite coverage.
Undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams led the Eagles in rushing, picking up 61 yards on nine carries. He appeared to fumble in the fourth quarter, but the replay review said he was down by contact, which I'm not sure was the correct call, as it was very close. Still, Adams was the most impressive runner, as Smallwood (8-24) and Corey Clement (4-6) failed to do anything of note on the ground. I would pick up Adams if you're truly desperate for a running back, but I'd stay away otherwise. The Eagles involve too many backs, and Darren Sproles will be back in two weeks following the bye.
Before moving on to the Jaguars, it's worth noting that the Eagles suffered yet another injury. Starting cornerback Jalen Mills was carted off on a dreaded non-contact injury.
It's clear that the Jaguars will have to move on from Blake Bortles this spring, which I have them doing in the second round of my 2019 NFL Mock Draft. Bortles is not a legitimate NFL quarterback. He has a great arm and mobility, but his accuracy, mechanics, leadership and effort all deserve "F" grades.
Bortles posted decent numbers in this game - 24-of-41, 286 yards, one touchdown along with 43 rushing yards on eight scrambles - but much of that came via checkdowns when the Jaguars were trailing by multiple scores. Bortles fumbled the first snap of the morning, was flagged for a delay of game, missed several receivers on routine throws and whiffed on an open tight end in the end zone. Bortles is a bum, and it's laughable that the Jaguars gave him more money this past offseason. He should've been cut prior to the 2017 campaign, and yet Jacksonville has kept him on way too long and rewarded him with extra money for some reason.
The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde, and that deal looks like a total bust. Hyde was limited to just 11 yards on six carries, and he dropped a pass in the red zone. T.J. Yeldon turned into a pure receiving back, as he caught seven balls for 83 receiving yards.
Excluding Yeldon, Donte Moncrief led the Jaguars in receiving with four grabs for 54 yards. Dede Westbrook (2-31) caught Bortles' touchdown, but was flagged for a senseless taunting penalty.
Meanwhile, two Jacksonville receivers made worse egregious errors. D.J. Chark (4-41) dropped a ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter, while Keelan Cole (2-18) lost a fumble in Philadelphia territory right before halftime that set up an Eagles touchdown. That may have been the turning point of the game, and I wonder if it led to his benching because I didn't see him in the second half.
Bears 24, Jets 10
The Bears didn't have their top defensive player and best receiving threat available in this game, but it didn't matter. They still had enough defensive firepower to dominate in the trenches and rattle Sam Darnold, who didn't stand a chance. The Bears would've won in a blowout had their quarterback played well, but a couple of big offensive plays allowed them to earn their fourth victory of the season.
One of those big plays was a screen pass to Tarik Cohen. Mitchell Trubisky made a short toss to Cohen, who was left all alone because the Jets sent everyone at the quarterback. No Jet was in the area, so Cohen was able to use his game-breaking speed to sprint 70 yards into the end zone. Cohen, Anthony Miller and Jordan Howard both hit plays of 20-plus, which accounted for most of their offense on the afternoon.
Chicago once again won in spite of Trubisky. The second-year quarterback struggled once again with his accuracy, especially in the opening half. Trubisky's stats don't look too bad - he was 16-of-29 for 220 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers - but keep in mind that a 70-yard score of his came on the short screen to Cohen. Take that away, and Trubisky was just 15-of-28 for 150 yards and a touchdown, giving him a putrid YPA of 5.36. A poor sequence that stood out to me regarding Trubisky's passing was in the second quarter when he missed Miller for a first down and then got away with an interception with an awkward, side-armed pass of his back foot. Trubisky's mechanics are very inconsistent, and he constantly lobs inaccurate balls off his back foot.
Trubisky was better in the second half, and he once again scrambled well - he picked up 51 yards on six runs - but he really needs to improve the consistency in his passing for the Bears to stand a chance against better competition.
In addition to scoring his 70-yard receiving touchdown, Cohen rushed for 40 yards on five carries. His one blemish was a dropped pass. Howard handled most of the workload on the ground, gaining 81 yards on 22 carries, breaking free for a long gain in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Trailing only Cohen in receiving in the box score, Taylor Gabriel caught four passes for 52 yards, picking up the slack for an absent Allen Robinson. Miller benefited from Robinson being out as well, catching three passes for 37 yards and a score.
One major injury of note: Talented Bears guard Kyle Long was carted in the locker room with a foot injury in the fourth quarter.
Moving on to the Jets, Sam Darnold had a rough day. He had zero time to throw on many drop backs, and he had to resort to tossing checkdowns as a result. He didn't have a completion of longer than 20 yards until garbage time in the fourth quarter. Chicago's defense suffocated him, and Darnold didn't even have to face Khalil Mack, who didn't play. Making matters worse, his teammates were responsible for three false starts on the first three drives of the game.
Darnold failed to complete half of his passes. He finished 14-of-29 for 153 yards and a touchdown, as his team had nearly as many punts (8) as points (10).
A big problem for Darnold was that he didn't have anyone to throw to. Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa were out, so Jermaine Kearse was Darnold's top receiver. Kearse saw 10 targets go his way, but he caught just three of them for 30 yards. He dropped a pass. Rookie Deontay Burnett led the team with four grabs for 61 yards. Meanwhile, Darnold's sole touchdown went to rookie tight end Chris Herndon, who caught that sole ball for 16 yards.
With Bilal Powell out for the year, Isaiah Crowell is set to get most of the carries. However, he did nothing with them, mustering just 25 yards on 13 carries. Trenton Cannon, replacing Powell, managed just 10 yards on six attempts, including a fourth-and-1 conversion. Cannon also caught three passes for 12 receiving yards. He did not do a good imitation of Powell.
