By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
As we enter the mythical “middle of the season” on Sunday, injuries to key members and weird happenings are a major part of this week’s discourse. The up and down season for “Famous Jameis” has come to a crashing end as the former Heisman Trophy winner will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
On the heels of his hot early-season start, it took an injury to slow down Dallas’ Dak Prescott. As a precautionary measure, No. 4 was set down on Sunday night when the Cowboys visited Minnesota.
The Aaron Rodgers fiasco in Green Bay will now open the door for Jordan Love to show the football world what he can do for the Packers. Speaking of the Cheeseheads, they handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season last Thursday and also roughed up Kyler Murray to the point that he’s listed as questionable for Arizona’s next contest.
The less-than-glorious ending of the Packers-Cardinals contest definitely qualifies under the weird happenings we previously mentioned as well. That and who is Mike White and why is he punking the Bengals at the Meadowlands, So much for Cincinnati turning the corner from mediocrity to contending.
All of that and another pissing contest in Cleveland starring Baker and Odell gives us the perfect capper to a crazy week.
LAST WEEK: 4-3 (overall: 40-36)
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Loss vs. Green Bay)
For another year, the remaining members of the 1972 Dolphins can toast their glasses of chocolate milk and crumpets knowing that they’re still the only undefeated team in modern NFL history. The Cardinals looked like they were going to rally to win their eighth straight game. But one of the most bizarre brain cramps in league history from A.J. Green led to a late Murray interception handing Arizona its first loss of the season. Murray finished with 274 yards passing and two interceptions but was harrassed most of the second half. Green Bay (7-1) has won seven straight games after dropping the season opener. Arizona (7-1) was trying to set a franchise record for longest winning streak to start a season but instead tied the mark set in 1974.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami (Loss at Buffalo)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Miami falls behind, makes a small comeback only to lose in the end. After losing three times on walk-off field goals this season, including their past two games, the Dolphins’ squandered a pair of scoring attempts in the first half. The Dolphins (1-7) have lost seven straight overall to match their longest skid since losing their first seven of the 2019 season. As for Tua, he finished 21 of 39 for 205 yards and an interception amid speculation on the Dolphins’ interest in acquiring DeShaun Watson at the trade deadline. Tagovailoa’s career record dropped to 7-7. The Bills beat the Dolphins for a series-record seventh consecutive time, outscoring them by a combined 258-123 in this run.
Justin Fields, Chicago (Loss vs. San Francisco)
Here’s the good news: With head coach Matt Nagy sidelined due to COVID-19, the offense opened up for Mr. Fields. Now the bad news: the defense apparently didn’t get the memo as Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 322 yards and ran for two touchdowns in the win. Fields threw for 175 yards and a touchdown. The rookie also ran for 103 yards and a score, becoming the first Bears QB to rush for 100 yards in a game since Bobby Douglass in 1973. Chicago (3-5) was looking for a reprieve coming off back-to-back losses to Green Bay and Tampa Bay. But the Bears faltered in the second half against Garoppolo.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (Win at Detroit)
Admit it, you thought Philly was gonna lay a big green and white egg in Motown. didn’t ya?? As is becoming a weekly ritual for Lions fans, the only egg being laid is at Ford Field. The Eagles (3-5) ended a two-game losing streak against a team that was very accommodating, enjoying their most lopsided win on the road since beating the St. Louis Cardinals by 42 points nearly 40 years ago. The Eagles didn’t need to pass much to beat Detroit, so they didn’t as No. 1 was 9 of 14 for 103 yards. He ran seven times for 71 of his team’s 236 yards rushing. The Eagles also had six sacks for the first time in nearly 10 years. Philadelphia had its highest-scoring game since a 51-23 win over Denver nearly four years ago.
Geno Smith, Seattle (Win vs. Jaguars)
Too bad that Mr. Smith can’t play Jacksonville every week, huh?? For the first time in years, Smith walked off the field Sunday as a victorious starting quarterback, and he played a big part in ending Seattle’s three-game skid. Smith completed his first 14 passes for the longest streak to start a game in the NFL this season. He finished 20 of 24 for 195 yards, and his 83.3% completion percentage was a career-best with at least 20 pass attempts. Smith said he knew the streak he was on before throwing a pass attempt away late in the first half. It was the first game Smith started and his team won since 2016 in a game he suffered a knee injury and didn’t finish.
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver (Win vs. Washington)
It was not pretty, but after losing four straight following a 3-0 start, the Broncos aren’t trying to get style points. For large chunks of time, it was almost a game of who didn’t want to win — with plenty of missed opportunities, field goals, and mistakes. And it took a defensive stand, following a late fumble, to secure the win. The last defensive stand prevented the first winless October for the Broncos (4-4) since 1967.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Win vs. N.Y. Giants)
When does a win still feel like a loss? Despite being held to just 3 points in their loss to the Titans, Monday’s win against the Giants did not do much to make Chief fans feel better moving forward. Mahomes threw for 275 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Chiefs, who along with two turnovers committed 12 penalties for 103 yards. It was the seventh consecutive game Mahomes had thrown a pick and his league-leading 10th of the season. However, even the players weren’t satisfied as just about everyone that stepped out of the Kansas City locker room vowed to turn around what’s been a disappointing season. There are just so many wake-up calls you can get before you fall asleep for the season.
Bye Week: Lamar Jackson (Baltimore)
STAT OF THE WEEK
Despite the loss to the 49ers, Chicago rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushed for a career-high 103 yards and had two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). He also became the third rookie quarterback in NFL history to record a passing touchdown, rushing touchdown, and at least 100 rushing yards in a single game, joining Washington’s Robert Griffin III (October 14, 2012) and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota (December 6, 2015).
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at email@example.com.