By David McDonnell
There is a new King upon the throne in the NFL.
Josh Allen went into the heart of Chiefs Kingdom and came out with a dramatic win from his match-up with Patrick Mahomes.
Since their roller-coaster shootout in the AFC play-offs in January, this was long marked in the calendar. The two best players in the NFL went head-to-head once again and it didn’t disappoint. This game had the feel and energy of a January contest throughout. Every play seemed to matter and in the end, Josh Allen and his team emerged victorious.
They say you can’t be the best until you beat the best. Well, Allen won the day and to the victor, go the spoils. For now, he deserves the mantle of being recognised as the best quarterback in football.
Long live the King!
So let’s get to the action.
Bills v Chiefs
Surprisingly, to everyone but Tony Romo, who somehow called a 24-20 win at the start of his broadcast, there was no score in the first quarter as both teams got red zone stops. First Allen tossed a lateral to Isaiah McKenzie who wasn’t expecting it and it was recovered by the team in red and Mahomes’ impressive first drive finished up in the hands of Bills first-round pick, Kaiir Elam who got his second interception in two weeks.
In the second quarter, Mahomes had struck up a good partnership with Juju Smith-Schuster and on third and long, the QB used his natural instincts to buy time in the pocket and found his slot receiver, who bounced off a tackle and ran in his first touchdown for Kansas.
The Chiefs defence managed to keep Allen out when he went for it on fourth and goal and soon had him backed up outside his own end zone. On third down, he found Gabe Davis for a big play and later in the drive, when he saw Davis matched-up with rookie corner Joshua Williams, Allen took the shot for a touchdown.
On the cusp of half time and with 12 seconds remaining in the half, Mahomes managed two quick plays and Harrison Butker kicked the sides level with an effort from 62 yards to tie the scores 10-10 at the break.
In the third quarter, Allen saw Stefon Diggs matched-up one-on-one with the rookie fourth-round pick Williams and he repeated his trick by picking on the rookie and finding Diggs with an almost identical play for another TD.
By the end of the third quarter, the sides were level as Mahomes again found time in the pocket on third down to find Mecole Hardman in traffic. It set up a grandstand finish which had the feel and excitement of a play-off game. Mahomes started to find his favourite target Travis Kelce as he led his side up the field for Butker to kick them 17-20 ahead with 10 minutes remaining.
Five minutes later, a second sack of the game by future Hall-of-Famer Von Miller got the ball back for the Bills. When Devin Singletary was stopped inches short on third down, Allen used all of his six foot five inch frame on a QB sneak to extend the drive on fourth down. Allen then found Diggs on a couple of big plays to get up to the 27 yard line. Then came the play of the game, as Allen brought the action to 12 yards out. Shout out to @sean___connor for adding the accompanying track.
Phew!!! Let’s see that again from another angle.
He then finished the drive with a rocket to Dawson Knox on the left sideline for the winning score. Mahomes had 64 seconds left to recuse the day but under pressure his throw was intercepted by Taron Johnson to secure a Bills victory.
Already, this feels massive for Buffalo and could be decisive in securing home advantage in the play-offs as it gives them a one-game lead over their nearest rivals in the AFC rankings. Already, the biggest challenge may be keeping a lid on the excitement and fervor for one of the longest-suffering fan bases as they go in search of their first Superbowl victory. They are the favourites in the bookies and with good reason.
And fingers crossed we get to do this again in January.
Eagles go 6-0
Cowboys v Eagles
In the late kick-off, the Philadelphia Eagles extended their winning run to 6-0 with a morale boosting win over their NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys. By almost half-time, they threatened to run away with the contest by taking a 20-0 lead as their impressive offensive line dominated up front with second quarter touchdowns by Miles Sanders and AJ Brown. What was most interesting was how Jalen Hurts kept running the run-pass option at Micah Parsons, to keep the pass-rusher from affecting the game.
