Sam Darnold: I definitely felt like myself out there

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 7:06 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Getty Images

The Jets got quarterback Sam Darnold back in the lineup on Sunday and it didn’t take long for the team to get a reminder of what they were missing while the quarterback was out with mononucleosis.

Darnold zipped a throw to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on the Jets’ first play from scrimmage and the 17-yard gain got the Jets rolling toward a 24-22 win over the Cowboys. It also got Darnold rolling toward 338 passing yards and two touchdowns.

After the game, Darnold said that play let him know that the offense was going to be successful.

“Yeah, I definitely felt like myself out there, especially after the first play to DT, that pass I made to DT, I knew we were going to have a good game offensively,” Darnold said at his press conference.

Darnold played with extra padding around his midsection to help protect his spleen, which was enlarged during the bout with mono. Darnold said that he didn’t feel any discomfort from the spleen or the pads during the game.

“I took a few shots but it didn’t effect me at all and the pads worked great, super light but also protected me well,” Darnold said. “It was good out there.”

The Jets still have some things to clean up after letting the Cowboys back into the game down the stretch, but the return of Darnold and a functional offense made Sunday a smashing success.

Chiefs still don’t understand disappearance of pass interference flag

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 6:57 PM UTC
By Charean Williams · Original Article
Getty Images

The Chiefs still don’t understand why officials picked up a penalty thrown for defensive pass interference on the Texans.

Referee Shawn Hochuli made an announcement after waving off the flag, “After discussion, the contact that was potentially a hold was while the ball was in the air. It is not pass interference because it was not on the receiver that caught the ball.”

Texans safety Tashaun Gipson‘s interception in the end zone stood.

But tight end Travis Kelce, whom quarterback Patrick Mahomes insists was the intended receiver, was the player held on the play. Kelce was supposed to fake an out route before running a fly but was impeded before he could get there, Mahomes, Kelce and Andy Reid argued afterward.

“The play was designed where Kelce was doing a double move, and I was letting him work it, knowing it was man coverage,” Mahomes said, via Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star. “I saw him getting ready to do his move. I went to throw it to the spot and give him a chance. He wasn’t there. After you looked at it, you realize he kind of got tackled, so that’s the reason he wasn’t there.”

Kelce said the team received no further explanation from Hochuli or his crew, leaving them befuddled.

Reid said officials “gave me an explanation” when asked if they gave him an explanation that “made sense.”

“We were trying to get an explanation from the referee of why they picked up the flag and what was the reasoning,” Mahomes said. “They said I had thrown the ball when he was getting held, which it’s a rule [that] if it’s uncatchable, you can’t call pass interference. But . . . him running the double move was the reason he fell down, and it was uncatchable. It shook me.”

Chargers dig another hole at halftime, trail Steelers 21-0

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 6:39 PM UTC
By Charean Williams · Original Article
Getty Images

The Chargers trailed 17-0 at halftime last week in a 20-13 loss to the Broncos. They trail the Steelers 21-0 at halftime tonight.

Los Angeles nearly got on the board before intermission, but rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin missed a 43-yard try off the left upright with 32 seconds remaining.

The Steelers opened the scoring on a scoop and score by Devin Bush. The rookie linebacker recovered a backward pass Philip Rivers threw out of reach of running back Melvin Gordon and returned it 9 yards to the end zone.

Bush also intercepted a Rivers pass that was tipped at the line, making him the team’s first defender to have an interception and fumble recovery in the same game since Deshea Townsend in Week 16 of 2003, per ESPN Statistics & Information. Bush limped off late in the first half.

James Conner has two touchdowns, scoring on a 12-yard run and a 26-yard reception. He has 15 touches for 90 yards.

Steelers third quarterback Devlin Hodges has completed 8 of 7 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Rivers has the two turnovers, leading to 14 points for the Steelers, and has completed 8 of 14 passes for 111 yards.

James Conner scores his second touchdown to give Steelers 21-0 lead

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 6:15 PM UTC
By Charean Williams · Original Article

The Steelers entered as underdogs. They are up 21 points.

James Conner scored his second touchdown, taking a Devlin Hodges pass 26 yards to the end zone for a 21-0 lead with 6:34 remaining until halftime.

Conner has nine carries for 38 yards and a touchdown, a 12-yard run in the first quarter, and five catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Hodges has gotten plenty of help from Conner and the Steelers defense, which scored the game’s first touchdown on a 9-yard fumble return by linebacker Devin Bush.

Hodges is 8-of-9 for 70 yards and a touchdown.

Marcus Mariota doesn’t think he gave Titans a chance to make plays Sunday

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 6:00 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Getty Images

Marcus Mariota‘s reaction to getting benched by the Titans on Sunday was pretty much what you’d expect, although that doesn’t mean Mariota fails to understand why head coach Mike Vrabel turned to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback.

Mariota said after the game that it didn’t “feel great” to get pulled from what wound up as a 16-0 loss to the Broncos, but it didn’t sound like he disagreed with the choice to go in a different direction.

“I was inaccurate today, and I didn’t give our guys a chance to make plays and that’s some of the reasons I got pulled,” Mariota said, via the team’s website. “It starts with me — I have to do a better job.”

