NFL 2015 Week 6 Recap

NFL 2015 Week 6 Recap

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints was the Thursday night game. Sometimes one play becomes bigger than football. 100 years from now, NFL fans will read about and watch Steve Gleason blocking a punt on Monday Night Football and Lawrence Deloach recovering it for a Saints touchdown against the Falcons. It was the first came back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The blocked punt gave the Saints a 7-0 lead as they rolled to a 23-3 win on the way to the NFC Title Game.

Michael Mauti was at that game. Now he plays for the Saints. As for Gleason, everyone knows about his courageous battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS has robbed him of his ability to speak and walk, but it has not prevented him from climbing Machu Pichu in his wheelchair or attending Saints games. He communicates through a keyboard that watches his eyes.

Steve Gleason’s football heroics occurred in 2006. In 2015, the 5-0 Falcons came to the Superdome to play the 1-4 Saints. Yet sometimes, something is going on that is bigger than football.

The Saints started out hot right out of the gate. Drew Brees led a 12 play, 80 yard, 5 minute drive. Mark Ingram got in from 2 yards out to make it 7-0 Saints. The Falcons went nowhere on offense, and then it happened. Lightning struck twice. This time Gleason was a spectator on the sideline, cheering the Saints on from his wheelchair. Maui was on the field. Moments later, maui would join Gleason in the Saints history books. The Falcons punted, and maui blocked it. He fell on it at the Atlanta 4 yard line, but nobody was around him. He got up with help from his teammates and made it the 4 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The Saints had the 14-0 lead after the first quarter, but this game was bigger than football once that punt was blocked.

Gleason sent out a Tweet celebrating the blocked punt. He told the Falcons a message with the hashtag #NeverPunt. It was meant in good fun, and some incredibly insensitive people sent Gleason Tweets mocking his physical condition. Gleason parried back, effectively.

#NeverPunt was meant as a joke. It should be a metaphor for life. Gleason has never given up. If the NFL is smart, they will immediately begin marketing Saints t-shirts with #NeverPunt on them and donate the proceeds to ALS research.

Just like in 2006, both teams eventually settled down and just played football. Yet long after this game ended, the blocked punt lived on. Mauti and Gleason are forever connected, but it required that the Saints win this game.

To make things even crazier, Mauti’s father Rich Mauti played for the Saints over three decades earlier. He was on the 1980 Saints team that went 1-15. The Saints went on the road to play the Miami Dolphins. Trailing 21-16 late in the game, Rich Mauti blocked a punt. Unfortunately, it did not go for a touchdown. It gave the ball to the Saints at the Miami 10 with 6 seconds left. The Saints did score the winning touchdown pass on the next play, but in a season of everything gone wrong, it was waived off by offensive pass interference. That year the Saints were the aints and the fans wore paper bags on their heads. With Sean Payton and Drew Brees, those days are a distant memory. Yet they still had this game to finish.

In the second quarter, Matt Ryan hit Roddy White for a 7 yard touchdown as the Falcons only trailed 14-7 at halftime. Yet this night was about the Saints. In the third quarter, Zack Hocker hit a 31 yard field goal and Brees hit Watson for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter budding sensation Devonta Freeman ran for a 25 yard touchdown. The Falcons were within 24-14, but this night was about the Saints. Trees led another 11 play, 80 yard, 5 minute drive. Ingram got in from the one to make it 31-14 Saints. After a missed Saints field goal, The Falcons did get in the end zone again with 90 seconds to play. They got it back with 24 seconds left needing 2 scores, and a sack of Ryan resulted in a fumble that ended things.

The Falcons were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten. Both quarterbacks completed 30 passes, Ryan throwing 44 times for 295 yards and Brees 39 times for 312 yards. Neither quarterback was intercepted as Ryan tossed two touchdown passes and Brees one. As for the Saints, Sean Payton and Drew Brees were a part of history when Gleason was the player and Mauti the spectator. They were also there when Gleason and Mauti reversed roles. Special teams are a special breed, and in the city of New Orleans, the only thing more special than the win was the heart, guts and character in how it was done. 31-21 Saints.

Denver Broncos at Cleveland Browns — Despite being 5-0, Denver fans are suffering angst over Denver’s offense. Peyton Manning was intercepted early on, giving the Browns a short field. Yet on 4th and 5 from the Denver 32, Mike Pettine decided to go for it and Josh McCown threw incomplete. Manning then took 15 plays and 7 1/2 minutes, but the Broncos only moved 58 yards and settled for a 29 yard Brad McManus field goal to lead 3-0.

Yet this Denver team is winning with defense, and early in the second quarter Aqib Talib returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 Broncos lead. Cleveland hung tough on defense, and in the third quarter the offense finally showed some life. McCown threw an 11 yard touchdown pass to Gary Barnidge to get the Browns within 10-7.

