NFL AM: Big Injuries Mar Exciting Sunday of Games


Huge Injuries Impact Sunday’s Games

What was one of the most exciting Sunday’s of football this season was left with the bitter aftertaste of some major injuries across the league.

Starting in Pittsburgh, All Pro running back Le’Veon Bell went down with what appears to be a knee injury.  Bell left in the second quarter and didn’t return and couldn’t put any weight on his leg in the Steelers 16-10 loss to the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.

The Steelers had their quartet of Ben Roethlisberger, Martavis Bryant, Antonio Brown and Bell healthy for the first time this season entering Sunday and they lasted for just over a quarter of play.

At 4-4, Pittsburgh is hoping for the best regarding the health of Bell as they will need all of their playmakers to rally and make the postseason for a second consecutive season.

The Baltimore Ravens nightmare season continued it’s downward spiral, despite getting a 29-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.  Wide receiver Steve Smith, who declared that he would retire at season’s end went down with a torn Achilles in the game, ending his season and likely his career.

“What hurts the most is I can’t be out there with my guys,” said Smith, who had 82 yards receiving to move into 10th place on the career list with 13,932.

The New York Jets suffered a blow early on in their loss to the Raiders as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick left with what’s being reported as a thumb injury on his non-throwing hand on the Jets first drive.  Initial starter Geno Smith entered in relief and had an up and down game, completing 27 of 42 passes, for 265 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception.

Fitzpatrick re-entered the game late in the fourth quarter as Smith appeared to have the wind knocked out of him on a hit by Oakland’s Ray-Ray Armstrong.

In the New Orleans Saints record-setting 52-49 victory over the New York Giants, the team lost backup running back Khiry Robinson to a nasty leg injury which required an air cast and a cart.  Robinson is one of New Orleans best short-yardage options as he has four touchdowns on the season on just 52 carries.

Hope You Had The Over

The New York Giants and New Orleans Saints played one of the most exciting games you’ll ever see as the two teams combined for 14 touchdowns in the Saints 52-49 victory, which ended with a 51-yard Kai Forbath field goal.

“I’ve been fortunate to get in situations where it’s come down to a kick,” Forbath said. “I really work on, in practice, trying to make everything the same every single time.”

Drew Brees had arguably the best game of his career as he completed 40 of 50 throws, for 511 yards with an NFL record tying seven touchdowns and one interception (which also was returned for a touchdown).

“It’s not like we came out today with the intent to set a few records just to shut some people up,” Brees said after the game.  “Our mindset is, every time we step on the field, we have a chance to do something pretty special.”

Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a career day himself, despite it ending in defeat.  In his return home, Manning completed 30 of 41 throws, for 350 yards, with a career-high six touchdowns, three of which went to superstar Odell Beckham, Jr., who was also making his return to New Orleans.

“Their offense is always high-powered. I thought it might be a day where we were going to have to score some points,” Manning said. “I didn’t know how many it would take. Obviously, the offense did some good things.”

The game featured 1,030 yards of combined offense and the 101 points scored was the third-highest in NFL history.

The oddest statistic of the day belongs to the Giants, who went just 1-for-8 on third-down attempts, yet scored 49 points….and still lost.

The Giants had a chance to widen their advantage in the NFC East, but obviously let is slip by the wayside.  Meanwhile, the Saints have an entirely new lease on life with their 4-4 record, winners of three straight.  New Orleans currently sits two games out of a Wildcard as they’re chasing the slumping Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams.

“I feel like our best is yet to come, Brees said.  “It’s really still out there for us.”

Not As Good As Their Record

Sure, former Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells is famous for his line, “you are what your record says you are.”

The standing might be the only thing that matters, but in reality not all teams with the same record are created equal.

The Minnesota Vikings moved to 5-2 on Sunday, with their 23-20 victory over the Chicago Bears.  The 5-2 record puts them squarely in position for postseason play, but in reality they aren’t much of a threat.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is not yet good enough to lead a functional passing attack as he has just six touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games this season.

The one-dimensional Vikings five wins have came against Detroit (twice), San Diego, Kansas City and Chicago.  Those teams have a combined record of 8-23.

The good news for the Atlanta Falcons is that they have a 6-2 record.  The bad news is that they’ve lost two out of their last three games with their lone victory, an uninspiring 10-7 win against a 1-6 Tennessee Titans squad.

Atlanta lost a game at home to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime, in a game where they couldn’t slow down a rookie quarterback who can’t go through his progressions.  It’s important to remember where the Falcons are coming from, missing the playoffs each of the last two seasons and finishing with double-digit losses.

Dan Quinn can’t quite rebuild Rome in a day.

The Arizona Cardinals are a first-place team in the NFC West and they’ve had some impressive blowout victories.  Still, at 6-2 there’s a reason why they’re an early underdog next week when they travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks.

The Cards look like a really good fantasy football team as they put up nice numbers on offense and get their fair share of sacks and interceptions defensively.

So why don’t we love them?

Quality victories, or lack thereof.  The Cards haven’t defeated a team with a winning record all season and they lost to both the St. Louis Rams (with no legitimate quarterback) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (with the combination of Mike Vick and Landry Jones).

The Cards point differential looks great, but we need to all do a “wait and see” until they can prove they can take down the two-time NFC champs which reside in Seattle.  Arizona has lost four out of their last five against the Seahawks and only sit two games ahead of the ‘Hawks with two left against them.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.