NFL Week 9 Recap: Dalton shines under lights, Bridgewater concussed
By Roger Sinclair
Bengals 31 Browns 10
Andy has finally done it! The Bengals won big under the bright lights (though it was a win against the Browns) and sit at 8-0 halfway through their 2015 campaign. This game was far closer than the score indicates, as Johnny Manziel led the Browns to a late touchdown in the 2nd quarter to head into halftime only down 14-10. However, Cincinnati’s defense proceeded to suffocate Manziel and the rest of the Browns’ offense, as they were held scoreless in the second half. The Red Rifle had himself an incredible game, throwing only six incompletions and three touchdown passes to Tyler Eifert. While this performance isn’t the best of Dalton’s career, it is important to note that this matchup last year saw Andy Dalton throw three interceptions, 86 yards, and have a stellar passer rating of 2.00. The Bengals would lose that primetime game 24-3 to the Browns, and are quite happy that this season they were the team to earn the 21-point victory. Andy Dalton is turning the corner from adequate quarterback to star player, and the entire Cincinnati team is following his lead. The Bengals host the Houston Texans next week and hope to build momentum to maintain their 3.5 game lead over the Steelers. Johnny Football and Co. take on the aforementioned Steelers and hope to improve on their 2-7 record.
Game Note: “Prime Time” Andy Dalton picks up his 4th career win in a night game, improving his record to 4-7. His struggles seem like a distant memory, as Dalton is having the best season in his fifth season. However, Cincinnati plays the Arizona Cardinals in two weeks on Sunday Night Football, a stage where Dalton holds an 0-4 record. Hopefully he can kick the stigma of a poor games on Sunday nights, as this will arguably be the biggest game of the Bengals season.
Bills 33 Dolphins 17
The Buffalo Bills returned to their winning ways with a dominant win over the Dolphins at Orchard Park. Coming off a bye week that allowed vital offensive players Tyrod Taylor, Karlos Williams and Sammy Watkins to return to the starting lineup, the Bills looked like a revamped and rejuvenated football team. Lesean McCoy and Karlos Williams both rushed for over 100 yards and scored three combined touchdowns, while Tyrod Taylor was 11-12 passing for 181 yards. Sammy Watkins, who recently made headlines for claiming he was not an integral part of the offense, finished the game with 168 receiving yards and a touchdown. Watkins was targeted on 75% of passing plays, so maybe those complaints will die down in the coming weeks. After Dan Campbell guided the Dolphins to two dominating wins in his first two games, Miami has dropped back-to-back divisional games and fallen to last place in the AFC East. Next week’s game against the Eagles will be pivotal if they hope to salvage their season. Buffalo head to Jet-life (aka Metlife) Stadium on Thursday night to take on the New York Jets, in a game with playoff implications and the return of Sexy Rexy to New York.
Game Note: Tyrod Taylor, a virtual unknown until this season, has completed 71.8 percent of his passes this season. If he continues with the pace he is on, Taylor will break Drew Brees’s record for completion percentage in a season (71.2). Not bad for a guy who was given his first chance to start this season.
Packers 29 Panthers 37
One of the premier matchups on Sunday, Packers vs Panthers did not disappoint. However, Green Bay’s offense disappointed for much of the first half and still looks to be recovering from a humbling loss to Denver last week. Carolina led 27-7 at halftime and Cam Newton continued to shine despite the lackluster talent around him. Newton is undoubtedly the most valuable player on the Panthers, making Jerricho Cotchery and Devin Funchess look like true threats. Cam’s four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) helped propel his team to victory over the Packers. However, the defense suffered for a second straight game and allowed Green Bay to get back into this game. 22 second half points weren’t enough to get the Packers over the hump. Aaron Rodgers’ late interception in the red zone sealed the deal, as the Panthers move to 8-0 on the season. The Panthers have a very winnable game against Tennessee next week and could continue their undefeated streak. Rodgers and the Packers take on the abysmal Detroit Lions as they hope to end their two game skid.
Game Note: While Green Bay Packers aren’t happy about losing two straight games, maybe they should be optimistic. The last time Aaron Rodgers lost two straight starts was back in 2010 (back to back overtime losses to Washington and Miami). The ending to that season was a Super Bowl win. Could we see a repeat of the trend?
Vikings 21 Rams 18 OT
Minnesota picked up their 6th win of the season. However it proved costly as they lost quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a concussion. Bridgewater stats don’t paint the entire picture for his performance, as he led the Vikings offense quite efficiently against a tough Rams defense. Bridgewater was knocked out in the 4th quarter on a “cheap shot” by Lamarcus Joyner. The Rams where able to capitalize and get a late field goal to push the game into overtime. Shaun Hill was able to put together a valiant relief effort, and Blair Walsh’s field goal sealed the win for the Vikings. Adrian Peterson Jr, Todd Gurley, had a solid performance against the 2nd ranked rush defense. Gurley finished with 89 yards and a rushing touchdown. The 6-2 Vikings hope Bridgewater can return next week (UPDATE: Bridgewater passed the first round of the NFL’s concussion protocol on Monday) as they head to the Black Hole to take on the Raiders. St. Louis (4-4) will travel to Baltimore and hope to go above .500 to stay alive in the NFC West race.
Game Note: The Sam Bradford-Nick Foles trade continues to look like a wash. Foles struggled in this game and has been unable to build off an impressive opening to his season. Both of these quarterbacks have been putrid this season, and Bradford and Foles rank 31st and 30th respectfully in total QBR. We’ll have to wait for the end of the season to evaluate whether either team was a “winner” in this trade.