Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened on Sunday afternoon. Get the full Sunday breakdown from Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling on The Monday Morning NFL Podcast. Subscribe to The MMQB Podcasts now and it will be in your feed first thing Monday morning
Things That Made Me Giddy
Steelers Own Cincinnati: Seven straight wins over the Bengals, as well as four straight when they were underdogs against Cincinnati. It seemed like this was meant to be won late by Pittsburgh regardless of what the winning play was, but there was something poetic about Antonio Brown ending this one.
Cowboys Toying with That Jacksonville D: Scott Linehan isn’t winning any awards, but the heat on the Cowboys offensive coordinator has been a bit much considering there’s only so much you can do with a team of No. 3 and 4 receivers. When they don’t have to play from behind, they can move the ball thanks to the rushing attack and Dak Prescott’s playmaking skills, and when everything works out you can have performances like they had Sunday in an easy win over the Jaguars.
Welcome to Early Brock-Tumn: Like “Autumn.” The season. That’s the best anyone can do with his name this time of year. Brock Osweiler was… well, pretty much the same guy you remember him as, but Albert Wilson was a superhero and the defense was opportunistic, and it adds up to a win over Chicago. Anyway, Brock Osweiler is 1-0 this season!
Rams Know How to Ice a Game: The Broncos pulled to within a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, and the Rams countered with a 13-play, 71-yard field-goal drive that took 5:39 off the clock and forced Denver to burn all three of their timeouts. That was a masterpiece to put away the Broncos in Denver.
Jerry Hughes: Granted, that Texans O-line is bad, bad, bad, but Hughes was an absolute monster on Sunday, even if the Bills did come up short in Houston.
Tre’Davious White and Co. on DeAndre Hopkins: A tremendous job by the second-year corner and the rest of this secondary holding the nearly unstoppable Hopkins to five catches, including just one in the second half.
Albert Wilson Is Really Fast:Rohan knew he was that fast, but I'm not sure anyone else did. (Facing that plodding Bears secondary helps.) Wilson was really fast on catch-and-run TDs of 43 and 75 yards.
Andrew Luck: Resilient: If there’s ever going to be an MVP for a 4-12 team, this will be it. Luck is playing with a bunch of guys who not only can’t get open, and when they do they not only don’t catch the ball, but they consistently shovel it to opponents for interceptions. Luck has been superhuman over the last three games. All of them losses, including to the Jets on Sunday.
Another Vikings Goal Line Stand: Cardinals had a first-and-goal from the 7 and a third- and fourth-and-goal from the 1. Third down was a throwaway play-action call from the Cards, then the Vikings didn’t let David Johnson sniff the goal line on fourth. The Vikes held Arizona to 0-for-10 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down in a relatively easy victory.
Joe Cullen and That Ravens D-Line: My podcast partner/dojo sensei Andy Benoit wrote a great piece on Cullen’s humiliating fall and surprising comeback, becoming one of the most respected assistant coaches in football as the Ravens’ D-line coach. His unit was incredible on Sunday, with 11 sacks and an overall performance that matched that number.
Reshad Jones Is Miami’s Savior: I’m not sure you could play it any more perfectly on this fourth-down stop on Tarik Cohen. Rewatch it a couple times and look where he comes from!
Thomas Davis Still Running: Had a nice pass breakup down the sideline against Jordan Reed.
Washington Playing With a Lead: Gotta get out early when Alex Smith is your quarterback, because you can’t win coming from behind. Getting out early is what happened against Carolina, with a little help from those fumbly Panthers.
Frank Gore: The vet was beastly on Sunday, with 101 yards on 15 carries and a couple of big runs on what should have been the game-winning drive in overtime.
Matt Bryant Seals It From 57: Well, not quite seals it—the Bucs put themselves in position to get the win in the end—but gutsy call by Dan Quinn, sending Bryant out for the 57-yard try with a one-point lead and two minutes left. The Falcons beat Tampa for their first win since Week 2.
Alex Erickson and the Return Game: After the Bengals fell behind by a touchdown late in the first half, Erickson’s 47-yard kickoff return into Steelers territory with a minute to go helped set up a Bengals touchdown right before halftime. Then he opened up the second half with a 51-yard return into Steelers territory (though the drive stalled when the Bengals couldn’t convert a third-and-1, it did flip the field).
Osweiler to O’Leary for Six!: Big play for my fantasy team.
Nathan Peterman Reality Tour: With Josh Allen leaving with an elbow injury, Peterman stepped in and saved the day for the Bills with a wonderful throw to Zay Jones to give the Buffalo the lead. Then he saved the day for the Texans with a horrific decision on the game-losing pick six, throwing far too late and with no zip on it due to the pressure in his face. (And the game-clinching interception was just a mess, but it was already over at that point.)
Baker Mayfield and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: It’s fair to wonder how much a tweaked ankle suffered in the first quarter played into this, but Sunday ended up being something of a sum of all fears for Mayfield. It’s always tough to see what’s going on downfield in the broadcast angle, but Mayfield consistently held onto the ball too long, leading to sacks. He was a little off all day, including an ill-advised floater moving to his left that Desmond King stepped in and took away. With Mayfield struggling, the Chargers outclassed the Browns in Cleveland. Some days are like that. Even in Australia.
