NFL 2015 Week 8 Recap
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots was the Thursday night game. While the Dolphins seemed revitalized under interim coach Dan Campbell, that was against two of the worst teams in the league. Now came the reality check against Bill Bellichick, Tom Brady and the unbeaten New England Patriots.
In the first quarter 80 yards came easily as Brady threw a 47 yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski to make it 7-0 Patriots. in the second quarter out of the shotgun, the ball was snapped before Ryan Tannehill was ready for it. It sailed past him for a safety. The Patriots added a 52 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal to lead 12-0. Brady added a 16 yard touchdown pass to Lewis to make it 19-0 Patriots at halftime.
The Dolphins tried to make a game of it in the third quarter by moving 80 yards. Miller got in from the one to get the Dolphins within 19-7. That was it as the Patriots took a 22-7 lead after three quarters with a 36 yard Gostkowski field goal. In the fourth quarter an interception of Tannehill was returned 30 yards to the Miami 15. A 10 yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman made it 29-7. Brady went back to Edelman for a 16 yard touchdown to complete the scoring. Tannehill finished 28 of 44 for 300 yards, but 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Brady was 26 of 38 for 356 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. 36-7 Patriots
Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs in London was the Sunday early morning game. This was supposed to be a game between 2 bad teams. Yet only one of the teams followed the script. Maybe the Lions forgot to change their clocks before the game. Dink and Dunk West Coast Offense Game Manager Alex Smith only threw for 145 yards, yet somehow that was enough to bury the Lions. With Halloween over, Cecil is not the only dead Lion.
Detroit got on the board first when Matt Prater kicked a 35 yard field goal. After that it was all Chiefs. Thomas ran for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Chiefs. In the second quarter Smith ran for a 12 yard touchdown for a 14-3 Chiefs lead. Cairo Santos hit a 33 yard field goal for a 17-3 Chiefs lead. West ran for an 8 yard touchdown as the Chiefs took a 24-3 lead into the locker rooms. In the third quarter Smith threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to Kelce and in the fourth quarter Smith found Jeremy Maclin for a 17 yard touchdown and a 38-3 Chiefs lead.
The Lions at 1-6 are finished. Now the team needs to just avoid laying down like lambs or Jim Caldwell could be on the hot seat. Consecutive wins have the Chiefs at 3-5 and still in the playoff hunt, making Andy Reid one happy Walrus Lite. 45-10 Chiefs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons — The Falcons won a hideous 10-7 slugfest last week to get to 6-1 while the Buccaneers blew a 24 point lead in one of the biggest collapses in a season gone wrong. Early on Matt Bryant hit a 21 yard field goal to get the Falcons on the board first. Later on in the quarter the Falcons faced 1st and 16 at their own 6. Matt Ryan found Julio Jones for a 35 yard gain, but Jones fumbled the ball and it was returned by Keenan Alexander 20 yards to the Atlanta 21. Connor Barth hit a 38 yard field goal for a 3-3 game.
In the second quarter the Falcons moved to the Tampa Bay 4 yard line and then fumbled the ball away. The Buccaneers moved from their 22 to the Atlanta 5. Barth hit from 23 to make it 6-3 Buccaneers. With 90 seconds left in the half Matt Ryan was intercepted, giving the Bucs the ball at midfield. Jameis Winston threw a 20 yard touchdown pass to Brate for a 13-3 Buccaneers lead at the break.
In the third quarter Winston moved the Bucs 76 yards and ran for the final 4 yards himself. The Bucs led 20-3 and were smelling upset. Ryan brought the Falcons back 80 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. A 7 yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme had the Falcons within 20-10. In the fourth quarter the Falcons moved 77 yards in 14 plays, taking over 7 minutes to do it. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Tampa 3, Devonta Freeman got the carry and lost 3 yards. Bryant hit the 24 yard field goal but the Falcons still trailed 20-13 with 5 minutes left in regulation.
With the Buccaneers trying to put the game away, they faced 3rd and 1 at their own 40. Doug Martin got stopped as the clock hit the two minute warning. On 4th and 1 Lovie Smith made a decision that gets coaches fired. He decided to go for it. Forget the Herm Edwards line “You play to win the games.” Lovie did not trust his defense. Winston got the carry and got nothing. The rest was inevitable. With a short field, Matty Ice hit Jones for an 8 yard touchdown with 17 seconds left. Another collapse on the road one week after blowing a 24-0 lead now saw the Bucs blow a 20-3 lead. The teams went into overtime.
