Sep 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) catches a five yard game winning touchdown pass with seven seconds left against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Bucaneers won 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
As many likely noticed this weekend, the St. Louis Rams were not slotted on the docket to play in Week 4. Instead, along with most of the rest of the NFC West, the Rams were handed an early Bye Week, allowing the squad to heal and re-group after a truly heart-breaking loss against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 3. While St. Louis may not have suited up on Sunday, it doesn’t mean that we cannot draw from some of the happenings of the weekend. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the “relevant” games from the last handful of days.
Palliating the loss: New Orleans Saints 17, Dallas Cowboys 38
While a convincing win from the Tony Romo-led Cowboys doesn’t wipe away the pain from the last week, it should at least take away some of the sting. The Saints, albeit on the road, were completely demoralized by the Cowboys, making the combination of Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray look like All-Pros on way to an impressive 445 yard tandem (in essence) performance. The typically mistake-prone Dallas signal caller complete 75% of his attempts, with three going for touchdowns. Murray took 24 carries for an impressively-high 149 yards, including two touchdowns. Looking at both games in a vacuum, the St. Louis Rams do not look so disheveled now, having narrowly lost to the Cowboys, despite the Rams’ Austin Davis starting in only his second career game under-center, as opposed to vaunted Drew Brees.
Bolstering the win: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 24
The Bucs appear to have new life, after losing on a last-second field goal attempt to the St. Louis Rams three weeks ago. Swap Mike Glennon for Josh McCown and Doug Martin for Bobby Rainey, and, all of a sudden, Lovie Smith’s squad looks capable to snagging a handful of wins this season. The real difference in the matchup was the presence of Michael Johnson, the Bucs newly-acquired defensive end, formally of the Cincinnati Bengals. In his first real action of the season, he recorded two massive sacks, including forcing a fumble on the opening drive that set Glennon up for an easy 15 yard touchdown pass to start the game. Even though some of the key pieces were different, the Buccaneers no longer look like the doormat of the NFL, which subsequently making the Rams one victory not as shameful.
Looking towards the future: Philadelphia Eagles 21, San Francisco 49ers 26
Despite horrendous quarterback play from Colin Kaepernick and half of the 49ers’ “key” defensive stars not being on the field, San Francisco still managed to make Chip Kelly and the previously-undefeated Philadelphia Eagles look like a below-average offensive squad. Nick Foles crumbled under the spotlight with the 49ers defense focusing on shutting down LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles, leading to a 48% completion, no touchdown, two interception night for the 2013 Pro Bowler.While it was upsetting to see the lone NFC West rival team of the weekend come out with a victory, they did appear to teach the rest of the league a lessen on “How to Beat Chip Kelly 101.” Run the rock, do not turn the football over, key on Sproles and McCoy, and force Foles to beat you with his arm. Hopefully, Jeff Fisher and Gregg Williams were watching yesterday.