The Steelers were undefeated heading into this matchup, leading the league in points scored, and points allowed. On the flip side, the Raiders were also coming off an impressive victory from the previous week over the Cardinals. It was their most complete win of the season with a season-high in points, and a season-low in points allowed. In the early going, Salim Ladha picked up where he left off last week by converting the first 4 drives into TDs for the Steelers. The early damage being done by players affectionately known as Zolfy, Allawi & Hamood. Ahmed (Hamood) Al-Waili had a fantastic catch in the end-zone picking the ball off the ground, and securing it with both feet inbound to give his team a two touchdown lead that they would maintain into halftime. It was Ahmed’s first TD of the season.
The second half would be a different story and Muhammad Ali may want to bottle up whatever was said at halftime, as the Raiders looked like a different team coming out of halftime. After not being able to offer any resistance in the first half, and giving up chunk yardage, the Raiders tightened up their defense forcing two picks (Bilal Mamdani with a crucial INT in the beginning of the second half to give the Raiders some life). The Raiders are beginning to have some chemistry and it’s a balanced attack between Muhammad Ali, Ammar Dayani, Taqi Baig and Bilal Mamdani. It’s similar for the Steelers as Zolfy, Allawi and AJ have all been significant drivers for their strong start with Salim’s efficiency at QB. This game was going to be decided by the slimmest of margins, and the Raiders took a late lead with Taqi Baig getting behind the defense to give the Raiders a 49-42 lead. Not to be outdone, the Steelers made one final drive scoring a TD on their own. The Steelers had ambitions of an undefeated season, and went for a 2-point conversion. The Raiders defensive backs stayed strong in their zone, and were able to knock the ball down to secure their second consecutive victory.
The Bengals and Giants seemed like a lopsided matchup, and it’s hard to see a matchup where the Giants aren’t an overwhelming underdog this season. The Bengals scored an early TD to take a 7-0 lead, and the score would remain the same until late in the first half. The Giants squandered a few opportunities in this game to tie the game early, or perhaps, take the lead. But once again, there were a lot of drops on the Giants; Mujtaba Abidi, Hussein Champsi and Rizwan Jafri being the main culprit this week. The one area that the Giants shined was on defense, as they switched to a man defense against the Bengals and it seemed to work. The game was tied 7-7 at half, and the Bengals’ receivers were having trouble getting open, and when they were open, they were dropping wide open TDs (*cough* Asghar Molu *cough*).
In the second half, the Bengals took a 14-7 lead on a TD by Asghar Molu, and it was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, albeit unconvincingly. Later in the second half, Danial Ali would score his 1st of 2 TDs on a deep bomb beating Imran Ebrahim, who had the coverage. His second TD was an absolutely stunner with a sideline catch and extending just enough for the TD. This may qualify as the third straight highlight of the week by Danial Ali. The Bengals were strong defensively, as they rarely give up any big plays, and kept Taleb inefficient in the game.
The Giants had several players who played well defensively. Imran Ebrahim had a strong game deflecting numerous passes. Taleb Zaidi had a fantastic one handed interception. Kumail Ali had a nice showing on the defensive end with a sack on QB Hisham Ali, and constant pressure. With the win, the Bengals extend their unbeaten streak to 4 games and will face a Steelers team looking to get back in the win column. The Giants will face the Cardinals, who have lost 4 in a row after starting the season 2-0.
The Patriots and Cardinals were two struggling teams trying to get their season back on track, and it was the last game before the bye week for all teams due to the Family Day long weekend. The Patriots made the long-awaited switch to QB Ali Haroon, and on the other side, the Cardinals were hoping for a healthier Said Samater this week. The Cardinals were playing short-handed with 5 players on the field, however early on, it didn’t seem like it. Farhan Jafri had a major impact in this game, and the call-out in last week’s email seemed to have motivated him. Even though his offensive stats don’t have counting stats (i.e. no TDs), he consistently put his team in a position to score. The main beneficiary was Nadeem Kassam, who had 7 receptions and 3 TDs and earned himself his first offensive player of the week and also giving him the team lead with 8 TDs this season. The game was 21-14 for the Cardinals with a few seconds left in halftime, and Farhan Jafri tipped an errant passed and returned it for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 28-14 lead.
Ali Haroon had 2 INTs in the first half, however he quickly put the first half behind him as he played a near flawless second half. The Patriots would score 5 TDs in the second half, and Ali did a great job by distributing the ball as 6 different receivers had a touchdown. A lot of players were hyped to see Hussein Mojtehedi get his second TD of the season, and also see Mujahid Hemani make an impressive catch on the sidelines. Both players played a big role in the comeback win for the Patriots. Newcomer Ali Merali continues to impress as he had a multi-TD game with 4 receptions. Farhan Ratansi earned his first defensive player of the week with 1 INT and 6 flag pulls. The Patriots have 3 of the last 4 defensive player of the year award winners on their team, however they have yet to get into a defensive rhythm this year. The Cardinal show glimpses to be an elite team, however they have now lost 4 straight, and sometimes, you are what your record is. It may be too early to judge as they have yet to have a complete team in consecutive weeks. It’s hard to build a chemistry when players are in and out of the lineup.