9/11/16: NFL 2016 Week 1 Recap

NFL 2016 Week 1 Recap

15 years after the worst terrorist attack on American soil, Americans did what many of them did back in 2001. They sought comfort in football. On September 23, 2001, football lifted up the nation 12 days after the horrific terrorist attacks. In 2016, with everyone from President George W. Bush to Mayor Rudy Giuliani attending the games, the National Football League returned in glorious fashion. There were no rebellions on this day. Patriotism was everywhere. This is the best of America. This is the National Football League. With that, here is the NFL 2016 Week 1 Recap.

Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos was the Thursday night game. 7 months after the Broncos beat the Panthers 24-10 in Super Bowl 50, the rematch kicked off the 2016 NFL season. Peyton Manning is retired, and Trevor Sieman is for now Denver’s starting quarterback. After an early Denver fumble, Cam Newton threw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin for a 7-0 Panthers lead. Janovich ran for a 28 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 in the second quarter. Carolina responded with a staggering 18 play, 89 yard drive that consumed 9:15 off the clock. Newton got in from 2 yards out to make it 14-7 Panthers with 3 minutes left in the half. Denver went 3 and out, and Newton quickly led the Panthers into field goal range. Graham Gano hit from 44 to have the Panthers up 17-7  at the half.

Simian was intercepted twice in the first half, but on the first play of the fourth quarter he threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to CJ Anderson to get the Broncos within 17-14. Chris Harris then intercepted Newton, giving Denver the ball at the Carolina 23. On 4th and 1 from the 2, Gary Kubiak decided to go for it. Anderson got the yard. on 3rd and goal at the one, Anderson got in to put the Broncos up 21-17 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation. With 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Gano hit a 36 yard field goal after Newton threw incomplete on 3rd and 5 from the Denver 18. The Panthers trailed 21-20, but they got the ball back at their own 40 with 3 minutes left.

Newton took a beating in the Super Bowl, but was relatively unscathed in the first half of this game. In the second half he got knocked around again, including helmet to helmet. With 2 minutes left the Panthers faced 4th and 21 at their own 29. Newton threw deep incomplete, but illegal use of hands on Harris gave the Panthers new life. On 3rd and 10 from the Carolina 47, newton found Benjamin for 16 yards. With 9 seconds left to play, Gano came in for a 50 yarder field goal try to give the Panthers the win. The kick was no good! The devil still lives in Denver. 21-20 Broncos

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons — An NFC South battle saw both teams get on the board with a field goal as Aguayo hit from 43 for the Buccaneers and Matt Bryant countered from 34 for a 3-3 game. Matt Ryan hit Mohammed Sanu for a 5 yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter for a 10-3 Falcons advantage. Jameis Winston brought the Buccaneers back 75 yards in the second quarter as a 4 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Myers had the game deadlocked 10-10. Bryant hit again from 34 to make it 13-10 Falcons, but Winston brought the Bucs back again. With only 1:45 left in the half from the Tampa Bay 25, Winston went right to work. On 3rd and 10 from the Atlanta 41, Winston found Vincent Jackson for 11 and threw a 23 yard touchdown to Sims to make it 17-13 Buccaneers at the intermission.

Tampa Bay exploded out of the gate in the second half, as Winston hit Seferian-Jenkins for a 30 yard touchdown and a 24-13 Buccaneers lead. Tampa Bay got it back and quickly went 92 yards, as a 45 yard touchdown pass from Winston to Mike Evans had the Buccaneers cruising 31-13. Ryan moved the Falcons 71 yards and hit Julio Jones for a 25 yard touchdown. Ryan hit Sanu for the 2 point conversion as the Falcons were within 31-21. After Tampa Bay went 3 and out, the Falcons moved to the red zone and Bryant hit from 29 yards out to get the Falcons within 7 points with 5 minutes left. Atlanta got it back at their own 9 with 1:52 left. After a 19 yard completion, Matty Ice went ice cold. 4 incompletions later, it was over. Dirk Cotter got his first ever win as an NFL head coach and a Gatorade bath after the game. Winston finished 23 of 33 for 281 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception.  31-24 Buccaneers

Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans — Teddy Bridgewater is out for the season and Sam Bradford is not ready yet. 37 year old Shaun Hill got the start for the Vikings. Ryan succor hit a 28 yard field goal early on for a 3-0 Titans lead. neither team could generate much offense, and Blair Walsh’s misery that started last year continued with a missed 37 yard field goal as the Vikings remained scoreless. With 5 minutes left in the half, Marcus Mariota led a 75 yard drive. A 6 yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 47 seconds left in the half had the Titans up 10-0.

The Vikings got a spark when Cordarelle Patterson returned the second half kickoff 61 yards to the Tennessee 34. The lifeless Minnesota offense gained 2 yards, and Walsh hit from 50 to get the Vikings on the board down 10-3. Minnesota got it back and moved into the red zone. They settled for a 33 yard Walsh field goal and trailed 10-6. Marcus Mariota then had an interception returned 77 yards for a touchdown. Walsh’s misery continued with a failed extra point, but Mike Zimmer’s defense had willed the Vikings to a 12-10 lead.

