NFL round-up

ANDREW MELOFF

nfl

27-10 Bengals vs. Saints

Who Dey beats up Who Dat. The Cincinnati Bengals responded to their pitiful performance against the Browns a week ago to hand the Saints their second straight loss. Bengal’s Quarterback Andy Dalton’s offensive was simplified early in the game, focusing on getting the ball out of his hand quickly. The red rifle’s connection with pro bowler AJ Green was renewed as the two connected for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Saints’ offense looked to have turned the corner a few weeks ago, but quarterback Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton continue to have issues replacing the dynamic Darren Sproles.

22-7 Rams vs. Broncos

In the upset of the day, Shaun Hill led the St Louis Rams to victory against the heavy favourite Denver Broncos. Jeff Fisher’s defense held strong against Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense, stopping them twice on fourth down, snagging two interceptions and keeping the Broncos to four of 12 on third down conversions. Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas and Montee Ball all exited the game due to injuries for the Broncos, and Manning struggled with his limited options that remained. Shaun Hill made the most of his opportunity, throwing for 220 yards and a touchdown, more importantly giving his team a chance to win the game, a trait that former quarterback Austin Davis struggled with.  Denver moves to 2-3 on the road this season.

27-7 Bucs vs. Redskins

Was it Johnny Manziel who made Mike Evans or did Mike Evans make Johnny Manziel? Either way, the Buccaneers are ecstatic with rookie wide-out from Texas A&M Mike Evans, who totalled 209 receiving yards and two touchdowns. As Evans shined on offense, the Bucs’ defense feasted on the Washington offensive line, pressuring Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III throughout the game. The pass rush forced three turnovers, including a pick six by Johnathan Banks to add insult to injury. The Washington offense had opportunities down field with Desean Jackson, but couldn’t connect for the big play.

19-17 Falcons vs. Panthers

The 4-6 Atlanta Falcons are now the NFC South division leaders.  Atlanta’s close victory over their divisional foe the Carolina Panthers’ really questions the legitimacy of whatever team makes the playoffs from the NFC South. Early turnovers by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton forced them to play from behind during the entire game, with their winning attempt falling short when Graham Gano’s 64-yard field goal attempt was blocked as time expired. The Falcons didn’t lose themselves the game and although it wasn’t a strong win, head coach Mike Smith should be happy to escape with a win at all.

16-10 49ers vs. Giants

The up and down, hot and cold, San Francisco 49ers got the job done defensively in East Rutherford, NJ intercepting five of Eli Manning’s passes. Even with the turnovers, the game was decided with five minutes remaining, where the 49ers defense stopped the Giants on four straight plays from the five yard line, collecting an interception by rookie linebacker Chris Borland. In what should’ve been a blowout, the Giants defense kept their team in the game, forcing the 49ers to kick three field goals. Notably, pass rusher Aldon Smith returned for the 49ers following a suspension and made an impact on pressuring Manning throughout the game.

13-6 Chargers vs. Raiders

The San Diego Chargers escaped a loss at home against the winless Oakland Raiders to squeak out a win. Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers opened the scoring early, connecting with Malcolm Floyd for a touchdown from 22 yards out. Everything looked as expected. It was going to be a blowout win for the Chargers, but the Raiders put up a fight, slowing down the normally electric San Diego offense significantly. Raiders’ first round selection Khalil Mack continued his campaign as best rookie with no national attention in this game, where he tallied his first career sack. Rivers was hurt in the third quarter with an apparent lower leg injury; the hobbled quarterback remained in the game but was hindered by his lack of mobility. Rivers has stated that he’s fine and will be ready for next week.

14-6 Cardinals vs. Lions

No Carson Palmer, no Problem. New starting quarterback Drew Stanton and a stingy defense led the Arizona Cardinals to a NFL leading ninth win. Two of the better defenses faced off in University of Phoenix Stadium and it showed in the final score. Stanton threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, the Cardinals offense converted eight of 14 third down attempts. The Cardinals defense has quietly been one of the best in the NFL for the last two years, thanks to the impact of second-year head coach Bruce Arians.

53-20 Packers vs. Eagles

“RELAX, relax”; the fateful words of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers early in the season to Packers fans, and following their slow start may have lulled the Eagles to sleep in week 11. In what was considered the game of the week, Rodgers and the offense shredded the Eagles, putting up 475 yards of offense and scoring four touchdowns. On top of the offense, Micah Hyde scored on a 75-yard punt return, Julius Peppers took an interception 52 yards to the house, and Casey Hayward scooped up a fumble and went 49 yards on a snap that flew over Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez’s head. Nothing seemed to go right for the Eagles, as they were held to 11 points less than their average score. The Packers’ adjustment of moving Clay Mathews to inside linebacker has made a major impact on what was a struggling defense.

42-20 New England vs. Indianapolis

Jonas who? Bill Belichick has a knack for finding unknown players to contribute in major ways for his team. Undrafted, free agent running back Jonas Gray rushed for 199 yards and four touchdowns in the Patriots victory. In what was built up as a battle between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Andrew Luck, an unknown running back stole the show. Earlier in the season, the Patriots looked to be headed in the wrong direction and the Colts towards the super bowl. After this hard fought win, the Patriots appear once again to be of the top favourites to win the Super Bowl.

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