Now that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has officially declared the league’s Insensitivity Era is over – after the past two weeks he’s had, even presiding over “the press conference from hell” is a success – we can all go back to watching football without feeling terrible about ourselves.
OK, maybe not just yet. But Week 3 in the NFL provided us with plenty of pleasant distractions, everything from developing narratives (“Are the Chargers for real?”) and improbable comebacks to nervy nail-biters and bench-clearing brawls.
So while we await whatever public-relations nightmare is surely looming, perhaps it’s best to take a moment and celebrate the escape that is Sunday, with this week’s Winners and Losers.
Winner: Nick Foles
Though you probably couldn’t tell from that GIF. Sure, Foles got smashed by Washington’s Chris Baker – a blindside hit that lead to two ejections and a bench-clearing Royal Rumble – but he hung tough on Sunday, throwing for 325 yards and 3 TDs and leading the Eagles to a wild 37-34 victory over their NFC East rivals. He also outdueled fellow QB Kirk Cousins, who put up 427 yards in a losing effort, and made a serious case for his status as the best quarterback in the division. Or at least the one with the worst peripheral vision.
Loser: Jared Cook
Moments before this shove, Austin Davis threw a nice pass to an open Jared Cook in the end zone. After bobbling the ball for 45 seconds, Cook eventually dropped it, and the Rams were forced to settle for a field goal. Shoving your quarterback is never a good idea, but when said quarterback is willing to forget the fact you dropped a certain TD, it’s somehow even worse – especially when your team ends up losing by three.
Winner: The Dallas Cowboys
What the hell is this team? Going into yesterday’s game, I was hoping to get a good grasp on the identity of the 2014 Cowboys. Instead, I’m left twice as dumbfounded as before.
Dallas’ defense was terrible, giving up 21 first-half points to an Austin Davis-led St. Louis team, yet it was Bruce Carter’s 25-yard interception return for a touchdown that finally completed their historic comeback. Their offense sputtered for the first 30 minutes, highlighted by a patented pick-six from Tony Romo, then snapped to life in the second half to blow the Rams out of the water. I ask again, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS TEAM?
Loser: Blake Bortles
If you would have told me three weeks ago that the NFL team with swimming pools behind each end zone and helmets that changed color in the sunlight would be the worst in the league…I totally would have believed you. Jacksonville is so bad this column should just be called “Winners, Losers and Jaguars.”
As Chad Henne was putting the finishing touches on a first half that saw him throw for 33 yards, and with the Jags down 30-0, Blake Bortles began gearing up to assume starting duties. And even though Jacksonville lost 44-17, Bortles gave fans something to cheer about as he threw for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns. So why is he a “Loser?” Because for the foreseeable future, he’ll be the guy leading this stinker of a team into battle. Hope you brought your flak jacket, Blake.
Winner: Trick Plays that Work
What’s with all the trickery this season? On Sunday we saw Russell Wilson and Andy Dalton make impressive plays at the receiver position. Johnny Manziel got in on the action with one of those weird decoy plays that your intramural team used to run. And once again, Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu showed us his QB skills by throwing a touchdown. You can’t help but wonder if this trend will push fantasy leagues to allow players to be rewarded for any positive play? Or maybe I’m just pissed because I started Dalton and got no points for that TD catch.
Loser: Trick Plays that Don’t Work
That’s the thing about trick plays. When they work, you’re a genius. When they don’t, you wind up on Reddit accompanied by “Yakety Sax.” Let this be a cautionary tale to any team that thinks they can just draw up a double end-around flea-flicker and make it work. Give the Chiefs credit though; despite this debacle, they wound up beating the Dolphins, and probably earned a spot on tonight’s “C’Mon Man!”
Winner: This Awesome Browns Fan
As the league continues to drown in a sea of darkness, one man stands as beacon of hope for us all. Though I bet he wasn’t standing for long.
Loser: Robert Kraft
For starters, his Pats only beat the Raiders by seven. Then, after Kraft went through the all the trouble of personally inviting Mark Wahlberg to his executive suite, and sprung for a sweet throwback Pat Patriot cap, Wahlberg left him hanging on the high five. We bet that awesome Browns fan would’ve been there for you, Bob.
Winner: Russell Wilson
After witnessing Peyton Manning orchestrate a game-tying drive in the final minute of the fourth quarter, the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson couldn’t wait to answer with a drive of his own. And what a drive it was.
Seattle won the opening coin toss in OT, and Wilson led the Seahawks on a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by Marshawn Lynch’s six-yard TD run. Manning never even got a chance to touch the ball. Wilson was his usual unassumingly spectacular self throughout, throwing for 258 yards and 2 scores, and adding 40 yards on the ground. Perhaps we should stop being surprised; after Sunday’s win, he’s 7-0 against the league’s four best QBs (Manning, Brady, Rodgers and Brees).
Loser: Stephen Tulloch
During the Lions’ bruising 19-7 win over the Packers, Stephen Tulloch suffered an ACL injury while celebrating – joining the ranks of immortal self inflictors like Bill Gramatica and Gus Frerotte. What’s even worse is that Tulloch was in the middle of mocking Aaron Rodgers’ “Discount Double Check” move. I mean, has he seen the latest batch of those commercials?