By Nick Shook
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1. The Giants were primed to score another upset victory after a first half in which they were dominated in time of possession yet somehow hit the intermission with a 7-3 lead. Seattle stopped inflicting damage on itself in the second half, and the wheels fell off for New York. The Seahawks scored a quick touchdown in the third quarter to take a 10-7 lead, where the game stood for quite some time as New York’s offense struggled per usual as its defense stymied the opposition. That changed with Russell Wilson‘s heave to Paul Richardson, which resulted in an acrobatic touchdown catch. An indeterminable tie-up between he and Giants safety Landon Collins resulted in a replay review that couldn’t overturn what was definitely not a sure thing. The score flipped momentum permanently in favor of the Seahawks, who won their third straight after a 1-2 start to the season.
2. Seattle has such a luxury with Wilson at quarterback. After watching New York opponents attempt to scheme against the Giants‘ dynamite front-seven and repeatedly fail to keep Jason Pierre-Paul (among others) off their quarterbacks, in trots the Seahawks and the mobile Wilson, who used his legs to evade JPP and make plenty of tremendous throws. Wilson rolled to his right along his own goal line in the third quarter and squeezed a bullet into the hands of Amara Darboh, moving Seattle out of the shadow of its own goal post. In the fourth, he made a similar play with his feet, scrambling right and head-faking Pierre-Paul for extra yards before wisely sliding in bounds to keep the clock rolling with Seattle nursing a 17-7 lead. That drive ended in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Jimmy Graham, whose pair of first-half drops (including one in the end zone on fourth-and-1) were a microcosm of Seattle’s play in the first 30 minutes.
3. Despite being a tweener for a tight end, Evan Engram is blossoming into New York’s best (and last remaining) target on offense. The tight end caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, and could have had another long grab and possible score had he not been flagged on the play. For a Giantsoffense that has lost Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall and struggles to run the ball (and protect the passer), Engram is a small but bright light in an otherwise dim room. Outside of Engram, the offense has plenty of work to do on coming anywhere close to being competitive. The offensive line can’t protect Eli Manning or sustain drives of substance (Seattle held the ball more than 10 minutes longer than New York did Sunday). As a result of so many empty possessions, New York is wasting what is one of the best defenses in the league.
— Nick Shook
1. Less than a week after Marcus Mariota led the Titans on a crucial touchdown drive on Monday Night Football, Tennessee couldn’t get anywhere near the end zone in the fourth quarter. Again restricted to the pocket, Mariota faced frequent pressure from Cleveland’s front seven. Head coach Mike Mularkey’s exotic smashmouth offense, which has been reduced to just smashmouth recently, failed to break 100 yards on the ground, which choked Tennessee’s offense and resulted in the touchdown embargo. Tennessee looked far from the squad that put up 36 points in a come-from-behind win over the Colts, but credit is still due to Mariota, who completed 21 of 34 pass attempts for 203 yards and did enough to win, despite the lack of fireworks. More importantly, in the wide-open AFC South, Tennessee secured another victory to keep the Titans in a tie atop the division with a Jacksonville team that appears to get stronger with each week.
2. Cleveland’s defense was outstanding. The Browns might be a disaster on offense, but Gregg Williams has his unit playing with fire and desire. The group’s Sunday peak came in the third quarter after another DeShone Kizer interception. On first and goal from Cleveland’s 1, the Browns stonewalled DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry on three of four attempts from three feet out, keeping Tennessee from the end zone with a turnover on downs. The stand proved to be crucial in keeping the game close, and was also Tennessee’s last trip to Cleveland’s red zone for the day.
The Browns bottled up the Titans on the ground, limiting Tennessee to 80 yards rushing on 34 attempts. Brownsdefenders also made crucial pass breakups while trailing by three points, with Christian Kirksey shadowing Delanie Walker through the back of the end zone and cornerback Michael Jordan breaking up a ball to Eric Decker on third down, helping Cleveland preserve its chances. Unfortunately for the still-winless Browns, the defense could only hold for so long, especially when faced with bad starting field position after consecutive three-and-outs in overtime.
3. Firing a staff won’t help anything develop in Cleveland, but Hue Jackson’s (mis)management of the quarterback position is alarming. Jackson has now switched from Kizer, to Kevin Hogan, back to Kizer (and demoting Hogan to third string), to Cody Kessler after another poor outing from Kizer. For a coach who was a supposed quarterback whisperer, he’s been as consistent as the fall weather in Cleveland. His quick hook on Kizer has screamed desperation, and after yet another loss, it would be foolish to expect anything less in the coming weeks. The problem with this is this creates a quarterback room with each guy constantly looking over his shoulder for his replacement, which definitely doesn’t breed confidence.
“I’m sure (Cleveland’s quarterbacks) don’t want the yo-yo, but it goes both ways,” Jackson said after the loss. “In the process of developing quarterbacks, I want them to not turn the ball over.”
— Nick Shook