compiled by Andrew Potter
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Raiders fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
Miami Dolphins 11 at New England Patriots 21
Cale Clinton: Run, run, pass, punt to kick off the Dolphins' season. Folks, Football is BACK!
Scott Spratt: I was really curious to see how the revamped Dolphins offensive line, including a pair of top draft picks and free-agent additions Ted Karras and Ereck Flowers, fared against the depleted Patriots front seven today. So far so good for the Pats. Jordan Howard made little hay on his first two carries, and then Stephon Gilmore tackled DeVante Parker short of a first down for a first-drive three-and-out.
Aaron Schatz: Yes, in general Miami needs to stay away from the 2-yard route on third-and-3.
Scott Spratt: No word on Cam Newton's shoulder yet, but his legs look mighty fresh. He has taken a pair of zone-read carries for about 20 yards.
Aaron Schatz: The Patriots just went down the field 80 yards with mostly runs, including a third-down QB draw and Cam Newton scoring a touchdown with a QB sweep and then throwing up the Wakanda Forever sign. We are living in a different world, kids.
Cale Clinton: New England's new-look offense has finally been unveiled. Newton adds an element that the Patriots have never had the luxury of having with Brady. A quarterback run used to mean a quick dive or a leap on fourth-and-short. Cam Newton has near the total of Tom Brady's 2019 rushing yards (34) in just four attempts.
One play that stood out to me was the play that closed the first quarter. The Patriots had used a number of read-option runs on their first two drives. Now, on second-and-11, with Newton in shotgun and Rex Burkhead to his right, N'Keal Harry came in motion wide behind the two. Newton faked the handoff to Burkhead and threw to Harry in the flats for a 6-yard pickup. The play set up a third-and-5, which Newton picked up with his feet. The drive ended in the first score of the game.
Without a punched-out pass by Miami's Jerome Baker, Newton would be perfect on his passing while averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The shortest run of Newton's day thus far has been his 4-yard touchdown run.
Dave Bernreuther: Sort of strange to have my own sports bar in Miami and still end up putting the main screen, with sound, on a Dolphins game, but there is nothing more interesting to me early on this season than watching the Patriots offense with Cam Newton. For 20 years, the Pats have dominated when still playing 10-on-11 in the running game (and it was their defense that was first exposed in the Ronnie Brown game in 2008 as an example of the advantages of 11-on-11). And while it's easy to lament the loss of a Hall of Fame Quarterback, I instead have chosen to be very excited by the prospect of watching how an extremely clever offensive mind, the best coach of all time, and a behind-the-curtain genius (or three, probably) decide to play offense when they get to play more 11-on-11. Especially after watching how easy they made it look on a short week with Jacoby Brissett back in 2016. I have every expectation that they'll figure out a way to have an offense that's 20% better this year, although watch as that means they're 10-6 or so with tons of points allowed (since they lost half their damn defense), lose in the playoffs, and half the country shouts about how Bill Belichick was a fraud and it was all Tom Brady's doing. (Sigh.)
What I have enjoyed so far, while distracted and waiting for my heart rate to descend, is that even in their first game, when it's pretty obvious that they're going to be run-heavy, they're doing really well even against a pretty decent defense. Right on cue, Cam scores on a keeper, and it feels an awful lot like they're in full command of this game, even if they're not on pace for 30-plus points.
Scott Spratt: I know it has just been a half, but I think Myles Gaskin might be the Dolphins' best running back. The team's beat reporters sang his praises this offseason, and he has 59 of the team's running backs' 79 yards so far.
Scott Spratt: Ryan Fitzpatrick sabotaged a Dolphins two-minute drill with his second interception of the day. The first was bad luck with Preston Williams falling down, but nevertheless, Tua Tagovailoa could be playing much sooner this season than I would have expected.
Aaron Schatz: That second Fitzpatrick interception was a Cover-1 robber with Adrian Phillips in a linebacker position then dropping into coverage. Fitzpatrick had no idea he was even there and threw it right to him.
But with a missed field goal, the Patriots will go into halftime leading by only 7-3, and it is worth pointing out that the Dolphins are actually leading in yards per play, 5.2 to 4.8.
Cale Clinton: The defense that led the league with a -25.5% DVOA, then subsequently lost three starters to free agency and two to COVID opt-outs, hasn't dropped off too drastically. One place they've appeared to be lacking the most thus far has been linebacker, which is without last season's three snap leaders at the position.
The defense has allowed 5.0 yards per play in the first half. The last substantial drive Miami had in the first half, Miami had runs of 8, 10, and 8 (brought back by holding) before Fitzpatrick turned it over. If the run isn't stopped at the line of scrimmage, guys like Myles Gaskin have had space to move. Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins were great for most of last season fitting runs and mitigating longer gains, with Collins able to lead the team in tackles because of it.
Back to live play, Cam Newton takes a long-striding run to the outside for 11 yards, muscling through a big blow at the goal line for what may or may not have been a touchdown. That run gives him 41 yards with 10 minutes left in the third, officially surpassing Brady's 2019 rushing total of 34. Nice moment during the celebration when Cam gave the ball to center David Andrews, TV mics picking up Cam telling him, "Cmon, you gotta spike this. You gotta spike this one."
Aaron Schatz: N'Keal Harry just fumbled the ball out of the end zone from the 1. Unless they review this and call him down, the Patriots got bit by the well-known "Worst Rule in Football." Bad end to an otherwise successful 78-yard drive.
Cale Clinton: Miami linebacker Jerome Baker has shown out in the red zone thus far. On back-to-back drives, Baker met Newton at the goal line, seemingly forcing him out despite the booth review allowing the touchdown, following that up by stripping N'Keal Harry inside the 5.
Cale Clinton: Brutal 15-point swing. The fumble-touchback leads to a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. While the 28 yards in DPI penalties certainly helped, Miami seemed to have real success going big. The second pass interference call came against a three-tight end Miami offensive set. The Dolphins then ran three straight run plays out of 23 personnel, cracking the goal line on a third-down run by Jordan Howard. Fitzpatrick scrambled around and couldn't be contained, allowing him to squeak out from underneath the pocket and convert for two points.
Bryan Knowles: Tom Brady started 324 games for the Patriots, including the postseason. He topped 30 yards rushing once; a 2006 game against Jacksonville.
Cam Newton has started one game for the Patriots. He has 65 rushing yards and two touchdowns with five minutes left.
O brave new world, with such rushing in it.
Cale Clinton: For all the praise I gave Jerome Baker earlier, he had two stupid, preventable penalties on New England's fourth-quarter touchdown drive. The drive started with Julian Edelman's 23-yard run being extended an extra 15 due to a late hit out of bounds by Baker. Fourth-and-1 at the Miami 5, as Newton picked up the first down with a 4-yard run, Baker picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct after pushing the pile. While that one was more or less inconsequential, it's a shame to see a guy who stood out well early is now standing out for other reasons.
Dave Bernreuther: Just checking -- have we not mentioned Steve Belichick's mullet yet?
It is SPECTACULAR.
Scott Spratt: Yikes, there's the third Fitzpatrick pick, this one in the end zone where the Dolphins could have pulled within a field goal. Tua time?
Dave Bernreuther: At first I thought he sailed that pass terribly, but coming out of commercial the replays show pretty clearly that there was some serious interference on the play (Jim Nantz called it Illegal contact even when the ball was clearly visible in the air even in the tightly zoomed shot), so that's not so optimal.
A Newton first down rush puts this one in the books. There'll certainly be some growing pains, but the new era in New England is off to a 1-0 start. I'm pretty excited to see what they come up with for this offense by December.
Indianapolis Colts 20 at Jacksonville Jaguars 27
Bryan Knowles: I've started on Colts-Jaguars, because, c'mon, the Jags can't be as bad as advertised, right?
Well, on their first drive, Philip Rivers completed all three passes, all of them successful; both Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines break tackles on a pair of carries, and the Colts jump ahead 7-0. No sign of Jonathan Taylor just yet; we'll see how those snaps get divvied up over the course of the game.
Scott Spratt: The play-by-play says Nyheim Hines went for an 88-yard carry. Was that more Hines excellence or Jaguars incompetence, Bryan?
Bryan Knowles: It's play-by-play incompetence; Hines had two runs for 12 and 6 yards, both in the red zone.
Scott Spratt: Well, none of us had a preseason, so I get it!
Interesting on the red zone usage of Hines, though. I suspected he might become a real weapon for Rivers, who has turned players such as Darren Sproles, Danny Woodhead, and Austin Ekeler into fantasy forces. But the Colts are completely loaded at running back with Marlon Mack and rookie Jonathan Taylor, who led the class in BackCAST score.
Rivers McCown: Also important to note that the Colts ran hurry-up a LOT on that first drive.
Anyway, Jacksonville's defense isn't great. Yeah.
Bryan Knowles: If you're watching the Indy backfeld, it's all Mack. Mack has 29 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards before the first quarter is over. The Colts march right back down into the red zone behind two big Mack plays, and then they turn to Hines, who has a three-yard rush on third-and-4 and is stuffed on fourth down inside the 5. Love the aggression, and it's really interesting to see Hines getting all the red zone work, but no result for the Colts.
Rivers McCown: "Interesting" is definitely one word for making Nyheim Hines your red zone back. I would probably go with "cute."
The first-quarter takeaway for the Jaguars offense is that they appear to be an offense making a feature back out of UDFA James Robinson.
Bryan Knowles: Welcome to the NFL, C.J. Henderson! The ninth overall pick stepped in front of a Philip Rivers pass to give the Jaguars the ball over midfield for the first time in 2020. It was double-coverage; I'm not entirely sure what Rivers thought he saw there, but still, good play by Henderson to come down with the ball. Rivers had some interceptions issues last year, and that can't be what the Colts wanted to see today.
