Week 9 in the NFL started out quite slowly, with some uninspiring games taking place in the early kick-offs, but this was soon rectified by the late fixtures, which provided some nail-biting finishes and incredible performances. A few analysts highlighted the game the undefeated Green Bay Packers travelled to AFC West leaders the San Diego Chargers as a potential upset for the defending champions, despite Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers recent uncharacteristic struggles, however Rivers was to be the focal point of this game, as Green Bay held on for a 45-38 victory to remain unbeaten.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be his usual sensational self, finishing the game with four touchdown passes to four different receivers. These touchdowns along with a couple of interceptions by Phillip Rivers, which were returned for scores allowed the Packers to hold a twenty-one point lead early in the fourth quarter.During the final quarter San Diego roared to life to cut the twenty one point lead to seven with two touchdown passes to Vincent Jackson, taking his total to three TD catches for the day. With the chance to tie the game with 1:06 left on the clock, Phillip Rivers led his Chargers down the field, getting to the 41-yard line in Green Bay territory. Rivers then launched a deep pass downfield, which resulted in a game-ending interception. The loss was the Chargers’ third straight and sends the team to 4-4.However, the news the Oakland Raiders were not able to capitalize and take control of the division must have come as something of a relief.
The Raiders went down to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos 38-24 in the Black Hole. The Kansas City Chiefs also lost, as the Miami Dolphins picked up their first win of the season in style, walloping the Chiefs 31-3 at Arrowhead.Another key match-up was the Pittsburgh Steelers chance at redemption against the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers had taken an unceremonious thumping at the hands of their divisional rivals in Week 1, but came into the game in a decent run of form, largely due the stellar play of Ben Roethlisberger who has found fresh talented young targets in the form of Antonio Brown and Emmanuele Sanders to add to the already established Mike Wallace. The division was in a precarious state too due to the emergence of the Cincinatti Bengals, who have surprised many by getting off to an extremely fast start. Coach Jim Harbaugh said of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry that it was “a game for men”, as the usual case when the two teams clash is hard-hitting smash-mouth football with two defences, which over the last decade have both ranked first or second in the league in nearly all categories.
This game didn’t stray from the usual quest for defensive dominance, as both teams were limited to field-goals throughout the first half. Baltimore running-back Ray Rice had a 76-yard score chalked off for a penalty on wide receiver Torrey Smith. It wasn’t until the third quarter that Rice was finally able to break through and give the Ravens a 16-6 lead. Neither Rice nor his opposite number Rashard Mendenhall was able to take the game by the scruff of the neck, as the two defences littered with pro-bowlers slammed the door shut on numerous occasions.
Mendenhall was kept out of the end-zone until the fourth quarter, where he burrowed in on a one yard run to get the Steelers back in the game. QB Ben Roethlisberger then took advantage of more stingy defensive work , as he launched a 25-yard pass towards Antonio Brown that was grabbed by an unintended receiver in the form of Mike Wallace.This was perfectly fine with Big Ben though, as the Steelers collected six points and took a 20-16 lead.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco was not done though. He drove his Ravens down the field and was able to overcome some crucial drops by his receivers. Torrey Smith who had been responsible for the crucial penalty earlier dropped another pass, and then Anquan Boldin was guilty of dropping one too. Flacco was undeterred though and eventually tried Torrey Smith one more time in the end-zone, and the 22-year-old finally snatched the ball out of the air for a 26-yard score. The Ravens then held on for the 23-20 victory , leaving the Bengals, Steelers and the Ravens with six wins each atop the AFC North.
Elsewhere, the New York Giants picked up a huge win over the New England Patriots 24-20 to strengthen their stranglehold of the NFC East. The New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a important divisional clash 27-16. The New York Jets outplayed the Buffalo Bills in every facet of the game in an emphatic 27-11 victory. The Houston Texans made easy work of the Cleveland Browns 30-12 and in the Monday game the Philadelphia Eagles blew a fourth-quarter lead against Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears as the game ended 30-24.
Albert Haynesworth unemployed… for one day
Albert Haynesworth, once one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the NFL, did not enjoy his time with the New England Patriots. In six games this year Haynesworth amassed just three tackles after being acquired in the off-season by New England who hoped to rejuvenate this once prominent player. His impressive seven year stint with the Tennessee Titans from 2002 to 2009 prompted the Washington Redskins to sign Haynesworth to one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history, totalling at around $100m over seven years.
Haynesworth was a tremendous disappointment in Washington.The Redskins quickly looked to unload the defensive tackle and his huge contract, which allowed the Patriots to “buy-low” and acquire him for a low round draft pick in a trade. The Patriots took on a low-risk high-upside methodology with the star who had previous issues with motivation and attitude. Bill Belichick has had previous success with re-energizing temperamental, highly-talented players at a bargain price, one of the examples being acquiring Randy Moss from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a fourth round draft pick in 2007.
Haynesworth entered waivers after being cut by the Patriots on Tuesday and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have just lost star defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for the season, quickly picked him up. The Buccaneers will take on the remainder of his contract, which has $750,000 remaining on his $1.5 million base salary.