Mandatory Credit: Photo by Matt Ludtke/AP/Shutterstock (13470306p) New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner sports a cheesehead after an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, in Green Bay, Wis. The Jets won 27-10 Jets Packers Football, Green Bay, United States – 16 Oct 2022
Falcons 28, 49ers 14
The San Francisco 49ers carried plenty of momentum into Atlanta following two straight blowout wins, but it was never likely things would come easy against a Falcons team who hadn’t lost a game by more than six points all season. Atlanta jumped out to the early lead with a physical opening drive, finishing with a short pass to backup tight end Mycole Pruitt wide open in the end zone. The Falcons would then extend their lead and their momentum – with a fumble return touchdown before the first quarter ended to make it 14-0. Jimmy Garoppolo’s 49ers’ offense would eventually start clicking, tying the game in the second quarter with two Brandon Aiyuk touchdown receptions. Marcus Mariota would run for a touchdown late in the quarter, and an interception of Garoppolo in the final seconds would preserve the Falcons’ 21-14 halftime lead. Atlanta would keep their foot on the gas against San Francisco’s injury-battered defense in the third quarter, as Marcus Mariota found Kyle Pitts in the end zone to make it 28-14. The Falcons’ defense was at its best all afternoon, and they’d ultimately ice the game with a huge fourth down stop at the 3:16 mark of the fourth quarter. The win ties Atlanta for first place with Tampa Bay at the top of the NFC South, and sends a battered San Francisco team back west with their NFC West lead evaporated.
Next Week: San Francisco: vs Kansas City, Atlanta: at Cincinnati
Patriots 38, Browns 15
Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots have owned the Cleveland Browns over the years, going 8-1 against them during his tenure entering Sunday afternoon’s game at FirstEnergy Stadium. This year’s Patriots and Browns both entered the day at 2-3, desperately looking for wins to stay in divisional contention. Each team would convert a field goal in the first quarter as their opening drives stalled out, setting the stage for a potentially slow moving game between two teams who wanted to run the ball. Running the ball would prove fruitful for the Patriots in the second quarter, as a Rhamondre Stevenson 31-yard scamper would put New England ahead with just 3:23 to go in the half. A Cade York field goal pulled Cleveland within four at the intermission, but New England’s first drive of the second half would make it 17-6 after Bailey Zappe found Tyquan Thornton in the end zone for a score. Belichick’s Patriots really began to pull away on their next drive, extending their lead to 24-6 after a score by Hunter Henry. The Browns wouldn’t go away in the second half though, scoring nine unanswered points on a Cade York field goal and Amari Cooper touchdown to make it 24-15 in the fourth quarter. New England would score once more at the 4:28 mark, this time with a 19-yard Tyquan Thornton end around to make it 31-15. After a strip sack of Jacoby Brissett on the Browns’ next drive, New England would really pour it on with a Rhamondre Stevenson touchdown to go up by 23. The 38-15 win was the 324th of Bill Belichick’s legendary career, tying him for second-most in NFL history with George Halas.
Next Week: New England: vs Chicago, Cleveland: at Baltimore
Jets 27, Packers 10
The Green Bay Packers hoped that some home cooking Sunday afternoon would right the ship following last week’s loss in London, where they’d welcome the suddenly-hot New York Jets to Lambeau. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers narrowly avoided disaster on their first drive, after Sauce Gardner’s pick-six was called back as an incomplete pass. Nevertheless, both defenses held the advantage early on as the first quarter ended scoreless. Green Bay’s next threat yielded a Mason Crosby field goal attempt, but New York blocked it to give them back the football. The special teams issues would prove contagious moments later though, as Green Bay would block the Jets’ ensuing punt to take over in plus territory themselves. The festival of punts continued for most of the first half, but it was New York who would break through first with a 3-0 lead in the second quarter. Crosby’s second field goal attempt of the afternoon would avoid being blocked, trying the game 3-3 at halftime. Tension really began to build for the crowd at Lambeau in the third quarter, as Braxton Berrios’ 20-yard carry put New York ahead 10-3. Things only got uglier for Green Bay from there, as the Jets would block yet another kick – this time a punt – and return it for a touchdown to lead 17-3. With their backs up against the wall, the Packers would finally punch a score into the end zone late in the third quarter when Aaron Rodgers connected with Allen Lazard – but Breece Hall’s 34-yard run would re-extend the lead to 14 and quiet the Lambeau crowd on the first play of the fourth. New York’s defense would hold the rest of the way while Greg Zuerlein added another three, and the Jets would come away with an emphatic 27-10 upset win on the road at Lambeau field. The Jets find themselves at 4-2 with the win, bringing them at worst within a game of the AFC East lead.
