It was road warrior weekend for the AFC West, and as you might expect the four AFC West teams really struggled, with just one win and three losses. Let’s dissect the week further with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Good – Denver’s speed on defense was most impressive Sunday against Carolina. Von Miller and company really got after Cam Newton and made life difficult for him all afternoon, collecting seven sacks, forcing a safety, and causing Newton to throw a pick six as he tried to escape pressure. The Broncos front seven is a little undersized, but they are as fast as anyone in the NFL and are great at creating havoc for opposing offenses.
Bad – Trindon Holliday and the Broncos got away with one on Sunday when Holliday let go of ball before crossing the goal line on his punt return for a touchdown. Holliday has had some ball security issues in the past, and while it didn’t cost his team on this occasion, he needs to pay better attention to detail and hold onto the ball. Holliday is a talented returner that can really help the Broncos, but he can hurt them as well if he’s not careful about holding onto the ball.
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Ugly – One area where the Broncos got beat badly against the Panthers was on screens and throwbacks. The Denver defense is fast and aggressive, but at times they can be too aggressive, and that’s when they can get burned. Teams that are more talented than the Panthers could really hurt Denver on screens if they don’t learn to recognize them better.
Good – It took until week ten, but the Chiefs finally had their first lead of the season in regulation Monday night. Kansas City had an impressive drive in the first quarter that ended with a Jamaal Charles touchdown run and a 7-0 lead. They didn’t quite get a win, but the Chiefs came close and definitely looked more competitive against the Steelers than they have in quite some time.
Bad – In a game that was close the entire way the Chiefs missed out on opportunities to score and left too many points on the field. After forcing a turnover inside the Pittsburgh ten-yard line early in the game they settled for a field goal, missing an opportunity to lead by two touchdowns. Ryan Succop also missed a field goal later in the game that could have made a difference. It also didn’t help that the Chiefs were 2-13 converting on third downs.
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Ugly – The Chiefs had a pair of egregious celebrations on Monday night. The first was Dwayne Bowe holding the ball out in a taunting manner as he ran into the end zone on a touchdown that got called because of a holding penalty. The other was a group celebration penalty on a touchdown that was overruled on replay and then gave Pittsburgh a free first down. Those types of celebrations and taunts are just not acceptable coming from a one-win team.
Good – It’s tough to complain about the job Carson Palmer is doing at quarterback for the Raiders. Palmer threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns with a QB rating of 95 against the Ravens, which isn’t exactly an easy defense to put up big numbers against. Palmer continues to connect on the deep ball as well, hitting Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 55-yard touchdown.
Bad – Conversely, the Raider’s running game is almost non-existent. Both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson missed the game with high-ankle sprains and neither could be quick to return either. Oakland had just 72 total rushing yards on 24 carries.
Ugly – It doesn’t get any uglier than watching the punter for the opposing team run in for a touchdown on a fake field goal. The only thing that made it worse was the fact that turned a 24-point deficit into a 31-point deficit. That play was an embarrassing moment for the entire team, as was the 55 points they gave up, which tied a franchise record.
Good – The Chargers didn’t miss Vincent Jackson as much as they might think on the day they visited Jackson’s new home. Wide receiver Danario Alexander had a career day with five catches for 134 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown reception a little over a minute into the game to give San Diego an early lead. If Alexander can keep giving the Chargers performances like that they’ll have quite the corps of receivers.
Bad – Philip Rivers may have thrown for 337 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions, the second of which cost his team the game. Early in the fourth quarter Rivers threw an ill-advised pass right into the hands of the Bucs’ Leonard Johnson, who took it back for a pick six that put the Chargers behind by ten, a deficit that could not overcome.
Ugly – After yet another blown lead and an ugly loss the normally calm Norv Turner blew up after the game, shouting in frustration at a member of the media after being asked a question about the team’s effort. Turner’s volatile reaction is not a good sign, as it indicates that he is searching for answers as to what has gone wrong for the Chargers this year and how to fix it. It seems like Turner knows that his time in San Diego is running out.