2022 NFL season, Week 9: What We Learned from Sunday's games

Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 9 of the 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

SUNDAY NIGHT

LATE GAMES

EARLY GAMES

Kansas City Chiefs
2022 · 6-2-0
Tennessee Titans
2022 · 5-3-0

Grant Gordon's takeaways:

  1. By air or ground, Patrick Mahomes delivers. Songs might one day be written about the magic in Mahomes' arm, but his legs might well have earned him a ballad or two on Sunday night. The game swung on Mahomes' roller coaster of a run on third-and-17 with 7:11 left in the fourth quarter. Trailing 17-9, Mahomes converted on a ridiculous 20-yard scramble. Seven plays later, Mahomes' educated feet ushered him to a 14-yard touchdown run and then a game-tying two-point run. On a day in which Chiefs running backs combined for 19 yards on 13 carries, Mahomes' scrambling equated to eight points and a team-high 63 yards. His 446 yards passing also played a significant role in the Chiefs prevailing, of course, but it was his legs that were most clutch on this evening. It is an absurdly arduous task to shut down Mahomes for a full game. The Titans were borderline outstanding in their efforts to corral him, but somehow, Mahomes found a way to victory.
  2. Titans' best laid (game) plans fall to wayside. The Titans set a physical and chippy tone. They were playing fundamentally sound. They were dominant in the trenches and sturdy in the kicking game. And they were letting Derrick Henry do what he does, which is take over a game. All was going about as well as it could be as Tennessee was vying for an upset with its starting quarterback out with an injury for a second week in a row. It led 17-9 at the half after scoring 17 straight points. Then it all slowly and painfully slipped away. Henry was held to 23 yards in the second half and overtime, Malik Willis simply could not ignite the offense and the defense was faced with the impossible task of keeping Mahomes and Co. in check for three-plus quarters. There will be fingers pointed and it will be noted that the offense became far too conservative (see Hassan Haskins' 5-yard rush on third-and-8 during opening possession of second half) or that Willis failed to complete a ball to a wide receiver. Though true, the Titans really needed everything to go perfectly for them to emerge from their predicament with a win over a stellar Chiefs squad. For 30 minutes, it looked possible. For 60-plus minutes, it wasn't sustainable.
  3. K.C. D weathers storm for win. The train disguised as Derrick Henry was coming. The only question was whether Kansas City could stop him or would get knocked off the tracks. In the first half, the Chiefs took their lumps, allowing Henry two touchdowns and 92 yards rushing. In the second half and overtime, though, K.C.'s defense kept things close and kept the Titans off the scoreboard. There were big plays by linebacker Nick Bolton (huge tackle for loss to force a punt in the fourth quarter) and defensive linemen Khalen Saunders, Chris Jones and Carlos Dunlap (back-to-back sacks in overtime). For the most part, however, the Chiefs defense's greatest contribution was its ability to lead the charge in winning a battle of attrition. The unit weathered the first-half downpour and by game's end had limited the Titans offense to just nine first downs and 48 plays (the Chiefs ran 91). While Mahomes and Co. struggled through the second quarter and much of the second half, the defense kept a win within reach.

NFL Research: Patrick Mahomes became the first player in the Super Bowl era with at least 400 yards and a touchdown passing and 60 yards and a TD rushing in the same game.

Next Gen stat of the game: Derrick's Henry's 4-yard touchdown run came off a direct snap out of the Wildcat formation. Henry leads the league in touchdown runs (five) and touchdown passes (two) out of the Wildcat since entering the league in 2016 (including playoffs).

