Week 7: Big Wins for Bengals, Titans, Cardinals as Blowouts Abound
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 Lions 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.
Cincinnati Bengals 41 at Baltimore Ravens 17
Scott Spratt: The maybe only intriguing early game started with intrigue: the Ravens lost a coin toss for the first time in 11 games. The Bengals will start on offense.
Scott Spratt: Ravens center-turned-right tackle Patrick Mekari just limped slowly off the field. They have had an amazing run of overcoming injuries, but the Ravens have to be close to the point of no return with offensive line injuries. Alejandro Villanueva couldn't even crack the Steelers offensive line, and he's playing left tackle for the Ravens now.
Vince Verhei: Bengals offense was dormant early with three punts and a field goal drive that only covered 23 yards. But on their fourth drive C.J. Uzomah got open for a 55-yard touchdown catch on a play-action bomb, and their fifth drive was a two-minute drill that covered 63 yards before ending in a field goal, good for a 13-10 lead at halftime. They're picking on Anthony Averett, a fourth-year corner in his first season as a starter, and he's already up to four tackles—not good for a cornerback. But he's also making some plays, with three pass breakups. Tee Higgins has 11 of Cincinnati's 22 targets but has only caught four balls for 33 yards.
Baltimore's offensive line woes are definitely on display. Ravens running backs have seven carries for exactly zero yards, and Lamar Jackson has been sacked three times. But we also need to give credit to a much-improved Cincinnati defense. Those three sacks give them 17 sacks before Halloween—that's as many sacks as they had all season in 2020. Jackson, as usual, is carrying the team with 63 yards rushing. He has had an up-and-down day passing and is only completing half of his passes, but he has hit enough big plays (117 yards on only seven completions) to put those 10 points on the board.
Bryan Knowles: The Ravens open the second half with a near-disaster, with Mark Andrews fumbling and fortunate to get back on top of it. They continue with a slightly better sequence, with Jackson bombing one to Rashod Bateman for 35 yards, and then one to Marquise Brown for a 39-yard touchdown, with Brown just hauling it in at the end of his reach. The deep shot to Brown has been hit-and-miss this year; this one was a hit and the Ravens re-take a 17-13 lead.
Vince Verhei: That Brown touchdown was a thing of beauty.
— Football Outsiders (@fboutsiders) October 24, 2021
Vince Verhei: Ja'Marr Chase's weekly home run has entered the chat, though this was a quick slant with a bevy of broken tackles instead of a deep ball.
JA'MARR CHASE CANNOT BE STOPPED. #RuleTheJungle
— NFL (@NFL) October 24, 2021
The Bengals now have 169 yards on their three touchdowns, 195 yards on their other 36 plays.
Bryan Knowles: We can probably put this one to bed now too. It looked, for a moment, like the Ravens had new life—Joe Burrow threw an interception in the end zone with this as a 10-point game, and the Ravens were driving for a while. But a holding penalty backed them up to first-and-20 and they couldn't bounce back from that, ending up turning the ball over on downs. Cincinnati then pounded Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, with Mixon scoring from just outside the red zone to make this 34-17, Bengals. This will be the Bengals' biggest win since ... what, beating the Steelers in November 2015?
Rob Weintraub: Just recovering from my delirium to check in here after the Bengals rout the Ravens in Balmer.
Cincy, as has been noted, had never beaten Lamar Jackson. For one thing, the stating quarterbacks for the Bengals in those games were Andy Dalton in his decaying orbit, Ryan Finley, Joe Burrow's fifth-ever game, and Brandon Allen. But another key reason was that Cincy didn't have to horses up front defensively to do anything to stop Jackson. Now they do, and had a qualitative mismatch against the banged-up Ravens line. Lamar still made some amazing plays, but the pressure forced him to make some bad throws too, and the coverage was mostly tight, even when Jackson's running opened up the intermediate game. And—a rare occurrence—the defense actually put some licks on LJ. He will need the cold tub tomorrow for one of the few times in his NFL career.
As for Ja'Marr Chase—yeah, but let's see him do it in the preseason...
I figured he would be good, and his explosive element would open things up for the offense, but sheesh. The touchdowns were great, but man, late in the half he made a play were he blasted right through Marlon Humphrey's press, caught a quick in route at the left numbers, and sped all the way across the field for about 20 yards and got out of bounds, with Cincy out of timeouts. That set up a field goal to give the Bengals the halftime lead. What a complete play by Chase.
The national vibe about these two teams is that the Ravens dominate, but that has only been the case the last few seasons, when the Bengals had no breakaway receivers. Otherwise, Cincy has always done well against the Ravens—Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh had many big days, and Baltimore could never cover A.J. Green before all the injuries. And now the purple are probably thinking, "Oh man, that window is closed with Chase in Cincinnati."
Those of you who watched the AMA livestream Wednesday saw me talk up C.J. Uzomah, and you saw why today. He was just starting to find some groove with Joey B before they both went down last year, and they have picked it back up this season.
I'll let everyone else butter up Burrow—I'm sure he'll get plenty of love this week—but I will say this: the first bomb touchdown to C.J. featured pocket movement that was so efficient and precise it did remind of (dare I even utter these words?) ... Touchdown Tommy Brady. And Zac Taylor is still learning the sideline, but he's now 7-8-1 in his first 16 games with an actual quarterback running the show. Makes a tiny bit of difference.
One thing I secretly thought to myself before the season when considering the range of results for the campaign, it was equally as likely that the Bengals took a big thrust forward and won 10 or 11 that it was they took a smaller positive step and won seven or eight. A primary component of that was health, and so far (SLAMMING WOOD OVER AND OVER) they have trotted out the varsity this season.
Hey, Cincy is 5-2, with the Jets up next and then a bye, so I'm enjoying this crest before the wave inevitably crashes.
Dave Bernreuther: I thought this at the time too, but they just showed it again on NBC: The tackling on Ja'Marr Chase's catch-and-run touchdown earlier might be the worst tackling I can remember seeing in an NFL game. Never thought that'd be something I'd say about that Baltimore defense.
Kansas City Chiefs 3 at Tennessee Titans 27
Aaron Schatz: Within five minutes, both Kendrick Bourne of the Patriots and Derrick Henry of the Titans threw touchdown passes! I love non-quarterback touchdown passes.
Bryan Knowles: The other intriguing early game, Scott, is the Kansas City-Tennessee No-Defense All-Offense Bowl. I have two daily fantasy entries with near-identical rosters, just going with Derrick Henry in one and Patrick Mahomes in the other, and I'm counting on fireworks.