In the fourth quarter Walsh hit from 45 to make it 15-10 Vikings. Then the Purple People Eaters struck again. Hunter returned a fumble 24 yards for another defensive touchdown as the Vikings gutted out a 22-10 lead with 10 minutes left to play. Walsh tacked on one more field goal from 30 yards out to put the game away. Tennessee added a late garbage touchdown. For Minnesota, it was a win of guts and heart, also known as a Mike Zimmer win. 25-16 Vikings

Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles — Carson Went threw his first NFL touchdown pass in the first quarter, a 19 yarder to Jordan Mathews for a 7-0 Eagles lead. The second quarter began with Hue Jackson calling a fake punt on 4th and 5 from the Cleveland 41. It blew up and lost 6 yards. Went got the Eagles to the 4 yard line but threw incomplete on 3rd and goal. Caleb Sturgis hit the 22 yarder for a 10-0 Eagles lead. Robert Griffin III finally got the Browns going. A deep ball to Terrell Pyror went for 44 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 8 RGIII threw incomplete but defensive pass interference kept the drive going. Ian Crowell got in from the 2 to get the Browns within 10-7. Sturgis tacked on a 38 yarder to have the eagles up 13-7 at the break.

On the first play of the second half, RGIII went deep to Coleman for a 58 yard gain to Philly 17. The Browns got nothing else as Murray hit the 35 yard field goal to get the Browns within 13-10. The Browns got it back at their own 15, and disaster immediately struck. RGIII fumbled, the ball went out of the back of the end zone, and the Eagles had a safety and a 15-10 lead. After the free kick, the Eagles moved 73 yards. Went threw a 35 yard touchdown to Nick Agholor for a 22-10 Eagles lead. Ryan Mathews added a one yard run for the Eagles with just over one minute left to complete the scoring. RGIII finished a miserable 12 of 26 for 190 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception, in addition to the fumble for a safety. Went finished 22 of 37 for 278 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for a very impressive NFL debut. Doug Pederson got his first win as an NFL coach. 29-10 Eagles

Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets — Emotion ran high at MetLife Stadium on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. With Rudy Giuliani taking part in pregame ceremonies, Gang Green jumped all over the Bengals at the start. A 3 yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick and his beard to Enunwa had the Jets up 7-0. An interception of Red Rifle Andy Dalton had the Jets on the move again. Despite multiple chances from inside the 10 yard line, the Jets came up empty when Nick Folk had his 23 yard field goal try blocked. Momentum swing as Mike Nugent hit a 33 yard field goal to get the Bengals on the board.

In the second quarter Dalton went bombs away to AJ Green for a 53 yard touchdown and a 10-7 Bengals lead. Marshall returned the ensuing kickoff 65 yards to the Cincinnati 39. Fitzpatrick threw a 15 yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker. The extra point was no good but the Jets led 13-10. Folk would add a 45 yard field goal for the Jets to put them up 16-10. Nugent hit a 21 yarder to end the half. Despite 5 sacks of Dalton, the Bengals only trailed 16-13.

In the third quarter the Bengals moved 92 yards. Jeremy Hill ran for a 12 yard touchdown to put the Bengals back in front 20-16. Early in the fourth quarter the Jets had a golden chance to take the lead. On 2nd and goal at the one, Matt Forte lost a yard. Then Fitzpatrick threw incomplete. On 4th and goal at the 2, Todd Bowles went for the field goal. Folk hit from 20 as the Jets trailed 20-19 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Dalton moved the Bengals to the Jets 26, but a sack killed the drive. With 9 minutes left from 52 yards out, Forsett’s field goal try this time was no good. The Jets moved down the field. Although they had to settle for a 23 yard Folk field goal, they led 22-20 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.

The Bengals took over at their own 16 and Dalton went right to work. A few short passes and a defensive facemark penalty had the Bengals on the move. With 1:11 to play, the Bengals fced 3rd and 13 at the Jets 40. Dalton hit Green for an 11 yard gain. Nugent came in for the 47 yarder for the lead. It was good and the Bengals were back on top by a point. The Jets got it back at their own 25 with 54 seconds left. On 3rd and 10, Fitzpatrick was intercepted. 15 years ago, in the wake of 9/11, at home, with everyone rooting them on, the Jets lost. 15 years later, riding a wave of emotion, they lost again. Give Dalton some credit. He finished a lights out 23 of 30 for 366 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception. Nick Folk had never missed an extra point before this game. His miss today was the difference, in addition to the chip shot field goal that was blocked. 23-22 Bengals

Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints — The Raiders were preseason darlings, but now it was time for real football. The saints got the ball first. After a pair of Drew Brees incompletions, Brees was hit on 3rd and 10 and fumbled. The Raiders began their first drive of the regular season at the Saints 21. Their first play from scrimmage resulted in offensive holding. After 3 plays and negative 8 yards, Sebastian Janikowski hit the 47 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Raiders.

Brees moved the Saints from their own 11 to 3rd and 8 at the Oakland 11. He was then called for intentional grounding and a 13 yard loss. Lutz hit the 42 yard field goal to tie it 3-3. A holding penalty on the ensign kickoff had the Raiders backed up to their own 9 yard line. On 3rd and 7 Derek Carr found Richard for a crucial 8 yard gain. Carr then found Amari Cooper on a slant for 35 yards and went deep to Cooper again for 34 more yards. Latavius Murray barreled over 3 defenders for a tough 6 yard touchdown run for a 10-3 Raiders lead.

The Saints took over at their own 25 and gained 2 on 3rd and 1. From the Saints 42, Brees went deep to Snead for a 49 yard gain. Although replay clearly showed Snead going out of bounds around the 20 yard line, Jack Del Rio did not challenge the call. On 4th and goal at the 2, Sean Payton lined up the Saints to go for it and try to draw the raiders offsides. The entire defense complied, making it 4th and goal at the one. Payton went for it again, and Brees hit Snead for the touchdown over the middle for a 10-10 tie.