The Browns had momentum and the ball at midfield when McCown was sacked and fumbled. Denver took over at the Cleveland 41. On 3rd and 5 from the 10, a short pass came up 2 yards short. McManus hit from 25. Denver got it back in the fourth quarter but Manning threw incomplete on 3rd and 2 from the Cleveland 21. McManus hit again from 39 to make it 16-7 Broncos. Momentum shifted again. McCown led Cleveland 80 yards and threw a 14 yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 6  to Barnidge to get the Browns within 16-14 with 9 minutes left.

Denver took over and disaster soon struck from their own 34. Manning threw a pass to Hillman that was slightly off but still catchable. It bounced off of Hillman’s hands straight into the waiting arms of defender Carlos Dansby. Dansby managed the tightrope act on the sideline and raced 34 yards for the touchdown. Mike Pettine pumped his fist as the Dawg Pound went wild. With 8 minutes left in regulation, 2 touchdowns in one minute had the Browns up 20-16. The 2 point try failed, but a defensive penalty gave the Browns another shot from the one. Rather than run, they tried a low percentage roll out pass, and the try failed again.

Manning’s critics keep saying he is a shell of what he was. He no longer has the accuracy or the arm strength. That is why they are critics and not first ballot Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Manning needed 14 seconds and one play to put Denver back in front. A 75 yard touchdown bomb to Emanuel Sanders made it 23-20 Broncos. The teams exchanged punts and a short punt had the Browns starting at their own 40 with 5 minutes left. McCown moved the Browns down the field. With 1:41 to play the Browns faced 3rd and 7 at the Denver 8. McCown threw incomplete. Travis Coons hit the 26 yard field goal, but the earlier failed 2 point conversion meant the game was tied 23-23 rather than Cleveland up by one.

The last 90 seconds of this game were ridiculous. Denver took over at their own 23 and Manning threw 3 incompletions. Cleveland took over at their own 40 with 1:06 to play. With 53 seconds left from the Denver 46, Cleveland needed one first down for long field goal range. Under heavy pressure, McCown tried to heave a pass out of bounds. Instead it fluttered and was intercepted. Denver took over. With 19 seconds left the Broncos faced 3rd and 10 at their own 43. Then total chaos ensued.

Manning went deep to Sanders for a 38 yard gain to the Cleveland 19. The Broncos were in short field goal range but were out of timeouts. They could not spike the ball because Sanders got up after his catch and kept running into the end zone. Sanders thought he had scored. The referees ruled him down and the clock ran down to zero. Gary Kubiak and Mike Pettine had no idea what was going on. Nobody knew whether the Broncos had won at the gun, were in field goal range, or neither. Sanders may or may not have been touched. He may have rolled out of bounds. In the end, the officials ruled that the ball hit the ground incomplete. So after all of that, Denver had to punt on 4th and 10 with 11 seconds left. The game went into overtime, which was also crazy.

30 seconds into overtime, Denver faced 3rd and 2 at their own 39. Manning was intercepted by Barkeviovs Mingo. Cleveland had the ball at the Denver 39. All they had to do was run the ball and kick a long field goal. A run lost 3 yards. Consecutive sacks and an offensive penalty had the Browns punting on 4th and 28. Denver took over at their own 12.

On 3rd and 4, Manning found Owen Daniels for 18 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Cleveland 40, CJ Anderson gained 6, 11, and 3 more. With 5 minutes left in overtime, McManus came in for a 34 yard field goal try to win it. Anyone who knows the history of the Broncos and Browns knew what would happen.

In 1986, John Elway led “The Drive” for the Broncos. In 1987, Earnest Byner had “The Fumble” and the Broncos won again. In 1989, Denver just blew Cleveland out. John Elway quarterbacked all three of those games. This time Elway was on the sideline as Denver’s President. Despite 3 interceptions, Manning had a drive of his own from the Denver 12 to the Cleveland 16. He did not finish the drive but he did not need to. McManus did. Those complaining about Manning and the offense may wish to realize that the Broncos are 6-0. They are winning with defense, and ugly winning is hated by fans. As for Cleveland, they would gladly take ugly wins rather than their 50 years of heartbreaking losses. 26-23 Broncos

Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills — With Tyrod Taylor out injured, EJ Manuel led the Bills 80 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Manuel got the last couple yards himself for the 7-0 Bills lead. A taunting penalty on the Bills after a punt set up the Bengals just past midfield. Red Rifle Andy Dalton hit Hill for a 13 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

A field position game had the Bengals at their own 45. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 17, Giovanni Bernard raced up the middle for the touchdown and the 14-7 Bengals lead. An 18 yard punt return by Adam Pacman Jones with a defensive personal foul tacked on set up the Bengals at the Buffalo 36. Mike Nugent hit a 47 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Bengals. Manuel responded with a 14 play, 86 yard drive that took 7 minutes. Manuel threw a 22 yard touchdown pass to sammy Watkins to get the Bills within 17-14 at the half.