Los Angeles Rams
2022 · 3-5-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Tom Brady leads Bucs' game-winning drive to snap three-game skid. The Buccaneers offense couldn't move the ball all day, scuffling for five three-and-outs, a four-play turnover on downs, an 0-of-2 rate in the red zone and just three field goals before the final drive. Then TB12 got the ball back with 44 seconds left with no timeouts and carved up the Rams' soft coverage, leading the Bucs on a six-play, 60-yard touchdown drive in just 35 seconds. Brady found Cade Otton for the game-winning score, the first TD by a Bucs tight end this season. The G.O.A.T. tossed for 280 yards, surpassing the 100,000-yard mark for his career (regular and postseason combined). It wasn't pretty for Tampa, which generated just 10 yards in the third quarter. Brady missed a host of throws, and the connection with Mike Evans is lost in the wilderness. Tampa also rushed for just 2.5 yards per carry on 20 totes. But with the game on the line, TB12 proved once again, he can still get the job done.
  2. Rams' offensive struggles sink Sean McVay's team again. L.A. had two explosive passing plays from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp, a 69-yard TD and a 34-yarder to set up a field goal. Darrell Henderson had a 23-yard run, the longest by a Rams running back this season. The rest of the time, L.A.'s offense was a smorgasbord of inefficiency, poor blocking and depressing drives. The Rams didn't run a play in Bucs territory the entire first half. They went three-and-out eight times, including three straight drives in the fourth quarter to allow the Bucs' comeback. L.A. still can't run the ball, guard Bobby Evans was a turnstile, and no receiver outside of Kupp gets open. Yes, the Rams' defense gave up the game-winning drive, but the loss falls on the shoulders of an impotent offense. Just one first down in the fourth quarter could have changed the game.
  3. Bucs take over the lead in dismal NFC South. Neither team should be thrilled with its play Sunday. Tampa happens to be the one to come away with the victory. Both 2021 postseason squads have major flaws. This was closer to a pillow fight than a heavyweight matchup. At least Tampa (4-5) has the comfort of playing in a division in which no team is even .500. Still, a win is a win. With a division lead, the Bucs now have a chance to turn things around before December and skate into a potential postseason spot. The road gets no easier, however, with a meeting against the 6-3 Seahawks on tap in Week 10 in Germany.

Next Gen stat of the game: The Buccaneers had just a 5% chance of winning after they turned the ball over on downs with 1:52 remaining in the game, trailing 13-9. Tom Brady completed 5 of 6 passes for 54 yards and a TD (+21.3% CPOE) on the Buccaneers' game-winning drive.

NFL Research: With the comeback, Tom Brady now has 55 game-winning drives, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning (54) for most in NFL history. Brady also tied Manning with 43 fourth-quarter comebacks for most all time.

Seattle Seahawks
2022 · 6-3-0
Arizona Cardinals
2022 · 3-6-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Geno Smith responded in a big way after his pick-six. After an inconsistent first half by the Seahawks offense, it came out with a three-and-out (losing yards in the process) and a house call by Arizona's Zaven Collins to start the second half. Smith's screen pass was errant, and Collins ran it back 30 yards for a score to put the Cardinals up, 14-10. That pick felt like a flashpoint for the Seahawks' season in the moment. But Smith would not crumble after this point, leading the team on a 13-play, 75-yard drive to take back the lead. Smith got away with one dangerous pass in traffic in the red zone, and you wouldn't call the drive pretty on the whole -- but it was gutsy, for sure. Following the interception, Smith completed 10 of 12 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, also scrambling for 18 (on third-and-7) and 12 yards on the drive where Seattle took a two-score lead. Are we ready to put Geno in the MVP race? Not really. But he's arguably been the Seahawks' MVP during a four-game win streak and a shocking 6-3 start.
  2. Even with James Conner back, the Cardinals struggled with offensive consistency again. Arizona marched 83 yards on nine plays on its opening drive, capping it with a 22-yard catch and run from DeAndre Hopkins. All was right in the world. And then the rest of the game happened. That was followed by three straight punts, a fumble inside Seattle territory and then, for good measure, three more punts. They netted minus-2 yards on their first three drives of the second half in a close game in which the defense played pretty well. The Cardinals would drive 81 yards for a score to make it a game late, but that drive and a few others were your classic "empty yards" drives that put a cosmetic bow on another pig of an outing. The game fittingly ended on a four-and-out that lost yardage with the Cardinals down 10. Kyler Murray made some big plays, and Conner looked pretty good in his return, but the Cardinals offense has way too much hoping and praying to have consistent success in big games.
  3. Seahawks defense is markedly better, in part thanks to fumbles. When the Seahawks stood pat at the trade deadline, some read their inactivity as justifiable for a team that was overachieving and one that might not be as good as its record. But what if the Seahawks quietly like what they have, especially on defense? Sure, this group was struggling early, especially against the run. Those clunkers against Atlanta and New Orleans might sting a little more again come playoff time. But in the past four games, they've kept all four opponents under the 300-yard mark, are allowing fewer than 100 yards rushing on average and have forced seven turnovers. Sunday brought their NFL-best season total for forced fumbles to a whopping 16, coming on a huge play by Ryan Neal when he stripped Murray after a long scramble. (They had another one wiped out by replay.) According to NFL Research, the 16-game record for forced fumbles by a team since 1994 is 30 by the 2010 Giants. One reason the Seahawks are in first place in the NFC West is their propensity for stripping balls loose and capitalizing on them.

