What We Learned in N.F.L. Week 9 – The New York Times

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What We Learned in N.F.L. Week 9 - The New York Times

The Ravens ran their way to a win over the previously undefeated Patriots, the Chiefs won without Patrick Mahomes, the Chargers beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, the Broncos beat the Browns with Brandon Allen at quarterback, and the Dolphins lost their chance at a perfect (0-16) season. It was a week of surprises that kept fans guessing all day.

Here’s what we learned:

  • New England’s highly-touted defense had absolutely no answer for the Ravens. The Patriots had been bandied about as an all-time defense despite not having beaten a team of consequence during an 8-0 start to the season. When asked to slow down Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram II and the Ravens, New England wilted considerably, losing by 37-20 in prime time.

    Bringing back memories of New England’s losses to other unconventional teams like Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins in 2008 and Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in 2012, Baltimore, cheered on by “M.V.P.! M.V.P.!” chants for Jackson, steamrolled its way to 210 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Jackson mixed in a few vital completions, and the Ravens defense did its part as well, forcing two turnovers, one of which resulted in a touchdown.

  • Patrick Mahomes isn’t a system quarterback, but Andy Reid has a heck of a system. The Chiefs have held strong since Mahomes went down with a knee injury in Week 7. Matt Moore was great in relief in that win over Denver, he played well in a loss to Green Bay last week, and he beat Minnesota this week. It was Moore’s first win since Dec. 24, 2016, and just his third since the 2011 season. Moore, taking advantage of Reid’s system and Kansas City’s tremendous skill players, has been incredible, with 659 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Chiefs are in first place in the A.F.C. West.

  • The Tank Bowl has lost its luster. It was hard not to look ahead to the Dolphins’ matchup with the Bengals in Week 16, when it seemed that both hapless teams would enter that game with 0-14 records. The Jets, eager to prove that there are more than two terrible teams in the N.F.L., ruined everything by losing in Miami. Not only did the Dolphins’ win put Cincinnati — which is on a bye week — in strong position to secure the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, but it knocked Miami out of last place in the A.F.C. East by way of a tiebreaker with the Jets. Some teams can’t even tank right.

  • Turnovers haunt Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers quarterback got away with an awful pass in the first half, as Breshad Perriman raced forward to snag a batted ball out of the air for a shocking touchdown. That, along with several other huge plays on both sides of the ball, had Winston and Tampa Bay leading by 21-7 late in the second quarter. But Seattle, thanks to a nearly flawless day from Russell Wilson, chipped away at that lead, and in the fourth quarter, Winston paid for his good fortune in the first half by having the ball jarred free from his hand on a sack, resulting in a vital turnover. Seattle went ahead six plays later, and won in overtime.

  • Being a kicker in 2019 is the pits. A week after hitting a game-winning 51-yard field goal, Adam Vinatieri of the Colts missed an extra-point and shanked a potential go-ahead kick from 43 yards with less than two minutes remaining in his team’s loss. Seattle’s Jason Myers missed two field goals, including a potential game-winner at the end of regulation (only to be bailed out by his offense in overtime), andTennessee’s Ryan Succop went 0 for 3 on field goal attempts, including one from 44 yards that effectively sealed the loss to Carolina. After going 44 for 58 on Sunday, the league’s kickers are connecting on just 79.8 percent of field goal attempts for the year. If that number holds, it would be the first season since 2003 that the league dropped below 80 percent. Accuracy peaked in 2013 at 86.5 percent.

  • Harrison Butker and Michael Badgley wouldn’t know anything about that. Butker went 4 for 4 in Kansas City’s win over Minnesota on Sunday, including a game-tying 54-yarder in the fourth quarter and a game-winning 44-yarder as time expired. Badgley, playing for the first time this season after sustaining a groin injury, went 4 for 5 on field goals and 2 for 2 on extra-points, contributing 14 of the Chargers’ 26 points in an unexpected win over Green Bay. The performance helped justify his nickname of Money Badger, which Badgley recently had trademarked.

