It surely wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t very efficient. It broke a lot of players, some for the remainder of the 2023 season.
Ya know what?
It’s NFL Football.
And here’s what happened. Enjoy.
(Spoiler: There is no mention of Aaron Rodgers or his reverberating calf herein.)
Texans 9, Ravens 25
The Ravens’ ‘vaunted’ offense has arrived. What that signifies for the rest of the league isn’t currently a pressing question, considering 17-22, 169 yards and an INT – Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s numbers for the afternoon – don’t exactly instill visions of a Super Bowl-bound squad feeling its oats. The Ravens simply plodded over a less-talented fledgling Texans opponent sporting a rookie QB (C.J. Stroud) and little else of note, mostly on the strength of some solid defense and timely offense, however unspectacular. The only notable offensive performance for Baltimore belonged to rookie WR Zay Flowers, who provided 9 caches for 78 yards, including some true “ankle-breaking” moments demonstrating his elusiveness.
Sadly, the game witnessed the season-ending – and possibly Ravens tenure-ending – Achilles tendon tear suffered by RB J.K. Dobbins. Here’s a heartfelt wish for a speedy recovery and a chance to reestablish himself somewhere. Other injuries of note include assorted leg issues for LT Ronnie Stanley and C Tyler Linderbaum (both week-to-week) and a torn pectoral muscle for S Marcus Williams, who remains a possibility to return this season.
Bengals 3, Browns 24
Despite leaguewide amazement, denizens of the AFC North understand this sort of outcome is not unique when these two teams meet. The Browns remain the divisional bugaboo for the Bengals and QB Joe Burrow, who has managed to beat the Browns exactly once in six attempts; it seems to make no difference how their respective rosters are constructed or whether there’s any differences in talent level – it just IS.
The Bengals accumulated just 157 yards of total offense, with Burrow only managing 82 yards passing. WR Ja’Marr Chase accounted for nearly half the receiving yardage for the team with 39, and RB Joe Mixon ground out 56 yards on 13 carries. There’s little else to talk about for Cincinnati. Let’s hope it was just “one of those days”.
Cleveland’s defense led the way by applying continual pressure to Burrow from the outset. The offense leaned on star RB Nick Chubb (18 carries for 106 yards), and focused plays from QB Deshaun Watson, who contributed a rushing and passing TD. The Browns most-notable injury was to RT Jack Conklin, who tore his ACL and will (again) miss the remainder of the season; it’s hard not to feel for the guy, who has been in a continual cycle of injuries and rehab since he joined the Browns.
49ers 30, Steelers 7
Simply put, the 49ers had their way with the hapless Steelers, forcing QB Kenny Pickett into two interceptions and sacking him five times en route to a definitive win. The Steelers never really found their footing or looked remotely confident; a suspect game plan and an near-total abandonment of the rushing attack by halftime combined to render the team ineffective and toothless. Veteran WR Allen Robinson led Pittsburgh with 64 yards receiving, and RB Najee Harris managed 31 yards on a scant 6 carries (3 in each half) alongside two catches for two yards.
That’s pretty much it, folks.
The Steelers’ defense didn’t fare much better, allowing 152 yards rushing and a loud, long TD to RB Christian McCaffrey, while WR Brandon Aiyuk punctuated his day with two receiving TDs and 129 yards. Steelers Edge/OLB T.J. Watt supplied a typical (for him) day with three sacks and a fumble recovery, but he had little help beyond ILB Kwon Alexander, who supplied a team-high 9 tackles.
The injury bug also bit the Steelers, who lost DT Cam Heyward to a long-term groin injury that will require surgery; he’s expected to miss a minimum of eight weeks (rumor has it the team may attempt to sign venerable/retired DE J.J. Watt to fill in). WR Diontae Johnson is expected to miss “a few weeks” after aggravating his hamstring.
See y’all next week.