Next Gen stat of the game: Zaven Collins reached 19.35 mph on his pick-six, the fourth-fastest speed reached by a ball carrier who weighs at least 260 pounds since 2018. The Cardinals' win probability increased from 35% to 65% as a result of the play.

NFL Research: Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker has five straight games with 50-plus rushing yards and one or more rushing TD. He's the first Seahawks player to accomplish a streak that long since Shaun Alexander in 2006-2007.

Miami Dolphins
2022 · 6-3-0
Chicago Bears
2022 · 3-6-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Dolphins offense dices up shorthanded Bears D. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle continue to be a problem for defenses. The speedy wide receiver duo gets wide open so effortlessly that it makes life easy for Tua Tagovailoa. Hill continued to put up 100-plus yards, netting 143 on seven catches with a score. Hill has 1,104 receiving yards through nine games, the most by a player through the first nine games of a season. Waddle ate up the Bears defense on slants early, finding soft coverage for chunk gains, generating 85 yards and a touchdown on five catches. The Dolphins offense marched up and down the field, getting into Chicago territory on its first seven possessions. A missed field goal and two turnovers on downs in the second half kept the score close, but Miami again showed it could move the ball at will. Tua could have iced the game late with a deep shot to a wide-open Waddle but underthrew his receiver. After the Bears traded two of their top veteran defenders, it's little surprise Matt Eberflus' defense struggled for long stretches, allowing 379 total yards, including 302 through the air, and generated zero sacks.
  2. Bears offense continues to make strides in latest loss. Justin Fields continues to do damage with his legs since Chicago embraced the advantage the QB provides with the ball in his hands. Fields galloped for an NFL QB-record 178 yards on 15 carries and a TD. His 61-yard TD sprint displayed the difference the QB can make on the ground, avoiding pressure and showing a ridiculous burst on the second level. Fields didn't put up a ton of yards through the air, but dropped some dimes, including a gorgeous slot fade to Darnell Mooney for one of his three TD passes. Fields has limited his off-mark throws each week. With the Bears having a chance to march for a game-tying drive late, Fields put the ball on the money to Equanimeous St. Brown on fourth down but was dropped. The play underscored the need for Chicago to continue to buffer Fields with difference-making talent this offseason to aid his development.
  3. Trade additions generate mixed results. Each team added playmakers ahead of the deadline. In their first game with a new team, it wasn't surprising that the acquisitions dipped their toes in the water. For Chicago, Chase Claypool generated two catches on six targets for 13 yards. His two snatches came on quick passes but he showed his run-after-catch ability for a 12-yard first down. Claypool also generated a long defensive pass interference early and looked like he was interfered with again late on a long toss, but the refs declined to throw a flag. Claypool ran just 15 routes Sunday, per Next Gen Stats. Expect that number to increase in the coming weeks. For Miami, Bradley Chubb played 52 of 70 snaps and generated one tackle with three QB pressures in his first game with the Dolphins. Running back Jeff Wilson, unsurprisingly, had the most significant impact of the trade additions. With his familiarity in Mike McDaniel's system, Wilson hit the ground running, tying Raheem Mostert with nine carries and dashing for 51 yards. Wilson also had three catches for 21 yards and a TD. Expect the backs to continue to split carries as we move forward.

NFL Research: Justin Fields had 178 rushing yards, the most by a quarterback in a single game in the Super Bowl era. The previous record was held by Michael Vick, who had 173 yards against the Vikings in Week 13, 2002. Fields was also the first player since at least 1950 with 150-plus rushing yards and three-plus passing TDs in a single game.