The Bengals have offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and the Bills have their defensive mastermind Rex Ryan. In the third quarter it was Jackson winning the chess match as Dalton led a 90 yard drive. Dalton found Jones from 10 yards out for a 24-14 Bengals lead. The Bengals got it back and Dalton moved the Browns 78 yards. A 4 yard touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert made it 31-14 Bengals. In the fourth quarter Nugent tacked on a 39 yard field goal to make it 34-14 Bengals. Buffalo added a garbage touchdown, but the 6-0 Bengals really are that good. Rex Ryan’s defense plays well against average offenses. They fold against great offenses, and Cincinnati’s offense is as good as it gets. 34-21 Bengals

Kansas City Chiefs at Minnesota Vikings — Early on the Vikings twice moved into the red zone. Yet on the first drive on 3rd and goal from the 15, Teddy Bridgewater was intercepted. On the next drive Bridgewater threw incomplete on 3rd and goal form the 6. Blair Walsh hit the 24 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Vikings.

In the second quarter a field position game had the Vikings starting just shy of midfield. on 4th and 1, Mike Zimmer decided to go for it and Adrian Peterson gained 3 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 35, Bridgewater threw incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Bridgewater found Kyle Rudolph for the touchdown and the 10-0 Vikings lead. Walsh hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 13-0 Vikings after three quarters.

This was turning into the Game Manager Bowl. Alex Smith is the ultimate Dink and Dunk West Coast Offense Game Manager. Once his team is trailing in the fourth quarter, he is allowed to throw passes longer than 4 yards. On 3rd and 1, the entire football world knows that Walrus Lite Andy Reid will throw the ball, especially with Jamal Charles injured. Early in the fourth quarter the Chiefs had 3rd and 1 at the Minnesota 7. Reid actually called a run. It went nowhere. Reid decided to go for it on 4th and 1. Again, he actually called a running play. Again it went nowhere. Reid vowed never to run the ball ever again. The Chiefs finally got on the board Cairo Santos hit a 48 yard field goal.

After Bridgewater was intercepted, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 10 at the Minnesota 42. Smith threw a short pass that Wilson took for a 42 yard touchdown. The Chiefs had linked and dunked their way to within 13-10 with 9 minutes left in regulation. Minnesota moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Chiefs 27. It was Mike Zimmer who trusted Bridgewater rather than ram the ball up the gut with Adrian Peterson. Bridgewater threw incomplete. On 4th and 1 Zimmer opted for the field goal. Walsh hit from 45. The Vikings had a 6 point lead, but the Chiefs after a touchback had 5 minutes left to win the game. The Chiefs fumbled the ball away but got it back with 3 minutes left. Alex Smith was finally allowed to throw deep, and 4 incompletions later the Chiefs had another West Coast Offense dink, dunk, death. 16-10 Vikings

Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars — Both of these teams are on the verge of playoff elimination after only 5 games. Early on the Texans were pinned back at their own 1 yard line. Bryan Hoyer moved the Texans down the field. On 4th and 1 at the Jacksonville 48, Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. Hoyer hit Dustin Hopkins as the Texans moved to a 3rd and 7 at the Jaguars 14. Hoyer found Arian Foster for the touchdown as the staggering 16 play, 99 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive made it 7-0 Texans.

In the second quarter Blake Bortles led a 14 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive and threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to Robinson to tie the game 7-7. Nick Novak hit a 41 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Texans at halftime. In the third quarter Blake Bortles threw a 29 yard touchdown pass to Thomas to make it 14-10 Jaguars after three quarters. The fourth quarter was all Houston.

Hoyer moved the Texas 81 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 9, Hoyer found Hopkins for the touchdown to make it 17-14 Texans. Jacksonville went nowhere and a 14 yard punt return had the Texans starting at the Jags 46. On 3rd and 3 from the 26, Hoyer went deep to Hopkins for the score and the 24-14 Texans lead. One play later, Bortles was intercepted by Hal, who returned it 31 yards for the clinching touchdown as the Texans led 31-14.

Hoyer finished 24 of 36 for 293 yards and Bortles was 30 of 53 for 331 yards. Both quarterbacks threw 3 touchdown passes, but Hoyer was not intercepted. Bottles threw 3 interceptions, and his last touchdown pass came during garbage time. Bottles has very little talent around him, but he has to stop throwing the ball to the other team if Jacksonville is to ever improve. 31-20 Texans

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions — The Lions have been playing like it’s 2008, but on this day Matthew stafford led them 80 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Stafford found Moore for a 20-yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Lions. The Bears got on the board when Robbie Gould hit a 27 yard field goal. In the second quarter Langford got in from one yard out to make it 10-7 Bears.

