LOS ANGELES, October 14, 2014 — Peyton Manning is three touchdowns away from history. Derek Carr was allowed to stop dinking and dunking, leading to his transformation from Captain Checkdown Matt Leinart to Mad Bomber Darryl Lamonica.
Blake Bortles led a valiant rally while Bryan Hoyer is about to become the most popular athlete in Cleveland.
There were plenty of lessons to be learned from NFL 2014 Week 6 in addition to what many fans failed to learn.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans — The main thing to be gleamed from the Thursday night game is that the NFL is the greatest game in the history of sports. The Texans rallied from a 24-0 first quarter deficit to pull within five points and a chance to win. Yet critical fumbled by Andre Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick doomed the Texans and allowed the Colts to escape. The real losers were the people who turned the television off after the first quarter. Given the comebacks of last week, true NFL fans should know better.
Denver Broncos 31, New York Jets 17 — With less than 30 seconds remaining and the Jets down 24-17, Geno Smith was intercepted by Aqib Talib, who returned it 22 yards for the clinching touchdown. The Jets are 1-5, but beating up Rex Ryan and Geno Smith for this loss would be overkill. Nobody else in the NFL can figure out Peyton Manning, who threw three more touchdown passes and needs three more to claim the NFL record.
Cleveland Browns 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 3 — The Cleveland Browns are no longer losers. They are a good team, and it has nothing to do with Johnny Clipboard. Bryan Hoyer is a leader, and for once the Cardiac Kids did not need to go down to the final play.
Tennessee Titans 16, Jacksonville Jaguars 14 — Even while remaining winless, Jaguars fans have reason for hope due to Blake Bortles. Down by 9 with 2:45 to play, Bortles led a touchdown drive and another drive after a successful onside kick. On third and two from the Tennessee 37 with 12 seconds left, Gus Bradley decided on the 55-yard field goal rather than risk a possible bad snap on fourth down. The kick was blocked, but Bradley’s decision was sensible and Bortles will get his first win soon enough.
Green Bay Packers 27, Miami Dolphins 24 — Aaron Rodgers is among the very best. His four-yard touchdown pass with three seconds to play won the game, but give the Packers credit for a little-talked about issue. Football experts talk about how tough it is for warm weather teams to win in cold weather, but the reverse often gets ignored. Green Bay traveled to the East Coast for an early game against a team coming off a bye week and gutted out a tough win in blistering Miami heat.
Detroit Lions 17, Minnesota Vikings 3 — When Jim Caldwell had Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, the high-octane offense ruled. Now in Detroit, Caldwell’s Lions are winning with suffocating defense. Without Calvin Megatron Johnson and Reggie Bush, the Lions defense clamped down on the road, sacking Teddy Bridgewater eight times and pitching a shutout for the first 55 minutes.
Carolina Panthers 37, Cincinnati Bengals 37, OT Tie — This fine football game saw Cam newton and Red Rifle Andy Dalton trade blows as this game was tied seven times. Two key decisions in overtime loomed large. Down 37-34, the Panthers faced fourth and one at the Cincinnati 18. Riverboat Ron Rivera earned his nickname by taking big bold gambles, but this time he played it safe and went for the tying field goal. In a game with no defense and only two minutes left in overtime, Rivera had to suspect the Panthers would not see the ball again. He opted for the tie. As for Marvin Lewis, nobody can fault him for having Dalton take a knee and run down the clock at the end. Mike Nugent has to make a 37-yarder to win it. The non-win is on Nugent.
New England Patriots 37, Buffalo Bills 22 — A couple of weeks ago people who had not watched a football game in 15 years declared the Patriots dead and the Bills ascendant. Those who understand football realized that this game was a time for the Bills to put up or shut up. Kyle Orton was good, going 24 for 38 for 299 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Tom Brady played like the first ballot Hall-of-Famer he is, going 27 of 37 for 361 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Nothing has changed in the AFC East.
Baltimore Ravens 48, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17 — A few weeks ago the Buccaneers fell behind 56-0 before only losing by 42. This time they fell behind 38-0 at halftime due to five Joe Flacco touchdown passes. For the second time this season, the 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers resembled their 1976 orange creamsicle expansion team. John McKay certainly would have favored the execution of this team, despite a few second half points.
Chicago Bears 27, Atlanta Falcons 13 — Both teams like to throw the ball and Jay Cutler had 381 yards passing in this game. Nevertheless, a 13-13 tie was broken open late when the Bears reverted to smash-mouth. Matt Forte had touchdown runs of six and fifteen yards, the latter one capping off a 15-play, 87-yard drive that consumed 8 1/2 minutes off of the clock and ground the Falcons into dust.
San Diego Chargers 31, Oakland Raiders 28 — While the Raiders remained winless, these are no longer the Dennis Allen dink and dunk losers. Derek Carr was magnificent, throwing a 77-yard touchdown bomb on the third play of the game. Carr threw for 282 yards and four touchdown passes despite his receivers dropping five passes. Down by three with one minute left, Carr went for the bomb and was intercepted at the five-yard line when the defender ripped it from the receiver’s hands. The Raiders finally have a real leader. He was outdueled by Philip Rivers, who threw for 313 yards and three touchdown passes. Not since Jim Plunkett and Dan Fouts have these teams given America a game that Sid Gillman, Don “Air” Coryell and Al Davis could love.
Dallas Cowboys 30, Seattle Seahawks 23 — The Cowboys were supposed to be terrible enough to get Jason Garrett fired. Instead they pounded the defensive champions on both sides of the ball. Tony Romo completed bombs to Dez Bryant against Richard Sherman and Troy Williamson against the rest of the Legion of Boom. DeMarco Murray ran it down Seattle’s throats. Special teams blunders by the Cowboys gave Seattle a pair of touchdowns early on as the Seahawks led 23-20 late. Yet the score was misleading. The Cowboys got to 5-1 by manhandling the Seahawks. The score was close, but the Cowboys throttled Seattle on their home field.
Arizona Cardinals 30, Washington Redskins 20 — With Washington trailing 23-20 late, Kirk Cousins threw his third interception in the final 8 1/2 minutes, and this one was returned by Johnson 28 yards for the clinching touchdown. Cousins had 354 yards passing but the picks killed the team. Carson Palmer was 28 of 44 for 250 yards and two touchdowns without an interception for the first place 4-1 Cardinals.
Philadelphia Eagles 27, New York Giants 0. The Sunday night game was a textbook beating in the trenches. The Eagles defense sacked Eli Manning eight times. The offense had almost 200 yards rushing on 35 carries. For all the talk about a flying Eagles offense, this was old-school smash mouth football.
San Francisco 49ers 31, St. Louis Rams 17. The Rams always play the 49ers tough, even when they have inferior talent. The Rams carried the emotion of a Monday night game to a 14-0 lead, but the 49ers just had too much firepower. Despite having the ball with a chance to tie things with 1:05 to play, Austin Davis threw an interception for the clinching San Francisco touchdown. Jim Harbaugh is very good at reminding his players that every week is a street fight. This prevented the 49ers from taking the Rams too lightly, allowing San Francisco to withstand the early St. Louis barrage due to home crowd intensity on a nationally televised night game.