Thursday, August 13, 2015

NFL Recap August 13. 2015

Chargers Edge Cowboys 17-7

The Chargers edged the Dallas Cowboys 17-7 in Week 1 of the preseason.  The team got off to a fast start by capitalizing on turnovers.  The first one came in the first quarter when after driving downfield, Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden couldn’t handle the snap.  The ball rolled backward 35-yards and was recovered by cornerback Patrick Robinson.  The Bolts’ first team offense took the lead quickly with a six play, 33-yard drive that ended in an eight-yard touchdown by Danny Woodhead up the middle making it 7-0 San Diego.  Dallas responded and knotted the score 7-7 and with 49 seconds left in the first half, the Chargers took the 14-7 lead with a 10-yard score by running backBranden Oliver
The third quarter saw a lot of back and forth action between the two teams who traded punts on each drive.  Brad Sorensen entered at quarterback for Kellen Clemens and undrafted rookie running back Dreamius Smith saw action in the backfield.  In the fourth, the Chargers took it to the Dallas 33-yard line whereNick Novak came on and made a 52-yard field goal to make it 17-7 San Diego.  The Cowboys got back into San Diego territory on the ensuing drive but the Chargers defense held strong preventing Dallas from converting a fourth down with just over four minutes left in the game.  After the turnover on downs, running back Jahwan Edwards had a couple of strong runs to burst into Dallas territory, but Sorensen ran the clock out and the Chargers left Qualcomm victorious.
The Chargers are now 1-0 in the preseason and travel to Arizona next Saturday to take on the Cardinals. 

Turnovers Sink Cowboys In Preseason Opener Loss To Chargers

It was exactly the type of preseason opener you might expect from a Jason Garrett-coached team.
The Cowboys let a select few veterans get some work on Thursday against the Chargers, but it was a light night for most of the established roster – not to mention any and all injury concerns.
Instead, the 17-7 loss served as an extended audition for the plethora of rookies, role players and longshots to showcase their stuff in a live setting.
“Just getting out there, I always have jitters no matter what game it is,” saidTyrone Crawford. “Just getting the jitters out for the first time -- it feels good.”
It went about as one might expect. There were plenty of positives – such as Cowboys quarterbacks completing 12-of-18 passes for 125 total yards in the first half, not to mention the most impactful night of Devin Street’s young career, as he caught three balls for 45 yards in the first half. Newcomers likeByron JonesDamien Wilson and La’el Collins made fantastic first impressions, and fan favorite Gus Johnson found first half pay dirt.
There was plenty to dislike, as well. Dallas coughed up two fumbles in a sloppy first half – both of which led to San Diego touchdowns. Brandon Weedenfumbled a snap on the 11th play of the game, leading to a Chargers recovery and an eventual score. Later in the first half, Lucky Whitehead fumbled a punt return, setting San Diego up for its second scoring drive.
“There were some positive things, but you have to take care of the football or you are not going to win in this league,” Garrett said.
How the Chargers scored those touchdowns was equally disheartening, as they tore through the Cowboys’ defense for 71 first half rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
“The defense made some good stops. I don’t think we tackled as good as we need to, particularly when they got down there in the red zone,” Garrett said. “You have to be able to stay in your gaps. You have to be able to get off your blocks. You have to be able to tackle in this league. They made too many positive running plays; to be able to run the ball into the end zone down there, we have to get better."
Of course, it’s worth mentioning the full list of stalwarts who didn’t take the field at Qualcomm Stadium for the first of four preseason games. The Cowboys offense kicked off its night without Tony RomoDez BryantJason Witten,Tyron SmithDoug Free or Joe Randle.
A similar story played out for the defense, which went to work without Sean Lee,Brandon CarrOrlando ScandrickMorris ClaiborneNick Hayden andRolando McClain.
That provided opportunity for plenty of other players, however. With Weeden sitting down after just one series, both Dustin Vaughan and Jameill Showersgot extended windows of playing time. Without the trio of Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar, Johnson and Lache Seastrunk combined to take the vast majority of running back snaps.

