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  • Plus, emegency kicker! And two more starting quarterbacks go down, Broncos are falling apart, Gurley puts on a show in London, Bears overwhelm Cam Newton, Bills get it done again (despite awful clock management) and Browns stay winless despite not giving up a TD
By Gary Gramling
October 22, 2017

Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened on Sunday afternoon. Get the full Sunday breakdown from Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling on The MMQB: 10 Things Podcast. Subscribe now and it will be in your feed first thing Monday morning

Things That Made Me Giddy

LeSean McCoy: Is a gift from the gods. Cherish him.

That Steelers Defense: The pass rush was relentless, and there’s so much speed among the defensive backs and linebackers. The Bengals, who have been much better under Bill Lazor, had no chance of moving the ball in the second half. The Steelers are taking the shape of a special team.

Ezekiel Elliott: This is what the Cowboys offense was supposed to be. The Niners are banged up a bit (no Arik Armstead, Reuben Foster left this game early), but this was still a strong showing from the (relatively embattled) offensive line and a dominating game from Elliott.

Matt Moore: I wasn’t sure Moore could survive behind this offensive line (Cutler can at least make those throws off his back foot in the face of pressure), but the long-time backup came up huge. He’s as up-and-down as any quarterback in football, but if the Dolphins could win games the way the offense has performed so far . . .

Jeff Heath: The safety took over kicking duties, replacing an injured Dan Bailey. Kicking extra points isn’t easy anymore. And as Meatloaf once sang: “Now don’t be sad/’Cause two out of three is what Kai Forbath usually does.”

Drew Brees TD Pass No. 500: You've got some work to do if you're going to catch up to him.

Leonard Floyd Picks On Someone His Own Size: Cam Newton, in this case. Floyd is a stud.

Aaron Jones Doing Everything: His vision as a runner and a couple of nice blitz pick-ups. The Packers have a running back.

Deonte Thompson: 100-yard game for the new guy! The Bills desperately needed speed in the receiving corps; a wonder that the Bears decided they do not.

Everything About Tarik Cohen: Ha! The 5' 6" guy makes the catch 50 yards downfield on a 70-yard play.

Jameis Winston, Gutsy: With the sprained AC joint, he hung in and made play after play in the second half in against a good Bills defense on the road. If Adam Humphries doesn’t cough one up as they readied for a potential game-winning drive in a tie game, Winston’s performance would have made headlines.

Justin Tucker and Kai Forbath: It was like watching You Got Served if You Got Served was about kicking long field goals instead of dancing. Forbath from 52 then 51, then Tucker from 57. Then Forbath misses another PAT! But the Vikings win anyway. So in the end, everyone got served. And no one got served. If you know what I mean.

49ers Don’t Make Their Fans Sweat One Out: That was nice of them in light of the fact that they lost five straight by three points or less each.

Tyrod Taylor to Logan Thomas: So much Hokie QB-ness on this TD!

Eddie Jackson: Pfft, just showing off because our Football in America crew was in Chicago this weekend. Two long defensive touchdowns on the one-year anniversary of a career-altering injury is a nice day.

Jarvis Landry’s Accountant: I wasn’t around last week to point out that there’s no way the Dolphins win in Atlanta without Landry making a series of plays at big moments. So I’ll point it out this week: I know it was supposed to be DeVante Parker’s breakout year, but he’s out of the lineup, and even when he’s back the Dolphins desperately need what Landry provides. They must pay him.

Ryan Succop: He not only keeps his inside-50 streak going (55 in a row!) with the game-winner in overtime, but he taunts an opposing coach for icing the kicker along the way. (I assume Succop intentionally clanked his free try off the left upright after Hue Jackson called timeout, because Succop can put the ball wherever he wants right now.)

Brett Hundley’s Feet Don’t Fail Him Now: He had to take advantage of his mobility, and he did. Three carries and 44 yards will give opponents something to think about going forward.

Justin McCray Springs Aaron Jones to Put Packers on the Board: Six months ago Packers fans would have thought those were two made-up names. Great vision by the rookie back. Nice block by the fill-in left guard.

