Archive for September, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 2 Recap

Sunday, September 16th, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 2 Recap

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals was the Thursday night game. Baltimore built a 40 point lead in their opener en route to a 47-3 win. The Bengals went on the road, fell behind 23-10, and rattled off 24 straight points for the win. Both teams beat up on weaker teams. Now each had a better measuring stick of where they were.

The Bengals jumped all over the Ravens at the start. After an exchange of punts, the Ravens took over at their own 18. Joe Flacco was intercepted by Bates, who returned it it 21 yards to the Baltimore 16. It looked liked Red Rifle Andy Dalton returned the favor on the very next play. A pass to the end zone was marvelously deflected into the air and intercepted on a spectacular grab by Eric Weddle. Despite the acrobatic efforts, Weddle’s 2nd foot saw his tow on the line out of bounds. Dalton escapade with an incompletion and a few plays later hit AJ Green for a 4 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Bengals lead.

The Bengals got it back at their own 20 and Dalton quickly hit Uzomah for a 29 yard gain. Greg Bernard ran for 11 and 8. On 3rd and 2 from the Baltimore 32, Dalton zipped a pass to Green, who bounced off a tackler and split the seams for a touchdown to make it 14-0 Bengals. The Bengals got it back at their own 28 and embarked on a 12 play, 672 yard drive that consumed 6 minutes. Joe Mixon gained 11 and Dalton went to Boyd for a 27 yard gain. The second quarter began with the Bengals facing 3rd and 13 at the Baltimore 15. An illegal use of hands penalty gave the Bengals a new st of downs. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Dalton hit Green for the touchdown as the Bengals were all over Baltimore 21-0.

After a touchback Baltimore finally got going. On 3rd and 15 from their own 32, Flacco went deep to Brown for a 45 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Cincy 8, Flacco threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Allen got it to get the Ravens on the board. From the Cincy 22, the Bengals kept rolling. On 3rd and 9 from the Cincy 38,Dalton went deep to Boyd for 22 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Baltimore 26, Dalton hit Boyd for 17 yards. Dalton found Boyd again for a 14 yard touchdown. With 3 minutes left in the half, the Bengals were winning a 28-7 laugher.

After a touchback the Ravens moved to a 4th and 4 at the Cincinnati 38. John Harbaugh decided to go for it and Flacco threw incomplete. Only 1:22 remained in the half, but an attempt to deliver the knockout blow backfired. Rather than run the ball and go to the half up by 21, Marvin Lewis had Dalton keep throwing. He was hot as blazes, so it was a sensible move. However, Dalton threw 3 straight incompletions and only 20 seconds went off the clock. The Ravens still had one more chance from their own 19 with one minute left.

Flacco hit Collins for 22 yards, Michael Crabtree for 17 more, and Andrew for another 11. From the Cincinnati 31, a deep ball drew defensive pass interference and 1st and goal at the one. With 8 seconds left in the half on 3rd and goal, Flacco hit Andrews for the touchdown. The Ravens were only down 28-14 at halftime, and they now had momentum.

In the third quarter the Ravens took over at their own 35. Flacco went to Williams for a 25 yard gain. The drive stalled, but John Harbaugh gambled on a 55 yard field goal. Justin Tucker nailed it and the Ravens were within 28-17.

Baltimore moved from their 21 to a 3rd and 2 at the Cincinnati 44, but when Flacco threw incomplete, John Harbaugh decided to gamble on 4th and 2. Flacco hit Allen, but only for one yard as the Ravens turned it over on downs. The Bengals moved to a 2nd and 8 at the Baltimore 37. Dalton threw incomplete twice, and Marvin Lewis opted against going for it or trying a 55 yard field goal. The Bengals punted. Flacco threw another interception but the Bengals did not capitalize.

The Ravens began the fourth quarter at their own 13. Flacco hit Brown for 17 and Snead for 10 more. From the Cincy 33, Flacco hit Allen for 16. On 2nd and 14 from the Cincy 21, Flacco went to Brown for the touchdown. The 2 point try failed, but with 9 1/2 minutes left in the game, the 12 play, 5 minute, 87 yard drive had the Ravens within 28-23.

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 33. Dalton threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. From the Baltimore 37, Mixon gained 21 yards. Randy Bullock hit a 28 yard field goal to put the Bengals up 31-23 with 3 minutes left. 3 plays later on 3rd and 10 from the Baltimore 25, Flacco got leveled and fumbled. The Bengals recovered at the Baltimore 29. With 2 1/2 minutes left, Bullock drilled a 40 yard field goal to put the game on ice.

After a touchback Baltimore moved to the Cincinnati 23 with 8 seconds left. Needing 2 scores, the only chance was to try a field goal and then an onside kick. Instead Flacco threw a short pass that gained 11 yards but let the clock run out. The Bengals won by the same score for the second straight week. Flacco threw 55 passes, completing 32 of them for 376 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 2 interceptions. Dalton was 24 of 42 for 265 yards and 4 touchdowns, all in the first half. While he and the entire offense cooled off after halftime, Dalton was not intercepted. It is the Bengals who are now the 2-0 team. 34-23 Bengals

Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons — With the Carolinas getting belted by Hurricane Florence, it was fate that the Panthers were on the road at Atlanta. Graham Gano hit a 54 yard field goal for the Panthers and Matt Bryant responded from 44 for a 3-3 game after the first quarter. The Panthers took over at their own 30 to start the second quarter. On 4th and 4 from the Atlanta 33, Riverboat Ron Rivera decided to go for it. Cam Newton scrambled for 10 yards, gave himself up on a foot first slide, and got drilled in the head by Kazee. Tempers flared, Kazee was ejected, and Newton stayed in the game. On 3rd and 5 from the atlanta 18, Newton hit devon finches for 12. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Newton hit Wright for the touchdown and the 10-3 Panthers lead.

The Falcons soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 26. Matt Ryan threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant a 14 yard gin. Coleman raced for a 32 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Carolina 11, Ryan fired to Ridley for the touchdown as the teams were deadlocked 10-10. With 1:35 left in the half, the Falcons got it back at their own 15. Ryan hit Ridley for 22 and went deep to Hall for 30 yards. Ryan hit Hooper for an 8 yard touchdown as the Falcons took a 17-10 lead to the locker rooms.

Ryan was intercepted in the third quarter, pinning the Panthers back at their own 2 yard line. Atlanta got it back and soon faced 3rd and 12 at their own 40. Ryan hit Ridley for 22 yards. Smith ran for gains of 13 and 18. Ryan snuck for the last yard himself to make it 24-10 Falcons. Late in the third quarter the Panthers took over at their own 20. On the last play of the third quarter facing 3rd and 6 at their own 35, Newton hit Wright for 7 yards. Defensive pass interference added 15 yards a couple plays later. On 3rd and 4 from the 11, Newton found Thomas for 8 yards and Smith for the 3 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 24-17.

After a touchback, defensive holding followed by Ryan hitting Mohammed Sanu for 12 had the Falcons on the move. From the Atlanta 47, Ryan went deep to Hooper for 30 yards and Paulsen for 10 more. On 3rd and 5 from the 8, Ryan scrambled around the end and got past the pylon for the score to make it 31-17 Falcons midway through the fourth quarter. On the next series Newton was intercepted to set the Falcons up at their own 47, but they went 3 and out. Carolina got it back at their own 4 yard line.

Newton hi McCaffrey for gains of 5 and 7. Then he went deep to Wright for 22 and back to McCaffrey for 11 more. Newton then went deep to Moore for a 51 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 31-24 with 2:20 to play. Carolina took two timeouts on defense. The falcons faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Coleman got the carry and got stopped cold as the clock hit the 2 minute warning.

Carolina got it back at their own 16 with 1:48 left. Newton scrambled for 16 yards and hit McCaffrey for 10 more. With 26 seconds left, on 3rd and 6 from the Carolina 46, Newton found Devon Funchess for 12 yards. With 4 seconds left from the Atlanta 31, Newton’s Hail Mary to one receiver and four defenders initially appeared to be answered. On closer inspection it was incomplete as Atlanta for the second straight week went down to the final play. This time they got the win. 31-24 Falcons

Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints — The Saints scored 40 points last week but surrendered 48. The 0-16 Browns managed a tie. They forced 5 turnovers last week and started this game forcing a fumble. Zane Gonzalez hit a 39 yard field goal to open the scoring. The Saints moved 63 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. A pass to the end zone was broken up at the last moment as the Saints settled for a 31 yard Will Lutz field goal and a 3-3 tie. Lutz missed from 44 with 4 minutes left in the half. The Saints dominated statistically but turned it over three times. Gonzalez hit from 39 again with 1:55 left in the half for a 6-3 Browns lead.

In the third quarter the Browns mounted a 12 play, 79 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. Carlos Hyde got the last yard. The extra point was no good, but just enough offense and stifling defense had the Browns up 12-3 after three quarters. Could they finally finish  game and get a win? Less than one minute into the fourth quarter, a 3rd and 6 pass for the Browns was dropped. Then Gonzalez missed a 44 yard field goal. Was a collapse inevitable?

From their own 34 to start the fourth quarter, Alvin Kamara ran for 18 yards. With 12 minutes left, the saints faced 3rd and 3 at the Cleveland 41. Drew Brees was sacked for a 9 yard loss. Yet illegal contact on the defense meant an automatic first down for the Saints. These are the Browns. With 8:45 to play, Brees threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to Thomasas the Saints only trailed 12-10. The word inevitable had that inevitable feeling.

Both teams went 3 and out as the Cleveland defense was giving every ounce they could. All they ask was that the offense not give the game away. With 5 minutes left, from the Cleveland 30, Tyrod Taylor was intercepted. Williams returned it 22 yards to the Cleveland 18. These are the Browns. On 3rd and 2 from the Cleveland 10, Kamara gained 5 yards. Brees hit Thomas for the touchdown. Kamara ran in the 2 point conversion as the Saints led 18-12 with 2 1/2 minutes left. These are the Browns.

With 1:24 left the Browns faced 4th and 5 at the Saints 47. One more failure would end things. Rather than just try to pick up the first down, Hue Jackson went for all the marbles. Tyrod Taylor went for the bomb, and shocked the football world with a touchdown pass to Callaway. The game was tied and the extra point would give the Browns the lead. These are the Browns?

Gonzalez had already missed an extra point and a field goal, so now was his time for redemption. Again he missed. The game remained tied 18-18. Say it with me, world. These are the Browns.

After a touchback with 1:16 remaining, the entire world knew Brees would give the Saints the lead. He hit Ted Ginn Jr. for 8 yards. On the next play he went deep to Ginn for a 42 yard gain to the Cleveland 25. With 43 seconds left the Saints were already in field goal range. They could bleed the clock down and kick a field goal on the final play. Then Sean Payton made some very questionable play calls.

On 2nd and 11 and again on 3rd and 11, Payton called pass plays. Brees threw incomplete twice, stopping the clock. With 26 seconds left, Will Lutz came in for the 44 yarder to give the Saints the lead. Lutz was good, but the Browns after a touchback still had 21 seconds and one timeout.

Taylor went deep to Jarvis Landry for 25 yards as the Browns called their final timeout with 14 seconds left. Taylor then went to Callaway for 16 yards. Callaway barely got out of bounds to stop the clock with 8 seconds left. Hue Jackson decided not to run another play. Without a timeout, it was too risky. Gonzalez had missed 2 extra points and a field goal, but now it was finally time for redemption. Last week the Browns went to overtime tied 21-21. One successful field goal and they would again.

Gonzalez missed again. THESE. ARE. THE. BROWNS. For those seeking employment and are willing to relocate to Ohio, the Browns are one of several teams desperately in need of a kicker. To quote Paul Maguire, “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.” Maguire later revised his offer to 25 cents. Hue Jackson is too good a man for this. The team founded by Paul Brown and made famous with Jim Brown should consider renaming itself the Charlie Browns. He couldn’t kick a football either. 21-18 Saints

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans — Blaine Gabbert was in for the injured Marcus Mariota. Mike Vrabel went to his bag of tricks. Yard lined up at quarterback and lobbed a floater to Cruikshank. There was no defense anywhere as the connection resulted in a 66 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans. The Texans failed to score when Fairbairn missed a 54 yard field goal. The Titans took over at their own 44. From the Houston 18, Blaine Gabbert threw a West Coast Offense dink and dunk sideways pass, and thanks to bad attempts at tackling, it became a touchdown and a 14-0 Titans lead. The Texans moved the ball and Deshaun Watson went deep to the end zone into multiple coverage and was intercepted for a touchback.

With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half the Titans punted on 4th and 29 at their own 13. The Texans took over at their own 47. On 1st and 20 from their own 37, illegal contact on the defense meant an automatic first down.Pm 3rd and 7 from their own 45, Watson went deep to Deandre Hopkins for 23 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 28, Watson went deep again to Hopkins for the touchdown as the Texans trailed 14-7 at the intermission.

The defenses controlled the third quarter as a 34 yard Fairbairn field goal had the Texans trailing 14-10 after three quarters. The Texans began the fourth quarter at their 30. DeShaun Watson hit Akins for 13 yards. Watson then went deep to Fuller for a 39 yard touchdown to make it 17-14 Texans. After a touchback, Gabbert hit Stocker for 11 yards with 15 more tacked on for unsportsmanlike conduct. On 3rd and 3 from the Houston 42, Gabbert hit Sharpe for 14 yards. Ryan Succop hit a 42 yard field goal to tie the game 17-17 with 9:45 to play. 

