Dallas Cowboys: Biggest Surprise of 2014 NFL Season

demarco-murray-cowboys-2014Before the 2014 NFL season started, most experts and analysts didn’t expect the Dallas Cowboys to be very good. We at GTBets.eu were admittedly in this crowd, ranking the Cowboys 25th to start the year. Our concerns certainly weren’t about an offense that was led by Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant, but rather a defensive unit that looked to be even worse a year after giving up the third-most yards in NFL history. The losses of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher and Sean Lee appeared to weaken an already weak unit.

Our suspicions appeared to be confirmed when the Cowboys looked like bumbling morons while going down 21-0 to the San Francisco 49ers. They would eventually put some points on the board and end with a semi-respectable 28-17 loss, but it was an ominous start to the 2014 campaign.

Fast-forward to now, though, and Dallas is the talk of the league. They boast a 3-1 record and are coming off a 38-17 dismantling of the New Orleans Saints. Their other two wins have come against the subpar Tennessee Titans and St. Louis Rams, but keep in mind that these were both road contests. So what changed for the Cowboys that has them being discussed among the league’s best?

A Killer Running Game

The first thing that people notice when looking at the Cowboys’ strong play in the early going is DeMarco Murray. The fourth-year running back has always been considered talented, but what he’s doing this year is just ridiculous. Through four games, Murray has put up the following numbers: 534 yards and 5 TD’s on 99 carries.

If Murray were to continue this pace, he’d easily eclipse 2,000 yards by the end of the season. Of course, it’s a big stretch to assume that this would happen. However, it’s not a stretch to think that Murray could win the MVP if he continues playing this well.

The 2011 Draft Class is coming through

As a highly visible team, Dallas, their owner Jerry Jones, and head coach Jason Garrett are often criticized by fans and media members. However, it’s becoming obvious that what the organization did in the 2011 NFL Draft is really paying dividends now.

They picked Tyron Smith in the first round, who’s arguably the best left tackle in the league. In the second round, they took linebacker Bruce Carter, who’s made some huge plays in the first four wins. Dallas’ third-rounder was Murray, whom we’ve already covered. And sixth-round receiver Dwayne Harris has also contributed to the team’s success.

Moving to last spring’s NFL Draft, the Cowboys made another smart move by picking up Notre Dame right guard Zack Martin. Many fans were hoping that Jones would take Johnny Manziel in the first round to be Romo’s successor. However, Jones and his organization resisted the popular pick and went with the more demure Martin, who’s helped open huge running lanes for Murray.

Tony Romo can do Less

tony-romo-cowboysIn the past, Dallas was often thought of as a team built around Tony Romo and his receiving options. And these expectations often left Romo trying to do everything himself as the game clock wound down. But with the emergence of this running game, the Cowboys signal caller isn’t forced to do as much.

His numbers include a modest 936 passing yards, 7 TDs and 4 INTs. And while this is off pace from his loftier numbers last year, Romo’s quarterback rating is currently 98.7 – higher than last season’s 96.7. As long as Murray can keep pushing the chains behind this offensive line, Romo can pick and choose his spots better.

The Team has More Heart

Okay, so this point may be a little hokey, but it reigns true – the Cowboys are playing with more heart, rather than high-priced free agents who make highlight reel plays. They’ve brought in a number of blue-collar guys like Jeremy Mincey, a journeyman defensive end who brings leadership to the field.

“I’m not (DeMarcus) Ware,” Mincey said. “I’m not as physically gifted as he is. But I do have heart. This team doesn’t have the greatest athletes. But it does have skill, plus hustle, plus heart.”

Mincey is just one of the guys working behind the scenes and headlines to make this Dallas Cowboys team a tougher and more successful group. Will it all culminate in a run to the Super Bowl? That might be going a little too far at this point, but a potential NFC East title isn’t out of the question.

Don’t Laugh – Brandon Weeden could start for Dallas in 2015

brandon-weeden-brownsEarlier today, the Dallas Cowboys signed former Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Brandon Weeden to a two-year deal worth $1.23 million. This seems pretty insignificant in an offseason where players like Michael Johnson and Jairus Byrd have signed much larger and meaningful contracts. But when you look deeper into the matter, Weeden’s deal may have a greater impact on the Cowboys than what meets the eye.

