Looking at the matchups before the week started, it was easy to see it was going to be a great week of football, on paper.
It lived up to its billing.
Nine of the 13* games were nailbiters that went unsettled to the final whistle. But if that doesn’t give you an idea of just how crazy this week was, then there’s this: the largest margin of victory this week was 22 points, in the Packers/Titans game — and the winner was Tennessee.
Here’s a disclaimer, followed by what else we learned in Week 10.
* - There were 14 games played, but one of them involved the Browns. I’m not sure if that legitimately qualifies as “professional football” so, to err on the side of caution, I chose not to include it. And, with that statement, I have fulfilled my obligation to take at least one below-the-belt shot at the Ohio State University Buckeyes’ Junior Varsity football team.
- It’s just one measly point...right? With just 1:28 to go, New Orleans scored a touchdown to pull even with Denver. The Saints lined up for the extra point, but it was blocked by the Broncos’ Justin Simmons. Tie game, right? Not so fast, because this is the second season in which that blocked kick can be recovered by the defense and returned for a two-point score. As far as I can tell, it’s happened twice since its adoption — and the Saints have been on both sides. Last season, they blocked a Carolina extra-point attempt and ran it back. This time, they were the kicking team. It hasn’t mattered, though, because they lost both games. This time, though, the two points scored constituted the entire margin of victory, meaning the play was, literally, the game winner for the Broncos.
- Darrelle Revis finally caught up to something: his own reality. We started to see it last year, if we’re being honest. Revis, one of the league’s best cornerbacks, well, ever (perhaps), has been getting used and abused on a weekly basis. Right now, he looks worse than ever. But the epiphany arrived sometime before he spoke to the press after yesterday, but after getting beaten like a rented mule by the great...Kenny Britt?Please, Darrelle, let us remember you as you were early in your career, and even your college days at Pitt. Don’t try again next year. You can’t all be Peyton Manning or John Elway.
- Jameis Winston is a back-yard baller. It will go down, officially, as just another 35-yard pass. Between the snap and the whistle, it was anything but, as Tampa Bay quarterback Winston ran 27 yards backward, evaded at least four tackles and somehow — somehow — located receiver Mike Evans at the Chicago 40 on a pass that traveled 53 yards in the air. Cam Newton is hereby stripped of his imaginary Superman shirt. It hereafter belongs to Winston.
- Home is where the losses pile up. Relatively speaking. The Patriots have now lost two home games in 2016. I hate that a statistic such as that is even interesting. But it is. Why? Because, before this year, the last time they lost at least two home games was 2012. In fact, they lost two home games from 2013 to 2015 combined. The last time they lost more than two was 2008, when Tom Brady missed, essentially, the entire season. They lost three that year.
- The Weekly Bellyflop Award goes to...the Carolina Panthers! This one nearly went the other direction, and it all came down to a series of events on one down inside the final minute of a then-tied game. The Panthers chose to try to drive for a chance to score the winning points in regulation, rather than head to overtime. However, after making a catch on a 14-yard pass and turning upfield, Panthers receiver Kelvin Benjamin was stripped by cornerback and turnover machine Marcus Peters, and the Chiefs recovered fairly deep in Carolina territory. That was the bellyflop that counted. The bellyflop that almost was came immediately after the play, when Peters decided to celebrate by drop-kicking the ball into orbit. He had returned the ball to the 24, and the penalty pushed the Chiefs back to the 29. That’s a 46-yard field goal — something an NFL kicker should probably make 90 percent of the time. but it’s also an understandable miss. Had the Chiefs missed the winning points and gone on to lose in overtime instead, Peters would have the Bellyflop trophy all to himself. Instead, the Panthers get to add it to the other gazillion awards they are winning for having such an epically bad follow-up to their 17-2 season a year ago.
- College Football Bonus! You can’t count to five without two, three and four. This weekend was the first time in 31 years that the college football teams ranked second, third and fourth in the AP Poll all lost in the same week -- and, per CBS Sports, Jim Harbaugh lost to Iowa both of those weekends. As a quarterback, his number two-ranked Wolverines lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in ‘85. As a coach, his number two-ranked Wolverines lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in ‘16. Oh, and Pitt dropped Clemson on a last-second, 48-yard field goal. Clemson was ranked third by the AP and second in the official College Football Playoff rankings. It’s Pitt’s second win over a team that was ranked in the top 10 entering this past weekend, having beaten Penn State before the Nittany Lions cracked the top 25. They also defeated Virginia Tech while the Hokies were ranked #25. Head coach Pat Narduzzi is definitely instilling a winning attitude in these Panthers.
- And, finally...the gastronomically challenged, operatically educated female has yet to bellow a single note. Some perspective is needed right now, Steeler Nation, because these are dark days. But consider these three points: 1) the Steelers were nine seconds from victory against the hottest team in the NFL right now, despite having given up two huge scoring plays of 50 and 83 yards. 2) Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played, perhaps, his finest game since he put up six touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks against the Colts and the Ravens in 2014. 3) The ugly part of the schedule is, mercifully, behind a team in need of an easy game or two. Next on the schedule? The Browns, who haven’t won a game in 11 months and two days, and only three of their last 26. Deep breaths, folks. There is still a lot of time to right the ship, especially in a year when the Bengals and Ravens are both having horrible years, too.