Week 10 in the NFL had plenty of drama even though it did nothing to clear up the playoff picture.
The Atlanta Falcons, the NFL’s lone undefeated team, dropped its first game to the New Orleans Saints despite a huge passing day by quarterback Matt Ryan. Now the 1972 Miami Dolphins can relax for another year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs continue to be the worst teams on the field and the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants continue to slide. Just another great week in the best sport on the planet.
Let’s jump in and take a look at the players, plays and teams that earned the good, the bad and the ugly.
Where are all the naysayers now?
Remember at the start of the season when all the pundits were saying that there was no way Adrian Peterson would be ready to start the season, and if he did, he would not be nearly as good as he was before.
Peterson continues to lead the league in rushing with 1,128 yards. This week he tore up the Detroit Lions and sealed the game with a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He rushed for 171 yards on 27 carries for an average of 6.3 yards per attempt.
So much for not being able to carry the load after coming back from a torn ACL.
The sophomore slump continues for Cam Newton. His stat line was not awful, having thrown for 241 yards on 21-of-36 passing with a 74.0 passer rating. Not great, but not bad.
What was bad was Newton’s decision-making throughout the game. He hesitated and held the ball so long that he was sacked seven times. Newton also threw two interceptions and it was his first INT that landed him in the bad category.
In the third quarter, with the Broncos clinging to a 17-7 lead, Newton forced a pass while being tackled. The Broncos Tony Carter intercepted the ill-advised pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, giving the Broncos an insurmountable 24-7 lead.
Newton also gave up a safety later on in the fourth quarter.
Even before he left the field after suffering a concussion, Jay Cutler was having a bad day.
Prior to his departure, Cutler had thrown two interceptions and never looked comfortable in the pocket. You can blame the weather or the Houston Texans defensive pressure, but Cutler was off-target early in the game.
Cutler had only completed 50 percent of his passes before his departure, going 7-of-14 for 40 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns for a 16.7 passer rating.
The Oakland Raiders have a knack for making everyone look great. This week, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was the beneficiary of the Raiders suspect defense.
Flacco torched the Raiders secondary for 341 yards and three touchdowns. He finished the game with a 115.8 passer rating on 21-of-33 passing.
Flacco was never sacked or even hurried, so he looked relaxed in the pocket throughout the entire game. His 47-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith early in the third quarter was perfect.
We understand that the Raiders were losing and had to pass the ball and were without Darren McFadden, but their running game or lack thereof was ridiculous.
The Raiders did have 24 carries in the game, but only gained 72 yards for a meager three yards per carry average. Without the threat of a rushing attack, the Raiders had to rely on Carson Palmer to throw the ball 45 times, which has not been a recipe for success.
We wonder why Taiwan Jones only received two of those carries.
Maybe the folks in Jacksonville would go watch the Jaguars play if the team would score some points. The Jaguars were only able to put up 10 points on the board at home on Thursday Night Football against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars continue to have the worst offense in the league, ranking dead last in points scored (127), points per game (14.1) and total offensive yards per game (263.6).
Against the Colts, the Jaguars only rushed for 37 yards and quarterback Blaine Gabbert had another awful performance before being knocked out of the game. The Jaguars have been outscored 153-44 at home this season.
No wonder head coach Mike Mularkey threw a temper tantrum when officials did not take extra time to review an Andrew Luck touchdown run that appeared to be an incorrect call.
We could praise Steven Jackson for his 101 yards rushing and one touchdown. Those are great numbers going against a tough San Francisco 49ers defense.
However, we believe Jackson’s block on a blitzing Patrick Willis was more impressive. With the Rams trailing 21-17 late in the fourth quarter and facing a 1st-and-goal from the 49ers 2-yard line, Willis blitzed right up the middle through the A gap and was about to hit quarterback Sam Bradford when Jackson blocked him out of the way.
Bradford hit Austin Pettis in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to give the Rams a 24-21 lead. That was an excellent blitz pickup by the veteran running back.
Jackson also added 26 yards on two receptions.
Since we were so hard on the replacement referees earlier in the season, it’s time to blame the regular referees for two egregious errors in this weekend’s action.
First in the Broncos/Panthers game, Trindon Holliday returned a punt 76 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, Holliday pulled a DeSean Jackson and flipped the ball away prior to crossing the goal line. The replay official failed to alert referee Alberto Riveron to review the play.
The second mistake was the clock error in the Rams/49ers game. Referee Clete Blakeman stopped the game for a first down measurement, while the clocked ran down from 13:18 to 12:20. They did not correct the error and therefore a little over a minute was lost in the game.
