Carolina Panthers (1-5) 17 @ Atlanta Falcons (3-3) 31
CAR: Cam Newton 21/35 237 yards 3 INTS 6 carries 50 yards 1 TD, Jonathan Stewart 7 carries 48 yards 1 TD, Steve Smith 5 receptions 66 yards.
ATL: Matt Ryan 14/22 163 yards 1 TD 1 rushing TD, Michael Turner 27 carries 139 yards 2 TD’s, Harry Douglas 2 receptions 57 yards.
This was a close game entering the fourth quarter after a game where defence was in short supply for the first three quarters. What decided the game however was the experience that the Falcons have at finishing drives. The Panthers first three drives were long drives with only one resulting in a touchdown and that was on a broken play where Cam Newton scrambled for a TD. The other drives resulted in a field goal and an interception on a tipped pass. The Falcons pulled away in the fourth quarter, riding Michael Turner all the way to a victory. The game was sealed by a Matt Ryan rushing TD after Newton was intercepted by defensive tackle Corey Peters.
What we learned:
- If the Falcons are to be successful this season then rushing the ball with Michael Turner is how they will do it. Whilst they transition to the passing offense that they want to be they cannot go away from what made them so successful the past three seasons.
- Cam Newton is like any other rookie, he will have bad games and make mistakes. Newton showed the first signs of frustration in his career as he failed to lead the Panthers to a victory against the Falcons. His second interception to Corey Peters was the one that sealed the game for the Falcons and was a dreadful decision by Newton that was punished by a superb play by Peters.
- The Falcons defense struggles to stop the pass but they are a turnover machine, they have recorded a turnover every game this season and the streak now runs over twenty games in a row.
Game MVP: Michael Turner, this is Falcons football and Turner is key.
Jacksonville Jaguars 13 (1-5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers 17 (4-2)
JAC: Blaine Gabbert 12/26 109 yards 1 TD, Maurice Jones-Drew 22 carries 96 yards, Mike Thomas 4 receptions 36 yards.
PIT: Ben Roethlisberger 12/23 200 yards 1 TD, Rashard Mendenhall 23 carries 146 yards 1 TD, Mike Wallace 2 receptions 76 yards 1 TD.
Recap: This was a game dominated by Pittsburgh defense against a Jags team that couldn’t sustain drives at all against this iteration of the Steel Curtain. Rashard Mendenhall set the tempo for this game in the first quarter as he had 100 yards on the ground already and had found the end-zone to put the Steelers up. With the Jags never looking like scoring the Steelers offense went through the motions for the rest of the game with their other touchdown coming off their one big passing play to Mike Wallace. The Jags threatened to make it close in the fourth quarter as Blaine Gabbert stuck his foot in the ground and drilled a pass to Jason Hill in the end-zone. Gabbert however was never able to drive the Jags down-field after that to tie up the game.
What we learned:
- The Steelers defense can beat up on poor teams. The Jags offense has no big play potential and the Steelers kept them from sustaining drives all day. MJD put up decent stats but other than that the Jaguars were limited to short gains and frequent three and outs.
- Blaine Gabbert is a work in progress. In my preview of this game I spoke of Gabberts need to stick in the pocket and take hits whilst throwing. Too often early in the game he took off from the Steelers formidable pass rush, later in the game though he stood tall in the pocket when he hit Hill for the TD and was successful.
- Rashard Mendenhall is the lead back in Pittsburgh, no questions asked. The Jags run D prior to this game had been impressive so Mendenhall’s day is even better than it looks. Prior to the game some fans clamoured for Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer getting more carries, Mendenhall put those thoughts on the back burner with this performance.
Game MVP: Rashard Mendenhall, the game was decided by Mendenhall’s decisive running.
Dallas Cowboys 16 (2-3) @ New England Patriots 20 (5-1)
Going into this game the majority of fans and experts were expecting a shootout between Tony Romo and Tom Brady but actually this was a game where the two defenses stiffened and were able to play fine games. The Dallas defense in particular was very impressive except for the final game winning drive by Brady, they stifled him for most of the game and eliminated the big plays that Brady is known for. Tony Romo unfortunately for Dallas wasn’t at his best and made the mistakes that characterize him, whilst he had only one interception he often missed open receivers and this hindered the Cowboys a lot in the red zone.
