San Francisco 49ers 26, Chicago Bears 20
What you need to know
San Francisco 49ers
- In many ways, San Francisco's performance on offense was what we've come to expect since Blaine Gabbert
became the starter: Shaun Draughn
gained most of his rushing yardage on the outside, and Gabbert threw most of his passes to Draughn, Anquan Boldin
, and an assortment of tight ends. What was different this week, however, was that Torrey Smith
finally got open deep (to game-winning effect), and Gabbert demonstrated above-average scrambling ability, seemingly out of nowhere. In short, their formula is working better than it did earlier in the season because a) their execution has improved, and b) defenses have had to begin showing a non-zero amount of respect for San Francisco's passing game; both of which can be traced back to their change at quarterback. Of course, that doesn't mean they've become The Greatest Show on Turf or anything; more like the The Finally-Approaching-Mediocre-est Show on Turf.
- The Chicago Bears were on the cusp of being a contender in the NFC playoff picture entering Sunday. Now, after an jaw-dropping loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Bears are back to being a joke. To see where it all went wrong, all you need to do is look at three plays. The first play: Jay Cutler
’s putrid pick-six in the first half. The second play: Blaine Gabbert
’s 44-yard touchdown run on a third down that tied the game with under two minutes remaining. The third play: the Gabbert to Torrey Smith
71-yard touchdown in overtime. Words to the wise: The Bears are not to be counted on for anything good until further notice.
QB Blaine Gabbert
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 32 - 196 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 75 - 1 - Gabbert produced the play of the season for San Francisco by making the throw of the season, a 44-yard rainbow strike to Torrey Smith
, who ran the final 27 yards for a game-winning touchdown in overtime. But here's the thing: Prior to that throw, Gabbert had completed only 17 of 31 passes for only 125 yards, which translates to only 4.03 yards per attempt. And factoring the four sacks for -26 yards that he had taken to that point, Gabbert's net yards per attempt before the last play was only 2.83. In short, if all you saw from this game was the final highlight, you'd never realize this was actually a vintage Blaine Gabbert
performance -- at least as a passer. Where he continued to show improvement over his Jaguars-era form was with respect to his newfound ability to escape pressure and salvage plays when the protection breaks down. This produced his game-tying, 44-yard touchdown run near the end of regulation, along with 31 yards on five other scrambles. More importantly, it also produced several pass plays that had no business gaining positive yardage given Chicago's pressure. Two such plays were a 5-yard completion despite defensive end Jarvis Jenkins having him dead to rights for a sack, and a dumpoff to Shaun Draughn
for 26 yards just as he was getting hit by nose tackle Eddie Goldman.
RB Shaun Draughn
, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 36 - 1, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (6 targets) - Once again, Draughn was much more productive as a receiver than as a runner. The former can be attributed to his quarterback's propensity for dumpoffs, while the latter can be attributed to Chicago's defense and San Francisco's play-calling. The Bears did a good job of funneling runs back towards the inside and Geep Chryst, for whatever reason, called nine runs between the tackles even though outside zone is Draughn's bread and butter. This showed in his splits, with the 4 outside runs gaining 16 yards and the 9 inside runs gaining only 20 yards. In the passing game, Draughn displayed two skills that make him a threat after the catch: He understands how to find open holes in zone coverage, and he's able to go from standing still to running at full speed in no time. On his two longest receptions, it looked like Draughn was shot out of a cannon once he caught the ball. How he was a free agent so late into the season is one of the unsolved mysteries of 2015.
WR Anquan Boldin
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 37 - 0 (13 targets) - How does a player -- besides Davante Adams
-- have only five receptions on 13 targets when only one of those targets was over 15 yards downfield? Well, the answer is a combination of tight coverage by Bears cornberacks and inaccurate passing by Blaine Gabbert
: Three of eight incompletions resulted from the former, while five resulted from the latter. That said, 13 targets is 13 targets, so Boldin's role as San Francisco's go-to receiver in crucial situations remains unquestioned. That's especially the case given when he was targeted. In regulation, Gabbert threw the ball Boldin's way five times on 2nd-and-long and twice on 3rd down, one of which resulted in a first down inside the 5-yard line. And in overtime, Boldin was the target on all three passes preceding Torrey Smith
WR Torrey Smith
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 76 - 1 (3 targets) - Smith showed mild progress this week, making his signature big play and not making his signature big drop. Otherwise, he was (once again) largely uninvolved in the passing game. He couldn't get separation against the Bears cornerbacks, especially against Tracy Porter
, who covered Smith on the majority of his routes. One of the few times he wasn't singled up on a cornerback happened to be on his game-ending touchdown. On that play, Chicago was in Cover-3, with the two cornerbacks responsible for the outside two-thirds of the field, and the two safeties sharing intermediate-to-deep responsibilites in the middle third. That sharing of responsibilities resulted in the broken coverage that left Smith wide open. When free safety Adrian Amos handed Smith off to strong safety Chris Prosinski 20 yards downfield, Prosinski was on the opposite hash mark, i.e., a position from which it's impossible to reach speedsters like Smith when they're running a deep corner route.
TE Vance McDonald
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (3 targets) - Prior to leaving the game with a concussion, McDonald was on pace for nine targets. He had also been targeted twice on San Francisco's three third-down passes to that point.
TE Blake Bell
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (3 targets) - The box score says three targets for Bell, but one of them was misassigned by the official score keeper. (It was a deflected red zone pass intended for Draughn, not Bell.) His two legitimate targets approached Torrey Smith
levels of Jekyll-and-Hyde hands. One was a drop on third down that would have picked up a first down. The other resulted in a catch when Bell reached back behind himself with two hands on a poorly thrown dumpoff.
QB Jay Cutler
, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 31 - 202 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0 - Jay Cutler
reverted back to the old Jay Cutler
for a brief time in Sunday’s horrific loss to the San Francisco 49ers. After changing the play at the line of scrimmage, Cutler dropped back quickly and fired a screen pass in the direction of Josh Bellamy
. Before Bellamy could break on the ball, 49ers safety Jimmy Ward broke first and picked the pass for a pick-six touchdown. Not a good look for Mr. Cutler, who had been doing a great job this season of not making those kinds of errors.
Cutler’s day did not get much better, either. The Bears’ quarterback only completed 18-of-31 passes for 201 yards and an interception. A lack of offensive weapons cannot be blamed this time for his inadequacy. Alshon Jeffery
and Matt Forte
were not listed on the injury report all week, paving the way for a healthy Sunday. Cutler simply wasn’t hitting his marks, at all.
The best plays of the day for Cutler came when offensive coordinator Adam Gase moved around his quarterback. Cutler completed a few nice passes on play-action rollouts. The Bears didn’t do enough of this Sunday. There’s far too much inconsistency with the play calling on a week-to-week basis. What seems to be working one week somehow gets lost before kickoff of the next week. Cutler needs consistency.
RB Matt Forte
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 84 - 1, Rec: 5 - 39 - 0 (5 targets) - Matt Forte
got back to doing Matt Forte
-like things Sunday against the 49ers. Unfortunately, though, Forte’s strong effort didn’t matter in the end. Coming off an injury-free week of practice, Forte rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown and caught five passes for 39 yards.
Forte primarily ran up the middle, displaying patience behind his blocks. Why offensive coordinator Adam Gase didn’t call for Forte to get to the outside, who knows. When the offensive lineman have time to line up their blocks, Forte usually shows great patience and vision running behind them.
Forte is his most-effective self when he runs to the outside; this is why he’s so effective on screen passes. Forte lacks the speed he once had, so it makes little sense to run him up the middle into the opposing d-line. When the blocks get set in front of him, he finds the holes and converts first downs.
Forte likely is playing his final games as a Chicago Bear. Enjoy him while you can, Bears fans.
RB Jeremy Langford
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 59 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - Jeremy Langford
looks like a future star for the Chicago Bears, but he still has a long way to go before he’ll be as impactful as Matt Forte
during his prime.
Langford has done a great job running the football, gaining 59 yards on 12 carries in Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Offensive coordinator Adam Gase is working hard to keep his backs fresh by giving Langford a series or two each quarter.
Where Langford struggles is the pass game. In at least three of the Bears’ seven losses, Langford has dropped key third-down passes that could have tilted the result the other way. Langford was targeted three times Sunday, catching two passes for nine yards. This is important because Langford is making a name for himself as a pass dropper.
Until Langford can learn how to catch the ball, he won’t be trusted in big moments of the game.
WR Alshon Jeffery
, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 85 - 0 (12 targets) - Alshon Jeffery
turned in a very underwhelming performance Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. The game, on paper, looked ripe for Jeffery to have a monster game, but the Bears’ top receiver caught only four passes for 85 yards on 12 targets.
Bracket coverage, some off-target passes, a questionable dropped pass or two and a lack of creativity in the play calling are the primary reasons for Jeffery’s struggles. Injuries cannot be blamed this week, as Jeffery was not listed on the Bears Injury Report at all during 49ers week. Perhaps it had something to do with Josh Bellamy
lining up as the Bears’ No. 2 receiver, allowing the 49ers to load up defenders. Jeffery is a better player than he showed in the loss to San Francisco.
Nonetheless, Jeffery is set to be a free agent this offseason, and he wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver. Here’s the problem: No. 1 receivers win the battles Jeffery lost Sunday.
TE Martellus Bennett
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (4 targets) - What has become of Martellus Bennett
? The Bears’ top tight end has become a shell of himself of late. Could it be the rib injury that caused him to miss the Bears’ win over Green Bay in Week 12? Could it be the new contract he wants? Could it be the reported tension with Bennett and the Bears’ front office? Who knows at this point.
Bennett is not playing good football these days. Long gone are the days when he was receiving double-digits in targets. Against the 49ers, Bennett caught only three passes for 14 yards on four targets. His strong on-field rapport with Jay Cutler
seemingly is gone. The Bears really aren’t doing anything different with Bennett. His ability to win mismatches in the secondary has gone away, and this is why he’s not receiving the same high number of targets he’s seen in recent years.
Arizona Cardinals 27, St. Louis Rams 3
What you need to know
- After a few weeks of narrow-margin victories, it was good to see that the Cardinals are still capable of dominating games. It still was not perfect, the offense failed to capitalize on early opportunities and the defense gave up a few big plays, but both units clearly challenged themselves to play better than they did in San Francisco and the results were impressive. A quick turnaround to Thursday night should prove difficult, but the Cardinals control their destiny with four games to play.
St. Louis Rams
- The Rams were dominated in all facets of the game. The Rams lacked consistency only accounting for (9) 1st downs. The Rams offensive line continued to struggle affecting both the running and passing game. The Rams lost time of possession (Cardinals 39:47, Rams 20:13) by nearly a 2-1 margin.
QB Carson Palmer
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 40 - 356 - 2 TD / 0 INT - Throughout the week of preparation for the Rams, many on the team talked about approaching the game with revenge on the mind, but nobody more so than Carson Palmer
. The demons of the disappointing week four loss were largely exercised on Sunday, with a thorough domination of the Rams in St. Louis. A few early game offensive stalls in Rams territory deprived the Cardinals of more points, but Palmer passed with precision all afternoon, moving the offense down the field on seemingly every drive. Palmer threw two touchdown passes on the day, finding rookie speedster JJ Nelson in the back of the end zone on the team’s first possession, then later threading a needing to David Johnson
sitting down in a zone. Palmer hit on multiple deep attempts, found his hot-reads on Ram blitzes, and threw for over 350 yards all while spreading the ball around to seven different receivers. If revenge was a primary motivator, Palmer surely showed off his deadly side.
RB David Johnson
, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 99 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 1 (3 targets) - Playing in place of the injured Chris Johnson
and Andre Ellington
, David Johnson
looked more than comfortable embracing his new role as lead-back. Falling just a yard shy of the 100-yard mark, Johnson ran powerfully and explosively behind an offensive line that dominated the trenches all afternoon. Johnson’s season long Achilles heal, his penchant to put the ball on the turf, did rear its head again on Sunday, it was the lone blemish on an otherwise excellent performance (and the fumble was not lost, mitigating the damage.) While not something that will show up in the box score, Johnson’s blitz pickup was his most impressive attribute on Sunday. His ball-handling issues will remain a concern until he proves himself more reliable, but if Sunday was any indication, Johnson is more than ready to step into his expanded role.
RB Kerwynn Williams
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 59 - 1 - Playing an important role as the complimentary back to Johnson’s new lead role, Williams was the game-sealer for the Cardinals on Sunday. Pressed into a similar role last year due to injuries, Williams showed his sparkplug ability that was back on display Sunday. Behind the stout block of LG Mike Iupati, and a quality pull from the right-side of the line, Williams raced through the gap, made one second-level defender miss before sprinting in for the back-breaking 35-yard touchdown that cemented the game for the Cardinals. Like David Johnson
himself, Williams has had some ball-security issues but has shown both speed and explosiveness as a runner when given the opportunity. While the team remains hopeful Andre Ellington
will be able to contribute again in the regular season and forward, Williams will be thrust into the important role of complimentary back, and performances like Sunday’s give optimism he’ll be ready for the challenge.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 72 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 55 - 0 (11 targets) - Fitzgerald left a minimal mark on Sunday’s game, notching just 55 yards receiving with 23 on one catch alone, he did manage to make his mark on NFL history. Fitzgerald caught 8 of his 11 targets, with that eighth making him the youngest wide receiver in NFL history to reach 1,000 career catches. As a bit of cosmic balance, it came in the same building he caught his first career reception as well. Fitzgerald never quite got going on Sunday, but the attention paid to him by the Rams defense opened up one-on-one opportunities for Michael Floyd
all afternoon, and his sensational blocking helped the Cardinals to a big afternoon on the ground. With this milestone behind him, the only thing left for Fitzgerald to capture in his Hall of Fame career is the Lombardi Trophy that just barely eluded him before.
WR Michael Floyd
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 104 - 0 (12 targets) - Sunday was a very Michael Floyd
ish game. There is almost no other way to express it. Floyd was open all day, and largely exploited that coverage regularly and with ease, leading to a team-high 12 targets. He made some important chain-moving catches, had a few frustrating drops, and made a couple sensational catches along the way. It was exactly the performance that we have come to expect from Floyd at this point. The flashes of brilliance in part make up for the frustrating near-misses, but also make you question why the near-misses happen at all. He always appears on the cusp of breaking out, but never quite gets past the cusp. But when he makes plays, he really makes plays. Had it not been for the Kerwynn Williams
touchdown run (and maybe Fitzgerald’s milestone catch,) Floyd would have had the play of the game. Facing a 3rd-3 from their own 10-yard line and with only a seven-point lead, Palmer faced heavy pressure right up the middle and simply heaved up a jump-ball in Floyds direction. Using his big frame, Floyd out-positioned his defender and rose up, catching the ball at its high-point for a huge 31-yard gain and an important conversion. The Cardinals would go on to score a touchdown on the drive, breaking the game open into a two-score contest. Consistency continues to elude Floyd, but the flashes of brilliance are pretty exceptional to watch.
WR John Brown
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 113 - 0 (8 targets) - For any still uncertain about Brown’s hamstrings and overall health must have found the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game a welcome relief. After spending nearly the entire game making important, albeit un-explosive catches, Brown found himself mismatched with a Safety midway through the 4th quarter and did exactly what you would expect John Brown
to do in that scenario; run right by the guy. Stacked together with Fitzgerald on Palmer’s right, the formation allowed Brown a clean release off the line and that proved too much. Brown flew past his defender and a perfectly placed pass from Palmer hit Brown in stride. Brown failed to find his way into the end zone, but 68-yards later the Cardinals went from deep inside their own territory to the Rams red zone in a flash. With the Cardinals banged up at the running back position, the health of the remaining offensive weapons will be vital to their success, and Brown looking as close to 100% as we have seen in a while was a welcome site.
WR J.J. Nelson
, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 34 - 1 (3 targets) - Collecting his second touchdown in the past three weeks, J.J Nelson converted the team’s opening drive with a 22-yard touchdown reception. Despite only one other catch in the game, Nelson has steadily improved throughout the season and continues to make impactful plays for the team.
QB Nick Foles
, 50 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 35 - 146 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - Nick Foles
struggled completing 15 passes on 35 attempts for 146 yards and 1 interception. This was Foles 9th game this season with 200 passing yards or less. Foles had little time to pass and was off-target on the majority of his passing attempts. Early 1st quarter, Foles completed a 14 yard pass to Brian Quick
. Mid 1st quarter, Foles threw the ball off-target on a deep pass attempt to Kenny Britt
. On the play, Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson jumped the route in front of Britt and intercepted the pass. Late 1st quarter, Foles completed a 30 yard pass to Britt who has running down the right sideline. A couple of plays later, Foles completed a 9 yard pass to Jared Cook
before the drive stalled. The Rams had 2 more series during the 2nd quarter but the longest completion was a 9 yard pass to Wes Welker
. The Rams were down 10-0 at halftime and Foles had 76 passing yards. Early 3rd quarter, the Rams went three-and-out with three straight incompletions. Early 4th quarter, Foles completed a 11 yard pass to Britt. Foles followed that up with a 24 yard pas to Tavon Austin
. A couple of plays later, Foles completed a 10 yard pass to Cook before the drive stalled in the red-zone. Late 4th quarter, Foles completed a 6 yard pass to Welker before missing the next two passes resulting in a three-and-out.
RB Todd Gurley
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 41 - 0 - Todd Gurley
had 9 rushes for 41 yards. The lack of rushing attempts was due to the Rams inefficiency to sustain drives and game script of playing from behind. Early in the first quarter, Gurley received three straights rushing attempts but came away without a first down. On the first play, he took the hand-off and ran off the right tackle for a 5 yard gain. Gurley lined up in the wildcat-formation on 2nd down and ran up the middle for a 2 yard gain. On third down, Gurley had no room to run as he was stopped at the line of scrimmage. Late 2nd quarter, Gurley ran the ball up the middle for a 5 yard gain. Early 3rd quarter, Gurley rushed up the middle for a 34 yard gain. On the play, Gurley had a large hole to run through as he cut to the left sideline for his longest rush of the afternoon.
RB Tre Mason
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - Tre Mason
entered the game early in the 2nd quarter. On Mason's first carry, he was met at the line of scrimmage for a 2 yard loss. Mason followed that up with a 7 yard reception on a screen-pass. Late 3rd quarter, Mason ran off the left tackle for a 15 yard gain. A couple of plays later, Mason caught a screen pass for a 3 yard gain.
WR Tavon Austin
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 14 - 0, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (3 targets) - Tavon Austin
had 1 reception on 3 targets for 24 yards. Austin added 2 rushes for 14 yards. Late 1st quarter, Austin ran an end-around from left-to-right for a 2 yard gain. The Cardinals defense was ready for the play as Austin had no room to run. Early 3rd quarter, Austin had a 67 yard punt return called back due to a holding penalty. Late 3rd quarter, Austin ran an end-around from right-to-left for a 12 yard gain. Early 4th quarter, Austin ran an out-route for a 24 yard reception.
WR Kenny Britt
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 41 - 0 (6 targets) - Kenny Britt
had 2 receptions on 6 targets for 41 yards. Late 1st quarter, Britt ran a go-route down the right sideline and made a 30 yard reception while out-jumping the defensive back. Early 4th quarter, Britt ran a slant-route for a 11 yard gain.
WR Wes Welker
, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - Wes Welker
had 2 receptions on 3 targets for 15 yards. Mid 2nd quarter on a 3rd and 5, Welker ran an out-route for a 9 yard gain. Late 4th quarter, Welker ran an out-route for a 6 yard reception.
WR Brian Quick
, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (6 targets) - Brian Quick
had 1 reception on 6 targets for 14 yards. Early in the 1st quarter, Quick ran a quick slant-route and made a 14 yard reception.
TE Jared Cook
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (9 targets) - Jared Cook
had 3 receptions on 9 targets for 22 yards. Early 2nd quarter, Cook ran a crossing-route for a 9 yard gain. Mid 2nd quarter, Cook made a 3 yard reception on a screen-pass. Early 4th quarter, Cook ran a crossing-route for a 10 yard gain.
TE Lance Kendricks
, 17 offensive snaps - Lance Kendricks
left the game early and was being evaluated for a concussion.
Jacksonville Jaguars 39, Tennessee Titans 42
What you need to know
- This was probably the best offensive performance I’ve seen the Jaguars play since Jimmy Smith
went for almost 300 yards receiving on the vaunted 2000 Baltimore Ravens defense. The best part about it: they fixed all of the things that have been making them so volatile. They ran the ball consistently from under center, they scored touchdowns in the redzone (even a rushing touchdown), and the passing game showed more precision as opposed to being overly reliant on deep balls and improvisation. Unfortunately, kicking and defense let them down, and a performance that showed a lot of growth was wasted.
- • Mariota's legs are becoming more of a factor.
• Cobb and Andrews are rotating series, but Andrews is the goal line back.
• Dorial Green-Beckham
matches one major negative with one major positive.
• Craig Stevens
is a redzone option, even if not a primary one.
QB Blake Bortles
, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 36 - 322 - 5 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0 - This was Bortles best game as a pro to date – not only statistically (5 touchdowns), but in his command and patience from the pocket. He made subtle movements to allow plays to develop and was not overly-dependent on improvisation. He was also tremendous in the redzone – all five touchdowns came in that area of the field.
RB T.J. Yeldon
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 57 - 1, Rec: 4 - 79 - 0 (4 targets) - Scored the first touchdown of the day from the one-yard line on a quick slant. He was mostly quiet after that as the passing offense basically went through Allen Robinson
. He should probably be getting Marqise Lee
’s snaps and targets.
RB Denard Robinson
, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 21 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets) - Spelled Yeldon for a drive in the fourth quarter and had two very nice runs, one of which went for 13 yards.
WR Allen Robinson
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 153 - 3 (15 targets) - Robinson is virtually uncoverable at this point, and has been arguably the most consistent receiver week-to-week in the NFL. All three of his touchdowns came in the redzone this week. The level of physicality in his game has really grown throughout the year. He’s throwing cornerbacks off of him to pick up YAC, and is dominating on contested catches downfield.
WR Rashad Greene
, 13 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 1 (3 targets) - Scored the first touchdown of the day from the one-yard line on a quick slant. He was mostly quiet after that as the passing offense basically went through Allen Robinson
. He should probably be getting Marqise Lee
’s snaps and targets.
