We don't have controversies like deflate-gate in youth sports, but that doesn't mean Tom Brady doesn't feel that we have let things run a little far with kids and athletics these days.

Brady spoke on his weekly spot on WEEI radio in Boston on Monday and had some very interesting thoughts on kids' athletics that maybe some adults who run such things should reconsider.

“What I remember from being in youth sports, everything was really localized," Brady said. "There was no travel teams. Well, there was a couple, but you really had to be the top, top kid to go on those teams. My parents always exposed us to different things, different sports. It was basketball when it was basketball season, it was baseball when it was baseball season. I didn’t play football ’til I was a freshman in high school. A lot of soccer. And there were just some [football] camps. But I just played in the neighborhood in our street with all the kids that we grew up with."

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

Brady is a father now, and his children are ages 8, 5 and 2 now. The New England Patriots quarterback has competed on the highest of athletic levels, winning four Super Bowls, but recognizes that most young athletes will never play a sport professionally.

He also wonders if kids' motivation suffers when the intensity of youth sports is so high at such young ages. 

“It’s just different now, experiencing it with my own kids. All the organized activities that you put them in," he said. "I made a comment for a while now, I hope my kids are late bloomers in whatever they do because they’re going to be exposed to so much at such an early time that, yeah, you do worry about what their motivation may be as they get older or if they feel like they’ve been in something for so long and it’s been hyper-intense and hyper-focused for so long, I think that can wear out a young individual, a young teenager. It’s just hard, because all the parents are doing it, it seems. The competition, it feels like it starts so early for these kids, whether it’s to get into college, or to get into the right high school, or the right elementary school."

It wasn't that way when Brady came through the youth ranks. He was a late bloomer for sure, appearing to be a better baseball prospect than a football player. We know how that ended up.

For Brady, the idea of kids — his or anyone else's — playing sports is as much about growth, personal development and maturity as it is about landing a pro contract. Just don't tell that to the parents who have delusions of grandeur, the ones who seem to want to live vicariously through their kids' athletic achievements.

“I don’t know how it’s taken a turn, but sometimes it’s nice just for kids to be kids," Brady said. "At least that’s just from what I remember when I was growing up. I think that was a great opportunity for the kids to develop lots of parts of their personality. And certainly for me that’s what I found, ultimately I found something that I loved to do at a young age. The more you’re exposed to, I think the better opportunity is for all kids to figure out what they really want to do in life.”

What a refreshing, novel idea. Too bad most people will ignore it.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 6, 2015, 8:12 pm

The New York Giants are taking all precautions after one of their players was found to have the staph infection MRSA.

Tight end Daniel Fells was being treated for a chronic ankle condition when MRSA was discovered; the treatment Fells will require is extensive enough that New York placed him on season-ending injured reserve.

Though there are no concerns that the infection, which is contagious and can be fatal, has spread to any other members of the team, the Giants are not taking any chances. 

"We are working with infectious disease specialists, and we have defined protocols that we are following in consultation with the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network and local infectious disease specialists," team spokesman Pat Hanlon said. "Those protocols are being followed carefully."

That has included scrubbing the locker room, training room, and all meeting rooms as a precaution. Fells is expected to be alright once he finishes his course of treatment.

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

Three members of the Buccaneers dealt with MRSA in 2013: All-Pro guard Carl Nicks, kicker Lawrence Tynes, and cornerback Johnthan Banks. The infection ended Nicks' and Tynes' careers; Banks is still playing for Tampa Bay.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: October 6, 2015, 6:55 pm

Buffalo Bills players told the Buffalo News that New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. threw multiple punches after the whistle in Sunday's Giants victory.

Several Bills players called out Beckham and had some pointed words for his actions.

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted an Eli Manning pass late in the fourth quarter, and on the play (pictured in the video above) you can see Beckham appearing to get up after being blocked and throwing a punch at safety Duke Williams.

“I don’t know what’s up with him," Gilmore said. "He acts like nobody’s supposed to hit him and you’re supposed to let him catch the ball. He’s weird. He gets mad when you play physical with him. He’s weird.

“He’s different. It’s kind of like you’re playing your little brother and he gets mad at you for being too physical with him — throwing a tantrum. I’m like, ‘Man, we’re playing football. It’s a physical game. ... He’s a prima donna. He feels like he’s on top of the world and nobody’s supposed to do anything to him."

Williams added his thoughts on Beckham and the play in question.

“A guy like that," Williams said, "you expect him to be a stand-up guy but I guess it is a part of his game. He likes to throw cheap shots here and there and gets away with it. I guess it’s his thing. ...Right in front of the referee and he threw a jab at me and ran behind his teammates. He ran away. I’m just like, ‘Wow. That’s crazy.’”

No penalty was called on that play.

“I just put my hands up like, ‘You’re not going to call the foul?'" Williams said. "He didn’t call anything.”

Added Gilmore:

"What’s the reason to do that? I think he got mad Duke blocked him and that’s what he’s supposed to do.”

On a different play, linebacker Preston Brown was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct — one of 17 penalties in the game by the Bills on Sunday — in retaliation of Beckham's initial punch.

“They were doing everything in the book they could to try to get a free 15 [yards]," Brown said. "They would say anything they thought would rile us up. Words usually don’t do anything, but when they start swinging at you — they did that a lot. They were throwing a lot of cheap shots.”

The public image of Beckham is of the player who has taken the league by storm with his insane catches — those that count and even those that don't. But the Bills have suggested that not only was Beckham guilty of dirty plays in their game in Week 4 but in prior contests they had seen when studying the tape.

“That’s what he does. He’ll get away with it," Brown said. "He’s the ‘golden boy’ of the league. He’s on the cover of 'Madden.' Sometimes, you get away with stuff like that.”

Gilmore said he studies receivers the league round, but that Beckham — whom the Bills held to five catches for 38 yards on 12 targets — is not all he's cracked up to be, despite the best first 16-game production for a receiver in NFL history.

"His world is based on hype and that one catch," Gilmore said. "Everybody sees that, everybody knows him for that and people don’t really look at the film and watch him and really don’t know what type of player he is."

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 6, 2015, 6:55 pm

The Dallas Cowboys needed to figure out ways to win without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, but they're 0-2 since Romo got hurt.

Against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, some key mistakes cost them as they lost in overtime.

Let's start on that last play. C.J. Spiller got free for an 80-yard touchdown at the beginning of overtime, and it was because a rookie got lost in his assignment.

The Saints lined up in an empty set with Spiller in the tight slot to the boundary, just inside of Brandin Cooks. The Cowboys were in a base 4-3, and were hurrying to get aligned and call the defense. The call was man free, with rookie outside linebacker Damien Wilson on Spiller. But Wilson didn't recognize Spiller was his assignment quickly enough and was beaten right at the snap by Spiller's wheel route.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

Wilson played a lot of snaps at outside linebacker for a defense that was without suspended linebacker Rolando McClain and also linebacker Sean Lee, who suffered a concussion in the first quarter.

A lot of focus is on the Cowboys offense because of key injuries, and there were some things to clean up there. Let's start with the passing game.

The Saints use a high percentage of man-to-man coverage, and that forced the Cowboys' receivers to run excellent routes to create separation and demanded Brandon Weeden make precise ball placement throws to the right receiver at the right time. That didn't always happen.

Here's an example, on Dallas' first possession, of a great throw by Weeden that should have been a touchdown but Terrance Williams (who is essentially the Cowboys' top receiver with Bryant out) ran a terrible route. Williams looked back after his fourth step and slowed himself down. It should have been a score, but was incomplete. The Cowboys settled for a field goal instead.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

Weeden looks very slow and deliberate physically, and he also looks a little slow recognizing and isolating where to go with the ball. But he made some great throws too. His 67-yard pass to Brice Butler and the game-tying touchdown to Williams on fourth down late in regulation stand out as really good throws.

But the foundation of the Cowboys' offense should be the run game, and it wasn't great against the Saints. Dallas' offensive line, considered the best in the NFL, did not move people in the run game. They were not getting beaten and driven back, but they were not winning individual blocks and creating holes either.

The Saints defensive line and linebackers looked quicker and faster than the Cowboys' offensive line in this game. A great example was on a key third-and-1 play midway through the fourth quarter, when the Saints stopped Christine Michael for a 1-yard loss. The Saints' front seven won on this play.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

The Cowboys were in a close game on Sunday night against the Saints and had plenty of opportunities to win. But they need to play very well to make up for some key injuries. In a few instances at New Orleans, that just didn't happen.

- - - - - - -

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: October 6, 2015, 6:36 pm

By some unforeseen miracle, the NFL just kept the most outrageous streak in American sports alive. And, no, we're not talking about the string of ludicrous officiating calls against the Detroit Lions.

After former San Jose Mercury News reporter Mike Rosenberg professed on Twitter last week that September marked the first calendar month since July 2009 that an NFL player had not been arrested, everyone from the Tech Times to Time Magazine ran with the story. It was kind of a big deal.

NFL just finished a calendar month without any player arrests reported. That hadn't happened in more than 6 years.

— Mike Rosenberg (@RosenbergMerc) October 1, 2015

As Rosenberg noted, the NFL has averaged an arrest per week for the past five years and logged at least one for 79 straight months. September supposedly marked the second time in Roger Goodell's tenure as commissioner that the league had gone without an arrest for a calendar month — the first month during a season that didn't feature an arrest in 15 years. The streak was snapped. It was a new beginning.

Except ...

It turns out Tennessee Titans rookie wide reciever Dorial Green-Beckham was arrested on Sept .30 — over an unpaid $92.48 speeding ticket, no less, according to The Tennesseean. Presumably home for the bye week, DGB was stopped by police in Van Buren, Mo., for driving 65 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone. Forget for a moment that nobody should be pulled over for going 10 mph over the speed limit, and consider this: Green-Beckham signed a four-year, $5.6 million deal with the Titans on June 1.

Green-Beckham probably had that $92.48 in his ashtray, and his failure to pay the ticket kept alive an 80-month NFL arrest streak that has included everything from a quarterback's "purple drank" to a tight end's three counts of first-degree murder. For the record, Green-Beckham's own marijuana arrests at the University of Missouri don't count, since they came before the Titans drafted him in the second round.

So, Goodell & Co. will have to hold off on the champagne that's been on ice since The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" was the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts and "Bruno" was No. 1 at the box office.

If only DGB had been around when Cris Carter reminded the 2014 NFL draft class to get a "fall guy."

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 6, 2015, 4:35 pm

In recent years, particularly as the Jets have had a strong defense under Rex Ryan and it appeared the Dolphins had found an above-average quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, NFL pundits have predicted that it might finally be time for another AFC East team to wrest the division title from the Patriots.

It hasn’t happened.

And once again, one of the AFC East teams is starting over, with Miami having fired head coach Joe Philbin on Monday, after his third straight loss this year and a disappointing 24-28 record in three-plus seasons.

Amazingly, Dan Campbell, the former Giants/Lions/Cowboys/Saints tight end and Miami tight ends coach who was named interim coach of the team, is the 21st man to be installed as head coach for one of the AFC East teams not named the New England Patriots.

Love them (as some do) or hate them (as seemingly many more do), the run of success the Patriots have enjoyed this millennium is remarkable. Since Bill Belichick was hired before the 2000 season and Tom Brady became the starter after a freak injury to then-franchise quarterback Drew Bledsoe during the second game in 2001, New England has dominated the division; the Patriots’ 2014 AFC East crown was their 12th together.

As the Patriots have remained strong, their East foes have tried in vain to find the combination of coach and quarterback to knock them from their perch.

Campbell is the eighth head coach or interim head coach Miami has had since 2000, and the Bills have had the same number of coaches in that time. The Jets have had five.

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

The numbers are even higher when it comes to quarterbacks: the Dolphins have had 16 players start at least one game at the position since 2001, the Bills 13 and the Jets 11, among them forgettable (and possibly regrettable) names like Kelly Holcomb, Thad Lewis, Cleo Lemon and Brooks Bollinger.

Only one other quarterback has started a game for the Patriots since Brady took over – Matt Cassell, who led the team for 15 games in 2008 after Brady suffered a torn ACL in that season’s opener.

It isn’t necessary for the right coach-quarterback duo to be together for a long time to have success; the Patriots won the franchise’s first Super Bowl just months after Brady became the starter, and Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson delivered the Seahawks their first Super Bowl in Wilson’s second season.

The trick, of course, is finding the right combination.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: October 6, 2015, 3:47 pm

We might not be lucky enough to have a Bennett-Bennett presidential ticket in 2016, but we at least can make a push to have the NFL’s most colorful and loquacious brothers to be our nation’s poets laureate.

On Monday night, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett might have tried to top his brother, Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett, for the quote of Week 4.

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

The Bears’ Bennett offered up a timeless gem, comparing quarterback Jay Cutler to Jesus Christ. And the Seahawks’ Bennett countered with a darker offering after the controversial 13-10 victory over the Detroit Lions.

“He’s from Dallas,” Bennett said of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. “They killed President [John F. Kennedy]. I hold that against him.”

(For the record, Stafford was born in 1988 — nearly 25 years after Kennedy was killed — and in Tampa, Fla. before Stafford moved to Texas.)

Bennett, naturally, wasn’t done. Is he ever done?

On a live interview with ESPN, Bennett stumped for his teammate, Kam Chancellor, to get the contract he deserves after the safety made the key play in the Seahawks’ narrow victory.

“Pay him, pay him,” Bennett said, hijacking an interview with Chancellor. “[Seahawks owner] Paul Allen is the 17th-richest man in the world. Pay him.”

Bennett also is unhappy with his contract, but he reported to camp — and Chancellor didn’t, missing the Seahawks’ first two games before coming back and playing well upon his return. Perhaps this is a twisted version of JFK’s “ask not what you can do for your country” speech, but interesting that Bennett has been so selfless about his deal and so willing to talk about the need for Chancellor to get paid commensurately.

Also interesting that Bennett is calling out Allen’s wealth but slightly ignoring the fact that the Seahawks are up against the league’s salary cap a bit, with less than $2 million in space currently and some key decisions pending in 2016.

But we ignore most of that for now because Bennett is so willing to speak his mind, controversy be damned. Frankly, we love it because he embodies the freewheeling Seahawks, who fly against the NFL grain with their bold, brash style. It’s a breath of fresh air, even if Bennett needs to check his facts from time to time.

Need more? Here was one of Bennett’s final offerings of the evening, when asked about the Seahawks’ defensive mentality.

Mentioned to Michael Bennett how the Seahawks stress the importance of defending every inch on defense. His response: "Kind of like sex"

— Jayson Jenks (@JaysonJenks) October 6, 2015

Interpret that one how you will.

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 6, 2015, 1:00 pm

Since 1990, NFL teams that start 4-0 make the playoffs 83 percent of the time.

So the teams that have made it through the first quarter of the season without a loss are in great shape. It also means that one of every six 4-0 teams does not make the playoffs. There are six undefeated teams in the NFL right now (we'll use the 3-0 New England Patriots in the 4-0 group as well, for fun). 

So if, by history, one of the six is going to miss the playoffs, which team is most likely to miss the party?

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

We can probably cross the Patriots and Green Bay Packers off the list quickly. Only a quarterback injury is keeping them out, and even then they might have a shot at sneaking in.

The Denver Broncos? It seems impossible that they'll go on a long losing streak with that defense. Even if their wins have all been relatively close, I don't see them losing seven games.

The Cincinnati Bengals have to be considered. They've played very well, but Andy Dalton's play has turned on a dime before, and it could again with the Bengals' fortunes going with him. I'm on board with the Bengals being for real, but come on, nobody would be too surprised if they fall apart. 

Are we positive the Atlanta Falcons are a postseason lock? They're playing pretty well, though they did need two big comebacks against the Cowboys and Giants and barely held on against an Eagles rally in Week 1. They look good but they shouldn't start printing playoff tickets yet.

But if we have to pick one of The Undefeated Six to miss the playoffs, it has to be the Carolina Panthers. Are you totally sold? Cam Newton is carrying a huge load on his shoulders, and doing it tremendously well. But the Panthers seem vulnerable to injuries, especially on offense. They're already thin at the skill positions. The Panthers have won games against teams quarterbacked by Blake Bortles, Ryan Mallett, Luke McCown and Jameis Winston. And the Panthers have been outgained by those opponents 1,356-1,288. They have had two road games, but both short trips to Florida.

