WR Emmanuel Sanders - New Orleans Saints
|5-11, 180||Born: 3-16-1987||College: Southern Methodist||Drafted: Round 3, pick 2010|
2019 Week 1 vs OAK (7 / 5 / 86 / 1 rec)
Sanders didn't get going until late in the 1st half, pulling in a slant route for a short gain from the slot on his first target. He turned up the heat in the 4th quarter with a 53 yard gain straight down the middle of the field on a bomb from Flacco. Sanders tiptoed down the sidelines and spun away from a tackle for a big run after the catch on the next drive, then capped it off with a touchdown on a back shoulder short out route from the Oakland two yard line with just over two minutes left. Sanders was second on the team in targets and looked to be behind Sutton as Flacco's number 2 option for most of the game.
2019 Week 2 vs CHI (13 / 11 / 98 / 1 rec)
Sanders dominated targets with 13, ahead of Sutton, Lindsay, and Freeman who all drew 7 looks from Flacco. He got right to work hauling in a slant route from the right slot on the first offensive play of the game. Sanders shifted over to the left slot and caught a similar looking pass two plays later. Sanders made an amazing catch between four defenders on a 3rd quarter out route. He narrowly missed a touchdown when he was tackled at the two yard line late in the 4th on a shallow drag route. He was the intended target on Flacco's late 4th quarter interception, but the fault lies with the QB who just overthrew the ball. Sanders tied the game up with a breath-taking, toe-tapping catch over tough coverage from CB Fuller on a corner route in the back of the end zone. Sanders also caught the ensuing 2-point conversion with a short out route.
2019 Week 3 vs GB (4 / 2 / 10 / 0 rec)
Sanders had a slow performance after a hot start in his first two games back from an Achilles injury. He caught a short out route in the 1st quarter, then curl out up the seam halfway through the 2nd quarter before disappearing for the rest of the contest. Sanders nearly saved his day with a touchdown as he was targeted in the end zone later in the 2nd quarter, but the ball careened off a defender's hands just before Sanders could secure it in the back left corner.
2019 Week 4 vs JAX (9 / 5 / 104 / 0 rec)
Sanders passed the 100 yard mark for the first time this season as he and Sutton both drew a team-high nine targets. Sutton found the end zone twice, but Sanders had the edge in yards. Sanders had a diving catch on an out route from Flacco on the first play of the game. Sanders nearly found the end zone when he broke loose on a long catch and run on a deep out route early in the 2nd quarter, but he was brought down inside the 10 yard line after a 39 yard gain. Flacco tried Sanders deep a couple more times in the first half, but couldn't connect on the long balls. Sanders picked up a big gain on a deep crossing route late in the 4th quarter. He grabbed his leg after going down on the play, but hopped up and broke another big gain on a deep post route two plays later in the drive. Though he didn't leave the game, he might be popping up on the injury report this week.
2019 Week 5 vs LAC (1 / 1 / 9 / 0 rec)
Sanders showed us how low his floor can be in this offense with just one reception. He was a complete non-factor as Denver wisely dialed back Flacco's workload after the Broncos jumped out to an early lead. Sanders hauled in one out route for a 9 yard gain in the 3rd.
2019 Week 6 vs TEN (3 / 1 / 0 / 0 rec)
Sanders managed one catch on a bubble screen that was brought down at the line of scrimmage. He sat out the second half after apparently aggravating a knee injury that had slowed him some in practice this week.
2019 Week 8 vs CAR (5 / 4 / 25 / 1 rec)
Even though Sanders didn't post a huge stat line in his first game with San Francisco, his likely usage going forward was apparent. Namely, he's taken over the Marquise Goodwin role, and will be relied upon in crucial situations. To wit, two of Sanders' four receptions came on third down, both of which he converted. The first was a 3rd-and-11 reception where he sat down in Carolina's deep middle zone and went to the ground to catch a low throw. The second was a 3rd-and-4 where he once again sat down in a zone, though this time it was short right. It should be noted that Sanders also had a near miss deep, when he beat cornerback Russ Cockrell on a 20-yard out route. Unfortunately, Jimmy Garoppolo was hit as he threw, so the pass sailed high and out of bounds.
2019 Week 9 vs ARI (9 / 7 / 112 / 1 rec)
Sanders gained 52 of his 112 yards on two plays in the same second quarter scoring drive, both against Patrick Peterson's man-to-man coverage. On the first, Sanders ran a 20-yard comeback route, and held onto the ball despite Peterson hitting him as the pass arrived. Two plays later, Sanders beat Peterson on a quick slant out of the right slot, and ran away from him for 24 yards after the catch. Sanders' most important play, however, was his 4th-and-1 touchdown to end the first half, which gave the 49ers a two-score lead they wouldn't relinquish. On that play, Sanders uncharacteristically lined up in the backfield, and ran a route into the right flat. Peterson didn't locate him until it was too late.
2019 Week 10 vs SEA (4 / 2 / 24 / 0 rec)
Sanders left the game midway through the second quarter with a non-contact rib injury he suffered while turning inside on a dig route. Prior to that, Sanders's two receptions came on identical slant routes, one against Shaquill Griffin and the other against Nick Thorpe.
2019 Week 11 vs ARI (5 / 3 / 33 / 0 rec)
Sanders couldn't make it through three quarters in his attempt to play through the rib injury he suffered last week. He was visibly affected by it while on the field, as several of his receptions were followed by Sanders wincing as he slowly got to his feet. Sanders' final play involved being the target of Jimmy Garoppolo's first red zone interception, and that route involved a quick twist back to the inside, which he did not execute quickly at all.
2019 Week 12 vs GB (1 / 1 / 15 / 0 rec)
Sanders faced a relatively even mix of defenders in coverage on his routes. The most frequent was cornerback Kevin King (8 routes), who was in coverage on Sanders' only reception (and target). On the play, he beat King to the inside on a 10-yard dig route and was immediately tackled by safety Adrian Amos.
2019 Week 13 vs BAL (6 / 4 / 41 / 0 rec)
Whether because of the lingering effects of his rib injury or the generally superb coverage of Baltimore's cornerbacks, Sanders was more valuable in real football than fantasy football this week. That's because, although he didn't light up the scoreboard, two of Sanders' targets converted massive first downs for the 49ers: He made a diving catch on 3rd-and-3 and he drew a defensive pass interference on 4th-and-1. To boot, both conversions came on drives that ended in 10 of San Francisco's 17 points.
2019 Week 14 vs NO (9 / 7 / 157 / 1 rec)
Sanders' first four touches made it clear that he was designed to be the early-down chain-mover in San Francisco's game plan: 19 yards on 1st-and-10, 31 yards on 1st-and-15, a 75-yard touchdown catch on 1st-and-10, and then a 35-yard touchdown pass on 1st-and-10. That's nearly 85 percent of all the yardage and scoring he was involved in ... 21 minutes of game time into the afternoon. It's worth noting that these exploits were facilitated by New Orleans playing a ton of zone in the first half, which allowed Sanders to get open on the middle-of-the-field routes he's wont to run (and excel at).
2019 Week 15 vs ATL (4 / 2 / 9 / 0 rec)
The Falcons played a ton of man-to-man coverage, so the main reason for Sanders's quiet day was that he didn't beat it, especially against cornerback Isaiah Oliver, against whom he ran most of his routes. A secondary reason was that Atlanta didn't fall for Kyle's Shanahanigans, repeatedly ignoring when Sanders would go in jet-sweep or end-around action as a decoy.
2019 Week 16 vs LAR (6 / 3 / 61 / 0 rec)
Sanders was neutralized by Darious Williams, Jalen Ramsey, and the Rams' zone defense -- until the game was on the line with one minute left. Sanders' 46-yard catch to set up San Francisco's game-winning field goal resulted from a complete breakdown on the back end of Los Angeles' Cover-2 zone. safety Taylor Rapp overplayed his anticipation of Sanders' route going towards the sideline, which rendered him a mere spectator when Sanders' route broke toward the deep middle on a post.
2019 Week 17 vs SEA (4 / 3 / 25 / 0 rec)
Seattle split their coverage of Sanders evenly between zone and Tre Flowers' in man-to-man. As is his wont, Sanders fared better against the former than the latter, with the Flowers snaps resulting in just 5 yards on one reception. Everything else came against zone, including a missed opportunity for a big gain deep into Seattle territory. On the play, Sanders ran free through the Seahawk's intermediate zone, but Jimmy Garoppolo slightly underthrew it, and Sanders wasn't able to make a sliding 20-yard catch.
2019 Week 19 vs MIN (2 / 2 / 33 / 0 rec)
Sanders had a couple of catches on the opening drive, including a big play to get into scoring range and a reception to get into the red zone, but wasn't heard from otherwise in the comfortable win.
2019 Week 20 vs GB (1 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Sanders actually had two targets. The first fell incomplete due to an underthrow by Jimmy Garoppolo, but it was erased on the stat sheet because said underthrow was due to an illegal roughing of said passer. Sanders' only official target came two plays later, but it was also underthrown, this time not due to roughing the passer. Rather, Sanders beat cornerback Kevin King on a deep crossing route, but Garoppolo's through caused Sanders to slow down just long enough for King to recover and make a play on the ball.
2018 Week 1 vs SEA (11 / 10 / 135 / 1 rec)
Sanders clearly has the best chemistry with Keenum of all the receivers at this point. He led the target share with 11 targets to Thomas's 10, and he was much more efficient with his looks, hauling in 10 total. Sanders got hot early, clearing 115 yards and 7 receptions in the first half alone. He snagged his first target of the day, a toe-tapping 15 yard gain that converted 3rd and long on Denver's opening offensive drive. Sanders got wide open and showed off his speed on a deep crossing route in the second quarter, hauling in the pass from Keenum then turning it up the sideline for a 43 yard touchdown. Sanders had a beautiful diving catch down the left sideline late in the second quarter for another big gain. Sanders tacked on a few more catches in the second half, with DT taking over more in the last half of the game.
2018 Week 2 vs OAK (4 / 4 / 96 / 0 rec)
Sanders was quiet for the first half as QB Keenum struggled to get anything going in the passing game, but Sanders was a perfect 4 of 4 on his limited targets after half time. Courtland Sutton caught a curl route and successfully pitched the ball to Sanders on a hook and ladder play at the end of the first half, but Sanders was brought down without scoring as time expired. Keenum hit Sanders up the seam for a nice gain on the first play of the 3rd quarter. Later in the 3rd, Sanders lined up in the slot on the right side of the formation and got wide open up the seam again for another big gain. Sanders got close to the end zone in the 4th quarter, catching a slant route before going down inside the Raiders' 5 yard line. Sanders had another clutch catch for a 20 yard gain and a first down as the Broncos drove down the field for their game winning two-minute drill.
2018 Week 3 vs BAL (9 / 5 / 38 / 0 rec, 1 / 35 / 1 rush)
Sanders led the receiving core in targets with 8, but couldn't get any big plays going in the passing game as Keenum struggled to push the ball deep. Sanders lined up wide right and scored on an end-around rush in the 1st quarter, following excellent downfield blocks by Sutton and fullback Janovich. Sanders caught his first target on a shallow crossing route in the 2nd quarter. Sanders hauled in another short gain on a similar play later in the 2nd quarter. Sanders had a bad drop on a wide-open slant route late in the 3rd quarter, but made up for it with nice diving effort the following play. He converted 3rd and 6 later in the same drive with another tough, diving catch on a curl route.
2018 Week 4 vs KC (7 / 5 / 45 / 0 rec, 1 / 18 / 0 rush)
Sanders, Thomas, and Heuerman all drew a team-high 7 targets. Sanders caught a WR screen for a short gain late in the 1st quarter on his first target. He was mostly quiet for the 1st half but heated up in the last 2 minutes, catching consecutive passes for first downs as Keenum led the two minute spread offense. Sanders faked the end around often on plays, helping with misdirection in the backfield. He did carry the ball in the 3rd quarter for an 18 yard gain, following a great lead block by Janovich downfield. Sanders made an amazing sideline catch at the end of the 4th quarter, keeping the final drive alive by converting 4th and 11.