WR Marqise Lee
, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (4 targets) - Lee received the start with Allen Hurns
out, and was terrible. He got two deep targets on the first two drives. The first was a throw that was perfectly placed, but he could not come down with it in a contested catch situation. The second slightly underthrown and CB recovered to bat it away. He did get behind the corner on both and was open. He simultaneously almost scored and fumbled on his only catch (came in the redzone) but was brought down at the one yard line. He had a terrible drop on a redzone target later in the game.
TE Julius Thomas
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 1 (5 targets) - Like Lee, Thomas had a poor performance. He had an early drop on an open pass and couldn’t bring his first redzone target down in bounds. He was also almost responsible for an interception on a play where he slipped on his break. He did score a touchdown on a play-action pop pass in the fourth quarter (same concept he almost scored on earlier in the game when he went out of bounds).
QB Marcus Mariota
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 29 - 268 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 9 - 112 - 1 - The Titans offense made a sluggish start to this game. Mariota didn't complete a pass on a quick three-and-out, before he was almost intercepted on a short out route on their second drive. It was a slow start, but the quarterback sparked a touchdown drive with a very impressive throw to Dorial Green-Beckham
on Third-and-11. Mariota's ability to throw the ball back across the field after leaving the pocket has stood out all season, it allowed Green-Beckham to gain 17 yards at the start of that drive but it also allowed Mariota to find Craig Stevens
in the endzone for his first touchdown. The quarterback stayed hot on the following drive, moving the offense downfield with smart, accurate throws to short and intermediate routes before hitting Delanie Walker
for a touchdown in the endzone on a seam route. Mariota hit another couple of passes on the following drive, but was intercepted by cornerback Davon House. After being fortunate to avoid an interception earlier in the game, Mariota was ironically picked off by House after he threw an accurate pass that bounced off of Dorial Green-Beckham
's hands. Mariota played very well in the first half. After the interception setback, he ran a hurry-up offense for another touchdown, this time a one-yard run from Antonio Andrews
. Mariota converted multiple third downs and hit Delanie Walker
for a big play that set the offense up on the one-yard line. In the third quarter, Mariota connected on a long ball with Dorial Green-Beckham
for a huge touchdown reception. In the fourth quarter, Mariota lost a fumble when he took a blindside sack from his right side. His eyes were looking to the other side of the field as Byron Bell let his defender go clean after the quarterback. That allowed the Jaguars to retake the lead on a touchdown, but Mariota responded on the following third down with an 80+ yard run for a touchdown. That play was all about Mariota's speed on a scramble, but it should be noted that the Titans ran Mariota twice in the first half on designed runs and had him keep the ball twice on reads in the second.
RB Antonio Andrews
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 58 - 1, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets) - Antonio Andrews
will have felt aggrieved at the beginning of this game. The Titans made David Cobb
the focal point of the running game early on, so when Andrews got his second carry, it was no surprise that he broke a tackle or two after being sprung into the secondary for a 22-yard gain. Even though Cobb was showing some flashes of his ability, Andrews still stood out more as the game developed. He added another big play on a passing play when he broke a tackle underneath to escape downfield before running in a touchdown from the one-yard line before the end of the half. The young back added another big run to start the third quarter when he found space on a cutback lane before running forward for 15 yards. He almost capped off the day with a second touchdown, but couldn't finish off the final drive despite getting two carries at the goal line.
RB David Cobb
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 40 - 0 - The Titans gave David Cobb
the bulk of the carries early on in the game, but he and Antonio Andrews
rotated in and out throughout. Cobb was primarily directed off either tackle in the hope of putting him into space. He was able to do that on a couple of occasions, with one eight-yard run when he was given the edge and accelerated inside past a defender for eight yards standing out in particular. Although Cobb showed flashes, it was clear that he was the inferior back to Andrews who continues to be an impressive all-around player..
WR Dorial Green-Beckham
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 119 - 1 (6 targets) - It's been a rough rookie season for Green-Beckham but this was his best game of the year, even with one huge mistake. The receiver caught Mariota's first completion of the game for 17 yards after the quarterback extended a 3rd-and-11 play into the opposite flat. Green-Beckham added a second reception in the second quarter on a similar play. This time he caught the ball within the timing of the play as it was designed and had to make a low adjustment to secure the ball. It was the following target that sunk him though. Mariota found the receiver on a deep curl route with an accurate pass. An accurate pass that went through Green-Beckham's hands and into those of Jaguars defensive back Davon House for the interception. Because of Justin Hunter
's injury, Green-Beckham has to play. The Titans would probably prefer to sit him down, but they don't have another viable option. Therefore, he remained on the field after his drop and Mariota looked to him almost immediately on a deep post route. Green-Beckham caught the ball to convert a third-and-long. Two plays later, Green-Beckham made a similar reception for another first down. With his confidence brimming, Green-Beckham made the most impressive play of his short career so far in the third quarter. He caught a long pass from Mariota on a post route before bouncing off a Jaguars safety and running away from the defense for the touchdown.
WR Kendall Wright
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 28 - 0 (4 targets) - The value of Kendall Wright
was felt early on in this game. Wright didn't catch his first target, when Mariota forced a pass into him against tight coverage, but he did catch his next two and both went for first downs on third downs. His first converted a third-and-short with a catch over the middle against zone coverage while the second was a slant route that pushed the offense into the redzone. Wright didn't see the ball again until late in the second quarter, when he caught a first down pass over the middle of the field within two minutes of the half. That reception came at a cost for Wright though, as he stayed down injured after the play. The receiver went back in and stayed in after taking a play off, but wasn't a factor after that point.
WR Harry Douglas
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - Douglas was targeted a few times earl on in this game, but he couldn't get open and Mariota couldn't find him. He eventually caught his only pass on a short curl route late in the second quarter before playing a peripheral role in the second half..
TE Delanie Walker
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 92 - 1 (12 targets) - Delanie Walker
continues to be the Titans best receiving option and one of their best players. He opened the game with a rare quiet quarter and actually added another quiet quarter in the third, but made up for it during the second and fourth quarters. Walker caught a short curl route for eight yards early in the second quarter before breaking off a big gain on an out route from the slot to set the offense up in the redzone. He then capped the drive off with a touchdown on third down, when Mariota found him down the seam. Walker almost caught his second touchdown of the game before the end of the first half, but his big play was stopped just short of the pylon after he caught two passes in the Titans' successful two-minute drill. When Mariota needed a play late in the fourth quarter on Third-and-11, he looked to his tight end. Walker made a good catch despite an arriving defender over the middle of the field for what proved to be a crucial first down.
TE Craig Stevens
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 1 (2 targets) - For his career, Craig Stevens
has only one season with two touchdown catches. Over the past two weeks, he has multiple touchdown receptions. Stevens still isn't a viable option for fantasy teams because of his overall usage, but the Titans will look to him on the backside of plays like they did for his touchdown reception in the first quarter against the Jaguars. Stevens was wide open as Mariota ran to the far side of the field and threw the ball back to his deep crossing route.
Philadelphia Eagles 35, New England Patriots 28
What you need to know
- The Philadelphia Eagles traveled to New England as major underdogs and rode their defense/special teams to an unlikely victory. You heard that correctly; their defense and special teams catered a road upset. The return of Sam Bradford
cemented stability at the quarterback position, and in true game manager style, he avoided mistakes while keeping the offense upright. At this point, there aren't much for superstars in Chip Kelly's offense; just contributors filling roles and occasionally making big plays. On Sunday, those big plays came via a punt return touchdown, a pick-six, a blocked extra point returned and a quarterback playing smart, collective football. The win, however, wouldn't come without some discomfort. The Eagles coughed up a fumble, botched an onside kick and nearly threw the game away late. But in the end, the defense held and the Kelly's crew ended a four-game losing streak.
New England Patriots
- -James White
can hopefully continue to build on his stellar performance. If he does, he will be a key factor down the stretch
-Brady looks to be regressing negatively, occasionally sensing pressure when it isn't there and forcing balls into places they shouldn't be thrown. Time will tell if this is a symptom of his offensive line, receivers, or some combination thereof.
can't be trusted until he finally has a decent game in 2015.
QB Sam Bradford
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 24 - 120 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - The Eagles were a mess without Sam Bradford
, who made his first start since Week 10. If there's a perfect way to reintroduce your otherwise unstable quarterback, it's by asking him to do little while protecting him a lot. That's exactly the way it worked out. Thanks to special teams and defense, he was needed only to do the thing he does best: manage the game. With a hat-tip to the offensive line, he was able to operate cleanly out of the pocket and took only one sack. The running game kept pressure off while the Eagles defense kept the game in check. The net result was Bradford attempting only 24 passes. Even though the box score is less than flattering, he looked confident and sharp, finding Zach Ertz
on a third down for a score when the game was tilting against the Eagles 0-14. Then, late in the fourth, up two scores, he delivered the nail with a touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews
, who had beat two defenders a on a shallow cross. All things being equal, Bradford put together a solid effort and kept his team alive in a broken NFC East.
RB Darren Sproles
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 66 - 0, Rec: 4 - 34 - 0 (6 targets) - Darren Sproles
was the clear star of the day. He was a monster out of the backfield as both a runner and a receiver, and blew the game wide-open with an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown. His 100 offensive yards were the most by any Eagles player as he routinely showed burst and patience as a runner, and slipped his way through questionable linebacker play as a receiver. He led the team in receptions and carries, and dominated snap counts among Eagles' running backs.
RB Kenjon Barner
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 39 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Filling in for Ryan Mathews
, who missed a third straight game, Kenjon Barner
chipped in 11 touches for 46 total yards. The Eagles offensive line played a great game on Sunday, which allowed their speedy backs in Darren Sproles
and Barner to find creases against the Patriots linebackers. Barner's acceleration through the gaps and around the edges makes him a great fit for the Eagles scheme. But he lost a fumble late in the fourth quarter which could have cost the Eagles the win. It was an otherwise solid day for the former track star.
RB DeMarco Murray
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 24 - 0 - One would think with the Eagles in clear clock-killing mode for a good portion of the second half, DeMarco Murray
would reap the benefits. Instead, he touch the ball only eight times. Seven of those touches accumulated only seven yards, with his only highlight of the afternoon coming on blast up the middle for 17 yards. He played only 14 snaps to Darren Sproles
' 35 and just barely edged Kenjon Barner
's 12. It was the least amount of playing time he has seen all year when healthy. Clearly, Chip Kelly has either lost faith in Murray, or he is dealing with an undisclosed injury. Whatever the case, baffling usage and even worse blocking aligns him as the fantasy bust of the year, an honor he would be running away with if not for Eddie Lacy
WR Jordan Matthews
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 36 - 1 (6 targets) - With the Eagles in firm control of the game, Sam Bradford
and his receivers weren't asked to do much. Jordan Matthews
was the recipient of six targets - tied for the most with Darren Sproles
- but was only able to secure three of them. His day would be almost forgettable were a not for a late touchdown in which he cut through two defenders on a shallow cross. Bradford dropped a perfect pass while rolling to his right. That touchdown all but sealed the victory as it gave the Eagles a three-score lead in the fourth quarter.
WR Riley Cooper
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (1 targets) - Riley Cooper
was the only Eagles' receiver outside of Jordan Matthews
to record a stat in this game. But he did contribute two big plays. The first of which occurred during an onside kick attempt by the Patriots. Cooper attacked the ball and swatted it out of bounds before New England was able to recover. Later on that same series, with the Eagles up by only touchdown and facing a 3rd and 11, he secured a high throw for 14 yards and a first down. That catch would have sealed the game had Kenjon Barner
not fumbled a few plays later.
TE Zach Ertz
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 1 (4 targets) - Zach Ertz
returned to form on Sunday and out-snapped Brent Celek
53-37. He was only able to secure two of his four targets, one of which was a diving touchdown catch after he beat his man in the endzone with the Eagles trailing 0-14. That was the good Ertz. The bad Ertz showed up on an onside kick attempt by the Patriots. He was first to the ball but wasn't able to secure the catch as he went to the ground, effectively fumbling back to New England.
TE Brent Celek
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (1 targets) - With Zach Ertz
back in the lineup, and without much need for passing, Brent Celek
's box score doesn't have much to brag about. He did secure his only target on a nice catch-and-run for 16 yards that put the Eagles in scoring position. Ertz scored the touchdown a few plays later.
QB Tom Brady
, 89 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 56 - 312 - 3 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 6 - 17 - 1, Rec: 1 - 36 - 0 (1 targets) - 2015 is turning out as an exact opposite of the 2014 season for the Patriots. In 2014, the Patriots started off with numerous duds, then starting getting hot, eventually winning it all. In 2015, the Patriots started off on fire, but have played like a pedestrian team over the last month without any convincing wins. Though his o-line and receiving corps continue to stink up the joint partially due to injuries, Brady had his fair blame in the game against the Eagles. His most egregious plays were his two interceptions, which were absolutely baffling, particularly his 100 yard pick 6. Brady tried to thread a ball to Danny Amendola
, one of the dumbest decisions and throws you'll see any quarterback make. The ball was deflected, popped in the air, and returned for a pick 6 for a complete momentum shift. One of the better plays of the day involved trickery that saw Danny Amendola
take a snap and use Brady as a wide receiver for 36 yards. Who knew? After that play, Brady promptly threw another interception on a deep ball to Brandon LaFell
, as there was clear miscommunication on the route. Why Brady keeps throwing deep balls to LaFell is anyone's guess, as LaFell has played simply terribly this year, but he keeps trying to force the issue with absolutely no success. These gaffes, along with special teams miscues, allowed the Eagles to rattle off 35 unanswered points. In spite of that, Brady did throw for 4 touchdowns, though they weren't enough to make up for the gaffes. His first was a short toss to James White
, who leaked out of the backfield. His second touchdown was a beautiful route by Danny Amendola
, who blew by a cornerback on a corner route for an easy score. Brady's third touchdown came in near garbage time on a Scott Chandler
corner route, while his 4th was a quarterback sneak. Brady also constantly sensed phantom pressure in the pocket, something you don't see often from him. He and the entire team needs to get their act together, or they'll be one and done in the playoffs in spite of Gronk and Edelman's returns.
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 54 - 0 - Though he ran decently, Blount was an afterthought for most of the second half as the Patriots played catch up, limiting his touches. His first series of the game saw a couple of great cutbacks to pick up plenty of extra yards. But going forward, if the Patriots fall behind in other games, he won't be able to see his necessary workload to be effective.
RB James White
, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 10 - 115 - 1 (13 targets) - About the only player to actually show up for the miserable Patriots offense was James White
, who arguably had a breakout game against the Eagles. Particularly once the Patriots got down big, Brady continually looked White's way, and White delivered, catching multiple key passes and even showing some Dion Lewis
-esque moves on his way to a stellar day. White's touchdown was a simple out from the backfield, beating coverage in the process. If he plays like this, the Patriots offense finally has a dynamic back out of the backfield, as that's something that has been sorely missing since Dion Lewis
WR Danny Amendola
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 36 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rec: 7 - 62 - 1 (13 targets) - Though Amendola played reasonably, he did have a couple drops, with a key one on the Patriots final drive to ensure the Eagles won the game. He's definitely a good slot receiver, but probably isn't suited as the Patriots #1 target, which means Edelman and Gronk need to heal up ASAP for the passing attack to thrive again. Amendola's touchdown was a nifty corner route against a defensive back that saw him pretty wide open as he blew by his defender.
WR Brandon LaFell
, 84 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 27 - 0 (9 targets) - There's below average, there's bad, and there's how Brandon LaFell
played against the Eagles. Continually getting no separation, miscommunications with Tom Brady
, critical drops, and more were all in play for the wide receiver. If the Patriots had more depth, there would be little doubt that LaFell wouldn't be seeing the snaps he is. Unfortunately, with injuries, he has to be on the field, and it's not working well at all. On one deep ball he could have caught, LaFell simply stopped his route, and ended up narrowly missing a catch. One of Brady's interceptions was a miscommunicated deep throw to LaFell. It's clear LaFell may not get back to his 2014 form, which is sad since has the opportunity to shine right now.
WR Keshawn Martin
, 86 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (8 targets) - Though he played meaningful snaps against the Eagles, Martin's biggest contributions were a deep P.I. call and a critical drop on the final drive of the game. It was not a good game for Martin, who struggled to catch the ball at times, and struggled to get separation against a beatable secondary at others.
TE Scott Chandler
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 61 - 1 (7 targets) - Chandler mixed the good with the bad, as usual. He had a nice contested catch early in the game, and did score a touchdown on a corner route. He also helped James White
score his touchdown, as Chandler was a focal point by the defense in the red zone due to his size. However, he mixed in his usual dropsies here and there. Until Gronk is healthy, he's the guy, for better or for worse.
Houston Texans 21, Buffalo Bills 30
What you need to know
- - Jaelen Strong
was active for the first time in nearly three games. Had two targets but not much else.
- Akeem Hunt
continues to see time but not enough to warrant more than a mention. Had two total touches.
- C.J. Fiedorowicz
is now the second tight end on the depth chart and now is an after thought in the passing game. He has one reception.
- The Bills sure do like their direct snaps and fleaflickers. It does not tend to work but Rex Ryan will keep trying them. Even with the poor completion percentage, Taylor had one of his better games as a Bill. He was confident in the pocket, escaped when he needed to but not before, and hit a few deep throws. With Karlos Williams
out, the only running threat the Bills have is LeSean McCoy
; McCoy will not lose snaps to the players behind him, especially not against the Eagles this weekend. Sammy Watkins
may finally be emerging as the elite threat that he has the potential to be and the Bills need to involve him to have success.
QB Brian Hoyer
, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 43 - 293 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0 - Overall on the stat page if was a solid day for Brian Hoyer
. There were some inaccurate throws and close to 4-5 drops on the day from his receivers. Hoyer had key scoring drives and targeted the middle of the field to Nate Washington
, Cecil Shorts
and Ryan Griffin
to start the day off. Hoyer hit Ryan Griffin
with an 8 yard touchdown pass to close out the first quarter. Shorts was a key target for Hoyer bitting him for 11, 23, 17, 15 and 14 yards out of the slot. Hoyer tried to push the ball down field to Washington but could not complete the deep balls on two tries. Hoyer’s biggest drive when he targeted DeAndre Hopkins
and capped it off with a 19 yard touchdown pass to him in the end zone. Hoyer continues to throw the ball to Hopkins in one-on-one situations and had two throws of 23 and 29 yards on a drive. After that Hoyer could not find Hopkins consistently. Hoyer had a late interception throwing a hail mary attempt to end the game.
RB Chris Polk
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 61 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 1 (1 targets) - Polk ended up being the go-to back for the offense and it was a surprise. He had his longest run of the season for 20 yards and after that averaged 4.0 yards a run on the other 10 carries. The offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and made life easy for Polk running the ball. Polk got into the end zone on a 11 yard pass to the flats while running over a defender in the process and diving over the pylon. Today was easily the most productive day of Polk in a Texans uniform.
RB Jonathan Grimes
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 28 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (2 targets) - Grimes continues to produce when he gets his hands on the ball. With five rushes, his long was a 17 yard run on a 3rd and long draw play. He only had 11 yards after that point on four carries. Grimes had two receptions in the passing game for 15 yards with 11 being his long. Grimes had a good 17 yard reception negated by a block in the back after he broke two tackles. He continues to get looks in 2nd and 3rd and long situations, he is still the Texans most well rounded running back.
RB Alfred Blue
, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0 - Blue started that game for the Texans and after four carries he found himself watching from the sideline. His long carry for the day was four yards and saw limited time for the remainder of the game. Blue was passed over for Jonathan Grimes
and Chris Polk
WR Cecil Shorts
, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 6 - 91 - 0 (10 targets) - It was Cecil Shorts
most productive game in some time through the air. Shorts had receptions for 11, 14, 15, 17, and 23 yards on the afternoon. Getting behind the defense, he had success running crossing routes to get open for Hoyer. He is starting to understand the offense and is able to read defenses better and that was on display after he settled into a zone after reading the blitz off the corner for a 14 yard gain. Shorts did miss a big opportunity late, that would have been a first down after he was hit hard and dropped a first down.
WR Nate Washington
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 44 - 0 (11 targets) - The Texans worked Washington more underneath in the passing game. His longest reception was on an out route for 13 yards but was mainly doing his work in simple underneath routes. Washington again was plagued with the drops and had two more added to his total today. The Texans did try to get Washington vertical twice down the middle of the field but both fell incomplete with two balls that were under thrown into double coverage.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, 76 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 88 - 1 (9 targets) - It was a quiet day for DeAndre Hopkins
except for one drive during the game. Hopkins had three receptions on one drive of 23, 29 and 19 with the one-on-one match-ups favoring Hopkins. On his 19 yard touchdown reception, Hoyer threw a 50-50 ball to Hopkins and he showed his ability to high point the football. Hopkins had a critical drop early in the game and dropped a low ball late in the 4th quarter that he should have caught.
TE Ryan Griffin
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 1 (5 targets) - He is clearly becoming the go-to target in the passing game. With only three receptions on the day, Griffin’s touchdown catch came on a 8 yard toss. He chipped in with receptions of 14 and 7 yards late in the game but it is clear they want to get Griffin involved more to balance out the offense.
QB Tyrod Taylor
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 21 - 211 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 28 - 1 - Despite a horrid completion percentage, Taylor was directly connected to all four Bills' TDs against the Texans. None of his three passing TDs required great throws but performing the routine well is a necessary aspect of good QB play. Taylor's passing ability was better shown in his manipulation of the pocket and the throwing of deep completions that moved the Bills down the field. He was not without mistakes however. Late in the game Taylor started playing more loose with his throws and had two balls almost intercepted. Taylor's main virtue as a QB has been protecting the ball. But at some point he will stop getting lucky and his interception numbers will increase accordingly.
Taylor has become more of a pocket passer as the season has gone on but he seems to be getting his legs back. The second TD of the day for the Bills had Taylor rolling left, outrunning a linebacker to the edge, shaking off the attempted push out-of-bounds, and diving for the pylon past another defender. That play exemplifies what the Bills hope Taylor can be, a QB who can make the throws but can also turn on the jets when he needs to.