From there, it's three straight runs for Leonard Four... err, James Robinson, and then a toss to D.J. Chark, and we have a 7-7 tie early in the second quarter.
Scott Spratt: Philip Rivers subscribes to the Brett Favre school of thought that completions are way more awesome when you force them through triple-coverage, Bryan.
Man that game could blow up half of America's eliminator leagues!
Andrew Potter: Jacoby Brissett takes the field for a single red zone snap, immediately gets sacked. The more things change…
Bryan Knowles: Marlon Mack comes limping off the field, so Jonathan Taylor gets to see the field for the first time -- and it's a 35-yard reception to him, as Rivers never saw a running back he wouldn't throw to. Taylor gets stuffed at the goal line on the next play, but hey, it's fun.
And after goofing around with Brissett for one play, Rivers comes back in and hits Nyheim Hines (two touchdowns already!), and the Colts jump back to a 14-7 lead.
Take ALL the Colts running backs in PPR leagues.
Dave Bernreuther: For all the talk of high expectations for Taylor and the past success of Marlon Mack, it's now Nyheim Hines with two touchdowns. The Colts have been moving the ball easily, although they went for a fourth-and-1 close to the goal line and missed, which means the game stayed close despite their dominance.
I still have no idea why they decided to pay and keep Jacoby Brissett. I have far less faith in Rivers than the coaching staff does, but even if I'm right, that made no sense. As if to justify it, they put him in for an option play, which was immediately blown up in the backfield for a loss. I'll say the same thing here to one of my favorite coaches as I would to Sean Payton: stop taking a Hall of Famer off the field to run stupid gadget plays. It's dumb. Even when it works it's dumb.
Rivers McCown: Just dropping some Jacoby Brissett weird red zone video here.
This has been your weird Jacoby Brissett interlude. pic.twitter.com/wqn2bLVM4t
-- Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) September 13, 2020
Bryan Knowles: This last Jaguars touchdown drive brought to you by Laviska Shenault. Yes, he caught a little drag route and ran 15 yards to tie the game at 14; that's all well and good. But he also had an 18-yard reception to open the drive and played a snap at Wildcat quarterback, picking up 5 yards on a run, too. The Jags said that Shenault would play multiple positions this season; I was not expecting quarterback to be one!
14-14 as we approach the end of the first half and, you know? The Jaguars aren't looking good, but they're not looking tanky. At this point in Week 1 last year, the Dolphins were down 42-10. The Jaguars are a little lucky to be tied 14-14, but they are hanging in there. Credit where credit is due!
Rivers McCown: I think the surprise of this game so far is that the Colts defense has just not been good. Way too many open receivers, James Robinson is getting big holes, DeForest Buckner has not impacted a lot of change. Laviska Shenault scores in the two-minute warning to tie the game.
Dave Bernreuther: After a field goal gives the Colts the lead headed into the half, 17-14, I'm not full of things to say. This is strange. Rivers is 20-of 24 for 227 in the first half and they seem to be moving the ball at will, but unlike the Packers, they didn't benefit from their failed fourth-down attempt, and they're letting Minshew be comfortable and look confident and composed, so they're stuck in a game that shouldn't be one. Shades of the late-2006 Colts defense, back when they managed to make even Cleo Lemon-led teams competitive despite an excellent offense. I love me some Minshew, but the Jags are terrible. This game shouldn't be close; it should be more like what's happening in Buffalo.
Rivers McCown: Frank Reich goes for it on fourth-and-1 in Colts territory, play-action to Jack Doyle for a big gain. Aggression paid off there at least.
Bryan Knowles: It ends up for naught, as it's a Doinkenship. A Blankendoink? We'll workshop that one.
Dave Bernreuther: Have I mentioned that I love Frank Reich? I love Frank Reich. Fourth down on their own side of the field. Love it.
So of course then Rodrigo Blankenship misses the field goal. I guess last year prepared us for this, but ugh. I still have no idea why Blankenship won the job after missing more kicks in the public parts of camp. It wasn't even a money thing. But I didn't like him at Georgia, and already I don't like him now. The fact that this is still a game is ridiculous.
Bryan Knowles: Update on that "pick up all Colts running backs" take:
Marlon Mack, who went down without contact in the first half, appears to have a torn Achilles, which I'm assuming would cost him the year. We wanted some clarity in the Colts backfield, but not like this. Bleh.
Rivers McCown: Colts go for it on yet another fourth down, this time in Jaguars territory, and Rivers responds by throwing a pick ... but defensive holding negates it and gives them a first down.
Rivers' pick-prone persona does not appear to have abated as hoped.
Scott Spratt: Aided by Marlon Mack's ankle injury, Jonathan Taylor is already making me look stupid with five receptions in his NFL debut. That's more than 10% of his catch total from his three-year career at Wisconsin. He could be a fantasy star if Mack misses extended time.
Dave Bernreuther: This Colts defense looks terrible. Nobody ever even covered Keelan Cole, and Minshew -- who again, looks three or four times more comfortable in pockets, although that's partly because of a lack of pressure -- had all day to lazily float one to him wide open for a touchdown. The Colts are now in serious danger of losing to the team that is trying to lose. This is infuriating.
Bryan Knowles: And the Jaguars, the consensus worst team in football, take the lead! The Colts forgot to cover Keelan Cole, making a pretty easy pitch and catch for Gardner Minshew for the touchdown.
Minshew is 19-for-20 today. Only 173 yards, so there are a ton of failed completions, but that includes three touchdown passes and a four-point lead with six minutes left in the game. Long live the mustache.
Bryan Knowles: And the Philip Rivers interception issues continue, with Andrew Wingard coming down with it this time. Another throw into coverage for Rivers. Jags have the ball on the Colts side of the field with four minutes left; a touchdown likely ends the game, a field goal probably at least prevents a loss in regulation.
Jaguars were +8 coming into today, which always felt too high to me.
Dave Bernreuther: Rivers just showed us all why I had no faith in the Colts this season ... but even I expected his decline to come in the fourth quarter of the SEASON, not the first game. Ugh. That was a terrible pick.
Minshew, meanwhile, is 19-of-20 against a toothless defense, and this really does remind me of the late Tony Dungy years, making it easy on opposing quarterbacks.
Rivers McCown: Philip Rivers in a one-score game, driving late. What could go wrong?
It's quickly fourth-and-4 on the 27 and a ball to T.Y. Hilton is broken up and ... the Jaguars have the ball with the lead and 44 seconds left.
Bryan Knowles: Philip Rivers tries to hit T.Y. Hilton twice on the last desperation drive, but a pair of drops (!) is going to end this one. Hell of a debut for C.J. Henderson, love the "tanking" Jaguars showing up on game day.
The Colts defense has a lot to figure out, very quickly.
Carl Yedor: One of the incredibly important burning questions entering this season was whether Philip Rivers or the Chargers themselves were more preordained to be down one score late in the fourth quarter furiously trying to make a comeback. Through the first full broadcast slate of the season, edge Rivers. T.Y. Hilton can't haul in a Rivers pass on fourth down to extend the Colts' final drive, and Jacksonville (!) kneels out the clock to ice the win.
Scott Spratt: On ESPN's Eliminator Challenge, 20% of entries picked the Colts this week. And 10% picked the Eagles.
Dave Bernreuther: Rivers' last two passes were an interesting contrast. To the left boundary, he threw a perfect pass to T.Y. Hilton, but he couldn't hold on on his way out of bounds. But on fourth-and-ballgame he plain and simple didn't have the arm for the out route to the far side of the field. That ball took forever to get there, giving [the DB] a ton of time to recover and break up the pass to Hilton. Ballgame. That was NOT the way the Colts were hoping to start the season, and wastes a huge opportunity, given the Texans' loss last week and opponent coming up this week.
Scott Spratt: Since 2015, T.Y. Hilton has dropped just 6.9% of his catchable targets. That's 16th-lowest of the 44 wide receivers with 100-plus catchable targets and at least a 12.0-yard average depth of target.
Seattle Seahawks 38 at Atlanta Falcons 25
Vince Verhei: Early reactions from Georgia: Atlanta's all-black uniforms, with the new matte-finish helmets, are sharp.
Vince Verhei: Seahawks take a 14-3 lead late in the first quarter, and as we all expected, their most dangerous receiver is Chris Carson, who's up to four catches for 37 yards and both scores. Russell Wilson hasn't thrown an incompletion yet, completing all eight of his first-quarter passes for 81 yards. He also picked up 40-some yards on a DPI (Ricardo Allen in coverage against Tyler Lockett) to convert a third-and-23.
L.J. Collier, who was a first-round pick just one year ago before vanishing off the face of the earth, had a first-quarter pressure to force an intentional grounding. The Falcons still got a field goal on that drive, but their second ended when Brian Hill was stuffed for a loss on third-and-1, and then an unblocked Benson Mayowa batted down Matt Ryan's pass on the ensuing fourth-down attempt.
Dave Bernreuther: Vince, I know we normally agree, but not on this one. Those Falcons uniforms are terrible. They look half-finished. And the red stripe down the side not lining up once anyone moves or gets tackled infuriates me.
Of course, I hate all the unitard looks. Detroit's, with all-blue and a silver helmet, is awful. The new Patriots set is awful. Etc. No need to repeat myself. We all know where I stand on this stuff from our award-winning article series...
