San Francisco 49ers 34, Los Angeles Rams 13
What you need to know
San Francisco 49ers
- It's likely that much of San Francisco's success on offense was due to Los Angeles resting their starters. Seemingly every player who touched the ball in this game benefitted from a blunder or two by defenders who were primarily responsible for them. Individually, Jimmy Garoppolo
played worse than he has since donning a 49ers uniform, but he got the job done by being good enough when he had to be. Carlos Hyde
and Matt Breida
formed a formidable duo that ran through and over the Rams' backup front seven. Marquise Goodwin
was dominating as a receiver until getting concussed late in the second quarter. Finally, both tight ends ran circles around the coverage of backup linebacker Corey Littleton.
Los Angeles Rams
- The Rams rested their starters in this game and it showed in this game, as the offensive performance was relatively poor in a game that the Rams looked largely disinterested in as they prepare for the playoffs. Sean Mannion
was relatively conservative in this game not trying to force the ball down the field except for a deep pass to Mike Thomas
for 50-yards on a beautifully thrown ball. From a running standpoint, the team clearly missed Todd Gurley
's athleticism as while Malcolm Brown
filled in for Gurley, he does not have the speed and playmaking ability that Gurley has every time he touches the ball as Brown is more of a power running back.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 33 - 292 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - -1 - 0 - This was Garoppolo's worst performance since becoming San Francisco's starter. Both interceptions were his fault: One was an underthrow across the middle, while the other was an overthrew across the middle. In addition, Garoppolo missed several open receivers, including short-arming Louis Murphy
, who was completely uncovered 20 yards downfield with room to run. All of that said, Garoppolo *still* threw for nearly 300 yards and 8.8 yards per attempt, avoided sacks, and led the 49ers to a three-score victory. Granted this came against the Rams' backup defense, but the performance shows Garoppolo doesn't have to play his best game all game every game in order for his offense to function smoothly and effectively. It should also be noted that he was missing his favorite receiver, Marquise Goodwin
, for the entire second half.
RB Carlos Hyde
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 90 - 2, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (4 targets) - Hyde ran for 6 yards per carry against Los Angeles' backup front seven. Oddly enough, most of his damage -- including one of his touchdowns -- came on runs to the outside left rather than up the middle vacated by All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Other than that, and his continued lack of involvement in the passing game, this was a typical Hyde performance we've seen for years: power, elusiveness, and the occasional fumble. All three of these were on display during a single fourth quarter carry. Out of an an I-formation, Hyde side-stepped immediate up-the-middle penetration by defensive end Morgan Fox, and then cut back inside to avoid safety Cody Davis's outside pursuit at the line of scrimmage. From there, he burst through the hole that had opened up and ran through two tackle attempts -- only to fumble at the end of the run because he was fighting for even more yardage rather than just going to the ground to continue burning clock with a second-half lead.
RB Matt Breida
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 72 - 0, Rec: 1 - 32 - 0 (2 targets) - With the Rams' defensive front seven playing backups save for eight plays, it wasn't surprising to see Breida (and Carlos Hyde
) run for 6 yards per carry. It was surprising, however, to see Breida post his longest reception of the season, a 32-yard catch and run in the back half of the fourth quarter. On the play, San Francisco lined up with two in-line tight ends, but no wide receiver, on the right side of the formation and with both Breida and Hyde in the backfield. Hyde motioned left and both tight ends ran in-breaking routes towards the left side of the field. All of these actions drew the defense in that direction, primarily the two defenders on the tight end side of the defense, thereby allowing Breida to slip out of the backfield completely uncovered. By the time the Rams figured out their error, the closest would-be tacklers weren't within 20 yards of him.
RB Kyle Juszczyk
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 19 - 0 (4 targets) - Two of Juszczyk's were of the dumpoff variety; the two others were designed for him. The first of these could have resulted in a much bigger gain if not for a great read-and-react play by cornerback Troy Hill. On the play, Juszczyk lined up in the right slot. Matt Breida
motioned next to him prior to the snap, and then picked a linebacker to open up the short middle, which is exactly where Juszcyk's slant was designed to take him. The other target designed for Juszczyk involved faking his patented wheel route, instead breaking it off in the left flat and running an out. He was wide open, thereby gaining 14 yards untouched.
WR Marquise Goodwin
, 21 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 28 - 1 (4 targets) - Goodwin left the game at the end of the first half after being concussed by an illegal hit from safety Blake Countess. Prior to that, he was the target on three intermediate-length throws and one short throw. On a 20-yard catch in the middle of the field, Goodwin ran a deep comback against cornerback Troy Hill and gently nudged Hill downfield (read: pushed off) to gain separation at the top of his route. A second long target was incomplete because Goodwin wasn't able to get both feet in bounds along the left sideline, while another was intercepted because it Jimmy Garoppolo
underthrew it. Goodwin's short target resulted in athe 49ers first touchdown of the game. Lined up in the trail position of a stacked right formation, he faked a reverse to the left, pivoted, and ran uncovered into the right flat. With his speed, Goodwin was easily able to run away from pursuing defenders and into the end zone.
WR Trent Taylor
, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 29 - 0 (2 targets) - Not surprisingly, both of Taylor's catches came on short, in-breaking routes from the slot. On the first, he beat cornerback Troy Hill and then spun out of Hill's tackle attempt to gain an extra 8 yards. On the second, he had the good fortune of pass rusher Robert Quinn dropping into coverage on a zone blitz. Taylor easily found the hole behind Quinn and in front of the secondary.
WR Kendrick Bourne
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 28 - 0 (5 targets) - One of Bourne's targets was intercepted and the other was on a throwaway, so he really had two catches in three attempts. On the lone incompletion, Bourne beat cornerback Kevin Peterson on a post pattern, but safety Cody Davis jumped the route and jarred the ball loose. Of his two completions, one was more impressive than the other, as he beat the man-to-man coverage of Trumaine Johnson
on one of only 8 snaps the Rams' defensive starters played.
WR Louis Murphy
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Another week, another instance of Murphy starting, but then only playing half the offensive snaps and being an afterthought in the passing game. His lone reception came on a pivot route against Cover-2 in the second quarter.
WR Aldrick Robinson
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 12 - 1 (3 targets) - Robinson played more than usual due to Marquise Goodwin
's concussion midway through the second quarter. He wasn't able to replace Goodwin's production, however. Robinson was targeted twice in the red zone on nearly identical routes, a skinny post out of the slot. The first was deflected away by cornerback Kevin Peterson. The second resulted in a touchdown when Robinson faked slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman out of his shoes to get wide open.
TE George Kittle
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 100 - 0 (6 targets) - Kittle had his longest catch of the season on San Francisco's fourth play of the game, a 44-yard catch and run that saw him easily beat linebacker Corey Littleton's man-to-man coverage on a quick slant. On Kittle's second target (and catch), he found a hole in the short middle zone behind Littleton. Next up was a 4-yard catch on Kyle Shanahan's bread-and-butter, backside tight end play-action passing play. Kittle's final reception once again exploited Littleton's zone, but this time he was able to gain 28 yards after the catch by breaking two tackle attempts -- one by Littleton -- and running away from two more.
TE Garrett Celek
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 28 - 0 (1 targets) - Celek's lone target (and reception) set up San Francisco's third quarter touchdown to go up 27-6. Algined on the left side of the offensive line opposite a trips right formation, Celek beat linebacker Corey Littleton on a deep corner route.
QB Sean Mannion
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 34 - 169 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0 - Sean Mannion
struggled in this game as the Rams asked him to do very little in this game and not throw the ball deep. To be fair for Mannion, he did not have many options to work with in this game as the Rams sat their top receivers in this game. He did make a perfect throw to Mike Thomas
on a 50-yard completion that was a ball that was placed perfectly between two defenders.
RB Malcolm Brown
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 54 - 0, Rec: 4 - 7 - 0 (5 targets) - Malcolm Brown
filled in for Todd Gurley
who rested for this game, and the difference was noticeable. Brown who ran a 4.62 40-yard dash runs hard, but speed is his biggest weakness while power is his biggest strength. He was able to make the most of a 20-yard pitch play in which he caught the ball and made contact with the initial defender about 9-yards downfield but was able to carry defenders for 11-yards. Brown did show off the trust in the receiving game as he was a check-down option for Mannion catching four of his five targets.
RB Lance Dunbar
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 20 - 1, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (2 targets) - Lance Dunbar
was the change of pace back for the Rams and saw the goal-line work this week. The veteran made the most of his limited opportunities finding the end-zone on a 8-yard rush in the fourth quarter. Outside of this, Dunbar saw very limited work as he was not involved in the passing game outside of a one-yard dump off pass.
WR Mike Thomas
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 75 - 0 (4 targets) - Mike Thomas
was the one bright spot for the Rams this week as he was able to make a huge play for 50 yards on a deep go-route on a play in which Thomas simply outran the defensive back, and was able to make the catch before the safety could come over to help. He did take a big hit on the play losing the ball out of bounds, but the call was made as a catch.
TE Gerald Everett
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (6 targets) - Without Tyler Higbee
, playmaker Gerald Everett
was a primary option out of the passing game as he was tied for the lead in targets for the Rams, but much like the rest of the offense had a very difficult time getting anything going as the 49ers had Everett locked down and Mannion just missed the tight end on a few key throws in which Everett would have had a big gain.
Arizona Cardinals 26, Seattle Seahawks 24
What you need to know
- Prior to the game, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Sunday’s game would be Arians last and that the months of retirement speculation were accurate. While nothing has been confirmed (Arians has a Monday morning press conference scheduled) all indications after the game supported Schefter’s report. Assuming it is true, Sunday marked the end of the most successful era of Arizona Cardinals football. Arians win on Sunday gave him his 50th as the Cardinals head coach, one more than his predecessor and requiring one less season to accomplish it. For a team that has spent the majority of its existence in futility, this is not something that should pass lightly. While this split is probably in the best interests of both parties at this time, with Arians having had many health scares over the last few seasons and the team desperately needing to enter a rebuild phase, the uncertainty of what is next for the franchise brings with it great trepidation. It is not inconceivable that the organization will never find a greater coach. There is obvious excitement starting a new chapter, but the presence from the last one will loom large for quite some time.
- The 2017 Seahawks ended their season with a whimper, albeit with a glimmer of hope. As with every game this season, so much rode on the shoulders of Russell Wilson
. Wilson followed the now familiar routine of starting off slowly (and inevitably falling behind) only to turn on the jets in the 4th quarter and mount a comeback. That it fell short was partly a case of too little too late, and partly due to a missed field goal that would have given them the lead with under a minute on the clock. The much ridiculed ground game actually had it’s moments, with each of the trio of backs – Mike Davis
, J.D. McKissic
, and Thomas Rawls
– showing their mettle; while the receiving corps was mostly quiet. Doug Baldwin
reminded us that he is potentially an elite receiver, with two touchdowns on the day.
QB Drew Stanton
, 71 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 34 - 145 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Stanton perfectly exemplified the theme of the Cardinals offense yesterday; the numbers fail to tell the whole story. Stanton’s box score is bad; there is no getting around that. And the truth is Stanton, and the offense as a whole, struggled throughout most of the second half which the numbers accurately reflect. But in the first half this offense was dominant despite settling for field goals, and at the end of the 4th quarter it was the offense that put together a long drive leading to a the go-ahead field goal. Stanton engineered it all, playing behind an offensive line down to its last active player, a group of mediocre at best skill players, and apparently a torn ACL as per Larry Fitzgerald
. To have won this game in the environment that Seattle presents, against a division rival playing for a playoff spot, and with the context of knowing his coach and advocate would likely be retiring afterwards, this game should be viewed as a feather in the cap that is Drew Stanton
’s career, and not be overlooked for the box score alone.
RB Kerwynn Williams
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 23 - 75 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - By the end of the afternoon, Williams’ yards-per-carry average dipped well below any impressive benchmark, and none of his box-score statistics does a great job painting a picture of Williams’ day on Sunday. Kerwynn was simply fantastic, specifically in the first half, as the diminutive running back consistently snapped off positive plays, leaving an under-manned offense in good position all afternoon. Williams strong and shifty running never found the end zone, but consistently in manageable down and distance situations all day, while converting plenty of first downs in the process. With a new staff and system, Williams’ role going forward will remain just as precarious as it has been the entirety of his Cardinals career, but the tape he put forth in 2017 should absolutely be enough to have him strongly in contention as the team’s #2 running back next season.
RB Elijhaa Penny
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 39 - 1 (1 targets) - Penny played his best game as a professional on Sunday, spelling starter Kerwynn Williams
enough to help the team eclipse 100 rushing yards on the afternoon, while also scoring the team’s lone rushing touchdown. With an offseason that will likely bring great change, Williams and Penny’s role on the 2018 team will be interesting to watch. The team has continually sought out bigger names to back up David Johnson
, but Williams, and Penny to some extent, have continued to outplay those bigger names when given the opportunities. Will their roles finally be cemented on next year’s team, or will a change in staff and scheme have them on the outside looking in once again?
WR Larry Fitzgerald
, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 55 - 0 (13 targets) - Fitzgerald did all of his usual things on Sunday, leading the team in targets, catches and receiving yards, all by a significant margin, but Fitzgerald largely disappeared after heavy production in the first half. Some of this was a function of the offense as a whole slowing down, as well as Seattle second-half adjustments, but Fitzgerald did seem out of rhythm when the team tried to reincorporate him late. Larry’s future is pure speculation at best, but unlike last week or week 17 of last season, nothing about Sunday had the feel of a swan song for Fitzgerald. Whether that is a sign of his likely return or simply because he’s truly undecided is up for debate, but it does add a level of comfort for Cardinals fans that he will be back. With so many records in sight and still playing at such a high level, it is hard to imagine Fitzgerald walking away, but with so much change in store for the Cardinals this offseason, nothing will be more impactful than Fitzgerald’s decision. Certainly nothing will have Cardinals fans holding their collective breath more.
WR Jaron Brown
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 25 - 1 (5 targets) - Brown only caught one pass Sunday, despite being targeted five total times, but made sure his last reception of the 2017 season would matter. Brown scored the team’s first touchdown of the game, the only receiving touchdown the Cardinals would score Sunday, capping off an impressive opening drive. A broken play led to the score, with Stanton narrowly avoiding a sack, scrambling as he directed his receivers to an open area where he hit Brown streaking across. Beyond scoring an early touchdown to take a lead they would not relinquish until late in the 4th quarter, the touchdown also capped a drive in which the Cardinals completely exerted their will, pushing the Seahawks defense around and firmly establishing their intentions for the remainder of the afternoon. Brown may not have caught another pass all afternoon, but he left a mark on the entire game.
QB Russell Wilson
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 29 - 221 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 36 - 0 - Wilson’s routine of starting slow and ending with a flourish continued, though a missed field goal at the end meant the comeback ultimately fell short. After one of the Seahawks worst first half performances, Wilson found another gear as the game wore on. He made downfield blocks for his running backs, gained 31 yards himself on a designed QB keeper play, and found favourite target Doug Baldwin
not once but twice in the end zone. At times, there was far too much pressure, which forced him into mistakes like a botched handoff; on the other side of the coin, he came through in the clutch, as with a great 4th and 6 laser beam throw to Jimmy Graham
to get them in scoring position. Wilson’s double-TD fourth quarter not only extended his NFL-record 19 4th quarter touchdowns in a season, but also made him the overall passing TD leader, with 34 scores through the air.
RB Mike Davis
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 48 - 0, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (3 targets) - Davis was rock solid but after only his second carry, left the game with an injury for a short while, so his touches were slightly limited. He returned in the second half and looked great finding small gaps in the blocking ahead of him, as well as being relied on as an outlet in the short passing game. Davis has made a case for being on some team’s roster next year – whether in Seattle or somewhere else -- and given the ground game woes the Seahawks have had this year, it’s anyone’s guess what the hierarchy will look like in 2018.