RB LeSean McCoy
, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 112 - 0 (1 targets) - McCoy is still doing McCoy things. He is very talented at knowing when to reverse the field and his speed almost always ensures McCoy made the right decision. It happened twice against the Texans where a run going one direction for no gain suddenly became a huge gain on the other side of the play. And when McCoy does go up the gut, his quick moves in the scrum necessitate more than one defender to bring him down. The one downside to this game for McCoy was his lack of involvement in the passing game. He only received two targets with one of the plays called back for holding. However, this may actually be a positive for Tyrod Taylor
as he did not feel the need for check-downs. McCoy has consistently been targeted this season so his receptions should be higher in the last few weeks.
RB Mike Gillislee
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 41 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Gillislee was promoted from the practice squad before this game to replace Karlos Williams
as the backup running back. Other than six attempts for the Dolphins in 2013, these were Gillislee's first runs in an NFL game. His first carry went very well; the blockers gave him space and Gillislee made it to the edge and up. Nothing else came for Gillislee after that with all of his attempts being short and standard. Gillislee is not a threat to either LeSean McCoy
RB Anthony Dixon
, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - Dixon received just one carry to Mike Gillislee
's seven. A player just promoted from the practice squad outsnapped him, Dixon is not a factor in this offense.
WR Sammy Watkins
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 109 - 1 (4 targets) - Watkins put together back-to-back 100+ yard games for the second time in his young career. His first TD was a decent catch but one that any NFL WR would be expected to make. His true ability was better shown through his other three (non-fleaflicker) targets. On the first, Watkins split the defense for a 53 yard gain. The second had Watkins making an athletic jumping catch for 21 yards but the ball was brought back for holding. The third had Watkins badly beat his defender for another 53 yard gain. Watkins has been playing like he deserves the most targets but oddly he didn't receive them against the Texans.
WR Robert Woods
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 19 - 1 (5 targets) - Woods collected the third TD of the day for the Bills but not much else. He beat his defender one-on-one in a come-back route in the endzone and was right where he needed to be for the quick release. Both of his receptions were good plays but the Bills would like better output on five targets.
WR Chris Hogan
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - The third WR both in amount of targets and in quality of play, Hogan was not memorable in a game with only 11 receptions. The Bills' offense does not have many opportunities for players far back in the depth chart to consistently stand out.
TE Charles Clay
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 66 - 1 (7 targets) - Of Clay's four receptions, two of them were screens. Clay is tough to tackle and tends to drag defenders but the Bills need a threat in the middle of the field more than they need a screen target. Clay may have become that middle of the field threat against the Texans but it remains to be seen. He got himself open down the middle for a deep target that Tyrod Taylor
threw well. However, Clay let the ball clunk off his hands. More positively, the game-winning score involved Clay walking clean into the endzone through the middle of the field. But even then, Clay did not have a defender on him at any point, the designed route found a major hole in the zone. After Watkins, Clay is the best receiving option that the Bills have and his most targets in the game reflect the talent. But the Bills need to use him more in the middle of the field than they currently do.
Atlanta Falcons 19, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23
What you need to know
- The Falcons only had four series in the first half due to prolonged Tampa Bay drives featuring the Buccaneers ground game against a 10th-ranked Atlanta defense that was No.1 prior to last week’s demolition of that statistical illusion by Adrian Peterson
. Atlanta stacked the box against Doug Martin
and couldn’t stop him. In contrast, Atlanta had multiple pairs of carries where they had a positive gain to the perimeter followed by a stuff for a loss up the middle on the next. Atlanta only attempted one deep route in this game, a first-quarter play-action throw-back to Jacob Tamme
up the left sideline, but Ryan overshot the wide open tight end. After that Atlanta stuck to short passes and relied on its backs, tight end, and receivers to earn yards after the catch and peppered a few intermediate targets to Julio Jones
off play-action on first downs. This game plan earned them four consecutive field goals during the second and third quarters. The Buccaneers limited Atlanta with timely blitzes of linebackers, sacking Ryan multiple times and stalling drive, including a red zone opportunity in the second quarter. The Buccaneers responded to a Matt Ryan
touchdown pass on a bootleg drag route to Nick Williams
with a long touchdown drive to retake the lead and Matt Ryan
threw the game-sealing interception to Lavonte David over the middle, who dropped far enough to cut off Julio Jones
with 1:30 left, ending the game. The Falcons lost this game in part because the offense couldn’t control the middle of the field consistent enough with the run or containing pressure to put positive plays together to extend drives.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Austin Seferian-Jenkins
returned from the shoulder injury that had him sidelined since week 2. Brandon Myers
was left inactive in the wake of his return, leaving ASJ, Cameron Brate
, and Luke Stocker
as the 3 active tight ends. Tampa Bay's offensive approach was balanced, picking up 11 first downs on the ground and 10 through the air. On the day, Tampa Bay was 6 for 11 on 3rd down conversions, with no 4th down attempts. The offensive line did a great job protecting Winston and opening up lanes for the running game. The Bucs' tight ends and receivers also showed strong effort in their blocking. Tampa Bay's defense was without stud DT Gerald McCoy, but managed to heckle Matt Ryan
enough to throw him off his game and ultimately seal the victory with an interception.
Tampa Bay attempted a 2-point conversion in the 3rd quarter after taking a 13-12 lead on a Doug Martin
touchdown run. The attempt failed. Kicker Barth completed his 1 field goal attempt from 23 yards and made both extra point attempts.
QB Matt Ryan
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 45 - 269 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0 - Ryan faced pressure throughout the game thanks to successful blitzes up the middle by Buccaneer linebackers. One drive was stalled inside the 10, resulting in a field goal and the other three drives that didn’t result in punts during the first half ended with field goals. Ryan and the Falcons offense could move between the 20s because of the short passing game, but once the field was compressed, the Buccaneers pressure hastened Atlanta’s timeline. Even when Ryan bought time while flushing from the pocket, the defense did a good job covering Ryan’s receivers. One of these plays was a third-down throw to Julio Jones
in the first half off a scramble, but Jones was well-covered at the end line and the receiver couldn’t rebound the defender’s tip of the ball. The one touchdown Ryan had was a play-action bootleg to the right with a drag route to Nick Williams
in the fourth quarter to take the lead. This drive was successful thanks to a hurry-up scheme. But beyond the predictable skinny posts to Jones, there wasn’t another player who could beat man coverage and these dump-offs could only get Atlanta within scoring range, but not punch it in. Ryan’s game-sealing intercept for Tampa was a predictable crossing route for Jones that Lavonte David anticipated with a deep drop and cut off. Although Ryan has been inaccurate in the vertical game and he has made mistakes, until Ryan has time to throw the ball deep without play-action and a receiver capable of beating man coverage emerges whose last name isn’t Jones , this offense is going nowhere.
RB Devonta Freeman
, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 47 - 0, Rec: 10 - 56 - 0 (11 targets) - Multiple times throughout this game, Freeman would earn a quality gain to the edge and then Atlanta would try the middle and get stuffed for a loss. Atlanta could not generate consecutive gains on the ground and the Falcons went more to the short passing game. Freeman was a prominent part of that equation, earning 100 total yards, but is longest gain of the day was a 14-yard run. He had a 10-yard gain called back due to a holding call by Roddy White
, which has become a common issue in multiple contests. Freeman still looks good, but defenses have figured out that Atlanta doesn’t have enough on offense to keep them from selling out against the run in timely down and distance situations.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets) - The best play of the day for Coleman was a timely recovery of a strip sack of Matt Ryan
at the two-minute warning in the second quarter in the red zone. He had two quality runs in this game and one of them was a 10-yard gain during hurry-up mode in the fourth quarter. The other two came in the red area late in the first half. The first was a five-yard gain where he spun off a hit at the left edge. The next carry was a two-yard loss when he was run down by the backside pursuit.
RB Patrick DiMarco
, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets) - The fullback continues to see more opportunities as an outlet option on passing downs. He caught a 3rd and 7 circle route from the backfield on the first drive, hauling it to his inside shoulder a few yards down field while Ryan was under pressure. Good job getting most of the yards for the first down. He then gained 9 on a 3rd and 11 with a minute left in the half, but had his progressed stopped by two defenders at the end of the run. He’s used enough that he could earn a red zone target, but he’s not a weapon to rely on.
WR Julio Jones
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 93 - 0 (17 targets) - Once again, the Falcons failed to target Jones deep. The biggest plays came on skinny posts off play action or deep slants. It was enough for Jones to have a reasonable fantasy day, but nowhere near what he’s capable if the offense could take advantage of his deep speed and skill to win the ball in coverage. Jones is a rebounder of a wide receiver and one of the best at it, but the offense is more precision-based than rebounding based. The best opportunity Jones had to score was an improvised route to the end line after the Buccaneers flushed Ryan right, but the coverage trailing Jones knocked the ball loose and Jones couldn’t haul in the rebound.
WR Roddy White
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (4 targets) - It’s fascinating to note that there have been three games where White has committed a penalty in the run game and within two plays of the penalty that nullified a nice run White would earn his first target. This time it happened in the second half after he held on a Freeman run of 10 yards and two plays later he got open over the middle up the right seam for a 21-yard reception. He had two more reception and was a minor, but timely factor in moving the chains on meaningful drives.
: The rookie hasn’t earned many targets against tight man coverage or even tight zone, but his first target came on a slant from the slot against Alterraun Verner. The ball was on-time but Hardy dropped the pass and forced a punt. His caught two crosses against open zones later in this game: a six-yard reception for an 11-yard gain during the second series and then a 23-yard gain on 3rd and 11 later in the contest. Until he can prove he can beat tight coverage, he’s not a consistent fantasy factor.
WR Nick Williams
, 10 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 1 (2 targets) - The slot receiver is becoming a red zone factor. He caught a drag route on a play-action boot right for the score to end a hurry-up mode drive with 11:00 in the game to give Atlanta the lead. He was also targeted on a pivotal 3rd and 7 while up by three late in the game. It was a route over the middle against a blitz up the middle and Matt Ryan
lacked the time to make an accurate throw. Williams almost maintained control with a sliding catch on a bad target that left Ryan yelling at the sideline and his offensive line. This forced a punt and Tampa scored on the next drive to win the game.
TE Jacob Tamme
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (4 targets) - The biggest play of the game could have been a play-action throw-back from Ryan rolling right and throwing up the left sideline. Tamme was wide open, but Ryan overshot the throw by 5-7 yards on this initial series for Atlanta. The rest of Tamme’s plays were underneath routes. He caught a drag route off boot action left for a first down inside three minutes of the half then a short pass to get inside the 20 for a third and 1 set up a field goal early in the second half. Later he got inside the five on the rollout from a hurry up early in fourth quarter for 11 yards inside the five. He’s a frequently used option, but very hit-and-miss in the red zone and when open in the deep-intermediate range, Ryan consistently misses him.
QB Jameis Winston
, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 27 - 227 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 15 - 1 - Winston completed 18 of 27 passes for 227 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT. He was only sacked once. He also had a rushing TD on a beautiful scramble in the 1st quarter. On the Atlanta 6, with 3 tight ends lined up split out to the right in a bunch and 1 WR split out wide left in a single back set, Winston took the snap from under center and rolled out right. The 3 tight ends cleared out and Winston turned the corner on a couple of hotly pursuing defensive linemen, diving into the end zone for the score. Winston was efficient with his passing, spreading the ball around and leaning on strong running from Doug Martin
and Charles Sims
Winston's interception was more Mike Evans
' fault than his own. Winston was leading the offense on a last minute drive in the 1st half when Evans let a curl route bounce off of his hands into the arms of CB Desmond Trufant. The pass was a little high, but Evans got both hands on it and the ball certainly looked catchable. Winston was intercepted again in the 4th quarter when another passed bounced off of Evans' hands, but CB Desmond Trufant was flagged for pass interference on the play for wrapping Evans up before the ball got to the receiver.
Winston had some real magic working late in the 4th quarter. On 3rd and 19, he took off on a scramble, and appeared to be tackled well short of the 1st down marker. However, the two defenders who brought him down fell underneath him, preventing his knee or elbows from touching the ground, so Winston rolled off the pile and took off for the 1st down, setting the Bucs up deep in Atlanta territory. Winston found Evans on the right sideline for the go-ahead touchdown a couple of plays later, giving the receiver just enough room to make a diving catch before sliding out of the end zone. Lavonte David intercepted the ball on the first play of Atlanta's next drive to seal the victory for the Bucs.
RB Doug Martin
, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 25 - 95 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - Martin, who surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week, ran the ball hard all day, picking up extra yards after contact and often converting 1st downs every 2 carries or so. Tampa's bell cow carried the ball for the Bucs' first 6 offensive plays of the game and totaled 25 carries for 95 yards on the day. Martin got the Bucs inside the Atlanta 10 yard line with a nice run and facemask penalty in 1st quarter, setting up Jameis Winston
's touchdown scramble. Martin drew a 2nd defensive facemask penalty on an 8 yard run in the 3rd quarter.
Martin leaped over the offensive line and into the end zone on his 1 yard touchdown plunge in the 3rd quarter.
The only real blemish on Martin's day was a lost fumble in the 3rd quarter while fighting hard for extra yardage. 1 of the 3 defenders dragging him to the ground managed to punch the ball loose, and Atlanta recovered just moments after the Tampa Bay defense had forced a 3-and-out. Martin was benched for a handful of plays after the fumble. Martin ripped off a 30+ yard run late in the 4th to take the ball down inside the Atlanta 5 yard line, but the play was called back because of an offensive holding penalty. Martin had 1 reception for 5 yards, lining up wide right in a 5WR empty backfield set in the 2nd quarter. He had 14 yard gain negated by penalty in 1st quarter.
RB Charles Sims
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 56 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets) - Sims saw limited carries but was effective, turning 7 totes into 56 yards. He secured 2 of 3 targets for 21 yards in the passing game. Caught his first target of the day for a gain of 18 on an out route out of the backfield, breaking a tackle and slipping up the sideline. Had another 5 yard reception negated by penalty in the 1st quarter. His 2nd reception of the day was a HB screen out of the backfield that picked up 3 yards.
Sims recorded his biggest run of the day during Tampa Bay's first 3rd quarter drive, taking the ball right up the middle for 25 yards behind great lead blocking by Luke Stocker
, who was lined up at the H-Back. The offensive line also got a solid push and Mike Evans
had a great downfield block on the play. Nearly scored during the same drive in the 3rd quarter on 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 12 yard line. Sims took the handoff up the middle and spun off two tacklers as he picked up the first down. He recovered his balance enough to plunge forward toward the goal line, but another defender brought him down just before the ball broke the plane. Doug Martin
took the handoff on the next play and "vultured" the 1 yard TD. Sims replaced Martin for half a series or so after Martin's lost fumble.
RB Bobby Rainey
- Rainey handled his usual kickoff and punt return duties, losing 1 kickoff return to Donteea Dye
in the 3rd quarter. He had a nice 28 yard punt return in the 3rd quarter to set the Bucs up in good field position for a field-goal scoring drive.
WR Mike Evans
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 61 - 1 (7 targets) - Evans had a typical day, letting one pass bounce off his hands for an interception in the 2nd quarter but ultimately catching the game-winning touchdown at the end of the 4th. He secured 5 of 7 targets for 61 yards and as score, drawing a couple of penalties and getting flagged once himself. Evans narrowly missed a big gain on his first target, a deep post in the 1st quarter. Winston threw a laser into tight coverage that Evans was able stretch and pull down on the run, but he dropped the ball while securing the catch. Had a nice gain of 14 on an out route during the first quarter for his first reception, lined up wide right. Evans recorded another gain of 10 on an out route in 2nd quarter. Evans had a beautiful toe-tapping grab on the right sideline as the for a gain of 17 on the Bucs' last drive of the 1st half. Evans also showed great body control on the sideline catch for the go-ahead touchdown at the end of the 4th quarter. Evans lined up on the left side of the line and took off across the end zone, where Winston found him with just enough space for a diving catch on the right sideline. Linebacker Paul Worrilow, tasked with covering Evans on the play, never had a chance.
Evans is somewhat to blame for Winston's interception at the end of the 1st half. Winston threw the ball a little high on a short curl route, but Evans was able to get both hands on hit. Unfortunately the ball careened out of his grasp and into the arms of CB Desmond Trufant for the pick. He had another interception bounce off his hands in the 4th quarter, but CB Trufant was flagged for pass interference on the play after grabbing Evans around the waste before the pass. Evans was called for an offensive pass interference penalty in the 3rd quarter on a play-action deep ball.
WR Vincent Jackson
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 87 - 0 (5 targets) - VJax worked outside and occasionally in the slot, converting 5 targets into 3 catches for 87 yards. Early in the 2nd quarter he lined up in 3WR set on left side of line, ran a deep curl route and shook his defender after the catch, then darted up the left sideline for 36 yards, his biggest gain of the day. Vjax had another gain of 30 in the 3rd quarter on a deep corner route, lined up slot right in a 4WR set on the reception.Jackson had another nice gain of 21 yards on a deep crossing route near the end of the 4th quarter. Vjax was targeted in the end zone in the 3rd quarter on a short out route, but coverage was tight and Winston couldn't thread the needle.
WR Adam Humphries
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Slot man Humphries continues to see plenty of offensive snaps, but saw his targets dwindle with ASJ and Vjax both back in the lineup and Cameron Brate
emerging as a short to intermediate receiving option. Humphries was targeted by Winston on a 2-point conversion attempt in the 3rd quarter, but the pass was overthrown in the back of the end zone. He caught 1 short pass for 6 yards on Tampa Bay's last drive of the 4th quarter.
WR Donteea Dye
- Dye was active after being inactive in week 11. He returned one kickoff for a minimal gain and did not see significant snaps on offense.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (6 targets) - ASJ was limited in his return and showed some rust, seeing the field for 21 of Tampa Bay's 71 offensive snaps. He secured 3 of his 6 targets for 31 yards. ASJ got to work early, catching his first target on the team's 2nd drive of the game for a gain of 15. He was overthrown by Winston on an open out route in 1st quarter, lined up inline. He again got open on a deep corner route on that was overthrown by Winston in the 2nd quarter. ASJ caught a short curl route for an 8 yard gain at the end of the 2nd quarter, and secured his final pass late in the 4th quarter on a short comeback route.
ASJ dropped what would have been a beautiful touchdown pass from Winston in the 3rd quarter. The ball just went right through his hands as he found the open zone on a skinny post route from the Atlanta 5 yard line. Winston put the pass on the money, but the TE couldn't hold on for the score.
TE Cameron Brate
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Brate, signed to the team back in September, has played his way to a roster spot now that starter Seferian-Jenkins is back. Brate has a touchdown in each of the last two games and is showing some real chemistry with Winston. Brandon Myers
was forced to inactivity as Luke Stocker
was kept as the third tight end. Expectedly, Brate lost some of his receiving workload with ASJ back in the lineup. He secured both his targets for 12 yards on short check-down routes.
TE Luke Stocker
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets) - Operated primarily as a blocker, both inline and in the backfield as a fullback and H-back. Had a great lead block to spring Charles Sims
for the biggest rushing play of the day in the 3rd quarter. Stocker secured his only target of the day, a short out route from the left inline TE position for a gain of 4 yards.
Green Bay Packers 27, Detroit Lions 23
What you need to know
Green Bay Packers
- What you need to know is, we have no idea what this offense is. The Packers have completely strayed from the formula which was successful the last few years. While they still attempt some slants and shorter timing passes, they don’t try enough of them and it has disrupted the effectiveness of the passing offense. We thought we could finally count on Eddie Lacy
, but as he missed curfew and was benched, we have no idea what his role will be at least for now. Aside from Aaron Rodgers
, there is little to trust here, even Richard Rodgers
at tight end who had a massive day. The Packers offense is a tremendous puzzle right now and dangerous to rely on.
- This was a heart-breaking game for Detroit. While they continued to struggle on the ground, they have embraced Stafford and utilized his strengths. The offensive line was acceptable in pass blocking situations, and aside from the strip sack on Stafford, gave the quarterback enough time on most passing plays. Stafford's deep balls were consistently 1-2 yards off target all day, but the 17 yard touchdown pass to Johnson was on-point. In the end the coaching/defense let this team down against a very good opponent.
QB Aaron Rodgers
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 36 - 273 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 27 - 1 - The Green Bay Packers continue to ride on Aaron Rodgers
’ back most weeks as the offense continues to drift away from what made it successful in previous years. The Packers are not utilizing the quick slants and screens that they used to slice up defenses with. Some of that is that the team misses the reliability of Jordy Nelson
mixed with the frequent drops by the receivers still there—even Randall Cobb
. The result is a lot more vertical passes which fall incomplete and a few that get picked off. Rodgers has only thrown five interceptions this year, so the latter isn’t a huge concern although Thursday’s was a bit ugly and indicative of what we’ve seen on his longer passes. Rodgers felt pressure and had to leave the pocket, which he did to extend the play. So far, so good, but then he failed to set his feet even though he had time. James Jones
was crossing the field and open, though there was a defender behind him and nearby in front of him. The ball sailed, and Jones was unable to haul it in even though he leaped up and extended fully for it. Jones got a hand on it so could he have made the catch, as the announcers suggested? Sure. But it was a poor throw and any catch Jones made was just bailing his quarterback out. Of course, for every bad or off-target throw from Rodgers, you get darts like his third quarter, 8-yard touchdown throw to Davante Adams
. On the play, Adams ran a skinny post with a tiny double move early on in the route. He didn’t shake the coverage and was actually bracketed by a pair of Lions. Rodgers threw a pass that was high, but not as much as it was on the interception. Neither defender had their head around to see it coming so Adams was the only one to reach up and make a play on it, which he did for the touchdown. Of course, the biggest play was the bomb at the end of the game. On the one hand, it was a tremendous throw of 61 yards (it nearly hit the crosswalk along the top of the dome) and showed amazing arm strength. Did it show accuracy? Well it fell where he wanted it to go, but it was basically a jump ball, like any Hail Mary. More than anything Richard Rodgers
did a phenomenal job of positioning himself in front of the rest of the players in the end zone, jumping and getting the ball. It was an impressive throw, but also an impressive play by Richard Rodgers
RB James Starks
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 15 - 0, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (7 targets) - Starks got the start because Eddie Lacy
missed curfew the night before and was demoted. He kicked things off with back-to-back 6-yard runs and shortly after had a 32-yard catch-and-run which was wiped out by facemask penalty by guard Josh Sitton. Starks would partially replicate it in the third quarter with a nice 25-yard gain off a short pass where he showed some good speed and power in breaking a tackle. Unfortunately, Starks was hampered by a huge deficit by halftime which limited his carries and a banged up offensive line which allowed the Lions to hit him behind the line of scrimmage and killed any gains he might have had. Starks also coughed up the ball on the three yard line in the third. On the carry, he ran off the right guard but when he was tackled, the ball came out and flew into the end zone. Luckily for Starks (and the Packers), Randall Cobb
jumped on it in the end zone and scored.
