The ninth Sunday of this NFL season featured the Jets — the same Jets team that lost by 40 points last week — winning a game against the Saints, Tony Romo appeasing all of your narrative needs with both a late-game interception and a touchdown pass to beat the Vikings, and the Chargers reverting to their default Norv Turner mode while failing to get one damn yard and allowing Washington to win in overtime.
Then the late games started.
That’s when the Bucs — the winless Bucs — had a 21-0 lead on Seattle, a team with no real estate at all in Suck Town with their one loss heading into Week 9. That alone showed the NFL is on drugs, but the problem with scoring a lot of points and also allowing a lot of points is that those two things result in sadness. After that early gimungus lead the Bucs only scored three more points in regulation time. Yes, adding “regulation time” was necessary in that sentence, because the Seahawks slowly chipped away and Russel Wilson did what Russell Wilson does in the final two minutes of a game. He led a game-tying drive that finished with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin, forcing overtime. At that point the end seemed inevitable, mostly because it was: the Seahawks completed the largest comeback in team history, winning 27-24.
While that madness was ongoing, Nick Foles happened. What Foles did during the Eagles’ snot rocking of the Raiders was historic and/or statistically absurd for many reasons that were completely incomprehensible and impossible to predict hours earlier. Let us count the ways…
- His seven touchdown passes tied the single-game record. He’s now one of just seven quarterbacks to accomplish that great feat of strength, meaning we live in a world where Foles’ name is alongside George Blanda and Y.A. Tittle in sentences. But along with Peyton Manning and Tittle, Foles is only the third quarterback to throw seven TDs without being intercepted. What makes this even scarier is that the NFL went 44 years without a seven-touchdown passing game, and now between Foles and Manning back in Week 1, we’ve seen two over just eight weeks.
- While throwing for 406 yards — which included deep heaves for 59 and 63-yard chunks — Foles had a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He’s the 42nd quarterback in league history to pull that off, a number that may sound far larger than it really is. The post-merger NFL has existed since 1970, so that’s a lot of years with a lot of games, and a still extremely minimal amount of quarterbacks with a perfect game.
- He had more touchdowns than incompletions (six). And to show the dramatic contrast between this start and his last one that ended in disaster, his touchdowns today were also within reach of his total completions (11) in Week 7 against Dallas.
- At a pace 14.5 yards per attempt, Foles averaged well over a first down with each completion.
- His TD:INT ratio is now 13:0, which shouldn’t be allowed. Earlier this season we were all quite rightfully slobbering all over Manning going the first quarter of the season without throwing an interception. Well, Manning attempted 156 passes during his streak, and now Foles is creeping into that area code with a zero in the interception column after 118 attempts.
It was all simply surreal, especially against an Oakland secondary that had allowed a quite modest 10 passing touchdowns over seven games. Those who leaned on Foles as the one of the top fantasy bye-week glass cases were rewarded generously with 45 points (the 13th most in fantasy football history), and his sailing balls led to ballooning numbers for DeSean Jackson (150 receiving yards and one touchdown), and especially Riley Cooper (139 yards and three touchdowns), which came when had had just 314 yards over eight weeks prior to yesterday.
Yes, there was great fantasy joy for the few who possessed the sufficient manhood to start Foles. Sadly, this idiot wasn’t one of those brave souls…
I lack the bravery to start Foles over Flacco in my 20-teamer. But given the matchups, that seems like the intelligent thing to do.
— Sean Tomlinson (@Score_Tomlinson) November 3, 2013
Because you all care deeply, somehow I sat those 45 points firmly on my bench, yet I still enter Monday night ahead by 30 points with Matt Forte teed up.
Everything was happening all at once on this Sunday that featured three quarterbacks with over 400 passing yards, and Case Keenum forever slingin’ his guns in Texas. Oh yes, we’ve only just begun.