Next Gen stat of the game: Justin Fields reached 20.33 mph on his 61-yard scramble TD, his fourth carry reaching 20+ mph since Week 7 (tied for most in NFL with Travis Etienne).

Cincinnati Bengals
2022 · 5-4-0
Carolina Panthers
2022 · 2-7-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Joe Mixon outgained the Panthers in the first half by more than 100. It had been almost a calendar year since Mixon had run for 100-plus yards. Mission accomplished on Sunday. Mixon reached that threshold prior to the two-minute warning in the first half. At the intermission, Mixon had 15 rushes for 113 yards and three touchdowns, as well as four catches for 58 yards and another TD. He'd finish with career highs in yards from scrimmage (211) and touchdowns (five) and would make this game a laugher early. This was exactly the kind of game the Bengals needed coming off a Halloween nightmare in Cleveland. The Bengals are at their most dangerous when Mixon is running downhill, which he did Sunday, and it's more impressive that his effort came without Ja'Marr Chase playing and against a Carolina defense that was 10th in rushing average allowed.
  2. Panthers' QB situation muddled again after P.J. Walker struggled. We wrote last week that Walker deserved another start after his game effort in Carolina's overtime loss at Atlanta. We stand behind that. But given what went down in Week 9, it's no shock that Walker got pulled early. He completed one more pass to his receivers (three) than he did to the Bengals (two). Walker's first interception was a pretty horrible throw versus zone defense, as it never really had a chance. The second pick really didn't either, as he overthrew D.J. Moore. That brought on Baker Mayfield, who surpassed Walker's passing-yard total on his first drive. This was the best Mayfield has played as a Panther, leading three TD drives and playing turnover-free ball, even if it came against a Bengals defense that led twice by 35 points and pulled some starters. Where will Carolina go next week in the rematch versus the Falcons? Only God and Steve Wilks might know that one. Sam Darnold is in play after coming off injured reserve, too.
  3. Reality check for Carolina. After inspiring efforts in a win over Tampa Bay and the overtime loss to Atlanta, the Panthers crashed back to earth. Any coach considering this job this offseason will want to look at this game in particular as a reminder that there still is a lot to sort out with this roster. The Bengals had more first-half points (35) than the Panthers had first-half yards (32), with Carolina allowing 311 yards in the first 30 minutes. Joe Burrow's day was done well before the third quarter was over.

Next Gen stat of the game: P.J. Walker was 0-for-5 passing with two interceptions on passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage.

NFL Research: Joe Mixon became only the fourth player to have three-plus rushing TDs and one or more TD catches in a single half, joining Shaun Alexander (Sept. 29, 2002), Jim Brown (Nov. 28, 1965) and Dub Jones (Nov. 25, 1951). Alexander is the only other player to do so in the first half of a game.

Indianapolis Colts
2022 · 3-5-1

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. The Colts were 0 of 14 on third downs. The subject line says it all. This was about as bad an offensive performance as a team can have. Sam Ehlinger certainly had his share of poor reps, but this was a total team meltdown. Ehlinger was sacked nine times (nine times!) and was pick-sixed late for good measure. Not having Jonathan Taylor played a role, of course, but this was flat-out embarrassing for the Colts all the way around, top to bottom. This has been a team that has hovered in the competitive range of the league the first four years of the Frank Reich era, but this season has exposed some of the glaring weaknesses that can no longer be ignored. It's also shown that the supposed bedrock unit of this team -- the offensive line -- is no more than a bad group right now. (Editor's note: The Colts fired Reich on Monday morning and named Jeff Saturday interim HC.)
  2. The Patriots weren't much better offensively. Lost in a 23-point win is the reality that New England was pretty miserable most of the game offensively. Nick Folk might be their offensive MVP this season -- no joke -- as he had four more field goals after making five last week. Very little came easy for Mac Jones, except for a handful of soft-zone coverages that allowed open receivers. The flow just isn't there between Jones and Matt Patricia in terms of figuring out what works and what doesn't. Right now, they're just too Rhamondre Stevenson-dependent. The Patriots didn't have a drive longer than 42 yards and would have been in trouble against a better team that didn't stake them with good starting field position on three of their scoring drives. Could we see Bailey Zappe again? It almost feels like it has to happen at some point.
  3. So how did the Patriots win? Don't forget the special teams. When the Colts whipped the Patriots late last season, the special teams played a big role in the result. Indianapolis blocked a punt that led to a touchdown and played very cleanly in the kicking game. This time, the Patriots flipped the script, appearing determined not to allow that to happen this time. They blocked a punt Sunday deep inside Colts territory (turning it into a TD), got long punt and kickoff returns from rookie Marcus Jones and had the steady Folk come through big four times. The Colts didn't help themselves in this department with a missed field goal right before halftime and some mental errors throughout the units. This is one thing a bad Indy team can't afford to do. But along with a strong defensive performance, improved special teams absolutely can be part of the Patriots' winning formula as they find their way offensively.