RB Eddie Lacy
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 4 - 0, Rec: 1 - -3 - 0 (1 targets) - After back-to-back 100 yard games, one would have expected Lacy to get used early and often against the Lions. However not only were the Lions to get into the backfield frequently, but Lacy saw no carries after the second quarter. Some of that was the huge deficit the Packers ended up in, but it turns out that Lacy missed curfew Wednesday night. The clear result was a demotion in the Lions game and less carries. As ineffective as the ground attack was, one wonders if this would have received more criticism had the Packers lost. Lacy struggled a bit in his few carries but those handful aren’t much of an indicator of how well he might have been with a full load.
RB John Crockett
, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 22 - 0 - An undrafted free agent who was just signed off the practice squad, Crockett looked good in his few carries. He got his first carry in the second half and while he was stuffed on his first run, he then showed some good burst to the hole, nice cuts and a nose for open space in his next three carries. Overall it was a nice debut, though it’s hard to say what role he might have once Eddie Lacy
has served his time for missing curfew prior to this game.
WR Randall Cobb
, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0, Rec: 4 - 29 - 0 (5 targets) - After struggling to get open for most of the day, Cobb’s biggest contribution was a heads up fumble recovery in the third quarter which resulted in a touchdown. It was a momentum changing play as it put Green Bay on the board and 27-3 run on the part of the Packers. On the play, James Starks
was running the football towards the end zone and fumbled the ball forward when he was tackled at the three yard line. The ball flew into the end zone and Cobb quickly jumped on it to secure the score. Otherwise, Cobb continued to get smothered by opposing corners and had issues creating separation as he has all season.
WR Davante Adams
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 21 - 1 (7 targets) - Adams’ biggest play was his 8-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. On the play he ran a short, skinny post but couldn’t shake his coverage despite a little shake move mid-route. While still bracketed by two receivers, Adams still saw a throw from Aaron Rodgers
which was high and where only he seemed to be able to get it. Adams didn’t drop it and hauled it in for the score. Other than that, Adams continued to be streaky showing both very good skills and drops or blunders that make one want to pull out their hair.
WR James Jones
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (3 targets) - Jones didn’t see much action on Thursday and was the target on Aaron Rodgers
’ interception. On the play, Jones got open, though there was a defender behind him and another nearby. Rodgers had to scramble out of the pocket and threw the ball without setting his feet, causing the pass to sail slightly. Jones jumped and extended his arms but while he got his hands on it, he couldn’t catch it and the ball was intercepted by the defender behind him.
WR Jared Abbrederis
, 16 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Add Abbrederis to the list of Packers receiver struggling to shake coverage. He had one catch on a 3rd and 18 which he caught two yards short of the sticks and was the target on a deep pass by Aaron Rodgers
with 16 seconds left in the game. The pass was a little short and Abbrederis was perfectly covered. Both Abbrederis and the defender banged into each other and the ball fell incomplete.
WR Jeff Janis
, 4 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Janis saw one target on a deep route but was not fast enough to run underneath the ball and it fell incomplete.
TE Richard Rodgers
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 146 - 1 (8 targets) - Richard Rodgers
seemed to be the only player in complete sync with Aaron Rodgers
on Thursday as he caught all eight of his targets. R. Rodgers caught the ball all over the field, on short routes when he needed to bail A. Rodgers out, on post and corner routes and picking up a key first down with four minutes left in the game where R. Rodgers caught the ball on a screen pass, danced along the sideline and bulled over a defender for the first. Of course, the biggest play for R. Rodgers was the touchdown to win the game with no time remaining. Down by two with no time on the clock (due to a penalty by the Lions), A.Rodgers scrambled around buying time while his receivers ran down the field. The quarterback heaved the ball into the air, throwing it 61 yards into the end zone. There were several players of both teams waiting for the ball to arrive, but R. Rodgers drifted a little shorter while tracking it. As it fell towards the group in the end zone, R. Rodgers moved backwards, putting himself in front of the group, and threw himself into the air. As he had blocked out the rest of the players in the area, R. Rodgers was in good position to make the play and he hauled the ball in for a walk-off touchdown to win the game.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 35 - 220 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 22 - 0 - While the final result of the game was a defeat, Matthew Stafford
delivered another positive week of production against a formidable Green Bay defense. Challenging the defense early, Stafford connected with 5 different receivers in the first quarter. His second pass of the day was to Calvin Johnson
on a short crossing route that ended in a gain of 20. Stafford's second throw in Johnson's direction was a risky toss, as the receiver was double covered and the ball was nearly intercepted. A slight tip by Johnson inhibited the defender from making a play. On the next series, Stafford looked Golden Tate
's direction often for 3 short passes that Tate was able to turn up field for additional yardage. On Stafford's first touchdown throw of the game, confusion on defense allowed Eric Ebron
to scoot uncovered for an easy 3 yard touchdown catch. Following the touchdown, an interception on the first play for the Packers' offense put Detroit on the 17 yard line. Stafford wasted no time and targeted Johnson on a corner route in single coverage. The ball was placed high and deep for Johnson's hands only. Johnson tip-toed the sideline and brought the ball in for Stafford's second touchdown of the day. The second quarter was mostly controlled by Green Bay and did not see a score from either team. The Packers did amp up their blitz attack, however, and got to Stafford twice in the quarter. Later, Tate was targeted twice - a 25 yard pass over his head that he was unable to bring down, and a crossing route where he was bumped/blocked by a defender on a crossing route. The result was a ball left unattended and open for interception. Fortunately a nearby defender was unable to make the catch.
Unable to find the end zone in the second half, Stafford continued to move the ball and test the deep ball, but was unable to connect as Detroit shifted to a run-heavy approach with the lead. Opening up the second half, Stafford found Bell on an 18 yard play action pass that Detroit has used with great success the last few weeks. A quick pass to Tate for 13 yards was followed by a 37 yard bomb to Johnson, who was open and ahead of his defender, but Stafford overthrew him by a couple of yards. Stafford again targeted Johnson a few throws later for what would have been a 25 yard touchdown. The ball was again off-target and Johnson was well covered allowing a defender to break up the catch. Sans Lance Moore
, Stafford looked to Corey Fuller
and TJ Jones in the second half. Both seeing some light action to help move the chains. A game-shifting play occurred late in the 3rd quarter with Detroit beginning a drive deep in their own territory. Julius Peppers had his speed and go-go gadget arms on full display as he whipped around a dazed left tackle and caught Stafford's arm as he cocked back to throw. The ball was fumbled and Green Bay recovered. The final quarter of the game was run focused, but two notable passes stand out. Looking Johnson's direction again, Stafford dropped a 33 yard bomb about one yard too far and just out of reach for the receiver. In the closing minutes, keeping a sleepy drive alive, Stafford found TJ Jones on a post route for a 29 yard gain, the receiver's third catch of his career.
RB Ameer Abdullah
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 67 - 0 (1 targets) - Compared to Bell, Ameer Abdullah
saw the lion's share of the carries with a total of 13 on the day, managing 67 rushing yards with only three runs of no yardage or a loss of yardage. Abdullah flashes much more agility and ability to get back to and through the line when the blocking breaks down. On a run to the right in the first quarter, Abdullah hit his hole and bounced inside for a 36 yard gain. As from that hefty run and another 12 yard scamper in the first quarter, Abdullah found little success on the ground for the remainder of the game. On a play in the second quarter where he lined up as a receiver, Abdullah ran a route into the flat and was open, but an off-throw by Stafford floated just out of reach.
RB Joique Bell
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (2 targets) - Out of nine runs from Joique Bell
, a startling six of them went for no gain or a loss of yards. His three runs for a gain yielded 17 yards. The big play of the day for Bell was in the third quarter when he was targeted on a play action pass for 18 yards. This is a play the Lions have run with great success over the last few weeks, but Bell's overall production out of the backfield was less than appealing in this game.
RB Theo Riddick
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 5 - 27 - 0 (6 targets) - A big performer throughout the season, Theo Riddick
struggled to find room to work against the Packer defense. He was targeted almost exclusively on passing plays and found little room to break open for a big play. Riddick's most productive catch of the day was on a 9 yard screen pass. A late toss in his direction to keep a drive alive was thrown low and uncatchable, capping off the day for the back.
WR Golden Tate
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 8 - 63 - 0 (10 targets) - Golden Tate
delivered a blue-collar effort on Thursday night, grinding and chopping away at what would ultimately be a productive day for the receiver without any highlight moments. While Tate makes his money on short catches with yardage after the catch, he was targeted on one deep pass 25 yards down the field. Unfortunately the pass sailed over his head, which seemed to be a theme of the day for deep balls. In the fourth quarter, with Detroit in Green Bay territory and facing 4th down with 2 yards to go, Detroit opted to steer clear of the deep field goal attempt and instead go for the first down. On a trips right formation, Tate shot inside for a quick slant gain of 4 yards and a first down.
WR Calvin Johnson
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 44 - 1 (8 targets) - Only able to score once, Calvin Johnson
was heavily targeted deep and, in theory, could have finished the day with three touchdowns. On Detroit's first drive, after pulling in a short catch on a crossing route for 20 yard, Johnson was targeted on a risky throw between two defenders that Johnson got a hand on, but the pass was well defended. After the Green Bay turnover, Stafford didn't waste time when he found Johnson in the end zone on a methodical 17 yard corner route. Great toss, better catch. After a quiet 2nd quarter, Stafford again targeted Johnson twice in the third on passes of 37 and 25 yards. Both passes were unfortunately off-target and incomplete. Finally, in the last quarter of the game, Stafford sent a 33 yard package in the star receiver's direction that was unfortunately a yard ahead of him and uncatchable.
WR T.J. Jones
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (3 targets) - Coming into the game with only one career catch, it was TJ Jones that saw more offensive snaps that veteran Corey Fuller
. He made a strong argument for more playing time going forward as well. Jones' first catch came in the third quarter on a pass behind the line of scrimmage that Jones confidently turned up field for an 8 yard gain. Later in the fourth quarter, Jones ran a crisp post route between defenders on a nice catch-and-run for 29 yards on a crucial offensive series.
WR Corey Fuller
, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (2 targets) - Working more in the absence of Lance Moore
, Corey Fuller
saw two targets, pulling in one of them for a 15 yard catch on an out route.
TE Eric Ebron
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 1 (2 targets) - Tight end Eric Ebron
continued to shed the dropsies bug, catching both targets sent his direction and capping off a second straight week of positive play. Early in the first quarter, Stafford found Ebron wide open in the end zone for an easy 3 yard score. Ebron wasn't targeted again until the fourth quarter when he managed a 6 yard gain on a crossing route.
New York Jets 23, New York Giants 20
What you need to know
New York Jets
- The New York Jets delivered their biggest win under Todd Bowles, rallying from a 10-point, 4th quarter deficit to sneak away with a 23-20 overtime victory. By virtue of their win, the Jets snap a five-game losing streak to the Giants and cement their status as a Wildcard contender in the AFC. The Jets were resilient on both sides on the ball while taking advantage of some questionable decisions made by Tom Coughlin. The Jets’ offense was stagnant for nearly three quarters, but Coughlin’s decision to ‘go-for-it’ on 4th-and-Goal from the Jets’ 2-yard line swung momentum in the Jets’ favor. The Giants were holding a 10-point lead, so it was a very questionable decision by Coughlin. Regardless, Coughlin’s decision gave the Jets an opening---and Fitzpatrick and Marshall ran through it. Fitzpatrick and Marshall connected for a 9-yard scoring strike with just 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. This scoring play knotted the score at 20. In overtime, the Jets pushed the ball downfield, but settled for a field goal by new kicker, Randy Bullock
. Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown
, missed his game-tying kick in overtime, handing the Jets the victory. Overall, it was a very emotional game and tempers ran high at times, but the duo of Fitzpatrick-Marshall, not Manning-Beckham, proved to be the winning combo.
New York Giants
- · Odell Beckham jr. was the standout player for the Giants again but should have had a bigger scoreline arguably. Beckham jr. had another touchdown knocked loose by a defender in the endzone and needs to work on securing these types of passes sooner.
· The Giants running back situation gets even more confusing as Jennings’ workload was decreased while Darkwa’s was increased. Darkwa could be the main back going forward but should not be started until a few consistent outings are observed.
· Will Tye
was the Giants second leading receiver and outperforms veteran receivers like Harris and Randle. He has taken advantage of his opportunity and could be played as a low end number 2 tight end if required.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 36 - 50 - 390 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 22 - 0 - Ryan Fitzpatrick
delivered one of the best performances by a New York Jet quarterback in recent memory; Fitzpatrick’s 390 passing yards were the most since Vinny Testaverde
threw for 481 yards in 2000. Fitzpatrick proved that he could lead a comeback effort, erasing a 10-point, 4th quarter deficit to force overtime. While Fitzpatrick’s final stat line looks impressive, the Jets’ offense was fairly stagnant for two and a half quarters. Fitzpatrick, however, caught fire late in the third quarter, and into overtime, completing 19 of his 26 attempts for nearly 200 yards and a touchdown. Fitzpatrick’s late game surge was a direct result of peppering Brandon Marshall
and Eric Decker
with targets. Decker, in particular, became unstoppable when he lined up in the slot. At one point in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick and Decker connected three straight times on post routes for a total gain of 50 yards. Marshall, who was jawing and fighting with Giants’ defenders throughout the game, asserted his will and bullied defenders at the catch point. Fitzpatrick and Marshall were locked in, hooking up for 12 completions in 13 pass attempts. With just 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Fitzpatrick and Marshall connected for a 9-yard touchdown strike. Fitzpatrick threw the target high, allowing Marshall, and his 6’5” frame, to ‘go-get’ the ball. In overtime, Fitzpatrick paced the Jets’ offense down the field, but ultimately settled for a field goal. Fitzpatrick had Decker open for a short, game winning touchdown, but was unable to connect. Finally, credit Bilal Powell
for his pass protection and passing game chops. The Giants’ defensive line was able to generate pressure throughout the game, but Powell’s pass blocking ability gave Fitzpatrick extra time to find Marshall and Decker. Fitzpatrick and Powell were also able to hook-up for a 25-yard touchdown on a screen in the middle of the field. Finally, one of the most overlooked aspects of Fitzpatrick’s performance—no turnovers. Fitzpatrick’s ball protection is elite and that alone keeps his team in games.
RB Chris Ivory
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 47 - 0, Rec: 5 - 22 - 0 (5 targets) - Overall, game flow minimalized Chris Ivory
’s impact. Ivory started the game hot, ripping off 37 yards on his first four carries, but became a non-factor as game flow swung in the Giants’ favor. In addition, Ivory lost a fumble when he was hit by Jason Pierre-Paul. Due to game flow, Bilal Powell
played more snaps than he usually does and made an impact in the passing game. It’s clear that the coaching staff prefers Powell in passing down (and comeback) situations.
RB Bilal Powell
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 17 - 0, Rec: 8 - 91 - 1 (13 targets) - While Fitzpatrick, Marshall, and Decker stole the headlines, Bilal Powell
was the unsung hero of this victory. The Giants were able to generate a pass rush throughout the game, so Powell was asked to step in and chip defenders while also serve as Fitzpatrick’s safety valve. Powell, not Ivory, was Fitzpatrick’s check down option, sneaking out into the flat and making plays when given opportunities. During the second quarter, a screen in the middle of the field was set-up for Powell—and he turned it into a 25-yard touchdown scamper. Credit the offense line for a few key blocks, but Powell’s open field moves helped propel him into the end zone. While his pass catching ability is a nice bonus, Powell’s passing blocking ability cannot be undermined—it was one of the contributing factor’s to the Jets’ victory.
RB Stevan Ridley
, 5 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0 - Another week, another forgettable performance by Ridley. The offense is making an effort to get him involved, but Ridley lacks burst and goes down on first contact.
WR Brandon Marshall
, 76 offensive snaps, Rec: 12 - 131 - 1 (13 targets) - Simply put, Brandon Marshall
dominated Prince Amukamara, and the entire Giants’ secondary for the duration of the game. Marshall started his afternoon with a highlight reel, shoe-string catch for a 21-yard gain. Marshall was relatively quiet for the remainder of the first half, but ended the half with a shoving match with Giants’ defensive tackle, Cullen Jenkins. Tempers ran high at the team headed into the locker, but Marshall re-emerged from halftime to dominate the second half and into overtime. In the second half, and in overtime, Marshall caught eight passes for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Marshall’s touchdown occurred with 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter—and tied the game at 20. Marshall used his massive 6’5” frame to highpoint and secure the catch. After the game, Marshall compared himself and Fitzpatrick’s connection to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. There’s no doubt that both combinations complemented each other well.
WR Eric Decker
, 78 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 101 - 0 (12 targets) - A common theme has emerged when watching Decker’s performances; he disappears during the first half, but tends to dominate after halftime. After (another) quiet first half, Decker caught fire during the second half, collecting 80 of his 101 yards in the second half and overtime. After halftime, the Jets opted to move Decker into the slots---and the Giants did not have an answer for it. At one point during the third quarter, Fitzpatrick completed three straight passes to Decker on post routes for first downs. The Giants rotated corners into the slot, but were unable to slow down Decker. While Marshall had the critical touchdown in the fourth quarter, Decker made a high-leverage grab in overtime to step-up the Jets’ field goal attempt. Decker defeated press coverage at the line of scrimmage, ran a tight post route and hauled in a 17-yard pass.
WR Quincy Enunwa
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (4 targets) - Quincy Enunwa
earned another start in three wide receiver sets and made plays when given opportunities. Late in the first quarter, Enunwa and Fitzpatrick hooked up for a 28-yard gain on go-route down the right sideline to convert a 3rd-and-13 play. Enunwa made an acrobatic catch to secure the gain.
TE Kellen Davis
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (3 targets) - Kellen Davis
had a minimal impact as a pass catcher. In the third quarter, Davis ran a post route and secured an 8-yard gain. In overtime, Davis was targeted in the end zone, but Robert Ayers deflected the pass at the line of scrimmage.
QB Eli Manning
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 34 - 297 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Eli Manning
and the Giants offense struggled for most of this time and relied too heavily upon splash plays. Manning failed to convert in the redzone on multiple occasions and this had a big effect on the game. Manning’s pass protection was poor again on Sunday and he took too many sacks in key situations which killed off many Giants drives. The running game continues to be a “token” running game that is ineffective to say the least and mixed in sparingly due to how unproductive it is. Manning tried to get Randle on a bomb route down the field early but there was no separation from the defender to allow a catch. Manning found Nicks on a crossing route early in the game and was very unfortunate not to score the touchdown as Nicks was tackled mere inches shy of the white line and the Giants had to settle for a field goal ultimately. The best play the offense produced under Manning was a 72 yard catch and run hookup with Beckham jr. Manning located Beckham in man coverage over the middle and got him the ball quickly which allowed Beckham to outrun the defense for the score. Manning was able to connect down the field on a number of occasions to tight end Tye, throwing accurate balls behind defenders to allow yards after the catch. Manning should have had a touchdown to Beckham jr. on a deep post route as he threw a nice ball which Beckham got his hands on initially but the pass was ruled incomplete after a defender broke it up. Manning also found wide receiver White down the field on a fade route with a nicely located ball but this was called back due to holding by the offensive line. Manning was almost intercepted on a tipped pass on outside to Will Tye
but the defender lost track of the pass as it fell incomplete. Manning threw a silly interception on 4th and 2 in the redzone, forcing a pass to a covered receiver in complete desperation. Manning also overthrew Beckham jr. on the final drive, though Beckham also looked to misjudge the ball over his shoulder. An uneven performance for Manning with pedestrian fantasy numbers, he is a risky start at this point in the season despite each game being very important for the Giants season.
RB Orleans Darkwa
, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 23 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - Orleans Darkwa
got the most carries on the ground for the Giants on Sunday which is slightly unusual for this offense. Darkwa looks to have taken some carries from Jennings, at least this week, as they gave him a bigger workload. Darkwa got mostly simple dive carries up the middle but struggled to find much rushing room against a stingy Jet defense. The Giants offensive line was not able to create many holes up front and Darkwa had to fight hard for every yard. Darkwa is arguably the most talented back for New York and deserves a chance to perform in this offense as no other back can seem to seize the role of number one back. Darkwa met a wall of defenders on most of his carries but we have seen some splash plays from the young defender in previous games. He also caught a screen pass for 10 yards, showing good hands and athleticism for the first down. He has good vision and is patient as a runner. Time will tell if Darkwa becomes the lead back in this offense but it is unlikely he’ll ever become fantasy relevant this season and deserves to remain on the waiver wire.
RB Shane Vereen
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (3 targets) - Shane Vereen
managed only 6 touches on Sunday and was not an impact player for the Giants. Vereen was given very limited work on the ground and got only inside carries from the gun which he struggled to convert. Vereen met defenders quickly for the most part and the Giants failed to block well for him. Vereen got a few catches over the middle for modest gains but never looked dangerous. He was given too few touches and not much can be expected from fantasy players with only 6 touches. The Giants running back situation is very evenly spread and no one player can ever be relied upon in terms of fantasy.
WR Odell Beckham Jr
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 149 - 1 (11 targets) - Odell Beckham jr. was once again the only standout offensive player for the Giants. Beckham jr.’s day started off with a bang as he snagged a ball with one hand over the middle on a post route, making it look very easy. Beckham jr. scored later in the first half on a slant route inside over the middle in one on one man coverage. Beckham jr. got the ball quickly after his break and simply outran the Jets secondary as be exploded down the field untouched. Beckham jr. should have had a second touchdown on a post route with a nicely placed ball from Manning but the pass was jarred loose by a defender. He has struggled with holding onto the ball several times this year in the endzone despite making other highly impressive plays also. Beckham jr. got his hands on several other plays down the field and to the outside to keep the Giants alive in this game. He took several big hits from defenders but jumped straight back up, showing toughness despite his relatively small frame. Beckham jr. was open towards the end of the game on a corner route but seemed to misjudge the slightly overthrown ball over his shoulder as it fell incomplete. He was later flagged for delay of game for kicking the ball which shows some immaturity but Giants fans/fantasy owners will forgive him overall.