Redskins defeat Browns in preseason opener

Quarterback Josh McCown threw a touchdown pass in his debut for Cleveland and backup Johnny Manzielscrambled for a TD as the Browns, busting out new uniforms for the first time, built an early lead before losing 20-17 to theWashington Redskins on Thursday night in their preseason opener.
McCown, signed during the offseason to bring stability to Cleveland's troublesome position, connected with Travis Benjaminon a 2-yard TD in the first quarter. Manziel ran 12 yards for a score in the second.
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III went 4 of 8 passing for 36 yards during two possessions with Washington's starters. Griffin would have thrown a TD pass, but wide receiver Pierre Garcon dropped a long toss.
Kirk Cousins rallied the Redskins, who trailed 14-3 in the second quarter. Cousins ran for a TD and went 12 of 14 for 154 yards.

Browns offense starts fast in preseason loss to Washington

The Josh McCown era began Thursday in Cleveland and the veteran quarterback brought immediate results in a 20-17 preseason loss to the Redskins.
On Cleveland’s opening drive, McCown completed all five of his passes and capped it with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin in the back of the end zone. On the play, McCown evaded several blitzing Redskins in the pocket with nifty footwork.
It ended up being his only possession of the game, but McCown continued to show Cleveland’s coaching staff he can be an effective leader of the Browns offense.
“Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) called an excellent game,” McCown said. “To come out and just worry about us and how we execute things, I was really proud of that of our guys. Everybody just went about our business the way we have throughout training camp and we were able to move the ball down the field and score.”
In the second quarter, the offense kept the momentum rolling with quarterbackJohnny Manziel.
After Marlon Moore stripped Redskins return man Andre Roberts on a punt, Manziel and the offense capitalized on the mistake. Two quick completions to Brian Hartline andIsaiah Crowell spread the defense out, and Manziel broke loose with his feet on a third-and-4, weaving around Washington defenders on his way to a 12-yard touchdown run.
It wasn’t all picture-perfect for the 22-year-old in five total series, but Manziel finished the night 7-for-11 for 42 yards and with something to build upon.
The Redskins had some success against the Browns defense, though. With the Browns run defense under the microscope, Washington’s Alfred Morris carried the ball eight times for 42 yards (5.3 yards per carry).
In the second quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins engineered a quick, eight-play, 80-yard touchdown drive and finished it with a 4-yard touchdown of his own. Cousins, who had success in Cleveland in a 2012 win that helped the Redskins make the playoffs, completed 12-of-14 passes for 154 yards. The Redskins scored 17 points in two quarters with the 26-year-old pocket passer.
Despite Washington’s efficiency with Cousins, there were several bright spots on defense for the Browns.
The Redskins were threatening for another touchdown before halftime, but a sack from rookieXavier Cooper and a thundering tackle for a loss by Christian Kirksey on Redskins running back Chris Thompson forced Washington into a field goal. In the third quarter,Jamie Meder forced a fumble from running back Silas Redd and Tank Carder pounced on football.

Dolphins fall to Bears in preseason opener

 Ryan Tannehill picked apart a rebuilt defense, throwing for a touchdown on the game's opening drive, and theMiami Dolphins led into the second half before the Chicago Bears rallied for a 27-10 victory in the preseason opener Thursday night.
The Bears used two interceptions by reserves to set up a touchdown and field goal that gave them a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
The rally aside, it was not a promising performance by a team coming off a five-win season. The Bears hired general manager Ryan Pace and coach John Fox while overhauling the defense, but there clearly is work to do.
Miami, 8-8 last season, looked good until Chicago's reserves made their move.
Tannehill, armed with a $96 million contract extension, played like a big-money quarterback, going 6 of 7 for 56 yards.

Dolphins Open Preseason With 27-10 Loss To Bears

Just as he did in 2014 against the Atlanta Falcons, Ryan Tannehill directed the Dolphins offense to a touchdown drive against the Chicago Bears to kick off the 2015 preseason. 

