The Rams absolutely dominated the rematch of Super Bowl LIII, as this game was effectively decided with a 14-point swing in the opening half. New England was down 10-0 when the defense made a huge play with a Jared Goff pick-six. Safety Myles Bryant wrestled the ball away from the intended receiver and ran the other way for six, but replay review showed that he was down by contact.
Rather than seeing the deficit trimmed to 10-7, the Patriots took over in Los Angeles territory with a chance to score. However, Cam Newton felt heavy pressure on one play and panicked. He heaved a careless pass, which was picked and taken back for six. And just like that, a potential 10-7 score turned into a 17-0 advantage for the Rams, which the Patriots couldn't recover from, especially when Newton was stuffed on a fourth-down run near the goal line.
The Patriots had two major problems in this game. The first was Newton's incompetence. The pass protection wasn't very good, but Newton really struggled to complete routine passes for the most part. It didn't help that Newton's awful receivers couldn't get open, but he labored through every throw, bouncing balls at his receivers' feet on too many occasions. He gave the Patriots no hope of moving the chains.
Newton finished 9-of-16 for 119 yards and his pick-six to go along with seven scrambles for 16 rushing yards. He was ultimately benched early in the fourth quarter. Newton seems like a lost cause at this point, so the Patriots might as well find out what they have in Jarrett Stidham to close out the season, especially now that they're 6-7.
The second major problem was the Patriots' inability to stop the run. Los Angeles' offensive line blasted open huge lanes for Cam Akers despite missing left tackle Andrew Whitworth. It's truly remarkable how they haven't missed a beat without Whitworth, save for their home loss to the 49ers a couple of weeks ago.
Akers rushed for 171 yards on 29 carries, and he also caught two passes for 23 receiving yards. Make no mistake about it: Akers has finally established himself as the primary back in Los Angeles, as there were only two other carries in this game, taken by Darrell Henderson (2-5). Akers showed some great patience and vision during his runs.
Akers' great running ability opened up nice play-action opportunities for Goff. Bill Belichick never had a chance to confuse Goff, who was gifted this win on a silver platter. Goff went 16-of-25 for only 138 yards, one touchdown and the interception, which, as mentioned, easily could've been a pick-six. Goff made a few nice throws, but he would have been in big trouble had he been tasked to beat Belichick's schemes.
With Goff barely doing anything, no Ram player logged more than 34 receiving yards. That distinction belonged to Tyler Higbee, who got there on two catches. Cooper Kupp (5-33) caught Goff's sole touchdown, while Robert Woods (5-32) dropped a pass.
The New England receivers barely did anything as well, with N'Keal Harry leading the way with three grabs for 49 yards, thanks to an impressive, 30-yard leaping grab in the third quarter. He barely outgained Damiere Byrd (5-48) and Jakobi Meyers (4-47).
The Patriots couldn't run as much as they wanted to because of the constant deficit. Damien Harris gained 50 yards on 11 carries, while James White (3-16) handled four touches for some reason. It's unclear why White wasn't more involved on offense.
Stidham, as mentioned, saw some action in the fourth quarter. He was very pedestrian, going 5-of-7 for only 27 yards. He took two of the six sacks the Patriots surrendered in this contest.
Bears 36, Texans 7
Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson were chosen 10 picks apart in the 2017 NFL Draft, so this was the ultimate test to see if the Bears made the correct decision by selecting the former No. 2 overall. Based on this result alone, general manager Ryan Pace looked like a genius, as his quarterback began the game 8-of-8 and completed the opening half with a stat line of 18-of-21 for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Watson, conversely, had fewer yards and was responsible for a safety after being sacked in the end zone.
As you can see, Trubisky is clearly the better quarterback. Because of exactly how things transpired in this game.
Or, perhaps this result was a byproduct of Watson not having any viable players at his disposal, save for Duke Johnson and Keke Coutee. Watson was playing without Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and David Johnson, so his skeleton-crew supporting cast couldn't exactly keep up with the Bears, who had a very easy matchup against the worst defense in the NFL.
Houston's defensive incompetence was apparent at the very start of this game when David Montgomery scored on an 80-yard touchdown. He wouldn't do much else - he was given just 10 other carries for some reason - but he was still able to accumulate 113 yards and that score on 11 attempts. He also caught three balls for 42 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, Trubisky continued to torch the Texans mercilessly. Houston was not able to make any halftime adjustments for him, as Trubisky finished 24-of-33 for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Pace can go to sleep tonight knowing that he made the correct decision.
Of course, that would mean that Pace is as clueless as ever. Watson did what he could with the diminished supporting cast, going 21-of-30 for 219 yards and a touchdown. He appeared to score on the ground in the second half, but replay review overturned the play. Adding injury to insult, Watson took a hit to his "no-no special place" on the next snap, prompting play-by-play guy Kevin Harlan to remark, "Watson took a jackhammer up the middle!" Watson had to miss the next play, a fourth down, which resulted in an A.J. McCarron sack, preventing Houston from getting back into the game.
Watson's lone touchdown was thrown to Coutee, who caught three passes for 24 yards. Houston's leading receiver was Chad Hansen, who secured all seven of his targets for 56 yards. Jordan Akins (3-20) had a chance for a touchdown, but dropped the ball despite being wide open in the end zone.
