Andrew Luck shows he is still a quarterback for crunch time

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Green Bay Packers

Take two quarterbacks. QB1 throws for 281 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

QB2 throws for 297 yards, three scores and one pick. You can figure out what happens by the setup: the second QB trailed by as many as 18 points, and never got a chance to drive for the winning score in a 31-26 loss.

Andrew Luck was that first quarterback. Aaron Rodgers was the second. Both teams continued to struggle in their Week 9 game, but the Colts held on to beat the Packers after building a big lead.

Neither quarterback has been perfect all season. Luck, whose Colts are only 4-5 after the win, has had an up and down year. He’s had QB ratings north of 100 in just three games, but also led his team to fourth-quarter comebacks against the Chargers, Bears and Titans. But in crunch time on Sunday evening, Luck’s passing allowed Indianapolis breathing room. Needing to run three and a half minutes off the clock after the Packers made it a one-score game, Luck hit Jack Doyle for 20 yards on 3rd and 10, then found TY Hilton for 27 yards to ice it at the two-minute warning.

On the other side, the Packers fell into a 7-0 hole when Jordan Todman returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. Rodgers’ only real blip on the day was an interception in Colts territory on the first drive of the second half, but things still didn’t go the Packers’ way: Mason Crosby missed a field goal. The Packers punted on consecutive possessions to end the first half. But Rodgers tossed touchdowns to Davante Adams and Randall Cobb on Green Bay’s final two drives — enough to bring the Packers within striking distance, but not enough for the win. The Packers are now 4-4, still third in the NFC North.

Quote of the week

We’ve got a great luxury and wonderful problem to have. We’ve got some real talent at our quarterback position. I think Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks that has played this game. My real regret would be to have had him here and not win a Super Bowl with him. He’s that talented. And then I look at Dak and how he’s playing, his future. I just don’t have a problem with this situation.

That was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones after the Cowboys routed the Browns, 35-10, to improve to 7-1 on the season. They’re currently the top seed in the NFC. They’re tied with the Patriots for the best record in the NFL. And Dak Prescott — who went 21-of-27 for 247 yards and three touchdowns in Sunday’s win — has thrown 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. But he’s only playing because Tony Romo got hurt in preseason. On a normal team, Prescott would absolutely start for the rest of the season. But this is the Cowboys, and Jones really cares about Tony Romo. He’s already hedging about getting Romo a Super Bowl win. It may be moot, however: Romo is only in the beginning stages of his return.

Stat of the week

158 yards. A week after being benched for fumbling, Mark Ingram ran for 158 yards on 10 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown. Tim Hightower, as predicted, got the bulk of the carries for the Saints, rushing 23 times for 87 yards. The Saints ran for 248 yards — their highest total of the season by more than 100 yards. Of course, they were playing against the 49ers — a team that Football Outsiders says has the 30th-worst rush defense and has given up more than 200 yards rushing three times this year.

Fantasy player of the week

Melvin Gordon, Chargers. Gordon was a high pick in fantasy drafts last year as a rookie, and ended up a huge bust. He rushed for just 641 yards and didn’t score a touchdown. But fantasy players who held onto him in dynasty leagues or drafted him this season are reaping the rewards. In San Diego’s 43-35 win over the Titans on Sunday, Gordon rushed for 196 yards and a touchdown. He also caught four passes for 65 yards.

Meanwhile, the Chargers remain one of the most interesting teams in the league. They blew second-half leads in all four losses in their 1-4 start, and have been ravaged by injuries. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they’re 4-5 while everyone else in the AFC West has a winning record.

Video of the week

The Steelers could do nothing offensively for the first three quarters. But after the Ravens returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, Ben Roethlisberger led a nine-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown that ended with a TD pass to Antonio Brown, then ran it in from four yards out to cut it to a one-score game with 48 seconds to play. The Steelers would need to recover an onside kick next to keep the game alive.

