One of the most confounding passes we’ve ever seen.
Week 10 will go down as a strange one. We saw some huge mistakes from some of the best players in the NFL.
Cam Newton threw one of the most confounding passes that we’ve ever seen. Tom Brady struggled under center. However, his most glaring blunder came not as a quarterback, but as a receiver. Meanwhile, quarterbacks like Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Derek Carr continued to doom themselves with blunders.
But it wasn’t only the quarterbacks. A late-game mistake led to another brutal loss from the Jacksonville Jaguars. And after watching Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills, we’re not sure why the New York Jets even showed up.
We saw a slew of embarrassing blunders in Week 10. These were the most notable among them.
Cam Newton throws baffling pick-six
The Carolina Panthers started Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers well, scoring a touchdown on the opening drive. Pittsburgh quelled that with a 75-yard touchdown pass to Juju Smith-Schuster. One play later, any good feelings that remained on the Carolina bench were gone.
Facing an imminent sack, Newton elected to chuck the ball into the middle of the field. Vince Williams came down with the ball and cruised into the end zone for a pick-six (watch here). From there, the rout was on.
The situation wasn’t ideal for Newton. His alternatives there were either to take the sack or throw the ball away for an almost certain intentional grounding. Either option would have resulted in a safety. That can be a tough pill to swallow. But that’s precisely what quarterbacks like Newton need to do. Excluding some late game scenarios, we should never see passes like the one he threw. He’s not Nathan Peterman. He’s not even a highly-touted rookie. Newton is an eight-year veteran and former league MVP. Sometimes, that means making the lesser of two evils plays. Thursday’s pick-six was the antithesis of that.
Tom Brady literally face-plants as a receiver
One of Sunday’s more humorous plays occurred when Brady caught a pass from Julian Edelman but lost his balance before reaching the first down marker. He fell flat on his face. But while it gave us all a good laugh, that play never should have been called. Brady is not a mobile quarterback. Throwing a ball to him well short of the first down marker (on third down, no less) and asking him to pick up the rest with his legs is a low-percentage play. While it didn’t happen, plays like that also expose Brady to potential injury.
Worse is that we’ve seen this before. The Pats tried a similar play in Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles. Brady just didn’t have the speed to catch a slightly errant pass. Against the Tennessee Titans, the pass was on the money, but Brady didn’t have the speed or balance to get to the sticks. Not coincidentally, both games were losses. It’s probably a play that New England should keep out of the playbook going forward.
Falcons defense caught unprepared on Nick Chubb’s record-breaking run
Nick Chubb ran 92 yards for the longest play from scrimmage and the longest run in the history of the Cleveland Browns (watch here). But we have to wonder exactly what the Atlanta Falcons were doing on the play. The Falcons didn’t flood the box and really didn’t seem to be expecting the run. Cleveland led 21-10 and faced a second-and-10 from its own eight. That’s a running situation if there ever was one.
To be quite blunt, Atlanta looked unprepared. The Falcons had a chance to force a three-and-out. That would have given them the ball with good field position and a chance to significantly cut the lead. Instead, they were caught asleep at the switch. Chubb ran his way into the record books. Atlanta is now 4-5 and sitting in very precarious position in the playoff race.
Fitzpatrick becomes Fitztragic in loss to Redskins
It seems impossible for a team to gain 501 yards, pick up 29 first downs, and commit fewer penalties than its opponent, yet still score only three points in a losing effort. But that’s precisely what happened to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Tampa’s turnovers were the great equalizers. Three of those were on Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Two of his turnovers came in the red zone. One of those was inside the five. The other was an interception in his own territory, giving the Redskins an easy field goal. Even discounting Tampa’s other turnover (which also came deep in Washington territory), that’s probably a 13-point swing, which happened to be the difference in the game. Fitzpatrick will start at least one more game for Tampa. If he wants a chance at a starting job for 2019, he needs to find a way to cut these turnovers down. Passing for 400 yards only works if you can put more than three points on the board.
Cody Parkey slightly off with his aim — four times
The Chicago Bears handled the Detroit Lions on Sunday. That’s the good news for Chicago and its fans. The bad news? This team has some real issues at the kicking position.
Parkey missed four kicks (two field goals, two extra-points). All four misses hit off of the post. So he was close. Unfortunately, close doesn’t work in the NFL. It was a dreadful day and while it didn’t cost Chicago a win, it’s troubling. Parkey is now 13-for-18 on field goals and 30-for-32 on PATs. For now, his job seems to be safe. If Parkey wants that to be the case going forward, he’ll need to straighten his kicks out in a hurry.