Duke Johnson was expected to have a heavy workload with everyone else sidelined, but he handled just 10 touches, running for 26 yards on eight carries. Perhaps this had to do with a lost fumble of his in the opening half. Special-teams star Buddy Howell led Houston in rushing with 42 yards on 11 attempts. Howell is someone who impressed me in previous preseason games, but with David Johnson bound to return soon, it's not like Howell can be added to fantasy rosters.
Closing out the stats, Allen Robinson had a huge game for the Bears with nine catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Jimmy Graham (4-23) and Darnell "Mad Eye" Mooney (2-22) caught Trubisky's other touchdowns.
Chiefs 33, Dolphins 27
Patrick Mahomes entered this game with just two interceptions on the season, which made it very surprising that he tossed two picks in the opening quarter alone. Mahomes' first interception was the result of a deflected pass, though the Dolphins couldn't capitalize because of a missed 45-yard field goal. The second pick was the result of an overthrow. Mahomes also nearly had a third turnover when there was a fumble on a botched snap that he covered up. Making matters worse, Mahomes took a 30-yard sack - yes, a 30-yard sack - to get his team pinned near its own goal line. A short punt later gave the Dolphins a quick touchdown, as Tua Tagovailoa hit Mike Gesicki in the end zone. This helped Miami establish a 10-0 lead.
And then, everything went south for the Dolphins. Tagovailoa threw his first interception on a deep shot, resulting in a touchdown for Travis Kelce. Miami then surrendered a punt return touchdown to Mecole Hardman, and Tagovailoa made things worse by taking a safety on an ensuing possession. With the Chiefs finally clicking, the Dolphins' 10-0 lead suddenly was erased, becoming a 30-10 deficit. The game effectively ended at that point, but some late Tagovailoa drives, along with Mahomes' third interception - an underthrown pass and a one-handed Xavien Howard pick - resulted in a back-door score for Miami.
Mahomes ended the game with a great stat line if the picks are ignored, as he went 24-of-34 for 393 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He had a hideous first quarter, but really rebounded with a tremendous performance the rest of the game. Mahomes was 11-of-15 for 221 yards, two touchdowns and a pick following halftime. The Dolphins clearly missed linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts.
Speaking of the Miami linebackers, their absences allowed Travis Kelce to have a huge game. Kelce caught eight of his 10 targets for 136 yards and a touchdown. Tyreek Hill didn't catch as many passes - three receptions, 79 yards - but he scored twice, once through the air, and another time on the ground via a 32-yard rush.
Hill, on that one carry, tied for the team lead in rushing, as Clyde Edwards-Helaire continued to disappoint. The rookie mustered just 32 yards on 16 carries, with his running struggles allowed the Dolphins to creep back into the game.
Tagovailoa finished 28-of-48 for 316 yards, two touchdowns and his first interception of the year. Tagovailoa struggled mightily in the second and third quarters, but really picked up his play late in the game. I like what the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero said of Tagovailoa; that the rookie quarterback performs better when playing quickly and not thinking about anything. Sure, Tagovailoa was going up against a prevent defense late in the game, but he made some incredibly accurate throws while trying to engineer a comeback.
Both of Tagovailoa's scores went to Mike Gesicki, who caught five passes for 65 yards. Unfortunately, he suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter. Gesicki only trailed Lynn Bowden (7-82) and Mack Hollins (5-66) on the stat sheet, as Davante Parker didn't catch either of his two targets, but only because he also suffered an injury.
DeAndre Washington got the start because the Dolphins were down their top three running backs. He was a disappointment, mustering just 35 yards on 13 carries.
Cardinals 26, Giants 7
The Giants caught fire in the weeks leading up to this game, as Daniel Jones (and Colt McCoy versus Seattle) did a good job of limiting turnovers. That quickly changed in this game, as Jones was strip-sacked on the opening drive when he obliviously held on to the ball forever. Kick returner Dion Lewis must have been watching Jones closely because he committed a fumble on his own during a kickoff return after that. He gave the Cardinals a second first-and-goal opportunity off defense/special teams, and a Kyler Murray touchdown to Dan Arnold gave Arizona a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter.
With the Giants offering zero threat offensively, the Cardinals ran away with this game. Murray continued to play well, especially in the second half. He was 10-of-13 for 109 yards following intermission. Murray also ran quite a bit for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury in the second matchup against the Seahawks. He scrambled 13 times for 47 rushing yards to go along with his passing numbers: 24-of-35, 244 yards, one touchdown. There was a scary moment in the second quarter when Murray got up slowly after falling down on his own to avoid a sack, but he turned out to be just fine.
DeAndre Hopkins was happy to see Murray return to his former self. Hopkins snatched nine of his 11 targets for 136 yards. He didn't score, as the lone touchdown went to Arnold (2-27), who was second on the team in receiving.
Kenyan Drake also scored, rushing for 80 yards on 23 carries in the process. Chase Edmonds' work paled in comparison (7-32), but he chipped in with four receptions for 21 yards.
Wayne Gallman didn't get a chance to run as often as Drake for obvious reasons. Gallman gained 57 yards on 12 carries, and to make things worse for those who started him, Lewis ran into the end zone on the Giants' lone touchdown.
Jones, meanwhile, was very lackluster, going 11-of-21 for 127 yards and the lost fumble. He coughed up the ball a second time, but was lucky it bounced back to him. Jones didn't scramble once, probably because his hamstring was bothering him. He clearly should not have played in this game, though it ultimately probably wouldn't have mattered.
With Jones laboring through his hamstring woes, Golden Tate, with his lone reception, led the team in receiving yardage with 39 yards. He was just one yard shy of the goal line. Sterling Shepard (3-35) and Darius Slayton (3-31) posted pedestrian numbers.