Next Week: Green Bay: at Washington, New York: at Denver
Colts 34, Jaguars 27
The home team has been successful the last eight consecutive times the Colts and Jaguars have gotten together in their divisional rivalry, a trend Jacksonville looked determined to put an end to early as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead. The rushing touchdown for Trevor Lawrence to put the Jaguars ahead had to feel like a breath of fresh air for the second-year quarterback who had turned the ball over seven times in the last two games. After a Colts’ drive stalled out and yielded a field goal, Jaguars’ third-string running back JaMycal Hasty broke a massive 61-yard rush to extend the Jacksonville lead to 14-3. Indianapolis would finally score its first touchdown in more than 110 minutes of game time with just over two minutes to go in the half, narrowing their deficit to four at 14-10. The Colts added another field goal before halftime, pulling them within a point at the break in what was truly anyone’s game. Jacksonville’s first drive of the second half got them back onto the scoreboard to extend the lead to eight on Trevor Lawrence’s second rushing touchdown of the day, but the Colts would respond with a huge drive capped off by a Deon Jackson touchdown and unsuccessful two point conversion to make it 21-19 Jags. Indianapolis would finally take the lead in the fourth on a Jelani Woods 10-yard score with 12 minutes to go, making it 26-21 in their favor. Trevor Lawrence came up clutch for a third time Sunday afternoon on the next Jaguars’ drive, this time finding Christian Kirk for a touchdown with less than three minutes to go for a 27-26 lead. Facing third-and-13 in the final seconds, Matt Ryan hit Alec Pierce for a monumental 32-yard strike – Pierce’s first career touchdown – for an epic 34-27 divisional win at home.
Next Week: Indianapolis: at Tennessee, Jacksonville: vs NY Giants
Vikings 24, Dolphins 16
The Minnesota Vikings entered Sunday’s game at Miami on a bit of a heater, having won three consecutive games while scoring 28 or more in all of them. The Dolphins started the day looking for answers at quarterback with both Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater theoretically unavailable due to concussion concerns, needing their defense to step up against the high powered Minnesota offense. Miami’s defense did its job early, picking up two early stops – but the Dolphins’ own first promising drive of the afternoon was stymied by five separate holding penalties, keeping the game 0-0 through a quarter of play. Dolphins’ third string quarterback Skylar Thompson suffered a right thumb injury in the second quarter, and suddenly Teddy Bridgewater entered the game for Miami looking to spark the offense. Bridgewater’s first drive back at quarterback would yield three points for the Dolphins, the first points for either team more than halfway through the second quarter. Minnesota’s offense would finally find some rhythm on the following drive, scoring their first points of the afternoon on an Irv Smith Jr. touchdown grab. Minnesota added a field goal before the end of the half as well, extending their lead to a touchdown at the break. Kirk Cousins would find Adam Thielen for a 2-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth, but Miami worked their way right back into the game with a Mike Gesicki touchdown to make it 16-10 with ten minutes to play. The Dolphins had a promising drive going late in the fourth quarter, but a Jaylen Waddle fumble with four minutes to go would give the ball back to Minnesota with a chance to ice the win. Dalvin Cook would deliver the finishing blow with just over three minutes to go, a 53-yard touchdown scamper that, combined with a successful two point conversion, made it 24-10 Minnesota. The Dolphins’ punched in a score of their own with 1:24 to go, Mike Gesicki’s second of the afternoon – but it was too little too late after Minnesota recovered the ensuing onside kick. Miami falls to 3-3 with the loss, while the Vikings suddenly have a two game cushion in the NFC North at 5-1.
Next Week: Miami: vs Pittsburgh, Minnesota: Bye
Bengals 30, Saints 26
The Bengals’ trip to New Orleans was a well-publicized homecoming for both Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who won a National Championship while in the state of Louisiana at LSU. Despite the hype around the Bengals’ trip into town, it was New Orleans who struck first following a punt return fumble by Cincinnati, taking the lead with a touchdown catch by Tre’Quan Smith. Burrow and the Bengals would get going as well before the quarter ended, tying the game up with a touchdown throw to Joe Mixon. Little-known reserve running back Rashid Shaheed would break free for a 44-yard Saints touchdown on their next drive, and New Orleans would extend the lead to 17-7 with 10:28 to go in the first half. The high-scoring start continued on the next Bengals’ drive, as a 19-yard touchdown run by Joe Burrow pulled Cincinnati back within three. Another Wil Lutz field goal would extend New Orlean’s lead before halftime 20-14, and his third of the afternoon would make it 23-14 early in the third quarter. Burrow and Chase would hook up for a much-needed Bengal touchdown before the end of the third, pulling Cincinnati back within two before Wil Lutz’s fourth field goal of the afternoon extended the Saints’ lead to 26-21. After a Cincinnati field goal made it 26-24, Joe Burrow connected with Ja’Marr Chase for a ridiculous touchdown that saw him break multiple tackles and gain 60 yards for a 30-26 advantage. Cincinnati’s defense came up with the stop it needed late, picking up a road win to improve to 3-3 on the year.
