Some losses sting. Some send you into a tailspin. Some make you rethink everything. Some keep you from the playoffs, a division title, elite status.
Week 9, smack dab in the middle of the regular-season schedule, provided a series of dispiriting defeats. Here are the teams that suffered the most concerning losses on Sunday, Schein Nine style:
The loss: New Orleans Saints 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
Who saw that coming?!
The Buccaneers got smacked. They got punked. The Saints marched into Tampa on Sunday night and knocked the Bucs back into the creamsicle era with a nationally televised, prime-time beatdown.
The Buccaneers looked lifeless. They looked like they were playing in quicksand all game. No tempo on offense. No resistance on defense. It was 31-0 at the half!
Tom Brady played his worst game in memory. The G.O.A.T. looked dreadful. Three picks. He wasn’t close. Rob Gronkowski looked defunct, catching one ball on six targets — and dropping a touchdown pass. The offensive line lost the battle in the trenches. Tampa’s previously strong defense was shredded by Drew Brees, bullied by Taysom Hill.
There was a lot of discussion in recent weeks about Tampa Bay being the team to beat in the NFC. Pump the breaks on that sentiment. With a chance to make a statement on a big stage, the Buccaneers flat out embarrassed themselves. Sean Payton and the Saints deserve so much credit for taking full control of the NFC South race in astounding fashion. For Tampa, it was alarming. It was gross.
The loss: Buffalo Bills 44, Seattle Seahawks 34
That was a staggering display of defensive ineptitude. And if you don’t believe me, ask Pete Carroll. The future Hall of Fame coach and defensive guru was absolutely disgusted after his Seahawks gave up 44 points.
“So out of character across the board, I don’t even recognize us,” Carroll said, via KOIN News’ AJ McCord.
He’s right. That’s the most points Seattle has ever allowed in the Carroll era. And it happened on the day when Jamal Adams returned to the lineup after missing four games with a groin injury.
Sure, first and foremost, credit the Bills for living up to my expectations. My guy Josh Allen played like a superstar, racking up 415 yards and three touchdowns through the air and notching an additional score on the ground. Seattle has now given up 2,897 passing yards — that’s the worst figure through eight games in the Super Bowl era.
This was the most glaring example yet of why I cannot take Seattle seriously as a Super Bowl team. Yes, even though Russell Wilson had a ghastly outing Sunday (see: four turnovers), the quarterback has spent most of this season playing at an MVP level. But this is a team sport. And when Russ is flanked by a defense this anemic, well … Mr. Unlimited is pushed to the limit.
The loss: Las Vegas Raiders 31, Los Angeles Chargers 26
You can’t make it up. You just can’t.
Justin Herbert capped off a pulsating, game-winning drive with a touchdown pass at the gun … until he didn’t. Herbert threw a touchdown pass to tight end Donald Parham, but it was rightly overturned on replay, when like the sixth camera angle showed that the ball did indeed hit the ground. On the heels of the debacle in Denver, it’s the second straight week the Chargers have lost on the final play of the game. If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Chargers would have no luck at all.
Herbert was breathtaking yet again, but he still has just one win to show for this spectacular rookie year. This was another gut punch for the amazing Chargers fans. I don’t know how you do it every week. To recap the heartache, in case you are scoring at home …
Week 2: The Chargers blow two leads — including one of 11 points — and lose to Kansas City in overtime.
Week 4: Los Angeles jumps out to a 24-7 lead over Tampa Bay in the second quarter, but a fumble right before halftime jump-starts the Buccaneers’ comeback win.
Week 5: Up 20-3 on the Saints in the second quarter, the Bolts blow the lead, kicker Mike Badgley knocks a would-be, 50-yard game-winner off the upright at the end of regulation, and L.A. loses in overtime.
And then the last two weeks, when the Chargers literally lost in the last second of each game.
You really cannot make this up.