RB J.D. McKissic
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 9 - 0, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - McKissic showed off his versatility in the final game of the season, and though his final line was mediocre, his value to the Seahawks is clear. He’s a big play waiting to happen, whether lining up wide or rushing the ball. Early on, he was used on a swing pass that gained nine yards. Later, he made a great play on a tipped pass, showing excellent concentration as he adjusted to the ball in motion. His rushing line is nothing to write home about, but on a couple of the carries, he looked like he might break loose at any moment.
RB Thomas Rawls
, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - Rawls saw some action when lead back Mike Davis
went down in the first quarter, and he actually looked quite good with his small amount of touches. He made a good pickup on a screen pass, in addition to a few carries in which he made a truly lousy offensive line look almost average. The Seahawks likely haven’t seen enough from him this year to guarantee him a role on next year’s team, but Rawls came on late, playing well in the last two weeks.
WR Doug Baldwin
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 90 - 2 (5 targets) - Baldwin just may be the most mild-mannered elite receiver in the league. After a couple of games to forget, he snagged two touchdowns in this one, for his only multi-TD game of the season. The second was a true highlight catch, as he dove for the ball in the end zone, getting his toes down in bounds just before he hit the ground out of bounds. He has had his up and downs all year, but the Wilson-to-Baldwin connection has had more hits than misses, and should continue for a few seasons to come.
WR Tyler Lockett
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (4 targets) - Lockett made his presence felt in the return game, as he brought back one for a score early in the first quarter. In the passing game, Lockett did some nice route running and showed excellent vision on short routes mainly, notably on a crossing route that got the Seahawks a clutch first down.
WR Paul Richardson
, 51 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Richardson surprisingly was only targeted twice, and not until the fourth quarter. Late in the game he uncharacteristically dropped a pass on a slant pattern, which is the closest he would get to the box score.
TE Jimmy Graham
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (6 targets) - Graham had a fourth down conversion and a 21-yard gain on a seam route.
Chicago Bears 10, Minnesota Vikings 23
What you need to know
- The Bears offense was dysfunctional, as their only touchdown came on a punt return. Jordan Howard
and the running game were stuck in neutral. Dontrelle Inman
made a case to be a core part of the receiving group next year, and Tarik Cohen
was used more in the passing game, but no big plays resulted.
- The Vikings had already lost the chance to secure the number 1 overall seed, but still had a first-round bye to play for. There were several scenarios for the Vikings to secure the number 2 seed, and the easiest was with a win over their division rival. The Bears did not put up much of a fight and Latavius Murray
rushed for over 100 yards for just the second time this season. The Viking defense cemented the number 1 overall defense ranking for the season and Case Keenum
was efficient with the football and did not turn it over. The Vikings ended a 13-3 season and will have a week to rest and prepare for their next opponent in the second round of the playoffs.
QB Mitchell Trubisky
, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 36 - 178 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - The Bears couldn't even get out of their own side of the field with Trubisky at the helm in the first half. The running game and penalties often set him up in third and longs against the tough Vikings defense. He also had an intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety late in the second quarter to cap the half of ineffectiveness. In the fourth quarter, they finally broke into Minnesota territory with a Josh Bellamy
end around, and then a long catch and run by Bellamy put them in a first and goal at the six, only for Trubisky to throw four straight incompletions. A nice throw to Dontrelle Inman
got them back into Minnesota territory, but a penalty forced them to settle for a field goal. One last drive deep into Minnesota territory resulted in a first and goal at the two, but Trubisky couldn't get them in with three straight pass attempts from point blank.
RB Jordan Howard
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 9 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets) - Howard had the same number of rushing yards as carries, which is never a good thing. All nine yards he gained came the one time the team gave him consecutive carries. They were in a third-and-1 and gave the ball to the fullback, who was stuffed. Howard didn't touch the ball on consecutive plays again on the afternoon.
RB Tarik Cohen
, 19 offensive snaps, Pass: 0 - 1 - 0 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0, Rec: 6 - 14 - 0 (8 targets) - Cohen had two touches on the first drive, but then only touched the ball once more in the first half. He was used more in the second half, with a combination of runs for losses and substantial gains (for the Bears running game on this afternoon at least), and Cohen also had the last two targets on the after for this futile offense at the Minnesota two-yard line for an incompletion and a one-yard gain.
RB Michael Burton
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets) - Burton wasn't able to convert a third and one or a goal-to-go down from the two on his two touches.
WR Dontrelle Inman
, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 94 - 0 (10 targets) - Inman held his own against Xavier Rhodes, even drawing two penalties from the elite corner. He was responsible for the only first down on offense of the first half for the Bears, and in the second half, he had three downfield receptions to start drives that ended in Minnesota territory. He has made a strong case to be a top three receiver for the Bears if they decide to bring him back in free agency after being reasonably productive despite being brought in mid-season.
QB Case Keenum
, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 29 - 189 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 0 - 0 - There was some talk about the Vikings resting some of their starters this week and Keenum was the main topic. The easiest way to lock up a first-round bye was with a win and Keenum ended up playing the entire game and closing out a very successful season. He was very efficient and did not try to force the ball down the field this week. He spread the ball around more than any other point this season with 8 receivers having at least 1 target. Diggs and Thielen still dominated the overall number or targets and both had over 60 yards receiving. Keenum hit Diggs across the middle on a 15-yard play action pass to put the game out of reach. Diggs made a leaping catch in the end zone on a pass that was a little high from Keenum. There were not many other big plays in the passing game, but the important stat is the lack of turnovers. The Vikings will get the winner of Los Angeles and Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs.
RB Latavius Murray
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 111 - 2, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (1 targets) - The entire offense went through Murray this week as he rushed for over 100 yards and added 2 scores on the ground. Both touchdown runs were of the 1-yard variety and were pure power running up the middle. His longest run of the game was a 22-yard scamper off tackle and he finished the day with a 5.6 yards per carry average. Murray added 1 catch for 3 yards but was not needed in the passing game. Murray out-touched McKinnon 21 to 13 this week and will lead the charge in the playoffs.
RB Jerick McKinnon
, 44 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 44 - 0 (1 targets) - The success of the run game was the story of this game, but that did not have a lot to do with McKinnon this week. Murray was having so much success that the Vikings did not need to use McKinnon as much. McKinnon had success on only 1 run with a 14-yard burst but was largely contained outside of that. He had 1 target in the passing game but was unable to haul in the catch. With a week off to rest and game plan, McKinnon will be healthy and ready to take on whichever team wins the wild card round. Look for an expanded role throughout the playoffs as the Vikings look to keep their balanced attack.
WR Stefon Diggs
, 62 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -8 - 0, Rec: 6 - 65 - 1 (6 targets) - Diggs seems to have finally completely healed from his groin injury and is becoming a force in the Vikings receiving core like he was to start the season. Diggs led the team in receiving yards again this week and hauled in the only touchdown through the air. The touchdown came on a 15-yard post route where Diggs had to go up and over the safety to make the catch. Keenum threw the ball just high enough for Diggs to make the play. Diggs leads the NFL in contested catches this season and showed it again today. Diggs added the Vikings longest play of the game with a 26-yard catch and run down the sideline to help set up the first touchdown of the game.
WR Adam Thielen
, 66 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 61 - 0 (7 targets) - Thielen has seemed to give way to Stefon Diggs
in recent weeks and lost some of his targets. Diggs is finally healthy again and teams have been scheming to take Thielen away. There has been a lot more press coverage at the line and linebackers trying to knock Thielen off his crossing routes. Thielen only finished 4 yards behind Diggs this week and registered 1 more target. The biggest difference is Thielen does not get in the end zone. Thielen needs room to operate and seems to disappear within the red zone for the Vikings. His biggest catch of the day was a 16-yard out route for a first down. Thielen and Diggs have been a two-headed receiving monster for the Vikings and will be difficult for any team to cover in the playoffs.
TE Kyle Rudolph
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 3 - 0 (3 targets) - The Vikings limited Rudolph this week as he is still coming off of an ankle injury. The big tight end had a single catch on 3 targets and was not the focal point in the red zone and goal to go situations. Rudolph may be the biggest beneficiary of the week off to get back to 100%.
Oakland Raiders 10, Los Angeles Chargers 30
What you need to know
- Marshawn Lynch
ended the year on a high note with another strong performance in which he broke off a number of chunk gains. The only highlight for the passing offense was an 87-yard touchdown on a deep bomb to Amari Cooper
. Michael Crabtree
’s season ended with a whimper in what may have been his final game in Oakland.
Los Angeles Chargers
- The Chargers rolled over the Raiders, but didn't get the help they needed to make the playoffs. Philip Rivers
was highly efficient and threw well downfield, Melvin Gordon
showed no ill effects from his Week 16 injury, and all three Chargers top receivers scored, including two on 50+ yard pass plays.
QB Derek Carr
, 54 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 28 - 243 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0 - It was a rough game for Carr and the passing offense, with the offensive line struggling to protect. Carr hit Amari Cooper
in stride deep down the center of the field for an 87-yard touchdown. The ball went nearly 60 yards in the air and showed off Carr’s tremendous arm strength. After the deep ball early in the second quarter, he had very little positive production until garbage time. Carr continued a recent trend of questionable decision making with an ill advised interception on a deep ball to Johnny Holton
that was thrown into double coverage and easily picked off in the end zone by the Chargers defensive back. Carr fumbled the snap on an attempted 4th-and-1 sneak that essentially ended any chance of a Raiders comeback. Carr made the puzzling decision to throw it away on a late 4th-and-goal chance. He was on the run but there was no reason not to try to keep it in play and give a receiver a chance to make a play.
RB Marshawn Lynch
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 101 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (3 targets) - Lynch ended the season on a high note with a strong performance. He was able to break off long gains of 10+ yards six times, gaining yardage in chunks. Lynch had a couple early runs where he got into the secondary and then bulled through tackle attempts to push his way for extra yardage, flashing a nasty stiff arm. The Raiders had a well setup screen but Lynch dropped an easy short pass that hit him in the chest. Lynch was stopped for no gain on a 4th-and-2 toss sweep that developed far too slowly. Lynch had a 17-yard gain on a screen pass in garbage time. Lynch seemed to play better as the season progressed and may have shown enough to get another shot at starting next season.
RB DeAndre Washington
, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0, Rec: 2 - 0 - 0 (3 targets) - Washington was ineffective, generating just 3 total yards on two carries and 3 targets. Washington and Jalen Richard
were non-factors down the stretch and Lynch took control of the backfield.
WR Seth Roberts
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 48 - 0 (6 targets) - Roberts had a pair of unnecessary block in the back penalties that brought back big gains. He didn’t do much damage until garbage time, when he caught three consecutive passes against the Chargers prevent defense.
WR Amari Cooper
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 115 - 1 (6 targets) - Cooper ended his frustration season on a relatively high note. For the second straight week, Cooper got behind the defense for a long touchdown. With the Raiders backed up deep and facing 3rd-and-22, he flew right past the safety on a post route and caught the bomb from Carr on the run for an 87-yard touchdown. He also caught a couple of passes for solid gain on comeback routes along the sideline. Cooper narrowly missed getting both feet in-bounds on a pass down the right sideline, an issue he has had crop up on a surprisingly regular basis in his career.
WR Michael Crabtree
, 17 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (2 targets) - Crabtree ended the season with another disappointing performance. He caught a couple short passes but didn’t play much. Crabtree seemed to fall out of favor with the organization after the brawl with Aqib Talib in Denver and reports indicate he may be a cap casualty in the offseason.
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets) - Patterson had a 20-yard gain on a crossing route called back due to a block in the back.
TE Jared Cook
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (4 targets) - Cook made some solid catches underneath but wasn’t heavily targeted. He showed strong hands on a short sideline catch against excellent coverage.
QB Philip Rivers
, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 37 - 387 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0 - Rivers had third and long conversions on the first two drives of the game, one of which ended with Keenan Allen
taking a Melvin Gordon
fumble to the house. He then led two touchdown drives before the end of the first half, one of which was mostly made up of a 56-yard touchdown to Tyrell Williams
. Rivers carried the team on the final touchdown drive of the day, completing passes to four different receivers and even scrambling for a first down before hitting Travis Benjamin
for a 62-yard score.
RB Melvin Gordon
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 93 - 0, Rec: 6 - 31 - 0 (7 targets) - Gordon got in a groove during the second drive of the game before fumbling, only to have it recovered by teammate Keenan Allen
, who ran it into the end zone. Gordon had substantial gains on three receptions to fuel a touchdown drive right before the half. He also had back to back big runs early in the third quarter to get the team into Oakland territory and set up a field goal. He finished a productive year strong, although he spent a lot of time on the injury report this year.
WR Keenan Allen
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 133 - 1 (12 targets) - Allen had a pair of penalties early, but atoned with a fumble recovery that he took to the end zone for a score. He reeled in a deep ball in the second quarter, and also scored a short touchdown to close out the first half scoring. In the second half, Allen continued to be productive as a #1 receiver in both the short and long passing game.
WR Travis Benjamin
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0, Rec: 4 - 96 - 1 (5 targets) - Benjamin had a long reception on the game's opening drive to convert a third and long, and snagged a deep ball for the Chargers last score of the day from 62 yards out.
WR Tyrell Williams
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 67 - 1 (4 targets) - Williams had a 56-yard score to give the Chargers a lead that they did not give back, but otherwise was a small part of the offense in Week 17.
TE Antonio Gates
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 46 - 0 (6 targets) - Gates had another solid performance in place of Hunter Henry
. He had a long reception to set up a Keenan Allen
touchdown, and added multiple receptions to set up third and short to keep drives going. He showed that although this could be his last ride, he still has enough game to be productive in the NFL.
Jacksonville Jaguars 10, Tennessee Titans 15
What you need to know
- The Jaguars offense had a few splash plays from Leonard Fournette
against the Titans but, overall, it was a putrid day from the offense. The quarterback missed throws and made bad decisions, the wideouts dropped the few good passes thrown their way and the offensive line gave up pressure on every critical passing down. The offense was out scored by the Jaguars defense by a score of 7-3, which should be embarrassing.
- The Titans passing attack was shut down with nearly half of Marcus Mariota
's 134 passing yards going to Derrick Henry
on a 66-yard screen pass that he took to the house for a touchdown. Derrick Henry
saw a career-high 28 carries, but he averaged fewer than two yards per attempt as he was shut down at or behind the line of scrimmage more often than not. Titans receivers were very well-covered and Mariota was under pressure for the entire game, which actually led to him making some impressive plays with his legs that really helped the Titans pull out the win.
QB Blake Bortles
, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 34 - 158 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0 - Bortles turned back into a pumpkin just in time for the playoffs. He was objectively terrible in Nashville; his biggest issue being his complete inability to deliver passes under pressure. He played without his left tackle Cam Robinson, but he looked frantic throughout the game. He rarely set his feet and as a result, the majority of his passes sailed. His wild inaccuracy was the direct cause for both of his interceptions, both deep shots down the field where he sailed the pass. He did fine getting the ball out on crossers and slants, but that was truly the extent of positive things that could be said for him. His best throw in the game came on a go route to Dede Westbrook
. Westbrook had a step on the wideout, and Bortles placed it perfectly in front of him in stride. Alas, the should-be touchdown was dropped.
RB Leonard Fournette
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 69 - 0, Rec: 4 - 67 - 0 (5 targets) - Fournette had an up and down day on the ground. He is unable to run for positive gains consistently from the shotgun, whether it be due to blocking or his style, but the Jaguars offense kept coming back to it. When he was lined up behind the QB under center, though, he was a force. He moved piles and delivered crushing blows on contact, something he had not done since week 14. His vision before the line of scrimmage can still leave some to be desired, but as a pure runner he is very talented due to his power and pure explosion. He also made a big impact through the air, taking several screen passes for big gains and and one third down check down for a first down. His speed combined with his size and strength makes him dangerous in space, and he looks very comfortable catching the ball.