Stafford moved the Lions 79 yards and hit Wright for the 8 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Lions. The Bears took over at their own 23. On 3rd and 12 from midfield, Cutler went deep to Jeffery for a 45 yard gain. After that, a run went nowhere and Cutler threw incomplete twice. Gould hit from 23 as the Bears traded 14-13 with 5 minutes left in the half.

The Lions took over at their own 15. On 3rd and 8 from the Detroit 43, Stafford ran for 10 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Chicago 42, Stafford went deep to Megatron Calvin Johnson for a 39 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Stafford threw to the end zone to Golden Tate. At first it looked like Tate had a touchdown. Then the ball was ripped out of his hands, popped up in the air, and was intercepted. Yet on further review, the call was reversed and ruled a touchdown. Apparently Tate maintained control in the en zone before the ball popped out. The Lions know better than any team that the rules regarding a catch are confusing, but they benefitted this time and led 21-13.

In the third quarter Cutler drove the Bears to the Detroit 6 yard line but then threw an interception in the end zone. The Bears got it back and punted, and the Lions fumbled the ball away as Chicago took over at the Detroit 19. The Bears lost a yard but Gould kicked a 38 yard field goal to get Chicago within 21-16. Detroit rebounded and Matt Prater hit a 39 yard field goal to make it 24-16 Lions.

In the fourth quarter the Bears punted again and the Lions fumbled it again. Chicago took over at the Detroit 21. Cutler threw an 11 yard touchdown pass to Jeffery. John Fox decided against the 2 point conversion try with 12 1/2 minutes left, as the Bears trailed 24-23.

Detroit’s season long fourth quarter self-destruction continued. On 3rd and 12 from the Detroit 18, Stafford was intercepted. Chicago took over at the Detroit 24. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Cutler threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Matt Forte got in the end zone. The 2 point try was good as the Bears led 31-24 midway through the fourth quarter. For the third straight week Cutler had led a fourth quarter comeback, but this game was just warming up.

When a team is winless, the head coach comes under scrutiny. On the next drive, Jim Caldwell made some critical decisions. On 3rd and 13 from the Detroit 17, Stafford completed a pass to Golden Tate for just enough. Yet on 4th and 2 from the Detroit 38 after a Stafford incompletion, Caldwell gambled on a fake punt with 5 minutes left. Abdul Quddus took the direct snap and raced around the end for a 30 yard gain to the Detroit 32. On 3rd and 4 Stafford threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant 1st and 10 at the 26. On 2nd and 4 from the 13, Stafford threw incomplete twice. Down by 7 with 2:50 to play, Caldwell opted for the field goal. The strange decision had prater hit from 32, but Detroit trailed 27-23. When you’re 0-5, why not go for it? Caldwell decided to trust his defense, which has been bad for most of the year.

John Fox played it ultra-conservative on offense as Forte ran three straight times. The Lions used all their timeouts and held. Detroit got it back at their own 34 with 2:23 to play. Stafford found Theo Roddick for a 34 yard gain and Moore for 26 more down to the Chicago 6. On 2nd and goal from the 2, Stafford got called for intentional grounding. On 3rd and goal from the 12, Stafford threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 1st and goal at the 6 in a game both teams were trying to lose. Stafford then went to Megatron, and Johnson made the catch for the 6 yard touchdown. The Lions led 34-31. After a touchback, all they had to do was stop Chicago. Only 21 seconds remained.

The Lions couldn’t do it. Cutler found Jeffery for gains of 25 and 24 and a defensive pass interference penalty added 20 more. Chicago had 1st and 10 at the Detroit 11. The only thing saving the Lions was the clock. Only 4 seconds remained, and John Fox was not taking any chances. Gould came in for the 29 yard field goal. Gould was good and the game was tied 34-34 and headed to overtime.

Despite 68 points, neither team could move the ball in overtime. Both coaches played it very safe and risk averse. Finally, one coach went for it all. On 2nd and 10 from the Detroit 37 with 4 minutes left in the extra session, Stafford went bombs away to Megatron, and Johnson came down with the ball at the Chicago 6 for a 57 yard gain. Stafford took a 3 yard loss just to center the ball, and Prater came in on 2nd down for the 27 yarder to win it with 2 1/2 minutes left in overtime. Prater was good.

These Lions will not be going 0-16. Jim Caldwell was so excited over the win that he almost made a facial expression. As for the rest of the Lions, the winless misery is over. Both Cutler and Stafford have been brutally criticized this year, and a good deal of that criticism is deserved. Cutler in defeat was 26 of 41 for 353 yards and one touchdown pass. Stafford was a sensational 27 of 42 for 405 yards and 4 touchdown passes. Each quarterback was intercepted one time. 37-34 Lions, OT

Washington Redskin at New York Jets — The jets fumbled on their first play from scrimmage, and Washington took over at the Jets 37. Kirk Cousins threw a 2 yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon to make it 7-0 Redskins. The Jets answered by moving 83 yards in 10 plays in 6 minutes. Chris Ivory got in from the one to tie things 7-7. In the second quarter Nick Folk hit a 35 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Jets.

