With NFL Week 9 nearly in the books, three teams remain undefeated while some major upsets occurred. Along with player heroics came backups who rose to the occasion to lead their teams to much-needed wins. And, unfortunately, along with some of the excitement, the injury bug reared its ugly head.
With that said, here are some of the notable winners and losers from the Week 9 action.
Winner: Tom Brady sacrifices body to prevent a pick-six, Patriots remain undefeated
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw his second interception of the season when a pass intended for Julian Edelman was picked off by Washington linebacker Keenan Robinson.
But darned if Brady was going to let the interception turn into a pick-six. He sacrificed his 6-foot-4 body by hunkering down in front in front of Robinson, who had already run the ball 44 yards. Fortunately, Brady’s tackle was successful and the 38-year old quarterback came out of the heroic play unscathed.
It’s plays like that — and Brady’s 299 passing yards, and a rushing game consisting of 161 yards — that made the Patriots utterly unstoppable against Washington’s worn-out defense.
In contrast, Kirk Cousins dumped out another disappointing performance, completing only 55 percent of his passes for one touchdown and, of course, another interception. Playing from behind the whole game, Washington tallied only 37 yards on the ground and practically handed the Patriots win No. 8 with the final score reading 27-10.
We’re quite sure after Sunday’s lopsided game that Cousins isn’t running around the locker room shouting “you like that?”
Loser: Ben Roethlisberger injured again
Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the injury cart is becoming a second vehicle to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
His latest injury was to his left foot after taking a sack by Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is now leaving the sidelines on a cart. Suffered what looked like a left foot injury.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 8, 2015
The silver lining here is that the Steelers still pulled off a win, 38-35. Going forward, at least backup Landry Jones has fresh experience in covering for Big Ben. Roethlisberger just returned in Week 8, and now he’s set to miss another few weeks with a mid-foot sprain.
Interestingly enough, between injuries and suspensions, Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell played together in only 16 snaps this year. The team didn’t miss a beat on Sunday when Brown tallied a staggering 284 receiving yards, topped off by DeAngelo Williams total 225 yards and two touchdowns.
Winner: Blaine Gabbert does what Colin Kaepernick hasn’t done in two games
The San Francisco 49ers gave Colin Kaepernick the hook this week, removing him from duty to take time to “breathe” while replacing him with backup Blaine Gabbert.
Among Kaepernick’s many struggles this season is the fact that he can’t seem to hit the broadside of a barn and had scored in only four of his eight games. Worse yet, is that Kap went scoreless in his two back-to-back performances, which all but forced the 49ers to turn to Gabbert.
So, what has Gabbert accomplished? He managed two passing touchdowns in the first half of the game against the Atlanta Falcons. Only twice this season had Kaepernick passed for two touchdowns in the first half, and he hit that total in just three games in eight tries.
After getting shook up on a play, Gabbert did exit the game briefly and none other than Kaepernick had to step in for a pass (which he missed). At this point, with Gabbert successfully leading the 49ers to a win over the Atlanta Falcons 17-16, it would appear the starting job is his to lose.
What a slap in the face to Kaepernick. who looks to remain on his timeout — indefinitely — and who is rumored to be on the way out in 2016.
Loser: Are Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey practicing safeties?
The Miami Dolphins appear to have regressed from what we thought was a revamped team when they returned from their bye with new interim head coach Dan Campbell in command.
In particular, quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been very sharp, and he made a huge mistake on Sunday. He and center Mike Pouncey got off on the wrong page once again for the second week in a row when another safety was committed early on in the game.
Overall, Miami looked haggard while Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills literally ran all over the Dolphins defense. Between LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams and the mobile Tyrod Taylor, 266 yards and three scores were tallied against the Dolphins, who had no answer.
It was another exhausting day for the Tannehill, who went scoreless for his second week in a row while the Dolphins sit dead-last at 3-5 in the AFC East.
Winner: Marcus Mariota and Delanie Walker daily fantasy owners
For those who went the ultra-cheap route starting Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and tight end Delanie Walker in daily fantasy football leagues, they duo brought home the bank in fantasy points. They also helped lead the Titans to a much-needed second win, 34-28 over the New Orleans Saints.
