It could be suggested that San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh made the right move. Colin Kaepernick played a solid football game at quarterback for the Niners on Sunday afternoon as the Niners beat New Orleans 31-21.
Granted, the defense put up 17 points so it could be argued that the Saints Drew Brees was the best quarterback the Niners had on Sunday night, but that’s a different argument. Should Kaepernick have replaced Alex Smith as the No. 1 signal caller in San Francisco? Well, on Day 1 of Harbaugh’s move, it looked like the right decision.
With the Niners now 8-2-1 and New Orleans 5-6, it would appear Harbaugh had it figured out, but apparently Norv Turner, Romeo Crennel and Ken Whisenhunt still don’t have a handle on it. Turner’s Chargers lost again, this time in OT; Crennel’s Chiefs still can’t score and Whisenhunt’s Cardinals dropped their seventh in a row. Ouch!
It was a wild Sunday in the NFL and we’ll wrap it up … right now:
Chicago 28 Minnesota 10
Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder was horrible and the Vikings offensive scheme ignored Adrian Peterson in the red zone – of course, Peterson fumbled twice outside the red zone. That’s how the Vikings lose. It was 25-3 at the half in a game where Chicago got every break and every call. The Bears Michael Bush carried 21 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Jay Cutler went 23-for-31 for 188 yards and one TD. The Bears lost Devin Hester and Matt Forte to injuries. Peterson finished with 18 carries for 108 yards after carrying 27 times last week in a win over Detroit. Brandon’s Israel Idonije had a tackle and half a sack. The Bears improved to 8-3 while the Vikings fell to 6-5.
San Francisco 31 New Orleans 21
Colin Kaepernick was very good in his second straight start for the 49ers. He went 16-for-25 for 231 yards, one touchdown and one interception but got a lot of help from Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner who returned interceptions for touchdowns. Drew Brees had a bad night for New Orleans, going 26-for-41 for 267 yards, three touchdowns and those two pick sixes. The Saints fell to 5-6 while San Francisco improved to 8-2-1.
Denver 17 Kansas City 9
It wasn’t pretty but Peyton Manning completed 22-of-37 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Jacob Tamme and Demaryius Thomas caught TD passes for the 8-3 Broncos who won their sixth straight game and stayed well ahead of San Diego in the race for first in the AFC West. Kansas City got three field goals from Ryan Succop and fell to 1-10.
Cleveland 20 Pittsburgh 14
With Charlie Batch at quarterback, the Steelers had eight turnovers – one fumble each by all four runningbacks, one by a receiver on the last play of the game and three interceptions — but because the Browns have no offense to speak of, Pittsburgh was still in it right to the end. Brandon Weeden went 17-for-26 for 158 yards and one touchdown, but was generally terrible and then late in the game suffered a concussion on a sack. Rookie RB Trent Richardson rushed for 85 yards and the eventual winning touchdown. Fortunately for Cleveland, Batch was worse: 20-for-34, 199 yards, no touchdowns and three INTs.
Cincinnati 34 Oakland 10
The Bengals Andy Dalton completed 16-of-30 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Benjarvus Green-Ellis carried 19 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. A.J. Green caught three passes for 111 yards as the Bengals improved to 6-5 and got back in the playoff hunt. Oakland’s Carson Palmer went 19-for-34 for 146 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Indianapolis 20 Buffalo 13
The Colts T.Y. Hilton returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown and caught an eight-yard TD pass from Andrew Luck. Hilton became the first player in Colts history to score both ways in the same game as the Colts improved to 7-4. Indy won only twice all last season. Luck went 20-of-37 for 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Bills fell to 4-7 despite C.J. Spiller’s 107 yards rushing.
Miami 24 Seattle 21
In a game that was delayed because the sprinklers went off in Miami, the Dolphins scored 17 points in the final 8:08 to come back and win. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill led a 65-yard drive in the final 92 seconds to set up Dan Carpenter’s 43-yard winning field goal on the final play of the game. Tannehill went 18-for 26 for 253 yards and a touchdown. Reggie Bush carried 14 times for 87 yards and a touchdown. Seattle’s Russell Wilson went 21-for-27 for 224 yards and two TDs.
Jacksonville 24 Tennessee 19
The Jags Chad Henne went 17-for-26 for 261 yards and two touchdowns as the Jags improved to 2-9 and dropped Tennessee to 4-7 in the Who Cares Bowl.
Atlanta 24 Tampa Bay 23
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan went 26-of-32 for 353 yards and a touchdown while Julio Jones caught six passes for 147 yards and a TD as the Falcons overcame two big turnovers by scoring another late touchdown to win. Tampa’s Josh Freeman went 19-for-30 for 256 and no touchdowns, but Doug Martin ran for 50 yards and scored twice on the ground. Michael Turner’s one-yard TD with 7:55 left held up as the winner. The Falcons are now 10-1 while Bus fell to 6-5.
Baltimore 16 San Diego 13 (OT)
We almost had another tie. Justin Tucker kicked a 38-yard field goal with 1:07 left in overtime to move the Ravens to 9-2. San Diego, now 4-7, had built a 13-3 lead with 7:51 to play, but couldn’t hold on as QB Philip Rivers, who went 23-for-36 for 228 yards and one touchdown, simply couldn’t coax the ball even near the Baltimore end zone in the final seven minutes and overtime. Joe Flacco went 30-for-51 for 355 yards and one touchdown for Baltimore, but Ray Rice was the star. Rice carried 22 times for 97 yards and caught eight passes for 67 more yards. The Ravens’ Torrey Smith caught seven passes for 144 yards.
St. Louis 31 Arizona 17
DB Janoris Jenkins became the first player in Rams history and the first NFL rookie since 1960 to return two interceptions (36 and 39 yards) for touchdowns. San Bradford wasn’t very good for St. Louis but he still won, going eight-for-17 for 205 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Ryan Lindley went 31-for 52 for 312 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions for Arizona, a team that has lost seven straight games after getting off to a 4-0 start. St. Louis is now 4-6-1 and virtually eliminated from the playoffs.
NY Giants 38 Green Bay 10
Eli Manning went 16-for-30 for 249 yards, three touchdowns (he now has 200 in his career) and no interceptions as New York hammered Green Bay. With the win, the 7-4 Giants opened up a four-point lead in the wonky NFC East. Meanwhile, Green Bay fell to 7-4 and is now second in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers was 14-for-25 for 219 yards, one touchdown and one interception in a game that was never in doubt.
Carolina 30 Philadelphia 22
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more as he led the Panthers to their third win of the season. Newton finished 18-for-28 for 306 yards and two TDs. Bryce Brown set an Eagles rookie record with 178 rushing yards including touchdown runs of five and 65 yards. For Philly rookie QB Nick Foles went 16-for-21 for 119 yards and no touchdowns as Philly fell to 3-8 and it’s hard to imagine Andy Reid has a lot of life left as coach of the Eagles. The Eagles have lost seven straight.