There were many close games in Week 9 of the NFL season, as eight matchups were decided by a touchdown or less. Somehow the Dallas Cowboys gave the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers a run for their money with a fourth string quarterback, and the Carolina Panthers came within two points of the offensive powerhouse Kansas City Chiefs.
Even the New England Patriots had a scare Monday night when the 0–9 New York Jets, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, dominated most of the game. Flacco’s three touchdown passes ended up not being enough to hold the Patriots off, as Nick Folk’s 51-yard field goal with no time left on the clock gave his team a 30–27 win.
One game that was expected to be exciting, between two NFC South Super Bowl contenders, turned into a blowout. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up a whopping three points against the New Orleans Saints, who won the Sunday night game 38–3. Even with his new wide receiver weapon Antonio Brown, Tom Brady was unable to throw a touchdown the entire game. The game was arguably the worst of Brady’s career as the Buccaneers trailed 31–0 at half, and the Brady-led offense could not even score a touchdown when they had a first and goal at the 1-yard line. There is definitely something off with the Buccaneers as a whole given that they also barely beat the New York Giants last week. However, we know not to count Brady out just yet, as the Bucs still have a good shot at making the playoffs. With the biggest blowout out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the notable matchups that were closer than expected.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys
The only undefeated team against a fourth string quarterback and the Dallas Cowboys. I think most fans had an idea about where this game was headed, but boy were we all wrong. The Cowboys, starting their fourth quarterback of the season, Garrett Gilbert, and led at the end of the third quarter against the Steelers 19–9. Dallas has had an unfortunate series of quarterback injuries this season including losing their star quarterback, Dak Prescott, for the season with a broken ankle. Gilbert played better than expected, and ended the first half with a better passer rating than Steelers veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Cowboys maintained the lead for almost the entire game until Eric Ebron scored a touchdown with a little over two minutes left in the game to give the Steelers the lead. With second string quarterback Andy Dalton missing the past two games due to a concussion and positive COVID-19 test, Gilbert now challenges him for the starting spot for the remainder of the season. The Steelers escaped with the 24–19 win to remain the NFL’s lone unbeaten team.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills upset the Seattle Seahawks 44–34 this Sunday. It was a battle between quarterbacks Josh Allen and MVP front-runner Russell Wilson, and ultimately Allen and the Bills came out on top. Allen had three touchdowns and 415 yards, whereas Russell Wilson had four turnovers. The Seahawks defense is what ultimately killed them, allowing 386 passing yards to Allen. The Seahawks defense ranks second to last in the NFL in yards allowed per game. However, newly acquired Carlos Dunlap does provide some hope for the unit moving forward, as he had five tackles in his first game for Seattle. The Bills are on track to win the AFC East, which they have not done since 1995.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers started out well, but the Kansas City Chiefs fought their way back to earn a 33–31 victory. Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey returned to the field after missing six games with a high ankle sprain and undoubtedly contributed to their success, but he could be out again with a shoulder injury that occurred late in the game. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the rest of his star-studded offense were dominant as usual, and Mahomes became the fastest quarterback in history to reach 100 career passing touchdowns . Kansas City moves along with an 8–1 record while the Carolina trends in the opposite direction at 3–6.