Sunday’s Top Performers

Top Passer: Russell Wilson

This was Wilson’s eighth game this season — in nine starts — in which his passer rating was higher than 100, and it was his fifth where it exceeded 130. He’s leading the N.F.L. with 22 touchdown passes and he brings some normalcy to a list of top quarterbacks this week that includes one who has been benched multiple times this season (Ryan Fitzpatrick) and one whom absolutely no one expected to see play this season (Brandon Allen).

Top Runner: Christian McCaffrey

Houston’s Carlos Hyde had more rushing yards, and Kansas City’s Damien Williams averaged 10.4 yards a carry (thanks to a 91-yard touchdown run), but you can’t ignore what McCaffrey is doing as a one-man offense in Carolina. Factor in his receiving and he finished the day with 166 yards and three total touchdowns. He has an N.F.L.-leading 1,244 yards from scrimmage through eight games, putting him on pace to finish just 21 yards short of Chris Johnson’s N.F.L. record, which was set in 2009.

Top Receiver: Tyler Lockett

Lockett set a career high in receptions, fell just 2 yards short of his career high in receiving yards, and scored two touchdowns in Seattle’s come-from-behind victory at home. Mike Evans was nearly as good and now has 378 receiving yards over his last two games. Evans is just the 10th player in N.F.L. history to record back-to-back games with 180 or more receiving yards, according to Pro Football Reference.

One* Sentence About Sunday’s Games

*Except when it takes more.

Ravens 37, Patriots 20 A 17-0 lead had shrunk to 17-13, and while the story of this game was certainly Baltimore’s offense, Marlon Humphrey’s 70-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter, which pushed the lead up to 24-13, gave the Ravens the boost they needed to hang on for a victory.

Texans 26, Jaguars 3 Gardner Minshew picked a terrible time to have his worst game of the season, as his four turnovers in a loss will make it a lot easier to hand the ball back to Nick Foles after Jacksonville’s bye week.

Chiefs 26, Vikings 23 Kansas City was expected to increase its focus on the run while the team waited for Patrick Mahomes to return, but the Chiefs had just 56 rushing yards on Sunday outside of Damien Williams’s outrageous 91-yard touchdown.

Chargers 26, Packers 11 Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers have combined for 741 passing touchdowns in their long careers, but they had just one between them in this game, which was decided by kickers and the Chargers’ running game.

Seahawks 40, Buccaneers 34 It felt a bit like Seattle got away with a win in a game it should have lost, but Russell Wilson had 378 passing yards and five touchdowns, and Chris Carson had 106 rushing yards against the N.F.L.’s best run defense, so maybe the Seahawks can just be happy about an emotional win at home.

Panthers 30, Titans 20 Kyle Allen may have been knocked down several pegs in last week’s loss to San Francisco, but with this win he improved to 5-1 as a starter this season and may hold onto the job depending on how Cam Newton’s upcoming medical evaluations shake out.

Raiders 31, Lions 24 The Raiders appeared to do Detroit a huge favor in the game’s closing moments, as they had to call a timeout with 8 seconds left to get their defense set, which, in turn, gave the Lions, who had no timeouts remaining, a better chance to set up a play. But Oakland’s defense proceeded to shut down Matthew Stafford’s options, making him force a pass attempt to Logan Thomas that fell incomplete, effectively ending the game.

Eagles 22, Bears 14 Finishing a game with just 164 yards of offense is fairly awful, but it took a fairly solid second half for Chicago to get there, as the Bears had just 9 in the first half.

Bills 24, Redskins 9 In a rare meeting of two of the N.F.L.’s top-ten career rushing leaders, Adrian Peterson (No. 6 on the career list) had a much better day than Frank Gore (No. 4). Devin Singletary, who trails each of those players by more than 13,500 career rushing yards, led Buffalo to an easy win.

Broncos 24, Browns 19 Denver’s Brandon Allen had not played in a competitive game since the Liberty Bowl in 2016, but he became the latest quarterback to find a way to beat Cleveland. In what may have been an N.F.L. first, three quarterbacks with the same last name (Brandon, Kyle and Josh Allen) all won games on the same day.

Steelers 26, Colts 24 Brian Hoyer threw three touchdown passes in relief of the injured Jacoby Brissett, but his pick-six in the second quarter played a large role in a close loss by Indianapolis.

Dolphins 26, Jets 18 Ryan Fitzpatrick had a nice day, but you have to consider the context.

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