Jaguars fumble the game and season away
With Jacksonville already in range to kick the tying field goal, only one question seemed to linger in Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts. Would the Jaguars force overtime or simply win it in regulation with a touchdown? One play put an end to that notion. Rashad Greene caught a pass from Blake Bortles but could not hang on to the ball. Indianapolis recovered to end the game.
It’s always hard to blame one person for a game like this. Obviously, the Jaguars allowing Eric Ebron to do his impression of the best tight ends in NFL history didn’t help. But given where Jacksonville was on the field, Green had to know that the defenders would be looking to not only tackle him, but also strip the ball. He didn’t cover it up well enough. As a result, the Jaguars lost their fifth-straight game. At 3-6, they sit in last place in the AFC South. Anyone who thought Jacksonville would take the next step this year after last season’s narrow AFC Championship Game loss might want to reconsider changing their tune.
Andy Dalton closes first half with indefensible pass
As bad as Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints was (and it was bad), we can attribute most of it to the Saints simply being much better than the beaten up Cincinnati Bengals. But what we saw from Dalton at the end of the first half didn’t help. Trailing 28-7, Dalton had the Bengals across midfield. But that drive was halted when, on second down, Dalton put a ball up for grabs. New Orleans’ Marcus Williams came down with it returned it deep into Cincinnati territory. One play later, the Saints were in the end zone (watch the whole exchange here).
The lopsided score doesn’t exonerate Dalton. Not at that time of the game. Dalton’s focus needed to be on getting his team in position to score either a touchdown or field goal. A comeback might not have been likely. But stranger things have happened. More problematic, if you’re a Cincinnati fan, is this what you want to see from the starting quarterback going forward? These are mistakes Dalton has made through his career in blowouts and close games, alike. He should be getting better. Instead, Dalton too often looks like a rookie out there. This play was the epitome of that.
Jets sleepwalk through humiliating loss
The Jets didn’t simply lose at home to the Bills on Sunday. They were manhandled. LeSean McCoy rushed for over 100 yards. Marcus Murphy ran for 69 yards on only 14 carries. Starting his first game in two years, Matt Barkley was 15-for-25 for 232 yards passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Robert Foster had 105 receiving yards on only three receptions.
Buffalo was a team that entered Sunday’s contest averaging less than 11 points a game. Over their previous five games, the Bills had scored 33 combined points. Even with backup Josh McCown under center, it seemed like a golden opportunity for the Jets to snap a three-game losing streak. Instead, they were routed, 41-10. With few exceptions, New York’s players just didn’t seem interested in playing the game. As a result, the Jets were blown out by one of the worst teams in the league. It was a pathetic effort.
Sneak onside kick goes horribly awry for Seahawks
When the Seattle Seahawks scored a late touchdown to cut their deficit against the Los Angeles Rams to 36-31, we saw them bring in punter Michael Dickson for a drop kick. This is not the first time we’d seen that this season. The reasoning is that Sebastian Janikowski is just not good at the onside kick. So, when Seattle was kicking off earlier in the quarter, why was Janikowski called on to try a surprise onside kick?
First of all, onside kicks have always been low percentage. They’re even harder with the rules that prevent the kicking team from getting a running start. Second, while the situation didn’t call for an onside kick, the Seahawks were trailing by just two with almost 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Rams were certainly aware that a surprise onside kick might be forthcoming. The short field allowed Los Angeles to kick a field goal. Had the rest of the game played out as it did, Seattle would have then needed only a field goal on its final drive to win the game. While the potential reward was high, it did not outweigh the risk.
Derek Carr throws the ball away…on fourth down
Trailing 20-6 and facing a fourth down late in the fourth quarter to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Oakland Raiders decided to go for it. It was the only logical decision. The Raiders even took a time out to be sure they got the right play called. Unfortunately for Oakland, Los Angeles had the play read well. That’s when Carr made what might be the most inexplicable play imaginable. He threw the ball away.
In this situation, that was the worst thing he could have done. Yes, the play was covered, making a conversion highly unlikely. But Carr could have tried to run. He could have just thrown it to a covered receiver and hoped for the best. Heck, given the score and where the game was, a pick-six wouldn’t have been any worse. Throwing the ball into the turf like he did, as if the Raiders could simply run another play, is a mistake that just can’t be made — especially by a five-year veteran. Jon Gruden has deservedly been the butt of many jokes. But we’ll let the coach off the hook here. This mistake was 100 percent on his quarterback.