After a touchback, the Texans moved to a 4th and 8 at the Tennessee 37. With 6:50 to play, Bill O’Brien opted to play it very safe and punt rather than go for it or try a 55 yard field goal. The Titans took over at their own 25. Lewis ran for 13 yards and Gabbert hit Davis for 13 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 39, Gabbert got the yard. On 2nd and 12 from the Houston 40, Gabbert hit Davis for 18 yards. With 1:05 to play, on 4th and 1 from the 13, Succop came in to break the tie from 31 yards out. On a day of shaky kickers, Succop was good and the Titans had the lead.

With 33 seconds left facing 3rd and 6 at their own 29, Watson hit Hopkins for 19 yards. Watson spiked the ball to stop the clock, but the Texans burned their 3rd and final timeout with 17 seconds left. From the Houston 48, Watson found Hopkins for 31 yards. The Texans raced to the line to spike the ball and try the tying field goal. They never got the chance as the clock ran out. 20-17 Titans

Indianapolis Colts at Washington Redskins — Andrew Luck moved the Colts 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes and hit Eric Ebron for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Colts. In the second quarter an interception of Luck had the Redskins taking over at their own 42. Dustin Hopkins hit a 49 yard field goal to get the Redskins on the board. After a touchback, a 37 yard defensive pass interference penalty had the Colts on the move. Hines ran for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Colts at halftime.

An ugly second half saw the Redskins move the ball but not finish their drives. Hopkins hit from 27 in the third quarter and from 49 n the fourth quarter to get the Redskins within 14-9. Washington was hitting field goals while the Colts were scoring touchdowns. A 13 play, 75 yard drive took 6 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Luck hit TY Hilton for the touchdown to all but end the game midway through the fourth quarter. The Redskins fumbled the ball away with 5 minutes left to seal their fate. 21-9 Colts

Kansas City Chiefs at Pittsburgh Steelers — The Steelers punted and Ryan swather returned it to the Pittsburgh 21. Patrick Mahomes hit Chris Conley for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. Kansas City got it back at their own 29 and Mahomes hit Sammy Watkins for 10 and then again deep for a 40 yard gain. Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for the 19 yard touchdown and a 14-0 Chiefs lead. Pittsburgh missed a chance to get on the board when Chris Boswell hooked a 49 yard field goal wide. The Chiefs took over at their own 39 and kept making it look easy. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Mahomes hit Kareem Hunt for the score to make it 21-0 Chiefs.

A turning point in the game came with one minute left in the first quarter. The Steelers faced 3rd and 10 at their own 19. Ben Roethlisberger was hit and fumbled. Jones recovered it at the 5 and took it in for what looked like a 28-0 Chiefs lead. Yet defensive holding nullified the score. The second quarter began with the Steelers at the Chiefs 40. Roethlisberger hit Juju Smith-Schuster for 14 and James for a 26 yard touchdown to get the Steelers on the board. Pittsburgh got it back at their own 15 and moved again. Big ben hit Spitzer for 14 and James for 20. From the Chiefs 26, Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 6, McDonald for 11, Smith-Schuster for 11, and Smith-Schuster again for the 2 yard touchdown. Boswell missed the extra point but the Steelers were within 21-13.

Pittsburgh got it back at their own 10 with 3 minutes left in the half. From the 20, Pittsburgh went deep to James for a 32 yard gain. Defensive pass interference a couple plays later tacked on 15 more yards. With 24 seconds left in the half, on 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 14, Big Ben went to Washington for the touchdown as the Steelers. Mike Tomlin opted to go for 2 and Roethlisberger hit James Conner for the conversion as the teams were tied 21-21 at the break.

After a touchback to start the third quarter Mahomes connected with Tyreeq Hill for a 36 yard gain. Mahomes found Kelce for 13 and then again for a 25 yard touchdown as the Chiefs took the 28-21 lead. After a touchback the Steelers responded. Roetholisberger hit Smith-Schuster for 15 yards and again for 21 more. Big Ben hit nix for 19 yards down to the 5 yard line. On the next play an incompletion that was almost intercepted was negated due to defensive holding. On 1st and goal at the 2 Roethlisberger went to the end zone and was intercepted. Yet defensive pass interference gave the Steelers 1st and goal at the one. Conner got the carry off left tackle, appeared, stopped, and bulled his way forward. His elbow came down before the pylon but the ball in his other hand was just past the plane of the goal for the score and the 28-28 tie.

The Chiefs came back again. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Mahomes fired to the back of the end zone for Robinson. Officials ruled that Robinson did not get both feet down inbounds, calling an incompletion. Walrus Lite Andy Reid challenged the call. On further review, the call was reversed to a touchdown and a 35-28 Chiefs lead, making Andy Reid a most pleased Walrus Lite indeed.

The Steelers went 3 and out and the Chiefs took over late in the third quarter at their own 35. Mahomes went to Watkins for a 25 yard gain. The fourth quarter began with the Chiefs facing 3rd and 1 at the Pittsburgh 31. The defense jumped offside. On 2nd and 13 from the Pittsburgh 29, Mahomes went deep to Hill for the touchdown as the Chiefs led 42-28.

The Steelers punted again, but a perfect punt pinned the Chiefs back at their own one yard line. After a deep incompletion, Hunt got the carry and was tackled in the end zone for a safety. With a full 12 minutes left, the Steelers were within 42-30. The Steelers could not capitalize after the free kick. The Chiefs moved from their 20 to a 1st and at the Pittsburgh 36 with 5 minutes left. A short completion was fumbled away as the Steelers were still alive at their own 34.

Roethlisberger went deep to James for a 46 yard gain. With 4 minutes left, on 4th and 3 from the Chiefs 13, Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for 7 yards. On 4th and goal at the 3, unable to find anyone, Big Ben took off running and made it around the end just past the pylon for the touchdown. At the 2 minute warning, the Steelers were within 5 points.

Needing a stop, the defense saw Hunt gain 9 and then 3 more for a critical first down. The Steelers took their timeouts on defense and finally got a stop. The Chiefs had to punt, but only 11 seconds remained. From the Chiefs 41, the Steelers went for the block, didn’t get it, and got called for roughing the punter. The automatic first down let Mahomes take one knee for the win.

Roethlisberger threw 60 passes, completing 39 of them for 452 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Yet the Steelers lost because the league has a new superstar. Patrick Mahomes went 23 of 28 for 265 yards and 6…yes, 6…touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Mahome broke Peyton Manning’s NFL for most touchdown passes in the first 2 games of an NFL season. Manning had 9. Mahomes through 2 games has 10. Gone is the dinking and dunking West Coast Offense failures. Walrus Lite Andy Reid has a gunslinger at the helm. 42-37 Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers at Buffalo Bills — Last week the Bills lost 47-3 under Nathan Peterman, who has never finished an NFL game. Last year Peterman threw 5 interceptions in the first half against the Chargers. This time it was Josh Allen getting the start. An exchange of punts had the Chargers taking over at the Buffalo 38. Philip Rivers quickly hit Victor Green for 25 yards and Mike Williams for the 10 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bills. The Chargers got it back at their own 39 and moved easily. Melvin Gordon ran for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chargers.

In the second quarter the Bills managed a 43 yard Steve Hauschka field goal, but the Chargers kept rolling on offense. Ekeleer ran for 22 yards after a touchback and Rivers hit Green for 23 more. Rivers hit Gordon for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 21-3 Chargers. The Chargers got it back and moved 81 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. Rivers hit Gordon for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 28-3 Chargers.

Buffalo inspired the football world when Hauschka hit a 40 yard field goal to get the Bills within 28-6 at halftime. For some reason, league rules required the second half to be played. The Bills did move 75 yards to start the third quarter. Chris Ivory got in from one yard out to get the Bills within 28-13. An uneventful fourth quarter saw Caleb Sturgis tack on a 24 yard field goal and Allen throw a garbage touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin to make the score look respectable. At least nobody can blame this loss on Nathan Peterman. 31-20 Chargers

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets — Sam Dranold’s first ever NFL pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, but the Jets won 48-17. This week Darnold threw an interception that had the Dolphins starting at the Jets 15. Drake ran for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Dolphins. Midway through the second quarter the Jets moved from their own 8 to their own 39. A pass from Darnold to Anderson was fumbled and the Dolphins recovered just past midfield. A defensive facemark moved Miami closer. Ryan Tannehill went to Wilson, who got to the corner and just past the pylon for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Dolphins. The Dolphins got it back late in the half and quickly moved 62 yards. Tannehill hit Derby for a 19 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Dolphins led 20-0 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Jets moved 75 yards. Darnold went to Powell for a 28 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good as the Jets trailed 20-6. The Dolphins tried to give the game away from their own 29 as Tannehill was hit and fumbled. The jets refused to accept the generosity. Starting from the Miami 12, Darnold was intercepted for a touchback. In the fourth quarter the Jets had an 11 play drive that took 6:15 off the clock but somehow gained only 22 yards. Myers bailed the Jets out with field goals of 55 and 41 yards to get the Jets within 8 points.

With 6 minutes left, Gang Green needed a stop on defense. After a touchback, Drake ran for a 20 yard gain. With 3 1/2 minutes left, Todd Bowles saw his defense facing 3rd and 19 at the Jets 45. A short pass from Tannehill to Frank Gore gained the exact amount. Now it was desperation time. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Dolphins faced 3rd and 6 at the Jets 22. The jets were out of timeouts. Tannehill escaped for an 8 yard gain and then took 3 knees. One week after looking like the league’s most exciting team, the Jets lost to the league’s most boring team. To be fair to Adam Gase, the team was boring before he arrived. 20-12 Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers — Aaron Rodgers played, but it was special teams that started the scoring. From their own 15, the Vikings punted and the Packers blocked it and recovered in the end zone for a 7-0 Packers lead. A 46 yard kickoff return by Hughes had the Vikings starting at their own 43. Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 7 and Sean Diggs for 18 more. On 3rd and 3 from the Green Bay 14, Cousins went to Treadwell for the touchdown and a 7-7 game.

In the second quarter the Packers moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Rodgers went to Devontae Adams for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Packers. Green Bay got it back and moved 43 yards. Mason Crosby hit a 37 yard field goal before the half ended to put the Packers up 17-7. In the third quarter the Packers moved 67 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. A touchdown pass was called back due to a penalty. The Packers settled for a 40 yard Crosby field goal to lead 20-7.

For three quarters the Packers were in command. Football is four quarters. Late in the third quarter the Vikings faced 3rd and 1 at their own 38. Ham got the carry up the gut for 5 yards. On the last play of the third quarter, the Vikings faced 3rd and 1 at the Green Bay 28. Cousins went to Kyle Rudolph for a 23 yard gain. Cousins hit Diggs for a 3 yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 20-14 and almost all of the fourth quarter to go.

2 plays after a touchback from the Green Bay 36, Rodgers went deep and was intercepted. However, offsetting penalties kept Green Bay on offense. Rodgers then went to Greg Allison for 22 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 13, Williams got the carry and lost a yard. Crosby hit the 31 yard field goal to give the Packers breathing room up 23-14 midway through the fourth quarter. They would not have breathing room for long. 2 plays and 17 seconds later, Cousins went deep to Diggs for a 75 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Vikings were within 23-21.

From the Green Bay 31, the Packers offense mounted a long drive and again tried to put the game away. Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham for a 16 yard gain. With 4 minutes remaining and the Packers facing 3rd and 3 at the Minnesota 41, Mike McCarthy called the Packers final timeout. After a false start, on 3rd and 8, Rodgers hit Allison for 12 yards. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the Minnesota 30, Rodgers threw incomplete. Crosby hit the 48 yard field goal. With 2:13 to play the Packers led 26-21, but they had not closed the door.

Disaster immediately struck the Vikings after a touchback. Cousins was intercepted by Haha Clinton-Dix, who returned it 24 yards to the Minnesota 13. Mike Zimmer’s defense needed to come up monster big, and they did as 3 offensive plays for the Packers lost 5 yards. Crosby hit again from 36 to make it 29-21 Packers. Yet with 1:45 left the door was still open.

After a touchback, Cousins was quickly intercepted by Alexander. The Packers celebrated, but a very questionable roughing the passer penalty on Clay Matthews gave the ball back to Minnesota. Matthews’s hit was completely legal. Whatever the officials saw, nobody else did. Cousins then hit Thielen for 12 and Rudolph for 10. With 36 seconds left, from the Green Bay 22, Cousins went deep to Thielen for the touchdown. Cousins went to Diggs for the 2 point conversion and the game was tied.

A touchback left 31 seconds left. Williams gained 11 yards and Rodgers spiked the ball with 16 seconds left to stop the clock. Rodgers then went to Graham for a 27 yard gain and to Adams for 3 more yards. With 3 seconds left, Crosby came in for the 52 yard field goal try to win it. The kick was no good, and these hated rivals were going to overtime.