I was not counting on getting a passing touchdown from Derrick Henry, but that's how the scoring book opens in this one. I guess Henry really does want to push for that MVP—passing game more efficient? We can do that.
Bryan Knowles: This just in: the Titans have a non-Derrick Henry playmaker on offense. A.J. Brown—and I hope I'm pronouncing that correctly—was the star on a drive that just went 97 yards to give the Titans a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. First, he snags a Ryan Tannehill bomb down the sideline with a great jumping, falling-down catch that was at first ruled incomplete basically just on incredulity ("No way anyone could have caught that."). A few plays later—including a shovel-end around for Brown to give Henry a bit of a rest, running-game wise—and Brown made another great grab in the end zone. Two notes: Tannehill threw a couple of dimes there, and MIke Hughes-on-Brown may not be the winning matchup Kansas City is hoping for.
Bryan Knowles: Patrick Mahomes just threw another interception, bouncing off of Josh Gordon. Some regression on bounced balls for Mahomes, but the statistical note here is that this is Mahomes' sixth straight game with an interception. That's the longest active streak, breaking the tie with the injured Zach Wilson. Mahomes has just 21 passing yards 23 minutes into this game, and the Chiefs are down 17-0. For the record, Mahomes has just one comeback from a 17-plus-point deficit, in the playoffs against the Texans a few years ago. Obviously, Mahomes is rarely down 17-plus points to have a chance at a comeback, but still...
Bryan Knowles: And the Titans convert the Mahomes interception into a touchdown, thanks to some questionable tackling by the Chiefs defense on Julio Jones (what should have been a 5-yard catch became a 20-yard gain, eventually leading to a Ryan Tannehill bootleg for a touchdown). The Chiefs are down 24-0, and while it's not over (I mean, look at who's under center for Kansas City), Bill O'Brien isn't walking through that door. Chiefs gotta get up and go in a hurry, or this one is getting booted from the TV.
Vince Verhei: Mahomes this year looks like Russell Wilson in the middle of last year, where his defense is so terrible he feels like he needs a touchdown on every drive, and so he's forcing balls to receivers who aren't open. To make matters worse, he probably DOES need to score a touchdown on every drive, because the Titans go 46 yards in eight plays with Ryan Tannehill running in a touchdown for a 24-0 lead. That's three touchdowns and a field goal in four drives for the Titans. They have racked up 259 yards and 17 first downs already, they're 5-for-6 on third downs, and they're averaging more than 7 yards per play. Kansas City's defense is almost helpless out there.
Aaron Schatz: Kansas City trying to prove singlehandedly that defense is in fact as predictive as offense and that turnovers are as predictable as yards.
Bryan Knowles: Barring a massive comeback, this game is getting flipped off. Patrick Mahomes' fumble sets up a long field goal for the Titans, and it's a 27-0 Tennessee lead at the half. I have no doubts Mahomes and the Chiefs could score 27 points in a half—hell, 37, 47, whatever, pick a number. But the Titans are just having their way with the Kansas City defense; the size of the lead is due to the turnovers, but I'm not sure the Chiefs could stop the Titans if they started from their own 1-inch line every drive.
The Titans lost to the Jets in Week 4, and we were talking about an NFC East-style division and losing record for the eventual champ. Now, they may have beaten the Bills and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks. Football, man.
Scott Spratt: It's a testament to the theory that if you can't be really good at least be really weird. It's hard to stop the Titans when you build a roster that's designed to stop the type of football that 30 or so of the other 31 teams in football play.
Tom Gower: It's 27-0. I have no idea how to process this. The Titans had the ball five times. They scored on all five possessions. Their worst drive was the two-minute drill, on a short field after the Mahomes fumble, and because they were out of timeouts and went leisurely (understandable up 24-0) they ended up kicking after a first-down sack. But for most of the first half they moved the ball easily and well. They have been converting on first and second down frequently, and the only actual stop by Kansas City on third down was before the other field goal drive (6-of-7 overall, but it's hard for me to begrudge that as exceptional with Tannehill 16-of-20 overall and hitting some excellent throws).
The real story is the other side of the ball, and Kansas City's near-complete inability to run the ball against a Titans defense that's playing the bottom of their cornerback depth chart. The comp I want to make now is to a team like the 2007 Patriots, where the biggest problem ultimately might have been the lack of a third key player in the pass game. It's really hard to cover the top two guys, but if you can concentrate your efforts there, the other guys won't beat you. And after the deflected ball interception thrown to Josh Gordon's frame, having that as a point of emphasis for one of the things going on with Kansas City's offense today makes sense to me.
Vince Verhei: Chiefs just missed a field goal down 27-3. I give up on this one.
Bryan Knowles: To add injury to insult, Patrick Mahomes just took a thigh to the face and has gotten up shakily. I don't know if he has a concussion or not, but there's no reason for him to come back into this game down 27-3.
Tom Gower: The Titans didn't score in the second half. The Chiefs ran 51 plays in the final 30 minutes, including 35 in the fourth quarter. Tennessee's attempt to force-feed Derrick Henry to get to 100 yards ended up with him falling short of that mark and also a tick under 3 yards per carry. None of it mattered. Those final two Chiefs possessions ended with zero points, meaning all those snaps resulted in two field goal attempts, one made and a 57-yarder sent well wide. This wasn't quite the first half, where the longest Kansas City gain featured a Travis Kelce lateral to get a total of 14 yards. Their longest play for the game was a 25-yarder on a fourth-and-8 to keep the first of the fourth-quarter drives going, but that was it. This was the second week in a row a Titans defense that in their losses had given up yards in huge chunks, particularly on passes outside the pocket, faced a young quarterback known for burning teams on precisely that kind of play, and didn't give up any of them. Buffalo still moved the ball reasonably well last week (even if not great down-to-down, as their lower-than-expected DVOA for the game suggested), so I'm not ready to say they're a good defense. But they had a really good game this week.
Atlanta Falcons 30 at Miami Dolphins 28
Scott Spratt: I'm thinking that whichever of the Dolphins' co-offensive coordinators scripts their opening drives is really good at it. The Dolphins just went 14 plays for 75 yards with a Tua Tagovailoa touchdown pass to Isaiah Ford. And last week in London, they started with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, and that was definitely the highlight of an eventual loss to the Jaguars.
Vince Verhei: Bad sequence for Miami in the second quarter. Jaylen Waddle suffers an ankle injury and is down for a while, but he did eventually walk off the field. But three plays later, Jason Sanders' 49-yard field goal try is blocked. Dolphins still lead 7-3.
