ProFootballTalk: Mike Smith: ‘We made progress’
The Dolphins were down 11 points in the third quarter of a game that saw them getting the better of the Bills everywhere outside of the scoreboard, which would have made for another painful loss had things remained that way for the rest of the afternoon.
Things went the other way, though, and the Dolphins closed with a convincing win over their AFC East rivals. The Dolphins scored three touchdowns and their defense shut down the Bills for most of the final 20 minutes to emerge with a 28-25 victory.
Reggie Bush scored a touchdown with 14 seconds left to play to cut the Dolphins lead down from 11 points, but the Dolphins recovered the onside kick to ice their third win of the year.
Jay Ajayi did a lot of the heavy lifting on offense for the Dolphins as he ran for 214 yards and a touchdown while becoming the fourth player in NFL history to run for 200 yards in back-to-back games. Ajayi set up the go-ahead touchdown with a 14-yard run before leaving the game briefly, but came back before the day was out and appeared to be fine.
Ryan Tannehill put the finishing touches on the win by hitting wide receiver Kenny Stills for a 66-yard touchdown with a little more than two minutes left to play in the game. Tannehill was 15-of-25 for 198 yards overall and converted several key third downs through the air over the course of the afternoon.
Tyrod Taylor couldn’t do the same for the Bills. He hit Marquise Goodwin for a 67-yard touchdown in the third quarter and converted short fields into 10 first-half points, but the Bills couldn’t consistently move the ball. LeSean McCoy left after his hamstring flared up and the Bills ended the afternoon with 67 rushing yards and just 267 yards overall with 75 of those yards coming once the Bills were already down 11 in the fourth quarter.
The Bills had been hot on the ground heading into Miami, but the Dolphins defense was in fine form Sunday. Ndamukong Suh had a sack and three quarterback hits, Mario Williams was active in both phases against his former team and Cameron Wake added 1.5 more sacks of Taylor
The Bengals and Browns played a wild one Sunday in Cincinnati.
The Bengals ended up having too much firepower and pulled away in the second half for a 31-17 win. A 48-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the first half to A.J. Green certainly helped, but the Bengals moved the ball pretty much at will throughout the game.
At one point in the third quarter, the Bengals were averaging 12.5 yards per carry. The Bengals finished the game averaging 9.0 yards per carry and rolled up 559 yards of offense. Their 559 yards and 31 points were a season high.
The Browns had to make another quarterback change after Cody Kessler suffered a concussion in the second quarter. Rookie Kevin Hogan became the sixth player to take snaps at quarterback for the Browns this season.
Hogan ran for 104 yards and a 28-yard touchdown, the longest by a quarterback in Browns history. But that run early in the third quarter was the last score for the Browns; Hill went 74 yards for a touchdown two plays later.
Hogan was 12-of-24 passing for 100 yards. He threw two interceptions and was sacked twice.
The Bengals moved to 3-4 and play the Redskins in London next week. The Browns fall to 0-7.
By Saints standards, it was a pretty good defensive day.
But this week, they were playing a team that could play a little defense of their own.
The Chiefs held on for a 27-21 win over the Saints to improve to 4-2, and they had to work to do it.
The Saints (2-4) entered the game allowing a league-high (and record pace) 33.6 points per game. They stiffened a bit, but still made mistakes at inopportune times. A Nick Fairley unnecessary roughness penalty just before the two-minute warning gave the Chiefs an extra few downs to waste time.
Kansas City was able to do it while not getting much from running back Jamaal Charles, who had just one carry as they ease him back from last year’s knee injury.
Alex Smith threw for two touchdowns, and an interception return for a touchdown by safety Daniel Sorensen gave them the cushion they needed.
Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes and had a chance with 28 seconds and no timeouts left, but ran out of time when Michael Thomas went down in bounds, eliminating a chance at a Hail Mary.
The Jets have dug themselves a big hole to start this season, but they took one step in the right direction on Sunday afternoon against the Ravens.
The Jets defense shut out the Ravens in the second half and forced a pair of Joe Flacco interceptions that turned into 10 points that turned a 16-14 Ravens lead into a 24-16 Jets victory. The Ravens lost six yards trying to run the ball in the second half of the game and Flacco threw for just 32 yards over the final 30 minutes as Baltimore lost in New Jersey for the second straight week.
It was also their fourth straight loss overall, which was the same position the Jets were in when Sunday’s game got underway. Geno Smith started the game and hit Quincy Enunwa for a 69-yard touchdown before hurting his knee and handing the offense back over the Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick led a touchdown drive in the second quarter and used short fields to get those 10 points in the second half.