Evan Engram: You get what they were picturing with Engram and Odell Beckham Jr., with Engram giving the Seahawks fits in this one. That woudla been nice. It can still be nice in 2018.

John Morton and the Jets Offense: One week after putting up 400 yards of offense, the Jets score 28 points. I’m not sure anyone thought the team would surpass those numbers in all 2017 games combined. Tip of the hat to you, offensive coordinator John Morton.

Fake-Punt Dagger!: Robert Golden to Darrius Heyward-Bey, with Golden holding it an extra half-beat and making it just a little more interesting than it probably had to be. Style points count, as far as I’m concerned.

Chargers Get One in the Spanos Family’s Jewel of a Soccer Stadium: And the fan was going nuts.

Candy Corn: Some people didn’t eat much candy corn over the course of the afternoon. Some very unfortunately people didn’t eat any at all. I had a truly heroic intake of candy corn today. My teeth hurt, I’m sweating profusely, and I regret nothing.


Regrets

Brett Hundley as a Passer: This is going to be a process. As I mentioned in this morning’s column, Hundley looked reasonably comfortable against the Vikings’ fairly static single-high looks last week. The Saints gave him a wider variety of looks on Sunday and Hundley was slow to process, generally holding the ball for far too long and relying on his legs to bail him out. And it’s understandable. The Packers led for most of the game, and the last thing they needed was Hundley forcing a play and turning it over. Then they were trailing, and it was too late to flip the switch and open things up. These were the kinds of defensive looks you don’t see running the second unit in preseason games. He’ll process faster the more live action he gets, but he needs to improve fast.

What in the World Happened to the Broncos Offense During Their Bye Week?: This is a Monstars situation, but like a double Monstars. The Monstars took the Broncos’ talent, and then a second set of Monstars came in and took any remaining coordination and motor skills. Since the bye, the Broncos have 10 points. Trevor Siemian has become a turnover machine (two apiece in the two games). But, like last year, it all comes back to the running game; they can’t do it right now (115 rushing yards over two games).

Bills’ Clock Management: Andy Reid is off the hook forever; this was the worst I’ve ever seen. Second-and-short, 12 seconds left, no timeouts, ball already at Tampa’s 18, the Bills run a play to, I guess, try to turn a 35-yard attempt into a 33-yard attempt, Tyrod Taylor throws short to Jordan Matthews who can’t get out of bounds. Clock runs out, three points lost.

Doug Baldwin vs. Tom Cable: Meh, a whole lot of nothing (Cable seemed to barely take exception to it); the Seahawks have gotten a lot more intense on the sideline than that. Though it did make me think about the time Cable broke Randy Hanson's jaw.

Carson Palmer’s Life Is Unfair Right Now: It’s a wonder how he survived this long operating this offense behind that offensive line.

Andrew Sendejo on Mike Wallace: Sendejo walks a fine line sometimes, and this was certainly deserving of a flag, but with Wallace being flung down a lot of the blame here lies with unfortunate timing.

Andy Dalton’s Throw Away: C’mon guy, it’s fourth-and-3, the game is probably over, but don’t throw the thing out of bounds. Just throw a jump ball, see if someone can make a play. A.J. Green is on your team!

Remember When Adrian Peterson Redefined the Cardinals?: Seems like they caught the Bucs off-guard last week. The ugliness in London—the Arizona offensive line overmatched against the Rams—is probably more in line with what to expect going forward.

Eli’s Gotta Get One of Those Gripmasters: A second game-changing (and just a little bit soft) strip sack in three weeks.

Modern-Day Kelvin Benjamin Looking Like 2016 Kelvin Benjamin: Maybe you can put some of the deflected pick-six on Cam Newton, but this was Benjamin going up against a corner who he should be able to stuff into a locker. Newton trusted his receiver. Benjamin can’t get outmuscled on these plays.

Drew Brees Underthrows Everything: Two bad ones early in Green Bay, both of them picked. Without those throws, it would have been a dance around the maypole in Lambeau.

