Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the weekend’s NFL action in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem.
There’s a First Time For Everything
Where could such a headline come from? This particular headline I chose because I believe this is the first time that the Jacksonville Jaguars have received honorable mention on the Realist. Why? Well, just because.
The Jaguars’ opponent this weekend was the San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville’s Everbank Field. The Chargers, while a respectable team this year, have received little attention this year because they’re being overshadowed in a division that includes the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos and the surprising Kansas City Chiefs…both of whom came into Week 6 undefeated.
On Monday Night Football last week, those same Chargers got a huge victory last week by defeating the Indianapolis Colts, a team that many had picked to defeat them.
The biggest pick-me-up for football fans throughout Southern California is that after a few years of Philip Rivers reverting to his days when he was still a backup under Drew Brees, he’s been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL this year. Probably not circa 2008 levels, but Chargers fans should take it.
As predicted, the Jaguars lost again, this time 24-6 against San Diego. Rivers was 22/26 for 285 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Ryan Mathews, the man who is referred to in many circles as a “fumble machine”—he added 110 yards to his season total on 21 carries.
Chad Henne was 23/36 for 318 yards while Mike Brown had 120 yards receiving on 5 receptions.
Perhaps, one of the worst things that has come as a result of Jacksonville’s debacle is that Maurice Jones Drew is looking like a shell of his former self. He only had 37 yards on 9 carries for this game and is the subject of trade rumours.
Poor Pocket Hercules.
Perhaps, Jones-Drew being the subject of trade rumours is the best thing that can happen to him. When the Jaguars were winning, he was regarded as one of the best runningbacks of the league. But as we know, runningbacks have early expiration dates in the NFL.
This Jaguars team looks like such a mess that many are predicting the team to join the 2008 Detroit Lions on the 0-16 bus (Or as Jim Rome famously says, running the table in reverse). What’s worse is that Jags owner Shad Khan has about just as much of a London fetish as does Commissioner Roger Goodell as he’s thought about playing games across the pond.
The Jaguars’ cheerleaders are known as “The Roar”. Those ladies ought to get paid more than the team right now since they’ve consistently been better than the team in 2013.
In more ways than one.
And the fans deserve to be reimbursed just for deciding to make a trip out to Everbank to see the Jaguars. Heck, Jaguars games ought to be free—at least until they win again.
Oh, yeah, then there’s the Tim Tebow talk as well.
Tebow’s not part of the Jaguars (yet, if ever), but the Jags’ quest for that elusive win continues next week as they take on…Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. This Realist is not bullish on their chances.
San Diego, by the way, will be on bye week.
The Jacksonville Jaguars can take solace (for the time being) that they are not the only team that has been stuck in the loss column all year. Thankfully for them, the other team with no victories in 2013 happens to be from the same state as the hapless Jags.
Football fortunes this year have been no better in Central Florida than they have been in North Florida & the Panhandle. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2013 has not been kind. They’ve dealt with drama involving head coach Greg Schiano, the Josh Freeman debacle that now has him as starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, and a renewed controversy over if Bucs players are contracting the dangerous MRSA virus from their training facility at One Buc Place.
Now, Dexter Jackson, who won a Super Bowl MVP at the team’s lone appearance in The Big Game, was blocked from attending team practices at One Buc because Schiano said he didn’t know who he was. Jackson’s story was—a little bit different.
With Freeman now posted up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, this meant that Matt Glennon (who?) took over starting duties as starting quarterback for the Bucs.
Their Week 7 opponents—the Atlanta Falcons were not in much better position than the Bucs. Coming into this game, they were 1-4 and near the bottom of the NFC South, a division most picked them to win. What has been more glaring about the Falcons this year is the manner in which they have lost games—primarily because their defense has not been able to hold on to leads late.
Also, one of their primary wide receivers in Julio Jones was unable to play this game as he was injured.
No Julio, no problem when you are an underachieving team playing a winless team. A Thomas DeCoud fumble recovery for a TD and a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Jacquizz Rodgers allowed the Falcons to jump out to a 14-0 advantage.