After a touchback to start overtime, Winston went straight to work. On 3rd and 3 from the Tampa 27, Winston hit Sims for 4 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Tampa 31, Winston found Mike Evans for 14. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 35, Winston found Humphries for 6. On 3rd and 4 from the Atlanta 7, Winston threw incomplete. Barth hit the 31 yard field goal. The Buccaneers had the lead but the Falcons would get one chance to tie or win the game. With 6 minutes left in overtime after a Ryan incompletion, the Falcons had 4th and 7 at their own 42. Ryan threw incomplete and the Bucs had the shocking upset. Ryan finished 37 of 45 for 397 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception, but it was not enough as Atlanta fell to 6-2 after a 5-0 start. 23-20 Buccaneers
San Diego Chargers at Baltimore Ravens — These teams started the season with playoff aspirations and have seen a flurry of painful losses. Justin Tucker hit a 48 yard field goal for the Ravens while Josh Lambo answered from 42 for a 3-3 tie. Tucker hit again from 29 to make it 6-3 Ravens.
In the second quarter Philip Rivers led a 13 play, 80 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive. A 9 yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Floyd made it 10-6 Chargers. Joe Flacco answered with an 11 play, 80 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. A 3 yard touchdown pass to Crocket Gillmore made it 13-10 Ravens with 5 minutes left in the half. Rivers then marched the Chargers 80 yards in 14 plays. Rivers fired to the corner of the end zone to Keenan Allen, who made a great catch. The 13 yard touchdown with 9 seconds left in the half had the Chargers up 16-13. The extra point was blocked. The Browns clearly jumped offsides on the extra point try but it was not called.
In the first half, both quarterbacks were solid. Flacco was 14 of 19 for 161 yards and one touchdown. Rivers was a lights out 19 of 22 for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns. Neither quarterback was intercepted. In the third quarter Tucker hit from 48 to make it 16-16. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Rivers went bombs away to Floyd for a 70 yard touchdown and a 23-16 Chargers lead. On the last play of the third quarterTucker hit his fourth field goal from 45 as the Ravens were within 23-19. The Chargers punted from their own 1 and the Ravens took over at the San Diego 38. Flacco snuck in from the one to make it 26-23 Ravens with 4 1/2 minutes to play
Rivers moved the Chargers after a touchback to the Baltimore 26, but no further. Lambo hit a 49 yarder. The game was tied 26-26, but after a touchback the Ravens still had 2 1/2 minutes to get the win. Flacco found Givens for 18 and Aiken for 13. With 1:11 to play, the Ravens faced 3rd and 19 at the San Diego 43. Flacco went deep incomplete but a killer defensive pass interference penalty put the ball on the 22. With 3 seconds left, Tucker came in for a 39 yarder to win it. his fifth field goal was good as the Ravens got the win and both teams were 2-6. It was a hollow victory as Steve Smith blew out his achilles in the game and is out for the season. Before the season he announced his retirement at year’s end, so this may have been the future Hall of Famer’s final game. 29-26 Ravens
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears — A field position game early on led to Robbie Gould hitting a 55 yard field goal for the Bears. Late in the first quarter Sherels returned a punt 65 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 Vikings lead. Blair Walsh hit from 43 in the second quarter to make it 10-3 Vikings. Teddy Bridgewater was then intercepted by Fuller, who returned it 15 yards to the Minnesota 34. Jay Cutler went deep to Jeffery for a 21 yard touchdown pass for a 10-10 game.
Gould hit from 33 in the third quarter to make it 13-10 Bears. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Walsh hit from 48 to tie it 13-13. Cutler then led a killer drive. 14 plays and 74 yards chewed up 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. Cutler ran for the 4 yard touchdown as the Bears led 20-13 with 5 minutes left in regulation.
A sack of Bridgewater had the Vikings facing 2nd and 17 at their own 9. Bridgewater ran for a 19 yard gain to keep the drive going. At the 2 minute warning the Vikings faced 3rd and 4 at the Chicago 40. A short pass from Bridgewater to Diggs went all the way for the touchdown as the game was tied 20-20. The Bears went 3 and out and the Vikings took over at their own 34 with one minute left. Bridgewater threw a 35 yard pass to Chris Johnson. Adrian Peterson gained 9 yards as Walsh came in with 4 seconds to play for a 36 yard field goal try to win it. Walsh was good as the Vikings quietly got to 5-2 under Mike Zimmer. 23-20 Vikings
Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns — On paper this looked like a mismatch. Carson Palmer went to work and led the Cardinals 82 yards in 11 plays and 7 minutes. An 11 yard touchdown pass to Niklas made it 7-0 Cardinals. Later on an Arizona fumble was returned 34 yards to the Arizona 9. On 3rd and goal, Josh McCown threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to Bryan Hartline to make it 7-7.
In the second quarter McCown hit Barnidge for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Browns. Cleveland got it back and McCown led a 14 play, 72 yard drive that took 7 1/2 minutes. A 2 yard touchdown pass to Hardline made it 20-7 Browns. The extra point was no good. With 24 seconds left in the half the Cardinals got the ball at midfield. That was enough time for Chandler Catanzaro to hit from 37 as the Cardinals trailed 20-10 at halftime.