What we learned:
- The Cowboys defense will be a top 5 unit by seasons end. Rob Ryan is doing a superb job in the biggest job so far in his career. He has managed to turn a secondary that has no right to be good into a respectable unit and he has his linebackers making plays. The longer the season goes the better the Cowboys defense will be.
- Even when he’s not at his best Tom Brady will make his team win. Brady put up pretty stats but he didn’t do enough to put points on the board for the Patriots early in the game. Tom Terrific though will always be able to pull through in the clutch as he did on his TD pass to Aaron Hernandez, he broke the hearts of all Cowboys fans by doing what he does best, fourth quarter comeback wins
- The Patriots pass defense is not as good as the points total for Dallas indicate. Romo’s failings have more to do with Dallas not putting up more points than the Pats defense did. When Romo threw accurately he was able to get the ball down-field to his play-makers, he hit four receivers with passes of twenty yards or more. The Patriots are in dyer need of a pass rush and may not be able to win a Superbowl with this defense.
Game MVP: Tom Brady purely for the drive he orchestrated to win the game on in the final minute.
Bills (4-2) 24 @ 27 Giants (4-2)
BUF: Ryan Fitzpatrick 21/30, 244 yards, 2 TD, Fred Jackson 16 car/121 yards 1 TD
NYG: Eli Manning 21/32 292 yards, Ahmad Bradshaw 26 car/104 yards 3 TD
Recap: Bradshaw had a career day in New Meadowland Stadium with 104 rushing yards including 3 touchdowns to beat the Bills. Buffalo were coming into this game as slight favorite after their epic performance against the Eagles at home last week while the Giants lost to the Seahawks who hadn’t won on the east coast for 5 years. Fitzpatrick threw two TD passes to Stevie Johnson, Namaan Roosevelt while Jackson ran for an 80 yard TD missing tackles on the way to the end-zone, who had another 100 rushing yard game for the Bills. Bradshaw who scored all 3 TD for the Giants on three 1 yard plays with Tynes Kicking 2 FG including the winning FG. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a chance to seal the victory for the Bills as they got into the red-zone but was INT by Webster with less than 4 minutes to go giving the Giants a chance to seal with the victory with the game tied 24-24, they hit the winning FG with 1:32 remaining giving the Giants 27-24 lead.
What we learned:
- Bills defense is still a weak link for this team even after being ranked no.1 in takeaways and scoring half the points for this team, offenses are able to move the ball effectively on this team turning each game into shootouts and Bills can’t win them all.
- When the Giants get their run game going it helps Eli Manning play better football and care free football which what they want out of him, taken pressure off him allowing him to use the play action pass more frequent.
- Jason Piere-Paul is a beast at DE with the likes of Tuck out with injury he has stepped up and has been dominated at the line of scrimmage causing pressure on the QB.
MVP: Ahmad Bradshaw, got his first 100 yard rushing game of the season including 3 TD with Jacobs out he was the feature back for the game.
49ers (5-1) 25 @ 19 Lions (5-1)
SF: Alex Smith 17/32, 125 yards 1 TD, Frank Gore, 15 Car/141 yards 1 TD
DET: Mathew Stafford 28/50 293 Yards 2 TD, Calvin Johnson, 113 yards 1 TD
Recap: Lions undefeated streak came to an end yesterday suffering their first loss of the season at home to the 49ers after the 49ers were able overcome 15 penalties including 5 false starts with the home crowd doing its job again. Lions got off to a fast start forcing Smith to fumble the ball on the first snap of the game. A game about defense saw 1 TD in the first half with 4 FG including 3 for the 49ers and 1 for the Lions, Jason Hanson Missed one from 52 yards that would have given them the lead before the half but was unable to connect but the former Eagles Kicker David Akers hit a 55 Yard FG giving them the lead 12-10 into the half. Lions scored with Burleson connecting with Stafford on a four yard pass giving them a 4 points lead into the fourth quarter. Alex Smith threw a 6 yard TD to Walker on 4th down with 1:51 remaining in the game to give the 49ers 25-19 lead the TD was reviewed but it stood giving, Lions had a chance to take the lead but was unable to get anything going on the final drive of the game. Biggest moment of the game came at the end with Harbaugh & Schwartz going at it after Schwartz didn’t like the handshake by Harbaugh.