(More) Fun with numbers
- In 20 attempts against Cleveland in Week 5, Jeff Tuel had all of 80 passing yards. On just his first seven today he already passed for 112 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown bomb to Marquise Goodwin. So yeah, that was a promising and fun little start that turned into a fiery death when Tuel repeatedly sailed balls, and threw the sort of pass on the one-yard line that an undrafted rookie throws (more on that creativity in a minute).
- In their win over the Chargers that featured some great Robert Griffin III interception comedy which was his contribution to a day of oddly bouncing balls, the Redskins’ first two possessions started on their own one-yard line. That’s an unconfirmed world record, and the worst luck ever.
- That game was also the fifth straight in which the Redskins allowed a defensive touchdown, which takes remarkable determination.
- The first quarter of Saints-Jets took 52 minutes to play in real time, and featured nine penalties. Not one for the vault.
- The stink of that game was strong for the Jets, as the worst of the bad Geno Smith often appeared. How horrible was he? Oh you know, bad enough that at one point late in the first half, Josh Cribbs had more passing yards than his quarterback because of some trickery that ended in a 25-yard completion. Smith finished that game with only 115 passing yards (his lowest single-game total), and a completion rate of only 42.1 percent.
- Oh, and one more note on that entertaining football contest that the Jets still somehow won, but still one filled with slop. Drew Brees threw two interceptions in just the first half, and over his last four games — a stretch that includes 144 pass attempts — he had thrown only one pick.
- Matt Ryan had a similar story of misery. In the latest Falcons embarrassment with most of their offense broken, Ryan threw three picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He’s thrown seven over the last two weeks, and only three in his other six games.
- After their latest win over Buffalo, the Chiefs remain one of the most befuddling and least impressive undefeated teams in recent memory, the same title that belonged to the Falcons a year ago at this time. Even while winning they gave up 241 rushing yards, which is far more than their per game average of 103.2 (10th) prior to yesterday. This is the part when I once again remind you of the quarterbacks Kansas City has faced over the past three weeks: Jeff Tuel, Jason Campbell, and Case Keenum, and prior to that they also had the pleasure of crushing Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick. So that’s two undrafted rookies, two veteran backup journeymen, and Blaine Gabbert. But whatever, they’re undefeated, and now have a 9-0 record for just the second time in franchise history.
- Despite playing a close game won 27-23 by Dallas over Minnesota, DeMarco Murray was given just four carries, which is dramatically lower than his per game carry average of 15.6. There’s no fancy state here, just sadness.
- With two more yesterday, the Cowboys defense has now created 21 takeaways. That’s up a littttle bit from last year, when they generated only 16.
- The Eagles had scored exactly zero offensive touchdowns since Week 6. So of course over the first 16 minutes of their win today over Oakland, they scored twice, and then finished with eight touchdowns overall while powered by Foles’ brilliance.
- On the Ravens’ first 25 plays in their loss to Cleveland they had 60 yards of offense. Then on on one play — a 46-yard reception by Torrey Smith — they nearly equaled an entire half of offense. On this particular NFL Sunday complete with an 101-yard interception return, that seemed perfectly normal. The Ravens’ pathetic offensive display during their — particularly from Joe Flacco, owner of a horrible contract — ended in only 278 total yards, down considerably from their per game average of 328.7.
- Ray Rice also led the crushing Ravens offensive disappointment with his 17 yards on 11 carries, an average of 1.5 yards per carry. We’re quickly reaching disaster territory with him, as his YPC on the season is now down to 2.7, and this was the fifth game in which he failed to reach at least 40 rushing yards.
- The Patriots had 610 yards of total offense in their whacking of the Steelers. Even more absurd: a game that featured two quarterbacks with 400 or more passing yards (Brady with 432, and Ben Roethlisberger with 400 even) and eight combined passing touchdowns ended with a total of 1,137 yards of offense. Say, has anyone ever told you that the NFL is a passing league?
- In the Texans-Colts madness, Andrew Luck led his 10th career game-winning drive. Please remember that Sunday night Luck started only his 25th career game, including last year’s playoff start. Luck now has the most game-winning drives over the first two years of any quarterback’s career since 1970.
