The first game of the week was a snooze-fest. The Giants came into the winless, however they were facing a Cardinals team that was missing some marquee player including their Quarterback. With the Giants at full-strength, and the Cardinals playing short-handed (for a 3rd consecutive week), the Giants made no mistake putting this game to bed early. Mujtaba Abidi did damage on the offensive side early, as his first two catches both resulted in TDs. But the true star of the game was Imran Ebrahim (earning defensive player of the week honours). It has been a challenging campaign for Imran up to this point, and he’s hoping this game can propel him and his team forward. Imran had a complete game with 8 Rec. 2 TDs, and had 3 interceptions on the defensive end with one of them being returned for a defensive TD.
Everyone on the Giants had a solid game, with Rizwan Jafri & Hussein Champsi also recipients of touchdown passes from Taleb Zaidi. Kumail Ali had a strong game as a rusher once again, stopping numerous plays behind the line of scrimmage.Taleb Zaidi had an uber-efficient game going 20/24 with 6 TDs.
The Cardinals need to back to the drawing board as their 2-0 start is now a distant memory, and they have now lost 5 straight games. The biggest concern that the Cardinals have is their attendance. They were keeping their opponents close until recently, and now it’s starting to unfold. Captain Omar Khamissa may be forced to make some trades to ensure there’s adequate attendance moving forward. The Cardinals have a tough assignment on Sunday as they’ll face the 2nd-place Bengals in hopes to getting back in the win column.
This was the marquee match-up of the week with the 1st seed squaring up against the 2nd seed. The Steelers were coming off their first loss of the season in a down to the wire game. This week, they would come out firing, as they jumped out to an early 21-7 lead. QB Salim Ladha and Ali Jessa have been on some kind of roll recently.Ali Jessa had another 3 touchdowns this week, which gives him 20 receptions and 8 TDs in his last 3 games (he is now tied for the league lead in TDs). The Steelers relied on the medium to long plays in this game, and it worked consistently as the Bengals found it tough to stop them. The Bengals are a chancy-defense and they look for interceptions at times over making the sounds fundamental defensive play. However, playing chancy brought the Bengals back in this game. With Hisham Ali struggling early, the Bengals were able to force Salim into a couple of interceptions.
This allowed them great starting field positions, but also allowed Hisham to get into a little bit of a rhythm. The Bengals would lead a balanced attack in their quest to make a comeback with Danial Ali, Shoaib Mamdani, Ahsan Raza and Raza Mawji all scoring a TD each. But that wasn’t all, as the Bengals used some trickery to give Hisham his first receiving TD of the season, and get them within 1 TD. However, the star play of the game belonged to Mohamed Railey. On a play where he should have been stopped for a short-medium gain; he turned on the after-burners and left the Bengals chasing smoke for his first TD of the season. With the win, Steelers sit comfortably atop the standings at 6-1, and will face a much-improved Patriots in their next matchup.
While the last game may have been billed as the marquee game of the week, this was the most exciting game of the week. This game had a little bit of everything; exciting catches, drops, penalties, missed opportunities, and an exciting finish. Before the game, the Raiders acquired Bilal “Alcatraz” Altahan as he scored his first TD of the season in the first half, and also doubled his receiving output with 4 catches in Week 7. This is Ali Haroon’s second week at QB, and his teammates are starting to learn his style of QB’ing. The early benefactor has been Ali ‘Cheema’ Merali who had a monster game with 4 receptions and 3 TDs (more on him later). In the early going, the teams traded scores and the Raiders took a 21-14 lead into the second half. That’s when the Patriots turned up the defense, and scored on two consecutive drives to give themselves a 28-21 lead. The Raiders would march down with less than 5 minutes to go in the game and Ammar Dayani would score on a 4th down play where the Patriots defenders weren’t ready.
This is where the fun began. Soon after the TD, Ammar Dayani would be called for a swearing penalty because he heard someone call ‘False Start,’ and he thought it was one of the refs. With the Raiders missing their deep safety, Ali Haroon would dial up the deep bomb on the first throw to Cheema, and quickly take the lead back at 35-28. The Raiders were also able to respond quickly using the short passes, to set up a TD to Muhammad Ali to tie the game at 35. The Patriots had less than 2:30 to go in the game, and they would methodically drive down the field while killing the clock. On a 3rd down play, captain Farhan Ratansi got called for a controversial false start. Stopping the clock, and pushing it to 4th down. On a corner fade route, Cheema had an opportunity to haul in the catch for the 4th TD of the game – but the ball became loose as he was heading to the ground (on top of that, he’ll be serving a swearing penalty at the start of next game). The Raiders were unable to convert as they had no timeouts and only 17 seconds left in the game, and the game would end in a tie.
The Raiders were plagued by drops this week, and some silly, yet fixable mistakes. The Patriots were also marred by some drops, however they seemed to find a way to improve within a game, and the chemistry between the QB and the receivers is getting better.This game will be remembered as a game of missed opportunities, and it was telling that both QBs felt like they lost this game, rather than treating it as tie. It would surprise no one if these two teams were to meet each other in the Finals.