Every week, the NFL presents a “game of the week” and whether the honorable distinction lives up to its billing is a coin flip. Saints vs. Patriots just happened to be well-worth the price of admission. Prior to kickoff, the running sentiment was New Orleans would eventually waltz away with the game due to an obvious advantage on offense.
There’s some great think-piece out there detailing the run of momentums in this game. Unfortunately, this isn’t it. A 34-yard Kenny Stills touchdown grab with just under three and a half minutes left and Garrett Hartley field goal a minute later saw New Orleans up 27-23. The same fans who left Game 6 of the 2013 Finals before the final buzzer must be Patriots fans too because many began to exit the stadium at this point.
And for a minute, it seemed as if getting a jump on the traffic was a good idea. Between the Saints having no interest whatsoever in running out the clock, the Patriots received three possessions in the game’s final moments. The last of which Tom Brady led New England down the field – after throwing what looked like a “f*ck this sh*t” interception only minutes earlier – tossing the game winning touchdown to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining.
Love the guy, or hate the guy, but nothing good ever comes from baiting an all-time great QB to beat you at the end of a game with multiple opportunities to do so. The Saints fell to 5-1, still atop the NFC South by a comfortable margin. Meanwhile, the Pats improved to 5-1 as Foxboro (impatiently) awaits the return of Rob Gronkowski.
Elsewhere, in the two billion dollar house of horrors known as Jerry World, best buddies Washington and Dallas squared off on Sunday night. As a person who sat in FedEx Field for the Week 17 tragedy last season, a Week 6 this year victory doesn’t erase that pain. Watching Skins fans eat humble pie, however, will always be entertaining whether it’s the last week of the season or first.
Robert Griffin III returned to Dallas, the same place where he made Thanksgiving one of the wackest days of 2012 for me, but the outcome was anything unlike his first visit. He did appear more comfortable and willing to exercise his dual threat skills. The Skins never appeared comfortable on offense all night though.
Dallas dominated on special teams thanks to monster kick and punt returns from Dwayne Harris and Brandon Carr, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee all deserved game balls for a defensive performance that was as physical as it was dominating. Rookie wideout Terrance Williams – former teammate of RG3 at Baylor – had his growing pains early in the season, but over the past two weeks, he’s starting to install confidence in Cowboys fans for his big play potential and compliment to Dez Bryant.
Dallas will use this 31-16 victory as a springboard into a highly critical battle for NFC East midseason supremacy next week in Philadelphia. The victory being the most important note, but Dallas was bit by the injury bug. Questions all week will loom in regards to Demarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray’s availability.
– Cam Newton almost truck sticked this reporter. Then he saved her life. Cam Newton, man of the people.
– The Cincinnati Bengals are known for a few things, blowing big leads being one of them. And they tried their damnedest to do just that against the Bills. But after letting a solid two touchdown lead evaporate in the fourth quarter, they got their heads together and finished off Buffalo with an overtime field goal. Don’t look now, but sitting at 4-2, atop the AFC North, these guys just may be making some real noise come playoff time. Maybe.
– There was a lot of money lost in Vegas, as Denver failed to cover the pre-game 27-point spread against Jacksonville, the largest ever in the history of the NFL. But no matter, a W is a W, and the Broncos continue to along the path to dethrone the 2007 Patriots.
– Knowshon Moreno had a career fantasy night, with 42 yards and three touchdowns. As the NFL Network so aptly put it, “LeSean McCoy could not be reached to comment.”
– Though San Francisco pulled out a win against Arizona, something still feels uneasy about the offense. Yes, Vernon Davis had perhaps his best game of his career, but Colin Kaepernick managed to struggle for most of the game. The read option remains dead and his passes have largely looked less than stellar. Hopefully, things start to click once Michael Crabtree returns to the lineup.
– The jig is up in Houston. Their pick-six streak continues, even though it came from the hands of TJ Yates, as Matt Schaub left the field, injured and surrounded by cheers from the crowd – a chump move if there ever was one. Rule #5 in the “Fan Handbook” says you never cheer or wish for a player to get injured under any circumstances.
– Cleveland looked alive in the second quarter. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the memo to show up for the other three. Detroit’s Joseph Fauria only caught three balls from Matt Stafford, but they were all for touchdowns. Shouts out to all four of the fantasy owners across the country who played him yesterday.
– For a good portion of Sunday afternoon, Aaron Rodgers looked ready to try win the game by throwing the ball to himself. Such was the predicament of the Packers, playing basically without any wide receivers after Randall Cobb and James Jones went down with injuries. Fortunately for Rodgers, in the fourth quarter, Jordy Nelson decided it was time to wake up and put the defending champs on ice.
– Anytime the Niners ask “Who got it better than us?” Alex Smith should silently raise his hand. His Chiefs remain undefeated, and continue to make the impending November 17 date with Denver more and more interesting.
– Nick Foles threw for three TDs and added one more on the ground. One thing is clear: Philadelphia is capable of wining without Michael Vick. Speaking of Vick, he doesn’t sound too worried in the least bit about regaining his starting job.
– On the heels of his personal tragedy, Adrian Peterson and his Vikings got absolutely crushed by Carolina. Sometimes, playing off of emotional intensity just isn’t enough. The pieces aren’t there in Minnesota and AP will never be able to win games entirely by himself. The only thing to look forward to is seeing whether or not Josh Freeman will be able to provide some real support.