Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to have a moment of silence for the first head coaching casualty of the 2015 NFL season. Joe Philbin, thanks for the memories and best wishes on your future coaching endeavors.
We would also like to take this opportunity to have a moment for all of the NFL kickers out there who are struggling to make the extra point. Here’s to hoping you do better next week, if you’re still employed.
If you’re short on time, we’ve bolded the most important takeaway from each game.
If you’ve got lots of time, you should make a drinking game out of this post. Take a shot every time we tell you a kicker missed a kick. Take two shots when we note that said kicker is now unemployed.
Here’s what we thought about week 4 in the NFL…
Baltimore (23), Pittsburgh (20) – This game was a classic division rivalry game and actually cost the Steelers’ kicker his job. After missing two field goals in the final three minutes of the game, which would have sealed the win for PIT, the Steelers cut K Josh Scobee after trading for him from the Jaguars in August. This means the Steelers are now on their fourth kicker of the year after losing their first two to injury. Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field is one of the toughest stadiums to kick in (lots of wind), but Ravens K Justin Tucker had no problem kicking the game winning field goal in OT and save the Ravens from a 0-4 start. The Steelers were in control most of the game, but missed QB Ben Roethlisberger and couldn’t utilize their full playbook with Michael Vick under center. The Ravens were lucky to leave this one with a W – they’re running out of people to for QB Joe Flacco to throw the ball to. WR Steve Smith fractured his back and will be out for at least a week, leading the Ravens to trade the Rams for another WR to supplement their depleted WR corps. Additionally, it will put Steve Smith and his retirement tour hit list on hold.
New York Jets (27), Miami (14) – This game was part of the NFL’s international series, taking place at Wembley stadium in London, England. The Jets and their 350 rolls of toilet paper owned this game. Miami’s head coach, Joe Philbin was fired on Monday, a victim of the team’s slow start. The Dolphins defense continues to disappoint with the big name players they have – their defensive line has yet to register a sack this year.
Houston (21), Atlanta (42) – The Texans have now benched their starting QB in half of their games this season. Brian Hoyer was sent in to replace Ryan Mallet in the third quarter after the Texans fell behind 42-0. They scored their 21 points in garbage time. Can anyone say hot mess? Texans RB Arian Foster played for the first time this season after sustaining an injury in training camp, but did not have a big impact. J.J. Watt still manages to pad his stats – he deflected two passes, had three tackles for a loss, and a sack. To the dismay of fantasy owners (including our mother), Julio Jones was placed in bubble wrap on the sideline by the third quarter when the outcome of the game was no longer in question. Falcons RB Devonta Freeman did his fantasy team owners a solid for the second week in a row by scoring three touchdowns, and now leads the NFL in scores. The Falcons look like a completely different team than last year under their new coaches.
New York Giants (24), Buffalo (10) – The Bills committed 17 penalties, the second most by any team in a game so far this year and looked like a different team than the one that put on a clinic in Miami last week. QB Tyrod Taylor missed RB LeSean McCoy and WR Sammy Watkins, who both missed the game due to injury. The Giants offense had a good first half and slow second half, but in combination with all of Buffalo’s penalties, it was enough to win the game. Despite the loss, Bills QB Tyrod Taylor continues to school all other quarterbacks on post-game press conference style.
Oakland (20), Chicago (22) – While other kickers are job hunting this week, Chicago K Robbie Gould hit a 50 yard field goal with 2 second remaining for Da Bears to notch their first win of the season. QB Jay Cutler returned from injury in a typical performance – some ups, some downs. Raiders QB Derek Carr performed well, but Oakland had trouble getting its run game going. Coach Jack Del Rio is getting criticism for going for the go-ahead field goal with two minutes left instead of a touchdown, giving the ball back to the Bears with plenty of time on the clock to get down the field for their own field goal after the Raiders hadn’t been able to stop the Bears all day.
Kansas City (21), Cincinnati (36) – The Bengals are now 4-0, with QB Andy Dalton getting praise for playing with more confidence and making clutch plays. For the first time in his career, he has had a passer rating of more than 100 for four straight games. It helps that he has a good run game to rely on, plus the services of WR A.J. Green. The Chiefs offense doesn’t look so bad – QB Alex Smith is taking advantage of having a legit WR in Jeremy Maclin. However, the Chiefs defense has given up more than 30 points in each of the last three games, which is the worst for the franchise since 1987. All of the Chiefs points came from field goals – their kicker Cairo Santos went 7/7. He will probably not be on the unemployed kicker list this week.
Jacksonville (13), Indianapolis (16) (OT) – Colts QB Andrew Luck missed his first NFL game due to the shoulder injury he sustained last week. Backup Matt Hasselbeck stepped in and got the job done, despite drops by WRs and RBs and another uninspiring performance by RB Frank Gore. The Jaguars didn’t score again after half time, even though they had the ball five times within the final 8 minutes of regulation and overtime. In another tale of this being a rough day for kickers, their kicker missed two field goals in the game (if you’re doing the mental math, yes, those points would have won them the game).
