By Steve Silverman
Extra points are the easiest thing in the world for Baltimore Ravens placekicker, Justin Tucker, right? Well, they were up until the dying seconds of the fourth quarter. That’s when the Ravens scored what appeared to be the tying touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. All Tucker had to do was kick yet another extra point to tie the game at 24-24 and send it into overtime.
It seemed to be automatic, as Tucker had made 222 consecutive extra points in his brilliant NFL career. Generally regarded as the best placekicker in the game, Tucker missed, and the Ravens lost. Automatic? Nothing is automatic in the NFL
Broncos 45, Cardinals 10
Denver Broncos: A-. The Broncos have endured some tough games to this point in the season, but they returned two interceptions for touchdowns and dominated the home team from start to finish. The Broncos are a win away from .500, but their Week 8 game is at Kansas City.
Arizona Cardinals: D-. It looks like things are going to get worse before they get better for the Cardinals. Rookie head coach Steve Wilks is not going to have many winning Sundays after losing by 35 points at home to Denver.
Chargers 20, Titans 19
Los Angeles Chargers: C. The Chargers were the better team in the first half and looked like they were going to put on a show for the English fans at Wembley Stadium. However, they struggled badly in the second half and might have suffered a loss (or a tie) if the Titans had decided to kick an extra point.
Tennessee Titans: C. The Titans outplayed the Chargers through much of the second half, and they appeared to be headed for overtime after scoring in the final minute. However, rookie head coach Mike Vrabel eschewed the extra point to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Wrong choice, Mike.
Buccaneers 26, Browns 23
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B. The Bucs seemed to be in control for a good portion of the game, but they couldn’t stop the Browns from mounting the comeback. Special teams have never been their strength, but Chandler Catanzaro was successful on a 59-yard FG attempt to give the Bucs a much-needed overtime win.
Cleveland Browns: C. The Browns can curse their luck and the fates all they want, but they have to find a way to stop falling short. Another overtime game and another loss, this time on a 59-yard field goal late in the extra session.
Patriots 38, Bears 31
New England Patriots: B+. The Patriots didn’t have Rob Gronkowski and lost rookie Sony Michel early in the game, but they had two special-teams touchdowns and dictated the pace of the game throughout. The Pats have issues — injuries and defense — but they found a way to win on the road.
Chicago Bears: C+. Mitchell Trubisky has demonstrated that he can get the job done as a running quarterback. However, his passing lacks consistency and accuracy. The Patriots know how to finish the job, and the Bears are still learning.
Colts 37, Bills 5
Indianapolis Colts: B+. The Colts are a one-dimensional team because they pass so often. That was not the case against the Bills, as Andrew Luck threw for just 156 yards. However, that was good enough, as he completed 17 of 23 with four TDs and no interceptions.
Buffalo Bills: D-. The Bills have shown that when they can stay in the game for the first half, they are often good enough to be competitive. That was not the case here, as they were blitzed in the second quarter and they simply don’t have an answer at quarterback.
Texans 20, Jaguars 7
Houston Texans: B. It was not a work of art or anything close. However, the Texans won a divisional road game, and that’s always important for any team that has playoff hopes.
Jacksonville Jaguars: D. Remember when the Jaguars were the team that beat the Patriots early in the season and they were supposed to be the dominant team in the AFC? That’s not happening when they get beaten by double-digits at home and their opponent did not even play particularly well.
Lions 32, Dolphins 21
Detroit Lions: B+. Why are the Lions winning games on the road against decent opponents? Because they have found a ground game, with Kerryon Johnson to take some of the heat off of quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions’ rough start in September is starting to become a distant memory.
Miami Dolphins: C-. The Dolphins are an inconsistent and maddening team that doesn’t take advantage of its opportunities. After their comeback win over the Chicago Bears in Week 6, they struggled against the Lions and let a winnable game get away.