Credit to them for handling business to this point, but the road hasn't been very tough. If you're going to say that one of the six teams will fit right into the 17 percent of 4-0 teams that doesn't make the playoffs, the obvious choice is the Panthers. There's more reason to be skeptical of them than the other five.

Here are Shutdown Corner's power rankings after Week 4:

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, Last week: 30)

Sunday's game was a scary one for the Jaguars, as it pertains to Blake Bortles. The Colts begged the Jaguars to win, but Bortles was not good enough to make the plays necessary to get it done. It doesn't mean Bortles isn't going to be a good quarterback. But Sunday was alarming.

31. Chicago Bears (1-3, LW: 32)

A nice win. There will be other days to wonder if or how that affected their 2016 draft status. But you don't wanna be stuck on zero too long.

30. San Francisco 49ers (1-3, LW: 28)

Colin Kaepernick (AP)The odd thing about Colin Kaepernick lately is he's not even throwing it as well as he has in years past. A few of his interceptions the past few weeks just haven't had a lot of velocity. And no matter what we said about Kaepernick in years past, his physical tools were never in question.

29. New Orleans Saints (1-3, LW: 31)

Drew Brees obviously wasn't fully healthy, which makes his 359-yard game against the Cowboys impressive. Though clearly C.J. Spiller gets most of the credit for the last 80 yards.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3, LW: 29)

The Buccaneers have been pretty bad in three of four games, but dominated the Saints in the other game at the Superdome. I don't get it either.

27. Houston Texans (1-3, LW: 24)

Ryan Mallett will start again for the Texans on Thursday. It doesn't really matter that much.

26. Cleveland Browns (1-3, LW: 23)

Duke Johnson had 45 snaps at running back this week, and Isaiah Crowell had 27 according to Pro Football Focus. Wouldn't be a surprise if that gap continues to grow.

25. Detroit Lions (0-4, LW: 22)

It's weird that this is the last winless team in the NFL. I don't think they're that bad. If not for a blown call Monday night, they'd have won at Seattle.

24. Miami Dolphins (1-3, LW: 20)

I don't know if interim coach Dan Campbell will make much of a difference. But I do know Joe Philbin wasn't going to turn it around.

23. Washington Redskins (2-2, LW: 27)

Jay Gruden deserves credit. I don't think anyone thought Washington would be very good this year. The Redskins have been competitive in three of four games. They'll still need to prove they can play well on the road, but it's something.

22. Tennessee Titans (1-2, LW: 25)

The Titans get the Bills this week. Rex Ryan will throw everything at Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in that game. Fun matchup.

21. Oakland Raiders (2-2, LW: 18)

Charles Woodson (AP)Charles Woodson is still an impact playmaker in his 18th season. It's amazing. His interception of Jay Cutler was almost the key play in a Raiders win, though Chicago came back to win at the end. If we're making a short list of greatest defensive backs in NFL history, Woodson has to be somewhere on it.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3, LW: 17)

DeMarco Murray had a 30-yard run. That's great news. His other seven carries gained 6 yards. Ryan Mathews, anyone?

19. Baltimore Ravens (1-3, LW: 19)

Without Steve Smith, who in the heck is Joe Flacco going to throw to? They now have the worst receiving corps in the NFL, until Smith comes back at least.

18. St. Louis Rams (2-2, LW: 21)

It was a costly win for the Rams, losing linebacker Alec Ogletree to an ankle injury that required surgery. He might be done for the year. That's no small loss; Ogletree is a phenomenal playmaker.

17. San Diego Chargers (2-2, LW: 16)

I think I liked the Chargers more after their two losses in a row than after Sunday's win. A last-second field goal to beat the Browns at home? Really? And they even needed a big break to get that last field goal, as the Browns jumped offsides on a miss.

16. Indianapolis Colts (2-2, LW: 15)

Andre Johnson has seven catches for 51 yards in four games. His return to Houston this week will get a lot of attention, especially on the broadcast I'm sure, and it's a neat story. He's a great player. But I'm not sure Johnson can make it a very memorable homecoming on the field.

15. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3, LW: 14)

The last three weeks they played the Broncos, Packers and Bengals. Not fun to lose three in a row but it's also hard to blame them too much. That's a brutal stretch.

14. Dallas Cowboys (2-2, LW: 12)

They led by 14 points three separate times against a pretty good Falcons team. They took the Saints to overtime on the road. So the Cowboys aren't helpless without Tony Romo. But at some point you need to produce some results. It won't be easier with the Patriots up next.

13. New York Giants (2-2, LW: 26)

Newsday reported Monday that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul could possibly return for the final four games. Who knows if he can play like we're used to seeing, but what a late-season boost that could possibly be for New York.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2, LW: 9)

Michael Vick (AP)It will be interesting to see if Michael Vick throws the ball downfield more, or if the play-calling allows it. It's really hard to win in the NFL when you have no downfield passing game.

11. Minnesota Vikings (2-2, LW: 10)

If the Vikings play as well as they did at Denver on Sunday, they're going to win a lot of games against the teams that aren't nearly as good as the Broncos.

10. Carolina Panthers (4-0, LW: 11)

If the Panthers keep it going like this, Cam Newton should get into the MVP conversation. He's doing a great job without half the help the other top quarterbacks have.

9. Buffalo Bills (2-2, LW: 7)

Maybe we shouldn't have been all full steam ahead on that Karlos Williams train. In place of LeSean McCoy Williams had 40 yards on 18 carries. A million new Williams owners in fantasy football wept.

8. New York Jets (3-1, LW: 13)

I dislike that coaches refuse to make necessary moves just because they don't want to mess with a winning streak. The Jets are winning but it's not like Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing out of his mind. It'll be an interesting call for coach Todd Bowles when Geno Smith is healthy again.

7. Seattle Seahawks (2-2, LW: 6)

I know there are issues. The offense is a mess. They probably deserve to be moved down more. But look at the teams above them ... how many would you truly pick on a neutral field against the Seahawks?

6. Arizona Cardinals (3-1, LW: 5)

The Cardinals are a good team, but I hope the plane tickets Arizona fans were buying to the Super Bowl last week are refundable. The hype machine got a little bit out of control last week. 

5. Atlanta Falcons (4-0, LW: 8)

If you're voting on NFL coach of the year today, it has to be Dan Quinn, right?

4. Denver Broncos (4-0, LW: 4)

For most of Sunday, when Teddy Bridgewater hit the back step of his drop he had a pass rusher in his lap. This Broncos defense is on a Seahawks level.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (4-0, LW: 3)

Aaron Rodgers is first in quarterback rating at 125.9. Tom Brady is third at 119.6. In between them is Andy Dalton at 123. What a world.

2. Green Bay Packers (4-0, LW: 2)

Colin Kaepernick was not good on Sunday, but the Packers' defense had something to do with that. It has allowed just 26 first-half points all year.

1. New England Patriots (3-0, LW: 1)

The Patriots have passed 133 times and ran the ball 71 times. But yet we'll still hear people say you need to run the ball to win championships, when that's clearly not true anymore. 

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 6, 2015, 5:12 am

Just a few feet from the exact spot as the Fail Mary gift the Seattle Seahawks got from the officials on "Monday Night Football" a few years ago, the officials seemingly blew another call on Monday night that helped give the Seahawks a win.

Just before Calvin Johnson crossed the goal line, which would have given the Detroit Lions the lead with less than two minutes left, Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor punched the ball out. As the fumble was bouncing through the end zone, linebacker K.J. Wright batted the ball out of bounds. The back judge was right there looking down the line when it happened.

A penalty likely should have been called, and the Lions should have had the ball inside the 1-yard line with a chance to win. Instead, Detroit lost 13-10.

Former NFL official Gerry Austin said on ESPN's postgame show that Wright should have been called for a penalty because it's illegal to bat the ball out of the end zone like he did. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told ESPN that back judge Greg Wilson "felt it was not an intentional act, that it was inadvertent." If Wright just went for the ball and happened to hit it out, that's not a penalty. It's only a penalty if it was intentional, and Blandino said when he watched the replay it looked intentional.

"On replay, it looks like a bat," Blandino said on NFL Network.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said that Wright did bat it out, and admitted the Seahawks got away with one.

"He was trying to knock it out. He did that," Carroll said in his postgame press conference. "It’s unfortunate the officials didn’t know how to do it, for their sake. It’s the way it goes sometimes. Plays happen, and calls get made, and we live with it."

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

Austin also said that if the penalty was called as it should have been, the ball would also have been moved half the distance to the goal line, which would have been inside the 1-yard line.

The play was not reviewable because it was a judgment call, Blandino said.

The analysts on the field, including former quarterback Steve Young, were baffled and said they didn't know the rule. Apparenly nobody did. None of the Lions seemed to argue. The Seahawks took possession, got a first down and the game was over.

Illegal batting has been called before. In 2013 the Pittsburgh Steelers batted a ball out of bounds against the Green Bay Packers, and the ball went back to the Packers (h/t to CBS' Eye on Football).

There will be a lot of discussion about the rarely called penalty and how the Seahawks got a big break from the officials, just like they did in 2012 on Golden Tate's disputed touchdown on the final play against the Packers. Those, however, were replacement officials for the Fail Mary. It's hard to figure out how all the regular officials on the field Monday night missed the illegal batting call. And it's not like the 0-4 Lions will get to replay the game again from that blown call on.

More NFL on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 6, 2015, 3:53 am

Imagine if Kam Chancellor wasn't in just the right spot to make the biggest play of the Seattle Seahawks' season to date. Imagine if the great Calvin Johnson had secured the ball better, or been a few feet further along and crossed the plane of the goal line. Or imagine if the officals had called K.J. Wright for illegally batting Johnson's fumble out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Lions.

The hypotheticals don't matter in the standings. Chancellor punched the ball out just before Johnson crossed the goal line, which would have given the Detroit Lions the lead with less than two minutes left, and Seattle took possession. Wright knocked the ball out of the end zone, which is illegal, former NFL official Gerry Austin said on ESPN's postgame report. No penalty was called.

The Lions never got the ball back, and Seattle won 13-10. It was an enormous play by Chancellor, who held out for almost two months because of a contract dispute before reporting after Week 2. The Seahawks improved to 2-2, and the Lions are 0-4.

[Play Yahoo Daily Fantasy and get a 100% deposit bonus with your first deposit]

But if Seahawks fans are being honest with themselves, there's a lot more relief than joy over the win, and the victory put a big spotlight on a lot of concerning issues moving forward. A 1-3 start for the Seahawks would have been really difficult to get out of, and that was very, very close to that happening.

The Seahawks' offensive line is a mess. Russell Wilson might have been sacked double-digit times on Monday night if he wasn't so good at escaping the pocket and making plays. For a long time in the game, the Seahawks' only offensive strategy seemed to be just that, letting Wilson run around after the offensive line broke down and let him try to pass to someone on the move. Very rarely was that someone Jimmy Graham.

Graham, who the Seahawks traded center Max Unger and a first-round pick for, had little impact with four catches for 29 yards. If the Seahawks didn't plan to use Graham, they would have been better off keeping Unger and using the first-round pick on the offensive line as well.

The running game, which is usually the Seahawks' calling card, wasn't very effective without Marshawn Lynch, who was injured and inactive. Wilson made some yards on unplanned scrambles, but it's not like that's a sustainable long-term offensive strategy.

Credit Wilson though, becuase he kept making the plays. He rolled out and found Jermaine Kearse on a third-and-2 on the series after Johnson's fumble for a first down. That sealed the win. But the win wasn't pretty.

When the Seahawks lost at the St. Louis Rams to start the season, it was chalked up as a tough game against a division rival that always plays them tough. Then they lost at the Green Bay Packers, and there's no shame in that. A win over the Chicago Bears in Week 3 was necessary, but the Bears aren't very good. Neither are the Lions, really. And the Seahawks needed an enormous defensive play by Chancellor (and a non-call by the officials) to save the win.

Seattle has been in each of the last two Super Bowls, and their season won't be a success unless it ends in another Super Bowl. But after just barely beating the NFL's last remaining winless team at home, an NFC title seems like a long way away. Unless a lot of things get fixed, that goal seems pretty unrealistic at this point for the Seahawks.

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 6, 2015, 3:36 am

The Houston Texans are 1-3, but they aren't planning on making a quarterback change — at least not this week.

Head coach Bill O'Brien said Monday that he's planning to stick with Ryan Mallett, who started against the Atlanta Falcons but was pulled for a far more effective Brian Hoyer, in Week 5 against the Indianapolis Colts. The game is on Thursday, so the timing of the short week helped push O'Brien back toward Mallett.

O'Brien: "Brian (Hoyer) did a good job, but being on a short week, it's important to stay with Ryan right now."

— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) October 5, 2015

Mallett completed 12-of-27 passes for 150 yards with an interception before being yanked at the end of the third quarter with the Texans in a 42-0 hole. Hoyer played well, leading three TD drives and nearly a fourth, in garbage time.

We have an idea for O'Brien: Start Mallett but pull him after one play. Why? Texans quarterbacks have been far better in relief than as starters. Witness:

Quarterbacks Completions Attempts Comp % Yards Yards/att. TD INT
Hoyer/Mallett when starting 81 158 51.3% 858 5.43 3 4
Hoyer/Mallett in relief 25 43 58.1% 330 7.67 3 0


We're kidding. We think.

Hoyer began the season as the starter but was ineffective in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, who have lost their next three games since. Mallett replaced him and in the final six minutes turned a 27-9 deficit into a 27-20 loss. He then started the next three games against the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Falcons, getting pulled for Hoyer who did his best work in the final quarter-plus of the Week 4 blowout.

All this demonstrates that O'Brien, along with No. 3 QB Tom Savage, has one of the league's least-enviable quarterback situations. Nearly everyone assumes he'll eye his future starter in the 2016 NFL draft, but even that's far from a sure thing depending on where the Texans eventually will pick.

Their best hope short term is for the Colts' Andrew Luck to miss another game and for one of the Texans quarterbacks to find some kind of consistency and play well — from the start of games, and not when the Texans find themselves in a massive hole.

Or hope that the storybook Houston Astros' season continues well into October and that the local folks remain in good spirits from that.

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 5, 2015, 7:46 pm

Miami Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell had some forceful words for his players during his first news conference as the team's new leader.

"We have to change the culture," said Campbell, who was named interim after team owner Stephen Ross fired Joe Philbin on Monday. "I have to change the culture. And that’s what I intend to do. And what that means – if we need to become a more aggressive front, or a team in general, we need to get our front four on defense, our front five on the offensive line, just as a whole, we need to breed a culture of competitiveness, finish, intensity. To me, that’s where it all starts.

"That’s where we have to change, and we change it in practice. We make it much more competitive. We need these guys to go after each other a little bit."

Philbin led the Dolphins for three-plus seasons and zero playoff appearances.

And it sounds like Campbell is inheriting a dysfunctional situation. On National Football Post, Aaron WIlson reported that the week in London was "extremely tense" and that quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been getting rattled in practice.

Wilson wrote:

On Saturday during practice, Tannehill, after a couple of practice squad players forced turnovers, Tannehill made negative comments toward them, including saying: “Enjoy your practice squad paycheck, enjoy your practice squad trophy.”

Sources say this has been going on for the past few weeks as the practice squad players have been intercepting Tannehill and frustrating the former Texas A&M wide receiver turned quarterback.


Philbin told the practice squad players to take it easy on Tannehill to not affect the young quarterback’s confidence.

Miami fell to 1-3 after Sunday's loss to the New York Jets, and Philbin became the second coach in as many seasons to get the ax after his team lost in London. (Last year, the Oakland Raiders fired Dennis Allen after their Week 4 blowout loss across the pond; coincidentally, Oakland lost to Miami in that game.)

Campbell, 39 and looking very much like he could still play, said it was "a little surreal" to find himself in charge of the Dolphins. A third-round pick of the New York Giants in 1999, the tight end had an 11-year career as a player, and began coaching six years ago when he was hired by then-Miami coach Tony Sparano as a coaching intern. Campbell became the Dolphins' tight ends coach in 2011.

Despite being a relative newcomer to coaching and not having experience as a coordinator, Campbell says he's ready for the gig.