Mariota said he is “going to grow from this and I’ll become a better player” as a result of going through the adversity. There’s been no word on who will start for the Titans next week, so it remains to be seen when Mariota will get a chance to show he can rebound from a very bad day at the office.

Sean McVay promises to learn from “humbling day”

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 5:55 PM UTC
By Michael David Smith · Original Article
Getty Images

Rams coach Sean McVay has been hailed as an offensive genius, but his offense looked awful today. He doesn’t plan to let that become commonplace.

McVay said after today’s 20-7 loss to the 49ers that he knows his team needs to get better, and he thinks it will.

“We’re going to continue to get better, use every opportunity as a learning experience,” McVay said. “Was it a humbling day for us? Absolutely. But it’s something we’re going to learn from. We’re not going to let it demoralize us. That’s a good football team. They did a nice job. We didn’t do enough collectively, and we’ll all look inwardly and figure out how to be better to move forward.”

The Rams’ offense could get nothing going today against an excellent 49ers defense. And that offense better get going soon. The Rams are 3-3, while the 49ers are 5-0 and the Seahawks are 5-1. The NFC West could slip away from the Rams quickly.

In year eight, Russell Wilson makes a case for MVP

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 5:54 PM UTC
By Mike Florio · Original Article

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson wants to win games not individual awards. Still, it’s impossible not to notice the building buzz for MVP, especially in light of his stellar start to the season.

So why is Wilson off to the best start of his career, with 14 touchdowns, no picks, and a passer rating of 124.7 through six games?

He told me by phone after the game that it’s a product of the ongoing growth in his career. He continues to build experience after experience, with eight years of getting ready for various coaches and defenses putting him in a spot where he has complete confidence in his game.

“I’ve studied like crazy,” Wilson said. “It’s years and years of preparation. I’m feeling like there’s nothing you can show me I haven’t seen before.”

Aiding his development is the fact that he’s never missed a game.

“I think that’s huge,” he said. “Being available, being able to play at all costs and leave it all on the field. I always wanted to play every play and play every game.”

This year, he’s arguably playing better than any other quarterback, and if he keeps it up he very well could become the MVP. More importantly the Seahawks could end up forcing the road to Miami through Seattle, which will make a return to the Super Bowl more likely.

Kyle Shanahan: I think our defense is just getting started

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 5:52 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article

The 49ers won four games all of last season, but Sunday’s 20-7 victory over the Rams means they’ve already surpassed that total this season.

At 5-0, the 49ers are one of only two undefeated teams in the league and the biggest driver in the last two victories has been the defense. They’ve allowed 10 points and 345 yards while beating the Browns and Rams and head coach Kyle Shanahan thinks things can get even better on that side of the ball.

“I’m very happy with how we played,” Shanahan said in his postgame press conference. “We’re 5-0, which is a great thing, but we’re not playing our best ball. We can do a lot of things better than that. It seemed like our defense played at an extremely high level, obviously minus the first drive. We can continue to get better on offense. We can continue to get better on special teams. I also think our defense is just getting started, too.”

The Rams opened the game by running seven straight times on a 56-yard touchdown drive, but the 49ers defense dominated the rest of the way and it’s not hard to share Shanahan’s feeling that there will be a lot more highlight reel performances to come from the unit.

Devin Bush’s fumble recovery, INT has Steelers up 14-0

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 5:48 PM UTC
By Charean Williams · Original Article

Chargers head athletic trainer Damon Mitchell checked Philip Rivers after the quarterback took a hard hit on third down on the first series.

Rivers took another on second down on the second drive, and the Steelers brought the house on third down.

Rivers tried to hit running back Melvin Gordon on an outlet pass.

The pass was behind the line of scrimmage and behind Gordon, and Steelers rookie linebacker Devin Bush scooped it and scored from 9 yards with 10:51 remaining in the first quarter.

On the Chargers’ third series, Steelers defensive end Tyson Alualu tipped a pass Rivers intended for Keenan Allen. Bush intercepted it and returned it 6 yards to the Chargers 40.

The Steelers converted with a 12-yard touchdown run by James Conner and a 14-0 lead with 4:29 left in the first quarter.

Bush already has a tackle, a pass defensed, an interception, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.

Frank Clark: We can’t keep putting pressure on offense to do everything

Pro Football Talk - NBC Sports
October 13, 2019 - 5:19 PM UTC
By Josh Alper · Original Article
Getty Images

The Chiefs offense didn’t have the best day on Sunday, but they still staked the team to a 14-point lead in the first quarter against the Texans.

The entire lead would disappear before halftime. Houston scored 20 points to take a halftime lead that they briefly yielded to the Chiefs before rallying for the game-winning score in the fourth quarter. The Texans picked up 472 yards and possessed the ball for nearly 40 minutes on their way to the win and that left defensive end Frank Clark calling for his unit to step up their play in the coming weeks.

“For the most part, we haven’t shut down an offense this year,” Clark said, via the Kansas City Star. “That’s something we have to do in order to win. We can’t keep putting the pressure on our offense to do everything. We have to give them more opportunities. We have to slow the game down.”

The Broncos are next on the slate and their offense would seem to offer the Chiefs a chance to find better footing defensively. If that doesn’t happen, there will likely be a lot of pressure on the offense for the remainder of the season.