A banged up Ben Roethlisberger led a Pittsburgh Steelers comeback, the Chicago Bears’ offensive woes worsened, there was more heartbreak for the Los Angeles Chargers and A.J. Brown stretched his scoring run for the Tennessee Titans; here’s a look at what we learned in Week Nine…
Pittsburgh Steelers 24-19 Dallas Cowboys
Garrett Gilbert versus Mason Rudolph.
That’s the quarterback matchup the world was treated to for a brief period in this one… hardly Staubach vs Bradshaw from the glory years of these two great franchises.
Ben Roethlisberger insists his knee injury that knocked him out of two series’ just before half-time is ‘fine’ and, to be fair, he showed no great ill effects as he led this team to a fourth-quarter comeback win over the Cowboys with two of his three touchdown passes heaved in the final 15 minutes.
Gilbert and the Cowboys gave Pittsburgh a far bigger fright than they or, for that matter, anyone could have anticipated – the backup QB has certainly done enough to keep the job for another week and beat off the ‘competition’ from Ben DiNucci, should Andy Dalton not be ready to return – but he could not quite pull off the upset.
The Steelers gave him one last shot, strangely opting not to kick a field goal with 43 seconds left that would have stretched their lead to eight, with James Conner instead stuffed as they went for it on fourth-and-one. Gilbert was left with a 23-yard try to the endzone to win it as time expired but his pass intended for CeeDee Lamb was broken up.
Pittsburgh stay unbeaten, moving to 8-0 for the first time in the team’s history – just! David Currie
Up Next – Steelers v Bengals (Sunday, 9.25pm), Cowboys on BYE
Las Vegas Raiders 31-26 Los Angeles Chargers
As if another heartbreaking, last-gasp removal of victory was not enough for the Chargers, their defeat to the Raiders means it’s now nine straight defeats to AFC West rivals (per NFL research).
It’s also six defeats for the season, all by one possession. While they have unearthed a superstar in quarterback Justin Herbert, who has more than 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns for the season and an uncanny ability to lead the Chargers up and down the field, they still lost.
“There was no doubt in my mind we were going to score – Justin’s a playmaker and he doesn’t flinch,” said head coach Anthony Lynn. “They played for one another, I know if you continue to do that, at some point good things will happen.”
Wins might be in short supply for the rookie signal-caller, but Lynn believes things will change – surely they cannot keep losing close games? Can they? Paul Prenderville
Up Next – Raiders v Broncos (Sunday, 9.05pm), Chargers @ Dolphins (Sunday, 6pm)
Carolina Panthers 31-33 Kansas City Chiefs
Showtime to Honey Thunder for our first touchdown of the game 🙌#CARvsKC on FOX pic.twitter.com/KPtNkCjo50
This Andy Reid fella might be a problem, and what’s a concern for the rest of the NFL is that this playbook of his seems never-ending. Late in the first half on Sunday the Chiefs ran a play that saw Patrick Mahomes take the shotgun snap before selling a run to the left, orbiting back around just in time for Demarcus Robinson to get in his line of sight for an easy touchdown pass. It was genius, and it looked so easy.
Mahomes’ four touchdown passes in the game mean he now has 101 in just 40 games, making him the fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 100 touchdown passes. The previous record had belonged to Dan Marino, who chalked up his 100th in 1986 with the Miami Dolphins. Cameron Hogwood
Up Next – Panthers v Buccaneers (Sunday, 6pm), Chiefs on BYE
Baltimore Ravens 24-10 Indianapolis Colts
Baltimore continue to go somewhat under the radar, perhaps because Pittsburgh are the only unbeaten team in the NFL and perhaps Lamar Jackson is not the rampaging running machine he was last year. But the idea was to see him evolve in year three.
After scoring 20 or more points for an NFL record 31 straight games, it appears Jackson is doing just that and an improved second-half showing against the Colts underlined that (190 yards through the air in the final two quarters).