In the third quarter the Cardinals came to life. Palmer found Floyd for a 60 yard touchdown to get Arizona within 20-17. Then Patrick Peterson returned a punt 38 yards to the Cleveland 48. Palmer went deep to Brown for a 39 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 1, Palmer found Niklas for a 24-20 Cardinals lead. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Browns faced 2nd and 9 at the Arizona 27. McCown went to the end zone to give the Browns the lead and was intercepted.
On 3rd and 4 form the Arizona 26, Palmer found Larry Fitzgerald for 12. On 3rd and 10 from the Arizona 38, Palmer found David Johnson for 34 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Cleveland 9, Palmer scrambled for 8. Palmer hit Fitzgerald for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 31-20 Cardinals with 8 1/2 minutes left. Midway through the fourth quarter the Browns reached the Arizona 38. McCown was then sacked and fumbled and the Cardinals recovered. Catanzaro tacked on a 35 yard field goal to complete the scoring. 27 unanswered points has Bruce Arians at the helm of a scoring machine. Meanwhile, the Browns just can’t win against the league’s toughest teams. 34-20 Cardinals
Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans — While Texas sought to get out from under devastating rain, both of these teams had their seasons washed away weeks ago. This game may be for the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Ryan Succop hit a 35 yard field goal for a 3-0 Titans lead. In the second quarter Bryan Hoyer hit Hopkins for a 21 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Texans. Tennessee fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Texans took over at the Titans 24. Nick Novak hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Texans. In the third quarter Succop hit from 44 to get the Titans within 10-6. Yet the Texans came back 80 yards as a 42 yard touchdown pass from Hoyer to Nate Washington made it 17-6 Texans.
Meanwhile, Zach Mettenberger was having a miserable game in place of the injured Marcus Mariota. On the first play of the fourth quarter from midfield on 3rd and 10, Mettenberger was intercepted. One minute later the Titans had the ball back at their own 11. Mettenberger was sacked and fumbled. The Texans took over at the Titans 10 and naturally settled for a 24 yard Novak field goal to complete the scoring. On the next Tennessee series Mettenberger was sacked twice. 20-6 Texans
New York Giants at New Orleans Saints — Both of these teams have elite quarterbacks having a tougher than expected year. Eli Manning found O’Dell Beckham for a 2 yard touchdown for the Giants. Sean Payton went to the bag of tricks. Drew Brees responded with a 34 yard touchdown pass to Snead off of a flea flicker for a 7-7 ballgame. The Saints got it back and needed only 5 plays to go 96 yards. Brees threw a 26 yard touchdown to Cooks for a 14-7 Saints lead.
In the second quarter Manning moved the Giants 79 yards and found Beckham for a 1 yard touchdown to make it 14-14. The Saints came right back 80 yards as a 53 yard touchdown pass from Brees to Marquis Colton made it 21-14 Saints. The pinball machines kept rolling as the Saints got it back and Brees moved the Saints 80 yards in 14 plays and 7 minutes. A 2 yard touchdown pass to Snead made it 28-14 Saints. Yet Manning worked the 2 minute drill to perfection. 80 yards in 10 plays led to a 2 yard touchdown to Shane Vereen.
The Giants trailed 28-21 at halftime in a half where both quarterbacks put up Hall of Fame numbers. Both quarterbacks were white hot. They each threw 21 passes, with Manning completing 18 and Brees 19. Neither quarterback was intercepted. Manning had 165 yards passing in the first half where Brees had 300 passing yards by the break. Manning had 3 touchdown passes and Brees had 4 of them.
The quarterbacks kept firing in the third quarter. Manning found Beckham for a 50 yard touchdown to tie the game 28-28. Manning’s fourth touchdown pass was soon followed By Brees’s 5th touchdown pass. Brees quickly moved the Saints 80 yards again as a 21 yard touchdown to Cooks made it 35-28 Saints. Although Brees would go deep and throw the game’s first interception, the Saints got it back and again Brees moved the Saints 80 yards quickly and easily. A 20 yard touchdown pass to Watson made it 42-28 Saints after three quarters.
After three quarters, Manning was 24 of 30 for 265 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Normally this would be a winning performance, but Brees was 28 of 34 for 408 yards, six touchdown passes, and one interception. The fourth quarter was still to come.
Manning had his turn moving the Giants 80 yards in 11 plays. On 4th and 5 from the Saints 9, a touchdown pass to Harris had the Giants within 42-35 with 12 1/2 minutes in regulation. Manning had five touchdown passes yet big Blue was losing as Giants fans wondered what in the name of Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan was going on. The Giants would not be losing for long. They got it back at their own 35 and needed only 3 plays and 1 minute to tie the game. Manning went back to Harris for a 20 yard touchdown. Each quarterback had 6 touchdown passes on the day in a 42-42 tie. This game was far from over.