Bryan Knowles: The Falcons cash in on the blocked kick with Calvin Ridley eventually getting into the end zone and giving the Falcons a 10-7 lead. Now, I'm not quite up on the new scheduling rules—it's a new clause that if you lose to both the Jaguars and the Falcons in back-to-back weeks, you're automatically relegated, right?
Vince Verhei: Waddle returned with catches for 7 and 19 yards after that Ridley touchdown. A facemask penalty on Atlanta put Miami in field goal range at the two-minute warning. But on second down, Tua Tagovailoa's pass to Durham Smythe in the end zone is intercepted. Nice play by the defender to jump the route but also a bad decision by Tagovailoa to throw into double-coverage.
Kyle Pitts then makes an absurd one-handed grab down the left sideline for a 36-yard gain.
— Football Outsiders (@fboutsiders) October 24, 2021
That sets up a Younghoe Koo field goal and Atlanta leads 13-7 at halftime.
Vince Verhei: Russell Gage opens the second half with a long touchdown pass, and now the Dolphins will have to rally from behind, something they have failed to do this year despite plenty of practice.
A 49-yard from #MattyIce to Russell Gage!
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) October 24, 2021
Bryan Knowles: Gotta start somewhere, Vince. A bad punt from the Falcons gives the Dolphins the ball on their own 40, and Miami takes advantage of the short field, with Tagovailoa hitting Mike Gesicki in the end zone to cut the lead to 20-14. I haven't been watching this one much; has Tua attempted anything more than 3 yards down the field?
Vince Verhei: A little, Bryan, but the RPO slant is for sure the primary weapon in Miami's aerial attack.
Scott Spratt: It's probably tough to throw downfield with Will Fuller and DeVante Parker out. Oh, what ever happened with that Jaylen Waddle injury? Is he back playing?
Vince Verhei: Yeah, Waddle was back right away.
Bryan Knowles: Xavien Howard makes a great play, stealing the ball out of the receiver's hands for a much-needed turnover for the Dolphins! Sadly, on the very next play, Tua Tagovailoa throws one of the worst interceptions of the week, right to Foyesade Oluokun, who returns it into red zone. An ugly, ugly throw by Tua, and he's not looking like even the same guy he was as a rookie. A few plays later, Cordarrelle Patterson runs it into the end zone for the 27-14 lead. Not over yet, but Tagovailoa and the Dolphins need to get going, down 13 points with 12:51 left in the game.
Vince Verhei: I don't have a lot of faith in Miami winning this game, but I have lots of faith in Atlanta losing it. Last play of the third quarter, Miami is punting. Olamide Zaccheaus Is back to return, but he lets the bouncing ball go between his legs like a shortstop making an error on a ground ball. Somehow, he never touched the ball, so it's not a fumble. But that's OK, because three plays later Matt Ryan is intercepted and Miami takes over in field goal range.
But then THAT doesn't matter, because the very next play Foyesade Oluokon intercepts a pass over the middle intended for Waddle and returns it into the opposite red zone. That sets up Cordarrelle Patterson's 3-yard touchdown run and Atlanta goes up 27-14.
By the way, that's 10 carries for Patterson, including the goal-line tote, compared to two for Mike Davis and only one for Wayne Gallman. If there was any doubt, he's definitely Atlanta's top runner now.
Vince Verhei: That Tua pick was, in fact, cover-your-eyes awful.
Tua, what ... are ... you ... doing ... .
When Tua throws picks, he throws the worst picks.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 24, 2021
Aaron Schatz: I have been a Tua defender. His numbers really are very average for a quarterback who still hasn't even started a full season's worth of NFL games. But yikes, that interception is horrendous.
Bryan Knowles: Credit where credit is due; Tagovailoa bounced back nicely on the ensuing drive to keep this game a contest. Some actual deep throws (shock!) to Durham Smythe and Mike Gesicki get things going, and that's enough to get the Falcons to play a little deeper, opening up more room for the short passing game. Gaskin goes into the end zone, and it's just a 27-21 Falcons lead...
Aaron Schatz: Just to rewind, Arthur Smith kicked an extra point in this game to go up 27-14 after a touchdown instead of trying for two to go up 28-14. He'll regret that if the Dolphins can come back and win 28-27.
Dave Bernreuther: That would be a very Falcony way to blow this, so I expect it to happen.
I expect it even more now that Matt Ryan just decided to tuck and run—with no shot whatsoever of success—on third-and-8 and fumbling the ball straight to the Dolphins.
Bryan Knowles: And, indeed, that extra-point decision comes back to haunt the Falcons! The Matt Ryan fumble gives the Dolphins the ball on Atlanta's side of the field, though they commit a couple of penalties to back themselves up immediately. But now, the screens and RPOs and dinks and dunks start to really gash the Falcons apart, with Jaylen Waddle and Salvon Ahmed gashing the Falcons on little passes. Tagovailoa is more impressive on passes to Gesicki and Mack Hollins to get into the red zone and the end zone, and it's 28-27 Dolphins with 2:27 left. Falcons are Falconing!
Bryan Knowles: The Falcons ~tried~ to Falcon, committing a false start as they lined up for the game-winning field goal, but with a stopped clock, it doesn't matter, and going from a 31- to a 36-yard field goal isn't going to change much. The kick is good, the Falcons win 30-28, and if the Dolphins' goose isn't cooked, it's at least roasting.
New York Jets 13 at New England Patriots 54
Aaron Schatz: Holes have been massive early for the Patriots' running game. Hard to tell how much of that is having four-fifths of the starting line healthy and how much is the Jets being the Jets, although run defense is something the Jets had been good at the last couple of years. (They're average this year.) Damien Harris with 59 yards in his first four carries, then a 1-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Patriots and we're not even through eight minutes yet.
Aaron Schatz: Patriots have Zach Wilson on the run today. With the exception of a corner blitz that took Wilson down for a sack early, I think this is mostly coverage. Wilson seems to be constantly leaving the pocket and looking for receivers downfield. He has found them a couple of times, but had to throw it away even more times. Although now that I write this, he just drew a long pass interference penalty on Kyle Dugger and the Jets have the ball right up at the goal line down 17-0.
Bryan Knowles: They also have Zach Wilson on the ground; the trainers are looking at his left leg. Mike White is the backup; he has never played an NFL snap.
Aaron Schatz: Oh boy. Wilson was hurt on that deep DPI throw and Mike White is now in at quarterback for the Jets.
Bryan Knowles: And so Mike White's first career NFL pass? A touchdown. Might have been a wee bit of offensive pass interference on Corey Davis there, but there also may have been a wee bit of a late hit on Zach Wilson, so I suppose this crew is trying to keep the flags in their pockets. 17-7 Patriots in a game where the Jets have a lot more worries than a 10-point deficit.