Todd Gurley with the leap makes it 14-9, by the way. First thing I notice about him in the Falcons gear is actually the bright red hair thingy (is there a name for that?) that he has chosen to use to avoid being tackled by his dreads. Smart. I'm surprised more offensive players with long hair don't do that. (In the post-score sideline shot of him, it bounced around in such a way that makes me think that his hair is actually substantially weighty. That can't be good for the neck ... or even the jumping. But it didn't hurt him there. I have no expectation that he'll regain his earlier L.A. Rams form, but it'd be nice to see him have a nice bounceback year.)
Vince Verhei: Seahawks still lead 14-12 at halftime, but their offense has fizzled after that hot start -- three straight punts, including two three-and-outs. Wilson is up to 14-of-15 passing, but for only 106 yards. The Falcons have erased Lockett and DK Metcalf, who have less than 50 yards between them. They also have three sacks, because Russell Wilson.
The story on defense is the immediate impact of the new defensive backs. Jamal Adams has a team-high eight tackles, including a sack and a tackle for loss on a completed pass. And Quinton Dunbar has been the most visible player in coverage, as the Falcons are picking on him and mostly avoiding Shaquill Griffin. Seattle has been playing Legion of Boom-style coverage where you give up a completion for a chance to hit receivers really hard, and Adams and Bobby Wagner are sorta making it work in a bend-but-don't-break fashion -- the Falcons have outgained Seattle by 100 yards but can't get into the end zone. The defensive front has been effective when they have been able to mix up looks and schemes and keep Atlanta off balance. When the Falcons moved to their two-minute hurry-up, the Seahawks stuck to a vanilla four-man rush and Ryan had plenty of time to throw.
Scott Spratt: That's surprising about Lockett and Metcalf, Vince. With Kendall Sheffield out, the Falcons are thin at cornerback and starting rookie A.J. Terrell. Have the corners held up, or is it more pressure-related?
Carl Yedor: General observations:
I'm watching the games today on RedZone, and after a long layoff of no football, the pace of swapping back and forth feels really frenetic. I'm sure it's just an adjustment period, but there are a ton of games in this broadcast window. I read somewhere on Twitter that defenses struggled in the early going during the post-lockout season with a truncated offseason. Haven't had a chance to verify that, but I'm curious to see if that's true this year.
Dave Bernreuther: Carl -- I'm with you. I am only just now, as first quarter's end, settling in to a point where I can actually pay attention. Part of that is because things got extra frenetic just trying to set up all my TVs and boxes and streams -- which was a nightmare because the Sunday Ticket app is rejecting logins, likely because the DirecTV website seems to be down -- so I can "only" run six screens, as opposed to the eight I intended:
(Hooray for symmetry!)
But yes, even aside from that, I think there's definitely an adjustment period. We fans need preseasons too!
Vince Verhei: Well Dave, you've got me beat. This is the first time in a decade I've been watching Sunday Ticket at home. It appears the Game Mix feature does not work on an Amazon Firestick, or I'd have four games on the big screen.
No sports bar due to COVID, so welcome to the Verhei Grill. pic.twitter.com/tL5UFE5j2x
-- Vincent Verhei (@FO_VVerhei) September 13, 2020
Dave Bernreuther: I'll put this comment under this game because of the conversation I just had, in which we complained, loudly, about how there are TEN games running simultaneously, and for some reason the NFL couldn't be bothered to even stagger the starts like they do in the 4 p.m. slot, so they're all at halftime at the same time.
WHY does the NFL do this? Why on earth would you split the games up 10-3 (I know we've had this conversation here a hundred times), but even if you do, why on earth wouldn't you stagger the 1 p.m. starts? Wouldn't everyone be better off if you let the West Coast teams playing in the east still start later? If not at 4, at least at 1:25 instead of 1:05-ish. I know they don't make business decisions based on people running multiple screens, or bars, but who loses if we give everyone more options?
Especially in the early weeks of the season. Not only because there are more games without byes yet, but also because it's hot outside. Wouldn't Atlanta be a lot cooler and more comfortable at 4 than it is at 1?
Bryan Knowles: They don't stagger the 1 p.m. starts so that they'll all end in time for the national game in the late window.
Aaron Schatz: The reason why the league stuffs all these games in the 1 p.m. slot with only three games in the 4 p.m. slot is because that's what the TV networks want them to do. The TV networks want to have one specific featured "game of the week" in the 4 p.m. slot. Yes, they stick a couple of other games in there, including one on the singleheader network so they've got one game in markets where the local team played early on the other network. But the networks want that one featured game.
Dave Bernreuther: Yeah, I get the whole feature game thing (even though I hate that it often just ends up being the Cowboys, regardless of the quality of the game), but these days they could easily push that one back another 15 minutes without impinging on the late night game or even the NBC pregame show (any more than a slow 4:25 game already does, anyway). Regular-season halftimes aren't that long. Even just making one or two 1 p.m. starts into 1:15s would solve this problem.
Maybe this is just a first-world problem, though, given my current setup.
Vince Verhei: Hard to tell exactly what Atlanta is doing from TV footage, Scott, but it's definitely more coverage than pass rush. Wilson has usually had time to throw before checking down, and even his sacks came because he held on to the ball too long.
Carl Yedor: DK Metcalf atones for a bad drop on a deep shot earlier on the drive by hauling in a touchdown on a bomb down the left sideline on fourth-and-5 from the Atlanta 38. Aggressiveness from Pete Carroll! Credit where credit is due, and it results in a 21-12 lead for the Seahawks.
Vince Verhei: Metcalf opens the first drive of the second half with a terrible drop that would have been a first down. No matter -- after two failed runs leave Seattle with fourth-and-5, they leave the offense on the field, and Metcalf scorches Isaiah Oliver on a go route for a 38-yard touchdown and a 21-12 lead.
But this brings up a larger point: I've been so focused on Wilson's accuracy, it hadn't even occurred to me how rarely they were running. We're now up to 24 dropbacks and nine handoffs (or pitches). Wilson is the leading rusher with 30 yards on two carries, including a 28-yard gain on a triple-option keeper (!) in the first half.
Lots of passes. Using the quarterback's mobility. Going for it on fourth down. Are they...
Dave Bernreuther: Nothing about that 3D camera switching-view thingy that FOX just did there aided my appreciation of that Russell Wilson throw. It was quite obviously great even on just one camera.
Vince Verhei: So after months and months wondering whether it would be Tre Flowers or Marquise Blair playing nickelback, it's Lano Hill out there making a tough third-down tackle on Hayden Hurst to bring up fourth down. Falcons go with a fake punt, and it appears Sharrod Neasman (a safety) has run for a first down, but Blair is there to put his helmet on the ball and knock it out. Seahawks recover in Falcons territory, looking to finish this one off.
Vince Verhei: And Wilson has his fourth touchdown pass of the day, this one to Greg Olsen, and a 28-12 lead.
Vince Verhei: More wasted yards for Atlanta. Julio Jones single-handedly carries them into the red zone with three catches for 62 yards. (That includes a 44-yard gain when he got isolated against Hill in coverage; Hill was injured on the tackle and went to the locker room, with Flowers taking his place.) But there's Adams with his latest monster play, stuffing a run on third-and-short, and on fourth down Mayowa runs down Ryan from behind and makes the diving tackle for a sack and a turnover on downs.
Vince Verhei: The Falcons threatened to make this interesting late -- Matt Ryan caught fire for a while, and Calvin Ridley got an easy touchdown when Griffin collided with a teammate and fell down -- but were undone by yet another incompletion on fourth down. There were five fourth-down plays in this game -- four by Atlanta, one by Seattle -- and every one of them went Seattle's way, especially the Metcalf touchdown. Flip two or three of those and this game could look a lot different.
Instead we have, literally, a laugher. At the goal line, Greg Olsen and WIll Dissly both go in motion and collide head-on into each other. Wilson laughs at them, then hands off to Carlos Hyde, who dives in for a touchdown and a 38-18 lead late in the fourth.
New York Jets 17 at Buffalo Bills 27
Bryan Knowles: The Bills offense is, uh, noteworthy on their first drive. Three straight passes, two of them short (!) passes to Stefon Diggs, and then three straight rushes by Josh Allen. The third saw Allen hit, fumble, and turn the ball over to the Jets. It wasn't a super-hard hit, either; ball security has never exactly been Allen's modus operandi.
Dave Bernreuther: Josh Allen looks pretty good. There. I said it.
Bryan Knowles: The Jets just had a delay of game. On first down. After a kickoff.
This is just a hunch, but the Jets may in fact be terrible.
Bills up 21-0; this game is already over.
Dave Bernreuther: Remember when the Jets, no matter how bad elsewhere, always had good line play and a pass rush?
Yeesh. Josh Allen has had 7-plus seconds to throw more than once. If you're so bad at the pass rush that the quarterback who loves to leave the pocket just stands there bouncing and patting the ball, you might as well just stay home.
Dave Bernreuther: Now there's the Josh Allen I know and love. Not that it matters at this point in the game, of course. First he rolls left, has no pressure in his face, with two wide open guys in both the front and the back of the end zone ... and throws it into the front row. Then on the next play, he leaves a pocket for no real reason, runs straight backward, and then chucks it straight at a defender, who drops it.
Those are the first two bad plays I've seen him make all day, though.
Las Vegas Raiders 34 at Carolina Panthers 30
Scott Spratt: Josh Jacobs just scored his first touchdown of the day. I'm expecting at least three against the Panthers' 15.9% DVOA run defense.
Bryan Knowles: I'm sure it will eventually stop feeling weird to type "LV," but it is not today.
Carolina's offense: unstoppable! Teddy is 5-for-7 so far as the Panthers have scored on both of their first drives, aided on this last one by a nice laser on the run from Bridgewater to DJ Moore. The Raiders are getting roughly zero pressure, and the Panthers jump to a 9-7 lead.