Carr showed some fire, scrambling for 11 on 3rd and 9 from the Oakland 26. He leapt into the air over a defender. Yet one play later an offensive facemask killed the Raiders. They committed way too many dumb penalties in the first half. Brees moved the Saints 80 yards as a 15 yard touchdown pass to Cooks made it 17-10 Saints. On the next series the Raiders faced 3rd and 1 at their own 33. Murray gained 9 yards, but offensive holding nullified it. With 6 seconds left in the half from the Oakland 46, Carr threw a 2 yard pass. With 3 seconds left, Carr again threw short rather than a deep Hail Mary or record breaking field goal try. Despite being torched by Brees for 200 yards in the first half, the Raiders only trailed 17-10.

The Raiders commit too many penalties. An angry Menelik Watson was not flagged for it, but on the sideline he punched a bench twice, knocked it over, and slammed his helmet to the ground. This did not gain the Raiders any points. The Raiders began the third quarter with more ineptness. Carr threw incomplete on 3rd and 3. When the Raiders got it back with a short field, a penalty on the punt return set them back. They had multiple special teams penalties in this game, yet were still in it. Despite moving to the Saints 45, the Raiders punted. Marquette King nailed a beauty, as the Saints were pinned at their own 2 yard line. Then came the backbreaker.

Most teams dink and dunk. Sean Payton believes the game is about “big balls,” learned from Bill Parcells. Go big or go home. While virtually every other quarterback is checking down, newly minted 44 million dollar man Drew Brees is throwing haymakers. He went deep, and a 98 yard touchdown connection with Cooks had the Saints up 24-10. Midway through the third quarter, the Raider Nation would soon find out if more drinking and dunking and penalties and punting was in their future.

First came a false start. Then on 2nd and 2 with Carr screaming to have the ball snapped, it came late, nearly resulting in an interception. On 3rd and 2 the Raiders burned a timeout. The Raiders moved to a 1st and 10 at the Saints 15 before bogging down. A pass to the end zone to Walford was well defended but catchable, and Walford did not haul it in. Seabass hit from 31 but the Raiders still trailed 24-13 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

The Raiders caught a break when a 50 yard field goal try by the Saints was no good. From the Oakland 40, they immediately got called for offensive pass interference. On 1st and 20 form their 30, Carr finally unleashed. A deep ball to Cooper went for 43 yards. Another deep ball to Michael Crabtree gained 25 yards down to the 2. Olawale barreled in. Despite 12 minutes still remaining in regulation, Jack Del Rio made the questionable decision to go for 2 points. A low percentage pass play to the corner failed, but the Raiders were very much alive down 24-19.

The Raiders killed themselves on defense. Malcolm Smith was called for a 23 yard defensive pass interference call. 2 plays later DJ Hayden was called for defensive pass interference and 17 more yards. The defense finally held inside the 10. Lutz hit the 20 yard field goal. The Saints had a 27-19 lead with 9 minutes left, and that missed 2 point conversion loomed large. The Raiders struck back immediately in a big way. Richard took a handoff up the gut, broke some tackles, and was off to the races for a 75 yard touchdown run. On the 2 point conversion, Carr rifled a corner pass to Cooper. With a full 8 1/2 minutes left, the game was tied 27-27.

At this point Brees knew that all he had to do was throw a deep ball and the defense would commit pass interference. From the Saints 16, Hayden obliged again, giving the Saints 11 yards. From the Saints 31, Brees went deep to Snead for a 43 yard gain. Snead fumbled the ball, yet somehow Thomas outraced 3 Raiders, picked up the ball, and raced another 10 yards to the Oakland 2 yard line. Brees hit Cadet on the next play for the touchdown. With 6 minutes left the Saints led 34-27. However, they were out of timeouts.

From the Oakland 25, the Raiders moved well. Murray gained 10 and Carr hit Walford for 18 more. On 3rd and 4 from the Saints 41 with 3 1/2 minutes left, Carr threw incomplete. Defensive holding kept the Raiders alive. At the 2 minute warning the Raiders faced 1st and 10 at the Saints 23. Then came brain freeze. A pass to a wide open Walford near the goal line was incomplete because Walford never looked to see where his feet were. One foot stepped out of bounds. On 2nd down, a pass over the middle to a wide open Seth Roberts was just dropped. On 4th and 5 from the 18  with 1:41 to play, Carr threw incomplete and it appeared the Raiders were done.

Defensive pass interference kept the Raiders alive again. Carr then fired a 10 yard touchdown pass to Roberts. With 52 seconds left the Raiders trailed 34-33. A simple extra point would tie it. Jack Del Rio made football heads across America explode by going for the 2 point conversion. Nobody in their right mind makes this decision. Del Rio was breaking out his big balls, but it is one thing to call a fake punt or field goal like Sean Payton has in the biggest games. Those are unexpected. This was risking the entire game when it was expected.

Del Rio’s reasoning, if one wants to assume he was reasoning, is that his defense could not stop Brees. If the game went to overtime, Del Rio did not want to see his exhausted and gashed defense carved up any more. Brees was at home, and on pace for 500 yards passing if things went to overtime. While this does not speak well of the defense, it also speaks high praise of future first ballot hall of fame Drew Brees. Carr took the snap and fired to the corner for Crabtree, who out-wrestled the defender and caught the ball. A penalty flag came down, and again it was on the Raiders. However, it was post-possession. Crabtree was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Raiders had the one point lead, but they would be kicking off from their own 20.

