Apparently, those cardboard fans we see in the stands at NFL games now play defence too. Everywhere.
NFL scoring is out of control.
Winning point totals in last week’s games: 42, 40, 37, 35, 35, 34, 33, 33, 31, 31, 31, 30, 28, 26, 23 and 17.
Winning point totals this week, before Sunday night: 38, 36, 36, 36, 35, 34, 31, 31, 30, 28, 28, 26 and 21. (Cincinnati and Philadelphia played to a miserable 23-23 tie.)
Want to win in this season’s NFL? Better plan to score 30. At least 30. Nine teams so far in 2020 have scored 30-plus and lost.
In five games in each of the past two weeks, you had to score 35 — the equivalent of at least five touchdowns — if you wanted to win. Wow.
Scoring already was on a record pace heading into Week 3, on 186 total touchdowns (14 more than the 2018 milestone) and 1,611 total points (55 more than the 2012 milestone). That’s 5.8 TDs and 50.3 points per game.
Through 14 of 16 games heading into Sunday night, teams in Week 3 were scoring touchdowns at the same rate (5.8 per game) and points at an even higher rate (51.0 per game).
And you know what? I’m not sure I like it.
Some games, such as Dallas at Seattle, felt like an NBA all-star game — no defence whatsoever.
What’s more, these scoring derbies lengthen games. Which makes defences more tired. Which makes defenders make more mistakes and commit more fouls. Which piles on even more pressure on officials to throw a flag.
Games feel like they’re entirely in the hands of all these gun-slinging QBs who are having field days so far. With everyone else on the field just trying to keep up.
SEAHAWKS ROLLING ON
With the exception of perhaps the Baltimore Ravens (who play Monday night at home against Kansas City), no team is as potent and dynamic as the Seattle Seahawks.
Thanks almost entirely to their maestro, quarterback Russell Wilson, who again saved the Seahawks’ butts in a 38-31 win over the visiting Dallas Cowboys.
All the ninth-year passer did Sunday afternoon was rip up the Cowboys defence for five touchdowns, on 27-of-40 throwing for 315 yards and no interceptions.
It was Wilson’s second consecutive game with five TD passes — a franchise first. And his 14 TD passes through Week 3 constitute an NFL record, surpassing the 13 of Patrick Mahomes in 2018.
Seattle led most of the way, but Dak Prescott rallied the Cowboys from a multi-score deficit (his weekly burden, it seems) to take a 31-30 lead with 3:59 remaining.
The unflappable Wilson promptly drove the Seahawks 75 yards in eight plays, culminating in his fifth TD throw — a 29-yard, laser-precision lob on a deep crosser to D.K. Metcalf in the end zone.
Wilson would have been credited with another TD pass had Metcalf not stupidly slowed up and prematurely celebrated on a long-bomb first-half completion, and getting the ball batted out of his hands just before he crossed the goal line by the closing Cowboys defensive back, which sent the ball bounding through the end zone for a touchback.
As I noted last week, no player in the NFL is playing as masterfully this season as Wilson.
“I have not seen a quarterback play better than this,” Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy said Sunday night on NBC. “Russell Wilson is playing out of his mind.”
GAME BALLS GO TO …
Five this week:
* QB Wilson, Seattle. See above.
* QB Nick Foles, Chicago. Took over from Mitchell Trubisky and threw three late TDs to push the Bears past the Falcons.
* PK Stephen Gostkowski, Tennessee. Nailed all six field-goal attempts (the last two from 54 and 55 yards) to beat the Vikings.
* QB Josh Allen, Buffalo. Another scintillating day, especially early and late in a wild comeback win over the Rams.
* WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota. Stefon Diggs’ dazzling rookie replacement caught seven passes for 175 yards and a TD.
TURF MONSTER SLAIN
The San Francisco 49ers now probably want to play every week at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey — awful turf or not.
Last week the Niners swarmed the New York Jets 31-13, despite losing a wagon-full of star performers with leg injuries, which coaches and players blamed on the sticky new artificial playing surface.
The NFL investigated and there’s nothing wrong with the turf.
On Sunday the Niners returned to the same stadium and bombed the New York Giants 36-9, with backups playing all over the place, including Nick Mullens at QB.
Still, the 49ers suffered another big injury scare. Tight end Jordan Reed hurt his left ankle and knee while trying to stutter-step to (unsuccessfully) get two feet down on attempted touchdown catch at the back of the end zone; his foot seemed to get stuck on the turf. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan afterward said he’s optimistic Reed’s ankle and knee injuries aren’t serious.
GIANT TALENT HOLE
If they could run it or pass it, the New York Giants offence might not be a gawd awful disaster. But they can’t do either, so it is.
In contrast to the above winning point totals around the league, the Giants of new head coach Joe Judge — and new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett — have scored 16, 13 and nine points, respectively, in consecutive losses to Pittsburgh, Chicago and San Francisco.
That’s not within telescope distance of good enough.
Second-year Giants QB Daniel Jones is struggling big-time. It’s practically guaranteed now he’ll commit two turnovers a game.
The Giants ran zero plays in the red zone Sunday. Zero.
Is it possible the Giants could go winless? If they keep scoring at this paltry rate, for sure.
“There’s no magic formula to this,” Judge said. “There’s no magic wand. You don’t go out there and just solve every problem in a day. It’s a day-by-day process of putting things together.”
Yeah, but the season isn’t 10,000 days long.
SAME DARN OLD JETS
Speaking of 0-3 teams named New York but based in New Jersey, the Jets might be more of a mess than the Giants.
Sam Darnold threw two pick-sixes in a 36-7 loss at Indianapolis.
Jets head coach Adam Gase was hired a year ago to get the most out of Darnold, the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2018.
“We haven’t done a good job,” said Gase, who already is on the hot seat not even 20 games into his tenure, per a Sunday morning ESPN report.
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