Scott Spratt: The lack of Raiders pressure is interesting, Bryan, because the Panthers had a big discrepancy between their offensive pressure rate (30.0%, 20th) and adjusted sack rate (8.6%, 29th) last season. Based on other FO research that suggests quarterbacks have more to do with sacks than the conventional wisdom, I suspect Bridgewater will dramatically reduce the Panthers' sack rate just by getting the ball out more quickly than inexperienced passers Kyle Allen and Will Grier last year.
Bryan Knowles: Henry Ruggs has gone to the locker room with a leg/ankle injury. Something to watch, as he was all over the field in the first half.
Scott Spratt: Rushing touchdown No. 2 for Jacobs. The team is over 100 rushing yards on 4.9 yards per carry with more than five minutes left in the third quarter.
Scott Spratt: And there's Jacobs' third touchdown. Glad to see my Panthers are in midseason form.
Vince Verhei: Did the Panthers, with two seconds left down by four, just run a deep out to ensure the clock would run and they would not win? Did I see that right?
Aaron Schatz: I think that the goal here was to run the deep out and then get laterals, and they just didn't have the time.
Cleveland Browns 6 at Baltimore Ravens 38
Bryan Knowles: I approve, theoretically, of teams running fake punts against strongly superior teams, like the Browns just tried to do backed up in their own end. It didn't work -- Jamie Gillan fumbled, but he wasn't going to pick up the first down anyway; the Ravens had it perfectly diagnosed, blowing up the gunner and forcing the punter to try to make a guy miss himself. That's not an ideal situation; the old special teams coach has his men ready in Baltimore. It ends up just turning into a field goal, so the Ravens are only up 10-0.
Scott Spratt: It's still pretty jarring for me to see all these empty stadiums, but the Ravens did something really cool with their empty seats today. Fourteen-year-old superfan Mo Gaba died from cancer over the summer, and the team filled a full section with 575 cutouts of him and painted "MO" in one of their end zones.
Scott Spratt: A pair of penalties and a Baker Mayfield sack land the Browns in a third-and-41. That's a tough convert!
Tom Gower: Remember last year's Baltimore offense, which was a machine that churned up yards and scored points until they got behind in the postseason? It's like it never left, with 24 first-half points on five possessions and the only stop coming on a fumble inside the 5 by fullback Patrick Ricard. That included a 69-yard touchdown drive that began with 41 seconds to go in the half. Did Lamar Jackson show great progress on hitting deep outside throws? Who knows? Who cares? He didn't need to. Sure, the Browns are shorthanded in the secondary, but what worked for large chunks of last year worked for the first 30 minutes today.
On the other side of the ball, my early reaction to the Browns offense is to remember the great NFL Films clip from mid-2015 when the Falcons were struggling on offense and clearly needed pieces and Matt Ryan says something to Kyle Shanahan about how the offense will really start to click next year. Baker Mayfield's a little too deliberate and doesn't seem to have a grasp of what's going on outside his line of sight. Odell Beckham Jr. has only been noticeable in a bad way, with a face mask penalty and a drop on third-and-2 followed by a missed field goal by Austin Siebert (who doinked the extra point earlier, thus the 24-6 score). Cleveland has had some really good runs by both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (six carries each through 30 minutes), mostly running right, but if Kevin Stefanski's routes have been creating separation in the passing game (aside from the Ravens not covering David Njoku on the touchdown), Baker's not finding it.
With the Ravens getting the second-half kickoff, I'm thinking about what else I could be watching, but I'm at home and my only other option is Eagles-WFT, so...
Scott Spratt: Do we think Freddie Kitchens would take a delay of game on fourth-and-inches? Or is that something Kevin Stefanski is bringing to the Browns this year?
Chicago Bears 27 at Detroit Lions 23
Bryan Knowles: Jamie Collins was trying to complain to the refs that the Bears were leading with their helmet.
While doing so, he ended up headbutting the referee, and is immediately tossed from the game. Welcome to Detroit, Jamie.
Bryan Knowles: Without Kenny Golladay, the Lions' offense isn't exactly firing on all cylinders, but they came out of the locker room for the second half ready to go -- Matthew Stafford hitting three passes of at least 14 yards before finding T.J. Hockenson in the end zone to give the Lions a 20-6 lead early in the third.
Meanwhile, Mitch Trubisky is 8-for-20 for 110 yards and a carry for bupkiss. Not a great start if you're looking for the Exceptionally Rare Fourth-Year Breakout.
Bryan Knowles: Hey, remember how the Lions were leading in 10 different fourth quarters last season, and still finished 3-12-1? Don't look now, but Matt Stafford just threw a tip-drill interception, and the Bears have the ball down three...
Bryan Knowles: And, indeed, the Lions open up 2020 by blowing a fourth-quarter lead, with Trubisky hitting a well-covered Anthony Miller; put it exactly where it needed to be. Bears jump out to a four-point lead with 1:54 left in the game.
Andrew Potter: A home loss to a bad Bears team after leading 23-6 at the start of the fourth quarter would be a heck of a way to start a "must win" season.
Scott Spratt: Woof, that D'Andre Swift touchdown drop. That will probably swing the game.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, no! Stafford hits D'Andre Swift, wide open, easy touchdown ... and Swift drops it. Just flat-out drops. That was the ballgame, there.
Lions lose, 27-23, and how is this happening again to Detroit?
Vince Verhei: Oh, that poor guy. What a terrible way to end your debut.
But that game goes a long way in reinforcing our view of the NFC North: four mediocre teams. (Green Bay could protest this, of course.)
Aaron Schatz: According to the EdjSports model, the Bears were down to 3.4% Game-Winning Chance when the Lions kicked off after going up 23-6 in the fourth quarter.
Bryan Knowles: Here's the D'Andre Swift drop, just to further break Lions' fans hearts.
-- Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 13, 2020
Green Bay Packers 43 at Minnesota Vikings 34
Scott Spratt: Cornerback Jaire Alexander just sacked Kirk Cousins in his own end zone for a safety. It's 7-5 Minnesota. Major scorigami potential.
Vince Verhei: That safety was set up by an incomplete Aaron Rodgers pass on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Again showing why going for it can benefit you even when it doesn't work.
Bryan Knowles: I do not understand how Kirk Cousins has four pass attempts with 14 seconds left in the half. Gary Kubiak is run-heavy, but not that run-heavy.
And Aaron Rodgers has just thrown his second deep touchdown of the day. He's not consistent on every snap anymore, but he absolutely has the highlight reel arm still in his bag. It's 22-7 Green Bay; Davante Adams is up over 100 yards already, and after some early red zone struggles for the Pack, they seem to be rolling.
Vince Verhei: The VIkings aren't passing because they never have the ball! At halftime Cousins is up to seven pass plays including two sacks, but the Vikings only have 10 runs. That's 17 plays to the 44 of Green Bay. The Packers are up 22-10, so I'm guessing we'll see a lot more Cousins passes in the second half.
Bryan Knowles: We're approaching all she wrote in Green Bay. Marquez Valdes-Scantling now has two receptions of 30 yards or more, setting up Davante Adams' second touchdown of the day and a 29-10 lead for the Pack. The Vikings need to wake up in the fourth quarter; they've been sluggish and ineffective all day long on offense.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, Minnesota woke up -- 29-yard pass to Bisi Johnson, 37-yard bomb of a touchdown to Adam Thielen, 29-16 Packers early in the fourth. They gotta get a stop or two here, but, hey, welcome to double-digits, Vikings!
Bryan Knowles: Green Bay had some struggles in the red zone early in this one, but you wouldn't realize that from the scoreline. I wonder when the last time a team with a first-round draft pick quarterback saw their incumbent starter go over 300 yards with four touchdowns? Rodgers just hit Allen Lazard for another score, 36-18 Packers.
Another field goal for Green Bay would be Scorigami, looping around to the earlier discussion.
Cale Clinton: Not sure if anyone caught it after Scott mentioned the possibility early, but GB-MIN's 43-34 finish was, in fact, a Scorigami! The 1,055th unique final score in NFL history.
Philadelphia Eagles 17 at Washington Football Team 27
Bryan Knowles: Anyone have this one being close? Carson Wentz is picked off by a charging Jimmy Moreland, Haskins fires a bullet through a tight window to Sims, and we have a 17-14 Eagles lead midway through the third quarter. Hail to the Football Team?
Dave Bernreuther: I did, Bryan. With the offensive line shuffling on the Eagles and the pass rush talent on the other side, I had a hunch this would be one of those upsets.
Washington has a way of playing the Eagles close even when they're terrible, but then letting it slip away. Anyone remember the opener -- may have been as recent as last year -- where they jumped out to a huge lead, but then still managed to let the Eagles cover a -10 spread? (I do ... I got the miracle cover.)
I haven't been watching at all, though, other than to see Wentz take one sack. Is the defensive line getting home and wreaking havoc?
Bryan Knowles: Pretty much, Dave -- five sacks, including one on that last drive which lost 6 yards, leading to the ensuing field goal being about a yard short. Maybe a hint of San Francisco-esque "if we just overload the defensive line with first-round picks, something's bound to work"?
Aaron Schatz: It helps also that the Eagles have two guys on the right side of their offensive line making their first-ever NFL starts.
