The nice thing about starting out 0-8 is that once you win a game (assuming you do), all the shame and awfulness you've accumulated over the course of the season transfers to the team you beat. It's like the grossest White Elephant gift exchange ever.
Atlanta 10, Seattle 33
Time of Death: Golden Tate made a touchdown catch so impressive you briefly didn't dislike him just before halftime and gave the Seahawks a twenty point lead. Did you make plans before the season to attend a Falcons playoff game? Because you can probably cancel those now.
Cause of Death: Here's the shortest way to explain the thorough beating Seattle delivered. The Falcons averaged 4.2 yards per play and gained 226 yards overall. The Seahawks averaged 8.7 yards per play and gained 261 yards overall ... on first down.
Chicago 19, Detroit 21
Time of Death: The Bears had a chance to send the game to overtime after scoring with forty seconds left, but the two-point conversion they needed failed. (Twice, because the Lions know that personal fouls are just the second chances we all deserve in life.)
Cause of Death: Detroit's run defense has been problematic all year; entering this game, the Lions ranked 28th in yards per carry allowed and had let five opponents pick up 4.5 yards a rush or more. That included the Bears in Week 4, who gained 131 yards on just 16 attempts. But things have improved lately, and this time Chicago only managed 38 yards on 20 carries, their least efficient performance in over two years.
Green Bay 13, Philadelphia 27
Time of Death: Green Bay's comeback chances evaporated after Scott Tolzien's fourth down pass to Jordy Nelson in the end zone was ruled incomplete with just under ten minutes to play, as the Packers never got the ball back after that.
Cause of Death: The Packers turned four red zone trips into a mere six points, though that's been problematic for Green Bay all year. After finishing third in the league in red zone touchdown percentage last year (67 percent), the Packers are down to 44 percent this season, ahead of only the Steelers and Jaguars. See, losing Aaron Rodgers wasn't such a big deal!
Tennessee 27, Jacksonville 29
Time of Death: The Jaguars fell to 0-9 after they f-wait, what? For real? Stop playing.
Cause of Death: Jacksonville had only generated 34 points off of turnovers through Week 9, not because the offense was wasting opportunities, but because the defense simply wasn't giving them very many. The Titans were very obliging on that last point, giving the Jaguars three fumbles, an interception, and the 17 points that resulted from them in total. Charity like that isn't just kind - it's tax-deductible, Tennessee.
Indianapolis 8, St. Louis 38
Time of Death: Indy's first drive of the second quarter stalled out at midfield after the refs threw a flag for defensive pass interference on 3rd and 10, then picked it up with no explanation. That forced the Colts to punt, and then Tavon Austin did this:
Cause of Death: Austin had a spectacular day, but credit is also due to the Rams defense, which held the Colts without a conversion on ten of twelve third down attempts, including two sacks and two turnovers. Of particular note? Six of those stops came with third and five yards or less, though short yardage has been a problem for Indianapolis all year, as they've only converted on 44.1 percent (third-worst in the league) in those situations.
Oakland 20, New York Giants 24
Time of Death: The final Raiders drive ended with Terrelle Pryor taking his fourth sack of the game and losing the ball, and somehow the Giants have turned an 0-6 start into striking distance of winning the NFC East.
Cause of Death: Part of why the Giants have turned things around? In five of those first six losses, New York's defense allowed opponents to gain over five yards per play, but in three straight wins, the defense has held each team below four yards a play, including Oakland's 3.87 average in this game. Kansas City is the only other team that's kept the Raiders below a four yard average, and yes, this is an implicit way to say Eli Manning = Alex Smith.
Buffalo 10, Pittsburgh 23
Time of Death: Down fourteen points, the Bills forced a punt on Pittsburgh's first possession. Or did Pittsburgh choose to punt, knowing that E.J. Manuel would throw a pick on the very next play? Believe whatever you want, friend. Believe whatever you want.