Seahawks 28, Lions 14
The Lions may have some dynamic play-makers on offense, but if their scoring unit sputters as a whole, they'll suffer blowout losses like this. Detroit's anemic defense couldn't do anything to stop the Seahawks, who moved the chains at will in this game.
Detroit had no answer for Russell Wilson. The perennial Pro Bowler misfired on just three occasions, and one of those would've been a touchdown had the receiver been able to get both feet inbounds in the end zone. Wilson went 14-of-17 for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He exploited Detroit's weak linebacking corps and secondary with intermediate and deep shots all afternoon, and he didn't have to worry about pressure with Ziggy Ansah missing another game.
Wilson's touchdowns went to different players, as David Moore (4-97), Ed Dickson (2-54) and Tyler Lockett (2-34) all found the end zone. Lockett scored once again, giving him six touchdowns on the year, but he's someone to sell high, as he saw just two targets in this game. Moore, conversely, had a number of impressive receptions. He looks like he has a great deal of potential to be a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin posted a disappointing stat line, catching just two balls for 26 yards. He nearly had a touchdown, but couldn't get both feet inbounds.
The Seahawks ran the ball well despite the Lions acquiring Snacks Harrison this week. Chris Carson saw the majority of the workload, tallying 105 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Harrison made a great play to stuff Carson at the goal line, but it appears as though Detroit's run defense still has some major issues.
Meanwhile, there were three pivotal moments for the Lions in this game that all led to their defeat. The first was when Ameer Abdullah fumbled a kickoff return in the opening half to set up a quick Seattle touchdown. The second was when the Lions decided to punt on a fourth-and-4 on their own 47, down 14 at the end of the third quarter. It would've been better to go for it, especially when the Lions were screwed by the officials missing when Frank Clark was blatantly offside on the previous play. Detroit punted the ball back to the Seahwks, who scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to widen the margin to 28-7. The third was when the Lions had a chance to trim the Seattle lead to 28-21 with less than four minutes left on the clock in regulation, but also three timeouts remaining. However, Matthew Stafford threw an interception in the red zone because he didn't see the underneath defender.
That pick was one of two crucial errors Stafford made in this game. The other was when he was strip-sacked at midfield while trying to come back from a 28-14 deficit. Stafford otherwise posted solid numbers, going 27-of-40 for 310 yards, two touchdowns and his two turnovers.
Both of Stafford's touchdowns were thrown to Marvin Jones, who reeled in seven of his 10 targets for 117 yards. Golden Tate (7-50) also saw a ton of balls thrown to him, as Stafford peppered him with 12 targets. Tate was guilty of a dropped pass.
Conversely, Kenny Golladay saw just one target, which he caught for 12 yards. Golladay wasn't covered well, and he was on the field during most plays, so it's confusing as to why he barely saw any passes thrown his way. Golladay is Detroit's most talented receiver, so this irresponsible game plan was one of the primary reasons the Lions lost.
Kerryon Johnson was given just eight carries, which he turned into 22 rushing yards. However, this was not a result of the Lions going back to LeGarrette Blount, who gained three yards on as many attempts. Rather, the Lions couldn't run very much because of the early deficit. On the bright side, Johnson was a big part of the aerial assault, catching six passes for 69 receiving yards. One of his receptions featured such a fierce stiff-arm that one of the FOX announcers compared it to Clint Eastwood snarling, "Get off my lawn!"
Chiefs 30, Broncos 23
The Broncos had an answer for Patrick Mahomes through three quarters in the first meeting between these teams. They limited him to 13 points before he had a tremendous comeback in the fourth quarter. Denver appeared as though it would have similar success on the opening drive, as Bradley Chubb had a huge series. He brought down Mahomes on the outside on second down, then beat Eric Fisher to chase down Mahomes on third down to force the punt. Kansas City had a quick three-and-out, while the Broncos went down the field and scored a touchdown on the next play. Denver went up 7-0, and before they knew it, umm, the Chiefs were winning 30-14 at the end of the third quarter.
So, what happened in between? To put it simply, Mahomes caught fire, while the Broncos made some killer mistakes. Beginning with Mahomes, he misfired on just 10 occasions, going 24-of-34 for 303 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He was brilliant as always, but wasn't perfect. He missed Travis Kelce for about a 20-yard gain in the third quarter, and he was guilty of an interception on an overthrow in the final frame. He also nearly tossed another pick on a lazy-looking side-arm throw. Those, along with some other misses, prevented the Chiefs from scoring a single point in the final 20 minutes, allowing the Broncos to secure the dreaded back-door cover.
Two of Mahomes' touchdowns went to Sammy Watkins, who reeled in eight of his nine targets for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Kelce (6-79) and Kareem Hunt hauled in Mahomes' other scores. Kelce nearly had another touchdown, but he dropped the ball in the end zone.
As for Tyreek Hill, he's now had two of his worst performances of the season against the Broncos, thanks to Chris Harris' elite coverage. Hill was limited to just three catches (four targets) for 70 yards. Hill left the game in the fourth quarter with a strained groin.
Hunt caught five passes for 36 receiving yards, so that, combined with his touchdown - which featured an incredible hurdle - salvaged his afternoon because he couldn't find any room on the ground. Hunt was limited to just 50 yards on 16 carries, which was a surprising result, considering how the Broncos have struggled against the run all year.
