Halfway through the season, 45 different players have started a game at quarterback, and a full third of NFL teams have had to start someone other than the Week 1 QB behind center at some point. Yet, somehow, Tyler Bray has not even been given a single snap. Why are you afraid of greatness, National Football League? Because it smells a little bit like flat beer and Axe? Cowards.
Buffalo 13, Kansas City 23
Time of Death: Ryan Succop's 39 yard field goal just before the two-minute warning capped a four-minute drive that gave the Chiefs a two score lead.
Cause of Death: It's easy (and, yes, accurate) to point out that Kansas City is a fairly unbalanced team, especially after the defense outscores the offense by five points. But the same Alex Smith that only has three total touchdowns in his last five games has turned the ball over just twice in that time span, helping the Chiefs to become the sixth team this century with a turnover margin of +15 or better through Week 9. Don't think you can win with a dominant defense and a quarterback who just stays out of the way? REBUTTAL:
Minnesota 23, Dallas 27
Time of Death: Tony Romo's touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris with 35 seconds left put Dallas ahead for good, but only because those scheming owners refused to build the 75 yard long field Christian Ponder could have dominated.
Cause of Death: These are Christian Ponder's career per game passing averages as a starter:
6.3 yards per passing attempt, 59.7 percent passes completed, 1.09 touchdowns, 1 interception
And this was Christian Ponder's stat line against the Cowboys:
6.4 yards per passing attempt, 67.5 percent passes completed, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Ponder now hasn't thrown for 250 yards in a game since Percy Harvin's last healthy game in Minnesota. He's such a reliably below-average quantity they should give him a spot on the periodic table. Or at least let strontium get a start at quarterback.
St. Louis 21, Tennessee 28
Time of Death: For the second week in a row, the Rams came close to a last-ditch drive that could have changed the outcome and fell short, this time at Tennessee's 26 yard line with incomplete passes on 3rd and 4th down.
Cause of Death: Chris Johnson's 2013 had largely been one of containment; coming into this game, he'd only had six runs go for 10 yards or more. That season total is now doubled thanks to the Rams, as Johnson had rushes go for 11, 14, 18, 19, 23, and 24 yards in by far his best game of the year.
New Orleans 20, New York Jets 26
Time of Death: Despite trailing most of the game, the Saints looked poised to pull out a victory after cutting New York's lead to six and then holding the Jets to a three and out with just under two minutes to play. Four incomplete passes and a holding penalty ended that dream quickly.
Cause of Death: While the Saints have vastly improved their pass defense this season, they've still struggled mightily to stop the run, allowing the Jets to pick up 5.5 yards per carry and nearly 200 rushing yards total. Games against Seattle and San Francisco still loom, and continued porousness there could be what keeps New Orleans from a first round bye and home field advantage.
San Diego 24, Washington 30
Time of Death: Darrel Young's four-yard touchdown in the only drive of overtime saved what could have been a disastrous blown lead by Washington.
Cause of Death: Like the Saints, the Chargers also can't stop anybody from running the ball, and Washington made them pay for that failure after halftime, calling for 26 runs that gained 129 yards — more than they've gained on the ground in five of their other seven games.
Atlanta 10, Carolina 34
Time of Death: Matt Ryan's third interception, with 8:30 left in the fourth quarter of a two score game, was run back 38 yards for a touchdown that sent the Falcons to four games under .500 for the first time since 2007.
Cause of Death: Turnovers are killing Atlanta this year, as the Falcons are 2-2 when they only give the ball away once at the most and 0-4 when they have at least two turnovers. Ryan's currently on pace to throw 20 interceptions this year, a considerable jump over his previous season-high of 14.
Oakland 20, Philadelphia 49
Time of Death: Some part of the Raiders had to go into the locker room at halftime believing there was no way Nick Foles, who already had four touchdowns agains them, could keep it up. That part was silenced on the fifth play of the second half, when Foles hit LeSean McCoy for touchdown number five and put the Eagles up by 22.
Cause of Death: I mean, you let Nick Foles throw seven touchdowns. Foles needed 270 passing attempts to get to TD number seven in his career. You either lose this game or you commit ritual seppuku after it. Or both.
Tampa Bay 24, Seattle 27
Time of Death: Tamps got the ball first in overtime, promptly went three and out, gave the Seahawks the ball at the Seattle 40, and then got run over by Marshawn Lynch before the Hawks kicked an easy 27 yard field goal to win.
Cause of Death: Since 2003, only seven other teams have held a 21 point lead and lost. How'd the Bucs do it? After their first drive of the second half ended in a field goal, they didn't convert on a single third down, while allowing Seattle to pick up a first on seven of their eight tries. Not only should Greg Schiano be fired from this job, he should be preemptively fired from his next two.
Baltimore 18, Cleveland 24
Time of Death: Billiam (he's an adult, dammit) Cundiff's field goal with 14 seconds left meant the Ravens needed to score a touchdown in 14 seconds to win and ahahahahahahahaahahahahahahaha.
Cause of Death: Four three-and-outs in this game puts Baltimore on pace for 60 this year, a total which would trail only behind the Jacksonville Jaguars. Even more alarming? 18 of Baltimore's 30 three and outs have come after the defense has forced a punt or a turnover. Way to make them feel unappreciated, jerks.
Pittsburgh 31, New England 55
Time of Death: Technically, there was still some hope that the Steelers could overcome a 17 point deficit in less than five minutes, but that probability dropped pretty close to zero once Ben Roethlisberger threw his second interception of the day.
Cause of Death: The 413 passing yards the Patriots accumulated is the most the Steelers have allowed in a game since 1986, and the first 400+ yard passing game against Pittsburgh since 2002. Want to get real weird with history? Three players finished with at least 100 yards receiving for New England, and no trio has done that against the Steelers since since 1968.
Houston 24, Indianapolis 27
Time of Death: Randy Bullock missed a 55 yard field goal as time expired that could have sent things to overtime, and right now someone is calling a Houston radio station demanding to know why they won't let Case Keenum try to kick.
Cause of Death: To make things worse for Mr. Bullock, he also missed attempts of 43 and 49 yards earlier in the game, and is now connecting on just 46 percent of his field goal attempts from 40 yards and beyond this season. The average across the NFL for those distances? 76 percent.
Green Bay 20, Chicago 27
Time of Death: A touchdown drive to tie the game with less than a minute to go is not an easy thing for most NFL quarterbacks. Seneca Wallace is not most NFL quarterbacks, however, and oh man do we not mean that in a good way, after he took consecutive sacks to end the game.
Cause of Death: That horrifyingly steep cliff you're staring over? The one with the double black diamond rating and "WARNING: DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY IS POSSIBLE ON THIS TRAIL" signs everywhere? That's the drop-off going from Aaron Rodgers to Seneca Wallace, a quarterback who hasn't thrown for 250 yards in a game since 2009 and hasn't had multiple touchdown passes in a game since 2008.