2018 Week 5 vs NYJ (14 / 9 / 72 / 0 rec)
Sanders drew a team high 14 targets, considerably more than Thomas, Sutton, and Booker, who all tied for the second most with 6. Sanders did most of his work in the 4th quarter. He caught his first target halfway through the 1st quarter on a WR bubble screen, bouncing off a couple of tackles for a nice gain. Keenum hit him for a big gain on a skinny post early in the 4th quarter. Sanders hauled in a quick screen two plays later. Keenum hit him again with a bubble screen from the Jets 10 yard line, but Sanders was dropped at the line of scrimmage. Sanders was the target of a desperate Keenum heave on 4th and 3 from the Jets 5 late in the 4th quarter, but he couldn't secure the bad pass with a diving effort. Sanders racked up several more targets on the final drive of the game, hauling in a short slant pass early in the drive, then a skinny post inside the Jets 10 yard line near the end of the drive. Keenum hit him again on an out route following the skinny post, and Sanders took the ball down inside the 5 yard line, nearly finding paydirt. The drive was unfortunately ended when Sutton let a Keenum pass bounce off his hands to a defender.
2018 Week 6 vs LAR (10 / 7 / 115 / 1 rec)
Sanders and Lindsay were the only receivers that Keenum could get anything going with for most of week 6. Sanders led the team with 10 targets. He started his day with a shallow crossing route in the 1st quarter that failed to convert 3rd down. He made a nice run after the catch on a WR screen later in the 1st. Sanders appeared to score on a beautiful deep ball down the left sideline at the end of the 1st quarter, but he was ruled down at the 1 yard line and drew a taunting penalty that backed the offense up 15 yards to the Rams' 16. Denver eventually settled for a field goal. Sanders kept the momentum going in the second quarter, hauling in another quick pass at the line of scrimmage and picking up good yardage with the run after the catch. Sanders scored in the 3rd quarter, lining up in the slot with two other receivers on the right side of the formation and beating his man with a nifty double move. Sanders made a great effort to extend the ball into the end zone for the score after being hit on the 3 yard line. Sanders drew a facemark penalty at the end of the 4th quarter, extending a late Broncos scoring drive. Sanders topped 100 yards and scored his first receiving touchdown(he had a 35 yard TD rush in week 3) since week 1. The 43 yard reception is tied for his longest of the year.
2018 Week 7 vs ARI (7 / 6 / 102 / 1 rec)
Sanders threw a touchdown pass to Courtland Sutton in the 1st quarter. Keenum tossed it to him on an end around while Sutton worked his way into the end zone. Sanders nearly overthrew Sutton as he rolled out to the right, but Sutton made an outstanding diving catch for the touchdown. Sanders caught his first target on the next drive, a short out route. Keenum found Sanders deep for a touchdown early in the 2nd quarter. Sanders lined up in the left slot close to the formation and got wide open behind the deep safety, where Keenum found him for a 64 yard score. Sanders caught a pitch on an end-around in the 3rd quarter that was ruled a pass and picked up a nice gain up the right sideline. With the Broncos jumping out to an early lead, Keenum wasn't asked to pass much, attempting 21 throws total. Sanders drew 7 of those targets, in addition to his own touchdown pass.
2018 Week 8 vs KC (4 / 4 / 57 / 0 rec, 1 / -6 / 0 rush)
Sanders had his slowest performance of the season, drawing only 4 targets. He picked up the majority of his yards on a 49 yard catch early in the 1st quarter. He got loose down the right sideline while Keenum extended a play with a rollout and made an impressive grab to secure the bomb. He wasn't heard from much after that. Sanders had another big gain early in the 2nd quarter that was negated by offsetting penalties. He got popped hard after a 3rd quarter reception and left the game briefly, but appeared ok in the post game.
2018 Week 9 vs HOU (9 / 6 / 47 / 0 rec)
Sanders drew the second-most targets on the team(9), trailing only Jeff Heuerman in the Denver's first game without Demaryius Thomas in the receiving core. Sanders didn't get rolling until the 2nd quarter. He caught a quick screen and was tackled at the line of scrimmage on his first target of the day. Keenum found him on a quick curl route later in the 2nd quarter for another minimal gain. He took a bad shot to the helmet on the next play while securing a skinny post, but only missed one play before returning. Sanders had a step on his defender on a 3rd quarter deep ball down the right sideline, but Keenum overthrew him. Sanders managed to corral 6 of his targets, but only netted 47 yards total, one of his lowest totals of the season.
2018 Week 11 vs LAC (6 / 4 / 56 / 0 rec, 1 / 6 / 0 rush)
Sanders had a slow day before padding his stats a bit with a 38 yard reception on the game-winning drive at the end of the 4th quarter. He and Sutton tied for team-high 6 targets apiece. Sanders lined up in the backfield for his first reception of the game, a swing route behind the line of scrimmage. Sanders made a great effort to break a tackle 3 yards behind the line and and avoid a loss on the play. He hauled in a deep crossing route in the 3rd quarter. Keenum found Sanders on a deep crossing post late in the 4th quarter for a 38 yard gain, his longest of the day. Sanders had just secured a pass in the 3rd quarter when a diving defender knocked the ball from his hands. San Diego recovered the ball, but an official review determined that it was an incomplete pass and not a fumble. Sanders had one carry for a 6 yard gain around left end in the 2nd quarter.
2018 Week 12 vs PIT (12 / 7 / 86 / 1 rec)
Sanders dominated targets with 12, while no one else on the team drew more than 4 looks from Keenum. Sanders got his day started with an out route that converted 3rd and 10 in the 1st quarter. Keenum found him for another minimal gain on an out route later the same drive. Sanders danced up the sidelines for an 11 yard gain early in the 2nd quarter. Sanders had a step on his defender on a deep ball down the right sidelines, but couldn't quite secure the fingertip catch with a diving effort. Keenum and Sanders connected on another deep ball later in the 3rd quarter, picking up 38 yards and setting Denver up on the Pittsburgh 5 yard line. Sanders caught a touchdown pass on the very next play, working his way open in the back of the end zone on a crossing route for the score. Sanders caught another deep ball with a diving effort later in the 3rd, but was ruled out of bounds on the play. Sanders caught a skinny post in the 4th quarter and picked up 17 yards before being tackled at the 5 yard line. Keenum targeted him on the next play, but Sanders was pushed out of bounds at the 2 yard line.
2018 Week 13 vs CIN (6 / 4 / 19 / 0 rec)
Sanders had a disappointing fantasy day as the Broncos rode stud rookie RB Lindsay to victory in week 13. Case Keenum only threw 21 passes total. Sanders drew 6 targets, 1 fewer than Sutton, who had a banner day. Sanders motioned across the formation and converted 3rd and short with a shallow out route on the Broncos opening drive. Keenum found him in traffic on a comeback route in the 2nd quarter and Sanders shook a couple of defenders for a 14 yard gain, his longest of the day. Sanders took a scary hit in the 4th quarter while laying out for a pass down the right sideline. A defender made hard helmet to helmet contact while Sanders was fully extended for the ball. Sanders left the game briefly but did not appear to suffer any injury. Sanders ran an end-around option for a loss that was ruled a pass because it was a forward pitch.
2017 Week 1 vs LAC (6 / 3 / 26 / 0 rec)
Sanders just narrowly missed a diving catch in the end zone on a deep corner route in the 1st quarter. The touchdown pass glanced off his fingertips. He hauled in a quick screen in the 3rd quarter for a 1st down. Sanders had an amazing catch and run midway through the 3rd quarter, catching a quick pass and bouncing the ball all the way across the field on his way to making most of the team miss. He secured a touchdown pass but landed out of bounds in the waning seconds of the 3rd quarter, ending the night with the 2nd most targets(6), 3 catches, and a paltry 26 yards.
2017 Week 2 vs DAL (8 / 6 / 62 / 2 rec)
On Denver's first drive, two plays after Demaryius Thomas caught a quick slant and turned it into a big run up the sidelines, Sanders ran what looked like exactly the same play. He lined up wide right, caught a quick inward slant and then turned around to race up the right sideline for a gain of 28. Sanders capped the drive off with a short post route for a touchdown, catching the ball in a torrential downpour of rain. Sanders caught another touchdown to end the 2nd quarter, leaving his defender behind on a sharp out route and hauling the ball in just inside the pylon. Sanders was dead even with Thomas on targets(8) and catches(6). Thomas had a few more yards, but Sanders gathered the most fantasy points with the two touchdowns.
2017 Week 3 vs BUF (15 / 7 / 75 / 0 rec)
Sanders drew 15 targets in the losing effort, outpacing Demaryius Thomas(9 targets). It just seemed like he was wide open almost every play, and Siemian/Sanders narrowly missed out on several more connections for big yardage. Sanders got wide open down the right sideline for a gain of 29 yards in the 1st quarter, his longest gain of the day. Sanders had an even bigger gain negated on a questionable ruling in the 2nd quarter. Sanders caught a deep pass on the run and took a couple of steps before falling to the ground and bobbling the ball briefly. It looked as though Sanders had completed the catch and taken a couple of steps before fumbling on the ground, but the official review stated otherwise. Siemian peppered him with targets in the short and intermediate game as well, connecting on several slants to help move the chains. It was a bit of a disappointing day Sanders was targeted 15 times, but he did manage to collect 75 yards on 7 receptions.
2017 Week 4 vs OAK (5 / 4 / 27 / 0 rec)
Sanders hauled in a short out route late in the 1st quarter, then had a beautiful toe-tapping catch on the left sideline the next play. Siemian hit Sanders on a slant inside the 5 yard line late in the 3rd quarter, and Sanders somehow recovered the ball on the next play when it was batted straight into the air at the LOS and covered by a pile of bodies. It was a slow day in the passing game as the Raiders pass rush left Siemian no time in the pocket, and Sanders finished with 4 catches for 27 yards on 5 targets.
2017 Week 6 vs NYG (8 / 5 / 76 / 0 rec)
Sanders was invisible the 1st half as Siemian showered Demaryius Thomas with passes. Sanders finally secured a target on Denver's opening drive of the 3rd quarter, a slant route for 11 yards. He pulled in two consecutive skinny posts later in the 3rd quarter, picking up 1st down yardage with both. Sanders picked up a 1st down with a diving sideline catch on an out route, and was targeted again by Siemian on a badly thrown crossing route. Landon Collins, diving for the errant pass from another direction, cut Sanders legs out from under him. Sanders left the game with a bad ankle sprain.
2017 Week 9 vs PHI (5 / 1 / 30 / 0 rec)
Sanders returned to the offense opposite Thomas, drawing a distant second in target totals(5) to Thomas(12). Sanders' defender drew a holding penalty on his first target of the day, an out route in the 1st quarter. Sanders' only catch of the day was a deep corner route in the 2nd quarter on a well-executed play action pass that picked up 30 yards.
2017 Week 10 vs NE (11 / 6 / 137 / 0 rec)
Sanders appears to have returned to form after an ankle injury caused him to miss a few starts this season. In addition to creating space and getting open downfield, he did a fantastic job running the ball after the catch. Sanders broke quite a few tackles on his shorter receptions, racking up yards after the catch. He came out hot, amassing nearly 100 yards before the 1st quarter ended. He got open for a gain of 31 down the left sideline on Osweiler's first pass attempt of the day. He caught another deep curl down the right sideline and broke a tackle for a nice run after the catch later in the drive. Sanders converted 3rd and long later in the 1st with a 38 yard catch and run on a slant from the right slot. Sanders made a beautiful leaping catch over a defender midway through the 2nd quarter, and another toe-tapper on the sideline that same drive, putting him over the 100 yard mark before halftime. Sanders had a step on his defender in the end zone just before the half, but Osweiler put too much air under the ball, sailing it out the back of the end zone. Sanders converted another 3rd and long in the 3rd quarter by getting wide open on an out route, but cooled considerably in the 2nd half.