Aaron Schatz: Patriots just took a 24-7 lead but I think you're seeing the weaknesses of this offense inside what has been a very successful day. They still don't really have receivers who can get separation downfield, not even Nelson Agholor. They're getting huge run lanes, the screens look good, the trick play was outstanding, and they scheme some guys open in the middle of the field on crosses. But when they try to throw downfield on the sidelines with a receiver just plain beating his defender down the field, it just isn't happening. But 24-7 with Mike White likely to be playing in his first regular-season NFL game for the next 35 minutes is a pretty nice place to be.
Aaron Schatz: 31-7 going to halftime and what is there to say, this is an ass-whipping and a much less surprising one than Tennessee's 27-0 lead over Kansas City. The Jets are a bad football team with a bad roster, period. The Patriots needed a nice dominating victory like this to improve morale after the close losses to Tampa Bay and Dallas, not to mention nearly losing to Houston. Mike White looks better than Zach Wilson so far, to be honest, but it's not a lot of plays to judge him on.
Carolina Panthers 3 at New York Giants 25
Scott Spratt: The Giants are missing Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, and Sterling Shepard today, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has accepted the challenge! He just ran play-action waggle three straight pass plays and hit tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Evan Engram for 18, 3, and 2 yards, the final of which went in for a maybe touchdown. Referees are checking to see if Rudolph stepped out there, but the Giants are either up 7-3 or will likely be after a quarterback sneak on the next couple of plays.
Scott Spratt: Just kidding! The Panthers stopped the Giants on second-and-1, third-and-1, and fourth-and-1 and took over on downs.
Vince Verhei: I have had a long week and weekend. I went to sleep this morning about seven hours before kickoff. I get my TVs on about midway through the first quarter. I see that Sam Darnold has completed five passes for a total of 19 yards. And then the Giants fail to score after getting first-and-goal at the 2, with Booker stuffed for a loss on fourth down, and I am strongly considering going back to bed.
Scott Spratt: Turn to a different game, Vince. It isn't worth it.
Scott Spratt: Sam Darnold just double-clutched and then hit an offensive lineman in the back throwing away from pressure while standing in his own end zone. Yep, that's a safety. It's 3-2 Panthers, and this game is exactly what you'd expect it to be.
Vince Verhei: It's not just that Darnold threw a pass to an ineligible lineman—he threw a pass to an ineligible offensive lineman who had already been knocked down at the line of scrimmage. Oh, it was third-and-9 too.
With all the bye weeks, Scott, if I turn this game off, there's nothing to replace it.
I might turn it off anyway.
Scott Spratt: Let's check in on Sam Darnold on a second-and-24 in field goal range when every quarterback has to know to safeguard a chance at a field goal.
Great protection and James Bradberry gets an easy one pic.twitter.com/mzJl9mWIDA
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) October 24, 2021
Bryan, rank these Jets-related quarterbacks: Darnold, Zach Wilson, and Mike White.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, that's easy. Wilson, White, Darnold.
... oh, you mean in terms of football ability? Uh ... I'll take the cyanide pill, please, thank you.
Vince Verhei: Serious question: when do they go to P.J. Walker? This is a playoff-caliber defense going to waste.
Scott Spratt: I regret to inform you that the Panthers picked up Sam Darnold's fifth-year option after they traded for him, so they have him with an $18.8-million cap hit next season.
But I wouldn't know what to do anyway. Darnold's good is very good and his bad is very bad. I guess that's how he made it to a second team in the first place. When you watch him do something like lead last week's 96-yard touchdown drive in a minute and a half to force overtime, it makes you question whether he's as bad as his statistics suggest.
Scott Spratt: If you like non-quarterback touchdown passes, can I interest you in a quarterback reception? The Giants ran a Philly Special!
Look at Daniel Jones! pic.twitter.com/p8XDxYi2dz
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) October 24, 2021
I enjoy the creativity on a day when the Giants are missing all of their normal receiver starters. I don't love setting Jones up for a massive hit after the awful concussion he suffered two weeks ago.
Vince Verhei: Thanks for sharing that, Scott. Between the one-handed grab and surviving the big hit, that may be the best catch we see all day.
Scott Spratt: The Panthers pulled Sam Darnold with 12:37 left in the fourth quarter. So question answered, Vince!
Scott Spratt: P.J. Walker is 0-for-5 passing in relief of Sam Darnold. So there may be bigger problems for the Panthers.
Devontae Booker just ran in a touchdown on a short field coming off a failed fourth-down conversion. The Giants are up 25-3, and this one is over.
Vince Verhei: To be fair to Walker, not ALL of his plays have been incomplete passes. He has also been sacked twice.
Yeah, they're stuck. Trading away Teddy Bridgewater and bringing in Darnold torpedoed their season.
Scott Spratt: Well I doubt Bridgewater would have helped. But he wouldn't have cost the Panthers $19 million and a second-round draft pick next season!
Vince Verhei: Bridgewater came into the week 12th in DVOA, 13th in DYAR. Obviously he'll drop after the Thursday game, but he has basically been an average starter this year, more or less what he has been most of his career. Darnold has been an unmitigated disaster, just like he was in 2020 and 2019 and 2018. I wouldn't want Bridgewater as my franchise quarterback, but this Panthers team would be a lock for a wild-card berth if they still had him.
Bryan Knowles: Plus, if they hadn't gone to get Darnold, they may have decided to draft Fields or Jones to replace Bridgewater, too.
Scott Spratt: Not taking Fields was the major mistake. There's no point in lowering your ceiling to a double-digit loss in the wild-card round. But the Panthers look to be set back a few years by not taking Fields. There's just no path to an upgrade in 2022 with the poor projected rookie class of quarterbacks.
Washington Football Team 10 at Green Bay Packers 24
Bryan Knowles: We haven't talked about this game much yet, so let me be the first to say the Packers' 1950s throwbacks are a thing of beauty.
We probably won't be talking about this game much more, as Rodgers finds Robert Tonyan to expand the Packers' lead to 21-7—not quite in the same bracket as some of the other blowouts going on, but kind of sliding in that direction. But those uniforms are great, and I had to mention it before things got out of hand.
Dave Bernreuther: I'll talk a bit about it, Bryan, and I'll start by disagreeing with you: these throwbacks are weird, inaccurate (though that's the fault of the single-helmet rule, not the Packers), and most importantly they don't make any sense. From what I can tell, the Packers wore all-green three times in a 3-9 1950 season, including losses of 51-7 and 45-7, and four times in a 2-9-1 1953 season, which also included a blowout loss.