I mentioned earlier that the Broncos committing errors was responsible for them being out-scored 30-7 during a stretch of this game. Some untimely penalties crushed the Broncos, as Phillip Lindsay had 54 yards of offense negated by three penalties (two holds, one illegal block above the waist), with each of those infractions disrupting promising Denver drives. Case Keenum, meanwhile, committed two turnovers in the second half. He was strip-sacked, and then he threw an interception on a flea-flicker where cornerback Kendall Fuller made an incredible, diving catch to secure the pick.
Keenum finished 23-of-34 for 262 yards, two touchdowns and the pair of turnovers. Keenum had plenty of success throwing against Kansas City's rancid defense, but couldn't quite keep up with the Chiefs because of his blunders. The offensive line's poor protection and frequent penalties didn't help matters.
Lindsay would've had a big game had it not been for those three penalties. He still did well, picking up 95 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries. However, a run of 21, a run of 23, and a reception of 10 were all wiped out because of various infractions.
Rookie receiver Courtland Sutton led the Broncos in receiving with three grabs for 78 yards. Sutton made a great grab on one play where he skied over a defender in the second quarter. Emmanuel Sanders (4-57) wasn't too far behind him, though he likely would've led the team in receiving had he not missed some action with an injury. Sanders, fortunately, was able to return to the field.
Both Sutton and Sanders had four targets each, trailing Demaryius Thomas' seven. However, Thomas didn't do much with those targets, managing just three receptions for 30 yards. He dropped a ball and generally looked disinterested.
Redskins 20, Giants 13
The Redskins won this game to improve to 5-2, but the primary story concerning this contest was how horrible Eli Manning was. Manning has been a regressing quarterback who was appropriately benched last year in favor of Geno Smith, yet a coach inexplicably lost his job because of this decision. It turns out that was the right move, as Manning has looked even worse this season. He was especially horrific in this contest, as he was solely responsible for the loss despite the Redskins missing some players in the secondary.
There were signs that Manning would struggle early in this game, as he threw a 3-yard pass on a third-and-7 and tossed another 3-yard pass on a third-and-6. Manning then transitioned to giving the ball away, as he made a horrible pass in the red zone that was intercepted. He then heaved another pick, recklessly releasing the ball into double coverage. Manning also took seven sacks. His offensive line was mostly to blame for that, but Manning was responsible for some of those sacks because he held on to the ball too long.
Manning's numbers don't look bad - he was 30-of-47 for 316 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions - but much of that, including his score, came in garbage time. He was abysmal, and he should've been picked a third time, but Josh Norman had the ball go right through his hands. The Giants have a bye coming up, so they would be foolish to not see what rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta has to offer following the week off. If Lauletta fails, the Giants can select Justin Herbert this upcoming April, which is what I have happening in my 2019 NFL Mock Draft.
Despite Manning's putrid play, Odell Beckham Jr. had a big afternoon. He caught eight of his 11 targets for 136 yards. Beckham's top highlight was when he made a 44-yard, one-handed reception as he was being dragged down by a defender. The Giants, however, got no points out of it because Manning took a bad sack to knock his team out of field goal range. Beckham later had yet another one-handed grab in traffic.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Sterling Shepard saw eight targets, but managed to reel in just four of them for 34 yards. Shepard appeared to catch a deep pass, but a defender knocked the ball out of his hands at the last second. Evan Engram caught five balls for 25 yards, and he dropped two passes, one of which was on fourth down. Fortunately for his fantasy owners, he scored a touchdown in garbage time.
Saquon Barkley trailed only Beckham in receiving for both teams in this game. He snatched all but one of his 10 targets for 73 receiving yards. He also drew a deep pass interference flag. It's a good thing he was a great factor in the passing attack because the Redskins' stellar defensive line limited him to just 38 rushing yards on 13 attempts.
While Barkley struggled to run, Adrian Peterson trampled the Giants, which wasn't a surprise in the wake of the Snacks Harrison trade earlier in the week. Peterson tallied 149 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. He also scored on a 7-yard reception that featured a laughable Giants tackling attempt.
Looking like a spry 26-year-old again, Peterson is on pace to gain 1,341 rushing yards this year. His only blemish on the afternoon was a lost fumble in the red zone. The Giants scooped up the ball and had a nice return, but got zero points out of it because of Engram's aforementioned fourth-down drop.
Alex Smith did his usual checking down, as he was missing top receiver Jamison Crowder. None of his passes traveled longer than 25 yards, but Smith didn't have to press downfield, as his running game did most of the work. Smith finished 20-of-32 for only 178 yards and a touchdown. He was nearly intercepted on a rare deep shot to Paul Richardson.
Smith threw more to Jordan Reed than anyone else, which made sense, given the Giants' inability to stop tight ends. Reed caught seven of those 12 balls, but for only 38 yards. Reed trailed only Josh Doctson (4-49) in receiving. Richardson (2-34) did very little in the box score, but drew a 40-yard interference flag.
Panthers 36, Ravens 21
The Panthers have made a habit of trailing by double digits in the opening half, including last week when they were down 17-0 heading into the fourth quarter in Philadelphia before a great comeback victory. They were down 7-0 early in this game, but they made sure not to head down that path again. Combined with some sloppy errors by the Ravens, the Panthers were able to move the chains efficiently against what many perceive to be the top defense in the NFL. Some very fortunate bounces helped as well.
Carolina's scoring attack was at its best - and most fortunate - during a 99-yard drive in the second quarter. Pinned at its own 1-yard line, Carolina moved the ball over to midfield. The Panthers appeared to be stopped on a third down when receiver D.J. Moore dropped a pitch, but the ball bounced right back to him, and he was able to run for a first down. Cam Newton then had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage in the red zone, which floated right to Christian McCaffrey for a touchdown.
