Wide margins. Wide right.
Meltdowns. Letdowns. Beatdowns. A lack of first downs.
Between the ears. Behind the sticks.
Excruciating defeats came in all shapes and sizes on Sunday.
Here are the most frustrating losses, Schein Nine style:
1) Patriots absolutely humiliated by 49ers
At 2-4, in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Patriots look dreadful. Cam Newton looks like a springtime free agent nobody was interested in signing. And you cannot be surprised by any of this.
The banged-up Niners (4-3) out-played, out-coached, out-classed, flat-out embarrassed New England, cruising to a 33-6 win in Foxborough. It was the Patriots' most lopsided home loss in the Bill Belichick era. Newton, who's always battled accuracy issues, bounced passes and overthrew targets, finishing 9 of 15 for 98 yards with zero touchdowns and three gruesome interceptions. And Cam was rightly put out of his misery early in the fourth quarter, when Belichick decided to get Jarrett Stidham "a little experience." In his two games since returning from the reserve/COVID list, Newton has thrown five picks without a single touchdown pass.
Cam was horrendous, no doubt, but it wasn't all his fault. New England's receiver group is paper thin, with Julian Edelman unable to separate or even catch the football. The tight ends are non-existent, with Ryan Izzo logging seven catches in six starts. Meanwhile, Belichick's defense got destroyed by RB Jeff Wilson and old friend Jimmy Garoppolo, as the 49ers beat the Patriots on the yardage front, 467-241.
Oh, and making the day even more frustrating, Tom Brady played as well as ever in a blowout road win, making the 5-2 Buccaneers look like legit Super Bowl contenders in the NFC.
2) Titans' rally misses wide right
Stephen Gostkowski! What has happened?! Another makeable miss for ol' reliable -- and this one prevented overtime in Tennessee, as the Steelers held on to beat the Titans in a juicy battle of the AFC's last remaining unbeatens.
Ryan Tannehill led a valiant comeback effort, but his intentional grounding set the final drive back. Pittsburgh deserves so much credit for starting fast, jumping out to a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter with Ben Roethlisberger dealing to his cavalcade of receiving weapons. The Titans (5-1) roared all the way back to nearly tie the game, but the Steelers (6-0) prevailed, thus avoiding the franchise's first loss in game where Pittsburgh led by 20-plus points. (The Steelers are now 225-0-1 all time, including the playoffs, in this scenario.)
Titans coach Mike Vrabel rightfully lamented the sluggish first half in the postgame, especially given the potential long-term importance of this loss. It's not hyperbole to wonder aloud how this result will impact tie-breakers and playoff seeding.
3) Seahawks suffer first loss in painful fashion
The Seahawks and Cardinals played 69 minutes and 45 seconds of football. Seattle didn't trail for a single second ... until Zane Gonzalez's 48-yard kick went through the uprights with 15 seconds left in overtime.
The 'Hawks (5-1) were up 10 with six minutes to go in regulation. And they lost. Overtime was excruciating for Seattle: A holding penalty erased a would-be game-winning touchdown by DK Metcalf, Russell Wilson threw a horrible pick, and -- per usual -- the defense failed to answer the bell when called upon. Through six games, Seattle has allowed 2,875 yards of offense, a whopping 479.2 per game. No defense in the Super Bowl era has finished a season yielding an average that high.
Yes, this was the Seahawks' first loss of the season, but it had been brewing for a while now. And as majestic as the start to their season had been, nothing is guaranteed in the NFC West, the best division in the NFL bar none.
4) Falcons inexplicably blow a game (again)
Fire Dan Quinn! Oh wait ...
Another week, another unthinkable loss for Atlanta (1-6). It doesn't matter who's coaching, apparently: This team snatches defeat from the jaws of victory like no other. This time, the Falcons lost a game ... by scoring a touchdown.Todd Gurley! You know how this works! In fact, you intentionally went down short of the goal line twice in the 2018 season -- including once against these very Detroit Lions!
Down by two points with a minute left and Detroit out of timeouts on Sunday, you go down, let the clock run, take the game-winning chip-shot field goal and -- most importantly -- don't give Matthew Stafford one last chance to spin magic. Instead, Gurley regrettably stumbled into the end zone (just barely), allowing Stafford to guide the Lions (3-3) on a pulsating 75-yard drive that ended in a game-winning touchdown pass to T.J. Hockenson with no time remaining.
Side note: Interim Falcons head coach Raheem Morris has to learn it's OK to kick field goals. That ill-fated fourth-and-5 decision early in the fourth quarter was completely nonsensical. Take the points.
