A team that had averaged 83 rushing yards a game more than tripled that output to win (the New York Jets).
A team committed 16 penalties and won (Detroit).
A team that had won its past two games by a 79-3 margin was drummed 26-3 at home by the New York Giants (San Francisco).
A quarterback matched his interception total for the entire season with three in one half and still led his team to victory (Matt Ryan/Atlanta).
A quarterback who suffered a concussion just one week earlier rushed for 138 yards (Robert Griffin III/Washington).
A kicker who tied the score late with a career-long field goal missed a much closer attempt at the end of regulation in a game his team would ultimately lose (Jay Feely/Arizona).
Plus, the AFC East is now in a dead heat with four teams tied at 3-3 after New England’s fourth-quarter collapse at Seattle. Five of the past six teams who reached the Super Bowl are at .500 or less. There are no more winless teams. And Garo Yepremian now has company for the worst pass ever attempted by a kicking specialist.
Let’s take a look at all of this wackiness and much more in this week’s edition of the Marvez Rewind:
New York Giants 26, San Francisco 3: After spending two days at 49ers headquarters last week, I was convinced San Francisco would extract revenge for last season’s NFC title game loss. Instead, it was the Giants (4-2) who played far more inspired football. Besides outstanding game-planning, New York head coach Tom Coughlin pressed the right buttons to help draw the best performance of the season from his defense (six sacks, three interceptions). New York’s offensive line excelled by not allowing a sack and paving the way for Ahmad Bradshaw to gain 116 yards against what was the NFL’s No. 2 rushing defense. The Giants also enjoyed the edge in special teams with David Wilson’s 66-yard kickoff return helping set up a touchdown to open the second half and San Francisco kicker David Akers missing two long field goals in the first half. Unlike last January, the 49ers (4-2) don’t have much time to lament this loss with a Thursday night game looming against Seattle (4-2).
Baltimore 31, Dallas 29: It’s hard to pick just one goat for the Cowboys (2-3) when there are so many juicy options. Wide receiver Dez Bryant dropped what would have been the game-tying two-point conversion with 32 seconds remaining. After the Cowboys covered the ensuing onside kick, the Dallas offense spearheaded by play-calling head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo wasted 20 seconds of clock without being able to get organized enough to run a play. And then kicker Dan Bailey missed a 51-yard field goal attempt, giving the Ravens (5-1) a victory despite having surrendered a franchise-record 227 rushing yards. The problems may only get worse for Baltimore’s defense with two of its stalwarts — cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps) — having suffered what are believed serious injuries. Hard to see how things get much worse in Dallas following two straight losses.
Miami 17, St. Louis 14: No game epitomized the Week 6 weirdness more than this one. The Rams (3-3) completed just seven passes in their last game and were playing without top wide receiver Danny Amendola (clavicle injury). Quarterback Sam Bradford still passed for 315 yards. The Dolphins entered with the NFL’s top defense against the run. They surrendered 162 yards while only being able to gain 19 on the ground themselves. Miami’s Brian Hartline entered as the NFL’s leader in receiving yardage. He was held without a catch. But it was the area that had greatly contributed to St. Louis’ 3-2 start that led Miami to victory: Special teams. Miami’s fumble recovery on a second-quarter kickoff led to a Dan Carpenter field goal. A successful fake punt in the fourth quarter helped Miami’s offense run roughly 90 extra seconds off the game clock and force St. Louis to use one of its timeouts. A bad fair-catch decision by Rams returner Janoris Jenkins combined with a holding penalty on Josh Hull then pinned St. Louis at its 3-yard line with 1:41 left. And rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein ended the day with his third missed field goal of the day — and season — when what would have been an NFL-record 66-yard attempt went wide left. Goofy, but the Dolphins (3-3) aren’t complaining after a second straight win.
New York Jets 35, Indianapolis 9: "Ground-and-pound" finally made a rebound for the Jets. The injury-plagued Colts (2-3) were gashed for 252 yards by a New York offense that hadn’t gotten its rushing game in gear all season. Shonn Greene, who was running like his feet were stuck in mud, led the way with 161 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck struggled from the get-go with two early drives ending after he overthrew open targets while rolling to his right. How did Colts special teams coach Marwan Maalouf not have his team ready for Tim Tebow trickery on a fake punt? Tebow’s 23-yard pass led to a Jets touchdown that extended their lead to 21-6.
Detroit 26, Philadelphia 23 (overtime): This wasn’t Lions vs. Eagles. It was penalties vs. turnovers. Detroit committed the most infractions in an NFL game this season with 16 for 132 yards. The Lions, though, were able to hang around thanks to two Mike Vick interceptions and a botched shotgun snap that kept Philadelphia from blowing the game open. The Eagles (3-3) squandered a 23-13 lead in the final 5:18 of the fourth quarter, which is usually the time when Lions quarterback Matt Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson play their best football. According to STATS LLC, no team has committed as many penalties in a game and won since the Cincinnati Bengals in September 2005. The Eagles now have 16 turnovers in six games with Vick responsible for 13 of them (eight interceptions; five fumbles).
