The middle week of the 2021 NFL schedule provided as many surprises as the first eight weeks of the season as teams were upset, shutdown, and pushed to the limit. The results were the NFL standings getting a major shakeup as divisions grew tighter and the “best teams” remaining open for debate. Here is a recap of all the week nine NFL action in what is proving to be a most interesting season.
Indianapolis 45 (4-5), NY Jets 30 (2-6): The Colts spend the first half traveling into the Jets’ end zone as they scored four touchdowns on their four possessions to take a 28-10 halftime lead. New York lost their backup quarterback Mike White, to a forearm injury, leaving Gang Green to play most of this game with Josh Johnson, who, in garbage time, posted 311 yards and three TDs. Indy was led by QB Carson Wentz who posted 272 yards and three scores of his own and RB Jonathan Taylor, who tallied 172 yards on the ground and scored twice on his own to help in the Colts back toward .500 and into the AFC Wild-Card chase.
Atlanta 27 (4-4), New Orleans 25 (5-3): The Saints did all they could with backup QB Trevor Siemian in their efforts to come back from a 17-0 deficit after three quarters. New Orleans posted 22 points in the fourth quarter to take a 25-24 lead. Matt Ryan did just enough to come back, leading the Falcons to a game-winning FG on the road to get Atlanta back to .500 as the Saints find life without Jameis Winston to be more difficult than some may have thought. The loss makes New Orleans’ win over Tampa Bay last week a little less meaningful and likely will show how difficult the second half of the season will be down on the Bayou.
Jacksonville 9 (2-6), Buffalo 6 (5-3): In one of the earlier shockers on Sunday, Bills QB Josh Allen tallied 314 total yards from scrimmage, yet only managed two first half field goals against the Jaguars. The Bills defense matched Jacksonville’s performance as the game went to halftime tied at six; with the Jags scoring the only points of the second half, kicking what proved to be a game-winning field goal with 12:13 left in the fourth. The loss is dumbfounding to those who follow the AFC East and consider Buffalo a Super Bowl contender and serves as a big blow toward the Bills avoiding an opening round playoff game and a longer road to the Super Bowl.
Cleveland 41 (5-4), Cincinnati 16 (5-4): There is something to be said for teams getting better by getting rid of players who are not buying into their program. At least for one week that was the case for the Browns who went to Cincinnati and lit up the Bengals’ defense. Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield posted two TD passes and was joined on the stat sheet by RB Nick Chubb who added two more on the ground. The ugly loss was the second straight for Cincy, who has fallen back into the pack in the AFC North as the Browns climb above .500 and are in the thick of the postseason picture at the halfway mark of the 2021 season.
Denver 30 (5-4), Dallas 16 (6-2): In the other shocker of the early afternoon, Denver went to Dallas and scored the game’s first 30 points, shutting down any MVP talk surrounding Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott, who had by far one of his worse games ever as a pro. Dallas posted two meaningless touchdowns when Denver was playing the clock over playing defense, providing some misleading stats for the Cowboys offense. Make no mistake about it, when the game was still on the line, Denver dominated this contest, and even without Von Miller on their defense, provided a blueprint for how to defeat the overhyped Cowboys the rest of the season.
Miami 17 (2-7), Houston 9 (1-8): Miami went on the road and did all their offensive damage in the first half in taking a 17-6 halftime lead. The Dolphins’ defense were the heroes of this game, allowing only three Texans’ FGs to Tyrod Taylor and the Houston offense as these two teams battled it out for the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, with the Texans winning out. The only sidebar of this game, the failed trade of Deshawn Watson from Houston to Miami will fade to a distance memory until the offseason when the troubled QB will likely face a trial of his reported misdeeds and his fate for next season is decided.
NY Giants 23 (3-6), Las Vegas 16 (5-3): This game was won the Giants’ defense, who held the Raiders field goals instead of touchdowns and made a direct impact on the scoreboard with a pick-six score of their own. New York was also able to control the game with their own running attack, led by a career-high 99 yards from Devonta Booker, who kept the Raiders defense in check and gave the defense a chance to catch their breath between drives. The continuing off-field issues facing the Raiders and the trip to the east coast were likely factors in this game; however, when a team settled for field goals and can’t score touchdowns against a bad team, an upset becomes possible, which is exactly what the New York Giants pulled off on Sunday at MetLife stadium.