5) Raiders get blown off the field
Obviously, there's no shame in losing to Tom Brady and these well-rounded Buccaneers. Given that Las Vegas' entire O-line missed practice time last week due to COVID precautions, you knew the offense could take a step back from its peak performance in the win over Kansas City -- and it did, posting season lows in total yards (347), rushing yards (76) and first downs (19) while tying a season low in points scored (20). But it was the Raiders' work on the other side of the ball that really hurt.
Brady and Co. absolutely feasted on Las Vegas' defense in a 45-20 thumping. The Raiders (3-3) have now allowed 30-plus points in four straight games -- and five of six overall. Only Dallas (34.7 ppg) is giving up points more readily than Las Vegas (32.8 ppg). Alarming stuff for a defense that has spent five first-rounders on defenders in the past five drafts.
6) Plucky Panthers come up 1 yard short
I love Teddy Bridgewater. I love Matt Rhule. I love Joe Brady. I love these new-look Panthers! Nobody expected this team to compete like this, week in and week out, but Sunday's loss -- which dropped Carolina below .500 at 3-4 -- was a tough pill to swallow.
It was all there for Teddy to tie-- and perhaps eventually win -- the game in his return to New Orleans. All in all, he played quite well, completing 23 of 28 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns (against zero picks). But with the Panthers trailing by three and just over two minutes remaining, Bridgewater dropped back on third-and-11 and did what you simply cannot do in that circumstance: take a sack. This pushed the would-be game-tying field goal back to 65 yards -- one more yard than the NFL record. Carolina kicker Joey Slye kicked it long and straight, and it appeared to be heading through the uprights ... until it fell less than a yard shy of the crossbar. It didn't have to be from that distance. Sheer pain.
7) Bengals can't ride Burrow's brilliance to victory
Zac Taylor's Bengals have developed a pretty nasty knack of losing one-score games, and Sunday was no exception. In fact, you could make the case that this 37-34 defeat to the blood rival Browns was as bad as it gets.
Baker Mayfield came into this game fresh off a pair of two-pick outings, and he added another ghastly interception on his first throw of the day, losing Odell Beckham (for the season, as we discovered Monday morning) in the process. Mayfield actually didn't even complete a pass in the first quarter, going 0 for 5, with the Browns only scoring points on one "drive" where a Myles Garrett strip-sack set them up in Bengals territory.
The Bengals (1-5-1) led at the end of the first quarter, second quarter and third quarter, with rookie QB Joe Burrow delivering another inspired performance (35-47, 406 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD). With Cincinnati trailing by four points and five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Burrow guided the Bengals on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a fourth-down touchdown pass to Giovani Bernard with a minute left. Win No. 2 for Cincy?? Not so fast.
Mayfield -- who played like a man possessed after that futile first quarter, completing 21 straight passes at one point and finishing with five TD strikes -- took the Browns 75 yards in 55 seconds. Outside of a spike to stop the clock, he was a perfect 4-for-4. The 24-yard game-winning touchdown came on a perfectly thrown ball to rookie Donovan Peoples-Jones, a thing of beauty that should momentarily take the peoples in Cleveland off his back, with the Browns sitting pretty at 5-2.
Burrow was brilliant, and Cincy still found a way to lose. This cannot become a trend for the Bengals, who have to deal with the double pain of losing while possibly being responsible for a Baker awakening.
8) Cowboys keep spiraling further down the drain
In an embarrassing, 22-point loss to the Washington Football Team, Dallas dropped to 2-5 while managing just 142 yards and three points. To be fair, the Cowboys were without Dak Prescott and lost QB2 Andy Dalton midway through the third quarter on a totally unacceptable hit by Jon Bostic, thus beginning the Ben DiNucci era in Dallas. But the defense continues to be the main culprit for this disastrous season in Big D.
Dallas has now given up 25-plus points -- including 20-plus in the first half alone -- in each of the past six games. Consistency! This sieve of a defense is the residue of horrendous design and coaching. Mike Nolan deserves a ton of heat. And so does Mike McCarthy for hitching his wagon to his former boss in San Francisco.
9) Texans take another step toward being sellers
Nobody really expected Houston to beat Green Bay, especially with Aaron Rodgers and Co. coming off a demeaning loss. But the Texans, who fell to 1-6 with the 35-20 defeat to the Packers, have simply become irrelevant. They're wasting Deshaun Watson. It's sad.
J.J. Watt has gotten angrier and angrier with each passing loss -- and he sounded rightly done with everything postgame on Sunday. With the trade deadline coming up next week, you have to wonder if the 31-year-old Watt will implore Texans CEO Cal McNair to send him somewhere else, where he can have a chance to win. And if so, how about sending him to the team he just shared the field with, the 5-1 Packers? Send "The Milk Man" back to Wisconsin, where he grew up and eventually starred for the Badgers!