Buccaneers 26, Vikings 14
If you were to just watch the first quarter of this game, you would assume that the Vikings not only pulled the upset; but demolished the Buccaneers in the process. Minnesota had great success moving the chains, including a 14-play, 79-yard drive that culminated with a Dalvin Cook touchdown. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers couldn't do anything offensively. Tom Brady didn't look like he could complete basic passes, as he overthrew targets, including Antonio Brown, who was wide open with no one around him at all. Brady sailed the pass a mile over Brown's head, which was just embarrassing.
And yet, everything changed after that. The Vikings missed two field goals and an extra point, so they couldn't extend their lead beyond 6-0, and the Buccaneers took advantage with Brady finally catching fire. Brady heaved a 48-yard bomb to Scotty Miller to get on the board and then some pass interference penalties in the end zone allowed the Buccaneers to score 10 total points. Add in a touchdown to open the third quarter, and the Buccaneers were able to score 24 unanswered points to establish the huge lead the Vikings thought they would possess.
Brady finished 15-of-23 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He played well in the final three quarters following his ugly start, and he missed out on some potential scores with the aforementioned interference penalties in the end zone. Still, a better stat line was expected against a defense missing seven starters.
Evans turned out to be Brady's leading receiver with three grabs for 56 yards and the interference flag in the end zone. Brown (5-49) and Chris Godwin (2-25) were disappointments, considering the positive matchup.
The only Buccaneer fantasy player who didn't disappoint was Ronald Jones, which was predictable because Leonard Fournette was benched as a coach's decision prior to kickoff. Jones handled most of the workload well, rushing for 80 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
The Vikings ran very well, too, at least in the opening half. Cook rumbled for 78 yards prior to intermission, but didn't do much following the break. He ultimately gained 102 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, as Tampa's top ground defense clamped down later in the game.
Kirk Cousins was a disappointment, going 24-of-37 for 225 yards and a touchdown. He moved the chains well in between the 20s, but often bogged down in the red zone, frequently taking bad sacks to make his terrible kicker try longer field goals than necessary. Dan Bailey can't be happy, as he whiffed on all three tries and an extra point.
With Cousins struggling, neither Justin Jefferson nor Adam Thielen accomplished much. They both logged 39 receiving yards, catching four and three passes, respectively. Irv Smith Jr., seeing more action with Kyle Rudolph sidelined, led the Vikings in receiving with four receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Broncos 32, Panthers 27
Despite the high point total in this game, this was a defensive struggle for most of the afternoon. The halftime score was 13-7 Denver, as 13 total points came on defensive and special teams touchdowns. The Broncos got on the board first with a punt return score, and then a Drew Lock strip-sack set up a short rushing touchdown to Mike Davis. At the break, the two teams combined for just 225 net yards.
Everything changed following halftime, as Lock caught fire. Lock has been incredibly inconsistent in his second season, thriving on some occasions and looking dreadful at times as well. We got a mix of both in this contest, with Lock torching Carolina's secondary mercilessly in the second half. He misfired just twice following intermission. Lock was 9-of-11 for 195 yards and three touchdowns in the second half alone!
Lock's overall numbers were 21-of-27 for 280 yards and four touchdowns. The Panthers had no answer for him after intermission, as their horrible secondary allowed Lock's receivers to get open at will.
Speaking of those receivers, K.J. Hamler led the team in receiving despite catching just two passes. Those two receptions both resulted in touchdowns for a combined 86 yards. Lock's other scores went to Tim Patrick (3-36) and Nick Vannett (4-20). Jerry Jeudy was a disappointment with just two catches for 42 yards and a pair of drops. Noah Fant left the game early with some sort of an illness.
I expected the Broncos to run well with monstrous run-stuffer Zach Kerr sidelined. Melvin Gordon mustered just 68 yards on 13 carries, including a stuff on third-and-1. Phillip Lindsay was far worse with just 24 yards on 11 attempts.
The Panthers had more success scoring on the ground, with Davis finding the end zone twice while running for 51 yards on 11 carries. Teddy Bridgewater was also able run into the end zone, scrambling thrice for 31 yards.
As a passer, Bridgewater posted a fine stat line, going 30-of-40 for 283 yards. However, Bridgewater had trouble maintaining drives because his offensive line couldn't protect him. Bridgewater took four sacks in this game. That said, he held the ball longer than he should have in the pocket on numerous occasions, and he was responsible for a delay-of-game penalty in the red zone in the middle of the fourth quarter. He was also lucky that he wasn't intercepted just prior to halftime when he heaved a pass into double coverage. Two Denver defenders collided with each other instead of making the pick.
Robby Anderson led the Panthers in receiving with eight catches for 84 yards. Curtis Samuel wasn't too far behind with seven grabs for 68 yards.
Titans 31, Jaguars 10
A.J. Brown decided to wear a Julio Jones jersey during pre-game warmups, which would be an indication of how he would play against the miserable Jaguars. Brown dominated a Jacksonville secondary missing three cornerbacks from the very start of the game. He caught the first touchdown of the afternoon, which was a one-handed grab on a 37-yard flea flicker. A couple of drives later, Brown made a strong catch along the sideline to move the team into the red zone. In the first half alone, Brown caught four passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Brown looked like he was going to have a monstrous second half when he made a diving catch and then a leaping grab on the opening drive, but he went down awkwardly on the second reception and hobbled off the field. Brown had six catches for 95 yards and a touchdown at that stage of the game, so he was on his way to have a huge performance. Brown returned later to finish with a 7-112-1 line.