WR Rueben Randle
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (6 targets) - Randle was largely invisible on Sunday as Manning rarely targeted him. Randle’s first attempt was a deep ball that fell incomplete as he had no separation from the defensive back. Randle caught a quick out on the sideline for a short gain but was unable to do anything after the catch. Randle’s final catch was an impressive diving catch deep outside in the redzone. If the ball was placed more accurately towards Randles body, he may have been able to score. Randle was invisible for the rest of the game and Manning looked to Beckham jr. to get things going. Randle should not be owned or started in fantasy and this looks unlikely to change in this inconsistent offense. The pass protection was also poor at times which prevented Randle from getting many deep attempts.
WR Dwayne Harris
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Dwayne Harris
made a big play on special teams but contributed very little in the passing game. Harris’ only catch came on a quick out that he fought for extra yards and stayed in bounds despite time running off the clock towards the end of the second quarter. Harris was targeted on a corner route after this but he had no separation and the pass was poorly located. Harris was again targeted on a corner route but the defender fouled him and was flagged for defensive pass interference to prevent a possible touchdown. Harris made no other significant contributions on Sunday as the Giants struggled in pass protection and lead an unbalanced offense.
TE Will Tye
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 70 - 0 (4 targets) - Will Tye
continues to impress at tight end in this offense and it looks like the Giants coaches have noticed his chemistry with Eli Manning
. Though Tye only snagged 3 balls, 2 of them were big plays for first downs that kept drives alive. Tye’s first catch was a quick ball outside where he was taken down shy of the first down. Tye then got his hands on a deep seam route, showing great hands and thanks to a nice ball from Manning behind the defense. Tye then made another similar catch on a deep ball that was placed high and just out of the defenders reach. Tye has shown excellent hands and concentration in his young career at this point and is arguably as productive as starter Larry Donnell
has been in recent games this season. Tye is a low end number 2 tight end while Donnell is on the sidelines, though he is stuck in an inconsistent offense that is focused on getting the ball to Beckham jr.
Seattle Seahawks 38, Minnesota Vikings 7
What you need to know
- The Seattle Seahawks are playing like a playoff team, now capturing their third straight win over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 13. Russell Wilson
has been dominant and threw for three touchdowns and also ran one in. Thomas Rawls
has continued to be stellar stepping up for an injured Marshawn Lynch
with 123 total yards and a rushing touchdown. Doug Baldwin
is out to prove last week was not a fluke and added another two touchdowns and 94 yards to his ridiculous totals from the past two games. Rookie Tyler Lockett
set career highs in both catches and yards with seven for 90 and Jermaine Kearse
was held without a catch.
- There is a fundamental difference in how some players see the offense compared to others. While Adrian Peterson
felt he needed the ball more, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
felt differently about how things went. “We try to be a balanced offense, but each week the game turns out differently,” Bridgewater told the media, per the Vikings PR release and game notes. “We knew Seattle was going to prepare to defend the run, so they did a good job of that. We just have to be able to make adjustments and continue to play on the move.” The Vikings are focusing all their energy on getting Peterson the ball as it is, but when they have to get away from it, they struggle and Peterson is clearly unhappy. There are two issues at work here—one, that Peterson needs to come to grips that the offense is not just him anymore and two, that if this offense is to work, Norv Turner and Mike Zimmer have to use a shorter, quicker passing offense. Until then, Peterson is going to be the only consistent producer in the offense and as we saw on Sunday, even that is no sure thing against a great defense.
QB Russell Wilson
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 27 - 274 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 9 - 51 - 1 - Russell Wilson
had his third straight big game for the Seahawks in Week 13 against the Vikings. He went 21-of-27 passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns. He also had nine rush attempts for 51 yards and score on the ground as well. Wilson has been taking advantage of a few favorable matchups as of late and faced a Vikings team this week missing three of hits top players on defense. However, Wilson deserves a lot of credit, he has trusted his line and hung in the pocket well as he makes his reads. His accuracy has been unparalleled and has been his usual self-being elusive and avoiding sacks. Wilson has now passed for 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions on this three game winning streak and is on pace for a career best in both passing and rushing yards. His first touchdown came on the ground late in the first half on third down where he called his own number out of the shotgun. He made two nice cuts in the open field to make it passed a Vikings defender and made it in the end zone from 8 yards out. Seattle would get the ball back in time for another touchdown drive in the first half. With 1:08 remaining, in an empty backfield Wilson showed his accuracy as he threw an absolute dart in-between two Viking defenders for a 20-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin
. In the third quarter the Seahawks faked the handoff to Fred Jackson
but then threw a screen pass to the right side for the easy touchdown on 3rd and goal, Wilson’s second passing touchdown of the game. The game was very much in hand at this point and with the Seahawks ahead 28-0 Wilson had a 53-yard touchdown run called back by a holding penalty. No matter, he would just drop in a 53-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin
on the very next play.
RB Thomas Rawls
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 101 - 1, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (3 targets) - Rookie running back, Thomas Rawls
, has continued to be a revelation for this offense stepping up for an injured Marshawn Lynch
. After fumbling on the first drive of the game Rawls rebounded for another big game against the Vikings in Week 13. He totaled 101 yards on 19 rush attempts and also had a rushing touchdown. He was involved in the passing game catching all three of his targets for 22 yards through the air. His touchdown was impressive and came with 3:45 left in the first quarter on first and goal where he made a nice cut right behind the line and broke two tackles to spin and barrel his way into the end zone. The un-drafted free agent from Central Michigan’s power and quickness has been on full displace and will continue to be a center point of this Seahawks offense going forward.
RB Fred Jackson
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 1 (2 targets) - Fred Jackson
continues to be largely irrelevant in the Seattle offense but he did have a touchdown reception in Week 13 against the Vikings. Off a play fake Russell Wilson
threw him a screen pass on 3rd and goal where he walked in for the 8-yard score. He would finish the day with 18 total yards on three touches.
WR Tyler Lockett
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 7 - 90 - 0 (7 targets) - Rookie Tyler Lockett
put a nice game together in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings where he hauled in seven-of-seven targets for 90 yards. That is the most catches in a game Lockett has had in his career and also set a new career high in yards. He is averaging over four catches per game and nearly 60 yards in his past three games but has not been a consistent part of the offense this year, regardless of his apparent skill as a playmaker.
WR Doug Baldwin
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 94 - 2 (7 targets) - With the loss of Jimmy Graham
the Seattle Seahawks offense needed someone to step up. Doug Baldwin
has been the answer totaling five touchdowns and 239 yards in the last two games. In Week 13 against the Vikings he would contribute a 5-94-2 stat line and the chemistry between him and Russell Wilson
is blossoming at the right time. His first touchdown came on a great throw that Wilson put in a tight window from 20-yards out through the middle. His second touchdown came on a 53-yard bomb late in the third quarter a play after a long rushing touchdown from Wilson is taken off the board due to a holding penalty. Baldwin is on pace for career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns this season and should have no problem taking advantage of an unimpressive Ravens secondary in Week 14.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 44 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Jermaine Kearse
had zero catches in Seattle’s Week 13 win over Minnesota and only registered one target. He has shown flashes of big play ability at times this year but with the emergence of both Doug Baldwin
and Tyler Lockett
in the passing game, quarterback Russell Wilson
does not seem to be looking his way very often.
TE Luke Willson
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 36 - 0 (3 targets) - Luke Wilson would get the start at tight end in Week 13 with Jimmy Graham
done for the year. He had two catches for 36 yards on three targets in this game but did not register a catch in the second half. His two catches were big plays to keep the offense moving and clearly has a nice rapport with Russell Wilson
but volume will continue to be an issue down the stretch.
QB Teddy Bridgewater
, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 28 - 118 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Things did not go well for Teddy Bridgewater
and the passing offense of the Minnesota Vikings. Much is made of how bad the offensive line is and ESPN’s Ben Goessling tweeted that ESPN Stats & Info reported the Seahawks blitzed only 6.1 percent of the time but pressured him 39.4 percent of the time, meaning they could rush four and score hits on the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, Bridgewater is being pressured on 47.4 percent of his dropbacks this season and lead the league in that category. The Vikings also lead the league in 7-step drops. This is a terrible combination —you can’t have that and succeed through the air or on the ground. What’s baffling is offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s refusal to try and use quick, short passes to mitigate the pressure on his young quarterback. Instead, Turner’s solution appears to be to run Adrian Peterson
into the ground which is fine when it works, which it didn’t against a stout Seattle run defense. With no run game and little help from the offensive line, how does Bridgewater complete passes? The solution, one would think, would be to take a page out of the Green Bay Packers playbook and use a lot of short passes, quick slants and moving screens. The Vikings do not do this though, continuing to force Bridgewater into 7-step drops which required time he didn’t have to set up and putting him under center, when he is more comfortable and effective from the pistol or shotgun. Right now, this offense is geared around Adrian Peterson
, which is fine when it works but when it doesn’t, the offense is not set for success. When Peterson is stymied, it becomes about big plays. “Our system that we’re running here, it allows us to make big plays,” Bridgewater said after the game per the Vikings PR release and game notes. But teams know that this is a big play offense, so they try to take away those deep threats down the field and make us complete the ball underneath the coverage and things like that.” You can’t be a big play, deep threat team when you have no offensive line and the receivers struggle to gain separation. That leaves a situation for Bridgewater where he has to make lemonade out of bricks. Right now he is hamstrung by an offense he has to adapt to, rather than having it adapt to him, which means it is tough to know how good he really is. The focus on Peterson and the deep threat bleeds over into something even as simple as formation. Peterson cannot take a handoff from the shotgun so if Peterson is on the field, Bridgewater is under center. When Bridgewater is in shotgun, Jerrick McKinnon was often on the field, which tipped off the Seahawks that the play was a pass. Until the team starts using short, quick passes to stymie defenses who have little to prevent them from blowing through the offensive line, Bridgewater is going to struggle and his development will stagnate.
RB Adrian Peterson
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 18 - 0, Rec: 4 - 6 - 0 (4 targets) - The Seattle Seahawks came ready to shut Adrian Peterson
down, and they did just that, hitting him at or behind the line of scrimmage constantly and swarming him to bring him down and limit his ability to gain yards. Peterson was more effective receiving as he could get the ball in space and gain some extra yards. For the most part though, he was stymied. He also spent much of the game on the sidelines as the Vikings fell behind early and had to throw the ball. After the game, Peterson was asked if it was just a bad day. “I felt like we were out of sync,” he responded per the Vikings PR release and game notes. “Definitely give credit to Seattle; they did a good job of coming in and forcing us to do things differently. They were just the better team. They were more aggressive, more physical, and they outcoached us as well.” Peterson, not comfortable out of the pistol or shotgun, was often on the sidelines when those formations were called for. That didn’t sit well with Peterson. “I felt like, as one of the leaders on the team, and seeing how the running game has been all season, you definitely want to be able to go out and establish the run and then let things feed off of that. I finished with eight carries, and it’s tough. I feel like we need to sit back and evaluate some things again and get back to where we need to be.”
RB Jerick McKinnon
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 18 - 0, Rec: 3 - 6 - 0 (6 targets) - McKinnon saw a few more snaps on Sunday as the Vikings fell behind and needed some pass-blocking help and a hand in disguising formations. Adrian Peterson
struggles out of the pistol or shotgun, so McKinnon was in so that Bridgewater could be handing off. However many of those plays still resulted in passes, which tipped off the Seahawks. McKinnon looked fine in a few carries and on his receptions but like most of the Vikings, he made no headway against a tough Seattle defense.
RB Matt Asiata
, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0 (1 targets) - Asiata was brought into the game often as an extra blocker, for all the good it did the Vikings. He made a few nice catches, but for the most part it was all he could do to keep Teddy Bridgewater
or himself upright.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -6 - 0, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (6 targets) - While they normally have great chemistry, Diggs and Teddy Bridgewater
were not on the same page Sunday. Most of what Diggs did was run longer routes and Bridgewater overthrew him twice, once resulting in an interception. They were more successful on shorter and intermediate rkoutes, something the team should do more of going forward.
WR Jarius Wright
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (2 targets) - Wright had a couple of nice catches along the sideline, but was otherwise unable to break free in time for Teddy Bridgwater to find him and deliver the ball.
WR Mike Wallace
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 43 - 0 (3 targets) - Mike Wallace
is a guy who stretches the field, which is hard to do when the quarterback is getting creamed behind a bad offensive line. Wallace did make a nice catch on a crossing pattern which he then turned upfield and took for about 20 extra yards. He also made a nice catch along the sideline where he was wide open, but fell down afterwards, preventing him from adding any yards.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (4 targets) - As was the case with the entire offense, the lack of solid offensive line play along with tremendous coverage by Seattle kept Kyle Rudolph
quiet. He made a couple of nice catches, but for the most part the plays were so slow in developing that he was often swamped by defenders before he could add more value yards.
TE Rhett Ellison
, 26 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Ellison was targeted once on a pass which was deflected. He was on the field for 26 offensive snaps though (half of them), mostly as a blocker.
Carolina Panthers 41, New Orleans Saints 38
What you need to know
- Ted Ginn
had two forgettable drops that could have resulted in touchdowns. The receiver hauled in two touchdown catches and consistently beat cornerback Brandon Browner, drawing penalties for defensive holding.
The Panthers leaned on Jonathan Stewart
in the red zone, but despite succeeding in moving the ball with him between the twenties, they could not penetrate a stubborn Saints front in the money area. However, the emphasis on getting him the ball was there.
continues to be Cam Newton
's most trusted target in clutch situations. A terrific fourth down catch kept this game alive for Carolina in the late stages, and Olsen consistently found room to roam against an overmatched Saints back seven.
looked to have sustained a couple of injuries (ankle, head) but did not allow them to deter him. Despite the usual issues with accuracy that has become a staple of his game, he fought and continued to fire bullets, reading the field well.
caught a touchdown pass on a quick slant in the red zone, but it was the impressive release at the line of scrimmage that is worth pointing out. He absolutely left the cornerback for dead with his quickness, a good sign moving forward for the improving rookie.
New Orleans Saints
- The Saints offense took advantage of some poor Panthers defense, but they have to be credited for executing some well-designed plays that allowed their playmakers to get into space. This performance bodes well for the fantasy playoffs.
was kept away from Josh Norman
for the majority of the game as the Saints motioned him all over the formation and used him in the slot. His touchdown came on a busted coverage by Carolina and he also drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty.
showed his guile and patience as a runner even though rushing yards were tough to come by in an air show by both teams.
' mastery of this offense is quite something to watch; he consistently checked into the best plays and used his eyes to fool defenders, particularly on his touchdown pass to Brandon Coleman
The Saints defense continues to struggle and showed once again what a poor, undisciplined unit they are. Penalties hurt them and they made several mistakes in coverage. If the pattern continues, expect to see many more game scripts like this one.
QB Cam Newton
, 81 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 41 - 331 - 5 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 10 - 49 - 0 - Cam Newton
had to show a lot of guts and character to will his team to a victory against a Saints team that would not go away. It took five touchdown passes from the MVP candidate, who fought on despite sustaining what looked like a couple of bad injuries. On one play, he was bent back awkwardly and looked to have twisted his ankle; it seemed not to bother him the rest of the game. On another - what looked like a routine touchdown run - he was surprised to be hit on the top of the helmet by a Saints defender. Afforded good pass protection all day, Newton's day started off poorly with a bad decision to throw a pass to Ted Ginn
in tight coverage. The cornerback had excellent position and the pass was simply not on; it was a simple play for the defender to make. The play seemed to affect him, as he missed Greg Olsen
and Ginn on deep shots that looked like easy completions. A 30-yard run on a naked bootleg on fourth-and-short seemed to restore his confidence, as he quickly followed it up with a touchdown toss to Mike Tolbert
in the flat. The Saints sent an all-out blitz, but Newton kept his cool and took the easy completion for the score. Newton showed excellent pocket presence against a heavy rush to step away and find tight end Ed Dickson
down the sideline. On several occasions Newton's receivers let him down, most notably on a deep shot to Ginn, who simply dropped the ball. However, the speedster made up for his error with a pair of touchdown grabs. The first came on a go route in the red zone. The Saints blew a coverage assignment and let Ginn run free, allowing Newton to fizz a pass into him. The second came on a deep crossing pattern. Once again, the Saints coverage left a lot to be desired, but Newton's pass was such that only Ginn could have made the play. Newton continued to fight and notched a touchdown pass on a nicely lofted option pitch to Jonathan Stewart
. After faking an inside give to Tolbert, Newton moved out left. The Saints defenders honed in on the quarterback, so it was a simple toss out to his back for the score. Newton's fourth touchdown pass went to rookie Devin Funchess
, who got an excellent release and ran a quick slant; the pass was fired in with venom into a tiny window. Newton will have been disappointed with his continued spotty accuracy as he missed a simple would-be touchdown pass on a post route to Corey Brown
. Shaking off the cobwebs, Newton led a terrific go-ahead touchdown drive, capped by a strike in the back of the end zone to Jerricho Cotchery
. It was an excellent read by Newton, who had to go through his progressions before finding his old reliable. The final drive included another game-saving play from Newton, who had to escape pressure and roll left to find Greg Olsen
on fourth down to keep the game alive. It was an imperfect day from Newton as a passer, but ultimately his play was the difference.
RB Jonathan Stewart
, 63 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 82 - 1, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (3 targets) - In a typically no-nonsense outing, Jonathan Stewart
managed to keep the Panthers offense on schedule despite some early hiccups. That error came in the form of a fumble which was recovered by the Saints and returned for a touchdown. It appeared to be a normal Stewart run, but before he could get down to the ground the ball was knocked out from under his arm. With every player stopping, Stephone Anthony picked the ball up and went straight to the end zone. The mistake - and the physicality being shown by a fired-up Saints front seven - seemed to energize Stewart, who only grew stronger as the game went on. He consistently broke tackles and showed terrific Matrix-esque moves on a couple of dump-off passes into the flat. Thriving behind a good offensive line performance, Stewart showed his patience and speed on several touches, often making something out of nothing. He capped off his day with a touchdown on a clever option pitch from Cam Newton
, adjusting well to the lofted ball. Stewart had more red zone opportunities, but a stout Saints defense seemed intent on taking away the Panthers' rushing attack inside the 20.
RB Mike Tolbert
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 33 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 1 (3 targets) - A bigger factor than would normally be the case, Mike Tolbert
found success against a Saints defense high on effort but short on execution. The hulking back caught a short touchdown pass against a Saints jailbreak blitz, sneaking into the left flat and catching a quick Cam Newton
flip pass for the easy walk-in score. Later, he broke off a bruising 20+ yard carry, showing good patience behind his blockers and bursting into the secondary.
RB Fozzy Whittaker
, 4 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0 - Fozzy Whittaker
showed off his trademark speed on a quick toss right, but did not make any more contributions as the Panthers leaned heavily on Jonathan Stewart
WR Ted Ginn
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 80 - 2 (10 targets) - The much-maligned Ted Ginn
Jr's hands could have made him the goat of this game had the Panthers not pulled out a victory. The speedster consistently took the top off the defense, giving Brandon Browner headaches all afternoon with his quick breaks and ability to stretch the field. The day started off poorly, with a target towards Ginn resulting in an interception. The cornerback on the play, Delvin Breaux, had excellent tight coverage and the pass was simply not on, but Ginn failed to get separation. Ginn and his quarterback had difficulty connecting early, with overthrows and drops the main culprit. Ginn hauled in his first of two touchdown receptions on a go route in the red zone, with the Saints dropping a coverage to make it an easy pitch and catch. His second touchdown came on a deep crossing pattern; at the release, he blew past the cornerback and presented a huge window for Cam Newton
to throw into. Despite his pair of scores, he could have had another but for a horrendous drop. Newton laid the football out perfectly in front of him, only for Ginn to let the ball volley off his hands a couple of times before it fell harmlessly to the turf. A subsequent deep target could have also resulted in a touchdown; the ball hit Ginn's hands, but admittedly it would have been a tougher catch to make.
WR Jerricho Cotchery
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 1 (3 targets) - In the clutch moments of the game, Cam Newton
looked to his reliable pair of hands in Jerricho Cotchery
. The veteran produced a tough run-after-catch play in the red zone to set up his subsequent touchdown grab for the go-ahead score. He ran an excellent route on the play, committing the defensive back outside with a nod to the corner before bringing it back to the post. The pass was perfect and allowed Cotchery to attack it, secure it and go down.
WR Devin Funchess
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 13 - 1 (3 targets) - The rookie had little impact overall on the game as the passing attack was generally focused elsewhere against a porous Saints defense. As has become his custom, Devin Funchess
dropped a simple pass after running a hitch route, the ball caroming off his breastplate. Funchess redeemed himself with a terrific seal block on a toss, wiping out a defender. Later, he and Cam Newton
connected on a beautiful touchdown pass, ripped into a tiny window in the red zone on a quick slant. Funchess' excellent release set up the bullet throw as he bamboozled Saints cornerback Brandon Browner.
TE Greg Olsen
, 81 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 129 - 0 (12 targets) - Choosing to eschew the strategy employed by many defenses, the Saints opted not to closely mark the Panthers' most dangerous weapon in the passing attack. Olsen was given free releases time and again, allowing him to find the soft spots in the coverage and present a big target for Cam Newton
. Olsen got into a rhythm early with a couple of quick connections with his quarterback on simple, timing throws. After getting open on the sideline, however, Newton left the ball too high for Olsen to both secure the catch and get his feet in bounds. An uncharacteristic fumble from Olsen on a routine sideline grab - a ball expertly popped out by a lurking Saints defender - resulted in a turnover. Undeterred, Olsen soldiered on and became a huge factor in the latter stages. First, he reeled in a beautiful lofted pass from Newton on a corner route, tapping both feet in what many considered a questionable play. Upon replay review it was determined the catch was a good one. Olsen ripped the seam in the fourth quarter and hauled in a 32-yard bullet from Newton, boxing out the linebacker in Tampa-2 ëpipe' coverage. Olsen produced a magnificent grab on fourth down to keep the game alive for the Panthers on their final drive, reaching low and cradling the football before it hit the artificial turf.