"I can do this," he said. "I understand this league, I understand these players, I know what it takes to win in this league. I’ve been around it, I’ve been around some really good coaches, and I know what it needs to look like."


Campbell hammered home the notion that the Dolphins will begin to fix their problems in practice, saying it isn't possible for players to simply turn it on on Sundays when they're not being challenged on the practice field.

"I feel like there’s a lot more that we can get out of these guys and we need to get out of them," Campbell said. "We need to change the culture as such ... that it is so competitive on Wednesday, Thursday, maybe even Friday, that these guys, it is very intense. It is very heated. It may even teeter on the fact that I have to break a few things up."

"But that is when you really get good. That is when the juices start flowing. That is when you get the most out of your players, is when they have to compete. Because you just can’t go through the motions on Wednesday, Thursday, even Friday, and then you’re just going to turn it on on Sunday. It doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. You want to get the most out of them? You have to challenge them.

"That goes from the best player we have on this team to the one that’s not the best. Mike Pouncey, as great as he is, he needs to be challenged every day. He needs somebody that’s going to push him every day, that’s trying to beat him every rep. That goes for every player. I don’t care if it’s [Ndamukong] Suh, I don’t care if it’s Koa Misi, I don’t care if it’s Jarvis Landry. They have to be pushed, and they have to be worked. They have to be challenged. And that’s the first thing I’m changing – I’m going to challenge these guys. I want them to have to compete."

Campbell played for Sean Payton with the Giants, Cowboys and Saints. Payton praised Campbell on Monday, after the move was announced.

"He’s a fantastic guy, great worker, great teammate. He’s someone that is tough, strong, I can’t say enough good things," Payton said, via ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett. Payton added that it's tough for assistants to replace head coaches in-season, "But Dan’s someone I know well and know that he’ll handle that as best he can."

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports


Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: October 5, 2015, 7:18 pm

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross seemed to be the only person who didn’t see the relationship with coach Joe Philbin ending poorly. Or maybe Ross had another agenda and didn’t want to see it coming.

It was a surprise when Ross declared before last season even ended that Philbin would be back, much more of a surprise than his inevitable firing on Monday. Why was he so excited to bring Philbin back? Philbin seemingly barely survived a messy 2013 that included the locker room bullying controversy. Then in 2014 he was 8-7 with a game to go when Ross announced Philbin would return in 2015. Ross did so the same day the Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs. The Dolphins promptly got beat in Week 17 at home by the New York Jets, and then started this season with four unimpressive performances.

Why did Ross declare Philbin was coming back after another playoff-less season, right after the Dolphins were eliminated from the playoffs? It’s worth asking how Ross’ love for the University of Michigan played into this mess.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, left, and Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin chat during warm-up before the NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins and at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)Ross has gone out of his way to say the Dolphins never pursued Jim Harbaugh, and that’s probably true because it surely seems like Ross wanted Harbaugh at Michigan. Ross isn’t just an alum and a fan. He’s the program’s biggest athletic donor, according to MLIve.com, giving $100 million to Michigan athletics in 2013. When you donate nine figures to a school's athletic department in a single year, you aren't just a casual fan anymore.

It’s easy to piece together this story, right? Ross is a huge Michigan devotee, so much that it’s logical to think he was willing to retain Philbin to keep the path for Harbaugh to Michigan clear. Put another way, there’s really no logical reason why Ross wouldn’t have pursued Harbaugh, a Michigan legend with a 44-19-1 NFL coaching record who was obviously on his way out with the San Francisco 49ers. The Dolphins would have been much, much better off with Harbaugh, but Michigan wouldn’t have been better off. Perhaps Harbaugh preferred Michigan to the Dolphins anyway, but we don’t know because Ross is adamant he never reached out ("We didn't try for him here,” Ross said, according to the Detroit Free Press). If you’re a Dolphins fan, you have good reason to wonder why this whole thing was botched so badly.

Maybe Michigan had nothing to do with Ross bringing Philbin back. Perhaps Ross just made a mistake. It wouldn’t be the first time an owner has been too patient with a head coach, only to quickly reverse field after it’s finally clear to him it won’t work out. But whatever the reason, that decision probably ruined the Dolphins’ 2015 season.

This is a talented Miami roster. It wasn’t a bad team last year, and it added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, one of the biggest free agents in NFL history, for $114 million. And somehow the Dolphins look worse. They have looked flat in every game. The defensive players had a meeting with defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle about his schemes. The offensive schemes have been insanely conservative, though quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks like he’s regressing when it comes to throwing the ball downfield. Now the Dolphins are four games in, they can’t really make wholesale scheme changes, and they’ll be led by interim coach Dan Campbell, who was a coaching intern in 2010 and a tight ends coach since then. That’s the extent of his coaching experience.

Maybe Campbell is the man to give the Dolphins a spark they didn’t have with Philbin, and Miami starts playing up to its talent level. Most likely, the seeds of failure were set when the Dolphins invested heavily in the roster in the offseason but didn’t make any changes to a shaky coaching staff. It's hard to turn it around in the middle of a season. You’d like to think that the Dolphins would have had a better long-term plan.

Put it this way: It’s hard to believe the Dolphins would be 1-3 with Jim Harbaugh as head coach. They probably wouldn't be this bad with any of the coaches they could have hired this past offseason. Sometimes you can ruin a season nine months before it even starts.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 5, 2015, 5:03 pm

With their season going nowhere following another lackluster performance in London on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins' brass got back to the United States and decided to make a head coaching change.

Joe Philbin is out as head coach. Dan Campbell, the tight ends coach, will be the interim head coach. The Sun-Sentinel was one of the outlets to initially report the news, which was later officially announced by the team. Philbin was in his fourth Dolphins season and had a 24-28 record. The Dolphins never finished better than 8-8 or made the playoffs with him.

Here is the official statement from team owner Stephen Ross:

“This was a tough decision for me to make knowing how tirelessly Joe worked in his four years here to make this a winning team. He is a man of the highest character and integrity that I developed a close personal relationship with. I am extremely disappointed with how we have started the season, but I feel confident that we can improve quickly with the talent we have on our roster. We will soon be announcing an interim coach to lead the team going forward.”

And here is the statement from Philbin:

“I want to thank Steve Ross for allowing me the privilege to serve as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. This is a tremendous organization from top to bottom that has a talented and dedicated staff. I want to especially thank the players, coaches and football staff who have worked so unselfishly and represented the team with dignity and class. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the incredible fan base who has supported me and my family unconditionally since day one. It is my hope that the 2015 Miami Dolphins achieve great success both on and off the field.”

Things unraveled quickly for Philbin in Miami: on March 23, Ross signed him to a one-year extension, through 2016, despite the Dolphins going 1-3 over the final four games of the season, going from wild-card contender to out of the playoffs.

NFL Network's Albert Breer reported that Philbin met with his coaches briefly at noon to say goodbye. There is no word yet on the fate of defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, though many expect he will also be let go.

As for Campbell, the Dolphins see him as a rising star. After an 11-year playing career that included stops with the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints, with whom he won a Super Bowl ring in 2009 and then retired, he joined Tony Sparano's Miami staff as a coaching intern in 2010.

Now, after serving as the Dolphins' tight ends coach since 2011, the 39-year old is interim head coach.

After beginning this season with a lot of buzz and great promise, Miami has been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL through the first four games, having dropped three straight games after Sunday's 27-14 loss to the New York Jets in London. 

Philbin met with team owner Stephen Ross after the game, and told reporters he was feeling good about his job status. Philbin either didn't know his fate at that time or was keeping a stiff upper lip in front of cameras.

Not much about Philbin engendered much confidence that he could quickly turn things around.

Miami was outscored by a combined 37-3 in the first quarter of its four games, and was outgained 622 yards to 125 yards in that frame, a sign that the players were not properly prepared. The team has trailed at halftime in each game.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: October 5, 2015, 3:58 pm

We are entering Week 5 of the NFL after Monday night's game, and that means the return of several high-profile NFL players who committed some kind of no-nos that cost them the first quarter of the season.

The Dallas Cowboys, who have been ravaged by injuries, get back defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain, and perhaps not a moment too soon. Linebacker Sean Lee left the loss Sunday night to the New Orleans Saints with a concussion, and promising defensive end Randy Gregory remains out.

On tap for the Cowboys in Week 5: the New England Patriots, coming off a bye. Good luck, Brandon Weeden! (Or Matt Cassel?) 

The New York Jets roll into the bye week a surprising 3-1 and look like the one team in the AFC East that has the defense that can keep the Patriots in check. This week, they get Sheldon Richardson back on a defense that ranks second in the NFL in yards allowed (280.3), fourth in first downs per game allowed (16.8) and first in points allowed (13.8). If there's one area that could improve, it's the run defense — and, boom, that's where Richardson is considered one of the league's best in that capacity.

The San Diego Chargers are a weird team, in OK shape at 2-2 but perhaps a bit of fools' gold, having been outscored by two touchdowns over the four games. But future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates is back now, and he joins an offense that could use another playmaker. Fellow tight end Ladarius Green scored in Week 3 but has been maddeningly inconsistent (and unavailable), and receiver Keenan Allen could use a little help out there.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have to feel better now that they can get Martavis Bryant back to an offense that has hit the skids — at least in the passing game — since Ben Roethlisberger got hurt. Mike Vick might be limited, but he still can throw vertically. Having Bryant to stretch the field, and even asking Vick just to look Bryant's way 3-4 times down the field per game, should help open things up over these next few tricky games before Ben returns. 

There are other players returning from suspensions this week, too, but these are the big dogs. And they could provide much-needed boosts for their respective teams. 

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 5, 2015, 3:04 pm

"In the Year of our Lord 2015, Colts of Indianapolis — starving and outnumbered — charged the fields of Jacksonville. They fought like warrior poets; they fought like Hoosiers, and won their freedom."

OK, so maybe Sunday's 16-13 victory wasn't exactly the Battle of Bannockburn, but it sure felt like it for 40-year-old Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, according to Peter King's MMQB column.

"It was really fun running out of the tunnel," Matt Hasselbeck said. "I was so jacked up. I felt like William Wallace in 'Braveheart.' I sort of lost my composure, and the first two passes I threw were waaaaay off-target. I got to the sidelines and said to myself, ‘Dude, you need to CHILL OUT!'"

Excuse us while we terrify ourselves with an animated gif of Hasselbeck as Wallace in "Braveheart."

You can never take Matt Hasselbeck's freedom.

You might not draw too many parallels between the two. First off, Wallace had a ton of hair, and Hasselbeck has none. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (See writer's photo below.) I don't recall Wallace falling ill before the Battle of Falkirk, but Hasselbeck told King he "threw up" heading into his first start in 1,062 days. And Wallace's "they'll never take our freedom" speech might be the greatest in film history, while Hasselbeck's "we want the ball" declaration may have been the worst in football history.

However, Hasselbeck did lead the Colts to victory against the Jaguars on Sunday, throwing 47 passes without an interception while engineering game-tying drives in the third and fourth quarters and a game-winning drive in overtime. As a result, Indianapolis now leads the terrible AFC South. FREEDOM!

Whether he'll have to lead the Colts into battle again remains in question, as King reported starting QB Andrew Luck's status is "no better than 50-50" for Thursday's game against the Houston Texans.

“Everyone in our locker room, and everyone in the state of Indiana, hopes he’s ready to go,” Hasselbeck said. “Everyone expects him to be ready, including me. I’ll probably be playing scout team quarterback again this week.”

Matt Hasselbeck. Brian Hoyer. Cue Hank Williams Jr.: Are you ready for some football? Here's hoping Hasselbeck walks over to Hoyer during the coin toss and says, "Before we let you leave, your coach must cross that field, present himself before this team, put his head between his legs, and kiss his own arse."

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 5, 2015, 2:50 pm

Everything you need to know about the Houston Texans 2015 season was summed up during one bizarre play in Sunday's second quarter against the Atlanta Falcons. 

That's when running back Arian Foster took a handoff, only to see the ball punched free by his own right tackle, Derek Newton. What's worse is that the play looked almost intentional (watch it in full here) and the ball was returned by a Falcons defender Desmond Trufant for a touchdown in the Falcons' 48-21 win.. 

So what gives?

"I was getting ready to turn around," Newton told ESPN's Tania Ganguli.  "He was right there and I hit him somehow. Turned into a real bad play." 

The Texans, meanwhile, have turned into a real bad team with JJ Watt deeming his squad "pitiful" after the loss to the Falcons. They're 1-3. 

We cover all that and more in this week's edition of NFL in 90. 

@EAMaddenNFL I'm a Texans fan, and Derek Newton should have a 99 strip rating

— NapNaps (@ReidSmith0518) October 5, 2015

- - - - - - -

Kevin Kaduk is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at kevinkaduk@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!Follow @KevinKaduk

Author: Kevin Kaduk
Posted: October 5, 2015, 1:31 pm

It only took a fortnight for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to downgrade Brandon Weeden from the most "gifted passer" in football history to merely a "limited" quarterback who isn't a difference-maker.

Two days after Weeden completed all seven of his passes to finish off a 20-10 win over the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles after starting Cowboys QB Tony Romo went down with a broken collarbone in Week 2, Jones could barely contain himself while raving about his backup in an interview with 105.3 The Fan

“This quarterback Weeden can drive the ball down field,” Jones said. “He’s a thing of beauty on throwing a football. His passing motion and his arm, frankly, you won’t see a more gifted passer, power, accuracy, the entire aspect of it. If he can basically prepare, be the starting quarterback, come in and execute and keep his head right, then I feel good about Weeden.”

After Weeden's second start of the season resulted in another loss — this time a 26-20 overtime defeat at the hands of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints — Jones changed his tune with the Star-Telegram

“I thought he did real good,” owner Jerry Jones said. “He did good all night long. He took his initial look and threw it. He does some real good things, though it’s not quite apples and oranges when the guy on the other side of the deal is Brees and you’re dealing with a guy who is as limited as Weeden. We got in it even running out of time, or short-handed, in 2-minute or what have you, then these quarterbacks like Brees make a difference.”

While what Jones said may be true — after all, most backup QBs are backups because they're limited — it's not much of a confidence-booster for a veteran who'll line up under center for the next few months.

Weeden hasn't been all that bad, completing 76.3 percent of his passes (45-of-59) for 551 yards and a pair of scores against one pick this season. His quarterback rating of 108.8 currently ranks sixth behind Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Marcus Mariota (Brees is 16th at 94.9).

Weeden finished 16-of-26 for 246 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Saints, and that's without All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant in the lineup. That's good enough to win on some Sundays. Running backs Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle didn't do him any favors, rushing for an average of 2.7 yards on 21 carries in defeat. And the Dallas defense allowed 438 total yards of offense for the second straight week.

Most of all, Brees was just a little better, completing 33-of-41 passes for 359 yards and a pair of TDs, and that's to be expected. After all, the guy has 400 career passing touchdowns. Weeden has 28 against 29 interceptions, so maybe Jones' mistake was putting the pressure of being such a gifted passer on him.

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 5, 2015, 11:46 am

They love their football in Texas and they take it seriously, all the way up to the guy in charge of the state.

Gov. Greg Abbott, from his verified personal Twitter feed, sent an angry tweet immediately after the Dallas Cowboys lost their second straight game by allowing a long New Orleans Saints touchdown in overtime.

*#%>¥! @Cowboy defense. More porous than the Texas border.

— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 5, 2015

Abbott is clearly a big sports fan, as he was congratulating the Houston Astros for making the Major League Baseball playoffs and Texas Rangers for winning the AL West on Sunday. But Abbott's good mood didn't last through the night. Not when the Cowboys lose, especially the way they lost in overtime.

Others around the state were probably peeved too, they just aren't big-name politicians who would think to compare Dallas' defense to the state's border on Twitter.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 5, 2015, 4:34 am

Drew Brees hit a couple notable career throwing marks on Sunday night, passing for his 5,000th career completion and his 400th touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. The former set his team on the winning path, and the latter won the game for the Saints in overtime, 26-20.

There was a time, not so long ago, when New Orleans-Dallas would have been must-watch television.  Brees vs. Tony Romo, among so many others, made The Big Easy vs. The Big D one of the year's great showdowns. But Romo is on the sidelines. Brees is a weak-armed shadow of his former self, at least for the moment. The game ended on a high note for Brees, but the overwhelming message is clear: These are two teams that don't scare anybody.