Of course, all hope wasn't lost for the Titans because of Brown's injury. Derrick Henry ripped off a 47-yard run on the very next play to set up a touchdown to give the Titans an insurmountable 24-3 lead. Henry was also responsible for the previous score, sprinting 36 yards into the end zone just prior to halftime. The Jaguars could do nothing to stop Henry, who rushed for a ridiculous 215 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. May God have mercy on your soul if you played against him in the opening round of the fantasy playoffs.
With Henry going off, Ryan Tannehill didn't have to do very much. Still, he was sharp on his connections to Brown and his other receivers, as he misfired on just five connections. Tannehill finished 19-of-24 for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
Tannehill's touchdowns went to Brown and Geoff Swaim (3-34), who had the same exact stat line as Corey Davis. This was a disappointing performance for Davis in a great matchup, and that's without even factoring in his lost fumble that set up a Jacksonville field goal. Jonnu Smith (2-20) also underwhelmed.
Speaking of disappointments, Jacksonville's offense somehow mustered only 10 points against a Tennessee defense missing six starters. This was truly embarrassing, as Mike Glennon was a hideous 13-of-23 for 85 yards. Glennon should not be allowed to play again this year.
Somehow, Gardner Minshew was available to play, yet the Jaguars started Glennon instead. Perhaps this was a clever ploy to lose on purpose to secure Justin Fields (as seen in the 2021 NFL Mock Draft.) Minshew was predictably far better than Glennon, going 18-of-31 for 178 yards and a touchdown. He was so close to leading two more touchdown drives to cover the spread, but got bogged down in the red zone on both occasions.
Jacksonville's receivers should have gotten open easily against a secondary missing three cornerbacks and a safety. Instead, D.J. Chark caught just two of his nine targets for 16 yards. Keelan Cole (7-67) led the team in receiving and caught a touchdown. Laviska Shenault snatched six balls for 49 yards.
James Robinson had a disappointing output as well, as he was limited to 67 yards on 12 carries. He had a touchdown run wiped out by a ticky-tack procedural penalty that shouldn't have been called. He also had a 44-yard gain negated by an infraction.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Sharp bettors tend to win more often than they lose, but this is proof that they can be wrong sometimes. They loved Cincinnati this week!
This Andy Dalton revenge game predictably was a win for Dallas, as the injury-ravaged Bengals were no chance. With Dallas now at 4-9 and Cincinnati sitting at 2-10-1, this meaningless game actually penalized the Cowboys in terms of draft positioning. The Bengals losing this game improves their grip on the third-overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, which is a great spot to be in for potential trade-down with a team wanting a quarterback or for the Bengals to land a franchise left tackle like Oregon's Penei Sewell to protect Joe Burrow.
In the first minute of the game, a rare sight occurred when Giovani Bernard fumbled the ball away, getting stripped by Demarcus Lawrence. It was Bernard's first fumble in 830 attempts, a staggering amount for a NFL back, and it snapped the longest active streak in the NFL. On the ensuing Dallas possession, the Bengals got their first sack in three games to force a field goal. Shortly later, Cincinnati gifted more points when Trayveon Williams ran into his left tackle and lost the ball. Aldon Smith scooped up the loose ball and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown.
The Bengals drove inside the Cowboys' 20 midway through the first half, but ball security killed them again, as Cowboys safety Darian Thompson forced a fumble from Adam Erickson that Dallas recovered. Dalton started moving the ball down the field using Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb (2-46), and Michael Gallup (2-23). The drive finished with Dalton hitting a slant to Cooper for an 11-yard touchdown. With just seconds remaining before halftime, Brandon Allen found A.J. Green on a short touchdown pass to cut the Cowboys' lead to 17-7 at the half.
Tony Pollard ran the opening kickoff of the third quarter back past midfield to set up Dallas with good field position. Dalton then threw a few strikes, including a pass to Dalton Schultz (3-34) for about 15 yards to move inside the five, but the Cowboys settled for a 20-yard field goal. After Dallas added another field goal to go up 23-7, Allen led a fourth-quarter drive that neared the Cowboys' end zone, but a goal-line stand led to a turnover on downs that clinched the win for Dallas. In garbage time, Dalton added a seven-yard touchdown pass to Pollard for the 30-7 victory.
Dalton was 16-of-23 for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Ezekiel Elliott ran for 48 yards on 12 carries with two receptions for 11 yards.
Cooper caught four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Brandon Allen was 27-of-36 for 217 yards with a touchdown.
Trayveon Williams led the Bengals on the ground with 12 carries for 49 yards and a fumble.
A.J. Green had six receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Tee Higgins (5-49) and Tyler Boyd (5-43) helped move the ball, but both were kept out of the end zone.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Lions played very hard in this game and nearly won. However, I don't think we'll see a great effort from them next week, as this was basically their Super Bowl.
The Packers picked up their 10th win of the season in Detroit, and with the Saints losing to the Eagles, Green Bay takes over as the No. 1 seed in the NFC thanks to holding the tie-breaker over New Orleans. The No. 1 seed is even more valuable this year with the new playoff format because the top seed is the only team that will have a first-round bye, and home-field advantage through the playoffs is a huge bonus for frigid Green Bay. The Lions' long-shot wild-card hopes were dealt a blow, but in the grand scheme of things, improving their draft positioning is a better result.