2017 Week 11 vs CIN (8 / 2 / 15 / 0 rec)
Hauled in a short slant route on Denver's first offensive drive of the day. Osweiler found Sanders on an out route early in the 2nd for an 8 yard gain, then Sanders disappeared for the rest of the contest. Sanders had a step on his defender on a deep corner route late in the 4th, but Osweiler overthrew him badly. Sanders was targeted on the Broncos last offensive play of the game, a desperate 4th and short with less than a minute left in the game and a 3 point deficit. Osweiler threw the slant route low and a diving Sanders could not come up with it.
2017 Week 12 vs OAK (6 / 3 / 12 / 0 rec)
Sanders started opposite Demaryius Thomas but didn't draw a target until the 3rd quarter when backup QB Siemian entered the game. Sanders hauled in a curl route from the right side of the formation for a 12 yard gain. Sanders caught a tightly covered pass on an out route in the 3rd quarter, missing a 3rd down conversion by inches. QB Siemian hit Sanders on a bubble screen for no gain later in the 3rd, his final reception.
2017 Week 13 vs MIA (7 / 2 / 11 / 0 rec)
Sanders continues to slump, notching only 2 receptions on 7 targets. He caused Siemian's first interception when he let a quick slant careen off his hands into the air, floating there for the deep safety. Sanders did nothing until finally corralling a short curl route and a shallow crossing route for 6 and 5 yards on the Broncos' last garbage time drive of the game.
2017 Week 14 vs NYJ (4 / 1 / 16 / 0 rec)
Sanders' slump continues as he only recorded one catch on 4 targets, a distant second to Demaryius Thomas(12 targets). Siemian targeted Sanders with his first attempt of the game, a deep ball down the right sideline that failed to connect. Sanders was targeted deep again later in the 1st, this time on a post route in the end zone that was also overthrown. Siemian finally found Sanders in the 3rd quarter, rolling out left and hitting him on a deep crossing route just before Sanders reached the sideline. Sanders motioned left later in the 3rd and was briefly uncovered before the snap. He waved his hand to try to get Siemian's attention, but the QB took no notice and missed the opportunity.
2017 Week 15 vs IND (9 / 7 / 68 / 0 rec)
Sanders missed an out route that Siemian threw out of bounds on the opening drive, but converted 3rd down later in the drive with a short curl route from a bunch formation. Sanders motioned across the formation from left to right, catching a short out route on the next drive. Sanders jumped offsides on the next play, then redeemed himself with his longest reception of the contest, a back shoulder catch down the left sideline for 26 yards. Sanders secured a tough catch on an Osweiler pass that was thrown behind him to convert 4th and 2 near the end of the first half. He was clobbered after catching a short out route later that drive, but popped right back up to catch a crossing route on the next play. Sanders tapped his toes on the sidelines to secure one final out route in the 3rd quarter. Sanders left the game late with a bone bruise on his ankle, and is listed as day-to-day. He finished with a team-high 9 targets and 7 receptions.
2016 Week 1 vs CAR (8 / 5 / 49 / 0 rec)
Sanders and Thomas were constants in all of Denver's offensive formations, along with tight end Virgil Green. Denver alternated between Norwood and Latimer as a third receiver and Janovich in the backfield as a lead blocker for Anderson. Sanders lined up outside in the two-receiver sets and saw some work from the slot when more wide receivers were brought in. Siemian looked Sanders' way early and often, overthrowing him on an out route during the first drive, then completing a similar pass to Sanders later in the same drive for a short gain. Sanders made a beautiful toe-tapping grab on the sideline during Denver's second offensive drive for a gain of 15, his longest of the night. He had another fantastic catch on a slant route in the third quarter where the defender held him badly enough to draw a flag. Sanders had a critical catch on the Broncos final scoring drive in the 4th quarter that put them within 2 yards of the end zone. Sanders led the team with 8 targets, and could see an increase if Demaryius Thomas misses any time with a reported hip injury.
2016 Week 2 vs IND (8 / 3 / 39 / 0 rec)
Sanders hauled in consecutive passes on Denver's first offensive drive of the game, the first on an out route to the right sideline, and the second a crossing route on the left side of the field. Sanders started the next drive out with a nice reception down the left hash on a play action pass. He was targeted in the back corner of the end zone at the end of the same drive, but Siemian overthrew him. Sanders had a step on his defender on a deep post route late in the 2nd quarter, but Siemian overthrew him again. Sanders was targeted on a play-action wheel route when Trevor Siemian threw his only interception of the day. With Sanders swinging out to the left behind the line of scrimmage, cornerback Darius Butler sniffed the play out and ran in to cut the pass off. Sanders drew a pass interference call in the 3rd quarter on a 3rd down target, extending the drive. Sanders led the team in targets(8) for the second week in a row, but finished well behind Demaryius Thomas in receiving yardage.
2016 Week 3 vs CIN (13 / 9 / 117 / 2 rec)
Sanders was targeted early and often, and drew the most targets on the day- nearly doubling the next closest receiver (Thomas-7) with 13 looks in the passing game. He was targeted multiple times on the Broncos' opening drive, hauling in his first catch for a short gain on a quick slant. Sanders drew a defensive holding flag later in the 1st quarter. Sanders caught his first deep ball late in the 1st quarter for a gain of 20 down the seam, and took a big shot on the following play while trying to reel in a short curl route. Later in the same drive, Sanders was targeted on one of the WR quick screens that Thomas often runs. Sanders made the catch and had a nice run afterwards to pick up 10 yards and the 1st down. Sanders was targeted on an out route in the end zone on Denver's first scoring drive, but he could not secure the catch on a badly thrown out route. Sanders burned Adam Jones down the left sideline for his first touchdown of the day, hauling in a beautiful pass from Siemian. It was Sanders' first deep route of the day. Sanders mixed it up for his 2nd touchdown of the day, plucking a sharply thrown out route from Siemian for the score, one play after extending the drive with a big 3rd down conversion on a similar route. Sanders sniffed the end zone again late in the 4th, catching a quick pass from Siemian and racing down the right sideline to the 3 yard line. The big gain set up the eventual touchdown pass to John Phillips for Denver's third TD of the day.
2016 Week 4 vs TB (13 / 8 / 88 / 1 rec)
Sanders led the team in targets for the 4th week in a row, drawing 13 looks from Siemian/Lynch and nearly doubling Demaryius Thomas's target total of 7. Rookie QB Lynch especially seemed to lean on Sanders. Sanders was targeted 4 times during Lynch's first drive. He hauled in a big reception at the end of the 2nd quarter to put the Broncos in field goal range before halftime, then another quick 10 yard gain to shorten the distance even more. Lynch looked for him in heavy coverage in the red zone, but Sanders was unable to secure the catch with 2 defenders draped over him. Sanders reeled in 3 receptions on the next drive. Lynch looked Sanders' way on a big shot down the right sideline later in the 3rd, but failed to connect on what could have been a home run ball. Sanders was wide open on his touchdown reception in the 4th quarter, lining up tight in a goal line formation and running an out route to the right while QB Lynch faked a handoff and rolled out right, hitting the receiver for the easy score.
2016 Week 5 vs ATL (9 / 7 / 80 / 0 rec)
Sanders continued his trend of leading the team in targets with 9, but the totals for him and Demaryius Thomas(7 targets) were much closer than they had been in past weeks. Sanders made beautiful leaping grab on a deep out route to secure Lynch's first pass attempt of the day. Sanders had another highlight reel-worthy catch at the end of the 1st, tapping his toes while securing a pass and falling out of bounds. Sanders was targeted on a deep ball in the end zone in the 2nd quarter, but Lynch overthrew him, ending the drive in a field goal. Sanders opened up the 2nd half with the Broncos biggest offensive play of the day, a nice reception on a deep crossing route for a gain of 26. Sanders had another beautiful toe-tapping catch on the sideline late in the 4th, helping to extend Denver's only touchdown drive of the day.
2016 Week 6 vs SD (6 / 4 / 40 / 0 rec)
Sanders caught an out route for a short gain to start the offense's day off. Sanders got open deep down the left sideline later in that first drive, but Siemian overthrew him badly. Sanders narrowly missed another big gain in the 2nd quarter on a deep post route, but Siemian's pass was again off target and Sanders could not secure the diving catch. Sanders was quiet in the middle of the game but showed back up on the 4th quarter with a nice catch on a slant to pick up 6 yards and a 1st down, and a gain of 20 yards down the numbers later in the same drive. The 20 passing yards were the longest offensive play of the day for the Broncos and the only pass completion that Siemian threw more than 10 yards downfield. Sanders took a big hit at the end of the long reception and had to leave for the remainder of the game with a hip injury that is not thought to be serious.
2016 Week 7 vs HOU (8 / 4 / 86 / 0 rec)
Sanders(8) was slightly outpaced by Demaryius Thomas(10) for targets, but he got more deep-ball looks than Thomas and more than doubled his yardage. It was Thomas who found the end zone, however. Siemian looked deep down the right sideline for Sanders during the Broncos' 2nd offensive drive of the game, but he narrowly missed his connection with the well-covered receiver. Sanders finally got rolling in the 2nd quarter with a big gain on a slant route. Siemian looked deep for Sanders again in the 2nd quarter on a free play where the defense had jumped offsides, but Sanders was blanketed by coverage downfield. Sanders caught a short out route and turned it up the sideline for a big gain on a late 2nd quarter drive. He was targeted in the end zone on the next play, but couldn't haul in the pass against tough coverage from Kareem Jackson. Sanders and Siemian finally got on the same page in the deep passing game late in the 3rd quarter. Sanders split out wide left and ran a streak route down the sideline, where Siemian found him just with a back shoulder throw just short of the end zone for a gain of 31. Sanders finished with just 4 catches for a significantly higher per-carry average than Thomas.
2016 Week 8 vs SD (10 / 4 / 68 / 0 rec)
Sanders drew 10 looks and managed 4 catches on a slow day for the Broncos offense. He got his first look downfield in the 1st quarter as Siemian targeted and overthrew him on a streak route down the right sideline. Sanders fully extended his body for a beautiful diving catch and a 37 yard gain in the 2nd quarter. Siemian faked a handoff to Booker while Sanders got deep down the right numbers and beat his double coverage for the catch. Sanders hauled in a curl route for an 11 yard gain late in the 2nd quarter and another diving reception for 1st down yardage in the 3rd. Sanders nearly scored on a quick slant inside the San Diego red zone in the 4th quarter, but he was tackled on the 1 yard line.
2016 Week 9 vs OAK (11 / 5 / 47 / 0 rec)
Sanders had a slow start, gathering the majority of his 11 targets in the 2nd half. He didn't record his first catch until late in the 2nd quarter, when Siemian found him for a short gain on an out route. Sanders nearly completed a diving catch for 46 yards and a touchdown at the end of the 1st half, but the ground jarred the ball loose as he fell to the turf. Siemian loaded up another deep ball for Sanders at the start of the 2nd half, but Oakland had 2 defenders in tight coverage. Sanders collected a few short receptions in the 2nd half but never could get anything going downfield with Siemian as he finished his day with 5 catches for 47 yards.
2016 Week 10 vs NO (9 / 5 / 54 / 0 rec)
Sanders caught his first target of the day early in the 2nd quarter, and got blasted by a tackler after tapping both feet on the sideline. Later in the same drive, he secured a short curl route and picked up good yardage after the catch for a 1st down. Sanders was targeted on a deep ball in the end zone in the waning minutes of the 1st half, but Siemian overthrew him. Siemian found Sanders across the middle on 3rd and 10 in the 3rd quarter for another 1st down. Sanders secured another curl route and took the ball down to the New Orleans 10 yard line in the 4th quarter. He finished the day with 5 of 9 targets caught for 54 yards.
