Just a few short weeks ago the football Gods appeared to be anointing the Green Bay Packers as, at least, champions of the NFC North if not of the entire NFL. They had won their first six games and appeared to be marching in step toward the inevitable. Then in week eight they went up against the Denver Broncos and, in the words of Packers’ Head Coach Mike McCarthy, the Pack experienced a “humbling” loss.
No problem. The loss was just a bump in the road to a championship. Nothing more.
Las Vegas odds makers believed in the Packers and called their next opponent, the Carolina Panthers, underdogs even though they were undefeated and playing at home.
Despite what the odds makers said, the Panthers and their quarterback Cam Newton delivered and dealt the Pack their second loss of the season.
Newton contributed 297 yards passing to the Panthers’ offensive totals of 427 yards. He also threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score. This marked the third time in his career that he has achieved the feat since week six of the 2013 season against the Minnesota Vikings. The rushing touchdown was his 38th of his career, tying him for second place all-time among quarterbacks with Kordell Stewart. Former 49ers’ quarterback Steve Young sits in first place with 43 rushing touchdowns. Moreover, Newton finished the day with a passer rating of 104.4.
The Panthers went out to a fast lead against the Pack. The score was 24-0 in the second period and 27-7 at halftime. Still Aaron Rodgers and the Packers didn’t fold. Rodgers actually had one of his better games. He threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, but was sacked five times. The Panthers led by 23 points in the fourth quarter before Rodgers rallied the Pack and almost took the game into overtime.
First he hit James Starks with a 29-yard TD pass and was successful on a two-point conversion with a toss to Davante Adams. Later he hit James Jones for a 36-yard completion and capped off that drive with a 3-yard pass to Richard Rodgers making the score 37-29.
The Packers intercepted a Newton pass with 3:38 remaining that gave them the ball on the Panthers 22. However, linebacker Thomas Davis was able to secure the victory for the Panthers with an interception on a fourth-and-goal pass at the Panthers 4-yard line. PANTHERS 37 PACKERS 29
Now the Packers find themselves in a first place tie with the Minnesota Vikings who defeated the St. Louis Rams in overtime.
This game showcased two great running backs, the upstart rookie Todd Gurley and the future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson. Peterson won. He rushed for 125 yards on 29 carries while Gurley, who was averaging more than 125-yards a game for four straight games, was only able to muster 89 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Peterson ran for 21 yards in overtime to set up the Vikings’ winning field goal while Gurley lost six yards on his only carry in OT.
Rookie receiver Stefon Diggs caught three passes for 42 yards for the Vikings.
Rams’ kicker Greg Zuerlein helped his team’s cause with four field goals, one a career long 61-yard boot. That kick was the first over 60-yard field goal in the NFL in almost two years. He also was accurate on a 53-yarder with 17 seconds left in regulation.
Vikings’ QB Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out of the game when he slid down after a 5-yard scramble in the fourth quarter and was hit by Rams’ cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. The blow knocked out Bridgewater.
Before the injury he was able to complete 13 passes on 21 attempts for 144 yards and one interception. He ran for a score in the third quarter and scored a two-point conversion on a bootleg rollout. Former Rams quarterback Shaun Hill replaced him.
Rams’ QB Nick Foles completed 18 passes on 33 attempts for 168 yards on a day when his team had to punt eight times and were penalized 12 times for 87 yards.
With less than 10 minutes remaining and down by 10, Foles engineered a drive that culminated in a short Gurley touchdown run. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher called for a two-point conversion, but Gurley was stuffed for no gain. VIKINGS 21 RAMS 18
Chicago Bears quarterback Jake Cutler committed two turnovers and kicker Robbie Gould, who had been successful on every one of his previous 17 field goal attempts this year, missed three consecutive tries, but the Bears were still able to beat the San Diego Chargers.
One of Cutler’s two turnovers was a pick six by Chargers’ cornerback Jason Verrett. Already with a reputation for giving up too many turnovers, Cutler now has 161 of them since the beginning of the 2007 season.
However, no one can say that he is not tough. Despite the errors, he does have a way to change his fortunes quickly to grab a win. In this case, it was a throw to tight end Zach Miller, who made a one-handed catch for a 25-yard touchdown that ultimately gave the Bears the win.
By the way, Cutler set the Bears’ franchise record for touchdown passes with a 1-yard toss to Martellus Bennett in the second quarter of the Monday Night game. Cutler surpassed Bears great and Hall of Famer Sid Luckman. He finished with 27 completions on 40 attempts for 345 yards.
The Chargers lost their fifth straight game and are now suffering their longest consecutive loss streak since they reached six straight in 2011.
Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers completed 26 of his 42 throws for 280 yards. This game marked the first in six that he didn’t achieve more than 300 yards passing.
Chargers’ players can blame only themselves for the loss. They did have opportunities to win. For example, it appeared that Rivers had completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates in the fourth quarter, but right guard D.J. Fluker was flagged for ineligible receiver down field and the play was nullified. The Chargers had to settle on a 22-yard field goal. BEARS 22 CHARGERS 19
NFC NORTH STANDINGS Overall Division
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 6-2 3-0
GREEN BAY PACKERS 6-2 1-0
CHICAGO BEARS 3-5 0-3
DETROIT LIONS 1-7 1-2
NFC NORTH SCHEDULE
LIONS @ PACKERS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2015
BEARS @ RAMS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2015
VIKINGS @ RAIDERS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2015
Courtesy of ABC News