Matthew Stafford moved the ball on the opening drive of the game, hitting a key conversion to Mohamed Sanu (2-37) on a dig route and then connecting with other receivers before a goal-line shovel pass to T.J. Hockenson (6-43-1) gave Detroit a 7-0 lead. The lead didn't last long, with Davante Adams burning the Lions secondary on a 56-yard touchdown. Early in the second quarter, Rodgers lofted in a short back-shoulder touchdown pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling (6-85-1) for the lead. Stafford led a drive inside the five late in the first half, and D'Andre Swift powered through three Packer defenders from there to cross the goal line for a tie game at the intermission.
Rodgers got Green Bay moving midway through the third quarter, and he used his legs from a few yards out to run the ball into the end zone for a 21-14 lead. Quickly, the Packers got the ball back and early in the fourth quarter, Rodgers put Detroit on the ropes with a short scoring toss to Robert Tonyan (5-36-1).
Stafford put his team on his back midway through the fourth quarter, driving the ball down the field before Kerryon Johnson powered into the end zone from a few yards out. On the previous play, however, Stafford took a hard hit from Kenny Clark while trying to run the ball into the end zone, and that hit ended Stafford's day.
A smoke screen to Adams went for about 30 yards into Detroit territory with a few minutes later, and that was a huge play for the Packers. Mason Crosby tied his career-long with a 58-yard field goal to go up by 10 with 3:30 remaining. Jamal Agnew returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards, and Chase Daniel entered the game in place of Stafford. A completion to Marvin Jones in zone coverage moved the ball to the nine-yard line, but the Lions settled for a Matt Prater field goal. Their onside kick failed, and a first-down pass to Tonyan clinched the win for Green Bay.
Rodgers completed 26-of-33 passes for 290 yards with three touchdowns, plus rushed for a touchdown.
Aaron Jones ran for 68 yards on 15 carries.
Adams caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Stafford completed 24-of-34 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown.
Swift was Detroit's leading rusher despite getting only seven carries for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Danny Amendola was the Lions' leading receiver with six receptions for 66 yards.
Colts 44, Raiders 27
I like the broadcasting tandem of Ian Eagle and Charles Davis, but they said something I disagreed with during the first half of this telecast. While the Colts and Raiders were exchanging scores in the early stages of the afternoon, they remarked that the Colts and Raiders are very similar teams.
This could be said of the offenses, as both teams block very well for accurate, veteran quarterbacks with talented tight ends at their disposal. However, the defenses couldn't be more different. This was apparent when the Colts stopped the Raiders from barely doing anything offensively following intermission. Indianapolis' great defensive play late in this game actually began in the second quarter when Derek Carr threw an underthrown pass to Darren Waller in the end zone. Cornerback Kenny Moore picked off the pass with a great, leaping catch. This sparked some great play from the Colts after the break, which doesn't even include Khari Willis' pick-six, which was a byproduct of a dropped pass by Jalen Richard.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis' offense never slowed down in the second half. The Colts trampled the Raiders, as Jonathan Taylor had a number of great runs, including a 62-yard score where he blew past the defense with the help of a huge running lane. Taylor dashed for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He wasn't alone in trampling the Raiders, with Nyheim Hines rushing for 58 yards on just seven attempts.
The great rushing attack allowed Philip Rivers to have some easy passing opportunities. The result was Rivers misfiring on just nine occasions, as he went 19-of-28 for 244 yards and two touchdowns.
Rivers continued to show some great chemistry with T.Y. Hilton after the two failed to connect during the first half of the season. Hilton caught both of Rivers' touchdowns, snatching five balls for 86 yards in the process. Jack Doyle (3-44) and Michael Pittman (2-42) also contributed. Pittman had a chance at a touchdown in the first quarter, but a Raider defender deflected the ball at the last second.
As for the Raiders, Carr posted some great numbers, but they were a bit misleading because he had some nice garbage yardage, which included a late touchdown. It got Carr above the 300-yard level, as he finished 31-of-45 for 316 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. One of the give-aways was the aforementioned pick-six that wasn't Carr's fault. The other was also discussed, with the ball being underthrown toward Waller into the end zone. Carr is lucky he wasn't picked a third time when he launched a pass into double coverage.
Speaking of Waller, he had a big statistical performance with seven catches for 75 yards. He finished behind only Nelson Agholor, whose five grabs went for 100 yards and a touchdown. Fabian Moreau (1-47) also caught a Carr touchdown, thanks to a ghastly tackling attempt by safety Julian Blackmon.
Josh Jacobs started this game after missing last week's contest even though he announced prior to kickoff that he wouldn't play. Perhaps he really didn't, as he faltered in a very difficult matchup, with the Colts restricting him to 49 yards on 13 carries. Jacobs also dropped a pass.
Seahawks 40, Jets 3
How lopsided was this game? Russell Wilson was relegated to the bench because this lead was so big - in the third quarter! Geno Smith took the field when Seattle was up 37-3 in a complete blowout.
This was another instance in which Wilson rebounded greatly off a loss. He was excellent, misfiring on just six occasions. He went 21-of-27 for 206 yards, four touchdowns an interception, which was an outstanding play by Marcus Maye on a shot to the end zone. This game was still close at the time, so there was some drama attached to the pick. Wilson, however, bounced back with three more touchdowns after that.