In overtime, Minnesota moved from their 30 to a 2nd and 9 at the Green Bay 31. Cousins threw incomplete twice. Carlson came in for the 49 yard field goal to win it for the Vikings, with Crosby looking on helplessly on the other side. The kick was no good, and the game continued. Green Bay went from their 39 to a 3rd and 4 at the Minnesota 40. Rodgers was sacked to kill the drive.

From the Minnesota 20, Cousins hit Diggs for 12 and Thielen for 25 more. With 2 minutes left in overtime, the Vikings faced 3rd and 3 at the Green Bay 36. Cousins found Diggs for 6 yards. Latavius Murray had gains of 9 and 4. With 4 seconds left in overtime, Carlson came in for a chip shot 35 yarder to redeem himself and win the game. Again the kick was no good. Ties are rare in the NFL, but this season has seen 2 ties in only 2 weeks. In both games, it was missed kicks that prevented wins and validated Walrus Paul Maguie’s anti-kicker maxim. Rodgers finished 30 of 42 for 281 yards, one touchdown, and 0 interceptions. Cousins was a ridiculous 35 of 48 for 425 yards, 4 touchdowns, and one interception. Either quarterback would rather have a win, which neither one got. 29-29 tie, OT

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Buccaneers put up 48 points last week but surely that was a fluke, right? On the first play from scrimmage, Ryan Fitzpatrick went deep to Desean Jackson for a 75 yard touchdown and a 7-0  Buccaneers lead. The game slowed down considerably as the defenses dug in for the rest of the first quarter. In the second quarter the eagles moved 78 yards in 13 plays and 6 minutes. Clement ran for a 15 yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie.

Then the Buccaneers did it again. One play. One pass. 75 yards. Fitzpatrick to OJ Howard. Last time it took 11 seconds. This time it took 12 seconds for the Buccaneers to lead 13-7 after the failed extra point. The Bucs got it back at their own 30 and this time needed a whole 1:44 to score. Fitzpatrick hit Chris Godwin for an 8 yard touchdown as the Buccaneers led 20-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter Doug Pederson decided to go for it with the Eagles facing 4th and 4 just past midfield. Naturally, Pederson called a West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass rater than a throw past the first down marker. Nick Foles hit Zac Ertz for 3 yards and the Eagles turned it over on downs. On 3rd and 7 from the Philly 34, Fitzpatrick went deep to Jackson again for a 28 yard gain. Fitzpatrick hit Evans for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 27-7 Buccaneers.

With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the Eagles took over at their own 16. Foles hit Clement for 19 and connected with Nelson Agholor for a 50 yard gain. On 4th and 1 from the 6, Foles got 2 yards. Jay Ajayi ran for a 2 yard touchdown to get the Eagles within 27-14 after three quarters. The Buccaneers then fumbled the ball away around midfield, and the Eagles recovered at their own 43. The Eagles reached a 1st and 10 at the Tampa Bay 35 when a run went nowhere and Foles threw 3 straight incompletions as the Eagles turned it over on downs.

With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Eagles took over at their own 22. Defensive pass interference moved the ball to the 32. Foles hit Aiken for 18 and Perkins for 30 more to midfield. On 4th and goal at the 2 with 2:51 to play, Foles hit Agholor for the touchdown. The Eagles were within 6 points, and the missed Tampa Bay extra point loomed large.

On 2nd and 13 from their own 12, Fitzpatrick hit Jackson for a critical Tampa Bay first down. With 2:23 to play the Eagles took their final timeout with the Bucs facing 3rd and 3 at their own 36. Fitzpatrick hit Evans for 10 yards. 3 straight runs yielded nothing but bled the clock. By the time the Eagles got the ball back at their own 10, only 19 seconds remained. They got no further than their own 28 after failed hook and laterals ended the game. Foles played well, going 35 of 48 for 334 yards, one touchdown, and 0 interceptions. Fitzpatrick for the second straight week was white hot, going 27 of 33 for 402 yards, 4 touchdowns, and one interception. Rather than the defending champions, it is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a backup quarterback who are 2-0 with 2 road wins against 2 of the top teams from last year. 27-21 Buccaneers

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams — The Rams may be the best team in the league. The Cardinals may be the worst. Sometimes a bad team can go on the road and shock a good team in an upset for the ages. This was not that game. Goliath beat up David and took his lunch money. After a scoreless first quarter, reality set in. Todd Gurley capped off a 58 yard drive with an 11 yard touchdown run to start the deluge. Johnny Hekker added a 20 yard field goal. The Rams got it back at the Arizona 32 and Gurley ran for a one yard touchdown. After both touchdowns, Sean McVay went for 2 point conversions and the Rams made them both to led 19-0 at halftime.

The second half was a formality. Gurley’s third touchdown run from 2 yards out came in the third quarter. The Rams made another 2 point try. In the fourth quarter the Rams took over at the Arizona 25. Jared Goff went to Tyler Higbee for a 3 yard touchdown. Sean McVay in an act of mercy kicked the extra point to complete the blowout. Goff finished 24 of 32 for 354 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Truly great teams beat bad teams easily. Former Rams 1st pick in the draft Sam Bradford finished a miserable 17 of 27 for 90 yards. 34-0 Rams

Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers — Last week the Lions gave up 31 third quarter points in a 48-17 loss at home. Now they had to face an angry 49ers team that ran into a buzzsaw last week on the road. The 49ers opened the scoring with a 45 yard Robbie Gould field goal, but the Lions came back 69 yards. Matthew Stafford hit Kenny Golladay for a 30 yard touchdown. The Lions led 7-3 after the opening quarter, but after that the game changed.

The 49ers took over at their own 12 and gradually moved down the field. They began the second quarter at the Detroit 47. Jimmy Garoppollo hit Kittle for a 17 yard gain. On 1st and 20 from the Detroit 40, Defensive pass interference gave the 49ers 20 yards exactly. On 3rd and 2 from the Detroit 12, Garoppollo hit Breida for 8 yards and Bourne for a 4 yard touchdown to put the 49ers in front 10-7. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Lions faced 3rd and 3 at their own 26. Stafford was sacked and fumbled, and the 49ers recovered at the Detroit 16. Gould hit a 24 yard field goal for a 13-7 49ers lead.

With 40 seconds left in the half, the Lions faced 3rd and 10 at their own 34. Stafford hit Marvin Jones for 18 yards. A defensive facemark added 15 more yards on the next play. With 10 seconds left in the half, the Lions faced 3rd and 2 at the Frisco 9. Stafford threw incomplete. Matt Prater hit the 27 yard field goal as the Lions trailed 13-10 at halftime.

The 49ers thought they had returned the second half kickoff 101 yards for a score, but a facemask penalty nullified the score. However, the 49ers were still starting at the Detroit 26. Garoppollo hit Greg Celek for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 20-10 49ers. A 45 yard kickoff return had the Lions taking over at their own 48. LaGuerrette Blount ran for 13 yards and Johnson added 21 more to the Frisco 18. Penalties killed the drive and Prater hit a 43 yard field goal to get the Lions within 20-13.

With 2 minutes left in the third quarter, the 49ers were pinned back at their own 3 yard line. Garoppollo hit Celek for 11 yards. Breida then ran for 20 more. On the next carry, Breida raced for a 66 yard touchdown as 97 yards took only 3 plays for a 27-13 49ers.

The 49ers began the fourth quarter at their own 47. Garoppollo hit Garcon for 19 yards. Alfred Morris ran for 7, 9 and 3. Gould hit a 36 yard field goal as the 49ers had a 30-13 lead with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Stafford tried to lead a furious rally. From the Detroit 20, Stafford hit Theo Riddick for 10. On 3rd and 17 from the Detroit 23, Stafford went deep to Golden Tate for a 67 yard gain. Stafford hit Jones for a 5 yard touchdown as the Lions got within 30-20 with 8 1/2 minutes left. The 49ers went 3 and out and the Lions thought they had a 73 yard punt return for a touchdown. An illegal block instead had the Lions taking over at their own 21 with 6 minutes left.

Stafford hit Golladay for 11 and a pair of defensive penalties helped the Lions. On 3rd and goal from the 15 with 3 1/2 minutes left, Stafford found Roberts for the touchdown. The Lions were within a field goal. The 49ers took over at their own 22. With 2:24 to play and the Lions down to one timeout, the 49ers faced 3rd and 2 at their own 43. Garoppollo was intercepted, but defensive holding nullified the turnover and gave the 49ers a crucial first down.

The Lions did get the ball back at their own 16 with 0 timeouts and 1:08 to play. Terrible play calls in the form of short passes wasted time. With 21 seconds left and the Lions facing 4th and 2 at their own 39, Stafford threw incomplete. The Lions fell to 0-2 under rookie head coach Matt Patricia. 30-27 49ers

New England Patriots at Jacksonville Jaguars — Last year in the AFC Title Game in New England, the Jaguars led 20-10 after three quarters before Tom Brady rallied the Patriots for a 24-20 win. The Jaguars came in burning for revenge, and this game was in Jacksonville. The Patriots started out after a touchback by moving to a 4th and 7 at the Jacksonville 36. Bill Belichick opted veteran Stephen Gostkowski to make a 54 yard field goal, but the kick was no good.

The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 48. Blake Bortles hit Seferian-Jenkins for 11 yards. Bortles then completed a pass for 5 yards that was fumbled, but the Jaguars retained possession, gained another 6 yards, and had another first down. On 3rd and 7 from the New England 12, Bortles went to Grant for 8 yards and to Donte Moncrief for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Jaguars.

New England went 3 and out when a 3rd and 1 run failed. The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 20. Bortles scrambled for 9 yards. On 1st and 15 from the Jacksonville 24, Bortles hit Cole for 22, Grant for 13, and O’Shaughnessy for 17 more. Bortles then went to Cole for a 24 yard touchdown as the Jaguars had the 14-0 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Patriots took over at their own 6 yard line and embarked on a staggering 16 play, 83 yard drive that took 8:20 off the clock. Yet on 1st and 10 from the 11, Brady threw a pair of incompletions sandwiched around a completion that went nowhere. Gostkowski hit the 29 yarder to get the Patriots on the board.

The Jaguars took over at their own 25 with 2:45 left in the half. On 3rd and 7 from their own 39, Bortles found Seferian-Jenkins for 8 yards. Bortles then hit Cole for gains of 17 and 14. With 14 seconds left in the half, the Jaguars faced 3rd and 3 at the New England 4. Bortles hit Seferian-Jenkins for the touchdown as the home crowd erupted. The Jaguars led 21-3 at halftime, but their fans knew there was still a long way to go.

The fans and to feel good when the Jaguars began the third quarter with a 15 play, 71 yard drive that consumed more than 7 minutes. The way to beat Tom Brady is to keep him off the field. Starting at their own 19, the Jaguars faced 3rd and 11 at their own 38. Bortles went to Cole for 22 yards. The drive eventually stalled at the New England 8 yard line, but Josh Lambo hit a 28 yard field goal to make it 24-3 Jaguars.

Jacksonville fumbled on their next series, and the Patriots took over at the Jacksonville 48. On 3rd and 6 from the 44, Brady ran for 10 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Brady hit Chris Hogan for the touchdown as the Patriots were within 24-10. Jacksonville went 3 and out and the Patriots got it back at their own 41. Brady found White for 27 yards. The fourth quarter began with the Patriots facing 2nd and 4 at the Jacksonville 26. After an incompletion, a short pass lost 2 yards. Gostkowski hit a 46 yard field goal to get the Patriots within 24-13.

The home crowd got lumps in their throats when from the Jacksonville 18, Bortles was intercepted. New England took over at the Jacksonville 25. The comeback was inevitable. Except this time Sacksonville came up big. On 3rd and 9, Brady was sacked and fumbled. The Jaguars recovered at their own 32. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Jaguars took over at their own 39. A short pass to Westbrook went for a 61 yard touchdown. The dagger was in. The Jaguars led 31-13.

The Patriots did get a 29 yard touchdown pass from Brady to Hogan with 3:45 to play to cut the gap to 11 points. The Jaguars took over at their own 16 and made sure Brady never saw the ball again. On 2nd and 16 from their own 10, Bortles went to Paul for 22 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Jacksonville 34, Bortles scrambled for 10 yards. With 1:11 to play the Jaguars faced 3rd and 3 near midfield. Rather than play it safe, Doug Marrone went bold. Bortles hit Grant for 5 yards.

The Jaguars got their revenge, and Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin seems to be the only guy in the NFL who can repeatedly figure out Bill Belichick. If these teams have another Tuna Bowl AFC Title Game with matching records, it will be in Jacksonville. Brady finished 24 of 35 for 234 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Bortles…yes that Bortles…finished 29 of 45 for 377 yards, 4 touchdowns, and one interception. Coughlin was so pleased at the win that he almost smiled. 31-20 Jaguars

  

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos — Since Jon Gruden left the Raiders after the 2001 Tuck Rule game, the Raiders have spent most of the last 16 years finding ways to lose games. Gruden was brought in to change that. In his first stint with the Raiders, he never went 0-2. After getting blown out at home, the Raiders traveled to arch-rival Denver, where Vance Joseph has inspired few people. Derek Carr was lights out. He completed 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards, one touchdown, and 0 interceptions. He had only 3 incompletions the whole game. The Broncos had 0 first downs and only 23 yards in the first quarter. They had only 3 first down by halftime. Would any of this mean anything?

