London was treated to a very familiar tie; New Orleans won a game with its defense, Derek Carr was inches away from the record books, and more analysis
Week 8 had several highlights, but perhaps the biggest was saying goodbye to a 7-time Pro Bowl wide receiver
London has soccer – they’re used to ties anyway
Our neighbors across the pond have created several different inventions – table tennis, color television, to name two – but the one thing they did not was American football. The game that is slowly becoming America’s pastime more and more everyday is consistently playing three games a year in London to try and promote the NFL overseas. The games as a whole have been relatively subpar in general. In the third and final game in London this season, the end result might not have been what fans desired, but the game did not lack drama.
The Washington Redskins and the Cincinnati Bengals were the two teams sent to London this week, with their game starting at a very early 9:30 AM EST. Dustin Hopkins, previously perfect on field goals from 34 yards or closer in his career missed what would have been the game winning field goal (and his postgame interview) in overtime to send both the Bengals and Redskins to a 27-27 tie, the second tie the NFL has seen in the last week. The game was back and forth from the opening possession, with over 1,000 yards between the two teams.
Kirk Cousins was the winner of most gaudy stat line, completing 38 of his 56 pass attempts for 458 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. Robert Kelley, filling in for the injured Matt Jones, rushed 21 times for 87 yards and one TD as well. The Redskins offense as a whole moved the ball with relative ease until the second half, where Cincinnati began to mount their comeback. Andy Dalton registered a stat line of 27/42 with 284 yards and 1TD/1INT. Dalton has been largely inconsistent with receivers not named AJ Green this season, with his completion percentage dipping below 60% on targets to other receivers. With the addition of a fully healthy Tyler Eifert, there is hope that this trend could change. The aforementioned AJ Green was again excellent (18 targets, 9/121), but it was the addition of the big red zone target Eifert that kept the Bengals in this game. Eifert hauled in 12 of his targets for 9 catches and 102 and 1 TD while providing the much needed safety outlet that Dalton was missing the previous seven weeks.
Although Hopkins received the majority of the blame for his missed kick, he was not the only kicker who missed what would have been a game winning field goal. Mike Nugent, the kicker for the Bengals, missed what would have lifted the Bengals to a 30-27 win with a missed field goal just before the end of regulation. Hopkins did miss another FG in regulation as well, perhaps adding to the angst that Redskins fans were feeling after the tie.
Next week, the Washington Redskins (4-3-1) will take on the Minnesota Vikings in Washington, while the Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) will head to New York to take on the Giants.
The Saints Defense Comes Marching In
The New Orleans Saints have long been known as a team with enough offensive firepower to blow the roof off of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, while having just enough defense to win football games. On Sunday, against a hobbled yet still solid Seattle Seahawks team, it was the Saints defense that propelled them to victory. The Seahawks were held under 100 yards rushing for only the second game all year, Russell Wilson was held without a TD (22/34, 253 yards, 0/1) and the New Orleans Saints defeated the Seahawks of Seattle 25-20.
The Seahawks, down five points with 1:57 to go, started their drive with favorable field position. Tyler Lockett returned the kickoff to their own 32-yard line, where Wilson and the Seahawks began to methodically work down the field. Saints fans and onlookers alike began to worry slightly – the Saints defense could once again be the reason that New Orleans would be given another loss. Once Wilson and the Seahawks got into the red zone however, the defense became a very un-Saints like defensive unit. Wilson and the Seahawks had four cracks from the 18 yard line to score, but was unable to, with the Saints defense personifying the “bend don’t break” mantra that so many defensive coordinators instill in their units. The final incompletion as time expired sent the home crowd into a frenzy, while the visiting Seahawks walked off the field, dejected.
Although the defense came up in the final moments of the game, the Saints offense was solid against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Drew Brees threw 35 passes, completing 27 of them for 265 yards and 1 TD. Tim Hightower, capitalizing on an early Mark Ingram fumble that saw Ingram sit the rest of the game, toted the ball 26 times for 102 yards. The ball was also spread out to nine different Saints receivers, with Michael Thomas leading the way (6/63), while Brandin Cooks (4/44/1) also chipped in a solid game. Next week, the New Orleans Saints (3-4) head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers, while the Seattle Seahawks (4-2-1) will head back home to take on the Buffalo Bills.
