There were a few good games and a few bad ones this week, but the ones most worth watching turned out to be a pair of division rivalry games – Baltimore vs. Cleveland and Washington vs. Philadelphia.
None of these teams are likely to figure prominently in the postseason – the Eagles are the favorites in their division by most measuring sticks they’re at best the third best team in the NFC, and probably not even that. The others are a step or two below on the NFL’s competitive ladder. But Sunday, records and prospects and standings didn’t matter.
The RacialSlurs and Eagles, one of the NFL’s older rivalries, played a classic shootout game. This is frequently the kind of game where you say, “whoever has the ball last is going to win” (because the defenses just couldn’t stop anybody). As it turned out, it took a fine defensive stand by Washington to get them the ball back in good field position with 2:25 left in the game and trailing by 3. But the Eagles finally managed to come up with a defensive stand of their own, forcing a 4-and-out and kneeling down to clock the game after that.
Crawl back into the foul hive from which you came, Kirk Cousins.
Along the way, former Eagle DeSean Jackson had 5 catches for 117 yards, including an 81 yard touchdown, and an almost-brawl broke out when Washington DE Chris Baker laid a cheapshot on Eagles QB Nick Foles, prompting Eagles T Jason Ferguson to retaliate. Baker and Ferguson were ejected. The Eagles finished the game with the last five healthy offensive lineman on their roster, including Wade Smith, who got signed just this week.
I’ve watched these two teams play classic knock-down drag-out games for years. This was no different.
Equally captivating were the Cleveland Browns hosting the team formerly known as the Cleveland Browns, the Baltimore Ravens. This one was a true back and forth game that got decided on the game’s final snap, when the Ravens’ Justin Tucker connected on a 32 yard field goal to give Baltimore the 23-21 victory. Five minutes earlier, Tucker had hit from 21 yards out to close the gap to 1 point.
Once again, a player formerly on the other team figured in the result. This time it was former Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff, who missed a 50 yard field goal early in the 4th quarter and had another attempt from 36 yards out blocked. Either of those kicks would have been the margin of victory for hard-luck Cleveland.
Sorry ladies, he missed
Like I said, neither of these games is likely to have some grand impact on the postseason, but on any given Sunday, a division rivalry game is likely to be the best football you’ll see that day.