NFL Recap: Week 10
By: Tyler Turner
Usually at this point in the season fans know which teams are legitimate playoff contenders and which others are already reasonably eliminated; however this year NFL fans have no idea how the remainder of the season will play out.
Thursday Night Football was no different from the usual storyline this year in the NFL. After skidding by the 1-8 Buccaneers, the Browns were most likely due for a loss against the Bengals. Brian Hoyer and the Browns running game had other thoughts. The Browns ran all over the Bengals D, rushing for 170 total yards and 3 TD’s. Everything went right for Cleveland, while Cincinnati struggled from the get-go. Andy Dalton was atrocious, completing just 30% of his passes, while totaling 3 INT’s, 86 passing yards, and a lowly QBR of 4.3. With Thursday night’s 24-3 victory, The Cleveland Browns now sit atop the AFC North at 6-3, the latest they’ve held a division lead in over 15 seasons.
Both the Chiefs and Bills came into Sunday with a record of 5-3. Each team has played beyond what was expected of them at the beginning of the season, setting up an exciting early Sunday afternoon game. The Bills and Kyle Orton were hot coming into this game and showed it on their first drive with Orton hitting Chris Hogan for a 25-yard TD pass. After the Bills opening drive things slowed down, as they only produced 2 field goals thereafter. Still, Buffalo’s solid defensive showing still gave them a chance to win. Early in the 4th quarter, with the Bills up 13-10, Buffalo forced a three and out. Leodis McKelvin fielded the ensuing punt, ran for 5 yards until he was hit and lost the ball. The Chiefs recovered and scored with 9 minutes left giving them the 17-13 lead. The Bills had one more opportunity late in the fourth quarter. With 4:35 reaming Buffalo had the ball on Kansas City’s 25-yard line. Kyle Orton, however, threw four straight incompletions sealing the victory for the Chiefs.
Two surprise teams of the 2014 NFL season were matched up in Detroit on Sunday. The Dolphins came in with a 5-3 record, while the Lions were 6-2 and NFC North division leaders. Calvin Johnson, who had suffered an ankle injury earlier in the season, returned Sunday and made his presence known with 7 receptions for 113 yards and a TD. While Johnson was his usual self, Matthew Stafford was the real hero. Down by three with 30 seconds to go, Stafford took a 3rd down snap, rolled out to his left and side armed a dime into Theo Riddick’s hands for the game winner. The Lions are now 7-2, and look primed to make a playoff run.
The NFL was represented in London for the third time this year, wih the Jaguars taking on the skidding Cowboys. Going into the game Dallas had lost two straight games and Tony Romo was not 100% healthy. When game time came around it was Tony Romo under center for the Cowboys and he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Dez Bryant tore up the Jacksonville secondary, reeling in 6 catches for 158 yards and two TD’s. Demarco Murray was solid as well, rushing for 100 yards on 19 carries. There weren’t many bright spots for the Jaguars. Blake Bortles struggled again, throwing an INT and fumbling the ball. The Cowboys went on to win 31-17 but the game wasn’t as close as the final score suggested.
One of the best games of the day was down in the Bayou. The 49ers were looking to get back on track after losing to the Rams 13-10, while the Saints were fresh off a 28-10 win over the Panthers. San Francisco came out firing on all cylinders, storming out to a 14-3 lead, before going into half time with a 21-10 lead. Drew Brees wasn’t going to let the 49ers walk all over them in the second half. The Saints went on two long scoring drives in the second half, both ending with the same result: a Drew Brees TD pass to Jimmy Graham. With 1:52 left, all of the sudden the Saints were up 24-21. The game looked to be over late in the fourth quarter when San Francisco had the daunting task of 4th and 10 in their own territory. Colin Kaepernick rolled right and fired a laser down the field to Michael Crabtree giving the Niners a 1st down on the Saints 27. Phil Dawson knocked in a 45-yard field goal tying the game at 24. With 5 seconds left Drew Brees launched a prayer into the endzone which Jimmy Graham came down with. The Superdome was electric, until they saw a yellow flag thrown. Graham pushed off a San Francisco defender who sold the push well. Just when we thought the game was over, the two teams headed to OT. With 5:30 left in OT the 49ers caused Brees to fumble, setting up a game winning Phil Dawson field goal, thus giving San Fran a 27-24 win.