The loss: Tennessee Titans 24, Chicago Bears 17
I called the Bears fraudulent, even when they hit five wins. Love the defense, but the rest of this operation’s been smoke and mirrors, even during the wins. And in today’s offense-centric league, you need something on that side of the ball.
Chicago has proven my initial intuition right, though, with three straight losses. And don’t let that score up there fool you: The Titans crushed the Bears. This game was 24-3 midway through the fourth quarter, before two garbage-time scores from Chicago.
The quarterback situation is brutal. The offensive line is arguably worse. Matt Nagy is a poor play-caller and in-game head coach — obviously, this is more pronounced and really hits you right between the eyes during losses.
The loss: Miami Dolphins 34, Arizona Cardinals 31
Fact is, there’s no shame in losing to Tua Tagovailoa and Brian Flores. The Dolphins are for real. This team has it going on. And this game was fantastically fun throughout, going right down to the wire.
However, in an epic game between two up-and-coming teams, Kliff Kingsbury needed to keep the ball in Kyler Murray’s hands on the first and second down before the two-minute warning. Then Zane Gonzalez left a would-be game-tying field goal from 49 yards out short. He left it short! Not wide left or wide right, but short! It was wild.
And on a day where Seattle lost, Arizona missed a golden opportunity to close the gap in the NFC West race.
The loss: Minnesota Vikings 34, Detroit Lions 20
I cannot think of one reason to keep Bob Quinn as the general manager or Matt Patricia as the head coach. Detroit shouldn’t be this bad.
After a couple of feel-good wins, the Lions have been smoked in back-to-back games by the Colts and Vikings. Patricia’s defense just gave up 275(!) rushing yards. Dalvin Cook, who racked up 206 yards and two touchdowns on just 22 carries (9.4 yards a pop), is still running. Offensively, Detroit scored the fewest points (20) and committed the most turnovers (3) in any game this season.
The Lions are 3-5 and remain rebuilding since 1957.
The loss: Baltimore Ravens 24, Indianapolis Colts 10
Combine this loss with Tennessee’s easy win, and now the Titans sit alone in the AFC South throne heading into the two teams’ Thursday night showdown in Nashville. This game also had broader ramifications on the AFC playoff picture … and on the Colts’ image.
Indianapolis, in many ways, had mirrored the Ravens’ success this year with a strong defense. I thought the Colts came in with a better offensive line and passing attack. In fact, I picked Indy to win. This was a disappointing loss for a team I like a lot, a team I picked to take the division in the preseason.
The Darius Leonard-led defense stoned Lamar Jackson in the first half, limiting Baltimore to 55 total yards and seven points. On the game, the Colts still kept the Ravens to just 266 total yards. That should be enough to win! They simply don’t have the offensive studs to beat a team like this, which is disappointing.
The loss: New York Giants 23, Washington Football Team 20
Against everyone else, Giants QB Daniel Jones looks like a poor man’s Jameis Winston, a turnover machine whose play should be accompanied by Yakety Sax. But against the Washington Football Team, he’s a different cat. He’s Mr. Perfect!
Jones is now 4-0 against Washington … and 1-16 (1-16!!!!!) against everyone else. That’s unacceptable.
And it was just horrible seeing another Washington quarterback — this time Kyle Allen — suffer a gruesome leg injury. All in all, an awful day for this downtrodden franchise.
The loss: Atlanta Falcons 34, Denver Broncos 27
The Broncos had won three of their last four heading into Atlanta, creeping back into relevance after an 0-3 start. And obviously, the Falcons are beatable, snakebit — and were playing without Calvin Ridley. Talk about a missed opportunity …
Yes, after falling down by 21 points in the third quarter, the Broncos made a valiant comeback effort. And the Drew Lock-Jerry Jeudy combination looks quite promising. But this game could’ve been another building block for the present and future. And now the Broncos face an extremely challenging back half of the schedule, with six of eight remaining games against teams boasting records of 5-3 or better.
Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.
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