A game with 12 touchdown passes turned on a defensive play. A pass by Brees was complete but then fumbled away. McBride picked up the fumble and rumbled 63 yards for a defensive touchdown. 21 straight fourth quarter points had the Giants up 49-42. Manning could not be stopped, but neither could Brees. He led a 14 play, 80 yard drive that took 6 1/2 minutes off the clock. Brees threw his NFL record tying seventh touchdown pass, a 9 yarder to CJ Spiller. With 36 seconds left, the game was tied.
The game seemed destined for overtime, and Brees had a chance to make NFL history in 2 different ways. An 8th touchdown pass in overtime would break the record of 7 first set by Sid Luckman in 1943 and tied by YA Tittle, George Blanda, Joe Kapp, Peyton Manning and Nick Foles. Brees also had 511 yards passing. The record of 554 was set by Norm Van Brocklin in 1951. One overtime drive would be more than enough.
Somehow, OT never came. The Giants have suffered through the Miracle at the Meadowlands I and II, the Joe Pisarcik fumble and a bizarre loss on a punt return. The fumble was returned by Herm Edwards, who famously said “You play to win the games.” so rather than take a knee in a game with almost no defense, Tom Coughlin kept it aggressive from the Giants 20 with 36 seconds left and all timeouts. Manning threw incomplete on 3rd and 5. With 20 seconds to play, the Giants had to punt from their 25. Chaos ensued.
In 2010, the Giants had a 31-10 lead against Philadelphia midway through the fourth quarter. With the game tied 31-31, the Giants punted on the final play of regulation. Tom Coughlin begged his punter to kick the ball out of bounds. Instead Desean Jackson fielded it at the Philly 35 and returned it 65 yards for the 38-31 Eagles win. Both teams were 9-4 and that play cost the Giants the division.
5 years later, another Giants horror came to pass. Again, punting the ball out of bounds would have meant overtime. The ball was fielded by Murphy at the Saints 29. He managed to return in 24 yards to the Giants 47. Murphy fumbled the ball forward, but it was recovered by the Saints. The ball had to go back to the 47 since it cannot be fumbled forward in the final two minutes of either half. That is the Holy Roller rule dedicated to Ken Stabler. That would leave time for a Hail Mary.
Well after the punt return came a very late penalty flag. A facemark penalty on the Giants moved the ball to the Giants 32. It appeared on the players on both teams grabbed each other’s facemasks, but the call only went one way. In a thrilling game, it was a shame the refs had to play even the slightest role in the outcome. With 5 seconds left, the Saints had time for a 50 yard field goal try by Kai Forbath to win it.
Forbath was good. Brees would not be in the history books, but he was happy with the win. Brees finished 40 of 50 for 511 yards passing, 7 touchdown passes, and one interception. Manning was “only” 30 of 41 for 350 yards, 6 touchdown passes, and 0 interceptions. These teams may be 4-4, but this gave of average teams is now an instant NFL Classic. Tom Coughlin is wondering if he can just hire one punter who can kick the ball out of bounds. 52-49 Saints
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers — The Bengals came in undefeated and clicking on all cylinders. The Steelers finally got back Big Ben Roethilsberger. Roethlisberger moved the Steelers 80 yards in 12 plays and over 7 minutes. A 1 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown made it 7-0 Steelers. The Bengals answered with a 44 yard Mike Nugent field goal to get within 7-3. A field position game and a short punt gave the Bengals a short field. on the first play of the second quarter, Nugent hit from 45 as the Bengals trailed 7-6. Chris Boswell hit a 32 yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 10-6 Steelers. Late in the third quarter the Bengals had a field goal try blocked.
In the fourth quarter the Bengals moved from their own 17 to a 3rd and goal at the 5. Andy Dalton went to the end zone and was intercepted by Blake, who made some gorgeous sideline moves in returning the interception to the Pittsburgh 40 with 9 minutes left in regulation. The Bengals got it back at their own 24 and a fumble on the snap resulted in a 15 yard loss. On 3rd and 25 from their own 9, Dalton went deep and was intercepted. The Steelers took over at their own 24 with 6 minutes left in regulation.
2 plays later the tables turned in a big way. Roethlisberger was intercepted, setting up the Bengals at the Pittsburgh 45. On 3rd and 5, Dalton found Bernard for 23 yards. With 3 minutes left the Bengals faced 3rd and 2 at the 9. Dalton found AJ Green for the touchdown. After being beaten up all game, the Bengals led 13-10.
On the first play after a touchback, Roethlisberger was intercepted again. The Bengals were at the Pittsburgh 26, but they could not put the game away. The Steelers held on defense and Nugent hit the 44 yard field goal. The Steelers trailed by 6 and got the ball back at their own 20 with 1:47 to play and one timeout. Big Ben led a tough final drive.