Now, the obvious point to consider here is that Dallas still has Tony Romo, their starting QB for the past nine seasons. Critics love to point out Romo’s lack of success in winning big games and taking the Cowboys deep in the postseason. But you can’t argue with the guy’s career numbers: 29,565 passing yards, 64.6% completion rate, and 208 touchdown passes against just 101 interceptions. And Romo restructured his deal so that his signing bonus counts as most of this year’s salary, leaving Dallas to take just a $1 million cap hit. So there’s nothing changing under center for Dallas this season, but what about 2015…

The Cowboys are off to a very bad start in free agency this offseason after failing to re-sign DE Jason Hatcher. They also let DeMarcus Ware go because they didn’t want $16 million worth of cap space taken up by a guy who only managed six sacks last season. Given that they were already bad on defense, Dallas looks to be even worse in 2014. Throw in the bad contracts that Jerry Jones has been approving for the past several years and you have a team that doesn’t seem capable of filling too many defensive holes.

tony-romo-cowboysSo now we enter into the conversation of if Dallas is on the verge of a rebuilding phase. Sure, they’re not about to throw in the towel on 2014 already, especially with weapons like Romo, DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten on offense. But if America’s Team fails to make the postseason yet again, it’s a very realistic possibility that they’ll look to get younger and less expensive.

Romo is slated to make $27.7 million in 2015, which is a tremendous cap hit. He’s also coming off of his second back surgery in two years, so it’s not like he is getting any younger. Seeing as how Dallas wasn’t afraid to let Ware go this offseason, it’s not unfathomable to think that they’d release Romo and his massive contract.

Relating this all back to Weeden, he projects to be Romo’s immediate backup if Kyle Orton does indeed retire like he’s been discussing. Hopefully for the Cowboys, Romo makes it through this entire season without another major injury, leaving Weeden relegated to the bench. But there’s always the possibility that Tony could get hurt, leaving Weeden to play some snaps.

Next year is even more up in the air due to the contract issue that we discussed. And if the Cowboys ultimately decide that they can’t build a winning team around a 35-year-old quarterback who’s counting $27.7 million against the salary cap next year, Weeden might get his second chance to run a team.

This would no doubt leave some Dallas fans rolling their eyes. But Weeden may not be a total lost cause. Drafted 22nd overall out of Oklahoma State, the former minor league baseball player has all of the physical tools that you’d want from a pocket passer. However, he just never displayed the on-field results to convince Cleveland that he was their quarterback of the future.

In two seasons with the Browns, Weeden threw for 5,116 yards, 23 touchdowns, 26 interceptions and had just a 71.8 passer rating. Throw in his 5-15 record as a starter and it’s no wonder why Cleveland chose to start over at the position. Now, Weeden also gets a chance to start over, which could mean good things for him next season.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 6 (Oct. 9th, 2013)

drew-breesThroughout most of this season, we’ve discussed the surprise Kansas City Chiefs and their emergence as a top-flight team. Well that’s not news anymore, but what is involves how badly the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons have played to open the year. Most experts tabbed these two teams to win their respective divisions; instead, they’re both plagued with problems and looking like good bets to miss the postseason. So what teams are looking like playoff locks? Take a look in our Week 6 power rankings…

1. Denver Broncos (5-0); beat Dallas 51-48, retains same ranking – For the first time all season, the Broncos were actually challenged. And their defense was battered, until the end, when they finally put pressure on Tony Romo and forced a late-game interception. Peyton Manning was once again flawless; however, the defense looks like the one chink in the armor.

2. New Orleans (5-0); beat Chicago 26-18, moves up one spot – From defense to offense, the Saints might be the NFL’s most complete team. After a down season for himself, Jimmy Graham is back to form and proving to be a superhuman tight end.

3. Seattle Seahawks (4-1); lost to Indianapolis 34-28, drops one spot – The Seahawks dropped a very tough game to a hot Colts team on the road. We certainly don’t think this is any sign of trouble ahead though, and they should still be playing the Saints in the NFC Championship later.

4. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0); beat Tennessee 26-17, moves up one spot – It’s hard to be convinced that Alex Smith is truly capable of taking this team to the Super Bowl – especially when he doesn’t throw downfield too well. But strong defense and Jamaal Charles has been the recipe for an undefeated team and remarkable turnaround so far.

5. San Francisco 49ers (3-2); beat Houston 34-3, moves up one spot

Was this blowout a sign of an improving Niners team or a reeling Texans club? We’re willing to bet it’s somewhere in between. The run game is definitely looking better for San Francisco though, and their defense is tough as usual.