Tom Gower: I didn't see any of the first 30 minutes, but I wonder how much the offensive line issues and Washington's talented defensive line are really affecting what Wentz is seeing and doing. I don't know if he's not seeing the field well, if his internal clock is just all out of whack, or what. His final plays on the last two drives have just been atrocious, first turning a sack on third-and-6 into a bad sack on third-and-6, losing an extra 6 or so yards, enough to knock the Eagles out of field goal range with Jake Elliott's kick coming up a foot short. The next one, Washington blitzed and he just didn't account for the linebacker coming up the middle. That's still Jason Kelce at center, and he needed to be aware he had to throw hot if everybody came, because an offensive lineman picked up everybody else. Just not good.
Dwayne Haskins lacks the precise accuracy to all the throws he wants to hit. But we're still tied after Dustin Hopkins hits the field goal.
Dave Bernreuther: The Football Team's EIGHTH sack produces a turnover, and that'll do it in Washington. Not going to lie, that one made me some money.
Hm. Looks like an incomplete pass. Even so. I had both the DST and the points, so I'm good either way. Almost makes up for the Disappointment in Duval.
Los Angeles Chargers 16 at Cincinnati Bengals 13
Vince Verhei: The Chargers-Bengals game just came on after the early games ended.
1) Oh my word, those Chargers uniforms. Just gorgeous.
2) First thing I saw was a tearful Drue Tranquill being carted off the field. Apparently his foot got caught in the turf. Another blow to the Chargers defense.
Derrik Klassen: OK, who had "20-plus-yard draw play" as Joe Burrow's first NFL score?
Vince Verhei: 23-yard touchdown run for Joe Burrow! He ran the draw and had an easy short gain, then showed remarkable patience letting his center get leverage on a defender before reading the block and scooting into the end zone. There are NFL running backs who don't have that kind of vision and reaction ability.
Cale Clinton: Joe Burrow capped off a six-play, 44-yard touchdown drive with a 23-yard scramble up the middle for his first career NFL touchdown. Burrow has looked solid in his rookie debut, currently 6-of-10 for 39 yards through the air, two runs for 18 yards and a touchdown with a sack and a fumble lost. To me, the most standout player thus far has been A.J. Green. After missing 23 of the last 24 games, the receiver has looked great. He has caught all three of his targets, gaining 28 yards and picking up two first downs along the way.
Cale Clinton: Joey Bosa flies off the edge for his first sack of the season with 11:30 to play in the second quarter. Burrow has been sacked three times today. He has felt the pressure all game so far, making most of his completions thus far on short-yardage balls.
Bryan Knowles: "This 50-yard field goal is well within Michael Badgley's range," the CBS announcers say, arguing for not going for it on fourth-and-2. "You've got to take the lead here."
And, of course, Badgley's kick is awful, wide right and a bit short.
Bryan Knowles: We've got a new ballgame in Cincinnati. A solid kickoff return sets up the Chargers offense at midfield, and it's death by a thousand papercuts as the Chargers take 10 plays to go 55 yards before Joshua Kelly finds the end zone. 3-yard gain after 3-yard gain as Cincinnati is pushed back. D.J .Reader going to the sideline might have something to do with that, and the Chargers took advantage. 13-all early in the fourth.
Cale Clinton: The Bengals turn it over with just over 12 minutes left in the fourth. The CBS commentators made a point to mention that Joe Mixon never fumbles, but they're right to. This is the fourth fumble of his career -- his first since Week 17 of the 2017 season.
Cale Clinton: Highs and lows for Joe Burrow on their most recent drive. Made multiple drive-saving scrambles to continue marching down the field. Also had back-to-back passes of 15 and 19 yards respectively. However, the drive died when Burrow tried to keep a blown-up screen play alive, throwing a shovel pass directly to Melvin Ingram III. Just something he's going to learn with more experience.
Dave Bernreuther: I've been wanting to watch this game all afternoon but have been glued to the national broadcast (yeah yeah yeah, which is exactly why they limit the 4 p.m. window ... shut it, all of you). I saw the replays on Burrow's touchdown run and was happy for him, and like many of us I'm a Tyrod Taylor fan.
So finally I consciously make an effort to set everything down and watch that game ... just in time for Joe Burrow to do this:
Not like that Joey B. pic.twitter.com/tav63j7CQC
-- Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) September 13, 2020
He would've been more successful keeping it than he would've even if that ball was caught.
Vince Verhei: Chargers lead 16-13 with just over three minutes to play, and they punt on fourth-and-1 from their own 33. Anyone motivated enough to argue that one? Neither offense has been sharp (Burrow had an ugly interception on a shovel pass earlier), but I think I'd take my chances with Tyrod Taylor and some kind of option play.
Bryan Knowles: Maybe Rivers WAS the cursed one! Joe Burrow leads the Bengals down on a great drive, setting up a 31-yard chip-shot to tie ... and Randy Bullock misses! Looks like he pulled a calf or something, and the Chargers hold on, 16-13!
Aaron Schatz: It's even worse because Burrow hit A.J. Green on the right side of the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown but Green pushed off Casey Heyward and was called for OPI to take the touchdown off the board leading to the field goal attempt.
Dave Bernreuther: Joe Burrow is calmly bringing the Bengals into position to win or tie here, and while he might actually be a bit TOO calm -- throwing a bit inside of the boundary to keep the clock running, and then taking a safe first down, but inbounds -- they at least have the field goal to fall back on after what should be two shots at the end zone.
I'm not going to anoint him or anything, but just on this drive he has shown me more than hundreds of other young/rookie quarterbacks. I've seen his age used against him, but this drive has made me think that that extra age has prepared him really well.
Oh, and wow. So as I type that, he calmly takes another short gain, which gets out of bounds, before throwing a nice safe ball to A.J. Green at the pylon, which wasn't perfect, but also isn't bad for a rookie in his first game. Green pushed off, though, although I've certainly seen a lot worse go uncalled. So they go from getting two safe shots at the win before a kick to backed way up ... and Zac Taylor sends out the field goal unit with 7 seconds left without running another play! It's first down!
Missed kick. Chargers win. Man, that's unfair.
Vince Verhei: Well, the Chargers dodged a bullet. Burrow threw for six first downs to set up first-and-goal from the 3, and it appeared that he threw a game-winning touchdown on a comeback to A.J. Green, but Green was flagged for offensive pass interference. With no timeouts and only seven seconds left, the Bengals opted to kick the field goal -- but Randy Bullock misses from 31 yards and the Chargers win 16-13.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 at New Orleans Saints 34
Cale Clinton: Tom Brady's first pass as a Buccaneer is a 29-yard strike to Chris Godwin into Saints territory. I've watched Brady play in a Patriots uniform since I was 3 years old, but I'm embracing the weird.
Scott Spratt: Wow, the Bucs offense looked unstoppable on their opening drive. Remember the Saints were the No. 8 DVOA defense last season. They weren't your vintage all-offense Saints.
Dave Bernreuther: After a bunch of complaining about uniforms in the 1 p.m.. slot, I can't tell you how nice it is to see the new/old Bucs uniform set, even in the least interesting (all-white) combination. And for all I said earlier about the scheduling, who wouldn't want to see Brees-Brady matchup as a national broadcast?
On the first Bucs drive, Brady is a bit off on three of his first four throws. Two came back for penalties, though, and bear in mind that I'm measuring his accuracy on the Tom Brady scale, not the Josh Allen scale. The offense and the penalties moved the chains, though, and apparently inspired by his replacement, Brady takes one in himself -- apparently, much like the Rivers-or-Chargers bad luck question, the Brady-or-Pats sneak question has an early leader as well. His spike also compared favorably to Cam's. 7-0 Bucs.
Vince Verhei: Per PFR, Brady is now the oldest player since at least 1920 to score a touchdown.
Aaron Schatz: Drew Brees with 0.8 ALEX on third downs last year, and today he has thrown his first two third-down passes each 3 yards short of the sticks. Frustrating.
Dave Bernreuther: I'm not entirely sure what the upside is in designing a pass play for third-and-3 wherein your big tight end is running back toward the line of scrimmage surrounded by unblocked defenders and the pass is thrown only to the aforementioned LOS, not to the line to gain, but I'll give Sean Payton the benefit of the doubt. Still, it didn't work, and now the Bucs have the ball again and look, thus far, to be the far better team. Of course, one need only look to Detroit to see an example of why it's more than a little too early to make any kind of declaration like that.
Dave Bernreuther: Oh man, on the play before the third-down conversion to Jared Cook, Drew Brees flat-out missed a touchdown. Tre'Quan Smith, lined up tight to the left side of the formation, ran completely uncovered to the right seam and was several steps behind the dropping defender and Brees didn't see him. I hate that moving spider cam (or whatever it's called) but it showed that one plain as day in this case. Brees could easily have let that one fly right as Smith crossed the midline of the field and with a well-placed ball he would've been gone. I can't help but wonder if maybe at his advanced age he just wasn't willing to take that shot.
Bryan Knowles: Getting Alvin Kamara on a screen against Vita Vea seems like a plus matchup for the Saints, AND it doesn't require throwing the ball beyond the line of scrimmage. No wonder Drew Brees loves it!
Scott Spratt: Bruce Arians has been true to his word so far. Ronald Jones has nine touches to Leonard Fournette's zero.
Tom Gower: Vea was the guy who read the screen on the Kamara screen touchdown to tie the game at 7. The real question for me is why there weren't more Bucs defenders at the second level, and whether the opposite side of the field was flooded or New Orleans just blocked it up extraordinarily effectively. Either way, a much easier gain and score than I was expecting when the ball was thrown.
Aaron Schatz: Brady threw his first pick on what looked like miscommunication with Mike Evans. Evans ran a very skinny post and Brady threw more inside, intercepted by Marcus Williams when it went way past where Evans was. I think Brady would have had Gronk open up the seam on the other side of the field, too, but he was looking for Evans.