Tampa got on the board with a 59 yard 2nd quarter TD pass from Glennon to Vincent Jackson. Jackson has been making A.J. Smith (currently with the Washington Redskins front office) shake his head every time he catches a touchdown pass. How A.J. got into a spat with Jackson over a contract with the Chargers reinforces his status as the “Lord of No Rings”.
The Falcons lead at one point in the 2nd quarter was 24-7 and it looked academic (as always). The Buccaneers did get a late Rian Lindell field goal to make the score 24-10 at the half.
Another Jackson touchdown made it 24-17. Glennon impressed many and it looked as if the Bucs were on the comeback trail.
Except their trail was littered with yellow flags.
Tampa Bay committed 11 penalties for the game for a grand total of 103 yards. It has been one of the stories with Schiano’s team all season long as the Bucs are one of the most penalized teams this year in the NFL.
Atlanta extended its lead to 31-17 on another Ryan TD pass to Rodgers. Two more Lindell field goals made it 31-23, but field goals do not cut 14 point deficits. Falcons won by that score.
Matty Ice went 20/26 for 273 yards and 3 touchdown passes. Despite only notching 16 yards on 8 carries, Rodgers did have his two TDs. Again, no Julio Jones, no problem when Hugh Douglas is picking up the slack in his stead. 7 receptions, 149 yards, and 1 TD.
Glennon was not too bad himself as he went 26/44 for 256 yards and 2 TDs. Jackson caught 10 passes for 138 and 2 touchdown receptions. Runningback Doug Martin left the game early with a shoulder injury as his line was only 11 carries and 47 yards.
While the Bucs played a good game, the MRSA mildew of last week may be a prevailing story of the season. A report out of Atlanta says that the Georgia Dome staff used special cleaning methods to clean out the visitors’ locker room after the team departed.
North and Central Florida NFL football needs a long hug.
Speaking of which, the Miami Dolphins lost to their division rival Buffalo Bills 23-21. But, at least the Fins are 3-3 this year.
As for the Bucs and Falcons, Tampa has to turn around and play another game in four days as they’ll play the Carolina Panthers on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football. The Falcons head on the road to Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals await in Week 8.
The Clutch Gen-o
It has not been too often recently where the New York Jets have been featured on a nationally televised game. Then again, it has not been often recently where the Jets were worthy of being seen on television outside of the Tri-State area. But, the team was 3-3 going into their divisional matchup at MetLife Stadium vs. the New England Patriots.
The Jets offense was smothered by the Pittsburgh Steelers defense last week in a 19-6 defeat that gave the Steelers their first victory of the year. And we all know what happened last week with the Patriots and Saints that had the New England radio announcers delivering, arguably (heavy stress on “arguably”), the call of the year.
“Show ponies! Unicorns! Where’s the beef?!” –Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub Patriots Radio Network
Pats fans had reason to be “Show ponies! Unicorns! Where’s the beef?”-level excited when it was announced that tight end Rob Gronkowski would be active for this game against the Jets.
Tom Brady was clearly happy as evidenced by the number of occasions where Gronk was targeted early and often by #12.
It would be the Jets to get on the board first with a Jeremy Kerley touchdown reception from Geno Smith. 7-0 Jets before the Pats tied it up on a Brandon Bolden touchdown run. They assumed the lead in the first when Logan Ryan intercepted Smith for a 79 yard pick 6. 14-7 New England.
It would be 21-10 at the half after a Nick Folk field goal and a Stevan Ridley touchdown run.
The third quarter is when the Jets showed that they came into this game expecting to win. It’s rare when Brady throws a pick 6, but he did to start the second half—to Antonio Allen for 23 yards. Then Smith’s second touchdown of the day would be one in which he kept the ball himself for eight yards. Add in another field goal and the Jets were leading the Pats late 27-21.
New England got three of those points back early in the fourth with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. Late, it seemed as if the Jets would complete the upset before clock management issues on the part of Rex Ryan would give the Patriots the ball back with two minutes and change left on the clock.
Did Rex see the Pats/Saints game from last week? As we know, giving Tom Brady a two minute drill is like giving him a twelve minute drill. The result—another Gostkowski field goal to tie the game going into overtime.