This gave the Panthers a 21-7 lead, and they were able to add a field goal just prior to intermission, thanks to a horrible Joe Flacco interception. They were up by 17 at halftime, and they were able to outgain the Ravens, 233-145, while averaging eight yards per play compared to Baltimore's 4.5.
Newton completed nearly all of his passes, going 21-of-29 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He repeatedly targeted players going against linebacker C.J. Mosley, who looked like he was running in quicksand in this game. Newton also did some major damage with his legs, scrambling 10 times for 52 rushing yards and a touchdown.
McCaffrey may not have led the team in rushing because of Newton, but he managed to find the end zone twice, one of which was on that aforementioned tipped ball. McCaffrey mustered 45 yards on 14 carries. He also caught four passes for 11 receiving yards.
First-round rookie receiver D.J. Moore finally broke through, as he caught five passes for 90 yards. Moore looked great in the early portion of training camp, but quickly found his way into Ron Rivera's dog house after getting a 115-mph speeding ticket. Moore has earned Rivera's trust again, so he could have a strong second half of the season.
Elsewhere, Devin Funchess was limited to three grabs for 27 yards. Greg Olsen (4-56) caught one of Newton's two passing touchdowns.
The Ravens, meanwhile, have a big battle against the Steelers coming up, so despite coming off a brutal last-second loss to the Saints, they looked very flat in this game. John Harbaugh tried to energize his team by calling a fake punt on his own 10-yard line in the opening quarter. Baltimore converted, but the play was overturned by a penalty. The mistakes didn't stop there, as Alex Collins lost a fumble in his own territory, setting up a Carolina touchdown. Flacco then had the aforementioned interception in which he foolishly threw the ball late across his body. These errors buried the offense, which was in a quick hole because the Panthers' scoring unit couldn't be stopped.
Flacco finished 22-of-39 for 192 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Although Flacco endured four drops, his performance was very disappointing after last week's brilliant outing against the Saints. This looked like the Flacco of 2016-17, but he should be able to bounce back in a more favorable matchup next week.
Willie Snead led the Ravens in receiving, as he made five grabs for 54 yards. However, he was responsible for a drop and two offensive pass interferences on the same possession, ruining what could've been a scoring drive right before halftime. Both Michael Crabtree (3-31) and John Brown (3-28) were huge disappointments considering the easy matchup they had against Carolina's poor secondary. Brown was guilty of a drop as well.
Collins, who scored the early touchdown, didn't get a chance to run very much because of the constant deficit. He gained 49 yards on 11 carries.
Making matters worse for the Ravens, left tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a knee injury in the second half.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jameis Winston sucks. I imagine there will be some buzz to replace him this offseason, but I don't think it'll happen until the following spring. The Buccaneers will fire Dirk Koetter this offseason and bring in someone to fix Winston, but when that plan fails, Tampa will draft a new quarterback. I have the Buccaneers taking Jake Fromm in my 2020 NFL Mock Draft.
One has to think that Tampa Bay would have won if Ryan Fitzpatrick had started and played the entire game. Jameis Winston threw four interceptions, including a pick-six, before being benched for Fitzpatrick during the third quarter. Cincinnati was up 34-16 at that point, but Fitz-Magic went on a tear to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. The future of Winston with the Buccaneers is in doubt, and one would think that he won't be the starting quarterback next Sunday when the Bucs go to Carolina.
The Bengals dominated the first half with their defense forcing turnovers while building a big lead. Andy Dalton played well, with Tyler Boyd ripping up the Tampa Bay secondary in the first half and Joe Mixon running well. Cincinnati almost blew it, but the home team got a much-needed win to stay in the AFC's playoff race thanks to Dalton and A.J. Green providing late heroics.
Cincinnati moved into Tampa Bay territory on the opening drive of the game, but safety Jordan Whitehead came up with a fourth-down stop. It was a questionable choice by Marvin Lewis to pass on an easy field goal, and that decision ended up hurting Cincinnati later. The Bucs started a nice drive into Cincinnati territory with Winston converting a fourth-and-4, but then he had a bad overthrow that was picked off by Shawn Williams in the end zone. After trading some punts, the Bengals scored first, as Boyd hauled in a 28-yard reception to set up a short rushing touchdown for Mixon.
Tampa Bay answered using Peyton Barber and Mike Evans to move the ball down the field, but then Winston made bone-headed play, throwing a terrible pass right to Preston Brown on what should have been a throw-away. Cincinnati turned the turnover into points, as Dalton converted a fourth down to Green and then hit Boyd for a 9-yard touchdown. The Bengals quickly expanded their lead with Boyd catching passes of 19 and 26 yards alongside Mixon running for 15 and then getting into the end zone. The Bengals had a 21-0 lead, but then Winston found the disgruntled DeSean Jackson (3-68-1) for a 60-yard touchdown that saw him burn William Jackson on a deep post to get wide open. Chandler Catanzaro then missed the extra point. Mixon soon set up Cincinnati for more points with a 43-yard run to get into the Bucs' red zone, and Dalton hit Green from 17 yards out for the touchdown. Tampa Bay tacked on a field goal before the half to cut Cincinnati's lead to 27-9.
In the third quarter, Bucs receiver Adam Humphries (7-76) made two fantastic plays to get the ball to the goal line and then Barber jumped over the top for the score. As Tampa Bay was trying to get back in the game, Winston had another overthrow that was picked off by Bengals linebacker Jordan Evans. Shortly later, Winston threw his fourth interception, and with that one, Bengals safety Jessie Bates coasted into the end zone from 21 yards out. That left Cincinnati up 34-16.