Chris Boswell attempted to fool the Ravens by stepping past the ball and kicking with his legs crossed with his opposite leg. In soccer, that’s called a rabona. In the NFL today, it didn’t work. He knocked the ball into his own leg, then effectively downed it after just a yard when he kicked it downfield. The Ravens won, 21-14. It was such a hilarious attempt that it was the most memorable play in a game that included a Mike Wallace 95-yard touchdown reception. Roethlisberger looked just so-so (264 yards passing, one TD, one pick) in his first game back from injury, while Le’Veon Bell had just 32 yards rushing. Both teams are 4-4.

Elsewhere around the league

— It looked like the Minnesota Vikings were going to win when tight end Rhett Ellison took a jet sweep into the end zone from a yard out with 23 seconds left. But Matt Stafford drove the Lions 35 yards and Matt Prater hit a 58-yard field goal at the gun to send the game into overtime. Detroit got the ball first in overtime, and Golden Tate broke two tackles on the sideline and jumped into the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown and the stunning road victory.

It was a defensive game, with each team getting into the end zone twice. Minnesota could’ve won in regulation, but Blair Walsh missed an extra point after the Vikings’ first score — allowing Detroit to drive for the game-tying field goal. After a 1-3 start, the Lions are just a half-game out of first in the NFC North at 5-4.

— Travis Kelce was ejected from the Chiefs’ 19-14 win over the Jaguars after a bizarre sequence in the third quarter. Nick Foles, playing in place of injured starter Alex Smith, threw a pass to Kelce in the end zone. It fell incomplete, but Kelce thought he was a victim of pass interference. He argued with the referees, and even did John Cena’s “U Can’t C Me” taunt from WWE. He got a 15-yard flag. After seeing that he’d been penalized for his argument, he threw his towel at a second official. That ref then threw his hat in the air, and another ref threw a flag.

Kelce was ejected. “I can’t throw my flag on the ref but he can throw his all day long,” he said postgame, which sounds like he’s learned his lesson. He was more contrite later: “I apologize to everyone that had to witness my actions on the field today… it was unprofessional and unsportsmanlike. A missed call is just that, missed. No matter how much frustration builds on the field, the refs don’t deserve that kind of response.”

— The Jets went down 23-27 to the Dolphins in a game that could – and perhaps should – spell the end of the Ryan Fitzpatrick era in New York. He tossed another couple of interceptions in the loss, although he wasn’t helped by some costly penalties from his team-mates. But with the Jets now at 3-6, their season is all but over and Fitzpatrick clearly isn’t repeating the form he showed last year. Todd Bowles may as well put in Bryce Petty to see if he has the potential to be a competent starter in the league.

— Helped by a few early Carson Wentz interceptions, Eli Manning threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns on a day where he also didn’t have his best. The Eagles picked him off twice in the fourth quarter; the second pick gave them a chance to win the game. But Wentz could only get the Eagles as far as the Giants 17, and New York held on for a 28-13 victory.

Odell Beckham Jr only caught four passes for 46 yards, but two of them went for scores. Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis had the other scores for the Giants, who improved to 5-3 on the year and moved into second in the NFC East. The Eagles, who started 3-0, are now 4-4 and in last place in the division. Wentz threw interceptions on back-to-back passes early in the first quarter; both turnovers led to Giants touchdowns. He did end up throwing for 364 yards, but the Eagles 3-0 start seems worlds away now.

— The Oakland Raiders’ best start in ages continued with a Sunday night win over the Broncos, 30-20. Latavius Murray lead the way for Oakland with 114 yards rushing and three 1-yard touchdown runs. The team rushed for 218 yards overall and committed just (‘just’) eight penalties a week after setting the NFL record for infractions with 24. The Broncos rushed for 33 yards, and fell to 6-3. Oakland is 7-2, first in the division and the No2 seed in the AFC.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dan McQuade, for theguardian.com on Monday 7th November 2016 12.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

 

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