There were a number of hiccups in yesterday’s game slate that sparked some questions, but also instances where it appeared we were seeing the “real” team for the first time.
By Scott Evens
Falcons 23, Cardinals 19
Did this game teach us that the Falcons are secretly bad or that they have the mettle and tenacity to win difficult games even when climbing back from 13-0 holes?
Matt Ryan can lose control of a game quickly and inexorably, illustrated by his 5 interceptions and zero touchdowns yesterday. But, the Falcon’s defense can play some ball and slow the bleeding.
This defense has played a larger role in their 9-1 record than we (or at least I) had originally thought. The fumble return for a touchdown was likely the turning point in this one though Ryan’s interceptions continued and Atlanta did not take the lead till 6:40 remaining in the fourth. This fact makes me wonder how many other relatively close wins were keyed with defensive stops and not the vaunted passing attack that gets so much of the credit and was conspicuously absent yesterday.
Cowboys 23, Browns 20
One of three games to be decided in overtime this week. Not much to note here, except that like the above game, the underdogs opened the contest with a 13-0 lead over their hosts.
Texans 43, Jags 37
Another game that went into overtime and another in which the away-dogs looked jarringly confident and capable. The most spectacular riddle this game points at us goes something like, “If Chad Henne can lead the league’s arguably worst offense to 37 points against the league’s arguably best defense, without MJD, how unspeakably awful is Blaine Gabbert and how much of this is his fault?”
But where the Falcons close run win inspires some doubts about the legitimacy of their 9-1 preeminence, this win cements the Texans in as the class of the conference that doesn’t take days off.
Bucs 27, Panthers 21
The third game decided in OT. I had picked the Cats to pull this one out of their ass and they almost did. But, the Bucs scored 11 points in the final 4 minutes to force overtime and have officially arrived.
The Bucs are not slouches and keep every game close. I think they finish the season going 3-3, but I’m not sure if that will be good enough for a wild card spot in the crowded NFC.
Jets 27, Rams 17