Next Gen stat of the game: The Patriots' Matt Judon had five QB pressures and three sacks on only 21 pass rushes (23.8 pressure percent).

NFL Research: The Colts had 121 yards of total offense vs. New England, which was not only the fewest yards of total offense in a game this season by any team (previous low was 161 in Week 8 by Houston), but it was the fewest in a game by the Colts since Week 3, 1997 vs. SEA (the season before they drafted Peyton Manning).

Detroit Lions
2022 · 2-6-0
Green Bay Packers
2022 · 3-6-0

Bobby Kownack's takeaways:

  1. Detroit throws a TE touchdown party. After trading T.J. Hockenson to the Vikings in one of the more surprising deadline day moves, the Lions were set to face off against the Packers without their leader in receiving yards. Detroit's offense didn't come close to the efficiency that had it ranked ninth in points and third in yards coming into Week 9, but the Lions grinded out enough drives and scored when they needed to. That wasn't necessarily surprising as Jared Goff and Co. look to forge an identity without a top-10 tight end on the roster. What was surprising is that Goff's two touchdown passes went to two players at Hockenson's position. Shane Zylstra, who was elevated from the practice squad ahead of the game, caught his first career touchdown to tally the first points for either team with 15 seconds remaining before the half. Not to be outdone, James Mitchell caught the first score of his career to extend Detroit's lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. It's unlikely to be a winning formula moving forward -- Zylstra and Mitchell both only logged one other catch combined -- but it's a nice wrinkle in the aftermath of a big trade.
  2. The Lions defense makes an appearance. Detroit had been hapless on defense through seven games, ranking dead last in both points and yards allowed. The Lions fired their defensive backs coach, Aubrey Pleasant, on Monday following a fifth consecutive loss. You wouldn't guess it from the performance the defense put together against Green Bay. The yardage continued to be an issue, as the defense allowed 389 yards, but it also made massive plays throughout the contest. Detroit intercepted Aaron Rodgers three times -- twice inside its own 5-yard line -- and provided another crucial red-zone stop by turning the Packers over on downs for the third time of the game to clinch the victory. There is something to be said for the fact that Green Bay's offense is in freefall, but it doesn't take away from the facts. The Lions defense showed up and showed out, holding the Packers to nine points after previously allowing 32.1 points per game. The unit was the difference-maker for the first time all season.
  3. There is no light at the end of Green Bay's tunnel. The Packers offense is broken to the degree that it could not reach double-digit points against the league's worst statistical defense. The Packers ran 32 plays for 206 yards on their three first-half drives (plus a kneel-down) and inexplicably came away without a point to show for it. Rodgers threw two picks in the red zone, including a head-scratcher on fourth down meant for left tackle David Bakhtiari. His third turnover came right outside the red zone on a throw that was plucked at the edge of the goal line by defensive back Kerby Joseph. Rodgers threw for his most yards on the season (291), and the Green Bay offense occasionally made splash plays, but showing signs of life in a loss is not nearly enough to save this team's season. Sitting at 3-6 after their second-worst scoring output of 2022, the Packers' next three games are against the Cowboys, Titans and Eagles, all of which have top-10 scoring defenses. The light at the end of the tunnel is just the freight train coming.