RB T.J. Yeldon
, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - -2 - 0 (2 targets) - Yeldon was used sparingly as a runner and receiver. He was used as a blocker, and route runner, on a number of third downs though, showing that role has become his at least on a part-time basis.
WR Keelan Cole
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 33 - 0 (8 targets) - Cole was sent on vertical route after vertical route on Sunday, but it was all to no avail due to the below-average quarterback play. Cole was second on the team in targets but most of them were simply never near him. He was able to turn his few catchable targets into solid gains thanks to his quickness after the catch. He did hurt the offense himself though, fumbling away a pass before the end of the first half which would lead to a Titans' field goal.
WR Allen Hurns
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 38 - 0 (5 targets) - In Hurns' first game in nearly 2 months, he showed why the team missed him. He made a huge catch on a third down in the second half, gaining separation on a comeback and finding space after the catch. He failed to bring in another third down target later in the game, but this was due to an uncalled pass interference. He did not put up big numbers due to the terrible quarterback play, but he looked like his old self in terms of route running and toughness.
WR Dede Westbrook
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (9 targets) - Westbrook had a truly terrible game, the first of his young career. He saw 9 targets but ended the game with 1 catch for 9 yards. Some of this was on Bortles and his terrible performance, but Westbrook had several drops that he simply has never had before. Whether it was vs contact on a slant or an uncontested post that he heard footsteps on and didn't extend for, Westbrook failed to bring in balls. The worst came on the aforementioned dropped touchdown. Westbrook had a terrific release off the line and used a veteran-like subtle push off to get separation at the end of the route, but he simply dropped the touchdown. The performance was hopefully an outlier but it was a very rough game.
QB Marcus Mariota
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 12 - 21 - 134 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 10 - 60 - 0 - Despite struggling against the league's top defense, Marcus Mariota
managed to make just enough plays to keep the chains moving and push the Titans to a win last week. Mariota's biggest highlights were with his legs, as he showed impressive speed throughout the game by making something out of otherwise busted plays. In large part due to the excellent coverage by this Jaguars secondary, Mariota rushed a season-high 10 times for 60 yards. He took a designed run late in the first half for around seven yards but stumbled before the first down marker. If not for his stumble, this would have been at least a 15-yard gain. He had another great run midway through the fourth quarter that helped put the Titans into scoring position. As a passer, however, Mariota predictably struggled. He spent a lot of time in the pocket as his receivers were well-covered, and the Titans offensive line struggled to contend with the Jaguars pass-rush which forced a number of balls to be thrown away while sacking Mariota three times. Nearly half of Mariota's 134 passing yards came on a 66-yard screen pass that Derrick Henry
took to the house for a touchdown. Outside of that play, he really had no noteworthy throws against this extremely tough opponent.
RB Derrick Henry
, 63 offensive snaps, Rush: 28 - 51 - 0, Rec: 1 - 66 - 1 (2 targets) - Derrick Henry
was a very patient runner throughout the day, but he was too hesitant most of the time as he came up short in a number of short-yardage situations. He received a career-high 28 carries, but Henry really squandered that workload on the ground as he only managed 1.8 yards per rush attempt for 51 total rushing yards. Henry's biggest play of the game came through the air though, not on the ground. Early in the second quarter, Henry took a screen pass 66 yards for the first touchdown of the game. The play was blocked extremely well as the Titans offensive linemen got downfield quick while Henry showed his acceleration and great reading ability to weave his way into the open field. Henry finished the play by turning on the afterburners and outrunning the Jaguars secondary to the end zone. On the Titans' next series, Henry took the first play up the middle for 13 yardsóhis longest rush of the day. Later in the game, Henry and Marcus Mariota
had a horrible miscommunication that would result in a bobbled handoff and fumble returned for a touchdown by the Jaguars. After the game, the Titans coaching staff attributed this miscommunication to Derrick Henry
despite Mariota being charged with the fumble. With Demarco Murray sidelined, expect Henry to continue leading the Titans backfield in their playoff game against the Chiefs.
WR Eric Decker
, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (6 targets) - Eric Decker
was the most heavily targeted Titans receiver as he finished with six targets, hauling in three of them for 18 yards. Decker was the only receiver that could get open here as he lined up out of the slot for most of the day, avoiding coverage from Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Decker had some opportunities, but he actually dropped three passes, two of which were mistakes more so by Marcus Mariota
than Decker. Decker's third drop was unquestionably his fault though, as the ball bounced right off his chest.
WR Rishard Matthews
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Rishard Matthews
was targeted only twice in last week's game as the stout Jaguars cornerbacks shut down all of the Titans wide receivers. He did not even see a target until the second half, and his only reception was a seven-yard grab coming early in the fourth quarter.
WR Corey Davis
, 42 offensive snaps (2 targets) - Corey Davis
finished without a single reception on two targets as he was shut down by the Jaguars cornerbacks in this last game of the regular season.
TE Delanie Walker
, 34 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (5 targets) - Delanie Walker
's 19 receiving yards was the most of any non-running back position player for the Titans. The Jaguars absolutely shut down the passing attack as Marcus Mariota
had just 134 passing yards. Walker's longest play of the game came on a short pass late in the third quarter that he ran out of bounds for nine yards. Walker would haul in one more short pass later in the game, but outside of those plays, he really couldn't find much room to work either as the Jaguars did an excellent job in coverage.
New Orleans Saints 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31
What you need to know
New Orleans Saints
- There was a lot to still be playing for this weekend for the Saints, but they just did not seem to have the same fire as in weeks past. The rushing attack struggled to get anything going on the ground. Drew Brees
protected the football but was unable to score the touchdowns needed. The Saints did get help with a Carolina loss and still managed to win the division. They will have to take on those same Carolina Panthers in the first round of the playoffs next week. Alvin Kamara
electrified the crowd with a 106-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and the defense added 3 interceptions of Jameis Winston
. There was also a failed field goal attempt where Will Lutz
came a yard short of getting the first down in the red zone. Despite the big plays, the Saints could not pull out the victory and will limp into their playoff matchup next week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay played Week 17's contest without Desean Jackson or OJ Howard. Isaiah Johnson recovered a fumbled punt for a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Tampa Bay appears to be ready to bring Dirk Koetter back as head coach next year.
QB Drew Brees
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 30 - 245 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0 - Brees has been efficient all season, but has not had that spectacular game where he just takes over. He managed to finish the season over 4,000 yards passing and more than 20 touchdowns but just did not look like the old Brees. He found his favorite target in Michael Thomas
6 times this week and continued the trend of checking it down to his running backs. Brees lone touchdown pass came to Zach Line
on a 3-yard quick out to give the Saints a 24-20 lead at the time. Brees will take on a familiar opponent next week for the third time this season and will look to move to 3-0 against the Panthers. Either Brees or the running game is going to have to step up if they want to make a deep playoff run.
RB Mark Ingram
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 35 - 0, Rec: 4 - 19 - 0 (4 targets) - It was a tough day for Ingram who seemed to be stuffed at the line time and time again. There was not a lot of room to run as no running back rushed for over 45 yards. Ingram had 4 more carries than Kamara this week but still had fewer yards. The other glaring stat was the 2.7 yards per carry and the lack of explosive plays. Ingram longest run was a 10-yard burst up the middle and he added almost nothing in the passing game. Ingram has lived off the big play in recent weeks. He has turned in mediocre performances outside of a few big plays and that is going to be difficult to absorb in the playoffs. Ingram out touched Kamara 17-15 this week but things continue to get closer and closer every week.
RB Alvin Kamara
, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 44 - 1, Rec: 6 - 84 - 0 (7 targets) - This could be the week that Kamara finally takes over and forces the Saints to give him more touches. He had the big 106-yard kick return to electrify the crowd and breathe life back into the Saints offense. He also added 84 yards through the air, almost half of which came on a single catch and run down the sideline for 40 yards. Kamara had 4 fewer carries than Ingram and still had 9 more yards on the ground as well. The touch distribution was closer to 50/50 than it has been at any other point during the season. Kamara was the most productive Saint on the offensive side of the ball this week and should have cemented his offensive rookie of the year candidacy. Kamaraís second touchdown came on a 7-yard rumble up the middle after a big gain from Michael Thomas
in the passing game. This is where Ingram usually gets the ball, but Kamara was used on 4 straight plays in the red zone for the touchdown.
RB Zach Line
, 11 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - 3 - 1 (1 targets) - It is rare to see a fullback have such an impact for the Saints with all of the other offensive weapons they have. However, Line managed to go unnoticed on a 3-yard touchdown reception to give the Saints a lead. Line leaked out into the flat on a quick out and Brees found him for the easy touchdown. He was only given 1 other carry in the game and managed to take it 5 yards up the middle. With the lack of production from New Orleans tight ends, Line has seen more work than recent seasons.
WR Michael Thomas
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 94 - 0 (8 targets) - Thomas continued his string of good games where he did not get in the end zone. It has been a reoccurring theme all season where Thomas is right around 100 yards receiving, led the team in targets, and still did not get in the end zone. He did have the longest offensive play of the day with a 43-yard reception deep down the right sideline. Brees led Thomas just a little too far, otherwise, it would have been an easy touchdown. Thomas had to lay out and adjust to the ball on his way to the ground to make the catch. Thomas continues to be the only option through the air for Brees as no other true receiver had more than 30 yards.
QB Jameis Winston
, 83 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 51 - 363 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 5 - 32 - 1 - Winston continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate with three week 17 interceptions, but he scored twice and led the game-winning drive at the end of the 4tho. Winston threw his first interception in the 1st quarter, looking for Mike Evans
across the middle. A deep safety saw the play coming and undercut Evans' route. Winston's second interception was even more cringe-worthy, as he had all day in the pocket and simply underthrew an open Peyton Barber
, killing a drive at the end of the 1st half. Winston threw a third interception into triple coverage while looking for Mike Evans
in the back corner of the end zone in the 3rd quarter.
Winston recorded his longest scramble of the season(17 yards) in the 1st quarter. He scored on a short touchdown run at the end of the first half.
Winston led a game winning drive with 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter, finding Mike Evans
for three consecutive receptions before hitting Chris Godwin
for the game-winner with 9 seconds left in the game. Godwin split out wide right and beat his receiver down the right sideline for the score, with Winston dropping a dime right over his defender.
RB Peyton Barber
, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 71 - 1, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (4 targets) - Barber looked dominant on the Bucs' opening drive, peeling off several strong runs before capping the series with a short touchdown plunge. Winston vultured a touchdown with a short run at the end of the first half. Barber finished the day with a solid 4.2 ypc average on his 17 carries.
Barber caught an out route from the backfield early in the 2nd quarter for a short gain. Winston targeted him again over the middle for another connection at the end of the 2nd quarter.
RB Doug Martin
, 4 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - -3 - 0 - Martin continued to take a backseat to Peyton Barber
, logging just 3 carries for a loss of 3 yards. He did not start and saw his few snaps in the first half. Martin was not targeted in the passing game.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
, 2 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (2 targets) - Rodgers entered the game on offense in the 2nd quarter, catching a halfback screen for a 15 yard gain on his first target of the day. He collected one more short reception and did not carry the ball in week 17.
RB Charles Sims
, 32 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Sims entered the game on the Bucs' first offensive drive, splitting out wide to run a slant route that Winston couldn't connect on. After that Sims was quiet other than a brief appearance during the two minute drill at the end of the 1st half. He carried the ball just once during that drive, and was not targeted again.
WR Chris Godwin
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 111 - 1 (12 targets) - Godwin had some opportunities open up opposite Mike Evans
, as Evans drew Marcus Lattimore
in coverage on the majority of his routes. Godwin got started with a quick out route early in the 1st quarter. He lined up wide right and caught a deep out route for a big gain early in the 2nd quarter. He nearly scored at the end of the same drive, but was deemed down at the half yard line after stretching the ball across the goal line on a short out route. Godwin secured a corner route for an 18 yard gain in the 3rd quarter. He broke two tackles after catching a 4th quarter curl route, setting the Bucs up in the New Orleans red zone. Godwin caught the game-winning touchdown with just 9 seconds left in the game. He lined up wide right and beat his man down the sideline, hauling in a bomb from Wilson to end his rookie season on a high note.
WR Adam Humphries
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 102 - 0 (11 targets) - Humphries had his best game of the year, converting 7 of 11 targets and surpassing 100 yards for the first time this season. Winston found him on an out route during Tampa Bay's first offensive drive, converting 3rd and 6. Humphries lined up wide right with Godwin in the slot and hauled in a comeback route on the next drive, shaking his first tackler for a nice run down the sideline. Humphries worked underneath with bubble screens and short out routes most of the game. He was left uncovered on a corner route in the 3rd quarter, racking up 43 yards on the catch and run up the left sideline. Humphries slipped several tackles for a nice gain after the catch on a 4th quarter bubble screen.
WR Mike Evans
, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 55 - 0 (13 targets) - Evans faced off against Marshon Lattimore, who frustrated the receiver to no end in week 9, leading to Evans' ejection for a dirty hit on the rookie defender. Lattimore played Evans tough again, but opened up some opportunities elsewhere in the pass game. Evans got started in the 1st quarter with a reception over the middle that set the Bucs up in the New Orleans red zone. He dropped a pass on a deep post in the 2nd quarter that would have picked up a big gain. Evans was targeted again deep down the left sideline in the 2nd, but couldn't complete the catch as he fell to the ground. Evans made a diving catch on a quick slant in the 4th quarter against tight coverage from Marcus Lattimore
. Evans was clutch when the Bucs needed it most. He secured three consecutive targets on Tampa Bay's final drive of the game, moving the offense into Saints territory and setting up Chris Godwin
's long touchdown catch that won the game. Evans capped the game with a two-point conversion, beating Lattimore for a jump ball in the back left corner of the end zone. His 55 yards were good enough to put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the fourth year in a row.
WR Freddie Martino
, 18 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (1 targets) - Martino was only targeted once, securing an out route for a 9 yard gain in the 3rd quarter.
TE Cameron Brate
, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 37 - 0 (5 targets) - Brate made a nice leaping effort to haul in an overthrown ball early in the 1st. He caught another short out route and turned it up the right sideline later in the 1st, somersaulting over a defender for a 3rd down conversion. Brate was quiet until late in the 4th when he flexed out into the slot and caught a curl route to convert 4th and 10 at the end of the 4th.
TE Alan Cross
, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - Cross lined up at fullback and caught a short play-action pass to convert 3rd and 1 in the 2nd quarter.
Houston Texans 13, Indianapolis Colts 22
What you need to know
- DeAndre Hopkins
missed the first game in his career with a calf injury, Hopkins was held out due to precautionary reasons.
- Jacoby Brissett
continued to look like a competent starter, but one lacking the consistent accuracy downfield to be more. Frank Gore
continued to run with the vigor and productivity of a younger back. TY Hilton reverted back to being a defanged deep option with Brissett.
QB T.J. Yates
, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 24 - 137 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0 - It started out strong for T.J. Yates
in the first half strong going for 112 yards on 10 of 15 pass attempts targeting Chris Thompson
and checking the ball down to Alfred Blue
. After that, Yates went backward only completing 4 of the next 14 passes for 25 yards and watching the offense come to a complete stand still. He was able to make a nice pass to Thompson for 32 yards but after that, there was not much happening for the Texans on offense especially though the air.
RB Alfred Blue
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 39 - 1, Rec: 4 - 36 - 0 (5 targets) - The Texans opted to go with Blue in the final game of the season and he had 18 carries for 39 yards with a rushing touchdown and 4 receptions for 36 yards. Those numbers made Blue the most producing offensive player on the day with 75 total yards from scrimmage. Blue punched it in on a 2 yard run to give the Texans an early lead but from that point the Texans moved to Lamar Miller
ending Blue’s afternoon.
