Five biggest disappointments of NFL Week 6

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 10/19/20

Week 6 saw one winless team get a much-needed victory, while things got even worse for another. It also saw some memorable performances, especially by quarterbacks, though some were for the right reasons, and some very much not. The good news is the drama led to some fun games.

With good games come great disappointments, and here are five from Week 6.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

In the battle of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady was excellent, while Rodgers played one of his worst-ever games. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, the Packers tallied just 57 total yards on their next 41 plays. Rodgers was consistently harassed by Tampa Bay defenders. He threw interceptions on back-to-back drives, the first one being just the third pick-six of his career. The game got so lopsided that Rodgers was taken out of the game in the 4th quarter to get him off his feet. It’s too bad this quarterback matchup didn’t live up to the billing, but Rodgers was just awful. At least he had a fun celebration.

Minnesota Vikings

The Atlanta Falcons have been criticized all season, blown a number of late leads, and fired head coach Dan Quinn after another debacle last week. If the Vikings were going to get a win, this was a perfect opportunity. Instead, it was the Vikings who were left reeling. The Falcons stormed out to a 33-7 lead, Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, and Minnesota looked about as far away from contention as they possibly could. The fact that this came against a winless team makes the performance even more alarming. At this point, it’s worth asking how safe Mike Zimmer’s job is.

N’Keal Harry, Patriots

The Patriots’ sluggish offense continues to underwhelm; they were held to just 288 total yards by the Denver Broncos. Still, thanks to some errors by the Denver offense, the Patriots were in the game at the end. Trailing by 6 on a do-or-die 4th-and-10, quarterback Cam Newton sought out Harry, who had only been targeted once in the game to that point. Analysis shows that Harry ran the wrong route on the final play, and the pass fell incomplete. That’s a bad look for someone who’s supposed to be a major part of the offense but didn’t even make a catch on Sunday.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns

Mayfield probably shouldn’t have played Sunday, though one can understand his desire to. It was a divisional rivalry against the unbeaten Steelers, and the Browns wanted to prove they were for real. Mayfield just wasn’t up to it. He threw two interceptions and tallied just 118 yards before being benched for his own good in the third quarter as he battled a rib injury. Mayfield will have better days, especially once he’s healthy, but his effort to gut it out did the Browns no favors.

Houston Texans’ defense

The firing of Bill O’Brien appears to have finally opened up the Houston Texans’ offense. Now they just need to sort out the other side of the ball. The Titans posted 601 yards in an overtime win, with Houston’s defense having a full-on meltdown late. A Tennessee offense not known for being prolific stomped all over Houston on a game-tying drive that ended with A.J. Brown’s tying touchdown catch with seconds left. In overtime, Derrick Henry was involved in four of the Titans’ six plays on a game-winning touchdown drive. The Texans had no answer. Their offense looked to have won them the game, but the defense just wasn’t good enough.

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Doctors on Dak Prescott’s recovery: ‘So far, so good’

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/18/20

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott underwent surgery to fix a compound fracture in his right leg, and he’s reportedly doing very well. 

According to sources of ESPN’s Adam Schefter, doctors are pleased that Prescott has had no infections from his surgery. 

“So far, so good,” the source told Schefter of Prescott’s recovery.

Doctors were afraid that an infection could set in and they were closely monitoring Prescott’s situation. He underwent surgery on Sunday and was sent home the next day. 

Prescott faces a four-to-six month recovery window, but Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy revealed Thursday that his quarterback will challenge any timeline that has been given to him.

The 27-year-old was off to a blazing start this season, throwing for 1,856 yards and nine touchdowns.

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Watch: Titans’ Derrick Henry outruns Texans defense on 94-yard TD run

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/18/20

Is there anything Derrick Henry can’t do? Last week, the Tennesee Titans running back stiff-armed Josh Norman in a highlight-reel play. This week, he broke free for a long touchdown run. 

The Titans were desperately in need of a big play after taking over on their own six-yard line with the Houston Texans ahead 23-21 in the fourth quarter, and that’s when Henry broke free for a 94-yard touchdown run.

He was clocked at 21.6 mph, and the TD gave the Titans a 29-23 lead. Tennesee eventually won the game 42-36. 

Henry now has 588 yards and six touchdowns rushing on the season. He also has 84 yards receiving. 

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Colts announce several positive COVID-19 tests

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 10/16/20

The NFL has been hit pretty hard by the coronavirus over the last two weeks, and the Indianapolis Colts now are feeling the effects of the virus that has swept the league. 

Indianapolis announced Friday that several members of their organization tested positive for COVID-19. They did not reveal a specific number. 

