A Pick 6 of the Weekend’s Action - NFL Week Six
In the spirit of yesteryear's two relics going at each other this week, we look back at the weekend action from a different angle. This week's takeaway list is inspired by other things that were big (and bad) in the 80s...
On Thursday night, the Patriots kicked off the weekend early, rolling over the Giants with a 35-14 win to continue on to 6-0 for the season.
Though it happened in Foxborough, the game could have been suited to New York’s Wall Street. New England means business, greed can be good, and they are stacking up the W’s like the Wolf of Wall Street swallowed Quaaludes. The 1980s was the decade of big shoulder pads, big hair, big talk and suits so wide they gave the illusion of people being twice as wide and twice as powerful.
So how are the Patriots the power dressers of the league?
There is no doubt that they are a good team, that defense is powerful and slick, while head-coach Bill Bellichick is pulling the strings despite quarterback Tom Brady looking more and more creaky with each passing week. In the team's six wins this season, only the Buffalo Bills have tested them in a game that ended 16-10. In the other five games, the Pats have beaten the disintegrating Steelers, the woeful Dolphins, the Sam Darnold-less Jets, the Redskins who fired their head-coach at 5 AM the following day, and now the Giants.
Yes, the Patriots look good in their sharp suits and slicked-back hair but until their Filofax has another appointment with a good team, we might not know how good they actually are until post-season.
Big hair, big names, glitz, glamour, Texas, and money. Dallas had everything needed to grip millions on television, but looking back, we see it was style over substance, poorly performed, and despite each episode leaving you with a cliffhanger, it was still underwhelming - yet somehow you had to watch.
And, in that spirit, we have the Dallas Cowboys who have seen their season, full of promise and expectation, descend into a mediocre soap opera. The big names are all there - quarterback, Dak Prescott, and star running back, Ezekiel Elliott - yet there was still an emptiness about the Cowboys.
They did promise a plot twist in the final quarter, coming within a two-point conversion of tying up the game, but the way the Jets shut that down said everything about the Cowboys. It was poorly played with those final two minutes of the game having more flags than an Olympic opening ceremony.
For the Jets, Sam Darnold’s return, after weeks out with an illness, inspired them to this victory. He threw for 338-yards and two touchdowns. It was the first victory for the Jets this season but a third defeat for the now 3-3 Cowboys. Next up for the Cowboys is a Monday night showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles who went down 38-20 to the Minnesota Vikings. Both teams desperately need that win on prime time television.
Back to the Future
The 1980s was the decade that made Michael J. Fox an unlikely yet completely convincing leading man. He was shorter and smaller than his peers which made his rise to prominence improbable but he had a charisma and charm to make any film a hit.
In Arizona, the present-day Cardinals have their own smaller-than-average star who stands out due to his charm and charisma on the field. Kyler Murray may have been a smart gamble as the number-one draft pick in April. Having already drafted a young quarterback the year before (the now Miami Dolphin Josh Rosen), the Cardinals went Back to the Future to bet the house on Murray.
Movie buffs will know that Back to the Future actually started filming with teen heartthrob, Eric Stoltz, in the lead role before Michael J. Fox replaced him. For Arizona’s quarterback role, a similar gamble looks to be bearing fruit. Murray completed 27 of his 37 pass attempts, throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Yet it was Murray's speed around the field as the pocket broke down that saw his star shine. He is promising as an elusive, agile runner with only six games into his professional career.
It was only a one-point 34-33 win against the Atlanta Falcons who seem to be flying in ever-decreasing circles. With a 2-3-1 record for the season and with Murray behind the center, the future looks a bit brighter for the Cardinals than it did before, having finished 3-13 last year.
Tom Cruise-ing in California
Long before there was the sofa-hopping, eternally grinning, ageless stunt machine called Tom Cruise, there was the newbie Tom Cruise. Nobody really saw his mega-star status coming when he first appeared in 1981’s The Outsiders. The same may have been said about this year’s 49ers.
Fast forward a few years through Risky Business and a star was born. The same now has to be said for San Francisco who went south to the Los Angeles Rams and beat last year’s Super Bowl runners-up.
They had every question the Rams offense could throw at them answered with their quarterback, Jared Goff limited to 78 passing yards. The Rams had a couple of nice carries from rookie running back, Darrell Henderson, and Robert Woods, who ran in their only touchdown in the 20-7 defeat.
The 49ers quarterback, Jimmy Garoppalo had a much more comfortable afternoon passing for 243 yards and running in a touchdown of his own. The Rams are starting to look like a shadow of last year’s team with only the standout tackle, Aaron Donald, looking the same as last year, making two sacks on Garoppolo. But the 49ers made it look too easy, remaining the Top Gun in the NFC West. It looks like the Rams are struggling to make it out of the division and back into the playoffs. Seattle appears most likely to challenge the 49ers in the West this year after their 32-28 win over an improved Cleveland Browns.
Whether this season will continue as the ’80s did for Cruise remains to be seen. Cruise closed out the decade with an Oscar nomination for Born on the Fourth of July. If San Francisco continues to play as they have all year, they could find themselves earning their own awards down the line.
Business up front, party in the back
Everybody had a mullet in the 1980s. Short on top, long in the back - the haircut was the staple of every self-respecting rock star and more.
On Sunday, two of the league’s rock-star quarterbacks went toe-to-toe - Houston Texan’s DeShaun Watson and the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes fans will call-out the fact that he hasn’t been 100% since turning his ankle last weekend while he still managed three touchdown passes and 273 yards on an off day.
Opposite Mahomes, Watson had very similar throwing numbers minus two touchdown passes. Watson, however, also ran in two of his own in a performance that saw him emerge firmly into the race to take the MVP title off Mahomes this season.
The 31-24 win for the Texans leaves both teams with a 4-2 record for the year. Despite their quarterback heroics, both teams are the football equivalent of the mullet. They can roll upfield and score instantly, however, both are prone to defensive lapses and allow too many points against them.
Both teams are, at times, exceptional, and it would be a shame not to win anything during this period of quality. Mahomes, like Watson, is a quarterback who will be around for a while, just as the mullet once was. That was a haircut that never won anything, however, despite hanging around for a long long time. These two teams, both now 4-2 for the year, need to make sure they don’t become the mullet, no matter how rock star it may seem.
Straight to video
The main reason we are in the 1980s this week is the game between Washington and Miami - the big game of the weekend, and perhaps even the season. Both teams seemed a bit of a mess and choosing one from the other felt a bit like choosing which Jaws sequel is best. Neither are great, though Washington did just about manage to squeak their first win of the season 17-16.
The Dolphins are sinking as fast as possible towards the first draft pick in April. Watching Washington was like watching a car crash in slow motion. Both sides were dead on arrival in terms of their seasons. If you remember Weekend at Bernie’s - an 80s movie about two guys who drag a corpse around for a weekend - you will know it had potential to be a surprise hit.
The game wasn't a hit - unless you count any of the five sacks on Dolphins starting quarterback, Josh Rosen as surprise hits. Nothing about this game full of fumbles, low snaps, interceptions and missed kicks were particularly surprising - or fun to watch.
If you are young enough to remember hours with family members arguing over which movie to rent for the weekend, then you understand how sad it is to see these teams reduced to this. You may also remember somebody suggesting Weekend at Bernie’s 2. How bad could it be? The first time around was fun. The sequel, just like this game, was dreadful.
Contributing Author - Rees Dale