RB Lamar Miller
, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 37 - 0 - The Texans moved to Miller in the second half and he was able to rush for 37 yards on the season with his longest run going for 16 yards. Miller has been pulled back some the final stretch of the season due to the workload he put in during the season.
WR Chris Thompson
, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 54 - 0 (3 targets) - Thompson had the most productive day for the wide receivers catching 3 passed for 54 yards. His biggest reception came on a 32 yard go route where he beat his man and Yates dropped it in perfectly to allow Thompson to tap two feet in to complete the pass. He also had an 11 yard reception where he took a big hit from the safety to extend a drive in the 1st half. It was a good sign for the rookie wide receiver to put together a game like he did on Sunday.
WR Will Fuller
, 5 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (2 targets) - His day ended with a knee injury but he stood on the sideline all game next to Bill O’Brien not looking like he was in any real pain. Fuller had 2 receptions for 17 yards on the day with his longest going for 13 yards.
QB Jacoby Brissett
, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 15 - 25 - 114 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 18 - 0 - Early on, Brissett disappointed by missing a long throw that would have been a huge play to TY Hilton, if not a touchdown. He settled down to get in a rhythm and make crisp reads and throws, including on key third downs. Brissett was strong in the pocket and sidestepped pressure or shrugged off a rusher more than once. He found Jack Doyle
for an easy short score, although he was still prone to some bouts of choppy play and processing when the initial read wasn't there. Brissett's best throw of the day was a big league toss on the move downfield to Chester Rogers
. He'll be an excellent backup in 2018.
RB Frank Gore
, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 24 - 100 - 0, Rec: 3 - 11 - 0 (3 targets) - Gore ran with high effort in the season finale, and more springiness and bounce than you would expect this late in the season from a 34-year-old. He had a dominant second half drive to help the team secure the win, and he also had the strong carries at the end of the game to salt away the victory. Gore was also more than competent in the passing game as a blocker and receiver and should provide quality play to a backfield in 2018 if he wants to keep playing.
RB Marlon Mack
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 28 - 1, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (3 targets) - Mack was contained on some of his runs, but he showed some tackle breaking ability to complement his speed and moves on a red zone run that included a stiffarm of Jadeveon Clowney. Mack had the help of his teammates on his touchdown, when they pushed him in a la a rugby scrum. Later, Clowney laid a lick on Mack in repayment, but Mack sprung up from the hit. He ran stronger than he had earlier this year and should have a bigger role in 2018.
WR T.Y. Hilton
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 14 - 0 (6 targets) - Hilton was missed when he was wide open deep early in the game. He had one tough third-down conversion, but wasn't a big part of the gameplan for the Colts.
WR Chester Rogers
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 39 - 0 (4 targets) - Rogers had a diving catch to get the team into the red zone and had another leaping catch at the sideline on an extended play. His play has been uneven, but he'll be jockeying for a bigger role with the return of Andrew Luck
and Donte Moncrief
entering free agency.
TE Jack Doyle
, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 38 - 1 (5 targets) - Doyle hoovered up short receptions, including one for a touchdown to lead the Colts passing game. He'll get a boost from the return of Andrew Luck
in 2018, but will also be joined by Erik Swoope
among the receiving options at tight end.
Green Bay Packers 11, Detroit Lions 35
What you need to know
Green Bay Packers
- Brett Hundley
capped off a poor 2017 with a game that cements his status as a backup at best. The Packers had a woeful offensive day without their top two receivers, but they did sign Davante Adams
to a long-term extension.
- The Detroit Lions had a strong offensive day against the Green Bay Packers. Detroit was set up with good field position early after Green Bay turnovers and were able to capitalize. Like most of the season, Detroit's running game struggled to find room to run, but the passing game was efficient. Matthew Stafford
had long touchdown passes to Kenny Golladay
and Golden Tate
, while also connecting on a fade to Marvin Jones
for a third score.
QB Brett Hundley
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 24 - 172 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 15 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (1 targets) - If there was any lingering doubt about Hundley’s general inability to succeed in an NFL offense, this game pretty much put that concern to rest. His continued poor decisions and overall inability to find his receivers put the Packers offense behind the eight-ball too often, and left the defense — which had its own issues — in difficult positions. At least the Packers thought they had a competent backup, but Hundley didn’t prove he could even do that, much less succeed over an extended absence by the starter.
QB Joe Callahan
, 7 offensive snaps, Pass: 5 - 7 - 11 - 0 TD / 0 INT - Callahan didn’t get much time to show what he could do, and you can’t imagine the team was all that hot on him as they cut him the moment Aaron Rodgers
returned only re-signing him when Rodgers went down. He looked decent in mop up duty, but there’s nothing to be excited about.
RB Jamaal Williams
, 56 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 82 - 0, Rec: 3 - 31 - 0 (5 targets) - Williams continues to look like exactly what everyone has said he was all season long — serviceably unspectacular. He looks the part of a guy who can be one portion of a solid backfield, but isn’t an every down back with a lot of dynamism. He can fight through injury though, and was able to carry the load when asked to. He added some decent receiving yards this week, which should help him hold onto snaps next season.
WR Randall Cobb
, 55 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 1 - 10 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 4 - 45 - 1 (6 targets) - Cobb was a jack of all trades on Sunday, running the ball once, completing a pass to Brett Hundley
and scoring the Packers’ lone touchdown of the day. It came on a drive where he recorded three catches for 33 yards and it was the lone spark on an otherwise virtually lifeless offense.
WR Trevor Davis
, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 56 - 0 (3 targets) - With Jordy Nelson
and Davante Adams
out, Davis had the opportunity to show what he could do, and in a game where his quarterback continued to struggle, managed to snag all three of his chances. Most of his year was spent on special teams, where he’ll probably reside in 2018, but he did show a little speed and sharp route running against Detroit.
WR Geronimo Allison
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - Allison only saw a few targets and really didn’t have much opportunity to do a lot with them. Both of his catches were shorter balls, though one he did gain nine yards with.
WR Jeff Janis
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (3 targets) - Once upon a time, Janis was a fan favorite who seemed destined for a big role in the Packers offense, but that seemed to end long before Aaron Rodgers
was lost this year. Janis struggles to separate from coverage, either by speed or by sharp route running.
WR Michael Clark
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (5 targets) - Clark saw a lot of targets, relatively speaking, but only caught one. Some of those were coverage issues, but he also suffered from the same poor throws which have plagued the Packers receivers for most of the year with Brett Hundley
TE Emanuel Byrd
, 11 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 31 - 0 (2 targets) - The rookie tight end’s most notable moment came when he ran out of his shoe during a catch. He does seem to have some athleticism, so he might be one to watch heading into 2018.
QB Matthew Stafford
, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 29 - 323 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 2 - 0 - Stafford played well in the season finale against Green Bay. He was accurate and aggressive, hitting long targets to Marvin Jones
and Kenny Golladay
for 50+ yards. The throw to Marvin Jones
was a deep post that beat his corner while getting behind the safety. He later hit Golladay for a 54-yard touchdown pass also on a post. An unappreciated story in Detroit has been the rapport Stafford has shown with Jones in the deep passing game. Stafford also threw a fade to Jones for a red zone touchdown. Stafford's long play of the day was a throw to Golden Tate
on a double move. Tate set the move up inside before getting back toward the corner. The route combination cleared the entire perimeter of the field up for a 71 yard catch that he finished off with a stiff arm for a score. Stafford also managed to catch a two-point conversion trick play from Golden Tate
. Stafford's play fluctuated at times this season, but he managed to support both Jones and Tate in top 15 WR seasons in PPR.
RB Tion Green
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 21 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - Tion Green
was the second back in the game, and led the Lions in both carries (9) and yards (21). Like Abdullah and Riddick, Green was hampered by an offensive line incapable of creating consistent room to run. Green is a pedestrian back who lacks interior vision to run with any consistency between the tackles.
RB Ameer Abdullah
, 20 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 18 - 1, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (2 targets) - Ameer Abdullah
again gave way to Theo Riddick
as a starter but out touched Riddick 9 to 6. The entire Detroit running game has been plagued by subpar offensive line play which has left little opportunity to develop a running game. Abdullah was used in the passing game on a dump off route, where he ran well for a first down after the catch. Abdullah can catch passes out of the backfield, but was cast out of the role by the coaching staff with Riddick in the backfield.
RB Theo Riddick
, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (3 targets) - Theo Riddick
started again at running back over Ameer Abdullah
, but managed to finish behind both Tion Green
and Abdullah in touches. Riddick suffered from a continuation of a season long trend of offensive line play that is unable to create running room. Riddick was likewise held in check in the pass game to only two short catches.
WR Golden Tate
, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 104 - 1 (7 targets) - Golden Tate
led the Lions with seven catches for 104 yards. Tate was his usual fixture in the short passing game, but was able to spring a long 71-yard touchdown on a double move. Tate set up a crossing route before breaking back to the sideline on a corner route. The route combination cleared the side of the field, and left Tate a runway down the sideline. Tate used his physicality as a runner to finish the play off with a stiff arm and a touchdown. Tate was otherwise used in the short passing game and a creative screen which set up a red zone opportunity. He also threw a two-point conversion to Matthew Stafford
on a trick play on a reverse pass.
WR Marvin Jones
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 81 - 1 (5 targets) - Marvin Jones
capped his season with a big day against Green Bay. He caught a deep post where he beat corner coverage while getting behind the safety for a 56-yard chunk play. Jones was later targeted on a red zone fade for a touchdown. The fade marks an expansion of his role in the red zone where Detroit has frequently struggled to score touchdowns. Jones also drew a defensive holding, which likely should have been a defensive pass interference. Jones beat the defender on a play and would likely have added a second score on the play if he was not interfered with. Jones was also overthrown by Stafford in the red zone.
WR Kenny Golladay
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 80 - 1 (3 targets) - Kenny Golladay
continued to see fluctuating usage in Detroit's offense. He was targeted deep early, but unable to win in contested coverage. He got on track when he beat zone coverage up the seam from the slot for a 54-yard touchdown. Golladay's lone other catch was a play along the sideline where he was able to secure the catch and get two feet inbounds on the play. Golladay saw a variety of manufactured touches in recent weeks, but was able to win on his own in deep passing routes.
TE Eric Ebron
, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (6 targets) - Eric Ebron
had an inefficient day against the Packers. His lone catch was a dump off route where he hurdled a defender for a first down. He was also targeted multiple times in the end zone but unable to create separation on the routes. Ebron had the chance for a big play on a corner route where he was wide open, but Stafford threw the ball too far inside as if he expected Ebron to run a vertical route. Ebron finished the season playing with more passion and confidence than he did earlier in the season when he largely looked lost.
New York Jets 6, New England Patriots 26
What you need to know
New York Jets
- The 2017 New York Jets season ended in a whimper. Down five starters on offense (McCown, Forte, Seferian-Jenkins, Shell, and Winters), the offense sputtered and the defense didn't offer much resistance against Tom Brady
, Brandin Cooks
, and Dion Lewis
. Bryce Petty
struggled (again) and the coaching staff did not play Christian Hackenberg
. Two seasons on the roster, no regular season snaps for New York's 2016 2nd rounder. Bilal Powell
was deployed in workhorse fashion, Robby Anderson
was concussed after taking a cheap shot from Stephon Gillmore, and Neal Sterling
led the team in receiving yardage. Needless to say, It'll be an interesting offseason in Florham Park.
New England Patriots
- Thanks to a strong effort from Tom Brady
and Dion Lewis
, New England secured the top seed in the AFC playoffs. Rex Burkhead
, James White
, and Mike Gillislee
were all inactive, leaving lead back duties to Lewis. Lewis was dynamic as an inside runner, outside runner, and as a receiver as he accounted for 133 total yards and two touchdowns. Brady tossed two easy touchdown passes, one to Lewis and one to Brandin Cooks
. Both touchdown passes were beautifully designed and the playmakers scored with ease. Rob Gronkowski
was active and played, but was not targeted. New addition, James Harris
on, accounted for two sacks and looked spry.
QB Bryce Petty
, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 36 - 232 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0 - Another week, another poor performance from Petty. New York went 0-for-12 on third downs and was sacked for a safety as Petty's slow decision making led to missed opportunities. New York opted to rotate its offensive lineman throughout the game, giving New England defenders opportunities to tee-off on back-up caliber players. Petty did lose his favorite target, Robby Anderson
to a concussion early-on, and opted to lock onto back-up tight end, Neal Sterling
. Sterling, who was deployed as an intermediate option, ran wide open when New England deployed zone looks. A lot of completions to Sterling were easy pitch and catches. Petty enters 2018 on the final year of his rookie contract.
RB Bilal Powell
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 46 - 0, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (2 targets) - It was a long afternoon for New York's rushing attack. Powell was deployed in workhorse fashion, but did not find much room to work. Powell had a long run of 24 yards on a toss sweep. Otherwise, he was bottled up by an inspired New England defense that locked up the AFC's top seed. Powell enters 2018 on the final year of his 3-year contract.
RB Elijah McGuire
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - -6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 16 - 0 (6 targets) - McGuire capped off his rookie season with a forgettable performance against New England's front seven. McGuire was quickly corralled by New England run stoppers and made three catches for 15 yards. His overall development has been impressive and he's a player to watch in 2018.
WR Jermaine Kearse
, 49 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 59 - 0 (7 targets) - After Anderson departed with a concussion, Kearse took over as the team's top receiver. Kearse made several tough grabs over the middle of the field, including a catch-and-run for 22 yards on a deep crossing route.
WR Robby Anderson
, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 1 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (3 targets) - Robby Anderson
made one catch for a short gain before suffering a concussion. Stephon Gilmore delivered a cheap hit that led to this concussion. Anderson fell 50 yards short of 1,000 yards, but overall, had a productive season.
WR Chad Hansen
, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (4 targets) - When given snaps, the rookie from Cal displayed impressive route running skills. Hansen had one grab for a 15-yards on a sideline route. Hansen did a nice job of separating and using his hands to catch the ball. He's a player worth watching in 2018.
WR ArDarius Stewart
, 22 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 46 - 0 (2 targets) - The rookie from Alabama flashed his big play ability in this game. In the fourth quarter, Stewart dusted his ex-team mate, Cyrus Jones, for a 46-yard gain. Stewart ran a deep seam route and Petty hit him in stride.
TE Neal Sterling
, 32 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 74 - 0 (8 targets) - Starting in place of Austin Seferian-Jenkins
, Sterling led the team in receiving yardage. Sterling worked the seams and made several big grabs. Sterling had a long catch and run of 35 yards on a deep post route.
QB Tom Brady
, 80 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 37 - 190 - 2 TD / 0 INT - Tom Brady
capped an MVP-caliber season with an easy win over an uninterested New York Jet defense. New England's offense opted to play ‘full tilt' in the first half while methodically calling plays in the second half. During the first quarter, Brady took turns playing pitch-and-catch with Danny Amendola
, Brandin Cooks
, and Dion Lewis
. In fact, Brady hit Amendola on a key fourth down to extend a drive that culminated with a 3-yard touchdown run by Lewis. In the second quarter, Brady delivered touchdown strikes to Cooks and Lewis. Midway through the second quarter, Brady hit Cooks on a post route for a 5-yard touchdown. Brady and Cooks benefitted from some good fortune as Buster Skrine and Mo Claiborne collided on the play, leaving Cooks uncovered. Late in the second quarter, Brady hit Lewis on a shallow crossing route for a 5-yard score. On the touchdown strike, Brady waited for Lewis to streak across the line of scrimmage before hitting him in stride and allowing him to use his speed to beat a defender to the pylon. New England held a 21-3 lead at halftime and orchestrated a very conservative second half game plan.