Penalties only matter when you lose
Common knowledge would say that if you commit an NFL record 23 penalties in a single game, you would lose said football game. Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders believe otherwise. Despite trying to lose the game multiple times, the Oakland Raiders defeated the Tampa Buccaneers 30-24 in overtime thanks to Derek Carr’s nearly historic passing day (40/59, 513 yards, 4/0).
Had there been drastically less penalties, one might be able to infer that the Raiders would have won this game in regulation. That, coupled with kicker Sebastian Janikowski’s missed field goal attempt as time expired, gave the Bucs new life in a game they played relatively poorly overall. Jameis Winston only completed 16 of his 32 pass attempts for 180 yards and 2 TDs despite a very beatable Raiders secondary. Four different ball carriers combined for 102 yards on the ground, but this was the extent of the Bucs offense in a matchup where many believed it be a higher scoring affair. Mike Evans, largely expected to feast on the Raiders, was limited to four catches for 50 yards on 11 targets, dropping a pair of passes in the process.
Oakland also got exceptional games from Amari Cooper (12/173/1) (minus one costly drop), and Michael Crabtree (8/108) to help move the offense forward while the running game saw six different players record a carry, combining for 24 carries for 128 yards. Tampa Bay actually led this game with five minutes remaining, but it was Carr finding Mychal Rivera for a seven yard TD with 1:30 left to knot the ballgame at 24. The Bucs would punt soon after, leading to the Raiders putting together a quick drive, leading to the Janikowski missed field goal.
Once overtime hit, it became more of a defensive battle. Each team let in a few first downs, but neither team made a decisive drive until Janikowski missed a 52-yard field goal five minutes into overtime. With only four minutes left and the Raiders facing a fourth down and four on the Tampa Bay 41 yard line, Jack Del Rio decided to keep his offense on the field and try and convert the fourth down. Instead, Del Rio and his aggression paid off in the form of a 41-yard TD pass from Carr to Seth Roberts, winning the game for the visiting Raiders.
Next week, the Oakland Raiders (6-2) face the Denver Broncos in Oakland, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) will remain at home and face the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football.
Tennessee 36, Jacksonville 22
DeMarco Murray has looked like his former self while Marcus Mariota posted another solid effort
Carolina 30, Arizona 20
The dumpster fire that is the Cardinals offense continues while Cam Newton states the NFL is doing a poor job protecting him
Houston 20, Detroit 13
Brock Osweiler continues to be subpar, the Texans defense continues to be stout
Kansas City 30, Indianapolis 14
Despite losing Alex Smith and Spencer Ware to injuries, the Chiefs shut down the Colts
NY Jets 31, Cleveland 28
Ryan Fitzpatrick is still not inspiring confidence, Jets hang on to beat winless Browns
New England 41, Buffalo 25
Tom Brady is playing at unprecedented levels, while Rob Gronkowski scored his franchise leading 69th career touchdown
Denver 27, San Diego 19
Philip Rivers was on the wrong side of some bad luck, while Denver and their defense stopped the Chargers on their final drive to hold onto a win
Atlanta 33, Green Bay 32
Matt Ryan looked every part of the leading passer in the NFL, while Green Bay’s rally fell short
Dallas 29, Philadelphia 23 (OT)
Tony Romo might be back soon, but Dak Prescott continues to win
Chicago 20, Minnesota 10
Vikings drop their second in a row due to a career day from Jordan Howard
Week 9 Picks
Home team in CAPS (Lines as of 11/1)
Atlanta (-2) over TAMPA BAY
KANSAS CITY (-8) over Jacksonville
MINNESOTA (-7) over Detroit
NY GIANTS (-2) over Philadelphia
Dallas (-7) over CLEVELAND
NY Jets (+3) over MIAMI
Pittsburgh (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
New Orleans (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO
LOS ANGELES (+2) over Carolina
GREEN BAY (-6.5) over Indianapolis
Tennessee (+5.5) over SAN DIEGO
Denver (Pick) over OAKLAND
SEATTLE (-5.5) over Buffalo
Byes: Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, New England, Washington
Last Week: 5-7-1
All Time: 57-42-2
Week 7 NFL Recap: http://wiux.org/2016/10/27/nfl-week-7-recap/
Luke Hallett is a sophomore at Indiana University, and his radio show Gerky Gerk and The Funky Bunch, is on WIUX 99.1 FM on Fridays from 6-7PM EST.