On 3rd and 2 from their 28, Roethlisberger threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference kept the drive going. From the Pittsburgh 25, Big Ben hit Heath Miller for 13, Williams for 12 to midfield, Miller for 11, and Bryant for 21. With 4 seconds left, the Steelers had one chance for the win from the Cincy 16 yard line. Big Ben fired to Antonio Brown. Brown caught the ball, but he was miles out of the back of the end zone for the wildly overthrown ball. The unbeaten Bengals never get any respect because they can’t beat Baltimore or Pittsburgh. The Bengals are 7-0 because they just gutted out a brutal AFC North win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Cincinnati is now for real, and the respect they are getting is earned. 16-10 Bengals
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams — The 49ers are a mess while the Rams are improving. Early on it was Phil Dawson hitting a 54 yard field goal for a 3-0 49ers lead. Later in the quarter a good punt had the 49ers facing 3rd and 12 at their own 1. Davis got the carry and was tackled in the end zone for a safety. The Rams trailed 3-2 as announcers everywhere made stupid baseball jokes that have never been funny.
In the second quarter Todd Gurley broke free for a 71 yard touchdown run. Nick Foles hit Cook for the 2 point conversion to make it 10-3 Rams. A field position game and the Rams taking over at the 49ers 39. Greg Zuerlein hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 13-3 Rams. Dawson countered from 26 to get the 49ers within 13-6 late in the half. Yet Foles worked the 2 minute drill brilliantly as 80 yards came easily. A 2 yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin with 18 seconds left had the Rams up 20-6 at halftime.
An uneventful second half almost saw the 49ers get back into the game when they returned a fumble for a touchdown. The score was nullified by a defensive penalty and the 49ers were done. Folks added a late exclamation point by hooking up with Tavon Austin for a 66 yard touchdown. The Rams have quietly gotten to 4-3 while the 49ers are just wretched. Jeff Fisher’s defense has not given up a touchdown in consecutive weeks in outscoring their opponents by a combined 51-12. The NFC West crown is even within reach. 27-6 Rams
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders — Both of these teams went on the road last week with a chance to make a statement. The Raiders succeeded and the Jets did not, but the Jets lost to unbeaten New England while the Raiders feasted on San Diego. It has been a long time since the Raiders had a big win, and today was the day the fans would see if they could build on it.
The Jets moved well on their opening drive, going 63 yards in 13 plays and taking nearly 8 minutes off the clock. Yet Ryan Fitzpatrick was injured on the drive. Geno Smith lost his starting job when he was sucker punched by a teammate in preseason and suffered a broken jaw. His ex-teammate is gone and now Smith saw his first major action of the season. Nick Folk hit the 40 yard field goal to give the Jets the 3-0 lead.
After that the Raiders exploded on offense just like they did last week. Derek Carr led the Raiders 78 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. A 5 yard touchdown pass to Andre Holmes made it 7-3 Raiders. in the second quarter Carr moved the Raiders 76 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. A 36 yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree made it 14-3 Raiders, with the help of terrible Jets tackling. The Raiders got it back and went 78 yards. A 49 yard touchdown bomb from Carr to Andre Holmes made it 21-3 Raiders.
Folk kicked a 38 yard field goal to get the Jets within 21-6 at halftime, but Carr kept firing in the third quarter. He quickly moved the Raiders 93 yards. A short swing pass to Taiwan Jones followed by more awful tackling meant a 59 yard touchdown pass. The Raiders led 28-6. After barely more than one half of football, Carr was 17 of 21 for 261 yards passing, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
This is where the naysayers point out that the Raiders cannot finish games. They led San Diego 37-6 after three quarters last week but only won 37-29. San Diego scored on the final play to make the score deceptively close, but the Raiders did take their foot off the gas. Now they had another big lead, and it was time to see if they could protect it without the nerve-wracking suspense.
Meanwhile, Geno Smith was intercepted in the first half by Charles Woodson. The oldest player in the league is now tied for fifth all time with 65 career interceptions. His 5 interceptions this year leads the league. Trailing by 22, Smith finally got the Jets going. An 80 yard drive was capped off by Smith throwing a 4 yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to get the Jets within 28-13.
