Talk about Sunday Funday! What a spectacular slate of games. Tight scores, dramatic finishes, surprising results -- can't complain from my view on the couch. And on the field, triumphant teams basked in the glory. But imagine being on the losing side in some of these games.
Don't forget about Newton's third law: For every emotion, there is an equal and opposite emotion. OK, so I took some liberties there ... but the point stands! How ROUGH were some of those defeats? How would you feel?
With that in mind, here are the worst losses from the fifth Sunday of the 2021 NFL season, Schein Nine style.
THE LOSS: Minnesota Vikings 19, Detroit Lions 17
With two minutes left to play and Detroit trailing the home team, 16-9, Jalen Reeves-Maybin stripped Alexander Mattison, giving the Lions new life. Then D'Andre Swift scored a touchdown, and Dan Campbell went for the jugular, lining up for a two-point conversion to take the lead with 37 seconds remaining. Jared Goff found KhaDarel Hodge in the back of the end zone, and suddenly, Detroit was in position to steal its first win of the season! At that moment, I tweeted out the following:
Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame.
After the ensuing kickoff, Kirk Cousins immediately proceeded to complete three straight passes for 46 yards, setting up Greg Joseph for a 54-yard game-winner with no time left on the clock. This devastating finish came two weeks after Baltimore miraculously scurried down Ford Field in the waning moments, setting up Justin Tucker for a game-winning (and record-breaking) 67-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar on its way through the uprights. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2021 Lions are the first team in NFL history to lose twice in a season on a field goal of 50-plus yards with no time remaining on the clock. And this season's only five weeks old! Not to mention, Sunday's heart-wrenching defeat had the exact same score as the Ravens debacle: 19-17. What kind of cruel joke is this, Football Gods?!
I feel awful for Detroit and its long-suffering fans. These Lions are playing so hard under Campbell, yet not only do they not have a win to show for it, but they continue to find inexplicable ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I love Campbell. He was moved to tears at the podium postgame. That's genuine. That's why people are drawn to this man. I don't blame him. Maybe the Curse of Bobby Layne is real after all.
To be fair, there were a lot of positives for Cincy to take away from this game. The Joe Burrow-to-Ja'Marr Chase connection is real and spectacular. The 3-2 Bengals are legit, having just gone toe-to-toe deep into overtime with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
But Cincy kicker Evan McPherson and Green Bay's Mason Crosby took turns missing potential game-winning kicks, combining for five missed field goals in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime. FIVE! McPherson's would-be 57-yard game-winner near the end of regulation had plenty of distance ... but doinked off the right upright. In overtime, he actually celebrated his miss from 49 yards out, believing the ball had split the uprights! You can't make it up! Painful. EXTREMELY painful.
Ugh. This one caught me by surprise. Completely.
I loved the Panthers' trade for Stephon Gilmore last week. And while the Pro Bowl corner won't be available until after Week 6 under NFL rules for players on the PUP list, I thought the juicy acquisition would produce a domino effect in the locker room, with the players rallying around the front office's obvious belief in Carolina's playoff chances.
Instead, my guy Sam Darnold reverted back to his Jets form, tossing three ugly picks and taking three sacks. Meanwhile, Carolina's hyped defense allowed Jalen Hurts to look like Steve Young late. A home loss to this Eagles team is rough stuff. And suddenly, Matt Rhule's bunch is in the midst of a losing streak.
THE LOSS: Buffalo Bills 38, Kansas City Chiefs 20
I wasn't surprised that the Bills went on the road, braved one of the most hostile environments in the NFL and beat the Chiefs. Buffalo, my Super Bowl pick for this season, is the more well-rounded team, plain and simple. But I was surprised at how thoroughly the Bills outclassed the two-time defending AFC champions.
It goes noted how Josh Allen absolutely lit up Kansas City's inept defense, piling up 315 passing yards and three touchdowns on just 15 completions while also running for 59 yards and an additional score. It goes noted that K.C. committed four turnovers to Buffalo's zero. And of course, it goes noted that the Chiefs are sitting alone in the cellar of the AFC West, lucky to even be 2-3 with the way they've played for most of the season.
Conventional wisdom says Patrick Mahomes and Co. will get it together, but this defense is gross, so a turnaround's far from a given. Kansas City's accomplishments of the past few seasons don't automatically flip the switch. Losing to the Bills, Chargers and Ravens shows you where the Chiefs currently stand in the AFC hierarchy.