6. New England Patriots (4-1); lost to Cincinnati 13-6, drops two spots – Okay, so that was pretty bad against the Bengals. But credit a Vince Wilfork-less defense for holding Cincinnati to just 13 points on their home field. Also consider that the Patriots have dealt with an insane amount of injuries on offense.

7. Indianapolis Colts (4-1); beat Seattle 34-28, moves up three spots – The Colts have trent-richardson-coltsnow beaten two of the NFC superpowers in the Niners and Seahawks. Andrew Luck put on an impressive display on the road against the league’s best defense. Now, if only Trent Richardson could do something…

8. Green Bay Packers (2-2); beat Detroit 22-9, moves up three spots – Green Bay did an excellent job of bottling up Reggie Bush and taking advantage of a surprise Calvin Johnson scratch. Based on their remaining schedule, get ready for another NFC North title run.

9. Chicago Bears (3-2); lost to New Orleans 26-18, moves down two spots – If there’s one team that can still stand in the way of Green Bay and the NFC North crown, it’s Chicago. They lost to a tough Saints team, but will remain competitive.

10. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2), beat New England 13-6, moves up one spot – Granted, their last victory was at home, against a banged-up team, and only a one-touchdown win at that. But it’s still a victory nonetheless and a very fine defensive performance for the Bengals.

11. Detroit Lions (3-2), lost to Green Bay 22-9, moves down three spots – It turns out that Detroit’s offense needs both Bush and Johnson to function as a solid unit. Green Bay was able to eat both Bush and Matthew Stafford alive without Johnson stretching the defense.

12. Baltimore Ravens (3-2), beat Miami 26-23, moves up one spot – Baltimore played an excellent second half to grab a tough win at Miami. The offense is still filled with question marks, but the defense provides a solid foundation.

13. Miami Dolphins (3-2), lost to Baltimore 26-23, drops four spots – After starting out the year great, Miami has now lost two straight. And one thing that’s really hampering them is how quickly they abandon the run game when yards don’t come easily.

14. Dallas Cowboys (2-3), lost to Denver 51-48, moves up four spots – Dallas and tony-romo-cowboysTony Romo showed more in this one loss than they did in both of their wins. It was a heartbreaker, but the Cowboys will move on and grab some easy wins over their NFC East opponents.

15. Houston Texans (2-3); lost to San Francisco 34-3, drops two spots – Normally the Texans would freefall further after such an ugly loss. But much of the back-half of the league also lost. They should get back to .500 with a below-average St. Louis team coming into town.

16. Cleveland Browns (3-2); beat Buffalo 37-24, moves up five spots – Brian Hoyer hysteria looks to be over as he tore his ACL. Now the keys revert back to Brandon Weeden, who will either drive Cleveland to the playoffs or crash their postseason dreams into a tree.

17. Arizona Cardinals (3-2); beat Carolina 22-6, moves up five spots – Why do teams keep throwing Patrick Peterson’s way? Well probably because he covers opposing number one wideouts; but at the rate he keeps picking off passes, QB’s will think twice and thrice about doing so.

18. Tennessee Titans (3-2); lost to Kansas City 26-17, drops one spot – What this game mainly told us is that Kansas City is a very good team – not that Tennessee is a bad one. Unfortunately, things don’t get any easier for the Titans with Seattle and San Francisco coming up.

19. New York Jets (3-2); beat Atlanta 30-28, moves up four spots – Most people predicted that this would be the game where Atlanta finally got going and started a playoff run. Instead, it was a showcase for rookie Geno Smith to throw three touchdowns and lead a game-winning drive.

20. Atlanta Falcons (1-4); lost to New York Jets 30-28, drops five spots – The Steven Jackson injury was devastating, but most people expected Atlanta to at least remain in the postseason hunt. Now their chances of a turnaround are even more unlikely since Julio Jones may be done for the year.

21. San Diego Chargers (2-3); lost to Oakland 27-17, drops five spots – San Diego gained a lot of hype with how they played earlier in the season. However, this hype has been deflated and they’re looking no better off than when they were under Norv Turner.

22. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3); beat New York Giants 36-21, moves up four spots – Hats off to the Eagles for grabbing a road win and staying in the NFC East race. Michael Vick is unlikely to play, so Nick Foles gets another audition for the starting QB role.

