By David McDonnell

Surprise, Surprise!!!

A brilliant NFL season threw up a few surprises this weekend, and once again it was the turn of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, which leaves both future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks with losing records after seven weeks.

To put this in perspective, the last time Brady was in this predicament was in 2002 when many of the young stars in the NFL were still toddling around in nappies. 

And after giving the benefit of the doubt to both teams over the last few weeks, now is the time for the Packers and Bucs faithful to panic as it was the manner of their defeats on the road against the Commanders and Panthers that will be of most concern to their respective fan bases.

Packers v Commanders 

Rodgers in particular has looked a ball of frustration on the field as he continues to struggle to connect with all of his new teammates on offence. Against the Commanders he did not convert one third or fourth down during the entire game and by the end of the third quarter, his longest drive was only 40 yards.

Green Bay had an early 14-3 second quarter lead when linebacker De’Vondre Campbell intercepted a throw by Taylor Heineke. 

This score more than anything seemed to kick the Washington attack into life and they scored the next 20 points unanswered. Taylor Heineke, on his first start this season, found Antonio Gibson at the back of the endzone and his favourite target from last season Terry McLaurin in the right corner to take a third quarter lead.  

Trailing by nine, Green Bay rallied and closed the gap to two points when Rodgers went to Aaron Jones with a heads up play and the running back did well to find the endzone. It looked set up for a Packers comeback but Washington weren’t finished and when the pressure was greatest Heineke routinely found McLaurin on third down to close out the game. 

McLaurin was immense throughout and gave All-Pro corner Jaire Alexander a torrid afternoon. Heineke was an improvement on anything Carson Wentz has shown in recent weeks and the Washington defence was outstanding. With the return of Chase Young on the immediate horizon, Ron Rivera has a team that will surprise a few more teams visiting the capital before the season is out.

Afterwards Rodgers spun the story to the media that the loss “might be the best thing for us” as they now look down the barrel of facing a rested Buffalo Bills, coming off their bye week on prime time next Sunday. 

Bucs v Panthers

Another of the pre-season favourites in the NFC, Tampa Bay have now lost four of their last five matches.

On offence against Carolina, the Bucs averaged only three yards per carry and Brady struggled to connect with his receiving corps throwing multiple errant passes but even when he was accurate, his receivers couldn’t connect with the play. Their afternoon was best summed up when Mike Evans dropped a clanger, when he could have strolled in for an easy first quarter touchdown. 

The much vaunted Bucs defence were just as culpable as they couldn’t stop a Panthers offence a week after they traded their best player Christian McCaffery to the 49ers and their second best receiver Robbie Anderson to the Cardinals. 

Quarterback PJ Walker,  who started the season as third-string quarterback, even before the arrival of Baker Mayfield, led the way throwing for two touchdowns, the best of which was a first half dart to DJ Moore at the back of the endzone. 

Its been a hell of a week for interim coach Steve Wilks, who has Carolina one win from the top of the NFC West after starting the season 1-5.

Chargers v Seahawks 

Without doubt the surprise of the season has been the quarterback play of Geno Smith. He has been outstanding and is going from strength to strength by the week. He currently leads the NFL in completion percentage, which sees the Seahawks perched on top of the NFC West.

The first half of this contest was most entertaining as Seattle raced into a 17-0 lead with touchdowns from Marquise Goodwin and rookie running-back Kenneth Walker. The Chargers responded with two touchdowns of their own from Austin Ekeler and Mike Williams. 

Before half time, Geno found the former Olympian long-jumper Goodwin in the endzone for the second time on a play that resulted in Pro Bowl corner-back JC Jackson being carried off the field with what looks like a significant injury. 

The Seattle defence got on top in the second half with the game-deciding score from Kenneth Walker, nicknamed ‘K9,’ who pulled out a 75-yard touchdown. Last week, we awarded the 22-year-old with ‘Rookie of the Week’ and he is in line to pick up the super prestigious accolade once again, as he recorded 168 rushing yards and two TDs. 

Steelers v Dolphins 

Perhaps the most surprising feature of the late game in Miami was the lack of concussion controversy as the returning Tua Tagovailoa led the Dolphins back to winning ways. The home side started the game with a whirlwind and put 13 points on the board in the first quarter.  

Just as it looked to be getting out of hand, the Steelers responded with Kenny Pickett picking out George Pickins for an ‘offensive pick-six.’ See what I did there? … (Silence) … Anyone?

But the game petered out and turned into a festival of punting as both defences took control and Pickett threw two fourth quarter interceptions as Miami go to 4-3. 

The AFC East is statistically the strongest division in football and if the Patriots win against the Bears on Monday Night Football, all four teams in the division will have winning records. Our preview for that game will follow later today. 

Giants v Jaguars

The second strongest division in the NFL is the NFC East as the Giants joined the unbeaten Eagles with six wins.

Sequon Barkley was again to the fore rushing for 110 yards, while Daniel Jones also used his legs for good effect running for over 100 yards. This game had multiple lead changes and with 16 seconds left and six points separating the sides, came the most important play of the game. 

Jags receiver Christian Kirk looked about to score the winning touchdown but was tackled by Fabian Moreau just shy of the endzone to secure victory for the Big Blue in the Big Apple. 

Round Up 

The Jets join the Bills on top of the AFC East with five wins after beating the Denver Broncos convincingly in Mile High Stadium. This was another game where both defences were on top throughout but there was one moment of magic for Breece Hall, who lit up the game with a blistering 62-yard first quarter touchdown. 

It ended up being a disastrous afternoon for the rookie running-back when he was taken from the field on a kart after picking up what looks like a serious knee injury. An MRI scan scheduled later today will likely rule him out for the season.

Patrick Mahomes returned to winning ways after opening a can of whoop-ass against San Francisco. Entering the fourth quarter there were only five points between the sides, which is hard to imagine when you see the final scoreline. The Chiefs ended up with 30 second-half points against the highest ranked defence in football. On the day, Mecole Hardman had three touchdowns and the pick of the Kansas scores was a Juju Smith-Schuster effort as they ran out 44-24 victors.

A keg of whoop-ass was opened by Joe Burrow when he threw for 481 passing yards as the Cincinnati Bengals put the visiting Atlanta Falcons to the sword. They must have been worried they were in for a long day when Burrow threw Tyler Boyd open from 60 yards on the first drive of the game. 

Boyd would finish with 155 receiving yards, while Ja’Marr Chase finished with 130 yards and two eye-catching TDs. If Tee Higgens had run for seven more yards instead of running into touch, all three receivers would have gone for over 100 yards in this 17-35 win. 

The Baltimore Ravens are now joint top with the Bengals with a record of 4-3 after they won their divisional AFC North match-up with the Browns. Cade York has a late 63-yard attempt to tie the game but he fluffed his effort on a day when the Ravens defence stepped up with a bunch of eye-catching plays.

The Las Vegas Raiders handed another loss to the Houston Texans on the back of a terrific display from Josh Jacobs. This is the third week in a row where he has rushed for over 140 yards and he also added three touchdowns. It seems to me that his high volume of carries with his physical running style will result in an injury sooner rather than later if the Raiders don’t get someone in to share the load.

The Tennessee Titans extended their lead at the top of the AFC South with a divisional win against the Colts with their only touchdown coming form an interception by Andrew Adams. 

Zeke Elliot had two touchdowns from short range as Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to the victory against the Lions. The most memorable play of the game was a massive hit by Kerby Joseph on Cowboys receiver Noah Brown which resulted in a second quarter turnover.

Ouch! I felt that one from my couch.

Please help us grow with likes, shares and retweets on social media!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s