But whereas the Dolphins defense watched Atlanta respond with a touchdown drive last year, this time it was a three-and-out for the Bears on their opening offensive possession. 

The strong start clearly was the highlight in a game the Dolphins ended up losing 27-10 after being outscored 24-0 in the second half. 

Tannehill completed 6 of 7 passes against Chicago, capping the opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry on fourth-and-goal. 

“Really good opening possession,” Head Coach Joe Philbin said at halftime. “Guys stepped up and made plays and we overcame a little bit of adversity within the drive.” 

The only other points scored by the Dolphins came courtesy of a 31-yard field goal byCaleb Sturgis late in the first half a few plays after McLeod Bethel-Thompson connected with LaRon Byrd on a 31-yard completion. 

Bethel-Thompson, however, threw two interceptions in the second half as part of a bad offensive run that saw three turnovers in a four-drive stretch — the other turnover was a Mike Gillisleefumble after he was stripped at the end of a 25-yard run. 

The first Chicago interception, by linebacker John Timu, set up the Bears’ first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Ka’Deem Carey on fourth-and-goal that gave them their first lead of the game. A two-point conversion made it 17-10. 

Chicago closed out the scoring with a 54-yard run by Senorise Perry with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter. 

The Dolphins struggled with penalties throughout the game, and that included two holding calls on that impressive opening drive. But they were able to overcome those two setbacks thanks to some big plays, most notably a 19-yard pass from Tannehill to veteran newcomerGreg Jennings that was followed immediately by a 27-yard run by Lamar Miller

The Dolphins got a first-and-goal after an 8-yard completion from Tannehill to tight endDion Sims, and the touchdown came on a quick out to Landry in the corner of the end zone. 

“We’ve got two good kickers that we want to evaluate, but we were on the 2-yard line, so we just felt like it was a good opportunity for us to practice our fourth-down offense,” Philbin said in explaining the decision to go for the touchdown. 

The defense forced the Bears into a three-and-out on their opening drive afterNdamukong Suh enticed a false start on Chicago’s first snap from scrimmage. SafetyReshad Jones also was instrumental on that first drive as he tackled Jacquizz Rodgers after a 1-yard gain on a run and later broke up the third-down pass. 

When the Dolphins returned on offense, Matt Moore took over at quarterback and centerMike Pouncey, tackle Ja’Wuan James and Miller accompanied Tannehill on the sideline. 

All four quarterbacks on the roster saw action against the Bears, with Josh Freemanreplacing Bethel-Thompson in the fourth quarter. Freeman led a drive that reached the Bears 8-yard line after completions of 15 and 19 yards to Cobi Hamilton and another of 21 yards toKevin Cone, but the scoring threat ended with four consecutive incompletions.


• Right guard Billy Turner remained in the game long after the other four starters on the offensive line had been taken out for the night. Turner played most of the first half and was back in the lineup at the start of the second half. 

• The Dolphins opened on offense with two tight ends, Jordan Cameron and Dion Sims, and on defense in the nickel formation with Brent Grimes and Jamar Taylor outside at cornerback and Brice McCain in the slot. 

• Rookie linebacker Zach Vigil led the defense with five tackles and had the Dolphins’ only sack of the game. 

• Linebacker Jordan Tripp left the game in the first half with an injury to his lower right leg. He returned to the sideline in the second half wearing a protective boot and sporting crutches. 

• The Dolphins are now 22-27-1 in preseason openers and have lost their last four. 

• The Dolphins defense didn’t allow a play longer than 17 yards in the first half. 

• Eight Dolphins players were kept out of the game: WR Christion Jones, WR Kenny Stills, WR DeVante Parker, FS Louis Delmas, RB Jay Ajayi, DB Don Jones, LB Koa Misi and T Branden Albert.

Game Recap: Ravens 30, Saints 27

Baltimore's offense was humming, and third-string QB Bryn Renner finished it with a game-winning touchdown.