Any discussion of who will start for the Jets against the Browns next weekend will likely wait for word on Smith’s condition. Fitzpatrick went 9-of-14 for 120 yards and didn’t turn the ball over, although the Jets clearly opted for a conservative approach by running Matt Forte 29 times over the course of the afternoon. Forte ran for 98 yards and a touchdown and also scored on a reception during a strong day overall for a player who’d been losing time to Bilal Powell in recent weeks.
The Ravens will have a bye next week and it’s a good time for it as the team is racked by injuries on both sides of the ball. Cornerback Tavon Young and safety Lardarius Webb were added to the list during Sunday’s game and we’ll see if there’s been any recurrence of Flacco’s shoulder problem after another rough day at MetLife Stadium.
Cousins and Stafford had a great quarterback duel in the final minutes of today’s game in Detroit, and it was Stafford who came out on top: Cousins surprised the entire Lions defense with a 19-yard rushing touchdown on a zone-read play to give Washington a 17-13 lead with a minute to play. But then Stafford methodically marched the Lions down the field and hit Anquan Boldin for an 18-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left, giving the Lions a 20-17 win.
Both quarterbacks saved their best for last, as the first half of the game featured some ugly offense and a 3-3 tie at halftime. In the second half, both offenses came alive — aided in part by the fact that both teams lost their top cornerbacks to injuries. Josh Norman suffered a concussion and Darius Slay suffered a hamstring injury.
The Lions’ win means both teams are 4-3, and both teams are in the thick of a tight NFC playoff race. It wouldn’t be surprising if this game turns out to have an impact on that playoff race, and if so, that was a huge last-minute performance by Stafford.
Running back Jay Ajayi has done something only three other men have done in NFL history.
With a 14-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Bills, Ajayi went over 200 rushing yards for the second straight game. He joins O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams as the only backs in history to pull off that feat in back-to-back games.
Ajayi stayed down at the end of that 14-yard run and then went to the sideline after a check from the trainers. Ajayi walked off under his own power and now has 212 yards on 28 carries after going for 204 yards last week.
Damien Williams took over for Ajayi in the backfield and ran for a 12-yard touchdown a couple of plays later. That leaves the Dolphins up 21-17 with 3:56 left to play in Miami.
Last Sunday’s pair of questionable plays by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict resulted in no suspension for the player who missed the first three games of the 2016 season. A $75,000 fine for one of the two maneuvers — an apparent stomp on Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount — is pending on appeal.
Eventually, one of the two persons hired by the league and the NFL Players Association will decide whether the fine will be upheld. Until then, the league and the Bengals will be at sharp odds over whether Burfict did anything wrong.
Per a source with knowledge of the league’s thinking, Burfict entered the fray and committed a clear and obvious step on Blount.
From Burfict’s perspective, the evidence is inconclusive. Per a source with knowledge of the team’s position, Burfict was stepping in to pull a Patriots player off of an Eagles player, and that Burfict was looking forward, not down at Blount. Also, at least one official was watching the entire exchange but did not throw a flag. Although Blount’s reaction suggests that something happened, the Bengals and Burfict insist that any contact (at best a brushing of the calf) was inadvertent.
As to the controversial low hit on Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, the league concluded that Burfict was reacting to a pump fake from quarterback Tom Brady, and that the low hit was the last resort to getting beat on the play. Based on all available angles and the progression of the play, the NFL decided that there was not enough evidence to take action.
The Saints looked like they were going to be able to move the ball.
But against an actual NFL defense, they don’t have much margin of error.
The Chiefs lead 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter, after the second Saints turnover of the day. Cornerback Ron Parker punched the ball out of the hands of Saints running back Mark Ingram in the red zone, killing what might have been their last best chance to stay within striking distance.
The Saints actually opened the second half with a 14-play, 75-yard drive which chewed 8:03 off the clock, cutting the lead to 21-14. But even with their own defense doing something resembling defense, they couldn’t take advantage.
Early in the fourth quarter, Walker returned and caught a touchdown pass to tie the game at 20.
Walker was running a pass route, and the ball was in the air when McNary leveled him. McNary was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness. The penalty on McNary negated an interception by Colts cornerback Patrick Robinson.
The Colts led 20-13 at the start of the fourth quarter. They led 17-6 at one point in the first half.
Titans running back DeMarco Murray is having another big game. He’s over 100 yards rushing and scored a touchdown late in the first half.
In their first two road games of the season, the Vikings rebounded from 10-0 deficits. If they’re going to run their record to 6-0, the Vikings will need to dig their way out of a 15-point hole.
The Eagles lead 18-3 in a game full of turnovers, with three from each team’s starting quarterback.
