San Francisco 49ers 26, Houston Texans 16
What you need to know
San Francisco 49ers
- The tightening bond between Jimmy Garoppolo
and Marquise Goodwin
took another step toward consummation against Houston. They connected early and often, with Goodwin being Garoppolo's go-to receiver when pressure -- whether from the the situation or from the Texans' pass rush -- was at its highest. Although he had a rushing performance we've grown accustomed to, Carlos Hyde
appears to be the odd man out in this passing relationship. After racking up targets with Brian Hoyer
and C.J. Beathard
at quarterback, Hyde's largely been ignored by Garoppolo, as he prefers downfield passes to dumpoffs.
- DeAndrew White
primarily played out of the slot and had one catch for 24 yards late in the game. He did have six targets on the day.
suffered a scary concussion which will leave his status in doubt this upcoming week.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 33 - 334 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - -3 - 0 - The one word that describes this performance by Garoppolo is "tough." Without Trent Brown at right tackle, Garoppolo was under constant pressure and taking repeated hits as he released the ball; typically by Jadeveon Clowney. Somehow, he still managed to deliver accurate downfield pass after accurate downfield pass -- even towards the sidelines. Two in particular you had to see to believe. On the first, he threaded a 30-yard pass to Kyle Juszczyk
down the left sideline between two defenders while Clowney was taking his free shot at him. On the second, he hit Marquise Goodwin
in stride on a deep out while getting hit -- illegally, it turned out -- by an unblocked Benardrick McKinney. The amazing thing about that throw was that Goodwin hadn't yet made his break toward the sideline when McKinney's hit arrived. Garoppolo just knew where Goodwin was supposed to be and threw it out there to him at the last possible second, trusting that he'd be there. It should be noted that Garoppolo did make a handful of ill-advised throws that could have been intercepted by better defenses. That said, at least they were downfield shots, not short out routes that can turn into pick-sixes.
RB Carlos Hyde
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 78 - 1 (1 targets) - This was a typical Hyde performance in terms of power and elusiveness. Perhaps the best illustration came on his game-long 31-yard run that turned a likely kneel-out-the-half drive into a field-goal-at-the-buzzer drive. He took a shotgun handoff around the left end, eluded linebacker Gimel President's penetration, and ran away from everyone, going untouched for 30 of the 31 yards. And true to form, Hyde didn't get tackled so much as he just happened to step out of bounds while obliterating Kareem Jackson along the sideline. The only negatives from a fantasy perspective were 1) somehow only having three carries during a fourth quarter in which San Francisco led throughout; 2) poorly tracking the ball and short-arming what would have been a wide-open deep touchdown catch across the middle of the field; and 3) being almost entirely invisible as a receiver otherwise. Of course, that latter negative is somewhat misleading, as Matt Breida
also wasn't involved as a receiver. It probably has more to do with Jimmy Garoppolo
, unlike his predecessors, not being a checkdown artist.
RB Matt Breida
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 27 - 0 - With the 49ers using even more no huddle than they usually do and having multiple drives in the final five minutes of the first half, Breida replaced Carlos Hyde
on the field for long stretches of plays at a time. Unfortunately, that increased playing time didn't result in increased production. The longest of Breida's 12 carries went for only 6 yards, mainly because there either were no holes to run through at the point of attack or the holes that opened up closed just as quickly.
RB Kyle Juszczyk
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 64 - 0 (4 targets) - Juszczyk was more involved than usual as a receiver this week, with two of his targets accounting for nearly all of the yardage on San Francisco's touchdown drive to go up 10-3 in the second quarter. On 2nd-and-8 from the 34-yard line, Juszczyk ran a wheel route down the left sideline and was able to hold on for a 29-yard catch despite getting hit by two defenders as he leapt for the ball. Two plays latter, he beat linebacker Zack Cunningham to the left flat on his short out route, and then ran away from Cunningham for an additional 24 yards, thereby setting the 49ers up with 1st-and-goal at the 4-yard line.
WR Marquise Goodwin
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 106 - 0 (12 targets) - This was an all-around great performance by Goodwin. He was successful against man and zone. He did damage all across the route tree. He eluded tacklers when he caught the ball. He helped out his quarterback by coming back to the football when Garoppolo was hit as he threw (which happened frequently). The best illustration of all of these things was on Goodwin's 32-yard catch in the second quarter. Lined up wide left, he ran a dig route across the deep middle, but adjusted it so that he remained underneath Houston's Cover-3 shell. As Garoppolo was getting blasted by Jadeveon Clowney, Goodwin adjusted his route even more to come back towards the ball, thereby giving his quarterback an easier target. When he snatched the ball out of the air, he immediately eluded two defenders and used his speed to gain an extra 20 yards. One final note: Goodwin had three red zone targets in a single third-quarter drive.
WR Trent Taylor
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (3 targets) - The silver lining of Taylor's quiet day was that two of his three targets came on 3rd down in the Texans half of the field. Unfortunately, they were short throws on 3rd-and-long, so his catches didn't do any damage. In addition, his other target was intercepted by cornerback Kareem Jackson. (Although it was the result of an errant through, so not Taylor's fault.)
WR Kendrick Bourne
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (2 targets) - After a holding penalty backed the 49ers out of the red zone, Bourne put them inside the 10 by catching a short comeback route on the outside and then evading cornerback Kevin Johnson
's tackle for 18 yards. His second catch was nearly identical, except this time it was getting 11 yards back after consecutive penalties backed them into 2nd-and-19 from their own 4-yard line.
WR Aldrick Robinson
, 26 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (2 targets) - Both of Robinson's targets came on consecutive plays prior to Robbie Gould
's half-ending field goal. With 30 seconds left, Robinson ran a dig route from slot right and was wide open for 18 yards. After a Jimmy Garoppolo
spike, Robinson was once again lined up in the tight slot, but this time ran 10 yards directly to the middle of the field and sat down in Houston's zone. Cornerback Kareem Jackson was late on his drive toward the ball, so Robinson was able to make the catch and fall forward to set up a field goal from between the hash marks.
WR Louis Murphy
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 20 - 0 (2 targets) - Once again, Murphy started but played a vanishingly small role in San Francisco's passing game. His two targets came in a six-play span during the third quarter. On the one that was completed, he ran a deep dig route in front of safety marcus Gilchrist from the left slot. Catching the ball in stride, Murphy was able to tack on an extra 5 yards and set San Francisco up in the red zone. Five plays later, Murphy was targeted on 2nd-and-goal at the 7-yard line, but cornerback Jonathan Joseph knocked the pass away.
TE George Kittle
, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - On Kittle's first target, he sat down in Houston's underneath middle zone, caught the pass, and fell forward for 8 yards. His second target came on a West Coast staple, where the tight end runs his route across the formation behind the offensive line, and the quarterback delivers the pass after a play-action bootleg to the weak side. Safety Marcus Gilchrist, who was in a disguised man-to-man coverage on the play, was able to prevent a bigger gain; perhaps even a touchdown, as that side of the field was wide open.
TE Garrett Celek
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 67 - 1 (4 targets) - The entirety of Celek's contributions as a receiver came in a five-play span during the third quarter. On 1st-and-10 at San Francisco's 19-yard line, Celek lined up in a tight slot left position with trips right on the opposite side. He ran a simple post route and was completely uncovered. It would have been a 30-yard catch and run if not for slipshod tackling allowing him to tack on an additional 30. Four plays later, Celek scored a touchdown on the backside pass off of play-action bootleg that the 49ers seem to run at least 10 times per game. This time it worked, as Celek was wide open when his route broke into the left flat.
QB T.J. Yates
, 42 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 26 - 175 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 31 - 0 - After Savage was knocked out with a concussion, TJ Yates came in and started hot for the offense. After missing his first two passed, Yates picked a part the 49ers completing 10 of his first 16 passes for touchdowns. Yates then only completed 4 of 10 passes stalling out the offense and struggling to move the football. Yates has shown that he can come in and move the ball but there are going to have to be some tweaks to the offense to make it work if he is the choice if Savage cant make it back.
QB Tom Savage
, 25 offensive snaps, Pass: 6 - 12 - 63 - 0 TD / 0 INT - Tom Savage
started the game 5 of 5 and was moving the ball well for the Texans offense. Protection started to break down and then the hits started piling up and Savage started taking sacks. After that point Savage completed 1 of his next 11 passes before an ugly scene taking a hit in the end zone and having his head hit the ground hard. Coming back in for one series, Savage was checked on again and ruled him out shortly with a concussion. His status for next week is question due to his concussion situation and the quarterback position is once again in flux.
RB Lamar Miller
, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 53 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - The Texans have really struggled to run the ball especially the past few games and only 53 yards on the day. His longest run was 11 yards and he was being met in the backfield before most runs could get started going. He only had 2 receptions for 7 yards and one of those was for -1 yards. Miller is the Texans only true back in the offense with injuries around him and he escaped injury after taking a big hit that knocked him out of the game for a short time.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 149 - 2 (16 targets) - As we know the offense will continue run through DeAndre Hopkins
and he posted a 2 touchdown performance with catcher of 7 and 29 yards off the arm of T.J. Yates
. After the early success Yates, the 49ers started to double cover Hopkins at all costs the second half that essentially slowed him for the remainder of the game. Hopkins did have 11 receptions for 149 yards during the game and did most of his work with Savage and beating the cover 2 looks from the 49ers. His best reception came on a 22 yard pass what saw his patent toe tap ability to get both feet in for a top notch reception. He did have a costly fumble on a screen pass where he was hit in traffic and coughed it up to give the 49ers an easy chip shot field goal to ice the game.
WR Will Fuller
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (5 targets) - It started out strong for Fuller catching back to back passes for 14 and 12 yards to extend drives in the 1st quarter. After that he was only targeted three more times with his first catch not coming again until late in the 2nd quarter on a jet sweep that went for no yards. The Texans did try to go over the top with T.J Yates to Hopkins but was overthrown with Fuller double covered. For his first game back, it was a very uninspiring effort.
TE Stephen Anderson
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (6 targets) - It was a rough day for Anderson and despite being targeted 6 times the Texans went away from him after a critical drop on 3rd down that hit him right in the hands. He also had a drop in a crucial drive but other than that he was a non-factor on offense. He had two receptions for 16 yards with his longest only 9 yards.
New York Jets 0, Denver Broncos 23
What you need to know
New York Jets
- For the first time this season, the Jets were non-competitive. The offense only mustered 100 total yards and the defense made Denver's offense seem competent. Josh McCown
played very poorly; he committed two early turnovers, suffered a back injury, and broke his left hand in the third quarter. Bryce Petty
took a few snaps in relief, but missed easy throws. Todd Bowles has done a great job keeping his team competitive, but today's performance falls on his shoulders.
- Starting guard Ron Leary missed week 14 with an injury, as did QB Paxton Lynch
. Kick returner/receiver Isaiah McKenzie
was a healthy scratch after his sixth fumble of the year in week 13. Denver's defense pitched a shutout, forcing two turnovers and allowing only three 3rd down conversions. Adam Gotsis recovered a Josh McCown
fumble during the Jets' first possession of the game. Darian Stewart intercepted Josh McCown
early in the 2nd quarter. Brandon McManus
missed a short field goal attempt at the beginning of the 2nd quarter, but drilled a 53 yard attempt minutes at the end of the 1st half.
QB Josh McCown
, 29 offensive snaps, Pass: 6 - 12 - 46 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 7 - 0 - Josh McCown
suffered back and hand injuries against Denver. In fact, he broke his left hand after absorbing a big hit from Shane Ray. Bryce Petty
relieved McCown, but didn't inspire any confidence. Before exiting the game, McCown played very poorly. He threw an ugly interception and took multiple hits from Denver's ferocious front. Every part of the offense was terrible - and McCown's hand injury was a fitting end to a terrible afternoon.
QB Bryce Petty
, 21 offensive snaps, Pass: 2 - 9 - 14 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0 - Petty entered this game twiceóonce in the second quarter and for the remainder of the game in third quarter. In the second quarter, McCown suffered a back injury and Petty played in relief. Later in the third quarter, Petty took over the injured McCown. Petty missed some easy throws, overshooting open receivers. It was his first game action of the year, so some rust was expected.
RB Bilal Powell
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 35 - 0 - Bilal Powell
was the lone ‘bright spot' on offense. He had a long run of 12 yards on a stretch play.
RB Matt Forte
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets) - Matt Forte
was contained on the ground and made two passes on designed screen passes.
RB Elijah McGuire
, 1 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -3 - 0 - Elijah McGuire
suffered an ankle injury. His status is worth monitoring.
WR Robby Anderson
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (6 targets) - Even the admirable Robby Anderson
was unable to overcome this mess. New York's wide receivers were complete afterthoughts, but Anderson still made a few plays. Anderson had a long catch of 14 yards on a sideline route.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (6 targets) - Jermaine Kearse
only caught one pass on a short crossing route.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (4 targets) - Austin Seferian-Jenkins
had just one catch for 1 yard.
QB Trevor Siemian
, 70 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 31 - 200 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0 - Siemian and the offense weren't great, but they were able to capitalize on a couple of Jets turnovers that gave them good field position. Denver built an early lead and held on behind a great defensive effort. Siemian led the Broncos down the field on their first possession of the game, overthrowing Demaryius Thomas
in the end zone before eventually settling for a short field goal. His only touchdown was a desperate heave in the face of a free pass-rusher later in the 1st quarter. Siemian didn't have time to step into the throw, he just gathered the shotgun snap and heaved it up towards the front pylon as he fell backwards. Demaryius Thomas
charged down the right sideline and plucked the ball from the air over a defender who may have lost the ball in the sun. Siemian hooked up with Cody Latimer
in the 1st for his longest completion of the day, a 27 yard deep ball down the left sideline. He also found Demaryius Thomas
for 25 yard gain on a 3rd quarter post route. Siemian boasted Denver's longest rushing attempt with a 9 yard gain in the 1st quarter, a testament to the ineffectiveness of the Denver ground game. Siemian only absorbed two sacks in the contest.
RB C.J. Anderson
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 48 - 0, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (2 targets) - Anderson dominated the touches in the Denver backfield again, but could only muster a 2.4 ypc average with his 22 totes. He bulled his way up the middle for a 7 yard gain in the 3rd quarter, his longest on the ground. Anderson leaked out of the backfield into the left flat for a nice catch-and-run late in the 2nd quarter that barely missed converting 3rd and 13. He nearly scored on the same passing play later in the 3rd quarter, but was ruled down inches from the goal line. Anderson was then stuffed on two consecutive rushing attempts from inside the 1 yard line, until fullback Andy Janovich
pounded the ball in on 3rd and goal.
RB Devontae Booker
, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 22 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets) - Booker entered the game in relief of Anderson a couple minutes into the 1st quarter. He managed 11 touches behind Anderson, who led the Broncos backfield with 22 carries and 2 targets. Booker struggled on the ground, as did the entire Denver run game-QB Siemian posted the longest run of the day with a 9 yard scramble. Booker lined up in the slot and caught a slant route early in the 3rd quarter. Siemian improvised a shovel pass to Booker on an awkward play later in the 3rd quarter, picking up a short gain. Anderson and fullback Janovich got the only goal-line carries in the 3rd quarter.
RB Jamaal Charles
, 5 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - Week 14 was the first game all season that Charles did not record a carry, though he was involved in the passing game. Charles saw his first action early in the 1st quarter, catching a swing pass out of the backfield for a short gain on the Broncos' first offensive drive. He lined up with Booker in the backfield on the next play, then motioned out wide left for another short catch and run. Charles lined up in the slot and ran a nice slant route for a short gain at the end of the 2nd quarter, then disappeared after halftime.
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 93 - 1 (12 targets) - Thomas was the focal point of Denver's offense, drawing 12 targets while no other receiver amassed more than 5. DT hauled in a shallow crossing route for a short catch-and-run early in the 1st quarter. Siemian looked for Thomas deep in the end zone at the end of the drive, but overthrew everyone involved. Thomas caught Siemian's first touchdown pass later in the 1st, a desperate heave on a fly route down the right sideline. Siemian threw the ball while falling backwards and Thomas managed to high point the ball over a defender who seemed disoriented by the afternoon sunlight. Thomas showed off his vertical leap again later in the 1st with a soaring catch on a deep curl route. DT drew a holding penalty on a late 2nd quarter incompletion, then converted 4th-and-1 later that drive with a curl route. Thomas was wide open for his biggest gain of the day, a 3rd quarter post route that picked up 25 yards.
WR Cody Latimer
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 37 - 0 (3 targets) - Latimer saw most of the action at the third receiver spot alongside Thomas and Sanders. He lined up wide left in a 3WR set early in the 1st quarter, beating his man down the left sideline with a leaping catch for a 27 yard gain. Latimer caught his second target from the left slot position, turning the out route up the sideline for another nice gain.
WR Emmanuel Sanders
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (4 targets) - Sanders' slump continues as he only recorded one catch on 4 targets, a distant second to Demaryius Thomas
(12 targets). Siemian targeted Sanders with his first attempt of the game, a deep ball down the right sideline that failed to connect. Sanders was targeted deep again later in the 1st, this time on a post route in the end zone that was also overthrown. Siemian finally found Sanders in the 3rd quarter, rolling out left and hitting him on a deep crossing route just before Sanders reached the sideline. Sanders motioned left later in the 3rd and was briefly uncovered before the snap. He waved his hand to try to get Siemian's attention, but the QB took no notice and missed the opportunity.
WR Jordan Taylor
, 4 offensive snaps - Taylor saw limited snaps on offense but was not targeted. He returned punts, averaging 12.4 yards a return.
TE Jeff Heuerman
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - Heuerman caught a short crossing route from a 2TE set late in the 2nd quarter, then let a 3rd quarter out route bounce off his fingertips.
Tennessee Titans 7, Arizona Cardinals 12
What you need to know
- The Titans offense left a lot to be desired here as nobody looked good here. Demarco Murray saw more carries then Derrick Henry
again, but Henry got the team's lone touchdown on a six-yard run. Eric Decker
led the team in receiving while Rishard Matthews
was lackluster in his return from injury. Marcus Mariota
had one of the worst games of his career as he continues to struggle with accuracy and now has thrown 12 interceptions to just 10 touchdowns on the season.
- Fitzgerald’s milestone accomplishment aside, there was absolutely no upside or positive takeaway from Sunday’s win. This team is neither playoff bound nor helping itself achieve a top-10 pick; instead, they find themselves stuck in middle. The players who most contributed to Sunday’s win were old veterans and journeymen, players who will not play a significant role in the team’s future. Obviously, players are not expected to throw games once they are on the field, but objectively speaking, Sunday’s result absolutely damaged the franchise’s long-term health and well-being.
