USA TODAY US Edition
Making good on returns across USA, pond
1. (Another) congratulations to Bill Belichick, who earned his 300th victory (including playoffs). The symmetry is eerie. Belichick’s Patriots stifled the Browns, the first team he served as head coach for. So, yes, he notched his initial victory with Cleveland ... against New England in 1991.
2. Entering the weekend, the 18 interceptions produced by the Patriots’ defense were at least double any other team’s total. However, New England pilfered Browns QB Baker Mayfield, who had a league-leading 11 INTs entering Week 8, only once.
3. With 13 TD passes, Patriots QB Tom Brady set a season record for a player 42 or older.
4. With New England and San Francisco remaining unbeaten, it sure seems like Super Bowl LIV’s matchup might be taking shape.
5. The NFL’s trade deadline is Tuesday. Interesting to note quite a few prominent players who might be on the move (Kenyan Drake, A.J. Green, O.J. Howard, Darius Slay, Delanie Walker) were Week 8 scratches.
6. Officiating continues to stray into the theater of the absurd. Yo, Alberto Riveron, haven’t we been over this issue of zebras being too trigger happy on the whistle? Not that it helped the Bucs on Sunday, when what might have proved a game-winning TD on a fumble return after they snuffed a Titans fake field goal play was blown dead prematurely.
7. Players love to swap jerseys after games. It would have been nice if the NFL had allowed Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston and Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota to trade jerseys ... jobs ... maybe even mailing addresses this week. The football gods have’t been kind to the 1-2 picks of the 2015 draft, both unsigned beyond this season. With Winston committing four more turnovers and Mariota stuck to the pine, either one will be lucky to land a backup job in 2020.
8. If the playoffs began tomorrow, Tennessee (4-4) wouldn’t make the AFC field, currently one game behind Houston for the final wild-card spot. In the NFC, the defending conference champion Rams (5-3) are also on the outside looking in, a game back of the wild cardleading
Vikings and Seahawks.
9. With his 220-yard day in London, Rams WR Cooper Kupp set a receiving record for an International Series contest. Unless there’s a belated groundswell for Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater, Kupp has probably locked up comeback player of the year honors.
10. And 49ers DE Nick Bosa appears to now be the prohibitive favorite for defensive rookie of the year after piling up three sacks – he has seven in seven games – and returning an interception 46 yards in San Francisco’s 51-13 pasting of the Panthers.
11. The 49ers hadn’t scored 51 points (the bulk Sunday coming via RB Tevin Coleman’s four TDs) since 1993.
12. The Saints have blown up for 510 yards in both games QB Drew Brees – he passed for 373 yards and three TDs on Sunday, his first game following thumb surgery – has started and finished this season. Looks like Brees isn’t going to get Wally Pipp’d by Bridgewater.
13. Rough Sunday for Panthers QB Kyle Allen, who served up the first three INTs of his young career while losing for the first time as an NFL starter.
14. Don’t ever mistake Broncos QB Joe Flacco’s cool demeanor for a lack of competitive fire. Nice to see him publicly take issue with conservative coaching when it would be easier to quietly soldier through what’s probably a lost
campaign in Denver.
15. Tough weather conditions in the Northeastern U.S. Sunday. You could see the goalposts shaking in the throes of Buffalo’s winds.
16. The Chargers ran into a Bears team apparently more vexed by kicking woes than the Bolts are ... though blame for Eddy Pineiro’s game-ending FG miss should be shared at least as much by risk-averse Chicago coach Matt Nagy.
17. Master (Sean McVay) > Pupil (Zac Taylor).
18. J-A-G-S, jags, Jags, JAGS! > J-E-T-S, jets, Jets, JETS!
19. Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette ripped off a 66-yard run on his first carry against New York. His next 18 attempts produced 10 yards.
20. Coolest sidebar in Jacksonville was the reunion of the Williams brothers, Jets rookie DT Quinnen and Jags rookie LB Quincy, who have overcome the adversity caused by cancer. Remember: #CrucialCatch.
21. Give Seattle credit for continuing to stack wins; the team now owns six.
22. If QB Russell Wilson, now 81-38-1 as Seattle’s starter, generates six more wins by the end of the regular season, he’ll break Brady’s record for the most in a quarterback’s first eight years.
23. Maybe the fight Atlanta showed will get coach Dan Quinn a post back on Seattle’s staff once the Falcons (1-7) are forced to fire him.
24. Atlanta’s Matt Schaub and Kansas City’s Matt Moore shook off years of rust in their 2019 starting quarterback debuts, keeping their underdog teams competitive.
25. Speaking of teams that have fed on JV opponents, rough day for Buffalo (I’ll just say we told you so, #BillsMafia), which lost 31-13 to the Eagles ... though you wouldn’t have mistaken Philly for a Division I team a week ago at Dallas.
26. It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that a running back (James Wilder) had the most receptions in Buccaneers history ... until Sunday. Bravo to WR Mike Evans, who caught 11 balls to give him 433 in his career, the new Tampa Bay record.
27. Pretty cool for Redskins RB Adrian Peterson to move into sixth place on the all-time rushing list (he passed Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson) in front of Minnesota fans who lustily cheered him on for a decade – and did so again Thursday.
28. For my money, NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook is still the Vikings’ most valuable player. But Kirk Cousins has certainly begun stealing purple MVP electoral votes, arguably the league’s most effective quarterback over the last month. Minnesota is a legit Super Bowl threat, largely because Cousins is playing the way you’d expect from a guy getting $84 million guaranteed.
29. Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones has 12 turnovers in six starts.
30. Shoutout to Rams LT Andrew Whitworth, formerly of the Bengals, who has now tasted victory against all 32 teams following Sunday’s win against Cincinnati in London.
31. Raiders QB Derek Carr had a nice game Sunday (285 yards passing, 3 TDs), but Houston’s NRG Stadium remains a house of horrors for the Carr brothers ... perhaps more so with Halloween looming?
32. NFL Network analyst James Jones, formerly a receiver for the Packers and the Raiders, makes good on an ungodly percentage of his hot takes. But J.J. is going to have to get his “20/20” vision thoroughly checked after predicting the Browns would upset New England ... then go on to win the AFC North ... and then host the AFC Championship Game ... against Baltimore. Oof.