QB Drew Brees
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 42 - 282 - 3 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 12 - 0 - Drew Brees
produced a masterful performance against a stingy Panthers defense, relying on his intelligence and a number of very creative plays to get the job done. The Saints went up-tempo early, trying to get the Panthers thinking rather than playing. They had a lot of success early as Brees fired off quick passes and leaned on the ground game. At the line of scrimmage, he was a master, drawing two offsides penalties and consistently changing the play into a favourable one. He coped well with pressure, although the offensive line afforded him excellent protection throughout. Only when the Panthers sent extra rushers did they manage to get home. The veteran's first touchdown pass of the day came on a seam pass to Benjamin Watson. The Panthers appeared to drop a coverage, allowing Watson to streak untouched into open space in the end zone for Brees to find him. After the hot start, Brees was nearly intercepted on a quick slant to Brandon Coleman
, with the cornerback jumping in front. However, he was unable to make the play. The Saints heated up as the game went on and continued to throw looks at the Panthers that made them uncomfortable. Yet another well-crafted play led to a 54-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks
. Motioning to the right from a bunch set, Cooks ran a deep post and seemed to confuse the Panthers' safeties, who allowed him to roam free. It was a straightforward pass for Brees off play action, but he had to avoid a rusher to step up and fire it downfield. Brees' third touchdown toss came on a nicely lofted pass to Coleman, but it was the quarterback's eyes at the line of scrimmage that fooled the would-be coverage player. Brees pumped to the flat receiver to hold the cornerback, before firing to Coleman on a go route down the sideline. A late interception was the only black spot in an otherwise clean and efficient game; Brees, under pressure, appeared to throw the pass blind, allowing the free safety to come over the top and pick it off.
RB Mark Ingram
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 56 - 1, Rec: 4 - 23 - 0 (6 targets) - Despite not getting quite the workload he could have thrived on, Mark Ingram
showed good vision and patience to find the holes in the Panthers defense. Getting good blocking up front for the most part, Ingram showed a beautifully subtle cut on an early 14-yard carry. He often encountered resistance at the line of scrimmage, but continued to battle away. The ball was knocked out his grasp on one carry, but the Saints managed to recover it. Ingram was involved in the passing attack as well, reeling in a couple of short dump-offs from Brees. Ingram showed his guile as a runner on his touchdown run, making two tacklers miss with shifty moves. He also punched in a two-point conversion, getting behind left guard and powering forward for the extras.
RB C.J. Spiller
, 5 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (2 targets) - Mainly sidelined in favor of Mark Ingram
, C.J. Spiller
was targeted once in the flat, only for the pass to be incomplete and off target. The Saints tried to get the ball in his hands on a tunnel screen; they did, but it was instantly snuffed out with an excellent tackle.
WR Brandin Cooks
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 104 - 1 (10 targets) - The quick-as-a-cat receiver showed his worth with a strong display against the Panthers. The Saints smartly deployed him in the slot for the most part, where he could avoid facing stud cornerback Josh Norman
and exploit better matchups. He did this with some authority, getting in a rhythm early with a smoke screen catch and a shallow crosser. Cooks hauled in a beautiful touchdown pass from his quarterback on a well-crafted play. Motioning to the right of the formation from a bunch set, Cooks ran a deep post pattern that seemed to confuse the Panthers' coverage. Cooks was allowed to run free down the seam, and Brees duly found him for the score. Later, the speedster drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty on yet another deep shot. Cooks and Brees showed what terrific chemistry they had with plenty of short, timing completions.
WR Brandon Coleman
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 73 - 1 (7 targets) - Growing as a threat in this passing attack, Brandon Coleman
made a nice contribution in a losing effort for the Saints. He made a terrific adjustment to a high and wide pass from Drew Brees
early on, snagging it in the left flat, making a tackler miss and taking it up the field for 31 yards. It was a shifty move and a smart play that ignited the offense. Brees was unable to connect with Coleman on a subsequent deep target, the ball just too far in front for him to reel in. His quarterback continued to go back his direction, however, and he was rewarded with a well-designed touchdown. Coleman ran a deep pattern and Brees, fooling cornerback Josh Norman
with a pump fake to a swing route, saw that his receiver was wide open. It was a straightforward catch for Coleman, but the design fooled the Panthers.
WR Marques Colston
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 0 (3 targets) - The crafty veteran had an early drop on a shallow crossing route but came up with a pretty catch over his shoulder to redeem himself. Lined up in the slot, Colston ran towards the left sideline for a short fade pattern; Brees lofted the pass up above the rim and allowed his receiver to make a play on it, which he did.
TE Ben Watson
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 38 - 1 (8 targets) - Without doing anything spectacular, Benjamin Watson provided a nice target for Drew Brees
throughout. A 16-yard catch on a shallow crossing route was nullified by a holding penalty, but Watson was able to get into the end zone on a well-designed play. Lined up in a bunch formation, he was able to run free into the end zone after the other two receivers confused the free safety with their route combination. The Panthers appeared to bust the coverage, allowing Watson to catch an easy pass from Brees.
Indianapolis Colts 10, Pittsburgh Steelers 45
What you need to know
- Sunday marked the reminder that Matt Hasselbeck
is a 40-year-old backup quarterback, not the franchise (or fantasy) savior that some knee-jerk reactions had portrayed him as after starting 4-0. With Hasselbeck struggling to make basic plays on Sunday, the offense tanked, and the fantasy results show it. The Colts can move the ball with Hasselbeck at quarterback, but large stretches of ineptitude should be expected, even against vulnerable opponents. The biggest victims seem to be T.Y. Hilton
and Donte Moncrief
whose usage and production has been yo-yo like with Hasselbeck at quarterback. The Colts will see another plus matchup for the passing game against the Jaguars on Sunday, but whether or not that results in production is a complete unknown.
- The Steelers dominated in all three phases of the game with 522 total yards. Ben Roethlisberger
had 4 touchdown passes while DeAngelo Williams
grinded out 134 rushing yards on the ground. Antonio Brown
and Martavis Bryant
both added over 100 receiving yards. Brown had a great performance with 3 total touchdowns.
QB Matt Hasselbeck
, 44 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 26 - 169 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0 - Against a vulnerable Pittsburgh pass defense, Matt Hasselbeck
reverted back to the 40-year-old backup that he is, rather than the passable play we saw against Tamp Bay last week. Not only did Hasselbeck’s inconsistent accuracy and inability to make plays outside the pocket hurt him, but he failed to make simple, basic quarterback processes. Whether it was getting delay-of-game penalties, missing wide open underneath receivers on 3rd-and-short or tripping his own running back, Hasselbeck had a nightmare of a day. On the bright side, this simplifies things for Andrew Luck
owners, ensuring that he will return as soon as possible, potentially for the last two or three weeks of the season. Hasselbeck does get a better matchup next week in Jacksonville, who he had 282 yards and a touchdown against in Week 4.
RB Frank Gore
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 45 - 0, Rec: 3 - 49 - 1 (5 targets) - While his average was below four yards per carry for the fifth straight game, it was the highest of those four games, and Gore was able to total 94 yards and his first receiving touchdown of the year. Thanks to a 34-yard screen that saw Gore rumble through multiple tackles, Gore actually was the Colts’ leading receiver on the day. With Ahmad Bradshaw
done for the season, it looks like Gore may see a slight uptick in his receiving share, as Boom Herron didn’t see significant snaps until after the Colts conceded the game in the fourth quarter. Facing a stout Jacksonville front in Week 14, Gore’s efficiency likely won’t be rising anytime soon, but his consistent usage should continue. Gore has had at least 15 touches in nine of 11 games this season, and at least 80 all-purpose yards in seven, including a 17-carry, five-catch game for 87 total yards against the Jaguars in Week 4.
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (5 targets) - After a refreshingly stout game against Tampa Bay last week, Hilton was supposed to continue his strong play against the inconsistent Steelers secondary, but was unable to with Matt Hasselbeck
struggling to complete basic plays. It was Hilton’s second-fewest amount of targets this season, and third-fewest receptions and yards. Hilton did miss out on one catchable throw down the middle of the field on Sunday, but it was a diving effort under duress that would have required incredible effort. Hilton will have another plus matchup against the Jaguars on Sunday, but until Luck comes back healthy, his floor is very low.
WR Andre Johnson
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 44 - 0 (3 targets) - Leading all Colts receivers in yards on Sunday, Andre Johnson
turned back the clock for two plays, a powerful 11-yard gain on a screen pass and an impressive double move on the outside for a 28-yard gain. The latter should have been a touchdown, as he was wide open up the left sideline, but a poor throw from Hasselbeck forced Johnson to stop and wait for the ball. Outside of those two plays, however, Johnson was invisible, as is his M.O. this season.
WR Griff Whalen
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (6 targets) - Despite leading the team’s receivers in targets, Whalen could only produce nine yards on Sunday, a reminder of how limited he is as a receiver. Of course, Matt Hasselbeck
’s complete meltdown didn’t help, but Whalen’s weak attempt at one contested catch (which would have resulted in a first down) directly led to a tipped ball and Hasselbeck’s second interception. Despite going up against a vulnerable secondary that should have resulted in a high amount of three and four-receiver sets, Whalen saw the field for just 21 snaps on Sunday.
WR Donte Moncrief
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 33 - 0 (1 targets) - After a dominating game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, Donte Moncrief
was a no-show against the Steelers on Sunday, failing to receive a single target until quarterback Charlie White
hurst came in for relief duty in the fourth quarter. He made the most of that target by showing his speed and after-the-catch ability, taking a shallow cross across the field and down the sideline, but it was too little, too late. It would be nice to blame Moncrief’s struggles on Matt Hasselbeck
, whose abysmal game submarined the fantasy chances of the entire Colts offense, but Moncrief has been incredibly inconsistent all season. Sunday marked Moncrief’s eighth game this season with less than 50 receiving yards, although his single target was a season low and just his third game this year with less than five targets.
TE Coby Fleener
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (8 targets) - The Colts’ top receiving tight end had his usual four receptions on Sunday, but turned them into an embarrassingly low 20 yards, struggling after the catch as he has all season. The Colts gave him multiple opportunities to gain first downs, but he was tackled short of the sticks (by the first defender) on each one, until his final catch in the fourth quarter, when the game was all but decided. Fleener is ranked 61st of 68 tight ends in yards after the catch per reception, according to Pro Football Focus, which is problematic considering he’s usually targeted within five to eight yards of the line of scrimmage.
TE Dwayne Allen
, 23 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - The Colts’ oddly light usage of Dwayne Allen
continued on Sunday, with his sixth consecutive game of two or fewer receptions. Allen has been one of the biggest disappointments in Indianapolis this year, although it can largely be attributed to scheme and quarterback issues. He has just 23 targets on the season for 13 catches.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 39 - 364 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 13 - 0 - 24 completions on 39 passing attempts for 364 yards and 4 touchdowns. He had a QBR rating of 95.9 and a QB passer rating of 126.4. Early 1st quarter, Roethlisberger led a drive with passes of 5,5, and 20 yards to Jesse James
, 21 yards to Darrius Heyward-Bey
, and 16 yards to Antionio Brown. The drive stalled in the red zone as the Steelers settled for a field goal. Mid 2nd quarter, Roethlisberger led an 80-yard touchdown drive with passes of 7 and 26 yards to Martavis Bryant
and 3, 26, and 7 yards to Brown. Roethlisberger completed a 7 yard touchdown pass to Brown to finish the drive. On the pass, the timing was perfect with Brown as he turned back from his defender to complete the reception. Roethlisberger completed the 2-point conversion with a pass to Will Johnson
in the back of the end-zone. Late 2nd quarter, Roethlisberger led a drive with passes of 18, 27, and 5 yards to Markus Wheaton
and passes of 10 and 15 yards to DeAngelo Williams
. Roethlisberger finished the drive with a 5 yard touchdown pass to Wheaton. On the play, Roethlisberger timed the pass well as Wheaton was running to the right corner of the end-zone. The Steelers led 21-10 at halftime and Roethlisberger had 219 yards and 2 touchdowns. Early 3rd quarter, Roethlisberger threw a 68 yard touchdown pass to Bryant, who was running down the left sideline. Bryant did the rest out-running the defense on Roethlisberger's 3rd touchdown of the game. Late 3rd quarter, Roethlisberger threw a well-timed deep pass to Brown for a 48 yard gain. Later in the drive, Roethlisberger finished the drive with a short 5 yard touchdown pass to Brown. On the pass, the timing was spot-on with Brown to cap a 4 touchdown night for Roethlisberger.
RB DeAngelo Williams
, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 26 - 134 - 0, Rec: 5 - 31 - 0 (6 targets) - DeAngelo Williams
received a heavy workload with 26 rushes for 134 yards, a 5.2 avg/per rush. He added 5 receptions on 6 targets for 31 yards. During the Steelers first offensive series, Williams patiently followed his fullback, Roosevelt Nix, as he ran up the middle and quickly cut-back to the left sideline for a 21 yard gain. A couple of plays later, Williams ran off the left tackle and was stripped of the ball resulting in a fumble. Late 2nd quarter, Williams caught a screen pass for a 10 yard reception. A few plays later, Williams caught another screen pass for a 15 yard reception. Williams number was called to grind the clock with the running game during the second half. Early 3rd quarter, Williams ran up the middle for a 7 yard gain. A few plays later, Williams took the hand-off and bounced to the left sideline for a 16 yard gain. Williams followed that up on the next play with a rush up the middle for a 13 yard gain. A couple of plays later, Williams ran off the left tackle for a 13 yard gain. Mid 4th quarter, Williams ran up the middle and then cut-back to the left sideline for a 18 yard gain.
WR Antonio Brown
, 73 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 118 - 2 (11 targets) - Antonio Brown
was a game-changer on offense and special teams. Brown dominated his matchup with Colts cornerback, Vontae Davis. Brown had 8 receptions on 11 targets for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brown added a punt return for a touchdown late in the game. Mid 1st quarter, Brown ran a short curl-route for a 16 yard reception after he broke a couple of tackles. Mid 2nd quarter, Brown ran a comeback-route for 3 yards. A few plays later, Brown ran an out-route for a 26 yard reception. Later in the drive on 3rd and 2, Brown ran a short route and turned around as soon as he entered the end-zone. The pass was waiting for Brown has he turned for the 7 yard touchdown reception. Late 3rd quarter, Brown ran a go-route for a 48 yard reception. On the play, Brown got behind double coverage to come down with the reception. Later in the drive, Brown ran a comeback-route for a 5 yard touchdown reception. On the play, Brown boxed out Vontae Davis for the touchdown. Late 4th quarter, Brown topped off his evening with a 71 yard punt return for a touchdown.
WR Martavis Bryant
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 114 - 1 (8 targets) - Martavis Bryant
made an impact with another long touchdown reception. Bryant had 4 receptions on 8 targets for 114 yards and 1 touchdown. Mid 2nd quarter, Bryant ran a comeback-route for a 7 yard reception. A few plays later, Bryant ran a go-route down the left sideline for a 26 yard reception. Early 3rd quarter, Bryant got behind the Colts defense while running a sideline-route for a 68 yard touchdown reception. As soon as Bryant caught the pass, his speed was no match for the Colts secondary. Early 4th quarter, Bryant ran an out-route for a 13 yard reception.
WR Markus Wheaton
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 50 - 1 (6 targets) - Markus Wheaton
had 3 receptions on 6 targets for 50 yards and 1 touchdown. Late 2nd quarter, Wheaton ran a comeback-route for a 18 yard reception. A few plays later, Wheaton ran a crossing-route over the middle for a 27 yard reception. A few plays later, Wheaton ran an out-route to the right corner of the end-zone for a 5 yard touchdown reception.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
, 12 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 21 - 0 (2 targets) - Darrius Heyward-Bey
had 1 reception on 2 targets for 21 yards. Early in the 1st quarter, Heyward-Bey ran an out-route for a 21 yard reception.
TE Jesse James
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (5 targets) - Jesse James
started his first game with the Steelers and was involved in the passing game early on. James had 3 receptions on 5 targets for 30 yards. Early in the 1st quarter, James ran a curl-route for a 5 yard reception. A couple of plays later, James ran another curl-route for a 5 yard reception. James followed that up on the next play running a crossing-route for a 20 yard reception.
Kansas City Chiefs 34, Oakland Raiders 20
What you need to know
Kansas City Chiefs
- The Chiefs relied on their recent successful formula of strong defense and just enough offense to dispatch the Raiders for their sixth consecutive victory. Raiders QB Derek Carr
threw three costly fourth quarter interceptions that lead to Chiefs touchdowns and quickly changed a 20-14 lead for the Raiders into a 34-20 victory for the Chiefs. Alex Smith
completed his ninth consecutive game without an interception and ran his streak of passes thrown without a pick to 305, good enough for third all-time behind Tom Brady
's streak of 358 in 2010-11 and Bernie Kosar
's streak of 305 in 1990-91. He found the end zone once on the ground with a three-yard score and hooked up twice in the fourth quarter with Jeremy Maclin
for touchdowns. Maclin again led the team in targets with 10 of Smith's attempts directed his way. Charcandrick West
and Spencer Ware
formed a committee approach in the backfield, with nine and seven carries respectively. Neither was very productive as the team combined for 89 total rushing yards, but Ware did find pay dirt in the third quarter off of a 10-yard run. As the winning streak has evolved, the Chiefs have become very selective with offensive responsibilities by relying on the core of Maclin, Travis Kelce
, West and Ware with a few targets for Albert Wilson
on the side. It seems to be working and the Chiefs will look to keep it rolling next Sunday when they welcome the 3-9 San Diego Chargers to Arrowhead Stadium.
- The Raiders offense was solid through three quarters with Derek Carr
spreading the ball around (eleven different Raiders had receptions) but three interceptions in the fourth quarter were the difference in the game. Amari Cooper
seems to be hitting the rookie wall just a bit and suffered another crucial third-down drop that forced a punt. Michael Crabtree
led the team in targets and found the end zone on a great throw from Carr, but also had a couple drops. Latavius Murray
was solid, but generally had little room to run.
QB Alex Smith
, 51 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 22 - 162 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 23 - 1 - If the NFL ever decides to create a weekly award for ěEfficient, Yet Unspectacular,î we can expect Smith to be in the running most weeks. Smith completed his ninth consecutive game without throwing an interception and extended his streak of passes thrown without a pick to 305. It was a quiet first half for the Chiefs as their lone points would come from a three-yard touchdown run by Smith in the first quarter, but the team would kick it up a notch after halftime and put 27 points on the board. A nine-play, 80-yard drive in the third quarter was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown run by Spencer Ware
, while Smith would hook up with his top target for two scores in the fourth quarter. Smith connected with Maclin for scores of one and 13 yards, both of which were the result of short drives that saw the Chiefs capitalize on Raiders turnovers. That makes three touchdowns over the past two games for the Smith to Maclin combo, who have hooked up 18 times for 255 yards over that stretch. Only five Chiefs were targeted by Smith on Sunday as the team has become very selective with offensive responsibilities over the course of its six-game winning streak.
RB Charcandrick West
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 35 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - West returned from injury and found himself in a committee situation with backfield-mate Spencer Ware
, who performed very well in the absence of West. Neither back was terribly productive this week against a pretty solid Raiders run defense as the duo combined for only 61 yards and a score. West carried the ball for nine of the team's 22 total rushing attempts, picking up 35 yards in the process and chipping in two catches on three targets for nine yards. West's longest run of the day came in the third quarter as he found the hole up the middle for an 18-yard gain on a drive that would culminate with a 10-yard touchdown run from Ware. The committee approach is likely to continue in Kansas City, which tempers expectations for both West and Ware as fantasy prospects but is likely the right move for the team as it continues to push for a playoff berth.
RB Spencer Ware
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 26 - 1, Rec: 2 - -1 - 0 (2 targets) - Ware's strong play over the last two weeks has earned him a seat at the table ń albeit in a committee situation with the returning Charcandrick West
. Neither back was terribly effective against a strong Raiders run defense as the duo would only combine for 61 yards, but Ware did manage to find the end zone in the third quarter as the result of a 10-yard run, which also qualified as his longest gain of the day. In total, Ware carried the ball on seven of the team's 22 rushing attempts and caught both of his targets from Alex Smith
for a total of 25 combined yards. The committee approach is likely to continue in Kansas City, which is likely the right move for the team as it continues to push for a playoff berth, but lessens the prospects of Ware or West from a fantasy perspective.
WR Jeremy Maclin
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 95 - 2 (10 targets) - After a bit of a lull in the middle of the season, the duo of Alex Smith
and Jeremy Maclin
have become quite productive over the past two games. Over that span, the duo has connected 18 times for 255 yards and three scores, two of which came on Sunday against the Raiders. Both touchdowns were the direct result of Raiders turnovers leading to outstanding field position in the fourth quarter. Maclin would cap off both two-play drives with a trip to the end zone, first from two-yards out, followed by a 13-yard score to push the Chiefs lead to 26-20. Maclin's day was devoid of long gains as the Chiefs followed their familiar formula of short, efficient passes complemented by the running game and strong defensive play. He was targeted a team-high 10 times, hauling in nine of them for 95 yards. Maclin is firmly established as the team's top weapon in the passing attack and will continue to see a healthy amount of targets as the season winds down.
WR Albert Wilson
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (3 targets) - Wilson was targeted only three times on Sunday - hauling in one of them for a 17-yard gain - and carried the ball once for a five-yard gain. Although his involvement was limited, Wilson is the only Chief outside of the core of Jeremy Maclin
, Travis Kelce
and the backfield committee of Charcandrick West
and Spencer Ware
to have any offensive involvement on Sunday. The Chiefs seem perfectly content to rely on their main cogs, leaving Wilson to pick up the occasional scraps.
TE Travis Kelce
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 42 - 0 (3 targets) - Kelce had a pretty quiet Week 13 as he only caught two passes ń his lowest number of receptions in a game this season ń for 42 yards, but considering he was only targeted three times, Kelce's owners will have to grin and bear it. Jeremy Maclin
dominated the targets in the passing game as he was targeted a team-high 10 times, which is a pretty big difference from the typical target allocation, including last week's 11 for Maclin versus seven for Kelce. Kelce's biggest contribution would come late in the game after the Chiefs had scored their final touchdown of the day. Leading 32-20 off of an interception return for a touchdown, the Chiefs would opt to go for two and use Kelce's services to successfully execute. Alex Smith
threw a high pass that Kelce would have to leap over two defenders to haul in to push the score to 34-20. Kelce remains the second option in the passing game behind Maclin, but could be poised for some nice outings down the stretch if opposing team's opt to focus on containing the productive Maclin.
