With all of the supposed improvements in how the NFL deals with players' head injuries — after scrutiny from Congress, then lawsuits — there still are curious cases that pop up, including at least three this week.
Example A: During Minnesota's 38-30 victory at Washington on Sunday, Redskins receiver Ryan Grant, all 200 pounds of him, got slammed to the turf by Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who runs about 325. Fairly quickly, the Redskins announced Grant was being checked for a concussion — which made sense, given what the impact looked like.
Less than 10 minutes later, the team said Grant was cleared to return, which seemed surprising. Less than five minutes after that came word from Washington that “training staff has elected to conduct further evaluation.” And after another 15 minutes, Grant was ruled done for the day. Who knows what really went on during that half-hour?
Example B: In Pittsburgh's 20-17 win over Indianapolis, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt. Brissett immediately reached his left hand to the back of his helmet, the point of impact, before his body went limp. He was helped off the ground by two teammates, then went to the sideline.
According to the Colts, Brissett was evaluated twice for a concussion, passed the tests twice, and so was allowed to return to the game. Guess what happened on his first subsequent pass? An interception, helping Indianapolis blow what had been a 17-9 lead when Brissett initially was checked in the third quarter. Adding to the mystery: Brissett wasn't allowed to speak to the media after the game because, the Colts said, he developed concussion symptoms once he was “in the locker room for several minutes.”
Example C: While leading Seattle past Arizona 22-16 on Thursday night, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was hit in the chin by a defender. He was sent off the field by the referee. After a brief visit to the sideline injury tent, missing merely one play, Wilson returned to action. The NFL has said it will review whether the Seahawks followed the proper concussion protocol.
Now the league has a couple of other instances to review, too.
In case you missed it, here are the other top topics after the NFL season's 10th Sunday:
For all the teams unable to put a reliable quarterback on the field — the Browns, who fell to 0-9 with a 38-24 loss to Detroit, come to mind, as do the Texans and Cardinals, although it's due to injuries in their cases — the Minnesota Vikings find themselves with two QBs and a choice to make. The Vikings' offense overwhelmed the Redskins behind Case Keenum's career-high four TD tosses to four receivers, including one apiece to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. And yet the biggest news might have been Teddy Bridgewater's appearance on the active roster for the first time since tearing up his knee in January 2016. Bridgewater shed tears during the national anthem, overjoyed to be in uniform. So who will start now for Minnesota, 7-2 and leading the NFC North? “I've got a plan, and we'll just see how it goes,” coach Mike Zimmer said.
Not-very-special teams or defense
A 41-16 home loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots extended Denver's skid to five games. Led by Von Miller, the Broncos (3-6) used to have a stingy defense, but not anymore: They've been outscored 165-68 during the recent rut. And Denver was downright amateur on special teams against New England: Isaiah McKenzie's muffed punt set up one TD for the Patriots; New England's Dion Lewis returned a kickoff 103 yards for a score; Denver's Riley Dixon had a punt blocked, leading to a field goal; a 12-men-on-the-field flag on a punt allowed the Pats to extend a drive that ended with a touchdown.
We have a winner
So the 0-16 watch is now on only for Cleveland: The San Francisco 49ers finally gave Kyle Shanahan his first victory as an NFL head coach, 31-21 over the New York Giants. The Niners are now 1-9; the Giants and who-knows-how-much-longer-he'll-be-there Ben McAdoo are 1-8.
Stat of the week
Easy to overlook in a game with a finish as outlandish as they come, Jaguars RB Corey Grant's 56-yard TD run on a fake punt way back in the first quarter of Jacksonville's 20-17 OT victory over the Los Angeles Chargers is worth noting. It was the second run of at least 50 yards on fourth down this season for Grant — who went undrafted out of Auburn in 2015 and has made all of one NFL start — and gives him the same total as the combined career count for all other active players in the entire league.