It's not as bad as it would be if the 2070 Detroit Lions were to wear 2008 throwbacks, I guess, but when you're a team that doesn't need throwbacks to begin with, but you've had a rich history of success in the past that you can throw back to, what on earth are you doing wearing throwbacks to two- and three-win seasons?
Also, the Packers finally have their first red zone stop(s) of the season! It took a dumb call, ruling that Taylor Heinecke gave himself up by diving head-first, and a dropped pass, but the Football Team failed twice on fourth-and-goal and so we're into the fourth quarter now in a game that I have spent more time watching than I should, given the interesting one in Baltimore.
Bryan Knowles: Dave, if teams could only wear throwbacks to times they were good, the Cardinals would never be able to wear throwbacks ever! This is not the kind of world I want to live in.
Detroit Lions 19 at Los Angeles Rams 28
Scott Spratt: There's just a still screen of the Rams and Lions logos showing on my Sunday Ticket, so I thought maybe there was a delay or something. But, nope, Jared Goff just had a revenge game touchdown to D'Andre Swift to build a 7-0 lead. Maybe they didn't bother to bring cameras? I wouldn't blame them.
Bryan Knowles: And after the long Swift touchdown, the Lions go for the surprise onside kick, and recover it! Dan Campbell, playing some David-Goliath ball early.
Scott Spratt: My feed fixed just in time to see the Lions on-side kick and recover after a Rams player botched it. God I love Dan Campbell.
Dave Bernreuther: Surprise onside kick alert!
Dan Campbell correctly deploys the David strategy on the road after going ahead on a brilliant catch-and-run by D'Andre Swift (on what looked like a pretty bad pass from Goff) and the Lions are in Rams territory again already with a lead.
Vince Verhei: KNEECAPS.
The long Swift touchdown (which was also a long, swift touchdown):
D'Andre Swift house call!
Prior to this week, Swift was tied for first among backs with 34 receptions and 295 yards.
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 24, 2021
Bryan Knowles: And now a fake punt! Empty the playbook, Dan!
Dave Bernreuther: David Strategy, part two: after a penalty and some more bad Goff, the Lions are back on their own side of the field, forced to punt, and … I'm not about to say that Jack Fox is the best quarterback on the Lions so far today or anything, but that was a heck of a throw for a punter.
Vince Verhei: That field goal drive after the onside kick was the first time this year that the Lions offense has taken the field with a lead.
Vince Verhei: Jared Goff just became the second quarterback of the day to throw a pass right to an ineligible lineman. At least this lineman was open and could have gained some YAC if he had caught it. And if that was legal.
Bryan Knowles: Well, that was fun while it lasted. The Rams have taken the lead on a bubble screen to Cooper Kupp. Since their dice-rolling start, the Lions have reverted into a lot of runs on second-and-long. You gotta keep up the David strategy all the way through the game, Dan!
Aaron Schatz: Lions just ran their second fake punt of the day, direct snap to personal protector C.J. Moore who ran a left sweep for a first down. Dan Campbell pulling out all the tricks to try to win this game.
Aaron Schatz: Lions get D'Andre Swift stuffed at the line on third-and-1, hurry back to the line, and run the exact same play, which gets Swift stuffed on fourth-and-1. Suboptimal play calling there.
Tom Gower: The Lions using D'Andre Swift there confuses me. They also have Jamaal Williams, who's a better runner overall and a better inside runner in particular unless I have missed something. You have multiple running backs; use them in the role where they're best.
Aaron Schatz: It's OK, the Lions got the Rams back by Julian Okwara deflecting a fourth-and-1 pass to Tyler Higbee so now the Lions have the ball at their own 46. First fourth-down stop for the Lions all season.
Bryan Knowles: The last competitive game of the afternoon window just saw the Rams re-take the lead as Cooper Kupp has seemed to single-handedly decide that no, the Lions will not be pulling off this upset. That last drive saw him with catches of 14, 59, and 5 yards, plus the touchdown at the end. He's up to 156 yards, and we still have 14 minutes left in this game.
Aaron Schatz: Lions were 2-for-10 on third downs until this drive. They're 4-for-4 on this drive now, trying to come back from a 25-19 deficit. Goff is throwing all kinds of short passes, nothing deep, but they're moving the ball. Now down at the Rams 12.
Aaron Schatz: And, as soon as I send that email, Jared Goff throws a pick to Jalen Ramsey covering T.J. Hockenson at the goal line. Rams ball.
Vince Verhei: Lions had eight carries for 44 yards on that drive. Rams have 12 carries for 26 yards in this game.
Aaron Schatz: Rams can't convert a third-and-1 to ice it but they do kick a long field goal to go up by nine and that should be the ballgame. Odds were that one of the big underdogs would at least cover today, and the winner is Detroit!
Dave Bernreuther: The Rams are a better team than the Lions either way, but even on what didn't seem like Stafford's best day to me, the difference in quarterback play in this game was obvious. Even with the three successful trick plays, the Lions will still fall to 0-7, barring a miracle, but I will say that they're a pretty impressive bad team from what I have seen. I thought both backs, particularly D'Andre Swift, looked really good, and the defense is definitely playing hard.
As critical as I have always been of Goff, the worst quarterback in this broadcast was actually in the booth: Mark Sanchez. He seemed really unprepared, often couldn't find words, and made excuse after excuse for both quarterbacks, including the late Ramsey pick that he repeatedly blamed on Aaron Donald's pressure (which didn't hurt, of course) when it was clear that Goff was going to make that throw either way, and that it was a bad decision. I caught a bit of Sanchez's work earlier in the season and wrote it off to inexperience, but he hasn't gotten any better with another month of work.
Philadelphia Eagles 22 at Las Vegas Raiders 33
Vince Verhei: Thinking about Derrik Klassen's Film Room piece on the new, aggressive Derek Carr. Third-and-15 on the Raiders' first drive. Zay Jones runs a fly route down the right sideline. He's not open, there's a corner running with him step-for-step, but Carr takes a shot anyway, and Jones wins the jump ball for a 43-yard gain.
Unfortunately the timid version of Carr showed up in the red zone. Third-and-5, he throws a little dumpoff to Jalen Richard that has little chance of a conversion. Worse, the ball skips off of Richard's hands and into Avonte Maddox's for an interception. Eagles lead 7-0 on a Kenneth Gainwell catch-and-run touchdown on the game's opening drive.
Bryan Knowles: Foster Moreau got a surprise start with Darren Waller out. Fortunately, Moreau is a pretty darn good player, and just made a great back-shoulder catch for a touchdown to tie things at seven apiece.