After a touchback, Marshawn Lynch ran for a 6 yard gain and Carr hit Jordy Nelson for 23 yards. Like last week, the Raiders looked solid on their first drive. This time the Raiders failed to finish their first drive. On 3rd and 3 from the Denver 4, a short pass to Lynch lost 4 yards. Mike Nugent hit the 26 yard field goal for a 3-0 Raiders lead. The Raiders moved from their 29 to a 3rd and 3 at the Denver 21 with 12 minutes left in the half. Carr was sacked for a 7 yard loss. Nugent hit the 46 yard field goal to make it 6-0 Raiders.

From the Denver 25, Lindsey raced for a 53 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Oakland 18, Keenum thought he had a touchdown but instead was intercepted by Melvin at the one. Melvin returned it 15 yards to the Oakland 16. With 5 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Raiders took over at their own 25. Carr hit Jared Cook for 20 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Denver 44, Carr threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. From the Denver 34. Carr hit Cook for 20 yards. Lynch banged it in from the one as the Raiders led 12-0. Nugent missed the extra point. The Raiders dominated the first half yet only led by 12. How would they find ways to blow this game?

After a touchback to start the second half, Case Keenum hit Emanuel Sanders for 21 yards. Lindsay had gains of 5, 6 and 11. Freeman gained 14 more. On 3rd and 7 from the 15, it appeared the Raiders had held when a completion left the Broncos one long yard short of the sticks. Yet a mind-blowing unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Bruce Irvin after the play gave the Broncos 1st and goal at the 4. Then it it appeared Keenum had found Patrick for the touchdown. Yet despite the acrobatic catch, replay showed that Patrick did not secure the ball. On 3rd and goal at the one, Freeman got in. The Broncos were within 12-7, and it was the first of many examples where one stop would have changed the game.

The Raiders often fold in situations like this, but this time the offense responded well. After a touchback, Lynch gained 9 and Carr hit Cook for 5 more. Carr then went deep to Cooper for 30 yards. On 1st and 20 from the Denver 41, Carr went to Cooper for 20 and to Seth Roberts for the 20 yard touchdown. The Raiders led 19-7 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. It would take a lot of effort to blow this game.

On 2nd and 9 from the Denver 26, Keenum went deep to Sutton for a 42 yard gain. Jon Gruden challenged the completion, and the call was overturned. Replay clearly showed that the receiver did not get both feet inbounds. On 3rd and 3 from the Oakland 47, Keenum hit Sanders for 23 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Oakland 21, keen went deep to Sanders, who made an acrobatic touchdown catch. Yet on further review, the call was again reversed. Sanders had one foot just touch the white chalk in the end zone. The Raiders were getting every call of the officials, an unheard of occurrence. Brandon McManus did hit the 39 yard field goal but the Broncos still trailed by 2 scores. After three quarters, Denver was down 19-10. The Raiders still had time to screw things up.

After a touchback, the Raiders again moved the ball smartly. Lynch gained 8. On 3rd and 2 from their own 33, Carr hit Cooper for 13 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Denver 46, Carr hit Cooper for 4 yards as the third quarter ended. On 3rd and 3 from the Denver 35, Jalen Richard got the carry and came up inches short. A field goal would be about 51 yards. With 13 minutes left in the game, Gruden decided to go for it. This was the right decision. The play call was terrible.

5 years ago, the world saw what happens when you have Marshawn Lynch, need 6 inches, and decide to call a pass play. Derek Carr even joked that in that situation, the Raiders would hand the ball off. Jon Gruden summoned up his inner Pete Carroll and Darrell Bevell. Rather than use the battering ram to gain 6 inches, Gruden called a play action pass. It was a short pass, and it totally fooled the defense. Smith was so close to Carr that Carr could have practically handed it to him. Carr threw it right to him. Smith dropped it and the Raiders turned it over on downs. The inevitable then inevitably happened.

Keenum hit Butt for 22 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Oakland 38, Keenum gained 8 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Oakland 22, Freeman gained 7. On 3rd and 1 from the 6, Lindsay got 2 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Freeman got stopped. 6 minutes remained and the Broncos needed 2 scores. One stop would end the game. Vance joseph decided to go for it. On 4th and goal at the one, Joseph decided not to get too cute by half like Gruden did. Keenum took the sneak and barely got in. The Broncos were within 19-17, and the earlier missed extra point was looming large.

The Raiders have no idea how to close out games, and they ended one more meltdown or stupid mistake to lose the game. After a touchback, Carr hit Roberts for 10 yards. With 3 1/2 minutes left on 3rd and 1 from the Oakland 45, Lyn ch got the carry and got the yard. With 2:55 to play and the Raiders with 2nd and 4 at the Denver 48, a false start made life tougher. On 3rd and 8, Carr completed a pass for only 3 yards. Denver got the ball back at their own 20 with 1:58 to play and 0 timeouts. Could the Raiders actually get a stop?

An offensive holding penalty and an incompletion had the Broncos facing 2nd and 20 at their own 10. Keenum went deep to sanders for a 21 yard gain. Keenum then went to Butt for 14 more. With 26 seconds to play, the Broncos faced 3rd and 3 at the Oakland 48. Keenum hit Heuerman for a 4 yard gain, and naturally Heuerman got out of bounds. After an incompletion, 18 seconds remained. From the Oakland 44, one more stop was

all the Raiders needed. With everything on the line, a short pass from Keenum to Patrick saw a defensive breakdown and a 26 yard gain. With 10 seconds left, McManus came in to try and win it. Rather than a 62 yarder, he was only attempting a 36 yarder.

On a day of various kicker meltdowns throughout the league, McManus of course nailed his field goal. He almost missed it, but snuck it inside the right upright. McManus also did not miss any exit points. Despite only 3 incompletions, Carr again saw his team let him down. A receiver dropping a pass from close range. A mindless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. A defensive breakdown on the final offensive play. A horrendously bad coaching decision. Jones Gruden is now an 0-2 coach $50 million per loss. 20-19 Broncos

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys is the Sunday night game. Last week both of these teams lost in ugly fashion. They played another ugly game. It started beautiful for Dallas. A 64 yard bomb from Dak Prescott to Tavon Austin made it 7-0 Cowboys. Maher tacked on a 37 yard field goal in the first quarter and a 29 yarder in the third quarter to lead 13-0. Rosas hit a 28 yarder for the Giants, who trailed 13-3 after three quarters. Any chance for suspense ended in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys mounted a suffocating 14 play, 82 yard drive that consumed 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. Ezekiel Elliott ran for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 20-3 Cowboys.

The Giants tried to rally, moving 75 yards in 11 plays. Eli Manning hit Evan Engram for an 18 yard touchdown to get the Giants within 20-10. The Giants got it back, and needing 2 scores, opted for a 38 yard Rosas field goal try. With 11 seconds left, the kick was good. The onside kick was far from good, kicked out of bounds to end this game that deserves no further elaboration. 20-13 Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears was the Monday night game. With Brian Urlacher in attendance to have his name put in the Bears ring of honor, the Bears honored him in the first half with inspired defense. Russell Wilson was sacked 5 times. Khalil Mack forced another fumble. The only thing keeping the Seahawks in the game was their defense intercepting Mitchell Trubisky twice. In the first quarter the Bears moved 96 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Trubisky hit Burton for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bears. The rest was defense. In the second quarter a 12 play, 5 1/2 minute drive led to a 25 yard Cody Parkey field goal to make it 10-0 Bears. The Seahawks finally got on the board on the last play of the half when Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 56 yard field goal with plenty to spare.

In the third quarter the Seahawks ran 6 plays for one yard, giving them 80 yards through three quarters. The Bears mounted a 66 play, 11 yard, 6 minute drive. The fourth quarter began with a 10 yard touchdown from Trubisky to Anthony Miller. It was far from pretty, but the Bears led 17-3. The Seahawks finally got going, moving 75 yards in 11 plays. Aided by a defensive pass interference penalty, the Seahawks reached the red zone. Wilson threw a gorgeous rainbow to Tyler Lockett, who was well defended but came down with it for a 19 yard touchdown. The Seahawks were within 17-10 with over 10 minutes left in regulation. Seattle got it back and had a chance to tie the game. Yet with 6 1/2 minutes left, the Bears defense put the dagger in. A sideline pass by Wilson saw Prince Amukamara jump the route at midfield, race down the sideline, juke a defender at the 20, and glide into the end zone for the clinching touchdown. Wilson did throw a touchdown to will Dissly with 14 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late. Matt Nagy got his first win as an NFL head coach. 24-17 Bears

eric

NFL 2018 Week 2 Prequel

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 2 Prequel

NFL 2018 Week 2 Preview and Bettor’s Guide

NFL 2018 Week 1 Recap

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 1 Recap

After 7 months, the agony known as the offseason was over. Real football was back. A few hours before the season started, sad news broke that Burt Reynold had died at age 82. He was more than just “The Bandit” from “Smokey and the Bandit.” He played running back for the Florida State Seminoles before becoming an actor. He played quarterback Paul Crewe in the football movie “The Longest Yard.” He loved football and we loved him.

With that, here is the NFL 2018 Week 1 Recap.

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles was the Thursday night game. The defending Super Bowl champions barely survived a 15-10 playoff slugfest last year. The rematch was also in Philadelphia. Carson went was still injured, so Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles got the start. The Vince Lombardi Trophy was hoisted by Jeffrey Lurie after a rousing introduction by 2018 Hall of Fame enshrinee Brian Dawkins. After a 30 minute delay due to lightning, the 2018 regular season began and men played football.

The Falcons won the toss, and the first play from scrimmage was a false start. The offense then moved forward easily. Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for 10 yards and Devonta Freeman ran for 20 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Philly 39, Ryan went deep to Jones for a 33 yard gain. On 2nd and goal from the one, Freeman got stopped. Ryan then threw incomplete. Dan Quinn decided to go for it on 4th and goal at the one. Freeman ran off tackle and lost a yard as the Eagles celebrated the goal line stand. The Eagles quickly went 3 and out on their first possession, and the Falcons got it back at the Atlanta 44. On 3rd and 5, Matty Ice scrambled for 6 yards. A perfectly executed screen pass from Ryan to Tevin Coleman went for 26 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Ryan was sacked but offsides gave the Falcons another chance. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Ryan threw incomplete. Matt Bryant hit the 21 yard field goal for a 3-0 Falcons lead.

Early in the second quarter a field position game had the Eagles taking over at their own 40 yard line. On 3rd and 7, Nick Foles hit Nelson Agholor for 10 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Atlanta 17, Foles threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the 9. Offensive holding on the next play killed the drive. Jake Elliott hit the 26 yard field goal. The 14 play drive took 8 minutes off the clock to move 52 yards for a 3-3 tie with 6 minutes left in the half. After a touchback, Ryan hooked up with Jones for a 22 yard gain. Roughing the passer had the Falcons facing 3rd and 8 at the Philly 25. Ryan was sacked to kill the drive. Bryant nailed a 52 yard field goal to make it 6-3 Falcons with just over 2 minutes left in the half.

The Falcons missed a chance to extend the lead in the third quarter on a very controversial call. From the Atlanta 32, Ryan went deep to Jones for a 52 yard gain. Although Jones juggled the ball, it appeared that he maintained control just before going out of bounds. Officials called it an incomplete pass, and Dan Quinn’s challenge was unsuccessful. The Eagles got it back at their own 37. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 41, Doug Pederson went to the bag of tricks just as he did during the Super Bowl. Foles pitched the ball, and it was then pitched to Nelson Agholor, who lobbed a pass to Foles for a 15 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Atlanta 24, Foles did it the traditional way with an 18 yard completion to Zac Ertz. Jay Ajayi banged in from one yard out for the game’s first touchdown and a 10-6 Eagles lead with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

The game took another turn very late in the third quarter. The Falcons punted, and a bunch of Falcons players were around the ball as it was rolling to a stop. Somehow the ball hit the foot of the only Eagles player in the vicinity. Had any of the Falcons players touched it first, the Eagles could try and touch it without any downside. However, since it bounced off the Eagles player first, it became a live ball. The Falcons recovered at the Eagles 30 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter. On 3rd and 5 from the 25 on the first play of the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan was sacked to the brink of outside field goal range. That was the blunder that cost the Falcons the Super Bowl two years ago. Yet this time the Eagles jumped offside, giving the Falcons another first down. It didn’t matter. On 3rd and 3 from the 15, Ryan fired to the corner and was intercepted by Douglas at the four yard line with 13 minutes left in regulation.

On 3rd and 1 from their own 13, Agholor got around the end for a 16 yard gain. On the next play Foles fired to Goedert. The pass was right in Goedert’s bread basket, but Goedert got blasted and the ball popped right into the arms of Deion Jones. Jones returned the interception 20 yards to the Philly 27. Ryan then went to Julio jones for an 18 yard gain. Coleman then went straight up the gut for a 9 yard touchdown. The extra point was doinked off the upright as the Falcons clung to a 12-10 lead with 10 minutes left.

