AFC South: 2013 Week 4 Rapid Reaction
September, 29, 2013
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com
NASHVILLE -- Rapid Reaction from the Tennessee Titans' 38-13 win against the New York Jets at LP Field.
What it means: The Titans rank as one of the NFL’s surprise teams at 3-1 a quarter of the way into the season. But they are likely going to be moving forward without their quarterback, at least for a while. Jake Locker left the game with a right hip injury. He needed to be carted off the field and was eventually taken to the hospital, according to Titans Radio. Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him. Locker threw three touchdowns and posted a 130.0 passer rating.
Stock watch, defense: Cornerback Alterraun Verner is on fire. He collected two interceptions in the first half and scooped up a fumble that he would have returned for a touchdown if he had not tripped. The Titans wanted Tommie Campbell to win Verner’s job in the preseason, but Verner raised his game and Campbell wasn’t up for the challenge. Now Verner has four interceptions in four games. (Campbell got charity snaps late in the game.)
Stock watch, offense: Nate Washington is now over 5,000 receiving yards in his career. He pulled in four catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns, one from Locker and one from Fitzpatrick. He slowed down and went over Antonio Cromartie to collect Fitzpatrick’s deep ball, then bounced off back judge Billy Smith and headed for the end zone on a 77-yard score.
Abusing the rookie: Two Geno Smith interceptions and two Smith fumbles led to 28 points by the Titans. Once upon a time, defenses with a heavy Gregg Williams influence had a tendency to give up plays to rookies. Not on this day or with this rookie.
Tough sledding: The Jets are very hard to run against, and Chris Johnson couldn’t find any room. He wound up with 15 carries for 21 yards. In the second half, while trying to milk some clock and while they were stalling without Locker, they turned more to Jackie Battle, not that he had much more success. He finished with 11 carries for 42 yards.
What’s next: The Titans complete a three-game homestand with a game against another of the NFL’s most improved teams -- the Kansas City Chiefs. Will Fitzpatrick be starting at quarterback for Tennessee?
September, 29, 2013
By Tania Ganguli | ESPN.com
HOUSTON -- Some thoughts from the Houston Texans' 23-20 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
What it means: It took the Seahawks some time to wake up, but until then, the Texans dominated them. The same old mistakes returned late, though, capped by another pick-six from Texans quarterback Matt Schaub to Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who shushed the crowd with his game-tying score. This marked Schaub's third interception returned for a touchdown in three games. The Seahawks won on a 45-yard field goal in overtime.
Stock watch: Schaub's body language on the field reflected the gravity of the mistake he made when he threw the interception that tied the game. The quarterback took a beating from fans last week and played well early in Sunday's game, other than a red zone interception in the first quarter. But his late interception sent his stock plummeting further, despite two touchdowns in the first half.
Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus had his best game yet with 2.5 sacks against a depleted Seahawks offensive line. For the Texans to win, it was imperative they take advantage of the problems Seattle's line was having. The second-year outside linebacker set a rookie record with six sacks last season and already has 3.5 this season. The Texans constantly surrounded Wilson.
Brian Cushing's value: Cushing left the game in the third quarter with a concussion. On the very next drive, the Seahawks scored their first touchdown of the game, mostly on the back of quarterback Russell Wilson. The drive changed the momentum of the game and preceded a defensive stop by Seattle. Officially Cushing left the game with nine tackles, but that number is likely to increase after the coaches' review.
What's next: The Texans continue their tour around the NFC West, this time visiting the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers lost to the Seahawks in Week 2.
September, 29, 2013
By Michael DiRocco | ESPN.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 37-3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:
What it means: This is beginning to sound like a recording, but it was another dismal offensive performance by the Jaguars. The return of starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert made no difference, and in fact, things were probably worse. But it’s unfair to put it all on Gabbert’s shoulders. He was saddled with only four healthy receivers. Two of them -- Jeremy Ebert and Tobais Palmer -- were on the practice squad on Saturday. And Jacksonville lost tight end Marcedes Lewis early in the game. One of the interceptions came after Cecil Shorts bobbled a catchable ball. The running game continues to be an issue, especially up the middle. The interior trio of Brad Meester, Will Rackley and Uche Nwaneri played better than in the first few weeks but still couldn’t generate much push. Maurice Jones-Drew ended up with only 23 yards, and the team's longest run all day was 6 yards.
Stock Watch: Shorts is the Jaguars’ only reliable receiver right now, but he didn’t have a good day -- and that was a recipe for disaster. He dropped at least three passes, including one that he bobbled that was intercepted. He had caught 16 passes in the past two games, 13 of which came when the game was well in hand. He was more productive in the first half against the Colts, but it still didn’t make any difference.
Quick return: The Jaguars’ hope that Lewis would add some spark to the offense disappeared in the first quarter, when he left the game because he aggravated a calf injury. It’s an injury that caused him to miss the first three weeks of the season -- as many games as he had missed in his previous six seasons -- and it was the third time he had hurt the calf.
What’s next: The Jaguars next play at the St. Louis Rams.
September, 29, 2013
By Mike Wells | ESPN.com
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Indianapolis Colts' 37-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:
What it means: The Colts smothered the Jaguars all afternoon and held Jacksonville to 67 yards of total offense through the first three quarters. No, that's not a typo. There weren't any long runs by Maurice Jones-Drew or Blaine Gabbert scrambling to make something to happen. The Colts had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by Darius Butler, and four sacks. Jones-Drew, who's averaged more than 106 yards a game in his career against the Colts, had only 23 yards on 13 carries.
Stock watch: Linebacker Robert Mathis had three sacks to move into 29th place on the all-time sacks list with 99. He has recorded at least one sack in every game this season and has 7.5 on the season. Mathis needs one more sack to become the 30th player in NFL history to have at least 100 sacks. Mathis finished with five tackles to go with his three sacks.
Brazill returns: Receiver LaVon Brazill returns to the Colts on Monday after being suspended the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Brazill will be the team's fourth receiver behind Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton. The Colts didn't have anybody step up as the fourth receiver in Brazill's absence.
Brown shines: With Ahmad Bradshaw inactive with a neck injury, Donald Brown backed up Trent Richardson and ran for 65 yards on only three carries. Brown had a 50-yard run that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Richardson, his second as a Colt.
What's next: The Colts return home for the first time in three weeks when they host the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium on Oct. 6.