Last week we mentioned that the game between the Lions and Cowboys might be one of the most intriguing of the weekend. If you had a chance to watch it, you’ll probably agree that it was. But even with our prediction, we couldn’t have guessed how this game would play out till the very last second of the game. With just 12 seconds left in the game, the Lions lined up as they appeared content to spike the ball and line up with a new play. Instead, Matthew Stafford lunged over his lineman and into the end zone to take a 31-30 lead that would be the eventual game winning score. Aside from this amazing last play, the other storyline will be the fact that Calvin Johnson had 329 yards receiving. 8 yards short of the NFL single game record, it was his fifth career 200-yard game. Megatron is a beast and proved it in this game. As for the Cowboys, it’ll hurt to lose another heartbreaker like they did three weeks ago against the Broncos. The one bright spot is the fact that despite the loss, the Cowboys are still in first place in the NFC East and have Minnesota lined up for next weekend.
After Cleveland had a strong winning streak earlier this year, they proved that they won’t be pushed around like some people expect. Knowing that they’d come out and give Kansas City all they could handle, we made the bold prediction that an upset may be in the works. And even though the Chiefs walked away with a 23-17 win, it was probably more difficult than they would’ve liked. After racing out to a 13-point lead, the Browns were able to get it to 20-10 before halftime. And while the Browns were the only team to score in the third quarter, they couldn’t keep it going in the fourth and fell short when it was all said in done. Jason Campbell looked decent in his first start for the Browns. He had 293 yards and two touchdowns, all while not turning the ball over. Alex Smith completed 24-36 for 225, including two touchdowns and no turnovers as well. As the Chiefs move to 8-0 on the season, they’ll play Buffalo next week, before having a bye week right before the major showdown with the Broncos.
If you were watching the score to the Dolphins and Patriots game throughout the first half, you may have not believed what you saw. At first, the Dolphins came out to a 14-0 lead, and the Patriots were only to tally a field goal before half to make it 17-3. And while the Patriots were welcomed out of the locker room after halftime with a bevy of boos, 17 points of their own in the third quarter made the atmosphere change in Foxboro. The final score would be 27-17, but the concern continues to grow for New England. Tom Brady only completed 13 passes on the day, going for 116 yards and a touchdown to match an interception. After the game, Brady voiced his concern for his performance and the slow start, but also claimed that the 6-2 start was a great place to be halfway through the season. This may be true, but they surely can’t expect to win against more prolific teams with such a dreary effort. As for the Dolphins, things have taken quite the turn for a team that started 3-0. Ryan Tannehill looked good to start the game, but there are still obvious issues with getting him protection. What may be worse is seeing a team lose a 14-point lead, especially when they had all the momentum on their side. The Patriots will welcome Pittsburgh to town next weekend, while the Dolphins go back to the drawing board as they prepare for the Bengals to come to South Beach.
What may have also helped the Patriots standing in the AFC East was the fact that not only did they beat the Dolphins, but the Bills were also beat up by the Saints. Drew Brees was the main story in this one, going for 332 yards and five touchdowns. This is his eighth career game with at least five touchdowns, and NFL record that he claims as his own. In place of the injured EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis had major issues as the play caller for the Bills. Lewis was sacked on four different occasions, intercepted once and gave up two fumbles. Without many other options, Lewis stayed in the game and will likely stay the main option until Manuel can return. We saw this game turning out the way that it did, as the Saints remain one of the hottest teams in the league right now.
In just two weeks’ time the New York Giants went from 0-6 and near colossal panic, to a team that is right in the thick of the NFC East. With loses by the Redskins and Cowboys, the Giants were able to be the only team to win in the NFC East on Sunday as they beat divisional foe Philadelphia. Now at 2-6, they are only two games back of the division leading Cowboys. In the win, Eli Manning did what Eli Manning is expected to do. He went 25-39 for 246. And although he didn’t have any touchdown passes, he also didn’t turn the ball over. While Michael Vick started this game for the Eagles, he appeared to be obviously shaken and was replaced in the second quarter by Matt Barkley. In just his second NFL action, Barkley finished 17-26 for 158 yards and one interception. In all reality, Giants fans shouldn’t be getting too excited due to the fact that the Eagles aren’t the most impressive team to win against. However, on a two-game winning streak, and in one of the weakest divisions in football, the Giants may be exactly where they want to be halfway through the season.
For the second time this season, Wembley Stadium in London was filled with spectators from across the United Kingdom. Luckily for them, the 49ers came to put on a show. In the first and second quarters San Francisco put up 14 points each and went into halftime 28-3 over the Jags. While Jacksonville was able to score the first touchdown of the second half, it was too little too late as the 49ers brought another steady dose of dominance in the second half. The final score of 42-10 was just as uneven as expected. Although Colin Kaepernick only completed 10-16 passes on the game, one of those was for a touchdown to Vernon Davis and he was also able to run for two on his own as well. Frank Gore also played well, getting two touchdowns of his own. While Kendall Hunter is getting more yards averaged for the 49ers, Gore is getting the ball in the red zone and continues to score when it counts. As for the Jags, there isn’t much to say. They fall to 0-8 on the season, and still look to be a team without an identity. Being the home team at Wembley on Sunday, they had the support of more than eighty-thousand fans, but even that wasn’t enough to get them the first win of the season. The good news for the Jags may be that they are going into their bye-week. Maybe they can find something to fit into their team to give them some sort of direction so the second half of their season isn’t as disappointing as the first.