23. Washington Redskins (1-3), bye week, moves up one spot – The Redskins move up by default. Expect them to be moving back down again though after their secondary gets torched by Romo this week.

24. Minnesota Vikings (1-3), bye week, moves up one spot – Bringing Josh Freeman in josh-freeman-minnesota-vikings-1to compete for the quarterback job can only help. Christian Ponder has proven ineffective over and over, while Matt Cassel has failed to do much after being gifted a talented Patriots receiving corp years ago.

25. Carolina Panthers (1-3), lost to Arizona 22-6, drops six spots – Once upon a time, Carolina was coming out of the bye week with a favorable schedule ahead. Then they put just six points up against the Cardinals and looked like NFC South cellar-dwellers.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-3), beat San Diego 27-17, moves up two spots – The Matt Flynn debacle is finally over with following his release, and Terrelle Pryor is firmly entrenched as the QB of the future. He’s now 2-2 as a starter this year.

27. Buffalo Bills (2-3); lost to Cleveland 37-24, drops seven spots – Hats off to Buffalo management for not letting severely outmatched Jeff Tuel out on the field again. However, practice squad hero Thaddeus Lewis doesn’t figure to be much of an upgrade at QB. Don’t expect Buffalo to win too many more games with EJ Manuel out for 6-8 weeks.

28. St. Louis Rams (2-3); beat Jacksonville 34-20, drops one spot – A win over Jacksonville doesn’t get you anywhere these days. Now a win over the Texans this week…that would be showing a little something more.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4); bye week, move up one spot – There are holes on both sides of the ball and the Steelers are going into a rebuilding mode. That process starts with rookie running back Le’Veon Bell .

30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-4); bye week, move up one spot – This team has actually been competitive in a couple of games this year. Don’t be surprised to see them rack up a few victories over the remainder of the season.

31. New York Giants (0-5); lost to Philadelphia 36-21, drops 3 spots – The Giants lost a very winnable game at home after being outclassed at nearly every position. Now starting running back David Wilson is out for next week’s game at Chicago. Win number one won’t be coming any time soon.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5); lost to St. Louis, retains same ranking – They actually had a lead for once this season and put some points on the board. Unfortunately, it didn’t take Jacksonville long to show their true colors after being blanked 17-0 in the second quarter.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 4 (Sept. 25th, 2013)

jamaal-charlesEvery year there are teams that flip flop from one NFL season to the next. But this trend has gone to the extreme in 2013, with non-playoff teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears all starting off 3-0. The Chiefs are especially noteworthy here because they’ve already beaten their 2012 win total of two games. Few people expected the Dolphins to be so competitive early on either.

On the other side of the equation are traditional powers like the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings. All expected to compete for a playoff spot, but these teams are now 0-3. The Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers haven’t been much better since last year’s NFC Championship participants are sitting at 1-2. So how does all of this affect our latest power rankings? Here’s the answer…

1. Denver Broncos (3-0); beat Oakland Raiders 37-21, retains same ranking – With 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns, Peyton Manning and this offense have looked nearly invincible. We don’t expect the Broncos to cruise through every game as they’ve done in their 3-0 start. But it’s also hard to see anybody stopping them in the near future.

2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0); beat Jacksonville 45-17, retains same ranking – Denver and Seattle are in a class all by themselves in the early going. Sure Seattle is coming off a victory over the lowly Jaguars, but their blowout of San Francisco still remains fresh in our minds.

3. New Orleans Saints (3-0); beat Arizona 31-7, retains same rankingThe Saints ended any misconceptions about Arizona being able to compete with the big boys. After a disappointing year where they missed the postseason, New Orleans looks like the NFC South favorite.

4. New England Patriots (3-0); beat Tampa Bay 23-3, moves up 2 spots – After numerous worries about their young receiving corp, the Patriots got on track thanks to two Kenbrell Thompkins TD’s. New England was fortunate enough to have three cupcake teams in a row to tune up their new-look offense.

5. Chicago Bears (3-0); beat Pittsburgh 40-23, moves up 5 spots – Every time that the Steelers got close, the Bears defense came up big by forcing a turnover. The Major Wright 38-yard interception return for a TD right before halftime was huge.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1); beat Green Bay 34-30, moves up 3 spots – This is an impressive win by the Bengals against a tough opponent, especially when they surrendered four turnovers to the Pack. Cincinnati could go a long way if they can ever figure out how to utilize all of their offensive weapons.