An exchange of punts favored the Eagles when a facemark against Atlanta on the return gave the Eagles the ball at their own 46 with 5 minutes to play. On 3rd and 8, Foles hit Darren Sproles for a 9 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 35, Clement went off-tackle for a 21 yard gain. Two plays later Ajayi ran for a 11 yard touchdown. Ajayi bulled in for the 2 point conversion to give the Eagles a 6 point lead with 2:19 to play.

After a touchback and a 6 yard gain, the Falcons raced to get off one more play before the 2 minute warning. Ryan got the snap off just in time and fired a laser over the middle to Jones. Jones split the seam and raced for a 36 yard gain to the Philly 33 with 1:54 left. A sack of Ryan left the Falcons facing 3rd and 17. Matty Ice calmly found Jones for an 18 yard gain at the Philly 22. Every play was a roller coaster. Ryan hit Jones for 9 but on 2nd and 1 took another sack for a 7 yard loss. On 3rd and 8 from the Philly 20, Ryan went to Mohammed San for a 10 yard gain as the Falcons called timeout with 24 seconds left.

Last year in the playoffs the Falcons had 4 chances from inside the 10 yard line. The Eagles held on defense en route to winning it all. This time the Falcons had 1st and goal at the 10. Ryan threw four straight incompletions, but this time the Falcons would get a 5th chance. On 4th and goal from the 10, illegal contact gave the Falcons 1st and goal at the 5 with one second left. Ryan threw a fade to Jones, who was well defended. Jones caught the ball, but was pushed out of bounds in the air. There is no longer a force out rule, so it was another incompletion. This time there were no flags. Again, the Eagles survived an old-time headknocker with the Falcons that came down to one play. It would be very good for the NFL if the remaining 255 regular season games are as exciting at the finish as this one. 18-12 Eagles

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens — The Bills broke the NFL’s longest current playoff drought last year by eking into the postseason for the first time in 18 years with a 9-7 record. They appeared to be on the rise, and Baltimore was a team on the decline. Then the 2018 season started. Nathan Peterman started the game. He was the quarterback who threw five interceptions in the first half of a game he did not play in after halftime. This game was just as bad. Peterman finished 5 of 18 for 24 yards and 2 interceptions. This game was over from the start.

The Ravens marched 80 yards in 10 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Collins ran for an 8 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Ravens lead. Baltimore got it back and moved 66 yards in 10 plays. Joe Flacco hit Brown for a 7 yard touchdown. The Ravens led 14-0 after the first quarter and the rout was on.

In the second quarter a 51 yard punt return set up the Ravens at the Buffalo 20. Justin Tucker hit a 41 yard field goal to make it 17-0 Ravens. The Bills would recover a Baltimore fumble at the Baltimore 35. The Bills gained one yard and missed a field goal. With the Bills facing 3rd and 8 at their own 18, Peterman found Jefferson. Jefferson plays defense for the Ravens, and he returned the interception 15 yards to the Buffalo 29. Tucker hit from 39 for a 20-0 Ravens lead. With 2:48 left in the half, the Ravens took over at their own 15. Flacco worked the two minute drill perfectly. With seconds left in the half, he hit Michael Crabtree for a 12 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion try failed, which was the only thing Ravens fans could complain about as the Ravens took a 26-0 lead into the locker rooms.

For some reason the second half was played. League rules required this. In the third quarter the Bills fumbled the snap on a punt, and the Ravens took over at the Buffalo 14. Flacco hit Will Snead for a 13 yard touchdown and a 33-0 Ravens blowout. With the Bills facing 3rd and 11 at their own 26, Peterman found Carr. Carr also plays defense for Baltimore. Carr returned the interception 32 yards down to the Buffalo one yard line. Allen got in on the next play to make it 40-0 Ravens after three quarters.

Allen came in for Peterman, who has never finished an NFL game. In his three starts, Peterman was injured once and got benched twice. Allen moved the Bills to a 1st and goal at the 3. He was sacked. On 3rd and goal at the 5, he was sacked for a 12 yard loss. To avoid the shutout, Sean McDermott opted for the field goal. It was good. On the other sideline, Flacco came into the season knowing he would eventually be replaced by rookie Lamar Jackson. John Harbaugh did bench Flacco, but only because the Ravens led by 40 points. Jackson got his first NFL action under the best possible circumstances. On 3rd and 15 from the Baltimore 46, Jackson found Williams for 24 yards and ran for 16 more. Dixon ran for the 2 yard touchdown to complete the blowout. Flacco finished 25 of 34 for 236 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. 47-3 Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns — The Browns finished 1-15 two years ago and 0-16 last year. The Steelers finished 13-3 last year. Even with LeVeon holding out, the Steelers were expected to extend their winning over the pathetic Charlie Browns. As ESPN uber-announcer reminds us, “THAT’s why they PLAY the games.”

The first quarter was scoreless. The Steelers had one drive that began at midfield and moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Cleveland 18. Ben Roethlisberger was then intercepted at the 10. The Steelers got it back at their own 12. On the last play of the first quarter on 3rd and 2 from their own 20, Roethlisberger hit James for 37 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Cleveland 39, Big Ben ran for a 15 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Cleveland 8, Roethlisberger threw incomplete. However, a roughing the passer penalty kept the drive going. In place of Bell was Connor. Connor ran for a 4 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Steelers lead.

After a touchback the Browns moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Pittsburgh 33. Josh Gordon took an unnecessary toughness penalty to push the Browns out of field goal range. The Steelers got it back at their own 12. Roethlisberger went for it all but was intercepted at the Cleveland 28. The Steelers got it back at their own 9 and moved to the Cleveland 37. Roethlisberger was intercepted for the third time in the half. Ward returned it 26 yards to the Pittsburgh 45. A run lost 6 yards. On the last play of the half Tyrod Taylor never got to launch the Hail Mary. He was sacked again and fumbled. The Browns defense was keeping them in the game as they only trailed 7-0 at halftime.

The Browns appeared in deep trouble to start the third quarter when a sack of Taylor had the Browns facing 2nd and 20 at their own 4 yard line. On the next play, defensive holding kept the drive going. Hue Jackson employed something called the run and run offense. Carlos Hyde carried the ball 5 straight times. Then Chubb carried it twice for 5 and 17 yards. After Johnson got stopped, the ninth straight carry was Taylor scrambling for a 20 yard touchdown. Now the game was tied 7-7.

The Steelers took over at their own 26 and again Roetlisberger went for the bomb. He hit Juju Smith-Schuster for a 67 yard gain. On 2nd and goal at the 2, a touchdown was nullified by offensive holding. On 2nd and goal at the 12, another touchdown was nullified by offensive illegal use of hands. On 2nd and goal at the 22, Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown for the touchdown. This time it stood as the Steelers led 14-7. The Browns punted, and Ryan Switzer returned it 20 yards to the Cleveland 39. Conner ran for 17 and then for a 22 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Steelers led 21-7 after three quarters. This was another game where the Browns hung around for awhile but eventually got dominated.

Not this time. A key decision came with 12:15 to play. The Steelers faced 4th and 6 at the Cleveland 34. Mike Tomlin opted against a 52 yard field goal try that would have pretty much salted the game away. Rather than go for it, he opted to punt and play field position. Midway through the fourth quarter, on 4th and 5 from the Pittsburgh 18, Taylor threw incomplete. The Browns appeared dead. On the next play, Connor fumbled and Jabril Peppers picked it up. Peppers ran 16 yards down to the Pittsburgh one yard line. Hyde got in and the Browns were within 21-14.

Two plays later from the Pittsburgh 45, Roethlisberger was sacked and fumbled. The Browns took over at the Pittsburgh 37. The Steelers held on defense and punted it back. Peppers returned the punt 15 yards to the Cleveland 45 with 2:10 to play. Taylor went deep to Higgins for 38 yards and then threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon. At the 2 minute warning, the Dawg Pound was in a frenzy as the game was tied 21-21.

The Browns took their final timeout on defense as they held again and got the ball back. With 23 seconds left they were at the Pittsburgh 43. A few more yards would mean very long field goal range. Instead Taylor went for it all and was intercepted. The game was headed to overtime. Surely the Browns would find a way to lose. In overtime the Browns punted twice and the Steelers punted once, with a short 29 yard punt giving the Steelers the ball at their own 45 with 4 1/2 minutes left in overtime. With 1:47 left in overtime, Chris Boswell came in for a 42 yarder to win it for the Steelers.

No good! The Browns were still alive. The offense again did nothing and the Steelers got the ball back. With 48 seconds left from the Pittsburgh 38, Roethlisberger was sacked and fumbled. The Browns recovered at the Pittsburgh 24. After a safe run lost a yard, Gonzalez came in for a 43 yard field goal try to win it for the Browns. 13 seconds remained. Blocked! The kick was blocked, and the game ended in a tie. The Browns did not win, but they did not lose. They tied. They will win some games this season. Steelers fans will probably burn Mike Tomlin in effigy, because they always tend to overreact when it comes to Tomlin. As for the Browns, we will know in a few weeks if this tie game meant anything. They showed a ton of heart in overcoming a 14 point fourth quarter deficit. There would be no Pittsburgh Rosh Hashanah Jew New Years miracles, and Ben Roethlisberger and Juju Smith-Schuster are still not Jewish. 21-21 tie, OT

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts — These two teams have both fallen on hard times. Both quarterbacks begin the season reinvigorated. Red Rifle Andy Dalton is clearly entrenched as the starter. Andrew Luck is finally back from injury after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury. Early on it was the kickers taking center stage. Randy Bullock hit a 42 yarder for the Bengals. Ageless wonder Adam Vinatieri hit a 21 yarder for the Colts for a 3-3 game after the first quarter.

In the second quarter Luck passed the Colts into a 10-3 lead with a 26 yard touchdown pass to Eric Ebron. The Colts got it back and had their second consecutive 58 yard drive. Vinatieri hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 13-3 Colts with 3 minutes left in the half. After a touchback, the Bengals soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Joe Mixon ran for a 27 yard gain. A 36 yard defensive pass interference penalty put the ball on the 3 yard line. From there Dalton fired to John Ross for the touchdown as the Bengals were within 13-10 with 1:44 left in the half.

That was enough time for Luck to move the Colts from their own 24 to the Cincinnati 33 with 6 seconds left. Vinatieri drilled a 51 yard field goal as the Colts led 16-10 at the break. After an exchange of punts in the third quarter, the Colts took over at their own 40. Luck fired to Grant for 12 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Concy 32, Luck went to Ebron for 12. On 3rd and 4 from the Cincy 14, Luck went to Doyle for 9. luck then found TY Hilton for the 5 yard touchdown. The Colts had a 23-10 lead and were looking good. Then the game completely changed.

After a touchback, the Bengals soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 40. Dalton scrambled for 7 yards. He then went deep to AJ Green for a 38 yard touchdown to get the Bengals within 23-17 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. After a touchback, the Colts moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Cincinnati 29. A sack of Luck had first year head coach Frank Reich with a big decision to make. Reich gambled on a 55 yard field goal to give the Colts some breathing room. Vinatieri is the most clutch kicker of all time, but this one was no good as the third quarter ended.

The Bengals took over at their own 45. On 3rd and 15 from the Indy 47, Dalton threw incomplete. However, defensive pass interference gave the Bengals 8 yards and a new set of downs. On the next play, a horse collar tackle tacked on 15 more yards. Dalton then hit Mixon for 15 more to the 9 yard line. On 3rd and goal at the one, Mixon got the yard. With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Bengals had a 24-23 lead.

The Colts went 3 and out and the Bengals took over at their own 21. An 11 play, 6 minute drive had the Bengals facing 3rd and 8 at the Indy 43. Dalton hit Boyd for a 17 yard gain. Despite 1st and 10 at the Indy 21, the drive went no further. Bullock hit a 39 yard field goal. With 4 minutes left, the Bengals had a 27-23 advantage.

Luck had the ball, and was intent on leading a heroic comeback in his return. A pair of incompletions after a touchback had the Colts facing 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Luck found Doyle for 12 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Indy 45, Luck hit Rogers for 7 yards. With 1:10 to play, the Colts had 1st and 10 at the Cincy 25. A short pass actually lost 5 yards. With 40 seconds left, the Colts faced 3rd and 15 from the Cincy 30. Then came the play of the game. Luck found Doyle for 15 yards. It would have been 1st and 10 from the 15 with 4 shots at the end zone. Instead Doyle fumbled and Fejedelem recovered. Making matters worse, Fejedelem raced the other way for an 83 yard defensive touchdown in front of a shellshocked home crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Both quarterbacks finished with 2 touchdowns and one interception. Luck finished 39 of 53 for 319 yards passing. Dalton was 21 of 28 for 243 yards. Yet 24 unanswered points including 17 in the fourth quarter gave the Bengals the win. For Marvin, Lewis, who after 17 years seems on the hot seat in Cincinnati every week, it was a positive start to the season. 34-23 Bengals

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins — This was a game that belonged to the elements. Twice the game was suspended due to severe lightning storms in the Miami area. The weather was miserable, and so are these two incredibly boring teams. In the first quarter Ryan Succop hit a 37 yard field goal to get the Titans on the board. In the second quarter the Dolphins mounted a 98 yard drive. Ryan Tannehill hit Kenny Stills for a 10 yard touchdown pass and a 7-3 Dolphins halftime lead. After a nearly 2 1/2 hour delay midway through the third quarter, Mariota threw his second interception and left the game with an elbow injury. Nothing make a game thrilling like Blaine Gabbert, who finished the game. For those who prefer boxing, tempers flared and fights broke out throughout the game. Meanwhile. Sanders hit a 27 yard field goal as the Dolphins led 10-3 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the weather calmed down and the action finally picked up. In fact, it got downright exciting.