Minnesota eventually became the first team to score, with a 48-yard field goal by kicker Blair Walsh. The ensuing kickoff was returned 98 yards by Josh Huff for a touchdown, thanks in part to Walsh impersonating a matador a full eight days before Halloween.
The Eagles added a field goal before halftime, thanks to a nifty run by Carson Wentz on fourth and two after he mishandled the shotgun snap.
The home team then drove 77 yards in nine plays with its first drive of the second half to extend the lead.
Minnesota’s offense has been consistently stymied by an aggressive Eagles defense, which has consistently pressured and confused Sam Bradford.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco missed a couple of days of practice while dealing with right shoulder soreness this week, but didn’t show signs of anything being wrong in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Jets.
The third quarter didn’t unfold quite as well for Flacco. He was intercepted on two straight drives and the Jets turned the takeaways into 10 points that leave up 24-16 heading into the fourth quarter.
Cornerback Buster Skrine jumped an out route to Breshad Perriman after Flacco appeared to deliver the ball a bit late and returned the ball inside the Ravens’ five-yard-line. The Ravens defense forced a field goal, but Flacco fired high and safety Marcus Gilchrist picked the ball off a few plays later to set the Jets up again.
It looked like the Jets would blow the opportunity when Matt Forte fumbled, but Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan fumbled the ball back to the Jets for a pair of changes in possession in short order. Forte scored a couple of plays later to extend the Jets lead.
Bills running back LeSean McCoy’s hamstring injury wasn’t severe enough to keep him from playing against the Dolphins on Sunday, but he wasn’t able to make it through the entire game before the problem cropped up again.
McCoy is being called doubtful to return to the game after aggravating the hamstring injury in the third quarter of the game. Whether because of injury or the Dolphins defense, McCoy struggled to move the ball while he was in the game and could be done with 11 yards on eight carries.
Thankfully for the Bills, their passing game clicked for a big play. After a sack by linebacker Lorenzo Alexander forced a Dolphins punt, Tyrod Taylor hit Marquise Goodwin for a 67-yard touchdown pass on first down to extend the Bills’ lead to 17-6.
The Dolphins offense answered back with its first touchdown of the day. Jay Ajayi scored from four yards out to cap a 10-play drive that saw him get the ball six times. Ajayi now has 22 carries for 140 yards with the third quarter about to end in Miami and the Dolphins trail 17-14 after a successful two-point conversion.
The Patriots played without linebacker Jamie Collins in last week’s victory over the Bengals, but they’ll have him back as they try for their third straight win in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon.
Collins was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report because of the hip injury that kept him out last week and obviously checked out fine as the Patriots went through their pregame work. Wide receiver Julian Edelman and linebacker Elandon Roberts are also in uniform for New England after being tagged as questionable to play this week.
Defensive back Cyrus Jones is a healthy scratch for the second straight week. He’s joined on the inactive list by tight end A.J. Derby, defensive lineman Vincent Valentine, defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton, running back D.J. Foster, tackle LaAdrian Waddle and safety Jordan Richards.
There was no suspense with the Steelers inactives for this game. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, defensive end Cam Heyward, offensive lineman Cody Wallace, tackle Marcus Gilbert, wide receiver Markus Wheaton, safety Shamarko Thomas and running back DeAngelo Williams were all ruled out during the week.
It’s a shootout in Cincinnati.
The first half ended with a Hail Mary to A.J. Green, and the teams have traded rushing touchdowns to start the second half. The Bengals lead, 28-17, just over five minutes into the third quarter.
Rookie Kevin Hogan ran for the Browns’ touchdown to start the third quarter. He’s playing because Cody Kessler was forced out of the game in the second quarter with a concussion.
The Bengals answered that score two plays later when Jeremy Hill ran 74 yards for a touchdown. Hill has 132 yards on just five carries.
The Bengals are averaging 12.5 yards per rush.
Hogan’s 28-yard touchdown run was the longest ever by a Browns quarterback. He’s the sixth quarterback to take snaps for the Browns this season.
Washington cornerback Josh Norman left today’s game in Detroit after slamming hard into the turf while diving for a ball.
Norman appeared to hit both his shoulder and his head on the ground and stayed down for a couple of minutes before he was helped off the field. He will be evaluated for a concussion.
The injury came on a costly play for Washington: Detroit’s Matthew Stafford hit Marvin Jones for a 52-yard gain on the play, with Norman in coverage. Norman was also called for pass interference on the play as he had his hand on Jones’s shoulder while he was covering him, although the Lions declined the penalty because Jones caught the ball.
The Lions have also lost their top cornerback, Darius Slay, who exited with a hamstring injury.
UPDATE 3:11 p.m. ET: Norman has suffered a concussion and will not return.