Team Notes week 12 2019
NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS AND OTHER GOOD STUFF
Directly from the desk of FlashUpdate Editor Bob Harris. The good; the bad; and yes. ... Even the Bears. There is no better way to jump start your weekend than browsing these always educational -- often irreverent -- team-by-team, Fantasy-specific offerings. ...
Access specific teams by clicking on a team name in the schedule appearing directly to your left or by clicking on a helmet below; return to the helmets by hitting the link labeled "Menu" following each teams notes. ...
Arizona CardinalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss noted, Kyler Murray may stand at just 5-10 and 207 pounds but on Sunday he carried the Arizona Cardinals' run game.
With running back David Johnson playing just seven snaps -- all coming in the first half -- and not touching the ball once, Murray ended up being the complement to starting running back Kenyan Drake in a 36-26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Levi's Stadium
Drake finished with 55 snaps, two days after head coach Kliff Kingsbury said he would use a running back by committee.
Drake averaged 4.2 yards per carry in the game, and while it wasn't the same monster performance like he had against the 49ers in Arizona, he still showed impressive burst.
"It felt good," Drake said. "We had balance and were able to move the ball a little bit."
They moved it in part because Murray picked up the necessary slack, rushing for 67 yards and a touchdown on eight carries, to match Drake's 67 yards, which he gained on 16 carries. Murray nearly single-handedly won Arizona the game with 22-yard touchdown run with 6:35 left that put the Cardinals ahead 26-23. But the Niners scored a touchdown with 31 seconds left and then tacked on a defensive score on the final play of the game.
Murray, again, showed the maturity and composure of a more experienced quarterback, directing the Cardinals to an early 16-0 lead. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
When Murray was asked about the emotions of losing Sunday's game like the Cardinals did -- giving up a touchdown with 31 seconds left after Murray scored the then-go-ahead touchdown with 6:40 left in the game -- he paused 10 seconds before answering the question.
"I'm used to winning," Murray said. "I've always won, and then being in situations like when you go up 16 or you're in position to win and you should win, it's disappointing."
Murray lost three games as a starter in college and never lost a game he started in high school.
He lost three games in the NFL by Week 4 of this season and it has started to take a toll.
"I'm a competitor," Murray said. "I love the game of football so every time I step on the field I'm going to do me. I'm going to go hard for the guys in the locker room. So, that's really all I can do. Leave it all on the field and we just came up short."
At one point while he was at his locker after the game, Murray let out a yell of frustration.
But when asked if this game hit harder than others, he said all losses are equal.
"Ah, s---, I don't know," Murray said. "A loss is a loss, and we got to get better."
Meanwhile, Sunday's game was the first time in five seasons, in his 58th career game, Johnson didn't have a touch.
"It's not as much what [Johnson's] not showed us," Kingsbury said. "[Drake] played really well against them the first game, if you remember, so we wanted to get him going again in this game versus them."
Drake, acquired in a trade Oct. 28, has 57 touches for 283 yards and a touchdown in three games with the Cardinals. Since returning from an ankle injury that kept him out in Week 9 against the 49ers, Johnson has played 36 snaps and had six touches for 10 yards and a fumble.
Drake said he has no control over playing time or touches. That's Kingsbury's job.
"It's his job to get us ready for the game," Drake said. "I'm focused on what I've got to focus on. That's not my focus. Whenever I get on the field, whenever my number is called, I'm ready to go."
Kingsbury said after Sunday's game Johnson's lack of playing time had more to do with Drake having "the hot hand."
The coach reiterated that Monday.
"David is a part of this offense, and we have to find a way to make sure he's playing at a high level and that we can get him the football," Kingsbury said, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.
Kingsbury said Johnson's usage is "week to week, game plans change. ..."
As Profootballtalk.com noted, all this is good news for Drake, who is set to be a free agent in 2020. The Cardinals, however, are stuck with Johnson in 2020, thanks to a contract that was structured to vest guaranteed money a year early. As a result, Johnson already is due to make $10.2 million, fully guaranteed, next year.
The Cardinals could try to trade him. They could even do a Brock Osweiler-type deal where they give someone a second- or third-round pick to take his contract. Regardless, the Cardinals have a problem looming, if they hope to embrace Drake and move on from Johnson.
The bye week will give the Cardinals -- players and coaches -- a few days off before resetting for their final five games of the season, and it'll give Kingsbury a chance to jump-start his planning for the Rams in a couple of weeks.
Among the top priorities: What to do with the defense, and what to do with Johnson.