2016 Week 12 vs KC (10 / 7 / 162 / 1 rec)
Sanders had a monster day, securing 7 of 10 targets for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. With Marcus Peters shadowing Demaryius Thomas a lot, the Broncos moved Sanders around the formation and the field with much success. He drew a defensive holding flag in the 1st quarter on a deep corner route. His first reception was a deep post route 2 plays later for a big gain. He caught a quick out route on the next play for a short gain, and then a deep curl route for a big gain on the Broncos next drive. Sanders took a huge hit after catching a crossing route late in the 2nd quarter, but thankfully he jumped right up and into an "air guitar" solo to show he was allright. The play drew an unnecessary roughness penalty to move the Broncos into the red zone. Siemian targeted Sanders in the end zone on 2 consecutive plays to finish the drive, but the first was knocked away by a defender and the second was batted at the line of scrimmage. Sanders was quiet in the 2nd half until a huge 4th quarter drive in which he accounted for 99 yards on 2 plays.He and Siemian connected on a deep ball down the left sideline halfway through the 4th. Sanders gave a sharp inside move before tearing off down the sideline and catching a beautifully thrown by ball Siemian. The next play, Siemian found Sanders on a deep corner route for a 35 yard touchdown to finish the drive.
2016 Week 13 vs JAX (9 / 3 / 28 / 0 rec, 1 / 4 / 0 rush)
Sanders caught a quick out route for a gain of 8 late in the 2nd quarter. He was targeted by Lynch on a huge downfield throw to open up hte 3rd quarter, but his defender knocked the pass away. Sanders caught another quick out route on the next play, gaining 6 and failing to convert on 3rd and 11. Sanders gathered nearly as many targets(9) as Demaryius Thomas(10), but he and Lynch couldn't get on the same page in the short passing game or deep down the field. Sanders finished the day with 3 receptions for 28 yards.
2016 Week 14 vs TEN (14 / 11 / 100 / 1 rec)
Sanders was a couple shy of Demaryius Thomas' 16 targets, but he caught the Broncos' only touchdown pass of the day. Sanders caught a low-thrown slant pass from Siemian on his first target of the day. His next reception was a WR quick screen that Sanders turned up the sideline for a gain of 10. During an early 2nd quarter drive Sanders hauled in a curl route for 8 and a slant for 15 on consecutive plays. Two plays later, Sanders committed an ugly drop while streaking down the left sideline. Siemian dropped a dime pass in between two defenders, but Sanders let the ball clang off his hands. Sanders opened up the 2nd half with more action in the short passing game, hauling in a short out route on the first play of the 3rd quarter. He caught the ball on a nearly identical route the very next play and turned the ball up the sideline for a gain of 15. Sanders got drilled on a quick pass at the line of scrimmage later in the drive, and couldn't secure a deep post route as he hit the turf on the next play. Sanders drifted across the end zone and caught the Broncos' only touchdown of the day as Trevor Siemian fell away from pressure in the 4th quarter. Sanders kept the momentum rolling on the next offensive drive as he started things out with a big gain down the left seam. Sanders' final reception was a toe-tapping out route later in the same drive.
2016 Week 15 vs NE (6 / 3 / 48 / 0 rec)
Though he has taken to Twitter to deny being "shut down" by Malcolm Butler, who drew Sanders a lot in coverage week 14, Sanders only posted a season low 3 catches, and was the target on an out route when Siemian was intercepted in the 2nd quarter. Logan Ryan saw the pass coming and jumped in front of Sanders for the pick. Sanders was targeted on a deep ball down the right sideline in the 3rd quarter, but he was well out of bounds when he hit the ground. Sanders hauled in a crossing route for a gain of 7 later in the 3rd. Sanders was quiet the whole game until he finally got open late in the 4th quarter on a post route for a gain of 21 yards, then again on the following drive for a gain of 20 down the numbers on the right side of the field. Sanders(6) finished well behind Thomas(11) for targets.
2016 Week 16 vs KC (3 / 1 / 26 / 0 rec)
Sanders struggled to get open downfield, and QB Siemian couldn't push the ball deep in the rainy conditions. Sanders gathered a couple of deep targets that didn't even come close. He had a 15 yard gain negated by a holding penalty in the 2nd quarter. Sanders' only reception was an impressive back-shoulder catch down the left sideline in the 3rd quarter, good for a 26 yard gain. He finished with just 3 official targets.
2016 Week 17 vs OAK (0 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Sanders exited the game in the 1st quarter before drawing any targets, and was ruled out by the start of the 2nd quarter.
2015 Week 1 vs BAL (12 / 8 / 65 / 0 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders might have missed the preseason with a lingering hamstring injury, but he was perhaps the only offensive player for Denver who did not look rusty against the Ravens. Picking up where he left off after a phenomenal 2014, Sanders was virtually uncoverable and was clearly Manning's go-to in high leverage situation. For the game, Sanders was responsible for six of Denver's nine third-down conversions, (five via reception, one via defensive holding penalty). He could have had an even better game, as he had beat his defender and was open deep three times only to see Manning overthrow him.
2015 Week 2 vs KC (14 / 8 / 87 / 2 rec, 1 / 0 / 0 rush)
For the second consecutive week, Emmanuel Sanders was the best offensive player on the field for the Denver Broncos. He continues to be a one-man drive-sustainer; Denver converted six 3rd-down attempts against Kansas City, and Sanders accounted for five of them, including both of his touchdowns. In fact, until a Demaryius Thomas catch with a minute and a half left, Sanders was the only Bronco to extend a drive on 3rd down. For the season, Denver has converted fifteen times on 3rd down, and Sanders has been responsible for eleven of them, (compared to three for Demaryius Thomas and one for C.J. Anderson). Whenever Manning has needed someone to make a play, he has looked Sanders' way. To his credit, Sanders has usually delivered; his numbers would look even better still were it not for several more overthrows on plays where Sanders had his man beat deep.
2015 Week 3 vs DET (9 / 6 / 87 / 0 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders was once again Mr. Consistency for Peyton Manning and the Broncos against the Detroit Lions. He converted yet another third down for the team with a 16-yard grab on 3rd-and-13, and would have followed that shortly after with another 3rd-down conversion had another Denver receiver not stepped in front of him and impeded his path to the ball. Sanders also matched Thomas' phenomenal 4th-and-1 catch with a key grab of his own, stealing a 34-yard pass out of the hands of a waiting defender to put Denver in the red zone on their final drive as they tacked another touchdown onto their lead.
2015 Week 4 vs MIN (6 / 3 / 68 / 0 rec)
In an uncommon turn of events, Denver's passing offense barely looked Emmanuel Sanders' way in the first half against the Vikings as he failed to gain a single yard. He got his hands on the ball just five times in the half-- three times fair-catching punts, once on a 3rd-and-4 conversion that was called back due to an illegal formation, and once on a deep pass that he couldn't come down with; at full extension, it would have been a difficult catch, but we've certainly seen him make tougher. Denver and Sanders seemed intent on remedying that lack quickly in the second half, as Sanders hauled in a deep pass down the left sideline and raced for 43 yards before getting dragged down, setting Denver up with first-and-goal. Other than yet another 3rd-down conversion, (this time an 8-yard gain on 3rd-and-2), that was pretty much Sanders' day. The lack of targets was likely just a fluke; bigger games remain clearly in his future.
2015 Week 5 vs OAK (12 / 9 / 111 / 0 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders had a busy afternoon against the Raiders, leading the Broncos in targets, receptions, and offensive yards. Sanders caught 9 of his 11 targets, and one of the incompletions was nearly a highlight-reel catch as Sanders laid out for a deep bomb and had it glance off his hands. Oddly, after being the biggest piece of Denver's offense through the first three quarters, Sanders was not targeted in the fourth. Still, this seems to be an aberration and the lone blemish on an otherwise productive day.
2015 Week 6 vs CLE (12 / 4 / 109 / 1 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders remains one of Peyton Manning's favorite and most-targeted players, but hasn't been able to recapture his magic from 2014 when he hauled in seemingly every possible pass. Against the Cleveland Browns, he had several chances to make a highlight-reel play that came up just short, such as a deep end-zone shot on 3rd-and-2 from the 21 that Sanders lunged for, bobbled, and couldn't bring in. The biggest play, though, came with regulation expiring. With Denver driving for the game-winning field goal, Manning hit Sanders deep down the sidelines to get the Broncos into field goal range. Sanders may or may not have been touched down by a defender, but rather than giving up and taking the field goal, Sanders ran towards the end zone as the clock expired. Initially ruled down by contact, on review the play was overturned and ruled incomplete, saving Sanders from potential goat status. Mixed in among the almosts and not-quites, though, Sanders did produce perhaps the lone bright spot of the afternoon for Denver's offense, beating his defender down the sideline, catching a 20-yard pass as the defender went for the ball, then accelerating away for a 75-yard touchdown-- Denver's lone offensive score of the day.
2015 Week 8 vs GB (5 / 2 / 22 / 0 rec)
With a gameplan that called for a heavy dose of runs and crossing routes by Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders received just five targets against the Green Bay Packers and was only a marginal part of the game plan. Sanders caught two of the targets for 22 yards, and was largely unnoticed. Better matchups loom, and better days are certainly in Sanders' future.
2015 Week 9 vs IND (11 / 6 / 90 / 1 rec)
After a week in which he saw little usage, Denver's gameplan against the Indianapolis Colts called for a heavy dose of Emmanuel Sanders. Unfortunately, his performance fell short of his usual standards. Sanders was injured on Denver's first play of the game, and it seemed to affect him the rest of the game as he dropped a trio of tough catches that he's made a name for himself by making. He did make a tough catch at the sideline to convert a 3rd-and-long, and managed to race away from the defense after another 3rd-and-long crossing route for a 64-yard touchdown. Despite the raw totals, though, good plays were sparser than usual for the man who has been the most consistent Bronco since joining the team in 2014.
2015 Week 10 vs KC (4 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Entering the day questionable to play, Sanders managed to work his way onto the field against the Kansas City Chiefs, but not into the stat sheet. Seemingly still hampered by his injury, Sanders had a target on 3rd-and-8 thrown slightly behind him, and he was unable to adjust for a stellar catch. Sanders was also targeted on one of Manning's interceptions, but a Chiefs defender surreptitiously pushed off as he was coming out of his break, causing Sanders to lose his footing and leaving the defender open for an uncontested interception. Sanders finally seemed to have a highlight play on his final target of the game, hauling in a great catch on the sidelines, but an oncoming defender hit him in the helmet, causing Sanders to lose the football, and perhaps even consciousness; Sanders was evaluated for a concussion afterwards and never returned to the game.
2015 Week 12 vs NE (9 / 6 / 113 / 0 rec)
After being limited by injuries in recent weeks, a full-strength Emmanuel Sanders returned vs. the New England Patriots and quickly reminded everyone of his importance to the team. While he was not Denver's most-targeted receiver, he was by far its most productive, making contested catches downfield and keeping the chains moving. Five of Sanders' six catches netted a new set of downs, and his 39-yard reception at the end of the 4th quarter set Denver up with 1st-and-goal on their go-ahead touchdown drive.
2015 Week 13 vs SD (8 / 3 / 19 / 0 rec, 1 / 5 / 0 rush)
Sanders actually led the Broncos in targets against the San Diego Chargers, but his day mostly consisted of he and quarterback Brock Osweiler struggling to get on the same page deep down the field. Sanders was the intended target on nearly every one of Osweiler's deep throws, including an underthrown 30-yard pass where Sanders failed to separate and the ball was intercepted in the end zone. While the commitment was a positive sign, Sanders has to hope that the accuracy will be there, too, in future weeks.
2015 Week 14 vs OAK (6 / 2 / 17 / 0 rec)
For the second consecutive week, (and the third time in four games), Sanders and Brock Osweiler simply could not get on the same page, in large part because Osweiler is most comfortable on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and Sanders is at his best running more difficult intermediate routes. With little chemistry in the passing game, Sanders' two most impactful plays came on returns; Sanders had a dazzling 29-yard punt return in the first half that was called back due to an incidental running-into-the-kicker penalty, and Sanders muffed a punt at the 11-yard line to set up Oakland's game-winning field goal.