With sixteen seconds left, the Jets could have ran one more play to at least have a chance. They took a knee and tried their chances at halftime. It seemed as if Rex Ryan was playing conservative and playing not to lose—which normally leads you to lose. Why even give Tom Brady a chance to burn you again?
The Pats did win the coin toss to start halftime, but the Jets forced a three and out. It looked as if New York would be stopped to on their drive as the result was a 50+ field goal attempt from Folk. The kick was hooked, but the Patriots immediately became victims of a new rule in the NFL where one cannot push the pile from behind.
Chris Jones was flagged which continued the Jets’ drive. Folk’s second try was good and the Jets won 30-27 to go to 4-3. The Patriots are now 5-2.
Again, no one predicted at the outset of the season that the better New York City football team would be Gang Green and not Big Blue (who will play on Monday Night Football). Except, for maybe a few who proudly fly the Jets’ colors. Brady was 22/46 for 228 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. As mentioned earlier, it would be a banner day for Gronk with his 114 yards on 8 receptions.
As for the Jets, Geno Smith was 17/33 with 233 yards 2 touchdowns (1 pass, 1 run) and 1 interception. A lot of the Jets offensive attack in this game was dictated on the ground via Chris Ivory—34 carries for 104 yards. Jeremy Kerley caught a touchdown in addition to 8 other catches for 97 yards.
New England stays in the division for a home matchup vs. the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 while the Jets travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals.
Making a Case
The Houston Texans were reeling heading into Week 7 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. This is a team that was licking its wounds after being dominated Week 6 by the St. Louis Rams. And Matt Schaub’s injury left an opening at starting quarterback for this week’s game.
This is where Case Keenum enters the picture as he was announced as the starter. It didn’t matter to most as most fans and pundits still predicted another Chiefs victory.
Houston, though, was also in mourning along with defensive coordinator Wade Philips as his father, and longtime Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips passed away earlier this week. The Phillips family has received plenty of condolences from many from throughout Southeast Texas and the NFL.
This game would be defensive charged which normally signals that it’s advantage Chiefs. It was 7-3 Kansas City after one quarter thanks to a Jamaal Charles touchdown. Randy Bullock earlier gave Houston a 3-0 lead with a field goal.
The Texans retook the lead on a 29 yard touchdown pass from Keenum to DeAndre Hopkins. 10-7. The Chiefs answered as Alex Smith ran for a TD late in the second quarter to make it 14-10.
For the remainder of the game, the third quarter in particular, the two teams simply traded field goals between Bullock and Ryan Succop making the score 17-16 Chiefs.
It was how the game would end as both teams’ defenses took over. Ben Tate did the majority of the running for the Texans with 4 carries on 50 yards as Arian Foster reinjured a hamstring. In addition, Brian Cushing also suffered another leg injury on a low block.
Keenum’s line wasn’t explosive (as it wasn’t expected to be) but it was OK. He was 15 for 25 with 271 yards and 1 touchdown. Where in Missouri/Kansas was the Texans’ offensive line as Keenum was sacked 5 times. Andre Johnson also caught 4 passes for 89 yards.
On the Chiefs’ side of things, Alex Smith was 23/34 with 240 yards, one touchdown run, and one pick. Jamaal Charles—21 carries for 86 yards.
Houston almost won this game on the back of their defense, but Keenum played a good game in a situation where he was facing an undefeated Kansas City Chiefs team that has been known this year for being able to get to the quarterback. Already, Houston loves Keenum and if Texans fans had their way, Keenum’s the starter for the remainder of the year and Schaub is holding a clipboard.
The story of the Kansas City Chiefs is unbelievable. If anyone “Started from the Bottom”, it’s KC. Plus, Andy Reid is the leader in the clubhouse for coach of the year.
Next week, the Chiefs play the Browns at Arrowhead while the Texans head to…a bye week.
Homecoming King Uncrowned
There’s no need to regurgitate the Jim Irsay/Peyton Manning drama from earlier this week in the buildup to this one. It’s been well documented. What should’ve been the main story was that Manning was returning to Indianapolis—a city that still loves him despite the fact that he’s now reppin’ orange and midnight blue of the Denver Broncos.
