Lead goes to Adrian Peterson’s impressive debut in Arizona, running for two touchdowns and gaining 134 yards on 26 carries as Cardinals top Tampa Bay Bucs
By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today
The New Orleans Saints couldn’t fit Adrian Peterson into their system, and maybe he didn’t like the food down in the Bayou, so the troubled running back found his way to Arizona and his comeback switched into another gear.
The Cardinals welcomed the former All-Pro and he responded big time Sunday in their 38-33 NFL win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Glendale, Ariz.
What the Arizona fans saw was the 34-year-old running for two touchdowns and rushing for 134 yards on 26 carries. He scored the first and last TDs as the Cards held off a late comeback by the Bucs. It began with a 27-yard touchdown run up the middle at 11:52 of the opening quarter. It concluded with a 1-run burst into end zone with 7:42 remaining.
It was crucial because it was Arizona’s lone score in a fourth quarter that brought the visitors 27 points and closed the gap after trailing 31-0 early in the third quarter.
“I felt comfortable out there,” Peterson said. “I followed the blocks and got great support from the team, so it was awesome to help win today.”
It put the Cardinals at 3-3 and dropped Tampa Bay to 2-3. The Bucs’ comeback came via the arm of veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now with his eighth team, he entered as the back-up and threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns. But Peterson’s clutch TD offset the rally.
In East Rutherford, N.J., before the largest crowd of the day and night (77.562) the surprising New York Jets gave the New England Patriots a struggle before falling 24-17. They took a 14-0 lead that became 14-all at halftime. Then, trailing by 24-14 with 8:06 left, they appeared to have scored on a pass from Josh McCown to tight end Steperian-Jenkins, and it was ruled a touchdown when he took two defenders into the end zone with him, went down with the ball and then stumbled out of bounds.
But wait, after a discussion, the head linesmen official decided that the receiver did not have possession of the ball when he carried it out of bounds. Steperian-Jenkins was so upset, he even approached the official, who waived him off.
In the broadcast booth, it was rare to hear the commentator say what he did: “That was one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen. We keep seeing replays that show him coming down with the ball, never fumbling him, and yet they overruled the call. Unbelievable.”
With the extra point it would have trimmed the deficit to 24-21. Instead, the Pats took possession and kept the Jets from tying or wining the tilt in the final minutes. On fourth down at the New England 40, McCown was pressured into a throw that went far too deep.
New York was the sixth team this season that passed for over 300 yards against the Patriots (4-2), an NFL record. The Jets fell to 3-3.
In Atlanta, the Falcons brought back memories of the huge lead they surrendered in the Super Bowl loss to New England. Worse, it was at home. Up 17-0 at the half, they let the Miami Dolphins back into the game. While the home team’s offense sputtered, it was the Fins winning, 20-17, on a late field goal. It put stumbling Miami at 3-2 and dropped Atlanta to the same record.
In Kansas City, the NFL’s lone undefeated team went down before the charged-up Pittsburgh Steelers and dropped to 5-1. Pitt won 19-13, but actually dominated in all phases of the game. It accumulated 439 total yards of offense, had more first downs, 23-12, as well as time of possession (36:39), and holding the deflated Chiefs to only 28 yards along the ground on 15 carries. The Steelers are now 4-2.
In Green Bay, down went All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers when he was brought down in the third quarter, fell heavily on one side, and suffered a broken collarbone that could end his season. The 23-10 loss to the rival Minnesota Vikings put the devastated Packers at 4-2 and brought Minny the same record.
Talk about dominating in almost every statistic and losing. Well, that’s what happened to the Jacksonville Jaguars at home. They had more first downs, more time of possession, more rushing yards, more total yards, and less penalties. With all that, it was the Los Angeles Rams winning 27-17, advancing to 4-2 and the Jags now at 3-3.
The (still) Oakland Raiders had the lowest turnout, 54,685, for the day and went down 17-16 to the Los Angeles Chargers, who are no longer in San Diego. The Raiders are waiting to relocate to a new facility in Las Vegas and the Chargers to a new facility in Los Angeles while currently playing in the Rose Bowl. Both teams are now at 2-4.
Surprise outcome in Denver. The New York Giants are no longer winless after stunning the Broncos, 24-10, Sunday night to rise to 1-5. It was all Jints as they led 17-3 at the half and 20-3 after three quarters. They rushed for 148 yards on 32 carries, with Orleans Darkwa picking up 117 of them on 21 tugs. This dropped Denver to 3-2.
Quarterback Eli Manning passed for one touchdown and the Giants also had an interception run back for a TD to go with three field goals from Aldrick Rosas. Their defense was solid and powered by Jason Pierre-Paul’s three sacks and four unassisted tackles.
Tight end Evan Engram caught the TD pass and five catches for 82 yards. New York is playing with all three staring receivers out. Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham for the season with injuries, and Sterling Shephard hoping to return from one.
The San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns remain winless, both at 0-6 after San Fran lost yet another close one, this time, 26-24, to the Redskins in D.C., and the Browns falling behind early and falling 33-17 to the visiting Houston Texas.
Cleveland was down 33-3 after three quarters before coming to life too little too late. Plus, they were flagged for 11 penalties and 72 yards. The 49ers have now lost four games by a total of 19 points.
But the day’s most flags were dropped against the New Orleans Saints, 13 of them for 118 yards. Fortunately, it didn’t cost them the 52-38 triumph. They led the visiting Detroit Lions (3-3) by five touchdowns before the Lions outscored them 28-7 in the fourth quarter.
On Thursday night, the Philadelphia Eagles continued to soar by turning back the visiting Carolina Panthers, 28-23. It was back-and-forth until Philly’s stout defense contained quarterback Cam Newton, forcing him into three interceptions to move to 5-1 and drop Carolina to 4-2.
And on Monday night, the Tennessee Titans broke an 11-game losing skein against the visiting Indianapolis Colts by coming from behind to prevail 28-17. With the monkey off their back, the Titans advanced to 3-3 and knocked the Colts down to 2-4.
No mention here of stand up, sit down, kneel, take a knee. It takes up space from the millionaire jocks who respect only the football and their paychecks.