QB Marcus Mariota
, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 31 - 159 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 11 - 0 - Marcus Mariota
had one of the worst games of his career this last week as he completed just 51.6% of his passes for 159 yards and two interceptions. Mariota continued to struggle with throwing downfield here as he completed just five of 16 attempts of 10 or more yards downfield for 88 yards and two interceptions. Mariota made a nice throw on the run do Decker late in the third quarter that went for 29 yards, his longest play of the game. Shortly after this nice throw by Mariota, he made a horrible decision throwing downfield near the goal line with no Titans receiver in sight as the Cardinals picked him off for the first time in the game. Mariota then helped seal the deal for the Cardinals late in the fourth quarter as he completely overlooked linebacker Josh Bynes on a low throw across the middle of the field, letting Bynes jump up to snatch Mariota's second interception of the game. Mariota had been making up for his inefficiency through the air with some fantasy points on the ground, but he only rushed for 11 yards without a touchdown in this game.
RB DeMarco Murray
, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 34 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (3 targets) - Demarco Murray and the entire Titans offense could get nothing going against the Cardinals. Murray had a 54-yard run called back due to an offensive holding penalty in the first quarter. Outside of that play, Murray looked flat as a runner with no highlight plays worth mentioning. Murray's involvement in the passing game continued as he hauled in multiple receptions for the 10th straight game, but for just 13 yards as this didn't really help his stat line.
RB Derrick Henry
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 20 - 1 - Henry's longest run of the game came early in the second quarter as he took a routine handoff up the middle for nine yards. On the same drive, Henry busted a run to the left from the six-yard line to find the end zone. The extra effort on the end of that run to use the stiff arm and dive for the pylon was spectacular. Outside of his plays on this drive though, Henry was bottled up as he finished with just 20 yards on eight attempts as the Titans offense floundered.
WR Eric Decker
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 56 - 0 (5 targets) - Eric Decker
led the team in receiving with 56 yards on a rough day for the offense as a whole. He hauled in a 16-yard pass on the Titans' second drive of the game. Decker also caught an 11-yard pass for a big first down to set up the only Titans touchdown of the game. Decker accounted for the longest play of the game for the Titans as well - a 29-yard catch and run late in the third quarter.
WR Rishard Matthews
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (5 targets) - Matthews could not get anything going on his first game back from a hamstring injury, hauling in just three receptions for 19 yards. He had to deal with coverage from Patrick Peterson for most of the game, which will limit the upside of any receiver regardless of who he is.
WR Corey Davis
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (6 targets) - Corey Davis
saw a few nice deep ball targets in this game, but he couldn't come up with any of them as he finished with a very meager stat line. One of those deep balls came early in the second quarter and would have been a big play for the struggling Titans offense, but Mariota's throw was just slightly behind Davis making it tough for him to make a play on the ball. Davis's best play of the game came on the two-minute drill going into halftime as Davis ran a great corner route to haul in a 22-yard reception to set up a long field goal that the Titans would miss.
TE Delanie Walker
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 42 - 0 (9 targets) - Delanie Walker
led the Titans in targets and receptions, hauling in five of nine targets for 42 yards. Most of Walker's receptions were short passes near the line of scrimmage. Marcus Mariota
tried to find him deep on a few occasions, but he simply was not accurate enough for Walker to make a play. Walker dropped what was a nicely thrown ball on a wheel route on the Titans' final drive of the game. One play later, Walker had another quality target but had the ball dislodged after taking a huge hit that took a few moments for Walker to recover from. Walker would not return to the game after that hit.
QB Blaine Gabbert
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 26 - 178 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 12 - 0 - Nothing about Gabbert’s performance on Sunday suggested the Cardinals should have walked away with a victory, but poor play by the opponent coupled with a truly mystifying coaching decision provided just enough wind in the Cardinals sails to see them pull off a close win. Gabbert was his usual mediocre self, missing open receivers, narrowly avoiding interceptions and running out of perfectly clean pockets, but connected on enough passes to continuously move his team into field goal range in the second half, sadly the difference in the game. There was no great pass or momentous offensive drive, it was simply a game where the Titans offensive incompetence was slightly worse than the Cardinals, and the Cardinals’ defense was able to capitalize on mistakes the Titan’s defense could not.
RB Kerwynn Williams
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 73 - 0, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (1 targets) - While 77 yards on fewer than 4 yards-per-carry likely does not qualify as a “bright spot”, Kerwynn Williams
was the closest to that the Cardinals offense had on Sunday. For the second straight week, the diminutive running back has found was to keep the Cardinals offense moving forward. Often in little burst, but rarely backward, Williams has become an offensive crutch for a team struggling through the air. Despite not having the team’s longest run of the day, Chad Williams
33-yard end around provided that, but his ability to keep the offense moving forward allowed for easier conversions and manageable 3rd downs for Gabbert, which proved vital for all of those second-half field goal drives. The Cardinals won Sunday via a death of a thousand cuts, and Kerwynn Williams
was often holding the blade.
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 44 - 0 (7 targets) - The only noteworthy accomplishment on an otherwise dreadful game was Fitzgerald’s continued march towards history. With his 44 yards, Fitzgerald one of his passed childhood heroes, Randy Moss
, for third All Time in Receiving Yards. An incredible accomplishment for an incredible player who we will all look back on and wonder what could have been had he played the majority of his career with a non Blane Gabbert-esq quarterback. Within the game itself, Fitzgerald occupied his role as the team’s most targeted receiver; hauling in five of his seven passes, easily outpacing the rest of the team. With so few total completions and passing yards, even Fitzgerald’s relatively paltry numbers made up a large chunk of them. The fact that no other receiver bears mentioning truly shows how far this once great passing offense has fallen.
TE Jermaine Gresham
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (2 targets) - Gresham being mentioned is more by default, as he contribution to the game was minimal at best. In fact, the most noteworthy element of Gresham’s afternoon was his sideline spat with Head Coach Bruce Arians. Nothing became of it; it was an argument that can be seen on nearly any NFL sideline, but considering Gresham’s output on the field, it ended up being his most significant moment of an otherwise uninspired game.
Green Bay Packers 27, Cleveland Browns 21
What you need to know
Green Bay Packers
- What we all need to know is something we won’t until later this week—is Aaron Rodgers
returning this week? He’s able to, but whether the Packers want to risk him in a season which is only on life support is another matter. Also, what does that do to the pecking order among the receivers? Will Davante Adams
see a massive decrease? Will Jordy Nelson
bounce back? We’ll keep a close eye on this all week. Meanwhile, it certainly seems like Jamaal Williams
is the lead back and Aaron Jones
is the backup. Ty Montgomery
is done for the season, so this is a chance to really see what Williams can do. He has improved each week, and appears to be a solid RB2 coming off three solid games in a row.
- The Browns fell to 0-13 in heartbreaking fashion in Week 14 against the Green Bay Packers. It was an unfortunate end result as they were in control for most of the game. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer
played his best game as a pro, but his interception in overtime allowed the Packers to score the game-winning touchdown to seal the victory. Despite the heart-breaking loss, there were plenty of positives to take away from this game. Isaiah Crowell
turned in his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season behind excellent blocking from his offensive line. Josh Gordon
's second game back was a success as he caught his first touchdown since the 2013 season.
QB Brett Hundley
, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 35 - 46 - 265 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 31 - 0 - Hundley played two very different games on Sunday, the first half representing the ho-hum, get it done Hundley we tend to see when he’s at his most efficient, while the second half made him look really good against an imploding Cleveland Browns defense. Key to Hundley’s game was being able to avoid turnovers, as Hundley didn’t throw an interception or fumble the ball. His first touchdown, a 30-yard floater to a wide-open Jamaal Williams
, came on the Packers first drive. The Browns failed to stay with Williams, who got behind the coverage and was open near the goal line. The Packers didn’t find the end zone again until the fourth quarter, and Hundley didn’t throw a touchdown again until near the end of that period. That throw—a 1-yard pass to Davante Adams
—was a very nice throw, as Hundley saw the coverage was inside, and threw to Hundley’s backside shoulder. The touchdown sent the game into overtime, where Hundley again found Adams, this time on what was supposed to be a very conservative screen pass. Randall Cobb
and Jordy Nelson
did a very nice job blocking, and Adams broke free for a 25-yard touchdown to win the game.
RB Jamaal Williams
, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 49 - 1, Rec: 7 - 69 - 1 (7 targets) - By out-snapping Aaron Jones
50-8, Williams has put to rest any thought that Jamaal Williams
isn’t the lead back right now. He played well on both running and passing plays, including finding a way to sneak behind the Browns secondary on a 30-yard touchdown reception. On the play, Cleveland pulled up its safeties and nobody accounted for Williams, who was wide open on the 1-yard line and easily scored. He then found the end zone again on a simple run to the edge from the 1-yard line. Overall, Williams has played well and continues to get better each week.
RB Aaron Jones
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - -2 - 0 - Jones saw almost no work, and as he is reportedly healthy, that is a pretty good sign his is just a backup. Add in some poor runs, which gave him a negative total yardage for the day, and it looks like Jones’ moment has past.
RB Aaron Ripkowski
, 11 offensive snaps (1 targets) - The fullback was targeted once on the first drive of the game, and then rarely saw the field afterwards.
WR Davante Adams
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 84 - 2 (14 targets) - Adams was a targeted just twice in the first half in part because of some good coverage by Cleveland and in part because quarterback Brett Hundley
was looking elsewhere. The two just missed connecting on a big play late in the second quarter, but the pass was just off target. During the second half Adams was able to get free much more frequently as the Browns defense imploded. All of his yards came after he start of the half, including both touchdowns. The first touchdown came close to the end of the game and tied it, sending the teams into overtime. On the play, a short 1-yard score, Adams ran a simple out route, and his coverage stayed inside. Hundley did a nice job seeing that and throwing the ball to the outside shoulder where only Adams could make the catch. The second touchdown, taking place in overtime and winning the game, was almost all due to Adams’ ability after the catch. The play was a short screen pass, thrown to Adams who ran behind Randall Cobb
and Jordy Nelson
. Both receivers did a great job creating a lane for Adams to create more yards with solid blocking, and then Adams broke into the open field and scored easily, running into the tunnel and disappearing with the ball. Adams continues to be Hundley’s favorite target and as long as Hundley is under center, Adams is going to produce.
WR Randall Cobb
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 39 - 0 (8 targets) - Often coming out of the slot, Cobb caught everything thrown his way, though he caught most of his passes in the first half. Cobb wasn’t able to get free for many yards after the catch, and as his receptions were generally on short passes, that meant he didn’t total all that much. He looked good catching the ball, but the areas he caught the ball in were too crowded to add many yards, and the passes too close to—or sometimes behind—the line of scrimmage to put him in a position to improve on that.
WR Geronimo Allison
, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 29 - 0 (4 targets) - Allison wasn’t on the field much, but did a good job when he was, consistently catching balls thrown his way and moving the distance marker when he showed up. On three of his catches, Allison was brought down just short of the marker, but the result was a manageable distance for the offense on the next play.
WR Jordy Nelson
, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 33 - 0 (5 targets) - Nelson continues to stumble along, catching much of what is thrown his way, though the number of passes and their nature limit his overall production. Nelson once again saw very little work of substance, and is not on Brett Hundley
’s radar for anything substantive.
WR Trevor Davis
, 3 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Davis was mostly on special teams returning punts and kicks, though he was targeted once on an incomplete pass in the fourth quarter.
TE Lance Kendricks
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (5 targets) - Kendricks had a hard time hauling in passes throughout the day, both on short and longer passes. He did move the chains on a 3-1, with a 5-yard reception, and came right back afterwards with a nice 6-yard grab as well.
TE Richard Rodgers
, 40 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Rodgers was on the field for 53 percent of the offensive snaps, but didn’t do much beyond block and run routes. He did have a nice 19-yard grab which was wiped out by a holding penalty late in the second quarter but was otherwise quiet.
QB DeShone Kizer
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 28 - 214 - 3 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 7 - 0 - Kizer turned in his best pro performance as he nearly led the Browns to their first win of the season. Unfortunately, it was Kizer's overtime interception which allowed Green Bay to score the game-winning touchdown. The rookie quarterback came out of the gates hot, connecting with Josh Gordon
for a 38-yard reception on the first play of the game. He followed that up with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Gordon to cap off an impressive first drive. He made a great throw to find Gordon on a post route, putting the ball where only Gordon could make the catch for the score. In the second quarter, Kizer led the Browns on their second scoring drive. He connected with Duke Johnson
on a seven-yard shovel pass for the touchdown. It was a well-designed play in which Kizer faked a handoff to Isaiah Crowell
, who was running right, before flipping the ball to Johnson. He should have had another scoring drive in the second quarter as he had Josh Gordon
in the end zone but Gordon was clearly interfered with by the Green Bay defender. No flags were thrown as Gordon was only able to get one hand on the ball. Kizer's first interception came right at the end of the second quarter. He locked in on Corey Coleman
which allowed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to read his eyes and jump the route for the pick. In the third quarter, Kizer found Corey Coleman
for a two-yard touchdown. It was a great throw as Coleman was double-covered on his slant route. Things went downhill after the third quarter as Kizer led the Browns on two scoreless drives in the fourth quarter before throwing his second interception in overtime. The overtime interception was inexcusable as Kizer was facing heavy pressure. His arm was hit by Clay Matthews as he threw the ball and it wound up getting picked off. It was a panic play by a rookie quarterback who should have just thrown the ball out of bounds. In all, Kizer's performance was encouraging as this was the most confident and sharp he has looked all season.
RB Isaiah Crowell
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 121 - 0, Rec: 3 - 10 - 0 (3 targets) - Crowell picked up his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season and, more importantly, remained a big part of the game plan in the second half. It helped that the Browns had a rare lead for most of the second half of the game. He got off to a slow start, picking up four yards on his first carry and then getting stuffed on the ensuing touch. In the second quarter, Crowell made a short catch in the flat. It appeared he had room to run but he slipped just short of the line of scrimmage, losing one yard on the play. He picked it up in the third quarter, ripping off an 18-yard gain on a play that was perfectly blocked by his offensive line. Crowell's best play of the game came on that same drive, where he picked up 37 yards on a weaving run, all the way down to the Green Bay six yard line. It looked like he had a chance to score at one point but he seemed to run out of gas before slipping at the six yard line.
RB Duke Johnson
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 8 - 0, Rec: 4 - 41 - 1 (4 targets) - For the second straight week, Johnson struggled to get anything going on the ground. He was routinely brought down at or around the line of scrimmage on his runs. Fortunately, he was able to do plenty of damage in the passing game. He scored a touchdown on a seven-yard shovel pass from DeShone Kizer
in the second quarter. It was a well-designed play as Kizer faked the handoff to Isaiah Crowell
before flipping the ball to Johnson, who had little trouble reaching the end zone. Later in the second quarter, Johnson got matched up with a linebacker on a pass route in a mismatch. He made the short catch and easily gained 18 yards. In the third quarter, he came close to picking up a second touchdown. He took a red zone carry at the Green Bay six, picking up four yards. An ankle tackle from behind appeared to have prevented him from reaching the end zone on that play.
WR Corey Coleman
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 62 - 1 (6 targets) - Coleman bounced back from a zero-catch game in Week 13, hauling in a two-yard touchdown and operating well opposite Josh Gordon
. In the second quarter, he made a great diving catch on a low ball to pick up 20 yards. He followed that up with an 18-yard catch that brought the Browns down to the Green Bay seven yard line. Coleman was wide open as he found a soft spot in the Green Bay zone. His two-yard touchdown catch came in the third quarter. He was double covered but still managed to make the catch in the end zone before taking a big hit and holding onto the ball.
WR Josh Gordon
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 69 - 1 (6 targets) - Gordon was busy on his team's first drive, catching two of his three passes. He made a 38-yard catch on the first play of the game off of a play action pass. He finished that drive with a fantastic 18-yard touchdown reception on a snatch catch. It was a tough catch that Gordon was able to hold on to. His final catch came on the first drive of the second quarter on a quick slant which he turned into a 13-yard gain. Later in the second he came close to scoring a second touchdown and probably would have had it not been for pass interference by the Packers. Gordon got a hand on a pass in the end zone and was clearly pushed before the ball got there, but no flags were thrown. In the fourth quarter it appeared he could have had another long gain but defender Davon House tripped, which in turn tripped up Gordon. Despite the slow second half, the presence of Gordon has made the Cleveland offense look much more functional than it did while he was suspended.
TE David Njoku
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - Njoku only made one catch for three yards but he did have two other catches wiped off the board in the game. He had a 12-yard catch and run nullified by an offensive holding penalty in the second quarter. In the fourth quarter, he had what was originally called a catch overturned by a Green Bay challenge flag, which showed the ball came loose on his way to the ground.
Minnesota Vikings 24, Carolina Panthers 31
What you need to know
- It was bound to happen eventually, the Vikings finally stumbled for only the third time this season after losing a back and forth affair with the Carolina Panthers. The biggest storylines on the day include two 60+ yard runs by the Panthers and a defense that was too tired to stop the Panthers in the fourth quarter after the offense had just tied it up. The defense was so tired because Case Keenum
had 3 turnovers (2 INT and a fumble lost) and just could not keep the offense on the field for extended periods of time. Despite the body of work, Keenum has put together throughout the season, there are many people calling for Teddy Bridgewater
after this week. The Vikings still have a commanding lead in the NFC North and take on the Bengals at home next week before closing the season with two divisional matchups against Green Bay and Chicago.
- Cam Newton
and the passing attack really struggled to get anything going, even as the Vikings were daring the Panthers to throw outside the numbers. Often Minnesota would cheat its safeties up to within eight yards of the line of scrimmage, but Carolina was unable to capitalise. Newton's inaccuracy contributed to an offense that lacked in rhythm. The offensive line welcomed back Ryan Kalil at centre, who seemed to make a difference in the ground game, where Jonathan Stewart
cashed in with three touchdowns. The connection between Newton and Devin Funchess
continues to flourish, although things were made more difficult by the excellent coverage of Xavier Rhodes. Greg Olsen
temporarily left the game to have his foot checked, but he came back and showed no ill effects; to say he looked dynamic would be a lie, but he looked comfortable in his second game back.
