NFL Week 4: The Good, Bad & Ugly
To borrow part of a line from Forrest Gump, the NFL "is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
The lone undefeated team in the AFC continues to roll, as the Houston Texans thrashed the Tennessee Titans. The two undefeated NFC teams, the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals, needed last second field goals to stay perfect.
The St. Louis Rams used a play that fooled them last year and tricked the Seattle Seahawks; two quarterbacks threw for over 430 yards in losing efforts, and everyone is happy the regular officials are back, unless you are a Green Bay Packers fan.
Once again, it’s time to take a look at some of the players, coaches and plays worthy of the good, the bad and the ugly.
The Good: Matt Ryan
If the 369 yards passing and three touchdowns are not enough to convince you that Atlanta Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan had a great game, his 59-yard bomb to Roddy White while standing seven yards deep in his own end zone should do the trick.
That pass helped setup a 40-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to give the Falcons a 30-28 victory over the Carolina Panthers. The win keeps the Falcons undefeated and gives them a three-game lead over the other teams in the NFC South.
Ryan finished the game with a 107.2 passer rating.
The Bad: Darren McFadden
Since the Oakland Raiders were losing by 25 points in the fourth quarter, McFadden did not get a single carry in that frame. Nevertheless, his 2.6 yards-per-carry average is one of the reasons Oakland was not able to sustain drives earlier in the game.
The Raiders offense is struggling right now, and McFadden is not helping with his inconsistent play when he is getting carries.
The Ugly: Browns Wide Receivers
Seven dropped passes. That's ugly!
Nobody expected the Cleveland Browns to be in the game against the Baltimore Ravens, yet the game was in question until the final play. However, had Greg Little or Jordan Cameron (five drops between them) caught a couple of the passes thrown to them, the Browns might have handed the Ravens a home loss.
Maybe Brandon Weeden is finding out why Colt McCoy is riding the bench. Browns wide receivers can’t catch.
The Good: Vikings Special Teams
Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown, giving the Minnesota Vikings a seven-point lead before most fans were in their seats.
That’s normally the even of the scoring for a special teams unit, but not when you are playing against the Detroit Lions. To start the second half, the Lions were forced to punt after four plays. Marcus Sherels returned the punt 77 yards for a touchdown, giving the Vikings a 20-6 lead.
Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh had two field goals as the Vikings special teams accounted for all 20 points against the Lions.
The Bad: Mark Sanchez
You know it’s bad when you have to start looking over your shoulder to see if Tim Tebow is coming into the game to replace you.
Even though Mark Sanchez said in his postgame press conference that he is not worried about his job, that’s exactly where Sanchez is right now—wondering when Tebow might replace him.
Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his passes, going 13-of-29 for 103 yards and no touchdowns. He also lost a fumble and threw an interception while finishing with a 39.9 passer rating.
The Ugly: Jets Inept Offense
Mark Sanchez was not the only problem for the New York Jets offense. The entire unit was inept.
The offense had four turnovers, only managed 145 yards of total offense and was shut out for the first time since 2010 when the Jets lost to the Green Bay Packers 9-0.
The 34-0 beating was the third largest home shutout loss in franchise history. UGLY!
The Good: Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley
Who says the New England Patriots can’t run the ball?
On Sunday, the Patriots had not one but two running backs rush for over 100 yards.
Brandon Bolden, the rookie from Mississippi, rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries. He scored on a seven-yard touchdown run giving the Patriots a 42-21 lead.
Stevan Ridley scored two TDs and rushed for 106 yards on 22 attempts. If Ridley and Bolden continue to run the ball this effectively, the Patriots' offense will be tough to stop.
The Bad: Bills Second Half Defense
The Buffalo Bills had a 21-7 lead in the third quarter, until the defense allowed the Patriots to score 45 points in the final 23 minutes of the game.
At one point, the Patriots scored 35 points in a span of just under 13 minutes. The Bills defense gave up six consecutive New England drives that resulted in touchdowns.
The Ugly: Matt Cassel
Matt Cassel's development process looks like this: one step forward, two steps back. This week he finished the game completing just 24-of-42 passes for 252 yards. Although he threw two touchdown passes, he was intercepted three times and fumbled the ball once.
This is Cassel’s fourth season with the Kansas City Chiefs, and he is playing like it is his first. Until Cassel becomes more consistent at the quarterback position, the Chiefs will continue to struggle on offense. Cassel finished the game with a unimpressive 60.7 passer rating.
The Good: Brian Hartline
Who needs Chad
Ochocinco, oops Johnson anyway?
Brian Hartline put up a monster stat line Sunday catching 12 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown.
Even though the Miami Dolphins eventually lost the game to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime, Hartline had a spectacular effort. He might have also silenced a few critics in the process. Those critics, who claimed the Dolphins did not have a No. 1 wide receiver, include Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland.
The Bad: Jets Use of Tim Tebow
In Sunday’s horrible offensive performance, the Jets used Tebow on six offensive plays. He blocked twice, passed once and ran twice for a grand total of zero yards! He was also involved on some special teams and was credited with a special teams tackle.
Not sure that is the kind of production the Jets were expecting when they acquired Tebow from the Denver Broncos.
The Ugly: Russell Wilson
There was no replacement referee to turn Russell Wilson’s last minute interception into a touchdown this week.
Russell turned into a turnover machine throwing three interceptions. He never got into a rhythm offensively and finished the night with a 45.8 passer rating.
Russell only managed 160 yards passing. He ended with only 17 completions on 25 attempts. What a difference one week makes.
The Good: 49ers Defense
One week after losing on the road to the Minnesota Vikings, the San Francisco 49ers were hearing questions regarding their toughness. They answered those questions with a shutout victory over the New York Jets.