The Raiders got a jolt when Jones took the kickoff 5 yards deep in the end zone and returned it 41 yards to the Oakland 36. Latavius Murray raced for a 25 yard gain. Yet on 2nd and 4 from the Jets 33, Carr threw incomplete twice. Janikowski leveled a 52 yard field goal to give the Jets more breathing room up 31-13 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
The Jets moved from their 20 to a 3rd and 1 at their 44. Smith was sacked for a 3 yard loss. The Raiders for the second time on the day were pinned back at their own 7. Carr found Crabber, who took a short pass 24 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Oakland 34, Carr went deep to Seth Roberts for a 21 yard gain. After Murray gained 9, the Raiders began the fourth quarter with 2nd and 1 at the Jets 36 and a chance to put the game away. A penalty moved the Raiders back as they faced 3rd and 20 from the Jets 44. A short pass from Carr to Crabtree gained 16 yards. Seabass hit a 47 yard field goal to have the Jets up 34-13 with 13 minutes left in regulation.
The Jets would not go away. On 3rd and 5 from the Jets 34, Smith found Tompkins for 9. From the Oakland 44, smith ran for 29 yards. Defensive pass interference on the next play put the ball on the one. On 3rd and goal, Smith found Davis for the touchdown. With 8 1/2 minutes left the Jets were within 34-20. The Raiders went 3 and out, gained 0 yards, took less than one minute off the clock, and punted it away. The Jets were very much alive at their own 35. Again, the Raiders did not put a game away.
On 3rd and 1 from the Jets 44, Smith found Brandon Marshall for 11 yards. On 2nd and 10 from the Oakland 45, Smith threw incomplete to Marshall. Jack Del rio challenged the call, saying Marshall caught the ball and fumbled it away. The ruling on the field stood. Marshall was injured on the play. On 3rd and 10 Smith found Zac Stacy for 7 yards. With 5 1/2 minutes left the Jets faced 4th and 3 at the Oakland 38. This time Smith threw incomplete as the defense held. Now the offense had to finish the game. Instead, the Raiders again went 3 and out and used less than 1 minute of clock. The Jets took over at their own 18 with 5 minutes left and 2 timeouts.
On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 26, Smith was sacked for a 5 yard loss. On 4th and 7, with 3:30 to play, Todd Bowles made the curious decision to punt the ball. The Jets needed 2 scores, and now did not even have the ball. Jack Del Rio also saw his offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave make a curious decision to throw on 1st and 10 from the Oakland 31. An incompletion stopped the clock, saving the Jets the use of their timeouts. On 3rd and 9, Carr threw incomplete again. A punt pinned the Jets at their own 22 with 3 minutes left and one timeout, but one more run call would have forced the Jets to use all of their timeouts and even taken the clock down to 2:15.
On 2nd and 10 Smith was sacked for an 11 yard loss by Khalil Mack as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. On 4th and 19 from their own 13, the Jets had to go for it with 1:39 left. Smith found Decker for 21 yards as again the Raiders did not put a game away. Smith then found Tompkins for 12 more as the Jets took their last timeout with one minute left. Smith then found Marshall for 11 to the Oakland 43. Smith was injured on the play. Fitzpatrick had to come back into the game despite his injured hand. A pass to Kerley meant a 15 yard gain. After an incomplete pass, Smith came back in the game and threw incomplete twice to set up 4th and 10 at the Oakland 28 with 30 seconds left.
Smith threw deep incomplete and the Raiders finally had the win. The offense has put up 71 points in the last 2 weeks. Smith finished 27 of 42 for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception. Carr was magnificent, finishing 23 of 36 for 333 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. The Raiders are now 4-3. They are finally becoming a real football team with the emphasis on team. 34-20 Raiders
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys — Tony Romo is still out, with Matt Cassel at the helm. Dez Bryant was finally active. Both teams had long drives that did not reach the end zone early on. The Seahawks went 72 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes but settled for a 26 yard Steve Hauschka field goal. The Cowboys answered with a 15 play, 65 yard, 8 minute drive. Dan Bailey kicked a 33 yarder for a 3-3 game after the first quarter.
In the second quarter Russell Wilson hit his non-relative Luke Willson for a 22 yard touchdown pass to make it 10-3 Seahawks. Bailey hit a 35 yard field goal to get the Cowboys within 10-6. An uneventful game saw a gut-wrenching end to the half on a punt return. Ricardo Lockette got blasted on a legal hit. Football is a violent game. NFL fans everywhere love it but hate injuries. Although Lockett plays for the Seahawks, the Cowboys sent their medical staff out to help him as well. Players on both teams prayed during a lengthy delay. A stadium in stunned silence cheered loudly when Lockette raised his fist while being led away on a stretcher. Football fans everywhere hope he’s ok.
The Cowboys held the ball for 6 minutes to start the third quarter. They settled for a 52 yard Bailey field goal to get within 10-9. At the end of the third quarter, Wilson went back to pass from his own 34. The ball was batted in the air by Greg Hardy, who made a juggling interception. He should have scored on the play but he fell down after shaking a tackle at the Seattle 16. Yet with West Coast Offense dink and dunk game manager Matt Cassel in the game, a 3rd and 6 pass gained 3 yards to the Dallas 9. Bailey hit his fourth field goal from 27 as the Cowboys led 12-10.
