LOS ANGELES, September 30, 2014 — Not since London burned down the United States Capitol in 1814 has England had as much of a justification for detesting American culture. While neither the Raider Nation nor the hometown British soccer hooligans burned down Wembley Stadium, angry football fans in Washington may be ready to burn down their own Capitol. Welcome to Week of the 2014 NFL season, with all of the lessons learned and not learned with it.
New York Giants 45, Washington Redskins 14 was the Thursday night game. Kirk Cousins went from being the toast of the town to just being toast with four interceptions and a fumble. Eli Manning threw for four touchdowns and somehow turned a quarterback draw into a one-yard touchdown run. Eli hasn’t run that fast or that far since big brother Peyton tried to beat him up when they were kids. The Giants have won so impressively the last two weeks that Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin almost smiled.
Miami Dolphins 38, Oakland Raiders 14 — Joe Philbin and Dennis Allen were in a competition to be the first coach fired in 2014, and this was the one content Allen clearly deserved to win. He is the first ever Raiders coach to fail badly on two continents. Owner Mark Davis allowed Allen to join the team’s flight home from London. Allen cannot have his United States citizenship revoked, but he did have his status as coach of the Silver and Black repealed Monday night. Derek Carr got injured as the Raiders may be able to get the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Baltimore Ravens 38, Carolina Panthers 10 — Steve Smith is the character who yelled to the camera awhile back, “If y’all see me, that means I just scored. The longtime Panther got his revenge against his old team, as Joe Flacco connected with him on a couple long touchdowns. The first one was a 61-yard hookup that was a deflected ball meant for another receiver. Smith was not going to be denied, and he relished making the Panthers pay.
Green Bay Packers 38, Chicago Bears 17 — A close game was broken open in the second half because Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler shared a key trait. They both threw repeatedly to members of the Packers. For Rodgers this meant four touchdown passes. For Cutler, a pair of killer interceptions doomed Chicago at home.
Buffalo Bills 23, Houston Texans 17 — One year after going 2-14, rookie coach Bill O’Brien has the Texans at 3-1. Having J.J. Watt returning an interception 80 yards for a touchdown helps matters. Having Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel throw the losing interception with one minute play helps matters more. The Bills have the NFL’s longest playoff drought at 15 years. The Buffalo coach may not have his job in jeopardy because nobody knows who he is.
Indianapolis Colts 41, Titans 17 — The Colts have Andrew Luck, who was 29 for 41 with 393 yards passing and four touchdowns. The Titans started Charlie Whitehurst over the injured Jake Locker and finished with Zack Mettenberger. Mettenberger does not appear to be Jewish, and it is tough to deliver a Rosh Hashanah miracle when you start on the road against a guy named Luck.
Detroit Lions 24, New York Jets 17 — Jim Caldwell may have never made a facial expression, but he has the Lions at 3-1. Rex Ryan is as demonstrative as it gets, which does not help when your team loses consecutive home games to fall to 1-3. With the game on the line, Geno Smith offered up an interception and a fumble. The only hot seat redder than Smith’s is Ryan’s big posterior. At least Smith did not butt-fumble.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 24 — One week after falling behind 56-0, this time the Buccaneers pulled off the upset of the day. Mike Glennon threw the winning touchdown pass with seven seconds left as Lovie Smith showed he can still coach. This collapse was stunning for a Mike Tomlin team and would have left the non-Jewish Ben Roethlisberger with a lump of coal in his stocking on Rosh Hashanah if that ritual actually existed.
San Diego Chargers 33, Jacksonville Jaguars 14 — The Chargers won this game because Philip Rivers played lights out football, throwing for 377 yards three touchdowns, and zero interceptions in completing 29 of 39 passes. Yet even with another loss, Jaguars fans have a major reason to be pleased. In his very first NFL start, Blake Bortles was 27 of 33 for 223 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and two interceptions, but the second one was long after the outcome was decided. In a quarterback driven league, this was a good start to what could be a promising career for Bortles.
San Francisco 49ers 26, Philadelphia Eagles 21 — The Eagles scored touchdowns on a blocked punt, an interception return, and a punt return to lead 21-10 early before the 49ers scored 16 straight points. The Eagles offense notched only five first downs in the first 54 minutes and failed to cross midfield for 55 1/2 minutes. Foles moved the Eagles late from their nine to a fourth and goal at the San Francisco two yard line. Although Foles could have run for the score, he threw high and incomplete as the 49ers finally proved they could win a game in Santa Clara.
Minnesota Vikings 41, Atlanta Falcons 28— This was a victory for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. Teddy Briidgewater threw for over 300 yards without making any mistakes. Zimmer is a military no-nonsense, no-excuses kind of guy. With his star running back out suspended, it was next man up. Asiata had three touchdowns. The last one came on fourth and goal at the one with the Vikings trailing 28-27 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Zimmer then trusted his kicker with a 55-yard field goal try with 3 1/2 minutes left rather than punt and play field position. Blair Walsh drilled the kick to put the game out of reach and reward Zimmer’s boldness.
Dallas Cowboys 38, New Orleans Saints 17 was the Sunday night game. Some games are just head-scratchers. The Saints have a pinball offense and the Cowboys are supposed to have a dreadful defense. Yet it was Tony Romo and not Drew Brees who led his team to a 31-3 lead after three quarters. Jerry Jones was so pleased that he extended Jason Garrett’s contract by one week. One of the worst losses of the Sean Payton era had fans wondering if the Saints were overrated or the Cowboys were better than analysts thought.
Kansas Chiefs 41, Patriots 14 was the Monday night game. Both teams have underachieved this season, and the Chiefs are tough at home in Monday night games. The key storyline is the entire Patriots offense has been out of sync all season. Three turnovers by Tom Brady literally handed the Chiefs 17 points. Even Brady does not do well after spotting the opponent a 27-0 lead.