Also, the fact that they were playing a Colts team that despite last week’s defeat to the San Diego Chargers, still looked like legitimate contenders with the rest of the AFC South in freefall.
Manning was introduced with a short, 90 second tribute to his time in Indianapolis. Marvin Harrison, whom #18 connected with on many a pass during his Indy days, was also in attendance.
Once the tribute was over, he was a Denver Bronco, and his first touchdown pass of the game was 17 yards to Eric Decker to put the Broncos ahead 7-0. Adam Vinatier’s field goal later in the quarter made it 7-3 and Darrius Heyward-Bey (a name who Raider fans remember well) caught an 11 yard pass from Andrew Luck for a touchdown. 10-7 Colts.
It was 14-10 Indy after Julius Thomas caught Manning’s second touchdown pass of the game. After that, Indianapolis began to dominate. One thing that was notable about this game was that Indianapolis’ domination in the second and third quarters was dictated by its defense’s pressure it was putting on Manning. As we know, getting pressure on an immobile quarterback like Manning is sure to put him on his keester a few times.
Or make him fumble the ball in the end zone, as what happened midway through the second quarter, thanks to Robert Mathis. 14-12 Broncos.
Luck would convert on two more touchdown passes to Stanley Havili and Coby Fleener prior to the end of the half to make the score 26-14 Colts. It was 33-14 after a 10 yard touchdown run from Luck.
Game over, right?
Last time we checked, the Denver Broncos quarterback is still Peyton Manning and he has a proficiency to come back in situations like this. Early in fourth after each team scored a field goal (Matt Prater for the Broncos late in the 3rd, Vinatieri for Indy in the 4th), DeMariyus Thomas caught a 31 yard touchdown pass from The Sheriff to put Denver back within 13 at 36-23. A two point conversion attempt failed.
Then, Trent Richardson made Colts fans everywhere wonder why Irsay traded for him from Cleveland. His fumble at their own 23 yard line allowed the Broncos to take over possession again. It led to a Knowshon Moreno touchdown. 36-30 Indianapolis.
Also, on one of the Colts’ drives, it resulted in a punt, but also in Reggie Wayne slipping on the ground and limping back to the locker room. After the injury he didn’t return and was seen crying on the sidelines. It has been said to be a knee sprain, but there is some concern that it could be an ACL.
The Colts needed something to go their way before the Broncos completed this quarterback. It did in the form of an interception by Pat Angerer. That allowed the Colts to put another 3 points on the board with a 42 yard field goal from Vinatieri.
The Broncos, now down by 9, needed a touchdown and a field goal. They got the field goal from Prater, but then needed an onside kick to go their way. It didn’t and the Colts won 39-33 to go 5-2 on the year and give the Broncos their first loss.
This meant that the Kansas City Chiefs, whom not many predicted to contend prior to the start of the year, are now the lone undefeated team left. It’s another statement victory for the Colts who now have wins against the 49ers, Seahawks, and Broncos. This is a team that is playing to the level of their competition, for the most part. If that’s the case, look out when the playoffs come. Because, one cannot be a bad team if it makes the postseason. Indianapolis is a legitimate Super Bowl contender once again.
Luck was 21/38 with 228 yards and 4 touchdowns (3 passing, 1 running). Prior to the injury, Wayne caught 5 receptions for 50 yards.
In a losing effort for the Broncos, Manning was 29/49 with 386 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Eric Decker was targeted a lot in this game and caught 8 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown.
The Colts can enjoy a bye week as it couldn’t have come at a better week for the sake of Reggie Wayne’s health. The Broncos return home to face the Washington Redskins.
Seahawks defeat Cardinals 34-22 (Thursday Night Football)
Panthers defeat Rams 30-15
Bengals defeat Lions 27-24
Bills defeat Dolphins 23-21
Cowboys defeat Eagles 17-3
Redskins defeat Bears 45-41
49ers defeat Titans 31-17
Packers defeat Browns 31-13
Steelers defeat Ravens 19-16
Vikings vs. Giants (8:30 Monday Night Football)
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