Top of NFC North Crowded For the Wrong Reasons
Doesn’t anyone want the NFC North?
Welcome to the NFC North where misery loves company.
On Sunday, the Vikings, who started the season a gang-buster 5-0, have gone bust. Period.
True, they scored an unanswered 20 points midway through a game against Washington. But, it still ended up as another loss — this to a Redskins team that itself hadn’t won in four weeks.
The Vikings loss set the stage for a potential three-way tie at 5-4 with Green Bay and Detroit. Of course, that didn’t happen when the Packers were shredded 47-25 in Tennessee by Marcus Mariotta and a ground game led by DeMarco Murray.
So it is that the Lions, who didn’t even play (some might suggest fortuitously), who slipped into first place in the NFC North.
The Vikings led 20-14 at halftime but Washington’s defence limited Minnesota to 108 total yards in the second half and got four field goals from Dustin Hoffman for the 26-20 win.
Meantime, Mariotta was having a field day against Green Bay, throwing four TD passes and Murray sprinted for 123 yards and a TD in a drubbing that would’ve been unthinkable when the season opened.
At one point in the first half of their games, Minnesota and Green Bay had been outgained 390-86 while falling behind 35-0 in this division’s rocky, horror show.
Kirk Cousins threw for two touchdowns in the first quarter to put Washington up 14-0, but it was Preston Smith, who had two sacks and the game-altering interception, to blunt Minnesota’s comeback.
The Vikes threatened in the fourth quarter when, trailing 23-20 at the Skins’ 39, Sam Bradford had his pass tipped with 5:44 left, and picked off by Smith.
That resulted in another Washington field goal, leaving Bradford’s only option to go for the touchdown. The drive stalled at the 17 on a penalty, then died with 11 seconds to play when Smith got his second sack.
Otherwise, Bradford didn’t have a bad day, considering there is no ground game, and the offence is riddled with injuries. The Vikings haven’t run for more than 104 yards in a game this season and have crossed the 100-yard mark only the once. On Sunday they ran for just 47 yards.
The injury woes continued, too, losing left tackle Jake Long with a left leg injury, linebacker Eric Kendricks with a hip injury and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who was evaluated for a concussion.
While the Vikings misery is well-chronicled, this was also a vital game for Washington, which was coming off a crushing emotional loss to Detroit, and a tie last week in London when Dustin Hopkins missed a 34-yard field goal in overtime.
“You hate to make one game more important than the other, but these … two games are important,” predicted Redskins coach Jay Gruden, whose team plays Green Bay, next week. “We’re currently (the No. 6) seed, but we’re in a position where we don’t have a lot of room for error.”
And Cousins didn’t make many, going 22-of-33 for 262 yards with touchdown passes to Vernon Davis and Jamison Crowder. Robert Kelley ran for 97 yards, helping Washington bounce back from a disastrous six-minute stretch that allowed Minnesota to score two TDs in the final minute of the first half.
The Packers would’ve been happy with six minutes of disaster. Instead, they gave up 21 points in the first quarter to Tennessee. And then, it got ugly. Five different Titans scored a touchdown in the first half as Tennessee put together its best offensive performance this season.
Murray set the tone on the opening play, running 75 yards for a touchdown. He finished with 123 yards against the NFL’s best run defence, and also threw a TD pass, becoming the first non-quarterback to do that for this franchise in the same game since Earl Campbell on Sept. 7, 1980, for the then-Houston Oilers.
They are the real-life version of Hollywood’s Bad News Bears.
The Tampa Buccaneers took advantage of the mistake-prone Chicago Bears, rolling to a 36-10 win.
Jay Cutler threw two interceptions and fumbled twice, one resulting in a third-quarter safety. The Bears also gave up four sacks.
Bucs running back Doug Martin returned from a hamstring injury that had sidelined him since Week 2. He rushed for 33 yards on 16 carries and scored on a one-yard run
Jets fans have been crying for Bryce Petty.
On Sunday, they got him … and, they’re still crying, after the rookie quarterback threw a game-altering interception, allowing the Rams to escape with a 9-6 win.
Trailing by three, with 2:55 remaining, Petty’s attempt at a game-winning drive ended with his pass to Quincy Enunwa picked off by Alex Ogletree. Playing for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick, Petty was an uneven 10-for-32 and 162 yards.
Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals, including a go-ahead 34-yarder with 6:52 left, helping the Rams (4-5) snap a four-game losing streak.
The Bears lost the right side of their O-line, with guard Kyle Long leaving with an ankle injury and tackle Bobby Massie suffering a concussion … When Perrish Cox hit Rodgers in the end zone after a TD it resulted in a melee … Blair Walsh shanked another extra point. Walsh, who kept his job after Minnesota brought in six free-agent kickers for workouts, fell to 15-of-19 on the season (79%) on extra points.