Dave Bernreuther: Troy Aikman is going out of his way to make excuses for a quarterback. He's absolutely right that Mike Evans pulled up, but Brady threw that pass straight to the safety. Even if Evans ran straight to the spot, it would've been over his head.
Brees almost just gave it right back on a deep ball over the middle ... into great coverage toward Emmanuel Sanders, and they bail him out with a DPI call. I don't agree with that one at all.
Derrik Klassen: Looks like some miscommunication on that Tom Brady interception. Mike Evans was moving down the seam, but looked like he settled up in a soft spot, while Brady assumed he would keep getting vertical. Obviously resulted in an overthrow; Marcus Williams was in great position to take advantage. Guess some of that stuff is to be expected whenever you put a new quarterback in an offense, even Tom Brady.
Vince Verhei: I also thought that DPI was terrible at first, but on replay the defender Had a grip on Sanders' jersey. It didn't help that the referee called the wrong number -- 33 had the grab, but 23 was called out.
Dave Bernreuther: ...and yet Vea grabbed Kamara by the neck too and it went uncalled...
(He scored on the play, of course, but that doesn't change the fact that nobody threw a flag.)
Dave Bernreuther: Did they really just only penalize Marcus Lattimore for retaliating against Mike Evans, and not Evans at all for then re-retaliating against him for the shove and knocking his helmet completely off his head?
That seems wrong. And the booing is quite loud. Which is interesting, since, you know, the building is empty. I mentioned this the other night too, but they're really doing a great job with the fake noise, to the point where I am often surprised to remember that the stadiums are empty. This is an order of magnitude better than the NHL, which is also quite watchable (and listenable), but also makes really dumb mistakes like still blowing the horn, pumping the noise, and playing the celebration songs of even the road team when they score. Not that I minded all the extra times I got to hear the Golden Retriever of songs during the Blackhawks games, but still ... the NFL is doing a far, far better job with the fake noise so far.
Scott Spratt: I think Margus Hunt blocked that field goal attempt with his chest. Not the greatest protection by the Bucs special teams line.
Andrew Potter: Death, taxes, and the Buccaneers field goal unit.
Aaron Schatz: Saints-Bucs go to halftime at 17-7. A couple of things that have stood out. One, Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith is having a bad day. Whether it's Cam Jordan or Trey Hendrickson, he's getting blown back a lot. Two, Drew Brees may be 13-of-19 but he doesn't look that great. It's a ton of short stuff. He got lucky that the one deep pass to Sanders was called as DPI. He missed a totally open Kamara at one point and then underthrew Tre'Quan Smith which led to Smith having to come back to the ball short of the sticks on third down. We need to see the Saints stretch the field a little more, whether it is Sanders or Jared Cook or even Michael Thomas. I feel like Brady looks a little better though Brees has better raw stats so far. Brees hasn't had a throw anywhere near as good as the dime Brady dropped in to Chris Godwin for 29 yards on the first drive. But he hasn't had a throw as bad as Brady's interception.
Carl Yedor: The fake crowd noise definitely made me do a double take when I heard it for this game. As in, "I thought only Jacksonville had fans in the stands this week." It isn't overwhelming, but I do think it gives the game a more normal feel compared to the sparsely attended high school/college game vibe from some of the other games.
Vince Verhei: Bucs trail 17-7 at the half. I know it's the Saints, but I do want to point out that for all of Jamie's Winston's struggles, they only trailed by 10 points at the half twice last season: a Week 6 loss to Carolina and a Week 11 loss to the Saints.
Scott Spratt: Aaron, was the Bucs' original plan for Round 1 pick Tristan Wirfs to play left tackle? Would a lineup switch maybe provide an answer there with Donovan Smith's blocking troubles?
Aaron Schatz: I think the plan was always to play Wirfs on the right side. I think these days it doesn't matter much which side you put the better tackle on, but yeah, Smith has been a problem.
Tom Gower: I think because Smith's used to playing the left side, just play him there and you can choose which side to give help. Speaking of that, Rob Gronkowski was a complete non-factor as a receiver in the first half. Not that Brady had many attempts, but one catch, 2 yards, went down easily, and didn't look anything like the threat he was when he was younger. If you were hoping the year off had rejuvenated him, it sure doesn't look like that to me.
Aaron Schatz: They used Gronk to block a lot and it looked like he was blocking well. But yeah, he didn't do much as a receiver although I think he was open on that interception play, as I noted earlier.
Rivers McCown: Donovan Smith signed a three-year, $41.25-million deal last offseason. SIS has never charted him with fewer than 20 blown blocks and he has allowed 30 sacks over the last four years.
Certainly an eye-opening statement on the value of an "average" tackle.
Vince Verhei: Brady's first touchdown pass for the Bucs goes to the wrong team. Oops.
Scott Spratt: Brady is on pace to break Jameis Winston's Bucs' single-season interception record by two, haha.
Bryan Knowles: Brady throws the ball behind his receiver, and Janoris Jenkins is all over it for the Pick-6. It's jump-to-conclusions week, I know, but that was bad...
Dave Bernreuther: Brady's pick-six wasn't as egregiously bad a throw as the one that Philip Rivers threw to end the game earlier, but that was bad. Even if he had a Brett Favre arm, that was a bad decision that wasn't going to succeed. He does not have Brett Favre's arm, however, and he also missed high and deep. And that gives the Saints a commanding lead in a game that, if we're really being honest, has not featured amazing quarterback play by either side.
Aaron Schatz: Should point out that the intended receiver on the pick-six was Justin Watson, who isn't exactly one of Brady's prime weapons in Tampa.
Carl Yedor: New Orleans wasn't going to be the easiest matchup for the Bucs in Week 1 while breaking in a new quarterback (even if it is Tom Brady). However, it ain't over yet. Right after the pick-six, Brady goes deep to Mike Evans and draws a long DPI, setting them up in Saints territory. A slashing Ronald Jones run gets them inside the 10, and then Brady hits O.J. Howard for an easy score off play-action to make it 24-14.
Aaron Schatz: Brady comes back from the pick-six with a beautiful deep ball to Mike Evans that Marcus Williams was forced to get a DPI on rather than let Evans possibly score, then a wide-open O.J. Howard in the end zone to make it 24-14.
Bryan Knowles: O.J. Howard might well be one of Brady's prime weapons, especially if he ends up covered by zero people! Howard gets lost running a crossing route, and Brady gets one of the easier touchdown passes you'll ever see to cut the lead to 24-14.
Tom Gower: The big DPI to Evans is an interesting type of play, one where the defense schemes something up based on the idea they're going to get a big schematic win, but they don't so it ends up as a big schematic win for the offense instead. Cover-0 blitzes are of a similar flavor of high-risk, high-reward, but my conception is this is just slightly but interestingly different.
Thomas Bassinger: So, the first touchdown passes of Jameis Winston's and Tom Brady's Bucs careers were ... pick-sixes.
Scott Spratt: Not that the calls are incorrect, but both quarterbacks should just chuck the ball downfield. Pretty much every incompletion is a pass interference penalty.
Dave Bernreuther: There's a part of me that's now rooting for the Bucs to come back and win this one after that nonsense: Third-and-2, the Saints take the Hall of Fame quarterback off the field and bring in Taysom Hill to run a telegraphed run to the short side. It lost 7 yards and didn't have a prayer. I get that Brees isn't what he used to be, and I've been at the front of the line of people to point that out, but if there's anything he still does well it's throw accurately short. Leave him on the field.
Tom Gower: These guys can't drive throws into tight windows, but Brady on the touchdown drive after the pick-6 and Brees on the big pass to Cook showed they still have the timing and anticipation abilities to hit touch downfield throws. Those bug me more, because it feels like they're easier for the defense to disrupt (nickel-dimer DPI on the Saints, L.J. Fort falling asleep on Cook completion), but the placement on both throws was spot on.
Scott Spratt: Prescient comment by Andrew about death, taxes, and the Bucs' special teams unit. No idea what Mike Edwards was thinking as he retreated into normal returner Jaydon Mickens on the short Saints kickoff. The Bucs have been bottom-seven in special teams DVOA each of the last two seasons.
Vince Verhei: My favorite thing about this game is how Lavonte David is shining in front of one of his biggest audiences. A team-high 10 tackles, officially two for a loss, feels like he has made more big plays than that.
Bryan Knowles: I find it hard to believe that Mike Evans was held without a catch until the last three minutes of the game. Wild stuff.
Scott Spratt: Joe Buck has been the MVP of this game making fun of Troy Aikman for his weird football terminology and miscommunication with his production team.
Arizona Cardinals 24 at San Francisco 49ers 20
Bryan Knowles: Raheem Mostert demanded a trade this offseason, before he and the 49ers came together on a new contract. It was touch-and-go there for a bit, but running backs are fungible in a Shanahan system, right? Well, so far, Mostert has a run for 14 yards and just caught a short pass from Jimmy Garoppolo, burned the cornerback who was not paying ANY attention, and romped 76 yards into the end zone for the score. The 49ers only have four receivers in uniform, so getting passes to running backs split out wide seems like a useful thing to do! 10-0 midway through the first quarter for the 49ers.
Scott Spratt: The 49ers are loaded with running backs with sub-4.40 speed and led the NFL with 13 carries for touchdowns from 10 or more yards away from the end zone. Well, one of those speedy backs Raheem Mostert just took a short catch 76 yards for a score. 10-0 San Francisco early.
Vince Verhei: 76-yard touchdown catch for Raheem Mostert. 49ers came out in split backs and he just ran a circle route out of the backfield. Totally fooled the linebacker and turned on the jets.