The Ravens have work to do to make up the two games on the Steelers while the Colts, despite issues of their own on offense, can draw level with Tennessee if they pick off the Titans in a lively looking encounter on Thursday night to start Week 10. Paul Prenderville
Up Next – Ravens @ Patriots (Monday, 1.20am), Colts @ Titans (Friday, 1.20am)
Houston Texans 27-25 Jacksonville Jaguars
The Texans made it six victories in a row over their AFC South rivals on the back of another big night for Deshaun Watson. The quarterback stretched his run of games with over 250 passing yards and a passing touchdown to eight, the longest streak in Houston history. Watson posted a final stat line of 19 completions for 281 yards and two touchdowns.
On the other side, Jake Luton made his NFL debut in place of the injured Gardner Minshew. He completed 26 of his 38 passing attempts for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception. It did not take Luton long to get going either, his first pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage, before his second was a 73-yard touchdown to D.J Chark.
It was the seventh loss in a row for the Jaguars who remain in the hunt for Trevor Lawrence with their 1-7 record. Sonny Cohen
Up Next – Texans @ Browns (Sunday, 6pm), Jaguars @ Packers (Sunday, 6pm)
Detroit Lions 20-34 Minnesota Vikings
If there is a way to stop Dalvin Cook, then the Detroit Lions did not have the answer on Sunday. The former Florida State running back followed up his big night against the Green Bay Packers with another monster performance.
Cook became the first player in Vikings history with over 200 scrimmage yards and at least two touchdowns in two consecutive games. He also racked up his 13th touchdown of the season, the most in the NFL. Add that to his fourth game with over 100 yards rushing and a touchdown and Cook is making a case to be the best running back in the NFL.
For the Lions it was all too familiar. Kirk Cousins is 5-0 against Detroit since signing for Minnesota, with a winning margin of at least 12 in each game. Detroit have also failed to a win against their NFC North rivals since week 17 of the 2018 season. Sonny Cohen
Up Next – Lions v Washington (Sunday, 6pm), Vikings @ Bears (Tuesday, 1.15am)
Denver Broncos 27-34 Atlanta Falcons
The Broncos briefly flirted with a second comeback win in a row on Sunday. However, they ran out of time as the Falcons held out for a third win in four games under interim head coach Raheem Morris.
It was a great day for the Falcons passing attack. They carved up a depleted Broncos secondary as Matt Ryan completed 25 passes for 284 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Olamide Zaccheaus helped himself to a big performance, hauling in four receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. Sonny Cohen
Up Next – Broncos @ Raiders (Sunday, 9.05pm), Falcons on BYE
New York Giants 23-20 Washington Football Team
Watch: https://t.co/cLanMzBpPN pic.twitter.com/EEGppgIz9a
A continued area of intrigue with the Giants is the variation across its offensive line. Head coach Joe Judge alternated between three left tackle-right tackle combinations throughout: Andrew Thomas and Cam Fleming, Matt Peart and Cam Fleming and Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart. Shane Lemieux continued to stake a claim for the left guard job in the absence of Will Hernandez, and Chad Slade even saw some game time.
The results in the run game were promising as the Giants rushed for 109 yards in the first half on their way towards a season-best 166. That said, Daniel Jones was sacked five times and hit on nine other occasions. It’s a rarity to see such an o-line rejigged as regularly as it was, but what’s clear is Judge still trying to work out his best combination.
One of the beneficiaries of wider running lanes was running back Wayne Gallman, who rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown off 14 carries. It has not been easy for the 2017 fourth-rounder, who has spent much of his Giants career playing behind Saquon Barkley before seeing Devonta Freeman enter as the feature back upon signing as a free agent earlier this season. Gallman has always been a hard runner. It’s nice to see him getting some rewards. Cameron Hogwood
Up Next – Giants v Eagles (Sunday, 6pm), Washington @ Lions (Sunday, 6pm)
Chicago Bears 17-24 Tennessee Titans
OH MY! 👀 @Brown1arthur
📺: Watch #CHIvsTEN on FOX pic.twitter.com/rEbRbjVUQ7
Chicago’s record, and lack of offense is catching up with them as Green Bay pull away at the top of the NFC North. Tennessee continue to go from strength to strength due in no small part to their well-rounded offense.
Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill tend to get most of the plaudits, and rightly so, but let’s pause to celebrate AJ Brown after the wide-out scored for the fifth game in succession – and what a score it was.
Brown accounted for 101 of Tennessee’s 158 ‘air’ yards and it’s those yards after the catch that make him a huge part of the Titans threat. He now has 457 yards and six touchdowns for the season – making this Titans offense a three-headed beast that can beat you any number of ways. Paul Prenderville
Up Next – Bears v Vikings (Tuesday, 1.15am), Titans v Colts (Friday, 1.20am)
New Orleans Saints 38-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Hands up who saw that coming? Nope? Nobody?
Anyone who tries to convince themselves that they did is lying through their teeth as, even if you went against the grain and backed the Saints to come away with the road win in Tampa, the sheer devastating fashion in which they pulled it off could certainly not have been predicted.
Tom Brady intercepted three times! As many picks as the team put up points. And, as he was enduring a nightmare night out – undoubtedly the worst of his storied NFL career – on the other sideline, Drew Brees was soaring past him as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns. Trailing Brady by one coming into the contest, Brees’ four TDs now has him ahead 564 to 561.
As for Antonio Brown’s Buccaneers debut, and Michael Thomas’ first game back for the Saints since Week One, they amounted to nothing more than a footnote – three catches for 31 yards and five for 51, respectively. David Currie
Up Next – Saints v 49ers (Sunday, 9.25pm), Buccaneers @ Panthers (Sunday, 6pm)
Miami Dolphins 34-31 Arizona Cardinals
Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury shouldered some of the blame for his play-calling late on in this one. Staring a fourth-and-one while trailing by three inside the final two minutes, Kingsbury opted to send out kicker Zane Gonzalez rather than going for it with quarterback Kyler Murray, who had converted a fourth-and-one with a 28-yard run earlier in the game. Gonzalez went on to miss the 49-yard field goal to ultimately decide the game in Miami’s favour.
Arizona’s previous drive had seen Chase Edmonds stuffed up the middle on fourth-and-one as Kingsbury turned to a running game that had been afforded little room up the middle as opposed to putting the ball in the hands of Murray. Decisive calls at the death.
What we learned is the NFL is in mightily good hands at quarterback. Murray was electric for the Cardinals, while Tua Tagovailoa not only reminded all of his poise and accuracy, but also his athleticism to slalom his way through pressure and operate outside the pocket. He looked better and better as the game went by. Cameron Hogwood
Up Next – Dolphins v Chargers (Sunday, 9.05pm), Cardinals v Bills (Sunday, 9.05pm)
Seattle Seahawks 34-44 Buffalo Bills
Boy, did the Bills come storming out of the blocks on Sunday!
One rare three-and-out on offense from Russell Wilson and the Seahawks sandwiched in between two quickfire Buffalo touchdown drives saw Seattle in an early two-score hole. Even rarer at the moment are Wilson interceptions, and he threw two of them in this contest when under constant duress from the Bills defense.
That defense has not been anywhere near the top-five standards it set in 2019, this year, but there is hope this win could prove a turning point as they put a season-high 16 quarterbacks hits on the badly beaten-up Wilson, with five of those resulting in sacks.
The Seattle D, meanwhile, reverted back to type. After an encouraging display in dominating the 49ers last Sunday, this record-setting (in a bad way) unit gave up 44 points and 419 total yards, with Josh Allen very much enjoying himself to the tune of 415 yards passing and three TDs. David Currie
Up Next – Seahawks @ Rams (Sunday, 9.25pm), Bills @ Cardinals (Sunday, 9.05pm)
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