RB Dion Lewis
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 26 - 93 - 1, Rec: 6 - 40 - 1 (7 targets) - Dion Lewis
was dynamic. Functioning as the team's ëbellcow', Lewis was deployed as a runner and as a receiver. As a runner, Lewis ran with toughness between the tackles and with speed on the edges. In the first quarter, Lewis scored the game's first touchdown on a stretch play. Lewis was hit before breaking the plane, but a strong second effort capped off a 9-yard scoring run. In the second quarter, Lewis scored his second touchdown. Brady waited for Lewis to streak across the line of scrimmage before hitting him in stride and allowing him to use his speed to beat a defender to the pylon. Going into the playoffs, Lewis is arguably New England's best playmaker and should be featured early and often.
RB Brandon Bolden
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 46 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (4 targets) - Bolden served as Dion Lewis
' back-up and spelled Lewis throughout the game. Bolden ripped off a few big runs, including a 20-yarder on an inside run.
WR Brandin Cooks
, 78 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 8 - 0, Rec: 5 - 79 - 1 (11 targets) - Brandin Cooks
was the team's leading receiver and feasted on an overmatched New York secondary. Running short, intermediate, and deep routes, Cooks displayed impressive speed and route running ability. In the second quarter, Cooks scored a post-route. Cooks benefitted from some good fortunate as Buster Skrine and Mo Claibourne collided on the play, leaving Cooks uncovered to complete the 5-yard scoring play. At times, Cooks had some trouble beating press coverage at the line of scrimmage, but when New England schemed him into space, he didn't have any trouble getting open. Cooks had a long play on 37 yards on a deep sideline route where he dusted a defender.
WR Danny Amendola
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 43 - 0 (7 targets) - Danny Amendola
served as Brady's safety blanket over the middle. During the first half, Amendola converted key third and fourth down opportunities to put New England in the red zone. New York's nickel corners have struggled all season long, so Amendola didn't have any trouble winning at the line of scrimmage. Amendola had a long catch and run of 16 yards on a crossing route.
WR Phillip Dorsett
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (5 targets) - Phillip Dorsett
is a maddening player. Blessed with great deep speed, Dorsett ran by New York's corners with ease, but missed a few big play opportunities by slowing down at the top of his route. He had a long gain of 11 yards on a sideline route, but could have had so much more. It'll be interested to see how much Brady trusts him in the playoffs.
TE Rob Gronkowski
, 58 offensive snaps - Rob Gronkowski
was active and played, but functioned as a blocker. He ran a few routes, but Brady did not target him.
Buffalo Bills 22, Miami Dolphins 16
What you need to know
- The Buffalo Bills beat the Miami Dolphins to make playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Buffalo got an early lead and was able to depend on their defense against Miami's backup quarterback David Fales
. Buffalo's offense was deflated when LeSean McCoy
injured his ankle, but played hard and largely without errors. Charles Clay
was the most effective member of the passing game as he had frequent success on crossing routes, and Tyrod Taylor
was effective extending plays and running while limiting aerial mistakes
- Jay Cutler
was only in the game for one drive, and the team installed David Fales
. The offense was put on Fales shoulders after the team fell behind by three scores, and he got them in position to have a chance to win after a recovered onsides kick, but was picked off to end the game. Jarvis Landry
had another strong game and scored, but was ejected for his participation in a scuffle after his touchdown.
QB Tyrod Taylor
, 67 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 27 - 204 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 35 - 0 - Tyrod Taylor
executed the formula that has been successful in Buffalo's wins this season. Buffalo was able to get an early lead and play close to the vest with Taylor limiting mistakes and creating with his legs while relying on their defense. As a passer Taylor hit Nick O'Leary on a deep throw for a touchdown, and made several throws to Charles Clay
and Kelvin Benjamin
for key conversions. Taylor was also effective rushing and buying time scrambling. Taylor had the opportunity for a bigger day passing but he missed Nick O'Leary in the end zone on a wide-open crossing route, and was nearly intercepted on a deep pass to Deonte Thompson
where Thompson was unable to separate. Taylor did fumble on a play where Miami was called for a facemask, but otherwise played mistake free football. Taylor's play has been a key part of Buffalo's first playoff appearance since the Clinton administration.
RB LeSean McCoy
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 10 - 0, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (3 targets) - LeSean McCoy
suffered a sprained ankle against Miami. X-Rays were reported negative during the game, but he did not return to the game. McCoy was featured early, but found little room to run, particularly on first down when Miami crowded the box. When McCoy was able to get room to run he was elusive, particularly in the receiving game. McCoy ran very hard during the game, and at points it was to his detriment as he reversed course and lost yardage. McCoy's totals are down from other seasons, but it is hard to overstate how important he has been in key situations for Buffalo's offense throughout the season.
RB Marcus Murphy
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 41 - 0, Rec: 2 - 7 - 0 (2 targets) - Marcus Murphy
combined with Mike Tolbert
to fill in for an injured LeSean McCoy
. Murphy showed good vision and the ability to set up blocks on the interior. As a talent, Murphy is an unexceptional athlete who relies on his vision and patience more than his physical tools.
RB Mike Tolbert
, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 39 - 0, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets) - Mike Tolbert
joined with Marcus Murphy
in relief of LeSean McCoy
. Tolbert is unexceptional, but ran hard, and flattened Lawrence Timmons on a run up the middle. Tolbert is more of a straight forward runner than McCoy and is less likely than McCoy to take losses as a runner.
WR Kelvin Benjamin
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 27 - 0 (3 targets) - Kelvin Benjamin
was limited to only two catches during a game that Buffalo spread the ball around outside of eight targets to Charles Clay
. Benjamin worked intermediate area of the field on a scramble by Tyrod Taylor
which converted a first down and later caught a slant.
WR Deonte Thompson
, 36 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (3 targets) - Deonte Thompson
continued to be Buffalo's deep threat. Thompson was targeted deep and drew a pass interference which set up Buffalo for a goal line touchdown. Thompson otherwise worked the middle of the field, and remained the second wide receiver in the offensive priority behind Benjamin.
WR Zay Jones
, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (3 targets) - Zay Jones
continued to be phased out of the Buffalo offense against Miami. He was targeted once on a ball that bounced before he could extend to catch it.
TE Charles Clay
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (8 targets) - Charles Clay
led the Buffalo offense in receiving against his former team. Clay was successful on crossing routes, and a designed target on Tyrod Taylor
's bootlegs. He dropped one pass, but was the most effective member of Buffalo's offense in a game where the script allowed Buffalo to play close to the vest.
TE Nick OLeary
, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 26 - 1 (2 targets) - Ran a deep seam route that meshed with crossing route from the other side of the field. The play caused the deep safety to get confused, and O'Leary was left wide open for the first score of the game. O'Leary was later targeted in the end zone on a crossing route, but was overthrown by Tyrod Taylor
QB David Fales
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 42 - 265 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 8 - 1 - Fales piloted an aggressive-minded offense that was going for it on fourth down from the time he entered the game. He was 1-for-2 on fourth down in the first drive, one that ended in field goal range on a failed fourth down. Fales next three drives stalled out in Miami's end of the field. He hooked up with Jarvis Landry
, who did most of the work after the catch to get into Buffalo territory during the first drive of the second half, but the drive ended on another failed fourth down. Fales led the team on two meaningless scoring drives in the fourth quarter, both composed of passing plays except for one Kenyan Drake
run and a Fales run for a score. The Dolphins recovered an onsides kick to give the team a chance at a desperation touchdown game-winning drive, but Fales threw an interception to end the game instead.
QB Jay Cutler
, 3 offensive snaps, Pass: 1 - 2 - 6 - 0 TD / 0 INT - Cutler failed to create a first down on his only drive of the day before giving way to David Fales
RB Kenyan Drake
, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 75 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (3 targets) - Drake was running hot to begin this game, but the Dolphins went away from the running game the further they fell behind. He was ejected the game in the fourth quarter, but did have a reception to get the team into the red zone on their first touchdown drive of the day.
WR Jarvis Landry
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 92 - 1 (10 targets) - Landry played a big role on David Fales
first drive that stalled out in the red zone, and was quiet until the team's first touchdown drive, which he ended with a score on a shovel pass. The play was followed by a melee, which resulted in the ejection of multiple players, including Landry.
WR DeVante Parker
, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 64 - 0 (7 targets) - Parker had one impact play on the team's first scoring drive, which ended with a field goal, but otherwise, he was used mostly in the short passing game. Parker fumbled on one reception, but a teammate recovered it.
Cleveland Browns 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 28
What you need to know
- The Cleveland Browns became just the second NFL team in history to go 0-16, following the 2008 Detroit Lions in infamy. Cleveland lost to mostly backups as the Pittsburgh Steelers opted to rest several of their starters ahead of the playoffs. The Browns had chances to win as they were driving down the field down four points with just under two minutes left in the game. DeShone Kizer
threw a perfect pass to Corey Coleman
on fourth down, but Coleman dropped the ball around the Pittsburgh 11-yard line. On the bright side, Kizer posted his first career 300-yard passing game, Josh Gordon
posted his first 100-yard receiving game since the 2014 season, and Duke Johnson
had another excellent all-around outing.
- The Steelers finished the regular season with a record of 13-3 after besting the Browns by a score of 28-24. With Ben Roethlisberger
and Leveon Bell resting, Landry Jones
and Stevan Ridley
filled in admirably. JuJu Smith-Schuster
was the star of the game finishing with nine receptions for 143 yards and one touchdown. Smith-Schuster also scored a touchdown on a 96-yard kickoff return.
QB DeShone Kizer
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 30 - 314 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 6 - 61 - 0 - Kizer played the best he has all season, reaching 300 passing yards for the first time in his career. He did take several sacks, a few of which were his fault for holding the ball too long, but he remained mostly calm in the pocket and did keep the Pittsburgh defense on their heels with his rushing ability. Kizer, despite the 300-yard milestone, did make his share of mistakes in the contest. He again struggled with his accuracy, this time missing at least three receivers short and low. In the second quarter, Kizer did make a fantastic pass to Josh Gordon
for a 56-yard pickup. The play was originally ruled a touchdown before replay review showed that Gordon's foot touched out of bounds before he crossed the goal line. On the ensuing play from the Pittsburgh two-yard line, Kizer could have had another touchdown pass but he threw too low for an open Marquez Williams
at the goal line. Williams was unable to handle the poorly-thrown ball. Kizer bounced back on the next possession, hitting Rashard Higgins
with a well-placed pass on a slant. Higgins didn't have to break stride and was able to race up the middle of the field for a 56-yard touchdown. At the beginning of the third quarter, Kizer found Higgins again for a score, this time a five-yard touchdown on a short slant route. Kizer started using his legs more in the third quarter as he picked up large chunks of yardage on several scrambles. He should have had an interception toward the end of the third quarter but the defender had the ball jarred loose on a heads-up play by the Cleveland receiver. In the fourth quarter, Kizer came close to throwing an interception yet again, this time putting a ball in the defender's hands, only to have the Pittsburgh cornerback drop the interception. He finally did throw an interception on the second possession of the fourth quarter. He was hit as he was throwing, causing the pass to David Njoku
to go short. On his team's final possession, Kizer made an excellent play on 4th-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 27-yard line. He somehow escaped what looked like a sure sack and fired a perfect pass to Corey Coleman
for what should have been a first down, but the wide-open Coleman dropped the ball. In all, the good outweighed the bad for Kizer in this contest but the end results were still the same.
RB Isaiah Crowell
, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 21 - 0 - Crowell had a dismal day running the ball. He was often met at or behind the line of scrimmage by a Pittsburgh run defense that was ready for him whenever he got the ball. It didn't help that almost all of his carries went up the middle, which didn't leave much guesswork for the defense. His best series came in the third quarter where he ripped off two seven-yard runs in the same drive. He also saw two red zone carries at the end of that drive, although he was unable to get into the end zone on either one. In the fourth quarter, Crowell was routinely dropped for losses and was visibly unhappy about something (possibly a missed block) after a three-yard loss on his team's second possession in the quarter. He was not targeted at all in the passing game. Crowell is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and may have played his final game with the team.
RB Duke Johnson
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 20 - 1, Rec: 6 - 75 - 0 (6 targets) - Johnson was electric with the ball, as usual, and was the team's best offensive player against the Steelers. He routinely broke tackles and gained extra yards after the catch. Johnson picked up a two-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. He was barely touched on an easy burst into the end zone. Johnson did most of his damage in the passing game, turning several short screens and dump offs into big gains. His biggest gain was a 30-yard reception, although he lost a fumble at the end of that play. Give credit to Pittsburgh defender William Gay who punched the ball out of Johnson's grasp on the play for the takeaway. It was Johnson's second lost fumble in the past three games, although the Browns continued calling his number after the giveaway.
WR Josh Gordon
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 115 - 0 (7 targets) - Gordon and quarterback DeShone Kizer
were finally able to connect on a few splash plays after coming close over their four previous games. Gordon wound up with his first 100-yard receiving game since the 2014 season. His biggest gain came on a 56-yard over-the-shoulder catch in the second quarter. Gordon blew by Joe Haden in coverage, forcing safety Mike Mitchell to pick him up, but it was too late. Gordon initially appeared to score a touchdown on the play but the officials reviewed it and it was found that his foot touched out of bounds at the Pittsburgh two-yard line. After picking up two catches for a combined 28 yards in the third quarter, Gordon ripped off another large gain in the fourth. He caught a short pass on a crossing route and turned upfield for a 33-yard gain. It was a great bounceback after a disappointing Week 16 game for Gordon.
WR Rashard Higgins
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 68 - 2 (4 targets) - Higgins came into the game having never scored an NFL touchdown in just under two full seasons. He made up for that by scoring twice against the Steelers. His first touchdown came on a slant route. DeShone Kizer
hit him in stride on a perfect pass. Higgins did the rest, catching the ball at the Pittsburgh 47-yard line and taking it all the way for the 56-yard touchdown. In the third quarter, Higgins caught his second touchdown, a five-yard reception, on a short slant at the goal line. He appeared to be open for most of the play as he made his way across the goal line but it took Kizer a while to find him.
WR Corey Coleman
, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 18 - 0 (6 targets) - It was another forgettable day for Coleman, who finished with just one catch. His lone grab was a great one as he dove for the ball to pick up 18 yards on a 3rd-and-17 play in the third quarter. A few of Coleman's missed targets can be blamed on DeShone Kizer
's inaccuracy as Kizer missed him short and low at least twice. Unfortunately for Coleman, he committed a brutal drop at the end of the game on 4th-and-2. Kizer appeared to be sacked but he somehow managed to escape. Coleman had run a wheel route out of the backfield and was all by himself around the Pittsburgh 11-yard line. Kizer threw him a perfect pass that would have gone for a first down, but Coleman let the ball go through his hands. He appeared to turn his head to look upfield before securing the catch.
TE David Njoku
, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 38 - 0 (3 targets) - Njoku's first catch of the game was a short, four-yard reception in the second quarter. In the third quarter he made a great play for a big, 34-yard gain. He leapt to catch a short four-yard pass and made the first tackler miss before racing up the middle of the field for the big gain. Outside of that play, he was mostly quiet. Njoku was the target on DeShone Kizer
's fourth quarter interception. Kizer was hit as he threw the ball, causing the throw to be short.
QB Landry Jones
, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 27 - 239 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -6 - 0 - Landry Jones
was efficient filling in for Ben Roethlisberger
. Jones finished with 23 completions on 27 pass attempts for 239 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Mid first quarter, Jones tried to force a pass over the middle to JuJu Smith-Schuster
and was intercepted. Early second quarter on a third and two, Jones found a wide-open Smith-Schuster for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Jones quickly recognized that the Browns left Smith-Schuster uncovered and delivered the pass. Late second quarter, Jones fumbled when he was hit from behind by a Browns defender.
RB Stevan Ridley
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 80 - 1 - With Leveon Bell inactive, Stevan Ridley
was the focal point of the rushing attack finishing with 17 carries for 80 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and one touchdown. Ridley was recently added to the roster after James Conner
suffered a season-ending injury. Ridley ran strong often hitting the hole with a burst. Mid second quarter, Ridley ran up the middle for a five-yard touchdown run. On the play, Ridley squeezed through a small hole and muscled his way into the end zone.