Vince Verhei: As Mike Tanier noted, the Eagles have been extremely pass-wacky this year. Now Miles Sanders has left this game, carted off with an ankle injury. They may not hand off again.
So of course, their first play after the Moreau touchdown is a handoff to Gainwell for a gain of 1.
Scott Spratt: Moreau's receiving DVOA by season: 29.6% on 25 targets in 2019, 78.5% on nine targets in 2020, and 39.4% on six targets entering this week. I think he's good, too, Bryan. Makes you wonder why the Raiders brought Jason Witten in last year. Or it would if the Raiders didn't do that sort of thing all the time.
Vince Verhei: Raiders lead 17-7 at halftime and the story has been Carr's near-perfect precision. He has completed 21 of 23 passes, and of the two he "missed," one hit a receiver in the hands before being intercepted, and the other he was hit as he threw. Eagles haven't done much since their opening touchdown drive: two punts, one lost Gainwell fumble, 52 total yards.
Scott Spratt: Jalen Hurts is doing his usual fourth-quarter garbage time act. After falling behind 30-7, Hurts had led back-to-back extended drives for 59 and 75 yards and touchdowns. The only upset is he didn't run either of the touchdowns in himself. Boston Scott ran in the first one with Miles Sanders out injured. And Hurts threw the other one to Jalen Reagor.
The game remains out of reach at 33-22 Raiders with less than three minutes left.
Chicago Bears 3 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38
Bryan Knowles: I had to pick a game to be the main one in this lackluster late game schedule, and I'm going with the local team. The complete Bears experience, to this point:
- Khalil Herbert stuffed.
- Justin Fields sacked and fumbles, but the Bears fall on top of it.
- 6-yard pass on third-and-16!
- A decent punt, but the Bucs return it to just outside the red zone.
- Pass interference, moving the ball just inside the red zone.
- 15-yard run by Leonard Fournette, as the seas part.
- 2-yard touchdown from Fournette. 7-0 Buccaneers lead.
This might be a long day.
Bryan Knowles: The Buccaneers' secondary has been decimated by injuries this year, but playing rookies is a good way to ride out those kinds of issues. Justin Fields is intercepted by a "D. Delaney." I had to go look up his first name, and, well, Justin Fields was intercepted by Dee Delaney. Fair enough.
With Antonio Brown out, Chris Godwin has been getting more work—and how many teams would love to go "oh no, we don't have Brown, I guess we'll have to run with Chris Godwin." Godwin picks up the 599th touchdown pass of Tom Brady's career, it's 14-0 Tampa Bay, and if the Bears can't get some offense going posthaste, I think I can stop paying attention to this one and look at the brewing issues in the NFC West.
Aaron Schatz: It looks like Justin Fields has trouble identifying blitzers but his strip-sack near the end of the first quarter wasn't a problem with blitzers. Backup right tackle Lachavious Simmons just got beat easily around the corner by Shaq Barrett. Tampa Bay has had three of its four drives today start on the Chicago 32, Chicago 40, and now the Chicago 35.
Dave Bernreuther: A Shaq Barrett sack of Justin Fields gives the Bucs offense their third start inside the Bears 40 of the first quarter. They had a tall order in front of them in this game already; the turnovers and long punt return sure aren't helping matters.
Aaron Schatz: And Mike Evans catches a slant for Tom Brady's 600th touchdown, this is now 21-0 Buccaneers.
Bryan Knowles: And there's touchdown pass No. 600, Brady-to -vans. I'm flipping off of this one now for obvious reasons, but it's good to step back and remember occasionally just how amazing Brady's career has been to this point.
Right, on to competitive football games elsewhere.
Scott Spratt: It's 21-0 Bucs with six seconds left in the first quarter. They might have whiffed on making this the FOX game of the week. Even the Texans-Cardinals and Lions-Rams games look interesting with the early underdog scores.
Carl Yedor: Chicago looks totally overmatched here. They have moved the ball a bit, but when they get to third down, the Bucs' pressure packages are making it really hard on Fields. In an ideal world, the Bears would be able to run the ball to shorten the game a bit and play to Fields' strengths moving him around, but now that they're down 21, it is going to be difficult for them to convince the Bucs that something other than a pass is coming. That said, running against Tampa Bay isn't exactly an easy task, so they're really stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Aaron Schatz: Justin Fields gets stripped again, and it was another blown block by Simmons, the backup right tackle. This time on Jason Pierre-Paul.
J.P. Acosta: Nothing going right for the Bears offense. Justin Fields is strip-sacked by Jason Pierre-Paul and it's recovered by Shaq Barrett, who then fumbled and Devin White picks it up. Yeesh.
Scott Spratt: The update on this game is that Justin Fields has now taken the most sacks of all quarterbacks this year even though he didn't start the first two weeks.
Scott Spratt: The broadcast just pointed out that Tom Brady has thrown six straight incompletions, tied for the longest streak of his career. That 600th touchdown pass may not be the only record set today.
Aaron Schatz: Fourth-and-4 at midfield, Bears go for it. Bucs bring five, Fields again can't find an open man, tries to scramble, sacked. Bears offense looks terrible. I think it's time to switch games.
J.P. Acosta: Tom Brady has four passing touchdowns in the first half, three to Mike Evans, and they go into halftime up 35-3. Do they have mercy rules in the NFL? Because we might need it.
Carl Yedor: In recent years there has been some discussion about whether one of Brady's favorite targets in New England (Julian Edelman) deserved Hall of Fame consideration. I'm not trying to restart that very tired debate, but I was chatting with one of my Bears fan friends who I am watching this game with about whether Mike Evans may end up having a case at the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. Pro Football Reference has him as not close looking at the HOF monitor, and I ended up falling on the side of him having a lot of work to do. His biggest problem has been that while he has been very productive throughout his career, racking up at least 1,000 receiving yards in every season (he's on pace to do that again this year), he has never had a single season in which he was one of the clear two or three best receivers in football. He has a number of seasons where he was in the five-to eight range, but that likely won't get it done if we're talking about gold jackets.
Dave Bernreuther: I feel bad for the Bears defense. They showed a ton of heart on a goal-line stand when the score was 35-3 and the final score of this game will not be indicative of their level of play at all. While they didn't really ever get anything resembling a pass rush, they also faced *six* short fields because of the offense (and one long return). Five of the six scores allowed came on drives starting on those short fields. That's not at all a recipe for success. Not just against the Bucs, but against anybody.
