By Anthony McClean, Editor in Chief Emeritus
Looking back at Week 9’s action reminds me of a quote that’s commonly attributed to the fictitious sportswriter Oscar Madison of The Odd Couple. “There’s no such thing as a sure thing. That’s why they call it gambling.” After looking at some of the outcomes, the sloppy guy sure wasn’t lying.
Because of or in spite of the “biggest season ever” in the NFL, we’re liable to get more games like the Jags upsetting the Bills, or the Broncos spanking the Cowboys in Arlington, or even the Giants taking advantage of the Raiders looking like a team playing at 10 AM on West coast when it’s really 1 PM in the East.
Trust and believe, we haven’t seen the last of these “trap games” as the races start to heat up. Sadly, we’ll also see more games like the debacle in Pittsburgh on Monday Night. While whining about the refs can get monotonous after a while, the egregiousness of the Steelers’ “win” leaves a lot to be desired.
If I hear that “protecting the shield” crap again from the league, I’m gonna answer their BS with Aaron Rodgers’ positive test card.
Alright, I got that off my chest. Now, let’s look back at the action.
LAST WEEK: 4-5 (44-41 overall)
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver (Win at Dallas)
In one of the biggest upsets of the season, Bridgewater threw for a touchdown and had a sneak for another, and the Broncos stymied the NFL’s No. 1 offense when it mattered in a 30-16 victory Sunday, ending the Cowboys’ six-game winning streak. The Broncos got their offense moving with the running game. They handed Dallas its first double-digit deficit of the season at 13-0 on Bridgewater’s 41-yard TD pass to Tim Patrick, who beat NFL interceptions leader Trevon Diggs at the goal line. The lead reached 30-0 in the Broncos’ seventh consecutive victory in the series, a streak that goes back to 1995. Bridgewater finished 19 of 28 for 249 yards with several big throws that helped the Broncos convert 8 of 15 third downs. Also, Melvin Gordon had 80 yards on the ground as the Broncos ran for 190 overall against the league’s sixth-best run defense.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Loss vs Denver)
It was not a fun day for No. 4 who returned after missing a game with a strained right calf but couldn’t get the Cowboys (6-2) moving until two meaningless late touchdowns that merely avoided what would have been their worst shutout loss at home since 1985. The Cowboys were 0 for 4 on fourth downs, including failures on their first two possessions. Receiver Amari Cooper had his first drop of the season to force one of those failed fourth downs and Dallas finished with a season-low 290 yards — about half with the game decided. Prescott, the NFL leader in completion percentage at better than 73%, was 19 of 39 for 232 yards as his franchise-best, four-game run with at least three touchdown passes ended.
Tyrod Taylor, Houston (Loss at Miami)
To paraphrase the late Michael Ray Richardson, the “ship be sinkin” in Houston. Houston (1-8) has now dropped eight straight. The Texans became the 12th team in NFL history to start 1-0 and lose their next eight games — a fate that the Dolphins avoided by winning. Taylor returned after missing most of the season with a hamstring injury and was far from sharp. Taylor completed 24 of 43 passes for 240 yards, with three interceptions. It added up to a miserable 42.8 rating after he entered the game with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in 167 previous throws against the Dolphins.