- A season largely devoid of elite rushing performances had an about face for at least one day. Over the past two weeks there were only five +100 yard rushers, one of which was Terrelle Pryor and he plays quarterback. So of course in Week 9 we had 11, four of whom had over 130 yards.
Tom Brady will stare through your soul
Kill it with fire!
And before we return to the business of salivating over today’s abundance of numerical sweetness that won many a fantasy matchup, here’s Steve Smith eating imaginary pudding…
Actually, before we continue further let’s pause to note that all of the gushing over performances both above and below and the impact they have on football teams (real and imagined) is utterly meaningless next to the health of a human.
There was a scary moment in Houston when Texans head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed. Thankfully, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (who became the temporary head coach for the second half) said in his post-game press conference that Kubiak is resting at a local hospital comfortably, and all of his vital signs checked out fine. He also confirmed that Kubiak didn’t suffer a heart attack, and later in an interview with NFL Network offensive lineman Duane Brown said he was told that his coach is awake and communicating.
There’s really no easy way to transition from that back to more excited ranting about the day’s incredible individual performances, which is sort of the point. So I won’t try, and we’ll just dive into the weekly rundown.
Case Keenum is legit
I know what I watched during the evening game that capped off a day of unbelievable events, but I’m still trying to compute it. I watched Case Keenum — an undrafted rookie — run freely and be allowed to get all creative and crazy against a team that pays Robert Mathis, the league’s leading pass rusher entering this week with 11.5 sacks. And while doing that, he passed for 350 yards with three touchdowns, moving along briskly at a pace of 10.3 passing yards per attempt.
His mobility makes Keenum much like Andrew Luck, the quarterback on the opposing sideline. While he may not meet the level of lightening speed shown with ease by Cam Newton or Robert Griffin III, there’s more than enough elusiveness to both run for great distances when needed (Keenum had a key 22-yard run), and to simply keep plays alive long enough for receivers to get open.
Keenum contributed statistically to today’s NFL on drugs, and meanwhile the ending of Colts-Texans featured an 18-point second half comeback, concluding in a 27-24 Colts win. Between that Andrew Luck fueled second-half clawing and a similar fight by the Seahawks, two teams fought back from three-score deficits at halftime.
Andre Johnson really likes this Keenum kid
Prior to Sunday Andre Johnson was averaging a fine 83.4 receiving yards per game, though he hadn’t scored yet. So of course he then caught nearly half of Keenum’s completions (nine of the 20) while finishing with 229 yards, 137 of which came in just the first quarter.
He wasn’t screwing around either, as Johnson’s scoring and overall yardage came in massive chunks. He had catches for 62, 59, 41, and 30 yards, finishing with an average of 25.4 yards per catch while being targeted 12 times.
T.Y. Hilton provides the heroics
Capped by two fourth-quarter touchdown receptions that completed the aforementioned three-score comeback, T.Y. Hilton started what should be his sudden rise with Reggie Wayne gone. His 121 yards on seven catches with three touchdowns — one of which was a 58-yarder — end with 31 fantasy points.
Hilton has already logged eight career +100 yard weeks, even though he’s played only 23 games.
C.J. Spiller is alive
C.J. Spiller has risen, and the way in which he did it during the Bills’ loss to Kansas City was very C.J. Spiller. He still gimped and hobbled around a bit on that wonky ankle, but he finished with 116 rushing yards at a pace of 9.7 per carry (his highest single-game pace since Week 1 last year), while adding 39 yards on two catches.
Looking back on his season thus far — which has mostly been filled with injury and disappointment — we see that like any home run swinging running back, Spiller’s yardage often comes in massive chunks. Including a 61-yard run today, 33 percent of his overall rushing yardage (478 yards) has come on three plays, with the two others being his 46-yard run in Week 2, and a 54-yarder in Week 5.