The Saints took over at their own 23 with 40 seconds left and no timeouts. Brees found Snead for gains of 21 and 13 and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 9 seconds left. After an incompletion left 5 seconds, Sean Payton sent Lutz out to try a 61 yard field goal. As everyone from the Left Coast to the Bayou held their breath, Lutz boomed it. At the last second, it curved just barely outside. No good!

After 13 years of frustration and losing, the Raiders had a real character win. One game does not a season make, but this was a big win. Brees finished 28 of 42 for 423 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and the early fumble. Carr was 24 of 38 for 319 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. Two things that have killed the Raiders over the years are penalties and turnovers. The Raiders committed an abominable 14 penalties for 141 yards. The defensive pass interference penalties have to cease now. However, the Raiders also had 0 turnovers. Most importantly, they showed guts, heart and character. Jack del rio trusted Derek Carr with everything on the line, and Carr delivered. 35-34 Raiders

San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs — Walrus Lite saw his team start 1-5 last year before ripping off 10 straight wins. This time Cairo santos hit from 47 to make it 3-0 Chiefs early on. The Chargers answered with Melvin Ingram getting in from the one to cap a quick 75 yard march for a 7-3 Chargers lead. Early in the second quarter Gordon got in from 6 yards out to make it 14-3 Chargers. The Chiefs punted on 4th and 28 from their own 7, giving the ball to the Chargers at the Chiefs 38. Philip Rivers threw a 4 yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead for a 21-3 Chargers lead.

In the third quarter Josh Lambo tacked on a 29 yard field goal for a 24-3 Chargers lead. Whenever the Chiefs trail by 21 points or more, Alex Smith is allowed to throw the ball more than 4 yards. A 9 yard touchdown pass from smith to Hill had the Chiefs within 24-10. Lambo hit a 28 yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to have the Chargers up 27-10. Smith was then intercepted, giving the Chargers 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 44. A couple first downs would put this laugher of a game on ice.

Instead the Chargers failed to gain a first down. With 11 1/2 minutes left, on 4th and 2 from the Chiefs 36, Mike McCoy brought Lambo in for a 54 yard field goal to make it 30-10. Rambo was no good. The Chiefs took over at their own 44. Now that they were down by 17 in the fourth quarter, Alex Smith would be allowed to throw more than 4 yards. On 4th and 2 from the Chargers 48, Smith hit West for 7 yards. Smith threw a 19 yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin. With 9 1/2 minutes left the Chiefs were within 27-17.

The Chiefs got it back and moved from their 23 to the San Diego 15. Santos hit from 33. The Chiefs were now only down 27-20, and a full 3 minutes remained. The Chargers went 3 and out, and the stadium erupted when punter Kaser shanked a 17 yard punt. With 1:49 left the Chiefs took over at the Chargers 42. Oh, those Chargers special teams. From the San Diego 32, Smith hit Maclin for 22. Ware ran it in from 5 yards out. With one minute left the Chiefs had come all the way back to tie the game 27-27. The Chargers again did nothing with it and the game went to overtime. The Chiefs got the ball first at their own 30.

Smith found Ware for 20 and he ran for 13 more. On 3rd and goal at the 2 came the critical play. A field goal would give the Chargers one chance with the ball while a touchdown would end it. Smith took it himself and just barely got the ball over the goal line. 23 unanswered points led to the largest comeback in Chiefs history. This game was a microcosm of the entire Chargers franchise. It was also typical Alex Smith, who can look awful for 3 1/2 quarters until Andy Reid takes the shackles off. Winning ugly is still winning, and nobody does it like Alex Smith. 33-27 Chiefs, OT

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens — Two teams with question marks went at it, Justin Tucker hit a 50 yard field goal early for a 3-0 Ravens lead. In the second quarter Joe Flacco hooked up with speedster Mike Wallace for a 66 yard touchdown and a 10-0 Ravens lead. The Bills moved 75 yards in 12 plays, taking 7 minutes to do it. After failing to ram it in on 3rd and goal at the one, Rex Ryan went for it. On 4th and goal, Lesean McCoy got the tough yard as the Bills trailed 10-7 at halftime. An ugly first half was followed by an even uglier second half. Midway through the fourth quarter, Tucker hit from 45 to put the Ravens by 6 with 6 minutes left. Buffalo went nowhere on offense. At the 2 minute warning on 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 45, West got the carry and the first down as Baltimore ran out the clock. Even by Rex Ryan standards this was ugly. 13-7 Ravens

Chicago Bears at Houston Texans — Langford got in from one yard out to make it 7-0 Bears. In the second quarter nick Novak hit a 28 yard field goal to get the Texans on the board. With 3 minutes left in the half, Brock Osweiler threw a 23 yard touchdown o Deandre Hopkins for a 10-7 Texans lead. With 24 seconds left in the half the Bears faced 1st and 20 at their own 27. Jay Cutler went deep to Alston Jeffery for a 54 yard gain. Cutler then went to Eddie Royal for the 19 yard touchdown as the Bears took a 14-10 lead into the locker rooms.

