GOOD, BAD AND UGLY

NFL Week 10 observations: Bridgewater's return highlights exciting slate of games

Teddy Bridgewater did not play, but he returned to the field. Minnesota Vikings courtesy photo

Week 10 of the NFL season saw some interesting season trends continue, and some come to an end. There were some blowouts, crazy finishes, and unexpected outcomes. Water is beginning to find its level as the true contenders are emerging.

The Good

-Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was back in uniform and active. Bridgewater suffered a torn ACL and knee dislocation on August 30, 2016. He missed all of last season and half of this season recovering. He may not have his starting job back, but at least he’s still able to play and try to live up to his potential.

-Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey is looking like he’s going to live up to the hype, barring injury. While his 8 touches only yielded 50 yards, he scored twice. With him on the field, he’s already become an X Factor for the Panthers and must be accounted for. As a rookie, he’s currently in top five of receptions. He’s looking like what Reggie Bush started off like. Here’s to hoping he can keep it up because he’s a joy to watch.

-There are 11 teams now with at least six wins. The league’s best record lies with the Philadelphia Eagles at 8-1. While some of the teams that were preseason favorites are still in contention, the league has the type of parity it has longed for. Slightly pass the midway point, there are still debates made as to who is the best team in the league.

The Bad

-New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo is a dead man walking. After losing to the winless San Francisco 49ers, most thought he was going to be fired. Instead, he got the dreaded “vote of confidence” from team owners. This is usually a pink-slip precursor. At 1-8, the Giants are a complete joke.

-In a battle of journeyman quarterbacks, Ryan Fitzpatrick “led” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Josh McCown and the New York Jets 15-10. The score was 9-3 deep into the 4th quarter before each team traded touchdowns beginning with about six minutes left in the game. The quarterbacks combined to go 40/73 for 400 yards and an interception each.

-The Pittsburgh Steelers only managed 316 yards and 20 points against the Indianapolis Colts. Why is this significant? The Colts normally give up nearly 400 yards and 28 points a game. To add to it, the Steelers needed a game winning field goal with 35 seconds left to pull out the win. From a team with arguably the best running back, best wide receiver, and a top tier quarterback, this performance was abysmal.

The Ugly

-Chicago Bears running back Benny Cunningham appeared to score a game tying touchdown in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers, but was called out and the Bears had a first and goal. Head coach John Fox decided to challenge the play. The ref ruled that Cunningham did in fact stay in bounds, but lost control of the ball diving for the pylon and ruled it a touchback.   

-The Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers both tried to give each other the game. A series of interceptions, taunting penalties, a roughing the passer penalty, and general boneheadedness, the game was eventually won by the Jags on a tipped field goal attempt that found its way through the uprights by Josh Lambo, who was cut by the Chargers.

-Seattle Seahawks all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman tore his Achilles Thursday night and will miss the rest of the season. Sherman, amongst others, are already an outspoken opponent to Thursday night games due to the high risk of injury;this will only add fuel to the fire. However, with the amount of money, and length, in the television contracts for it, it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

-With starting left tackle Tyron Smith out, the Dallas Cowboys gave up eight sacks to the Atlanta Falcons, including 6 to Adrian Clayborn. The vaunted Cowboys offensive line looked more like a directional FCS school offensive line going against the Falcons. They are single-handedly responsible for triggering a bonus clause for Clayborn.

-There were some truly great performances in week 10. But the one that has caught the attention of many was by Marquise Goodwin of the 49ers. He played and scored on an 83 yard touchdown hours after he and his wife lost their baby boy after a premature birth around 4 a.m.  that same morning. He immediately dropped to his knees after scoring. His teammates surrounded him on the field in a show of love and support. The show of raw human emotion and his ability to play after such a tragedy was unbelievable. His teammates rallying around him, along with him and his wife’s willingness to be so open and vulnerable was humbling. My allergies tend to act up at times like this because I had to watch my mom bury my brother. It’s not an easy thing to go through. Those moments of humanity, support for a fellow teammate, and genuine love in the moment of competition are some of the many reasons why I love sports.

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The Texans didn't have an answer for Derrick Henry. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Romeo Crennel made a valorous call that might have costed the Houston Texans from winning their second consecutive game on Sunday. Up by seven with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter, Crennel decided to call a two-point conversion following Deshaun Watson's one-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

During the two-point conversion, Watson had a look at an open Randall Cobb, but Titans' defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons got a hand on the ball to deflect the pass. The failed conversion allowed the Titans to take a 42-36 victory over the Texans inside Nissan Stadium. Tennessee scored 13 unanswered points, which included a seven-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown to send the game into overtime.

"I think I would do it again," Crennel said during his media availability on Monday. "You are on the road against a divisional opponent who is undefeated, and if you could get that two-point conversion — you shut the door on them. We had a guy open, but unfortunately, the ball got tipped and we did not make it. I would do it again because it was a good choice."

The decision to not kick the field goal caused somewhat of an uproar, but it is understandable why Crennel made the call. Crennel had faith in Watson to put the Texans in a position to close the game, similar to his 4th-and-4 call during last week's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the end, Crennel's risky decisions could stem from the lack of faith he has in the Texans' depleted defense.

Houston's defense hit an all-time low against the Titans. They gave up a franchise-worst 601 total yards — with Derrick Henry accounting for 212 yards on 22 carries. But despite their struggles against the run, the Texans' secondary were just as faulty. They gave up a total of 338 yards through the air and allowed Tannehill to go 8-for-9 down the field during the Titans' final drive of regulation.

Had Houston's defense made a stop during the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, the Texans could have ended the game 2-0 under their interim head coach.

"I wanted to go ahead and get the two points — I felt like that would have put the game out of reach for them," Crennel said. "If we had gotten it, we would have been in much better shape. But we did not get it. We did not perform well in overtime, and they [Titans] won the game."

Following Sunday's heartbreaking loss, Texans safety Justin Reid said it best, "Had we converted on the two-point conversion, this would be a totally different conversation. So it is what it is."

Up next, the 1-5 Texans will look to bounce back from defeat against the 4-1 Green Bay Packers, inside NRG Stadium on Sunday. Kick-off is at 12:00 PM CT.

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