Wilson's touchdowns went to D.K. Metcalf (6-61), Will Dissly (2-23), Freddie Swain (2-22) and David Moore (2-6), who dropped a deep pass. Tyler Lockett didn't find the end zone, but he contributed with five catches for 52 yards.
The Seahawks also had success pounding the ball against the inept Jets. Chris Carson gained 76 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, numbers that would have been far more impressive had Carson actually played into the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, there's nothing positive to say about the Jets' offense. Sam Darnold was atrocious, and the numbers - 14-of-26, 132 yards - aren't even an indication of how poorly he played. Darnold had three potential interceptions that were dropped, including one by Jamal Adams in the middle of the field. One of the dropped picks looked like it could have gone back for six. Fortunately for the Jets, they're now three losses away from securing Trevor Lawrence, as seen in the 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
Frank Gore was cleared from his concussion prior to kickoff, which was good news for the Jets' losing prospects. Gore, who is not as good as Ty Johnson or Josh Adams, was limited to 23 yards on eight carries. He lost a fumble to set up a Seattle field goal.
Jamison Crowder was also cleared to play prior to the start of this game, but he did nothing, catching only two balls for seven yards. Braxton Berrios (3-49) and Breshad Perriman (3-26) led the team in receiving.
Eagles 24, Saints 21
Using a second-round pick on a quarterback didn't make any sense when a young starter received a massive contract. Still, the Eagles looked like a completely different team with Jalen Hurts under center. They ran all over the Saints, thriving mostly on third and fourth downs in this regard. They moved the chains four times on the ground on third and fourth down.
Still, this game was more about the Eagles and Hurts, who threw a great back-shoulder touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery in the opening half. Hurts was inconsistent as a passer overall, but his running ability bailed out the offense; specifically, the poor blocking. Hurts scrambled for 106 yards on 18 rushing attempts.
Hurts, however, made some mistakes. He lost a fumble late in the game while trying to run out the clock. Hurts also missed some open receivers, including one instance where the Saints dropped a potential pick-six in which Hurts telegraphed his throw on a third-down throw early in the fourth quarter. Hurts threw mostly short passes, but was able to connect on some nice intermediate strikes. Hurts had a positive debut overall, going 17-of-30 for 167 yards and a passing score to go along with his great rushing numbers. However, it's fair to question if the Saints were fully focused in this matchup with the Chiefs on the horizon, and if so, they paid the price with their lethargy.
Hurts being inconsistent as a passer when not checking down would explain why two Eagles had more than 21 receiving yards. Those were Jalen Reagor (2-46) and Dallas Goedert (4-43), who made a nice juke to avoid a defender to pick up a first down on a lengthy drive.
Miles Sanders said he was excited about Hurts' presence because it would open up some running opportunities for him. Sanders was correct, as he ended up rushing for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, including an 82-yard burst for a score. He also caught four passes for 21 receiving yards.
The Saints didn't have nearly as much success running the ball. Alvin Kamara had some nice rushes, but was limited to just 50 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He also caught seven passes for 44 receiving yards.
Taysom Hill, meanwhile, scrambled just five times, which was very curious. Hill's runs went for 33 yards. He was also inconsistent as a passer, going 28-of-38 for 291 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that occurred because he was hit as he released the ball. Hill also lost a fumble on a fourth-down try because he held on to the ball too long, resulting in a strip-sack. He also missed Emmanuel Sanders for a potential touchdown.
Sanders still managed to score, as his three catches went for 48 yards. He finished behind Michael Thomas (8-84) and Tre'Quan Smith (3-60) on the box score even though Smith dropped a pass on third down.
Chargers 20, Falcons 17
When two teams that have no idea how to win clash, what do you get? Absolute shenanigans! That's what we saw at the end of this game, though we got a preview right before halftime. The Chargers put together a nice drive to move into a goal-to-go situation, but with no remaining timeouts, they opted to run on third down and failed to convert. With 15 seconds remaining on a fourth-and-1, the Chargers looked like they wanted to spike the ball, but then ran off the field when Anthony Lynn sent in the field goal unit. The kick was good, but the players running off the field couldn't reach the sideline in time, resulting in a penalty to end the half.
Fast forward to the end of the game, the Chargers and Falcons took turns killing themselves with mistakes. Matt Ryan moved his team into field goal range to win, but fired an interception, with safety Jahleel Addae showing great anticipation. Justin Herbert then moved into kicking range, but tossed a pick on a third down behind Keenan Allen. Ryan was given the chance to redeem himself, but heaved an interception along the sideline when pressured by Joey Bosa. This ruined yet another field goal try. The Chargers, taking over deep in their own territory, could have easily settled for overtime, but Herbert came through in the clutch with some nice throws. This gave Michael Badgley a chance to win the game. I'm sure everyone expected Badgley to whiff, but he connected to win this contest for the Chargers.
Herbert dinked and dunked for most of this game, going 36-of-44 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and the aforementioned interception. Herbert was forced into short throws because right tackle Bryan Bulaga went down with an injury early in the game, and then Mike Williams exited with an injury.
Besides, can you blame Herbert for checking down frequently with Austin Ekeler at his disposal? Ekeler saw nine targets and caught all of them for 67 receiving yards. Ekeler also was a big part of the running game, gaining 79 yards on 15 carries.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Keenan Allen racked up lots of receptions once again. He equaled Ekeler's catch count with nine grabs for 52 yards and a touchdown. Hunter Henry snatched six passes for 55 yards and a score. He got hurt on a Herbert overthrow in his direction just before halftime, but was able to return to the field later in the game.