Cutler began the second half by being quickly intercepted, setting up the Texans at the Chicago 25. They failed to take advantage, settling for a 28 yard Novak field goal and a 14-13 deficit. In the fourth quarter Osweiler hit Fuller for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 20-14 Texans. The Texans held on defense and Novak added a 38 yard field goal to lock up the win as Osweuiler got his first win as a Texan. 23-14 Texans

Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars — Blake Bortles was quickly intercepted, setting up the Packers at the Jacksonville 29. On 4th and 1, Mike McCarthy gambled early. Eddie Lacy got the yard. Aaron Rodgers ran for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. Bortles would rebound with a short field and Weldon would run for a 5 yard touchdown for a 7-7 game. In the second quarter Myers hit a 26 yard field goal to put the Jaguars in the lead, but Rodgers brought the Cheeseheads back again. A 6 yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson made it 14-10 Packers. Bortles brought the Jaguars back quickly, as a 22 yard touchdown pass to Julius Thomas capped the 75 yard march for a 17-14 Jaguars lead just before intermission. With 75 yards to go and 1:09 on the clock, Rodgers did what he does. Helped along by a 30 yard defensive pass interference call, the Pckers faced 3rd and 10 at the Jacksonville 29 with 20 seconds left. Rodgers went deep to Devonta Adams for the touchdown. This was not the Hail Mary against Detroit, but it was still spectacular vintage Rodgers as the Packers led 21-17 at halftime.

The first half was exciting while the second half was a slog. Rodgers began the second half leading the Packers 68 yards in 13 plays. However, after 1st and goal at the 8 the drive bogged down. Mason Crosby hit the 25 yard field goal to make it 24-17 Packers. Bortles led the Jaguars right back from their 25 to a 2nd and 7 at the Green Bay 21. Yet 2 incompletions later, and the Jaguars were settling for a 39 yard field goal and a 24-20 deficit.

Rodgers led a staggering 16 play drive that took 9:15 off the clock. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 2, Starks went nowhere. Mike McCarthy took no chances as Crosby hit from 20 to make it 27-20 Packers with 12 minutes left in regulation. Bortles again came back with a 14 play drive from the Jacksonville 31. On 4th and 4 just past midfield, Bortles found Robinson for just enough. On 4th and 3 from the Packers 38, Bortles hit Robinson for 9. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the 25, a critical delay of game penalty and a sack meant 4th and 13 at the 32. This was too much for Gus Bradley with 5 minutes still remaining. He decided to go for the field goal and trust his defense. Myers nailed the 50 yarder and again the Jaguars were within 4 points again.

The Jaguars got it back at their own 37 with 3:17 left. At the 2 minute warning the Jaguars faced 4th and 4 at the Packers 46. Bortles gained 7 but offensive holding killed it. On 4th and 14 with 1:53 left, Bortles was intercepted. Yet defensive holding gave the Jaguars a whole new set of downs. A 22 yard pass to Robinson saw him fumble but recover it himself. On 3rd and 1 from the Green Bay 14, Bortles threw incomplete. 23 seconds remained. The Jaguars had converted on 4th down 3 times, 4 times if you count the one called back. Only one yard was needed.

Gus Bradley picked the absolute worst time to play West Coast Offense dink and dunk football. Bortles threw a sideways pass, and Alex Hurns actually lost a yard. Dink. Dunk. Death. Neither team scored a touchdown in the second half as Green Bay escaped. Rodgers threw for less than 200 yards but made no mistakes. Bortles passed for 320 yards, but he needed 321 and did not get it. 27-23 Packers

Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks — The Seahawks decided not to show off Seattle as the worst city in America on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The players did not act like grungers at a WTO conference. The bigger disgrace was the Seattle offense. Adam Gase is the new Dolphins coach, and he is supposed to be an offensive wizard. In the first half, his offense was just offensive as well. The Legion of Boom was ready in an ugly first half. Steve Hauschka hit a 39 yard first quarter field goal. In the second quarter Franks hit from 41 to tie the game. Hauschka answered from 38 as the Seahawks took a 6-3 lead into the locker rooms.

The third quarter was even more hideous. On 4th and 1 from the Miami 31, Pete Carroll decided to go for it. Russell Wilson threw incomplete. On the first play of the fourth quarter, a controversial fumble call against Wilson set up Miami at the Seattle 36. Despite 1st and goal at the 5, three plays lost 4 yards. Andrew Franks had his 27 yard field goal try blocked with 10:45 to play. The Seahawks moved from their 20 to a 2nd and 2 at the Miami 37. A running play was blown up in the backfield for a 4 yard loss. Instead of a field goal try, Seattle punted. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Dolphins were backed up at their own 14.

Ryan Tannehill had been bottled up all game. He hit Kenny Stills for 16, Landry for gains of 9 and 28, and Williams for 29 more down to the Seattle 2 yard line. This time the offense would not be denied. It took nearly 56 minutes of football, but the end zone was cracked. Tannehill took it in himself for the 10-6 Dolphins lead. Seattle took over after a touchback and soon faced 4th and 1 at their own 34. Michael gained 7. After a pair of Wilson incompletions, with 2:08 left the Seahawks faced 4th and 4 at their own 47. Wilson even burned a timeout before the next play call. Yet he calmly found Doug Baldwin for a 22 yard gain. Wilson went back to Baldwin again for a 9 yard gain down to the Miami 2 with 35 seconds left. Wilson threw a fee to the end zone for Baldwin and he came down with it. After 59 1/2 minutes, Seattle had reached paydirt. The extra point was hooked badly wide, but had it been kicked straight it would have been blocked. Miami got it back at their own 18 with 26 seconds left. Tannehill was sacked twice, as Cliff Avril belted him on the final play. Boom. It was ugly, but it was a win. 12-10 Seahawks

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys — 15 years ago after the 9/11 attacks, the Giants played inspired defense in gutting out a road win. In 2016, on the anniversary of the attacks, the Giants were again spared the emotion of playing at home. They were at hated Dallas. Tony Romo is out, which means the Dak Prescott era has begun. Both Prescott and Eli Manning were solid in the first half. Manning was 13 for 16 for 147 yards and Prescott was 14 of 19 for 134 yards. Neither quarterback was intercepted. The difference was Manning throwing two touchdowns while Prescott did not reach the end zone.

