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Week 9 Quick Hitters

Time to dig into the Week 9 stat reports to see how teams earned a victory in Week 9 of the 2020 NFL season:

Green Bay 34, San Francisco 17

Green Bay opened Week 9 with a convincing 17-point win in San Fran to improve to 6-2, widening its lead in the NFC North. Against a banged-up Niner defense, Aaron Rodgers dominated the first half, throwing 3 TD passes to help take a 21-3 lead. Without running backs Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillion (Covid), the Packers welcomed back Aaron Jones, who was playing for the first time since Week 6 because of a calf injury. He saw the majority of the first half work, rushing 8 times for 50 yards while adding 4 catches for 18 yards. Capitalizing on San Francisco’s punt, fumble and turnover on downs to open the second half, Rodgers led three straight scoring drives, including another TD pass, to extend the lead to 34-3. On the night, Rodgers was 25-for-31 with four touchdown passes while averaging over 9 yards an attempt. Davante Adams continued to dominate, catching 10 of his 12 targets for 173 yards and a score. In his four games since injury, Adams has 14 catches on third downs for over 250 yards and 3 TDs. This represents 70% of Rodgers’ third-down production.

Nick Mullens, who was starting in place of Jimmy Garoppolo, struggled in the first half -- completing only 50% of his passes for under 6 yards an attempt. Mullens was also just 1-for-5 for 3 yards with an interception on third downs in the first half. Thursday marked the first time since Week 1 that San Fran did not run on the majority of their first-half first downs, but they still only managed a 30% success rate. Without Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson, Jerick McKinnon saw 75% of San Fran’s rush attempts, but collectively, the Niners only managed 3.2 yards a carry on the night. In place of Deebo Samuel, 2018 seventh-round pick Richie James was a bright spot for the 49ers, catching 9 balls for 184 yards with a TD.

Baltimore 24, Indianapolis 10

Indy opened the scoring with an 8-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, but would not find the end zone the rest of the day. Baltimore entered Sunday with the No. 1 rushing offense (178 yards/game), but was facing a Colts defense only giving up 80 yards on the ground. In the first half, Baltimore ran on 56% of first downs but had an overall success rate of 0% while also averaging only 1.8 yards a carry for the half. While out-gaining the Ravens by nearly 5 yards per play, rookie Jonathon Taylor coughed up his first career fumble and watched the Ravens defense return it 65 yards for a touchdown to tie the game in the second quarter. Two second-half touchdowns helped propel Baltimore to a 14-point victory even though they struggled for much of the day.

Despite the 6-2 record, Lamar Jackson’s inconsistency is still a major concern for the Ravens. In the first half, he was only 9-for-13 for 2.5 yards an attempt with an average depth of target (ADOT) under 2.1 yards. The Ravens’ 55 first-half yards is the lowest they have had in a half with Jackson under center, resulting in five punts. Jackson was much better in the second half, going 10-for-10 through the air for 119 yards -- but he continued to throw the ball short. His 3.73 ADOT from Sunday was the lowest in the NFL. Without Mark Ingram for the second straight week, JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards only managed 53 yards on 23 carries, but Jackson bolstered the running game, adding 58 yards and a score on the ground. The Ravens now have 31 straight games with over 100 rushing yards.

Kansas City 33, Carolina 31

Welcoming back Christian McCaffery, the Panthers took a 14-3 lead on two 70-plus-yard touchdown drives. On those drives, Carolina passed on two-thirds of plays while averaging nearly 5 yards a rush. QB Teddy Bridgewater was 11-for-15 for 77 yards, but had an ADOT under 4 yards. Their second TD drive was also aided by a fake punt that went for 28 yards. Bridgewater connected with six different receivers on the first two drives.

In the first half, K.C. passed on 93% of first downs for a 64% success rate. Overall in the first half, K.C. passed on 25 of their 29 plays while averaging nearly 8 yards a pass and under 2.8 yards a carry. After missing a field goal to open the second half, the Chiefs scored three straight touchdowns to take an insurmountable lead. K.C. was much more balanced in the second half, rushing on 46% of first downs and 50% of first downs in the third quarter -- but they only had a 31% first-down success rate after halftime. Patrick Mahomes again was the catalyst for the Chiefs, throwing for 372 yards and 4 touchdowns, including three straight drives in the second half with a TD pass. In the second half, he was 13-for-19 for 8.7 yards an attempt, but only had an ADOT of 4 after going 17-for-25 in the first half for 7.7 yards an attempt but with an ADOT of 10.56. The Chiefs managed just 30 yards on the ground for the game.