The Eagles defensive backs were just as impressive on a night where James Bradberry, Darius Slay and CJ Gardner-Johnson all had picks on the night. With Cooper Rush struggling, the Cowboys put the ball in the hands of Ezekiel Elliot to great effect and he ran well and finished with a 14-yard TD. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Rush found Jake Ferguson for another TD with only three points now separating the sides.
The Eagles got back to what they do extremely well and ran it behind their line for the pivotal drive of the game and a play-action pass to Devonta Smith from seven yards saw them into a 17-26 lead that they never relinquished. The Eagles can now rest up as they take their 6-0 unbeaten record into their bye-week.
There were two outstanding games in the early Sunday matches.
Bengals v Saints
Another team I believe will also contend for the AFC Championship are the Cincinnati Bengals, who won their match-up of the fans who shout ‘Who Dey’ against the fans who shout ‘Who Dat.’
The Bengals are a team with a strong defence and, once their new offensive line beds in, have the weapons and the quarterback to go toe-to-toe with any side across the league. It was Burrow’s first return to the Superdome and to the state of Louisiana since winning the National Championship with LSU in 2020. He entered the stadium pre-game wearing an LSU game jersey of his then and current teammate Ja’Marr Chase.
Joe Burrow showed that he can run as well as he can pass when he found a hole in the Saints defence for a touchdown as the Saints took a 14-20 point midway lead.
In the third quarter Burrow found a well-covered Chase with a great throw for a touchdown. They pair were at it again late in the fourth quarter when they linked up for a 60-yard TD as Cincinnati took their first lead in the contest with two minutes remaining.
Jaguars v Colts
Matt Ryan once again lived up to his ‘Matty Ice’ nickname of old in a fantastic late win over the Jags.
It ended up being a roller-coaster and Jacksonville’s great hope at QB, Trevor Laurence played very well throughout. He must be wondering what he must do to get his first divisional road win, as the Jags succumbed to their 14th consecutive AFC South loss away from Jacksonville.
Ryan found Paris Campbell for the first Indianapolis TD in over 110 minutes of football to see the score 14-13 at half time as the Colts continued their 2022 tradition of never having led at half-time yet this season.
The sides exchanged rushing TDs in the third quarter when Dion Jackson replied for the home side after Laurence had rushed for his second TD of the day. The Colts took the lead for the first time in the contest when Ryan found rookie tight-end Jelani Woods and this was responded to by an impressive 18-play drive by Laurence which resulted in him finding Christian Kirk in the endzone to retake the lead 27-26.
With 17 seconds left, Ryan had his side within field-goal range but on third down, he threw to rookie receiver Alec Pierce for another late win before a rapturous home support. The game was significant to Ryan in that he passed the great Dan Marino to now have the seventh most passing yards by a QB in NFL history.
New York, New York
What a time to be a fan in NYC as both sides of the football fraternity continue to surprise with unexpected wins. I keep waiting for the wheels to come off both karts but so far, they keep winning.
The Giants handed Lamar Jackson his third ever October loss in another terrific early contest on Sunday. The Ravens took a fourth quarter 20-10 lead when Jackson found Mark Andrews with a precise throw that came over the tight-end’s shoulder.
Daniel Jones then found his own tight-end Danny Bellinger for a TD before the first Giants interception of the season set the G-men up with a short field late in the game. Star-man Sequon Barkley jumped like a human torpedo into endzone for the winning score.
Sequon could have had another touchdown late in the game but chose to slide down at the one-yard line to make the Ravens burn their remaining timeouts, as time ran out at the MetLife Stadium.
It was the second week in a row that Aaron Rodgers came unstuck against teams from the Big Apple, where the Jets rookie class were again to the fore during a famous 24-10 in Lambeau Field win.
Running-back Breece Hall showed why he was the first running back off the board in this year’s draft on a day where he had 116 rushing yards and the game sealing TD in the fourth quarter.