QB Case Keenum
, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 44 - 280 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 5 - 40 - 0 - Despite being the key factor in a resurgent Vikings' offense that had to weather the losses of both Sam Bradford
and Dalvin Cook
, Keenum has had to answer questions all season about being replaced as the Vikings starter. For the most part, he had silenced critics with his solid play, but this week he stumbled against a stingy Carolina defense. He still managed to put up 24 points on the road, but 3 costly mistakes will have him fielding questions about his job security all week. Keenum did manage 280 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, but everyone is going to focus on the 2 interceptions and the fumble lost. Keenum was intercepted on the first drive of the game. Adam Thielen
had beat his man down the sideline and Keenum simply underthrew him and the ball went right to the corner who had peeled off the route. The second interception was not Keenum's fault as the ball bounced off Stefon Digg's chest and into the covering corner's arms. The fumble came on a strip sack where Keenum held the ball in the pocket too long and simply had no chance against the pass rush. It looked as if he had started his arm forward, but the replay official confirmed it was a fumble recovered by Carolina. For all of the bad, Keenum did manage 2 touchdown passes. His first touchdown came on a beautiful pass up the seam to Kyle Rudolph
. The big tight end appeared to be triple covered in the end zone, but Keenum was able to drop it right over the coverage and put it where only Rudolph could make a play on the ball. The second touchdown pass came to Adam Thielen
on a skinny post right down the middle that he broke for 52 yards and into the end zone. Keenum should get the chance to take on the Bengals at home next week, but look for it to be a short leash after all of the mistakes today.
RB Latavius Murray
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 14 - 0, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Murray was given the start this week and was unable to do much of anything on the ground. Both Jerick McKinnon
and Case Keenum
had more rushing yards than Murray. Of the 14 yards that Murray managed on the ground, 11 came on one play, and the other 8 carries went almost nowhere. He also was unable to do anything with his 2 catches as he only managed 6 yards through the air and was tackled almost immediately every time he touched the ball. Murray had outplayed McKinnon, for the most part, this season, but this simply was not one of those games. Carolina clearly game planned to take Murray away and challenged Keenum to beat them through the air. Murray will get the chance to bounce back next week against a banged-up Cincinnati defense, before wrapping up the season against divisional opponents.
RB Jerick McKinnon
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 46 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (3 targets) - The Vikings did not fare very well on the ground at all this week. With 100 total yards on the ground, 40 of which came from quarterback Case Keenum
, but McKinnon and Murray had rough days. On the bright side, McKinnon did lead the team with 46 rushing yards, averaged 6.6 yards per carry, and even broke off a 17-yard scamper to lead all rushers. However, McKinnon has equally as rough a day through the air and only caught 2 of his 3 targets for 9 yards and was also tackled almost immediately, just like Murray. The Vikings offensive line was manhandled all game and both McKinnon and Murray suffered. McKinnon definitely had the better day, but that is not saying much as he only managed 6 more yards than a non-running quarterback. Look for a better showing next week at home against the Bengals.
WR Adam Thielen
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 105 - 1 (13 targets) - Here is another reoccurring theme of the season. Thielen lead the team in targets with 13, lead the team in receiving yards with 105, had the longest play of the game for the Vikings with his 52-yard reception, and chipped in a touchdown for good measure. Thielen has been a surprise story all season, but his day actually could have been so much better if Keenum had been more accurate. On the first drive of the game, Thielen had a step on his man and Keenum underthrew him for an interception. There were 6 other occasions where the ball was thrown behind Thielen or right into coverage making it impossible for Thielen to make a play. The big 52-yard reception was more a by-product of a great route and breakaway speed by Thielen more than anything Keenum did. Thielen ran a skinny post, made a leaping catch across the middle, and then simply outran both his man and the safety to the pylon and the end zone. This was the big play the Vikings needed to get back into the game but unfortunately was not enough in the end. Thielen still ranks in the top 5 for receiving yards in the league and has 2 more opportunities to build on his break out campaign.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (10 targets) - This could have been a very big game for Diggs as well, but he only managed to catch 6 of his 10 targets and had the glaring mistake with his bobbled catch being intercepted deep in Carolina territory. Diggs has had some issues with drops this season and throughout his career, but the bobble that lead to the pick today was on an easy swing pass with no defender within 5 yards of him. Diggs managed to catch almost that exact same play and take it 22 yards for a first down later in the game after the corner tried to jump the route and missed the tackle. Diggs has yet to replicate the success he had before his groin injury, but still remains a big part of the Viking offense. Thielen and Diggs were considered one of the best WR duos after the first few games of the season, but Diggs has not held up his portion. It will be interesting to see how Diggs reacts if there is a change at quarterback before the end of the season.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 41 - 1 (5 targets) - Rudolph was third on the team with 5 targets this week but did not manage much outside of his touchdown catch in the first half. Keenum directed more than half of his targets to Thielen and Diggs and seemed to forget about Rudolph several times when the big tight end came open across the middle of the field. The touchdown play was a beautiful pass and catch in traffic as Rudolph worked his way up the seam and caught the ball just over the linebacker in coverage and before the safety could bear down and make a play. This same play also accounted for Rudolph's longest play of the game with the 18-yard reception. Rudolph continues to be an asset in the red zone but does not seem to be utilized as much in other parts of the field.
QB Cam Newton
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 25 - 137 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 11 - 70 - 0 - An erratic display from Cam Newton
contributed to an offensive performance that was bereft of any semblance of rhythm. The Vikings dared the Panthers to throw the ball outside the numbers all game long, often deploying their safeties comically close to the line of scrimmage. Newton took a few deep shots, but each time they were well covered. For the most part the pass protection gave Newton the platform to make throws; they simply weren't there, or he would fade back and invite pressure rather than stepping up in the pocket. He managed to connect on a beautiful back shoulder pass down the left sideline to Devin Funchess
to set up a touchdown, but would follow that up with a scattershot heave downfield to nobody in particular. The rushing attack was doing its part, but the Panthers had several three-and-out drives in the second half as they were nursing a lead. Newton's lone touchdown pass came on a good improvisational play in the red zone. Detecting pressure, Newton faded back in the pocket, evaded a sack and tossed a laser to a wide open Funchess on the goal line. It was an ill-advised throw in the circumstances, but Newton did well to buy time and make a play. Newton tossed a late interception on what appeared to be a simple pass to Christian McCaffrey
after leaving the football too high. The quarterback would make up for his error on the Panthers' final possession, sprinting 62 yards downfield after making a man miss with an incredible open field move. It wasn't a clean game from Newton, but he did enough.
RB Jonathan Stewart
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 103 - 3 (1 targets) - There was a strong intent from the outset to run the football effectively on this cold December day in Charlotte, and Jonathan Stewart
was happy to take on that role. A determined Stewart got into a rhythm early and seemed to be enjoying running behind an offensive line that played cohesively and blew open some big holes. Perhaps none was bigger than the massive gap between right guard and right tackle in the first quarter that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown scamper. The line folded the Vikings defensive front in a short yardage situation with excellent blocking, giving Stewart a clear lane to pay dirt. Stewart continued to see action in the red zone, with the Panthers intent on punching it in on the ground, perhaps not trusting their outside options to win against the Vikings' cornerbacks. Stewart added a second score off left guard in the red zone, showing phenomenal power and leg drive to bull through a tackler. He added a third touchdown to seal the game in the dying moments, diving over the top and breaking the plane just before the ball was jarred loose from his hands.
RB Christian McCaffrey
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 35 - 0, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - It was an uncharacteristically quiet outing for Christian McCaffrey
when compared to recent games, but he played his part as usual. An early pass into the flat saw him draw a facemask penalty to keep a drive alive. A beautiful cut saw him make safety Harrison Smith miss the tackle in the flat before turning it up the field for a first down. As a runner, he showed good patience against a disciplined Vikings front, taking what was given. In the final stages, a high Cam Newton
pass caromed off McCaffrey's outstretched hands on a simple route over the middle, resulting in an interception. The blame rests more on the quarterback, but the ball made contact with the rookie's hands.
WR Damiere Byrd
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 37 - 0 (5 targets) - A standout performance on a day of few notable ones in the Carolina passing attack, the returning Damiere Byrd
made his presence felt. The quick-twitch speed merchant was able to separate from Minnesota's defensive backs on crossing patterns; if Cam Newton
's passes had been better placed, he perhaps could have done more after the catch. In the closing stages Byrd ran an excellent pivot route on third down for a first down, catching the ball cleanly as a defensive back flew past his ear hole in a despairing attempt for the interception. A beautiful sideline grab outside his frame converted yet another third down on a day the Panthers needed every first down they could muster.
WR Devin Funchess
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 59 - 1 (7 targets) - Devin Funchess
continues to be the apple of Cam Newton
's eye and the de facto number one receiving option in an uninspiring passing attack. The Vikings kept Funchess well marshalled for the majority of the game, although an early back shoulder pass left vaunted cornerback Xavier Rhodes grasping at air. The timing and precision of the pass gave Funchess every chance to make the play, and he did just that. Rhodes battled back and broke up consecutive targets to Funchess in the second quarter. Funchess found some joy in the second half on a dig route out of the slot, showing good technique and strong hands at the catch point. He did an excellent job to adjust on a Newton scramble drill, finding an open space to give his quarterback an easy, if ill-advised, pass for a touchdown. Newton continued firing passes in Funchess' direction, but often they were over his head and simply desperate attempts on third and long.
WR Kaelin Clay
, 3 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Kaelin Clay
's involvement was mainly as a punt returner, although Cam Newton
targeted him once on a deep ball after a couple of Statue of Liberty-esque fakes in the backfield. Minnesota didn't fall for the window dressing, and the coverage was excellent, taking away the downfield option.
TE Greg Olsen
, 59 offensive snaps (1 targets) - It was an uneventful game for Greg Olsen
in the box score, as he was blanked by a disciplined Minnesota defense. The ineptitude of the passing game for long stretches played a role in his quiet afternoon as well, as the Panthers tried to play keep away in the latter stages. Olsen was forced to leave the game for treatment on his surgically repaired foot, but returned with no issues. His lone target came on a seam pass over the middle, but Cam Newton
's wild pass was too high and gave Olsen no chance.
Seattle Seahawks 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 30
What you need to know
- Russell Wilson
continues to be not only matchup proof, but game score proof as well. Whether gaining yards through the air or on the ground, coming from behind or playing ahead in a tight contest, his fantasy numbers rank consistently high. With a three touchdown game, he has now scored multiple TDs in 8 straight games. Doug Baldwin
turned in a decent final line, including a touchdown that sparked the team. Paul Richardson
looked the part of a true #2 WR, but that can’t be counted on from week to week. Tyler Lockett
had his best game since week 8 in overall yardage, including returns, but as with Richardson, one big scoring play turned his day from a fantasy miss to a hit. Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham
was a complete dud, only getting noticed for a bad drop on the final would-be comeback drive, which stalled two plays later. The running game, it must be said, has legs, folks. Mike Davis
, who was injured in the third quarter looked to have solidified the lead job, and should be back next week.
- This was the most impressive performance by the Jaguars offense all season when you take into account the opponent. They scored 27 of their points in the second half that was a tone setter thanks to explosive plays in the passing game and bruising running by Leonard Fournette
. The Jaguars offense, after falling stagnant in Arizona, is picking up steam.
QB Russell Wilson
, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 31 - 271 - 3 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 50 - 0 - Wilson nearly carried the Seahawks to a comeback, falling just short in the end. His near-heroics were a sight – with two long touchdown passes in the final ten minutes of the game – but he also dug his own hole, starting with three interceptions on the day to go along with his three offensive scores. Early on, Wilson looked his usual self: calm under pressure, as he waited for a receiver to get open. He wasn’t afraid to run the ball early, which led to his 50 yard total on the ground, but made some poor decisions that led to turnovers, and they would be costly. One in particular mistake was a throw to Jimmy Graham
, who was overtaken at the last second for the pick. But the defender passed Graham with such ease, that he seemed to be baiting Wilson to throw and as soon as he did, turned on the jets and snagged the ball easily. Wilson’s trust in his receivers is everything. He throws to them in coverage and (obviously) when he finds them wide open. Against the Jags, he tried to get the ball to Baldwin a couple of times in tight situations. In each case, the throw was just off and that was enough for the the turnover to happen. On the good side, he did finally find Baldwin in a seam over the middle for a score, which sparked the attempted comeback. Going into the 4th quarter his confidence has never been higher, as evidenced by his gutsy deep TD throws to Richardson and Lockett. Also worth noting is that Jimmy Graham
was invisible and it really hurt Wilson’s red zone game.
RB Mike Davis
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 66 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (2 targets) - Davis had sealed up the starting gig by the time he got injured in the 3rd quarter. By then, it seems they decided to hold him out just in case, while the Seahawks played catch up Davis is expected to play in next week’s game, however. He had a couple of runs worth noting – showing excellent vision, cut back move, and ability to shed tackles past scrimmage. Davis other noteworthy accomplishment is his continued use as a check down option in the passing game, though it won’t show up on the scoresheet. He took a screen pass for a big gain, that unfortunately came back on a penalty, and seems to have gained his team and quarterback’s trust in that department.
RB J.D. McKissic
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0, Rec: 5 - 20 - 0 (5 targets) - With the emergence (and presumed health) of Mike Davis
as the lead back, McKissic played a purely complimentary role, though he’s a bit of a wild card any time he’s on the field. McKissic still often lines up wide, and so is important to the passing game, and is a dangerous weapon out of the backfield as well. He won’t run inside very often, and his snaps remain limited, but when he touches the ball, you can feel the excitement level rise a little.
WR Tyler Lockett
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 4 - 90 - 1 (5 targets) - Lockett had a great overall game, though it took a 74-yard TD with under four minutes to go, to make his day fantasy worthy. He had a chance in the end zone earlier in the game, but wasn’t able to hang on to the leaping one-handed reception he would have had to make to hold on to it. He’s a home run threat every game, but lacks the volume to find any consistency. The fact that Jimmy Graham
disappeared in this game gave him a few more opportunities than usual.
WR Doug Baldwin
, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 78 - 1 (6 targets) - Baldwin had no chance on a couple of throws that became interceptions, which were either a poor QB decision or a poor throw – or both. Later in the game, Baldwin found a little pocket down the middle, between 4 defenders, and caught a TD pass that started the near comeback. The fact that Russell Wilson
kept going to him after the two picks speaks volumes. Start him with confidence.
WR Paul Richardson
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 72 - 1 (7 targets) - Richardson was featured early on, a testament to his ability to get open against a tough defense. In the end, however, his biggest contribution was a long catch-and-run beaty of a TD for 61 yards, that brought the Seahawks within striking distance. All that is stopping Richardson’s value from ascending is his limited opportunity.
TE Jimmy Graham
, 38 offensive snaps (2 targets) - The Jags had Graham’s number all game. He finished with no catches on two targets, one of which was intercepted and the other was a glaring drop on the would-be game winning drive, that would have moved the chains. Instead, the drive fizzled a couple of plays later. He looked extremely sluggish and unfocused on those two plays. He’s been on the injury report almost every week – this is purely speculative, of course -- so he may simply not be playing at 100% right now.
QB Blake Bortles
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 27 - 268 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - -2 - 0 - Bortles turned in a career performance in what was the most important game of his career up to this point. The Jaguars got him into a rhythm early on by utilizing quick hitting passing plays and crossers behind the Seahawks linebackers. He was not sacked on the day largely due to the fact that he got the ball out quickly and his pocket presence. He frequently stepped up against the Seahawks edge rush and delivered passes over the head of their second level. His two best throws were his touchdown passes, both vertical throws. The first to Dede Westbrook
was placed behind Westbrook so that he had to slow for the ball, but he did this because there was a safety trying to cut off Westbrook from the end-zone. His 75-yard touchdown pass to Keelan Cole
was possible because of his eye movement. He held the safety and then quickly moved off of him and threw a strike downfield that hit Cole in stride.
RB Leonard Fournette
, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 101 - 1, Rec: 4 - 18 - 0 (6 targets) - For the first time in some time, Fournette looked like Fournette again. He didn't break any super long runs but he consistently picked up juncos of four and five yards and helped grind down the Seattle defense. He was much more decisive hitting the hole this week and he did not shy away from any contact. He showed explosion and an ability to move a pile. His best run came on the final true play from scrimmage. On 3rd-and-eleven, Fournette took the handoff behind a pulling guard off the left tackle's side. He found a lane and then galloped past the Seahawks second level before they released, effectively ending the game.
RB Chris Ivory
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 48 - 0 - Ivory had a huge run to set up the Jaguars first field goal and the only first half points in the game. He hit the hole and then spun out of an Earl Thomas
tackle before clearing he second and third levels. He did a much better job of saying upright and initiating contacts.
WR Dede Westbrook
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 81 - 1 (8 targets) - Westbrook had his best game as a pro. He looked like a veteran wideout thanks to his ability to adjust to passes and secure them. He made three huge catches on the day; the first one was on a sluggo route where he beat the corner early in the route thanks to smooth release. He created a window to throw the ball but an under throw forced him to stop in his tracks almost completely. He rotated his body and shielded the ball from the corner while lowering himself to the ground for the ball and a 20+ yard gain. His next big play was the aforementioned touchdown, the first of his career. He once again created a window for Bortles thanks to his quickness and his routes and was able to finish the catch through contact. His final big catch was a third down conversion in the fourth quarter. He ran a slant off of the line and Bortles quickly delivered the ball but the window could not have been more tighter. Westbrook used his body to secure the ball and held onto it through contact from several defenders.
WR Marqise Lee
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 65 - 0 (6 targets) - Lee had another solid game for the Jaguars and was used as their possession WR. He did not receive one deep target but nearly every one of his targets came across the middle of the field, be it crossing routes, dig routes, or slants. He made several contested caches to move the chains, primarily in the first half, against both Shaquille Griffin and Earl Thomas
. He showed quickness and vision after the catch as well as he gained several yards after every catch. Lee did not find the end zone but it is clear that there is trust between him and his quarterback.
WR Keelan Cole
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 99 - 1 (3 targets) - Cole only had a handful of catches but he had the biggest play of the game, and the year, for the Jaguars offense. Matched up with a linebacker, Cole ran a post and torched the linebacker down the field, showing the deep speed he has shown all season. Bortles lead him with the pass and, though he had to reach out for it, he was able to secure the deep pass, which has been his Achilles heel this season. He then outran the rest of the Seattle defense for the score. He shows terrific quickness from the slot and has truly improved every week.
Indianapolis Colts 7, Buffalo Bills 13
What you need to know
- The Colts played the Bills in the middle of a blizzard. The field was covered in a thick layer of snow for the entirety of the game. Footing was a huge problem for players and coaches did not trust their kicking or passing games as a result of the elements. Adam Vinatieri
missed a 33 yard field goal and a 43 yard field goal because of the field conditions. The Colts had more than twice as many rushing attempts as pass attempts. Jacoby Brissett
attempted just two passes in the first half. Frank Gore
saw 36 carries and produced a long run of 10 yards. The predictability of the Colts offense hurt them. All of the Colts options in the pass game saw limited opportunities because of the conditions. TY Hilton was not targeted deep downfield. Marlon Mack
could have seen more usage especially in the passing game.