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NFL Week 5 grades from around the league

Posted 11 hours ago | By Sam Robinson

Unfortunately, Week 5 brought more major injuries. It also included a rare early-October GM firing. Here are some odds and ends, and grades, for every NFL team exiting the NFL’s fifth Sunday — along with a look at the bevy of teams that did not play Sunday.1 of 32

Carolina defense ahead of schedule

Carolina defense ahead of schedule
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

A list of the defensive personnel the Panthers lost this year: future Hall of Famer Luke Kuechly, No. 1 cornerback James Bradberry, steady sack man Mario Addison and former Pro Bowl defensive tackles Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy. Carolina entered Sunday with starting cornerback Eli Apple on IR and lost corner Donte Jackson and D-end Brian Burns during the game. Buoyed by journeyman Juston Burris’ end zone INT, the Panthers (3-2) held the Falcons to their lowest point total in this series (16) since 2015. First-year NFL coordinator Phil Snow’s defense, which kept Kyler Murray in check last week, has been one of the NFL’s bigger surprises.

PANTHERS GRADE: B-plus | NEXT: vs. Bears (Sun.)2 of 32

Full-on restart in Atlanta

Full-on restart in Atlanta
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Dimitroff was in his 13th season as Falcons GM. He drafted Matt Ryantraded up for probably the best player in team history in 2011 (Julio Jones) and was there for three Falcons playoff byes. The team has declined since its Super Bowl LI collapse and is 14-23 since 2018, but the early-season GM firing is a bit of a surprise. Dimitroff’s ouster moves the franchise closer to a restart — which separates this from merely Dan Quinn being axed. Ryan is now 35; will he be part of the next era? If the Falcons do not land Trevor Lawrence, will they make a play for a QB? A franchise that has not rebuilt since 2008 appears set to do so.

FALCONS GRADE: D-plus | NEXT: at Vikings (Sun.)

Wentz-Ertz disconnect clouds TE’s Philly future

Wentz-Ertz disconnect clouds TE's Philly future
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Carson Wentz-to-Zach Ertz connection’s issues have forced random wide receivers to the forefront. The Pro Bowl tight end submitted a second straight sub-10-yard performance and has not helped the again-in-wideout-disarray Eagles (1-3-1) during a stretch without Dallas Goedert as well. One of the many Eagles nearing 30 or just north of that notable benchmark, Ertz (30 in November) has amassed just 145 receiving yards in five games. He was seeking George Kittle– or Travis Kelce-level money amid tense negotiations this summer. Wentz’s former go-to guy will struggle to approach that at this point.

EAGLES GRADE: D | NEXT: vs. Ravens (Sun.)

Chase Claypool’s expected breakout arrives early

Chase Claypool's expected breakout arrives early
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers viewers could have predicted a Claypool emergence, but the team’s receiver depth had limited his chances. The second-round pick changed the equation Sunday, dominating the Eagles for seven catches, 110 yards and a Steelers rookie-record four total touchdowns. No team approaches the Steelers in receiver development, and their latest find — Notre Dame’s 6-foot-4, 238-pound monster with a 4.42 40 time — could have a rare ceiling that surpasses most of the team’s previous Day 2 wideouts finds’. Claypool has quickly become Pittsburgh’s most exciting pass catcher; his rapid emergence makes this an elite NFL position group.

STEELERS GRADE: A-minus | NEXT: vs. Browns (Sun.)

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Marshon Lattimore makes incredible tackle to win game for Saints

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Larry Brown | Last updated 10/13/20

Marshon Lattimore sealed the New Orleans Saints’ 30-27 comeback win over the Los Angeles Chargers in overtime on Monday night with an incredible tackle.

The Saints, who had been down 20-3, were able to tie the game and send it to overtime. They kicked a field goal on the opening possession of the extra period, and needed a stop to get the win. They were able to get it thanks to Lattimore’s incredible effort.

The Chargers threw a slant pass to Mike Williams on 4th-and-6 from their 44. Williams had an angle for a first down, but Lattimore wrapped him up and tossed him down a yard short of the first-down marker.

What a tackle!

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Five biggest disappointments of NFL Week 4

Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 10/5/20

After some questions about how much of a schedule the NFL would play in Week 4, a mostly full slate of games went ahead on Sunday. The schedule was slightly reduced, but there was no shortage of excitement and drama. There was also plenty of disappointment, too, as some teams and players with high expectations fell flat.

Here are five big disappointments from NFL Week 4.