First the Titans moved 75 yards. Lewis ran for a 4 yard touchdown for a 10-10 tie. 13 seconds later the Dolphins had the lead again as Grant returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins got the ball back at their own 11 Tannehill quickly hooked up with Kenny Stills for a 75 yard touchdown and a 24-10 Dolphins lead. 11 seconds later the Titans were back within 24-17 when Jennings returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a score with 10 minutes left in regulation.

The rest of the game turned into a battle of who wanted it least. With 9 minutes left and the Dolphins facing 3rd and 15 at their own 20, Tannehill went deep and was intercepted. The Titans took over at their own 43. On 2rd and 4 from the Miami 41, Gabbert was intercepted by Jones, who returned it 54 yards to the Tennessee 12 with 6 minutes left. With less than 4 minutes left, Sanders hit a 30 yard field goal to make it 27-17 Dolphins. With 3:11 to play, on 4th and 7 from the Tennessee 43, Gabbert threw incomplete. Tennessee got it back at their own 20 with 1:07 to play and 0 timeouts. Needing 2 scores, Succop drilled a 53 yard field goal to get the Titans back within 7 points. Only 11 seconds remained. The onside kick failed. Mike Vrabel had a loss in his NFL coaching debut as Miami got the win. 27-20 Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings — Last year the Minnesota Vikings were one game away from playing the Super Bowl in their own city and their own stadium. They had three quality quarterbacks. Mike Zimmer traded them all and paid a king’s ransom to Kirk Cousins to get them over the hump. The 49ers started last year 1-10 before Tom Brady’s former backup Jimmy Garoppollo became a rock star in a 5-0 finish down the stretch. Garoppollo can play, but a road game against one of the league’s stingiest defense would be a good starting measuring stick. Zimmer’s defense came out ready.

In the first quarter Carlson hit a 48 yard field goal to get the Vikings on the board first. A field position game had the Vikings beginning the second quarter with a 3rd and 3 at the San Francisco 46. Cousins found Cook for 17 yards and Sean Diggs for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 49ers. Robbie Gould did hit a 42 yard field goal for the 49ers, but after that the defenses took over for the rest of the half. The 49ers recovered a Minnesota fumble at their own 29. They then embarked on an 8 minute drive. Yet on 2nd and goal at the one, Alfred Morris fumbled and the Vikings recovered. The Vikings moved from their own 2 to the San Francisco 44 with 6 seconds left in the half. Cousins was sacked before he could try the Hail Mary.

After an exchange of punts in the third quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd and 8 at their own 20. Garoppollo was intercepted by Hughes, who returned it 28 yards for a touchdown and a 17-3 Vikings lead. Garoppollo came right back after a touchback and went deep to Juszczyk for a 56 yard gain. Yet on 2nd and 6 from the Minnesota 15, Jimmy G threw incomplete twice. Gould hit from 33 to get the 49ers within 17-6. After a touchback, Cousins did what he was paid $84 million in guaranteed money to do. On 3rd and 5 from the Minnesota 41, Cousins went to Adam Thielen for a 34 yard gain. An 11 yard touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph had the 49ers dominating 24-6 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

Garoppollo tried to mount a rally. He threw a 22 yard touchdown pass to Pettis to get the 49ers within 24-13 after three quarters. The 49ers started the fourth quarter at their own 31. Garoppollo was quickly intercepted again, but the 49ers held on defense. The 49ers moved from their 14 to a 3rd and goal at the 4 with a little over 8 minutes to play in the game. Garoppollo threw incomplete. Needing 2 scores, Kyle Shanahan opted for the field goal. Gould hit the 22 yarder and the 49ers were within 8 points. With 1:45 to play and the 49ers at their own 11, Garoppollo went deep and was intercepted again. Cousins finished 20 of 36 for 244 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Garoppollo had a rough outing, going 15 of 33 for 261 yards, one touchdown, and 3 interceptions. The Vikings believed coming into the season that they were now a complete team. Time will tell, but on this day they were. 24-16 Vikings

Houston Texans at New England Patriots — Bill O’Brien frequently goes 9-7 and sees his squad get blasted by the Patriots. With a healthy DeShaun Watson back in the lineup, this was the best chance the Texans would have to be more than New England’s punching bag. The Patriots were supposedly a group in a dysfunctional state, with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski angry at Bill Belichick’s dictatorial ways. Ignore the gossip. It was business as usual.

In a surprising turn of events, New England came out with 3 straight running plays. They went 3 and out and the Texans took over at their own 22. Watson’s first snap out of the shotgun was a fumbled snap recovered by the Patriots at the Houston 19. On 3rd and 12, Brady went to Gronkowski for a 21 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Patriots. Later on the Patriots faced 3rd and 6 at their own 10. Brady was intercepted by Mathieu give the Texans a golden opportunity with 1st and 10 at the New England 17. On 3rd and 10, Watson was sacked. Fairbairn hit the 42 yard field goal to get the Texans on the board, but it was a moral victory for New England. The Patriots moved 75 yards and began the second quarter with a 4th and 1 at the Houston 25. Belichick went for it and Brady snuck for 2 yards. Brady threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to White to make it 14-3 Patriots.

From the Houston 37, the Texans again moved into the red zone. From the New England 15, Watson was sacked again to stop the threat. Fairbairn hit from 36 to get the Texans within 14-6. With 5 1/2 minutes left in the half from the New England 42, Watson went for it all and was intercepted in the end zone. With 90 seconds left in the half of a reasonably close game, the Patriots did what they have done throughout their 18 year dynasty. They delivered the kill shot. Hill ran for gains of 8 and 11. Brady went deep to Gronkowski for 28 yards. Ronny bulkhead fumbled, but the Patriots retained possession when Chris Hogan fell on it. Brady hit Dorsett for 12, 14 and then for the 4 yard touchdown. With a 21-6 halftime lead, the Patriots coasted.

In the third quarter Gronkowski fumbled and the Texans took over at their own 45. However, on 4th and 5 from the New England 17, Bill O’Brien went for it and Watson threw incomplete. Stephen Gostkowski would hit a 39 yard field goal to give the Patriots a 24-6 lead. With Watson struggling, Houston got its ground game going. Alfred Blue ran for 17 and 11 and Miller tacked on gains of 5 and 6. Blue ran for a one yard touchdown as the Texans trailed 24-13 after three quarters. New England then held the ball for 7 minutes on a 13 play drive. Gostkowski hit a 35 yard field goal with 10 minutes left for a 27-13 Patriots lead.

With 4 1/2 minutes left the Patriots fumbled a punt and the Texans recovered at the New England 16. Watson hit Ellington for a 5 yard touchdown with 2:08 to play. The Texans used their timeouts and held on defense, but a perfect punt pinned the Texans back at their own one yard line with only 43 seconds to play. With 5 seconds left from the Houston 43, Watson’s Hail Mary was incomplete. Bill Belichick won his 251st game to move into third place all time, one win ahead of Tom Landry. Yet Belichick will probably complain about how his team slept through the second half and played poorly. They won, which will not satisfy him in the slightest. That is why he wins. 27-20 Patriots

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints — This was supposed to be a tuneup for the Saints, who last year were one Minneapolis Miracle away from the NFC Title Game. The Buccaneers were a dumpster fire and Jameis Winston was suspended the first 3 games. Sean Payton and Drew Brees were expected to steamroll Tampa Bay easily. Again, cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman. “THAT’S why they PLAY the games.” The Saints made it look easy at the start from their own 29. Brees connected with Alvin Kamara for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Tampa 5, Kamara ran it in for a 7-0 Saints lead. The backup quarterback for the Buccaneers looks like a homeless person, but it is actually Ryan Fitzpatrick and his magic beard. Fitzpatrick can actually play football. The Buccaneers took over at their own 32. From their 42, Fitzpatrick went deep to DeSean Jackson for a 58 yard touchdown and a 7-7 ballgame.

The Saints moved 11 plays in over 5 minutes from their 25 to a 3rd and 3 at the Tampa 17. Brees threw incomplete. Wil Lutz hit the 36 yard field goal for a 10-7 Saints lead. After a touchback, Barber ran for 23 yards and again for 12 more. Fitzpatrick then hit Godwin for16 yards and to Mike Evans for 21 more. Fitzpatrick got the last 3 yards himself as the Buccaneers led 14-10 after a wild first quarter of a game that was just heating up. From the Saints 26, Brees hit Ted Ginn for 9 yards and Thomas for 35 more. On the first play of the second quarter, Brees went deep to Ginn for a 28 yard touchdown and a 17-14 Saints lead. After a touchback, Fitzpatrick hit Godwin for 16. On 3rd and 4 from their own 47, Fitzpatrick went to Howard for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 15, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete. Chandler Catanzaro hit the 33 yard field goal for a 17-17 ballgame.

The Saints went 3 and out after a sack of Brees and the Bucs soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 30. Fitzpatrick put on a clinic, hitting Evans for 12, Howard for 19, and Evans again for 15. On 3rd and 6 from the 9, Fitzpatrick went to Godwin for the touchdown and the 24-17 Buccaneers lead. The Saints took over at their own 32 and disaster struck immediately. Mike Gillislee fumbled and Evans returned it 34 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 31-17 Buccaneers lead. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the half, Brees went to work. He hit Kamara for 18 yards and again for 23 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Tampa 6, Brees hit Thomas for the touchdown with one minute left in the half. The Saints and their pinball offense had put up 24 points. Their supposedly fixed defense was not expecting a Buccaneers pinball offense led by Fitzpatrick to put up 31 points.

In the third quarter the Buccaneers kept rolling. This was not the ugly Buc Ball of defense bailing out the offense. This was offense scoring at will. Fitzpatrick hit Evans and Jackson for a pair of 10 yard gains. From the Saints 36, Fitzpatrick went deep to Evans for a 32 yard gain with roughing the passer making 1st and goal at the 2. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete and an unnecessary roughness penalty on the offense meant 4th and goal at the 18. Catanzaro hit the 36 yard field goal to make it 34-24 Buccaneers. Later in the third quarter, the Buccaneers took over at their own 26. Fitzpatrick went to Humphries 20 yards. On 3rd and 6 from midfield, Fitzpatrick went deep to Evans for the 50 yard touchdown. After three quarters the Buccaneers had a 41-24 lead.

The third quarter was ending with the Saints at their own 44. Brees hit Thomas for a 19 yard gain but fumbled the ball away. The Buccaneers took over at their own 35. The bucs faced 3rd and 4 at their own 41 to start the fourth quarter Fitzpatrick hit Evans for 7 yards. On 3rd and 9 just shy of midfield, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete but defensive pass interference gave the buccaneers 15 yards. On the next play Fitzpatrick went deep to Jackson for a 36 yard touchdown. In front of a stunned home crowd, the Buccaneers led 48-24 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Saints still had Brees.

After a touchback Brees hit Carr for 9 and Watson for gains of 6 and 21. Unnecessary roughness on the next play tacked on 15 more yards. On 4th and 4 from the Tampa 13, Brees hit Watson for 6. On 3rd and goal at the one, Kamara got in. Kamara ran in the 2 point conversion to get the Saints within 48-32 with 9 minutes left. Tampa Bay moved from their 25 to a 4th and 3 at the Saints 26. Catanzaro came in for a 44 yard field goal try to ice the game. The kick was no good with 5 minutes left, and the Saints clung to life. From the Saints 34, Brees hit Thomas for 13, Ginn for 16, Thomas for 21 and 9, and Kamara for the 7 yard touchdown. Brees hit Ginn for another successful 2 point conversion. With 3 1/2 minutes left, the Saints were within 8 points.

With 2:42 to play and the Saints out of timeouts, everything came down to the Bucs facing 3rd and 11 at their own 24. One more stop and Brees would get the ball back. Fitzpatrick scrambled for 12 yards and then took 3 knees. Brees finished a ridiculous 37 of 45 for 439 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Somehow the Saints lost. Fitzpatrick was a red hot 21 of 28 for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns, also with 0 interceptions. Jameis Winston may not get his job back if Fitzpatrick and his magic beard keep playing like this. Meanwhile, somebody needs to give Brees a defense. When you put up 40 points and lose, the offense is not the problem. 48-40 Buccaneers

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants — This was the first Captain Grumpy Bowl, as Tom Coughlin came back to try and beat the team that forced him out a couple of years ago. The Jaguars made the AFC Title Game last year while the Giants were a 2-14 mess. This was the first game for Pat Shurmur as Giants head coach. As expected, it was a fairly ugly game with plenty of defense. The field goal kickers did most of the work. Josh Lambo hit a 39 yarder for the Jaguars, and Alex Rosas responded from 27 for a 3-3 game. In the second quarter Lambo hit again from 39. The Jaguars got it back and moved 57 yards. Blake Bortles threw a one yard touchdown pass to TJ Yeldon for a 13-3 Jaguars lead. Rosas hit from 31 and in the third quarter from 44 as the Giants trailed 13-9 after three quarters.