Houston Texans 5 at Arizona Cardinals 31
Vince Verhei: It's very, very early, but Arizona's offense has gone backwards way too often on their first two drives. Their first possession was killed by a second-and-10 sack that set up a third-and-forever. Second possession started with an aborted snap (do a shot!) on first down and then another sack on second down. That's two possessions, two punts, 14 total yards of offense.
Vince Verhei: Cardinals go backwards again, and this time it shows up on the scoreboard. A Texans punt pins them at the 2, and on first down Kyler Murray fakes a handoff and tried to get out around left end. Texans are not fooled and Murray is tackled in the end zone for a safety. Houston, an 18-point underdog, is now up 2-0. Worse, Murray was slow to get up, though he's still on the sideline and will get a chance to recover after a free kick.
Vince Verhei: Ka'imi Fairbairn hit a 53-yard field goal to put Houston up 5-0, then Murray took the field for Arizona after the ensuing kickoff.
Vince Verhei: Murray has DeAndre Hopkins wide open for a score on a corner route but throws the ball a mile over his head. That sets up a fourth-and-2, and Murray converts that with a short completion to Christian Kirk. Second-and-goal from the 5, they get way too cute with an end-around to Zach Ertz, who has been on the roster for like an hour. Ertz fumbles and Houston recovers, but replay reverses the call and gives the ball back to Arizona at the 1. And finally, 20-plus minutes into the game, the Cardinals get on the scoreboard with a Hopkins touchdown grab. Cards go up 7-5.
Bryan Knowles: For a minute there, it looked like the Texans had pulled off a goal-line stand, as a running play to Zach Ertz (?) resulted in a fumble at the goal line. But, no, Ertz was well down by contact, the Cardinals keep the ball, score on the next play, and it's 7-5, Arizona, as the weird scores continue.
Scott Spratt: A jumbo jet sweep?? It's the best play, Bryan. Although apparently not that time if Ertz fumbled.
Vince Verhei: Cardinals go backwards again, but since they are the Cardinals (and they're playing the Texans), it barely matters. Penalties push them back to a third-and-23, so Murray just goes deep to A.J. Green for a 41-yard gain. That sets up a Murray-to-Kirk touchdown pass and a 14-5 lead for Arizona.
Bryan Knowles: The Texans gave up a third-and-23, with A.J. Green going for 41 yards. When you can't stop your opponent on third-and-23, it's going to be a long day. Cardinals up 14-5.
Vince Verhei: The Texans are doing one thing well today, and that is harassing Kyler Murray. They held him to 4 rushing yards in the first half and sacked him, officially, three times. They had another sack wiped out by a roughing the passer foul. Arizona still reached the red zone on their last drive, but with no timeouts and possibly fearing another sack, they made the curious decision to kick a field goal on third down with nine seconds left. A very conservative decision, but it put them up 17-5.
And it's hard to fault them for being conservative, because it's hard to envision a scenario where Houston gets 12 points in the second half. Davis Mills is having a very useless 10-of-12 passing day—only four of those completions have moved the sticks, and the Texans have yet to convert a third down. Their longest drive of the half gained only 25 yards. At this point, the only drama left is whether the Cardinals can make enough mistakes to save those of us who took the Texans and 18 points.
Tom Gower: 17-5 at the half. As noted, Houston's defensive line has had some success. Arizona has made some mistakes of their own on offense. But Houston has looked incapable of stringing more than three good plays together on offense, and most of the time they don't even get that far. That makes it awfully hard to score. One-score games are definitionally not over until one team is kneeling it out, but this one felt over when Arizona went up 14-5 in the second quarter.
Bryan Knowles: Probably took a little bit longer than expected for Arizona to put this one in the bag, but I'm not sure the Texans could close an 18-point gap if they had a full 60 minutes. And always had the football. And were playing against backups.
Zach Ertz's 47-yard touchdown now makes him Arizona's leading receiver on the day; not bad for someone who showed up last week.
Vince Verhei: The Texans just punted on fourth-and-2 down 24-5 in the third quarter.
Vince Verhei: The Texans intercept Murray and take over in Arizona territory. Two short completions set up a third-and-1. Mills is then flagged for illegal motion (?) and is penalized 4 yards (?????????). So it's third-and-5, they try a wide receiver screen, it loses 4 yards, and they punt on fourth-and-9 down 19 points on the Cardinals half of the field.
Contract this team.
Vince Verhei: Texans get another sack and a good punt return and start in Arizona territory again. They go run for 2, completion for 1, run for 2 to bring up fourth-and-5. They finally go for it, and Mills had Brandin Cooks wide open for the first down … and Cooks drops it. Mills is now 18-of-23 for exactly 100 yards. Ugh.
Colt McCoy has been warming up, but Murray's still in the game for Arizona.
Rivers McCown: Thanks, I hated it.
Indianapolis Colts 30 at San Francisco 49ers 18
Bryan Knowles: Wondering what the weather conditions will be like tonight? Wonder no more.
Might wanna hold it until you get inside pic.twitter.com/eJOaQnsaGo
— Daniel Murphy (@djmurph1) October 24, 2021
Dave Bernreuther: I have been excited all week to see this matchup of smartly coached West Coast offenses that love tight ends, and the miserable weather out there initially put a damper on that enthusiasm ... but as a Colts fan, I have decided that this is actually a good thing, because it likely helps their defense, which I don't think would've had all that easy a time stopping the 49ers, given the way they have been playing lately. They'll still have the slippery surface to contend with, of course, but I think it might limit the Jimmy Garoppolo-Trey Lance combination a bit more than it could limit Carson Wentz.
Safe to assume that this is the first NFL meeting between two North Dakota State quarterbacks? Or does the preseason Lance-Easton Stick matchup count?
Bryan Knowles: If you were counting on seeing Trey Lance or George Kittle, Dave, then I hate to rain on your parade, but both are hurt!
Dave Bernreuther: I feel like I should have known that about Lance ... but I did not.
Bryan Knowles: If you listen to 49ers fans, the sky is falling and everyone is doomed—never mind they were still in the top dozen in DVOA, and will be tied for a wild-card spot if they win this game. A drive like the one the 49ers had to open the game will help calm a lot of nerves, as Elijah Mitchell (healthy once again) just ran all over the Colts, despite both Kittle and Trent Williams being out tonight.
Of course, the extra point is missed because San Francisco fans need something to worry about, so it's just a 6-0 lead.
Scott Spratt: I'll give Kyle Shanahan the early edge against the Colts' No. 1 DVOA run defense. The 49ers absolutely gashed that defense on an eight-play opening drive. Running back Elijah Mitchell contributed 57 of the 78 yards and scored the touchdown.