Todd Bowles had gang Green looking good on defense, but again the offense could not get the job done. With 5 minutes left in the half, the Jets fumbled and the Redskins took over at their own 45. Dustin Hopkins hit a 54 yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 with 2:22 left in the half. With 47 seconds left in the half the Jets faced 3rd and 3 at the Washington 44. Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted, as the Redskins took over at their own 48. Hopkins hit from 30 as the Redskins took a 13-10 lead into the locker rooms. In the third quarter Folk hit from 39 to make it 13-13. After that the Jets just poured it on.

Cousins was intercepted, setting the Jets up at the Washington 18. One play later Fitzpatrick ran for the touchdown himself to make it 20-13 Jets. The Jets got it back and Fitzpatrick threw a 35 yard touchdown pass to Marshall for a 27-13 Jets lead. Cousins was intercepted again and Fitzpatrick moved the Jets 73 yards, converting a couple third downs along the way. The fourth quarter opened with Fitzpatrick hitting Eric Decker for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 34-13 Jets. The Redskins did get a garbage touchdown on a blocked punt, but the Redskins remain even more dysfunctional than the White House and Congress. 34-20 Jets

Arizona Cardinals at Pittsburgh Steelers — 7 years after these teams met in a thrilling Super Bowl, the Cardinals are every bit as good if not better than their 2008 team. The Steelers are not, but they have playoff potential. Arizona moved into field goal position early, but on 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 32, an unnecessary roughness penalty on the offense after an incomplete pass meant a punt instead. The Cardinals got it back after a short 31 yard punt at the Pittsburgh 47. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Palmer found Floyd for the touchdown and the 7-0 Cardinals lead. An exchange of field goals had Pittsburgh’s Boswell hitting from 47 and Arizona’s Chandler connecting from 31 to make it 10-3 Cardinals at halftime.

In the second half the Pittsburgh defense clamped down. They needed the defense because their quarterback situation got desperate. With Big Ben Roethlisberger already out injured, backup michael Vick led the Steelers to a 48 yard Boswell field goal to trail 10-6. Yet Vick left the game with a hamstring problem, and now the Steelers were down to third string quarterback Landry Jones.

Arizona fumbled the ball away, and Jones began his first drive with a short field at the Arizona 32. LeVeon Bell ripped off a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Jones found Bryant for the touchdown. With the new extra point rules, Mike Tomlin has said that he will go for 2 every single time. Doing so with a third string quarterback is questionable and Landry’s pass was intercepted. The Steelers still led 12-10. The Steelers got it back at their 41. On 3rd and 13, Jones went deep to Bryant for a 23 yard gain. Boswell hit from 51 to make it 15-10 Steelers after three quarters.

Palmer went deep to Brown for a 42 yard gain. On the last play of the third quarter facing 3rd and 2 at the Arizona 19, David Johnson got the carry and lost 2 yards. Catanzaro kicked off the fourth quarter by hitting from 39 to get the Cardinals within 15-13. Jones had his running back Bell, but Tomlin was still letting Jones throw the ball. A combination of runs and passes led the Steelers to a 3rd and 6 at the Arizona 8. Jones threw incomplete but Boswell hit from 28 to make it 18-13 Steelers midway through the fourth quarter.

Palmer moved the Cardinals from their 21 to the Pittsburgh 20 with 2:25 left. The Cardinals had plenty of time to bleed the clock, but Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer got greedy. Palmer went to the end zone and threw into double coverage for a killer interception. On 2nd and 8 from the Pittsburgh 12, with his third string quarterback, Tomlin got aggressive. Jones found Bryant, who raced to the sideline and then away from the sideline for a stunning 88 yard touchdown. The Cardinals dropped to 4-2 as the Steelers showed heart, grit and guts in getting a tough win. 25-13 Steelers.

Miami Dolphins at Tennessee Titans — Joe Philbin was fired last week and the Dolphins have a new coach. Landry ran for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Dolphins. The Titans got on the board with  37 yard Ryan Succop. Franks countered with a 30 yard field goal of his own to make it 10-3 Dolphins. An ugly second quarter saw the Titans fumble, intercept the ball back, and fumble it away again. Miami took over at the Tennessee 34. Miller ran 7 yards for the touchdowns as the Dolphins led 17-3 at the break.