With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Eli Manning was intercepted by Myles Jack, who returned it 32 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 20-9 Jaguars lead. The Giants came back two plays later when rookie running back Saquon Barkley raced for a 68 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Giants were within 5 points. Both defenses dug in for the rest of the game and the Giants were down to their final chance. The Jaguars punted on 4th and 6 from their own 40 with 54 seconds left. The punt was fumbled, the Jaguars recovered, and the Giants were done. Tom Coughlin was so pleased at the win that he almost smiled. 20-15 Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers — Every year the Chargers are a trendy pick, and every year they disappoint. With Joey Bosa out with an injured foot, the the Chargers were expected to rely on Philip Rivers to do everything as usual. Patrick Mahomes started his first NFL game in last year’s season finale, a win. The Chiefs have some serious playmakers, and special teams started the scoring. Tyreeq Hill took a punt back 91 yards to the house for a 7-0 Chiefs lead. The Chargers did get on the board with a 45 yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis, but the Chiefs had too much firepower. Mahomes hooked up with Hill on a 58 yard touchdown for a 14-3 Chiefs lead.

The Chargers tried to make a game of it. Sturgis hit a 39 yarder to get the Chargers to within 14-6. In the second quarter the Chargers got it back at their own 4 yard line and mounted a 12 play, 96 yard, 6 minute drive. Rivers hit Green for 15 and Melvin Gordon for 25. On the ground Ekeler ran for 9 and Gordon for 11 more. Rivers hit Ekeler for a 13 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed bu the Chargers were within 14-12. The Chiefs then held the ball for 11 plays and 6 minutes. At the 2 minute warning Harrison Butker nailed a 46 yard field goal to put the Chiefs up 17-12 at halftime. The Chiefs missed a chance to extend the lead after moving from their own 10 to the Chargers 38 yard line. An offensive holding call pushed them out of long field goal range.

It was a temporary delay. The Chiefs moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes to start the second half. Mahomes hit Hill for 21 yards to start the drive and Kareem Hunt ran for gains of 7 and 5. From the Chargers 20, Mahomes found Sammy Watkins for 16 yards  and Thomas for the one yard touchdown to make it 24-12 Chiefs. The Chargers moved from their own 9 yard line to a 3rd and 4 at the Chiefs 26. Rivers was intercepted by Parker at the 14 yard line to kill the drive. On 3rd and 13 from their own 11, Mahomes went deep to Hill for 34 yards, to Conley for 15 more, and to Sherman for a 36 yard touchdown. This was not the dink and dunk West Coast Offense. Mahomes has a cannon of an arm, and the Chiefs led 31-12 after three quarters.

The Chargers tried to rally. Rivers hit Keenan Allen for a 20 yard touchdown to cap a 91 yard drive. Rivers hit Antonio Gates for the 2 point conversion to get the Chargers within 31-20 with 12 minutes remaining in regulation. The Chiefs went 3 and out and the Chargers were still alive. Then the Chargers fumbled the punt and the Chiefs were dead. The Chiefs recovered at the Chargers 2 yard line and on 3rd and goal at the one, Mahomes hit Hill for the touchdown. The Chiefs led 38-20 with 9 1/2 minutes left.

After a touchback, Rivers furiously led the Chargers back. On 4th and 2 from the Chiefs 27, Rivers hit Allen for 23 yards. On the next play Rivers hit Williams for a 4 yard touchdown. Again the 2 point try succeeded as Melvin Gordon ran it in. The Chargers were within 10 points with 5 minutes left. Anthony Lynn opted against an onside kick. Again the Chiefs went 3 and out. With 3 minutes left the Chargers moved from their own 14 to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 28 with 1:51 to play. Rivers threw incomplete twice and a short pass lost 2 yards. With 1:11 left and needing 2 scores, Anthony Lynn brought in Sturgis for a 48 yard field goal try. After that a successful onside kick would give the Chargers a chance to tie the game. They never got that chance. Sturgis missed, and the Chargers were done. New Year, different city, same Chargers. West Coast Offense guru Andy Reid now has a thoroughbred at quarterback, making Reid a most happy Walrus Lite. 38-28 Chiefs

Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals — Washington might be a team on the rise, but Arizona is definitely a team on the decline. With Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer retiring, new coach Steve Wilks is clearly presiding over a rebuilding team. Washington has a quarterback in Alex Smith and a running back in Adrian Peterson who both have a chip on their shoulders. After a scoreless first quarter, the levee broke and the Redskins blew the game open. Smith capped off an 80 yard, 11 play, 6 minute drive by hitting Thompson for a 13 yard touchdown to start the deluge. A 15 play, 73 yard, 9 minute drive was capped when Peterson got in from one yards out. The Redskins the moved 92 yards in 10 plays as Smith hit Reed for a 4 yard touchdown and a 21-0 Redskins lead at the intermission. The second half was a lifeless formality. Dustin Hopkins hit a 31 yard fourth quarter field goal for Washington, and Johnson prevented the shutout with a 2 yard garbage time touchdown run. The Redskins may not be that good, but the Cardinals are that bad. 24-6 Redskins

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers — Two years ago the Cowboys were supposed to be starting a new dynasty with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. That was two years ago. The Panthers have a new owner, but the same coach in Ron Rivera and quarterback in Cam Newton. The Panthers are about defense, and they brought it in this game. After a scoreless first quarter, a 30 yard punt return set the Panthers up at the Dallas 35. Newton ran for a 4 yard touchdown. Graham Gano tacked on a 27 yard field goal to end the half. A scoreless third quarter had the Panthers up 10-0 entering the fourth quarter. A 63 yard drive saw Newton hit Devon Funchess for gains of 15 and 14. The fourth quarter began with Arah running in from one yard out to make it 16-0 Panthers after the missed extra point. The Cowboys finally got on the board with a 4 yard touchdown run by Elliott and a successful 2 point conversion with 9 minutes left. With 2:18 left, on 4th and 10 from the Carolina 48, Prescott threw incomplete. With 1:39 left on 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 23, Prescott was sacked and fumbled. Suffocating defense got Carolina the win. 16-8 Panthers

Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos — 5 years ago these teams both made the Super Bowl. Since then Peyton Manning has retired, The Legion of Boom is no more. Richard Sherman has defected to archrival San Francisco and Kam Chancellor has retired, Gary Kubiak has retired, and Wade Phillips has gone on to the Los Angeles Rams. Nevertheless, these teams did play a far more exciting game than the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson and Case Keenum both threw 3 touchdown passes. Wilson was intercepted twice and Keenum was picked off 3 times in his first game with the Broncos. Wilson was 19 of 33 for 298 yards and Keenum was 25 of 39 of 329 yards. The stats were close, and so was the game.

Keenum’s first interception was returned 25 yards to the Denver 15. One play later Wilson hit Dissly for the touchdown and the 7-0 lead. After a touchback Keenum came back with a 29 yard touchdown to Lindsay for a 7-7 ballgame. Late in the first quarter the Seahawks took over at their own 5 yard line. Carson rushed for 24 yards and a short pass from Wilson to Dissly went for a 66 yard gain. The second quarter began with Seattle facing 1st and goal at the 5. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Wilson hit Brandon Marshall for the touchdown, but it was nullified for offensive pass interference on Marshall. Sebastian Janikowski is now with Seattle after 18 years in Silver and Black. Seabass hit the 35 yarder for a 10-7 Seahawks lead. After a touchback, Keenum came back and threw a 43 yard touchdown pass to Emanuel Sanders for a 14-10 Broncos lead. Denver got it back at their own 37 and Brandon McManus hit a 51 yard field goal to make it 17-10 Broncos.

The last 2 minutes of the half was wild. Just past the 2 minute warning, Janikowski came in for a 46 yard field goal to trim the lead. It was no good. Keenum quickly hit Sanders for a 31 yard gain to the Seattle 33. From the 26, Keenum was intercepted at the Seattle 18. With 37 seconds left in the half on 2nd and 1 from the Seattle 41, Wilson was sacked for a 22 yard loss. Pete Carroll let the clock run out.

In the third quarter a Seattle fumble had the Broncos set up at the Seattle 40. Keenum was immediately intercepted by McDougal, who returned it 39 yards to the Denver 41. On 3rd and 7 from the Denver 20, Wilson went deep to Marshall for the touchdown and the 17-17 tie.

With 3 minutes left in the third quarter and Seattle facing 3rd and 7 at their own 23, Wilson was intercepted again. Denver took over at the Seattle 35 and gained nothing. McManus bailed the Broncos out with a clutch 53 yard field goal to make it 20-17 Broncos after three quarters. After a touchback, the last play of the third quarter saw the Seahawks facing 3rd and 11 at their own 34. Wilson hit Marshall for 15 yards. The fourth quarter began with Wilson going deep to Tyler Lockett for a 51 yard touchdown and a 24-20 Seahawks lead.

After a touchback, Lindsay ran for gains of 14 and 5. Keenum went to Sutton for a 25 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Seattle 31, Keenum went to Butt for 22 yards with roughing the passer making it 1st and goal at the 4. Keenum hit Thomas for the touchdown and this topsy-turvy game now had the Broncos up by a field goal with a full 11 minutes left. Denver’s defense stopped Seattle on their next 2 drives. With just over one minute left, the Broncos faced 4th and 5 at the Seattle 39. Vance Joseph opted to punt. Seattle took over at their own 12 with one minute left. A fumbled shotgun snap had Seattle in desperation mode. With 2 seconds left on 3rd and 19 from their own 14, Wilson was intercepted again. Pete Carroll does not have the same team he had in recent years, while Vance Joseph got a much needed win. 27-24 Broncos

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers is the Sunday night game. This one will be talked about for years, maybe longer. The Bears have a new coach, a nondescript bald guy named Matt Nagy. This moribund NFC North bottom dweller became an instant sensation with the trade for Khalil Mack. Mack’s impact was felt immediately as the Packers punted on their first drive and the Bears took over at their own 14. Runs and short passes moved the Bears to their own 44. Trubisky then went deep to Gabriel for 31 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Green Bay 17, Trubisky hit Burton for 15 yards. Trubisky ran it in himself for the 2 yard touchdown and the 7-0 Bears lead. Green Bay punted again and the Bears took over at their own 32. Trubisky went deep to Robinson for 33 yards. Despite 2nd and goal at the 3, an incompletion followed by a swing pass that lost 5 yards killed the drive. Cody Parkey hit a 26 yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to make it 10-0 Bears.

Things got worse for the Packers. With 9 1/2 minutes left in the half, Rodgers got belted. He was down for awhile and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. His knee was in bad shape, and the Green Bay faith fun worried that their entire season had ended. The best quarterback in the league was replaced with a guy who was cut from the worst team in the league. DoShone Kizer failed in Cleveland, and now had to come in under tough circumstances. With 3 minutes left in the half, the Packers had moved to a 3rd and goal at the 9. Kizer got sacked by Mack, who ripped the ball out of his hands. The fumble recovery was pure brute force. The Packers got it back and with 50 seconds left in the half faced 3rd and 19 at their own 30 after a sack of Kizer. Running the ball is just not an option for pass happy West Coast Offense Mike McCarthy. A short pass was intercepted by Mack, who returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. The Bears led 17-0 over the Packers in front of a shell-shocked home crowd at Lambeau Field. In the third quarter the Bears moved 60 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. The drive bogged down at the 15 yard line, but Parkey hit the 33 yard field goal. The Bears led 20-0.

Then came the events that will be retold to kids. Aaron Rodgers emerged out of the locker room and onto the field. He could not fully plant his leg, but he was going to play. He moved the Packers from their 31 to the Chicago 23. A pair of incomplete passes ended the drive. Mason Crosby hit a 42 yard field goal. After three quarters, the Packers trailed 20-3.

The Bears went 3 and out and the Packers soon faced 3rd and 14 at their own 15. Rodgers found Allison for just enough. Rodgers then went back to Allison for 12 more. The fourth quarter began with Rodgers going deep to Allison for a 39 yard touchdown. The crowd erupted as the Packers were within 20-10. The Bears soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. In the days of Vince Lombardi and George Halas, this meant a run of brute force, strength against strength. Now all these coaches play gutless football rather than smash-mouth. Nagy went with a screen pass that was caught for no gain. The Bears punted. The Packers got it back at their own 25. Rodgers went deep to Devontae Adams for a 51 yard gain. Rodgers went back to Adams for a 12 yard touchdown. With 9 minutes to play, the Packers were within 20-17.

The remaining 9 minutes would tell if the Bears would find a way to lose this game due to their inexperience. Instead, Trubisky showed far more poise than many 2nd year players. He led a 14 play drive that ate up over 6 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 3 from the Chicago 32, Trubisky got just enough himself. On 3rd and 2 from the Chicago 43, Cohen gained 5 yards. On 3rd and 7 just past midfield, Trubisky found Miller for 11 yards. Then came a decision that defines coaches. The Bears faced 3rd and 2 at the Green Bay 14. The Packers were out of timeouts and there was 2:47 on the clock. The entire football world knows that you must run the ball in this situation. An incomplete pass stops the clock. A run takes the clock down to the 2 minute warning. A first down ended the game. Resist the West Coast Bullsh*t. Do not dink. Do not dunk. Run. The. D@mn. Ball.

