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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

NFL Week 9: No favorite is safe, and some end up sorry in crazy league

Chiefs-Bills, Browns-Ravens and Buccaneers-Seahawks games demonstrate a fact of NFL life: Anything can happen on any given Sunday.

November 03, 2013|Sam Farmer
  • Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) returns a fumble for an 11-yard touchdown ahead of Buffalo Bills quarter Jeff Tuel in the fourth quarter Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) returns a fumble… (David Eulitt / McClatchy-Tribune )

No one is safe in the topsy-turvy NFL.

The Buffalo Bills are on their third starting quarterback, yet they matched the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs score for score until the fourth quarter. The Chiefs won, 23-13, in a game that was closer than the score suggests.

The Cleveland Browns are on their third quarterback too. They beat defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore, 24-18, ending the Ravens' 11-game winning streak against them.

And the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Surely, they would be rolled in Seattle.

Nope. The Buccaneers built a three-touchdown lead in the first half before the home team came to life. The stunned Seahawks, who hadn't lost at CenturyLink Field since December 2011, chipped away at the deficit before finally forging a tie with 51 seconds left in regulation.

Not until overtime could the Seahawks finally say, “The Bucs stop here.” A 27-yard field goal by Steven Hauschka secured a 27-24 victory.

The Seahawks made franchise history two ways: They're 8-1 for the first time, and they did it with their largest comeback. Six days after barely scraping past St. Louis, they nearly lost to a team that's now 0-8. In the NFL, exhaling is not an option.

The Dallas Cowboys can attest to that. They're clinging to a one-game lead in the NFC East and were nearly toppled Sunday by the one-win Minnesota Vikings.

Tony Romo threw the winning touchdown pass with 35 seconds to play in a 27-23 squeaker at home.

“I never doubted that we would find a way to win this game,” Romo said. “And we did it.”

The Chiefs found a way too, and it included two defensive returns for touchdowns — a 100-yard interception runback by cornerback Sean Smith and an 11-yard fumble return by linebacker Tamba Hali.

The offense was as flat as a Missouri cornfield, but a win is a win.

“We're not going to make any excuses for it,” said Chiefs Coach Andy Reid, whose 9-0 team matched the best record in franchise history. “We're pretty happy we got the touchdowns. We'll take them any way we can get them.”

The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start 9-0 after posting the league's worst record the previous season. They are also the first team since the 1977 Atlanta Falcons to give up 17 points or fewer in each of their first nine games.

Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel started at quarterback for the Bills, filling in for the injured Thad Lewis, who had replaced the injured EJ Manuel. Tuel played surprisingly well in the first half, when he connected with Marquise Goodwin on a 59-yard touchdown pass. It was in the third quarter that his pass for T.J. Graham was picked at the goal line by Smith and returned the length of the field.

“It's very frustrating,” Tuel said. “That's 100% my fault.”

You win some, you lose some. No one knows that better than the New York Jets, whose wins and losses this season have gone W, L, W, L, W, L, W, L, W.

The Jets were six-point underdogs at home to the 6-1 New Orleans Saints, yet came away with a 26-20 victory. The win gave Jets Coach Rex Ryan family-reunion bragging rights over his twin brother, Rob, defensive coordinator of the Saints.

“All right, I beat my brother again — just kidding,” Rex said with a laugh. “Yeah, there's a little extra, but at the end of the day, now you just realize your bro just took a loss, so that's a tough thing. I root for them every week except one.”

If the Ryan twins are feeling a bit of confusion after a wild Week 9, the rest of the head-scratching football world has a message for them: Get in line.

Foles' foils

Nobody saw this coming: Philadelphia's Nick Foles torched the Raiders with seven touchdown passes in a 49-20 rout at Oakland, matching the NFL record most recently tied by Denver's Peyton Manning in the season opener.

Foles has 13 touchdown passes and no interceptions this season, joining Manning (20) as the only quarterbacks to reach double digits in touchdowns before throwing an interception.

Foles will need all the scoring he can muster Sunday when Philadelphia plays at Green Bay.

John Fox update

Denver Coach John Fox remained hospitalized Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., awaiting heart surgery Monday or Tuesday.

Fox will undergo an aortic valve replacement and will be away from coaching “for at least the next several weeks,” the team announced.

Signs point to defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio being named interim coach of the 7-1 team, although details were still being finalized Sunday.

Fox, 58, former coach of the Carolina Panthers, has a home in Charlotte and was there for the Broncos' week off. He was taken to a hospital Saturday after experiencing dizziness and lightheadedness on a golf course.

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