Winston was benched following pick No. 4. Fitzpatrick produced a field goal on his first drive. The next possession was even better, as Fitz-Magic found Evans wide open in busted coverage for a 72-yard touchdown. Just like that it was a one-score game early in the fourth quarter. On two ensuing possessions, Jason Pierre-Paul sacked Dalton to get the ball back for Tampa Bay. Fitz-Magic moved the ball down the field before finding, on fourth down no less, O.J. Howard (4-68-1) open in the middle of the field for an 18-yard touchdown to tie the game at 34. Getting the ball back with limited time on the clock, Dalton moved the ball using Green to get in field goal range, and Randy Bullock made a 44-yard field goal to give Cincinnati the win.
Dalton was 21-of-34 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. Mixon ripped off 123 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
Boyd led the Bengals with nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown, while Green had five receptions for 76 yards and a score.
Winston was 18-of-35 for 276 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions before being benched. Fitzpatrick was 11-of-15 for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
Barber ran well for the Buccaneers, totaling 85 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Evans was excellent, totaling 179 yards on six receptions and a touchdown.
Defensively, Jason Pierre-Paul was a bright spot for Tampa Bay, recording two sacks. Carlos Dunlap had two sacks for the Bengals and played well, putting a lot of heat on the Bucs quarterbacks. Unfortunately, Dunlap tore his ACL.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is now two games in a row where the Steelers have covered the spread despite getting a good portion of the public money. I don't know what's going on, but I don't like it.
The Browns hadn't come out of Pittsburgh with a win since 2003, and nothing has changed in 15 years, as the Steelers ran away with an easy win despite a slow start.
Ben Roethlisberger and company went nowhere in the first quarter, which has been a theme this year. Two three-and-out punts and an extremely ill-advised pass by Roethlisberger to the blanketed JuJu Smith-Schuster that was tipped and intercepted, were the three drives by Pittsburgh in the first quarter.
While the Steelers were going nowhere, the Browns moved the ball enough along with the interception, to be in excellent field position for the entire first half, but instead of taking advantage, they kicked two field goals and missed another in their first four possessions. At that point, it looked like the Steelers had dodged a bullet, and they had.
With most of the viewing audience commenting on just how awful the Pittsburgh offense looked, that's when Roethlisberger scrambled and let Antonio Brown get free up the left side for a 43-yard walk-in touchdown, giving Pittsburgh the lead for good.
The only other passing touchdown for Ben Roethlisberger came just before the half when he hit Brown again, this time for a 1-yard pass down the line of scrimmage. This touchdown didn't come without its controversy, as two plays earlier, James Conner had come up short by a wide margin on third-and-two but got a generous spot to make it 4th-and-inches. The Steelers went for it and got it on a 3-yard pass to Smith-Schuster down to the one. Would the Steelers have kicked the field goal instead if the spot would have been more accurate? Possibly, but in the grand scheme of this game, I doubt it made much of a difference.
The Steelers did try their hardest to get the Browns back in this game though. After a holding call in the end zone gave the Steelers a safety, the Browns had a free kick and returner Ryan Switzer let it go, thinking it was the same as a punt. The Browns recovered and then moved the ball down the field with three Pittsburgh penalties, setting up Baker Mayfield's touchdown pass, a nice 12-yard catch by rookie Antonio Callaway.
This game didn't have many strong individual performances for the Browns, but Callaway's hands, as he caught 5-of-6 targets for 36 yards and a touchdown, were much better than they have been so far this year, so this was a good step for him.
Duke Johnson started the game with two good plays, but was injured and had to leave the game for a couple downs. He came back in but was ineffective after the injury. Was it another miscalculation by the Browns in not getting him the ball or was he not 100 percent? I couldn't tell, but we'll see how much he practices this coming week.
The Steelers' defense on the day played well when not being penalized, as they held the Browns to just four yards per play and 237 total yards. On average, Pittsburgh had given up 380 total yards per game coming into this week.
After Pittsburgh's huge free kick blunder, penalties and touchdown allowed, the Browns were within four points, but the Steelers took their next possession 75 yards on five plays, with Conner getting the ball on four of those plays. Conner started the drive with gains of 30 and 16 yards, and he finished it off with a strong 12-yard touchdown run. After that, it was all Conner, as the Steelers salted the game away via the run. Conner went on to score another touchdown, a 22-yard run, to give Pittsburgh a 33-12 lead with two minutes remaining. With that touchdown, Conner finished the day with huge numbers, as he rushed 24 times for 146 yards and caught 5-of-6 targets for 66 additional yards. His ability to close out games has been a feature of his tenure in Pittsburgh so far.
Mayfield didn't do much to applaud this week. He looked as if he were playing not to lose at times, which is entirely against all things Mayfield. He dinked and dunked, and probably was scared off of the deep ball when he was a bit short on a pass that Joe Haden made a strong interception on. Mayfield has yet to find his groove, which likely isn't helped by the play calling.
It appears there will likely be a shakeup in Cleveland's coaching ranks sooner than later, but the actual problem, Hue Jackson, looks like he'll hang on for now.
The 2-5-1 Browns will host the 7-1 Chiefs next week, and the road team will likely be favored by more than a touchdown.
The Steelers, who have a slight edge over the Bengals at 4-2-1 in the AFC North, have a massive game against the Ravens in Baltimore, whom they lost to in Pittsburgh already this season. The Ravens lost this week to Carolina, but if they can get two wins against the division leader, they will be sitting pretty.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Raiders played with great energy, as they wanted to prove that they weren't going to quit despite the Amari Cooper trade - and yet, they still lost by 14 to a mediocre Colts team. Unreal.