THE LOSS: Chicago Bears 20, Las Vegas Raiders 9
What a complete and utter dud from the Raiders on Sunday. That is how you respond after a humbling, prime-time defeat to the division rival Chargers? By posting a double-digit loss ... at home ... to a Bears team that entered the game ranked dead last in total offense?
OK, Gus Bradley's defense wasn't the biggest problem here, as Las Vegas held the Justin Fields-led Bears to just 252 total yards. Jon Gruden's offense, on the other hand, was offensive. The Raiders continually shot themselves in the foot with penalties and had no answer for old friend Khalil Mack off the edge.
3-0 feels like a long, long time ago.
UPDATE: Gruden announced on Monday night that he has resigned as Raiders head coach. His resignation comes in the wake of recent articles published by The Wall Street Journal and New York Times detailing Gruden's use of racist, homophobic and misogynistic terms in emails reportedly dating back to 2010. Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has been named the Raiders' interim head coach.
The Jaguars are 0-5. They have the second-worst point differential (-59) in the league. They have the fewest number of takeaways (1) and are tied for the most giveaways (11). And there's no real proof Urban Meyer has any idea how to function as an NFL head coach.
Urban's brief NFL tenure has been an unmitigated disaster. Shortly after getting the job last winter, Meyer hired a strength and conditioning coach with a checkered past, but serious blowback brought about a quick resignation. In the summer, Meyer brough the Tim Tebow circus to town, and then had No. 1 overall Trevor Lawrence pick split first-team reps with Gardner Minshew ... before dealing the veteran for a ham sandwich. Then following the Jaguars' Thursday night breakdown in Cincinnati, the coach skipped the flight back to Florida and got caught in a viral-video fiasco at his Columbus, Ohio, restaurant.
On Sunday, the kind of day where winning could've served its function as the ultimate deodorant, Meyer's Jaguars got blown off their home field, suffering their biggest margin of defeat yet. Early in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville was trailing by just six points with a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Instead of handing the ball to James Robinson (who was awesome all day) or sneaking it with Lawrence (who's 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds), Meyer gave the nod to his old Buckeye back, Carlos Hyde, who was stuffed for a 3-yard loss. In the postgame, Meyer said Lawrence isn't quite comfortable with a sneak. The quarterback disagrees. What is going on here?! The fine fans in Duval County deserve much better.
Thought Tom Brady could be vulnerable after an emotional and exhausting trip back to Foxborough? Thought the veteran QB could struggle against a defensive coach from the Bill Belichick tree? Not exactly. The 44-year-old quarterback eviscerated Miami, throwing for 400 yards and five touchdowns for the first time ever in his legendary career. This was an absolute beatdown, as the Bucs outgained the Fins by 257 yards.
At 1-4, Miami is the most underachieving team in the league. Brian Flores' squad entered this season with some juice, fresh off a frisky 10-6 campaign in 2020. Through five games, the 2021 Dolphins rank 30th or worse in total offense, points, total defense and points allowed. The poor drafts of recent seasons are rearing their ugly head, especially on the offensive line.
I thought Flores would be in the mix for Coach of the Year this season. Now he's heading to London with a four-game losing streak, taking on Urban Meyer's winless Jaguars. Better not lose that game.
The Football Team hasn't won back-to-back home games since October of 2018. On Sunday, the Saints marched into town and became the latest team to expose Washington's spectacularly disappointing defense. Jameis Winston threw four touchdown passes, Alvin Kamara had 21 touches for 122 yards and two scores and New Orleans easily controlled time of possession and game flow.
Just five weeks into the season, the Football Team sits two games behind the rival Cowboys in the NFC East race. And now they face a three-game gauntlet before the Week 9 bye: vs. Kansas City, at Green Bay, at Denver. The NFC East winner won't have a losing record this time around. Maybe Washington didn't get the memo?
Perhaps Vic Fangio should've concentrated more on his own team's shortcomings than John Harbaugh's methods following the 16-point home loss to Baltimore in Week 4. Perhaps his team's 3-0 start was less about Denver and more about the opponents, who now sit at 2-13 on the season.
On Sunday, the Broncos made the struggling Steelers look like contenders again, if only for a day. Snapping a three-game losing streak, Ben Roethlisberger abruptly turned back the clock and posted his best passer rating (120.9) since Week 4 of last season. The Steelers' offensive line actually looked viable, too. After failing to reach 65 yards rushing in any of his first four games, rookie Najee Harris ran for 122 on 23 totes -- a healthy 5.3 yards per carry. All in all, Pittsburgh recorded seasons highs in total yards (391) and points (27). What happened to Fangio's swarming defense?