Aaron Schatz: That was Isaiah Simmons, the eighth overall pick, who was fooled on the Mostert touchdown.
Tom Gower: Angle routes are the best. Rookie linebackers in coverage are vulnerable, as Isaiah Simmons showed on that play.
Bryan Knowles: Turns out, special teams are important! The Cardinals force a three-and-out and break through the line to block the ensuing punt. It looked like it was Dontae Johnson, just picked up, who let the pressure through, and Ezekiel Turner blocks it. Very next play is a Chase Edmonds touchdown, and the game is joined; 10-7.
Scott Spratt: I don't think I've ever seen a back show the body control Edmonds did on that touchdown dive. He looked down four different ways on the right sideline but stayed up and just nicked the right pylon.
Vince Verhei: Lots of excitement in this one early. Cardinals get a blocked punt, and Kliff Kingsbury takes advantage with the most fun offense in the league. Arizona comes out in a diamond backfield, and Kyler Murray fakes a couple of times to different guys running across the formation, and next thing you know he's rolling out and finding Chase Edmonds for a 10-yard score. 49ers still up 10-7.
Derrik Klassen: San Francisco offense has been in a fair amount of split backs shotgun today. At least a handful of plays so far through the first quarter. I'd imagine that has to do with Kyle Shanahan believing Arizona's linebackers are the most exploitable part of the defense, so keeping splitbacks in (even if just with Kyle Juszczyk) is a good way to do that. Interested to see how that develops as this game rolls on, especially out of the half.
Vince Verhei: 49ers march pretty easily down to the goal line, but then mistakes set in. A penalty and a sack lead to third-and-long. Jericho McKinnon was stopped just short of the end zone, and on fourth down from the 1, Raheem Mostert is stopped for no gain. 49ers lead in total yardage 180 to 44, but just 10-7 on the scoreboard.
49ers are challenging the play and ... call stands. Arizona's ball at their own 1.
Bryan Knowles: It's worth noting the 49ers are without their starting center, which is explaining some of that interior pressure today, as well as the failed push at the goal line.
Bryan Knowles: 13-10 at the half, though the scoreline belies how the actual game has gone. San Francisco had a 6.9 to 4.3 yards per play advantage over Arizona, but Kyler Murray put together a pretty impressive drive with 20 seconds left in the half to set up a 56-yard field goal to close out the scoring.
The 49ers have gotten into the red zone twice; they were stopped on the 1-inch line once and had to settle for a 24-yard field goal the second time. That's concerning, though you could at least make the argument that if the offense was healthy, results may be different. Plus, there was the blocked punt that set up Arizona up for an easy touchdown. So, instead of being a comfortable 49ers lead, the Cardinals are down just three points, and get the ball to start the second half.
The one thing to watch out for is George Kittle. Garoppolo overthrew him near the end of the half, and Kittle ended up taking a shot, limping to the locker room before the end of the half. It looked just like a hyperextension, but considering Kittle just received a hyper-extension, it's worth watching going forward.
Rivers McCown: Through one half, appears that regression has not yet snuck up on the 49ers defense. 2.38 seconds average to throw for Kyler Murray, 3.9 average target distance, nobody but DeAndre Hopkins and Chase Edmonds doing much.
Vince Verhei: I would add that Zane Gonzalez missed a 52-yard field goal for Arizona. So as bad as the breaks for San Francisco have been this game, it could still actually be worse.
Vince Verhei: Murray is trying to keep Arizona in this with his legs -- he scrambled for a first down on third-and-17, then scrambled again to get into field goal range after a penalty on first down. But then Gonzalez missed again, this time from 49 yards.
Scott Spratt: DeAndre Hopkins' 12th catch just took him over 100 yards for the day. I'm sorry, Rivers.
Bryan Knowles: Penalties beginning to pile up for the 49ers defense, and it leads to an Arizona touchdown:
- Holding on third-and-10 with the Cardinals backed up in their own end zone.
- A late hit on a sliding Murray on second-and-21.
- Pass interference on an incomplete pass on second-and-11.
The first one was ticky-tack, but right according to the rules. The second was one of those "what was the defender supposed to do?" flags that get thrown all the time. The third was holding, not pass interference.
The end result is Kyler Murray on a 22-yard scamper for a score to give the Cardinals a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter. Remember, Murray ran wild over the 49ers in both 2019 matchups; he was going to get his yards in at some point. Now, for the first time all day, the 49ers have to operate from a deficit.
Vince Verhei: I'm so happy you used the word "scamper" for Murray's touchdown run, because that's exactly what that run was.
1. (especially of a small animal or child) run with quick light steps, especially through fear or excitement. "he scampered in like an overgrown puppy"
Bryan Knowles: That's how he runs! He Fred Flintstone twinkle-toes it, and it works!
Dave Bernreuther: No joke, the word "scamper" was also used here a series or two earlier to describe Murray. I'm still not sold on him as a quarterback, but he's fun. And I'm glad they're winning.
They almost just put themselves in position to win even more decisively, because Garoppolo just threw poorly into extreme traffic and was picked, but even though that ball was terrible and would've been picked anyway, he was saved by a DPI on an underthrown pass. The 49ers are inside the 10 and about to take the lead back.
Which they would have on second-and-goal, had Garoppolo not overthrown a reasonably open guy by 5 yards in the end zone. That was 2018 Josh Allen-level bad.
Bryan Knowles: The worse sin on that missed touchdown, Dave, was missing Mostert all by himself in the end zone on the other side of the field.
They make up for it on the next play, finding Jerick McKinnon wide open in the flat for the touchdown to retake the lead, 20-17.
Seeing McKinnon and Jordan Reed back on the field is a weird feeling after so many years of injuries.
Rivers McCown: Jerick McKinnon's contract is finally paying off, baby!
I have not been encouraged by this Garoppolo start, feel like he has missed people all over the place.
Bryan Knowles: Yeah, he has not been good so far. The overthrow of Kittle that had everyone in 49ers country holding their breaths through halftime might be the worst, though you have a decent selection to choose from!
Vince Verhei: Biggest play on that drive was a 41-yarder to Kyle Juszczyk on, I think, a wheel route. All the wideouts are hurt and I don't think Kittle has returned, so it's up to the 49ers armada of running backs to make things happen.
Bryan Knowles: Kittle has come back, Vince, but he hasn't been targeted, I believe -- he may be in quasi-decoy mode. And one of the four 49ers receivers dressed, Trent Taylor, is out for the game as well.
Bryan Knowles: Kyler Murray is up to 100 rushing yards, as Kwon Alexander is having a hell of a day trying to keep him boxed in. And now, Murray finds Hopkins on a short little pass route, and he romps 34 yards into the end zone, as we go back and forth, back and forth -- Cardinals 24, 49ers 20 with 5:18 left. Great play by the Cardinals; Hopkins drags across the coverage. Three 49ers go left, Hopkins goes right and was wide, wide open.
Dave Bernreuther: The Cardinals managed (somehow) to hide Nuk Hopkins in a tight stacked formation, so the 49ers decided not to cover him at all. Even if they take the touchdown off the board, because he was hit at about the 5 and fell short of the end zone, at worst it's a big gainer that puts the Cardinals in position to re-take the lead.
Still plenty of time left, though.
Hopkins is up to 151 yards already.
Bryan Knowles: Hopkins has 14 receptions, a career high.
Vince Verhei: Nothing happened in this game for what felt like hours, and suddenly: fireworks! Murray scrambles for another first down -- he's up to 100 yards now -- and then finds Hopkins wide open on a shallow drag. Hopkins goes 34 yards into the end zone. They're reviewing to see if he was down short of the goal line ... and he was. Cards still trail 20-17, first-and-goal at the 1, about five minutes to go. That's a career-high 14 catches for Hopkins for 151 yards for Hopkins.
And Kenyan Drake scores on a dive on first down and NOW the Cards lead 24-20.
Scott Spratt: Although Hopkins now has 10 career games with 10-plus receptions. That's pretty nuts.
Rivers McCown: I think you guys are sleeping on Randall Cobb, he could top 161 yards this season.
Scott Spratt: I'm not sure I'd throw a jump ball in the end zone to 5-foot-8 Trent Taylor...
Bryan Knowles: Yeah, the jump ball to Taylor isn't exactly the best play in the book, there.
49ers do have all three timeouts left, but it looks like the Cardinals will hold on to what's a great win for them. They were pretty clearly the better team in the second half, and the Murray-to-Hopkins connection looks like something that's going to cause a ton of problems the rest of the season.
Vince Verhei: In defense of the 49ers and Garoppolo, who else are you going to throw to? Taylor and Kendrick Bourne were their wideouts today; Dante Pettis was the only other wide receiver to get a target. That doesn't explain every problem they had today, but let's not pretend they were at full strength.
Bryan Knowles: True, Vince, but Taylor was open on fourth down, if Garoppolo had thrown the ball on time. Jimmy G is going to get flack for this one, and he absolutely should. Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk coming back will help make things easier for him, but he had a chance here, and couldn't pull it off. This was a below-average game for him, and not one that's going to quiet any doubters!
Dallas Cowboys 17 at Los Angeles Rams 20
Vince Verhei: I'm looking at the wide shots and thinking, hey, these Rams uniforms aren't so bad, the greyish-bone color really makes the blues pop out -- and then they cut to close-up, and the whites and bones and yellows all overlap, and ... blerg.
Scott Spratt: Really cool observation from Cris Collinsworth that the Rams sometimes huddle but then snap the ball very quickly after lining up so the defense can't react to their formations. That feels kind of like the opposite of what the Patriots did to them in the Super Bowl when they switched defensive formations on single plays with 15 or fewer seconds left on the play clock, after the communication was cut off between Sean McVay and Jared Goff.