- The Buffalo Bills game against the Indianapolis Colts was played during lake effect snow storm that was reported to have dumped nearly a foot of snow on the field. With inches of snow on the field, and snow falling the entire game, the game was difficult to draw conclusions, outside of the dramatic nature of the game. The game plan was limited by the field conditions and with limited visibility both viewing the game and passing was very difficult. Nathan Peterman
started the game, and connected on two balls to Kelvin Benjamin
, including one for a touchdown. Peterman was hit hard in the third quarter and left the game in the concussion protocol. He was replaced by Joe Webb
, who led Buffalo's offense on a game winning drive in overtime. LeSean McCoy
saw heavy volume and was spectacular, including a game winning run for a touchdown in overtime.
QB Jacoby Brissett
, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 22 - 69 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 10 - 0 - The Colts first possession featured 11 rushing attempts and 0 pass attempts. 9 of those carries went to Frank Gore
. The drive eventually stalled deep in Bills territory forcing a field goal attempt that Adam Vinatieri
missed from 33 yards out. Jacoby Brissett
attempted just two passes in the first half. The first was a check down to Marlon Mack
and the second was a throwaway resulting in an intentional grounding penalty. Brissett overthrew Chester Rogers
who was open for a potential 33 yard touchdown. Brissett redeemed himself by putting together a 9 minute touchdown drive with the game on the line. Brissett completed to Hilton 3 times, once to Gore, and once to Mack before hitting Jack Doyle
for the game tying touchdown. Brissett successfully converted a 2 point attempt after the touchdown but the play was negated by penalty. Vinatieri had a chance to win the game with a 43 yard field goal but his kick was well off the mark. The Colts were unable to get anything going during their one possession in overtime.
RB Frank Gore
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 36 - 130 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets) - Gore was everything the Colts could have asked for, a lead sled dog. He didn't have any big gains, but he moved the offense enough to give the Colts a chance to win on the road. He was battered and bruised at the end of this one because of 36 carries, so he might not have his usual burst next week against Denver.
RB Marlon Mack
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 23 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (3 targets) - Marlon Mack
jumped over a defender at the line of scrimmage and burst into the open field for 20 yards on his first carry. Mack took a check down in the flat for an 11 yard gain showing off his speed in the snow. Mack caught another dump off in the flat and picked up 10 more yards.
WR Chester Rogers
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (4 targets) - Chester Rogers
was targeted downfield on back to back plays. Brissett overthrew Rogers on a potential big play touchdown then Rogers dropped what would have been a diving catch.
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (4 targets) - TY Hilton made his first catch in the 4th quarter for a 10 yard gain. Hilton made a clutch catch a few plays later for 10 more yards and a key 4th down conversion. Hilton gained 9 yards running a comeback route but a penalty negated the catch. Hilton dropped a pass over the middle that was thrown well behind him despite getting two hands on the pass.
TE Jack Doyle
, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 4 - 1 (3 targets) - Jack Doyle
caught his first target in the flat for a 1 yard gain. Doyle came open off play action in the flat and caught a 3 yard touchdown. Doyle then caught a successful 2 point conversion but the play was overturned upon review.
QB Nathan Peterman
, 40 offensive snaps, Pass: 5 - 10 - 57 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0 - Nathan Peterman
started the game in place of an injured Tyrod Taylor
. Peterman was limited by the weather during the game, but he made multiple throws to the perimeter to Kelvin Benjamin
. The first was a 21-yard back shoulder throw that set Buffalo up in the red zone. On the next play, Peterman went back to the well and threw a back-shoulder fade to Benjamin for an 8-yard touchdown. Peterman left the game in the third quarter in the concussion protocol after a hard hit. He was replaced by Joe Webb
QB Joe Webb
, 28 offensive snaps, Pass: 2 - 6 - 35 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 27 - 0 - Joe Webb
came in the game in relief of Nathan Peterman
when Peterman left in the concussion protocol. Before running a gadget play in the wild cat last, Webb had not thrown a pass since 2011. Webb was intercepted once on a throw behind Charles Clay
, where Webb struggled with his footwork in the snow. The throw nearly cost Buffalo the game but Indianapolis missed a late field goal to force overtime. Webb did make a big throw in the deep perimeter to Deonte Thompson
in overtime that set up LeSean McCoy
's touchdown. Webb is the emergency third string quarterback with a special teams role, and will resume a backup role after Taylor or Peterman return healthy.
RB LeSean McCoy
, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 32 - 156 - 1 - LeSean McCoy
shined on heavy volume in a game played close to the line of scrimmage because of the weather. McCoy was elusive and able to cut laterally despite the game being played in the equivalent of a snowbank. There was little disguising that Buffalo was going to run, and McCoy maintained heavy volume, and was able to capitalize with big runs. McCoy was able to gash the Colts defense on successive carries at the end of the first half for 23 and 25 yards to set up Buffalo's touchdown. The Buffalo offense struggled to create room on the ground in the second half with little threat to pass, but were able to mount a drive in overtime, where McCoy broke through a big interior hole for a game winning touchdown.
RB Mike Tolbert
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 32 - 0 - Mike Tolbert
returned from injury and rotated with Travaris Cadet
in backing up LeSean McCoy
. Tolbert had a long carry of 25 yard, but fumbled on the play which was recovered by Indianapolis. Tolbert struggled to get anything going in the game where there was very tough terrain to run.
RB Travaris Cadet
, 4 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 2 - 0 - Travaris Cadet
rotated with Mike Tolbert
in backing up LeSean McCoy
. Like Tolbert, Cadet found little room to run, and was not targeted in the passing game.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 38 - 1 (8 targets) - Kelvin Benjamin
was the bright spot in a passing offense that was largely grounded by the conditions. Benjamin caught two back shoulder throws from Nathan Peterman
in the first half. The first was a 21 yard throw that Benjamin was able to get his feet inbounds along the sideline. The second was on the next play on a fade pass that Benjamin caught for a touchdown. Benjamin was shaken up during the second half with a knee injury, which was the same knee that caused him to miss the past two weeks. He was able to return for one play, but left the game hobbling after that play. Benjamin has shown a good rapport with Nathan Peterman
in the limited time they have played together.
WR Deonte Thompson
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 34 - 0 (1 targets) - Deonte Thompson
was limited to one target on the day, but he made it count. Buffalo was driving at the end of overtime, when Joe Webb
threw deep to Thompson down the right perimeter. Thompson was interfered with on the play, but was able to make a remarkable catch while falling to the ground. The catch set up LeSean McCoy
's game winning run.
WR Zay Jones
, 41 offensive snaps - Zay Jones
was not targeted in the game. The Buffalo offense was limited by the weather, and only targeted four players on the day.
TE Charles Clay
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (5 targets) - Charles Clay
was limited in the game to only two catches for 11 yards. The passing conditions were brutal in the game and Joe Webb
played in relief of Nathan Peterman
, which capped the Buffalo passing offense. Clay was targeted on Webb's interception, but the interception was on Webb as the ball was well behind Clay on the route.
Detroit Lions 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
What you need to know
- Detroit's offense was efficient in the short passing game, but struggled to establish any deep passing opportunities. Matthew Stafford
started after injury his hand last week, and was efficient in the short passing game to start the game. Stafford only had one deep completion, a 38 yard post to Marvin Jones
, and was intercepted on his other deep target to Kenny Golladay
. Theo Riddick
started in place of an injured Ameer Abdullah
, and scored two red zone touchdowns but did little else on the ground. Riddick, Golden Tate
and Eric Ebron
spearheaded a short passing game that created big plays on a day where Stafford struggled down the field.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay's defense forced three turnovers, but the Bucs offense answered with five of their own, three by Winston. Lavonte David recovered an Eric Ebron
fumble in the 1st quarter. Brent Grimes intercepted early Matthew Stafford
in the 2nd quarter, as did Robert McClain at the end of the 2nd. Stafford led a game-winning drive at the end of the 4th quarter with the contest tied at 20-20.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 36 - 44 - 381 - 1 TD / 2 INT - After spending the week questionable with a hand injury, Stafford played and started the game hot, completing his first 11 passes. He featured Eric Ebron
early in the game, while throwing a lot of targets in the short passing game. The offense started in no huddle where Stafford has shown so much comfort this season, but went away from it later in the game. Stafford threw two first half interceptions, both along the boundary. The first was a go route along the perimeter where Stafford typically goes to beat Cover 2. Stafford targeted Golladay on the play, but Brent Grimes sagged underneath the route and jumped to intercept the ball. Stafford usually throws the ball with zip on that type of route, but his throw did not have the normal trajectory Stafford throws it with, which may be attributable to the hand injury. The play was a good play by Grimes who made a good read and execution on the play. The second was an out route to Golden Tate
where Robert McClain dropped out of cover 2 underneath Tate's route for an easy interception. Stafford threw a touchdown to Golden Tate
on a quick curl route where Tate sat beneath the Tampa Bay defense. Stafford had one deep completion, a 38-yard post to Marvin Jones
while the rest of the day the offense was confined to the underneath. The stat sheet shows chunk plays, but they were largely the result of Ebron, Riddick and Tate making plays after the catch.
RB Theo Riddick
, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 29 - 2, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (10 targets) - Theo Riddick
started in the absence of Ameer Abdullah
. The offense started early with up tempo, which is a positive fit for Riddick. Riddick was used as the primary runner early in the game, and had one of his better performances in the passing game of the season. Riddick can make yards after the catch in the short passing game, and provides Detroit a safe but explosive threat. Riddick's rushing numbers were muted by a lack of running room but he was able to find the end zone twice. His first was a goal line carry, and his second was a red zone carry where he broke multiple arm tackles.
RB Tion Green
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 15 - 0 - Tion Green
was the second back in the game behind Theo Riddick
. Green was held in check, but had a 12-yard gain called back on holding. Green is an unexceptional athlete, but ran hard and decisively in his limited opportunities.
WR Golden Tate
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 85 - 1 (9 targets) - Golden Tate
showed off his prowess running after the catch, with solid gains of 17 and 24 yards. He also had a 24-yard catch called back on a holding call. Tate scored a red zone touchdown with a 5-yard catch, where he ran a curl underneath the Tampa Bay coverage. Tate also had a crucial 14-yard catch that set Detroit up for a game winning field goal. Tate's 10.6 yards per catch does not do his ability after the catch justice. His depth of target is consistently low, but he is dangerous after the catch.
WR Kenny Golladay
, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 3 - 17 - 0 (4 targets) - Kenny Golladay
was limited to only three catches that were confined to the short area of the field. One curl of note was a contested catch where Golladay initially bobbled the ball but showed good concentration to secure the catch. Golladay was also used on an end around where he was able to get to the edge for a nine-yard catch. Golladay's lone deep target was intercepted on a great play by CB Brent Grimes.
WR Marvin Jones
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 64 - 0 (4 targets) - Marvin Jones
was limited during the game to only four targets, after seeing heavy workload in recent weeks. Jones's long catch was a 38-yard post into double coverage. Jones typically is a deep perimeter threat, but Stafford's only deep perimeter throw was his interception intended for Kenny Golladay
. The remainder of Jones's targets were in the intermediate area of the field, including an out where he drew a defensive holding, and another out breaking route where he was called for offensive pass interference.
TE Eric Ebron
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 94 - 0 (11 targets) - Eric Ebron
had his best game of the season with a career-high 10 receptions. Ebron was featured early in the game, with short catches where he ran strong after the catch. Ebron did have a fumble on a reception that was recovered by Tampa Bay. However, Ebron bounced back and performed confidently and effectively the rest of the game. Ebron's catches were in the short and intermediate area, where Stafford spent most of his game throwing.
QB Jameis Winston
, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 38 - 285 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 10 - 0 - Winston was terrible in week 14, answering Detroit's three turnovers with three of his own. His two touchdown passes were both short, play-action passes from goal line formations on the Detroit 2 yard line. Winston made a bad throw on his first interception while rolling right and looking for Desean Jackson on the sideline. Cornerback Darius Slay saw the pass coming and jumped the route. Winston's second interception was another terrible pass that he floated over OJ Howard and into the arms of the deep safety early in the 3rd quarter. Winston was scrambling from pressure late in the 3rd quarter when he lost a fumble. Winston found Howard for his first touchdown of the day early in the 4th quarter. After Peyton Barber
carried the ball down to the Detroit 2 yard line, Winston faked a handoff to Barber from a goal line formation and hit Howard on an out route for the score. Winston targeted Evans on a deep ball later in the 4th that drew a defensive pass interference and set the Bucs up deep in Lions territory. Winston hit backup offensive lineman Leonard Wester on a play-action pass from a goal line set a couple of plays later. Wester checked in as an extra blocker and was left wide open after Winston faked the handoff from the 2. The score tied the game at 20-20, but the Bucs watched helplessly as Matthew Stafford
led a game winning drive at the end of the 4th quarter.
RB Peyton Barber
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 58 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Barber saw his first snaps early in the 2nd quarter, briefly relieving Doug Martin
. After Martin lost a fumble late in the 2nd, Barber was featured in the second half of the game. Barber caught a screen pass and broke several tackles late in the 3rd for a short gain on his only target. Barber carried the ball down to the Detroit 2 yard line late in the 3rd, then was stuffed on the following goal line carry. OJ Howard scored on a play-action pass on the following play. Later in the 4th, Barber ripped a 16 yard run from the Detroit 18, getting tackled at the 2 yard line again. This time, it was backup offensive lineman Leonard Wester who vultured the touchdown from a goal-line set. Barber finished with a solid 4.8 ypc average.
RB Doug Martin
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 26 - 1, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (3 targets) - Martin got the start but appeared to be benched after a late 2nd quarter fumble. He leaked out of the backfield and caught a short pass in the 1st quarter, taking it down inside the Detroit 5 yard line, then scored on a one yard plunge two plays later. Martin picked up another nice gain in the 2nd quarter on a halfback screen. Martin lost a fumble while trying to turn the left corner on a late 2nd quarter run, and did not see the field in the second half. Martin's 2.6 ypc average(10 carries) was considerably lower than Barber's 4.8(12 carries).
RB Charles Sims
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (3 targets) - Sims entered the game during the Bucs' opening drive, leaking out of the backfield into the flats for a reception that fell short on 3rd and 4. He was featured in his usual role during a 2 minute drill at the end of the 1st half, catching a screen pass for a 10 yard gain. Sims had an 11 yard run right up the middle of the defense late in the 4th quarter, finishing the day with 3 carries and 3 targets.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
- Rodgers was active but did not play any offensive snaps. He returned kickoffs, averaging 20 yards per return on three returns.
WR Chris Godwin
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 68 - 0 (6 targets) - Godwin led the team in catches and yards, working alongside Evans and Jackson throughout the contest. He lined up in the right slot in a 5 WR set and ran a fly route right up the seam in the 2nd, hauling in a deep pass while taking a big shot to the back. Godwin lined up in the right slot and caught a swing route behind the line of scrimmage in the 3rd, spinning around a pair of tacklers for extra yardage. WInston hit Godwin on a deep post route for a 19 yard gain later in the same drive. Godwin hauled in another big catch up the seam later in the 3rd.
WR DeSean Jackson
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 23 - 0, Rec: 4 - 41 - 0 (7 targets) - Jackson led the team with 7 targets on a sloppy day for QB Winston. He lined up wide left in a 3WR set and caught a screen in the 1st quarter. Winston targeted him with an overthrown deep ball on the next play. Jackson caught a deep comeback route up the right seam for a 16 yard gain later in the 1st. Winston hit him with on a toe-tapping out route on the right sideline during the opening drive of the 2nd half. Jackson lined up wide left and caught a quick screen in the 3rd quarter, converting 3rd and 7. D-jax also carried the ball once on an end-around that he broke for 23 yards in the 3rd quarter.
WR Adam Humphries
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (3 targets) - Humphries wasn't targeted until late in the 2nd quarter when he caught a WR screen from the right slot for a 10 yard catch-and-run. He was targeted again on a short crossing route late in the 3rd quarter. Humphries secured his third and final target on a slant route late in the 4th. Humphries also heldo down his usual punt return duties.
WR Mike Evans
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (5 targets) - Evans was not much of factor in the Bucs passing game, taking a backseat to rookies Chris Godwin
and OJ Howard as Winston struggled. Evans hauled in a quick curl route up the right seam in the 1st quarter, then a skinny post two plays later. Winston targeted Evans on a fade route from the Detroit 5 yard line later in the 1st but failed to connect. Evans had a decent gain called back for a penalty on the offensive line late in the 2nd quarter. Evans appeared to have a miscommunication with Winston on a deep ball that the two missed in the 4th quarter. Winston loaded up another deep ball for Evans two plays later, failing to connect but drawing a defensive pass interference penalty that moved the Bucs deep into Lions territory. Evans finished with just 5 targets, fewer than Jackson(7), Godwin(6), and Howard(6).
WR Freddie Martino
, 4 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 19 - 0 (1 targets) - Martino saw limited snaps on offense, lining up wide right in a 3WR set in the 2nd quarter for a deep comeback route, his only reception of the day.
TE O.J. Howard
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 54 - 1 (6 targets) - Howard was featured in the offense early and often, out-targeting co-starter Brate 6-1. Howard ran Brate's go-to route up the right seam for his first reception of the day in the 1st quarter. Howard caught the ball on the same route later in the 1st quarter, but lost the fumbled while being tackled. The play was held under lengthy review before it was determined to be a catch and a fumble that was recovered by Detroit. Howard caught a well-executed tight end screen at the beginning of the 3rd quarter for a nice gain. Winston looked for Howard up the seam two plays later, but the tight end bobbled the pass and nearly caused an interception. Howard scored early in the 4th quarter on a play action pass from a goal line formation. He lined up with his hand in the dirt and took off on an out route as Winston faked the handoff before hitting him in the end zone from the 2 yard line.
TE Cameron Brate
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - Brate seemed to be completely forgotten one week after breaking his slump with a two touchdown performance. Rookie tight end Howard was featured early and often in the passing game, vulturing many of Brate's routes up the seam. Brate was not targeted at all until late in the 4th quarter when he hauled in a comeback route up the left seam for an 11 yard gain.
Chicago Bears 33, Cincinnati Bengals 7
What you need to know
- The Chicago Bears looked like an entirely different team in Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Mitchell Trubisky
played like the franchise quarterback Bears’ fans hope he becomes. The rookie completed 25-of-32 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown and zero turnovers. Jordan Howard
bounced back after playing two weeks of seemingly disinterested football to find the end zone twice on his way to 147 yards on 23 carries. Tarik Cohen
played like the perfect compliment to Howard. Kendall Wright
played well. Rookie Adam Shaheen
played well. Aside from losing draft position, Sunday couldn’t have gone better for the Bears.
- The Bears dominated the game on both sides of the ball and held an almost 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession. Giovani Bernard
was solid but the Bengals abandoned the run too early when they fell behind in the first half. Andy Dalton
peppered A.J. Green
with targets and Green came up just short of making plays on multiple occasions. Green also had a couple back-breaking mistakes, with a ball that bounced off of his facemask getting intercepted and a lost fumble along the sidelines.