Next Gen stat of the game: Lions DE Aidan Hutchinson tied his career high with four quarterback pressures (9.7 pressure percentage since Week 6 bye; 6.3 pressure percentage in Weeks 1-5).

NFL Research: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw two red-zone interceptions in a game for the first time in his career. The last Packers quarterback to do so was Brett Favre against the Lions in Week 15, 2006.

Las Vegas Raiders
2022 · 2-6-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Trevor Lawrence, Jags storm back to wipe away early deficit. Jacksonville got off to a listless start, falling behind 17-0, but scored on four consecutive drives in the second and third quarters to pull ahead, going on a 24-3 run at one point. With time in the pocket, Lawrence diced up a weak Raiders secondary, making throw after throw. There weren't many big downfield plays, but Lawrence put balls on the money, particularly on third downs, as the Jags converted 9 of 15 on the key down. After up-and-down play during the Jags' five-game losing streak, Lawrence finally had a game we expected from the second-year quarterback. It helped that Travis Etienne continued to shine as the Jags' primary rusher. The back generated 109 rushing yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns. Etienne's ability to get to the edge and turn short gains into chunks helps keep the Jags' offense on schedule.
  2. Raiders once again can't find consistency, blowing big lead. Derek Carr played flawlessly early, connecting with Davante Adams time and time and time and time again in the first half. The wideout generated nine catches for 146 yards and two TDs in the first half, including a 38-yard TD. But in the second half, the duo was silenced. Adams had one catch for zero yards on six targets in the final two quarters. (Insert puke emoji here.) Carr missed a heap of throws down the stretch, tossing balls out of bounds and in the dirt repeatedly as the offense scuffled. After a three-and-out to start, Vegas went TD, FG, TD, FG to take a big lead. But the Raiders generated just four first downs in the second half. Josh McDaniels simply can't find consistency week to week and drive to drive. When his QB is missing throws, like Carr was Sunday, and Josh Jacobs is stymied, the Raiders will struggle to beat anyone.
  3. Jags D makes plays down the stretch. Yes, the Raiders shot themselves in the foot, but some credit goes to Mike Caldwell's defense for adjusting. The Jags tightened their coverage on Adams and ratcheted up the pressures. Rookie Travon Walker generated five QB pressures (his first game with more than two). Dawuane Smoot corralled two sacks, including a massive one on third-and-10 on the Raiders' final drive. Foye Oluokun remains a tackling machine. Linebacker Devin Lloyd continued his impressive rookie season (even if he's mostly done it off the national radar). The LB is constantly around the ball, had a nice pass defensed and a QB hit, and corralled the game-ending fumble as the Raiders tried a lateral desperation play. The Jags D has flashed at times this season; now it needs more consistency to take the next step, particularly from the secondary.

Next Gen stat of the game: Trevor Lawrence earned a career-best 89 Next Gen Stats passing score on Sunday. He generated positive EPA (expected points added) on 74.2% of his dropbacks, which is the highest success rate in a game since Patrick Mahomes in Week 4 of last season, which was also 74.2%.

NFL Research: The Raiders have blown a lead of 17-plus points in three losses this season. They had five such losses in the first 62 seasons of the franchise combined (1960-2021).

Atlanta Falcons
2022 · 4-5-0

Michael Baca's takeaways:

  1. Palmer comes up clutch for banged-up Chargers. Without their top two wide receivers, the Bolts were forced to take what Atlanta's defense gave them all afternoon -- and quite literally in the game's final moments. But following a wild double-fumble where the Chargers nearly lost possession with 46 seconds left, wide receiver Joshua Palmer made the necessary play Los Angeles needed to get back into field goal range. Palmer impressively beat his man off the line and Justin Herbert found him on a 22-yard crossing route that put the Chargers back into range and quickly erased a late mishap. Palmer's clutch play was one of eight receptions for a career-high 106 yards on the day, and it also made up for his costly drop in the third quarter that not only fell into the lap of a Falcons defender, but led to Atlanta's go-ahead score. Palmer was seemingly the only viable big-play option for a Chargers offense that patiently dinked and dunked its way toward points. Following Palmer's game-saving grab, Cameron Dicker knocked in the 37-yard field goal as time expired and the Chargers escaped with a W.
  2. Wild turnovers resonate in sloppy game. Now about that wild double-fumble. Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was the one who nearly botched the final possession with a mishandle as he reached toward the first-down marker, but defensive tackle Ta'Quon Graham inexplicably dropped his fumble recovery as he ran upfield. Graham, who had daylight in front of him and the option to run out of bounds, was untouched when he fumbled the ball as Herbert approached a would-be tackle. Chargers guard Matt Feiler recovered Graham's disastrous blunder, saving possession for Palmer's clutch play, but it wasn't the only big mistake made by Atlanta. With the Falcons threatening in the third quarter, Khalil Mack ripped the ball right out of Drake London's hands at the 2-yard line and flipped the field upon his 44-yard return. Three plays earlier, a Falcons penalty nullified a touchdown, adding injury to insult, and the big mistakes proved costly for a Falcons team that started the game with a 10-point lead. In a game with two offenses unable to make splash plays, the team that limited its errors was the one that squeaked by with a victory.
  3. Falcons have a legit one-two punch at running back. There is a silver lining to the Falcons' heartbreak. While the return of Cordarrelle Patterson rightfully grabbed all the pregame headlines in Atlanta, rookie running back Tyler Allgeier's tremendous day should put him in the initial conversations alongside his contemporary going forward. Allgeier led the run-happy Falcons with 99 yards on a staggering 9.9 yards per attempt while adding an impressive 24-yard reception in the fourth quarter off a broken play. Patterson was essential for the Falcons as well, scoring both touchdowns on the day and providing a spark that led to an early lead. Atlanta controlled much of the game with its rushing attack up until the fourth quarter, and while the team ultimately let this one slip away, the Falcons' two-headed rushing duo should keep it in contention within the division.

Next Gen stat of the day: Justin Herbert was 20 of 26 for 160 yards, a touchdown and an interception on passes of 0-9 air yards (accounted for season-high 60.5% of his attempts). Herbert averaged 6.3 air yards/attempt (career-low 6.7 air yards/att this season) and was 0 of 3 on deep passes (career-low 84.7 passer rating on deep passes this season).

NFL Research: Austin Ekeler now has 10 career games with one-plus rushing and one-plus receiving TD, tied with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara for the most in a player's first six seasons since 1950. Ekeler also becomes the fourth undrafted player in the common-draft era to have 10-plus TDs in three or more different seasons, joining Arian Foster, Antonio Gates and Priest Holmes.

New York Jets
2022 · 6-3-0
Buffalo Bills
2022 · 6-2-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. New York's defense is loaded with studs. The Jets' draft and free agency investments on the defensive side of the ball are clearly paying off and playing a huge part in their turnaround. Sauce Gardner stood out once again, recording an interception and the game-sealing pass defense, while D.J. Reed was once again effective and C.J. Mosley continued to make a difference at linebacker. Perhaps most impressive was New York's deployment of rookie Jermaine Johnson II, who harassed Josh Allen, cut him down on a scramble attempt, and spied the quarterback on the Bills' final offensive play, forcing Allen out of the pocket and into a last-gasp deep pass. New York has difference-makers at every level of its defense, and under Robert Saleh's direction, they're thriving. Look no further than the 17 points scored by the NFL's most explosive offense.
  2. Josh Allen is human after all. It's never good to have a bad day in the NFL, but Sunday's timing felt especially unfortunate for Allen. The quarterback began the afternoon by ending Buffalo's first drive with an ugly interception, and his second pick of the day was even more grotesque, a product of an apparent miscommunication with Gabe Davis that led to New York's go-ahead touchdown. After reaching halftime with 163 passing yards, Allen finished with just 205. Although he ran for two touchdowns, Allen failed to throw a touchdown pass, and when the Bills desperately needed to move the ball down the field in the game's final minutes, Allen could only heave a fourth-down prayer to Davis, which was broken up by Gardner. Allen tends to have one or two of these outings every season; last year, it was Weeks 8 and 16, games in which the Bills went 1-1. This time around, it came against a division opponent that was reeling after a disappointing loss last week. Now, the Jets are just a half-game behind the Bills in the standings and have more reasons to believe in their potential than they have in over a decade.
  3. The Jets' backfield committee might be all right. First off, we must point out that Buffalo played Sunday without linebacker Matt Milano, the heart of the Bills defense. His absence was painfully evident in the Jets' final significant drive, in which New York pounded the run on a 13-play, 86-yard drive that took six minutes, 10 seconds off the clock in a tie game. That drive also answered the biggest concerns regarding these Jets since Breece Hall's season-ending knee injury. Michael Carter led the way with 76 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, while new acquisition James Robinson picked up 48 yards on 13 carries. As a team, the Jets outgained the Bills 174-134 on the ground, and were able to win the game by riding their run game to a go-ahead field goal. Neither back is Hall, but their combined efforts just might be enough to keep this offense moving.