Brees, who had been limited in action because of injuries sustained earlier this season, threw completion No. 5,000 to Josh Hill in the first quarter for a go-ahead touchdown, No. 399 on his career list. He would finish 33 of 41 for 359 yards and two touchdowns against a depleted and inexperienced Dallas defense.

Brees ranks behind only Brett Favre (6,300) and Peyton Manning (6,025) on the career completions list. Brees' 400th touchdown came on an 80-yard pass to C.J. Spiller, a touchdown that slammed the door on Dallas without even giving the Cowboys a shot in OT.

For the record, Brees' first touchdown came on November 4, 2001, while with the San Diego Chargers. He completed a 20-yard pass to Freddie Jones, his only touchdown of his rookie season. He'd get better.

On the career touchdowns list, Brees ranks behind Manning (536), Favre (508), Dan Marino (420) and Tom Brady (401). Decent company. He also set an NFL record Sunday night with 48 consecutive home games with a touchdown pass, and has thrown for a touchdown in 93 of his past 94 games.

The Cowboys, for their part, looked fragile and lost for most of the game, and saw both running back Lance Dunbar and wide receiver Brice Butler lost to injury. Romo's replacement, Brandon Weeden, spent most of the night looking for dump-down passes and easy outs, but orchestrated an eight-play, 91-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter that tied the game. Weeden finished the game 16 of 26 for 246 yards and a touchdown; like Brees, he suffered three sacks.

The game leaves Dallas in a three-way tie with New York and Washington for the NFC East lead, and while the odds would seem to favor Dallas, nothing from Sunday night's game should give the Cowboys significant confidence in the team's ability to construct a complete 60-minute game without Romo under center.

New Orleans only managed to stay three games behind Atlanta and Carolina for the NFC South lead. Brees, like Peyton Manning in Denver, has enough football savvy and will to outwit weaker defenses, but against stronger lines he's likely to get devoured unless and until his shoulder heals up.

We'll see Dallas late into the season simply because the NFC East is so awful. But New Orleans needs to step up in a hurry, or the Saints will be a memory before November.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL content:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 5, 2015, 3:57 am

This is why it makes sense to take a look at the past schedule in the NFL, and not just the standings.

A lot of people were anointing the Arizona Cardinals as one of the best teams in football after three weeks. They had defeated the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers, arguably the three worst teams in the NFL.

The Cardinals don’t look like one of the best teams in the NFL anymore. The St. Louis Rams came into Arizona and won 24-22. The Rams never trailed. The Cardinals weren’t blown out or anything — they out-gained the Rams 447-328 and had a chance to win in the last two minutes but turned it over on downs — but they also didn’t look all that dominant either.

The Cardinals aren’t a bad team, but are they one of the absolute best? Maybe not. The Rams’ offensive line hasn’t been able to block well all season, but it helped rookie Todd Gurley gain 144 yards in the second half. Nick Foles isn’t a great quarterback, but he completed 16-of-24 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions against Arizona. The offense that everyone was so excited about didn’t score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter, when the Rams were up 24-15.

And this was a Rams team that was 1-2 with losses to Washington and a Pittsburgh Steelers team that lost Ben Roethlisberger. Life looked different for the Cardinals when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wasn’t handing them interceptions.

One loss doesn’t mean the Cardinals aren’t good or even that we should cross them off a painfully short list of Super Bowl contenders. But we just need to slow down a little. Had the Seattle Seahawks played the Saints, Bears and 49ers, they would have been an impressive 3-0, too. A nice scheduling stretch didn’t mean the Cardinals had overtaken the Seahawks in the NFC West.

The Cardinals are still a good team. They’ll probably be a playoff team. But they’re not one of the top two or three teams in the NFL. They might not be the best team in the NFC West. Just something to keep in mind next year when we go crazy about an undefeated team: Always keep in mind who it has had to beat.

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 4 in the NFL: 


New York Giants: OK, fine, that was convincing.

I was holding out before giving the Giants too much credit, but after a really impressive 24-10 win at a Buffalo Bills team that smashed Indianapolis and Miami in the first three weeks, a new narrative should emerge. The Giants probably should have been 4-0 right now against a pretty tough schedule.

The Giants should have defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1 if not for a ridiculous clock management fiasco. And that was the Tony Romo-Dez Bryant Cowboys, who were considered a Super Bowl contender. The Atlanta Falcons have played really well in their 4-0 start, and the Giants were up 20-10 on them in the fourth quarter before losing on a touchdown with 1:14 left.

The Giants are that close to being 4-0 against the Cowboys (with Romo), Falcons, Redskins (hey, they’re 2-1 in their other three games) and Bills. Sunday’s win at Buffalo revealed a lot about them.

Andy Dalton: We’re all waiting for The Andy Dalton Collapse, but week after week it’s looking like we might be waiting a lot longer than we anticipated.

Dalton looked very good again in an another impressive Cincinnati Bengals win. The Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs 36-21 and Dalton completed 17-of-24 passes for 321 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. This just continued his hot streak. Dalton came into this week with a better quarterback rating than Tom Brady. He has been tremendous. Dalton threw it great against the Chiefs, and had a really athletic scramble on a third and 4 in the fourth quarter, avoiding the rush to get 8 yards.

The Bengals are Super Bowl contenders, and a big reason is Dalton. That might sound weird, but it has played out four weeks in a row to start the season.

Devonta Freeman: The NFL moves so fast, you can lose out on your chance before you even get one. Freeman obviously felt some urgency this season.

Last year he was a fourth-round pick, a decent investment for the Atlanta Falcons. He looked like the back of the future, once Steven Jackson was done. But he had a quiet rookie season and then the Falcons used a third-round pick on Tevin Coleman, which must have been a jolt to Freeman. It looked like he had been supplanted as the back of the future.

But since Coleman broke some ribs, Freeman has taken over. The past two weeks he has 342 total yards and six touchdowns, and he didn’t even play a ton in the second half of a total blowout of the Houston Texans on Sunday. That’s how you take advantage of a situation. In offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s running back-friendly scheme, Freeman looks like a great fit for the 4-0 Falcons.

Minnesota Vikings: I know, they fell short to the Denver Broncos. But, going back to the beginning of this post, it’s worthwhile to note who and where a team plays, and how they look.

And the Vikings looked pretty good on Sunday. The Broncos are one of the handful of teams in the NFL that should legitimately feel they can win a Super Bowl, because their defense is that good. And the Vikings were tied with them until late, when the Broncos hit a game-winning field goal.

Teddy Bridgewater was under constant pressure from a great Broncos pass rush, but he kept his poise and played very well. Adrian Peterson broke a long touchdown run on fourth and 1 in the fourth quarter. The Vikings’ defense gave up a 72-yard run to Ronnie Hillman, but the Broncos had just 272 yards other than that play.

The Vikings didn’t win on Sunday. But they won’t have many dates as tough the rest of the way as playing at Denver. That was a pretty good outing. They should feel pretty confident going forward.

Adam Vinatieri: There wasn’t much to like about the Indianapolis Colts’ win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Vinatieri was a bright spot. He became the first player in NFL history to score 1,000 points for two different teams. He had obviously done so with the New England Patriots in the first chapter of his career.

And on a day in which kickers struggled mightily, Vinatieri hit all three of his attempts, including a 54-yarder, and an overtime winner (yeah it was a short one, but the New Orleans Saints missed a short one, so ask them about reliable kickers). Vinatieri had a tough start to the season, missing his first two field-goal attempts, but his day Sunday was a reminder of how great he has been for many, many years.


Bills penalties: I can’t totally blame the Bills for taking 17 penalties, because the NFL officials seem like they’re getting paid by the flag this season. The New York Jets-Miami Dolphins game in London, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET, bled into the 1 p.m. ET games mostly because the officials threw so many penalties the people of England will see bright yellow in their sleep.

But still, 17 penalties for 135 yards for the Bills? Rex Ryan’s teams will always play with toughness, and sometimes they cross a line. There were mental errors too, like an illegal formation on a field-goal try by the Giants. After that penalty was accepted for a first down, the Giants scored a touchdown.

This was not a good loss by any means for the Bills, looking overmatched at home. There was a chance for a letdown after big games against the Colts, Patriots and Dolphins. But this was a big letdown. The New England Patriots rarely have losses this bad, and that’s a reason the rest of the AFC East is constantly a step behind them.

Houston Texans: The Texans have taken a big step back from last year's 9-7 squad, and it isn’t because Ryan Fitzpatrick was that much better than Brian Hoyer.

The Texans weren’t the type of team that had a lot of margin of error, but what has happened this season has been very surprising. Houston lost 48-21 at Atlanta in a game that wasn’t nearly that close. Houston scored three straight garbage-time touchdowns in the fourth quarter after falling behind 42-0.

"Awful," J.J. Watt said, according to the Houston Chronicle. "It was terrible. Everyone deserves blame, (because) it was an awful performance.

"Every single loss is terrible. Today was especially terrible. We played absolutely pitiful football today.”

Where do the Texans even go from here? Hoyer played OK in relief of Ryan Mallett, but that was entirely meaningless playing time with the game out of hand. Will the Texans make another move at quarterback? Maybe, but there’s no magic solution awaiting there.

Houston isn’t good right now, and Sunday was probably rock bottom. It can’t get much worse.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Blake Bortles: It’s not like Bortles hasn’t shown anything positive since he was drafted in the first round in 2014. But games like Sunday make you wonder if he’s ever going to be as good as Jacksonville needs him to be. 

You watch Derek Carr and Bridgewater, and they’re not perfect. But they seem further along than Bortles, the fourth pick last year. So does Marcus Mariota, the second pick this year. Sunday’s game against Indianapolis without Andrew Luck was entirely winnable. The Colts scored 13 points in regulation. The Jaguars couldn’t beat them.

Blame kicker Jason Myers, who missed two potential game-winning field goals, but it’s on Bortles too. Against a Colts defense that isn’t very good, Bortles was just 28 of 50 for 298 yards. With the game in the balance, Bortles didn’t make one play to win it. He had Allen Robinson open on a wheel route down the sideline in overtime, and a good throw might have been a touchdown. Bortles threw it too far outside and it was incomplete out of bounds. Bortles missed a few passes to relatively open receivers by miles. He just wasn’t nearly as good as he needed to be in a game that the Jaguars really should have won.

Bortles still has time to develop, but it’s more than a little concerning there’s been so little development to this point.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 5, 2015, 3:46 am

Did you miss any of the Week 4 action in the NFL? We've got you covered. Here are five plays you shouldn't miss from Sunday's games:

Three's a Crowder

The Washington Redskins made some terrific catches in traffic in their comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles. You might have seen the game-winning catch to Pierre Garcon in the final minute. But did you catch the grab Redskins rookie Jamison Crowder made amid three Eagles defenders? Watch as Kirk Cousins dials up the pass in a crowd.

Another rookie showcase

Eagles rookie Nelson Agholor was a standout at USC and a first-round pick, but his ascension has been a bit slow with the offense struggling in Philly. However, Sam Bradford showed he still can throw deep, and Agholor rewarded him with a terrific, one-handed grab for 45 yards. It's a start, right?


Nothing against the Crowder and Agholor catches, which were actual catches. But we want to spotlight what went down as an incompletion. Why? Because Odell Beckham Jr. was involved. Watch Beckham climb the ladder, do his Spiderman impression, make a grab that rivals his rookie-year gem and ... who cares if he was out of bounds? This is insane.

Right place, right time

The 4-0 Carolina Panthers have not blown too many minds with their play, but they have been very opportunistic. Case in point: Jonathan Stewart fumbled Sunday at the end of a good run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Stewart's teammate, tight end Ed Dickson, just picked the ball up in stride and ran all the way to the end zone for an unlikely score. Hear Dickson on Yahoo Sports Radio as he describes this strange play.

Tyree-like INT

This time, the defensive back wins. David Tyree might have been the receiver who made the helmet catch with his Super Bowl beauty of yore, but St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins made an equally ridiculous grab on the other side of the ball in Sunday's win over the Arizona Cardinals. Watch him pick Carson Palmer with a helmet grab that might not be repeated.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 5, 2015, 2:10 am


Look, we get it: playing football is tiring work. But perhaps the field of play is not the best place for a nap, am I right?

Stedman Bailey of the St. Louis Rams had just scored on a pass from Nick Foles to help the Rams to a victory over the Arizona Cardinals, and decided to offer up his own celebration: a quiet, respectful nap. Technically, it should have drawn a flag, since you're not allowed to use the ball as a prop or go to the ground in celebrations—an asinine rule that has no real purpose other than to quash fun.

Fox Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira believes it will cost Bailey $8,681 for his little nap, and if the NFL does levy that fine, Rams fans should start a Kickstarter to pay the fine:

My @kfc Postgame Fill Up: Why that nap Steadman Bailey took after his TD will cost him.https://t.co/wsJvDSPIWD

— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 5, 2015

There's a reason they "play" this "game"...it's supposed to have at least a tiny measure of fun. Don't fine Bailey, NFL. Let the man catch some shuteye in peace.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 5, 2015, 12:44 am

After losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals by a combined score of 90-25 the last two weeks, the San Francisco 49ers had to make a Week 4 statement against the visiting Green Bay Packers.

They made a statement, all right.

Actually, it was a Packers player who made the defining statement of San Francisco's 2015 season, yelling in the direction of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after a negative yardage play. If my ears aren't deceiving me, the microphones pick up this gem of a diss: "You ain't no Russell Wilson, bro."

There was once an argument whether the Seattle Seahawks quarterback or Kaepernick was the NFL's best young quarterback not named Andrew Luck. Wilson ended the debate by defeating the 49ers on his way to a Super Bowl title in the 2013 season and making a return trip to the championship game last season.

Meanwhile, Kaepernick has fallen off a cliff after his breakout season two years ago. He entered Sunday's game with one of the 10 worst quarterback ratings in the league, which seemed kind after the previous two weeks, and then completed just 13 of 25 attempts for 160 yards and an interception against zero touchdowns in a 17-3 loss to the Packers. He now has five interceptions to two passing TDs this season.

San Francisco's defense was decent on the day, "holding" Aaron Rodgers to 224 yards and a touchdown, but the offense was practically nonexistent. Kaepernick's offensive line didn't do him any favors, as Green Bay sacked him six times for a loss of 41 yards, and 49ers running backs Carlos Hyde and Reggie Bush combined for just 20 yards on nine carries. The only bright spot for Kaepernick was his team-high 57 rushing yards on 10 carries, but most of it came as a result of either indecision or escaping a heavy attack.

Now, the question isn't whether Kaepernick is better than Wilson, but if 49ers coach Jim Tomsula should turn to backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert going forward, which would've seemed insane 24 months ago.

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 4, 2015, 11:49 pm

Even for the Cleveland Browns, this was bad.

Josh McCown had a terrific game in Week 4. Rookie Duke Johnson was great. The special teams were excellent ... that is, until the penultimate snap.

The Browns rallied from eight points down to tie the game with just over two minutes left and appeared to be heading to overtime against the San Diego Chargers when kicker Josh Lambo missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt.

But ... Browns. Tramon Williams was offsides on the attempt, giving the Chargers a second chance. Do you even have to ask if Lambo made it? Of course he did, from 34 yards out and with zero seconds on the untimed kick, and the Chargers won in the most Browns way imaginable.

It was another heartbreaking loss for a franchise that has made a lifetime of them, and it undercut the  performance from McCown, who proved some doubters wrong in this one. He hit Gary Barnidge on the final touchdown, and the McCown-to-Taylor Gabriel two-point conversion tied it up.

But the defense couldn't hold it. The Browns burned their three timeouts after Philip Rivers drove the Chargers down the field and put them in position to win. The Browns' luck — the missed kick — then was Charlie Browned right from under them.


Naturally, Cleveland fans reacted with measured, poised perspective.

I'd say unbelievable, but unfortunately it's not. #Browns

— TheRealPhillyP (@DONTBLVHYPE) October 4, 2015

At least the browns waited until 4 to disappoint me today

— Alec Foos (@alec_foos11) October 4, 2015

I find the end of Browns games to be the best free entertainment in town #Browns #CLEvsSD

— John Q. Lewis (@TheRealJohnQLaw) October 4, 2015

Can you blame?