QB Mitchell Trubisky
, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 32 - 271 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 1 - The coaching staff finally took the governor off its rookie starting quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky
led the Bears to a somewhat jarring 33-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Trubisky completed 25-of-32 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown and zero turnovers. It easily was his most complete game of the season.
Trubisky corrected many of the issues that had been plaguing him un until Sunday -- poor footwork that leads to poor accuracy and a lack of awareness in the pocket. Neither of these issues popped up in Sunday’s win as he completed 78 percent of his passes and made some confidence-laced throws on critical third downs. Potentially the best part of Sunday’s box score for Trubisky is the zero turnovers.
It’ll be difficult for Trubisky to replicate this effort against better, less-injury depleted teams. The Bengals were without a handful of starters in the defensive backfield, which allowed the Bears coaching staff to develop a more aggressive game plan. The key for Trubisky moving forward will be volume of plays. Keep an eye of total offensive plays as the season winds down.
RB Jordan Howard
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 147 - 2, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (2 targets) - Jordan Howard
took a verbal beating in his Week 13 recap. Apologies to Jordan, because he definitely did not seem disinterested in Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Howard bounced back to find the end zone twice on his way to 147 yards on 23 carries. He still, however, cannot catch a pass. Like, it’s borderline comical to see his hands act like a backboard whenever a pass is thrown his way. PPR really doesn’t apply to Howard, FYI.
Anyway, back to Sunday … Howard got back to running inside after a few weeks that consisted of a steady dose of stretch plays in a clear attempt by the coaching staff to cater to an injury depleted interior offensive line. Howard runs best inside, not outside.
Another factor that aided Howard on Sunday was game script. The Bears took the lead early in the second quarter and never looked back.
RB Tarik Cohen
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 80 - 0, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (2 targets) - We all know what Tarik Cohen
is capable of when on the field. Cohen provided the “lightning” to Jordan Howard
’s “thunder” in Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Cohen actually made the most impact in the run game this week, gaining 80 yards on 12 carries. The usually catch-first running back only was targeted twice and finished with two receptions for five yards. Mitchell Trubisky
played a more confident style of football Sunday and looked to the second-and-third levels much more frequently than usual, mostly because the Bengals were without a handful of defensive starters in the secondary.
OC Dowell Loggains drew up a great game plan for Howard and Cohen, running inside and outside, respectively. Four of Cohen’s 12 carries went 9-plus yards (19, 9, 29, 11).
Gauging by past performances, Cohen is best when he’s touching the ball between 12-15 times a game, but the coaching staff hasn’t been consistent when it comes to how and when Cohen has been used. Loggains showed us something Sunday, let’s see if he can continue to put Cohen in positions to succeed before we get too excited.
WR Kendall Wright
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 107 - 0 (11 targets) - Call off the search: Kendall Wright
has been found. Wright seemingly appeared out of nowhere Sunday in Cincinnati as the Bears trounced the Bengals by the score of 33-7. Wright saw 11 targets in the win over Cincinnati, the same number of targets he saw in the three previous games. Wright’s 11 targets led to 10 receptions for 107 yards, leading the team in both categories.
Wright has played the majority of the snaps each week he’s been on the field. For one reason or another, whether it’s game script or whatever else, he tends to disappear once the game starts. Mitchell Trubisky
appeared to find a level of comfort throwing to Wright in the middle of the field.
Wright very much is a capable receiver when used properly. Everything went right for the Bears. Don’t expect this to continue. If Wright were to play every snap next week and not see a target, it really wouldn’t be that surprising.
WR Dontrelle Inman
, 67 offensive snaps - After averaging five targets a game in his first four games as a Chicago Bear, Dontrelle Inman
didn’t see a single target in Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Somewhat shocking, yes.
attempted 32 passes on the day, and yet none of them went to Inman. While this is a bad thing for Inman fantasy owners, it might actually be a sign of what the Bears offense can look like with a somewhat respectable No. 1 option. Not that Inman is a No. 1; obviously he isn’t. But his mere presence on the field, in four games of film leading up to Sunday against the Bengals, might have shifted the defense’s approach to coverage to allow guys like Kendall Wright
to catch 10 passes or Adam Shaheen
to catch four passes.
Looking for a silver lining here. Inman, more than likely, will be back to his usual targets next week. Don’t fret.
TE Adam Shaheen
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 44 - 1 (5 targets) - Adam Shaheen
played his best game of the season in Sunday’s 33-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The rookie second-round pick hasn’t seen the field much this season. The coaching staff usually only plays him during the first 15-or-so scripted plays to start a game or half, citing a lack of knowledge of the playbook Whatever that means. (HE’S A SECOND-ROUND PICK!!!! THEN DON’T DRAFT SOMEONE THIS RAW IN THE SECOND ROUND).
Anywho … Shaheen caught 4-of-5 targets for 44 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell Trubisky
and Shaheen look to be developing a nice chemistry, evidenced by the rookie quarterback’s trust in the rookie tight end on third downs and inside the red zone.
Shaheen, more or less, is a possession tight end. While it’s certainly fun to watch this kid develop, he might be an offseason away from being fantasy viable on a weekly basis.
QB Andy Dalton
, 45 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 29 - 141 - 1 TD / 1 INT - Dalton got off to a decent start, hitting Brandon LaFell
for a 14-yard touchdown on an out route along the sideline to give the Bengals the lead in the first quarter. While Dalton had taken care of the ball well and went over a month without an interception, he made a number of dangerous throws into coverage that should have been picked off against the Bears. On separate throws to A.J. Green
and Tyler Boyd
, the receivers had to play the role of defensive back and knock the ball away from defenders who were in position for the interception. One of Dalton’s longest completions of the day was another pass that should have been intercepted. The cornerback stepped in front of the pass for a potential pick six and had it ricochet off of his chest into the air where Green hauled it in and turned up field for a nice gain. Dalton’s luck eventually wore out. Trying to squeeze it into double coverage to Green, the ball hit Green in the facemask and popped into the air where it was intercepted. With the Bengals getting destroyed, Dalton was pulled midway through the fourth quarter for A.J. McCarron
QB A.J. McCarron
, 9 offensive snaps, Pass: 4 - 8 - 47 - 0 TD / 0 INT - With the game out of hand late, Andy Dalton
and A.J. Green
were pulled and McCarron was brought in for a short audition. He didn’t look any better than Dalton. He completed a pair of short passes to Giovani Bernard
that went for gains of 27 and 19 yards against prevent defense. Aside from a 4-yard completion to Brandon LaFell
, McCarron couldn’t get anything going except dump offs to the running backs. He took a sack and turned it over on downs.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 62 - 0, Rec: 6 - 68 - 0 (8 targets) - The Bengals came out with a pass-heavy game plan and mostly ignored Bernard on the first two drives. The plan didn’t work. On the third drive, the Bengals featured Bernard heavily and he ripped off 32 yards on 3 carries to help setup the only offensive score of the day for Cincinnati. Bernard ran fairly well early but the Bengals passing game wasn’t able to convert and keep drives alive and the team quickly fell into a big hole. Bernard did much of his damage in garbage time, picking up big chunks on short passes against prevent coverage.
WR A.J. Green
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 64 - 0 (12 targets) - Green had an awful game. The Bengals came out focused upon getting the ball to him early and often and Green came up just short of making the play on a number of well thrown deep balls. He wasn’t able to hang on as he was going out of bounds on a deep back-shoulder fade. On a deep go route, he had a step on his defender but let the ball bounce off of his shoulder pad. On another deep go route, he was only able to get one hand on the all and couldn’t pull it in. His biggest gain of the day actually came on a tipped ball that should have been intercepted. Green’s struggles continued into the second half and were one of the primary causes of the Bengals meltdown. With the Bengals down two scores, Green was responsible for back-to-back turnovers that sealed the loss. He had a pass over the middle bounce off of his face mask when he didn’t get his hands up in time intercepted. The next drive, he made a nice catch along the sideline for 20 yards but had it ripped out of his hands just before he stepped out of bounds for the Bengals second turnover of the game. Green was pulled along with Dalton for the final two drives of the game.
WR Brandon LaFell
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 24 - 1 (6 targets) - LaFell scored a 14-yard touchdown on a nice play design. He lined up in the slot with two receivers stacked outside of him. One faked a screen while the other ran a slant that picked LaFell’s defender and allowed him to get wide open on an out route to the corner of the end zone.
WR Tyler Boyd
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (4 targets) - Boyd has worked his way back up the depth chart to #3 wide receiver but hasn’t done much of note. He had a drop and wasn’t on the same page as Dalton on a timing route to the outside.
Oakland Raiders 15, Kansas City Chiefs 26
What you need to know
- The Raiders offense was non-existent for three quarters, which led to a 26-0 deficit heading into the fourth quarter. Oakland did put together a pair of late touchdown drives to trim the deficit to two scores, but never really threatened. Marshawn Lynch
broke off a pair of long runs, including a late touchdown, but was otherwise held to almost nothing. Before some garbage time success, including a touchdown to Jared Cook
, the passing offense was a mess. Amari Cooper
reinjured his ankle early and Michael Crabtree
Kansas City Chiefs
- The Kansas City beat the Oakland Raiders, 26-15, to improve their record to 7-6 on the season. Quarterback Alex Smith
completed 20 of 34 passes for 268 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Smith also rushed five times for 24 yards. Kareem Hunt
broke his nine game scoreless streak by rushing 25 times for 116 yards and a touchdown, while also catching three passes for 22 yards. Tyreek Hill
led the Chiefs in receiving yards, catching four passes for 75 yards. Travis Kelce
had seven receptions for 74 yards and could have had an even bigger day, if not for two touchdowns that were called back on challenges. Albert Wilson
had his best game of the season, catching five passes for 72 yards, while Charcandrick West
managed to chip in 25 yards and a touchdown on three carries.
QB Derek Carr
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 41 - 211 - 1 TD / 2 INT - Carr wasn’t able to get much going. The lack of a running game, some drops and penalties put the Raiders behind the chains the entire first half and Carr wasn’t able to make plays in unfavorable downs and distances. He threw an interception in the second quarter after getting hit on the release. With the Raiders trailing by four scores in the fourth quarter, Carr led back-to-back touchdown drives. Sideline completions of 14 and 18 yards got the Raiders into scoring position for a Marshawn Lynch
touchdown run. A successful onside kick gave the Raiders the ball in good field position and Carr again led the team into scoring position. He connected with Jared Cook
on a 22-yard touchdown over the middle. Cook beat his man on a nifty double move and Carr got rid of it just before taking a big hit. Carr’s second interception came in the final seconds of the game on a desperation throw into the end zone.
RB Marshawn Lynch
, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 61 - 1, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (2 targets) - Game script and inconsistency led to a lack of opportunities for Lynch. Three of his first four carries went for one yard or less, which helped contribute to drives stalling. Almost all of Lynch’s yardage came on two carries. An early run up the middle for 27 yards was vintage Lynch. He broke arm tackles and pin-balled off of would-be tacklers for a big gain. Late in the game against prevent defense, Lynch took one up the gut for a 22-yard touchdown. He was untouched through a big gap and easily ran through a half-hearted tackle attempt by a defensive back inside the five yard line.
RB DeAndre Washington
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - Washington had a quiet game. He had a couple opportunities in the two-minute offense before halftime but the drive was cut short when he was stacked up behind the line for a loss on 3rd-and-1.
WR Michael Crabtree
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 60 - 0 (13 targets) - Crabtree had a bad early drop that led to a drive stalling. He was able to pick up a few solid gains in the fourth quarter once the game was basically out of hand but was otherwise quiet. He again drew a flag for offensive pass interference and officials seem to be on the lookout for the pushes he often uses to create separation. Crabtree easily converted a slant route for a 2-point conversion.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 8 - 0 (6 targets) - Patterson wasn’t unable to get anything going. He played nearly half the snaps, all lined up as a traditional wide receiver. He grabbed a couple of short passes, but unlike in recent weeks was unable to generate any yardage after the catch.
WR Johnny Holton
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - Holton had a rough day. He caught a short pass and tried to barrel forward through traffic to pick up extra yardage without tucking the ball tightly away. It was ripped loose for a costly fumble. He was targeted on a deep ball down the middle in the front of the end zone in the final minute and had the ball go through his hands for an interception.
WR Amari Cooper
, 15 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Cooper’s target came on a back shoulder fade down the left sideline against Darrelle Revis. Cooper was in position to make a play on the ball but wasn’t aggressive enough in coming back and attacking the ball, instead content to let it come to him. It bounced off of his hands as he tried to cradle it along the sideline. Cooper came in nursing a sore ankle and got rolled up on while blocking in front of a running back screen. He left the game after 15 snaps and could miss more time going forward.
TE Jared Cook
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 75 - 1 (6 targets) - Cook was a non-factor until the fourth quarter. He pulled in gains of 14 and 18 yards on out routes from the slot to get the Raiders offense rolling on the first fourth quarter touchdown drive. He capped the next drive off with a 21-yard touchdown catch on a nifty double move. He faked the slant and then spun the other direction to go deep over the middle.
QB Alex Smith
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 34 - 268 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 24 - 0 - Alex Smith
completed 20 of 34 passes for 268 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Smith chipped in 24 yards on five carries, as well. While Smith failed to convert a touchdown on the day, he did an excellent job of moving the offense and making plays down the field, completing passes of 20+ yards to four different receivers. Smith made several nice throws to Tyreek Hill
, including one on third and 16 that set up a Kansas City score. Smith took the snap in shotgun formation and went through his progressions. Hill ran a deep comeback route and his defender gave him a nice cushion to prevent him from beating him deep with his speed. Hill turned on the breaks and stopped on a dime, and Smith threw a nice pass, although it was a little high. Hill made a very nice catch and converted the first down. Smith has been taken more shots down the field the last two weeks than he had in any two game stretch this season and it paid off big time for the Chiefs.
RB Kareem Hunt
, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 25 - 116 - 1, Rec: 3 - 22 - 0 (3 targets) - Kareem Hunt
rushed 25 times for 116 yards and one touchdown, while also catching three of five targets for 22 yards. This was Hunt’s most rushing yards and yards from scrimmage since week three against the Chargers. Hunt also scored for the first time since week three, after going nine straight games without a touchdown. The biggest difference in this game was the Chiefs ability to pass the ball down the field, which forced the Raiders to drop back men in coverage. Hunt has been facing stacked fronts for most of this season, and the Chiefs opponents have keyed in on him and forced the offense to beat them through the air, something that Alex Smith
has not been able to do. Hunt’s biggest weapon is his vision and ability to create angles once he gets to the second level of the defense. The Chiefs offensive line did a good job of beating the Oakland defense at the line of scrimmage and Hunt just continued to churn out yards. His longest run of the game went for 17 yards on an off-tackle right where Hunt leapfrogged a defender and then proceeded to gain 11 more yards on the play. Hunt’s 25 carries in this game was his second most of the season, and the Chiefs will need to continue to give him this type of volume if they want to beat the Chargers next week and win their division.
WR Tyreek Hill
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 75 - 0 (6 targets) - Tyreek Hill
led all Kansas City receivers in yards, catching four passes for 75 yards against the Raiders on Sunday. Hill made one big play down the field which went for 44 yards, where Alex Smith
targeted him on a back shoulder go-route. The pass was a little behind Hill, but he did a great job of coming back to the football and making a tough catch with his defender all over him. The play nearly went for a touchdown, as Hill was able to pivot on his feet and stay off the ground, but his defender recovered quickly and forced him out of bounds. Hill also made a tough catch on a third and 16, where he ran a deep comeback route. This route in particular showcased how difficult a cover Hill is, as he was able to take advantage of the cushion his defender was giving him and run a very precise route right at the first down marker. Smith’s pass was a little high, but Hill was able to go up and make the catch and secure the first down, which also set up a Kareem Hunt
TE Travis Kelce
, 69 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 74 - 0 (13 targets) - Travis Kelce
seven of his 13 targets for 74 yards against the Raiders. Kelce was targeted the most of any Chiefs player, and he nearly had a much bigger day, as he had two touchdowns called back on review. Kelce was able to beat the Raiders in the middle of the field by constantly shaking Oakland linebackers in coverage. He also did very well after the catch, as the Raiders were trying to limit Tyreek Hill
down the field, and Kelce took advantage of this by running short drag and crossing routes. The Chiefs ran a lot of misdirection players that sent Tyreek Hill
and Kareem Hunt
in motion, sometimes twice in one play. This kept the Oakland secondary off balance, and it was on this type of play that Kelce was brought down at the one yard line, although it was originally called a touchdown. Kelce was able to take a screen pass in the middle of the formation and run straight through the Oakland defense.
Dallas Cowboys 30, New York Giants 10
What you need to know
- Dallas stayed alive in the NFC playoff race with a much-needed road win against their division rival Giants. Dak Prescott
shook off a lackluster previous month with his best passing game of the season in terms of yardage and a season-high three touchdowns through the air. The backfield committee of Alfred Morris
on early downs and Rod Smith
as the receiving and red zone option worked to perfection as they combined for nearly 250 yards of offense between them. Dez Bryant
, while still seeking his first 100-yard game of the season, scored a long touchdown. Dallas has one more game without Ezekiel Elliott
, a matchup on the easier side against Oakland, before critical games against Seattle and Philadelphia to close the season.
New York Giants
- The Giants passing attack was as mediocre as ever and only Evan Engram
should be taken seriously as a fantasy play. Shepard's production has dropped off massively this season and Manning isn't throwing enough yards/touchdowns to support more than one player right now.
looked really impressive on Sunday and is worth a stash on the waiver if you need him. He was explosive, fast, tough and easily outproduced his teammate Darkwa.
QB Dak Prescott
, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 30 - 332 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 13 - 0 - Early in the game, Dallas struggled to finish drives. Prescott had two end zone throws tipped away by the defense and Dez Bryant
dropped a potential touchdown on another foray down the field. Add in a missed field goal and the theme was empty yardage and missed opportunity for Prescott and the passing game until late in the second quarter. Prescott and Dallas’ offense finally pulled away later in the second half from the offensively-stunted Giants as Prescott delivered a strike to Jason Witten
down the seam for a touchdown and Rod Smith
for a long catch-and-run to ice the game. Prescott added a well-timed third down conversion scramble and shedding a defender in the pocket to convert on an Alfred Morris
checkdown pass. Oakland offers another exploitable matchup in Week 15 for Prescott and the passing game to stay on course after a career-high 332 yards against the Giants.