The Ravens’ preseason opener began and ended about as well as it could.
The first-team offense and defense both dominated in Thursday night’s preseason opener, putting Baltimore up 14-0 in the first quarter.
The Saints charged back behind their second-teamers, but third-string quarterbackBryn Renner got the last laugh, leaping into the end zone with two seconds left to give the Ravens a dramatic (especially for the preseason) 30-27 win.
The Ravens’ first-team offense cruised down the field with a 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in its first and only action of the night.
Quarterback Joe Flacco went 5-for-6 for 33 yards and a 17-yard carry. Running backLorenzo Taliaferro rushed 12 times for 36 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down to cap the Ravens’ opening drive in the end zone.
The first-team defense was equally dominant, holding the Saints to back-to-back three-and-outs. New Orleans didn’t start Pro Bowler Drew Brees, however, going with Luke McCown instead. The Saints only netted 11 yards on their first two drives.
Baltimore’s second-team defense struggled and backup quarterback Matt Schaub had a stronger first half than second. The combination of the two allowed the Saints to tie the game at 20-20 in the fourth quarter, then take the lead after a Renner interception deep in his own zone.
Renner led a 16-play drive in the final two minutes, capped off by a 1-yard roll out and scramble into the end zone, sending Baltimore’s sideline into a celebration reminiscent of a regular-season game. Renner received a big hug from Head Coach John Harbaugh and Gatorade bath fromTerrell Suggs.
Quote Of The Day“I’d like to see a two-minute stop, for once, maybe the first time in about eight years.” – Head Coach John Harbaugh at halftime.
Turning Point Of The GameFacing a fourth-and-20 on the final game-winning drive, Renner dumped a short pass to rookie second-round tight end Maxx Williams. Williams charged up field, hurdled one Saints defender then plowed into another to pick up the first down – with 2 yards to spare.
Impact Plays
  • Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter, Harbaugh kept the offense on the field. The middle of the Ravens’ offensive line and fullback Kyle Juszczyk paved the way for running back Lorenzo Taliaferro to drive his way into the end zone.
  • Wide receiver Michael Campanaro only made one catch in the first half, but he made it worthwhile. He streaked across the deep secondary to haul in a wide-open pass from Matt Schaub, then scampered up the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Ravens up 14-0.
  • The Saints started to carve up the Ravens’ second-team defense at the end of the first half. Third-string New Orleans quarterback Ryan Griffin found tight end Josh Hill down the middle of the field for 25 yards, then running back Khiry Robinson for another 21 on the next play. The Saints exposed the Ravens’ inside linebackers and perimeter defense, cutting the Ravens’ lead to six points, 20-14, at halftime.
  • After a solid first half in which he went 7-of-12 for 104 yards and a touchdown, backup quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception on his first pass of the second half. The Saints turned it into a field goal.
  • Kicker Justin Tucker is so automatic. With the game tied at 20-20 in the fourth quarter, Renner drove into Saints’ territory but stalled there. Tucker entered and boomed a 51-yard field goal through the uprights that would have been good from 60 yards. Tucker went 3-for-3 on his field-goal attempts on the night.
  • Rookie outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith halted a potential game-winning or tying drive with a sack for an 8-yard loss. It’s the first sack of his NFL career and he’ll take it, even if came on a missed block.
  • The Saints scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown on a power toss to rookie running back Marcus Murphy. He went into the end zone untouched on the first play after the two-minute warning.
Standout Performer: RB Lorenzo TaliaferroThe Ravens entered the game without a clear No. 2 running back. Taliaferro made a step forward in proving he deserves the nod behind Justin Forsett. He ran 12 times for 36 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge, and showed he can catch with two snags for 18 yards.
Stat Of The GameRenner finished the night as the hero, and he had a scrappy final 14-play, 80-yard drive. Renner went 5-of-12 on the game-winning drive. Flacco didn’t have a bad night himself, finishing with a 89.6 quarterback rating and having his only incompletion on a throw-away.
On The Horizon
Next week, the Ravens will travel to Philadelphia for three days of practice with the Eagles before facing them in their second preseason game next Saturday.