In the first quarter Prescott led an impressive 15 play, 70 yard drive that consumed 8 1/2 minutes. Yet on 3rd and goal form the 6, Prescott threw a 1 yard pass. Dan Bailey hit from 23 to make it 3-0 Cowboys. In the second quarter Bailey had a 46 yard field goal nullified by offensive holding. Jason Garrett gambled on having Bailey try it again from 56 yards out. Bailey has the leg, and he drilled it to make it 6-0 Cowboys. Tom Coughlin is gone, and Bob McAdoo was coaching his first game as skipper. After a sluggish start, Manning finally got going. A 45 yard bomb to O’Dell Beckham was followed by a 15 yard touchdown to Donnell as the Giants grabbed a 7-6 lead.

Prescott again led Dallas into the red zone but for the third time not into the green zone. Bailey hit his third field goal, a 25 yarder to make it 9-7 Cowboys with 4 minutes left in the half. Manning moved the Giants from their 25 to a 3rd and 3 at the Dallas 9 with 13 seconds left in the half. Manning threw a jump ball to Shephard, and he came down with it for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Giants led 13-9 at break time.

The Giants began the second half with Manning quickly getting intercepted, setting up Dallas at the Giants 35. Ezekiel Elliot ran for an 8 yard touchdown to put the Cowboys back in front 16-13. One minute into the fourth quarter, Bailey again came through bigtime as a 54 yard field goal increase the Dallas lead to 19-13. A field position game had the Giants taking over at their own 46 with 10 1/2 minutes left in the game. Shane Vereen gobbled up yards for Big Blue on the ground. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Manning hit Victor Cruz for the touchdown. With 6 1/2 minutes left the Giants had retaken the lead by a point.

The Giants held on defense and got it back on their own 23 with 4 minutes left. At the 2 minute warning, the Giants faced 3rd and 12 at the Dallas 48. With the Cowboys out of timeouts, Ben McAdoo played it very safe and kept it on the ground. Rashad Jennings gained 11 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Dallas 37, McAdoo again took no chances. Forget going for it or trying a 55 yard field goal. The Giants punted and Dallas got it back at their own 20 with 1:05 to play.

Prescott hit Dunbar for 16 yards, but Dunbar went forward to gain a couple extra yards rather than go out of bounds. On 3rd and 15 from the Dallas 31, Prescott found Beasley exactly at the sticks and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 17 seconds left. With 12 seconds left, Prescott found Terrence Williams. Yet Williams also inexplicably ran toward the middle of the field rather than get out of bounds. While a field goal try still would have been about yards, Bailey has the leg and was 4 of 4 on the day. He never got a fifth chance as Williams was inconsolable after the game. Ben McAdoo has his first win as an NFL head coach. 20-19 Giants

Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts — Jim Caldwell faced off against the team he took to the Super Bowl and then fired him. Meanwhile, the Lions were one of the hottest teams last year the second half of the season when Martha Ford fired people and let lions fans know that losing would no longer be tolerated. in the first quarter the Lions moved 80 yards and Theo Roddick ran for a 21 yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 Lions. In the second quarter the Lions moved 15 plays and 82 yards in 7 minutes. Washington got in from the one to make it 14-0 Lions.

Adam Vinatieri put a 50 yard field goal on the board for the Colts, but Matthew Stafford came right back. 75 yards came easily as a 6 yard touchdown pass to Eric Ebron had the Lions up 21-3. Jim Caldwell was so pleased he almost made a facial expression. The Colts had only 1:37 to work with from their own 25, but it was enough for Andrew Luck. He went to Donte Moncrief for 32 yards, Ferguson for 14, and Allen for 16 more. On 3rd and 7 from the 10, Luck found TY Hilton for 8. Luck then hit Moncrief for the 2 yard touchdown as the Colts trailed 21-10 at halftime.

After a Lions punt in the third quarter Luck moved the Colts from their own 15. On 2nd and 20 from their own 18, Luck went deep to Dorsett for a 51 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Detroit 31, Luck found Turbin for 12 and then Allen for the 19 yard touchdown. Luck hit Allen for the 2 point conversion as the Colts were right back in it down 21-18. Then from the Detroit 29 came a heavy dose of Detroit’s Abdullah. He gained 7 and 18 yards. On 3rd and 9 at the Indy 30, Stafford found Abdullah, who caught the ball fell down, got up without being touched, and gained 13 yards. 2 plays later Stafford hit Abdullah for the touchdown. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Lions had some breathing room with a 28-18 lead.

They would not be breathing for long. Less than one minute into the fourth quarter, Adam Vinatieri hit a 40 yard field goal to get the Colts within 28-21. The Lions went 3 and out and the Colts got it back at their own 6 yard line. On 3rd and 2, Luck found Ferguson for 12 yards. From the Indy 39, Luck went deep to Hilton for a 32 yard gain. Luck hit Jack Doyle for the 16 yard touchdown. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Colts had erased the 18 point deficit as game was tied 28-28.