Baltimore 34 (6-2), Minnesota 31 (3-5) OT: If you like your QB to be a one-man gang, then the Ravens are a team for you …. Lamar Jackson tossed three TDS against the Vikings and added 120 yards and a touchdown run to his 266 passing yards, all of which Baltimore needed to win this game in overtime. The way John Harbaugh is running Lamar Jackson into the ground week after week, I hope the soon-to-be free agent quarterback adds a few more numbers to the contract he is asking for. Otherwise, I just might consider going to another team to find a place to play with other players that will help, not hurt his success. This win slides the Ravens back ahead of the Bengals for first place in the AFC North and, barring a major collapse by the Packers, likely brings an end to the Mike Zimmer era in Minnesota with changes on the horizon for the Vikings.
New England 24 (5-4), Carolina 9 (4-5): Don’t look now AFC, but the Patriots are a half-game out of first place int the AFC East after smothering their old friend Sam Darnold and the Panthers’ offense on Sunday. New England took away Darnold’s best weapon as they held Christian McCaffery to 52 rushing yards on just 14 carries and used an 88-yard pick-six of Darnold to score a third quarter touchdown and put the game out of reach for the Carolina offense. The win puts Bill Belichick’s team right behind Buffalo in the division, so get ready for talk about how no one will want to play the Patriots in the postseason as they will be a tough out.
LA Chargers 27 (5-3), Philadelphia 24 (3-5): In a back-and-forth battle, it was the visiting Chargers who scored the last points of this game in the form of a FG with 0:05 left on the clock. Each team held leads in this contest, but it was the play of LA QB Justin Herbert who pushed the Chargers over the top. Herbert posted 356 yards and two TDs passes and ran for a third score to outplay his counterpart Jalen Hurts and the hard to watch Eagles’ defense. The win helps tightened up the race in the AFC West while the Eagles loss prevents them from gaining any ground on the Cowboys after their defeat. While we still don’t know how good the LA Chargers can be, they are winning the games they should win, something they did not do in 2020, making them a better team.
Arizona 31 (8-1), San Francisco 17 (3-5): Cardinals fans may have been nervous when they heard QB Kyler Murray would be out of this game; but backup Colt McCoy was more than adequate for Arizona, posting a pair of two TD quarters to start each half. McCoy was aided by a solid running game that saw James Conner post 96 yards with two TDs and Eno Benjamin add a third rushing score. Kyle Shanahan looks like he left half his playbook in the locker room and was forced to pass more than he likes with Jimmy Garoppolo, giving the ‘Niners’ QB nice stats (326 yards and two scores); but without a running game, the 49ers left the field with a loss and further away from a playoff spot than they are the top five in next year’s draft.
Kansas City 13 (5-4), Green Bay 7 (7-2): In the most disappointing game of the day, the matchup between Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers turned into a defensive struggle with the Packers’ QB out with Covid and Mahomes unable to do anything for most of the game. Green Bay’s defense did what they could to keep the Packers in the game, letting Mahomes take all the short passes he wanted before making the tackle and forcing punts. It was backup QB Jordan Love who scared Green Bay fans by doing even less in the Packers offense, leaving the Cheese Heads to hope that Aaron Rodgers will be back with the team next week as well as in 2022. KC’s win helps them move closer to the Raiders in the AFC West, while the loss doesn’t hurt Green Bay in the NFC North standings but does slide them behind Arizona and out of the top spot in the conference.
Tennessee 28 (7-2), LA Rams 16 (7-2): The Titans brought their best defensive plays to this game, intercepting Rams QB Matthew Stafford twice deep in LA territory, with one resulting in a one-play TD drive and the second being a pick-six. That would be all the offense that Tennessee QB Ryan Tannehill needed, but he added two more scoring drives to put the game out of reach. Stafford looked dazed and confused on the field most of this game with the Titans mixing up their coverages and not allowing the gunslinger to drop back and pass the way LA had won all of their games so far this season. The result was the Rams’ QB regressing back to his average days in Detroit and the Titans leaving Sofi Stadium with a win and a higher level of respect in the NFL.
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NFL Week Nine Recap | TooAthletic.com