In the third quarter Marcus Mariota was intercepted by Jones, who returned it 30 yards for a touchdown and a 24-3 Dolphins lead. On the last play of the third quarter, Mariota threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Dexter McCluster to get the Titans within 24-10. In the fourth quarter Tannehill calmly led a 97 yard drive that ate up 5 1/2 minutes. Tannehill hit Sims for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 31-10 Dolphins. Tannehill would hit Cameron for a 12 yard touchdown to complete the scoring and get a win for Miami’s coach in his first game, whoever he is. All the Dolphins care about is that they can no longer blame Philbin for winning games. 38-10 Dolphins

Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks — For three straight years, the Seahawks went on the road into Carolina and won a defensive slugfest. This year the Panthers are unbeaten and Seattle is struggling, but the game was in Seattle. Cam Newton on 3rd and 13 from the Carolina 14 was intercepted by Earl Thomas, and the Seahawks took over at the Carolina 33. Steve Hauschka hit a 30 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Seahawks.

In the second quarter Newton led a 14 play, 80 yard drive that took 7 minutes. Newton got the last deuce himself as the Panthers led 7-3. The Seahawks countered with a 12 play, 90 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. Marshawn Lynch is back from injury, and Beast Mode got the last yard to make it 10-7 Seahawks at halftime.

In the third quarter Pete Carroll went into his bag of tricks by calling a Flea Flicker. Russell Wilson went deep and Lockette made a leaping grab over a defender for the 40 yard touchdown and the 17-7 Seahawks lead. Newton was then quickly intercepted, giving the Seahawks the ball at the Carolina 33. Hauschka hit from 50 to make it 20-7 Seahawks with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. Carolina kept fighting as Newton led an 11 play, 80 yard, 5 minute drive. Stewart got in from one yard out to get the Panthers within 20-14. Seattle got some breathing room in the fourth quarter up 23-14 when Hauschka hit from 43.

Newton moved the Panthers 80 yards and threw a 32 yard pass to Greg Olsen down to the one. Stewart went over the top for the score. The extra point was no good as the Panthers trailed 23-20 with 4 minutes left in regulation. Carolina got it back at their 20 with 2:20 to play. Newton put on a passing clinic. He hit Stewart for 8, Ted Ginn for 18, and Dickson for 14. After a sack meant 2nd and 19, Newton hit Finches for 16. On 3rd and 3 from the Seattle 33, Newton Hit Jerricho Cotchery for 7. Newton then fired to Olsen for a 26 yard touchdown. With only 30 seconds to play, the Panthers had the 4 point lead.

Rather than take a touchback, Lockett tried to make something happen and instead was tackled at the Seattle 9 yard line. 91 yards in 30 seconds was not going to happen, even with all 3 timeouts. For all the talk about the Legion of Boom, Kam Chancellor’s return has not stopped the Seahawks from collapsing on defense in consecutive weeks. The 2-4 Seahawks have blown fourth quarter leads in all of their losses and would be 1-5 if not for a miracle win against hapless Detroit. The Panthers have been seen as beating up on soft teams. This was a quality win, and Riverboat Ron Rivera has a 5-0 Panthers team that will finally start getting some respect. 27-23 Panthers

San Diego Chargers at Green Bay Packers — Green Bay jumped all over san Diego at the outset. Aaron Rodgers led the Packers 87 yards and threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to James Starks to make it 7-0 Packers. The Chargers did move 62 yards in 14 plays and 5 1/2 minutes, but they had to settle for a 36 yard Josh Lambo field goal. The Packers came back immediately as Starks broke free for a 65 yard touchdown run to make it 14-3 Packers.

In the second quarter Philip Rivers led the Chargers down the field, and Mike McCoy decided to go for it on 4th and 3 from the Packers 12. Rivers threw incomplete. Rodgers led the Packers 83 yards, but they had to settle for a 23 yard Mason Crosby field goal to lead 17-3. The Chargers then fumbled, giving the Packers the ball at the San Diego 34. On 3rd and 7, Rodgers was sacked out of field goal range as both teams continued to throw away points.

Rivers led the Chargers from their own 12 with 5 minutes left in the half. With 2 seconds left in the half, the Chargers faced 4th and goal just inches from the goal line. McCoy again decided to go for it, yet rather than run he had Rivers line up in the shotgun. Rivers found Inman for the score as the Chargers trailed 17-10 at halftime. Rivers was a ridiculous 22 of 32 for 212 yards passing in the first half alone, but the Chargers were still losing.

In the third quarter the Chargers faced 3rd and 17 at their own 14. Rivers went deep to Malcolm Floyd for a 50 yard gain. A 19 yard touchdown pass to Ladarius Green tied the game 17-17. The Packers quickly came back as Rodgers threw an 8 yard touchdown pass to James Jones for a 24-17 Green Bay lead. in the fourth quarter Rivers moved the Chargers from their 23 to a critical 3rd and 2 at the Green Bay 14. Rivers threw incomplete and Mike McCoy opted for the field goal. Rambo hit from 32 and the Chargers trailed 24-20 with 11 minutes left to play.