The Lions took over at their 25.  Stafford hit Golden Tate for 12 and Abdullah for 14 more. On 2nd and 13 from the Indy 40, Stafford hit Anquon Boldin for 14, Ebron for 13, and Riddick for the 13 yard touchdown. Although Matt Prater missed the extra point, with 4 minutes left the Lions had reclaimed the lead 34-28. From the Indy 25, Luck hit Hilton for 9 and then went deep to Hilton for a 33 yard gain to the Detroit 26. A touchdown saving ankle tackle by Lawson set up 3rd and 4 at the Detroit 6 with 46 seconds left. Prater could only watch helplessly knowing his extra point miss could make him the goat. Prater’s nightmare came true as Luck fired high over the middle to the back of the end zone. Dolyle came down with it. Vinatieri did what Prater did not, as the Colts had the one point lead with 37 seconds left. A couple years ago Luck overcame a 28 point second half playoff deficit, so 18 points in a regular season game is nothing.

The Lions form their own 25 still had all 3 timeouts. Stafford quickly completed a 19 yard pass to Roddick followed by a timeout. He then found Ebron for 9 and the Lions took another timeout with 22 seconds. Stafford then found Jones for a perfect 22 yard strike right near the sideline. Jones inexplicably did not get out of bounds. Stafford screamed at Jones, but the Lions quickly used their last timeout with 12 seconds left. After dangerously gambling on one more play, Stafford quickly threw it out of bounds. with 8 seconds left, Prater came in for a 43 yard field goal try to win it. For Prater, it was very sweet redemption. For Chuck Pagano and the Colts, a tough loss. For the man he replaced, Jim Caldwell was as quietly stoic in victory as he is classy in defeat. Meanwhile, Martha Ford remains 7-2 as an owner. At 90 years old, Lions fans have a winner at the helm and on this day on the field. The final play featured the hook and laterals that eventually resulted in a safety to complete the scoring. 39-35 Lions

New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals was the Sunday night game. Both teams came up one game short of the Super Bowl last year. For the Patriots, one missed extra point cost them the AFC Title Game. The Cardinals are in win or bust mode, while the Patriots for only the second time since 2000 will not start Tom Brady at quarterback. With Gisele Bundchen’s husband serving a 4 game Deflategate suspension, the Jimmy Garoppolo era has begun. In a surprising turn of events against perhaps the league’s best team, Garoppolo went on the road under the Sunday night lights and looked good early on. A deep ball to Chris Hogan went for a 37 yard touchdown. Garoppolo then led a 12 play, 63 yard, 5 minute drive that culminated in a 47 yard Stephen Gostkowki field goal as the Patriots led 10-0 after the opening quarter. The Cardinals finally got some offense going in the second quarter. Carson Palmer led a 6 1/2 minute drive that culminated in a 3 yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald to get Arizona within 10-7.

In the third quarter the Patriots marched 75 yards. Leguarrette Blount ran it in from 8 yards out for a 17-7 Patriots lead. The next time New England got the ball, Blount coughed it up. Arizona took over at the Patriots 33 yard line. David Johnson gotten from one yard out as the Cardinals trailed 17-14 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Gostkowski drilled a 53 yard field goal to put the Patriots up 20-14 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Cardinals got it back at their own 21. From the Arizona 43, David Johnson appeared stopped before spinning away from several tacklers and racing 45 yards to the New England 13. On 3rd and 10 Palmer found Michael Floyd for 11 yards down to the two. Palmer then threw a perfect fade pass to Larry Fitzgerald in the corner of the end zone. Fitzgerald made a circus catch with a defender draped all over him. The extra point was good as the Cardinals had their first lead of the night up 21-20 with 10 minutes left in regulation.

A sack of Garoppolo had the Patriots facing 3rd and 16 at their own 19. Garoppolo danced around, avoided another sack, and heaved a deep ball to Danny Amendola for a 33 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Arizona 41, Garoppolo founds James White for 7. On 3rd and 11 from the Arizona 35, a run meant to just make the field goal try shorter saw Blount gain 13 yards and another first down. On 3rd and 5 from the 17, Garoppolo gained only 3 yards under heavy pressure. Gostkowski hit the 32 yard field goal to put the Patriots back on top by 2 points. The Cardinals still had 3 1/2 minutes to work with, but no timeouts. Bruce Arians decided to use them on defense before the field goal try rather than wait until the clock got closer to the 2 minute warning.

A penalty on the ensuing kickoff had the Cardinals starting at their own 8 yard line. Palmer found Brown for 8 and Larry Fitzgerald for gains of 21, 15, and 10 on 3rd and 6. At the 2 minute warning, the Cardinals were already in long field goal range at the New England 34. At this point it was Arians going conservative and running the ball, forcing Bill Belichick to take his timeouts to preserve some clock. Arians going conservative lasted one play before going back to being aggressive. Palmer was intercepted, but the defender came down out of bounds. However, a critical holding penalty pushed the Cardinals back out of field goal range. As the clock ticked down to 70 seconds, the Cardinals faced 3rd and 23. With everything on the line, Palmer found Jerron Brown for 18 yards. On 4th and 5, Chandler Catanzaro came in for a 46 yard field goal try to win it. Belichick took New England’s last timeout with 40 seconds left.

