Holy defense Batman! Cam Newton vs. Colin Kaepernick? Fuggedaboudit.
The Panthers’ 10-9 win over the 49ers was a testament to two great defenses going toe to toe. San Francisco recorded 4 sacks, including 3 by linebacker Ahmad Brooks, forcing two turnovers and generally spending the day in Newton’s face.
But the Panthers were just as good. Better, in fact.
They sacked Kaepernick six times and held him to an anemic 42.0 passer rating. They forced two turnovers of their own. And after going down 9-0 with 6:16 remaining in the first half, they shut down the 49ers for the rest of the game, not allowing a single point and giving their offense a chance to come back and notch a win. This was a signature game for Carolina’s defense and their team and put them in the conversation about just who the top teams in the NFC really are.
Maybe you agree with the side of the Richie Icognito/Jonathan Martin argument that says that NFL locker rooms have a different “culture” and what happened to Martin is “just the NFL.” If so, be prepared to be wrong. Don’t be surprised when the NFL comes down hard on the Dolphins for allowing this type of abusive behavior, even if every team in the league does it.
Just because this type of internal hazing is “part of the game” doesn’t mean it has to stay part of the game. I’m sure the Saints raised the same kind of argument after bounty-gate. Look what it got them. Expect a similar fate to befall Miami.
This Week’s Sucked And Won: The Jacksonville Jaguars offense (JAX). Sorry, couldn’t pick just one. QB Chad Henne was intercepted twice and had a passer rating below 50. Maurice Jones-Drew gained just 41 yards on 21 carries, an average of 2 yards per carry. No wide receiver had more than 2 catches. Jones-Drew, a running back, had 4, while TE Marcedes Lewis had 3. No one got even 50 receiving yards. Good thing the defense scored 9 4th quarter points outright, set up the Jaguars first touchdown by forcing a fumble inside the 20, and netted a 2nd quarter interception leading to a field goal. That’s 19 of the Jaguars’ 29 points attributable to the defense. No wonder they won.
Congratulations to the Saints offense for setting an NFL record with 50 first downs in one game. Congratulations to the Cowboys defense for giving up all those first downs. Great job!
Shocking realization of the week: Minnesota, Jacksonville and Tampa, who came into the week a combined 1-23, all won this week.
At first glance, Kellen Clemens game against the Colts doesn’t look that crazy-good. He passed for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nice job. But consider this: he only completed 9 passes (on 16 attempts). That means the average completed pass for the Rams was for more than 27 yards. Big play offense matters and this week, the Rams had it.
This Week’s Great But Lost: Vincent Rey, LB (CIN). There were a lot of standout performances on defense this week, but Rey went above and beyond. He lead both teams in tackles with 15 and solo tackles with 10. He also recorded 3 sacks, deflected 3 passes and had an interception. Not sure what more one guy can do to try to influence a game.
If I told you before the Lions/Bears game that Calvin Johnson would be relatively contained to 6 catches for just 83 yards while Chicago’s Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery would both break 100 yards, catching a combined 16 passes for 253, you’d have thought the Bears would be on easy street. Not so. Johnson may not have put up crazy yardage numbers, but two of his catches were touchdowns, and Reggie Bush torched the Bears on the ground, going over 100 yards on just 14 carries. The NFL is a passing league, but balance matters. The Bears couldn’t get any kind of ground game going, and it cost them.
Thursday Pick: Indianapolis (-3) @Tennessee (Las Vegas Hilton)
Bleck. The Colts are coming off a blowout loss to the lowly Rams while the Titans just got beat by Jacksonville. But there’s actually a simple way to look at this game. First, the Colts were looking past an NFC opponent because all they need to do is win their divisional games and they’ll clinch the South. Second, the Titans have lost Jake Locker again, and they stink with Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB. Finally, the Colts have beaten Tennessee in 16 of their last 20 – that includes being one of only two wins they got the year they “Sucked for Luck.” Seems easy to pick now, doesn’t it?
Indianapolis Colts 24 Tennessee Titans 20
“The three most dangerous words in sports are, ‘I’ve got it.’” – Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, on cautioning his team not to get overconfident after winning their first game.
‘I found myself saying, ‘Get away, get away get away.’ Then I went from ‘Get away, get away get away’ to ‘Go go go!’” – St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher, on Tavon Austin’s fielding a punt at the 2 yard line and then taking it 98 yards for a touchdown.
“If we start looking ahead of ourselves, we’re going to find ourselves behind. One game at a time. That’s our only approach at the moment.” – Giants S Antrel Rolle, on the team’s slow but steady climb back into the NFC East race.
“Obviously, this isn’t the way I wanted to come back.” – Bills QB E.J. Manuel on his team’s 23-10 loss to Pittsburgh, which was Manuel’s first game back from injury.
“It’s the little brother that, big brother wants to go out and play with his friends and the little brother is annoying, ‘Hey, can I go?’ No, you can’t go, Detroit Lions. Sit back. Sit in your little city. Fix your financial problems and all of that, you know. You can’t come with us right now. But right now, they’ve got the best of us. They beat us twice. They swept us. But what matters is when we see them in the playoffs. It’ll be a great show. It’s gonna be tough. But I guarantee it’s not gonna go down like it did the first two games.” – Bears WR Brandon Marshall, after the Lions completed their first season sweep of the Bears since 2007.
“I’m so frustrated right now, bro. I’m so mad.” – Cardinals LB Karlos Dansby, on missing two interceptions in the first half of the Cardinals’ win over Houston.
“If I had to define it, I’d say he’s playing with tons of swag.” – Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, on QB Nick Foles.
“I understand what you’re doing, what you’re trying to do. Glomming on to somebody’s opinion that thinks whatever they think. The main thing is we’ll look at it and talk about it with our players and see the areas that we can improve. Just dissecting it as a unit, we had too many negative plays in the game.” – 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, on QB Colin Kaepernick’s current struggles. Kaepernick’s play has been the subject of national media scrutiny.