The “good” news for Peyton Manning in the Broncos’ 29-13 loss to the Chiefs is that he broke (just barely) Brett Favre’s career passing yards record. Unfortunately, it took him almost three quarters to throw for literally a couple of yards to do so. Manning’s 5 of 20, 35 yards, no TDs, 4 interceptions and a 0.0 passer rating was not only the worst performance of his career, but probably the worst of any quarterback this season. Manning now has 17 interceptions in nine games, with just nine touchdown passes. Perhaps not surprisingly, Manning hasn’t played this poorly since his rookie season, given that he is near the end. The speculation is that Manning is suffering from numerous ills and should sit for a few weeks, but frankly he started the season with uncharacteristically un-Manning like inefficiency, and has gone from poor to bad to worse as the season has gone on, and finally the team is beginning to suffer from it.
In games this weekend:
Bills 22 Jets 17. Rex Ryan waxed nostalgic after the game, imagining that his former team was pining for him back. That is unlikely, but in games like this where it was more the bad play of one team than the good play of another team that was the deciding factor, we’ll forgive Rex for wishful thinking. But to be frank, Rex’s Bills seem little different than Rex’s Jets, meaning they are just treading water.
Patriots 27 Giants 26. The Giants had plenty of opportunities to put this game away and end the Patriots unbeaten streak in the fourth quarter, but allowing a 76-yard scoring pass, failing to convert a fumble at the Patriots’ 31-yard line into points, failing to punch-in on first-and-goal at the five with under 2 minutes to play, and then the defense allowing a fourth-and-ten conversion on the drive that eventually led to the winning field goal—you don’t do against this Patriots team and expect to win.
Lions 18 Packers 16. In a game where there was a combined 92 yards rushing on 44 carries, barely two yards a rush, you would expect the better quarterback to prevail—especially a supposedly good Packer team at home against a Lions team that has trouble winning games this season. But as I’ve noted before, Aaron Rodgers has frequently had inexplicably poor games against the Lions, and this was another one. A personal “best” 61 pass attempts were only good for 333 yards only counted on the stat sheet. Sure, the Packers did “rally” late, even recovering an onside kick after a poor two-point conversion pass by Rodgers failed to tie the game, but the usually reliable Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal attempt. After a 6-0 start, the Packers have not just lost three straight, but
Vikings 30 Raiders 14. The Vikings are now incomprehensibly in sole possession of first place in the NFC North, continuing to ride the back of Adrian Peterson, who has clearly regained his position as the most dynamic running back in the NFL, gaining 203 yards rushing in this game on just 26 carries. It is remarkable how this seemingly nondescript team has reached the heights it has, but that is only so because Peterson is still persona non grata in the media. No one is allowed to say anything “good” about him, such is the current politics.
Bears 37 Rams 13.Talk about two teams tough to figure out. The Rams beat the Seahawks and the Cardinals and get crushed at home by the Bears, who were crushed by those teams. But it all works out, because both are now 4-6, with one not looking so bad now with a healthy quarterback (Jay Cutler) and the other with a healthy but not so good quarterback (Nick Foles).
Panthers 27 Titans 10. Cam Newton was just “efficient” enough to beat a team with a rookie quarterback that is now 0-5 at home. “Hall of Fame” hyperbole or not, Newton often at least looks like a man among boys.
Steelers 30 Browns 9. At least on the stat sheet, Johnny Manziel demonstrated a capacity to complete a lot of passes for a lot of yards (33-45, 372 yards), but he was no match for Ben Roethlisberger, injured foot or not. The Browns just can’t get their wheels out of the rut they have been in ever since their return to Cleveland.
Jaguars 22 Ravens 20. Another tough game to explain. Blake Bortles threw for just 188 yards on 45 pass attempts, while Joe Flacco threw for 316. I think that the old fable of the hare and the tortoise applies here. Bortles and company just plodded along, crossing the finish line just ahead of a once good team that has grown lazy. Sure, the game officials should be fired for blowing a call before the final play that would have ended the game in a Ravens' win, but a 15-yard face mask penalty that put the Jaguars in game-winning field goal range with no time remaining? Not that this is unknown--Geno Smith was granted a bogus personal foul penalty with no time remaining against the Buccaneers a few years ago--but that was stupid and lazy.
Dolphins 20 Eagles 19. Mark Sanchez got his shot after Sam Bradford left the game after an injury, made some athletic plays that Bradford can’t do, and ruins it all by throwing an interception in the end zone on second-and-goal from the Dolphins’ eight, down by a point. The problem here is that every mistake that Sanchez makes is magnified to the maximum degree, as if he is an idiot. No other quarterback in this league is subject to so much derogation. I know the real reason why, and it has nothing to do with football, really.
Buccaneers 10 Cowboys 6. The Cowboys just can’t catch a break. Offensively they were awful, but the Buccs were worse than awful. With the score 6-3 late in the fourth quarter, Jameis Winston manages to advance the ball to the four yard line, rushes to the one and fumbles, recovered by the Cowboys for a touchback to seemingly end the game, but the officials get involved and call a holding penalty on the Cowboys that had no impact whatever on the play, and the Winston scores on the next play for the winning touchdown.
Redskins 47 Saints 14. The other Ryan brother has been on the hot seat for his handling of the Saint’s defense, but the lopsided score of this game seems to demonstrate that the problems with this team are more systemic; the Redskins don’t have that good of a defense, either.
Cardinals 39 Seahawks 32. The Seahawks defense giveth, and sometimes taketh away. Carson Palmer was at times both unstoppable and helpless in this game, but more often the former. Palmer threw an early interception in the end zone, and later fumbled the ball twice leading to quick touchdowns for the Seahawks. Those mistakes masked what was actually a dominant victory, as Palmer seemed to be able to expose the Seahawk secondary repeatedly downfield. Russell Wilson at times made plays with his feet, but people shouldn’t be fooled. Take away three pass completions for 103 yards, he had only 137 yards passing on 29 attempts, which explains why the Seahawks can’t keep or maintain momentum, even when it seemingly is on their side. More often, it is the defense’s opportunistic plays that causes the momentum shifts, not the offense’s play.
Texans 10 Bengals 6. The Bengals' unbeaten streak ends at home against the Texans? Both team had nearly identical sub-average offensive performances, and Brian Hoyer was having an even worse game than Andy Dalton, until T.J. Yates entered and played badly, save for one drive that ended in the game's only touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Bengals still had four more possessions to win the game, but on the last one with less than a minute to play, A.J. Green fumbled away what would have been a spectacular fourth down conversion in the red zone.