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 4, 2015, 11:49 pm

When you draft a player in the top 10, he needs to be a big impact guy.

Did the St. Louis Rams discover a pair of them on Sunday, in a 24-22 upset over the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals?

We all figured running back Todd Gurley would emerge as one when he was healthy, and that day was Sunday. Gurley had 2 yards on four carries in the first half, then ended up with his first career 100-yard game in the second half alone. His two first-down runs in the final two minutes sealed the victory. The Rams didn't rush Gurley back from an ACL injury suffered last season at Georgia. Gurley was still the 10th pick of the draft despite the injury because of the talent he flashed against the Cardinals. He ended up with 146 rushing yards. No need to worry any more about how many carries Gurley might get; on Sunday he showed he's ready to be the Rams' featured back. Probably for many years to come.

The Rams also thought Tavon Austin could be a great playmaker when they took him eighth overall in 2013, and he has had moments. But mostly, he has been a disappointment considering his draft status. But with the Rams big underdogs on Sunday, Austin showed up big. He had 96 yards receiving and two touchdowns, and added 20 rushing yards. His 12-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter put the Rams up 24-15.

The Rams are up and down, but now they've beaten the Seattle Seahawks and Cardinals and sit at 2-2. We shouldn't expect them to continue to be consistent the rest of the season because they've teased us before. But maybe if those two top-10 picks continue to be huge playmakers? That might change things for St. Louis.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 4, 2015, 11:35 pm

Three weeks ago, new Eagles running back DeMarco Murray told reporters in Philadelphia, "The only thing that matters is wins. Not yards, not records, none of that stuff. You know, at the end of the day, it’s that one column, and that’s wins and losses." After yet another loss, Murray added a caveat to that statement.

Murray believes more carries would result in more yards and more wins, or at least that's what he seemed to suggest after a 23-20 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday. Here's what Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter Zach Berman relayed from the locker room after the Eagles fell to last place in the NFC East: 

Is DeMarco Murray getting enough touches? Murray: "No, I'm not. I don't think I am."...Said he knew what he signed up for, but expected more

— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) October 4, 2015

According to Berman, Murray added: "I love this offense, I love playing with these guys. It’s how it is."

Splitting carries with Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles in the backfield once again, Murray rushed just eight times for 36 yards on Sunday. Thirty of those yards came on his first carry of the afternoon. Of course, he was coming off a hamstring injury that kept him out of last week's 24-17 win over the New York Jets.

Before the injury, though, Murray wasn't exactly lighting the NFL on fire. Actually, his 0.52 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season (11 rushing yards on 21 carries!) marked the worst start for any running back in Pro Football Reference's database. So, he wasn't exactly earning those extra carries. He does have 11 catches for 76 yards this season, including two for an additional 12 yards on Sunday.

It's been a remarkable fall from grace for Murray, who led the NFL in carries (392), rushing yards (1,845) and rushing touchdowns (13) for the NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys last season. The Eagles signed him to a five-year, $40 million contract with $21 million guaranteed through 2019, according to spotrac.com. By comparison, Cowboys running back Joseph Randle rushed for 203 yards and three scores on 48 carries in Murray's absence through three weeks, and Dallas (2-1) entered Sunday night's game with the division lead.

But Eagles coach Chip Kelly set expectations before Murray ever took a handoff in earnest from Sam Bradford this season, telling MMQB's Peter King back in August that he planned to lighten Murray's load.

“Our plan all along was to get another running back with him. I wanted to have two running backs, and that’s why we got Ryan. I don’t think you can have a guy carry it 370 to 400 times per season and be successful. We’re going to run it a lot — we always do — but we’ll have more than one guy doing it.”

Both Matthews and Sproles have been marginally better, combining for 212 yards and two scores on 54 carries through four weeks (3.93 yards per carry). Then again, every back in history had been better than Murray, so that's not saying much. On the bright side, it's still early, and things can't get any worse.

All of this begs the question why the Eagles signed Murray in the first place. They supposedly traded LeSean McCoy — who has his own problems, even if he's rushed for almost three times as many yards as Murray despite injury —  to avoid paying big bucks to a 27-year-old running back. Then, they signed a 27-year-old Murray to the same big-money deal and have given him 13 carries a game. Curious, indeed.

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 4, 2015, 10:12 pm

It started on Thursday, with the Pittsburgh Steelers' Josh Scobee missing twice, and the week hasn't gotten any better for the NFL's kicking fraternity.

Through the first nine games of Week 4, kickers have missed 11 field goals, from as short as 29 yards, and have also missed four extra points. Some of the mistakes had major impacts on their teams' fortunes – such as with Scobee and Jacksonville's Jason Myers, who missed potential game-winners both at the end of regulation and in overtime – while others did not.

The list of misses:

Josh Scobee, PIT: 2-for-4, misses from 49 yards (wide left) and 41 yards (wide left). Pittsburgh lost to Baltimore, 23-20 in overtime

Nick Folk, NYJ: 2-for-3, missed from 40 yards (wide left). Jets beats Miami, 27-14

Nick Novak, HOU: 0-for-1, missed from 53 yards (short). Houston lost to Atlanta, 48-21

Dan Carpenter, BUF: 0-for-1, missed from 30 yards (wide left). Buffalo lost to the Giants, 24-10

Mike Nugent, CIN: 0-for-1, missed from 44 yards (hit upright). Cincinnati beat Kansas City, 36-21

Jason Myers, JAX: 2-for-4, missed from 53 yards (wide right) and 48 yards (wide left). Jacksonville lost to Indianapolis, 16-13 in overtime

Kyle Brindza, TB: 1-for-3, missed from 29 yards (hit upright) and 43 yards (wide left). Tampa Bay lost to Carolina, 37-23

Caleb Sturgis, PHI: 0-for-1, missed from 33 yards (wide left). Philadelphia lost to Washington, 23-20

Brindza, Sturgis, Atlanta's Matt Bryant, the Giants' Josh Brown and Chicago's Robbie Gould each missed an extra point. That makes for 18 PATs misses this season from the new 33-yard distance.

Retired kicker Jay Feely offered an explanation for why he believes kickers are struggling:


— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) October 4, 2015

But it wasn't all bad news: Gould made a 49-yarder with two seconds to play to give Chicago a win over Oakland, its first of the season.

And Kansas City's Cairo Santos provided all of the Chiefs' points in their 36-21 loss to the Bengals, making all seven of his field goal tries, from 22, 40, 51, 34, 40, 29 and 51 yards.


Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: October 4, 2015, 10:02 pm

Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett is a character. He once compared himself to a "black unicorn."

So of all the people in the NFL, the best quote of the season was going to come from either Martellus or his brother Michael, the gregarious defensive end with the Seattle Seahawks. Martellus delivered after the Bears' comeback victory against the Oakland Raiders, which was led by oft-criticized Jay Cutler.

The quote, in all its glory, comes from Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times:

is Jay Cutler too often criticized? Martellus: "They threw rocks at Jesus, & Jesus was an excellent guy who did a lot of awesome stuff."

— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) October 4, 2015

You trying to say Jesus Christ can't hit an out route?

Cutler has been called a lot of things through his time in Chicago, but he has not been compared favorably to Jesus that often. Bears fans might have taken the name in vain a few times when discussing Cutler's latest interception, but that's it. (Does this make Kristin Cavallari the Mary Magdalene of Bennett's story? So many questions!)

Cutler did fine in his return to the lineup, playing through a hamstring injury and leading the game-winning drive that ended in a Robbie Gould field goal. Divine intervention?

Your browser does not support iframes.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 4, 2015, 9:40 pm

Let us take you back to Rex Ryan earlier this week. This was his vow for the Buffalo Bills heading into Week 4:

"We're trying extremely hard, we want to be the least penalized team in the league," Ryan said on Wednesday. "The first 2 games were horrendous. ... No team spends more time looking at the rules than we do, I promise you."

Ryan will have more rules to look at and plenty of examples of penalty study after the Bills' 24-10 loss to the New York Giants. The Bills committed 17 penalties for 135 yards, but it's worse than even that. Fouls wiped out 85 yards worth of offensive plays for the Bills, including two touchdowns (!), and two defensive penalties by the Bills gifted the Giants four points when they elected to take a field goal off the board and later scored a touchdown.

Tyrod Taylor scrambled 31 yards for a score midway through the third quarter, which would have made it a one-score game with the Giants leadoing 16-3, but the play was negated by a holding call. Instead, the Bills had to attempt a field goal ... which predictably missed.

After the game, Ryan seemed OK with his team's performance to a certain degree.

“I’m proud of the way this team played,” Ryan said at his postgame press conference. “Can we play a lot smarter? Absolutely. But I’ll take a team that’ll fight over a team that will sit back and take it every day of the week and bring on the next team. Give me a team that’s got some fight and will compete to the very end right, wrong or indifferent, no matter how good the officiating is or whatever.”

The Bills now lead the NFL part of the way through Week 4 with 47 penalties. The Giants didn't exactly show great restraint with 11 penalties of their own on Sunday, but the Bills managed to upstage them.

With the Bills missing starting running back LeSean McCoy and receiver Sammy Watkins, their margin of error was slim against a Giants team that has been in every game this season. So compound the penalties with the Bills' two turnovers, and they were doomed.

Their biggest win of the season was the Week 3 blowout of the Miami Dolphins, but with the Dolphins floundering ... that one doesn't carry as much weight as it did before, does it?

The New England Patriots, on bye this week, might be sitting at home just laughing at the rest of the division right now. 

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 4, 2015, 9:10 pm

There is no division in the NFL right now that is worse than the AFC South. This is a statement of fact, not the beginning of a debate.

The AFC South was one of only two divisions without an undefeated team going into Week 4 (the NFC East being the other), combining for a league-low four wins through three weeks.

With the Tennessee Titans on their bye week, the other three teams in the division – the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars – were a combined 1-2 on Sunday, and that's because the Colts played the Jaguars, so someone had to win (though it took Indy more than 10 minutes of overtime to get that 16-13 victory).

Indianapolis (2-2) scored less than 20 points for the third time this season, and won only after Jaguars rookie kicker Jason Myers missed two potential game-winning field: a 53-yarder at the end of regulation and a 48-yard attempt in overtime. Matt Hasselbeck filled in for Andrew Luck on Sunday. (AP)

The Colts were playing without Andrew Luck, who sat out the game because of a shoulder injury, and went with 40-year old Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback. Hasselbeck, who hadn't started a game in nearly three years, survived behind a bad offensive line, and got zero help from the run game – free-agent pickup Frank Gore had 53 yards on 17 carries. Gore fumbled in a goal-to-go situation for the second time in three weeks, and salvaged an otherwise forgettable day with a 22-yard run in overtime that gave Adam Vinatieri a very makeable 27-yard field goal for the win.

In Atlanta, the Texans (1-3) were embarrassed by the Falcons, 48-21, in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicates. Houston was down 42-0 after three quarters.

Houston coach Bill O'Brien pulled starter Ryan Mallett after three, giving the ball again to Brian Hoyer, who lost the starting job he was given in the preseason before Week 1 was even over. 

Hoyer led the Texans to three touchdowns, but you have to assume the Falcons had taken their foot off the gas by that point.

The Titans would appear to at least have some hope, as it looks like quarterback Marcus Mariota could actually be the franchise quarterback they've long needed.

But let's not forget, Tennessee (1-2) also choked in the fourth quarter last week against the Colts. Jacksonville (1-3) was embarrassed by the Patriots in Week Three.

And the good news for the NFL-watching public? We get to see the Colts and Texans face off on a short week on Thursday night. Might be time to get caught up on "Scandal."

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: October 4, 2015, 9:05 pm

The Chicago Bears needed to sweat out every second of their win against the Oakland Raiders, including a play in which two Raiders offensive linemen had their paws on the ball.

Robbie Gould hit a 49-yard field goal to give the Bears a 22-20 lead over the Raiders with two seconds remaining, and the ensuing kickoff was no afterthought.

The Raiders brought it back and ... hijinks ensued (see video above).

We count nine players touching the ball on the Lateralpalooza, not including repeat touchers. The ball might have traveled a few hundred yards in those two official seconds (which lasted about 30 real-time seconds) before Raiders guard Gabe Jackson failed to come up with the final hoorah.

Sadly, it never would have counted even if Jackson or some other Raider had come up with it. Roy Helu was flagged for an illegal forward pass on the return. That's what he gets for trying to throw it to Tony Bergstrom, a reserve offensive lineman, to save the day.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 4, 2015, 8:51 pm

Hopefully you didn't bench Chris Ivory for Marshawn Lynch on your fantasy football team this week.

The Seattle Seahawks ruled Lynch out for Monday night's game against the Detroit Lions, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The running back had previously been listed as questionable after missing another practice on Saturday, but coach Pete Carroll was holding out hope Lynch would be a game-time decision.

So, his hamstring must really be hurting. Despite nagging injuries over the years, Lynch has not missed a game since back spasms kept him out on Oct. 23, 2011. (The result? A 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.)

Lynch left last week's 26-0 victory against the Chicago Bears early after just five carries for 14 yards. After signing a two-year contract extension this summer that could be worth as much as $31 million through 2017, the 29-year-old has neither scored a touchdown or rushed for a 100-yard game yet this season.

The loss of Lynch is a blow for the Seahawks, who entered Monday's game with a disappointing 1-2 record. Oh, and if Ivory is on your fantasy bench, he only rushed for 166 yards and a touchdown for the Jets. Welp.

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 4, 2015, 8:46 pm

Jay Cutler fought through a hamstring injury to play in Week 4, and there were plenty of Chicago Bears fans who didn't want him out there.

Some preached the chorus of, "Why even play him if he's not healthy?" Other, more dark, depressing Bears fans ripped off one-liners about Jimmy Clausen giving Chicago a better chance to win. And yes, there are scores of fans in Chicago hoping the Bears tank the season — #takeoffforgoff? — with the hopes of landing the first pick in April's draft.

Shut it down, all of it. Cutler played relatively well, and the Bears beat the ascending Oakland Raiders 22-20 on a last-second Robbie Gould field goal.

Cutler completed 28 of 41 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns — despite Alshon Jeffery missing the game with his own hamstring injury. Although Cutler threw a fourth-quarter interception with just under seven minutes left, with Charles Woodson undercutting the underthrown pass, the Raiders played conservatively and settled for a field goal to give them a 20-19 lead with 2:05 left.

That's when Cutler went to work. He took a sack and missed Josh Bellamy on third down on two of the first three plays after taking over, but Cutler drilled a gorgeous 7-yard completion to an outstretched Martellus Bennett on fourth-and-5 to stay alive.

After a bad drop by Marques Wilson on the sideline, Cutler connected on four of five passes, including trusting Wilson and going back to him on a 9-yard grab to put the Bears in field-goal range. That set up Robbie Gould's game-winner and the best Bears victory in more than a year.

Cutler delivered the ball where it had to be despite his left tackle, Jermon Bushrod, missing the game and his center, Will Montgomery, leaving early with an ankle injury. Cutler was sacked three times, hit four times and escaped countless would-be sack attempts. He delivered at a time when most of Bears Nation doubted he could or — shamelessly — didn't even want him to.

Say what you will about Cutler, but his toughness has been underrated for years. He might not be this team's savior for the long haul, but Cutler showed more heart Sunday than we've seen from him or this team in a long time.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 4, 2015, 8:36 pm

Too bad there won't be anything to talk about on the Philadelphia airwaves this week.

The Philadelphia Eagles, who were in the bright offseason glare after a ton of controversial moves by coach Chip Kelly, aren't a good football team. Against the Washington Redskins, who might not be too great themselves, quarterback Kirk Cousins  who isn't very good either  drove downfield and broke the Eagles' hearts with less than a minute to go on a pretty 4-yard touchdown catch by Pierre Garcon. 

And when the Eagles got the ball back for one last chance, Sam Bradford threw a checkdown, got sacked, got sacked again, and then the Eagles ran a ridiculous multiple-lateral play and the Redskins picked off a lateral to end the game. Washington won 23-20. The Eagles are in sole possession of last place in the NFC East.