RB Alfred Morris
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 62 - 0, Rec: 3 - 23 - 0 (3 targets) - Morris was active early with seven of his 22 touches on the opening drive for Dallas against the Giants. The offensive line was a positive influence to Morris success, paving the way for accessible yardage near the line of scrimmage, a stark contrast from earlier in the season. Morris consistently accrued three or more yards on his rushes with the occasional power shown through contact. Morris’ biggest run of the day, nearly 40 yards to the perimeter, was called back by holding, which would have pushed him over the 100-yard mark. While Morris caught three passes, Rod Smith
was the clear preferred option in the hurry-up offense and in the red zone, optimizing Smith’s touches instead of Morris’ volume. Morris has one more game in the sun without Ezekiel Elliott
before Elliott’s return in Week 16. Oakland marks a strong matchup to see a positive game script and substantial volume.
RB Rod Smith
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 47 - 1, Rec: 5 - 113 - 1 (5 targets) - The clarity of Alfred Morris
’ and Rod Smith
’s roles in the Dallas running back committee continued to solidify this week against the Giants. Morris was the clear preferred option on the interior and early in the game. However, Smith dominated snaps in the red zone and obvious passing situations, even seeing success as a split out receiver. Smith was a highlight player this week with a number of impact plays. Smith showed great reactions to a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage, scrambling to find the ball in the air and get a first down. Smith iced the game with two fourth quarter touchdowns. One of them came as a split out receiver, showing a strong move at the line of scrimmage to shake the defender and outrace the rest of the defense down the middle of the field for an 81-yard touchdown. On the other, Smith found the perimeter on a rushing attempt, again with no defender in the area on the third level of the defense, en route to a third down touchdown. Smith’s blend of power, speed, and hands have been a welcome addition to the depth chart, especially during the period with Ezekiel Elliott
out of the lineup and making Darren McFadden
WR Terrance Williams
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (6 targets) - Williams led Dallas with six targets against the Giants; however, his two highest leverage targets were missed opportunities. On one occasion a potential long touchdown was tipped away by a defender and the other saw a goal line slant tipped away. Williams struggled to shake free from the Giants secondary overall for one of his common after-the-catch splash plays. Williams has yet to find the end zone this season and has the second-most receptions (44) of receivers without a touchdown. Oakland offers a strong matchup for Williams to break his scoreless streak in Week 15.
WR Dez Bryant
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 73 - 1 (5 targets) - Bryant saw meager five targets against the Giants, but logged a successful game built around a single long catch-and-run touchdown. On a slant route, Bryant shed the trailing defender and sprinted to the end zone for a long score. Bryant had an opportunity for another touchdown on a deep target, dropping the pass. Bryant’s other two receptions were intermediate routes with little after-catch potential. Two of Bryant’s better games of this lackluster season have come over the past two games with another strong matchup (Oakland) up next.
WR Cole Beasley
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 59 - 0 (5 targets) - Beasley has been inconsistently used this season, a stark difference from his breakout 2016 production. This week against the Giants marked a season-high 59 yards, including a reception of more than 40 yards as the cornerstone of his production. Beasley shook free on a third down reception in the fourth quarter for a huge gain as Dallas began to pull away in the blowout win. On the negative side, Beasley logged a third down drop in field goal range early in the game as Dallas struggled to finish drives.
TE Jason Witten
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 20 - 1 (2 targets) - For the sixth time this season Witten had a game with a single reception. Against the Giants, however, Witten made it count with a beautifully thrown seam pass from Dak Prescott
for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as Dallas took the lead for good in the road victory. Witten did not see a target until the fourth quarter as Prescott threw the other pass Witten’s direction well behind him. Witten has shown physical erosion this season, especially since the opening two weeks of the season, but has remained a red zone presence despite averaging only 8.8 yards-per-reception this year and struggling to separate on some of his long-time successful short and intermediate routes.
QB Eli Manning
, 80 offensive snaps, Pass: 31 - 46 - 228 - 1 TD / 2 INT - Eli Manning
had a very uneven performance in his not so triumphant return as the Giants starting quarterback. The Giants running game was decent and this allowed Manning to utilize play action at times but the lack of talent surrounding him in the passing game was evident. He had several misses down the field. Manning misfired on a seam route to Ellison in the first half and overthrew Vereen on a broken play later which would have gone for a very big pass play. His only touchdown came on a play action rollout pass in the flat to Ellison. The catch was just secured over the goal line and the play action was set up on previous plays as the Giants were a run heavy offense early. Manning almost found Lewis on a go route along the sideline but the play was broken up with an excellent play by the Cowboy defender at the last second. The Giants receivers had several drops in this game and they cost first downs. Manning had several passes inexplicably hit the ground. He threw into tight coverage as times were getting desperate and a tipped pass was easily picked off by Sean Lee. Manning floated a ball down the middle in an act of desperation that was easily picked off by the Cowboy secondary. The Giants offense doesn't look good, regardless which QB is under center.
RB Wayne Gallman
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 59 - 0, Rec: 7 - 40 - 0 (9 targets) - Wayne Gallman
ran really well for the Giants and may have just secured his role as the new starting running back. He looked more explosive, dynamic and stronger upon initial contact than Darkwa. Gallman showed excellent vision, picking the correct hole to plough into and didn't rush to the line of scrimmage. He read his blocks well, hit the hole hard when he decided to take it upfield and was very productive for the Giants. He moved the chains on the ground and in the air, catching screens and checkdowns for small but consistent gains. Gallman showed power at times too, pushing back defenders and really trying for extra yards. He's earned the right for more touches going forward and fantasy owners could pick him up early if there is nobody else on their waiver wire.
RB Orleans Darkwa
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 29 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - Orleans Darkwa
was not the lead back in this game, which is certainly a different move that is likely to continue going forward. Darkwa was easily outproduced by teammate Gallman on the ground and contributed almost nothing to the passing game. He fumbled the ball in the first quarter but was saved by a teammate who was able to secure it. Darkwa managed some productive runs off tackle but a lot of these were due to some impressive blocks up front by NYG. Darkwa has likely been upstaged by Gallman and potentially lost his role as the starting running back. Darkwa has never shown any terrific production or talent so it is time for someone else to take the lead.
WR Roger Lewis
, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 46 - 0 (11 targets) - Roger Lewis
jr. caught many balls but only for relatively small amount of yards. A few of these plays came on the final drive as time was running, just getting short balls undernerth for easy gains. Lewis didn't contribute a whole lot when the game was competitive. He had a nice diving catch to secure a low ball however. Lewis had a shot at a deep ball down the sideline but an excellent break up by the Dallas corner denied him the catch. The Giants offense cannot support many fantasy players and Lewis is on the outside looking in.
WR Sterling Shepard
, 77 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -9 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Sterling Shepard
really did very little in this game and hasn't looked like himself for most of this season. He has dealt with a few injuries this season and didn't look sharp in this game. He got a first down on a easy crosser route, getting separation with his quickness over the middle. Shepard dropped a slant pattern later however, which would have easily secured a first down.
The Giants gave him the ball on a reverse play but it was shut down by LB Lee who read it very well. Shepard got a final catch as time was expiring but this was in garbage time as the game was decided at that point. He is a risky playing going forward, as Engram has been producing better than the second year receiver. A play as a low end #3 receiever in PPR leagues but only if desperate.
TE Evan Engram
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 54 - 0 (7 targets) - Evan Engram
's production was saved in PPR leagues by a few balls but he wasn't able to get into the endzone this time. Engram managed to get wide open on a play action call that left him completely uncovered along the sideline for a big gain. Engram did have a drop on a curl route which is rare for him as his hands tend to be secure. He was potentially interfered with on another curl route along the sideline but the ref's deemed the contact to be legal. Engram wasn't a focal point in this offense for most of the game and thus only mustered 4 catches. He rarely got any looks downfield and Manning threw his only touchdown to Ellison. Engram has potential to score every week for this team, and luckily, games like this will be his "floor" so he is worth a play going forward.
Washington Redskins 13, Los Angeles Chargers 30
What you need to know
- If the offense can't find a way to convert better on third downs they will look like this the rest of the year. Kirk's inconstancies have a major impact on the entire offense. They have to get better at deep shots down field as well. It will be difficult to always have ten play drives so Kirk has to utilize Josh's deep speed to get chunk plays. The defense is crumbling with only one real pass rusher. As a result, the secondary is constantly giving up huge gains.
Los Angeles Chargers
- Philip Rivers
continues to dominate in just about every way possible, putting up another 300 yards and two more scores. He spread the ball around to several different targets, focusing mostly on Keenan Allen
and Hunter Henry
on the underneath routes, and Tyrell Williams
on his biggest play of the game. He was rarely pressured in any meaningful way, and is well on his way to one of the best seasons of his career.
continues to get open almost at will. It took a flea-flicker to get him h is 100 yards in this one, but they all count in the box score. Unfortunately for Allen owners, he was unable to roll into the end zone after the catch and reward his owners with a touchdown. But another six grabs for another 100+ yards is nothing to sneeze at in what has become a career year for Allen.
has become quite the beneficary of all the attention being paid to Keenan Allen
. Henry continues to win the one on one mismatches he finds himself in, and has only gotten better and better each week. With Antonio Gates
being nearly entire phased out of the offensive gameplan, Henry has quickly become a reliable TE1.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 50 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 27 - 151 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0 - Kirk Cousins
had an abysmal afternoon against the Chargers. He was completely flustered by the pressure being applied by the Chargers defense. Kirk threw twenty-seven passes but didn't even clear two hundred yards. He threw one touchdown in this game as he connected with Vernon Davis
in the end zone after escaping pressure. The offense seemed to be at a total mismatch as they often could not find a rhythm. Washington had countless three and outs as there third down conversion rate was extremely low. Kirk has had struggles but today might have been his worst outing of the year.
RB Samaje Perine
, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 45 - 0, Rec: 4 - 7 - 0 (4 targets) - Samaje Perine
had a sluggish afternoon running the ball for Washington. He had seventeen carries but the yardage had little to no impact. As a volume runner it is imperative to get Samaje in a flow offensively. However, with the offense having such a low time of possession day it was difficult for him to get going. Kirk's struggles passing the ball hindered Samaje's ability to get on track as well.
RB Byron Marshall
- Byron Marshall
left the game early first quarter due to injury and did not have any impact.
WR Josh Doctson
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (6 targets) - Josh Doctson
had another quiet day in the passing game. He recorded three receptions for thirty-four yards but never made much of an impact. Josh had an opportunity for a long touchdown but once again Kirk failed to connect with him. He also had zero targets in the red zone as Washington didn't have many opportunities inside the twenty-yard line.
WR Jamison Crowder
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 34 - 0 (6 targets) - Jamison Crowder
tallied three catches for thirty-four yards but wasn't a heavy contributor. He has been highly productive the last few weeks but in this game he was held in check. His longest reception went for eighteen yards but the splash plays were nonexistent for Jamison today.
WR Ryan Grant
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 28 - 0 (1 targets) - Ryan Grant
had one catch for twenty-eight yards. It was a great slant route that would have been a touchdown if he wasn't tackled by a shoestring. Ryan didn't make much impact beyond this catch as the entire offense struggled to move the ball.
TE Vernon Davis
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 26 - 1 (7 targets) - Vernon Davis
was the most productive pass catcher in this game as he scored the lone touchdown. Kirk barely overthrew him for a second touchdown as he split two defenders down the seam. Vernon only had two catches but he could have had a bigger day if the offense could establish some continuity.
TE Niles Paul
, 16 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (1 targets) - Niles Paul
had one catch for fifteen yards and never became a factor in this game.
QB Philip Rivers
, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 31 - 319 - 2 TD / 0 INT - After leading the league in interceptions in two of the last three seasons and being constantly under pressure for several years now due to poor offensive line play, Rivers entered this game action leading an offense that hadn't turned the ball over in three games and had given up the fewest sacks in the NFL (13). Those trends mostly continued in this game, as Rivers was rarely under pressure save for a lone sack. And the only time he came close to a turnover was when he fired a pass over the middle off a defender's helmet and had the ball pop straight in the air. Fortunately for him, the pass fell harmlessly incomplete. He opened the game with a 34-yard gain to Tyrell Williams
on a wide open shallow cross featuring good yardage after the catch. He converted a key third down to Hunter Henry
and converted another floater over the middle to Henry for 15 yards soon thereafter (focusing on both Henry and Keenan Allen
early on). Just eleven minutes into the game, he had already completed passes to five different receivers. Finally, he found Henry streaking across the back of the end zone with another perfectly-placed floater. Rivers was simply surgical in picking apart the Redskins, going 92 yards on just ten plays. Late in the first half, Rivers essentially capped his performance with a deep bomb downfield to Tyrell Williams
, who caught the ball perfectly in stride before running away from the defense for the 75-yard score. In the second half, he saved his offense from a potential turnover when he made a nice catch of an errant shotgun snap. And really the last big play of the game for the Charger offense was a flea-flicker from Rivers deep downfield to Keenan Allen
. Allen stumbled a bit as he lunged to make the play, which prevented him from getting into the end zone by just a yard. Melvin Gordon
took it in for the score on the next play. With the Chargers up big at the start of the fourth quarter, Rivers exited for Kellen Clemens
at the 11:11 mark and Los Angeles up 30-6.
QB Kellen Clemens
, 15 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 3 - 3 - 0 TD / 1 INT - Clemens came on in relief of Philip Rivers
with the Chargers leading 30-6 and eleven plus minutes remaining. Clemens only threw three passes, all in the direction of rookie Mike Williams
. One was completed for a short gain, and the other two weren't even close to the target. One of the passes was so high that Williams tried in vain to reach out with one hand, and inadvertently ended up deflecting it into the waiting arms of a defender. It was returned 96 yards the other way for a Washington touchdown.
RB Melvin Gordon
, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 78 - 1, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (3 targets) - Gordon had a fairly typical game for him. He got a large workload (23 touches), didn't average a lot of yards per carry, didn't break many big plays (he had a long gain of just ten yards), but scored a touchdown to salvage his day from a fantasy perspective. At this stage of his career, it's safe to say he's not the explosive type of runner most people thought he was coming out of college. But what he lacks in game-breaking ability, he makes up for in patience and vision. He also shows good strength, as there is often not much available for him to gain and yet he still consistently falls forward. Curiously, Austin Ekeler
is running behind the same offensive line and yet he consistently averages more yards per carry (12.3 in this one, as opposed to just 3.5 for Gordon). There was a flea-flicker in the second half from Rivers to Keenan Allen
that put the ball at the doorstep of the goal line. Gordon took the ensuing carry up the middle for the easy touchdown. Gordon was still on the field late in the game even with the outcome having been decided, which was somewhat surprising as the team wasn't resting him to protect him from injury.
RB Andre Williams
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 23 - 0 - Williams saw the majority of the "garbage time" work, getting all of his work in the fourth quarter with the Chargers already up big. He didn't pick up very many yards, but it's difficult to know whether that was his fault or whether it was just the fact that Washington knew the Chargers were running the ball to waste the clock.
RB Austin Ekeler
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 49 - 0 (3 targets) - Ekeler has proven to be a fine complement to starter Melvin Gordon
as the change of pace back. On a day that Gordon saw 22 carries, Ekeler saw just 4 (despite averaging nearly four times as many yards per carry). Late in the first half, he committed what was deemed a "rookie mistake", but it was difficult to fault him for it. The Chargers had one timeout left and were driving to try and get into field goal range, with less than ten seconds on the clock. Ekeler broke a run up the left side as the seconds continued to run, and the team probably wanted him to take a knee so they could stop the clock and kick the field goal. But he saw daylight ahead of him and tried getting into the end zone for a potential touchdown. He was tackled down at the 4-yard line, but the clock ran out as he was being tackled. Outside of that, he again looked good with the ball in his hands and was not in on rushing plays late in the game even with the big lead - Gordon was.
WR Keenan Allen
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 111 - 0 (8 targets) - Allen was once again the team's leading receiver, putting up a game-high six receptions and another 100-yard performance (111). And his stat line could have been even better, as he missed out on a touchdown by a yard. Allen and Rivers were on the same page very early on, as Allen turned to bring in a sideline floater down the sideline on the team's first drive. Soon after that catch, he looked on his way to the corner of the end zone on a catch out of the backfield. But before he could get to the pylon and fight the defenders in the area, he lost his footing a few yards shy. He looked open on the next play too, but the bullet pass from Rivers was too far in front of him in the front corner of the end zone and never had a chance to be completed. In the second half, Allen broke loose down the seam on a flea-flicker. The Rivers pass finally came down 51 yards later just inside the 5-yard line, but Allen stumbled as he hauled in the very difficult catch. As he slid on the ground, he ended up just about a yard shy of the end zone, but was touched down by the trailing defenders just before he could roll in for the score. Melvin Gordon
scored on the very next play.
WR Tyrell Williams
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 132 - 1 (4 targets) - Williams broke open for a 34-yard crossing route on the first offensive play of the game. He's been somewhat invisible lately, so it was important to see the Chargers finding a way to get him involved early. It was a harbinger of things to come, as he had the biggest play of the game early in the second quarter. After being seen talking with Philip Rivers
on the sideline prior to the drive, Williams took off on the next play for a 75-yard scoring strike. He broke a bit to the outside, then leaked back to the middle of the field. With no defensive help in the secondary, Williams easily outran his man, Rivers placed the ball perfectly in Williams' lap, and he did the rest of the work in beating everyone else downfield for the score. Around those two big plays, he had two other receptions totaling 23 yards. While Keenan Allen
is probably the only Los Angeles wide receiver who can be counted upon for consistent scoring, the stat line for Williams in this game shows the explosive potential of any one of them at any given time.
WR Travis Benjamin
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 22 - 0, Rec: 2 - 21 - 0 (4 targets) - Benjamin got wide open along the sideline for a 15-yard gain early on, and tacked on another 15 yards for drawing a facemask penalty. He added big yardage on an end-around later in the half with Philip Rivers
leading the way as a blocker (there were no defenders to block, however). In the second half, Benjamin had a golden opportunity for a huge gain over the middle which would have gone for an easy first down and likely a lot more. But he didn't watch the ball all the way into his hands, and it went for an incompletion.
WR Mike Williams
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (3 targets) - The Chargers first round pick this past season saw limited action late in the game, with the outcome essentially already having been decided. One pass went for just three yards, and the other two passes weren't close to the mark -- one was even returned 96 yards for a touchdown the other way.
TE Hunter Henry
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 50 - 1 (6 targets) - As has been the case the last few weeks, the Chargers got up big early on and dominated the first half, only to slow things down after halftime. Henry dominated the first half, putting up all of his stats before then. At times, he seemed simply uncoverable. Henry converted a huge third and 9 for a 20-yard gain on the first drive, draw a pass interference over the middle (showing no fear in going full extension). And he capped his afternoon with a touchdown along the back of the end zone after easily beating his man off the line. After halftime, the Chargers largely sat on the lead and ran the ball to chew up the clock. Henry, along with the rest of the offense, were much quieter after that point; otherwise, his stats could have been huge.