Mariota was spot-on spectacular, completing 28-of-39 passes for 371 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Making one of the best quarterback/tight end same-team combos, Mariota connected with Walker for seven receptions, 95 yards and two touchdowns. Depending on your fantasy scoring system, Mariota earned 33-34 fantasy points and Walker scored 23.5
The game was as tight as could be near the end, and the Titans claimed their victory in overtime, led by their new head coach Mike Mularkey, who replaced a fired Ken Whisenhunt. With Mariota back from injury working under new leadership, Titans fans now have something to be excited about.
Loser: Green Bay Packers fail to foil the undefeated Carolina Panthers
The Green Bay Packers, who trailed the undefeated Carolina Panthers 27-7 in the second quarter, made a valiant effort to catch up. But ultimately, they did not have enough firepower to pull off the comeback.
A late fourth-quarter interception thrown by Aaron Rodgers into the hands of Thomas Davis sealed the win for Carolina on what could have been a James Jones touchdown. Overall, Rodgers played well, completing 25-of-48 passes for 369 yards, four touchdowns and that crucial interception.
Ultimately, the Packers defense was simply no match for Cam Newton, who passed for 297 yards, three touchdowns and an interception adding another 57 rushing yards and a score on the ground.
The Packers were highly ineffective on the ground, managing only 71 total yards on 19 attempts with Rodgers being the most effective, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt.
This makes for the Packers second loss to an undefeated team in back-to-back games. It was just last Sunday evening when the Packers put up a stinker of a performance and lost to the Denver Broncos 29-10.
The saving grace for the Packers might just come in Week 10 when they play the 1-7 Detroit Lions.
Winner: Odell Beckham Jr. turns into Kujo linebacker
Odell Beckham Jr. was none too happy when he a pass intended for him by Eli Manning got picked off by cornerback Alterraun Verner in the third quarter.
Therefore, OBJ went into full Kujo mode and picked up Verner and dropped him to the ground to break up the play.
GIANTS WR ODELL BECKHAM ON DEFENSE AFTER INTERCEPTION DELIVERS TACKLE AND BODY SLAM. DANG……… https://t.co/vPc1AbsonH
— EMPSOG (@EMPSTATEOFGRIND) November 8, 2015
In another competitive NFL Week 9 game, the Giants managed a win over the Buccaneers 32-18.
While the win is all that counts at the end of the day, Eli Manning wasn’t as impressive as he has been in games past. He completed 26-of-40 of his passes for 213 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Covered tightly all day, Beckham managed nine receptions for 105 yards but went scoreless. Leading the team in rushing was Rashad Jennings, who totaled 48 yards on 13 attempts.
On the Buccaneers side of the ball, Jameis Winston’s best play of the day came when he went mobile and rushed in a touchdown. Unfortunately, that was Winston’s and the team’s lone touchdown score of the day against the Giants defense that just let Drew Brees pass for seven big scores last week. Though Winston went interception-free, Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Mike Evans all lost fumbles.
A win for a fiery OBJ and company now has the Giants sitting at 5-4 at the top of the NFC East.
Loser: Denver Broncos lose undefeated status to Indianapolis Colts
The loss by the Denver Broncos to the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the season.
For this, the Broncos are now 7-1 in the AFC West. And, not only did the Colts surprise millions, betting and fantasy football strategies were likely blown to shreds.
Sit Moncrief. No faith in the Colts against that Broncos defense. https://t.co/ubUZyxvHNA
— SI Fantasy (@SI_Fantasy) November 8, 2015
For instance, how many folks started the Broncos defense against the Colts? And, how many sat Andrew Luck due to how tightly the Broncos held Aaron Rodgers in check last Sunday evening?
Now that everyone’s best laid plans and bets have gone to heck, we should congratulate the Colts, who simply outplayed the Broncos all game long to gain the upper hand.
Coincidentally enough, both Luck and Peyton Manning completed 21 of 36 passes for two touchdowns. Luck passed for 252 yards (to Manning’s 281) but the scale tipper as for who performed better was Manning’s two awful interceptions compared to Luck’s big fat zero.
At for Manning, he’ll have to wait until next game to gain those piddly three yards he needed to break Brett Favre’s all-time passing record of 71,838.