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 143 - 1 (10 targets) - With Antonio Brown
inactive, JuJu Smith-Schuster
was the go-to receiver with a team leading nine receptions for 143 yards and one touchdown. Smith-Schuster ran crisp routes and did a good job securing nine of ten targets. Early second quarter, Smith-Schuster was left uncovered as he quickly got behind the Browns defense for a 20-yard touchdown reception. Late second quarter, Smith-Schuster ran a deep-route and showed great concentration coming down with a 46-yard reception. Early third quarter, Smith-Schuster added a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown. On the play, Smith-Schuster weaved through Browns defenders before delivering a wicked stiff arm to break free from the pack.
WR Martavis Bryant
, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 65 - 0 (7 targets) - Martavis Bryant
finished with a season-best six receptions for 65 yards. Bryant performed well in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Bryant was targeted on a deep route on the first play of the game but was unable to secure the reception.
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
, 3 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 29 - 1 - Early first quarter, Darrius Heyward-Bey
took a reverse around the right side for a 29-yard touchdown run. On the play, Heyward-Bey hit the corner with speed as he dashed through three Browns defenders for the score.
TE Jesse James
, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Jesse James
had a quiet afternoon with two receptions for nine yards.
Carolina Panthers 10, Atlanta Falcons 22
What you need to know
- In what could be described as an ugly performance, Cam Newton
consistently fired high and wide and couldn't establish a scintilla of momentum for the offense. Newton's footwork appeared to be a major issue once more, with several passes going several inches above the intended receiver. The receiving corps didn't give Newton much help, at the same time; Atlanta locked down the Carolina receivers with solid man to man coverage. The offense was often in third-and-long situations and the ground game seemed to be de-emphasised without Jonathan Stewart
, who was inactive. Greg Olsen
and Newton seemed to be completely out of sync, and even Christian McCaffrey
made uncharacteristic errors. A forgettable game for an undermanned Carolina offense, whose only saving grace may have come from a decent offensive line display.
- Left guard Andy Levitre returned from injury after missing three games, but aggravated the same triceps injury during the first drive and had to leave. Atlanta’s early success came on a variety of rub routes to drive the field, finishing the series with a 19-yard catch and run from Devonta Freeman
. Taylor Grabriel injured his hamstring covering Atlanta’s punt at the end of its second drive, which led to more usage for Justin Hardy
. While Atlanta’s defense didn’t allow a completion to Carolina until halfway through the second quarter, Atlanta’s offense stalled on four consecutive drives during this span. Cam Newton
responded with a 7-for-7 performance on a 16-play scoring drive at the end of the half to tie the game. Atlanta had difficulty running the ball because it lacked patience using Freeman up the middle and resorted to multiple failed runs by Tevin Coleman
on the edges. The Falcons also had seven penalties in the first two and a half quarters, including four from the special teams units that nullified two long punt returns. Atlanta later had three consecutive red zone opportunities that ended with field goals within a five-minute period at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth. These field goals put Atlanta ahead in the second half, but Atlanta had trouble running the ball and protecting Ryan, who had to scramble and throw for nearly every yard he earned in the second half.
QB Cam Newton
, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 34 - 180 - 1 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 11 - 59 - 0 - Cam Newton
played one of the poorer games of his career in his hometown, consistently leaving receivers out to dry with his errant passes. His inaccuracy was apparent early on; even from a clean pocket, he was calibrating his targets a few inches too high. Newton's lazy footwork - not stepping into the throw with his front foot - seemed to be the culprit, with the strong-armed passer relying too much on that asset. The only way the Panthers could move the ball early was with Newton's legs. Atlanta continued to shut down the passing attack with strong man to man coverage. This led to repeated third-and-long situations, which the undermanned receiving corps and Newton simply could not overcome. Even Greg Olsen
couldn't get on the same page as his quarterback; the two seemed to be out of sync on several key throws. A passing touchdown after a passionate sideline rallying cry ignited some life into the offense, as Newton fired a bullet pass on a slant to Devin Funchess
in the end zone. The inside handoff fake was executed to perfection, giving Newton an open throwing window. Newton seemed to lose confidence as the game went on, and tossed three interceptions, the most unforgivable of which came on a routine pass down the middle. It appeared he and the intended receiver, Brenton Bersin
, were not on the same page at all, and it was an easy pick for the defender. The second came on a high target to Olsen, who made an attempt to bring the ball in one-handed, but saw it bounce off his paws and into an Atlanta defender's hands. The final nail in the coffin came with less than 30 seconds remaining, a hopeful pass to the front left pylon intended for Funchess. It was an ugly performance from Newton, who has a penchant for producing these games from time to time.
RB Christian McCaffrey
, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 14 - 0, Rec: 5 - 40 - 0 (8 targets) - The Christian McCaffrey
Show came to a shuddering halt against the Falcons, as the offense struggled to establish anything. McCaffrey got into a rhythm early with some inside runs, but the Panthers moved away from the ground game early on and he got few opportunities as a runner as the game wore on. As a receiver, it wasn't his best day; he allowed a simple catch in the flat to get away from him, fumbling it out of bounds uncharacteristically. A clearly irate McCaffrey showed some life towards the end of the game, but mostly he was the recipient of dump-offs with the Falcons defending the lead.
RB Cameron Artis-Payne
, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 16 - 0 - The surprise news that Jonathan Stewart
would be inactive with a back problem meant more snaps for the scat back Cameron Artis-Payne
. It proved to be a wholly forgettable occasion, as Artis-Payne took his eyes off the ball on a toss play, fumbling the ball. Fortunately he was able to dive on top of it, but he committed a similar error in the second half. On what appeared to be a routine handoff, Artis-Payne did not secure the ball with two hands at the mesh point. The ball bounced off his elbow and again the Panthers were lucky to recover.
WR Devin Funchess
, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 48 - 1 (6 targets) - The Falcons defensive backs did an excellent job blanketing the Panthers receivers, with Devin Funchess
garnering special attention from Desmond Trufant. Cam Newton
didn't see the field clearly and was often high, wide and not-so-handsome on his throws. Funchess was targeted several times, but the Falcons keyed on inside-breaking routes and make some nice breakups. Funchess got into the end zone on the only Carolina drive of consequence. Set up a few yards short of the Atlanta goal line, Newton faked an inside handoff before the pulling the ball and firing to Funchess on a slant. The receiver did an excellent job to establish inside technique and made a strong catch with his hands despite competition from the defensive back. Funchess would later haul in a beautiful over-the-shoulder teardrop pass from Newton in a rare glimmer of competence from the offense.
WR Kaelin Clay
, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (2 targets) - Kaelin Clay
was used primarily as a punt returner and sometimes gadget player on offense. An early attempt at misdirection with an end around didn't fool the Atlanta defense, which flew to the ball all game long. In the passing game, Clay saw a target on a slant, but the pass was too far behind him to corral.
TE Greg Olsen
, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 10 - 0 (9 targets) - Greg Olsen
cut a frustrated figure on the artificial turf in the plush environs of Atlanta's new stadium. Time and again, he was left figuratively scratching his head as Cam Newton
fired errant pass after errant pass. One high pass over the middle saw Olsen make a despairing attempt at a catch, only to have the ball tipped and intercepted. The quarterback and tight end were not on the same page on a key third down late in the game; Olsen ran downfield, while Newton seemed to be aiming for a back shoulder completion. Atlanta played a physical game defensively and offered the Carolina receivers very little wiggle room, with Olsen one of the main victims.
QB Matt Ryan
, 72 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 45 - 317 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 14 - 0 - Atlanta got the best of the Panthers defense with routes in the middle of the field and rub routes that created openings on the edges. Ryan showed patience on 3rd and 7 to find Jones on a slant route from a stacked formation. Although the Jones’ route didn’t come open in the first window of his break, Ryan waited in the pocket long enough to deliver the ball from a tight spot to Jones at the right hash in-stride for a completion of 11 yards and a gain of 15. Ryan completed three third-down passes during this drive – the third of these passes was a swing route to Tevin Coleman
working outside a slant route that occupied the outside linebacker and brought Atlanta to the Carolina 19. On the next play, Devonta Freeman
got open on a rub route working in conjunction with a shallow crossing route for the touchdown. Once left guard Andy Levitre left the game, Ryan dealt with a lot of pressure. During Atlanta’s second series and he was forced to check the ball to his outlet receiver on consecutive passes that led to a punt. Ryan hung a pass up between bracket coverage up the left flat on 3rd and 8 that reached Jones in stride, but the receiver had to work over the safety to make an attempt on the ball and could not pull it down. This led to a second punt in as many series. Atlanta punted a fourth consecutive time in the first half after pressure forced Ryan to climb the pocket on the run and overshoot Sanu on a crossing route. He had to climb or break the pocket against pressure multiple times during this drive, including a scramble up the middle for a first down to the Carolina 11 in the late third quarter. Two plays later, he delivered a beautiful back shoulder throw on a post route to Sanu between two defenders. This was as good of a red zone throw you’d see this year, but the ball hit the ground after contact with the defender. Ryan repeatedly moved around the pocket, finding an open passing lane after avoiding pressure. This put Atlanta into field goal range again, but a dropped pass by Jones and a third-down sack led to a 56-yard field goal to extend the lead to 9.
RB Devonta Freeman
, 38 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 23 - 0, Rec: 9 - 85 - 1 (11 targets) - The Falcons back scored on a 19-yard catch up the left seam after exiting the middle of the line and broke outside of a shallow crossing route working in front of him in the opposite direction. This earned Freeman a huge crease for the catch and run. Freeman made a man miss in the right flat with a great juke on safety Jairus Byrd to earn seven yards on a 2nd and 10 outlet pass with pressure reaching the pocket. He was pinned in the left flat on the next play with pressure reaching Matt Ryan
off the left edge and this forced a punt to end Atlanta’s second drive. He earned 26 yards on a screen as the outside twin receiver to the right side. He split the blocks of Julio Jones
and a lineman up the right sideline for the gain. Freeman limped off the field midway through the second quarter on a third-down pass where he blocked a man up the middle of the line and appeared to aggravate the injury as he released on a short route to the flat. Freeman returned to run an angle route for a 10-yard gain late in the half. He broke a tackle in the backfield while working around right tackle for a three-yard gain to begin the third quarter. His best gain of the day came late in the third quarter—a five-yard run up the middle where he spun off contact. He also made a pivotal 2nd and 8 play at midfield to work back outside to create a target for a scrambling Matt Ryan
for a gain of 11 on the play. Freeman ran hard and bled the Panthers for every yard he could get, but Atlanta’s line could not reach the Panthers linebackers.
RB Tevin Coleman
, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 23 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets) - The Panthers stuffed Coleman for small gains on his first two touches. He earned a first down on a swing pass working outside a slant route that occupied the outside linebacker on Atlanta’s third, third-down of the initial series in the game. Coleman’s reception took Atlanta to its 19 and set up a pass to Devonta Freeman
for the touchdown. He took a toss around right end on 2nd and 4 during the second drive for a 5-yard gain around Luke Kuechley. He gained 10 yards on two runs up the middle to begin the fourth drive, including a strong cutback in the crease to the backside of the formation. This was the best pair of plays he had for the rest of the game. After that, Coleman was stuffed again on a run to right end during the first possession of the third quarter. He stumbled to the sideline for three yards after penetration forced him wide on a toss play late in the third quarter. Then he was stuffed again on the next play for a loss of five. He was stuffed up the middle on 2nd and 10 from the Carolina 21 to end the third quarter. Freeman was a bigger factor in the fourth quarter.
WR Mohamed Sanu
, 61 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0, Rec: 7 - 71 - 0 (11 targets) - Ryan found Sanu for a short out-breaking route from the slot on the second third down of the first drive for a short completion. Sanu earned most of the yards after the catch up the left flat for 19 yards to reach the Carolina 35. Sanu worked off a Julio Jones
block around the left flat to the sideline to earn six yards during the second drive. He dropped a slant route against tight coverage during the third drive. Ryan led the receiver too far and forced a diving attempt. Sanu failed to earn a yard up the middle on a 3rd and 1 read-option keeper early in the second quarter and earned a third consecutive punt for Atlanta in the half. Atlanta punted a fourth consecutive time in the first half after pressure forced Ryan to climb the pocket on the run and overshoot Sanu on a crossing route. Sanu made a fantastic catch on a back-shoulder post under Kuechly but the ball hit the ground after contact with the defender. He plowed through Darryl Worley at the end of a crossing route late in the third quarter to begin a drive off a Ricardo Allen interception. He took a short pass up the right flat for 16 yards, much of it after the catch and a late hit to the head from Worley tacked another 15 on the play and got Atlanta to the Carolina 21. Sanu took a receiver screen for 9 yards on 3rd and 10 but came inches shy of the marker and led to a third consecutive field goal in the past five minutes. Sanu dropped an out on 3rd and 7 late in the game to force a punt.
WR Julio Jones
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 80 - 0 (11 targets) - Jones got open on a slant route from a stacked formation during Atlanta’s first drive. The first window of Jones’ break didn’t come open, but Ryan waited in the pocket long enough to deliver the ball from a tight spot to the right has in stride for a completion of 11 yards and a gain of 15. Jones took a huge hit in the chest on the next play, a play-action slant breaking from the back side of the formation. Jones caught the ball but the safety Mike Adams knocked the ball loose. Jones walked off the field under his own power and returned later in the drive. Atlanta ran double slants with Jones and Mohamed Sanu
on the right side of the formation early in the second drive, hitting Jones for a first down. Ryan later hung a pass up between bracket coverage up the left flat on 3rd and 8 that reached Jones in stride, but the receiver had to work over the safety to make an attempt on the ball and could not pull it down. This led to a second punt in as many series. Jones converted a third-down early in the second half on a 12-yard out but slipped while turning up field and aggravated his longstanding ankle injury that has forced him to miss small periods of time almost weekly. He missed two plays and limped back onto the field for a 3rd and 1. Ryan avoided pressure off left end and climbed the pocket and found Julio Jones
on a shallow crossing route for a first down. He gained 27 after spinning outside a defender on a short look-in and reached midfield midway through the fourth quarter. He let curl through his hands with a defender wrapping his waist midway through the fourth quarter for his eighth drop of the year.
WR Justin Hardy
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 32 - 0 (3 targets) - He earned 17 on a shallow route to a wide-open right flat on a boot-action pass midway through the third quarter to get Atlanta past midfield to the Carolina 27. He ran a pivot route that was well covered and led too far down field on 3rd down in the red zone during the second half. This led to a 30-yard field goal. He got the first down on a 15-yard crossing route after Ryan slid into an open lane in the pocket at the end of the third quarter.
WR Taylor Gabriel
, 9 offensive snaps (1 targets) - Gabriel fell to the ground before he could reach the return man while covering Atlanta’s first punt of the game. He pulled up holding his left hamstring. He was taken to the locker room.
TE Austin Hooper
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 35 - 0 (3 targets) - He earned 9 yards during a two-minute drill on a catch and run up the right seam with less than 30 seconds in the half to get Atlanta near midfield. Hooper earned over 20 yards up the middle with a catch and run to cross midfield but the Falcons could not clock the ball in time to bring the field goal unit onto the field and the half ended tied at 7.
Kansas City Chiefs 27, Denver Broncos 24
What you need to know
Kansas City Chiefs
- Patrick Mahomes looked like a quality future starter in a tough road win without the top Chiefs offensive players. Kareem Hunt
housed his only run to win the rushing title. Albert Wilson
was a strong #1 receiver for Mahomes and might be convincing the Chiefs to bring him back in free agency next year. Fullback Anthony Sherman
was pressed into duty as the lead back after Akeem Hunt
- Denver's receiving core was short-handed without Emmanuel Sanders
or Cody Latimer
. Darian Stewart intercepted Patrick Mahomes on a deep throw in the 2nd quarter. Zaire Anderson returned a fumble for a touchdown in the 4th quarter.