After nearly fumbling the ball away, the Packers punted and the Chargers took over at their own 22 with 9 minutes left. On 3rd and 7 from the Green Bay 40, Rivers was sacked. After a touchback, the Packers took over with 6 minutes left. Despite having done nothing on offense in the second half, they tried to put the game away. Rodgers found his non-relative Richard Rodgers for a 25 yard gain. Then he found Janis for 33 more yards to the San Diego 20. The drive stalled even after defensive holding gave the Packers a second chance. Crosby hit from 28 but the Chargers were still very much alive, down 7 with over 2 1/2 minutes to play and all 3 timeouts.

Rivers carved up the Green Bay defense. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers threw everything including the kitchen sink at Rivers. With 33 seconds left after a defensive penalty, the Chargers had 1st and goal at the 4. They still had 2 timeouts left. On 2nd down, Rivers could have walked into the end zone but threw incomplete. On 3rd down, a draw play was blown up in the backfield. It all came down to 4th and goal at the 3 with 20 seconds left. Rivers fired to a Antonio Gates in the flat just past the goal line, but at the last second it was broken up by Randall. Players on both sides collapsed to the ground.

Both quarterbacks threw a pair of touchdowns without being intercepted. Rodgers was only 16 of 29 for 255 yards, while Rodgers was off the charts. He set franchise records for completions, attempts and yards in going 43 of 65 for 503 yards. Yet in the end, what matters is the final score. The Packers are 6-0 and the Chargers suffered another agonizing defeat in a season of heart-stopping finishes. They lost back to back games in the final moments. Rodgers and Rivers hugged after the game, and all you heard was the word “unbelievable.” It was. 27-20 Packers

Baltimore Ravens at San Francisco 49ers — These teams are a shell of the teams that met in the Harbowl three years ago. Early on it was Phil Dawson hitting field goals of 53 and 31 yards as the 49ers led 6-0 after the first quarter. In the second quarter Justin Tucker hit from 22 to get the Ravens within 6-3. Only 2 plays later, the 49ers were in the end zone as Colin Kaepernick went bombs away to Torry Smith for a 76 yard touchdown and a 13-3 49ers lead. The 49ers got it back and Dawson hit from 26. Tucker responded with a 36 yarder as the Ravens trailed 16-6 at the break.

In the third quarter Joe Flacco was intercepted, setting up the 49ers at the Baltimore 38. Dawson his his fourth field goal from 42 to make it 19-6 49ers. Flacco came back and threw a 34 yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith as the Ravens only trailed 19-13 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The 49ers soon faced 2nd and 21 from their own 24. Kaepernick went deep to Anquon Boldin for a 51 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Baltimore 21, Kaepernick went deep to Patton for the touchdown and the 25-13 49ers lead with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Baltimore hung tough as Flacco led a 14 play, 80 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. On 4th and goal at the 2, Flacco found Aiken for the yard touchdown as the Ravens trailed by 5 with 5 minutes to play. The 49ers faced 3rd and 7 at their own 40 with 2 1/2 minutes to play. Kaepernick only gained one yard but a killer defensive holding penalty kept the drive going. The Ravens got the ball back at their own 20 with 1:06 to play and no timeouts. Flacco found Ross for 18 and Smith for 22 more. With 13 seconds left, the Ravens faced 2nd and 5 from the San Francisco 35. Flacco went deep twice but drew incompletions as Baltimore fell to 1-5 and the 49ers salvaged something from their wreckage of a season. 25-20 49ers

New England Patriots at Baltimore Colts was the Sunday night game. First the Patriots carpet-bombed the Colts 45-7 in last year’s AFC Title Game. Then came the Deflategate scandal and the fake outrage from the guilty as sin Tom Brady. Now came the latest chapter in Brady’s revenge on anyone and everyone who called him out for cheating. The NFL Commissioner could not shut him up. The only way to silence the insufferable New England Chowderheads is to defeat them on the field.

The Colts began at their own 11 and Andrew Luck moved them 89 yards in 13 plays, taking almost 8 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 5, Luck threw incomplete. Whether to make a statement, set the tone, or just appease the crazed home crowd, Chuck Pagano decided to go for it. Luck fired to the end zone to Dante Moncrief for the touchdown. The play was reviewed, and it was ruled that Moncrief’s knee came down inbounds just before his elbow hit out of bounds. The score stood and the Colts led 7-0.

That just gave Brady more time to relax. He calmly moved the Patriots 80 yards and threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman to tie things 7-7. On the first play of the second quarter from the New England 34, Brady went deep to martin for a 39 yard gain. Brady threw incomplete on 3rd and 5 from the 22 and Stephen Gostkowski hit a 40 yard field goal for a 10-7 Patriots lead.

The Patriots had all the momentum and got the ball back at their own 10. Then the tables turned. Brady threw a simple pass in the flat to Edelman. With nobody around him, Edelman bobbled the ball and batted it in the air. It was intercepted by Mike Adams, who practically walked the 14 yards into the end zone for the 14-10 Colts lead. Chuck Pagano then called a surprise onside kick, and it looked to have been executed perfectly. After much controversy, it was ruled the Patriots had recovered back at their own 35. LeGuarrette Blount broke free for a 38 yard touchdown run that put the Patriots back in front 17-14.

