Heading into Week 10, the Jaguars and Buccaneers were winless on the season and a combined 1 for their last 27. That’s pretty lousy by any standard but things are looking up. The Jags got a big upset win over the Titans on Sunday and the Bucs got a somewhat less surprising win over the Dolphins Monday night. I tried to find out how long it’s been since both of those teams recorded wins in the same week but NFL records get pretty sketchy when you go back more than a hundred and fifty years or so.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. That was the story for the Bengals on Sunday. A win over the division rival Ravens would have given Cincinnati a virtual stranglehold on the AFC North title. Yet, with just two seconds to go, trailing by 7 and with the ball at midfield, they were staring down the barrel of a 4th and 15, a 4th and goal, a 4th and GAME. In that situation, there’s nothing to do but heave it up and pray. Normally, the defense’s job is pretty simple. Just knock the ball down. It also helps to have at least one guy covering the best receiver. The Ravens failed on both counts. The Bengals scored the miracle touchdown and sent the game into overtime. If this were a movie, they would then score a game-winning touchdown in dramatic fashion. They didn’t.
Prior to Sunday, the Buffalo Bills had not won a game in Pittsburgh since 1975. Streaks are meant to be broken, but that one wasn’t. It could be six more years before the Bills get another chance. I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll still stink.
On the subject of unbroken streaks, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is the only starting quarterback to throw an interception in every game this season. That’s rather impressive considering he plays in the same league with Christian Ponder and Eli Manning. Manning had actually gone two whole games without turning the ball over at all. He made up for that on Sunday, fumbling a couple times and throwing a pick-six. Even with their less than inspiring three-game win streak, the Giants have still lost twice as many games as they’ve one. In the deplorable NFC East, that puts them right in the thick of the playoff hunt and just two games out of first place.
And finally, I owe the Miami Dolphins a big apology. When I singled out highly conspicuous Richie Incognito in last week’s update, I barely said a word about the organization he represents. He was receiving so much attention for his bullying, threatening, extorting and all the rest, I failed to see the forest for that one ugly, twisted, gnarled tree. Did Incognito act alone? We may not know that for a while. It has been reported that team officials instructed Incognito to “toughen up” teammate Jonathan Martin. If such a thing took place, head coach Joe Philbin claims to have known nothing about it. He was also evidently unaware his offensive line typically held their meetings at a local strip club. You’ve also got a general manager who reportedly suggested all that bullying stuff could have been avoided with a little more locker room violence. Nothing like good, solid leadership, and that might have been the Dolphins’ biggest failing. Incognito is a member of the Miami Dolphins’ four-player “leadership council.” This is a guy whose laundry list of character, personal, and legal issues goes all the way back to his college days. In 2012, he was investigated for sexually assaulting a female volunteer at a team sponsored golf tournament. The Dolphins’ vice president apologized to the woman and she agreed to keep quiet. That says two things. First, she was paid off. Second, the organization was clearly aware of the situation. You want to know the worst part? Incognito was selected for the leadership council AFTER that occurred. Many of Incognito’s teammates have spoken up in his defense. But Miami isn’t the only place he’s played, and pretty much everyone else in the league seem to think his actions went way over the line. You also have to wonder about an organization that, depending on what you want to believe, was either ignoring, condoning, or somehow oblivious to such behavior. The Miami Dolphins are the Losers of the Week