With Williams leaving the game early, someone named Tyron Johnson stepped up with six grabs for 55 yards and a touchdown. He'll need to be added in fantasy leagues if Williams is sidelined in Week 15.
The leading receiver in this game was Calvin Ridley, who didn't continue the trend of disappointing when Julio Jones is sidelined. Ridley hauled in eight balls for 124 yards and a touchdown. He and Russell Gage (5-82) were the only Falcons with more than 12 receiving yards.
Ryan did a good job of moving the chains in between the 20s, but had a poor game overall because of his mistakes when in field goal range. In addition to the two aforementioned interceptions, Ryan also had a third pick on a third-quarter toss into the end zone, and he was nearly intercepted on a fourth occasion when he heaved a dumb pass downfield into double coverage. Ryan finished 21-of-32 for 224 yards, one touchdown and the three interceptions.
The Falcons barely tried to run the ball, with Todd Gurley mustering only 19 yards on six carries. Ito Smith (11-42) handled most of the workload for some reason.
Redskins 23, 49ers 15
Alex Smith has locked up NFL Comeback Player of the Year, but perhaps Dwayne Haskins can become the NFL Comeback Player Within the Year if the Redskins reach the playoffs. Smith took a hit to his surgically repaired leg on a sack and had to have it wrapped up in the second quarter. He then walked gingerly into the locker room before intermission and never returned to the field after the break.
With Kyle Allen also injured, there was no one else remaining, save for Haskins, who took the field to begin the third quarter. Haskins, who was benched earlier in the year for committing too many turnovers, looked solid right away with a nice drive. That quickly changed, however, as Haskins reverted to his usual, terrible self. He struggled with his accuracy and was very lucky that he didn't throw an interception when a high pass of his on a third down with five minutes remaining appeared to be picked, but replay review showed the ball hit the ground. Haskins then showed poor awareness on the final offensive drive by not waiting long enough to kneel, giving the 49ers one final chance.
While Haskins was not much worse than Smith in this contest, he was terrible and nearly cost the Redskins the game. Haskins finished 7-of-12 for only 51 yards. He continued to display poor pocket awareness and mechanics, as he has seemingly learned nothing during his hiatus. Smith, by the way, went 8-of-19 for 57 yards and an interception on an underthrown pass. All he did was loft weak downfield floaters until he was knocked out of the game.
With both Redskin quarterbacks performing poorly, the team was able to prevail because of the defensive line. Chase Young was an animal. He created major havoc in San Francisco's backfield, logging a sack and a big tackle for loss on Jeff Wilson Jr., which resulted in a lost fumble. Young later scoop and scored a forced fumble by Da'Ron Payne.
Young forced Nick Mullens into many poor throws, as Mullens went 25-of-45 for 260 yards, one touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble - a stat line enhanced by some garbage time. Mullens' interception was a pick-six, which he telegraphed. He also had another potential interception that was dropped. Mullens had several ugly overthrows in this contest, as it looked like he was rattled by Young.
It didn't help Mullens' cause that Deebo Samuel suffered an injury to start the game. With Samuel out, Brandon Aiyuk was the clear receiving leader with 10 grabs for 119 yards. Kendrick Bourne (3-42) had a huge gain in the fourth quarter negated by a holding penalty. He also dropped a pass for a substantial gain in the second quarter.
Raheem Mostert and Wilson Jr. once again split the workload, getting 14 and 11 carries, respectively. Mostert outgained Wilson, 65-31, but Wilson scored a touchdown.
The Redskins also split the touches with their backs, as Peyton Barber edged out J.D. McKissic in carries, 12-11. However, it was McKissic who outgained Barber by a wide amount, 68-37. McKissic didn't do much as a receiver out of the backfield - two catches, 18 yards - because Haskins opted to throw terrible passes downfield rather than check the ball down to his talented back.
McKissic ended up as the third-leading receiver on the Redskins, trailing Logan Thomas (6-43) and Terry McLaurin (2-24).
Bills 26, Steelers 15
The Steelers aren't quite falling apart with their two recent losses, but they continued to kill themselves with mistakes. They came into this game with 13 drops in their previous two contests, and yet they committed two drops on just as many drives to open the night. Both drops were courtesy of Diontae Johnson, who was pulled from the game until the second half.
Despite Johnson's hands of stone, it was clear that Ben Roethlisberger missed his top receiver because he began making mistakes without Johnson on the field. Leading 7-3, Roethlisberger telegraphed an interception, allowing Taron Johnson to jump the route and take the pick back for six. Roethlisberger later launched a deep pass downfield toward James Washington, which the fast receiver didn't exactly fight for.
Roethlisberger threw 37 times, but accumulated just 187 yards on 21 completions. He threw two touchdowns, but only one came in non-garbage time. The Steelers can fix this, but there's also a chance they'll continue to shoot themselves in the foot.
Conversely, the Bills made a huge statement victory. Josh Allen began the game slowly, going just 10-of-23 for 76 yards and an interception in the opening half. The pick wasn't his fault - his arm was hit upon release - but Allen missed some throws he's been converting this year. He also fumbled on a strip-sack, but a teammate of his recovered the loose ball. In the early stages of this affair, it looked like Allen was a bit nervous or anxious to play in this big game.
Allen, however, looked like a completely different quarterback in the second half. He was 14-of-20 for 152 yards and two touchdowns following intermission, allowing him to finish with a great stat line (24-of-43, 238 yards, 2 TDs, INT.) He torched the Steelers with accurate throws, many of which he launched downfield to Stefon Diggs.