2015 Week 15 vs PIT (16 / 10 / 181 / 1 rec, 1 / 24 / 0 rush)
While Sanders has been very quiet since Brock Osweiler took over as starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, he brought his best game of the season against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The bulk of his production came on a 61-yard touchdown against a terribly blown coverage; Sanders was ten yards behind the nearest defender by the time the ball was released, and easily coasted to the end zone from there. But in addition, Sanders was all over the field, making contested catches, converted third downs, and generally being the deadly reliable option we all saw all season in 2014, but slightly less often in 2015.
2015 Week 16 vs CIN (5 / 4 / 67 / 1 rec)
While he didn't repeat his target outburst from last week, Emmanuel Sanders played well once again in primetime against the Cincinnati Bengals. Sanders was Osweiler's deep and intermediate target of choice, and got a dozen yards behind the defense at one point, only for Osweiler's ball to hang up in the air forever and turn what should have been an easy 54-yard touchdown into a 35-yard reception.
2015 Week 17 vs SD (8 / 5 / 99 / 0 rec)
Typically known for his consistency and reliability over the last two years, Emmanuel Sanders got into the action in Denver's 5-turnover performance against the San Diego Chargers early. On his first target of the game, Sanders caught a pass deep down the left sideline, raced away from the defense to get the ball inside the 10 yard line, only for it to get punched out and recovered by San Diego at the 5. Early miscue aside, Sanders immediately showed his rapport with Peyton Manning when the latter returned in the third quarter; Sanders was the target of 3 of Manning's 4 intermediate-to-deep passes, catching one, having no shot on another, and missing out on a third after Manning threw it well wide of him when he was open.
2015 Week 20 vs NE (8 / 5 / 62 / 0 rec)
It's a good thing Sanders has been so reliable this season as Demaryius Thomas has been a hot mess. Sanders became someone Peyton Manning could rely on, and this game was no different. Sanders was the most targeted receiver, caught the most passes and was a huge factor in converting third downs. In fact, Sanders' best play was a leaping catch for a 34-yard first down which took place on a 3rd and long. On the play, Sanders ran down the left sideline and Manning threw the ball in the air. It fell a bit short, which forced Sanders to slow down and make a leaping attempt to wrest the ball away from cornerback Malcolm Butler. It was a pretty poor throw, but Sanders' size, leaping ability and competitiveness allowed him to win the battle and bail his quarterback out.
2014 Week 1 vs IND (9 / 6 / 77 / 0 rec, 1 / 11 / 0 rush)
Emmanuel Sanders started his Denver Broncos career with a bang, catching the ball on each of Denver's first three offensive plays and finishing as the team's second-leading receiver. With Welker out, Sanders spent time both outside and in the slot, catching short targets in the middle and drawing a pair of deep targets down the field. One of his deep targets was well off the mark, but the other resulted in a spectacular 40-yard gain after Sanders simply outran the coverage to get open. Sanders also showed off another aspect his speed can add to the offense, as Manning faked an inside handoff to the left only to pitch it to Sanders on the end-around to the right, resulting in an easy first down. All told, few Broncos were a larger part of the game plan against Indianapolis than Sanders.
2014 Week 2 vs KC (9 / 8 / 108 / 0 rec, 1 / -2 / 0 rush)
For the second consecutive week, Denver's game plan called upon going to new receiver Emmanuel Sanders early to set the tone, and Sanders responded with his first 100-yard receiving game for the Broncos. On the very first pass of the afternoon, Sanders easily outran the coverage to get huge separation on a 48-yard reception. After that one deep throw, Sanders mostly lined up outside and ran short sideline routes. Sanders saw no involvement on 3rd downs except for his final target of the day, a 4-yard gain on 3rd-and-6 where Sanders was met by two defenders and had no chance to convert. Sanders was also involved in a very bizarre play near the end of the first half, as Sanders went to his knees to catch a low pass at the line of scrimmage, then inexplicably just dropped the football untouched as a defender approached. Sanders was bailed out by the officials, who ruled the play incomplete on the field and did not see enough evidence on review to overturn that initial call.
2014 Week 3 vs SEA (15 / 11 / 149 / 0 rec)
Other offenses have opted to attack Seattle's defense with smaller, quicker receivers, and the Denver Broncos were no exception. Emmanuel Sanders was a huge part of Denver's game plan from the very beginning. He was targeted on a pair of screens early, but when it was clear that Seattle's defense was closing too quickly, the concepts were abandoned and Sanders was largely used to attack second cornerback Byron Maxwell along the sideline. Sanders accounted for nearly half of Denver's passing first downs, and one of Sanders' three receptions that didn't yield a new set of downs was a 12-yard gain on 2nd-and-15. On a day when little went right for Denver offensively, the Manning to Sanders connection was perhaps the lone bright spot.
2014 Week 5 vs ARI (9 / 7 / 101 / 0 rec, 2 / 8 / 0 rush)
As a sign of the respect that Emmanuel Sanders has quickly come to command during his short time in Denver, the Arizona Cardinals assigned their top cornerback, Patrick Peterson, to cover Sanders on Sunday. As a sign of how effective Sanders has been, Peyton Manning didn't avoid the matchup, and Sanders finished with 4 catches for 55 yards on 6 targets with Peterson in coverage. Sanders twice beat Peterson on third down. On one of those plays, Sanders was so open that he was initially able to get up after catching the ball and run 77 yards for the touchdown, although upon review the officials ruled that Peterson barely managed to touch Sanders before his knee came off the ground, leaving Sanders with a 30-yard gain.
2014 Week 6 vs NYJ (6 / 3 / 38 / 0 rec)
Sanders had a quiet game by his standards, though he once again led all Denver receivers in snaps played. As a team, Denver had its lowest passing output of the season, and Sanders was held under 100 yards for the first time in four games. Sanders did little to distinguish himself on tape, but Denver hardly needed him to.
2014 Week 7 vs SF (3 / 3 / 41 / 1 rec)
In 2013, Denver frequently featured smaller, quicker receivers like Wes Welker in the red zone. In 2014, most of Denver's touchdowns had come on throws to large receivers outside of the numbers. In fact, coming into the game, no receiver in the NFL had more yards or targets without having scored a touchdown than Denver's Emmanuel Sanders. Against San Francisco, Sanders got his name off of that list with a dominant red-zone performance. Sanders got the scoring started early with a touchdown on 3rd-and-goal from the three on Denver's opening drive. According to the stat sheet, that was Sanders' only score of the day, but Emmanuel Sanders also twice drew pass interference calls in the end zone, setting Denver up with first-and-goal from the 1 and leading to two more easy touchdowns. In between, Sanders also gained 18 yards on 1st-and-10 and 20-yards on 3rd-and-7, finishing with a huge offensive impact on his five targets.
2014 Week 8 vs SD (9 / 9 / 120 / 3 rec, 1 / 6 / 0 rush)
After being held without a touchdown in his first five games, Emmanuel Sanders has been on quite the scoring tear in recent weeks. Sanders added three more touchdowns to his season total against San Diego, notching the first multi-touchdown day of his career. Unlike Demaryius Thomas, Sanders didn't just exploit a single matchup, as Denver moved him all over the field. Sanders caught passes against five different San Diego defenders in coverage, with no individual defender drawing more than three of Sanders' targets. Sanders also drew Manning's lone deep attempt of the game, a beautiful 31-yard touchdown that was dropped down right over the top of good coverage. Sanders caught everything that came in his direction, often with of acrobatic and improbable catches, and even received a carry for good measure. The lone flaw on an otherwise perfect performance was a fumble at the sidelines late in the game with Denver trying to run out the clock. Fortunately for Sanders, Denver was able to recover and retain possession.
2014 Week 9 vs NE (16 / 10 / 151 / 0 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders spent a bit of time with Darrelle Revis in coverage, but had most of his receptions and yards against New England's third cornerback, Malcolm Butler. Sanders continued to show that he is Denver's most versatile receiver as he gained yards on an array of short, intermediate, and deep passes. Aside from a few successful crossing patterns, Sanders was unable to get many yards after the catch, but his quickness helped him repeatedly get open for a team-best 7 first downs. Denver even put him back to return kicks in an effort to get some kind of spark. Unfortunately for Sanders, his last two targets of the day were two of his rare failures, with a four-yard gain on 4th-and-5 and an incompletion on 4th-and-1 dimming whatever slim hopes Denver had of an unlikely comeback. 4th-down struggles aside, Sanders was the brightest spot on an otherwise shaky offense.
2014 Week 10 vs OAK (8 / 5 / 67 / 2 rec, 1 / 5 / 0 rush)
Emmanuel Sanders remains one of Peyton Manning's favorite targets and put up his second multi-touchdown game of the last three weeks despite never having had one in his career before. Sanders' first touchdown was on what is quickly becoming one of Manning's favorite plays; Sanders used his quickness to get behind his defender on the outside and Manning dropped a fade pass over the top deep down field. It was the third touchdown of the season for Sanders on that very play. His second touchdown came on a crossing pattern in the red zone that Manning squeezed in between two defenders. While there were a few opportunities to make a highlight play that Sanders failed to capitalize on, he continued to secure nearly every catchable pass that came near him, showing why he has earned so much trust from Manning in his first season with the team.
2014 Week 11 vs STL (8 / 5 / 102 / 1 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders' dream season continued early against the St. Louis Rams, with 89 yards and a touchdown in the first half of play. His touchdown looked like many of his so far this year, with Sanders using his quickness off the line to get immediately behind the defense and his long speed to increase the advantage from there; Sanders caught the ball 30+ yards downfield with no defenders anywhere near him and walked into the end zone from there. Unfortunately, Sanders was the subject of a bone-crunching hit shortly after halftime that ended his day early. Sanders extended out for a deep pass that he just missed, and while he was still defenseless in the air a St. Louis defender slammed into him at full speed. The hit was shoulder-to-shoulder, but the impact was jarring enough to whip Sanders' head and still leave him with a concussion, leaving him out for the rest of the game.
2014 Week 12 vs MIA (13 / 9 / 125 / 0 rec, 1 / 3 / 0 rush)
Emmanuel Sanders starred against the Miami Dolphins, repeatedly torching every defensive back he faced for big gains. There were four times Sanders managed to explode off the line of scrimmage and get several yards behind the deepest defender for a long touchdown, only for the pass to be slightly overthrown. On one of those targets, Sanders was wide open despite drawing illegal contact, and Denver was awarded with a first down anyway. Outside of those four targets, Sanders caught 9 of the 10 balls thrown his way, including conversions on 3rd-and-4, 3rd-and-5, 3rd-and-2, and a spectacular play to convert 3rd-and-20 that might have been a 50+ yard touchdown had the ball been thrown a little lower. Sanders also converted on Denver's lone two-point conversion attempt of the day. Sanders finished with a stat line of 9/125/0 that underrated his dominance and his impact on the game.
2014 Week 13 vs KC (11 / 6 / 73 / 0 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders may have had his least productive fantasy day in nearly half a season, but he still showed that even at his worst this new Denver version is still a pretty good receiver. Sanders had a pair of 3rd-down conversions as Denver was racing out to a 17-0 lead, but then the winds picked up and Sanders' production slipped off. Sanders was unable to get open deep as easily as he had against Miami, and Peyton Manning's pass attempts were frequently off target, which led to Sanders spending much of his evening playing defense, knocking down a pair of near-interceptions. Despite the highs, it was an up-and-down game for Sanders; only two of his seven second-half targets were completed, though one was a 23-yard gain on 3rd-and-7. Sanders was also responsible for a pair of illegal formation penalties, which certainly didn't help an offense gone cold after halftime.
2014 Week 14 vs BUF (6 / 4 / 56 / 0 rec, 1 / 13 / 0 rush)
Emmanuel Sanders had yet another stellar game against the Buffalo Bills. Sanders was targeted 7 times and caught four of them, including a deep grab over the middle to set Denver up in field goal range just before halftime. Of the three misses, two were badly overthrown passes that Sanders never had a chance at, and on the other Sanders was leveled before the ball arrived, earning Denver a defensive pass interference penalty. That play was one of several on the day where, due to an inaccurate Manning pass, Sanders was led directly into a waiting defender for a crushing hit. Sanders showed no hesitation on any of the passes, hauling them in wherever possible, and quickly getting back to his feet for some more. After one particularly crushing hit, Sanders lay on the field for a minute, and when he finally got back up he gave an exaggerated bow to the home crowd to let them know he was okay.