This Colts Secondary, Man: Especially if Rashaan Melvin is going to miss any significant amount of time (update: And now Malik Hooker, too). Usually it’s the two or three blown coverages they have every week. On Sunday, they made Blake Bortles look like Blake Bortles playing against a really bad secondary.

Jimmy Graham’s Hands: The fourth-and-goal drop in the end zone was bad in large part because he’s in Seattle primarily to make that play (and because it hit him in the stomach). But the later drop, as Russell Wilson extended the play then found Graham, uncovered, leisurely jogging down the left sideline as the quarterback got hammered and, again, put a pass into his belly.

Zero Offensive TDs in Chicago and Cleveland: Yay?

Hundley’s Time Out Before Third-and-18: Packers were up one at the time, five minutes into the second half. You have to keep those second-half timeouts in close games, and you weren’t going to get a third-and-18 play on the sideline. (After the time out, Hundley threw short over the middle to Davante Adams against a soft zone, the Packers punted on fourth-and-long and lost the lead on the ensuing drive.)

Dolphins Secondary: Their new theme song (since no one has ever penned a song titled “The Safeties are Never Where the Corners Think They Will Be”):

Why Was DeShone Kizer Starting Again?: You didn’t need the ability to see through time to know it wouldn’t be a good day for Kizer. I don’t understand why Cody Kessler wasn’t the choice to start; if Kizer wasn’t ready a week ago, what caused him to be ready for this week’s game?

The Ravens Have Absolutely Nothing Offensively: Take all the digital-poos you want on Joe Flacco (a lot of it is deserved), but there is not a quarterback on the planet who can make it work with this offense right now. Their O-line is bad, they don’t have a dynamic back who can create his own yards, and with Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace out there is nothing that can be done in the passing game. There aren’t enough smoke and mirrors in the world.

Holy Crap There’s Another London Game Next Week?!: I don’t mind the London part, but another morning game? Ugh.

Ken Crawley, Tackler: Let’s be honest, Who wants to tackle 220-pound Brett Hundley with a head of steam? You? Me? Those fat cats in Washington? No, so let’s not be too critical here. But still, Hundley right on the sideline here; hit him with any force and he steps out of bounds.

The Turf in Miami: What an embarrassment to play an NFL game on that surface. Someone call the Wizard of Sod.


Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About

JuJu Smith-Schuster Beats Le’Veon Bell in Hide-and-Seek: A bit too elaborate for my tastes (I mean, I can’t replicate that when I play Tetris), but big points for creativity.

Todd Gurley: You know how the cool, good-looking kids on the TV will say things like “he hit the circle button” on a spin move referring to Madden, and you, as a young person, think Hey, I can relate to that! Well, this Gurley run was like my 3-year-old mashing all the buttons at once, stringing together a series of moves that land him in the end zone.

Steven Hauschka: Hits the game-winner, and commentator Chris Myers points out that he wanted to be a dentist! Because he wanted to be a dentist!

Joe Thomas’s Service to the Cleveland Browns: His consecutive snaps streak ends at 10,363 after a triceps injury. In a game where he had to pass-protect for DeShone Kizer then Cody Kessler, for a winless team in a game with no touchdowns. Sometimes it's a cold, cruel world.


What We’ll Be Talking About This Week

Mike McCarthy Must Reinvent His Offense: I won’t pretend to know even a small fraction as much as the Packers coach knows about offensive football. But a couple of minor tweaks, plus encouraging Brett Hundley to use his legs, isn’t enough. It’s a major ask for the rest of the team, but this offense needs to come to Hundley more than vice versa. Houston did it when they switched from Tom Savage to Deshaun Watson earlier this year. McCarthy needs to do something drastic here, and he’s running out of time.

The Steelers Are the Total Package: As we kept trying to tell you, Roethlisberger is fine. This defense is on the verge of dominant. Le'Veon Bell's ligaments are fully intact.

Finger Hovering Over the Panic Button in Denver: Whoa boy. It's probably too late to re-open the QB competition; they already had their bye week. But is it too late? This is what they're doing coming out of their bye! But if the running game can't get going, something's gotta give here. Does Brock Osweiler get the midseason call in Denver for the second time in three seasons?

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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