Oakland at Atlanta: Tied at 13 in the 4th quarter, the Falcons got the ball with 8:40 left and couldn’t score. After a punt, the Raiders had a nice drive going but Atlanta’s Asante Samuel picked off Carson Palmer and returned it 79 yards for the go-ahead score with under 3 minutes to play. On the next possession, the Raiders drove down and Darren McFadden scored a TD on a 2-yard run with 40 seconds remaining. They kicked the PAT for the tie, hoping to hold the Falcons scoreless with their defense for the remaining time. With 6 seconds left, Matt Bryant nailed a 55-yard attempt as the ball sailed left a little but had 4-5 yards to spare as it went just inside the left upright with a second remaining. I knew this game would be better than people thought! The Falcons enter their bye week 6-0 with a 23-20 win and their first-ever 6-0 start. Had Mcfadden been able to average better than the 2.6 yds/carry he did today, the Raiders may well have pulled off the upset.
Dallas at Baltimore: Down 4 and in the red zone, the Cowboys’ Tony Romo took a sack with only a 4-man rush coming at him, forcing the Cowboys to settle for a field goal to bring them within a single point, 24-23, with 8:22 remaining. The Ravens took the ensuing kickoff and drove 73 yards in 10 plays to go up, 31-23. The Cowboys drove and on 3rd and 11 from the Ravens’ 33, Romo hit TE Jason Witten for a first down on a difficult low pass that Witten obviously cleanly grabbed 6 inches off the turf and no challenge was needed nor attempted to keep the drive alive. On first and goal with 36 seconds left and a Baltimore timeout, Romo hit Dez Bryant for the TD with 32 seconds left. They needed a 2-pt conversion to tie the game and ran the exact same play. This time, Bryant simply missed the pass as it glanced off his shoulder pads. He had 3 dropped passes last week and 3 more this week. Clearly, Bryant’s problems with his focus continue. Amazingly, the Cowboys recovered the onside kick but time management was a problem as they ran a play, failed to stop the clock, and couldn’t get to the line. Finally, with 6 seconds remaining, they called a timeout for a 51-yard FG attempt that hooked left. It wasn’t Dallas’ day today as they blew numerous opportunities to pull this one out.
Kansas City at Tampa Bay: Apparently, NFL.com and ESPN.com use the same feed for their scores, because I looked and the Chiefs inexplicably went from 3 points to 4. HUH? HOW IN THE WORLD do you get a PAT without the “T” part? You don’t! So, I checked the game itself on NFL Sunday Ticket, and the Chiefs had gotten a TD that the “feed” credited to the wrong team, but gave KC’s Ryan Succop the credit for the PAT. What happened was Edgar Jones returned a fumble 11 yards for a TD for the Chiefs, but the 2 websites in question apparently have nobody checking behind the feed that the scoring is correct. Moral of the story? Don’t believe everything you read!
Indianapolis at New York Jets: This one turned out the way I thought the Packers/Colts would last week – a blowout loss by Indy. The Jets got Steven Hill back as well as TE Dustin Keller, which gave them the offense they needed against one of the league’s worst defenses. The Colts never could get sustained drives going and never were in this game. Typical of a young team, Indy played like world-beaters in the second half last week but never got much going this week on either side of the ball. Young teams can often come out and play flat the week after an emotional victory, and that dogged them into this game.
St. Louis at Miami: The Rams had over 300 yards of offense at halftime but were losing 10-6 at intermission. The Dolphins seemed to make the plays they needed on 3rd down and were even robbed of a turnover when the review officials simply missed the call. It happens. With a 17-14 lead and in punt formation, Joe Philbin made a gutsy call and ran a fake punt-run for a first down. They finally had to punt and a holding penalty on the Rams forced them to start with under 2 minutes left, 1 timeout remaining, and 97 yards to go. Recall, the Rams have rookie Greg Zuerlein with the Leg from Hell…one of his nicknames is “Legatron,” and he has showed it so far this season having not missed a FG until 2 this very game. However, QB Sam Bradford took a sack on 3rd down and 4 which pushed them back to a 66-yard field goal attempt. It was the same direction where Zuerlein’s 2 missed attempts earlier in the game were. He hooked it left as time expired…but get this – he actually had the leg to spare! The Dolphins won despite having no receiver over 50 yards and only 20 yards rushing. Folks, this team is getting to be a dangerous threat, given their play the last month and having SO much room in SO many areas to improve. NFL receiving yardage leader Brian Hartline was held without a catch and Reggie Bush only had 17 yards rushing. This defense is truly tough and the reason they’re competitive.
Cincinnati at Cleveland: Cincy had a 14-13 lead at the end of the third quarter. However, the game got away from them when Cleveland scored 3 TDs in the 4th quarter, including a 19-yard interception return for a TD by Cleveland CB Sheldon Brown to put them up by 17. Dalton hit A.J. Green for a 57-yard strike to narrow the gap to 7 with 2:29 remaining. That was the end of the scoring, however, as Cleveland held on for their first victory of the year, ensuring no team will go winless in 2012.
Detroit at Philadelphia: This game was close the entire time, with Detroit jumping out to an early lead and the Eagles leading at the half, 7-6. It was a fight up until the 4th quarter when Eagles’ WR Jeremy Maclin took a 70 yard pass from Vick to the house. Matt Stafford hit Nate Burleson in the corner of the end zone with 3:32 left to draw the Lions to within 3 points. The Lions lead the NFL in penalties and had a season-high number this game. Philadelphia couldn’t score or run off enough time to seal the win and Detroit got the ball back as a result of the game’s most important play…an otherwise unspectacular (but nice) play where Ndamukong Suh batted down a 3rd-down pass from Michael Vick. After a long completion to Megatron and two nice runs by Mikel LeShoure, the Lions got a first and goal from the 1 with a penalty on the Eagles and had to try the short FG for the tie with 5 seconds remaining. Out of many missed kicks at games’ ends today, veteran Jason Hanson drilled it to send it into overtime, tying John Carney for third on the all-time made FG list. He made a 45-yarder in overtime to take sole possession of 3rd place all-time while notching up the second win of the season for a struggling franchise….despite 16 penalties for 132 yards.
Kansas City at Tampa Bay: The Bucs crushed the hapless Chiefs, 38-10. Now it’s the Chiefs that look to be the worst team in the AFC with the Browns winning at home against the Bengals. How long until the fickle Chiefs fans clamor for Matt Cassel again? Time will tell.