Kelly's grand experiment isn't working out this year. No, the Eagles aren't going to fire Kelly tomorrow. The man still won 20 games the past two years without a decent quarterback. But this season has been rough. Mostly Bradford has played exactly like he did with the St. Louis Rams, which was mediocre. The Eagles invested a lot in him for this season and it doesn't look like a winning move. DeMarco Murray hasn't done much. The Eagles gambled on the health of Kiko Alonso and he's hurt too.

The Eagles' offense seemed to be coming alive a bit last week with Ryan Mathews running well. With Murray back, Mathews had just five carries this week and the running game didn't do much at all. Bradford was a little better, hitting a couple big plays in the second half and throwing for three touchdowns, but the Eagles still came out on the short end.

The NFC East has enough issues that even at 1-3, Philadelphia isn't dead. But Kelly will have a tough week as the media there grills him again on what is going wrong with his master plans. There aren't many answers yet.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 4, 2015, 8:19 pm

Mother of mercy. Mario Williams absolutely devoured Rashad Jennings in Sunday's Bills-Giants game. Jennings, who goes 231 pounds, got spiked just like a football by Williams. It was mostly a moral victory for Williams, as the Giants were dominating the game at the time, but Jennings will be a sore man this week.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 4, 2015, 7:56 pm

At this point, we don't care if Odell Beckham Jr.'s catches count as receptions or not.

First, the New York Giants receiver put on a show pregame with his typically ridiculous routine.

OBJ. Savage. pic.twitter.com/nneUuX6XjV

— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) October 4, 2015

Then he did this (video above) out of bounds, against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

It's getting stupid at this point. If that was a legit reception, it might have topped Beckham's Sunday night miracle from his rookie season.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 4, 2015, 7:53 pm

Ndamukong Suh wasn't the only Miami Dolphin who had a wretched game on Sunday in London against the New York Jets, but he's the only one holding a $114 million contract. He's clearly not happy—with this Dumpster fire of a team, who could be?—and after a press conference, he left the stage much to the amusement of a British PR onlooker.

We'd love to hear how Suh compares to whatever other stars proceed through the Wembley backstage. Got to be a lot scarier than your average Brit rocker or flop-happy soccer player.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 4, 2015, 7:02 pm

It was fair to question the Buffalo Bills' trade for LeSean McCoy in the moment this past March.

Now? It looks worse with each passing week. McCoy suffered a setback in his recovery from an Aug. 18 hamstring injury, as an MRI revealed a new tear, according to Fox Sports columnist Mike Garafolo.  

What I said on air re: LeSean McCoy: MRI showed new tear, 3-4 wk expected FULL recovery. Long as he's intent on being 100%, that's timeframe

— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 4, 2015

McCoy addressed the setback suffered during practice on Sept. 24 for the first time on Friday.

"One thing I just promised myself is I can't go out there if I'm not 100 percent," McCoy said. "Whatever it is, I'm rushing to get back, but I'm not playing until I'm 100 percent."

He attempted to play through the pain in Week 3, but managed just 16 yards on 11 carries against a Miami Dolphins defense that gave up 166 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries to New York Jets running back Chris Ivory on Sunday. McCoy has rushed for 146 yards on 43 carries and has not scored on the ground this season. Although, he does have a touchdown and another 83 yards on seven catches in the passing game.

If he insists on a full recovery before returning to the field, it could be Week 8 before the Bills see Murray again. Meanwhile, the Bills struggled to gain yardage on the ground in a 24-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. Rookie running back Karlos Williams, the team's fifth-round pick this past May, rushed for 40 yards on 18 carries, although he added 30 yards and a score on three catches in McCoy's absence.

The Bills dealt promising young linebacker Kiko Alonso to the Philadelphia Eagles for the three-time Pro Bowl running back, and then handed McCoy a five-year, $40 million contract extension that guarantees him $16 million this season — the same figure former Buffalo back C.J. Spiller is slated to make through 2019. Granted, Alonso has also suffered a setback, but he's due less than $2 million through next season.

McCoy's arrival spelled the end of longtime Bills running back Fred Jackson, whose $2.5 million salary was cut from Buffalo's payroll during the preseason. McCoy is still just 27 years old and just two years removed from leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,607) and yards from scrimmage (2,146) for the Eagles. Even if he returns to form, he still won't be worth the $26.5 million he's guaranteed over the course of his contract.

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 4, 2015, 6:32 pm

There should be a lemon law for NFL free-agent contracts. If there was, you have to think the Miami Dolphins would be applying for a refund right about now.

After agreeing to give Ndamukong Suh $114 million over six years, believing he'd be a difference-maker for the defense, Miami has watched him make little to no impact through four games.

Though he wasn't the only Dolphins player to look listless in Sunday's 27-14 loss to the New York Jets in London, when you're making the kind of money he is, it's more noticeable. Suh had one impact play, a tackle for loss in the fourth quarter when the Dolphines were down 27-7. (His postgame news conference was a source of amusement for at least one onlooker.)

And he had yet another interaction with an opposing player that will have the NFL taking a closer look.

Boston Globe reporter Ben Volin caught this first-half play, in which Suh's foot made contact with Ryan Fitzpatrick's helmet after Fitzpatrick fell running out of bounds. I can't decide if it was intentional or not. What's your call?

Suh kicked Fitzpatrick in the head, knocking his helmet off pic.twitter.com/dM8KJCQJvm

— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) October 4, 2015

That play aside, Suh isn't doing much to improve Miami's defense. Chris Ivory ran for a career-high 166 yards; the Jets rushed for 207 as a team. For the season, the Dolphins have given up 642 rushing yards. They came into the game ranked 31st in the league against the run.

Yahoo NFL London

Miami won its opener against Washington but has gone 0-3 since. According to the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, head coach Joe Philbin said after the game he isn't worried about his job status, and plans to keep Kevin Coyle as his defensive coordinator.

On Sunday morning, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Miami players have grown frustrated with Coyle, and held a closed-door meeting with the coordinator this past week, asking him to drop the complexities of his system and just let the players play.

Author: Shalise Manza Young
Posted: October 4, 2015, 6:10 pm

The Miami Dolphins are 1-3 and in a tailspin. This is a team that shows no signs of life, and following the team's 27-14 loss to the New York Jets in London, there have to be calls for Joe Philbin's job. We offered up a humble suggestion, and imagine who replied:

@jaybusbee Hi Jay, we apologise but we do not process people at lost-and-found.

— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) October 4, 2015

Ouch. Look, being an NFL coach is a tough job, but sometimes it's just time to say goodbye. And London is lovely for an unscheduled vacation this time of year.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL strangeness:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 4, 2015, 5:12 pm

With news that Andrew Luck will miss his first career NFL game, the Indianapolis Colts will turn to backup Matt Hasselbeck, who turned 40 last week.

For those of us in the same age range, some of these age comparisons might be a wee bit depressing. But all for the sake of quality bloggage.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

Hasselbeck is so old ...

• He was in the same draft class as Peyton Manning. That's not old? Oh. Well, other Class of '98 draft QBs: Moses Moreno, Jonathan Quinn and Charlie Batch. And, yeah, of course: Ryan Leaf.

• He was drafted three weeks after the Tampa Bay Devil Rays made their MLB debut. Google was founded five months later.

• He played his first NFL game a few weeks before "The West Wing" made its debut on NBC. 

• Two of Hasselbeck's top receivers on Sunday, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, were 4 years old in his rookie season.

• Instant replay and challenges were not a thing (again) in Hasselbeck's rookie year.

• The first game Hasselbeck attempted a pass was on Oct. 24, 1999 for the Green Bay Packers against the San Diego Chargers. Brett Favre (who had just turned 30) started for the Packers and was pulled in the 31-3 blowout win. The Chargers' two quarterbacks that day were Jim Harbaugh, who is the Michigan head coach, and Erik Kramer. Harbaugh and Kramer each threw three picks.

• On the day of Hasselbeck's 100th NFL game, in 2005, two of the top five songs nationally were recorded by Nickelback and Mariah Carey.

And we asked you to finish this sentence: "Matt Hasselbeck is so old, _______." Here are some of your responses:

That when he hears the term Jacksonville Jaguars he still wonders why he's playing against a car dealership https://t.co/u8Wlcm25xq

— Jude Wilbers (@heyjude1982) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm @YahooSports He makes Dinosaurs look young

— Jay Appaji (@Jappaji4) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm @YahooSports The 1st time he heard a "Matt Hasselbeck is so old joke" he was so mad he threw his Motorola Razr across the room.

— Scott Chasen (@SChasenKU) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm He can remember when the Dolphins were good.

— Will (@HeyMyNameIsWill) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm that's the sentence......

— Bik Nizzar (@FTSBik) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm @YahooSports his first Christmas......was the first Christmas.

— Shueb Baafe (@ShuebBaafe2) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm He's got an autographed copy of a Gutenberg Bible

— Patrick Claybon (@PatrickClaybon) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm @YahooSports the last time he won a game the colts were still in Baltimore

— baltimore sports guy (@RAVENSFANJEFF) October 4, 2015

@Eric_Edholm He showed up for the Big Bang Theory casting call as an expert witness

— Patrick Claybon (@PatrickClaybon) October 4, 2015

Well done, everyone. Thanks for making me and Matt feel young.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 4, 2015, 4:59 pm

The season of woe continues for Andrew Luck. The preseason MVP candidate has been declared out for Sunday's game against Jacksonville.

Luck has never missed a game in his career, but the red flags began flying around him this week when a shoulder injury limited his practice this week. Colts head coach Chuck Pagano insisted that Luck would be available for Sunday's game, and he spent most of the week listed as "questionable."

News of Luck's status broke on Twitter about 9 a.m. Eastern on Sunday morning, with ESPN's Chris Mortensen being the first to report and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport providing context:

Andrew Luck will not play today, per a team source.

— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) October 4, 2015

"Luck I’m told did not throw at all during the week; had a secret private throwing session for the coaches on Saturday." -- @RapSheet

— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) October 4, 2015

Luck's replacement will be 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, who has not started a game since 2012. He's served as Luck's backup for three seasons, throwing 56 passes in mop-up duty in that time.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 4, 2015, 1:22 pm

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: October 4, 2015, 12:58 pm

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Three things in life are a certainty: Death, taxes and a quarterback controversy for the New York Jets. 

Under first-year head coach Todd Bowles, the Jets might be 2-1 and off to their best start since 2011, but that doesn't mean that there aren't whispers that Geno Smith should replace Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback. Of course, there were other whispers during training camp that Fitzpatrick might be better than Smith, the team's incumbent starter the past two years.  

It was a Week 3 home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles that caused murmurs for Smith to start became louder, after Smith was active for the first time this season. It was a sucker punch from former teammate IK Enemkpali that sidelined Smith in August, causing him to miss preseason and the first two games. In his place, Fitzpatrick has been steady and calm. 

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

Smith had seven more passing yards in his first three starts in 2014 than Fitzpatrick had in the first three games this season. But Smith had three touchdown passes and four interceptions in those games; Fitzpatrick has five touchdowns and four interceptions, three of which came last week in an uncharacteristically bad performance. His completion percentage, QBR and passer rating are also higher than Smith's season numbers last season. 

What Fitzpatrick brings to the table is an understanding of the offense. This is an offense he ran well with the Buffalo Bills under then-head coach Chan Gailey, who is now his offensive coordinator. The offense asks for quick, smart reads and good decisions down field. 

Last week's performance wasn't inspiring, but there is no reason to doubt that the man with the Harvard degree on his wall and a 1580 score on his SAT still can't keep fitting that bill. Fitzpatrick doesn't have tremendous arm strength, but he is accurate with the ball and typically makes good reads.  

Smith is undoubtedly the quarterback with the higher ceiling and more athleticism. Yet despite all the upside, he lacks refinement and is wildly erratic, being benched multiple times his rookie season and losing the starting job to Mike Vick at one point last season. Smith's lows have been incredibly low, bad enough to cost his team games. 

In Fitzpatrick's worst game of this season last week against the Eagles, his 60.3 completion percentage is still better than eight of Smith's games last year. 

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

All of which means that while Smith offers upside, it is likely fourth-round draft pick Bryce Petty is the future of this Jets organization and not Smith. At best over his first two years in the league, the Jets haven't expected Smith to even manage games — just don't lose them.  Judging from what he has shown in 30 NFL games and his off the field antics, ranging from this Enemkpali incident to cursing at fans last year and even getting thrown off a plane, Smith hasn't shown he can be the franchise. 

And the message from Bowles in his first year with the team has been to show patience with Fitzpatrick, who has managed the offense well in the Jets' two wins. With a defense that can be top five in the league, perhaps that is enough to begin thinking about the Jets as a decent team, just an offseason removed from a 4-12 record. 

In two years, Smith has proven to be a frustrating quarterback prone to poor decision-making, perhaps none worse than what led to the fight that broke his jaw and cost him the start of the season. After two years, Jets fans want to return to Smith if Fitzpatrick has a second lackluster game this week.  

But truthfully, it is time for the Jets to move on from Smith, even if Fitzpatrick is no more than just a stopgap. 

- - - - - - -

Kristian R. Dyer writes for Metro New York and is a contributor to Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KristianRDyer. Email him at kristianrdyer@yahoo.com

Author: Kristian Dyer
Posted: October 4, 2015, 1:09 am

It’s tough to figure out how to beat the Denver Broncos defense.

Start with the fact that they have three excellent corners who can all play man-to-man coverage. When you begin with that, it gives you so many options as a defensive coordinator. Then add in the fact that Denver has two high-level pass rushers on each side, Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware.

Once you think about that foundation, you can easily understand how difficult it is to play against them.

In Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens we saw how devastating the combination of coverage and pressure can be. The Broncos ran a combination stunt/blitz at Joe Flacco. Aqib Talib is maybe the best cornerback in the league at playing to pressure and reading and anticipating the quarterback. He ran this route for Steve Smith.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

So what do you do to slow down Denver's pass rush? You keep extra guys in to block. That affects everything else you’re trying to do though, and for the Detroit Lions last week it caused one of their biggest mistakes of the game – although you’d need to pay close attention to see how the Broncos’ defense was able to make the play.

In the fourth quarter the Broncos were in dime defense playing “Cover 3” zone with safety David Bruton essentially playing middle linebacker. The key to the entire play was that the Lions needed running back Ameer Abdullah to chip block Ware. Abdullah couldn’t release immediately, which would have controlled Bruton. Bruton dropped and read Stafford, who thought he could beat him with a skinny post to Calvin Johnson.

Instead of Bruton being occupied by Abdullah, the Lions had Abdullah chip block because of the fear of Denver’s pass rush, and that freed up Bruton to make a huge interception.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

Also, this is the difference between dime and nickel defense. A linebacker doesn’t make the play that Bruton, a safety, did. Although the Broncos were in zone on this play, they play a lot of man coverage because of their personnel. Bruton has become one of the best dime linebacker/safeties in the NFL. Chris Harris is tremendous and can play the slot in nickel or dime. Safety T.J. Ward plays very well in the box so he can support against the run. Bradley Roby is a really good outside cornerback.

Against the Lions, the Broncos mostly matched up the bigger Talib on Calvin Johnson, the quick Harris on Golden Tate and had Roby on Lance Moore. The Lions couldn’t exploit any of those one-on-one matchups. The Lions had just 290 yards of offense. This week, the Minnesota Vikings are going to have to find a matchup in the passing game they can win, and it won’t be easy to do.

Moving Watt

We’ve talked about how great Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is as an all-around player, and one facet of that is his alignment versatility. In the second quarter last week, there was a stretch of five plays in which Watt lined up at five different spots.

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

The Texans are moving around Watt and last year’s first pick Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney will sometimes line up as a defensive tackle next to Watt in nickel packages. They’ll also show some 4-3 looks with Watt at defensive tackle next to Vince Wilfork and Clowney at defensive end. There were significant snaps in which Watt and Clowney were aligned to the same side. The Texans won’t be predictable, and that’s due in part to Watt’s ability to line up anywhere.

Bradford issues

Going into a game against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford is still struggling with some things. Even though Philadelphia won last week, Bradford still isn’t seeing things clearly. That was evident on the second play of last week’s game when he threw right into the teeth of man free lurk coverage (the interception was dropped and there was a penalty on the play, but you can see that there's no way Bradford should have thrown this).

