Talk about a clunker of a day around the NFL: There were three shutouts in a span of about 6 1/2 hours, the same number of zeros put up throughout all of last season.
With all of the emphasis on offence over the years, with rule changes intended to make it easier to score and harder to defend, it’s surprising — and not all that enjoyable — to see that sort of futile production.
In addition to the Los Angeles Chargers’ 21-0 victory over the Denver Broncos, the Los Angeles Rams’ 33-0 win over the Arizona Cardinals and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 27-0 defeat of the Indianapolis Colts, there were these paltry scores Sunday: Chicago Bears 17, Carolina Panthers 3 in a game with zero TDs from either offence; Tennessee Titans 12, Cleveland Browns 9 in an all-field-goal OT dud; Seattle Seahawks 24, New York Giants 7; and New England Patriots 23, Atlanta Falcons 7 in a snooze-fest of a Super Bowl rematch at night.
The last time there was a trio of shutouts in a single week of the season was in December 2012. The last time four teams were blanked simultaneously? Need to go all the back to November 1983.
“It was fun,” Chargers QB Philip Rivers said after his club dealt the Broncos their first shutout in a quarter-century, “to watch our defence play.”
Not much fun for anyone else.
Now the question is what caused this.
One common thread Sunday was the lack of good quarterback play.
The Broncos are trying to get by with Trevor Siemian at the position. The Cardinals lost Carson Palmer to a broken left arm in the first half and were forced to turn to Drew Stanton, who was 5 for 14 for 62 yards and an interception. The Colts are still without Andrew Luck — will he even play at all this season? — and Jacoby Brissett is not much more than serviceable.
Palmer is expected to miss about two months — “a real gut punch,” wideout Larry Fitzgerald said — and no fewer than a quarter of the NFL’s 32 clubs have lost their starting QB for at least some time because of injury. Another one hurt Sunday was Miami’s Jay Cutler, who left a 31-28 victory over the New York Jets with a chest injury; as it is, the Dolphins lured him out of retirement to fill in when Ryan Tannehill went down for the season.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season’s seventh Sunday:
PLAYING IN A FOG
New England’s win over visiting Atlanta was hard to see, in person or on TV, thanks to the thick fog that rolled into Foxborough. “Might be a short film session tomorrow if we can’t watch any plays,” Patriots QB Tom Brady kidded. He wasn’t the only one joking around: Social media was filled with one-liners at the Patriots’ expense .
CAN I KICK IT?
Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath became the first player who is neither a place-kicker nor a punter to make more than one extra point in an NFL game in 37 years, going 2 for 3 in a 40-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Heath, who last kicked in a game in high school, also handled kickoffs for Dallas after Dan Bailey left with an injured right groin in the first half. The last such performance came from Ted Thompson, who was a linebacker in 1980 and is now the GM of the Green Bay Packers.
No NFL defensive player had ever scored two 75-yard TDs in his rookie season until Bears safety Eddie Jackson did it in a single half, returning a fumble and a pick-6 off Carolina’s Cam Newton. Jackson was a fourth-round pick out of Alabama after breaking his leg in his last college season.
WARDROBE MALFUNCTION II?
Remember Justin Timberlake’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” with Janet Jackson at halftime of the 2004 Super Bowl? Well, all these years later, JT is going back to the big game. The NFL announced that he’ll be the headline act in February at Minneapolis.
AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.
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