7. Miami Dolphins (3-0); beat Atlanta 27-23, moves up 4 spots – Miami ryan-tannehillpassed their first true test of the season with flying colors. Ryan Tannehill rebounded from a poor first half to post numbers of 236 passing yards, 2 TD’s and 1 INT.

8. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0); beat Philadelphia 26-16, moves up 4 spots – This team has a number of questions in the passing game, where Alex Smith doesn’t exactly throw the long ball too well. However, the Chiefs’ defense has been outstanding in their first three games.

9. San Francisco 49ers (1-2); lost to Indianapolis 27-7, drops 4 spots – Getting beat up by the Seahawks in Seattle was understandable. Getting beat up at home against the Colts is a little different story. Colin Kaepernick and this offense have to get going after scoring just 10 points in the last two games.

10. Baltimore Ravens (2-1); beat Houston 30-9, moves up 3 spots – Up until last weekend, the Ravens hadn’t shown anything worthy of being able to defend their Super Bowl championship. But the defense finally gelled as a unit against the Texans, shutting down their vaunted run game in the process.

11. Houston Texans; lost to Baltimore 30-9, drops 7 spots – Houston started this game strong, but quickly lost momentum with their offense failing to move the ball. Part of this was the Ravens defense, but part of it was also QB Matt Schaub’s failure to convert big plays.

12. Atlanta Falcons (1-2); lost to Miami 27-23, drops 4 spots – The Falcons offense is still fairly high powered, even in the absence of Steven Jackson. However, the defense hasn’t looked too good over the first three games.

13. Indianapolis Colts (2-1); beat San Francisco 27-7, moves up 3 spots – The Colts showed a lot by going into Candlestick Park and dominating the 49ers. The defense came up huge against Kaepernick. Indianapolis may finally have a strong run game too with both Ahmad Bradshw and Trent Richardson carrying the ball.

14. Green Bay Packers (1-2); lost to Cincinnati 34-30, drops 7 spotsjohnathan-franklin-fumbleGreen Bay lost the ball four times, including a crucial Johnathan Franklin fumble on fourth and inches that was returned for a touchdown. Give credit to the Bengals for playing well, but take credit away from Green Bay for playing so carelessly.

15. Detroit Lions (2-1); beat Washington 27-20, retains same ranking – The NFC North is starting to look pretty crowded with the Bears, Packers and Lions all vying for playoff spots. If Detroit can keep Reggie Bush healthy, they’ll be right in the thick of the division title race.

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-1); beat St. Louis 31-7, retains same ranking – The Rams must hate DeMarco Murray. Two years after he torched them for 253 yards as a rookie, Murray racked up 175 yards on the ground against St. Louis last Sunday. Hopefully Dallas doesn’t forget about the run game again after this performance.

17. Tennessee Titans (2-1); beat San Diego 20-17, moves up 4 spots – Jake Locker had his best game as a pro after throwing for 299 yards and running for another 68 yards. But Locker and the Titans can’t get too cocky since San Diego had three starters out.

18. New York Jets (2-1); beat Buffalo 27-20, moves up 9 spots – Many people thought that the Jets would be laughable this year, thanks in large part to their quarterback debacle. However, rookie Geno Smith cleared up the debacle and has given this team a real weapon. Bilal Powell has emerged as a feature back after rushing for a career-high 149 yards against Buffalo.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2); lost to Kansas City 26-16, drops 5 spots – Following a breakout first game, Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense is failing to produce wins. Michael Vick completed just 13-of-30 passes for 201 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.

20. San Diego Chargers (1-2); lost to Tennessee 20-17, retains same ranking – With most teams losing behind them and several injured starters, San Diego stays put at number 20. This team is really just a few plays away from being 3-0.

21. Carolina Panthers (1-2); beat New York Giants 38-0, moves up 8 spots – After putting a thorough home beating on the Giants, Carolina moves up amidst so many back-end teams losing. The defense was stout while Cam Newton finally put up some good numbers (223PYDS, 45RYDS, 4TD, 1INT).

22. St. Louis Rams (1-2); lost to Dallas 31-7, drops 4 spots – St. Louis demarco-murray-ramsreally got gashed by both Tony Romo and Murray. This hurts bad after beating Arizona and losing by just a touchdown against Atlanta.