2014 Week 15 vs SD (3 / 3 / 53 / 0 rec)
With Denver's new run-heavy offense, targets were hard to come by for Emmanuel Sanders against the San Diego Chargers. Sanders did manage to secure all three of his three targets, each of which went for a new set of downs, two of which came on 3rd down, including a 33-yard gain to put Denver in field goal range as they took a two possession lead late. Sanders also continued to field punts for the Broncos, returning one for 11 yards.
2014 Week 16 vs CIN (7 / 6 / 70 / 2 rec)
Once again, reliable Emmanuel Sanders helped keep Denver's struggling offense afloat, securing everything that came his way with a series of spectacular catches. While Sanders received little work in the first half, he was the spark behind Denver's explosive third quarter. In one four-play span, Sanders caught a deep pass for 33 yards, (while simultaneously drawing a defensive pass interference penalty), then caught a 9-yard pass to give Denver first-and-goal from the four, then caught a 4-yard touchdown on first down. On Denver's third touchdown of the day, Sanders showed off a great awareness of the boundary, securing the ball and tapping his toes down before going out of bounds to briefly give Denver a 28-27 lead. That was Sanders' final target of the evening, but nobody on Denver's offense did more with their opportunities against the Bengals than the former Steeler.
2014 Week 17 vs OAK (9 / 6 / 73 / 0 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders closed out his breakout season with another solid performance for the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning's favorite deep threat drew four more deep targets against the Oakland Raiders, catching one for 31 yards and drawing a 36-yard pass interference penalty on the other. One of his deep targets was called back due to a facemask penalty against Sanders, though. Sanders once again was a reliable chain-mover, converting two of his three third-down targets, with the third attempt netting 7 yards on 3rd-and-8 to set up a 4th-down conversion. Sanders also received a handful of targets on receiver screens, including one tipped screen pass early in the game that the referees ruled was actually a backwards lateral, which Oakland then returned for a touchdown. Overall, Sanders had a solid, reliable game against an overmatched Oakland defense. For the season, Sanders finished in the top 5 in the NFL in receiving yards, nearly doubling his previous career high.
2014 Week 19 vs IND (15 / 7 / 46 / 0 rec)
Capping off a season where he was arguably Peyton Manning's most reliable receiver, Emmanuel Sanders had another consistent performance against the Indianapolis Colts. He repeatedly got open deep down the right sideline, but unfortunately, Manning simply didn't have the accuracy to get the ball to him. Sanders did have one deep target that possibly could have resulted in a spectacular catch, but Sanders stumbled a little bit as he broke away from the defender and the pass sailed about a foot past his extended hands. Otherwise, Sanders had no chance down the field, as Manning's passes repeatedly sailed beyond the reach even of Denver's speediest receiver. Despite a lack of production, Sanders did his job against the Colts, getting open and repeatedly putting himself in a position to make a play.
2013 Week 1 vs TEN (12 / 7 / 57 / 0 rec)
Sanders saw the first target of the game on the very first play. He allowed the ball to go through his hands as the defender hit him from behind. McCourty played the receiver well, but Sanders should have come up with the reception. A few plays later, the Steelers faked a screen before trying to hit a wide open Sanders at the first down marker. Roethlisberger overthrew him however. Sanders finally got his reception later on the same drive as he kept working in his route to catch an eight yard pass for a first down. Roethlisberger almost overthrew Sanders again to start the offense's second drive, but the receiver adjusted well for an eight yard gain. A screen play resulted in no gain as Roethlisberger again threw a high pass to Sanders that forced him to extend. The receiver dropped his first target of the second half as he couldn't control a tough pass as he fell out of bounds. Sanders caught a 20 yard pass to start the fourth quarter when he was wide open on a crossing route. A screen pass for eight yards started a drive for the Steelers in the fourth quarter. Roethlisberger went straight back to Sanders deep down the sideine, but he couldn't make a tough reception with a defender all over him. It was too little, too late, but Sanders made an outstanding reception late in the fourth quarter for a first down.
2013 Week 2 vs CIN (10 / 5 / 78 / 0 rec)
Roethlisberger's first pass went deep down the field for Sanders. Sanders was working in single coverage against Adam Jones, but Roethlisberger overthrew him. Sanders' first receptionc ame in the second quarter as he caught a curl route just in front of Leon Hall for nine yards. On third and eight in the second quarter, Sanders ran a deep in route for the first down. Sanders did well to absorb a hit as the ball arrived. Roethlisberger went straight back to Sanders, as he caught a quick slant route before running past a defender in the open field to get to the goalline. Sanders' next reception came midway through the third quarter, as he caught a quick screen when he was immediately tackled for no gain. Roethlisberger tried to hit Sanders down the sideline, but Sanders was well covered by Newman and the ball came down at the sideline. He caught it, but couldn't keep his feet inbounds. The Bengals sent a blitz on second and 10, which forced Roethlisberger to adjust at the snap. He found Sanders on a quick slant route for an eight yard gain over the middle.
2013 Week 3 vs CHI (8 / 4 / 39 / 0 rec)
Sanders beat Charles Tillman deep down the sideline and would have been in for a long touchdown, but just like in Week 2, his quarterback overthrew him. Sanders second catch came behind the line of scrimmage, as Tillman came up and tackled him immediately. Sanders caught a deep pass after Roethlisberger extended the play when he settled down in zone over the deep middle of the field. Sanders caught a bubble screen in the third quarter for a 10 yard gain. Sanders caught a 10 yard pass on the sideline underneath against prevent defense late in the fourth quarter.
2013 Week 4 vs MIN (8 / 4 / 57 / 0 rec)
Sanders was quiet initially, but he caught a huge pass down the sideline with a defender tight on his back. Sanders didn't see another target until midway through the second quarter. Roethlisberger slightly overthrew him in the flat, but the receiver was able to pull the ball down with his arms extended. Sanders caught Roethlisberger's first pass of the second half on a curl route for a first down. Roethlisberger threw an interception when trying to find Sanders in the third quarter. Sanders faked to go in one direction after the play was extended past his route, but he only fooled his quarterback who threw the ball straight to a defender. Sanders caught a quick pass with a defender in his face for a first down late in the third quarter.
2013 Week 6 vs NYJ (6 / 3 / 70 / 1 rec)
Sanders first target came on the Steelers second drive, but he slipped coming out of his break on an out route. Sanders' first reception came on a quick slant in the second quarter when he broke a tackle to get down the field for a first down. On third and 2, the Steelers ran play-action and Sanders came free wide open down the field. While the play-action was effective on the defense, it wasn't the reason that Sanders came free as he beat Antonio Cromartie with his route. Roethlisberger looked for Sanders deep down the sideline on the next drive, but he slightly overthrew him against tight coverage. In the fourth quarter, Sanders caught a screen pass before breaking a few tackles. He fumbled the ball after a few yards, but was able to recover it.
2013 Week 7 vs BAL (2 / 1 / 7 / 0 rec)
Sanders wasn't targeted until late in the second quarter. He ran a curl route against single coverage for an eight yard gain on first down.
2013 Week 8 vs OAK (11 / 7 / 88 / 1 rec)
Sanders' first reception came early in the first quarter, but he was tackled for a loss on a well defended bubble screen. Sanders caught a quick slant on third and six for four yards soon after. In the third quarter, Sanders converted a third and 17 on a deep out route. In the fourth quarter, Sanders caught an easy touchdown from Roethlisberger when he was wide open underneath at the goal line. On the next drive, Sanders caught an eight yard curl route. Sanders caught a 20 yard pass down the seam late in the fourth quarter. Sanders caught a 30+ yard pass when there was no time left on the clock.
2013 Week 9 vs NE (11 / 6 / 98 / 0 rec)
Sanders reversed the field on a blown bubble screen for his first reception. He turned a short loss into an eight yard gain with his speed. Sanders then came free down the left sideline when he cleanly beat a defensive back for a big gain. In the fourth quarter, Sanders made an excellent diving reception deep down the field on a post route. A few plays later, he caught an out route underneath for six yards. Late in the fourth quarter, Sanders did well to catch a low pass on an in route for a first down. On the final drive of the game, Sanders caught an in route for seven yards.
2013 Week 10 vs BUF (6 / 4 / 13 / 0 rec, 1 / 25 / 0 rush)
Sanders first reception was a screen pass when he did well to get his hands underneath a very low pass from his quarterback. That low pass caused a three yard loss on the play. Sanders' second reception came soon after, but it was a short gain on third and four. Despite his early struggles as a receiver, Sanders created a big play with his elusiveness and speed on an end-around. Sanders adjusted well to a pass that was behind him when he was running a quick out. He caught the ball falling to the ground which took away any of his YAC potential. In the fourth quarter, Sanders ran a shallow crossing route for a first down.
2013 Week 11 vs DET (2 / 1 / 2 / 0 rec)
Sanders' first reception went for just two yards as the Lions defended a screen pass well. Sanders dropped his next target on the next drive, as Roethlisberger threw him a very low pass on a curl route. Sanders left the game with a foot injury very early in the second quarter.
2013 Week 12 vs CLE (7 / 6 / 52 / 1 rec)
Sanders caught a quick pass in the flat on the very first play of the game before shaking a defender and sprinting down the sideline for a first down. Sanders caught a seven yard curl route on first and 10 in the second quarter. Sanders caught a bubble screen late in the second quarter for nine yards. In the two minute drill to close out the second half, Sanders had caught a seven yard curl route towards the beginning of the drive. Another seven yard curl route came in the third quarter, but went for a first down. Sanders caught a slant route for a touchdown in the third quarter after Jason Campbell's fumble set them up in the red zone. Sanders caught an in route for a first down in the fourth quarter.
2013 Week 13 vs BAL (11 / 6 / 43 / 1 rec)
Sanders caught a bubble screen for his first reception, but he was stopped almost immediately as the Ravens flew to the football. Sanders came free down the sideline, but couldn't make a diving reception and pulled up injured after the play. Sanders returned to the game and adjusted well to a tipped pass underneath for a five yard reception. Sanders converted a third and long as he kept working in his route after Roethlisberger extended the play. Sanders caught a crossing route on third down that was stopped just short of the first down marker. After LeVeon Bell brought the Steelers down the field in the third quarter, Sanders kept working late in a passing play for the Steelers' first touchdown. Sanders converted a third and three with a seven yard curl route for a first down against tight coverage.
2013 Week 14 vs MIA (6 / 4 / 57 / 1 rec)
Sanders' first target came on the second drive in the end zone. He ran a curl route at the goal line and Roethlisberger found him with an accurate pass. Sanders caught a bubble screen for a first down late in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, Sanders caught a first down pass on third and eight.
2013 Week 15 vs CIN (6 / 5 / 38 / 0 rec)
Sanders' first reception didn't come until early in the second quarter. He hadn't been targeted, but just like his teammates he fit perfectly in the gameplan. Sanders caught a bubble screen before breaking a tackle and escaping down the sideline for a big play. On the following play, Sanders bobbled the ball when thrown to in the flat so he was stopped for a loss. Although there didn't appear to be a specific reason why, Sanders caught a third pass in succession as he ran a curl route for a first down. A low throw from Roethlisberger on a screen pass in the second quarter gave Sanders another bubble screen that went for a loss. Although he was somewhat on the peripheral of this game, Sanders made a decisive play in the fourth quarter when he escaped three defenders for a first down that allowed the Steelers to extend a time-killing drive.
2013 Week 16 vs GB (2 / 2 / 7 / 1 rec)
After two false start penalties on his teammates, Sanders was sought out by Roethlisberger on third and 14. He settled for a nine yard gain as the Packers defense crowded around him. The Steelers offense typically focuses on Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell and it continued to early in this game. However, it was Sanders who caught their first touchdown. After Roethlisberger extended the play at the goal line, Sanders kept working in his route to come free in the end zone for an easy score.