Dave Bernreuther: I haven't watched Hard Knocks yet, so this is the first I've seen of the new set in action ... and wow. That's is a very bright blue. And a bright yellow.
Even ignoring how bad everything else about the set is, just the color combination alone is lower contrast and worse than the previous set. I can't believe someone got paid to make these. I further can't believe that someone saw them and thought they looked good.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys are wearing one of the best uniform sets in sports. (Screw Stan Kroenke too, but man ... that's a nice-looking stadium complex.)
The quality of play on that first drive, however ... was the opposite of their attire. The Cowboys offered no resistance whatsoever as the Rams marched down the field.
Cale Clinton: Rams started a lot of their plays this quarter with a mixed snap count, even going with a hard count on some plays. Noticed the Bengals using a hard count pretty frequently during their game as well. L.A. has already forced two neutral zone infractions in the first 11 minutes of the game. Collinsworth pointed it out on the broadcast, saying the jumpiness is a mix of first-game energy and the effect of a quiet stadium. Wonder how long into the season this will persist.
Cale Clinton: Speaking of quiet stadium, that missed field goal by Sloman sounded less like a "doink" and more like a "BOOONG."
Dave Bernreuther: The Rams offense finally stalls out ... but it shouldn't have. Jared Goff left a clean pocket for no reason whatsoever, choosing to roll right when the Rams didn't even have any receivers on that side of the field. Throwing it away was his only option, and the Cowboys, who absolutely deserve to be down by two scores right now, catch a break there, and then again on the next play as the field goal is doinked.
Scott Spratt: From 2009 to 2019, kickers missed just three of 248 field goal attempts from less than 30 yards. Welcome to the league, Sam Sloman.
Dave Bernreuther: Anyone who thinks I'm being unnecessarily harsh on Goff need only look at Dak Prescott on the following drive before hitting the crosser to Lamb. With more pressure than Goff faced, he calmly shuffled slightly right, eyes up, stepped out, and led the rookie with a dart down the field.
I can't even imagine what would be possible if these two coaches got to trade quarterbacks.
Cale Clinton: CeeDee Lamb's first catch in the NFL comes off a beautiful route, finding a seam between Troy Hill and John Johnson to pick up 33 yards. The Cowboys passing game looks really fun so far. Dak Prescott has three quality passing targets, and the Cowboys have gotten their backs involved in the passing game early.
Aaron Schatz: Ignore Mina Kimes' funny meme joke here and just look at this photo and wonder at the fact that this somehow turned into a touchdown for Ezekiel Elliott.
my mentions when I tweet something with a typo pic.twitter.com/R1QLCpfZap
-- Mina Kimes (@minakimes) September 14, 2020
Here's the same play with dots and NGS' expected YAC formula.
Ezekiel Elliott (19-yard receiving TD)
Actual Yards After Catch: 21
Expected YAC: 12
YAC Over Expected: +9
-- Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 14, 2020
Carl Yedor: That Dallas passing game better be fun because the defense has not been holding up its end of the bargain to this point. The Rams have been marching up and down the field at will, and with Leighton Vander Esch now out, it could be a long night for the visiting Cowboys. The Rams are sitting on 10 points, but it could be more if not for some unforced errors.
Tom Gower: Yeah, my dominant memory of the playoff game is how McVay had Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith completely lost and confused, and we've definitely seen that tonight. Losing LVE only exacerbates the problem.
Aaron Schatz: I don't understand the Rams running on a third-and-4 if they weren't willing to go for it on fourth down. They got 2 yards and kicked a field goal on fourth-and-2 from the Dallas 11 to go up 13-7.
Vince Verhei: Handing off on third-and-4 so you can kick a 31-yard field goal on fourth-and-2, when you're already ahead, is a special level of timid.
Tom Gower: Not only that they were already ahead, they were up by three points. With the field goal, you go from behind if Dallas scores a touchdown to ... behind if Dallas scores a touchdown and hits an extra point. And he has two timeouts, so they have the chance to get the ball back with a stop. And he had the two-minute warning to think it over, or for somebody on his staff to get in his ear and as "you know..." It's like the opposite of Ron Rivera going for it on fourth-and-1 inside the 5 at 17-17 earlier.
Tom Gower: 14-13 at the half, as the Cowboys follow up that Rams field goal with a touchdown drive before the half. They looked fluid and efficient, with Dak Prescott finding five different players on the two-minute drill. And Dallas gets the ball first to start the second half. Los Angeles is moving the ball well, making it to the red zone on all four possessions, but attempted three field goals.
Scott Spratt: Aaron Donald blew up that second run play of the second half. Do any of you guys who watch the Rams a lot have any thoughts on ESPN's new run blocking metrics from Brian Burke's research using Next Gen Stats? They asserted that Donald's pass-rushing instincts sometimes put him in bad positions to stop the run. Do you think that passes the eye test?
Vince Verhei: Having watched every Rams play of 2019 for the Almanac, I think it's definitely true that Donald's aggressive penetration will sometimes open holes in the fits behind him. The notion that it happens so frequently as to offset the big plays he makes and render him an average run defender is lunacy. This is a case where you, as an analyst, should look at your data and determine that something is wrong with your process.
Aaron Schatz: Woo, did Aldon Smith get away with a hit to the head on Jared Goff on that interception near the end of the third quarter.
Aaron Schatz: Dallas makes it down the field, goes for it on fourth-and-3 instead of trying a game-tying field goal and ... throws a route short of the sticks. How do you throw a route short of the sticks on fourth freakin' down?
Dave Bernreuther: Maybe Mike McCarthy DID learn some new things during his year off. There is NO WAY Packers coach McCarthy goes for a fourth-and-3 like he did just there.
So naturally, it comes up a bit short, and now he'll revert to his painfully conservative ways...
Aaron Schatz: McCarthy is not historically conservative. I know he has been conservative in the playoffs but in the regular season he has been one of the most aggressive coaches in the league on fourth downs.
Tom Gower: We can't mention that fourth down, and the route short of the sticks, without mentioning the draw play on third-and-6 that preceded it.
Vince Verhei: Cris Collinsworth just made a point about how the performance in this game was better than he expected. And really, nobody was perfect today, but there was nothing outrageously embarrassing like we saw during the referee strike in 2012. I think we've learned that preseason games are, in fact, an enormous waste of time and money.
Cale Clinton: NBC just showed an ad for next week's Sunday Night Football matchup between the Seahawks and Patriots, advertising it as a "Super Bowl XLIX Rematch." I can't speak on the Seahawks' roster, but if my count is right, the Patriots currently only have four players on their roster that were also on the Super Bowl XLIX roster: Julian Edelman, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater, and David Andrews.
Aaron Schatz: By the way, going for the fourth down instead of kicking a game-tying field goal increased the Cowboys' Game-Winning Chance by 3.7%.
Mike McCarthy with a smart decision to go for it on 4th & 3, despite the failure to convert.
-- EdjSports (@edjsports) September 14, 2020
Here's a good look at the fourth-down play and a great tackle by Jordan Fuller.
-- NFL (@NFL) September 14, 2020
Dave Bernreuther: I've been sitting here since the second quarter (when I couldn't type because I had BBQ sauce all over myself) wondering how to properly and eloquently express my thoughts about how Jared Goff throws the ball extremely well -- and reliably too -- but does so little else well that he's not valuable or worth his contract.
Just now I saw Ben's tweet. Very well stated, sir:
Jared Goff is essentially a jugs machine. You can calibrate it to put it wherever you want, you just have to hope that you pointed it at the right receiver before the snap and no one bumps into it after the snap
-- Ben Muth (@FO_wordofmuth) September 14, 2020
Rivers McCown: Sure feels like the Cowboys have given away a lot of points with failed first-down runs.
Carl Yedor: To Cale's point, the Seahawks still have Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, and Luke Willson (though Irvin and Willson have come and gone over the years).
Vince Verhei: It was an astonishing ad. I don't think they showed any player on either team's current roster ... and if they did, it was Russell Wilson throwing an interception. Seems a strange way to promote a game to me.
Scott Spratt: Ugh, I hate the fourth-and-1 punt from the 49-yard line with two and a half minutes left. If you pick that up with a carry, you almost definitely win.
Vince Verhei: Right before the two-minute warning, Collinsworth notes Donald lining up across from Terence Steele, and it occurs to me that Steele has basically been invisible all night. Which is a very good thing for an undrafted rookie making a surprise start at right tackle in Week 1.
Rivers McCown: Either the Cowboys are terrified of getting sacked or they have no deep pass plays.
Ah, they were terrified of getting sacked.
McVay with a huge error punting on 4th & 1 at the 49-yard line, costing the #Rams 17.7% GWC.
You need one yard to convert and run the clock down or out.
-- EdjSports (@edjsports) September 14, 2020
Vince Verhei: And of course it's Steele surrendering the sack. I jinxed him.
Aaron Schatz: I can't believe Dallas used a play fake on third-and-10 with 30 seconds left (the play where Gallup was called for OPI).
And that OPI call was kind of weaksauce.
Dave Bernreuther: I'm not saying that wasn't OPI, but I can't believe they threw that flag on Gallup.
Bryan Knowles: As it stands this second, not only is the Washington Football Team atop the NFC East, but they are technically atop the entire NFC, going down to the weird points scored/allowed tiebreakers.
Week 1 football!
Tom Gower: The Cowboys really didn't do much in the second half on offense after a good first half. Their only real positive drive was the one that ended with the fourth-down route short of the sticks.
I'm glad football is back and we had this day (and tomorrow, when the team I root for will presumably actually play).