23. Arizona Cardinals (1-2); lost to New Orleans 31-7, drops 4 spots – Nobody expected the Cardinals to beat New Orleans. But they at least have to protect Carson Palmer, who was sacked four times.

24. New York Giants (0-3); lost to Carolina 38-0, drops 2 spots – Are the G-Men really this bad? Probably not, but they’d better show something soon because New York fans are getting impatient.

25. Buffalo Bills (1-2); lost to New York Jets 27-20, drops 2 spots – Buffalo has played very competitive this year, and if they can get CJ Spiller going, the ground game will be extremely tough.

26. Washington Redskins (0-3); lost to Detroit 27-20, drops 2 spots – The Redskins secondary is once again terrible and this team can’t stop anybody. At least RG III is putting up yards though.

27. Cleveland Browns (1-2); beat Minnesota 31-27, moves up 5 spots – Having been written off by everybody after the Trent Richardson trade, Cleveland came out and won on the road with backup QB Brian Hoyer. Don’t expect a lot more of these winning efforts though.

28. Minnesota Vikings (0-3); lost to Cleveland 31-27, drops 3 spots – A week after losing to Chicago in a close one, Minnesota comes out at home and loses to the lowly Browns. So where does this leave the Vikings?

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3); lost to Chicago 40-23, drops 3 spots – Few people expected Pittsburgh to be in the AFC North cellar after four games. But the offense just can’t produce when it counts.

30. Oakland Raiders (1-2); lost to Denver 37-21, drops 2 spots – Yes, this is still the Raiders and they never really challenged Denver. But there is some excitement in the air over Terrelle Pryor and the energized offense.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3); lost to New England 23-3, drops 1 spot – The Josh Freeman era in Tampa Bay looks to be over as the fifth-year veteran was replaced by rookie Mike Glennon this week.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3); lost to Seattle 45-17, retains same ranking – At least the Jaguars were able to muster some offense in a game this season. They scored 17 second-half points, but the game was already out of hand.

2012 NFL Thanksgiving Games feature Offensive Explosions

While people were getting stuffed on turkey and potatoes yesterday, several NFL teams were busy stuffing the stat sheets. In fact, five out of the six teams that played yesterday scored at least 31 points, which provided some of the best football that we’ve ever seen on Thanksgiving. That said, let’s discuss all three games that happened yesterday and who the biggest stars were.

Houston Texans edge Detroit Lions 34-31 in Overtime

Few people were expecting the 4-7 Lions to push the 10-1 Houston Texans. But Detroit more than pushed the Texans and had a few different chances to win the game.

Lions QB Matt Stafford had a strong game against one of the NFL’s best secondaries as he threw for 441 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he helped the Lions grab a 10-point lead in the third quarter.

However, the Texans caught a break when Justin Forsett ran for an 81-yard touchdown where replays showed that he was down at midfield. But Lions coach Jim Schwartz ruined any chance to look at the replay when he threw a challenge flag, which is an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty since all scoring plays are automatically reviewed. But due to the penalty, the 81-yard TD stood and pulled Houston within three points.

The game eventually went into overtime where Detroit’s Jason Hansen had a chance to win it with a 47-yard field goal; but he missed and left the door wide open for Shayne Graham’s game-winning field goal.

Washington Redskins hold off Dallas Cowboys in 38-31 win

The Redskins-Cowboys game had all the makings of a blowout since Washington led 28-3 at halftime. However, the Cowboys made a furious comeback thanks to 441 passing yards and three touchdowns by QB Tony Romo. WR Dez Bryant also had a monster game after catching eight passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.

However, Dallas could never quite cover the gap that was caused by Redskins QB Robert Griffith III when he threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the second quarter. Overall, the standout rookie racked up 311 passing yards and four touchdowns on the night, while RB Alfred Morris ran for 113 yards and a score.

New England destroys New York Jets 49-19

While the first two games on Sunday were fairly close, this one was a massacre! Following a scoreless first quarter, New England rocked New York in the second quarter after scoring five touchdowns – four of which came in a six-minute span.

Perhaps the most crushing score came from safety Steve Gregory when he returned a Mark Sanchez fumble 32 yards for a touchdown. Patriots QB Tom Brady also threw an 83-yard TD pass to Shane Vereen during the second quarter. Brady finished the game with 323 passing yards, three passing TD’s and one rushing touchdown.