More Blake Problems: This wasn’t just on Bortles—the defense was outplayed thoroughly by a Cowboys offense that has limits. But this was a second straight nightmare outing for Bortles. Offense beats defense in this league, and Nathaniel Hackett needs to get his quarterback’s confidence going again. Easier said than done, with opponents catching up to their throw-on-first-down tendencies.
Case Keenum Throwing Goal Line Fades: Dropping them in the bucket if that bucket was sitting 12 yards wide of the field.
Texans in the Red Zone, Again: They got it at the 1 again, trailing by three at the end of the fourth quarter, and proceeded to go backwards seven yards and settle for a game-tying field goal.
Scary Injury Alex Lewis: The Ravens O-linemen was put on a board, carted off then brought immediately to a local hospital to treat a neck injury.
Colts Have No One on the Hands Team: Marlon Mack somehow turned a routine screen pass into a pick-six on the second play from scrimmage. But I’d argue the Nyheim Hines drop in the end zone on third-and-goal was more comical/unforgivable (depending on your rooting interest). Not only because it’s as easy a catch as you can have in the red zone (it was a short, soft pass that hit him in the xiphoid process), but because pass-catching is literally the only skill Hines brings to the offense.
A Haiku About Mitchell Trubisky: Right now. At this very moment. He is not very good. More wide-open receivers. Still too many misses. Easy plays not being made. I don’t know how to write a haiku. The end?
Broncos Run Defense: What was supposed to be a strength is now looking like one of the most glaring weaknesses in football. The Broncos allowed 270 rushing yards to the Rams on Sunday one week after allowing 323 to the Jets (they held the first three opponents of the season under 100). The wheels are coming off of Vance Joseph’s program.
Titans Offense Is Offensive: They were shutout with 106 yards of offense and 11 sacks allowed in a home loss to the Ravens. It was a second straight week without a touchdown. Tennessee hasn’t scored a TD since the game-winner in overtime against the Eagles two weeks ago, and haven’t scored more than 20 points in regulation of any game this year. The Delanie Walker injury was indeed devastating, and the weather was bad on Sunday, but this unit hasn’t looked like an NFL offense the past two weeks.
Cooper Kupp Carted Off: A scary injury on a horse collar tackle, after which Kupp was carted off the field. He returned in the second half but played sparingly.
Burfict on Brown Violence: This isn’t the dirtiest hit you’ll ever see (in fact, it probably doesn’t make the top-20 in Burfict’s career), but considering the history it’s fairly appalling the officials weren’t on high alert for something like this:
Justin Evans Reprises His Role as the Washington Generals: What is it with these Bucs safeties? With designated stiff-arm recipient Chris Conte out, Evans warmed our hearts with this pratfall trying to cover Trey Burton in Tampa’s last game. On Sunday, look at the below screengrab: Mohamed Sanu is off-balance, tip-toeing the sideline seven yards out. And Evans can’t keep him out of the end zone!
Amari Cooper Concussed: But no flag, for some reason. Because... this game was played in international waters?
Leonard Floyd Suplexes Danny Amendola: Mean! You outweigh that dude by 70 pounds, Leonard.
Orange Bears Uniforms: Their terribleness is rivaled only by the Seahawks’ neon green costumes. Since the Bears’ regular uniforms are so good, you could argue their alternates are the biggest downgrades in football. And you’d be right.
Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Kenyan Drake: Like everyone’s grandma always told everyone: Two hands on that ball. He fumbles the potential winner in overtime, but Drake made a couple of plays on the truthful game-winning drive.
E-6 on DeSean Jackson: I like the ingenuity leading up to it though.
This catch: By a guy named John Sherman…
Math Says Tyrell Williams Equals Slightly More Than Three Browns: He has his ups and downs, but Williams went on a one-man, two-play, 89-yard TD drive in the second quarter, following up a 44-yard catch to start the drive with a 45-yard TD, taking it away from… well, away from one Browns defender while the other two kinda hung out and watched. (In their defense, it was very exciting!)
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
Steelers Take Control of the AFC North, Just Like We All Knew They Would: O.K., things are still pretty hairy, especially with a home loss to the Ravens. But the Steelers got the road win in Cincinnati and look like they’re righting the ship with Le’Veon Bell coming back soon. It seems pretty clear that they’re once again the favorites in the division.
Cowboys Offense Is Playing to Its Potential: There’s not enough talent for this team to light it up on a weekly basis. “Spurts” is the best they can do, and if they an lump those spurts into the first half like they did on Sunday, all the better. But it’s going to take better players for this offense to play at a championship-caliber level, and they can’t get started on that until March.
Matt Nagy Is Living Well, Yet 3-2: It’s been a schedule so soft that you’d think Jim Boeheim had something to do with putting it together: There was a taste of DeShone Kizer then Aaron Rodgers hobbled for a half in the opener. Sam Bradford gifts them a game they should have lost in Arizona. And now they get Brock Osweiler? Win the games you play, but my goodness, these are some dicey performances against what would best be described as fringe NFL teams. The Bears get their first legitimate test of the season on Sunday, when the Patriots come to town.
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