TE Jeff Cumberland
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (2 targets) - Cumberland caught just his second pass of the season early on, for zero gain. It would hardly be worth a mention, except he inexplicably got another target in the second half. However, he dropped it while trying to turn upfield before securing it.
TE Antonio Gates
, 19 offensive snaps (1 targets) - In a game that saw Jeff Cumberland
targeted twice, Gates was again conspicuously absent from the gameplan. As Hunter Henry
's role has continued to increase, Gates had faded almost into oblivion. Even with the Chargers knocking on the doorstep of the end zone several times, Gates wasn't looked to at all.
New England Patriots 20, Miami Dolphins 27
What you need to know
New England Patriots
- -Rob Gronkowski
was sorely missed, as the middle of the field wasn't threatened all day against the Dolphins.
-With the shoddy protection, the deep ball was non-existent, as routes didn't have time to develop.
-This was arguably Tom Brady
's most inaccurate game of the season. Whether it was due to the Achilles issue earlier in the week or something else remains to be seen.
-The run game barely saw any work due to the game getting out of hand by the early second half.
- The Miami Dolphins had their biggest win of the season on Monday night, defeating division rival New England Patriots, 27-20 to improve their record to 6-7. Jay Cutler
played his best ball of the year, completing 25 of 38 passes for 263 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Running back Kenyan Drake
was the star of the game, rushing 25 times for 114 yards while also catching five passes for 79 yards. Jarvis Landry
made the Patriots pay in the red zone, scoring two touchdowns to go along with eight catches for 46 yards. DeVante Parker
caught four passes for 40 yards, while Kenny Stills
had two receptions for 18 yards. Jakeem Grant
scored the other touchdown for the Miami offense, finishing with two catches for 42 yards. Julius Thomas
had a quiet evening, catching only two passes for 11 yards, but his fellow tight ends Anthony Fasano
(one catch for 17 yards) and MarQueis Gray
(one catch for 10 yards) also saw some playing time on the night as the Dolphins tried their best to take advantage of the Patriots lack of size on the outside. With the win, the Dolphins kept their slim playoff hopes alive and will need to defeat the Buffalo Bills twice in the next three weeks if they want to sneak in the postseason as an AFC wild card team.
QB Tom Brady
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 43 - 233 - 1 TD / 2 INT - It was an ugly, ugly day for Tom Brady
and the Patriots offense. Brady absolutely did not help the cause, throwing a host of totally off-target passes, getting rattled in the pocket, making poor decisions, and more. His two interceptions were bad underthrows, an oddity considering how well he's thrown the deep ball this year. Brady started off the game poorly, underthrowing several balls, and it went out of control from there. The Patriots didn't convert a single third down, which is history in the bad way for Brady. The line was constantly caving in as well, though even when he had time, Brady was off. His lone score was a short play action toss to James White
in the flat. In fact, running backs were a theme on the day, as Brady completed most of his passes to backs instead of wide receivers due to limited time and great coverage on many plays. Rob Gronkowski
's absence was also very noticeable, as without him and Julian Edelman
, Brady barely threw to the middle of the field. There wasn't much else to say about the performance other than it was abysmal, but maybe it was a ‘get it out of the system' kind of game. Unless the Achilles injury bothers him, he should be back to form soon.
RB Rex Burkhead
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 8 - 1, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (5 targets) - Similarly to Dion Lewis
, Burkhead wasn't able to get anything going on the ground, and the Patriots had to abandon the run game in the second half. He was involved in the passing game, but there were no big or spark plays to speak of. Burkhead did score a 1 yard touchdown on the ground after a pass interference call got the Pats to the goal line. He should see more success going forward.
RB Dion Lewis
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 17 - 0, Rec: 5 - 50 - 0 (5 targets) - The entire Patriots offense was unable to get anything going against the Dolphins, the running game included. In fact, with the way the game unfolded, it was the Patriots who had to abandon the running game in the second half. As a result, Dion Lewis
wasn't used much on the ground, though he was utilized heavily in the passing game. His best play was a one handed snare of a lob pass from Tom Brady
, but other than that, there weren't many standout plays on offense.
RB James White
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 11 - 1 (4 targets) - As with the last few weeks, White played a bit role on offense, even with the Pats in throw-only mode for much of the second half, which was surprising. White did score the only passing touchdown of the day on a play action flat route.
WR Danny Amendola
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 76 - 0 (9 targets) - Amendola was the only wide receiver who was able to do anything against the Dolphins, but all his damage came when the Patriots were in throw-only mode. Expect his workload to dwindle with Gronk back from suspension.
WR Chris Hogan
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (5 targets) - In his first game back from injury, Chris Hogan
was simply beat by coverage and inaccurate quarterbacking. As a result, he caught one pass for one yard. Better days are assuredly ahead.
WR Brandin Cooks
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 38 - 0 (7 targets) - Due to a combination of Tom Brady
getting harassed in the pocket, inaccurate passing, and being smothered in coverage, Brandin Cooks
got nothing going besides a 38 yard chunk play. Xavien Howard dominated Cooks in coverage for most of the day, and actually intercepted two underthrown passes intended for Cooks. The speedy wide receiver did also get a pass interference call at the 1 yard line, but all in all, it was a matchup that was won by the defense.
QB Jay Cutler
, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 38 - 263 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 4 - 0 - Jay Cutler
completed 25 of 38 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Dolphins win over the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. It was only the third game this season where Cutler did not turn the ball over. In his first six starts of the season, Cutler averaged 165 yards passing with seven touchdowns to five interceptions, however in his last five games, he is averaging 221 yards passing with 11 touchdowns to only six interceptions. From the very first drive of the game, Cutler went after the porous New England secondary and attacked their cornerbacks. This helped Kenyan Drake
immensely, as the Patriots were unable to stack the box and slow him down, and it allowed the Dolphins to move the ball consistently. Even when they did not score points, the Dolphins controlled field position and forced Tom Brady
into long drives that wore down a lot of clock. Cutler definitely missed some throws, but he also did a great job of avoiding the New England pass rush, taking only two sacks on the night with one of them coming on completely blown coverage where he had no choice but to go down. Cutler was able to manipulate the pocket well, stepping up when he felt it collapsing around him, which gave his receivers time to get open in space. Cutler completed only two passes of 20+ yards, but it was the intermediate passes where he really threw the ball well. You wouldn’t have guessed it by the Dolphins terrible third down conversion percentage (4/14, 28%), however he did have nine first down conversions on first and second down. His long gain of the night went on a straight go-route to Kenyan Drake
who was lined up on the outside on the right side of the formation. Drake got a step on his defender and Cutler threw him perfectly open 42 yards downfield on a rope, which went for a 47 yard gain. If Drake did not trip soon after catching the ball, it had a great chance of going for a touchdown.
RB Kenyan Drake
, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 25 - 114 - 0, Rec: 5 - 79 - 0 (6 targets) - The Patriots simply did not have an answer for Drake on this night, both as a runner and a pass catcher. The Dolphins coaching staff knew that in order for them to beat the Patriots, they needed to get Drake into space where he could create big plays with his speed, and that is exactly what he did. Drake lined up as an outside receiver and in the slot, and even on the plays where he motioned to the outside and did not catch the ball, the Patriots secondary paid him so much attention that opened up lanes for Jarvis Landry
and DeVante Parker
. Drake’s biggest play of the night came on a 47 yard catch, where he lined up on the right side of the formation on the outside hash mark. Drake ran a straight go-route and had a step on his defender almost immediately, allowing Jay Cutler
to hit him in stride for a big gain. Drake stumbled soon after catching the ball, or it would have most likely gone for a 65+ yard touchdown. Drake also had runs of 26 and 31 yards where he abused New England’s defensive line. On both plays, Drake looked dead to rights, as he Patriots defenders were in the backfield almost simultaneously as he received the hand off. On the first play, Drake planted his outside foot and juked the defender before doing the same thing at the line of scrimmage and bursting into the secondary for a 26 yard gain. On the second play, Drake put a nasty spin move on a New England defender before bursting to the outside and gaining 31 yards down to the New England four yard line. There are only a handful of players in the league who could have avoided getting stopped for negative yards, let alone gain 57 yards combined on the two plays.
WR Jarvis Landry
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 46 - 2 (8 targets) - Jarvis Landry
caught all eight of his targets for 46 yards and two touchdowns in the Dolphins win over the Patriots on Monday night. Landry converted both of his red zone targets into touchdowns, and despite his rather low yardage total, he was a big part of the Dolphins passing game. Four of Landry’s eight catches came on first down, which allowed the Dolphins to open their entire playbook up on second down and this is where Miami attacked the New England secondary. On Landry’s first score, Jay Cutler
ran a play-action bootleg to the right side of the formation, and Landry ran a shallow dig route across the field in front of Cutler. He caught the ball at the four yard line, put a hesitation move on his defender before dragging him across the goal line for a touchdown. Landry’s second touchdown catch came when Jay Cutler
was given an eternity in the pocket and was able to manipulate the Patriots linebackers into leaving Landry wide open in the middle of the end zone. It was an easy pitch and catch for a touchdown, and it marked Landry’s eighth touchdown catch in his last ten games. His eight touchdowns have doubled his totals from the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Landry will have another great matchup next week against the Buffalo Bills, and Miami will need some more big games out of him if they want to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
WR DeVante Parker
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 40 - 0 (6 targets) - DeVante Parker
caught four of his six targets for 40 yards against the Patriots. Jay Cutler
tried to get Parker going right from the jump on an easy crossing route, but he looked up and downfield before he was able to secure the catch. The drop was a continuation of a trend that has destroyed Parker’s fantasy value over the second half of the season. The 40 yards was his highest yardage total in his last four games, but on a night where Jay Cutler
threw the ball 38 times, Parker should have played a much bigger role in the Dolphins passing offense. It would be an understatement to say that Cutler has lost faith in Parker, as the drops have mounted and so have the number of interceptions that Cutler has recorded on plays where he targeted Parker.
WR Kenny Stills
, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - Kenny Stills
caught two of his four targets for 18 yards against the Patriots on Monday night. This was Stills lowest yardage total in his last nine games, and his two catches were his lowest reception total over the same span. The Dolphins dominated this game from the very start, so Jay Cutler
was playing with the lead and did not have the same urgency to throw the ball downfield as he would normally have. Stills weekly production is almost always going to come down to whether he is able to generate or two big plays, and despite Cutler favoring Stills over Parker in the passing game, Parker is still the preferred option in two wide receiver sets as he is the superior blocker.
TE Julius Thomas
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (4 targets) - Julius Thomas
two of his four targets for 11 yards against the Patriots, although his stat line could have very easily been much bigger had Jay Cutler
not missed him on two deep throws. The Dolphins lined Thomas up on the outside looking to exploit the matchup against the Patriots cornerbacks where he has the size and strength to outmuscle them down the field. On one such play, Thomas actually had a step on his defender but Cutler led him too far down the field. Cutler also had Thomas wide open down the field when the Patriots safeties took a poor angle, but once again he threw the ball too high for Thomas to corral and it went as an incompletion. Thomas also did not help his cause by fumbling the ball on one of his two catches, although he did recover the ball to keep the Dolphins drive alive. Thomas is never going to be a high volume receiver in the Dolphins offense, and he is nothing more than a touchdown dependent option at this point in the season.
Philadelphia Eagles 43, Los Angeles Rams 35
What you need to know
- While the Eagles had an impressive outpouring of success offensively, the mood quickly soured when it was identified that Carson Wentz
will be lost for the season as he tore his ACL in the fourth quarter while scrambling for a touchdown. Prior to this injury, the passing game was clicking on all cylinders as the Eagles utilized both Brent Celek
and Trey Burton
to fill in for Zach Ertz
and they did so in a major way accounting for three of the Eagles four passing touchdowns. In the running game, it appears that Jay Ajayi
is starting to take over the running back group as he had 15 of the 28 running back carries.
Los Angeles Rams
- The Rams leaned heavily on Todd Gurley
early in this game and then found themselves forced to throw the ball and rely on deep plays for most of the game as they were not able to consistently sustain drives in this game. While scoring 35 points, the Rams had just 43 offensive plays as the Rams had just one first down on drives that did not result in touchdowns. Cooper Kupp
was tremendous in this game as he lined up all over the field and was able to have a big game set up by a 64-yard reception. The Rams on non-touchdown drives only had one first down thus limiting their total plays and their total yardage numbers as they either scored a touchdown or they went three and out on most drives.
QB Carson Wentz
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 41 - 291 - 4 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - 16 - 0 - Wentz was having another very good game this week throwing for four touchdowns, but the play that everyone is talking about is Wentz trying to scramble for a touchdown and he took a low hit. While he stayed in the game, he went to the locker room almost immediately after the drive.
QB Nick Foles
, 23 offensive snaps, Pass: 6 - 10 - 42 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0 - While we were hoping not to have to mention Nick Foles
' name except for maybe Week 17 when the Eagles rested their players, here we are. Foles came in during the fourth quarter and really was not asked to push the ball down the field as while he threw the ball 10 times he only had 4.2 yards per attempt. It's tough to get a grasp as far as how Foles will do in this offense due to a small sample size, but he was more of a game manager and leaned on the run when he came in this game.
RB Jay Ajayi
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 78 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (2 targets) - It appears that Jay Ajayi
is starting to separate himself from the rest of the running backs in Philadelphia and could be forced to take on a big role with Carson Wentz
out. Ajayi was on the field for 51% of the plays while showing some burst that LeGarrette Blount
has not been able to consistently provide. Ajayi had three carries that went for 10 or more yards in this game and while he was unable to find the end-zone ended the day with 5.2 yards per carry.
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 12 - 0, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - Blount was largely a non-factor in this game as he averaged just 1.7 yards per carry and was stuffed at the goal line on his one goal-line attempt from the half-yard line. Blount appears to be falling out of favor for this Eagles team.
WR Nelson Agholor
, 77 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 64 - 0 (11 targets) - Nelson Agholor
after several big weeks was heavily targeted once again but much like most of the Eagles passing game, they decided to create a game plan that would feature Agholor and Jeffery in the short routes while taking their deep shots with Torrey Smith
. Agholor played more of a traditional slot receiver role instead of running the deep slot routes as he faced a tough matchup against Nickell Robey-Coleman in this game.
WR Torrey Smith
, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 100 - 0 (11 targets) - Torrey Smith
was heavily utilized as the Eagles for the first time in several weeks utilized Smith as a deep threat after several weeks of utilizing him in underneath routes or not at all. Smith's day was largely setup by a 46-yard gain before half-time in which Smith caught the ball 20-yards down the field and was able to zig-zag his way for an additional 26 yards before finally being brought down.
WR Alshon Jeffery
, 86 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 52 - 1 (11 targets) - Jeffery was heavily targeted in this game as he had 11 targets, but as we have seen at times this season a lot of the targets were forced targets thus lowering his completion rate. Alshon caught just five of his eleven targets and most of the receptions were short yardage completions with the exception of a deep-out for 15 yards. Jeffery's best reception of the day might also be his luckiest of the season as his one-yard touchdown was intended for Nelson Agholor
with Jeffery standing behind Agholor the pass was misguided and Agholor was not able to catch it, but Jeffery reacted quickly and contorted his body back to the football to make the catch which took a significant amount of focus and coordination to hang onto the ball before it hit the ground.
TE Trey Burton
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 71 - 2 (6 targets) - Trey Burton
did a tremendous job filling in for Zach Ertz
this week as he was able to find the end-zone twice in this game and continued to show the speed and agility that has so many people excited about Burton when he is given the opportunity. What made it even more exciting is that both of Burton's touchdowns were in heavily contested that Burton was able to go up and make the catch.
QB Jared Goff
, 48 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 26 - 199 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 2 - 0 - Jared Goff
never looked comfortable in this game as the game was somewhat choppy even though the score was as high as it was. Goff threw the ball just 26 times in this game and did not have great success other than to Cooper Kupp
which a lot of this was set up with yards after the catch. The Eagles made it tough for the Rams to get anything going in this game as they largely took away the deep shots once they got the lead and forced the Rams to beat them underneath. When Goff had time he was able to consistently deliver the ball accurately an did not turn the ball over until late in the game which resulted in the game-clinching touchdown for the Eagles.
RB Todd Gurley
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 96 - 2, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (5 targets) - If you look at Todd Gurley
's overall stats you should be very happy as the running back had a huge day running the ball and looked terrific. Gurley's best play was on his first carry of this game as less than two minutes into the game the Rams faked the end-around to Tavon Austin
and then pitched it out to Gurley who was able to use his speed to get around the corner and tight-rope along the sideline avoiding going out of bounds until the one-yard line. Gurley was able to finish the drive shortly after as he carried two defenders into the end-zone. In the fourth-quarter Gurley was able to take an off-tackle handoff from the nine-yard line and get to the pylon for a second touchdown. Most of Gurley's success in this game came on counter plays or off-tackle runs as the Rams tried to utilize the speed and size of Gurley instead of having him go up the middle against this very tough Eagles defensive line. The problem for Gurley if there was one this week was the game script, as he only ran the ball 13 times in this game largely due to the Rams falling behind early and the Rams abandoning the run in the second and third quarters of this game as they tried to catch back up.
WR Cooper Kupp
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 118 - 1 (7 targets) - Cooper Kupp
continues to lead this wide receiving group with the injury of Robert Woods
as he had a huge day this week going over 100 yards and scoring his first touchdown in six weeks. Kupp showed off his elusiveness as he lined up out of the slot and caught a simple out route for 10 yards, but was able to duck under his first defender and then juke the second defender before finally being boxed in and brought down for a gain of 64-yards. Kupp was able to finish the drive on a play in which he lined up on the outside on a pivot route in which he started to cut inside only to stop and then cut back outside and carry the defender for a nine-yard touchdown.
WR Sammy Watkins
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 21 - 1 (7 targets) - Watkins was largely underutilized in this game as outside of a one-yard touchdown that was setup by a rub route from Cooper Kupp
, Watkins did not have a lot of success going up against a good Eagles secondary. Watkins was on the field for every offensive snap as he has been over the last two weeks, it was just the Eagles often double-teamed the receiver forcing Cooper Kupp
to beat them.
TE Tyler Higbee
, 34 offensive snaps - Tyler Higbee
was held without a catch and without a target in this game even though he was on the field for 76% of the plays in this game.
New Orleans Saints 17, Atlanta Falcons 20
What you need to know
New Orleans Saints
- It is rare to see a prime matchup for a Thursday Night Football game, but that is exactly what we got from a Saints and Falcons teams fighting to win the division. Unfortunately for the Saints, they were bitten by the Thursday Night injury bug and a bevy of penalties called against them that either extended Atlanta's drives or actually ended the game. The biggest blow came when the Saints lost Alvin Kamara
on the first drive of the game due to a concussion. He was taken back to the locker room shortly after the protocol was initiated and then was not seen from again. The Saints were driving and well within field goal range to tie the game when Sean Peyton inexplicably called a passing play with 1:55 left in the game. Drew Brees
was picked off in the end zone and Atlanta was able to run out the clock with the help of a Sean Peyton unsportsmanlike penalty. The Saints have now lost 2 of their last 3 games after winning 8 in a row. This also brings about a 3-way tie for first in the division and the Saints will take on this same Falcons team again in 16 days in a game that will go a long way in deciding the division champion. In the meantime, the Saints will take on a resurgent Jets team at home in week 15.
