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NFL Week 9 Recaps
Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles
The struggling 3-4 Chicago Bears limped into Philadelphia to face 4-4 Eagles, with both teams seeking to get their season back on track. The Bears have dropped four straight games after starting the season 3-1 while the Eagles have struggled with injuries and consistency across the team. While the end score seemed like the Bears put up a competitive effort, the Eagles kept control all game while the Bears performed poorly in all phases. The Eagles gain confidence with a winning record of 5-4 while the Bears watch their postseason hopes slip away at 3-5.
Bears Offense is a Mess, Defense is Growing Antsy
Had the Bears offense decided to chill in the locker rooms for the entire first half, most of the audience probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. As it was, they ran 20 plays in six drives, and gained nine net yards in the first half. Up until the final drive of the half, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had succeeded in completing four out of his nine passes. Those four completions were all behind the line of scrimmage. He would finish with 10 completions on 21 attempts for 125 yards as the Eagles defense played press-man coverage across the board and brought heavy pressure, resulting in panic by Trubisky as he found himself deprived of easy reads. The running game provided no spark after a solid performance last week. Running back David Montgomery gained 40 yards on 14 carries for two touchdowns, and was really the only vaguely bright spot on an offense that is one of the league’s worst in recent weeks.
With the Eagles offense on the field almost 20 minutes longer than the Bears offense, Chuck Pagano’s defense had no rest while facing one of the league’s better offenses. It was clear they were struggling as they were called for penalties over and over while trying to create plays to stop the Eagles however they could. The defense was something special last year and still can be this year, but Matt Nagy’s offense is quickly extinguishing their fire. How long before the Bears find themselves in a Jacksonville Jaguars-like situation with a Blake Bortles of their own?
Jordan Howard Reminds Bears Fans of the Good ‘ol Days
Running back Jordan Howard has always been a quiet, down-to-earth kind of guy. He has the feel-good story that warms the hearts of fans. He led the Bears offense through the quarterback play of Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer, only for the Bears to trade him because Matt Nagy believed he didn’t fit the scheme. Against the Bears, Howard proved to be exactly what the Bears were missing as he ran powerfully and consistently for 82 yards on 19 carries, as well as an easy touchdown without being touched. Along with rookie Miles Sanders, who added 42 yards on 10 carries, they form a dynamic one-two punch for the Eagles to support Carson Wentz and the passing game. Wentz completed 26 of 39 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown. Though he was sacked four times, he was clutch when he was needed as he completed four different passes on third downs during the final drive of the game to ice away the victory. He only completed four of his eleven passes over 10 air yards, but it was more than enough against a Bears defense that was exhausted by halftime.
Minnesota Vikings @ Kansas City Chiefs
The 6-2 Minnesota Vikings, seeking to continue a four-game winning streak, traveled to face the 5-3 Kansas City Chiefs in their second game with Matt Moore starting in place of the injured Patrick Mahomes. It was a tightly contested game with both teams clicking on offense and defense, but it would ultimately the big-play ability of the Chiefs that would lead to their 26-23 victory off Harrison Butker’s 44-yard field goal as time ran out. Both teams now sit at 6-3 with the Vikings in second place in the NFC North and the Chiefs in first in the AFC West.
Big Plays by Offense Bails Out Chiefs
Matt Moore was solid in another performance in relief of Mahomes, completing 25 of 35 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs clearly missed the scramble ability of Mahomes as the Vikings brought heavy pressure often to sack Moore five times, with another ten hits. Moore was safe with the football while also completing eight of his 11 passes thrown 10 air yards or deeper downfield, which is often an area quarterbacks may struggle in. His average completed pass traveled 8.7 air yards from the line of scrimmage, while his average attempted pass was 8.8 air yards for only a -0.1 yard difference, indicating Moore was efficient throwing both short and deep passes. A 91-yard touchdown run by Damien Williams while backed up in their own territory and 140 total receiving yards by Tyreek Hill kept the Chiefs in the game despite failing to score a touchdown in both of their red zone attempts, and ultimately allowed them to win off of Butker’s game-winning field goal.
Three-and-Outs and Missed Opportunities Doom Vikings
At times, the Vikings offense looked solid driving down the field for touchdowns and field goals, but they also went three-and-out in six of their 12 total drives. This resulted in three more punts and less time of possession than Kansas City. Punter Britton Colquitt had terrible timing as his final punt of the game traveled only 27 yards and gave the Chiefs the ball at Minnesota’s 45 and allowed an easy drive for the game-winning kick. Kirk Cousins was solid again, completing 19 of his 38 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns while only taking one sack. Dalvin Cook had limited success on the ground with 71 yards on 21 carries.
New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens
The 8-0 New England Patriots traveled to face the 5-2 Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots have only faced one other winning-record team prior to this game, while the Ravens previously beat the Seattle Seahawks. In a shocking upset, the Ravens gave the Patriots their first loss of the season, winning 37-20. The Patriots drop to 8-1 while the Ravens move to 5-2, both teams still firmly on top of their respective divisions.
Tom Brady Breaks Record For Most Losses
Quarterback Tom Brady, now in his 20th season in the NFL, has finally notched his 61st career loss to break the previous three-way tie he had with Steve Grogan and Drew Bledsoe. Yup, you read it right. Now Brady can be considered the losingest quarterback for the Patriots. You can just skip his career wins total, not to mention his Super Bowl rings.
