Another week of NFL football, another set of riveting games.
The action kicked off Thursday night with the Baltimore Ravens 40-0 rout of the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens improved their record to 4-4 with this game and showed that they are not to be taken lightly, despite not being a top-tier team.
The Baltimore defense was particularly strong, allowing zero points and having two pick-sixes. It wasn’t the most thrilling game of the week, but it was a statement game for the Ravens. This was a must-win game for Baltimore in order to stay relevant in the AFC North, since the Pittsburgh Steelers are leading the division with a 6-2 record. As for the Dolphins, this was a bit of a setback to both their record (now 4-3) and team morale. If they had any hopes of a playoff run, it should be concerning to be dominated by a lackluster Ravens team.
The most exciting game of the weekend by far was between the Seattle Seahawks and the Houston Texans. The Texans got off to a great start, as quarterback Deshaun Watson fired a long touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Fuller V just over two minutes into the game. On the Texans next drive, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas intercepted one of Watson’s passes and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown, tying the game.
The lead was traded back and forth several times throughout the game, and with 5:37 left to play in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks took a 34-31 lead on a pass from Russell Wilson to tight end Jimmy Graham. The Houston offense answered right back with touchdown of their own, coming on a screen pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Losing 38-34, the Seahawks were down to the final seconds of the game when Wilson connected with Graham for yet another touchdown. They held onto the lead and won 41-38.
This was a big win for the Seahawks, who are currently tied with the Los Angeles Rams for first place in the NFC West. Though they did not win, the Texans played well and are close enough in record to potentially pass the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South standings.
The Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts played a close game on Sunday afternoon. The Bengals blocked a Colts punt early in the first quarter, giving them a great field position advantage. They capitalized on this and kicked a field goal on that drive. As if one blocked kick was not enough for one game, the Bengals at- tempted another field goal on their next drive, but it was deflected by the Colts special teams. Indianapolis went on to take a 13-10 lead, and then both teams traded touchdowns until the Colts took a 23-17 lead, making it a one-possession game.
With their backs against the wall in the fourth quarter, Bengals defensive lineman Car- los Dunlap tipped and intercepted Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brisset’s pass and returned it for a touchdown. Bengals kicker Randy Bullock drilled the extra point, giving his team a 24- 23 lead. They rode this out for the remainder of the game to beat the Colts.
Despite the incredible clutch win, this was not an excellent game for the Bengals. Cincinnati is a team that wants to contend with the best teams in the league, and playing a one-possession game with one of the worst teams in the league is not displaying the level of performance they will need to do so.
Indianapolis has had a tough year to this point, and they should be glad that they were able to play such a tight game with the Bengals, but they desperately needed that win. With upcoming games against the Texans, Steelers, Titans and Jaguars, it is unlikely that the Colts will have very many opportunities to win like they did this week.
Week nine in the NFL has several great matchups, including some big in-conference games. The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons will square off in an NFC South showdown. Both teams have been very good lately, and this will likely be a very close contest. In the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions will duke it out in Monday Night Football. Watch out for both of these games among all of the exciting action this week in the NFL.