Many similarities exist between A.J. Green (Georgia) and Julio Jones(Alabama). Both are wide receivers who played their Saturday football in the SEC, both were taken early in the first round of the NFL draft – Green went fourth to the Bengals while Jones went sixth to the Falcons– and a quarter of the way through their first NFL season, both wideouts find themselves atop the rookie leaderboard.
On Sunday, the symmetry continued as both players went over 100 receiving yards, their teams won close games and the Bengals and Falcons now sport identical 2-2 records.
Green caught four passes – including a couple of highlight grabs – for 118 yards in Cincinnati’s 23-20 victory over the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills.
On the road at Seattle, Jones caught 11 passes for 127 yards in Atlanta’s 30-28 victory over the Seahawks. Only seven players have ever caught more passes against Seattle.
It was the second this season Jones has had more than 100 yard receiving in a game. Green has also crossed the century mark twice.
For the season, Jones leads all rookies in receiving yards with 342. Second place? Green, of course. He has 312 receiving yards.
Rookie running back Stevan Ridley (LSU) saw his most extension action on Sunday, carrying the ball 10 times for a game-high 97 yards in New England’s 31-19 victory over Oakland.
“The offensive line did an awesome job. Like I said, those were the biggest holes I’ve ever seen in my life. So I just had to keep running and hit them at full speed,” said the Patriots rookie.
While Ridley had more rushing yards than Oakland’s Darren McFaddeen (Arkansas) who finished with 75 yards on 14 carries, McFadden still leads the NFL in rushing for the season – with 468 yards and an impressive 6.2 yards per carry.
Matthew Stafford (Georgia) and his Detroit Lions are a weekly staple here on SEC in the NFL – and this week is no exception. Stafford led the Lions back from a 20-point deficit for the second straight week as Detroit defeated Dallas 34-30.
“Any time you can come back from 20 down, you are doing some kind of stealing. But you have to play great to steal one like this,” said the Lions quarterback.
The Lions trailed Dallas 27-3 in the third quarter before embarking on their comeback. The Lions defense was responsible for two touchdowns but Stafford led the Lions on two TD drives, including what proved to the game winning score with just 2:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Stafford finished with 240 yards passing on the day. The Lions are 4-0 for the first time since 1980.
In Houston, it was the running game that made the difference against Pittsburgh. Arian Foster (Tennessee) played his first full game since last January and become only the third running back in the past decade to rush for more than 150 yards against the Steelers defense.
“One thing about him,” coach Gary Kubiak said, “if you don’t have a good play, that big body of his falls forward, and it’s still a 2- or 3-yard (gain). He’s always a falling-forward guy. That’s just the way he plays the game. It’s so positive with what we’re doing.”
Foster rushed for 155 yards on 30 carries in the Texans 17-10 win over the Steelers.
A few other notes from around the league:
Two former SEC quarterbacks faced off in Chicago. One got the stats – the other got the victory. Cam Newton (Auburn) threw for 374 yards but the Carolina Panthers fell short against Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt) and the Chicago Bears – losing 34-29.
Two SEC alums accounted for all the points for the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. Ryan Succop (South Carolina) kicked five goals – including one from 54 yards – and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (LSU) caught a 52-yard touchdown pass as the Chiefs got their first win of the season – beating Minnesota 22-17.
Eli Manning had another impressive game and the New York Giants got another win. The Giants rallied to beat the Arizona Cardinals 31-27. Manning threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
The last touchdown came right after perhaps the most controversial call of the weekend. Receiver Victor Cruz caught a Manning pass, dropped to the ground, left the ball, and then got up– all without being touched.
“We got a break on that one I think,” said Manning after the game. “I thought it was going to get ruled a fumble and I saw it pretty clear. I don’t know what the call was or why.”
The referee ruled that Cruz “game himself up” on the play and was therefore down. Manning connected with Hakeem Nicks on what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on the very next play. The Giants are 3-1.
And finally, a week in the NFL can’t go by without mentioning Tim Tebow (Florida) and the Denver Broncos. Denver was crushed by the Packers on Sunday 49-23. Tebow saw action for one play and lost a yard. After the game, Denver coach John Fox said he’s sticking with the starter. “We feel Kyle Orton is our starting quarterback.”