This Given Sunday

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·13 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

As the fall sun pushed into the twilight hours Sunday, the football world was trying to make sense of an absurd early slate of games in the NFL.

Twitter was in shambles. Nothing made sense. The Denver Broncos were blowing out the Dallas Cowboys. Was it due to Dallas adding the red stripe to the helmet? The New York Giants were leading the Las Vegas Raiders. The Atlanta Falcons were leading the New Orleans Saints. Even the Jacksonville Jaguars were winning.

Over the Buffalo Bills.

What was happening?

Then, an intrepid follower on Twitter provided me with not just an answer, but the perfect headline:

You, sir, have a future in this industry.

Let us try and make sense of this early slate of games and what happened on this given Sunday.

New England 24, Carolina 6

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Perhaps this one we should have seen coming.

Sam Darnold struggled once more against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, throwing a trio of interceptions as the Patriots pulled away.

This was a game that started as a defensive struggle, and stayed that way throughout. The Carolina Panthers had a chance to tie the game early in the second half, as Darnold and company were on the march. But then, the ghosts appeared again as the quarterback rolled to his left:

Darnold would throw two more interceptions, the third coming in the end zone as he and the Panthers still had a chance to get back into the game, thanks to what their defense was doing when they were on the field.

J.C. Jackson, however, played the boogeyman role once more:

New York Giants 23, Las Vegas Raiders 16

In a season rocked by turmoil away from the field, the Las Vegas Raiders still entered play Sunday as the leaders in the AFC West, as their 5-2 record saw them above everyone else out west.

That might be a different story come tomorrow morning.

Derek Carr threw a pair of interceptions, and counter part Daniel Jones connected with tight end Evan Engram on a touchdown early in the game as the New York Giants held on, by the final score of 23-16.

Giants fans have been clamoring for Engram to be a bigger part of the vertical passing game and early on, they got their wish:

But the real story was what the Giants did on the defensive side of the football, and in particular safety Xavier McKinney. First it was this Pick Six of Carr in the third quarter, that gave the Giants the lead back:

McKinney makes a perfect break on the out route, cutting under Hunter Renfroe and beating him to the football for the huge play.

Then late in the game with the Raiders trying to mount a comeback, McKinney delivered another big moment:

With the Los Angeles Chargers playing later today, and the Kansas City Chiefs playing tonight, there is a chance the AFC West looks a lot different come dawn.

As for the fourth team in the AFC West? Well, are you sitting down?

Denver Broncos 30, Dallas Cowboys 16

(Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Last Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys turned to backup quarterback Cooper Rush, as Dak Prescott was out with an injured calf. Rush helped Dallas to a surprising win over the Minnesota Vikings, giving Dallas some momentum as they headed into Week 9.

They would be playing at home. Prescott would be back in the lineup. The would have their vintage red stripe on the helmet, as part of the Salute to Service month in the NFL. On the other sideline? The Denver Broncos, without star pass rusher Von Miller, traded to the Los Angeles Rams prior to the trade deadline.

And, of course, the Broncos won big.

Teddy Bridgewater was hot early, Prescott was not, and now the Cowboys are left to ponder things on both sides of the football in the wake of Denver’s two-touchdown victory.

The big play early was this vertical shot from Bridgewater to wide receiver Tim Patrick, who got a few steps of separation on Trevon Diggs. The receiver maintained that separation through the catch point, and the Broncos had a 13-point lead:

Then there was this moment:

Just when it looked like the Cowboys were going to change the course of the with this blocked punt, the ghosts of Leon Lett emerged. As Doug Farrar wrote:

Punter Sam Martin booted the ball, but it was blocked by receiver Malik Turner, which should have given Dallas the ball in an advantageous situation. But cornerback Nahshon Wright touched the blocked punt ball without recovering it, which made it a live ball for anybody’s recovery. Linebacker Jonas Griffith was the man with the plan, and while the Cowboys celebrated after the play was over, thinking it was their ball regardless, it was not. It was Denver’s ball, first-and-10, from the Broncos’ 19-yard line.

So instead of Dallas having the football in Denver territory, the Broncos started a new possession. One they capped with a field goal to take a 19-0 point lead.

As for Prescott, he struggled in his first game back. He ended up throwing a pair of touchdown passes late to cut into what was a 30-point Denver lead, but this interception probably sums up his day best:

Miami Dolphins 17, Houston Texans 9

Mike Gesicki Miami Dolphins
Mike Gesicki Miami Dolphins

(Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports)

If a football game between a pair of one-win teams happens in the midst of all this Sunday chaos, does anyone see it?

The build-up to Sunday’s game between the Miami Dolphins and the Houston Texans centered on the status of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. It was announced just prior to the game that the second-year passer had a broken bone in the middle finger of his throwing hand, forcing the Dolphins to start Jacoby Brissett.

