A Hail Mary into triple-coverage. A 98-yard touchdown run. A roughing the passer call that handed a team a win. It was a week of big plays and last-minute changes in fortune, and it shook up the N.F.L.’s best division, as the N.F.C. West now has a three-way tie for first place.
Here’s what we learned:
Sunday’s Top Performers
Top Passer: Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh’s quarterback appears to need practice about as much as Allen Iverson did. Roethlisberger was idle all week after landing on the Covid-19 reserve list as a result of close contact with tight end Vance McDonald and wasn’t cleared to enter team facilities until Saturday. That didn’t matter as he torched Cincinnati’s defense for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Pittsburgh improved to 9-0 for the season. and will look to stretch that to 10-0 next week in Jacksonville.
Top Runner: Ronald Jones II
It is hard to tell by the final score, but this was a closely-contested 17-17 game at halftime, and the second half had a slow start as well. Jones’s wild 98-yard run came on the first play of Tampa Bay’s second drive of the third quarter, and from there the Buccaneers were off to the races. Needless to say, the 192 yards rushing were a personal best for Jones, who came into the day with a career-high of 113. He had just 9 last week.
Top Receiver: DeAndre Hopkins
You could make a reasonable case that Green Bay’s Marquez Valdes-Scantling had a more impressive game overall, considering his 78-yard touchdown and his average of 37.3 yards a catch. But this column is a Murray-to-Hopkins Hail Mary fan blog and we are not considering other nominees at this time.
Detroit’s Matt Prater got most of the attention for a three field-goal game that included a 59-yard game-winner as time expired, but he was far from alone. With one game remaining in Week 10, the league’s kickers have already connected for 11 field goals of 50 or more yards, tying a record set in Week 13 of the 2012 season.
The longest field goal on Sunday belonged to Seattle’s Jason Myers, who hit a 61-yarder in the Seahawks’ loss to Los Angeles. But the best day, beyond Prater’s, belonged to Buffalo’s Tyler Bass who connected on field goals of 54, 55 and 58 yards, setting a new career long on three consecutive kicks.
There have been 71 field goals of at least 50 yards this season, which according to the N.F.L. has already broken the league’s record for the first 10 weeks of the season, which was set in 2017 when there were 67.
One* Sentence About Sunday’s Games
*Except when it takes more.
Cardinals 32, Bills 30 The photo above this item is of a Cardinals touchdown.
Buccaneers 46, Panthers 23 Tom Brady had more than 300 yards passing for the third time this season — he topped that mark only once in his final 10 games with New England — and he once again split up his touchdown passes, with one each to Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans and Cameron Brate.
Steelers 36, Bengals 10 Pittsburgh’s big day on offense saw Diontae Johnson, a second-year wide receiver, contribute six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown while the rookie sensation Chase Claypool scored two more touchdowns, bringing his total over his last six games to eight.
Rams 23, Seahawks 16 Leonard Floyd got three of the Rams’ six sacks and five of the team’s 12 quarterback hits, helping to make Russell Wilson’s day absolutely miserable.
Giants 27, Eagles 17 It was a throwback game for the Giants, as the team’s defensive front set the tone with three sacks and 13 quarterback hits, and Daniel Jones went a second consecutive game without committing a turnover. After starting the season 0-5, the Giants have improved from historically awful to merely bad, which in their division could lead to a playoff spot.
Patriots 23, Ravens 17 Rex Burkhead caught touchdown passes from Cam Newton and Jakobi Meyers, Damien Harris ran for 121 yards and New England held on for an upset that could go a long way to turning around a disappointing season.
Saints 27, 49ers 13 A huge hit from San Francisco’s Kentavius Street in the second quarter left Saints quarterback Drew Brees wincing on the field — and resulted in a fairly questionable penalty on Street. Brees was able to fight his way through the pain until halftime, but gave way to Jameis Winston for the second half despite never being officially ruled out with what was described as a rib injury.
Dolphins 29, Chargers 21 Justin Herbert has had a remarkable rookie season, but the Chargers quarterback was outplayed by Tua Tagovailoa in this game and his interception early in the fourth quarter helped give Miami the breathing room it needed to stretch its winning streak to five games.
Packers 24, Jaguars 20 After an impressive N.F.L. debut last week, Jacksonville’s Jake Luton came back to Earth a bit, passing for just 169 yards with one touchdown and one interception against a Green Bay defense that typically makes quite a few mistakes. That won’t work against Aaron Rodgers, even on a day that was a little slow by his lofty standards.
Browns 10, Texans 7 In his first action since Week 4, Nick Chubb ran for 126 yards and a touchdown while Kareem Hunt, seeming happy to share the load, had 132 yards from scrimmage.
Lions 30, Footballers 27 In his first start in nearly two years following a devastating leg break, Alex Smith threw for 390 yards and rallied his team all the way back from a 24-3 deficit to a 27-27 tie before a mistake by his team’s defense handed Detroit the victory.
Raiders 37, Broncos 12 When asked about a game in which his team’s defense forced five turnovers and running backs Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker combined for 193 yards rushing and four touchdowns, quarterback Derek Carr just seemed happy to be there. “It’s kind of awesome,” Carr said in his postgame news conference. “As I get older, I let the young guys do more of the work.”