Mike James doesn’t cares not for dominant Seahawks defense
It’s not supposed to happen this way. Rookie running backs drafted in the fifth round or later aren’t supposed to torch the Seahawks run defense. So now between Mike James’ 158 rushing yards today on 5.6 yards per carry and Zac Stacy’s 134 last week, the Seahawks have given up 292 yards on the ground to rookies selected in the fifth- and sixth-rounds respectively last spring.
That development is unexpected, to be kind. As was this…
I believe “Mike James jump pass touchdown” is the most coveted of all the NFL bingo chips.
Tom Brady might read this post
Probably not. OK, almost definitely not, but I’m still going to go ahead and say that I had a major role in Brady going ham today. Earlier this week I wrote that he’s the difference between fantasy and reality, and then with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola finally healthy, he nearly doubled his previous per game passing yards average.
He threw for 438 yards in the Patriots’ win, and his previous average was 228. That led to three pass catchers with fantasy stud numbers and over 120 yards, starting with Gronk returning with authority (143 yards), followed by Aaron Dobson’s rookie emergence with 181 yards and two touchdowns (one of which covered nearly the length of the field at 81 yards), and Amendola with 122 yards.
What we saw Sunday then was the Patriots offense in its normal state. Finally, and sort of (Shane Vereen is still missing).
Chris Ivory was rather motivated
In a win over his old team, Ivory looked every bit like the slasher he’s supposed to be when healthy, running for 139 yards and a touchdown, 93 of which came in just the first quarter. He produced the most drastic swing between Week 9 production, and production when looking back on the rest of a players’ season. Largely due to injuries, Ivory had all of 230 rushing yards throughout his previous seven games.
Jimmy Graham is now in a historic conversation
With two more today (remarkably, his fourth multiple-score game already), Jimmy Graham has 10 touchdowns at the halfway point of his season. That means with eight games still remaining he’s already only one touchdown away from tying his career single-season high. And it means so much more.
Graham is now on pace for 20 touchdowns, and the sample size is large enough that we can have a legitimate conversation about him threatening the single-season receiving touchdown record. That mark is currently held by Randy Moss, who scored 23 times in 2007.
It would take only a minor uptick during an already monstrous season for Graham to reach Moss. But even if he falls short of that, maintaining his current pace would still put Graham in rare company. He would break Gronkowski’s record for the most single-season touchdowns by a tight end (17 in 2011), while then joining Moss and Jerry Rice as one of only three pass catchers to score 20 times in a season.
Zac Stacy is the answer
It seems the Rams may have found their solution at running back. With 127 more today in their loss to Tennessee along with two touchdowns, Zac Stacy has recorded 261 rushing yards over just two games. He’s easily a weekly RB2 now, and a low-end RB1 in an appealing matchup.
Chris Johnson shows vital signs
He’s been maddening and generally terrible, but that changed abruptly with Johnson’s 170 total yards and two touchdowns on 26 touches against a pretty inviting Rams run defense. For one possibly fleeting afternoon we saw the old CJ, the guy who not only runs with speed, but doesn’t dance to avoid contact.
He averaged 5.6 yards per carry today, a steep rise from his average on the season (3.7).
Pierre Garcon is all about the chunks
One more rapidly climbing average. Driven by receptions for 38, 32, 30, and 28 yards, Pierre Garcon averaged 24.6 yards per catch today during the Redskins’ win. His average on the season? 12.7.
Overall he finished with seven receptions for 172 yards.
Cortland Finnegan left it all on the field, man
This interlude is an educational one, because if any of you kids out there don’t know what ballin’ out hard looks like…
Where did you come from?
Who the hell is Darrel Young?
He is a person who plays fullback for the Washington Redskins. That much is on the record and known, but the more important question is this: why does Mike Shanahan hate you so much?
The brilliance of Alfred Morris (121 rushing yards with a touchdowns) could have been even more awesome had Young not been given then ball so often at the goal-line, scoring on three of his five carries. That included his game-winning four-yard touchdown run in overtime. For Morris owners it was just simple bad luck, as he had been given the previous two carries, and was stuffed at the goal-line.