But Tagovailoa was still active, and dressed.

The star of this game, however, was tight end Mike Gesicki. The TE delivered not one, but two highlight-reel throws on this afternoon. First was this one-handed catch on a back-shoulder throw from Brissett:

Not to be outdone, Gesicki channeled his inner Michael Jordan with this “Jumpman” catch in the second quarter:

So…those things happened, which is nice.

Cleveland Browns 41, Cincinnati Bengals 16

(Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)

So…about that whole “Baker Mayfield or Odell Beckham Jr” situation.

After a long week in Cleveland that saw the organization not trade the talented wide receiver prior to the league’s trading deadline, but rather restructure his deal so they could release him on Friday and make his contract a bit more enticing for a new team, the Browns finally played a game on Sunday.

On the road, against a Cincinnati Bengals team that looked like they were coming into form, despite last week’s stunner against Mike White and the New York Jets.

Naturally, Mayfield and company won in blowout fashion.

Mayfield, who took the field as the angriest person ever to play a professional sport according to reports, threw for a pair of touchdowns as the Browns built a 24-10 halftime lead. A big moment in this contest was this deep shot to Donovan Peoples-Jones for the 60-yards score:

Also playing a big role? Running back Nick Chubb, who ran for 147 yards on just 14 carries — averaging nearly ten yards an attempt — and two touchdowns, including this 70-yard burst:

But do not sleep on the defensive effort. Pass rusher Myles Garrett notched his 12th sack of the season, and cornerback Denzel Ward might have set the tone early with this long Pick Six of Joe Burrow:

Just like that, the Browns are back and the Bengals have some things to figure out.

Atlanta Falcons 27, New Orleans Saints 25

Nov 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo (7) and holder/punter Dustin Colquitt (12) warm up before their game against the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

(Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)

Last week, the New Orleans Saints grabbed a pair of interceptions from Tom Brady, including a late Pick Six from P.J. Williams, allowing the Saints to earn a victory. With Jameis Winston sidelined with a knee injury, that defensive effort plus some timely throws from backup Trevor Siemian gave the Saints some momentum heading into Week 9.

Matt Ryan put a stop to all of that on Sunday.

The veteran passer completed 23 of 30 passes for 343 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and added a touchdown run of his own, to help Atlanta to a two-point win on the road. He connected with Olamide Zaccheaus on a short touchdown early in the game, and then the two hooked up again on this deep shot to give the Falcons the ball deep in New Orleans territory:

What did that set up? A saucy touchdown run from the veteran QB:

Still, the Saints did not go away quietly. New Orleans took the lead late on a touchdown throw from Siemian to Kenny Stills, and when the two point conversion failed, the Saints led by just a point.

Enter Cordarrelle Patterson:

The huge play put the Falcons in field goal position, and kicker Younghoe Koo split the uprights on the game’s final play for the win.

Baltimore Ravens 34, Minnesota Vikings 31

(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

A slate of games like this needed an overtime contest.

The Baltimore Ravens and the Minnesota Vikings were happy to oblige.

In a back-and-forth affair that resembled Drago versus Balboa on Christmas Day in Moscow, the two teams needed extra time to decide the matter. The visiting Vikings built a 24-10 lead early in the second half, when Kene Nwangwu returned the second-half kickoff 98 yards for the score:

But the Ravens battled back, and would tie the game at 24 in the fourth quarter on this throw from Lamar Jackson to Devin Duvernay:

Baltimore would then take the lead when Le’Veon Bell. Yes Le’Veon Bell, plunged in from a yard out with time winding down:

Still, Kirk Cousins and the Vikings had three minutes to work with, and they made the most of it, with Cousins finding Adam Thielen on this scoring play to set the stage for overtime:

In overtime, the Vikings looked like they had the advantage when Anthony Barr stepped in front of a pass intended for fullback Patrick Ricard and intercepted Jackson on the first possession of OT. Just a field goal would give Minnesota the lead. Instead the Vikings went three-and-out, and it would be the Ravens who then just needed a field goal.

Justin Tucker delivered, and the Vikings pondered a long flight home after another brutal loss:

Jacksonville Jaguars 9, Buffalo Bills 6

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Yes, you read that right.

The Jacksonville Jaguars topped the Buffalo Bills in a game dominated by defense and field goals.

Frankly, this game is going down in history as the Josh Allen Game? Why? Because Jaguars defender Josh Allen not only sacked Bills quarterback Josh Allen:

Not only did defender Josh Allen intercept quarterback Josh Allen:

But Jaguars defender Josh Allen also recovered a fumble by Bills quarterback Josh Allen late to help preserve the win:

Thanks to NFL Research, we know that this was the first time a player sacked a quarterback when the two shared the same name. I am sure an intrepid writer or researcher will look into the sack and the fumble question as well.

But that will not be me.

Because after this afternoon, I need a moment.

1

1