Next Week: Cincinnati: vs Atlanta, New Orleans: at Arizona
Giants 24, Ravens 20
Former Ravens’ defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, now holding the same position for the New York Giants, was surely chomping at the bit heading into Sunday’s showdown at Metlife Stadium against his former employer. Martindale’s defense led the way in a scoreless first quarter that saw neither team get much going, including a rare Justin Tucker missed field goal. Baltimore would eventually break through in the second quarter, opening the scoring with a 30-yard run by Kenyan Drake. New York would respond on the ensuing possession, as Daniel Jones found rookie wideout Wan’Dale Robinson for a touchdown to tie the game. After a Justin Tucker field goal late in the second quarter, Baltimore went into half with a 10-7 advantage. Baltimore would extend their lead to 13-7 in the third quarter, but New York would cut the lead back to three at 13-10 with two minutes to go in the third. Lamar Jackson then found his favorite target Mark Andrews early in the fourth quarter for a score, his first passing touchdown of the day to put Baltimore ahead 20-10. New York climbed back into the game with six minutes left with a touchdown by Daniel Bellinger to make it 20-17, and a massive interception of Lamar Jackson gave the Giants an opportunity to tie or take a lead coming out of the two minute warning. After a Baltimore penalty nullified a Marcus Peters interception in the end zone, Saquon Barkley would punch in a gigantic touchdown to give New York the 24-20 lead with 1:43 to go. The Giants’ defense made the biggest play of their season so far on the following series, forcing a Lamar Jackson fumble to win 24-20 and improve to a remarkable 5-1 start.
Next Week: Baltimore: vs Cleveland, New York: at Jacksonville
Steelers 20, Buccaneers 18
Pittsburgh entered Sunday afternoon’s home game against Tampa Bay desperately needing some good news following last week’s 38-3 blowout loss in Buffalo. The Steelers would get off to just the start they needed, converting a strong drive out of the gate for a Najee Harris receiving touchdown that put them ahead. Tampa Bay would drive it deep into Steelers’ territory multiple times in the early going as well, but PIttsburgh’s defense came up huge each time to hold Tampa to just two field goals by the 11-minute mark of the second quarter. Each team would add a field goal in the final moments of the half, setting up a 10-9 Pittsburgh lead at the break. A huge kick return would set Pittsburgh up with an immediate red zone opportunity out of the half, but the Steelers’ would settle for a short field goal to extend their lead to 13-9. Despite Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay offense driving it deep into Steeler territory again on the following drive, the Pittsburgh defense would stand up again to maintain their lead at 13-12. After Kenny Pickett left the game with an apparent head injury in the third quarter, it was Mitch Trubisky who connected with Chase Claypool on a massive touchdown with ten minutes to play to make it 20-12 Pittsburgh. Tom Brady would eventually engineer the huge drive Tampa Bay needed, passing for a touchdown to Leonard Fournette with just over four minutes to go – but after Pittsburgh thwarted the Bucs’ two-point attempt, the Steelers took back over still ahead 20-18. Mitch Trubisky would connect with Chase Claypool on two incredible third down plays to deliver the dagger on the following Pittsburgh drive, preserving the 20-18 upset win.
Next Week: Tampa Bay: at Carolina, Pittsburgh: at Miami
Seahawks 19, Cardinals 9
The Seattle Seahawks have become accustomed to shootouts of late, as their last three games have all seen 50 or more combined points scored. The career renaissance of quarterback Geno Smith has helped their offense return to prominence despite the departure of franchise icon Russell Wilson, but they played host Sunday to an Arizona Cardinals team that beat them by double digits at home in Seattle just last season. Sunday’s matchup got off to a significantly slower offensive start, with the two teams settling only for field goals through the first half of the game. Seattle entered the break with a 9-3 advantage, keeping Arizona’s streak alive of six games played without a halftime lead this season. Seahawks’ kicker Jason Myers would make his fourth field goal of the game with 4:15 to go in the third quarter, a 32-yarder to push Seattle’s lead to two scores at 12-3. The next Seahawks’ possession would end in a punt attempt, but Michael Dickson would panic as the rush approached and fumble the ball away for a Cardinals’ defensive touchdown. Seattle’s defense continued to play well in the fourth quarter, torturing Kyler Murray with pressure while keeping the Cardinals at just nine points. Rookie running back Kenneth Walker II would score on a punishing 11-yard run early in the fourth quarter to extend Seattle’s lead to 19-9, a lead that would end up being more than enough down the stretch. Rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen’s fourth interception of the season with under four minutes to go would officially finish off Arizona, who now falls to 2-4 and the bottom of the NFC West.