QB Derek Carr
, 79 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 48 - 283 - 2 TD / 3 INT - Carr played well through the first three quarters before a disastrous fourth quarter. He completed passes to eleven different receivers and the Raiders move the ball relatively well despite a mediocre rushing attack and a couple drops by receivers. Carr’s first touchdown throw was as pretty as you will see. With seconds ticking down before halftime, Carr rifled a bullet to Michael Crabtree
that traveled nearly 40-yards through the air on a rope and hit Crabtree right in the numbers for a 25-yard touchdown to put the Raiders up 14-7 going into halftime. After the Chiefs answered, Carr led another long scoring drive that he capped off with a short touchdown pass to Lee Smith
off of a slick play-action fake. Leading 20-14 in the fourth quarter, the wheels came off for the Raiders offense with Carr throwing three interceptions (each of which led to Chiefs touchdowns). The first interception came on a second down with the Raiders on the edge of field goal range. Carr held the ball far too long and then tried to dump it off to an underneath receiver but was hit as he attempted to throw and the ball popped right into the arms of a Chiefs linebacker who returned it more than 60-yards before getting dragged down just shy of the end zone. After the Chiefs tied the game, Carr had the offense moving again but threw another interception in Chiefs territory attempting to get it to Michael Crabtree
on a deep crossing route. Crabtree fell down midway through the route and the ball sailed directly to a Chiefs defender who returned it deep into Raiders territory to setup the go-ahead touchdown. Trailing by six with under four minutes to play, Carr threw a “pick six” that essentially ended the game. He tried to fit it into a tight window to Amari Cooper
across the middle and the ball got tipped into the arms of the deep safety.
RB Latavius Murray
, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 86 - 1, Rec: 4 - 11 - 0 (6 targets) - Murray showed off his speed as he broke off a long run on the first drive down the right sideline. He finished off the drive with a short third-down touchdown run that was initially ruled down at the one-yard line, but was overturned after a Raiders challenge. Murray was hit low at around the two-yard line but was able to dive forward and extend the ball across the goal line a fraction of a second before his knees hit. On the drive, Olawale received the first goal-to-go carry, but Murray got carries on second and third down from inside the five. Murray ran Murray got another goal-to-go carry later in the game from the seven-yard line but was stopped for a short gain. Despite some struggles in short-yardage situations, Murray remains the primary goal line back for the Raiders.
RB Jamize Olawale
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets) - Olawale had one red-zone carry and continues to run as the second back. He also serves is serving as the fullback in the goal line formation and is a threat to receive the ball near the end zone.
WR Amari Cooper
, 77 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -7 - 0, Rec: 4 - 69 - 0 (8 targets) - Cooper had a relatively quiet day. He drew a pass interference call against the defense that gave the Raiders an early first down. He had another inexcusable drop that forced a Raiders punt and sapped the team of momentum. It was third-and-short and Cooper was wide open on a quick slant. The ball hit him right in the hands, between the numbers and he let it bounce right off of him. The Chiefs continued a recent trend of teams playing tighter to the line against the Raiders to take away the receiver screens that were so successful earlier in the season. The Raiders tried just one screen to Cooper (which counted as a run because it was thrown slightly backwards) and it went for a loss of seven yards. The play had been a staple of the Raiders offense, but has not worked over the past month as defenses have adjusted to take it away. Cooper had a couple nice gains on routes across the middle of the field, but otherwise was held in check by the Chiefs defense.
WR Michael Crabtree
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 1 (11 targets) - Crabtree was again the top receiver for the Raiders. He had one bad drop but Carr came back to him on next play for a seven-yard gain. Crabtree scored a long touchdown seconds before halftime. The Raiders ran three in-breaking vertical routes with the two inside receivers clearing the coverage underneath of Crabtree to open a small window for Carr. The pass had a lot of heat on it, but Crabtree was able to pull it in and hold on through contact in the front of the end zone. Crabtree had a second end zone target later in the game on a sideline fade route. He was able to get behind coverage come down with the ball, but wasn’t able to get either foot down in bounds.
WR Seth Roberts
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 51 - 0 (5 targets) - Roberts had another solid game and is doing well from the slot for the Raiders. He has separated from the pack as the #3 wide receiver and could continue to see his role increase if Amari Cooper
continues to struggle with drops.
TE Clive Walford
, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 53 - 0 (5 targets) - Walford has been doing a nice job as an underneath target, displaying sure hands and above average run-after-the-catch ability. He caught a short pass along the right sideline and plowed through a would-be tackler for a nice gain to pick up a first down.
TE Lee Smith
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 1 (1 targets) - The big blocking tight end caught his first touchdown of the season. He came open on a short out route off of play action with Crabtree running interference to grab the six-yard touchdown pass.
Dallas Cowboys 19, Washington Redskins 16
What you need to know
- Dallas remains in the playoff picture despite four fumbles and bumbling through late-game situations for the road divisional win against Washington. Matt Cassel
continues to limit the offense and the line play has been a far cry from their elite level of a year ago. Terrance Williams
made big plays early and Dez Bryant
impacted the game late. Darren McFadden
missed roughly a quarter of action with a third quarter concussion (and contributed two fumbles) as Robert Turbin
replaced him. Jason Witten
ran his touchdown drought to 11 straight games covering 52 receptions and counting.
- As usual consistency is the key for the Washington Redskins. They haven't won 2 games in a row all year and if they want to win the NFC East they will need to put together a couple of good games to keep that hope alive. Washington has to get back to running the ball effectively if they want the offense to produce. They also have to stay on schedule within drives as they are often shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and negative plays. This has been the case much of the season so that may be asking a lot.
QB Matt Cassel
, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 29 - 222 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -3 - 0 - In a game where neither team did much to overtly win the game, Matt Cassel
made enough quality throws late to get the season-saving victory in Washington. Cassel avoided the turnover through air, while Dallas coughed up four fumbles, laboring to make intermediate and deep throws throughout the game. Cassel airmailed his first two substantial throws, one down the seam and another on a slant to Dez Bryant
. Cassel also missed Terrance Williams
down the sideline with another overthrown pass. Two significant throws were highlights of Cassel’s performance. The first showed clear chemistry between Cassel and Williams on a back shoulder completion in the third quarter for a sizeable gain. Late in the game Cassel finally connected with Dez Bryant
, a rarity this week, on a deep sideline pass. While the limitations of Cassel to outright win a game on his shoulders are clear, Washington and Kirk Cousins
did little to claim victory on the other side.
RB Darren McFadden
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 53 - 1, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Despite the optimistic matchup against Washington, McFadden generally struggled this week. Two lost fumbles, including on the opening carry marred his performance. McFadden rarely had a defined hole to burst through in the first half. On his most productive sequence of touches, three straight carries to open the second half for 21 yards, McFadden ended the string absorbing a forceful hit and fumbling on the play. He left the field for concussion protocol. In the fourth quarter McFadden returned, promptly being stuffed on two red zone carries. Late in the game McFadden had another productive pair of carries. He got the edge for nine yards in the red zone, then followed it up by plowing in for a rare short-yardage touchdown since Matt Cassel
has been the starting quarterback.
RB Robert Turbin
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 12 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Turbin saw extended playing time against Washington in the second half when Darren McFadden
missed close to a quarter passing the concussion protocol. It is worth noting McFadden did not see a drop in playing time despite multiple fumbles in the game. Turbin had an up-and-down performance, getting stuffed on a screen pass and third-and-one situation. Turbin also fought for yards-after-contact on multiple carries where little running room was present. Turbin is the clear primary backup to McFadden, but without a strong passing game threat with Matt Cassel
, Turbin’s upside if called to the lead role is fading.
WR Dez Bryant
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 62 - 0 (7 targets) - Bryant was vocal about his lack of quality targets early against Washington. Matt Cassel
overthrew Bryant on a remedial slant route and later Cassel ignored Bryant completely when he was wide open for a likely slant route touchdown. Bryant barked on the sideline following the drive as Dallas’ offense sputtered for more than three full quarters. Beyond the box score, Bryant did draw two defensive pass interference penalties, both on third downs and one deep down the field. Late in the game Bryant stepped up and finally saw accurate throws from Cassel. Bryant made a double move deep down the sideline for a highlight reel diving catch inside the five-yard-line. On the game-winning drive Bryant caught slant and comeback route receptions, leading to Dallas’ long field goal. Including the pass interference penalties, Bryant’s impact was close to 100 yards for the game and with Cassel being more accurate early on would have added a touchdown and two more receptions to his tally. The late-game connection deep between Bryant and Cassel was a positive sign for the coming weeks. This week marked the second time all season Bryant eclipsed 50 yards in a game.
WR Terrance Williams
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 63 - 0 (3 targets) - Williams saw only three targets from Matt Cassel
against Washington, all deep shots. The pair showed good chemistry on a back shoulder connection. Williams had separation down the sideline and might have scored on a well-thrown pass; however, Cassel underthrew him, limiting the play to a long gain. Williams excels against favorable coverage, but has struggled to see consistent targets with Dallas’ tight-to-the-vest current offensive approach.
TE Jason Witten
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (9 targets) - Witten saw a season-high nine targets – more than 30% of Dallas team total – and failed to sniff the end zone for the eleventh straight game. Witten’s receptions were all or none in result as he broke a tackle for a first down late in the game and found running room on another reception in the fourth quarter. However, the rest of his catches were short-range gains for little yardage. Witten was also called for offensive pass interference, pushing off on a pass route.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 31 - 219 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 - Kirk Cousins
performance on Monday night sputtered with subpar play. Kirk's inability to sustain drives was the main reason the offense sputtered. The running game was highly inconsistent which led to Kirk needing to make more plays and that put him in uncomfortable situations. He normally thrives off of play action and quick passes but with the running game being unreliable Kirk struggled. The Cowboys also brought constant pressure which Kirk doesn't manage well either so that was another contributing factor to his lack of effectiveness. However, Kirk did show good poise when orchestrating a game tying drive late in the game where he made multiple accurate throws to several receivers. He capped off the drive with a 28yard pass to DeSean Jackson
that laid out beautifully for him to run under for the score. Overall, the pressure of the Cowboys defense and an inconsistent rushing attack hampered Kirk's ability to flourish in this game.
RB Matt Jones
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 49 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Matt Jones
was the running back that got the most usage in this game. Matt had 18 carries but the production was underwhelming. He did manage to keep a few drives alive, most notably in the 2nd half when Washington was trying to establish a rhythm. If it weren't for untimely penalties that put Washington in obvious passing situations Matt could have had a much better day. He ran hard all game and avoided his usual fumbling issues.
RB Alfred Morris
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 12 - 0 - Alfred Morris
was seemingly benched in the 2nd quarter as he only had a total of 6 carries. He was barely on the field after a late first quarter carry. It was odd being that he was fresh off a 23 carry game prior to Monday night. This has been a reoccurring theme with the Washington backfield as you never know what will happen with each week.
RB Chris Thompson
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - Chris Thompson
was largely ineffective in this game as he had 5 total touches that resulted in minimal impact toward the game.
WR DeSean Jackson
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 80 - 1 (7 targets) - DeSean Jackson
his busiest game of the year as Washington made a better effort of getting him involved early and often. DeSean was able to get open all night due to the cushion the Cowboys were giving him. Most of his catches were on comeback routes and he even caught a slant that resulted in a big first down. DeSean could have had a bigger day receiving if it weren't for a couple of over throws and a few penalties that wiped out catches. DeSean's day came with the biggest highlight and lowlight all in a matter of minutes. Towards the end of the game he received a punt but fumbled it away to Dallas trying too hard to make a play. Then on Washington's next possession he caught the game tying touchdown late in the 4th quarter by running straight pass Morris Claiborne displaying his game breaking speed. He is the most dangerous piece in the Washington offense so hopefully they can get him even more involved moving forward.
WR Pierre Garcon
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 54 - 0 (7 targets) - Pierre Garcon
had a decent game considering the low scores and nature of the game. He was 2nd on the team in catches with 5 but didn't accumulate much yardage. Garcon did haul in a huge 23 yard reception that ultimately led to a field goal as points were hard to come by in this game.
WR Jamison Crowder
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (4 targets) - Jamison Crowder
was fairly absent in this game as he only caught three passes. He wasn't able to put his imprint on this game as his ability to break tackles was held in check.
TE Jordan Reed
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (8 targets) - Jordan Reed
wasn't his usual self in this game as Dallas kept his performance quiet. Reed struggled getting free as consistent as he usually does due to Dallas being able to match up with him. He only had 3 catches and Kirk misfired on a few potential catches but for the most part Dallas did a good job shutting him off as an option in the passing game. His biggest play went for 16 yards but that was nearly half his total yardage for the game.
Denver Broncos 17, San Diego Chargers 3
What you need to know
- Much like over the first month of the season, Denver won with an offense that couldn’t do much and a defense that gave up nothing. Outside of a long touchdown drive and a field-goal drive that started at midfield, Denver struggled to cross midfield for most of the afternoon against a poor San Diego defense missing several starters to injury.
San Diego Chargers
- Quarterback Philip Rivers
was under heavy duress all game long. Rivers has shown a knack for putting up big stats this season despite missing several key targets and a few linemen as well, but perhaps owners want to re-think putting him in their fantasy lineups when the Chargers face a top tier defense.
Running back Melvin Gordon
finally looked like the talent the Chargers drafted in the first round this past spring, but a costly fumble was the end of his rushing duties. The team threw a pass in his direction, but he didn't see any more rushing attempts following the turnover.
The receiving game is a bit of a mess for San Diego. With wide receiver Keenan Allen
already out for the year, fellow receivers Malcom Floyd
and Stevie Johnson also missing time due to injuries, and tight ends Antonio Gates
and Ladarius Green
missing time as well, they now lost wide receiver Dontrelle Inman
with what looked like a serious neck injury.
QB Brock Osweiler
, 69 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 26 - 166 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 1 - 0 - When Brock Osweiler
led the Denver Broncos to a touchdown on their opening drive against the San Diego Chargers, it seemed as if he was poised to build upon his success against New England. Instead, Denver’s offense became more and more mired the longer it played, especially in the second half as the teams battled to a scoreless draw.
Denver once again limited Osweiler’s responsibilities, giving him few shots down the field. On one of his rare opportunities, Osweiler lobbed a pass deep down the left sideline to a covered Emmanuel Sanders
; the pass, thrown short, was intercepted in the end zone to end a rare promising drive. Osweiler also poorly managed the 2-minute drill to end the first half, almost throwing an easy interception that was dropped by the defense and then dumping the ball over the middle as time expired on the half. On the whole, Osweiler looked much more like the inexperienced quarterback he is than he had in his first two weeks.
RB Ronnie Hillman
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 56 - 0 (1 targets) - Getting another start for the Denver Broncos, Hillman continued to be a boom and bust option in the running game. Hillman had a handful of nice runs, especially when he had room to gain yards before contact, but too many of his carries resulted in long yardage for Denver. When platoon-mate C.J. Anderson
injured his ankle in the first half, Hillman split carries with backup Juwan Thompson
in the second half rather than seeing an increased workload of his own.
RB C.J. Anderson
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 42 - 0, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets) - While Ronnie Hillman
once again got the start, C.J. Anderson
picked up where he left off in recent weeks with some phenomenal running between the tackles, including turning a broken tackle at the line of scrimmage into a 22-yard gain on his first carry of the game. Unfortunately for Anderson, who was having a terrific day running the ball, he injured his ankle just before halftime and sat out the second half. Asked about the injury after the game, Anderson said “I'm not worried at all. I'm fine.”
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 61 - 1 (6 targets) - What a difference a week makes. After catching virtually nothing against the New England Patriots, Demaryius Thomas
hauled in all six of his targets against the San Diego Chargers, including an easy 3-yard touchdown on a shallow crossing route thrown right between the coverage. Thomas converted a pair of third-and-long situations with quick catch-and-run opportunities, and had a third such conversion called back when he was called for a (borderline) offensive pass interference penalty.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (8 targets) - Sanders actually led the Broncos in targets against the San Diego Chargers, but his day mostly consisted of he and quarterback Brock Osweiler
struggling to get on the same page deep down the field. Sanders was the intended target on nearly every one of Osweiler’s deep throws, including an underthrown 30-yard pass where Sanders failed to separate and the ball was intercepted in the end zone. While the commitment was a positive sign, Sanders has to hope that the accuracy will be there, too, in future weeks.
TE Owen Daniels
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (3 targets) - Owen Daniels
had a quiet game as the fourth option in the passing game behind Demaryius Thomas
, Emmanuel Sanders
, and new tight end Vernon Davis
. Daniels drew just three targets, none after halftime as Denver largely concentrated on running out the clock, and failed to register a single first down.
TE Vernon Davis
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (3 targets) - Vernon Davis
saw a little bit of usage against the San Diego Chargers before suffering a concussion on the final play of the first half. Davis did not play after halftime, and Denver’s running game seemed to decline without his steady blocking on the field.
QB Philip Rivers
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 35 - 202 - 0 TD / 1 INT - For most of the season, Rivers has been able to rise above the many obstacles facing him. The injuries and ineffectiveness to the offensive line, the injuries to his receiving corps, and a lack of help from the running game. But combining all those factors along with facing arguably the league's best defense, proved to be too tall a task in this one. Rivers never did look comfortable in the pocket all game long. He was leaping as he made several pass attempts, scrambling out of the pocket, and forcing passes long before he really wanted to. He also turned the ball over on one critical play, and interception that was returned for a touchdown (the fifth time that has happened to Rivers this season). He actually threw a sixth "pick six", but there was a holding penalty on Denver which negated the turnover. It was a good thing for San Diego that the penalty was called too, because tight end Antonio Gates
ran the wrong route and it would have been easily picked off even without the hold. Rivers was hit on what seemed like every single drop-back, and never really came close to finding the end zone. In the second half, he was nearly picked off again - although he had drawn the defense and probably knew he had a free play, so he took a shot at a home run ball. But the story of this game was the Denver pressure. One play in particular that pretty much summed up the entire performance came late in the contest. Running to his left while being chased by a defender, Rivers thought the pressure was closer than it really was. He threw the ball away - with his left hand - and the pass was thrown so softly that it didn't come close to reaching the line of scrimmage, and Rivers was called for intentional grounding.
RB Melvin Gordon
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 55 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - The numbers don't entirely back it up, but Gordon looked as good as he has all season long. For much of the season, he has danced around too much in the backfield and has been slow to get to the edge. In this one, he showed a bit of a wiggle that has been missing from his game for most of the year. At one point following a 13-yard scamper, he was shown on the bench having his left ankle re-taped. Early in the second half, he had a nice 21-yard run that really showed some nice open field moves. But just as he was starting to look good, he coughed up the ball for a fumble that was recovered by Denver. He has now lost four fumbles this season, tied for the most in the league with Adrian Peterson
. Following the fumble, the team put the ball in his hands on the very next play. However, it was a pass play. There were only a handful of rushing attempts the remainder of the game, but they were all handled by Danny Woodhead
and Donald Brown
RB Donald Brown
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 26 - 0, Rec: 1 - 31 - 0 (1 targets) - Brown got an inordinately large workload, even besting Danny Woodhead
in terms of touches from scrimmage. In fact, it was Brown who had the longest play of the game for San Diego. He took a dumpoff while crossing the field from right to left, beat his man to the edge, and took off down the sideline for a 31-yard catch and run. It was San Diego's first (and last) big play of the game, but he looked good nonetheless. In the second half, following the Melvin Gordon
fumble, it was Brown who saw most of the rushing duties. His long gain went for 11 yards, and he totaled 15 yards on his other six carries.
RB Danny Woodhead
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (7 targets) - Woodhead's reduced workload continues to be one of the more puzzling aspects of the 2015 season. A player who just a few weeks ago was firmly entrenched in the league's top ten fantasy running backs, now finds himself seeing fewer touches than journeyman Donald Brown
. When it was Melvin Gordon
seeing more work than Woodhead, it at least made sense in that the Chargers traded up and spent a high draft pick on Gordon and wanted to see a return on that investment. But in a game that San Diego trailed throughout (meaning more pass attempts, Woodhead's specialty), Woodhead saw just six touches as opposed to thirteen for Gordon and even eight for Brown. Obviously with such little activity, it's tough to get much rhythm established. The Chargers were never really close to scoring range, and Woodhead's role appeared to be little more than an afterthought in the gameplan.
WR Javontee Herndon
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (2 targets) - Herndon played a bit more after the injury to fellow wideout Dontrelle Inman
, and was moderately effective. He hauled in both targets, including one where he came back to the ball and went up high to turn a 3rd and 20 into a 4th and 4. It's too early to speculate on the Inman injury, but if it turns out to be significant, then Herndon would likely see a big bump in playing time moving forward.
WR Dontrelle Inman
, 9 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (2 targets) - Inman left the game with what appeared to be a serious head and/or neck injury in the first half. The play where it happened didn't look too bad on first viewing, as he went up high to make a nice 15-yard grab and then was tackled as he landed. But replays showed that the defenders head made contact with Inman's head, bending his neck at an awkward angle. He remained on the ground for a long time, and was strapped down and removed from the game on a cart. There were no visible signs of movement from Inman, not even the customary "thumbs up" that players typically give as they're leaving the field of play. No immediate update was given on his condition afterwards.
WR Malcom Floyd
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (4 targets) - Floyd went up high for a pass down the seam early on, but was unable to bring it in. The ball was right in his hands inside the red zone, but he just couldn't come down with what would have gone for a nice gain. He did bring in a crossing route in the second half, but fumbled it away right at the end of the run for San Diego's third turnover of the game. Floyd's specialty is the deep ball. But the Denver pressure on Philip Rivers
didn't really allow for very many plays to develop deep downfield, limiting Floyd's effectiveness.
WR Steve Johnson
, 44 offensive snaps - On a day that the Chargers trailed throughout and saw Philip Rivers
throw 35 pass attempts (not to mention fellow wideout Dontrelle Inman
leaving very early on with a serious injury), Johnson wasn't targeted once in the game because he left with a groin injury. The Chargers are down to the bottom of the barrel at wide receiver.