Luck moved the Colts 80 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. A 3 yard touchdown pass to TY Hilton was the fourth lead change of the first half as the Colts led 21-17. After a touchback, Brady went deep to Danny Amendola for a 35 yard gain. On 4th and 1 from the Indy 36 with 1:46 left in the half, Bill Bellichick decided to go for it. Edelman got the carry and was trapped in the backfield for what appeared to be a big loss. Somehow he spun away and reversed course, diving for a 2 yard gain. After a penalty had the Patriots backed up to a 3rd and 17 from the Indy 41 and out of field goal range, Brady threw a 1 yard pass that somehow gained 22 yards. Defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the 7 with 12 seconds left. On the next play Brady threw for the touchdown, but this time there was offensive pass interference. At this point Bellichick had had enough. Gostkowski came in for the 35 yard field goal try. It was good, and the Patriots trailed 21-20 at halftime.

The Patriots continued their momentum to start the third quarter, again marching 80 yards. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 25 yard touchdown. The fifth lead change of the game put the Patriots up 27-21. Late in the third quarter the Colts tried a fake punt on 4th and 3 from their own 37. Pagan’s gamble blew up as the Colts lost a yard. The Patriots took over at the Colts 35. Early in the fourth quarter, Brady found Blount for an 11 yard touchdown and a 34-21 Patriots lead.

The Colts got it back with 5 minutes left at their own 16 and rapidly moved to the New England 28. However, 4 straight incompletions had the Colts turning it over on downs with 3 1/2 minutes left. The Colts took their timeouts and got it back only 30 seconds later at their own 15. This time they did move 85 yards as Luck hit Whalen for the 18 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked, and the Colts needed the onside kick to have a shot. Gronkowski grabbed it out of the air for the Patriots, who got to 5-0 and silenced their few remaining critics. 34-27 Patriots

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles was the Monday night game. The Giants had won three straight but were still shaky in the fourth quarter of every game. The Eagles are on the verge of imploding. At the start of this game, it looked like the Giants would dominate. Eli Manning quickly moved the Giants 80 yards and threw a 13 yard touchdown pass to O’Dell Beckham for a 13 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Giants lead. The Eagles went 3 and out and the Giants moved from their 37 to the Philly 23. The Giants had all the momentum when Manning threw a short pass to Donnell for what appeared to be a short gain. Ryan’s ripped it out of Donnell’s hands for the interception.

On 3rd and 10 from the Philly 22, Sam Bradford completed a short pass but roughing the passer kept the drive going. Bradford threw to the end zone into double coverage into what appeared to be an interception. Yet somehow Riley Cooper came down with the 32 yard touchdown pass to tie the game 7-7.

The Giants then moved from their 27 to a 2nd and 1 at the Philly 41. Manning went deep incomplete and Rashad Jennings got stopped on 3rd and 1. Tom Coughlin decided to go for it. Jennings got the carry and inexplicably tried to go laterally rather than North-South. Jennings lost 2 yards as the first quarter ended.

The Giants got it back at their own 4. From the 18, Manning was intercepted again. Carroll returned the interception 17 yards for a touchdown as the Eagles now led 14-7. The Giants got it back at their 20 and moved to the philly 44. Jennings got the carry, gained 6 yards, and fumbled the ball away. The Giants had 4 straight possessions featuring 3 turnovers and one turnover on downs. Bradford then threw an interception of his own.

With 1:12 left in the half, the Eagles got the ball back at their own 34. With 14 seconds left in the half the eagles had 1st and goal at the 9 and two timeouts. Bradford was sacked for a 10 yard loss. Caleb Sturgis hit a 37 yard field goal as the Eagles led 17-7 at halftime. The third quarter was just as ugly. The Eagles fumbled the ball away but the Giants did not capitalize. The Eagles punted the ball away but the Giants got called for roughing the punter. That led the Eagles to complete an 85 yard drive as DeMarco Murray ran for a 12 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 Eagles.

The Giants were self-destructing, but the Eagles were rarely inept for most of the night. They were just slightly less inept. Bradford went bombs away and the only two players anywhere near the ball were on the Giants defense. Big Blue took over at their own 42 and did nothing, quickly going 3 and out. The Eagles then fumbled the ball inside their own 10 yard line, but retained possession. On the next play Bradford was sacked in the end zone for a safety. However, it was nullified because the Giants had 12 men on the defense. Bradford moved the Eagles down the field and went to the end zone and was intercepted again.

In the fourth quarter the Eagles got it back at their own 40 and moved in position for Sturgis to tack on a 39 yard field goal to complete the scoring. While the Eagles won big, this game gave new meaning to the term NFC Least. 27-7 Eagles


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