Speaking of Diggs, the Bills' No. 1 receiver enjoyed a dominant performance. He had a quiet first half, much like Allen, but he managed to haul in 10 of his 14 targets for 130 yards and a touchdown. Diggs was a monster, and the Joe Haden-less Pittsburgh secondary had no answer for him.
Elsewhere in the Buffalo receiving corps, Gabriel Davis (3-19) caught a touchdown, but also dropped a pass. Cole Beasley (5-41) was second on the team in receiving.
Devin Singletary handled the majority of the workload last week. Naturally, Zack Moss was awarded with more touches this week. Moss mustered 43 yards on 13 carries, while Singletary tallied 32 yards on seven tries. Singletary is the best running back on Buffalo's roster, so the rushing usage on this team makes very little sense.
Both Singletary and Moss outgained James Conner, who was limited to just 18 yards on 10 carries. He also fumbled, but a teammate of his recovered the ball. Buffalo's run defense has improved exponentially with Matt Milano back on the field, but it's worth noting that the Steelers really missed talented guard Matt Feiler, who suffered a shoulder injury in the opening half.
JuJu Smith-Schuster led the Steelers in receiving with six grabs for 55 yards and a touchdown, edging out Diontae Johnson (4-40), who made a triumphant return to the field in the fourth quarter.
Ravens 47, Browns 42
What a game! This appeared to be a sure loss for the Browns on several occasions when they were down 28-14 and 34-20, but no one told Cleveand that. Despite things seeming dire, and Baker Mayfield not playing at his best - he was 12-of-23 for 134 yards after a half of action - the Browns were able to storm back with some terrific touchdown drives. Mayfield transformed into the same unstoppable force that we saw in the first half of the blowout win over Tennessee last week.
The Browns eventually established a 35-34 lead, and to make things even better, Lamar Jackson had to leave the game due to cramps. Trace McSorley didn't seem to offer much of a passing threat, but he fired a big third-down conversion to Willie Snead. The Ravens also ran the ball well, as they moved into Cleveland territory. However, McSorley got hurt on a third-down miscue, leaving the ESPN announcers who would quarterback the team on a crucial fourth down out of field goal range. The answer was Jackson, who ran out of the tunnel like Willis Reed!
Jackson was as clutch as possible, firing a fourth-down touchdown to Marquise Brown. With the two-point conversion, the Ravens took a seven-point lead.
Mayfield took the field and continued to stay hot. He launched one pass to get over midfield to convert to Donovan Peoples-Jones. Some connections to Kareem Hunt allowed the Browns to tie the game, but as soon as Hunt crossed the goal line, it was obvious that with 1:04, there was too much time remaining on the clock.
Jackson delivered some nice throws to Mark Andrews to barely get into Justin Tucker's field goal range. The NFL's best kicker missed a chip-shot field goal last week, so there was more drama involved than there ordinarily would have been. However, Tucker, proving that he's a cyborg, drilled the 55-yard game-winning field goal right down the middle.
And yet, this wasn't the end of the insanity! The Browns tried a Stanford Band-type play with two seconds remaining, but moved backward too much. This resulted in a safety, giving the Ravens the improbable cover instead of a push with a five-point win.
There's no doubt that Jackson and Tucker were the heroes of this game, with Jackson being responsible for 10 points in the final couple of minutes. He scored thrice in this game, once aerially and twice on the ground. He went 11-of-17 for 163 passing yards and a score to go along with nine scrambles for 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns. That rushing total is the most yards ever on the ground by a quarterback in Monday Night Football history.
Jackson finished incredibly, especially when considering that he was dealing with cramps in the locker room. Jackson had some struggles earlier in this game, as he had a pair of ugly overthrows on consecutive plays. I'd say he rebounded nicely.
Mayfield, like Jackson, improved as the evening progressed. He made some mistakes early in the contest, including an interception that was one yard shy of being a pick-six. Mayfield didn't see Tyus Bowser dropping into coverage. A Cleveland defender - not a pesky plumber knocking down a golden ax - dragged Bowser down right before he scored.
Mayfield bounced back nicely from that ugly first-half stat line referenced earlier. He finished 28-of-47 for 343 yards, two touchdowns and the interception. He also ran in another score, scrambling five times for 23 rushing yards.
If you've been counting, that's three rushing touchdowns between Jackson and Mayfield. In total, there were a grand total of nine rushing touchdowns scored in this shootout. Save for Jackson, Nick Chubb led both teams in rushing with 82 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, while Hunt (6-33) also found the end zone once on the ground. In addition to those rushing numbers, Hunt led the Browns in receiving with six catches for 77 yards and another score.
For the Ravens, Gus Edwards also plunged into the end zone twice, gaining 49 yards on seven rushes in the process. J.K. Dobbins (13-53) scored once as well.
While a running back led the Browns in receiving, a tight end held that distinction for the Ravens. That, of course, was Andrews, who snatched five balls for 78 yards. Brown (2-50) was next on the stat sheet, but he missed out on a huge night because he dropped three passes. He also drew an interference flag.
Save for Hunt, the Browns' leading receiver was Peoples-Jones, who made three grabs for 74 yards. Rashard Higgins (6-68) scored a touchdown, but was very lucky in the early stages of this game because he fumbled twice, but didn't lose either ball. Jarvis Landry (6-52) also fumbled, but as with Higgins' cough-ups, a teammate recovered.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.