Cause of Death: This was not an especially dazzling return for Manuel, who only averaged 3.38 yards on 44 touches. Of course, it gets even worse when you take out the last Buffalo drive, which started at 4:34 in the fourth quarter after the Steelers had taken a twenty point lead. Without that series, Manuel's numbers drop to 62 yards on 31 touches. Though a two yard average is still probably an improvement over Trent Edwards.
Cincinnati 17, Baltimore 20
Time of Death: Despite the crazy ending to regulation that bounced in Cincinnati's favor, Baltimore wound up on top after Justin Tucker kicked a 46 yard field goal in overtime.
Cause of Death: That field goal drive started on the Baltimore 44 yard line, and it was the sixth drive the Ravens had that started less than sixty yards from the Cincinnati end zone. All but three of Baltimore's points came on those six drives, so maybe the Bengals should have done something other than lose 11 yards when they went for it on 4th and 2 in overtime.
San Francisco 9, Carolina 10
Time of Death: Colin Kaepernick's last pass of the day ended up being a 28 yard completion...to Carolina cornerback Drayton Florence. Look, you probably can't even throw a 28 yard pass, hater.
Cause of Death: Since the start of the 2011 season, only 16 quarterbacks have 1. thrown at least 20 passes in a game and 2. failed to reach 100 yards passing in that game. They are: Matt Cassel, Kellen Clemens, Kerry Collins, Nick Foles, Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Ryan Lindley, Curtis Painter, Christian Ponder, Mark Sanchez, Matt Schaub, John Skelton, Tim Tebow, Jeff Tuel, Joe Webb, and Charlie Whitehurst. After completing 11 of 22 passes for 91 yards, we can now add Kaepernick as the 17th member of this sad, sad, sad club.
Houston 24, Arizona 27
Time of Death: The Texans, in need of a field goal to tie the game, got the ball back with a little over two minutes to play but failed to convert on third and fourth downs with three yards to gain.
Cause of Death: After a strong first half, Houston's first three drives of the second half all gained negative yardage, and the only plays the Texans ran in Arizona territory in the last two quarters were the result of a fumble recovery by J.J. Watt at the Cardinal five yard line. Comparing Houston's drive statistics in each half all season shows that problem is a persistent one:
First half drives: 34.2 average yards (5th overall), 35 percent of drives ending in a score (16th)
Second half drives: 25.1 average yards (26th overall), 21 percent of drives ending in a score (28th)
San Diego 20, Denver 28
Time of Death: After whittling the lead from 22 points to eight, San Diego's offense took possession with 6:43 left and moved near midfield but had a bad snap, a sack, and an incompletion before punting the ball away for good.
Cause of Death: The Chargers were smart enough to realize that controlling the clock was their best defense against Peyton Manning and the Bronco receivers. That part of the plan worked; five different San Diego drives lasted at least seven plays and took up 4:30, and Denver was held to a season-low 28 points. There's a second part to that plan, though - you have to actually score points on those drives, and that's where the Chargers failed, only generating 10 points off those 5 possessions.
Dallas 17, New Orleans 49
Time of Death: Desperate to make up a three score deficit, Dallas went with a surprise onside kick late in the third quarter - and recovered it! The comeback was alive!! And then Tony Romo threw three incomplete passes, one of which was flagged for intentional grounding, leading to a Cowboys punt.
Cause of Death: Dallas did nothing to even slightly slow Drew Brees down, as he completed nearly 83 percent of his passes (his highest rate since 2011), including one stretch where he completed 19 straight attempts. Five teams have already thrown for 375 or more yards against the Cowboys this year. The number of teams who did that from 1999 through 2012? Four.
Miami 19, Tampa Bay 22
Time of Death: Things were set up perfectly for another fourth quarter choke job by the Bucs when Miami, down three points, started a drive at their own five and quickly moved to the 33 with two minutes left. That collapsed after two sacks, an incompletion, and an arm punt by Ryan Tannehill.
Cause of Death: 16 players on Miami's roster are listed as six feet tall or shorter. Every other member of the team is individually taller than Miami's two yard rushing total on the night.