Afterwards rookie corner Ahmed ‘Sauce’ Gardner wore a Green Bay Cheese-head hat coming off the field, which seemed to rub Allen Lezard the wrong way and he flipped it off his head. I’m sure Scott Hanson must have been bellowing ‘Cheese-sauce’ in the Redzone studio. I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t.
One of the most interesting stories of the weekend came during Steve Wilks first game as caretaker in Carolina, after his predecessor Matt Rhule became the first head-coach shown the exit door this season after the Panthers lost last Sunday.
Interesting, it was not on the field but on the sideline where the action was most intense.
In the third quarter, receiver Robbie Anderson had a heated exchange and squared-up to his receiving coach Joe Dailey. A few plays later word had got to Wilks and he sent Anderson to the locker room. Afterwards he was keen to pour cold water on the incident and kept any drama in-house for now.
This was a good game for Rams’ Allen Robinson who began to build up a rapport with Matt Stafford with five catches for 63 yards and a TD. The player who most impressed was Carolina running-back Christian McCaffery. Maybe he was auditioning for a move after hearing, like everyone else, the rumours of a potential trade to Superbowl-favourite Buffalo Bills. If that is the case, he nailed his audition clocking up 168-yards from scrimmage. After that sideline altercation, maybe he won’t be the only Panther leaving in the near future.
Tom Brady suffered his third loss in six games as Mitch Trubisky came off the bench when Kenny Pickett never returned from a head-injury assessment to lead the Steelers to a late come from behind fourth quarter victory. He found Chase Claypool in the endzone for a 20-12 lead. Brady had a chance to tie the game when Leonard Fournette scored, but he failed with a two-point conversion.
The Patriots had the home crowd booing in Cleveland, as the Pats third-string rookie QB Bailey Zappe looked the part in a dominant 38-15 win. Rhamondre Stevenson was the bell cow running-back going for 91 yards from scrimmage and two TDs. It was a notable game in the career of one Bill Belichick who tied the famed Chicago Bears coach George Halas for the most wins by a head coach in the NFL.
The Atlanta Falcons are becoming one of my favourite teams to watch and their all-action offence led by a rejuvenated Marcus Mariota did the business by taking out the 49ers in convincing fashion.
Two Brandon Aiyuk touchdowns had the visiting side level 14-14 in the second quarter when Mariota ran right on an option play and beat the linebacker to the endzone. He then linked up with the exciting tight-end Kyle Pitts for his first TD of the season to extend the lead to 14, which was never threatened.
Jimmy G reminds me of an apple crumble every time he comes under pressure. Will he get the chance to serve me a slice of humble pie? I’ll keep my fork, knife and spoon in the top press for now.
The Vikings secured their fourth win in a row with a 24-16 road win against the Dolphins. Touchdown passes by Cousins to Irv Smith and Adam Thielen had the Vikes in front but Dalvin Cook’s second-half touchdown run made the difference on a day when Mike Gesicki caught two scores for Miami.
Seattle overcame Arizona to win 9-19 and the kick-fest was interrupted by two interesting moments.
When your punter is making headlines, its usually not for the right reasons. Seattle punter Michael Dickson ends up in this column for the second week in a row when he seemed to freeze like a rabbit in the headlights inside his own endzone as the Arizona pass-rush ran at him. They knocked the ball out of his hands and recovered for a TD. It left the Cards trailing by three points entering the fourth quarter.
The best player on show all day delivered the telling score when running-back Kenneth Murray gave a little dip and juke as he ran in his second TD in a fortnight. His rookie teammate Tariq Woolen was also prominent grabbing his fourth interception in four weeks.
Six weeks in and across the league, this already looks to be one of the deepest rookie classes to come out in many a year with the youngsters of the Seahawks and the Jets routinely catching the eye.
Watch out for our AFC West Monday Night Football Broncos versus Chargers preview later today!!!