Both teams got their needed results here. The Colts kept their AFC South hopes alive, while Oakland enjoyed an excellent game from Derek Carr, but maintained its high first-round draft status. Both teams played terrible defense, but Andrew Luck, Marlon Mack and the Indianapolis tight ends were able to outscore Carr. If Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich had taken a tie against Houston earlier this season, the Colts would only be one game out of first place. Additionally, they have an easy stretch of their schedule with a bye week and then home games against the reeling Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. Indianapolis is not on the road again until December.
Luck moved the ball down the field on the opening drive of the game before throwing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Mo Alie-Cox, who made a tremendous leaping one-handed catch. Luck soon led a field goal drive to put Indianapolis up 10, but Carr answered by moving the ball down the field before finding Seth Roberts (2-42-1) open down the seam for a 31-yard touchdown. The Raiders took the lead with Carr throwing some ropes through the Indianapolis defense, and the drive ended with Jared Cook hauling in a 25-yard score. The Colts got on the board again after rookie Nyiem Hines (11-78) moved the ball down the field on the Raiders defense to set up a short field goal for Adam Vinatieri. With that field goal, Vinatieri passed Morten Anderson for the most career points in NFL history with 2,547. The Raiders took a 14-13 lead into the half.
To open the third quarter, the Raiders moved down the field with Carr hitting Cook and Doug Martin ripping off a 29-yard run. Carr eventually jumped and extended the ball over the goal line for his first rushing touchdown. The Colts answered with Mack ripping off a 49-yard run, and they finished the drive with Eric Ebron (3-37-1) making a phenomenal leaping 20-yard touchdown reception. A two-point conversion to Chester Rogers tied the game at 21.
Oakland responded promptly with Martin running well and Carr throwing a bullet to Brandon LaFell (3-39-1) for a short touchdown. Luck came right back, hitting T.Y. Hilton for his only catch of 34 yards, and Mack finished the drive with a short touchdown run. After a Raiders punt, Luck used Jack Doyle to move the ball down the field and get into the end zone from about 10 yards out. That gave the Colts a 35-28 lead with five-and-a-half minutes remaining. Promptly, Indianapolis rookie linebacker Darius Leonard tomahawk chopped the ball out of the hands of Martin, setting up the Colts at the Oakland 27. A few plays later, Mack powered into the end zone from a yard out to clinch the win for Indianapolis.
Carr completed 21-of-28 passes for 244 yards with three touchdowns passing and one touchdown rushing. He was excellent, and at one point, he completed 17 straight passes.
Martin had 72 yards on 13 carries. Jared Cook led the Raiders in receiving with four catches for 74 yards.
Luck completed 22-of-31 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Mack ran for 132 yards on 25 carries with two scores.
Jack Doyle led the Colts in receiving with six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Rams 29, Packers 27
The crowd in this game was so biased toward the Packers that one of the announcers said the following, "If you didn't know any better, you'd swear you were playing in Lambeau Field." The Packer faithful watched their team go up 10-0 in the early going and then maintain a 27-26 lead in the fourth quarter. The Rams kicked a field goal to go up two, but left too much time for Aaron Rodgers, who needed just a field goal with slightly more than two minutes remaining to pull the upset.
Unfortunately for those Packer fans, they never even got to see Rodgers. Kick returner Ty Montgomery, who previously blew a blocking assignment, made the egregious error of taking the ball out of the end zone on the ensuing kickoff, which was dumb for two reasons. First, with a few ticks more than two minutes on the click, Montgomery's running ate the 2-minute warning. And second, Montgomery didn't even reach the 25-yard line. Worst of all, Montgomery lost a fumble, and the Rams took over and were able to run out the clock.
It's likely that Rodgers would've been able to drive the field to get three points. Rodgers was coming off a pair of touchdown drives and happened to be on fire for most of the second half. We'll never find out if Rodgers could've gotten it done, but the Rams' banged-up cornerbacks were reeling.
Rodgers finished 18-of-30 for 286 yards and a touchdown. He was rattled by pressure in the middle of the game and took a couple of bad sacks, but he looked unstoppable in the fourth quarter. The Rams should consider themselves lucky that Montgomery sabotaged Green Bay's final drive.
Rodgers got some of his weapons back from injury, yet Davante Adams led the receiving corps in yardage by a wide margin. Adams hauled in five of his seven targets for 133 yards. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2-45) was next, and he caught Rodgers' sole touchdown.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham (1-21) appeared to score in the opening half, but was ruled down at the 1-inch line following replay review. Geronimo Allison (1-14) was also a disappointment for his fantasy players.
The Packers moved the chains well early on with Aaron Jones' runs. Perhaps using the bye to realize that Jones is the better player, the Packers fed Jones way more than Jamaal Williams, with Jones out-carrying Williams, 12-4. Jones outgained Williams 86-9, and both scored touchdowns.
Moving on to the Rams, it was a chore for them to maintain drives in the opening half. Jared Goff repeatedly tried to target rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander and wasn't successful, as Alexander had a terrific game. Meanwhile, the Packers did a great job of limiting Todd Gurley on the ground, restricting him to just 34 yards on 13 carries in the opening half.