But there was still a stink of Shanahanigans to this, as prior to yesterday Young had only two carries this season. And this gets even more Shanahan-y when we look at Young’s career that’s now four-and-a-half seasons old. Over that time and Young’s 52 games before yesterday he was given 26 carries while scoring once. So in one game he more than doubled his career touchdown total.
Jason Campbell = savior?
Maybe, for both the Browns, and for you as the fight through byes continues.
Jason Campbell looked surprisingly at ease, connecting on 65.7 percent of his passes while throwing for 262 yards with three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He’s also befriended some strange and forgotten Browns receivers, as Greg Little led with 122 yards on seven catches, while Davone Bess scored twice, his first two touchdowns of the season.
That led to many upside down smiles for Jordon Cameron owners when he caught just one ball for four yards. Giving Little and Bess a look on the waiver wire if your bye week itch needs to be scratched isn’t an awful idea, just don’t overpay.
Jerricho Cotchery = god?
Randomly, Jerricho Cotchery scored three times, and now through half a season he’s already one touchdown away from matching a career single-season high. This was odd and not at all real, and Cotchery remains little more than a reaching flex play.
Words don’t exist to accurately describe the horribleness of both the pass below, and Tuel’s complete lack of vision to not see Sean Smith standing directly in his throwing lane.
However, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett’s play call was equally horrendous. You’re on the one-yard line, and your offense has been stampeding the opposition on the ground all game. So when only one yard is needed for seven points, a spread formation is the club you take out of the bag? That’s something far, far less than intelligent.
(GIF via Arrowhead Addict)
Because Ed Reed exists and he’s ridiculous, Sean Smith’s 101-yard touchdown return isn’t a league record. But it was still pretty historic, because he came within seven yards of matching Reed’s record, and Smith is now one of just 22 defenders in league history to have an interception return of 101 yards or more.
Quote of the week
Doug Marrone is a passionate, pissed, and jacked up man, as most people associated with a football team are immediately after a loss. But c’mon, Doug, dogs are cool and they can ride surfboards and stuff:
“I’m pissed. I’m going to use that type of energy. I’m going to go home. I’m not going to talk to anybody. I’m just going to shut it down. I’m going to be by myself. I’m not going to pet my dog. I’m going to get fired up. I’m going to come to work tomorrow. I’m going to watch this film. I’m going to be a pro. I’m going to be a man.”
That’s one helluva magic loogie
Robert Meachem does not like conventional catches.
As The Sporting News illustrates with that moving picture and more, the Jets-Saints game was pretty much an elaborate tip drill.
Compared to recent weeks, the hurt in Week 9 was relatively kept in check. But oh, there was still pain.
- Darren Sproles left with a concussion early in the first quarter of the Saints’ loss, and now the PPR stud’s greatest foe as he claws to be ready for Week 10 is the clock. Though in fairness, the clock is a common enemy for everyone, as slowly we’re all dying inside.
- Geno Smith is already having to go through his rookie peaks and valleys without Santonio Holmes, and now he could be doing it without Jeremy Kerley for the remainder of the season. The slot receiver sustained an elbow injury, and ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports there are fears it could be serious and season ending.
- It’s hard to get a read on exactly how serious Robert Woods‘ leg injury is, because although X-rays reportedly came back negative, he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg. For now we’ll just give it the injury classification of “ruh roh” and note that a team without its top two quarterbacks — and its top running back is still somewhat hobbled — may be trying to win games soon without its No. 2 receiver. You really should pet that dog of yours, Doug Marrone. He’ll understand.
- Because breaking is what Darren McFadden does, he left the Raiders skunking after re-aggravating the hamstring injury which led to a one-game absence earlier this year. Get ready with those Rashad Jennings waiver claims.
- In the same game Terrelle Pryor was removed for precautionary reasons late in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss due to a knee injury. He’s fine, or so it seems.
- After having a game-time decision go in his favor, Arian Foster lasted only one series Sunday night because of a back injury. So basically, he’s a damn mess.