The snap was terrible, the ball was barely placed down in tim, and the kick was wide left. The Evil Empire of Football escaped again. Last year it was Denver and New England in the AFC Title Game. This week they both survived on the final play due to a missed field goal. The Evil Hoodie did it again. As for Jimmy Garoppolo, it was a very impressive debut. The Patriots served notice that even without their leader, they will be a Super Bowl contender again. 23-21 Patriots.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins is the first Monday night game. Rarely does a team and the media focus on a team’s left tackle, but on this night they did for all the right reasons. Pittsburgh’s Alejandro Villanueva did 3 tours of duty in Afghanistan. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he knew his players would be standing tonight during the national anthem out of respect for him. Joe Namath once said that “Football taught me that life is the ultimate team game.” This was a very classy display. Villanueva took on al Qaeda. He can handle Big Ben’s blind side. As for the game, sometimes one play can turn a game around.

Early on it was all Redskins. Dustin Hopkins hit field goals of 31 and 40 to make it 6-0 Redskins. The second one was set up by an interception of Ben Roethlisberger that gave Washington a short field. Their inability to crack the end zone hurt them. With one minute left in the third quarter and the Steelers taking over at their own 25, Roethlisberger was sacked and fumbled. The Redskins were all over it except the defender tried to pick it up and run with it rather than just fall on it. This error allowed the Steelers to recover the ball and escape with only a 12 yard loss. Big Ben hit Williams for 14 and on 3rd and 8 found Antonio Brown for 13 more. On 3rd and 8 from the Washington 36, Roethlisberger found James for 7 yards. Mike Tomlin decided to go for it on 4th and 1. Rather than ram it up the gut, Big Ben went deep to Antonio Brown for the touchdown. Instead of trailing 13-0, the Steelers led 7-6. The 14 point swing deflated Washington for much of the game.

On 4th and 6 from the Pittsburgh 38, Cousins inexplicably completed a 5 yard pass. For those who do not despise West Coast Offense dink and dunk football, you should. Throwing past the marker works wonders. The Steelers took over at their own 33 with 6 1/2 minutes left and ate up most of the remaining clock. With 1:24 left in the half and facing 4th and 1 at the Washington 34, Tomlin again decided to go for it. Again he went big and bold rather than run it straight ahead. Big Ben found Rogers for 19 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 9, Roethlisberger hit James for 6 and then Rogers for the 3 yard touchdown as the Steelers led 14-6 at halftime.

Chris Boswell hit a 46 yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 17-6 Steelers. An interception of Kirk Cousins killed another Washington drive. From their own 25, Roethlisberger went deep to Sammy Coates for a 42 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Washington 26, Roethlisberger went deep to Brown for the touchdown and a 24-6 Steelers lead midway through the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter Washington reached the red zone but again had to settle for a Hopkins field goal from 34 yards out as the Redskins trailed 24-9. The fourth quarter Began with Cousins moving the Redskins from their 23 down the field again. From the Washington 44, Cousins found Pierre Garcon for 19, Crowder for 16, and Vernon Davis for 20 more down to the one. Thompson got in the end zone and the Redskins were within 24-16 with a full 13 minutes left. Now the Redskins needed one stop on defense.

They didn’t get it. From the Pittsburgh 27, the Steelers just gashed the Washington defense. On 3rd and 13 from the Washington 41, Big Ben found Coates for 14. On 2nd and 19 from the Washington 36, Roethlisberger found Brown for 21. On the next play DeAngelo Williams broke through bad tackling attempts and raced for the 15 yard touchdown. The 13 play, 73 yard drive took over 7 minutes off the clock. With only 6 minutes left the Steelers led 31-16. Williams added a 6 yard touchdown run with 1:54 to play to complete the blowout. 38-16 Steelers

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers is the second Monday night game. When a fan runs on the field naked, the media no longer covers them. They move cameras elsewhere to avoid giving them attention. That is what should be done with San Francisco’s backup quarterback. I will not even mention his name until he takes the football field and plays. He is not starting a conversation. He is throwing a temper tantrum. Football is about football players. As of now, he is as much of a spectator as I am. The real story is not that one or two players engaged in a shallow rebellion against nothing in particular. It is that 99% of the players DID stand for the flag. Let’s focus on the mainstream, not the wingnuts. This was a game between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers.

What matters is the players in the game. Blaine Gabbert is 8-27 as a starter. Yet he is starting. Imagine how little the coaching staff thinks of his backup. In football, taking a knee is a form of giving up to avoid getting hit. Who wants a guy who takes a knee before the game even starts? “Sorry coach, the pregame meal was too tough for me. I need to kneel down for awhile. Standing up is dangerous hard work.”

Then they played a football game. In the first quarter Carlos Hyde ran for an 11 yard touchdown as the 49ers lead 7-0. Blaine Gabbert’s views on social justice & climate change remained unknown. 70,000 fans seem unconcerned. This was the highest attended event since the last preseason game. About 69,980 more people attended this game than the last college protest rally. Even in San Francisco, people are more interested in watching a ballgame than listening to someone blather on about the ills of the world. Football is interesting. Social justice activists are boring. This is not hard to understand. So if you are in San Francisco and someone starts babbling political nonsense, just say, “Hey, how about those 49ers?” Everyone else will ignore them and converse with you.

Meanwhile, an interception of Case Keenum led to a 3 year touchdown run by Shaun Draughn for a 14-0 49ers lead in the second quarter. Late in the third quarter the Rams got a break when a strong punt return had them starting at the San Francisco 38. Keenum was then intercepted again. With 12 minutes left in regulation Gabbert threw an 8 yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald and make it 21-0 49ers. Hyde scored a one yard touchdown run with 6 minutes left for a 49ers blowout. 3,600 years after Abraham, the entire Rams offense is being sacrificed. Los Angeles NFL fans now demanding the scoreless Rams move back to St. Louis. 28-0 49ers

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