By Brian Willwerth
SAINTS 26, FALCONS 23 (OT) – We’ll start at the Georgia Dome for our Game of the Day: a huge NFC South matchup, a fourth-quarter rally, and a bold coaching move that did not pay off. Atlanta rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the game, tying it up on Matt Bryant’s 27-yard FG on the final play of regulation. Then in OT, Falcons’ coach Mike Smith decided to go for it on 4th and inches on his own 30-yard line. But Michael Turner was stuffed. New Orleans took over, and won it on John Kasay’s 26-yard FG. For all the New England fans out there, Smith’s decision brought back memories of Bill Belichick’s 4th down gamble against the Colts a few years ago.
RAMS 13, BROWNS 12 – Did St. Louis win, or did Cleveland just blow it? Browns kicker Phil Dawson made four FG’s, and had a chance to win the game. But he was partially victimized by a bad snap, and shanked a 22-yarder with just over two minutes to go. Stephen Jackson rushed for 128 yards in the Rams’ victory.
STEELERS 24, BENGALS 17 – This was another big divisional game, and it also lived up to the hype. At Paul Brown Stadium, Rashard Mendenhall rushed for two touchdowns. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton threw a pair of TD passes, but was picked off twice in the fourth quarter.
COWBOYS 44, BILLS 7 – This was blowout city. It was a spectacular day for QB Tony Romo. He was 23-of-26 for 270 yards and three touchdowns as Dallas improved to [5-4]. Buffalo, after getting off to such a good start, has lost three of its last four.
JAGUARS 17, COLTS 3 – For those of you who thought this might be Indianapolis’ best chance to get its first win, think again. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 114 yards and a touchdown for the Jags. Colts’ QB Curtis Painter threw two interceptions, and was yanked for the second week in a row. Indianapolis is [0-10]. The Colts have their bye next week.
BRONCOS 17 – CHIEFS 10 – Here’s the stat of the day. Denver QB Tim Tebow completed two passes in this game – TWO. But one of them went for a touchdown to Eric Decker. Tebow also ran for a score, as Denver pulled off a big divisional win on the road at Arrowhead. This is the first time in Broncos’ history they have won a game while completing two or fewer passes.
DOLPHINS 20 – REDSKINS 9 – In Miami, the Dolphins won their second in a row after losing seven straight to open the season. Reggie Bush rushed for two touchdowns. Washington QB Rex Grossman was intercepted twice.
CARDINALS 21 – EAGLES 17 – Arizona won its second in a row, coming from behind to win at Philadelphia. John Skelton threw three touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Earl Doucet with 1:53 left. This is the fifth time this season the Eagles have blown a lead in the fourth quarter. Philly WR DeSean Jackson was benched for this game for missing a team meeting.
TEXANS 37 – BUCCANEERS 9 – This was another blowout city. On the first play of the game, Matt Schaub threw an 80-yard TD pass to Jacoby Jones, and that set the tone for the rest of the day. Arian Foster, Ben Tate and former Buc Derrick Ward all ran for scores. Tampa Bay turned it over four times. Houston is [7-3] and in great shape in the AFC South.
TITANS 30 – PANTHERS 10 – Charlotte was also blowout city. Tennessee’s Chris Johnson ran for 130 yards and a touchdown. The Titans’ defense also sacked Cam Newton five times.
49ERS 27 – GIANTS 20 – This was a terrific game in San Francisco, with possibly a first-round bye at stake. The 49ers scored 15 points in a span of 1:05 early in the 4th quarter, and then held off a furious rally by the Giants. It ended when Eli Manning’s fourth down pass inside the red zone, which was batted down by Justin Smith in the final minute. San Francisco is now [8-1] on the season.
SEAHAWKS 22 -RAVENS 17 – Here’s the upset of the day. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown as Seattle stunned Baltimore. It was the Seahawks’ defense – not the Ravens’ – that was the story, forcing three turnovers.
BEARS 37 – LIONS 13 – At Soldier Field, it was all Chicago, all the time. The Bears’ defense forced six turnovers. They picked off Matthew Stafford four times, returning two of them for touchdowns. Stafford threw a whopping 63 passes. With the game out of reach, one of the interceptions ended with a big fight on the field between the two teams. Punches were thrown. Chicago’s D.J. Moore was ejected from the game. Think these two teams like each other?
PATRIOTS 37 – JETS 16 – In the night game, New England took sole possession of first place in the AFC East with a convincing victory at the Meadowlands. Tom Brady threw for 329 yards. Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes for 113 yards and two TD’s. Andre Carter had 4.5 sacks. Jets QB Mark Sanchez was picked off twice, one of them returned for a touchdown by Rob Ninkovich.