Dallas Cowboys

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

What is happening in Dallas? Nothing good, as they got absolutely torched by Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham and the Cleveland Browns. Turnovers played a huge role — the Cowboys fumbled on back-to-back drives in the second quarter, setting up short touchdown drives for Cleveland both times. The big concern is a “soft” defense that gave up 508 yards and 49 points to the Browns, even as the offense produced at a high level. The Cowboys are now 1-3, and their season needs to turn around quickly.

Detroit Lions

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions have had a double-digit lead in all three of their losses this year. Even when they’re up, it’s started to feel inevitable that things will turn on them. That happened again on Sunday against the Saints. The Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Then the Saints scored 35 unanswered points. Matt Patricia appears incapable of turning things around, and the team can’t play 60 full minutes. A coaching change feels inevitable.

Kenyan Drake, Cardinals

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals were generally disappointing on Sunday, losing to a Panthers team without Christian McCaffrey. However, Drake is definitely a concern at this point. He was expected to be the lead back in an explosive offense. Instead, he has one touchdown and was held to 35 yards on 13 carries Sunday. Part of that was the game script going against him, but it continues a string of underwhelming performances from the running back.

Nick Foles, QB, Bears

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps Foles leading the Bears to a comeback win last week raised expectations too high. He was poor on Sunday against the Colts, throwing for a modest 249 yards with an interception. His lone touchdown came in garbage time and was too late to make any difference in the outcome. Foles hasn’t actually won a start since 2018. He remains a superior option for the Bears than Mitchell Trubisky, but he’s still not a leading NFL starting quarterback.

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‘Monday Night Football’ Week 1 doubleheader ratings way down

Originally posted on Sportsnaut | By Vincent Frank | Last updated 9/15/20

It’s now what we can call a trend in the sports world. NFL television ratings for Week 1 of the season have been down at nearly every turn.

This started with a dramatic decrease in viewership for the Kansas City Chiefs’ home opener against the Houston Texans last Thursday. The backdrop to that game was the limited number of fans on hand at Arrowhead Stadium in Missouri booing the teams’ social stances during the national anthem. It did not stop from there.

NFL Week 1 ratings in decline, culminating on ‘Monday Night Football’ 

According to ShowBuzz Daily, the doubleheader on Monday night represented a major downtick in viewership from the same time slots a season ago.

  • Steelers at Giants: This game drew 10.8 million viewers on ESPN, down 21% from the early game opener during Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season
  • Titans at Broncos: Drew 7.7 million viewers, down a whopping 38% from the late game last year.

These are just some startling numbers right here. They are also a continuation of a trend around the NFL world thus far on the young season.

This comes after the “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Rams in Los Angeles saw a drop of 16.1% from last season’s opener. America’s Team being unable to draw 15 million viewers during a global pandemic in which people are at home more often than in the past can’t be seen as great news for the NFL.

The “Monday Night Football” doubleheader is also interesting in that it included one of the two teams in the nation’s largest media market (New York Giants) opening things up against one of the NFL’s most popular teams in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

President Trump spearheads NFL boycott 

Related: President Trump on NFL national anthem protests

The president, potentially using this as a election year slogan, indicated before the NFL season kicked off that he would boycott the season should national anthem protests continue. That’s exactly what we saw from players and teams throughout Week 1.

Unlike previous years, the NFL has decided to take a stand against Mr. Trump. That has only added to the divide between his supporters and the league. We saw this first-hand during Week 1 with widespread protests around the NFL.

Those are just three examples of widespread protests around the National Football League during its Week 1 slate.

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Report: Colts fear Marlon Mack tore Achilles vs. Jaguars

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 9/13/20

The Indianapolis Colts will be in trouble if Marlon Mack misses the remainder of the season. 

Mack suffered an ankle injury during the second quarter of Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and was carted off the field. The running back caught a pass from Philip Rivers and immediately fell to the ground clutching his ankle. He was carted off the field with help from the training staff and was ruled out for the remainder of the game. 

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo, the Colts now fear that Mack tore his Achilles tendon. 

Mack had taken just four carries for 26 yards while catching all three of his targets for 30 yards.

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Jets RB Le’Veon Bell leaves game vs. Bills with hamstring injury

By Erin Walsh | Last updated 9/13/20

Le’Veon Bell previously denied that there was anything wrong with his hamstring in August, and now it seems otherwise. 

The New York Jets running back left Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills with, you guessed it, a hamstring injury. He’s unlikely to return for the remainder of the game.

Bell had just six carries for 14 yards before exiting the game in the third quarter. He added two receptions for 32 yards receiving. 

The 28-year-old had issues with Adam Gase resting him during a scrimmage because of hamstring tightness, but now it seems like the head coach absolutely made the right call. 

If Bell misses an extended period of time, New York will have to rely on veteran rusher Frank Gore and rookie La’Mical Perine. 

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