Next Week: Seattle: at LA Chargers, Arizona: vs New Orleans
Rams 24, Panthers 10
The Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers entered Saturday afternoon as two teams moving in the wrong direction, but only one – the defending Super Bowl Champion Rams – really entered the season with high expectations to begin with. Carolina was hoping that a new coach and new quarterback meant new beginnings, and they got off to a strong start offensively with a 3-0 lead on the back of Christian McCaffrey’s heavy involvement. Rams’ left tackle Joe Noteboom would be carted off the field in the second quarter, their sixth offensive lineman lost since the season started. Still, Matthew Stafford and the offense would find a way to work into Panthers’ territory before finding Allen Robinson for a five-yard touchdown and the lead. After the Ram’s defense picked up another stop, Matthew Stafford would make a critical error leading to a pick-six by Donte Jackson to put Carolina up 10-7. Los Angeles would put together a solid drive in the third quarter, but things stalled out deep in Panthers’ territory and they’d settle for a field goal to tie the game. Their next possession would finally hit pay dirt though, as Ben Skowronek scored on a 17-yard end around run to give the Rams a 17-10 lead with 11 seconds left in the quarter. A strange situation developed on the Carolina sideline as the second half went along involving wide receiver Robbie Anderson, who was ultimately dismissed from the field after multiple altercations with his own coaching staff. The struggles would unsurprisingly continue for the offense on the field, a group that was only responsible for three points so far. The Panthers would eventually lose quarterback PJ Walker as well following a possible head injury, turning to Jacob Eason for the final segments of the game. Los Angeles added a touchdown on the ground with Darrell Henderson in the fourth to make it 24-10, and iced the game with an interception of Eason in the end zone by Nick Scott. The win ties Los Angeles with the 49ers and Seahawks at the top of the NFC West, and leads them into a much needed bye week.
Next Week: Los Angeles: Bye, Carolina: vs Tampa Bay
Bills 24, Chiefs 20
The Bills and Chiefs played one of the best playoff games in NFL history back in January, making the build up to Sunday afternoon’s “game of the year” at Arrowhead Stadium very understandable. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes matching up creates an expectation of fireworks, but a huge miscommunication and fumble by the Buffalo offense would give Kansas City a red zone stop to open the game. Kansas City would return serve though, as Mahomes threw an interception in the back of the end zone right back to the Bills. Buffalo would finally get on the board with a field goal early in the second quarter, but it was a 42-yard touchdown strike from Patrick Mahomes to JuJu Smith-Schuster that finally delivered some of the fireworks fans were expecting. Buffalo put together an electrifying drive before the half, taking a 10-7 lead behind a long completion to Stefon Diggs and a touchdown throw to Gabe Davis. Despite only 16 seconds at their disposal before the break, Kansas City managed to set up a scoring chance. This time it would be Harrison Butker, converting a 58-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 at halftime. Buffalo would strike first in the second half, this time on a 17-yard throw to Stefon Diggs midway through the third quarter. Mahomes and the Chiefs would march downfield immediately thereafter, this time finishing the drive with a three yard pass to Mecole Hardman to tie the game at 17. Kansas City would retake the lead on their next drive, a 44-yard field goal by Harrison Butker with just under ten minutes to play. The defenses would exchange huge stops as the game headed into its final minutes, but Josh Allen would find Dawson Knox in the corner of the end zone with 1:04 to play to give Buffalo a 24-20 lead. One minute, of course, is an eternity to leave Patrick Mahomes, who took over with needing a touchdown in the final moments. It was Buffalo’s defense that came up with the huge play this time though, as Patrick Mahomes was intercepted by Bills’ corner Taron Johnson with 51 seconds to go to all but win the game. The win improves Buffalo to 5-1, keeping them ahead of the Jets in the AFC East and setting them up to potentially have home field advantage should they face Kansas City in the playoffs.
Next Week: Buffalo: Bye, Kansas City: at San Francisco