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Week 9 Observations
By Matt Horkman

While it didn’t change the outcome of the game, Terrance Newman’s overtime interference penalty prevented a Miami touchdown. Ryan Tannehill delivered an outstanding throw to wide receiver Mike Wallace, who had gotten behind Newman on the play. In an act of desperation, Newman dove at Wallace’s legs, keeping him from making the catch. It was a blatant penalty resulting in 38 yards, but a touchdown would’ve ended the game, so that’s not a bad trade. Moreover, the Dolphins were unable to capitalize on the penalty, as they punted the ball away three plays latter. Ultimately, the game ended in a safety, but Newman’s penalty did allow the Bengals to possess the ball one more time.

Washington’s opening drive didn’t result in any points, but they took up over nine minutes of the first quarter. Starting from their one-yard line, they drove 92 yards on 16 plays, displaying excellent balance with eight passes and seven runs. The star of the drive was tight end Jordan Reed, who caught two third-down passes. He also ran for 18 yards on a triple-option play. The drive ended with San Diego blocking a field goal attempt, but nonetheless, it set the tempo for the remainder of the game.

A week after ranting on the sideline, Dez Bryant drew a team-high 11 targets against the Vikings. He dropped two balls and caught just six passes. In general, the Cowboys had trouble securing the catch against Minnesota. Including Bryant’s two drops, Dallas dropped eight passes against the Vikings. They came into the game with just 10 drops all season.

According to the Vikings, running back Adrian Peterson’s been dealing with a hamstring issue all season. He looked fine on Sunday running for 140 yards on 25 carries. On his 11-yard touchdown run, Peterson dragged three Cowboy defenders with him to the end zone. I think he’s fine.

Buffalo wide receiver Steve Johnson was wide open on Sean Smith‘s 100-yard interception return. Instead of throwing to Johnson, though, quarterback Jeff Tuel -- making his first start -- forced the ball to wide receiver T.J. Graham. Smith intercepted the pass and ran 100 yards for one of two touchdowns from Kansas City’s defense. Tamba Hali deserves an assist for his pressure of Tuel on the play.

Against the Raiders, Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles threw as many touchdowns passes (seven) as Oakland’s had all season. In this game, Foles actually had more touchdowns than incompletions.

In their last two games, New England combined for 547 total yards. They gained 610 yards against Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson never saw Tampa Bay cornerback Keith Tandy on his third-quarter interception. Wilson took his eyes off Tampa’s secondary in order to carry out a play fake and immediately tried to hit wide receiver Doug Baldwin for a touchdown. Tandy, however, sat in the throwing lane and intercepted the pass.

The Seahawks fell behind against Tampa Bay, thanks to their offense’s ineffectiveness. During their first four drives, they ran 19 plays, gained 89 yards, turned the ball over twice, and scored zero points. In their last seven drives, they ran 44 plays, gained 360 yards, and scored 27 points.

Much will be made about the impact Aaron Rodgers’ injury had on Chicago’s win over Green Bay, but the Bears deserve credit for the immense improvement they’ve made under new head coach Marc Trestman. In 2009, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler and Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers entered the rivalry. Over that span, the two teams have met nine times. The Bears are just 1-8 in those contests, which includes a defeat in the 2010 NFC Championship. While Rodgers gets most of the credit, Green Bay’s defensive dominance over Chicago under Capers is the real reason for Chicago’s recent woes against the Pack. In those nine games, the Bears have allowed 32 sacks and have turned the ball over 21 times. That’s an average of at least two turnovers and three sacks per game. On Monday night, with an improved offensive line, Chicago gave up just one sack and had no turnovers.

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