Gurley, however, had the last laugh, though his fantasy owners were disappointed by what happened at the end. Gurley caught a ridiculous pass in the second quarter which he bobbled initially, then secured prior to falling out of bounds. He was able to burst for a 23-yard run. He eventually eclipsed the century mark (25 carries, 114 yards.) He found the end zone as a receiver (6 catches, 81 receiving yards.) And on the last play of the game, Gurley broke free for what appeared to be a 21-yard rushing touchdown. However, Gurley did the right thing and collapsed intentionally before reaching the goal line. This was correct because had he scored, and the Rams missed the extra point, the Packers would've had another chance being down by eight.
Goff, meanwhile, barely completed half of his passes, going 19-of-35 for 295 yards and three touchdowns. Goff didn't play poorly, but the Packers were able to pressure him more than he's used to, and Alexander, as mentioned, made some great plays in Green Bay's secondary.
Aside from Gurley, the Rams' leading receiver was Brandin Cooks, who caught three of his eight targets for 74 yards. Robert Woods (5-70) wasn't too far behind him. Neither found the end zone, as Cooper Kupp's replacement, Josh Reynolds, did twice. He snatched three balls for 42 receiving yards.
Cardinals 18, 49ers 15
The Cardinals won this game, but things looked bleak for them for most of the afternoon. Josh Rosen had severe issues dealing with San Francisco's pressure, as his horrible offensive line couldn't give him any sort of adequate protection. The 49ers didn't do much offensively either, but they were more successful than the Cardinals through three quarters, as they were able to establish a 15-3 lead. With David Johnson going through concussion protocol, it seemed as though all hope was lost.
And that's when Rosen finally came alive. Rosen led a touchdown drive and appeared as though he would have another right afterward, but Jermaine Gresham lost a fumble in San Francisco territory. The Cardinals were eventually able to get a stop, and Rosen led yet another touchdown possession to take a three-point lead that Arizona was able to maintain because of a botched snap on San Francisco's backup center.
Rosen finished 23-of-40 for 252 yards, two touchdowns and an interception where he threw into a tight window and didn't see the safety. He was beaten up for most of the game and had to settle mostly for checkdowns. The constant pressure he saw forced him into numerous sacks, though he was guilty of holding on to the ball too long on some occasions. It's a near-miracle that Rosen was able to engineer two touchdown drives in the final frame, given how horrible his offensive line had been playing for most of the afternoon. Some injuries to San Francisco's defense, which I'll get to later, certainly helped matters.
Rosen's two touchdowns went to his top receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. Fitzgerald is clearly healthy now, as he caught eight passes for 102 yards, highlighted by a deep reception made over two San Francisco defensive backs, including Richard Sherman. Kirk (3 catches, 42 yards) had worse numbers on five fewer targets (12-7). However, he made a great play to get a first down on third-and-long, using a terrific spin move to get a first down on a 14-yard reception. Kirk caught the decisive score.
David Johnson, as mentioned, missed a portion of this game because he was in concussion protocol. Fortunately, he was able to return to the field late in the game. Johnson didn't find much running room against a weak ground defense, managing just 59 yards on 16 carries. He also caught four passes for 41 receiving yards.
As for the 49ers, they should've been able to put away the Cardinals, but they struggled to move the ball with C.J. Beathard, which was hardly a surprise. It turns out that tossing ugly checkdowns and taking bad sacks for most of the afternoon is not a recipe for victory.
Beathard completed just half of his passes, going 14-of-28 for 190 yards and a touchdown, and even those numbers are misleading because of a long catch-and-run by Marquise Goodwin. Beathard put together a couple of nice drives, but that was about it. He seldom looked downfield and seemed rattled in the pocket, taking too many sacks because he held on to the ball too long. He's also lucky he wasn't intercepted twice; Patrick Peterson dropped a potential pick, while Robert Nkemdiche failed to haul in a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage.
Beathard's top targets were Kendrick Bourne (7-71) and George Kittle (5-57). The Cardinals play well against tight ends, so the fact that Kittle was able to catch five passes should be considered a win for his fantasy owners, especially considering that he appeared to suffer a concussion, only to miss half a drive. Meanwhile, Goodwin caught his only ball, a 55-yarder, for a touchdown. It was an intermediate toss, which Goodwin took the distance with his blazing speed.
The 49ers may have to play their next game without Matt Breida. The talented back got hurt again, exiting late with an ankle injury. Breida, who gained 42 yards on 16 carries, will have just three days to recover from this latest injury. It would be in his best interest to finally get some rest. If he's out, Raheem Mostert (2-18) will handle much more of a workload.
Breida is one of four San Francisco players to leave early with an injury. The other three were some of the better defensive players on the roster: linebacker Reuben Foster, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and safety Jaquiski Tartt.
Saints 30, Vikings 20
The Saints had the game won in last year's divisional-round playoff game, but happened to lose on the Minnesota Miracle. The rematch saw the Vikings experience misfortune for a change, as two crucial errors buried them, allowing New Orleans to claim revenge.
The Vikings actually appeared to be in control of this game in the second quarter. They were up 13-10 and moving the chains well. They entered the red zone, but Adam Thielen lost a fumble. The Saints scooped up the ball and had a long return. With the help of a Laquon Treadwell unsportsmanlike penalty in which he took off his helmet and slammed it into the turf, the Saints were able to score a quick touchdown to go up four. The second mistake was also on one of Minnesota's elite receivers. Stefon Diggs goofed this time, stopping his route abruptly. Kirk Cousins threw the ball to where he thought Diggs would be, and cornerback P.J. Williams snatched the interception, returning it for a touchdown. This put the Saints up two touchdowns, and they never looked back.