Carolina (37), Tampa Bay (23) – TB had 5 turnovers, including 4 interceptions by rookie QB Jameis Winston, who has had your typical rookie up and downs to start his NFL career. In another tale of kicker woes, TB rookie K Kyle Brindza was booed by the home crowd when he came on to the field to attempt an extra point – he’s missed 5 of 7 field goal attempts this year, and later in the game missed a PAT. He’s now unemployed. Carolina QB Cam Newton continues to hold the team together offensively without any big playmakers to help him out.
Philadelphia (20), Washington (23) – The Eagles lost several players to injuries during the game that were not able to return, which did not help them. In what seems to be a pattern of “a bad day for kickers” around the league, Philly’s kicker, signed this week to replace their injured kicker, missed a field goal, as well as an extra point attempt. Yes, those missed points would have helped Philly take the lead. QB Sam Bradford had a slow start before putting together two touchdown drives. Philly needs to get their run game in gear, and needs their o-line to improve. Last year’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, signed from the Cowboys in free agency, has only 47 rushing yards so far this year. Washington QB Kirk Cousins managed to put together a game winning touchdown drive, but didn’t get help from the ground game and had to throw the ball more than the coaches probably would have liked.
Cleveland (27), San Diego (30) – Browns QB Josh McCown had a great game, tying the game with a touchdown drive and two-point conversion with two minutes remaining. The Browns defense just could not stop Chargers QB Philip Rivers and RB Danny Woodhead, who had a career day. The Chargers managed to win despite injuries leaving them with only two starting offensive linemen, two healthy WRs, and two CBs by the last quarter. Rivers set rookie K Josh Lambo up with a 39 yard field goal with two seconds left on the clock to win . . . and he missed. But, the Browns had committed an off-sides penalty, so Lambo got a second shot from 5 yards closer. The rookie sailed it directly through the uprights. He will not be joining the “unemployed kicker” club this week.
St. Louis (24), Arizona (22) – Will the real St. Louis Rams please stand up? This looked like the team that everyone talked up all summer, earning the Cardinals their first loss of the season. Rookie RB Todd Gurley showed everyone why he was a top 10 pick of this year’s draft, despite missing most of his last college season with an ACL injury. He ran for 136 yards in the second half alone and had the smarts to burn time off the clock at the end of the game rather than score and give the ball back to the Cardinals with time left on the clock. St. Louis’s defense hit Cardinals QB Carson Palmer 9 times, forced 3 fumbles, deflected 6 passes, and intercepted Palmer in the end zone. This is the best defense the Cardinals have faced so far, so no reason to panic in the desert.
Minnesota (20), Denver (23) – The Vikings almost got into field goal range at the end of the game, which would have forced OT, but Denver’s defense strip-sacked Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater with less than a minute remaining. Denver’s defense is for real, and probably the main reason why the team is 4-0. They sacked Bridgewater 7 times! Denver QB Peyton Manning will be in the Hall of Fame one day, and while he’s still playing well enough that most teams would trade for him as their starting QB in a second, his arm strength is not what it used to be.
Green Bay (17), San Francisco (3) – The 49ers did a decent job at holding Aaron Rodgers in check, but unfortunately for them, the Packers defense did a better job at doing the same to SF QB Colin Kaepernick. His o-line didn’t protect him; he was hit on more than half his dropbacks and sacked 6 times. The Packers effectively stopped the 49ers run game, and when Kaepernick had to throw the ball he was often holding onto it too long, missing receivers, and just making some bad decisions. 49ers players and coaches were visibly frustrated on the sidelines.
Dallas (20), New Orleans (26) (OT) – Cowboys backup QB Brandon Weeden is holding his own in Tony Romo’s absence. He tied the game with less than two minutes remaining, but then Saints QB Drew Brees led a two-minute drill and set his kicker up with a 30 yard field goal with 12 seconds left . . . which the kicker missed. The game went into OT, where it only took a few seconds for Brees to throw his 400th career touchdown pass. During this game Brees also reached 5,000 career completions (Brett Favre and Peyton Manning are the only other quarterbacks who have done this). Brees’ shoulder appeared to bother him more as the game continued, but he still led his team to their first victory of the season.
Detroit (10), Seattle (13) – The big story line coming out of this game was a missed penalty call that would have given the Lions a chance to score at the end of the game. Seahawk (and recent holdout) Kam Chancellor batted the ball out of Megatron’s hands around the 1-yard line. The ball subsequently went into the end zone, where Seahawk LB K.J. Wright batted the ball out of the end zone, which is apparently illegal. The NFL VP of Officiating said that it was an officiating error and now people are questioning why this type of call isn’t reviewable.
Here are this week’s standings in our Weekly Pick ‘Em league. If you’re disappointed in your performance so far, just remind yourself that you are not an unemployed NFL kicker being blamed for a team’s loss. Not so bad now, is it?