Bryan Knowles: Coming into today, the 49ers had only recovered three of 14 fumbles (offense and defense combined). That wasn't going to stay that bad, and indeed, Jonathan Taylor fumbles on the Colts' first play from scrimmage, and the 49ers fall on top.
Scott Spratt: Also apologies in advance, Bryan, for Joey Slye. That was his ninth missed extra point in 81 career attempts. That's more than 10%! At least he can blame the weather tonight. These teams should go for two exclusively tonight.
Dave Bernreuther: And just as I expected, the weather has helped the Colts … just shy of 10 yards a play allowed on defense, a lost fumble on the first play on offense. Brilliant! (Now where's that bottle of wine…)
Scott Spratt: Heavy rain increases rushing fumble rate by 132% per attempt. That may not be the only fumble we see tonight.
Scott Spratt: After that fumble recovery and another 12-yard Elijah Mitchell carry, the 49ers threw three straight passes and did not gain a yard. Thanks for keeping the game close early, I guess? It's 9-0 49ers.
Bryan Knowles: Also keep things close: Josh Norman, who is washed. Michael Pittman burned him for a 50-yard reception, on a play where Norman committed pass interference and still failed to slow him down in any meaningful way!
Dave Bernreuther: Carson Wentz—who I too think has looked more than capable in the last two weeks—stepped up in the pocket to evade a pretty fierce rush and unleashed a great-looking deep ball to Michael Pittman, who was briefly held on his break back to the middle of the field but caught the ball anyway. Not that I'm complaining about the result, but on replay I'd have been more willing to call pass interference on Pittman himself than on Norman, as he pretty clearly extended his arm and held Norman off in order to create the space for the catch.
Two plays later and Mo Alie-Cox goes in. Excellent recovery from the first-play disaster for the Colts.
Scott Spratt: What do you think Carson Wentz's plan was on this shovel pass?
— NFL (@NFL) October 25, 2021
Bryan Knowles: I think the ball was clearly slipping out of his hand, so I can only assume it's "flip the ball to the ground to avoid taking the sack from Nick Bosa wrapped around my ankle."
Sometimes, you just have to accept the negative play and not try to do something crazy, and that was something crazy.
Scott Spratt: I can't tell whether the rain is saving Wentz from six interceptions tonight or contributing to his bad throws. But after not seeing much of Wentz during the recent groundswell of opinion that maybe he has turned a corner in recent weeks in Indianapolis, I'll say he looks like the exact same player he was in Philadelphia last year to me tonight. He just can't help himself from trying too much on broken plays.
Dave Bernreuther: He had previously limited that, Scott. But man did that play undo a lot of that. That was terrible.
Nyheim Hines just dropped a perfect dime of a pass from Wentz on third-and-7, though ... can't fault the quarterback for that.
Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure what to say about Brandon Aiyuk's muffed punt that he kicked into the end zone for a touchback. It's a strange rule, but I understand it. Aiyuk had to recover, it's not enough to just kick it into the end zone or the Colts could recover it in the end zone and I think that would be a touchdown. (You can't advance a muffed punt if you recover it as the punting team, but you can recover it in the end zone.)
I believe this is the NFL rule that governed the weird punt/muff/touchback a few minutes ago. Aiyuk would have had to create a "new force" to send the ball into the end zone. It was already bouncing that way. pic.twitter.com/sC7KDXXXik
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) October 25, 2021
Bryan Knowles: The sheer number of dropped balls, muffed balls, fumbles, etc. is getting crazy. This game is going to come down to who can hold hold onto a slippery ball the best during this downpour.
The Colts get one back from the 49ers as Darius Leonard punches the ball free from Deebo Samuel to give the Colts the ball on the 49ers' side of the field. Yet Another Pass Interference moves the ball to the 1, and eventually Wentz run it in for the touchdown. The two-point conversion fails, but the Colts now take the lead, 13-12.
Vince Verhei: The Colts got a first-and-goal at the 1 via penalty with 1:54 to go. It was nigh-inevitable they would score, but with three timeouts, San Francisco could at least guarantee their own offense a chance to answer before halftime.
The Colts did indeed score, on third down. Their two-point attempt failed, leaving them up 13-12. The 49ers still had three timeouts and a minute left on the clock, plenty of time to move into field goal range.
The 49ers got the ball after the kickoff and called three runs and ran out the clock. They still have all three timeouts. Does Kyle Shanahan think they carry over into the second half? Or next week?
Bryan Knowles: It should be noted that all 20 points the Colts have scored tonight have come off of pass interference penalties. The "underthrow the ball and trust the 49ers' secondary to screw up" play is undefeated!
Carl Yedor: To Vince's point on the 49ers' clock management, San Francisco probably thinks there is a larger chance of a turnover going the other direction than actually mounting a fast-scoring drive in the horrendous weather. Which, based on how the first half went, may not be quite as cowardly as it usually is.
Vince Verhei: Yes, and nothing we have seen in the second half has indicated that Shanahan SHOULD have trusted his offense. But man, you're out here playing the game anyway, just TRY to win.
Bryan Knowles: I don't think we've heard the 49ers' offense booed since Shanahan came on. I know it's a rainstorm, I know all the extenuating circumstances, but if you consider yourself an offensive expert, you can't settle for this level of performance. It's not like the game is over or anything, and I'm certainly not calling for Nate Sudfeld to come into the game, but ... this can't stand, right?
Bryan Knowles: And, as I start venting my Garoppolo frustration, the 49ers have their best drive in ... three weeks? Depending on how you consider the opening drive in this one, I suppose. It's all schemed-up plays, with Garoppolo finding open receivers, but he found them, and they gained yards, and they scored, so I guess that shuts me up for a few minutes at least. Two-point conversion fails, so the Colts still lead, but it's now 20-18.
Aaron Schatz: Niners now 1-for-11 on third downs tonight.
Bryan Knowles: That last x-for-1 came on Garoppolo's signature play: the interception that gets you tearing your hair out. The Colts turn that into a touchdown, with Michael Pittman outjumping Dre Kirkpatrick (in because of yet another secondary injury).
If Trey Lance is healthy, he has to start next week in Chicago. Something has to change.
Dave Bernreuther: Pretty sure Carson Wentz just threw Michael Pittman closed—that end zone camera angle that showed the defensive backs cheat up on the fake wide receiver screen made it clear that a throw to the pylon would have been uncontested—but Pittman high-pointed the ball and caught it anyway.
At least they didn't interfere with him, I guess ... so a small victory there, Bryan?
Turns out that outside of that first drive, maybe I wasn't too far off with that comment about the weather helping the Colts more than it helps the 49ers.