Week 9 officially marks the midway point in the NFL as all teams have at least played eight games. The great thing is that every team is still in the playoff race, unless you are the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars or any team in the NFC South not named the Atlanta Falcons.
This week, the Falcons remained perfect by defeating the imperfect Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys just find a way to lose games while the Falcons keep finding ways to win them.
There were plenty of great plays and players worthy of being listed under the good category this week. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin even forced us to create a new category this week. So let’s jump in and take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly for Week 9.
Doug Martin’s performance against the Oakland Raiders was so epic that we had to create the category of “The Exceptional” just for him.
What a homecoming! Hollywood could not have written a better script for Martin’s return to Oakland, the city where he was born. Martin torched the Raiders for 251 yards rushing on 25 carries and he scored four touchdowns.
Martin scored on runs of one, 45, 67 and 70 yards all in the second half. He also added another 21 yards on 4 receptions and his 251 rushing yards set a Tampa Bay franchise-record.
Over the past several seasons, rookie quarterbacks have been having plenty of success, but none have been better than Andrew Luck’s passing performance against the Miami Dolphins. Luck broke Cam Newton’s record for passing yards in a single game by a rookie QB by throwing for 433 yards.
Luck was tough in the pocket and finished the game with a passer rating of 105.6 on 30-of-48 passing and two touchdowns. Luck also tied Peyton Manning for most 300-yard passing performances in his rookie season with his fourth such game of the year.
What has happened to the Kansas City Chiefs running game?
The Chiefs have been unable to do anything on the ground. That is amazing because they have Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis in the backfield. Against the Chargers on Thursday Night Football, Charles was held to 39 yards on 12 carries and Hillis only managed 14 yards on seven carries.
The Chiefs offense has been horrible lately and that is partly due to their inability to move the ball on the ground. Besides the games against the Saints and Ravens, Charles has been a disappointment this season.
A big reason for the lopsided loss was the Titans' five turnovers in the game. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw an interception and running back Chris Johnson lost a pair of fumbles. Tight end Craig Stevens and wide receiver Kenny Britt each added a fumble.
Add to that a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown and that puts the entire Titans team in the ugly category.
Oh, and by the way, the Tennessee Titans defense was not great either. Jay Cutler must be extremely happy that the Chicago Bears were able to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall torched the Titans all day. He scored three touchdowns on receptions of 13, 39 and five yards.
Marshall finished the game with nine receptions for 122 yards and averaged 13.6 yards per reception.
The Dallas Cowboys are in trouble if they cannot get running back DeMarco Murray healthy and back on the field. The combination of Felix Jones, Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner could not get the ground game going for the Cowboys.
Jones finished the night with 39 yards on nine carries, while rookie Lance Dunbar only gained 26 yards on eight carries. In two games, the Cowboys have only been able to gain 84 yards on the ground.
That’s not going to get it down at any level, much less the NFL.
We've seen some pretty bad offensive lines in the NFL recently. Just ask Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham about the 1986 season.
Oddly enough, it’s this year's Philadelphia Eagles that might rival that 1986 Eagles team. That year, the Eagles allowed 104 sacks in the season. On Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, the Eagles allowed seven sacks.
Quarterback Michael Vick was running for his life on almost every play and he got hit on another 12 times. You cannot blame Vick for his performance when his offensive line is playing like Swiss cheese.
Miller sacked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton three times. He also registered three tackles for a loss and had four solo tackles and six total. He was also credited with four QB hits.
Overall, Miller was responsible for stopping 12 plays behind the Bengals' line of scrimmage.
Brandon Weeden continues his up-and-down, roller coast ride of a rookie season. Weeden was shaky against the Baltimore Ravens as he threw two interceptions and finished the game with a meager 44.4 passer rating.
Weeden made some critical rookie mistakes and never got the Browns into the end zone. He finished the game throwing for 176 yards on 20-of-37 passing.
Ponder only completed 50 percent of his passes going 11-of-22 for a paltry 63 yards. He threw one interception and no touchdowns and finished with a weak 37.3 passer rating. If the Vikings are going to compete with the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears for the division, they are going to need better play from Ponder.
Anybody want a peanut?
Charles Tillman is working hard at securing the defensive MVP award. Against the Tennessee Titans, Tillman forced four fumbles. Tillman also led the team in tackles with nine, all of them solo tackles and he was credited with one pass defensed.
The Chicago Bears defense is better at scoring points than some offenses in the league. They forced five turnovers and linebacker Brian Urlacher returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown.
It’s hard to put a quarterback that throws for over 400 yards in the "Bad" section, but Carson Palmer also threw three interceptions. It is because of those interceptions that Palmer finds himself in this category.
The worst of those picks came late in the game, with the Raiders only trailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by three points. With a little under two minutes to play in the game, the Raiders were back in the game. But on 2nd-and-10 from their own 38-yard line, Palmer threw a pass that was off-line and intercepted. That cost the Raiders any chance of coming back to either tie or win the game.
The Buffalo Bills offense has fallen on hard times recently. The Bills are currently ranked 21st in total offense.
Against the Houston Texans on Sunday, they were only able to manage three Rian Lindell field goals. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was ineffective and the Bills rushing attack never got going. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson only gained a paltry 60 yards between the two of them.
The good news for Bills fans is that they are only two games back in the division. The bad news is that unless they start scoring more points offensively, they will not be able to continue to compete for the division.
Decker has been having a fantastic year receiving for the Broncos. This week against the Bengals, Decker scored two touchdowns on receptions of 13 and four yards.
He finished the game with eight catches for 99 yards and the two TDs and narrowly missed scoring a third touchdown.
Manning completed less than 42 percent of his passes going 10-of-24 for 125 yards and no touchdowns. He threw one interception, fumbled once and finished with a mere 41.1 passer rating.
At least Manning came out and said (via ESPN), “Obviously, I didn't play well last night.”
Yeah, Eli, obviously!
This week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, McFadden had seven carries before leaving the game with a sprained ankle. He gained 17 yards on those seven carries and he had two catches for no gain.
That is not the kind of production the Raiders were hoping for from McFadden this season, and now with this new injury, they may not get much more.
It is tough to place a player from a losing team in the good category, but it is hard to ignore what Adrian Peterson did against the Seattle Seahawks. It is hard for opponents to play on the road in Seattle, but Peterson had a big day.
Peterson scored two touchdowns on the day. His first TD came after he broke a 74-yard run in the first quarter. He was stopped one yard short of the end zone but scored two plays later from 1-yard out.
He finished the game with 182 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. He also added another 11 yards on three catches.
Thank goodness the Pittsburgh Steelers won the game. Otherwise they would have had to answer questions all week about their horrible fake field goal try.
Early in the fourth quarter with the Steelers trailing the New York Giants 20-17, the Steelers faced a 4th-and-1 from the Giants 3-yard line. The Steelers looked to tie the game as they lined up for a chip-shot field goal attempt.
Instead, holder Drew Butler threw the ball back over his head to kicker Shaun Suisham for a fake field goal. Suisham never had a chance as he was tackled by Michael Coe for a one-yard loss.
That play was so ugly, the Steelers just need to bury it and never try it again.