It was a chaotic weekend for the AFC West, but in the end two teams won and two teams lost – which is actually better than usual. Let’s take a closer look at the week that was with the good, the bad, and the ugly:
Good – The Denver defense had another strong performance, shutting out the high-scoring Bucs offense in both the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Until the late stages of the 4th quarter when the Broncos had a comfortable lead, Tampa Bay was held to just 13 points. Von Miller continued to make his case for defensive player of the year with six tackles, a sack, and a pick six.
Bad – The Denver rushing game had a little trouble getting going, albeit against the league’s top rush defense, averaging just 3.1 yards per rush attempt. Knowshon Moreno gained just 69 yards on 20 carries in his second start since the injury to Willis McGahee. Denver can expect to face run defenses just as tough as Tampa Bay’s if they go deep into the playoffs, so they’ll have to do a better job at establishing that part of the offense.
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Ugly – There was a bit of a scuffle following the final snap of the game, which was a Peyton Manning kneel down. Once again the Buccaneers’ defense went hard on a kneel down play at the end of the game, and like the Giants earlier in the season the Broncos took exception causing an ugly scrum as the final seconds ticked off. Both sides are really at fault here: the Broncos should respect the fact that the Bucs are going to fight until the final second as much as the Bucs should respect the fact that the game is over when a team lineups in victory formation for a kneel down.
Good – With heavy hearts the Chiefs played in front of the home fans at Arrowhead and won their second game of the season. Brady Quinn made the start at quarterback and was both effective and efficient throwing the ball. Quinn completed 19 of 23 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs didn’t commit any turnovers and had just one penalty, signs of a focused and discipline football team that earned a much-needed win on Sunday.
Bad – As well as Quinn played he was still timid when it came to throwing the ball downfield. He did look better on intermediate throws in the 15-20 yard range, but he wasn’t comfortable taking shots further down the field. It’s understandable considering he still doesn’t have that much NFL experience, but if you’re going to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, you have to be willing to take some shots deep.
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Ugly – At times the Kansas City defense was gashed by the Carolina rushing attack, as the Panthers gained 7.5 yards per rush. It wasn’t just Cam Newton, who ran for 78 yards on 7 carries and got loose on occasion, but running back DeAngelo Williams also ran the ball well, contributing 67 yards on 12 carries, as he found some big holes in the Chief’s front seven.
Good – From purely a yardage standpoint, the Raiders were pretty impressive offensively against the Browns on Sunday, totaling 429 yards. Carson Palmer was responsible for 351 of those through the air in another game in which the veteran put up big numbers. Tight end Brandon Myers had a most impressive game, hauling in 14 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. Rod Streater also racked up 96 yards on three catches, including a 64-yard touchdown catch from Palmer.
Bad – The total yardage, especially the passing game, was good for Oakland; however, the efficiency was not. With 429 total yards, one might expect the Raiders to end up with more than 17 points, especially against a Browns defense that isn’t exactly dominating. In the end, a 64-yard pass play, a 51-yard field goal, and a garbage time touchdown was all the scoring Oakland could muster, which simply isn’t going to cut it, especially at home against a lower-level team like Cleveland.
Ugly – Surprisingly, it wasn’t rookie running back Trent Richardson against the porous Oakland run defense that did in the Raiders, it was actually elderly rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden, which is actually more embarrassing. Weeden threw for 364 yards, averaging 10 yards per attempt against the Raiders. The Browns don’t exactly have elite wide receivers either. Safety Tyvon Branch led the team with 12 tackles, and anytime your safety is your leading tackle, it usually means something went wrong, and in this case, something went horribly wrong for the Raiders, yet again.
Good – The Charger’s defense struck again, doing something that the Charger’s offense failed to do: score a touchdown. Linebacker Demorrio Williams had a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Chargers a 2nd quarter lead. It was the fourth touchdown the San Diego defense has scored in the last five games, as their strong performance has gotten lost amidst the team’s four-game losing streak.
Bad – The San Diego running game has had some problems this season, but this game might take the cake. Ryan Mathews, who by the way was a pro-bowler last year, ran for just 26 yards on nine carries. Even in a game that the Chargers led most of the way they managed to abandon the running game due to ineffectiveness, as the only runs outside of the nine carries by Mathews were a pair of runs by quarterback Phillip Rivers.
Ugly – Stop if you’ve heard this before, but the Chargers blew another 4th quarter lead in ugly fashion. When Andy Dalton ran into the end zone to take back the lead for the Bengals, Rivers responded by fumbling the ball right back to the Bengals two plays later. Then needing a touchdown just to tie the game, Rivers threw an interception in the end zone to end the game, completing yet another ugly 4th quarter collapse by the Chargers.