When Johnson is used, it will remain as a running back. Johnson has proven himself a good receiver out of the backfield, but as he did earlier this year, Kingsbury said he doesn't see Johnson in a full-time wide receiver role.
"Our views on how we use him and where he goes haven't changed," Kingsbury said. ...
In a related note. ... Murray is 26th in the NFL in rushing with 418 yards on 67 carries. He's the only player in the top 29 in rushing with fewer than 100 carries. He also has more yards than running backs like Tevin Coleman, Saquon Barkley, Latavius Murray, LeSean McCoy and Devonta Freeman. ...
As for the defense. ... Kingsbury said there has not been any discussion about changing defensive coordinators. Vance Joseph will remain in place. ...
Also of interest. ... The Cardinals won a rare challenge of a pass interference call set up an early score. Kingsbury challenged a no-call on a deep pass to Christian Kirk and had it overturned to pass interference on Richard Sherman. The 41-yard penalty turned a fourth-and-7 into a first-and-goal from the 3.
The Cardinals had to settle for a field goal after an offensive pass interference on Kirk wiped out an apparent TD pass to Charles Clay.
Sherman, who hadn't been penalized since the season opener, was called for two more pass interferences against Kirk in the first half.
Larry Fitzgerald won't ever have an easier touchdown than the five-yarder he scored Sunday. Somehow, the 49ers left one of the best receivers in NFL history uncovered.
Pharoh Cooper has done a nice job finding a spot as a receiver in this offense. He fits well with what Kingsbury likes to do.
And finally. ... The Cardinals are relatively healthy. Kingsbury hopes Chase Edmonds can come back after the off week and help the running back rotation on Dec. 1 against the Los Angeles Rams.
QBs: Kyler Murray, Drew Anderson, Brett Hundley
RBs: Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella, Trent Sherfield, KeeSean Johnson
TEs: Maxx Williams, Darrell Daniels, Dan Arnold
Atlanta FalconsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Quarterback Matt Ryan moved past Warren Moon for 10th place on the all-time passing list with his performance in Sunday's 29-3 win at the Carolina Panthers.
Ryan entered the game with 49,072 passing yards, behind Moon's 49,325. He finished the game with 311 yards and a touchdown on 21-of-31 passing and now has 49,383 career yards.
"It's pretty special, for sure," Ryan said of being a part of the elite group. "I've been fortunate to play for a long time and to have some success. To be mentioned with all those other guys that are up there is special. I've always dreamed of being in that spot as a kid. To be there is good. There's a lot of work to do. But when you kind of hit milestones like that, it's always more fun when you do it in a win so you can celebrate with the guys."
Wide receiver Julio Jones, who joked about Ryan's being around "a long time" to accomplish such a feat, praised his quarterback for the milestone.
"It's just a testament to him taking care of himself and being able to have longevity," Jones said of Ryan, who is now in his 12th NFL season. "Receivers have come in and out, but he's still been putting up numbers and being a great leader. He's just a hell of a quarterback."
Team owner Arthur Blank also recognized Ryan for moving into the top 10.
"He's been a top 10 quarterback in every sense for a very long period of time," Blank said. "I'm thrilled for Matt. I'm thrilled for the team. I'm sure glad we've had him since 2008."
Ryan, 34, is expected to become the 10th player to reach 50,000 yards at some point this season. John Elway is above Ryan on the all-time list at ninth with 51,475 yards.
The other players to surpass 50,000 yards are: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning. Only Brees, Brady, Peyton Manning and Favre have surpassed 70,000 passing yards.
Ryan's performance Sunday helped the Falcons race out to a 20-0 halftime lead. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 215 yards and a passer rating of 105.2 in the first half.
The 2016 MVP was particularly strong throwing the deep ball, completing 4 of 5 passes for 127 yards on passes thrown 15-plus yards down the field in the first half. He connected with Jones for a 48-yard pickup and connected with Calvin Ridley for 34 yards.
"We've got special players on the outside, guys that can make you pay," Ryan said. "And both our guys, Julio and Calvin [Ridley], they played extremely well today. Ridley had a huge game, so it was great to see from him."
Ridley had 143 receiving yards and a 6-yard touchdown reception on eight catches, while Jones caught six passes for 91 yards.
Ryan's strong play on offense, and an incredibly strong effort by the defense, sparked the Falcons. Atlanta intercepted Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen four times and sacked him five times.
"It's huge," Ryan said of the defensive effort. "When you're creating turnovers like that, you're getting extra possessions and you're taking away possessions from them. It just gives you such an advantage. I think offensively, we didn't do a good enough job of capitalizing on all those turnovers. ... The way our defense played, it gives you a chance every week."