Brady and the Patriots offense struggled in the first half, punting on four of their seven drives, although one of those punts would be recovered after a mistake by the Ravens. This trend would carry over to the second half as they would end with 14 less minutes of possession despite running the same number of plays as the Ravens. The Patriots were already down 17-0 in the first half before they put their first points on the board. The second half was no better after a Patriots fumble returned for a touchdown and a bad interception thrown by Brady under pressure. He would finish with 30 completions out of 46 passes for 285 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. The Ravens followed the tried-and-true method of pressuring Brady into mistakes, hitting him 10 times despite only recording two sacks. As a result, many of his throws were short on the shorter side, averaging nearly two yards short of the first down marker. The Patriots run game found no success either, with James White, Rex Burkhead, and Sony Michel only gaining 74 yards on the ground.
Ravens Offense and Defense Shine
The Lamar Jackson-led offense and physical defense combined to keep Tom Brady off the field for much of the game. The running game was unstoppable as Jackson carried 16 times for 61 yards and two touchdowns and running back Mark Ingram carried 15 times for 115 yards. Jackson also completed 17 of his 23 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, though his average completed pass was only 2.9 air yards past the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, the defense harassed Tom Brady with blitzes. On 21 blitzes, they were able to pressure him 43% of the time, which would ultimately keep him from staying in the pocket to complete deep passes. They were also opportunistic, as demonstrated when forcing a fumble against Julian Edelman and returning it for a score on the first drive of the second quarter to take away any momentum the Patriots hoped to gain.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Seattle Seahawks
Trying to break a three-game losing streak, the 2-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveled across the country to face a 6-2 Seattle Seahawks team trying to keep pace with the undefeated San Francisco 49ers in a tight NFC West division. Despite the record of the Bucs, they have put up big numbers in many of their games this season, and there was no lack of offense for either team in this game. It would take all the way until overtime for Russell Wilson to engineer a game-winning drive as the Seahawks move to 7-2 with their 4-034 win, while the Bucs drop to 2-6.
Battle of Improvising Quarterbacks
Both Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston played well in a game dominated by passing offense, while avoiding pass rushers and improvising plays while under pressure. Winston was quick to get rid of the ball and his offensive line held up their end as he completed 29 of his 44 attempts for 335 yards and two touchdowns while only taking two sacks and three hits. Mike Evans was the leading receiver for Winston with 12 receptions for 180 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Bucs defense blitzed Wilson on 76% of his dropbacks but he showed off his trademark elusiveness as they were only able to truly pressure him five times out of those 35 blitzes. Wilson in turn shredded the secondary of the Bucs with five touchdowns while completing 29 of his 43 attempts for 378 yards. He would pay for each of those, however, by taking three sacks and 11 hits through the game. Wilson found success with Tyler Lockett hauling in 13 receptions for 152 yard and two touchdowns, and DK Metcalf with six receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown.
A Few Lucky Breaks Grant Seahawks the Win
Luck seemed to extend to the Bucs as an almost-sure interception bounced off the hands of a Seahawks defender in the endzone and into the waiting arms of Bucs receiver Breshad Perriman for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Chris Carson ran for 59 yards before the ball was clobbered out of his arms, after which it bounced wildly around the field before eventually rolling out of bounds, allowing the Seahawks to maintain possession at Tampa Bay’s 24 and later score a touchdown. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Chris Carson fumbled again, giving the Bucs possession in Seahawks territory with the game tied at 24. Three plays later, the Winston fumbled and the Seahawks returned the loose football to Tampa’s 15 yard line. At the very end of the game with the score tied at 34, Seahawks kicker Jason Myers missed a 40-yard game-winner, his second of the game, sending the game into overtime. As luck would have it, the Seahawks won the coin toss and Russell Wilson drove the offense down the field to score the winning touchdown, preventing Myers from having to trot out onto the field again after missing two field goals in the game.
Detroit Lions @ Oakland Raiders
The 3-4 Oakland Raiders hosted the 3-3-1 Detroit Lions seeking to break their two-game losing streak. They are two different teams, with Matthew Stafford making up for a lack of running game for the Lions while Derek Carr has been able to rely on rookie running back Josh Jacobs to keep defenses honest. The game was close as a result of multiple miscues for both teams but the Raiders ultimately broke up a fourth down throw backed up in their own endzone to seal the 31-24 win.
Poor Pass Defense Leads to Duel of Quarterbacks
Matthew Stafford had his way with the Raiders defense, throwing for 406 yards and completing 26 of his 41 pass attempts for three touchdowns. He completed a shocking 11 of his 18 pass attempts 10 air yards or deeper and ended second-best among quarterbacks in Week 9 averaging 9.4 air yards on completed passes. Derek Carr found similar success, completing 20 of his 31 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. For the Raiders quarterback, nine of his 12 passes 10 air yards or deeper were completed and he averaged 8.1 air yards on his completions, only a couple spots lower than Stafford in Week 9. The difference in the game would be turnovers as Stafford botched a handoff and threw an endzone interception, both of which gave possession to the Raiders. The Raiders had no turnovers despite several botched snaps by former offensive tackle rookie Andre James, who was filling in for injured veteran center Rodney Hudson. Derek Carr’s quick thinking allowed the Raiders to escape any turnovers from those dangerous situations and ultimately allowed the Raiders to pull off the win in the end.
Josh Jacobs Breaking Records
What did the Raiders have that the Lions didn’t? A running game. Rookie Josh Jacobs continues to add to his Offensive Rookie of the Year hype after passing the previous Raiders rookie rushing record held by legend Marcus Allen. He now has 740 yards on the season after gaining 120 yards against the Lions on 28 carries for two touchdowns. His production has been the key to opening up passing opportunities for Carr. Against the Lions, none of his 28 rushes ended up in a loss of yards. Some doubted the pick at the beginning of the season but he has the makings of a future star in the league.