TE Antonio Gates
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 50 - 0 (9 targets) - With Keenan Allen
out for the season, Gates enters every game as the de factor number one option in the receiving game. In this game, Stevie Johnson was completely flummoxed by the Denver defense and didn't even see a single target. And the other primary option in the passing game, wide receiver Dontrelle Inman
, left the game with what appeared to be a very serious neck injury early on. It's no surprise, then, that Gates led all players on both teams in targets. His first look came early in the first quarter, a floater down the sideline that would have gone for over twenty yards. But just as he was about to bring it in, he was drilled by a defender, jarring the ball loose. On his next target, he brought in a crossing route and lunged for the first down marker to convert it. He continued getting open almost at will, but more often than not it was crossing routes and short grabs over the middle for minimal gains. Part of the reason he wasn't able to do much down the field is the same reason none of the Chargers could do much down the field; because Philip Rivers
was constantly under pressure, and didn't have enough time for anything deep to develop.
TE Ladarius Green
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (6 targets) - Green had a very Gates-esque reception on a crossing route, out-running the linebacker to the edge en route to picking up 16 yards on the play. He was later targeted on a deep corner fade in the end zone, but the ball was overthrown by a good amount. He also had a fourth down floater go off his fingertips on the last-gasp drive by San Diego, but it would have been a very difficult catch to make.
TE John Phillips
, 7 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets) - Phillips went up high to bring in a reception on the first pass play of the game. But with a healthy and active Antonio Gates
and Ladarius Green
, it's no surprise that that was Phillips' only target of the game.
Baltimore Ravens 13, Miami Dolphins 15
What you need to know
- Matt Schaub
and the Ravens offense were inefficient. Schaub missed open receivers and made costly mistakes. The biggest positive was Buck Allen who carried the load with 29 touches. Allen kept the down and distances manageable for Schaub with tough inside running. Allen’s 12 catches almost all came as simple check downs to the flat from Schaub. Kamar Aiken
remains the Raven’s top wide out and could have had a much bigger game including a touchdown if Schaub had capitalized on opportunities. Crocket Gillmore left the game in the first quarter with a back injury leaving Nick Boyle
as the Raven’s only healthy tight end. Expect the Ravens to try to continue to shorten games by running the ball, protect their quarterback, and rely on their defense and special teams units to win games.
- The Ravens built their game-plan around Javorius Allen
, while the Dolphins built theirs around Lamar Miller
. Matt Schaub
was forced to throw 46 times because Miami had more success on the ground than Baltimore. That was ultimately the difference in the game as Schaub threw one of his patented pick-6s. With the Giants, Chargers, and Colts (with Andrew Luck
presumably back) all coming up, the Dolphins offense will likely have to do more to be competitive.
QB Matt Schaub
, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 32 - 46 - 308 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0 - Matt Schaub
was unable to get the Ravens in any sort of offensive rhythm. Schaub’s lack of arm strength is evident on sideline throws and his pocket presence and awareness leave much to be desired. The Ravens went three and out on their first possession after Schaub couldn’t connect with Givens on back to back plays. Schaub connected with receiver Daniel Brown for a 52 yard touchdown but a questionable pass interference call nullified the long score. The drive ended with Olivier Vernon beating James Hurst around the edge for a sack. Despite keeping extra blockers in to protect Schaub the Dolphins were able to apply pressure and hit Schaub often. Schaub looked old and feeble each time he was hit and began to look more concerned about the pass rush than his receivers late in the game. Jimmy Clausen
was nearly called to action on two occasions. First, Schaub banged his head on the field then appeared to suffer a shoulder injury but remained in the game. Schaub made a nice throw to Jeremy Butler
for 22 yards between the safeties and linebackers on a post route. Schaub was stuffed on a 4th and 1 from the Dolphins 3 yard line on a quarterback sneak. Schaub appeared to gain ground but a mass of bodies gave Harbaugh no reason to challenge. Schaub was intercepted on a batted pass the following possession by Reshad Jones. Schaub’s next three attempts went towards Buck Allen. The first two were completed for modest gains but Derrick Shelby saw the third one coming, tipped the pass, came down with the batted ball and outraced Schaub into the end zone. Schaub came out slinging after the pick six and was able to get a field goal before halftime. First he found Givens on a deep back shoulder throw for 36 yards. On a very similar route Schaub completed to Givens gaining 20 more yards this time between a safety and corner. However, Schaub had Kamar Aiken
open for a 20 yard touchdown on a crossing route but threw well behind Aiken and forced the field goal attempt. Schaub put together a touchdown drive thanks to Brent Grimes. Grimes allowed back to back completions to Butler and Givens for 24 yards then made no effort to push Buck Allen out of bounds as he raced down the sideline for a 41 yard touchdown. Schaub was sacked on 3rd and short with Kamar Aiken
and Buck Allen open in the middle of the field. The following possession was another three and out featuring 3 check downs to Buck Allen. Schaub helped move the offense into field goal range with a 17 yard completion to Daniel Brown who found the soft spot in zone coverage. Schaub was again sacked by Vernon to stall another drive.
RB Javorius Allen
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 63 - 0, Rec: 12 - 107 - 1 (13 targets) - Buck Allen was finding success early in the game running up the middle. Allen was able to consistently pick up solid gains to keep the offense on schedule. Allen was rarely stopped at the line of scrimmage or dropped for a loss. Allen was heavily involved in the pass game thanks to check downs from Schaub and by design. Allen tallied receptions of 8, 8, 11, 7, and 4 yards in the first half all being releasing into the flat out of the backfield with the exception of one quick screen. Allen took advantage of horrendous tackling and effort by the Dolphins racing 41 yards down the sideline on a dump off from Schaub. Allen broke free for 17 yards running through a massive hole cleared by Marshal Yanda. Allen picked up 12 more making a defender miss along the boundary on another check down. Despite his yards per carry Allen has shown himself to be an effective engine of a dysfunctional offense. Allen was tough running inside, made yards after contact, and took advantage of open space when he found it.
WR Kamar Aiken
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 48 - 0 (11 targets) - Kamar Aiken
bobbled but made a contested catch against Brent Grimes for an 11 yard gain. Aiken again beat Grimes on a curl route for 9 yards. Aiken burned Brice McCain on a crossing route but Schaub threw behind Aiken on what would have been a 20 yard touchdown. Aiken converted a 3rd and 3 running a nice curl route for 8 yards. Schaub threw wide of Aiken on a comeback route on what would have been a 15 yard gain. Schaub went back to Aiken the following play and connected on a curl route for 11 yards.
WR Chris Givens
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 68 - 0 (8 targets) - Givens got two targets on the Ravens opening possession. The first sailed wide of the mark and Brent Grimes knocked away the second. Givens had his third target knocked away running a comeback route thanks to another subpar throw from Schaub. Givens made his first catch on a deep back shoulder throw for 36 yards. Schaub went back to Givens two plays later for 20 more yards on another back shoulder completion. Givens beat Grimes on an in breaking route for 12 yards.
TE Crockett Gillmore
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Crockett Gillmore
stiff armed Jelani Jenkins to the ground to convert a 3rd and 6 before leaving the game with a back injury. Nick Boyle
took the majority of snaps at tight end with Maxx Williams
missing the game with a concussion.
QB Ryan Tannehill
, 48 offensive snaps, Pass: 9 - 19 - 86 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0 - The game-plan for interim offensive coordinator Zac Taylor involved feeding Lamar Miller
early and often, but Ryan Tannehill
struggled to find a rhythm when dropping back. Some early drops from his teammates didn’t help him, but with Lamar Miller
running well, the Dolphins should’ve been able to capitalize on some of the play-action opportunities that the running game success afforded him. Miami could’ve ran away with this game with a few timely plays from Tannehill. Credit to Baltimore as well though, as they dialed up well-timed blitzes on the 3rd down. With Zac Taylor employing a fairly predictable and conservative game-plan against a Baltimore team that’s been without Joe Flacco
, Justin Forsett
and Steve Smith
. That allowed the Ravens to dial up pressure without the fear of a draw or screen that would expose them. Tannehill’s lone TD pass on the day came on the one real shot they took in the game. In a max protection, Tannehill took a deep drop and was able to step into a rocket strike. He threw the ball up, so that DeVante Parker
could go get it. It was good recognition by Tannehill to know who was going to get the ball. It’s a good sign for Tannehill’s and Parker’s future outlook that their chemistry looks solid to this point. Tannehill’s only other meaningful completion came to Parker again on the final drive of the game to extend the drive, burning more clock. The numbers were ugly for Tannehill, and he was part of the problem.
RB Lamar Miller
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 113 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - Lamar Miller
received just 20+ carries for the second time in his career and for the first time in nearly 2 years. Against a traditionally stout run defense and one that has been very strong again this season, Miller found running room from the 1st quarter onward. He was decisive in his running, getting downhill as soon as possibly, often finding the second level. However, he was really the only way the Dolphins could move the ball, as Ryan Tannehill
struggled for a rhythm and consistency all day while operating a run-first conservative game-plan. This really limited Miller’s upside on the day, as the Dolphins never made it into the red zone. Despite never trailing in the game and being up 15-0 at one point, the Ravens had a nearly 2-1 time of possession advantage, which also hindered Miller’s potential. The way he was running, Miller probably would’ve seen around 30 carries if the Dolphins had been able to sustain any drives. In a potential disaster with time winding down in the 4th quarter, Miller lost his awareness at the end of another strong run, allowing Courtney Upshaw to strip him. However, the Miami defense stood up and Justin Tucker
missed his 5th consecutive FG of over 50 yards. What’s a good sign going forward, Miller wasn’t relegated to the bench at the end of the game. He was back out there on the next drive and helped the Dolphins pick up a few first downs to put the game on ice. Miller will hold off Jay Ajayi
for most of the rest of the season, besides in game-plan specific situations, and Sunday’s performance should have Miami locking him into 15-20 carries, at least, per game.
RB Jay Ajayi
, 9 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0 - The rookie RB took a backseat to Lamar Miller
on Sunday, rarely seeing the field as Miller dominated snaps and carries. With Miller running well from the start, interim offensive coordinator Zac Taylor only mixed Ajayi in to give Miller a breather. Miller was running like he knows the rookie is coming for his job, and forced Taylor to not call Ajayi’s number more. Ajayi did add the 2-point conversion after a penalty negated a Baltimore blocked PAT return. It will be interesting to see if Miller struggles at any point during some of the final 4 games. How quick will the Dolphins look to mix in Ajayi if Miller has a few bad series or puts the ball on the ground again? Ajayi remains a very valuable handcuff during the playoff weeks; if Miller were forced to miss any time, the rookie would become a very strong play.
WR DeVante Parker
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 63 - 1 (5 targets) - The Dolphins have been looking touchdown makers to help Ryan Tannehill
since he arrived in 2012. When they drafted DeVante Parker
and signed Jordan Cameron
in the spring, it was said they might have two. After an unimpressive year from Cameron, and injuries hampering Parker’s ability to get on the field to build chemistry with his QB, it looked like a lost year. Parker, with Rishard Matthews
’ injury last week, finally has seen the field in more of a full-time role and has taken full advantage of it. He scored an impressive after-the-catch TD (albeit in garbage time) last week and showed off his major play-making skills this week. The play of the game (in an otherwise boring affair) was Parker’s 38-yard leaping touchdown catch. On a play-action deep ball, Tannehill threw a laser back near the Baltimore 45-yard line into the end zone. Parker went up between Webb and Kendrick Lewis for Miami’s only offensive touchdown of the game. The consistency has to improve for the rookie, but everyone has been waiting for him to finally hit the field, and now that he has, he’s making plays. Parker later helped to seal the game, working back to the ball for a 20-yard catch on 3rd down late in the game. With Tannehill looking comfortably throwing to him at any level of the field, it will be interesting to see how big his role swells to before the end of the season. He did see 5 targets of the 19 passes Tannehill attempted, and while there is definite bust potential, he could prove to be an asset in the fantasy playoffs for owners still missing Julian Edelman
WR Jarvis Landry
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (5 targets) - Jarvis Landry
had his first real dud of a game in the 2015 season on Sunday against the Ravens. Although Baltimore is one of the worst passing defenses in the league, the Dolphins came out with a run-heavy plan and couldn’t really move the ball through the air. With Lardarius Webb tracking him throughout the day, Landry’s normally precise route-running was kept in check by one of the best slot corners in the league. He still saw a target on 5 of the 19 passes that Tannehill did throw, so the positive signs are still there for Landry. Whenever his quarterback did look his way on 3rd down, he was always under too much pressure to find him. Sunday’s poor performance was game-plan specific, and Landry should bounce-back, with the Giants, Chargers, and Colts on his fantasy playoff schedule.
WR Kenny Stills
, 21 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Stills was a surprise active on Sunday after being unlikely to suit up for the game. However, in a run-heavy game-plan, Stills was rarely used and did not register a single target. Even with Rishard Matthew ailing from a rib injury, Stills and Greg Jennings
rarely saw the field, as Zac Taylor’s game-plan featured plenty of two TE sets, and even some 3 TE looks as well. With some more difficult matchups for the Miami defense coming down the stretch, Stills probably won’t be target-less in any of the last 4 games. However, he hasn’t been a fantasy option all season.
TE Jordan Cameron
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (3 targets) - Jordan Cameron
’s disappointing first season in Miami continued, as he dropped a pass early and was an afterthought for the rest of the afternoon. With a run-heavy game-plan, Cameron was tasked with blocking for Lamar Miller
for most of the day. He hasn’t been a fantasy option since the first few weeks of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals 37, Cleveland Browns 3
What you need to know
- The Cincinnati Bengals won big on Sunday in a rout against the Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Andy Dalton
lead the way with just 19 pass attempts for two passing touchdowns and one on the ground. He leads the NFL in passer rating and had his second best performance of his career in that category in Week 13 at 146.8. A.J. Green
went off for 128 yards and a touchdown but easily could have had a least one more score. Jeremy Hill
dominated the carries in a game the Bengals controlled from start to finish.
- The Cleveland offense had one of its worst games of the year. Austin Davis
was not impressive as he was only able to lead the Browns on one field goal scoring drive in the game and turned the ball over twice. Both Travis Benjamin
and Marlon Moore
were lost to injury, leaving Brian Hartline
and former practice squad player Darius Jennings
as the only active receivers. If Austin Davis
remains behind center going forward, downgrade all Browns position players from a fantasy perspective.
QB Andy Dalton
, 50 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 19 - 220 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 11 - 1 - Andy Dalton
went 14-of-19 passing for 220 yards and two touchdowns and also added a score on the ground in the Bengals 37-3 romp over the Cleveland Browns in Week 13. His passer rating of 146.8 was the second best of his career and is number one in the NFL this season in that category. He eclipsed 3,000 yards this season for the fifth time in his five seasons in the league. The only other quarterback to accomplish that in league history is Peyton Manning
. Dalton threw a 57-yard bomb to A.J. Green
with 8:25 left in the first quarter that he almost took to the house before he was tripped up. Dalton would then cap the 84-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown off of a quarterback sneak. By the end of the first half the two would hook up for a 23-yard touchdown where Green beats single-coverage cleanly down the left sideline. Dalton connected with wide receiver Marvin Jones
late in the third quarter for a 21-yard score that had fans heading for the exits early. It was a nicely thrown ball over top of the defense after faking a hand-off to Giovani Bernard
. Dalton clearly trusts A.J. Green
to be able to go up and make plays, continuously putting him in opportunities to score points for this offense. With the game in hand Dalton was only forced to throw the ball 19 times, next week should be different against a high flying Pittsburgh Steelers offense.
RB Jeremy Hill
, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 98 - 1 (1 targets) - Jeremy Hill
was the clear feature back for the Bengals in Week 13 against the Browns totaling 98 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The running game was essential in this game as Cincinnati secured a lead early and wanted to control the ball. Hill had a 1-yard touchdown run and nearly had a second in the fourth quarter but was stuffed at the goal line. He set a season high for yardage and much to the chagrin of linebacker Chris Kirksey, celebrated his touchdown by jumping into Cleveland’s stands. Hill seems to be finding his stride at the right time for the Bengals.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 26 - 0, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - It was a Jeremy Hill
game against Cleveland where running back Giovani Bernard
rushed just five times for 26 yards and had one reception for nine. Hill was the clear feature back in a game where the Bengals were in control and did not need to take advantage of Bernard’s skill in the passing game where he had had just one target. He should see more usage in a competitive game that is closer.
WR A.J. Green
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 128 - 1 (6 targets) - Star receiver A.J. Green
went off in the Cincinnati Bengals Week 13 route of the Cleveland Browns. He caught 5-of-6 targets for 128 yards and a touchdown in a game where Green eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the fifth time in his five seasons in the league. Randy Moss
is the only other wide receiver in NFL history to have accomplished that feat in each of their first five seasons. On his 23-yard touchdown grab early in the second quarter he couldn’t have been more open as Dalton floated a pass down the left sideline for an easy score. Green in one-on-one coverage had a second touchdown reversed in the third quarter and brought back to the 1-yard line. He showed impressive body awareness to get his toes down in bounds and nearly broke the plane. Browns cornerback Tramon Williams was overmatched all game long giving up multiple big plays. Green nearly had another touchdown on his 57-yard grab in the first quarter but was tripped up just as it looked like he was going to take it to the house for an 84-yard score. Dalton continues to trust Green in all aspects of the game to go up and make plays for the Bengals offense. Their chemistry has grown over the past five years and Green is on pace to finish the year with 93 receptions, five shy of Larry Fitzgerald
’s record for most catches by an NFL player in his first five seasons.
WR Marvin Jones
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 55 - 1 (5 targets) - Marvin Jones
caught all five of his targets and totaled 55 yards and a touchdown in Week 13 against the Browns. He hasn’t scored since Week 6 but connected with Andy Dalton
late in the third quarter made it 34-3. Browns fans flooded for the exits after this 21-yard touchdown grab down the right sideline. Dalton threw a great ball over the top of the Browns defender, Charles Gaines, after a play fake to Giovani Bernard
TE Tyler Kroft
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 17 - 0 (1 targets) - Tyler Kroft
started at tight end for the Bengals with Tyler Eifert
nursing a neck injury. Kroft was primarily used as a blocking weapon in this one but was a big part of Jeremy Hill
’s huge game. He caught his only target of the game for 17 yards.
QB Austin Davis
, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 38 - 230 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 4 - 0 - Davis played an uninspiring game against the Bengals, throwing no touchdowns, one interception, and one fumble lost. He did show good mobility but also questionable decision-making and limited arm strength throughout the game. He was often flushed from the pocket and was forced to attempt several passes while on the run. He forced a few passes into double coverage including one that was close to being intercepted in the middle of the second quarter. His first pass of the game went to Gary Barnidge
over the middle for a nine-yard pickup. He later had a great completion to Brian Hartline
while running to his right that went for a first down. He followed that pass up by throwing too high to Gary Barnidge
on a play that could have gone for a big pick-up had the pass been on target. His interception came in the middle of the second quarter when he targeted Brian Hartline
. Davis threw the ball to the middle of the field, but Hartline had continued to run straight. It was an apparent miscommunication between the two. Davis showed his limited arm strength in taking a deep shot to Brian Hartline
at the end of the second quarter. He had been running forward while escaping pressure, crow-hopped, and fired deep but the pass fell well short. Soon after, he showed some questionable decision-making in allowing time to tick off of the clock before calling a timeout with two seconds left in the half. He was called for intentional grounding twice in the second half as he simply threw the ball away to avoid taking a sack. Davis committed another turnover in the fourth quarter when he tried a pass to Isaiah Crowell
in the flat. The pass was tipped behind the line of scrimmage and picked up by the Bengals for a fumble recovery.
RB Isaiah Crowell
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 62 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets) - Crowell had one of his best games of the season, picking up 62 yards on 11 carries, with a long run of 23 yards. He could have had a bigger game, but the Browns were forced to abandon the run early considering the lopsided score of this contest. His best runs came on delayed handoffs up the middle. He showed good vision on many of his runs, which has not always been the case this season. His best run of the game came on a delayed handoff in third quarter where he got some great blocking for a 22-yard pickup. Crowell did stand by and watch while a tipped pass behind the line of scrimmage was scooped up by the Bengals. He clearly did not realize that the ball was still live after it fell to the ground because he had a chance to run forward and recover the fumble.
RB Duke Johnson
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 2 - 0, Rec: 4 - 30 - 0 (4 targets) - Johnson struggled to find much room to operate in this game as it appeared the Bengals were keyed on stopping him when he was on the field. His first carry went for a loss of two yards. Many of his plays came with him operating as a safety value on screens and short catches to recover yardage. He had a handoff that was close to being a big pickup at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but was ankle tackled by a Cincinnati defender right before he could break free.
WR Brian Hartline
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 83 - 0 (11 targets) - Hartline turned in a second consecutive strong game for the Browns. He continues to make a difference on short and intermediate routes, generally in the middle of the field. Hartline was the intended recipient on Davis' interception in the second quarter. It looked like a miscommunication between Hartline and his quarterback as the veteran receiver was headed straight up the left side of the field and Davis threw as if he expected Hartline to cut toward the middle. Hartline saw a deep shot near the end zone at the end of the second quarter, but the pass was underthrown. With most of Cleveland's receivers injured, Hartline could be in line for a huge workload in Week 14.
WR Darius Jennings
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 35 - 0 (7 targets) - Jennings, recently promoted from the practice squad, made his first appearance for the Browns this weekend and was almost immediately pressed into extended action. Jennings made mostly short catches for the Browns, as he was thrust into playing time after the team lost both Travis Benjamin
and Marlon Moore
to injuries. He had what would have been a seven-yard reception wiped off the books at the end of the first quarter on an offensive pass interference call on Gary Barnidge
. He made an excellent catch in the third quarter where he leapt into the air to secure a catch that went for a first down. He may be called upon to start next week if Cleveland's injured receivers are unable to suit up in Week 14.
WR Travis Benjamin
, 20 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Benjamin had a quiet game, making no catches and suffering a shoulder injury at the end of the first quarter. He was unable to reel in his first target of the game. His second target was thrown high and he was close to making a highlight-reel catch but couldn't hold on to the football. It remains to be seen whether the shoulder injury is severe or not.
TE Gary Barnidge
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 59 - 0 (8 targets) - Barnidge made the team's first catch of the game over the middle for a nine-yard pickup. He did have a tough drop on third down on the team's first drive, which may have resulted in a first down. The Browns did not make any trips into the red zone, so his status as the team's top red zone threat was rendered obsolete. He still served as a reliable target and chain-mover in the middle of the field.