Next Gen stat of the game: Sauce Gardner's third-quarter interception of Josh Allen improved New York's win probability by 11.7%.

NFL Research: Josh Allen's record dropped to 2-7 in one-score games since 2021, giving him the third-worst winning percentage in such games among quarterbacks with at least five starts. Only Justin Fields and Davis Mills have worse winning percentages in such games.

Minnesota Vikings
2022 · 7-1-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Minnesota wakes up just in time. The Vikings started Sunday's game with a statement drive, covering 78 yards on nine plays and finishing with a passing touchdown to Justin Jefferson. Then, Minnesota's offense disappeared. The Vikings' next seven possessions ended with six punts and one interception, and they didn't add to the scoreboard again until the fourth quarter. But much like their first possession of the afternoon, the Vikings were able to turn to Jefferson in their time of need. On third-and-7, Kirk Cousins connected with Jefferson for 47 yards, setting up an eventual Greg Joseph field goal. Deadline-day acquisition T.J. Hockenson hit the ground running with his new team, catching nine passes for 70 yards. And despite having a tough day overall, Dalvin Cook came through in a big spot, catching a Cousins touchdown pass to tie the game. It wasn't pretty, but it was enough to move to 7-1. This win could go a long way toward Minnesota's playoff ambitions.
  2. Details doom the Commanders. We can point toward Taylor Heinicke's fourth-quarter interception as the biggest reason Minnesota came back to beat Washington, but that mistake alone didn't cost the Commanders a win. It was a combination of little errors that made a huge difference. Washington held a 17-7 lead over Minnesota and appeared set to pull away when Benjamin St-Juste intercepted Cousins and returned it for a touchdown. But after spending the entire afternoon hanging all over Jefferson in one-on-one situations, St-Juste was finally flagged for pass interference at the worst possible time. That gave the Vikings a fresh set of downs, allowing them to drive down and kick a field goal. The Heinicke interception set up Minnesota's game-tying touchdown, but the final blow came when the Vikings lined up to kick a go-ahead field goal with 1:55 left, made it, and received a fresh set of downs when Washington defensive tackle John Ridgeway made contact with the long snapper. Instead of getting the ball back with roughly 1:50 left to try to either tie or win the game, Washington could only wait in agony as the Vikings took another 99 seconds off the clock before kicking the game-winner. Those small errors melded into a big mistake -- and a deflating loss.
  3. The Vikings defense is starting to come together. Sure, the Heinicke touchdown pass to Curtis Samuel was ugly, but let's not allow that to influence our opinion of Minnesota's defense overall. While the Vikings offense struggled to show signs of life during the game's middle two quarters, Minnesota's defense kept the game in reach, pressuring Heinicke on 29% of his dropbacks and sacking him three times. Most importantly, the Vikings defense stepped up when it mattered most with Harrison Smith's interception of Heinicke. On the ensuing Washington possession, Minnesota completely shut down the Commanders, forcing a three-and-out on a drive that was stuck in reverse throughout its duration. That allowed the Minnesota offense enough time to get back into field goal range and complete the comeback.

Next Gen stat of the game: Harrison Smith's interception improved Minnesota's win probability by 22.9%, moving it from 14.7% to 37.6%.

NFL Research: With their win Sunday, the Vikings extended their division lead to 4.5 games in the NFC North, marking the largest division lead held by a team through Week 9 since the 49ers owned a five-game advantage in the NFC West in 2011.

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