5 Things We Learned: Browns And Seahawks And Lions, Oh My!
By: Jonathan Comey
Cold Hard Football Facts' Pigskin Observer (@colonelcomey)
1. Dude. Doesn’t. Lose.
Russell Wilson has been proving numbers (i.e. 5-foot-10) don’t lie for his entire NFL career.
Sunday, in the Seahawks’ remarkable 23-20 overtime win in Houston, he did it again.
His passer rating was 49.7, but Wilson has news for the math geeks out there: sometimes your formula sucks donkey balls. On the road, with 60 percent of his offensive line out and the Texans’ front ripping out of their letterman jackets with barely restrained fury, he did what he always does.
Like Tim Tebow with the ability to pass, like Robert Griffin III without fear, like Doug Flutie without the bias, he willed this Seahawks team to their fourth win to open the season, his ninth in a row in the regular season. He’s led Seattle to at least 20 points in 15 straight games including playoffs, and when you play great defense (Richard Sherman’s fourth-quarter pick-six was a back-breaker for Houston), 20 is enough.
Wilson did it with his legs, running 10 times for 77 but keeping countless plays alive as well. A less mobile or less-confident QB would have had zero chance to win this game, but Wilson shows that one-of-a-kind ability game in and game out.
Despite being down 17 at the half, he kept his NFL streak of never losing by more than seven in pre-post-regular season to 30 and counting.
Russell Wilson. Third-round pick. That’ll learn em.
2. Shocker: The Cleveland Browns are tied for first in the AFC North. More shocking? They have a chance to stay there.
First-place Browns. Haven’t been able to say that this late in the season since … um … (clicks through 58 pages of pro-football-reference.com) … Week 4 of 2002, when they were tied with Pittsburgh at 2-2.
And if you were setting odds on this happening, when they were 0-2 and facing a trip to Minnesota, 500-to-1 would have been a good place to start.
But there they are, in contention, thanks largely to the failures of their mates.
The Ravens apparently believed that they had to make Joe Flacco earn every penny of his fortune Sunday – 54 dropbacks, 9 called runs. On a day that they forced SIX turnovers, they lost 23-20 in Buffalo. That doesn’t say much about the state of this offense.
Pittsburgh is on life support, which is more than they should be at 0-4. But it’s tough to see them going 9-3 the rest of the way.
And Cincinnati couldn’t accomplish anything against a Browns defense that was two steps ahead of where Green Bay was in Week 3.
So why not Cleveland?
The Browns came into the game allowing 4.2 yards a carry, which is exceptional, and they actually matched it in holding Cincinnati to 4.2. Brian Hoyer’s no star, but if the Browns defense can continue on that type of pace he won’t have to be. Just play like a discounted version of his mentor Tom Brady; short throws, low risk, hit the tight ends in the red zone. He threw 38 passes and no picks Sunday, and that’ll win the Browns lots of games.
Next week: host Buffalo on Thursday night. A win? First place, all by their lonesome. Crazy.
3. Yes, the Steelers and Giants are 0-4, but Jacksonville has given new meaning to what it means to be 0-4.
It’s tough to feel too bad for fans of the Steelers and Giants – sure, hope is slipping away fast, but it’s still technically there. And at least there are plenty of fond memories, and foundations for the future.
Then you have the Jags.
At first blush, it’s hard to imagine a team has been less competitive than the Jaguars through four weeks of a season. They just lost 28-2, 19-9, 45-17 and 37-3 (Sunday at home vs. Indy). In no game did they have a shot to win after halftime; in no game did they succeed in any phase of the game.
Compare them to the winless 2008 Lions, who started off losing 34-21, 48-25, 31-13 and 34-7. That’s pretty bad, but at least they were moving the ball. These Jags are a better doppelganger with the winless 1976 Bucs, who started 20-0, 23-0, 14-9 and 42-17.
On Sunday, they were outgained 437-205, committed 9 penalties and went 2-of-11 on third down. They did nothing well, and haven’t all season.
In two weeks, they travel to Denver, and we could see the first 30-point line in NFL history. We’d take Denver.
4. The fans got their money’s worth in Detroit.
Times are tough in Detroit unless you’re a sports fan, where the Tigers are playoff-bound, hockey season’s about to start and the first-place Lions just put on a hell of a show in beating the Bears 40-32.
It would have been even better without the 16 garbage-time points from Chicago, but that only added to the entertainment value; at no point in the second half was there a concern about losing.
There were seven touchdowns, seven field goals, seven turnovers and seven penalties – and two two-point conversions, for spice. The Lions scored on the ground, through the air and on defense. All three stars rewarded Lions fantasy homers with touchdowns (Bush, Johnson, Stafford), and linebacker Stephen Tulloch even filled up the stat sheet on defense (14 tackles, a sack).
Oh, and they beat the Bears to share the NFC North lead at 3-1.
So that’s the good news. The bad news is that four of their next six are on the road, and the two home games are against solid Cincinnati and Dallas. And the other bad news is that they’ve allowed 24, 25, 20 and 32 points in four games. And the other bad news is that they’re the Lions.
But on this day, none of it matters – and when you’re a Lions fan, that’s a good thing.
5. In other news …
In the OT in Houston, Seattle’s Golden Tate fielded a punt at his 5, then, after a penalty, fielded one on the goalline. He ran both out, which seems to go against everything we learned the last 50 years, and on the second one he sparked the game-winning drive with a return to the 33. …
Tampa Bay is 0-4, but they can play some defense. They have made all four opponents’ offense look bad, but unfortunately they’ve been worse on their side. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan has some splainin’ to do...
You’ve got to think the Benjarvus Green-Ellis era is over in Cincinnati; he’s got 46 carries for 130 yards in four games, and Giovani Bernard (4.8 avg.) is a better receiver and runner. ..
Who the f--- greenlit Gene Simmons to sing the national anthem at Wembley? Anyone who’s hoping the NFL won’t expand to Europe had to be happy to see that obvious attempt at sabotage. …
Trent Richardson in two games with Indy looks a lot like the guy from Cleveland – 33 carries, 95 yards, no big runs. …
Reggie Wayne had five catches for 100 yards; he’s on pace for 88-1,200-8 this year, which is suspiciously like all of his other seasons. Not bad for a guy who turns 35 in two months. …
That was a huge win for the Cardinals – they played three of their first four on the road and still managed to go 2-2, no small feat for a team thought of as the worst in the NFC back in August.