At the end of the last century, the Buffalo Bills were eliminated from the NFL Playoffs by the Tennessee Titans because of a play which is now known as the “Music City Miracle.”
Although the throw from tight endFrank Wycheck to wide receiverKevin Dysonappeared to everyone except Titans fans and, unfortunately, the referee, to be an illegal forward lateral, the resulting touchdown was allowed to stand. And the Bills lost by a score of 22-16.
So began the epic journey known around Western New York as “The Drought.” For 17 long, torturous years, the Bills failed to make the postseason. This annual exercise in futility was the butt of countless jokes and NFL Today graphics.
The Lions were facing an opponent this week that on paper, appeared pretty evenly matched. Both teams are having mediocre seasons so far. Each team has playoff aspirations. Each team has had impressive wins but also had some not so impressive losses. They also had the same record going into this game. In order for the Lions to keep their playoff hopes alive, winning this game was paramount.
I hate to say this because just a few weeks ago I said that the Packers had a great chance to turn things around for the rest of the season. Alas, they haven’t. And from the looks of it, they won’t.
So, what went wrong? It’s hard to tell, but besides quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone, things never quite picked up on the turf for the Green Bay Packers. Heck, they even lost tight end Martellus Bennett back to the New England Patriots. He started seven games and then the team played a very odd game of injury-waive-goodbye with him.
The Titans are back from their bye week with a victory at Nissan Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens. Also back from extended recovery periods were safety Johnathan Cyprien and wide receiver Corey Davis, who both had been out with hamstring injuries.
So far, this entire Titans season it has seemed like something is missing. The Titans are barely squeaking by with wins. If you thought the return of Cyprien and Davis would make a huge difference, you were wrong (or is it just me thinking that way?) Davis made a spectacular catch with some toe drag swag, catching a 23-yard pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota. Cyprien was part of the Titans defense that did not allow a completion of 20 or more yards.
What a way to come back from a disarmingly bad loss last week against division rivals for the Baltimore Ravens to play like they did on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. The Ravens played excellent on both sides of the ball.
After being criticized by both fans and press alike, the Ravens came out playing fast and smart. When given good protection and time to throw we see a completely different team. We see a team that has the ground game and passing game in sync. Coming into this game we didn’t know which Ravens team was going to show up Sunday.
Glad to see the preparedness for the Raiders was on display. Quarterback Joe Flacco looked comfortable in the pocket. He didn’t throw one interception and was not sacked at all. Despite some injuries to some players we still managed to escape mistake free.
After years of tough competition and league-leading stats, the AFC North seems to have fallen on hard times. Through four weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers are at the top with a predictable 3-1 record. They are currently ranked 5th on the Bleacher Report Power Rankings. Then, there’s the REST of the division. Down at #22 we have the Baltimore Ravens (2-2), at #23 the Cincinnati Bengals (1-3), and, pulling up the rear as usual, my Cleveland Browns (0-4).
Pittsburgh’s only loss so far came in overtime vs the Chicago Bears. They look good. Really good. Going to the Playoffs and maybe the Super Bowl good. (Man it hurts just to type that!). They host a tough and improving Jacksonville Jaguars team this week but their offense, which has put up a division-leading 90 points so far, is up to the challenge.
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, but it wasn’t all bad for fans of the team. Coming off a big win in Week 1 over AFC South rival Houston Texans, the Jaguars were poised at the top of the division. Alas, it was doomed not to last as they fell to the Titans 37-16.
It is still early and they can certainly rebound with a win in London, England over former AFC Central foe the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are currently undefeated and sit atop the AFC North but as the saying goes any given Sunday. The Ravens defense is playing lights out but their offense has suffered several injuries. It remains to be seen who takes the win across the pond.
In the meantime, we are here help Jaguars fans feel better heading into that tilt. So, here are three things Jags fans can take away from the game to make them feel better.
Rookie running back Leonard Fournette is the real deal. The former LSU product is fifth in the league in rushing yards at 140 despite having a lackluster game (14/40/1). He is second in the league in rushing attempts only trailing to Denver Broncos CJ Anderson at 45. He has been everything fans could have hoped for and then some. Just watch this grown man run versus the Titans.
Week 2 has come and gone and the Cleveland Browns are winless. While I’m trying not to channel the Ghosts of Seasons Past, last year’s 1-15 record isn’t far enough away for comfort.
Bright Spots: Rookie Quarterback DeShone Kizer, a Notre Dame product, won the hearts of fans during the preseason. Each week he made mistakes, but he seemed to be learning quickly and we saw progress as he got rid of the ball faster, started leading his receivers and started to throw the ball away to avoid sacks. All those lessons seemed lost over the past two weeks as he racked up NINE sacks, FOUR interceptions and only ONE touchdown. Yet, for the first time in recent years, fans have the hope that he will improve, that he could be our QB of the Future and are showing patience as he develops.
Defensive Coordinator Gregg “3G” Williams has brought a “Come Get Some” attitude that has long been missing here in Cleveland. While we battle perennial defensive greats Baltimore and Pittsburgh, we continued to get pushed around on the field and never had the talent or attitude to get some back. That is changing this year with the addition of Rookie Jabrill Peppers. His status as an alumni of the University of Michigan aside, fans look forward to what excitement he will bring to the field, whether it’s returning punts or flying around on defense.
And let’s not forget the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Myles Garrett. His injury near the end of preseason caused a lot of angst for fans, but we want him back healthy and ready to wreak havoc on opponents. While Head Coach Hue Jackson refuses to name a time frame for his return, I’m hopeful that he’ll get back on the field for the Week 4 match versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Division Games Matter!