The Seahawks moved from their 20 to a 4th and 4 at the Dallas 29. Hauschka came in for the 47 yard field goal try to give the Seahawks the lead with 9 minutes left. The kick was blocked. For some reason Wilcox decided to act like Leon Lett and try to pick up the ball even though it was beyond the line of scrimmage. This time there was no disaster as Wilcox returned it 19 yards to the Dallas 27. Had he not touched it the Cowboys would have automatically gotten the ball at their 37.
The Seahawks got the ball at their own 15 with 6 1/2 minutes to play. On 3rd and 6 from the Seattle 30, Wilson found Gresham for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Seattle 45, Wilson found Tyler Lockett for 9. On 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 17, Wilson scrambled for 10 yards. At the 2 minute warning, the Seahawks faced 3rd and goal at the 11. The Cowboys were out of timeouts, so Wilson scrambled and did not risk an incompletion or worse. He gained 6 yards. With 1:10 to play, Hauschka came in for the 24 yard field goal to give the Seahawks the lead. Hauschka was good.
After a touchback Cassel went deep incomplete. Yet a questionable personal foul call on the defense gave the Cowboys 15 yards. On the next play the ball slipped out of Cassel’s hands. Players on both teams stopped, thinking it was an incomplete pass. The replay showed Cassel’s arm going forward but there was no whistle. An alert defender returned the fumble for a touchdown. However, on further review it was reversed to an incomplete pass. The officials got the call right. Another incompletion made it 3rd and 10 with 50 seconds to play. Consecutive sacks appeared to end the game, but the Cowboys actually benefitted from a penalty against themselves that is too convoluted to bother explaining. 12 seconds remained as the Cowboys faced 4th and 21 at their own 24. Cassel threw incomplete and the Seahawks finally had the ugly win. 13-12 Seahawks
Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos was the Sunday night game. Super Bowl 49 1/2 was upon us as a pair of 6-0 teams faced off. This game was on at the same time as the World Series, which is why virtually nobody watched the World Series. On this night, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen was inducted into the team’s ring of honor. The home team did their beloved owner proud.
In the first quarter Denver moved the ball 83 yards and Ronnie Hillman got in from the one to make it 7-0 Broncos. In the second quarter Denver moved 85 yards and Hillman ran for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Broncos. Brad McManus tacked on a 50 yard field goal as Denver was all over Green Bay 17-0.
The Packers finally started to make a game of it when they moved 80 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. Eddie Lacy got in from the 2 to get the Packers within 17-7 at halftime. In the third quarter Mason Crosby leveled a 56 yard field goal as the Packers only trailed 17-10. However, Denver moved 80 yards when CJ Anderson raced for a 28 yard touchdown to make it 24-10 Broncos.
In the fourth quarter Denver put the game away when McManus kicked a 24 yard field goal. Desperate to try and make something happen, the ensuing kickoff was returned to only to the Green Bay 13. On the next play Rodgers was sacked and fumbled. A scrum ensued and the Packers fell on the ball in their own end zone for a safety. Green Bay was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten while Denver remained perfect. As for the supposedly washed up Peyton Manning, he finished 21 of 29 for 340 yards. His lone interception came late in the game when the outcome of the game was not in doubt. 29-10 Broncos
Indianapolis Colts at Carolina Panthers was the Monday night game. The unbeaten Panthers hosted a wounded Colts team marred by dysfunction. Yet this game was about the elements. A driving rain meant turnovers and low scoring. The Colts fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and the Panthers took over at the Indy 24. The Panthers did nothing but Graham Gano hit a 39 yard field goal to start the scoring. Three plays later Andrew Luck was intercepted, setting up the Panthers at the Indy 37. On 3rd and 9, Cam Newton hit Jerricho Cotchery for 13. On 4th and 1 from the 14, Riverboat Ron Rivera went for it. Newton gained 2. On 4th and 1 from the 3, Rivera went for it again. Stewart got the carry, appeared stopped, and just bull rushed his way into the end zone for a 10-0 Panthers lead.
In the second quarter a field position game had the Colts taking over at their own 44. Adam Vinatieri hit a 47 yard field goal to get the Colts on the scoreboard. On Carolina’s next drive they fumbled the ball away and the Colts took over at the Carolina 22. The Colts settled for a 34 yard Vinatieri field goal to trail 10-6. Newton threw an interception on the next Carolina drive but the Colts failed to capitalize. With one minute left in the half the Panthers faced 4th and 4 at the indy 32. Newton found Ted gin for a 28 yard gain but offensive pass interference pushed the Panthers out of field goal range.