Atlanta 23, Oakland 20: Against a quality opponent, Matt Ryan wouldn’t have rebounded from three first-half interceptions to lead Atlanta to victory. But these are the Raiders (1-4), who committed a spate of penalties (12 for 110 yards) and turnovers (three, including a Carson Palmer interception that Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel returned 79 yards for a touchdown with 2:40 remaining). Ryan’s nickname is "Matty Ice," but it was Falcons kicker Matt Bryant who was nonplussed when making the game-winning 55-yard field goal with one second remaining. Such heroics add to Bryant’s magical NFL success story that included time spent working in a pawn shop and as a personal trainer while trying to stick in the league.
Washington 38, Minnesota 26: In the second half of last Sunday’s loss to Atlanta, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III couldn’t remember the score or quarter following a hit to the head by Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. The rookie quarterback rebounded Sunday with an unforgettable performance against the Vikings (4-2) capped by a 76-yard touchdown run with 2:43 left to quash Minnesota’s comeback efforts. Griffin’s rushing ability is one of the things that make him so special. The "mild" concussion he suffered against Atlanta didn’t temper that or cause him to play scared. Having to settle for field goals on three first-quarter trips inside the red zone was great for fantasy football players who have kicker Blair Walsh on their teams but terrible for the Vikings, who were subsequently outscored 31-3 before a late rally.
Buffalo 19, Arizona 16 (overtime): Having once missed three field goals in famous fashion against Seattle while playing for the New York Giants, Arizona’s Jay Feely has dealt with his share of adversity. That experience should serve him well as he tries to rebound from Sunday’s staggering fall from grace. After nailing a career-best 61-yard field goal to tie the game at 16-16, Feely hit the upright on a failed 38-yard attempt as time expired. Cardinals quarterback John Skelton — forced into action when Kevin Kolb suffered a late rib injury — threw an interception in overtime that set up Ryan Lindell’s game-winning field goal. The big winner in this game for Buffalo (3-3) was head coach Chan Gailey. Had the Bills lost to the Cardinals (4-2), Gailey would have come under even more fire for a goofy play call late in the fourth quarter that resulted in a Brad Smith interception on a Wildcat-style play.
Seattle 24, New England 23: After fielding a bruising running game the past two games, New England (3-3) decided to attack the Seahawks (4-2) through the air with Tom Brady attempting a career-high 58 passes. Such a decision should be second-guessed just like the play-calling at the end of the first half that led to New England squandering a scoring opportunity. One thing that isn’t in question: the leaks in New England’s pass defense that allowed a rookie quarterback (Russell Wilson) to enjoy uncharacteristic success as Seattle overcame a 23-10 deficit. It was obvious the Patriots needed to upgrade their secondary during the offseason. Why the Patriots wouldn’t do that with ample draft picks and salary-cap space is as mysterious a decision as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell deciding to destroy the Spygate tapes in such quick fashion.
Tampa Bay 38, Kansas City 10: With the way Kansas City’s season has gone, the type of buffoonery exhibited by Bucs punter Michael Koenen on a Yepremian-like pass/fumble snared and returned for a touchdown by Edgar Jones should be reserved for the Chiefs. Kansas City (1-5) has yet to lead in regulation this season and may keep that streak going with the way the offense performed in quarterback Brady Quinn’s first start in place of the injured Matt Cassel (concussion). Tampa Bay (2-3) should relish the win coming off three straight losses by a combined total of 15 points. But if the Bucs want consistent success, quarterback Josh Freeman must be a steadier performer. Freeman was five-of-13 passing for 122 yards in the first half compared to 10 of 13 for 206 yards in the second.
Cleveland 34, Cincinnati 24: Hoorah for the Browns (1-5), which ended the NFL’s longest losing streak in quality fashion with big plays across the board. Backup running back Montario Hardesty did a nice job subbing for injured starter Trent Richardson (ribs) and quarterback Brandon Weeden continues to build a strong rapport with fellow rookie Josh Gordon (three catches for 99 yards, one touchdown). Cincinnati’s secondary and running game need to get their acts together or the Bengals (3-3) will once again fail to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons, a feat the franchise hasn’t accomplished since the 1981 and 1982 seasons.
Green Bay 42, Houston 24: Aaron Rodgers deserves high praise for throwing six touchdown passes against the previously unbeaten Texans (5-1). But the recipient of two of the scores is a more intriguing story. Wide receiver James Jones has gone from being the active NFL leader in dropped passes since 2009, according to Pro Football Focus, to catching a Don Hutson-like two touchdowns in each of Green Bay’s last three games with Greg Jennings hobbled by injury. Green Bay’s defense was far better against the Texans than in losses against New Orleans and Indianapolis. Too, the offensive line for the Packers (3-3) deserves credit for making red-hot Texans defensive end J.J. Watt a relative non-factor. As for Houston’s O-line, left tackle Duane Brown delivered a punkish, unnecessary block on D.J. Smith that injured the Green Bay linebacker’s knee. This was the kind of play the Texans were decrying when complaining about the low block by Jets guard Matt Slauson that ended the season of Houston inside linebacker Brian Cushing (knee). Pot meet kettle.