What we learned:
- 49ers are legit candidates for the Superbowl with Harbaugh at the helm, he is able to get the best out of Alex Smith allowing him to manage the game and the front 7 continues to dominate with Aldon Smith having another great game.
- Lions must try and establish the run game after Stafford threw the ball 50 times during the game a considerably high number especially with a broken shoulder last season, must figure out how to get the best out of Best either with the screen game or short passes to get in the open.
- A new rivalry could be brewing with 2 young coaches going head 2 head and look like they will be at their respective teams for the next 10 years or so if the success continues for both teams.
Frank Gore, rushed for 141 yards including 1 TD impressive numbers going against a dangerous front four who have been a force in the opening 5 weeks of the season.
Texans 14 (3-3) @ 29 Ravens (4-1)
HOU: Matt Schaub 21/37 220 yards 1 TD, Adrian Foster 15 Car/49 Yards
BAL: Joe Flacco 20/33 305 Yards, Ray Rice 23 Car/101 Yards
Recap: Ravens defense continues to dominate limiting the Texans in the game especially with Mario Williams & Andre Johnson missing for them making the task much harder. There wasn’t much in this game in terms of TD with Ravens getting 2 TD with Flacco ran in for one and another one from Ricky Williams in the fourth quarter. Billy Cundiff was the star scoring 5 FG from the 43, 48, 25, 33 and 40 yard to tie for the Ravens record of 5 FG scored. Ravens scored on their first drive with 16 plays for 97 yards finishing off with a 1 yard run by Flacco. Tim Jamison sacked Flacco and recovered the ball on the 17; Ben Tate ran into the end-zone but fumbled the ball but was recovered by Guard Wade Smith for a TD, Ravens went into the half 13-7 but Texans took the lead temporary with Schaub throwing to Jacoby Jones for a 32 yard TD pass over the head of Ed Reed. Ravens continued to kick field goals but with 4:01 remaining in the game Ricky Williams ran in for 4 yard TD to seal the game for the Ravens.
What we learned:
- Ravens defense continues to dominate which will take them far this season with the number of offenses dominating the early stages of the season, Ravens must be slightly concerned with Flacco play not throwing any TD in this game he needs to step up.
- Texans need to beat the better teams to show they are capable of making the playoffs for the first after another disappointing performance against a top team in the AFC with Johnson and Williams out may be a tough ask.
- Ravens have the offense weapons to beat you in different ways with Rice, Williams in the backfield and the likes of Smith, Dickson and Lee Evans who will become the deep threats for this team and Boldin the possession guy.
MVP: Billy Cundiff, scoring 5 field goals for the Ravens 3 was 40 yards+.
Vikings (1-5) 10 @ 39 Bears (3-3)
MIN: Donovan McNabb 19/24 177 yards, Adrian Peterson 12 Car/39 yards
CHI: Jay Cutler 21/31 267 Yards 2 TD, Matt Forte 17 Car/87 Yards
Recap: It was the night Donovan McNabb got benched going in the fourth quarter for Christian Ponder with the Bears defense all over him sacking him 5 times. Offensive Line of the Bears had his best of the season able to keep Robinson and Allen at bay only giving up one sack. Jay Cutler threw for 267 yards including 2 TD without any INT first TD going to Devin Hester on a 48 yard throw in between two defenders. Adrian Peterson was quite for the night only rushing for 39 yards including 1 TD cutting the lead to 26-10 but their hard work was for nothing as the Viking punter kicked it off to Devin Hester and he returned it for a 98 yard run for a TD. Early in the fourth quarter McNabb was benched after being sacked 5 times and only throwing for 177 yard, Ponder looked impressive able to escape the pocket it included a 99 yard drive down the field but weren’t able to convert it into any points.
What we learned:
- When this team can protect Jay Cutler and his giving time he can make the throws if Roy Williams is able to get going it will be a great addition for this team who are looking for the big target.
- Vikings have some soul searching to do weather they stick with McNabb at QB or go with the young gun in Christian Ponder who looked decent in areas and was aware of the pocket allowing him to escape and get rid of the ball.
- Weather Devin Hester goes into the HOF or not, will never understand why teams decide to kick the ball to him with 17 kick returns in total only 2 behind Deion Sanders that record looks pretty beatable.
MVP: Devin Hester, scored 2 TD including 96 Yard Kick return, the old saying why kick it to Hester? We all know what he going to do take it to the house.