Jacoby Brissett, Miami (Win vs Houston)
Starting for an injured Tua Tagovailoa, Brissett threw for 244 yards passing and a touchdown pass as Miami won in the NFL’s most turnover-filled game in more than five seasons. The Dolphins and Texans combined for nine turnovers. Miami had five, Houston four, and somehow the Dolphins (2-7) won anyway. It was Miami’s first win while committing at least five turnovers since Oct. 18, 1990. The Dolphins had been 0-21 in such games since. And it was the most turnovers in an NFL game since the Chiefs and Jets also combined for nine on Sept. 25, 2016. Brissett has started four games and played all but two series of Miami’s Week 2 matchup against Buffalo when Tagovailoa left with fractured ribs.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Win vs Minnesota)
The AFC North-leading Ravens (6-2) rallied from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to win in overtime. It was the third overtime game of the season for each team. They both had split their first two. This was another agonizing loss for the Vikings (3-5), who have not dropped a game all season by more than seven points. Baltimore, meanwhile, has won three times this season after trailing by double digits in the second half. As for Mr. Jackson, he threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. He also ran for 120 yards on 21 carries. Justin Tucker’s field goal in overtime was the 18th game-winning field goal for the star kicker, who made the longest kick in NFL history when he drilled a 66-yarder to beat Detroit in Week 3.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (Loss vs L.A. Chargers)
Well, you can’t play the Lions every week. The Eagles (3-6) still haven’t won a home game in four tries under rookie coach Nick Sirianni. With Philly holding a 10-7 lead at the half, the teams traded touchdowns on four straight drives in the second half before the final series. This time it was a last-second field goal that proved to be the difference. Facing the NFL’s worst run defense, the Eagles took advantage. They had 176 yards rushing, including 62 from Hurts. No. 1 was 11-of-17 with 162 yards and a TD. In the win, Justin Hebert became the fifth quarterback this season to complete more than 80% of his passes against the Eagles.
Jordan Love, Green Bay (Loss at Kansas City)
In his first extensive action since being drafted a year ago, Love went 19 of 34 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception, both coming in the fourth quarter as the Packers tried to rally from a 13-0 deficit against the defending AFC champs. While his lone TD score with 4:49 left got them close, Green Bay eventually fell short. The Packers (7-2), who are 6-12-1 without Rodgers since 2008, only managed 301 yards of offense. Two missed field goals by Mason Crosby was just a part of the many special teams’ woes that plagued the Packers on Sunday as well.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Win vs Green Bay)
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win. No. 15 was just 20 of 37 for 166 yards — his fewest in a full game in his career — along with a touchdown pass. And while the Chiefs (5-4) managed just 237 yards of total offense, that was enough to edge above .500. Kansas City, whose high-flying offense has turned heads on the way to three straight AFC title games, went three-and-out on their first two drives of the second half. The Packers also went three-and-out to start the second half, then watched as Love got sacked on third down to force a punt on their next possession.
Justin Fields, Chicago (Loss at Pittsburgh)
The talented Mr. Fields did everything he could to steal a win out of Pittsburgh. However, it just wasn’t meant to be. He was able to overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and actually had Chicago in line for a win before bad breaks and the guys in the striped shirts took over. After Pittsburgh took a 26-20 lead with 2:52 remaining, took Fields all of 66 seconds to put the Bears in front. He took Chicago 75 yards in seven plays, and his strike to Mooney appeared to have the Bears in position to pull off a stunner before Ben Roethlisberger and Chris Boswell came through in the final minutes. A questionable taunting call on the Steelers’ previous drive didn’t help either. Bears coach Matt Nagy praised Fields’ resilience on a night he passed for 291 yards with a touchdown and an interception and ran for 45 more, but it wasn’t enough.
Josh Johnson, N.Y. Jets (At Indianapolis)
In his first action of the season, the Jets’ backup threw for a career-high 317 yards and had a career-best three touchdown passes in the final 18 minutes — his first TD throws since Dec. 22, 2018.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson passed for 266 yards and three touchdowns and registered 120 rushing yards in the Ravens’ 34-31 overtime victory over Minnesota. Jackson is the first quarterback in NFL history to record multiple career games with at least three touchdown passes and 100 rushing yards. He also accomplished the feat in Week 16 of the 2019 season (three touchdown passes and 103 rushing yards). Jackson recorded his 10th career game with at least 100 rushing yards, tied with Michael Vick (10 games) for the most such games by a quarterback in NFL history. Jackson, who has 600 rushing yards this season, is the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 600 rushing yards in each of his first four seasons and he joins Cam Newton (four seasons) and Vick (four) as the only quarterbacks all-time with four career seasons with at least 600 rushing yards.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.