What must quarterback meetings be like in Minnesota these days? Does Josh Freeman bring lunch for everyone, and then overthrow position coach Craig Johnson, splattering a turkey sub all over the wall? Can Christian Ponder get sacked by a bag of Fritos? Will Matt Cassel tear his rotator cuff drinking a Diet Sprite too fast?
Dallas 30, Detroit 31
Time of Death: With the clock running down on the goal line, Matt Stafford eschewed a spike play and took to the skies:
Fly, Matt Stafford. Fly like the beautiful, beer-soaked egret you are.
Cause of Death: Did you think we weren't going to talk about Calvin Johnson? That's insane. Of course we're going to talk about Calvin Johnson, he of the 329 yards receiving on 14 catches. At halftime, Johnson's 156 yards already gave him the 15th best receiving game of any player this year, but let's be really mean and compare Megatron not to other players, but to other teams:
- 15 teams have not hit 329 yards passing in a game this year.
- 5 teams haven't hit 329 yards through the air this year and all of last year.
- 3 of those teams also didn't do it in 2011.
- The Cardinals don't have a 329 yard game since 2009.
Cleveland 17, Kansas City 23
Time of Death: Ryan Succop's 40 yard field goal with 17 seconds left pushed the lead to six and forced Cleveland to drive the field to win. (It didn't go well.)
Cause of Death: The Browns came out strong to start the second half, drawing to within three points of the Chiefs after an 80 yard touchdown drive. And then the Kansas City defense got all Kansas City defense on 'em, as Cleveland went 9/17 passing for 83 net yards and only one pass that gained more than 14 yards the rest of the game. In the second half of games, the Chiefs lead the NFL in yards per passing attempt allowed (4.75), sacks (23), and passing touchdowns allowed (2). It's like watching a car slowly be compacted at a scrap yard.
Miami 17, New England 27
Time of Death: Caleb Sturgis had a 39-yard field goal blocked with the Dolphins down 10 and less than three minutes to play, and the Patriots are totally going to win the AFC East because Bill Belichick doesn't want you to be happy.
Cause of Death: First-half Ryan Tannehill was happy and effective and healthy, completing 11 of his 18 passes and not getting sacked once. Second-half Ryan Tannehill is still being put back together, after only completing 11 of 24 passes in the last two quarters while being sacked SIX times. Troublesomely, that drop-off is not out of character for the Miami aerial attack this year.
Ryan Tannehill, 1st Half (season): 62.6 percent passes completed, 7.3 yards per attempt, 7 sacks
Ryan Tannehill, 2nd Half (season): 56.5 percent passes completed, 6.3 yards per attempt, 25 sacks
That puts Tannehill on pace for 57 second-half sacks, which probably qualifies him for workers' comp.
Buffalo 17, New Orleans 35
Time of Death: Jimmy Graham's second touchdown gave the Saints an 18 point advantage with 20 minutes to play. Jimmy Graham is a million feet tall and made of unbreakable diamonds.
Cause of Death: Drew Brees completed 76 percent of his passes, and it turns out that when you let an awesome quarterback do awesome things there's not enough awesome left for you; New Orleans is now 31-3 when Brees connects on at least three-quarters of his pass attempts. So, um, don't let that happen. (That's a free KEY TO THE GAME, Fox.)
Philadelphia 7, New York Giants 15
Time of Death: Facing an eight-point deficit with 3:16 remaining, the Eagles needed to stop the Giants on 3rd and 8. They failed, and the Giants ran all but 27 seconds off clock before Philadelphia got the ball back.
Cause of Death: Yardage wise, this was the worst offensive performance by an Eagles team since 2007, and we've now reached the first instance in which Philadelphia has had consecutive weeks without an offensive touchdown since 1999 — Andy Reid's first season. THE CIIIIIIIIIRCLE OF LIIIIIIIIIIIIFE.