Vikings 37, Jets 17
Minnesota Vikings: B+. Slowly, but surely, the Vikings are starting to look more and more like a very good team. They didn’t go into MetLife Stadium and blow the doors off the Jets right from the start. Instead, they took the measure of their opponents and established their strengths, and kept their foot on the gas pedal. That’s what winning teams do.
New York Jets: C-. After back-to-back wins had lifted the Jets to the .500 mark, their opponents took them seriously. While the Jets were able to compete into the third quarter, they don’t have enough to stay with a talented and focused opponent.
Panthers 21, Eagles 17
Carolina Panthers: A-. The Panthers may have played the most inspired fourth quarter in the regular-season history of the franchise. Down by 17-0 to the defending Super Bowl champions, the Panthers struck for three fourth-quarter touchdowns to steal the game from the Eagles with the winning points coming on a Cam Newton TD pass to Greg Olsen.
Philadelphia Eagles: C-. The Eagles looked like Super Bowl champions for three-plus quarters, but they stopped playing in the fourth, and the Panthers came in and took their lunch money. Doug Pederson has to do something for the Eagles to get back the relentless attitude that characterized their play a year ago.
Saints 24, Ravens 23
New Orleans Saints: A-. The Saints came through with a big effort on the road to beat an excellent team that knows how to play a tough, physical game. While they got a huge break when Justin Tucker missed the tying extra point, the Saints were the better team in the second half.
Baltimore Ravens: C+. The Ravens had the early advantage in this game and could have won comfortably had they found a way to sustain their effort in the final 15 minutes. John Harbaugh wants the Ravens to be a fourth-quarter team, and in this game, they were not.
Redskins 20, Cowboys 17
Washington Redskins: A-. Look who is in first place in the NFC East. While the Redskins don’t garner a lot of national respect, they are 4-2 and have a 1 ½-game lead on the Cowboys and the Eagles. Will they stay in the top spot? Perhaps not, but Jay Gruden has his team playing hard, and Alex Smith refuses to make key mistakes.
Dallas Cowboys: C+. While the Cowboys fell short against their divisional and traditional rival, there was no give-up from Dak Prescott, who nearly led the Cowboys all the way back. If they had made a 52-yard FG attempt at the gun, the ‘Boys would have pushed this game to overtime.
Rams 39, 49ers 10
Los Angeles Rams: A-. When asked before the game what he feared about the Niners’ defense, Todd Gurley replied, “Nothing.” That kind of arrogance could come back to bite the Rams later in the season.
San Francisco 49ers: C. The Rams are flying high, while the Niners are battered, bruised and under-talented at this point. They may not have a full complement again until next year, so more painful moments are likely.
Chiefs 45, Bengals 10
Kansas City Chiefs: A-. The Chiefs have been lighting up the scoreboard all season, but they have heard massive criticism of their defense. While that unit has been generous, that was not the case against Cincinnati. They held the Bengals to 10 points and just three points in the second half. Patrick Mahomes and the offense dominated the Bengals for 60 minutes.
Cincinnati Bengals: D. The Bengals came into their Sunday night game as underdogs, but they were in first place in the AFC North, and they were facing a true test against the high-scoring Chiefs. The Bengals crashed and burned, as their defense was overwhelmed by the Kansas City offense.
Falcons 23, Giants 20
Atlanta Falcons: B. Matt Ryan led his team to a much-needed win, but the fans would really love to see Julio Jones get on the board. He may be the second or third-best wide receiver in the NFL, but he still doesn’t have a TD catch. It is time for the Falcons to put it all together, get back to. 500 and make a run at a playoff spot.
New York Giants: C-. The Giants have not quit on Pat Shurmur, but that’s cold comfort because they are a professional team. They can’t protect Eli, and the offense lacks finishing ability. Shurmur should be taken to task for his decision to go for two after the team’s fourth-quarter touchdown, and the play-calling at the end of the game was atrocious.
Bye week: Packers, Raiders, Seahawks, Steelers