Led by Bridgewater, who was 15-for-18 for nearly 9 yards an attempt in the fourth quarter, Carolina was in position to win after two touchdown drives. After forcing K.C. to punt with under two minutes remaining, the game ended with Joey Slye missing a desperation 67 yard field goal.

Tennessee 24, Chicago 17

The Bears, who were allowing 120 yards a game on the ground, were facing a Titans team that was fourth in the NFL with over 156 rushing yards a game. For the third straight week, the Titans ran on over 60% of first-half first downs while also rushing on the majority of first-half plays for the second straight week. In the first half, Tennessee only managed 2.5 yards a carry on their 18 attempts. Derrick Henry (13 carries 26 yards) was held to fewer than 30 rush yards in a first half for the first time in the past three seasons (min. 10 carries). Ryan Tannehill also struggled in the first half going 5-for-13 for under 6 yards a pass but did orchestrate a 12-play, 91-yard drive to take a 10-0 halftime lead. After opening the drive with five straight Henry rushes and runs on 8 of the first 11 plays, Tannehill connected with A.J. Brown deep down the left sideline for a 40-yard touchdown. In the third quarter, the Titans scored on a 63-yard fumble return courtesy of newly acquired Desmond King to take a 17-0 lead.

Chicago’s offense was anemic for much of the day. They managed just 2.4 yards a carry on their 11 first-half runs and only 4.4 yards a pass before halftime. On third down in the first half, Nick Foles was just 2-for-7 for 13 yards and did not convert a first down. On their first eight drives, they turned the ball over on downs, punted six times and fumbled before getting on the board with a field goal.

Las Vegas 31, Los Angeles Chargers 26

Vegas opened the scoring near the end of the first quarter on a 23-yard Devontae Booker touchdown run. On their 12 first-half runs, the Raiders averaged over 8 yards a carry, with the majority being split between josh Jacobs and Booker. After Kalen Ballage tied the game on a 5-yard run, Vegas answered with a six-play drive ending in a 14-yard touchdown run by Jacobs. On those two drives, the Raiders averaged 9.6 yards a carry on their eight runs while only averaging 5.8 yards on their five passing attempts. Overall, in the first half, Derek Carr was very conservative for the Raiders going 6-for-10 but for only 35 yards with an ADOT just over 3. Justin Herbert answered before halftime on a 10-play drive that ended in a 27-yard Keenan Allen touchdown reception. With just seconds left in the half, Carr was stripped, setting up L.A. for a field goal and a halftime lead.

The second half opened with two Raiders touchdowns. On third-and-10, Carr connected with Nelson Agholor for a 45-yard touchdown to retake the lead. Following a Chargers three-and-out, Carr led a 75-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard Darren Waller touchdown reception. After averaging less than 4 yards a pass in the first half, Carr completed 7 of his 13 attempts for over 9 yards an attempt. His ADOT also increased to over 19 for the second half. Herbert himself was efficient in the second half, completing over 70% of his passes for 180 yards and a TD pass. After a Vegas field goal, the Chargers regained possession down five with 4:37 remaining. In 15 plays, Herbert was 9-for-11 for 63 yards but failed to convert on back-to-back goal-lines fades as time expired. The Chargers (2-6) again lose late, and now have lost 15 one-score games since 2019.

Miami 34, Arizona 31

Besides a fumble returned for a touchdown, Kyler Murray was electric in the desert. On the ground he accounted for over 100 yards and a score while completing 80% of his passes. His 9.8 yards per attempt trailed only Kirk Cousins (10.1) in week 9. Despite this, the Cardinals continued to incorporate a run-heavy offense and while they did average 4.9 yards per carry in the first half, Murray accounted for 52 yards of that on his five rushes (three scrambles). Chase Edmonds added just 32 yards on 12 rushes. Outside of Seattle, Arizona’s game plan remains consistent the past 3 weeks.

Arizona continued to run the ball in the fourth quarter despite trailing on their second of two possessions. In that span, they had 11 rushes to 3 passes and ran on 80% of first downs. Again, Murray was the more productive runner (4 for 14) compared to Edmonds (6 for 19). After Zane Gonzalez missed a 49-yard field goal attempt, with an opportunity to go for it on fourth-and-1, Miami was able to run out the clock. Miami was extremely effective slowing down DeAndre Hopkins. He was only targeted three times (season low) and had three receptions for 30 yards (season low). While Xavien Howard was excellent in coverage for most of the day against Hopkins, only allowing him two catches, he did commit four pass interference penalties.