Nagy decided to pass. Trubisky threw incomplete. Parkey hit the 39 yard field goal. The Bears led 23-17, but 2:39 still remained. Was there any doubt what would happen next? After a touchback, Rodgers threw a pair of incompletions, including one that should have been the game winning interception. It was right in the defender’s bread basket. He dropped it. The Bears left the door open, and Rodgers made them pay. On 3rd and 10 Rodgers zipped a mass over the middle to Randall Cobb, who split to the seam, got to the sideline, picked up one last block, and made it to the end zone for a 75 yard touchdown. The Bears got it back at their own 18 with 2:08 left. On 2nd and 9 Trubisky threw 3 straight incompletions but was bailed out by a roughing the passer call. On 1st and 10 at the Chicago 46, Trubisky threw 3 straight incompletions. On 4th and 10 he was sacked and fumbled. The Cheeseheads had a win for the ages. This was the precise collapse that in 2006 had Chicago beat Arizona and lead to a Dennis Green Meltdown. The Bears may not be who we thought they were, but Nagy coached like a guy coaching his first game. As for Aaron Rodgers, he just gets better with age. He also gets to sleep with Danica Patrick. You don’t need 2 good legs for that. 24-23 Packers

New York Jets at Detroit Lions was the opening Monday night game. The Jets went 5-11 the past 2 seasons but Todd Bowles clearly got as much as he could out of a depleted roster. The Lions fired Jim Caldwell and brought in Bill Belichick understudy Matt Patricia to coach his first NFL game. The Jets decided to start rookie Sam Darnold as they approached the 50th season of futility since Joe Namath led them in Super Bowl III. This had all the makings of a blowout. It was, but not as expected. On the first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Darnold threw his first NFL pass. It was intercepted by Quentin diggs and returned 37 yards for a touchdown. The game was less than 20 seconds old and the Jets trailed 7-0. This is why J-E-T-S stands for Just End The Season. Before owner Woody Johnson could return from England to fire everyone, truth became stranger than fiction.

After an exchange of punts, the Jets got a big break when Roberts returned a punt 43 yards to the Detroit 32. Darnold hit Enunwa for a 15 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Detroit 14, Darnold hit Enunwa for 8 yards. Isaiah Crowell ran up the middle for a 6 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. After a touchback, Matthew Stafford through incomplete twice and then was intercepted by Claiborne. The Jets took over just past midfield. Myers hit a 35 yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to make it 10-7 Jets. The Lions moved after a touchback to a 1st and 10 at the Jets 28. Stafford was then intercepted again. With 3 minutes left in the half a 16 yard punt return had the jets starting just past midfield. On 3rd and 2 at the 2 minute warning, Darnold went deep to Anderson for a 41 yard touchdown. The Jets led 17-7, and Darnold had his first NFL touchdown pass not counting the earlier one to the other team.

With 1:51 left after a touchback, the Lions moved to a 3rd and goal at the 3. Stafford there incomplete. Matt Prater hit the 21 yard field goal as the Lions trailed 17-10 at halftime. The Lions after a touchback and a false start faced 1st and 15 at their own 20. Stafford made it look easy, going to Golden Tate and Kenny Golladay for a pair of 26 yard gains. Stafford then went to Tate for a 24 yard touchdown. Less than 2 minutes into the third quarter, the game was tied 17-17. What happened over the next 13 minutes of the third quarter was a shock to anyone who has ever watched football.

After a touchback, Darnold hit Terrell Pryor for 12 yards. Powell ran for a 10 yard gain. Darnold hit Pryor for 20 and then went to Enunwa for a 21 yard touchdown. The Jets led 24-17. The Lions soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Stafford was intercepted by Lee, who returned it 36 yards the other way for a 31-17 Jets lead. The Lions then went 3 and out and punted. Roberts returned the punt 78 yards for a touchdown. The Jets had scored on offense, defense and special teams as 3 touchdowns in less than 2 1/2 minutes had the Jets up 38-17. Two plays after a touchback, Stafford was intercepted again by Lee. The Jets took over at the Detroit 18. Myers hit a 32 yard field goal to make it 41-17 Jets. The Lions finally mounted a drive, moving from their 25 to a 3rd and 7 at the Jets 26. Stafford then threw incomplete. Prater missed a 44 yard field goal. Two plays later Isaiah Crowell raced for a 62 yard touchdown. A shellshocked crowd saw the Jets score 31 unanswered points in less than 9 minutes to turn a tie game into an epic blowout. J-E-T-S just got very respectable. The Lions have been a national joke before. On this night they were again. 48-17 Jets

Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders was the closing Monday night game. The subplots were everywhere. Jon Gruden returned to the black hole. Aaron Donald got his monster contract. Khalil Mack was traded to Chicago. The Rams were thinking Super Bowl. The Raiders were one or two years from moving to Las Vegas after losing out on the Los Angeles market. Howie Long lit the Al Davis torch. Then they played football. After a touchback and a couple of Marshawn Lynch carries, the Raiders had 1st and 10 at their own 35. Derek Carr zipped a pass to Jared cook, who raced for a 45 yard gain. On 2nd and goal at the 10, Lynch got the carry and appeared stopped at the 4 yard line. He kept bulldozing, and the offensive line jumped on the pile and pushed it forward. By the time the scrum had ended, Lynch had the ball over the goal line for a brutal 10 yard touchdown run. The Black Hole was rocking as the Raiders led 7-0 early on. After an exchange of punts, the Rams took over at midfield. Jared Goff made it look easy, going to Cooper Kupp for 11, Woods for 20, and Todd Gurley for the 19 yard touchdown and a 7-7 deadlock. After that both defenses dug in.

The field goal kickers did most of the work for awhile. In the second quarter Mike Nugent hit a 24 yarder for the Raiders. Greg Zuerlein answered from 20 for the Rams as each team drove deep but each defense got stops short of the end zone. Nugent hit a 48 yarder as the half was ending to give the Raiders a 13-10 lead. Zuerlein hit from 28 in the third quarter to again tie the game 13-13. A field position had the Rams taking over at their own 42. Goff found Cooks for 17 yards and again for 30 more. On the last play of the third quarter, Goff went to Kupp for the 8 yard touchdown and the 20-13 Rams lead.

The Rams got it back only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter at their own 12. Goff hit Gurley for 17. On 3rd and 1 from their own 41, Gurlet got 2 tough yards. On 3rd and 3 at the Oakland 37, Goff had his pass batted down. However, Zuerlein drilled a 55 yard field goal off the dirt to put the Rams up 23-13 with 9 1/2 minutes left. The Raiders were misfiring on offense and the Rams offense had completely overmatched the Raiders defense and their porous secondary. In the first half Derek Carr was a white hot 20 of 24 for 199 yards. Over the next 21 minutes he was 1 for 5 for 4 yards. Conversely, Todd Gurley in the first half had 5 carries for 20 yards. In the second half he had over 116 yards rushing. On 3rd and 7 from the Oakland 28, Carr hooked up with Cook for a 32 yard gain. Yet on the next play, Carr threw a pass across the field where the only person in the vicinity was Littleton. It was the easiest interception of his career, and with only 8 minutes left the noose was tightening on the Raiders. The Rams then moved the ball on a 13 play, 69 yard drive that bled the clock. By the time the Rams reached the Oakland 5 yard line, the Rams had out-gained the Raiders 264 to 57 in the second half. On 3rd and goal at the 5, a run gained 3 yards. Zuerlein hit the 20 yard field goal as the Rams led 26-13 with only 3:15 to play.

The final dagger came when a limping Carr was intercepted for the third time. Marcus Peters returned it 50 yards for the score, practically walking into the end zone. The game was now officially a blowout. Chucky lost his first game coaching the Raiders 20 years ago before leading the Silver and Black to consecutive division titles. He lost his first game coaching Tampa Bay 16 year ago before leading them to a Super Bowl victory. He lost his first game coaching the Raiders the second time around. Better days will be ahead. Gruden has a 10 year, 100 million dollar contract. The fans expect better, and their defense needs to be vastly improved. The shadow of Khalil Mack will hang over this franchise every day until it is. As for the Rams, great teams win road games in hostile environments. Sean McVay is an innovative offensive mind. Having Michelin Man Wade Phillips as your defensive coordinator doesn’t hurt matters. 33-13 Raiders

When Religion conflicts with 9/11

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

When Religion conflicts with 9/11

September 11, 2018: Tears for the dead, laughter for the living

When religion conflicts with football

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

When religion conflicts with football

What should a Jew do when Rosh Hashanah conflicts with football

RIP, Bandit

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

RIP, Bandit

Burt Reynolds: Rest in Peace – Forever the Alpha Male’s Alpha

NFL 2018 Week 1 Prequel

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 1 Prequel

NFL Kickoff 2018 Week 1 Preview and Bettor’s Guide

NFL 2018 Preseason Week 4 Raiders Recap

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

NFL 2018 Preseason Week 4 Raiders Recap

The preseason usually tells us very little, but 2018 told us absolutely nothing. The Raiders barely played their starters the entire preseason. The traditional formula went out the window. Derek Carr played a few snaps in games 1 & 3 and nothing in games 2 & 4. His backup quarterbacks EJ Manuel and Connor Cook both looked terrible. In the final preseason game, the Raiders were at the Seattle Seahawks.

With Carr and Marshawn Lynch sitting, Chris Warren got plenty of chances to be the backup bellcow running back. The Raiders went 3 and out and the Seahawks took over at their own 24. Russell Wilson had the night off. Backup Davis led a 13 play, 6 1/2 minute drive, but it only netted 34 yards. From the Oakland 29, Davis was sacked. From the Oakland 36, Davis went deep to Brown for the touchdown. However, it was nullified by offensive holding to kill the drive.

Oakland took over at their own 11. From the 15, EJ Manuel went to Brown for a 22 yard gain with 15 more tacked on for lowering the head to initiate contact. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 45, Manuel went deep to Hatcher for the touchdown and the 7-0 Raiders lead.

Grayson returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Seattle 46. Despite Khalil Mack still not playing due to a contract holdout, the Raiders defense held on 2nd and 1 and on 3rd and 1. Pete Carroll decided to go for it. After 2 failed runs, a pass play actually lost one yard. From their own 47, Manuel quickly went to Hatcher for 21 yards. That was enough for Nugent to hit a 51 yard second quarter field goal to make it 10-0 Raiders.

The Seahawks needed only one play to strike back. Austin Davis went to Damore’ea Stringfellow for an 81 yard touchdown to get the Seahawks within 10-6. The extra point was no good. The Raiders went 3 and out and the Seahawks moved from their own 27 to a 4th and 1 at the Oakland 39. Again Pete Carroll went for it and Davis threw incomplete.

A field position game had the Raiders taking over at the Seattle 45 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 7, Manuel found Hatcher for 8 yards. Manuel went back to Hatcher for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 17-6 Raiders with 2:15 left in the half. Yet from the Seattle 18, Davis worked the 2 minute drill perfectly. With 39 seconds left in the half, Seattle faced 3rd and 10 at the Oakland 33. Davis went to Swoopes for 16 yards. On the next play defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Mike Davis got in. Former Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski made the extra point. After 18 seasons in the Black Hole, Seabass is now trying to make the Seattle roster. He did not help himself by missing the earlier extra point. The Seahawks trailed 17-13 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Seahawks took over at their own 9. On 3rd and 10 from the Seattle 48, third string quarterback McGough went deep to Turner for a 52 yard Seattle touchdown. Yet on further review the score was reversed to an incomplete pass. For the second time in the game a Seattle touchdown was nullified as the Seahawks punted. Both teams then went 3 and out and the Raiders took over on their own 20. The Raiders faced 3rd and 13 at their own 17. Manuel went deep to Ateman for a 43 yard gain. On 3rd and 15 at the Seattle 45, Manuel went deep to Said Blacknail for a 45 yard touchdown. The Raiders led 23-13 after three quarters as Nugent missed the extra point.

In the fourth quarter Connor Cook came in and salted the game away. A 61 yard drive ended when Cook went to Hatcher for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 30-13 Raiders. Seattle would get one more touchdown and a surprise as Seabass missed his second extra point. There were seasons where he would not miss 2 extra points the entire season. He missed 2 in one game. It could have been jitters from playing his old team.

Manuel finished a white hot 18 of 22 for 255 yards for 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. It did not matter as Manuel and Cook were both waived after the game. The Raiders traded for AJ McCarron, so Derek Carr now finally has a capable backup.

Yet the Euphoria of the win and the 3-1 preseason evaporated after the game. In a shocker that will reverberate through the league for years to come, the Raiders traded Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. While the Raiders did get the Bears 1st round draft picks in 2019 and 2020 in addition to other trade swaps, this was still a gut punch to the locker room and the Raider Nation. Jon Gruden has 100 million dollars and a 10 year contract, and he just traded away the best defensive player in the league. Rumors swirled that Owner Mark Davis and General Manager Reggie McKenzie wanted Mack to stay. Time will tell if Gruden is crazy or crazy like a fox. The Raiders begin the regular season on Monday Night Football at the Los Angeles Rams. The 2018 preseason is now in the books with the conclusion of the win over Seattle’s backups. 30-19 Raiders

eric