The 49ers defense was relentless. They forced four turnovers and only allowed the Jets to run 12 plays inside 49er territory.
The Bad: Lions Offensive Line
The Detroit Lions offense has been struggling all season. This week the offensive line did not help.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford was running for his life all game as his offensive line allowed five sacks, nine quarterback hits and eight tackles for loss.
Stafford has been sacked a total of nine times already this season and has suffered an injury. It’s clear the Lions offensive line needs to get better immediately if Stafford is to survive this season.
The Ugly: Saints Defense
Get used to seeing the Saints defense here in the ugly section. It is still the worst defense in the league, giving up 463.2 yards per game.
This week, the Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers torched the Saints' unit for 319 yards and four touchdowns. The New Orleans defense gave up a total of 421 yards of total offense again this week and when it needed a stop at the end of the game, it could not get one.
New Orleans may not want to admit it, but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is sorely missed.
The Good: Ryan Tannehill's Passing Yards
The Bad: Ryan Tannehill's Sacks
…the bad. Although Ryan Tannehill had plenty of success throwing the ball, he took too many sacks.
Tannehill was sacked four times and lost 37 yards on those sacks. He was also hit nine times by the Cardinals defense. Sometimes it appears that the rookie QB holds on to the ball a little too long.
The Ugly: Ryan Tannehill's Interceptions
Yes. Ryan Tannehill has become the first player to be mentioned in all three sections of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
There are interceptions and then there are horrible interceptions. Tannehill threw two interceptions in the game. The first one was not so bad. It happened while the Dolphins were nursing a 13-7 lead midway through the third quarter and the Cardinals were forced to punt after the mistake.
The ugly interception happened in overtime. Tannehill was under pressure, and he threw the ball while getting hit. The pass, intercepted by Kerry Rhodes, set up the Cardinals' game-winning field goal.
The Good: Return of Regular Officials
OK, so maybe they were not perfect this weekend and maybe the honeymoon is over in Green Bay and Philadelphia, but it was great to see the regular officials back on the field. They were clearly light years ahead of the replacement officials.
After last week’s controversial call in Seattle, most fans welcomed the regular officials. In most cases, the officials entered stadiums this weekend to cheers and standing ovations.
The Bad: Ramses Barden OPI
Ramses Barden took the New York Giants out of field goal range with an offensive pass interference call late in the fourth quarter.
The Giants were already in field goal range when Eli Manning threw a deep pass to Barden on 2nd-and-9 from the Philadelphia Eagles' 26-yard line. Even if the Giants did not gain another yard, they could have attempted a very makeable 43-yard field goal.
However, Barden grabbed Nnamdi Asomugha and was called for the penalty. The Giants were forced to try a 54-yard field goal, which landed about three yards short. Barden needs to learn that sometimes an incomplete pass is okay.
The Ugly: Buccaneers' 2-Minute Defense
After taking a 22-21 lead late in the fourth quarter, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking to close out the game. Instead, they allowed Robert Griffin III to march 56 yards down the field and into field goal range.
Billy Cundiff nailed a 45-yard field goal to give the Washington Redskins a 24-22 victory.
Maybe head coach Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers should spend more time practicing on stopping an offense running a two-minute drill instead of blitzing offenses running a kneel-down play.
The Good: Cameron Wake
Lots of love for the Miami Dolphins this week, even though they lost.
Not many gave them a chance to go into the desert and compete against the Arizona Cardinals, but they did a great job.
Cameron Wake was a one-man wrecking crew against the Cardinals. He had 4.5 sacks of quarterback Kevin Kolb, five quarterback hits, four tackles for a loss and five total tackles. He was everywhere on the field and although the Dolphins lost, Wake was one of the reasons they were in the game.
The Bad: Real Referees Make Mistakes Too
The Green Bay Packers just can’t catch a break.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Packers scored a touchdown to take a 28-27 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, New Orleans Saints kick returner Darren Sproles fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Packers.
The ruling on the field was that Sproles was down by contact and the ball was awarded to the Saints. Since the Packers were out of challenges they could not ask for a review.
The call did not affect the outcome of the game, but Packer fans are wondering when a call will finally go their way.
The Ugly: Lions Special Teams
For the second consecutive week, the Detroit Lions special teams coverage units allowed a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown. According to STATS LLC, the Lions are the first team to give up a kickoff and a punt return for touchdowns in consecutive games since at least 1940.
The Lions have not had the same offensive production from a season ago and they have not been able to overcome those special teams mistakes, losing to the Minnesota Vikings this week and falling to the Tennessee Titans the previous week.
The Good: Rams Fake Field Goal
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers used a fake field goal to trick the St. Louis Rams. This year, the Rams became the tricksters.
Midway through the second quarter with the Rams trailing the Seattle Seahawks 7-3, the Rams lined up for a chip-shot field goal. Nobody, especially anybody on the Seattle side, saw Danny Amendola standing out away from the field-goal unit.
After the snap, punter Johnny Hekker took the ball and lobbed a pass to Amendola standing all alone in the end zone. TOUCHDOWN RAMS!
The Bad: Cowboys Offense
The Dallas Cowboys' offensive woes continue. They cannot seem to run the ball, and their offense is ranked 31st overall, averaging 16.25 points per game.
Against the Bears, the Cowboys only scored 10 points until garbage time.
That means in their last three games, excluding the garbage time TD, the Cowboys have scored 33 points for an average of 11 points per game. That is not going to get it done in the NFL.
The Ugly: Tony Romo
Tony Romo threw five interceptions on Monday Night Football.
Do we need to say more?
Okay: Two of those were returned for touchdowns.
Does it get any uglier than that?