Late in the third quarter the Panthers had moved to the Colts one yard line. Yet the Panthers fumbled the snap and the Colts recovered. Indy went 3 and out and an 18 yard punt return by Ginn set the Panthers up at the Indy 29. Newton went deep to Olsen for a 27 yard touchdown as the Panthers took a 17-6 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, Luck was intercepted, setting up Carolina with yet another short field at the Indy 30. Newton threw an 8 yard touchdown to Brown. The extra point was no good. Although 11 minutes still remained, at 23-6 the game was over.
Newton was a statistically unimpressive 11 of 26 at this point for 188 yards, but he also had 2 touchdown passes and 1 interception. Luck was a miserable 5 of 16 for 40 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Then all of a sudden Carolina eased off the pressure and Indianapolis mounted a comeback.
Luck moved the Colts 86 yards. An 18 yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson had the Colts within 23-13 midway through the fourth quarter. The Panthers soon faced 3rd and 5 at their 25. Newton gained 17 yards himself, but a killer offensive holding penalty meant a punt. The Colts got it back at their 43 with 4:41 to play. On 3rd and 10, Luck found Johnson for 20 and TY Hilton for 15 more. An 8 yard touchdown pass to Cory Fleener had the Colts within a field goal with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Since the Colts still had 2 timeouts left, Chuck Pagano decided to kick it deep and trust his defense rather than try the onside kick. The Colts took their last timeout with 2:16 to play as the Panthers faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27. This time the Panthers made a bad decision. Rather than run the ball and take the clock down to the 2 minute warning, Newton went back to pass. He threw a ball over the middle that was batted up in the air. It should have been intercepted but Newton was lucky to get away with an incompletion. The Colts got it back at their own 40 with 2:02 to play.
Three Luck incompletions set up 4th and 10. Luck fired over the middle to Whalen for a 12 yard gain. Although replays showed that the ball hit the ground, the call stood. Luck found Whalen again for 11 more to the Carolina 37. On 3rd and 4 from the 31, Luck found Moncrief for 5 with 45 seconds left. Luck then threw a short pass to Whalen. The refs again messed up by ruling that Whalen had gotten out of bounds even though he was clearly tackled inbounds. This allowed the clock to stop. On 3rd and 3 from the 19, Luck found Fleener for 7 and spiked the ball with 20 seconds left.
The Colts were well within field goal range but now they were going for the win. Without a timeout, Luck barely avoided a sack that would have ended the game. He scrambled away and got out of bounds. With 9 seconds left the Panthers took their final timeout on defense. The Colts faced 3rd and 4 from the 6. Carolina brought the house on defense. Luck fired over the middle straight into the arms of Carolina defensive star Luke Kuechly. kuechly thought he had the interception, but the ball hit the ground as he came to the ground. It was incomplete. Both teams were still alive. Vinatieri came in for the 24 yard field goal with 2 seconds left. The kick was good and the game went to overtime tied 23-23. In the fourth quarter Luck was 17 of 31 for 185 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The Colts won the toss and got to receive the ball against an exhausted Carolina defense. A strong kickoff return had the Colts starting at their own 45 with all the momentum. Luck scrambled for 6 and 11 but the Colts soon faced 3rd and 10 at the Carolina 38. Luck hit Fleener for 7 as Vinatieri came in for a 50 yarder to give the Colts the lead. Vinatieri has won two Super Bowls at the gun. On this night, he was just as dead center. After a touchback, the Panthers had one chance to tie or win the game.
Newton fired a perfect pass to a well covered Brown, who hauled it in for a 23 yard gain. Newton then went for it all. He threw a perfect bomb to a wide open Ginn, who could have crawled into the end zone and ended the game. Ginn dropped the ball. He just dropped it. Under heavy pressure, Newton went to Greg Olsen for a 19 yard gain to the Indy 37. Newton kept firing, hitting Ginn for 12 yards to the Indy 25. Now the Panthers were well within tying field goal range. They could go for the win. On 3rd and 8, Newton was hit as he threw the ball. It went incomplete. Garo came in for the 42 yarder to tie the game. His missed extra point was why the game was in overtime. This time Gano was good. The game was tied 26-26 midway through overtime. The game was now true sudden death, with the next score being the winning one.
The Colts quickly faced 2nd and 8 at their 31. Luck fired over the middle and the ball was batted into the air. This time Kuechly cradled the ball and was not letting the interception go. The Panthers took over at the Colts 39. Needing only a few yards for long field goal range, the Panthers quickly faced 3rd and 10. Newton found Cotchery for 5 as Gano came in for the 52 yard try to win the game. Gano got sweet redemption and bailed out Ginn as well. The Panthers remained the lone unbeaten NFC team. next week they are at home against Green Bay, who just got knocked from the unbeaten ranks. The Colts fell to 3-5. That might win the awful AFC South, but it will still give their critics plenty to feast on. Luck played injured, and he showed heart, guts and character in giving Carolina all they could handle. 29-26 Panthers, OT