2013 Week 17 vs CLE (4 / 2 / 26 / 0 rec)
Sanders had one target in the first quarter, but he was well covered in the end zone so Ben Roethlisberger couldn't fit the ball into him. He continued to be on the periphery of the game into the secnod quarter, before his first catch went for nine yards and a first down. Sanders caught another deep curl route for a first down with less than a minute left in the first half. He wasn't targeted again during the game before being taken out in the fourth quarter with the other starters. If this was Sanders' final performance in a Steelers' jersey, it was a forgettable one.
2012 Week 1 vs DEN (8 / 4 / 55 / 0 rec)
Sanders tied for the team-lead in targets with eight and was very involved in the third-down offense. His first catch went for 13 yards on a 3rd-and-9, a conversion Pittsburgh desperately needed in order to get some momentum. On the drive that close the first half and resulted in a touchdown, Sanders also made a huge 17-yard grab on a 3rd-and-13 to set up the TD three plays later. Sanders' usage in this game may be seen as a harbinger of things to come, but it's also likely that this is one of his most-used games of the year. Denver has two very solid corners in Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter, so Pittsburgh may have been using Sanders more than normal to avoid those guys. Wallace will also command more targets as he gets his legs under him and becomes intimately familiar with the playbook. Sanders may need another eight-target, four-plus-catch performance to confirm any consistent value.
2012 Week 2 vs NYJ (4 / 3 / 33 / 0 rec)
In Week 1, Sanders had three catches that converted third downs to first downs. His first catch in this game was also a third down conversion. He didn't have any high-impact plays in this game, but he provides an excellent third option capable of beating nickel corners and exploiting defenses.
2012 Week 3 vs OAK (4 / 3 / 33 / 0 rec)
Sanders continues to be a part of the offense in three-receiver sets, but the targets in this game were dominated by the top two receivers on the outside and by Heath Miller in the middle. There will be times where Sanders is more a part of the gameplan, but it was clear that Pittsburgh wanted to exploit Oakland's linebackers in coverage with Miller. Sanders still represents an option in which Roethlisberger can be confident. He's a very similar player to Antonio Brown in that he's slightly undersized but has great speed to make plays with the ball in his hands.
2012 Week 5 vs PHI (7 / 3 / 22 / 0 rec)
Sanders' first two targets were over the middle when he was beaten to the ball by different defenders. Sanders wasn't physical enough on both occasions, but a case could be made for defensive pass interference against the defenders on both plays also. His first catch came in the flat. He was hit immediately by the underneath coverage for a short gain. Sanders' second catch was a good adjustment to a hot route running into the flat before carrying the ball forward for a first down down the sideline. Sanders caught another pass in the flat, his most important of the day. On third down just after the two-minute drill, he quickly released into the flat before snatching a fastball out of the air for the first down.
2012 Week 6 vs TEN (6 / 4 / 43 / 0 rec)
Sanders continues to emerge ever-so-slightly each week. He is gaining the trust of Ben Roethlisberger and contributing on 3rd down situations. With Mike Wallace's deep speed, Antonio Brown's ability to work the intermediate part of the field, and Heath Miller's emergence on short-to-medium routes, Sanders will find himself open in many situations. As long as he keeps going where Roethlisberger expects him to be and catching the balls thrown his way, his role will grow. He's also showing that he would be a solid fill-in if Wallace or Brown ever missed any time.
2012 Week 7 vs CIN (2 / 2 / 40 / 0 rec)
Sanders had two receptions against the Bengals on Sunday night. The first came on a quick screen to the right side and resulted in a nine yard gain. The second came on a quick toss to the middle of the field at the end of the third quarter wherein he turned upfield quickly for a thirty yard gain. Sanders was also the subject of scrutiny late in the fourth quarter when he appeared to develop cramps long after the play had ended. His "injury" allowed for the clock to stop and Sanders missed only one play before returning to the game.
2012 Week 8 vs WAS (5 / 3 / 56 / 0 rec)
Sanders recorded a season-high in receiving yards on just three catches. His catches all contributed to scoring drives. His first one came on the team's opening drive and went for 15 yards on a 3rd-and-7 play. That drive helped set the tone for the entire game, so Sanders' ability to move the chains had a big impact. The team even attempted a pass with Sanders on an end around. Washington's defense sniffed it out, however, and sacked Sanders for a seven yard loss. Between a wide receiver being sacked and a quarterback (Robert Griffin III) being called for offensive pass interference, this game had some oddities to it. Sanders' day wasn't perfect, though, as he dropped an easy catch across the middle on a play that would have resulted in a huge gain due to the open field in front of him. With Wallace and Brown healthy, Sanders' ceiling is limited, but if he were thrust into a starting role, the team wouldn't lose too much at the position.
2012 Week 9 vs NYG (2 / 2 / 20 / 1 rec)
Emmanuel Sanders didn't get a huge increase of number of targets despite WR Browns absence he was able to score on one of his two catches. Sanders was able to unravel in the back of the endzone, giving QB Roethlisberger a big window to throw into. Roethlisberger sidestepped slightly to the right to buy some time before hitting Sanders for the score. Sanders wasn't able to accomplish much else in this game that the Steelers looked far more impressive in. The Steelers were able to run the ball well and consistently, which took the ball out of QB Roethlisbergers hands and lowered the potential production of guys like Sanders. The Steelers also started drives off in Giants territory frequently as their special teams looked explosive. Sanders is a big play WR and the Steelers did not need to hit the big play to win on Sunday. They marched down the field slowly and methodically which proved very effective but reduced the potential plays for guys like Sanders.
2012 Week 10 vs KC (7 / 2 / 30 / 0 rec, 1 / 4 / 0 rush)
Sanders couldn't make a difficult reception along the sideline for his first target. Sanders made his first reception over the middle of the field on a crossing route and carried the ball forward for more than 25 yards. The Steelers went straight back to Sanders on an end around as he sprinted forward for four yards. After a quick run with Dwyer, Leftwich went straight back to Sanders running a seam route when Sanders worked back well to the football to draw a pass interference penalty against Javier Arenas. Sanders caught a quick screen on the next play, but three Chiefs defenders arrived with the football.
2012 Week 11 vs BAL (8 / 3 / 82 / 0 rec)
Despite the change at quarterback, Emmanuel Sanders did not miss a beat. During his team's first drive, Sanders ran a deep slant route and gained 25 yards. Baltimore did not have the right personnel in place, so Sanders took advantage. Sanders had three additional first half targets, but each target was uncatchable. Baltimore did a nice job at putting pressure on Leftwich, causing most of his throws to sail high and out of bounds. After halftime, Sanders ran a post route and collected his second reception for a 37-yard gain. Sanders' top-end speed was on full display as he rocketed past Ed Reed. During his team's next drive, Sanders displayed toughness and the willingness to go over the middle. Sanders ran a deep crossing route, secured the catch for a 20-yard gain, and took a hellacious helmet-to-helmet hit from Ed Reed. Sanders popped up after making the catch and stayed in the game. With Antonio Brown still nursing an injury, expect Sanders to continue roaming free in the opposition's secondary.
2012 Week 12 vs CLE (7 / 5 / 75 / 0 rec)
Sanders' first two catches came on 3rd downs. The first was for 11 yards on a 3rd-and-15, but the second converted a 3rd-and-8. Sanders was Charlie Batch's most reliable option not named Heath Miller throughout the game, which is to say that he was the only player outside of Miller who didn't fumble or bobble a ball that led to an interception. Sanders showed far better rapport with Batch than Wallace did, appearing to be where Batch expected him to be on all of his targets. Sanders also played with much more physicality than his fellow-starter. While he'll be relegated to #3 WR duties when Antonio Brown returns, Sanders has shown that he's deserving of more targets this season and can step in and start if the team loses Mike Wallace to free agency next season.
2012 Week 13 vs BAL (6 / 5 / 60 / 0 rec)
Sanders' first reception came on the team's first third down play of the game. Sanders lost his defender over the middle with a quick pivot, before catching the ball against tight coverage and turning upfield for the first down. Sanders caught his second pass at the beginning of the third quarter when he ran a short out route for eight yards. After a huge reception by Heath Miller, Batch went straight back to Sanders over the middle for a three yard gain. Sanders came free on a wide open post route after a pump fake to a screen to the right. With an open field infront of him, Sanders fumbled the ball after the catch when trying to transfer the ball from one arm to the other. Sanders would likely have scored a touchdown, but instead coughed the ball up to the Ravens. He came free again on the next drive, when Batch hit him in stride over the middle on third and three, but a hit from Bernard Pollard resulted in a dropped pass. Sanders went to the lockerroom after that hit. Sanders came back into the game and caught a pass over the middle for 17 yards to set his team up at the Ravens' goalline.
2012 Week 14 vs SD (4 / 2 / 36 / 0 rec)
Sanders was the beneficiary of QB Ben Roethlisberger doing a great job of eluding the pass rush in the pocket. Once Roethlisberger got away from the defense, he looked downfield and found a wide open Sanders over the middle for a big 31-yard pickup. That was pretty much the extent of Sanders' involvement though.
2012 Week 15 vs DAL (1 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Sanders' first target came deep over the middle when he was hit immediately by two defenders, he caught the ball but couldn't complete the process of the catch.
2012 Week 16 vs CIN (1 / 1 / 13 / 0 rec)
Sanders' first reception came in the third quarter on third and five when he adjusted well to a lame pass that was behind him. Sanders beat Nate Clements in coverage for the first down. Sanders only saw one target on the day.
2012 Week 17 vs CLE (3 / 2 / 28 / 0 rec)
Sanders was proving a matchup problem for the Browns. He was interfered with down the left sideline, but Roethlisberger threw an uncatchable football, before he drew the flag in the endzone working against Eric Hagg. Sanders' first reception came on a bubble screen as he did well to use his blocking to gain 12 yards and a first down. Sanders' second reception was a 16 yard out route when he sat down well in coverage between two defenders.
2011 Week 1 vs BAL (3 / 2 / 20 / 1 rec)
Sanders emerged as a great candidate to be the team's #3 WR at the end of last season. He was, in fact, looking like he had surpassed even Hines Ward in terms of effectiveness. A foot injury in the Super Bowl and another one this preseason, however, gave Brown the opportunity to emerge and fill in. Sanders is a great talent and is very capable of being this team's #3 WR. His touchdown catch was a great example of not just the size and speed a good WR needs but the smarts and chemistry with his quarterback. He ran a corner route out of the slot to the back pylon but was well-covered. Roethlisberger was flushed from the pocket left. Upon seeing this, Sanders streaked across the back of the endzone and made himself available for his QB to hit him with an easy throw. The Steelers have turned into a team that is probably more effective with the pass than the run, and with the weapons they have catching passes, it's easy to see why.
2011 Week 2 vs SEA (3 / 2 / 44 / 0 rec)
On the team's first 3rd down play of the game, they came out with three receivers, and it was Sanders who was the third. He caught a ball underneath coverage on a drag route after the middle had been partially cleared and turned a short pass into a 30-yard gain. He also had a 14-yard catch on a 2nd down play later in the game. Perhaps the biggest highlight of the day for Sanders, however, was a gadget play where he took an end around from Roethlisberger and threw to Hines Ward on a long crossing route from left-slot to right-numbers. Typically on a play like this, the receiver will have a wide open target or he'll abort the pass and run with the ball to be safe. Sanders threw a tight spiral and fired into a tight window. It was a pass Tarvaris may have even be jealous of on the opposing sideline. The Steelers showed a similar play in the preseason with Brown as the trigger man. Brown, however, is left-handed. This means they can run this gadget play going to either side of the field. In terms of usage between Brown and Sanders, it appears based on their targets, reception, and routes run that the team will use Brown on longer 3rd-down situations where a pass of 10+ yards down the field is needed. Sanders has more discipline as a route-runner and is, therefore, used in tighter spaces on the interior portion of the field. Both receivers will continue to be utilized frequently by this offense.