What has happened to DeAngelo Williams?
Once upon a time, the Carolina Panthers had a powerful two-back combination in their backfield. But that seems like a very long time ago. The Panthers rushing attack is no longer successful.
Williams only gained a paltry six yards on six carries. Not exactly what the Panthers expected when they gave Williams a five-year, $43.5 million contract.
The Baltimore Ravens linebackers keep getting better and better.
Linebacker Paul Kruger was a one-man wrecking crew against the Oakland Raiders. Kruger was all over the field and harassed Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer all day long.
Kruger stepped in front of a Palmer pass and intercepted the ball midway through the second quarter. He registered two sacks and applied pressure on Palmer, hitting him another two times. He finished with five solo tackles, two tackles for a loss and one pass defensed.
Sooner or later the New York Jets will realize that they are no longer the ground-and-pound football team they once were.
The Jets running game is not as dominate as it was two years ago and it shows. They only managed to gain 84 yards against the Seahawks. Their longest run of the game went for nine yards.
Shonn Greene gained 58 yards on 15 carries and Tim Tebow gained 14 yards on four attempts. Not exactly ground-and-pound.
What are the New York Jets doing with Mark Sanchez? The Sanchize is falling apart, especially after he gives way to Tim Tebow.
Sanchez barely completed 40 percent of his passes, going 9-of-22 for 124 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. The worst part is that Sanchez threw the interception inside the Seahawks 10-yard line with the Jets facing a 3rd-and-goal from the Seahawks 6-yard line.
Sanchez also had a fumble early in the fourth quarter and finished the game with a miserable 40.7 passer rating.
Peyton Manning continues to climb up the charts. Manning only threw one touchdown pass, his 420th of his career. That pass moved him into a tie for second place on the NFL's list with Dan Marino.
Manning finished the game with 301 yards on 27-of-38 passing and a 103.1 passer rating. This season, Manning is top five in passing yards (5th - 2,705), yards per game (5th - 300.6), TD passes (3rd-21), completion percentage (2nd - 69.7) and completions (tied 4th - 230).
So much for him not being able to play the game anymore.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in a world of hurt as they lose their fifth consecutive game. The 38-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys drops the Eagles to 3-6. Turnovers continue to plague this team as the Cowboys turned two Nick Foles mistakes into 14 points.
The Eagles are at a crossroads. With Michael Vick injured with a concussion, the Eagles will turn to rookie Nick Foles to try to turn their season around. Could this be the end of the Andy Reid era in Philly?
The Eagles should remember that things could be worse. They did manage to get three last-second wins, so they could easily be 0-9.
We may have to find a new way to spell elite because over the past three weeks, Eli has left us without the “te”.
Eli Manning had his third consecutive poor performance as he has gone three games without throwing a touchdown pass. Against the Bengals he threw another pair of interceptions and never got into a rhythm.
Manning finished the game with a 56.0 passer rating on 29-of-46 passing for 215 yards. He also lost a fumble in the game.
The demise of Chris Johnson might have been a bit premature. Johnson helped the Tennessee Titans blowout the Miami Dolphins 37-3.
Johnson rushed for 126 yards on 23 carries. He was back to showing his explosiveness and was extremely elusive, especially during his 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Johnson has rushed for 652 yards in his last five games.
Ryan Tannehill continues to make rookie mistakes with the football. After four straight games without an interception, Tannehill tossed three INTs in this game.
This was his third multiple interception game this season. The Dolphins will only go as far as Tannehill will take them and he was all over the place against the Titans.
Tannehill was wild on most of his throws and finished with a low 42.4 passer rating.
Philip Rivers threw one of the worst interceptions we've ever seen. Early in the fourth quarter with the Chargers trailing the Buccaneers 24-21, Rivers and the Chargers were facing a 3rd-and-4 from the Buccaneers 23-yard line.
Rivers rolled out to his right looking for a receiver downfield. He ran out of room and instead of throwing the ball away and giving his team a chance to attempt a game-tying field goal, Rivers threw a horrible pass directly at Leonard Johnson who returned the ball 83 yards for a Buccaneers touchdown.
The Chargers never recovered and lost the game 34-24.
We would be remiss if we did not include two great performances by two tight ends in the same game.
Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez dominated in the Falcons/Saints game. Both tight ends finished the game with two touchdown receptions.
Graham had seven catches for 146 yards and not to be outdone, Gonzalez pulled down 11 receptions for 122 yards.