- Atlanta and New Orleans traded long drives with a good mix of run and pass from each, but quality defensive back play led to series-ending field goals. After trading punts to end the first quarter, Atlanta scored on a four-and-half-minute drive that Devonta Freeman
capped with a one-yard run. The Saints countered thanks to a second long kick return by Tommy Lee Lewis, who capped the second drive with a reception and run at the left sideline inside the Atlanta 10. Ryan delivered an interception at the end of the half that nearly broke the tie if not for an illegal formation penalty during the Saints’ field goal attempt that nullified the play and the time run-off ended the quarter.
QB Drew Brees
, 52 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 35 - 271 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - From the way this game started, it looked like it was going to be a high scoring affair with both quarterbacks throwing the ball all over the field and the Saints having the advantage with the superior running game. This is the point where Alvin Kamara
left the game with a concussion and Brees had to deal with injuries to several receivers as well as some poor calls by the officials. Brees was looking like his old self for the majority of this game, fitting balls into tight windows, and consistently finding Michael Thomas
all over the field. He connected with Thomas for 10 receptions, over 100 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown came from the 1-yard line on a clear pick play, but was completely legal based on the rules and being within 1-yard of the line of scrimmage. Thomas was open easily in the end zone for the Saints second touchdown. The first pass came to Tommylee Lewis down the left sideline for 26 yards. Lewis had broken free and caught the ball 5 yards short of the end zone. He stopped, made a move on Keanu Neal and walked into the end zone. Brees looked like he has turned back the clock on these two plays but then came the interception with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. Brees tried to hit Josh Hill
up the seam for a game-winning touchdown but ended up throwing into triple coverage for an easy interception. You can understand going for the win, but with how great the running game has been all season and only needing a field goal, it seems foolish to risk throwing the ball at this point. Brees will look to rebound from the late game letdown next week against the Jets.
RB Mark Ingram
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 49 - 0, Rec: 4 - 43 - 0 (5 targets) - After losing Alvin Kamara
on the first drive of the game, it would be easy to assume that Ingram would take over lead back duties and get right back to the success he has had all season. That was not the case and Ingram actually seemed to struggle without having someone to relieve him after every few plays. Ingram is an elite athlete, but he has come accustomed to running a few plays and then getting a breather while Kamara did the same. Ingram did not break 100 total yards and did not eclipse 50 yards in either rushing or receiving today. The Falcons did a great job limiting his rushing attempts and seemingly cutting off his lanes for the jump cuts and cutbacks that he is known for. Ingram's longest rush of the day was 14 yards, but he did manage to chip in a 21-yard catch and run for a first down through the air. Ingram also got a little banged up when he took a helmet to the small of his back and needed a few plays off. It will be interesting to see how the Saints respond next week with a banged-up Ingram and Kamara in the concussion protocol.
RB Alvin Kamara
, 6 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (3 targets) - Things were looking to be business as usual for Kamara until he took a shot to the head and was taken off the field as part of the concussion protocol. Kamara was taken to the locker room to be evaluated and then was not seen again for the rest of the game. This was a huge loss for a Saints offense that has embraced Kamara in the Darren Sproles
role of a few years ago. Kamara already had a 23-yard reception before leaving with an injury that changed the entire face of this game.
WR Michael Thomas
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 117 - 1 (14 targets) - After Kamara went down it was Thomas that stepped up for the Saints offense. The rushing attack just did not seem the same and someone needed to fill the void. Thomas has been Brees favorite target all year long and it continued again today. The duo connected on 10 of 14 targets and most importantly, one of those catches resulted in a touchdown. This is now back to back games with a touchdown catch for Thomas and that is not something that has happened since weeks 3 and 4 earlier this season. Thomas spilled out into the flat from the 1-yard line after his man in coverage ran into Josh Hill
on a pick. Then it was just an easy throw and catch for Brees and Thomas as there was no defender within 5 yards of him. The rest of his catches came on crossing routes and deep outs like they have the majority of the season. There was a scary moment when Thomas fell to the turf without seeming to have been touched. Thankfully for Saints fans, he had simply been poked in the eye in coverage and only needed one play to rebound and get back on the field. It has been a tough stretch for the Saints in the past 3 games, but Thomas has stepped up and looks to be everything the Saints wanted in the receiver that replaced Brandon Cooks.
WR TommyLee Lewis
, 6 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 1 (2 targets) - Outside of Michael Thomas
, Brees did not really feature any other receiver in the game against Atlanta. No other receiver had more than 2 catches, while both running backs had 3 and 4 catches. Lewis makes this recap after his 26-yard touchdown catch and how silly he made Keanu Neal look in coverage. Lewis streaked down the sideline and made the catch about 5 yards short of the end zone, Neal was in perfect position to make the tackle, but Lewis stopped his momentum and Neal flew past him as he walked into the end zone for the easy score. Neal has been one of Atlanta's top tacklers all season long and Lewis made him look silly. Lewis only managed 1 more catch for 4 yards in the game, but he had already made his statement with his 26-yard touchdown catch.
QB Matt Ryan
, 74 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 27 - 221 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 3 - 0 - 0 - He began the game throwing slants to Julio Jones
, hitting one of them for a 38-yard gain to the Saints’ 15. Saints’ penalties and Atlanta’s ground game did most of the work down the field in this series. He was forced to throw the ball away on a 3rd and 5 from the 10 after Saints coverage did its job, leading to a game-tying field goal. His second completion of the game was another slant off a quick play-fake, finding Mohamed Sanu
for a first down to the Atlanta 31 early in the second quarter. On the next play, Ryan found Jones for 22 on a back shoulder fake against Lattimore after working from a tight split to work to the sideline. Ryan delivered an interception because he didn’t consider the cornerback’s position on Julio Jones
when he looked to Jones as his second read. Marshon Lattimore cut off the route and crossed midfield into field goal range, but an illegal formation penalty nullified the field goal and the time run-off meant the game remained tied at the half. Ryan threw two picks in the early second half, including a terrible decision to throw to a covered receiver in the end zone. Ryan recovered on a drive that started late in the third quarter to convert a few big throws in Saints territory, including the game-tying score to Mohamed Sanu
. Completions to Sanu and Jones fueled a fourth-quarter field goal drive that ended up being the margin of victory.
RB Devonta Freeman
, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 91 - 1 - He earned eight cutting inside a fullback lead through a huge crease on the Falcons’ opening drive. Two plays later , and two Saints penalties later, he gained another five up the middle from a single back, two-tight end set, making a strong press to the left guard and cutting back to the right guard. He was stuffed on a toss to left end that he tried to cut back inside on the following play. He earned eight untouched outside left end on a toss near midfield during Atlanta’s third drive, picking up a good block from Justin Hardy
. New Orleans stuffed Freeman on 1st and goal at the 1 on a run up the middle. Freeman followed Coleman on 3rd and goal from 1 for walk-in score off the left side. The team turned back to Freeman to get them deep into Saints territory early in the second half, but Matt Ryan
threw an interception to kill the drive. Freeman slowed down as the game went on, and the team used Tevin Coleman
more in the fourth quarter, including on the drive that yielded the game-winning field goal.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 32 - 0 - He fought hard through a wrap to his waist on a run around left end at the Saints’ 15 during the first drive, finishing with a gain of 6. He earned six inside left tackle on a strong cut downhill from an inside handoff from shotgun on a 2nd and 10 play during Atlanta’s second drive. He earned four from another shotgun run late in the half. He followed up two plays later with a run up the middle from a single back set on 3rd and 1 and Atlanta called a time out with 0:50 left in the half.
WR Mohamed Sanu
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 83 - 1 (8 targets) - Ryan found Sanu for a play-action slant working left to right for a first down to the Atlanta 31 early in the second quarter. Sanu earned five on a quick out with 1:20 left in the half. Sanu's role grew in the second half, including the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sanu had a nice catch to jumpstart the drive that led to the game-winning field goal, and continues to be a mainstay in the passing game.
WR Julio Jones
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 98 - 0 (11 targets) - Marshon Lattimore broke up a slant to Julio Jones
during the first drive, but the corner was called for holding the receiver’s waist on the break. He earned 38 yards on a 3rd and 8 slant at the right hash against Lattimore and side-stepped a second defender while blowing past three pursuing defenders as he crossed the middle of the field. Ryan found Jones for 22 on a back shoulder fake against Lattimore after working from a tight split to work to the sideline. Ryan just missed Julio up the left sideline with Lattimore providing tight coverage. He earned a seven-yard gain with 33 seconds left on a shallow crossing route. Jones had a long gain overturned by an offensive pass interference penalty in the third quarter.
WR Taylor Gabriel
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets) - He made a diving catch on a slant for a first down inside the Saints’ 45 and after time ran down to 12 seconds in the half, the officials called for a review of the play.
WR Marvin Hall
, 10 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Ryan underthrew an open Hall during the third drive on a fade up the right sideline that the undercutting defensive back nearly picked off.
TE Austin Hooper
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (4 targets) - Ryan overshot Austin Hooper
on a 3rd and 4 pass after working back to his left with pressure coming hard from his right, ending the second drive and forcing a punt. Hooper extended fully for the ball but let the target go through his hands. Ryan found Hooper on second down for a short gain to get inside the Saints’ 30, following up with a second throw to Hooper who shook Vacarro with a pivot inside and out to reach the 15 for a 14-yard conversion. Hooper was also the target on yet another interception early in the second half.
TE Levine Toilolo
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets) - Ryan found Toilolo was a release-outlet option up the right hash to get Atlanta into a first and goal near the Saints’ one.
Baltimore Ravens 38, Pittsburgh Steelers 39
What you need to know
- The Ravens put together their best offensive performance of the season against the Steelers. Alex Collins
was the focal point of the Ravens offense and he contributed explosive plays that fueled almost every Ravens scoring drive. Collins elite combination of speed, quickness, and power make him hard to handle in the open field. Joe Flacco
played relatively well but had 3 or 4 passes that easily could have been intercepted. The game plan for the Ravens seemed to feature Jeremy Maclin
and Danny Woodhead
but the Ravens turned to other options after mixed results early. Mike Wallace
appeared to suffer an ankle injury but later returned to the game and played well. Chris Moore
looked the Ravens best wide receiver and he may have earned more playing time going forward with a 30 yard touchdown.
- Ben Roethlisberger
led an epic comeback as the Steelers won their eighth-consecutive game by a score of 39-38 over the Baltimore Ravens. The team played with emotion in the playoff-like atmosphere as they battled for injured linebacker Ryan Shazier. The Steelers offense started fast building a 14-0 lead before falling behind by 11 points during the third quarter. Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown
willed the victory as the team secured the AFC North Division. The offense was remarkably efficient on third down converting 12 out of 18 opportunities.
QB Joe Flacco
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 35 - 269 - 2 TD / 1 INT - Joe Flacco
started the game with a 22 yard completion to Danny Woodhead
on 3rd down but threw an ugly interception on the Ravens while the Ravens were well within Justin Tucker
’s field goal range. The pass was intended for Maclin but fell nowhere near him. The Ravens were again able to get a few first downs on their second possession but the drive again stalled with another miscue between Flacco and Maclin. Flacco put together a methodical scoring drive punctuated by a 30 yard touchdown to Chris Moore
. Flacco’s pass was underthrown but good enough for the score. Flacco connected with Mike Wallace
for a 40 yard gain to open the Ravens ensuing possession the pass was again underthrown but Flacco completed the easy throw. Flacco almost threw an ugly interception to Cam Heyward who jumped in front of Woodhead underneath. Flacco was again almost intercepted this time by Artie Burns who would have made the play had Wallace not ripped the ball out of his hands forcing an incompletion. The Ravens scored touchdowns on consecutive possessions that were fueled by the run game and Alex Collins
. Flacco did connect with Maclin for 19 yards and Mike Wallace
drew a 31 yard pass interference penalty to set up a 6 yard touchdown pass to Patrick Ricard. The Ravens final scoring drive featured a personal foul penalty and a questionable 20 yard pass interference call. Buck Allen capped the drive with a 9 yard touchdown run. The Ravens offense did not manage a first down during their two final possessions with the game on the line
RB Alex Collins
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 120 - 1, Rec: 2 - 46 - 0 (2 targets) - Alex Collins
played his best game of the season and was an unstoppable force against the Steelers. Collins took a check down from Flacco for 9 yards and fumbled as he went to the ground but Mike Wallace
recovered the loose ball. Collins showed impressive power finishing a 9 yard carry by sending two defenders to the ground. Collins broke three tackles along the sideline after catching a check down and raced down the sideline for 37 yards. Collins took an inside handoff, bounced his run to the outside, and found enough day light to score an 18 yard touchdown. With just a sliver of day light Collins burst into the open field for an impressive 17 yard gain and was brought down at the 1 yard line. Collins got a block from James Hurst on the edge and exploded up the sideline for 21 yards. Buck Allen had two touchdowns but Collins was in the backfield on the first touchdown and was getting a breather on the second.
RB Javorius Allen
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 25 - 2, Rec: 2 - 32 - 0 (2 targets) - Buck Allen escaped out of the backfield off of play action and took a check down 20 yards as he tip toed down the sideline. Allen picked up 12 more yards on a simple swing pass to the flat. Allen scored 1 yard touchdown after Collins got the Ravens down to the 1 yard line. Collins and Allen were both lined up in the backfield for the touchdown but Allen got the carry. Buck Allen followed a nice block from Pat Ricard and scored a 9 yard touchdown running off right tackle.
RB Danny Woodhead
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 7 - 0, Rec: 4 - 29 - 0 (5 targets) - Danny Woodhead
was featured early but the Ravens turned to Alex Collins
after two stalled possessions. Woodhead got behind Javon Hargrave as Joe Flacco
scrambled and was rewarded with a 22 yard catch and run on 3rd and 8. Woodhead caught a screen pass for a 3 yard gain.
WR Chris Moore
, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 48 - 1 (3 targets) - Chris Moore
looked like the Ravens best wide receiver against the Steelers. Moore caught his first target running a comeback route for an 11 yard gain. Moore made a nice adjustment on a sideline catch for a 7 yard gain. Moore ran right by Sean Davis on a 9 route and Flacco found him for a 30 yard touchdown.
WR Mike Wallace
, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 72 - 0 (5 targets) - Mike Wallace
ran a deep in breaking route and made his first catch for 18 yards. Wallace got wide open running a go route and Flacco found him for a 40 yard gain. Flacco’s pass was well underthrown or Wallace may have picked up significantly more yardage. Mike Wallace
drew a 31 yard pass interference penalty on a deep target from Flacco. It was a questionable call with both players making contact with each other. Wallace drew another pass interference penalty this time on Artie Burns for 20 yards. The call was highly questionable.
WR Jeremy Maclin
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (11 targets) - Jeremy Maclin
was horribly inefficient against the Steelers. Maclin was not on the same page as Flacco on a number of his targets. A few of his targets were passes that were thrown away but for the most part Flacco could not find Maclin open. Maclin made his first catch in the flat and was hit immediately for a 1 yard loss. Maclin made a 9 yard catch running a comeback route. Maclin picked up 19 yards running an in route.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
, 89 offensive snaps, Pass: 44 - 66 - 506 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0 - Ben Roethlisberger
finished with a career-best 44 completions on a career-high 66 passing attempts for 506 yards and two touchdowns. In the process, he set a record as the first player in NFL history to pass for over 500 yards on three separate occasions. Roethlisberger looked comfortable running the no-huddle formation throughout the game thus preventing the Ravens a chance to substitute and attack with exotic blitz packages. He showed poise and chemistry with Antonio Brown
and his tight ends. Mid first quarter, Roethlisberger threw his first touchdown of the game on a quick pass to Bell, who did the heavy lifting. The veteran quarterback did not flinch when he was down by 11 points during the fourth quarter. On a 1st and goal, Roethlisberger ran play-action and found fullback Roosevelt Nix
for the short touchdown pass. Roethlisberger also improved his prime-time record at Heinz Field to 21-3.
RB LeVeon Bell
, 80 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 48 - 2, Rec: 9 - 77 - 1 (10 targets) - Leveon Bell led the charge as he finished with 125 total yards and three total touchdowns. Mid first quarter, Bell lined up on the outside as he ran a quick slant and then shook off the initial defender for a 20-yard touchdown reception. Early second quarter after the Ravens committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone, Bell patiently ran up-the-middle for his second touchdown of the game. Bell limped off the field during the second quarter after a low tackle but returned promptly for the next offensive series. Late 4th quarter on a 3rd and 1, Bell took the handoff and patiently danced around the right side of the line before bouncing it to the outside sideline for an 11-yard touchdown run, his third touchdown of the game. Bell has now recorded the most scrimmage yards by any NFL player in league history through their first 60 games.
WR Antonio Brown
, 86 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 213 - 0 (18 targets) - Antonio Brown
once again shined when the prime-time lights were on as he finished with 11 receptions on 18 targets for 213 yards. Brown ran clean routes and consistently beat the Ravens secondary, minus cornerback Jimmy Smith
. He was able to get behind Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr on multiple occasions while completing long receptions. Browns’ chemistry was spot-on with Ben Roethlisberger
as he weaved his way in and out of traffic completing both routine and difficult receptions. Early fourth quarter on a 3rd and 10, Brown got behind the defense while running a quick slant for a 57-yard reception. Brown now has over 1500 receiving yards this season and on pace for 1857 yards, the third highest total in NFL history.
WR Martavis Bryant
, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 33 - 0 (10 targets) - Martavis Bryant
had a disappointing performance with six receptions for 33 yards. Bryant struggled filling in for the suspended JuJu Smith-Schuster
with kickoff return duties as he put the offensive in negative starting positions on multiple occasions.
TE Jesse James
, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 97 - 0 (12 targets) - Jesse James
finished with a career-high ten receptions for a career-best 97 yards. He was remarkably efficient securing 10 of his 12 targets. James dominated in the short to intermediate passing game with crossing-routes and slants. The tight end was one of the main beneficiaries of the offense playing from behind for most of the second half.
TE Vance McDonald
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 52 - 0 (6 targets) - Vance McDonald
finished with a season-best four receptions for 52 yards. Along with Jesse James
, McDonald also thrived in the short-to-intermediate passing game. The tight end was able to shake off defenders while picking up additional yardage. McDonald left during the second half with a shoulder injury.