The San Francisco 49ers handily defeated the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday and looked impressive doing so. That was the good part. The bad part is both the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams faced teams who lost their starting quarterbacks early. This didn’t make things easy, but that little handicap works to their favor. Especially when both of those injured quarterbacks are candidates for Canton.
And so there remains a 3-way tie for first place of the NFC West. Let’s look at what happened in the division.
The same Seahawks who struggled against the Bengals squad that the 49ers stomped got gifted a handicap when Pittsburgh Steelers starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left with an elbow injury and did not return.
In comes Mason Rudolph who tried to make a game of things. Unfortunately, the officiating was once again subject to controversy. For starters, there was a field goal attempt that wound up in a new set of downs for the Seahawks and later on there was a challenge on a missed pass interference call on Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett. The decision was overturned and the Seahawks benefitted once again. For more on the officiating you can head to our sister blog, Behind the Steel Curtain who breaks down what happened further. I hate to say this, but the Steelers are missing Antonio Brown at this point. At least, the Antonio Brown who was on the team before he ceased being Antonio Brown and became the wide receiver known as Mr. Big Chest.
Los Angeles Rams
Another elite quarterback gift for the Rams as Drew Brees hurt his hand and never returned. In came Teddy Bridgewater and...well...the game that should have been the fun game of the day turned into a nice nap.
More blown calls in this one sent the Saints into a tizzy. There was a clear fumble that should have been returned for a touchdown, but the refs blew it dead and called it an incomplete (it wasn’t). Which led to this gem of the afternoon from Cameron Jordan:
Here's the full context of Cameron Jordan's "Foot Locker" referee comment: pic.twitter.com/yOjvidTzQt— Amie Just (@Amie_Just) September 16, 2019
The Rams went on to win 27-9, but there was definitely a handicap with Brees out of the game. Some good throws by Goff but it’s hard to gauge the Rams when the quarterback on the other side of the field in their game against the Saints isn’t Drew Brees.
Similiar to last week, the Cardinals were down late and didn’t get a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Once that happened, their game against the Baltimore Ravens got interesting. Watching the Ravens is strange since it reminds me an awful lot of Colin Kaepernick running the 49ers offense a few years back (which makes sense since the offensive coordinator then, Greg Roman, is now calling the offense with the Ravens). The Ravens were able to run the keeper quite a bit to the Cardinals’ dismay and rack up first downs as a result.
Kyler Murray finished the day completing 25 passes (40 attempts), for 349 yards. Not awful by any stretch of the imagination. Larry Fitzgerald had a huge day with five catches for 104 yards. The Cardinals have some work to do. THey have lost a game and tied another and that’s not the start you’d want. Still, there’s plenty of good from Murray to take, including the fact he did not commit a turnover on Sunday.
Into Week 3
It remains a 3-way tie in the NFC West. Arizona lost a game, putting them a bit back behind the 49ers, Rams and Seahawks. Just remember it’s Week 3 and a lot of football left.
The Seahawks host the Saints. A Saints team that might be without Drew Brees. He is going to see a specialist on Monday, but without Brees, the Saints are a very different team.
The Cleveland Browns get a shot to show their legitimacy as they host the Rams on Sunday Night Football next week. This should tell us a lot about both teams.
The Cardinals host the Panthers. A Panthers team that is reeling with Cam Newton’s injury and lack of throwing/running options not named Christian McCaffrey.
T-1st: Los Angeles Rams; Next: at Cleveland Browns
T-1st: San Francisco 49ers; Next: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
T-1st: Seattle Seahawks; Next: vs. New Orleans Saints
2nd: Arizona Cardinals; Next: vs. Carolina Panthers