On Saturday, Penn State lost a game when IT scored an ill-advised touchdown. On Sunday, Falcons -- the Falcons! -- did the same thing.
Atlanta has put on a clinic this year in creative losing, this time dropping a 23-22 decision to visiting Detroit.
The Falcons are the Phillies bullpen, except in helmets and shoulder pads. On Sunday, they dropped to 1-6 when they allowed the Lions to march down the field following Todd Gurley’s accidental 10-yard touchdown run with 64 seconds left.
Had Gurley fallen down before reaching the end zone, the Falcons would have been able to milk the clock for a game-ending chip-shot field goal. But given the way Atlanta’s luck has gone this season, kicker Younghoe Koo probably would have missed it.
“I was mad as hell,” Gurley said. “I was trying not to [score], but my momentum took me in. ... It’s kind of crazy. It’s one of those unfortunate situations. I’ve been in about six or seven of those situations and always got down.”
Gurley’s gaffe wasn’t as egregious as that of Penn State’s Devyn Ford, whose score Saturday allowed Indiana a chance to miraculously rally and eventually upset the Lions in overtime. Gurley, who executed a similar fall-before-the-score play in 2018 while with the Rams, simply couldn’t contain his momentum and fell just over the goal line. It was so bizarre that Detroit’s defenders were celebrating his touchdown. They knew they had just been given CPR.
What Gurley and Ford have in common is that while their scores have become memorable for the wrong reasons, their defenses let them down big time. In Gurley’s case, Atlanta’s allowed the Lions to drive 75 yards in the final minute without any timeouts.
Atlanta fired its coach (Dan Quinn) and GM (Thomas Dimitroff) after an 0-5 start that included losses to Dallas, when they were up 15 with five minutes left in Week 2. The next game, the Falcons gagged a 16-point lead with seven minutes left.
What made their latest loss hurt even more is that Detroit has a similar reputation of collapsing more dramatically than a soccer player who was brushed by an opponent.
“My job is just [to go] down,” Gurley said. “I’m taking all the responsibility.”
Winners & Losers
Arizona surprised Seattle in overtime in the night game to tighten up the ridiculously difficult NFC West. The Cardinals (5-2) knocked the Seahawks (5-1) took their only lead of the game came when Zane Gonzalez kicked a 48-yard field goal in the extra session. Russell Wilson was good, but his third interception helped set up Gonzalez’s field goal. Tyler Lockett (15-200-3) was targeted on 20 of Wilson’s 50 passes.
Arizona (Kenyan Drake) and Seattle (Chris Carson) both lost their starting running backs during the game with foot injuries.
The Steelers won a battle of undefeateds when they held off Tennessee (5-1) thanks to more misadventures by Titans kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Pittsburgh nearly squandered a 27-7 lead but got a break when Gostkowski missed a 45-yard field goal with 14 seconds left that would have sent the game to overtime. Pittsburgh (6-0) has another juicy game next week, when the Steelers visit Baltimore (5-1).
Staying in the division, tip of the helmet to Baker Mayfield, who shook off an 0-for-5 start with an interception to complete 22 of his next 23 passes, including his fifth touchdown with 11 seconds left to rally the Browns to a 37-34 win over Cincinnati. Mayfield’s only incompletion was a spike to stop the clock.
Cincinnati defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap is so aggravated by his reduced role that shortly after the Bengals lost again, he took to social media to announce that he was selling his 6,000-square-foot home (“in one of the best school districts”). He’s even willing to sell it furnished. Good grief.
Then there’s Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, who had a sack for the sixth consecutive game.
If I were in charge, Washington’s Jon Bostic would get a three-game suspension for the hit that knocked out Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton. And if Dalton is forced to miss more than three games, Bostic would sit out until he could come back.
The Patriots' 33-6 loss to San Francisco was their most lopsided defeat at home in the Bill Belichick era (since 2000). Cam Newton was pulled in the third quarter after throwing his third interception. Newton has two touchdown passes and seven picks, been sacked 10 times, and is 2-3 as a starter. Be interesting to see whom Belichick starts next week at Buffalo.
Maybe Buffalo was looking ahead. The Bills, playing their third game in 13 days, had to settle for six field goals in an 18-10 win over the Jets. Every time they sent out Tyler Bass for a kick, bettors who had Buffalo laying 13 could only grit their teeth,
The Jets had been one of two teams that hadn’t covered all year. That distinction now belongs to the Cowboys, who are 0-7 against the spread.
New England’s wideouts combined for 95 receiving yards total.
Green Bay’s Davante Adams, who’s mostly been hobbling since Week 1, tattooed the Texans for a career-high 196 receiving yards.
The Chargers’ Justin Herbert (347 yards, 3 TDs, 0 picks) picked up the first win of his career. Herbert was the third quarterback taken in April, going sixth overall to replace Phillip Rivers. Joe Burrow went first, and he looks like the real deal. We’ll find out about Tua Tagovailoa next week, when he makes his first start for Miami.
Le’Veon Bell had six carries for 39 yards in his Kansas City debut.
Did you notice?
The Titans had 1 yard on three plays in the first quarter.
Cleveland’s Odell Beckham Jr., who was visibly frustrated after getting yanked from last week’s blowout to Pittsburgh, suffered what could be a significant injury in the first quarter.
Home teams went 4-8 on Sunday.
Awful roughing the quarterback penalty called on Atlanta defensive back AJ Terrell led to the Lions' first touchdown. The rookie Terrell, who made the highlight reels last week with an interception with his legs, leveled Detroit’s Matthew Stafford with a textbook tackle that nonetheless kept the drive alive. Mike Pereira tried to justify it by saying Terrell launched himself and made contact with Stafford’s helmet. Terrell is 6-1, 195. Stafford is 6-3, 220.
Good luck to Niners running back Jeff Wilson, who was having a career game (112 yards, three TDs) before getting his ankle rolled. San Fran can’t catch a break when it comes to injuries.
The Raiders are now 3-15 after a bye since 2003.
Jacksonville has lost six in a row, allowing at least 30 points in all six. Cornerback Sidney Jones left with a back injury in the first half.
He said it
“To me, football is about letters, not numbers — you know: ‘W’ and ‘L.’”
-- Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow after throwing for 406 yards and three touchdowns as Cincinnati fell to Cleveland.
“I’m frustrated. I’m angry. It sucks. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to feel.”
-- Houston’s J.J. Watt after the Texans fell to 1-6.
“You think about the pain, because that hurt us to watch.”
-- CBS analyst James Lofton after Chargers tight end Virgil Green gruesomely rolled his ankle.