With the Saints' defense making some big plays, Drew Brees didn't have to do much. He misfired on just five attempts, yet posted an ugly stat line. He went 18-of-23 for only 120 yards, one touchdown and an interception. The pick, which occurred on an overthrow as he was pressured, was Brees' first pick of the year. The Vikings dropped deep into coverage, so Brees simply took everything underneath. He also barely missed out on a second score, but Alvin Kamara was tackled inches shy of the goal line on a reception.
Fortunately for Kamara owners, the dynamic back scored on two other occasions. He gained 45 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and he also found the end zone as a receiver, snatching seven of his eight targets for 31 receiving yards. His one blemish was a drop on a third down that would've moved the chains. Mark Ingram, meanwhile, had as many carries as Kamara, but outgained him on the ground, 63-45.
Michael Thomas made a great catch early in the evening, as he tapped both feet inbounds while falling out of play. This helped set up Kamara's rushing touchdown on the opening drive. Thomas ended up leading the team in receiving with five grabs for 81 yards. Thomas was the only Saint with more than 31 receiving yards.
As for the Vikings, both of the elite receivers made crucial errors, but both also eclipsed the century mark as well. Thielen broke the NFL record for most 100-yard performances to start a season, hauling in all seven of his targets for 103 yards. Diggs snatched 10 of his 11 targets for 119 yards and a touchdown. He also drew an interference flag on new Saints cornerback Eli Apple, who was flagged twice for this penalty. No Giant fan was surprised to see this.
Meanwhile, Kyle Rudolph nearly caught a touchdown. He appeared to snatch the ball in the end zone, but the officials ruled that he stepped out of bounds beforehand. Rudolph caught four passes for 39 yards.
Cousins posted terrific numbers, going 31-of-41 for 359 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that wasn't his fault. However, Cousins had a near-pick that was dropped and appeared to lose a fumble on a strip-sack by Marcus Davenport, but his knee was ruled down following replay review.
With Dalvin Cook out yet again, Latavius Murray handled most of the workload. He gained 56 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and he caught five passes for 39 receiving yards.
Patriots 25, Bills 6
The Patriots were favored by more points (13.5) than any other team this year since Week 3 when the Vikings were 16.5-point favorites over the Bills. There was a colossal quarterback disparity in this contest, with Tom Brady battling Derek Anderson, who was vacationing with his family several weeks ago.
To the surprise to many, the Patriots were having issues putting the Bills away. They were up just 9-3 at halftime and 12-6 entering the final frame. The Patriots looked sluggish and didn't match the intensity of the Bills' defense, which fed off the crowd, much like the Broncos did when battling the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football back in Week 4. Brady was so frustrated with the Bills' defense that he was seen still sitting on the bench, looking at a tablet while his teammates ran into the locker room at the beginning of intermission.
Buffalo's defense was absolutely ferocious. It pressured Brady heavily and smothered his targets. New England moved the chains occasionally, but seemed to always stall as soon as it got into the red zone. The Patriots just couldn't break through, and this game was a single-digit margin for most of the night.
New England, however, finally got over the hump on a touchdown drive that featured long receptions by Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan, who were able to tight rope the sidelines. Hogan's grab took the Patriots down to the 1-yard line, and James White plunged into the end zone to make this a two-score game. A Devin McCourty pick-six of Derek Anderson later, and the Patriots were suddenly up 25-6.
Brady finished 29-of-45 for 324 yards. This was just the second time in his career that he accumulated 320-plus yards but didn't throw a touchdown. The good thing is that he didn't fire an interception either, but he was close. Linebacker Matt Milano, who had a big night, nearly picked him off in the second half.
Brady's stats could have been better, as he and Josh Gordon nearly connected on a deep shot during the opening drive. Gordon was supposedly going to miss a quarter because of repeated tardiness, but apparently not. Gordon ended up with four grabs for 42 yards.
Brady was much more comfortable throwing to Edelman and White. Edelman led the way, hauling in nine of his 10 targets for 104 yards, while White snatched 10 balls for 79 receiving yards. He didn't have much success on the ground (8 carries, 15 rushing yards), but he had New England's sole offensive touchdown of the evening.
Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Rob Gronkowski seemed very limited by his bad back. He caught just three passes for 43 yards, though one of his catches was a ridiculous grab over a Buffalo defender. With the Patriots well in control of the AFC East, Gronkowski should probably rest a few weeks in an effort to get back to 100-percent strength.
The Patriots had no running game. White paced all backs in rushing, as Kenjon Barner was barely used (2 carries, 4 rushing yards.) Cordarrelle Patterson actually led the Patriots in carries, as he picked up 38 yards on 10 attempts. Most of his yardage came on a 22-yard burst.
As for the Bills, they tried their best, using crazy formations on the first couple of drives. They picked up some first downs, but usually stalled whenever they got close to midfield. They were in field goal range thrice. The first two occasions turned into successful kicks, while the third saw Anderson heave his pick-six.
Anderson had an even worse moment to end the night. He was sacked twice on the ensuing drive, and he was injured on the second occasion. Nathan J. Peterman entered the game and threw two passes before turning the ball over on downs.
Anderson finished 22-of-39 for 290 yards and the interception. He was lucky he wasn't pick-sixed on another occasion, but a Patriot defender dropped the ball.
LeSean McCoy had no success on the ground (12 carries, 13 yards), but did most of his damage as a receiver. He caught six passes for 82 receiving yards. Chris Ivory (6-34) was better as a rusher, but dropped a pass.
To no surprise, McCoy led the Bills in receiving. Zay Jones (6-55) and Kelvin Benjamin (2-45) were right behind him. However, Benjamin was flagged for offensive pass interference and an illegal blind-side block to negate a long McCoy gain.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.