QB Patrick Mahomes II
, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 35 - 284 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 7 - 10 - 0 - Mahomes came out of the gate hot with a long ball to Demetrius Harris
on third and long that was followed by a Kareem Hunt
touchdown run. He was picked off on his second drive, and botched an exchange and was sacked on his third drive. He converted another third and long on his fourth drive, only for the drive to stall out before the Chiefs crossed midfield. Mahomes then hooked up with Albert Wilson
repeatedly and was stopped just short of the goal line before Anthony Sherman
finished the drive with a score to give the team a lead at the half. In the second half, Mahomes led an eight-plus field goal drive and then led another field goal drive late in the fourth quarter to win the game.
RB Anthony Sherman
, 53 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 40 - 1, Rec: 3 - 21 - 0 (4 targets) - The fullback ended up being the lead back after Akeem Hunt
went down. He finished one drive with a one-yard plunge and also converted a fourth-down on a field goal drive that included a failed carry from the one for Sherman. Sherman failed to move the offense on two fourth-quarter drives, but then got positive yardage on the game-winning drive to set up a chipshot for Harrison Butker
RB Akeem Hunt
, 16 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 25 - 0, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (2 targets) - Hunt looked like he was going to be the engine of the offense and was gaining good yardage on his touches before leaving the game with an injury.
RB Kareem Hunt
, 5 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 35 - 1 - Hunt had a 35-yard touchdown on his one carry, which was good enough to win the rushing title.
WR Albert Wilson
, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 10 - 147 - 0 (11 targets) - Wilson was Patrick Mahomes' clear #1 target in a performance that could convince the Chiefs to try to retain him in free agency. His first three receptions all went for first downs, and he was the main means of moving the ball on the team's second touchdown drive. He added a second third and long conversion later, and was once again the main means of movement as the team marched down the field for a game-winning field goal.
TE Demetrius Harris
, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 73 - 0 (4 targets) - Harris had a long gain on the opening drive on a sprawling catch in the middle of the field on a deep ball from Patrick Mahomes, and then wasn't touched and added to the gain to put the team in the Broncos side of the field. He had two more receptions for first downs aided by his run after catch ability on a field goal drive in the third quarter.
QB Paxton Lynch
, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 31 - 254 - 2 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 13 - 0 - Lynch posted a decent statline but struggled with slow reads and late throws against the Chiefs backups in week 17. Lynch's first touchdown pass was a halfback screen that was all De'Angelo Henderson. Henderson caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage and followed his blockers perfectly, breaking a couple of arm tackles and outrunning several defenders up the sideline for a 29 yard score. Lynch was intercepted at the end of the first half, making a bad throw in the general direction of Jordan Taylor
. He also coughed up a fumble in the 3rd quarter after holding a pass too long and taking a sack from behind. The Chiefs recovered the ball and and returned it for a touchdown. Lynch was intercepted a second time in the end zone in the 4th quarter when he delivered a ball late to Isaiah McKenzie
Lynch found Demaryius Thomas
in the back of the end zone for a game-tying touchdown with three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately the Broncos defense could not hold on as Kansas City drove down to kick the game-tying field goal.
RB C.J. Anderson
, 37 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 61 - 0 (1 targets) - Anderson had a slow day, piling up 61 yards on 18 carries as the Broncos' primary option on the ground. He surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark on the season for the first time in his career with a 10 yard carry off left tackle in the 4th quarter. Anderson was not targeted in the passing game.
RB DeAngelo Henderson
, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 15 - 0, Rec: 1 - 29 - 1 (1 targets) - Henderson out-touched Devontae Booker
slightly in relief of Anderson. He couldn't do much with his five carries, but scored on his only target of the day, a halfback screen in the 2nd quarter. Henderson followed a couple of blockers around right end, then broke two arm tackles before outrunning the rest of the defenders up the right sideline for a 29 yard score.
RB Devontae Booker
, 14 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 21 - 0, Rec: 1 - 25 - 0 (1 targets) - Booker received just a few touches as Anderson led the ground attack and the Broncos gave rookie Henderson a lmore work. Booker bounced a toss play off left tackle for a 14 yard gain in the 1st quarter. He was left wide open on his only target of the game, a wheel route out of the backfield in the 4th quarter that picked up 25 yards.
WR Jordan Taylor
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 65 - 0 (8 targets) - Taylor got some extra offensive snaps with Sanders and Latimer missing from the receiving core. He lined up wide left and caught a quick slant early in the 1st quarter. Taylor got rolled up from behind while blocking for Devontae Booker
later in the drive, but returned quickly to catch a shallow crossing route. Taylor lined up in the left slot and caught a quick curl route from Lynch early in the 2nd quarter. Taylor made the highlight play of the day at the end of the first half, leaping over a defender down the right sideline to haul in a 30 yard reception. Taylor nearly made an even more impressive catch on a similar play in the 3rd quarter, but his second foot landed slightly out of bounds. Lynch found Taylor up the left sideline on a comeback route in the 4th quarter. Taylor finished the day with a team-high 65 yards and 8 targets, and also held down his usual punt return duties.
WR Demaryius Thomas
, 35 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 57 - 1 (8 targets) - Thomas hauled in a quick slant on the Broncos' second offensive drive of the game, limping off with a leg injury after being tackled. He returned a few plays later, lining up in the right slot and hauling in a skinny post on the next drive. DT was tackled behind the line of scrimmage on a shallow out route the following drive. Lynch hit Thomas across the middle early in the 2nd quarter for a 10 yard gain. Thomas picked up 11 yards with a bubble screen in the last minute of the first half. DT and Lynch never could get anything going downfield, but the two connected for a touchdown late in the 4th quarter. Thomas lined up as the inside man with two other receiver on the left side of the formation, catching an easy corner route after his defender tripped and fell at the line. DT finished the day tied with Taylor for a team-high 8 targets and 6 catches. With only 949 yards on the season, Thomas failed to make the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in five years.
WR Bennie Fowler
, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 56 - 0 (6 targets) - Fowler made a diving effort but couldn't secure a badly thrown target on a deep crossing route in the 1st quarter. Fowler and Lynch connected up the right seam for a 22 yard gain early in the 2nd quarter. Fowler caught a quick out route late in the 3rd before being run out of bounds for a short gain, then a toe-tapper on the sideline later in the same drive. Fowler hauled in one more comeback route in the 4th quarter, finishing his day as the Broncos' third leading receiver.
WR Isaiah McKenzie
, 27 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (3 targets) - Lynch targeted McKenzie with a deep ball in the end zone in the 1st quarter, but couldn't connect against tight coverage. McKenzie made a diving catch on a slant route from the left slot in the 2nd quarter, his only reception of the day.
TE Virgil Green
, 21 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets) - Green flexed out to the left slot and caught a quick curl route for 6 yards in the 3rd quarter, his only target of the day. Green finished the season with 14 catches as Denver continues to not place much emphasis on tight ends in the passing game.
TE Jeff Heuerman
, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (2 targets) - Heuerman flexed into the slot and caught an out route in the 1st quarter. He only other target was a 4th quarter out route that was batted down by a defender.. He finished his second year with 9 catches total(2 TD's).
Dallas Cowboys 6, Philadelphia Eagles 0
What you need to know
- With nothing on the line as Dallas was eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16, the Cowboys posted a lackluster effort against the Eagles despite playing their starters for the entire game. Ezekiel Elliott
had his second game back from suspension and was stuffed for much of the game outside of a handful of touches from late in the first half to early in the second half. The passing game will be under the microscope in the offseason as Dak Prescott
eroded when forced to be a larger component of the offense, Dez Bryant
has not been his formerly dominant self for multiple season now and is owed an elite-level salary, Terrance Williams
is a baseline-at-best level secondary receiver, and Jason Witten
and Cole Beasley
cooled from their previously impactful roles. Dallas features big names on offense, but largely underperformed expectations across the board in 2017.
- The Eagles had nothing to play for in this game as they had locked in the number one overall seed in the NFC, and they played as if they wanted nothing to do with this game. The Eagles pulled their starters very early in this game as Nick Foles
for the second straight game looked very shaky which led Doug Pederson
after the game to say, ìIf you're in desperation mode who knowsî when asked about whether he would make a switch to Nate Sudfeld
. Sudfeld looked great on this frigid day in Philadelphia as he set an NFL record for completion percentage for a quarterback making his first NFL start although did take a few key sacks and the Eagles had a few drive-killing penalties in this game that led them to being shutout. From the running game, there was not much to note in this game as LeGarrette Blount
was the only running back to see more than four carries.
QB Dak Prescott
, 68 offensive snaps, Pass: 17 - 30 - 179 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 16 - 0 - Prescott finished his second season on a ho-hum note. On one hand, Prescott led a divisional road win over Philadelphia to lock in a winning season at 9-7. On the other hand, Prescott and the offense struggled mightily as they posted six points and rarely sniffed scoring range, including punting on their first seven drives of the game. Prescott did not convert a third down until late in the second quarter. Finally with a few sparks in the second half, Prescott delivered a strike to Brice Butler
on two impactful throws, one down the sideline for a long gain and another on a red zone slant for the game’s solitary touchdown as pressure emerged in Prescott’s face. Prescott’s Week 17 was a microcosm of the season as he missed a collection of available throws, including a deep target to Dez Bryant
. Regression was to be expected after Prescott’s highly efficient rookie season, but Prescott struggled to progress after the reads and run game were not as defined as 2017.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
, 59 offensive snaps, Rush: 27 - 103 - 0, Rec: 3 - 38 - 0 (5 targets) - Elliott fell just short of 1,000 rushing yards on the season with his 103-yard effort to close the season against the Eagles. Elliott returned to his workhorse status the last two weeks of the season following his six-game suspension, totaling 30 touches as Dallas’ passing game struggled in Philadelphia. The offensive line offered little help to Elliott for much of the first half, being stoned by the Eagles’ front seven at the line of scrimmage, including not converting a fourth-and-one carry and tracking down Elliott when bouncing to the edge when penetration derailed interior running lanes. Elliott found his groove in a short sequence of touches from the late second quarter to the early third quarter, amassing more than 60 total yards on three opportunities with quality blocking and perimeter jaunts. The offensive line improved their play in the second half and Elliott was critical to icing the game and burning clock in the closing minutes of the narrow victory. Elliott’s season was marred by the suspension looming over his head from the beginning of the season until finally serving his six games beginning in Week 10. Elliott returned in Week 16 with a solid but unspectacular game as Dallas was on the playoff fringe.
WR Dez Bryant
, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (8 targets) - Bryant was one of the most disappointing aspects of the Dallas offense in 2017. Week 17 capped off the down season, now three in a row, with a mere 24 yards on a team-high eight targets. Bryant had a long reception called back by penalty but also did not break a tackle on a short reception with a one-on-one after-catch opportunity and did not haul in either of his contested catch targets. Bryant did elude two defenders for additional yardage after a comeback route, but it was his lone highlight of the game. Bryant is a highlight player of the offseason considering his high salary and lack of results of late. Dallas would save more than $20 million in cap space over the final two seasons of Bryant’s contract if cutting Bryant. Dallas also has question marks with Terrance Williams
and Jason Witten
in a critical offseason to improve the sagging passing game from 2017.
WR Terrance Williams
, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (4 targets) - Williams posted his worst game of the season in Week 17 against the Eagles. Williams gained the expected yardage on a well-blocked reverse rushing attempt and his two receptions in the passing game were both short routes and one was short of the first down marker on third down. Beyond the box score, Williams was overthrown on a deep route by Dak Prescott
and drew an illegal contact penalty in the end zone. Williams was reluctantly brought back by Dallas in the offseason with a new contract and is a lock for the roster in 2018 based on his dead cap figure. Considering Williams’ lack of impact, he is a long shot to be on the roster beyond next season as a baseline-at-best secondary receiver in the NFL hierarchy.
WR Brice Butler
, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 50 - 1 (2 targets) - Butler continued to flash with his tempered opportunities to close out the season. Butler made the two most impactful plays against Philadelphia as Dallas’ offense struggled to move the ball most of the game. Butler corralled a high-point deep target and shook free on a red zone slant route for Dallas’ lone touchdown. On a mere two targets, Butler led the team in receiving yards. Butler finishes the season averaging more than 20 yards-per-catch and a 20% touchdown rate as arguably the team’s best receiver despite being down the depth chart in weekly snaps. Butler signed a minimal one-year contract to remain with Dallas in 2017 and is one of the more intriguing free agents of the position as he as quietly developed in an ancillary role with the Cowboys after flaming out with the Raiders. Butler has prototypical size, movement, and ball skills to excel with more downfield opportunities in the future.
TE Jason Witten
, 68 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (3 targets) - Witten was another underperforming Dallas offensive player in 2017 and finished with minimal impact in the Week 17 win over Philadelphia as the Cowboys were out of the playoff race. Witten was fifth on the team in receiving yards on a mere three targets. Witten made one notable catch, hauling in a third-and-long throw which was behind him. However, Witten was short of the first down on the play. Witten also had a short reception called back by penalty. Early reports are the aging and eroding tight end will return in 2018, but the bigger question is if he is worth it for Dallas. As a 15-year NFL veteran, all with Dallas, the allegiance factor is high, but the results have fallen to a career low of 8.9 yards-per-catch and 35 yards-per-game in 2017, which is the lowest since his rookie season. Witten has no dead money left on his contract and slated for $6.5 million in 2017, a figure too high for Witten’s recent lack of impact.
QB Nate Sudfeld
, 40 offensive snaps, Pass: 19 - 23 - 134 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 22 - 0 - Nate Sudfeld
played the role of a game manager in this game as he methodically moved the Eagles down the field in this game. Sudfeld looked calm and collected and did not let the tough conditions bother him as he went through his progressions on his reads and checked the ball down when he needed to without trying to force anything downfield as his longest completion of the day was just 16 yards. Sudfeld did show athleticism in this game as he was able to scramble for 22 yards on a play that he should have been sacked as the pocket broke down, he stepped up and found a lane juking defenders and got to the sideline for a 22-yard gain.
QB Nick Foles
, 19 offensive snaps, Pass: 4 - 11 - 39 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0 - The struggles for Nick Foles
continued as he was pulled after just 19 snaps. The Eagles would have loved to see Foles get back to his first start against the Giants where he looked tremendous, but unfortunately, that was not the case for the quarterback who looked very uncomfortable in the pocket completing just 4 of 11 passes and throwing an awful interception on a ball that was significantly under-thrown.
RB LeGarrette Blount
, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 37 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets) - Blount was filling in for Jay Ajayi
who did not play in this game due to rest. Blount who only played 25% of the snaps in this game, did lead the team in carries with nine as no other running back saw more than four carries. This was a typical LeGarrette Blount
performance as he just was able to use his power to gain positive yards but did not have any memorable runs or break anything longer than a nine-yard carry
RB Wendell Smallwood
, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 24 - 0 (3 targets) - Wendell Smallwood
led the Eagles running backs in snaps but was largely under-utilized in this game as he saw just four carries and was unable to do anything with his carries mounting just six yards as the Eagles offensive line failed to get a push for most of the day. Smallwood was utilized as a pass receiver which is his strength as he caught all three of his passes that Sudfeld threw to him on check-down plays.
WR Nelson Agholor
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 3 - 11 - 0 (3 targets) - For the third straight week, Nelson Agholor
's role just is not the same as it was early on in the season with Carson Wentz
as the team was looking to get him in space as often as they could whether it be a deep throw or crossing routes that would open up space for Agholor to run. Now that Wentz is no longer in the game, it is a concern for Agholor as the team is not having Agholor run the deep routes and has turned him into more of a traditional possession wide receiver. Agholor was on the field for 55% of the plays which was far higher than any of the starting skill position players, but he was only targeted three times in this game.
