Here are the write-ups on my first eight games:
NY Jets 22, Kansas City 16
Well this one is for Barath and Zarb – two die-hard Jets fans!! Now, I can’t explain why they’re Jets fans . . . maybe they were dropped on their heads too many times as children! Anyway . . . they would have LOVED to see this game! The Jets, down 16-9 to the heavily favored Chiefs with only 3:15 left to play and 68 yards to cover, got a 26-yard TD run from Bilal Powell to tie up the game with one minute left! Then, in overtime, they won the coin toss and, without ever letting Alex Smith and Kansas City touch the ball, marched 75 yards for the winning score – a 13-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Jermaine Kearse! Powell was terrific, running the ball 14 times for 129 yards and McCown completed 23 of 35 passes for 262 yards and the winning TD.
New England 40, Cleveland 26
Well, at the end of the first quarter, the Browns and Patriots were actually tied 3-3! That’s when New England quarterback Tom Brady got serious, hitting Rob Gronkowski for a 54 yard TD and Brandin Cooks for a 29 yard TD, en-route to a two-touchdown victory over hapless Cleveland. Brady was efficient, if not spectacular, connecting on 19 of 29 passes for 257 yards and those two TD’s, runningback Dion Lewis added two rushing TD’s, and Cleveland recorded a remarkable 15 penalties for 133 yards as the #1 seed Patriots easily handled the Browns.
Philadelphia, 20, NY Giants 3
Eli Manning of the Giants was awful. He completed only 3 of his first 16 passes and finished the day 9-36 with 4 interceptions. But, as bad as Manning played, the Eagles didn’t really look much better. They fumbled the ball away four times, and saw ten of their players carted off the field during the game, including Pro-Bowlers Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz. But two Jay Ajayi touchdown runs, one in the first quarter and one in the final quarter, marked the difference in the contest. Still, for a #1 seed, Philadelphia didn’t really impress anyone in this game.
LA Chargers 31, Cincinnati 27
This was a remarkable game with an amazing finish! In a game that saw five lead changes, the Bengals took their last lead 27-24, when QB Andy Dalton hit Giovany Bernard with a five-yard score with only 1:30 left in the game. That was the culmination of a 98 yard drive by Cincinnati! But, Charger quarterback Philip Rivers needed only 37 seconds to lead Los Angeles on a furious 75-yard march, hitting two huge 35-yard passes to both Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen, before finding Allen again alone in the Cincinnati end-zone for the game winning TD – Allen’s third TD of the game! Dalton was terrific, throwing for 455 yards in the loss, while Gordon ran for 131 yards on 18 carries for the victors.
Detroit 27, Dallas 17
Dak Prescott has had some bad games . . . but, maybe never as bad as this one. The Cowboys’ signal-caller threw a remarkable five interceptions in Dallas’ 27-17 loss to the Lions. Detroit, on the strength of touchdown runs by Matthew Stafford and Ameer Abdullah, along with three field-goals from Matt Prater, took a 20-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Dallas did score two touchdowns late in the game to make the score look closer, and they actually out-gained Detroit in the game 337 yards to 303 yards, but five picks, including one returned for a TD by the Lions’ Glover Quin, was enough to spell doom for the Cowboys.
San Francisco 21, New Orleans 20
In the second major upset of the first round, the 49ers nipped the Saints 21-20. With starting QB, Jimmy Garopollo on the shelf with an injury, it was C.J. Beathard who got the call, and, while he wasn’t spectacular, he kept San Francisco in the game, hitting on 13 of 21 passes for 165 yards and a TD. It was a night that featured backups for the Niners, with running back, Matt Brieda, rushing for two touchdowns, his last coming with only 4:30 left in the game to give San Francisco a 21-14 lead. But, Saints’ QB Drew Brees took his team on a tremendous end-of-game drive and hit Alvin Kamara on a 12 yard TD pass to bring the Saints to within one point. But, amazingly, New Orleans’ kicker Wil Lutz saw his extra point attempt blocked, securing the 49ers victory!
Tennessee 24, Denver 14
The Broncos probably played well enough to win this game, but Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian threw two interceptions inside the Titans’ 15 yard line to squash important drives in their ten point loss to Tennessee. The Titans played turnover-free football and had three rushing touchdowns, two from Derrick Henry and one from DeMarco Murray, while quarterback Marcus Mariota was 17-23 for 185 yards, and added 33 yards rushing on six carries. Siemian may have had the play of the game, though, when Denver had a 4th and 18 from their own 41 yard line late in the fourth quarter, and he found Emmanuel Sanders open for a 59 yard touchdown. But, it was too little, too late!
Carolina 21, Washington 18
In another nail-biter, the Panthers held off quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins to eke out a three point victory. Cousins, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 235 yards and two TD’s, was terrific, but, it was Carolina’s ability to control the clock using their pounding running game and great offensive line that was the difference in the contest. The Panthers amassed 178 yards rushing on 40 carries, and saw Cam Newton, Jonathon Stewart and Christian McCaffrey each run for a touchdown. Cousins did connect with tight-end Vernon Davis on a 13-yard TD pass with 1:38 left to play to close within three points, but a failed onside kick killed their comeback.