2011 Week 3 vs IND (5 / 2 / 21 / 0 rec)
Sanders's evening began in a bad way as he had a drop that stalled Pittsburgh's first drive. It's hard to say whether it was due to that drop or to game plan factors, but after it, Antonio Brown was the preferred choice for Roethlisberger. Sanders did have a high-impact catch, however, on the drive that ended the 3rd quarter and began the 4th. He made an 18-yard catch in traffic on a 3rd-and-18 that allowed the drive to continue and end with a field goal.
2011 Week 4 vs HOU (2 / 1 / 10 / 0 rec)
Sanders caught a ball on the first drive of the game where he was positioned wide. The coverage was at least 10 yards off so Roethlisberger rose and fired, and Sanders simply gained what was in front of him. He's probably more sure-handed and cerebral than Brown is, but Brown looks quicker and faster and certainly hasn't done anything to lose his spot in the pecking order. Sanders is probably more equipped to be a Hines Ward replacement who can work the slot and perform outside duties as well while Brown is closer to Wallace - a burner who can do serious damage on the perimeter.
2011 Week 5 vs TEN (3 / 0 / 0 / 0 rec)
Sanders began the game as the #3 WR in three-receiver sets. He was basically a no-show though as the typical Pittsburgh target distribution was shifted more toward Ward and the tight ends.
2011 Week 6 vs JAX (4 / 1 / 32 / 0 rec)
Despite just one catch, this was arguably Sanders' best game of the season. He made his longest catch of the year on a 3rd down play that extended a drive which ended in a touchdown. He also was targeted deep twice - something that really hasn't happened for him so far this season. One of those targets should have been a touchdown as he was open to catch the ball near the goal line, but the pass was thrown a few yards too far for him. Sanders and Brown continue to both be effective enough that neither will emerge as a consistently reliable weapon.
2011 Week 7 vs ARI (7 / 5 / 46 / 1 rec)
Sanders also was a beneficiary of Pittsburgh's "spread-it-out" attack, notching his best game of the season to date. He had a 20-yard catch in the middle of the field to set up his touchdown grab two plays later. On the TD, Roethlisberger scrambled, avoided blitzing linebacker Clark Haggans, and found Sanders in the back of the endzone after he was able to shake loose from the defensive back who fell as Sanders broke off his route and found open space. Pittsburgh's weapons are so deep. Sanders has the skills to be a starting receiver for many teams in the NFL, and he's basically #4 in Pittsburgh. It really speaks to this team's ability to evaluate talent at the position (Wallace, Sanders, and Brown were all drafted in the 3rd round or later).
2011 Week 8 vs NE (8 / 5 / 70 / 0 rec)
Despite his apparent place in the pecking order at receiver for Pittsburgh, it was Sanders who got the start over Antonio Brown in place of Hines Ward. The term "starter" though is somewhat irrelevant when the team has 3+ receivers on the field for the majority of its plays. Sanders didn't outperform Brown, but he showed that he can be a viable threat in the Pittsburgh offense. Many teams are going to be jealous of the receiving corps for Pittsburgh in the next couple of years as Sanders - the team's third best wideout (with Ward being fourth now) - has the skills that some teams lack in their starters. He has near elite speed, great hands, and is a fantastic route-runner. He's probably better than Brown in terms of the precision skills like route-running but behind him simply because the players are so similar in nature, and Brown jumped Sanders in the preseason due to Sanders' foot injuries. In future seasons (and maybe even this season), when Ward is out of the picture, Brown and Sanders will both have #2 WR value in this offense.
2011 Week 12 vs KC (4 / 2 / 25 / 0 rec)
Sanders took over for Antonio Brown as the team's kick return man - another vote of confidence for Brown being a big part of this offense. He caught a couple of passes in a two-minute drill situation, but on a night where the whole offense isn't clicking, there just wasn't enough to go around for him. He and Hines Ward split duties in three-receiver sets.
2011 Week 13 vs CIN (2 / 1 / 6 / 0 rec)
After ending last season looking like the next #2 WR in Pittsburgh, Sanders has become a bit of a forgotten man. Roethlisberger spread the fewer-than-normal targets around so much that only two Steelers caught more than two balls. Sanders is still a valuable asset for the team but is more "depth" at this point.
2011 Week 17 vs CLE (2 / 1 / 14 / 0 rec)
After missing a few games due to injury, it appeared that Pittsburgh wanted to get Sanders involved early. He was targeted on the first drive on a 3rd down play and drew a defensive holding penalty. He also had his only catch on a nice adjustment. He was in the slot left and was unguarded so Roethlisberger rose and fired immediately. Sanders' eyes were on the quarterback so he was able to catch and run to set up a 4th-and-short that the team converted.
2011 Week 18 vs DEN (8 / 6 / 81 / 0 rec)
Sanders came up big in this game, notching a season high in yardage and catches. Denver did a nice job using Champ Bailey on Mike Wallace and using multiple defenders any time Antonio Brown attempted deep routes on the perimeter. Sanders was able to perform like a reliable slot man, with three of his six catches going for first down yardage and another gaining 15 yards on a 2nd-and-16 play. He had a difficult year with injuries putting him on the shelf throughout the preseason and missed another two games in November as well. He was passed on the depth chart by Antonio Brown - who performed so well that Sanders may never pass him again. If Pittsburgh can keep Wallace, Brown, and Sanders all healthy and playing to their potential at the same time for an extended period next year, the passing game will be incredibly dangerous. Sanders could be the most valuable #3 WR in Fantasy Football next season if everything clicks.
2010 Week 6 vs CLE (2 / 2 / 37 / 0 rec)
Sanders, a rookie drafted in the 3rd round from SMU, hadn't dressed since the first game of the year for Pittsburgh in favor of fellow-rookie Antonio Brown. Brown is more of a return specialist, however, and the coaches love Sanders' receiver skills. So with the main man back at QB, they dressed Sanders. Both of his catches occurred on 3rd downs and resulted in 1st downs. He could eventually unseat Antwaan Randle El as the team's 3rd WR. If that doesn't happen this season, he'll be groomed into that role for next year.
2010 Week 7 vs MIA (1 / 1 / 18 / 0 rec)
Sanders was mainly featured in the return game, most notably losing the fumble on the opening kickoff. He recovered, however, making stronger returns as the game went on, and even made a nice catch over the middle in the third quarter.
2010 Week 8 vs NO (2 / 1 / 21 / 0 rec)
Sanders, the rookie wideout from SMU, only had one catch in this game, but he continues to return kicks and be a presence on the field in 4-wide sets. He's clearly the third receiver of the future for Pittsburgh, but he needs to stop fumbling on kickoffs, or he'll lose his uniform and won't be dressing for games. When not fumbling, however, he has shown promise by returning a kick past his 40 yard-line in two consecutive games.
2010 Week 10 vs NE (9 / 5 / 41 / 1 rec)
Sanders is the backup at Hines Ward's position in the Steelers' offense. He was thrust into much more duty in this game than the Steelers would like. While he may have a bright future, Sanders was overmatched in this game. He is becoming a decent kickoff return man, but as a receiver, he's got a lot to learn. As the Steelers were inside the red zone, Roethlisberger looked his way on a 3rd-and-goal, and Sanders was running along the back of the endzone while the ball dropped in front of him. Roethlisberger anticipated a route under a "pick" by Randle El, and Sanders simply didn't see it. He didn't even turn his head around until the ball was past him. Sanders can eventually be a nice third receiver, and that time should come as early as next season for Pittsburgh, but he's still on his way up the learning curve at this point
2010 Week 11 vs OAK (4 / 2 / 35 / 1 rec)
Sanders appears to be the heir to Hines Ward's job, but he still has some way to go. He definitely has the speed and elusiveness to find the open spot, but he still needs to focus more on making the reception and moving the chains. On his TD reception, Sanders used his burst to blow by the CB and Big Ben was able to put the ball in the perfect spot for him to make the catch. Sanders dove out, making the catch and bounced into the end zone. However, he had two other plays in the game where the ball bounced off of his hands or went right threw them for an incomplete. He had one other nice catch and run late in the first quarter, but he still remains the #3-4 receiving option for the Steelers.
2010 Week 12 vs BUF (5 / 2 / 27 / 0 rec)
f it wasn't evident in the game vs. Oakland, Sanders has officially overtaken Antwaan Randle El (0 REC, 0 TGT) as the Steelers' third wide receiver. He's on the field more, he's targeted more, and he looks capable of more. In fact, Sanders' skill set seems to be a mix of Ward and Wallace but much closer to that of Ward. He'll be expected not only to hold on to the #3 WR spot this year but to eventually transition into the starter at Ward's spot since Hines isn't getting any younger. This should be a nice fit as Sanders often worked out of the slot in college at SMU and caught a TON of passes in June Jones' pass-happy offensive system.
2010 Week 13 vs BAL (6 / 3 / 49 / 0 rec)
Sanders has taken full control of the Steelers' #3 receiver slot. His production in this game may not show it, but he has a bright future. It's difficult to put up great numbers in a game that ends 13-10 and your offense's lone touchdown drive was 9 yards. He's a playmaker with good hands and will be a great blend of skills because he can make plays inside like a possession receiver but also on the perimeter like a gamebreaker. With another offseason of work, he's primed to break out next season and could even be a difference-maker down the stretch and into the postseason for the Steelers. His short career arc to this point is comparable to his defensive teammate Lamaar Woodley. Both were used in top reserve roles throughout much of the regular season and came on late. Woodley had two sacks in his first ever playoff game vs Jacksonville in his rookie year. It will be interesting to see what Sanders can do on the big stage as the Steelers likely earned a top-2 seed in the AFC playoffs with this win.
2010 Week 15 vs NYJ (13 / 7 / 78 / 0 rec)
Sanders had a career-high seven receptions in this game and was targeted more than any other Steeler. Someone who didn't watch the game might assume that Jets cornerbacks Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie covered Mike Wallace and Hines Ward, but Revis was on Sanders for at least half of his targets. It was interesting that the Steelers threw to this matchup so many times - especially down the stretch of the game. However, they must have felt that they would take their chances with a one-on-one matchup instead of going against double teams elsewhere on the field. The way in which the Jets used their defensive backs could suggest that Revis' hamstring is giving him more trouble than the Jets are leading on - or that they simply didn't respect Hines Ward enough to shadow him with Revis. Sanders is developing into a nice weapon for the Steelers and could be the kind of unsung player who emerges as a hero in playoff time. Next season, he'll be a very viable weapon from the slot and could actually become better than Hines Ward before even replacing him.
2010 Week 16 vs CAR (4 / 4 / 54 / 0 rec)
Sanders has out-produced Ward for two straight games now and is becoming more and more comfortable in the Steelers' offense. Sanders has the route-running skills to be a Ward-like player but has much more speed than Ward at this point in Ward's career. As the Steelers prepare for the playoffs, Sanders is beginning to play like a player in his second year as opposed to his first. The Steelers have done a nice job of easing him in and letting him do a bit more each game. He nearly had a touchdown in this game (the play was ruled a TD on the field but was overturned by a challenge) and could be a guy who can make a difference as this team goes further this winter.
2010 Week 19 vs BAL (7 / 4 / 54 / 0 rec)
The rookie 3rd-round pick from SMU has clearly taken over the Steelers #3 WR spot, and some would argue he's basically been 2-A right up there with Ward. Three Steelers tied for the team lead with 7 targets in this game. One was Sanders, and neither were Ward. Sanders also ran a tight out-and-up that drew an illegal contact penalty on the Jets in the first half. By the beginning of training camp next season, Ward may only be a "starter" in title only as Sanders' progress has been fantastic throughout the season. He gives the Steelers a very nice blend of the good hands of a possession receiver with the speed of a playmaker.
2010 Week 20 vs NYJ (3 / 1 / 20 / 0 rec)
Sanders contributed a 20-yard catch on one of the Steelers first half TD drives, but he did not come close to having the impact he had in these teams first meeting, when he caught seven passes. He was the target on Roethlisberger deep ball interception in the third quarter, and it was his last target of the day.
2010 Week 21 vs GB (0 / 2 / 17 / 0 rec)
Sanders might have had a huge game, especially with the injuries in the Packers secondary, but he was injured on his second reception and did not return to the game.