Welcome to game day.
With Joe Flacco still recoverin from a hip injury, the Baltimore Ravens have turned to rookie Lamar Jackson to start Sunday's matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. Jackson, who become the last of 2018's first-round quarterbacks to start a game this season, has a chance to showcase the progress he has made during his first season in the NFL and, perhaps, give his team a glimpse into the future.
Note: All times listed in pacific.
The #FreeDJ movement needed Byron Leftwich installed as play-caller to gain momentum, but it has come to fruition in recent weeks. Midway through the fourth quarter, David Johnson broke off a 53-yard run to set up the Cardinals in the red zone. The team took advantage of the field position, scoring just a few plays later and regaining the lead over the Raiders.
Michael Thomas had a quiet first half, but the Saints eventually found their star wide receiver. Early in the third quarter, Thomas beat his man with a hesitation move at the line of scrimmage, giving Drew Brees an open target hurling towards the end zone. One beautiful pass later, New Orleans extended their lead to 31-7.
The Lions held their collective breath when Kerryon Johnson went down with a knee injury Sunday, but it appears the rookie running back has avoided an ACL tear. According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, initial tests on Johnson suggest only has a knee sprain, though he will have an MRI to confirm. Johnson could miss some time, but he and Detroit have to feel thrilled with the news.
Washington announced that Alex Smith is currently undergoing emergency surgery for a broken tibia and fibula. Not only will the injury affect his 2018 season, but it could potentially impact him next year. This looks like a worst-case scenario for the current NFC East leaders.
After back-to-back defensive penalties set up the Steelers less than a yard outside the end zone, Ben Roethlisberger and the offense had a chance to notch their first lead of the day and a win. Rather than run a QB sneak, Pittsburgh made the bizarre choice put Big Ben in shotgun and have him scramble to his right. Somehow, the play worked, though a Steelers offensive lineman nearly registered the game-winning tackle on Roethlisberger.
With under a minute remaining in regulation, the Panthers scored a touchdown to bring themselves within an extra point of a tie. However, the team decided to go for the win rather than play for overtime, opting instead for a two-point attempt. Norv Turner schemed open Jarius Wright for the easy score, but Cam Newton missed him over the middle.
12:37 p.m. - Julio Jones: Noted TD catcher
12:20 p.m. - Cam returns to action
10:32 a.m. - Watson makes ridiculous pass, Hopkins makes nice catch for TD
With Lamar Jackson making his first NFL start, the Ravens decided to take pressure off him by calling all runs through their first 11 plays. Jackson will have to pass at some point, but head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Mike Mornhinweg apparently fear overloading the rookie before he settles into the flow of the game.