The Jets showed some real promise last week as they barely edged out the Patriots in a 30-27 overtime thriller. Riding presumably high due to a victory over a divisional team, they came out and did exactly what they are known for doing; they fell flat on their face and got trounced by the Bengals, 49-9. Andy Dalton matched Drew Brees 5-touchdown total of the day with five of his own. He also racked up 325 yards and only turned the ball over once. The only more interesting story for the Bengals might’ve been that of Marvin Jones. Coming into this game, the second-year receiver had four total touchdowns for his career. On Sunday, four of the five that Dalton threw went to Jones as the pair found their way into the Bengals record books for a quarterback & receiver duo. It will be interesting to see if Jones becomes an integral part of the Bengals offense now, while Andy Dalton, who’s thrown for 11 touchdowns in the last three games, will continue to find open receivers to get into the end zone. As for the Jets, Geno Smith had three interceptions and only 159 yards on the game. They didn’t have too many bright spots and things could only get darker as they welcome the Saints to town next weekend.
A few weeks ago we gave the Steelers the benefit of the doubt and said that if they could get a few key wins, they could turn their season around in a hurry. After winning their last two games, we thought a win in Oakland would be the perfect chance to keep things going. However, the Raiders had other plans as they stopped the Steelers momentum in a 21-18 loss. This game started off with a bang for the Raiders, as Terrelle Pryor had a 93 yard rushing touchdown that showed just how versatile the young quarterback is. Another touchdown by the Raiders in the first quarter, along with a third in the second quarter, would give the Raiders a 21-3 lead at halftime. And while neither team scored in the third, the Steelers tried their best to come back with 15-points in the final quarter. However, it just wasn’t enough and it sent Pittsburgh home with their fifth loss on the season. What may be worse for the Steelers is that they play New England next week. As for the Raiders, they find themselves in one of the toughest divisions in football and, despite the win, are unlikely to gain any ground on the Broncos or Chiefs. Nonetheless, the game is a great stepping-stone for a young quarterback in Pryor and the rest of the Raiders core.
Staying in the AFC West, the Broncos were coming off their first loss of the season as they welcomed the Redskins to town. Despite the final score of 45-21, the Broncos are still winning games in a way that has to worry some fans. After a heartbreaking loss to the Colts, many would’ve thought the Broncos would’ve come out and ran the Redskins out of Sports Authority Field in a hurry. Instead, this game went into halftime tied at 7, and the Redskins were able to make it 21-14 at the end of the third quarter. However, Peyton and company finally woke up in the fourth quarter and put up 31 points in the closing period as they won their seventh game on the season. This is another game that required a late quarter comeback. Last weekend the same thing looked to play out, thought it was too little to late as they fell to the Colts. RGIII failed to follow up his breakout game from last weekend, as he was only able to get 132 yards on 15-30 passing on Sunday. Griffin was also injured and would be replaced by Kirk Cousins, who also didn’t see much success. Some people will argue that a win is a win, but you have to think that this isn’t the way the Broncos would like to be winning games. It’s simply too careless to early, and leaves too much room for error in the final quarter of play. The Broncos will have a bye-week this week, and certainly have some things to work on if they hope to have as successful of a second half as they did a first. As for the Redskins, they’ll play another AFC West team in the San Diego Chargers next weekend.
In another game that was surprisingly unsurprising, the Cardinals knocked off the Falcons in a lopsided 27-13 effort. After getting their second win of the season last weekend, albeit against the winless Buccaneers, we really expected the Flacons to get a bit of momentum as they headed into Arizona. Apparently the Falcons didn’t expect that and were pretty much nonexistent on Sunday. Matt Ryan, who is typically the anchor of this Falcons team, was picked off four times on Sunday and his only touchdown came in the closing quarter. He did throw for 301 yards, but four turnovers is just unacceptable and it’s impossible to get any momentum going in that situation. As for the Cardinals, they got an unexpected effort from Andrew Ellington, who was playing in place of the injured Rashard Mendenhall. Ellington had 154 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries. As for Carson Palmer, he certainly didn’t light anything up on Sunday. He finished with 172 yards on 13-18 passing, having one interception to go with his two touchdowns. While the surprisingly disappointing Falcons season is pretty much over at this point, the Cardinals are still in third place in their own NFC West. Next weekend they’ll play Houston, as they hope to stay in the conversation.
Sunday night concluded with a matchup between the Packers and Vikings. Although this game became interesting just going into halftime, it was just too much Packers throughout the entire game. Aaron Rodgers has really been heating up as of late, and this game he had to do so without his top receiving core. Jordy Nelson stepped up huge, having two touchdowns on 7 receptions for a total of 123 yards. The Vikings were ahead early in this game as Cordarrelle Patterson took back the opening kickoff. The 109 yard return is the longest in NFL history, beating out three others who have had 108 yard returns. Unfortunately, the rest of the Vikings couldn’t match the special teams from the opening kickoff. Christian Ponder returned to the starting lineup, but only completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 yards, none of which for a touchdown. Adrian Peterson had 60 yards and a touchdown, but again had limited touches with only 13 carries. It appears that the Vikings simply aren’t managing their offense well, which has been an issue all season long. With the recent struggles of the Vikings, we have to start questioning whether or not AP is set in Minnesota, or if it’s time to rebuild this squad and AP being the biggest bargaining chip to do so with. As for the Packers, they are now 5-2 and are still edging out the Lions for first place in the NFC North. Next week they’ll have a Sunday night showdown with NFC foe Chicago, which they’ll need to avoid being tied with the Bears in one of the toughest divisions in football.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the Monday night matchup between Seattle and St. Louis.