TE Zach Ertz
, 14 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (2 targets) - Ertz played just 14 snaps in this game and once the team took out Nick Foles
they pulled Ertz. Ertz was the one bright spot in this game from a receiving standpoint as it appears that it is clear that he is the primary target in this offense with Nick Foles
as the quarterback as he made a very nice 15-yard reception and another nine-yard reception both of which Foles stared Ertz down the entire time just waiting for him to get open on the play.
Washington Redskins 10, New York Giants 18
What you need to know
- Washington's season is hard to evaluate based on so many key injuries. Kirk obviously has to be better with accuracy and decision making but he needs Washington to upgrade at the receiver position. Third downs and red zone efficiency will need to improve if they want to be an upper level offense which seems to be within reach. Defensively, Washington needs more pass rushing talent and more depth at the line backer position. Washington showed at times they can compete when healthy but they also need more consistency from the quarterback position.
New York Giants
- The Giants ran the ball very well on Sunday against the Redskins and you wouldn't know that they were missing their usual starting tackles. Gallman and Darkwa enjoyed great run blocking all game long and really pushed the pile well. Manning also got decent pass protection and was able to look downfield at times. The Giants were content to run the ball for the most part however and were happy to get out with the win.
A lot of notable starters like Engram/Shepard/Lewis were missing on Sunday as the Giants played backups in a lot of positions. Regardless, the team played well considering these obstacles and it was no doubt beneficial for the Giants coaches to see what the young players could do.
QB Kirk Cousins
, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 37 - 158 - 0 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 1 - 12 - 1 - Kirk Cousins
may have saved his worst performance of the year for the last week of the season. The conditions at MetLife stadium weren't ideal with the wind speeds but Kirk struggled with accuracy and decision making once again. He didn't account for any touchdown passes in this game, but he did score a rushing touchdown. The rushing touchdown came in the first quarter on a read option play from twelve yards out. After scoring that first quarter touchdown the Redskins struggled to score throughout the rest of the game. However, Kirk did lead the team to a field goal opportunity before halftime. The three interceptions were a season high for Kirk and each one showed poor decision making. Kirk's aggression in the passing game and questionable ability to make tough throws under pressure were the biggest reason for his turnovers. There were a couple of impressive throws on the day for Kirk but overall he had a lackluster day throwing the football. This game looked uninspiring to Kirk and the Washington offense. The weather conditions and injuries attributed to Kirk's performance but his decision making throughout this game didn't help as well.
RB Kapri Bibbs
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 47 - 0, Rec: 8 - 53 - 0 (9 targets) - Kapri Bibbs
led the team in total touches throughout this game with twenty. He recorded twelve carries and eight receptions but wasn't able to make much impact on the game. Kapri put forth a valiant effort to keep the offense afloat but he was held in check majority of the game. His longest carry went for sixteen yards but he averaged less than four yards a carry for the game. He was the most targeted player on offense as the short passing game became key during the windy conditions in New York. Kapri did his best to fill in for Samaje Perine
but the entire offense struggled to get going therefore he wasn't as effective.
RB Samaje Perine
, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0 - Samaje Perine
exited this game in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
WR Jamison Crowder
, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (7 targets) - Jamison Crowder
wasn't able to get going in this game as he only recorded three catches. It seems he would have been more involved in the short passing game but the Giants took him away as they understood he'd be key considering the conditions. Jamison ended the year on a roll but this game he was held in check and found it difficult to find opportunities.
WR Josh Doctson
, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (10 targets) - Josh Doctson
recorded four catches against the Giants defense as he was targeted several more times. Kirk is still struggling to connect with Josh but his size encourages targets. The windy conditions made it almost impossible to take deep shots so Josh's role was minimized in this game. Josh will need to work on his route running to become a more well rounded receiver his ability to make tough catches makes him an intriguing piece to the Washington offense.
WR Ryan Grant
, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 23 - 0 (5 targets) - Ryan Grant
played a minimal role in this game as he only recorded two catches for twenty-three yards. As a fourth option receiver in the Washington offense it simply doesn't lend to heavy production. However, Ryan's speed and versatility to play outside or in the slot gives them a guy who can fill in periodically throughout the year.
TE Vernon Davis
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (3 targets) - Vernon Davis
had two catches against the Giants and one of them went for nineteen yards. It was an impressive catch but he struggled to be a factor in this game. Vernon has been great with chunk plays on the year but his consistency as a steady target has been questionable. The offense was extremely conservative in this game and that also attributed to his minimized role on the day. Vernon's ability to attack the seams with his speed is valuable but Kirk isn't always able to find him playing behind a battered offensive line.
QB Eli Manning
, 78 offensive snaps, Pass: 10 - 28 - 132 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -4 - 0 - Eli Manning
's possible final game with the Giants was solid but unspectacular. Manning played at a relatively high level himself but had an unusual amount of drops from his receivers. These drops took away points and first downs but Manning continued to play with poise and was accurate from the pocket. The Giants maintained a strong lead for this game so the running game was utilized a lot more. Manning had a nice touchdown pass to Sharpe in first half on a post route, leading the receiver perfectly before the safety could get over. He threw a lot of quick strikes from the pocket when the defense showed soft coverage and got rid of the ball in time for the most part. Manning did throw a terrible interception on a screen route however, trying to float the ball over the defender but instead just throwing it right to him. He should have had a second touchdown to tight end Adams in the back of the endzone but the ball was dropped. He read the defense well but was still sloppy with the ball at times. Manning fumbled the ball in the pocket but was able to recover it. He then threw an underthrown pass short that should have been intercepted. The Giants ended the game on the doorstep of the Redskins goal line, opting to get out rather than try for another score.
RB Orleans Darkwa
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 154 - 1 (1 targets) - Orleans Darkwa
had one of his best games ever as a Giant in a surprising performance and he was the big reason the Giants were able to come away with the win. Though most of the yards came on one play, he still remained involved in the ground game throughout and deserves a lot of credit for some tough running. Darkwa took a handoff rightside from the shotgun and exploded down the field, thanks to some great blocking up front while making several Redskin players miss their tackle attempts. He worked the middle of the line of scrimmage well for the rest of the game, hitting the hole hard and weaving his way forward for first downs. His offensive line blocked well for him for the most part and deserve credit also. Darkwa was able to fall forward on many of his dive carries and did a great job at finding the weakspot in the Redskins front seven. He was not a part of the passing game as that is not his strongest point but certainly kept the Giants moving on the ground.
RB Wayne Gallman
, 26 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 89 - 0 (2 targets) - Wayne Gallman
had an uneven performance on the day, getting nice production on the ground but failing to get involved in the passing game. He weaved his way nicely in between defenders when he hit the hole and always looked to get maximum yards by pushing the pile hard. Gallman knifed through the defense with his speed and quickness to bounce things outside when space presented itself. He had a chance at a big play down the sideline on wheel route but failed to locate the ball and come up with it. Gallman fumbled the ball on a later play but was fortunate enough to come up with it. The Giants offensive line blocked well for Gallman and really helped the young back. Though Gallman was stuffed at times, he had many productive runs that left the Redskins defenders grasping at air. He was able to make the first man miss at times in the hole. Gallman had a terrific run to finish the game and was very unlucky not to score. He took a pitch down to the 1 yard line, weaving between defenders and making men miss with his quickness.
WR Hunter Sharp
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 1 (6 targets) - Hunter Sharp
had a touchdown catch in this game but really didn't play well apart from this. Sharp got open on a post route in the redzone and hauled in a well thrown pass from Manning for the score. He dropped several passes after this point however and really looked off trying to catch the ball. Manning targeted Sharp deep on a fade pattern but he couldn't come up with the ball. He was able to get open at times against the Redskins but his hands and ball location definitely could improve. A non fantasy relevant player, Sharp was mainly used due to the Giants resting so many receivers.
WR Travis Rudolph
, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 29 - 0 (4 targets) - Travis Rudolph
really didn't get many targets in this game on Sunday but was pushed up the depth chart as the Giants withheld many starters. Rudolph really doesn't belong on fantasy rosters as he has not shown any massive potential in his reps on the field. He had a big catch and run downfield on a slant play outside, getting to the corner before the defender and showing some speed on his break but didn't have another catch throughout the game.
TE Rhett Ellison
, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 63 - 0 (6 targets) - Rhett Ellison
made solid contribution on Sunday against the Redskins. With all the players out in this game, Ellison had many opportunities to impress the Giants and he delivered a respectable performance. He picked up a nice first down on a seam route early and was on the same page with Manning to answer the blitz. Ellison showed excellent hands, securing balls in traffic on curl routes and going down low for some underthrown passes. He caught every decent pass thrown his direction and was very dependable to pick up first downs. He lacks the raw talent of teammate Engram and therefore isn't likely to produce as a tight end for this team going forward but these respectable plays will be remembered by the Giants coaching staff.
Cincinnati Bengals 31, Baltimore Ravens 27
What you need to know
- The Bengals offense established the run early with Joe Mixon
and Giovani Bernard
and Dalton found Tyler Kroft
for a pair of short touchdowns in the first half. After a long offensive dry spell, Dalton led a 90-yard, game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes with a long 4th-down touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd
knocking the Ravens out of the playoffs and sending Buffalo to a Wild Card.
- Joe Flacco
had a miserable first half because of drops and misfires. He recovered to move the offense up and down the field in the second half. Mike Wallace
got open deep more than once and could have had a huge game if Flacco was accurate with the deep ball. Alex Collins
had a fourth down reverse field touchdown to lead the backfield.
QB Andy Dalton
, 79 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 44 - 222 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0 - Dalton played well, taking care of the ball and making clutch throws when needed. The opening drive ended in a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft
off of play action. Dalton fit it in perfectly, over the outstretched arms of the linebacker where only a leaping Kroft could get to it. Dalton barely missed some long hookups with A.J. Green
, with Green twice failing to get his second foot down inbounds on deep balls down the sideline. It was chemistry with Kroft and Tyler Boyd
that keyed the Bengals offense. Kroft made a number of key catches to get the ball into the red zone and then Dalton hit him in the back of the end zone on a broken coverage for a 5-yard touchdown pass. Dalton led a successful two-minute drill offense at the end of the first half to setup a short field goal. With the game on the line, Dalton engineered a game-winning 90-yard drive. The drive was finished off when Dalton fired it into a hole in zone coverage 30 yards downfield to Tyler Boyd
, who then cut it outside and raced for a 49-yard touchdown.
RB Joe Mixon
, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 96 - 0, Rec: 1 - 1 - 0 (1 targets) - Mixon set the tone early with strong running. He showed the combination of patience, acceleration and ability to finish powerfully that could make him a special player in future seasons. Mixon did have one big mistake. After breaking through the line for a big gain, he didn’t seem to sense the tackler coming from the inside and had the ball ripped loose. Mixon ceded nearly all of the third-down work to Giovani Bernard
and the split backfield worked well.
RB Giovani Bernard
, 54 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 52 - 0, Rec: 6 - 18 - 0 (9 targets) - Bernard played extensively, rotating in on early downs in place of Mixon and also playing nearly all of the third downs. He often looked like the fastest player on the field, breaking off multiple big runs to the outside. While Mixon has emerged as the lead back, Bernard has performed well enough down the stretch that he should continue to have a big role in the offense going forward.
WR Tyler Boyd
, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 91 - 1 (7 targets) - Boyd was the star of the game for the Bengals. He made a pair of tough 3rd-down catches in the first quarter to keep drives going, one on a slant over the middle and another on an out route along the sidelines. The big play for Boyd came with less than a minute left and the Bengals facing 4th-and-12 from midfield. Boyd lined up in the slot and ran straight down the seam, finding a soft spot in the zone. He caught it 30 yards downfield and accelerated to the outside past a safety and into the end zone for the game-winning 49-yard touchdown.
WR A.J. Green
, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (10 targets) - After a decent start, it was a miserable day for Green On the opening drive, he caught a 6-yard comeback and drew a pass interference flag in the end zone when Dalton tried to hit him from 20 yards out. He didn’t have another catch until the final drive of the game. Green grabbed a deep ball down the left sideline but wasn’t able to get his second foot down inbounds. He had another almost identical near-catch on the next drive. It was initially ruled a completion but was overturned after a Baltimore challenge because Green couldn’t get the second foot down.
WR Brandon LaFell
, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 35 - 0 (4 targets) - LaFell dropped an attempted screen pass that looked like it would have gone for a solid gain. He grabbed a 22-yard pass on an out route down the left sideline. While it won’t show up on the stat sheet, LaFell was key on the game-winning drive, drawing a pair of holding penalties in the final minutes of the game.
TE Tyler Kroft
, 78 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 53 - 2 (8 targets) - Scored a 1-yard touchdown off of play action. Dalton threw it high over the arms of the linebacker and Kroft went up and got it. Kroft flashed some surprising run after the catch ability, jump-cutting past a would-be tackler to turn a short pass into a 20-yard gain. A few plays later, Kroft grabbed a 5-yard touchdown catch. He lined up outside, got an inside release and took advantage of a broken coverage to come wide open in the middle of the end zone for an easy pitch and catch touchdown.
QB Joe Flacco
, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 47 - 203 - 2 TD / 1 INT - Flacco led a frustrated offense in the first half, at one point having seven straight drives without a first down. A combination of drops and misgauged deep balls caused the sluggishness. In the second half, Flacco was much better, distributing the ball quickly from the shotgun and spreading it around to his receivers, tight ends, and running backs. A Chris Moore
drop led to a long interception return for a touchdown, but Flacco brought the team back to take the lead and had a chance to ice the game late in the fourth quarter, but wasn't close on his final attempt with the lead.
RB Alex Collins
, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 20 - 78 - 1, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (6 targets) - Collins never got in a rhythm in this game despite two good runs to kick off the game, as the first half offense stalled out with seven straight three and outs. He contributed to the woes with a few drops in the passing game, but more than atoned with a reserve field fourth down run in the red zone to bring the team back within a score. Collins was running just as strong late in the fourth quarter as he was in the first quarter, and he wasn't the reason the team wasn't able to close out this win and go to the playoffs.
RB Danny Woodhead
, 30 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0, Rec: 4 - 16 - 0 (6 targets) - Woodhead was just a peripheral part of the offense, catching checkdowns and short passes that didn't have much impact.
RB Javorius Allen
, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 37 - 0 (1 targets) - Allen wasn't a big part of the offense. He had an early drop, and later had two long runs, including one as the fullback.
WR Mike Wallace
, 65 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 40 - 1 (13 targets) - Wallace had an early drop, but as the first half went on, he was getting open deep and in the intermediate zones with regularity. Flacco underthrew him when he was open deep at least three times, but Wallace kept pushing and had a tough catch on the sidelines that forced him to absorb a huge hit to key a drive. He also had a tough catch in the middle of the field on third down to key a drive, and later caught a touchdown in the front corner of the end zone. He was targeted like a #1 receiver in this game and only Flacco's inaccuracy kept him from having one of the best stat lines of Week 17.
WR Mike Campanaro
, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 36 - 0 (4 targets) - Campanaro was a small part of the offense, but he was impactful. He had a huge third down catch to get the team into the red zone on one drive, and later converted two first downs to help fuel the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter.
WR Chris Moore
, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 1 (3 targets) - Moore had a huge kick return to revive the team right before the half and followed it with a touchdown catch on a quick slant. He later had a drop in the red zone in the second half that was returned for a touchdown and didn't play a big role in the offense after that.
TE Ben Watson
, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 61 - 0 (10 targets) - Watson was a steady part of the offense in the short zones, catching most of his targets to keep the team in a manageable down and distance, but he didn't have any impact plays.
TE Nick Boyle
, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 24 - 0 (3 targets) - Boyle converted a huge third down on the team's field goal drive and later had a target inside the five that he caught, but couldn't put it away for the reception.