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

Bradford is aiming the ball, he’s not throwing it comfortably. The Eagles have no intermediate to vertical passing game, which is a function of many factors throughout their offense. And Bradford missed far too many throws last week with very poor ball placement. He’s throwing it as badly as I’ve seen him throw it in the NFL.

Panthers’ creativity

I liked this play from the Carolina Panthers, their first play against the New Orleans Saints last week. It looked like a staple zone-read option, but they added a wrinkle: Corey Brown got the ball on a reverse.

Because Brown had a minus split close to the formation, it was much more quick-hitting than a normal reverse. Also, tight end Greg Olsen had an arc release to lead Brown as a blocker. Brown gained 12 yards. This was a great play to start the game, with its misdirection and deception elements.

(NFL.com screen shot)
(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

- - - - - - -

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: October 3, 2015, 5:30 pm

The Baltimore Ravens' Steve Smith Sr. is one of the toughest men in football, but he's now up against one of the strongest tests possible of his pain tolerance: reports early Saturday morning indicate that Smith has suffered four broken bones.

Smith was injured late in the third quarter of Baltimore's Thursday night victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Defenders Antwon Blake and Lawrence Timmons combined on the hit, and former Smith teammate Mike Mitchell jawed at Smith afterward. That trash-talk was enough for Smith to put Mitchell on his "lifetime hit list."

The initial diagnosis of Smith's back was a contusion, but the more recent examination turned up more significant damage, according to National Football Post. The degree of Smith's availability will be determined by his tolerance for pain.

The exact diagnosis of Smith's injury has not yet been disclosed, but NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the broken bones are ribs:

On #Ravens WR Steve Smith: I'm told it's actually 4 broken ribs, which is considered a short-term injury because... Well because Steve Smith

— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 3, 2015

This is slated to be Smith's last season, and he acknowledged after the Steelers game that he's starting to feel the effects of a career in football.

"It’s probably the first time in my career I feel like I’m 36," he said. "I’m trying to get through tomorrow. I’m trying to make it to the airplane.”

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 3, 2015, 3:02 pm

(AP)It's too early to say definitively what Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will become, but from a skills standpoint and how well he's developing, he has a chance to be a high-level NFL quarterback.

Carr has played very well the past two weeks, and his improvement in his second season is even more impressive because he's working with a new offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave.

It has been a good fit though. Musgrave is putting Carr in positions to succeed with some calls that accentuate Carr's strengths and that opens things up for him.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

Carr is comfortable in empty sets from the shotgun because he’s a quick thrower with a snap release, and he’s used to quick reads. So the Raiders do a lot of that, and they also use a lot of shotgun, play-action bootlegs because that’s Carr’s comfort zone. From the shotgun, the Raiders have multiple looks and use many different backfield run actions to impact second-level defenders that creates passing lanes at the intermediate levels for Carr.

Here's a good example of the Raiders’ play calls opening up lanes for Carr. This came on a 3-yard touchdown by Andre Holmes last week. The shotgun sweep action impacted Cleveland Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby. Dansby moved inside to follow the run action, that removed him from the passing lane, and Holmes came open after he beat the nickel cornerback. This is a great play design.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

Here’s another great play design that resulted in a 40-yard catch by Amari Cooper. It was out of an empty set. The Browns played a man-free concept, with man coverage on the outside and the slot defenders playing outside leverage and funneling things inside. Tight end Lee Smith dragged across the field to occupy the underneath defender on Cooper’s side. That opened the passing lane from Carr to Cooper on the dig route, and then Cooper had a nice run after catch.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

A big concern with Carr his rookie season was that his yards per attempt was very low. I questioned whether he was seeing things well at the intermediate level, which isn’t rare for a rookie. But that’s definitely not the case this season. He is seeing things well and he’s making the throws that are there. Last year he was much more conservative. That’s not the case now.

The Raiders’ vertical game is still coming along, but all the components are there. I think they're continuing toward getting better at that. Carr has a good arm, and Cooper can run every route, including deep routes. On a 68-yard touchdown against the Ravens in Week 2, Cooper ran a great route against Jimmy Smith with a shoulder dip off the line of scrimmage to negate the jam and get Smith on his outside hip, then Cooper stuck hard to the inside before breaking to the corner. Carr found him and it was a long touchdown.

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

(NFL.com screen shot)

Carr and the Raiders offense have made nice strides this season. Carr looks very comfortable, and credit the coaching staff for helping him become so comfortable. Carr rarely plays frenetically, and he doesn’t throw many bad balls at all. He should be an interesting player to watch as he continues to grow.

- - - - - - -

NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.

Author: Greg Cosell
Posted: October 2, 2015, 11:08 pm

In an extensive feature from the Indianapolis Star, Frank Gore spoke openly about the hurdles he has faced dating back to high school that have helped make him the man and the football player he is today at age 32.

A drug-addled mother who passed away. Poverty. Injuries — brutal ones. Heartache.

So when Gore's one and only NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers, let him know they would be moving on from him in the offseason, it was far from the most devastating challenge he'd ever faced. But it did hurt.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

Gore, who signed with the Indianapolis Colts this offseason with the goal of winning a championship, openly talked about his his divorce with the 49ers — where he was one of the most beloved players the past decade — went down and how it affected him.

"The only thing I was hurt by was that I thought we could have done it better," he said of leaving the 49ers after 10 seasons. "Like, no bull----. Just straight up. I don't know if I even wanted to go back. But I would have felt better if we would have sat down and had a conversation. I mean, I was going to test the market no matter what. Me and the head coach [Jim Tomsula] talked and he basically told me I'd be in a certain situation. But I wanted to hear it from the GM [Trent Baalke]."

Gore didn't get that chance, and after a change of heart — nearly signing with the Philadelphia Eagles before veering course — he landed with the Colts. Although Gore 2.0 said he's all in with his new team, he couldn't help but wonder why things went down the way they did in San Francisco.

"I mean, you could let us compete," he said. "You didn't have to say I was automatically going to take the back seat. Put it on me. I mean, bro, I finished last season with 1,100 yards. Every time I got opportunities, I did something with it. So, I felt like, 'Fine, if you want to go with the young guy [Carlos Hyde], [make him] beat me out. It wasn't like I can't play anymore. If he beats me out, I can handle that. You can't play this game forever. I knew I couldn't be there forever. But I was there 10 years and I played every down the same whether we were winning or not."

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Gore doesn't seem like the type to hope for the 49ers to fail, and he's in no position to feel great with the Colts struggling to a 1-2 start, with him having fumbled on the goal line in a brutal home loss to the New York Jets and with quarterback Andrew Luck beat up and perhaps unable to start in Week 4.

You can see why the 49ers would want to give Hyde a chance, but Gore was willing to fight for a job there and prove himself yet again — after having to do it so many times dating back to high school, through college and all through the NFL. And it's hard not to hear the disappointment in his voice over his leaving his former team.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 2, 2015, 7:41 pm

The plan as of Friday afternoon is for Drew Brees to return to the lineup for the New Orleans Saints, who are desperate at 0-3, in Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys.

Saints head coach Sean Payton said after Friday's practice that the plan is to go with Brees, who is battling through a shoulder injury and who missed his first game because of injury as a Saint last week.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

“I think he’s planning on starting, and we’re planning on starting him,” Payton said. “He looked crisp [Friday]. I think he’s going to end up starting, and based on the way the week unfolded each day I felt like he’s made the progress we’re looking for.”

So Brees is starting. We think.

Brees missed the Week 3 game against the Carolina Panthers after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, struggling to throw downfield in the loss. When he couldn't generate enough velocity on his passes through limited practice last week, the Saints shut Brees down and turned to Luke McCown, who played respectably well in the loss to the Panthers.

The Cowboys will be the team with the backup quarterback in this game Sunday night, having turned to Brandon Weeden after Tony Romo went down in Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles and sidelined indefinitely.

Quarterback injuries have been a major story around the NFL this season. Who would have thought that the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck would be less likely to play this week than Brees?

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 2, 2015, 6:24 pm

We’ve seen Andrew Luck take dozens of huge hits, but we’ve always seen him get up. So we think of him as indestructible.

Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano apparently thinks that too. Despite Luck not practicing in full all week due to a shoulder injury, Pagano said he “absolutely” was confident Luck would play on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Colts. Luck is listed as questionable on the injury report, which generally means a player will go, but not necessarily. 

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

Luck wasn’t present at the media portion of Friday’s practice, which raised some red flags. But Pagano said he was limited at practice. The team signed quarterback Josh Johnson, but Pagano said that was just to keep all bases covered. Still, all of it makes you wonder what Luck's status really is. 

Matt Hasselbeck, who turned 40 on Sept. 25, would start if Luck can’t. That would be his first start since 2012. This is his third season with the Colts, and he has thrown 56 regular-season passes for Indianapolis.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

The Colts are obviously hopeful Luck can go, because at 1-2 they can’t afford to fall into too deep a hole (although, one could argue no hole is too deep in the terrible AFC South). However, the Colts will also have to weigh the risk of starting their banged up franchise player behind a terrible offensive line. The entire Indianapolis offense would suffer without Luck, but how much? What’s the drop-off from Luck to his 40-year-old backup?

The Colts hope they don’t have to find out. Pagano remains publicly confident Luck will play. There is some real intrigue for 90 minutes before Sunday’s game, when the Colts deliver their inactives list.

- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 2, 2015, 5:32 pm

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Week 4 of the NFL season is upon us, and that means it's time to look ahead and see what games are worth watching. This week ... well, it's not great. Lots of blowouts are expected, lots of marquee players and teams (New England) are on the shelf. But hey, it's the NFL, and that means it's still worth a watch. Join Kevin Kaduk, Frank Schwab, and Jay Busbee as we discuss all the goings-on in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.

Thanks for listening to the Grandstanding podcast with Jay Busbee and Kevin Kaduk. Hit us up on Twitter (@kevinkaduk and @jaybusbee) Facebook (Kaduk here, Busbee here) or via the hashtag #grandstanding. See you next ep!

[Music by Chris Salmon and Tobin Summerfield]

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

Author: Jay Busbee
Posted: October 2, 2015, 4:25 pm

Two bits of news from Friday should have Indianapolis Colts fans nervous.

First, the Colts signed free-agent quarterback Josh Johnson to the active roster — a curious move this late in the week — with Andrew Luck listed as questionable for Week 4 with a shoulder injury.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

Second, Luck did not practice Friday (after being a limited participant on Wednesday and Thursday) in advance of the Colts' game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Luck never has a missed a game in his four-plus NFL seasons, but he's in real doubt for Sunday. Matt Hasselbeck, who celebrated his 40th birthday last week, would replace Luck and start his first game since Week 9 of the 2012 season, when he was a member of the Tennessee Titans.

With the Colts, Hasselbeck has completed 37-of-56 passes for 431 yards, two touchdown passes and one interception over seven games the past three seasons in mop-up duty.

Luck has been battered behind a shaky Colts offensive line this season, being hit 11 times alone in the home loss to the New York Jets, and was on pace for a career high in rushing attempt through three games. He has the league's lowest passing rating among full-time starters.

The Colts also signed another quarterback, Alex Tanney, to their practice squad earlier in the week.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 2, 2015, 3:42 pm

The Baltimore Ravens were favored by 2.5 points at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night.

So many folks were either baffled or thrilled by one of the most stupefying coaching games of the season (well, at least the ones that didn't involve Andy Reid handing it off for no reason with less than a minute to go). I was on the Steelers side, so let's take a look at how the Steelers blew this one, shall we?

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

2:29 left, fourth quarter: On fourth and 5, the Steelers trotted out Josh Scobee for a 49-yard field goal. I didn't get this when it was happening. He's a shaky kicker, in a stadium that's notoriously tough on kickers. If Scobee missed, the Ravens don't need to get much to get in range for their great kicker, Justin Tucker. Even if Scobee makes it the game isn't over; you're just up 6 points. The worst option was kicking a field goal. Punting here is insanely conservative but I still understand that better than a field-goal attempt. They kicked a field goal. Scobee missed.

2:04 left, fourth quarter: The Steelers forced a turnover on downs. If you're Pittsburgh you know you can't just try another long field goal with Scobee. With exactly 2:04 left, you can attempt a pass that will burn four seconds. All you're doing by running is using four seconds. Four. On this possession you can't just run it straight into the line three times to kick a long field goal. The Steelers ran for the first of three times right into the line.

1:06 left, fourth quarter: When Scobee came out for a 41-yarder, did you think he was going to make it? Me either. Again, once he misses, the Ravens' field position isn't bad and they don't need a ton of yards for Tucker. Scobee missed. Tucker sent the game to overtime.

12:37 left, overtime: The Steelers have one of the best running backs in the NFL, Le'Veon Bell, and one of the best receivers, Antonio Brown. They called a quarterback sweep on fourth and 2 for their 35-year-old backup quarterback, Michael Vick. Vick was stuffed. What the heck was that? The whole game, offensive coordinator Todd Haley called it like he'd break out in hives if Vick had to throw it more than 4 yards downfield. This was another "we can't trust Vick to pass" moment. But they trusted him to run. Whatever.

(Getty Images)9:45 left, overtime: Fourth and 1. For all the arguing Phil Simms and Jim Nantz did on CBS for trying a 50-yard field goal, they're wrong. The odds of the Steelers getting 1 yard are far, far, far better than Scobee (4-for-8 at home this season) nailing a 51-yard field goal. I don't even know why Simms and Nantz would think twice about this, and have no idea why we heard about it for 20 minutes after the decision. Easy choice to go for it. And I don't hate the out route to Brown. He was open. Vick just blew the pass. Maybe that's why Haley was allergic to having Vick throw anything downfield.

So that's how you take a game that you had a 93.8 percent chance to win (according to pro-football-reference.com), after James Harrison's fourth-and-10 sack with 2:04 left in regulation and lose it.

Here are the against the spread picks for Week 4. Hope you got a lucky Ravens win to start your week:

Steelers (+2.5) over Ravens (picked Thursday): Moving on.

Jets (-1) over Dolphins: I'd like to see the Dolphins play hard once this season before I pick them again.

Texans (+6.5) over Falcons: I like the Falcons' offense, they're playing well, but it just seems like a few too many points.

Giants (+6) over Bills: The Giants had a few extra days to prepare, if you're being very positive you can say they should be 3-0, and the backdoor cover should be open for the Giants' offense even if they're behind late.

Bears (+2.5) over Raiders: Not sure I'm willing to buy the Raiders as a road favorite against anyone yet. And yes, the Bears punted 10 times on 10 possessions last week ... against the Seahawks. News flash: The Raiders' defense is not Seattle's defense.

(AP)Bengals (-4) over Chiefs: If I'm going to believe the Bengals are legit, I also have to buy into them handling business in games like these.

Jaguars (+9) over Colts: Haven't seen anything from the Colts to get me to lay 9 points with them against anyone. Not to mention the Andrew Luck injury situation.

Buccaneers (+3) over Panthers: Tampa Bay is just that team (along with the Rams) that we never know if they'll show up or not. I have no idea what to make of the Bucs in this game. I'll just take the home dog.

Redskins (+3) over Eagles: Washington has played two home games and battled hard in both, going 1-1. The Redskins looked really bad last Thursday night against the Giants, but that happens on the short week sometimes. I don't think Washington is any good, but I'm not sure the Eagles are right now either. There's also a chance of terrible weather, and I'd rather have the points if that's the case.

Chargers (-7.5) over Browns: Just because the Chargers lost tough back-to-back road games doesn't make them a bad team. The Browns, on the other hand, might be a bad team.

Vikings (+6.5) over Broncos: I think Minnesota has a good shot at an upset here. The Broncos' defense is great, I'm not sure yet the offense is, and most of their games will be low-scoring grinders. The Vikings should be in it at the end.

Rams (+6.5) over Cardinals: If I could pass every Rams game I would. When a team is this talented and this poorly coached, you can't predict them.

49ers (+8.5) over Packers: A week ago, the line for 49ers at Cardinals was 6.5 points. Now they come home (so swing the normal 3-point home-field advantage in the 49ers' way instead of against them), and the line is 2 points higher? Is Green Bay rated 8 points higher than Arizona? I highly doubt that. It means that there's a huge overreaction to the 49ers looking awful a week ago.