The other two teams in the AFC North not named the Browns or Bengals faced what should have been easy wins. One team won, and the other not so much. The Ravens, who were torched by Big Ben last week, were back home against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans started out well leading 7-0 going into the 2nd quarter; however Tennessee didn’t score again, losing to the Ravens 21-7.
The Steelers were on fire the past 2 weeks, and most people assumed they would continue against the 1-8 Jets. However, as Steelers fans have become accustomed to the past three years, Pittsburgh cant beat the teams they are suppose to beat. The Steelers just looked out of beat Sunday, committing 4 turnovers. The Jets were worst in the league with a -15 turnover differential, but against the Steelers they were +4. When a team turns the ball over that many times, no matter how good they may be, they won’t win the game. Even with all their mishaps, Pittsburgh still had a chance to win; however Shaun Suisham missed a short field goal, and the Steelers were offside on a recovered onside kick. The Jets went on to win this sloppy game 20-13.
One of the most underperforming team this year, the Atlanta Falcons, looked to snap a 5 game skid against the 1-8 Buccaneers. Josh McCown returned for Tampa Bay but the outcome was still the same for the Bucs, a loss to the Falcons 27-17.
The Oakland Raiders were looking for their first win of the season against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. It wasn’t looking great for the Broncos in the first quarter. Manning threw 2 picks and the score was tied at 3-3. The rest of the game was never in doubt. Manning was Manning, throwing for 340 yards and 5 TD’s en route to a blowout win.
The NFC West was on display late in the afternoon with the Cardinals playing the Rams, and the Seahawks at home against the New York Football Giants. The Rams did what they’ve done all year, hanging around for a while, but the real story of this game was Carson Palmer’s injury. Palmer, who just signed a big contract extension, is now out for the entire season with an ACL tear. Even though Palmer is out, Drew Stanton came in and did what he had to do to get the win including a 48-yard TD pass to John Brown. The one consistency with the Cardinals all year has been their defense. They showed up again on Sunday scoring two TD’s on an INT and a fumble recovery. Arizona went on to win 31-14 and improved to 8-1.
There are two words to take away from the Seahawks Giants game: Beast Mode. Marshawn Lynch must have eaten a pound of skittles before Sunday’s game because he couldn’t be stopped. Lynch rushed for 140 yards and 4 TD’s. Overall Seattle had an astonishing 350 yards on the ground. With that being said, the Giants kept the game close, until falling 38-17.
Sunday Night Football was a matchup of one of the oldest rivalries in sports, the Packers and Bears. Aaron Rodgers was a bad, bad man, passing for 315 yards and 6 TD’s, all in the first half. Rodgers lead the team to a 42-0 half time lead and then got the second half off. The Bears fell to 3-6 while the Packers stayed on pace with the Lions who hold just a one game lead in the NFC North standings.
The last game of the week was a matchup between the surging Eagles and the up and down Panthers. Philadelphia had a new face at quarterback on Monday Night. Many Jets fans remember him for taking New York to two straight AFC Championship games; however other Jets fans remember plays like the butt fumble. Mark Sanchez was at the helm against the Panthers, making his first start since 2012. Sanchez was lights out; going 20/37 for 332 yards and 2 TD passes. The other quarterback for the evening looked like the old Sanchez. Cam Newton threw 3 picks and was sacked 9 times. The Panthers, as a team committed 5 turnovers on the night. Darren Sproles was a huge factor as well, rushing for a touchdown and scoring on a punt return. The Eagles were able to soar to an easy 45-21 victory over Carolina.