Jacksonville 10, San Francisco 42
Time of Death: The Niners grabbed a 21-0 lead four minutes into the second quarter, and we hope you enjoyed Chad Henne, London, because we left him behind.
Cause of Death: The Jaguars only forced nine third downs, but, in their defense, it's not like third down was all that helpful to them, as San Francisco converted on six of those and picked up a first down on fourth and short on two of the other three. Jacksonville is bad at football things, and we all just need to accept that and move on.
New York Jets 9, Cincinnati 49
Time of Death: Any chance of a thrilling comeback ended on the first play of the second half, when Geno Smith threw a pick that Chris Crocker ran back 32 yards for a touchdown.
Cause of Death: To give you a sense of how staggering this blowout was, realize that it's been nine seasons since the Bengals scored 49 points in a game and 24 seasons since they beat a team by 40. It helps that the three longest Cincinnati passing plays gained more yards (151) than the Jets got through the air the whole game (147).
Pittsburgh 18, Oakland 21
Time of Death: Holding only two timeouts with the two-minute warning already gone, the Steelers were forced to attempt an onside kick, which they failed to recover.
Cause of Death: The Steelers ran 21 plays in the first half. They gained a total of 49 yards on those plays, and, unsurprisingly, they found themselves behind 21-3 heading into the locker room. This was against an Oakland defense that is right around the league average in yards per play allowed, mind you, and, though things improved in the second half, there's still not a ton to like about the Pittsburgh offense right now.
Washington 21, Denver 45
Time of Death: Down 10, Washington intercepted Peyton Manning deep in their own territory. Naturally, two plays later, they gave the ball back to Denver with better field position than the Broncos had before Manning's interception.
Cause of Death: WARNING: If you have a heart condition, are pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, do not look at RGIII's passing statistics in the fourth quarter of this game:
4/11, 22 net yards, two interceptions.
Wait, we also meant to warn people with asthma not to look at that. You have your inhaler with you, right? You don't? Shit.
Atlanta 13, Arizona 27
Time of Death: As the third quarter drew near its end, Matt Ryan and the Falcons found themselves with the ball in Arizona territory down three scores. One interception later, only one of those things was still true, and it wasn't the good one.
Cause of Death: I stopped looking once I got through 1983 because I got tired, but I can tell you this for certain — in the last 30 years, every team in the NFL has finished with at least 1,000 yards rushing. All of them, no matter how shitty and terrible and mismanaged. The Falcons ran for 27 yards on 14 carries in this game, giving them 437 total rushing yards through seven games. At that pace, they'll finish the season with ... 998.8. Even sad history is history, Atlanta.
Minnesota 31, Green Bay 44
Time of Death: A James Starks 25-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the fourth quarter put Green Bay up 21, a more than safe distance from what might be the most disappointing quarterback depth chart the NFL has ever seen.
Cause of Death: Leaguewide, about a third of drives this season have ended in a score. The Broncos are first in the league, generating points on half of their possessions, and the Packers are right behind at 48 percent. Green Bay's a great offense, even with its injury struggles. That said? You need a little help from a terrible defense to score on EVERY DRIVE IN A GAME, as the Packers did here. This wasn't even a case where Green Bay benefited from outstanding field position; the first five Packer drives all started at or inside their own 20 yard line, where the scoring rate across the NFL drops to 26.3 percent.
St. Louis 9, Seattle 14
Time of Death: On the final play, one yard from a game-winning touchdown, the Rams decided to let Kellen Clemens throw the ball. You can undoubtedly guess the rest.
Cause of Death: Since 2009, only three teams have won a game while being held under 140 offensive yards — the Dolphins, twice, and the Steelers. It seems impossible to lose when your defense is that smothering, but the Rams did it in the simplest way possible: failing to score touchdowns in the red zone. Three field goals, all from inside the Seattle 16, wasted an outstanding defensive effort and sent the Rams to the bottom of the NFC West.