Tthis is the reason why they don’t call american football “the beautiful game”. Sure, it can be poetic, but often NFL games are decided by outright mistakes. Successful play calling in the NFL requires precise execution by every player on the field, and one mistake can spell disaster. We saw several such cases on Sunday.
Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers, who made a successful attempt to score extra points without defeating the Atlanta Falcons. PJ Walker connected with DJ Moore on a 62-yard Hail Mary pass that was as expert as Patrick Mahomes is called “best shot of the year”. The game was tied with just 12 seconds left on the clock.
Unfortunately, Moore was so (understandably) excited that he took off his helmet and celebrated what he was sure would be the game-winner. The Panthers were quickly killed by a penalty that pushed back the extra point attempt. As a result, Eddie Pineiro had to blast one through the uprights from 48 yards out. He was unsuccessful.
With the game tied, both teams went into overtime where fate gave Pineiro another chance to win the game. In overtime, Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota made an interception that gave them possession, eventually setting up a 33-yard field goal that … Pineiro also missed.
Youngho Koo of the Falcons ended up being the game-winner on Atlanta’s next possession. With their 37-34 victory, the Falcons secured first place in the NFC South, just above Tom Brady’s 3-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite having a record of just 4- 4. Meanwhile, the Panthers are 2-6 and maintain a poor division.
Pineiro probably had the worst Sunday of any player in the NFL — kickers are usually the GOAT and never THE GOAT. But he was not the only one who made high-profile mistakes. Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields had one of his best statistical games on Sunday, even as his team lost 49-29 to the top-seeded Dallas Cowboys. He threw for 151 yards, two touchdowns and no picks, all part of an efficient 17-for-23 game.
But that’s not what people will remember about Fields in that game. No, the abiding image was Fields leaping over Micah Parsons after the Cowboys linebacker made a fumble. Any contact would have ended the game, but an ill-advised jump by Fields gave Parsons time to score a defensive touchdown.
“It was my fault I just jumped over him,” the sophomore QB said afterward. “I had to tag him. But I can’t say when was the last time I made a tackle.”
Sometimes games are simply decided by which side messes up the least. Take, for example, how things turned out between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Already down 10-3, Patriots quarterback Mack Jones made a brutal tackle that would have put the Jets ahead 16-3, 17-3 if you guess the extra point. (Eddie Pineiro would like to remind you to never take an extra point.)
However, that play and those points were wiped out after Jets quarterback John Franklin-Myers was called for a rough pass check. The Patriots, as teams often do when faced with a rebuild, took advantage of that momentum shift — plus three interceptions from increasingly suspect Jets quarterback Zach Wilson — and ended up winning by five points. The Patriots were ecstatic about the win – but, as is often the case in football, the game was decided by the mistakes of the other team.
MVP of the week
Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia Eagles. It’s safe to say that things are exciting in Philadelphia sports right now. Meanwhile, the Phillies face the Houston Astros in the World Series, the Union prepare for the MLS Cup Finals, and the Eagles continue their unbeaten streak in the NFL. Some credit goes to Hurts, who looked like a franchise quarterback during his team’s 35-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Although not known for throwing the ball deep, Hurts proved the naysayers wrong with long touchdown passes to shut down the Steelers. Hurts threw for four touchdowns and no interceptions for a total of 285 yards on Sunday. If Hurts keeps it up, there will be another title contender from Philadelphia in a few months.
Video of the week
Blocking a field goal is difficult, even if you use your whole body. So we have to give Arizona Cardinals lineman Leki Fota the honor of our video of the week after he blocked a kick to the face. here slow motion version in case you want to see in detail the helmet of Fotu, who takes one for the team.
Although the play saved the Cardinals three points, it did not change the game. In fact, the Minnesota Vikings ended up beating them 34-26. The Vikings improved to 6-1 while the Cardinals fell to 3-5.
Statistics of the week
135. That’s how many games the Detroit Lions needed. score at least 27 points in the first half since the last time they did it back in November 2013. That was the longest such drought in the NFL, which somehow isn’t the lion’s share of that stat. No, what was truly predictable was that after the Miami Dolphins led 27-17 at halftime, Detroit failed to score again and ended up losing 31-27. The Lions are now 1-5 on the year, and if they’re not actually tanking, it’s probably time for them to start pretending they are just to save face.
Quote of the week
“Best Cowboys team I’ve seen since the ’90s… I’ll argue that with anyone.” – Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on Twitterpromoting the 2022 incarnation of the team.
Bryant knows he’s making bold statements because those 90’s Cowboys won three championships. Since then, however, Dallas has largely been without a playoff appearance. Bryant also knows this firsthand, considering one of those losses was an embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers that hinged on a callback on his apparent catch.
Can this team reverse that trend? Well, at 6-2, the Cowboys are looking pretty good in the regular season, to say the least. On Sunday, Dak Prescott — one of the most underrated QBs in the game — proved his thumb injury isn’t bothering him with two touchdowns. He also had a third TD during the team’s impressive 49-29 win over the Chicago Bears. Their main problem at the moment? Sharing a division with those pesky Eagles.
Elsewhere in the league
— The Carolina Panthers traded running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers earlier this month, and the acquisition has already paid dividends for San Francisco. In the 49ers’ 31-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams, McCaffery had three separate touchdowns, which is impressive enough in itself.
Well, it becomes an even more stunning accomplishment considering the different ways McCaffrey contributed to each touchdown. Now, one of those was a rushing TD in the fourth quarter, which is the kind of production you’d expect from a star running back. Before that, he had a TD on Jimmy Garoppolo’s throw in the third quarter. Then again, a lot of running backs also play as receivers at times, so that’s not shocking.
No, it was in the first quarter that he pulled off a real stunner, throwing a 34-yard touchdown to Brandon Ayuk for the 49ers’ first points of the game. Last player to throw for a touchdown in the same game where he also had a touchdown and a rushing touchdown? That would be the great LaDainian Tomlinson back in 2005.
— The Green Bay Packers are off to their worst eight-game start (3-5) under Aaron Rodgers after a 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football. It’s also the first time they’ve gone 3-5 since 2006 when Brett Favre was their quarterback.
— Are the New York Giants finally out of luck? The Giants have overcome all preseason odds, going 6-1 in their first seven games, but facing the Seattle Seahawks on the road Sunday proved to be too much of a challenge. They lost 27-13 and fell to 6-2. The good news for the Giants is that they have a bye coming up and then their next game is at home against the awful Houston Texans, whose record fell to 1-5-1 after the loss to the Tennessee Titans. 7-2 seems perfectly doable. Meanwhile, Genea Smith continues his brilliant late-career resurgence in Seattle — he threw two touchdowns Sunday in another impressive game.
— Russell Wilson continues to have less-than-stellar moments during marquee games. This time, the Denver Broncos quarterback was in London playing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With seconds left in the second half, Wilson attempted what looked like a Hail Mary. Only there were no receivers to catch the pass.
The internet laughed at the result, but Wilson ultimately saved the day by collecting a touchdown that helped seal a 21-17 victory. The Broncos are now 3-5 and the Jaguars are 2-6. It wasn’t really a battle of the juggernauts, but since when does the league send these games to London?