Cowboys (off) over Saints: No line on the Yahoo Pro Football Pick'em because we don't know yet if Drew Brees will play. I'll go with the Cowboys either way, because I don't think Brees will be 100 percent yet if he plays, and I can't imagine the Cowboys make the mistake of employing such a conservative passing game plan a second week in a row.

Seahawks (-9.5) over Lions: Seattle on a Monday night? I don't like any road team's chances in that atmosphere, much less an 0-3 Lions team that seems lost on offense.

Last week: 10-6
Season to date: 28-20-1

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports


- - - - - - -

Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

Author: Frank Schwab
Posted: October 2, 2015, 3:27 pm

The Mayor of London expressed "high hopes" the city could land an NFL team after the league signed a 10-year agreement to ensure games will played in an English Premier League stadium well into the next decade, and another high-profile British politician is doubling down — with a terrible football pun, no less.

First Secretary of State George Osborne has some confusing titles for those of us on the Stateside of the pond, including Chancellor of the Exchequeur and Second Lord of the Treasury, but all you really need to know about the Conservative Party politician is among the favorites to be England's next Prime Minister.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

So, when Osborne tells Reuters the following about London's NFL chances, it carries some weight:

"I want London to be the global sporting capital," Osborne said. "That's why I am supporting the NFL to bring one of their 32 teams to London permanently.

"This would be a huge boost to our capital city. I'm doing everything I can to make it happen so that London scores a touchdown."

Get it! "London scores a touchdown." That's a football reference! The Brits really do know their football. As much as you want him to be, Osborne is not related to Ozzy Osbourne, even if he's driving the NFL's crazy train to London. Puns aside, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would also like to export a team to London, despite the troublesome travel and financial logistics of moving a team 3,000 miles away.

Asked for further comment, Osborne probably said, "We're in a no-hurry offense, but it's four-down territory, and we're not punting on this one. We're not calling any audibles, and we're moving the chains."

The first of three NFL games this season at London's Wembley Stadium will take place on Sunday with an AFC East showdown between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Osborne met with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, Jets owner Woody Johnson and NFL executive vice president Mark Waller this week.

Osborne was also one of several British officials to spend time with NFL Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Curtis Martin, but it was Prince Harry who finally made an actually funny joke — yelling, "Laces out, Dan," while playing catch with Marino in a reference to the popular "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" scene.

That's Prince Harry (in the middle) yelling "laces out, Dan!" while playing catch with Dan Marino. #NFLUKhttps://t.co/YuVyEQTsAZ

— NFL UK (@nfl_uk) October 1, 2015

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills play in London on Oct. 25 in a game that will be live-streamed on Yahoo. The Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions complete the ninth annual London series on Nov. 1.

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 2, 2015, 3:21 pm

The Washington Redskins are an easy mark for their equal mix of tone-deaf management, their perplexing personnel decisions and their incompetence on the field.

So it's only fair that we recognize what appears to be one of the team's true good people.

As profiled by Washington Post's Dan Steinberg, Redskins running back Alfred Morris has an unusual but wonderful pre-game routine before games at FedEx Field. Morris spends time just chatting and hanging out with some of the folks who work for the team in guests services or security.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

It's a ritual Morris started as a sixth-round pick in 2012 when he was a sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, a player who was just trying to make the roster and not yet the one who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first three full seasons.

Morris spends time with what he calls his "stadium fam," usually a 20-minute chit-chat session about whatever comes up, per Steinberg: fishing, the weather, the latest television shows, the previous day’s college football action, family life ... whatever.

“We just talk about regular things, regular life,” said Lorenzo Parker, a guest-services employee.

Morris has formed a true friendship with this group of regular folks, and they stay connected in the offseasons, even going to big group dinners. This is a player who has remained humble despite NFL success, never forgetting where he came from and maintaining relationships with regular joes. They typically cap their pre-game hangout with a little prayer session before Morris heads back into the locker room to suit up for the game to be played in a few hours' time.

Rookie running back Matt Jones has cut into Morris' time this season, and yet he refuses to grumble about it, even noting how proud Morris is of Jones and how he has tried to mentor the third-round pick out of Florida.

“I’m just paying it forward,” Morris said. “I had older guys who would do the same thing for me, not only in this world but in college as well, so I just always want to give that back. I know we’re competing, that’s easy, but just to be able to help each other, I think it’s definitely been paying off. … I’m happy for him. I really am.”

Unless Hurricane Joaquim postpones the game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Morris likely will do the same on Sunday with his friends. He doesn't see it as a big deal, and Morris sounds almost sheepish when asked about it — as if he's doing anything but what he would like to do.

“I mean, I’m a person just like anybody else. You’re  a person; I’m a person; but just because I play a game, they elevate me,” Morris said. “I’m a normal, everyday person; I just happen to play football in the NFL. … I ain’t no better than the next person. That’s just the way I look at life, man. In God’s eyes, we’re all equal, so why should I act like I’m better than anybody else when I’m not?”

And it's a heck of a way to look at life.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 2, 2015, 3:14 pm

At one point during his team's 23-20 overtime victory on Thursday night, veteran Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. just grabbed young Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Antwon Blake's jersey and stared blankly until he felt like releasing it. This is what Smith does. He establishes dominance.

So, when a hard hit to Smith's lower back late in the third quarter sent him to the sidelines for the remainder of the game, he didn't take too kindly to former Carolina Panthers teammate Mike Mitchell talking some trash after the safety's Steelers defense stopped Smith a yard shy of the first down.

Here's how Smith reacted to the play with reporters in the aftermath of his team's first win of the season.

“I got speared in the back by an ex-teammate,” Smith said. “I kind of know his character, who he is. After he hit me he said, ‘How do you like that?’

“The best thing I could do without threatening him and saying that I will assault him when I see him, is I’ll say I look forward to playing him again. He’s on my lifetime hit list.”

But while Mitchell is guilty of racking up $40,000 in fines during the 2013 season and leveling a hit to Smith's head last year, according to Baltimore's team website, he did not actually spear Smith on Thursday night. Replay of the video shows Blake and Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons combined for the hit that thankfully only delivered a lower back contusion, according ot our own Eric Edholm.

#Ravens WR Steve Smith Sr. had X-ray, per source: No damage, just a contusion. Looked like bad kidney shot.

— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) October 2, 2015

Mitchell can be seen coming in after the play to offer some choice words. That was after Smith got to his feet and before he doubled over in pain on his way back to the huddle, so perhaps he should be partially excused. But we're guessing Smith won't be pardoning him from his so-called "hit list" any time soon.

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

The vengeful veteran wideout is, after all, one of the game's great wordsmiths. The "ice up, son" comment directed toward then-New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib in 2013 was just one of many great lines during his 15-year career. For one week, at least, Smith will be doing the icing, saying this in response to a question about his expected availability for Week 5: "It’s probably the first time in my career I feel like I’m 36. I’m trying to get through tomorrow. I’m trying to make it to the airplane.”

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 2, 2015, 2:19 pm

In the final minutes of Thursday's night's game, Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Josh Scobee missed a pair of field goals that likely would've sent the rival Baltimore Ravens to an 0-4 record. Instead, Ravens counterpart Justin Tucker made a 42-yard attempt to tie the game with three seconds left in regulation and a 52-yarder in overtime to seal a 23-20 victory against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers.

Let's go now to noted Pittsburgh fan Calvin Broadus or Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion or whatever he's calling himself now for his latest not-safe-for-children reaction on Instagram. Seriously, let's hear it.

"Get the [expletive] out of here Josh Scobee. We need to get rid of that [expletive]. He was [expletive] sorry in Jacksonville; he's sorry with us. Get his [expletive] out of here. Bye, bye, [expletive]. Sorry [expletive] you."

The internet reaction from Steelers faithful, anybody who had Pittsburgh covering the 2.5-point spread in their pick 'em league and anyone crazy enough to have Scobee on their fantasy team was no better. 

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

"Who is: Josh Scobee?" #JeopardySports pic.twitter.com/KRK4CcXAOV

— Jeopardy! Sports (@JeopardySports) October 2, 2015

Hah. Look at the Josh Scobee Wikipedia page: "most likely to be cut after 10/1/15 game." #Steelers pic.twitter.com/HwOGdoybNU

— David Wade (@davidwade) October 2, 2015

Josh Scobee's next play call... pic.twitter.com/pOtvzF2cqD

— Football Reactions (@NFLReaction) October 2, 2015

Hey Scobee... How many field goals have you missed this season? pic.twitter.com/NO5OeuBBJY

— Tim Williams (@realtimwilliams) October 2, 2015

Scobee pic.twitter.com/k8rdbzI19r

— Justin (@ChiefFlocka) October 2, 2015

Josh Scobee pic.twitter.com/9hmxIoHUlG

— Jordie (@BarstoolJordie) October 2, 2015

Picture of Josh Scobee..... pic.twitter.com/YBXRrFC6NM

— Tha Carter V (@ManOfSteele_07) October 2, 2015

Still a better kicker the Josh Scobee pic.twitter.com/Zkm7NLFwaD

— M&M (@FuSheekie) October 2, 2015

Have no fear SCOBEE is here! pic.twitter.com/iGxrZ7n7BV

— ACE G0nE WiLD (@NoGraceAce) October 2, 2015

Justin Tucker and Josh Scobee get their own DirecTV ad ... pic.twitter.com/nFZkpy3Rad

— Faux John Madden (@FauxJohnMadden) October 2, 2015

Scobee has now missed 10 field goals since the start of last year — tied with Minnesota Vikings kicker Blair Walsh for the most since the 2014 NFL season began. After successful kicks from 45 and 36 yards in the first half on Thursday, his misses came just 1:13 apart from 49 and 41 yards in the fourth quarter.

As a result, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin steered clear of his kicker in overtime, choosing instead to throw on fourth-and-1 from the 33-yard line — a curious decision with Le'Veon Bell at running back. Asked afterwards if he would've like a shot at redemption, Scobee told reporters he understood the decision.

"Oh yeah, absolutely. I wanted to redeem myself, but I didn’t get it. I understand it. I just have to move on."

Listen to Yahoo Sports' Grandstanding podcast for more NFL coverage:

Grandstanding: A Yahoo Sports podcast
Subscribe via iTunes or via RSS feed

Now, the Steelers could be looking for their fourth kicker of the season. Longtime starter Shaun Siusham, who monly missed three field goals all of last year, tore his left ACL in the preseason. Three weeks later, replacement Garrett Hartley pulled his hamstring, and Pittsburgh then traded a 2016 sixth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguards for Scobee. His future on the Steelers seems doubtful after what Tomlin told reporters in response to a question about the possibility of exploring new kickers before Week 5.

"We have to turn the stones over. We have to find ways to win games. Obviously, that’s an element of it. It was an element of the outcome tonight."

Meanwhile, Tucker twisted the knife for Steelers fans a bit when he described his Heinz Field record-tying 52-yard game-winning field goal in overtime to a reporter on the field. "As I'm lining the ball up, I see their fans leaving the stands," said the Ravens kicker, "so if they know, then we certainly know."

More NFL coverage on Yahoo Sports

- - - - - - -

Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

Author: Ben Rohrbach
Posted: October 2, 2015, 1:02 pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers put their faith in Michael Vick and Josh Scobee, two past-their-prime veterans who were not on the team before August, and it cost them in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

By game's end, it was easier to count what the Ravens had — a kicker and a defense they trusted, plus Justin Forsett — than what they didn't. The Ravens avoided their first four-game losing streak under John Harbaugh in an improbable turn of events.

Everything that could have gone wrong did for Baltimore much of Thursday night.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

A team already hamstrung with offensive shortcomings coming into the game lost receivers Steve Smith Sr., who entered the game third in the league in receiving, and Michael Campanaro (rushing TD on a reverse on Thursday, plus two key catches) to injuries. Smith took a huge shot to the kidney in the third quarter and never returned, and Campanaro was carted off with a back injury.

That left quarterback Joe Flacco in a compromised position, especially with his offensive line letting him down and the Steelers' defense becoming more aggressive the more they could smell out that weakness. Flacco was hardly elite on Thursday, throwing a bad pick, leaving the ball exposed on a fumble in his own end of the field and getting stuffed on a fourth-down sneak attempt late in the fourth quarter.

But he took advantage of the Steelers blowing two chances to ice the game in regulation, both ending in missed field-goal attempts by Scobee in the final 2:29 of the fourth quarter. (The Steelers also bailed out the Ravens with a timeout prior to a key third-and-5, followed by Vick’s incompletion and the Scobee miss from 49 yards out; and the referees put more time on the clock prior to the 2-minute warning, which helped the Ravens immensely.)

Flacco hit rookie receiver Darren Waller and then Kamar Aiken in the final minute of regulation for two huge receptions, and it set up a Justin Tucker field goal to tie the game at 20-20 with 3 seconds left and send it to OT. Flacco took several big shots all game from the Steelers, who had five sacks and eight QB hits as they blitzed furiously — especially late in the game.

But the Steelers failed to take advantage of two good chances in overtime, which cost them chances to win. Put this game on the shoulder of head coach Mike Tomlin and his curious game-management decisions.

A Ravens defense that played some of its best ball of the season in Week 4 — 62 yards allowed in the second half — looked worn down after the emotional rescue, perhaps a bit gassed by chasing down Vick and Le'Veon Bell (29 touches, 150 yards) all game. Bell frustrated the Ravens with his patient runs and incredible vision, especially on his TD run sprung by a Vick block and on a brilliant 22-yard run in overtime in which he looked hemmed in for a loss.

So facing a fourth-and-2 from the Baltimore 39-yard line, the Steelers forgot all that. They were stopped as Vick was stoned on a oddly designed sweep. Why run that when you have Bell? It was an awful decision by Tomlin, who played his gut and lost the battle.

And then the Steelers went on to lose the war. The Ravens punted after a three-and-out, and Antonio Brown brought back the return 29 yards and then hauled in a 17-yard pass after being kept in check most of the game. The Ravens were on their heels and yet held Bell to a yard on third-and-2 (a great stop by Ravens safety Will Hill there) and watched Vick — who threw some dangerously off-target passes and turned cold after a solid first half — throw high to Brown on fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 33-yard line.

Again, no Bell.

If your excuse is that your kicker stinks, too bad.

If you're worried about Bell's workload, then maybe DeAngelo Williams should have gotten more than two carries in the game, both of which came in the opening series of each half.

Or if you're just guessing out there, as it appeared Tomlin was doing, you have problems.

Did he not trust Bell? Likely not. More likely it was an offensive line that started to wear down as the Steelers gained only 113 yards on their nine drives in the second half and overtime.

The Ravens took over, and Justin Forsett helped cap off a brave effort (27 carries, 150 yards) with five runs to help set up Justin Tucker for the game-winning 52-yard kick.

The Ravens — somehow — are alive at 1-3 in a strange division (and games ahead against the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers) and the Steelers not much ahead of them at 2-2 but now with a key head-to-head loss. Plus, it raises the question of the sustainability of Vick, who was accurate on short stuff early but showed his limitations, even with good playmakers at his disposal, in this offense while Ben Roethlisberger is out.

The Steelers had no business winning this game, and the Ravens had no business winning it, and yet that's exactly what happened. Bad coaching, bad kicking and a lack of trust killed the Steelers on their home field. Guts and clutch plays saved the Ravens from their season being over on Oct. 1.

Rarely do games feel this strange and critical in Week 4.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 2, 2015, 4:13 am

When we considered whether Mike Vick could be an adequate replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, we admit we didn't consider Vick's blocking skills on the positive side of the ledger.

Consider it reconsidered.

[Yahoo Daily Fantasy Football: Enter our $1 Million Week 4 contest]

Watch the 35-year-old Vick get out in front of Le'Veon Bell's reversal-of-field run and help escort him into the end zone by pancaking Baltimore Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb.

If you're Webb, that's bad. Embarrassing, even. Here's another view:

Vick block DOT gif #Steelers pic.twitter.com/lHL5tDXHJz

— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) October 2, 2015

The play should have been called back. Fullback Will Johnson got away with a sumo-style takedown as Bell started to cut back. But Vick got his moment of glory in his first start replacing Big Ben before it all fell apart in overtime in the Ravens' 23-20 victory.

- - - - - - -

Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm

Author: Eric Edholm
Posted: October 2, 2015, 1:45 am

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Looking for older news? Search in the archive