The Falcons, however, did walk away with their second straight win and have started 2-0 in NFC South play heading into next week's home matchup with Tampa Bay.
There is a different vibe after a 1-7 start to the season.
Worth noting, despite building a sizeable cushion on the scoreboard, the Falcons remained willing to throw the ball in the second half. Atlanta didn't chuck it around as often as it did before halftime, but the Falcons were incredibly efficient when they took to the air.
That might have been due to their struggles running the ball
Qadree Ollison's 2-yard touchdown run was one of the few bright spots for Atlanta's run game on Sunday, which was missing starting running back Devonta Freeman. Against a Panthers defense ranked 29th against the run coming into the game, the Falcons gained just 54 yards on 26 carries, an average of 2.1 yards per carry.
Brian Hill got the start and ran for 30 yards on 15 rush attempts. He caught one of three targets for eight receiving yards.
As CBSSports.com notes, Hill's fantasy stock price saw a massive increase as result of Freeman's injury, a circumstance that suddenly thrust the 24-year-old back into a lead role. Fantasy GMs flocked to the waiver wire in droves to acquire the young back, but those who plugged him into their lineups against Carolina were let down despite Hill benefiting from a matchup against a Panthers defense that had conceded more than 135 yards per game on the ground entering Sunday.
With Atlanta heading into a Week 12 matchup against Tampa Bay's top-ranked rush defense, there is reason to survey other options before inserting the relatively unproven Hill into lineups.
In fact, Kenjon Barner could see more carries. He had a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown and had two carries for 15 yards in his limited time on offense.
In fact, Barner was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his part in Atlanta's win over the Panthersl. That punt-return TD was the first of his career and broken open Atlanta's road victory. This is Barner's second Special Teams Player of the Week honor of his career; he last took home the award in Week 5, 2017 as a member of the Eagles. ...
Beyond that, maintaining the lead against Carolina allowed the Falcons to be consistent with the run despite the lack of success, which played a large role in their effectiveness through the air.
The Falcons accomplished all of that without tight end Austin Hooper, who was tied for the league lead in touchdowns and receptions by a tight end through the first 10 weeks of the season. Hooper missed Sunday's game due to a knee injury, but backup tight end Jaeden Graham made a pair of nice plays in his absence.
Graham caught two passes for 23 yards, including an 11-yard gain on a third-and-10 in the fourth quarter that led to another Koo field goal. Second-year receiver Russell Gage also made a pair of nice plays, finishing his afternoon with 32 yards as his role on the offense continues to expand.
Head coach Dan Quinn told reporters on Monday that Hooper and Freeman are "trending in the right direction," but he also said it was unlikely they would be ready to practice on Wednesday.
Neither practiced Wednesday and Quinn ruled Hooper out.
A concrete decision on Freeman might not come until Friday at the earliest and Sunday at the latest.
Also worth noting. ... Jones was held out Wednesday with a foot injury; early-week absences aren't unusual for the veteran wideout, but I'll be following up on all involved via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
And finally. ... The Falcons won in convincing fashion for the second straight week and Ryan credited owner Arthur Blank's decision to stay the course with Quinn after a 1-7 start as a factor in their strong play.
The Falcons had four interceptions, providing more proof of improved communication on defense. Quinn, who began the season as the defensive coordinator, shook up the coaching staff during the bye week. He already had given assistants more responsibility to call plays on defense. Since the bye, linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and secondary coach Raheem Morris are splitting the duties.
After Sunday's win over the Panthers, Blank said he thought the "players and coaches" were doing a great job and that "we've got to keep it up" over the final six games of the season.
On Monday, Quinn was asked about his future and responded by saying "there's consequences when you do well and consequences when you don't." He was also asked if Blank had set a bar for what needs to happen in those six games in order for Quinn to remain in Atlanta for a sixth season.
"No. We talk weekly about the team, about where we're at," Quinn said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. "Our conversations we talk about the team a lot. We've never gone further than that."
It's been an impressive two games, but it is still just two games and the Falcons will have two more in a five-day span when they host the Buccaneers in Week 12 before the Saints visit on Thanksgiving. Should the winning streak extend beyond that, questions about the chances of Quinn sticking around will start coming more often.
QBs: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert
RBs: Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison, Ito Smith
WRs: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Laquon Treadwell, Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheaus
TEs: Hayden Hurst, Jaeden Graham, Carson Meier
Baltimore RavensCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
According to ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley, in exchanging jerseys with Deshaun Watson after Sunday's 41-7 victory, Lamar Jackson received a compliment that proved just as special.
Watson wrote on the jersey: "Always love, keep grinding and MVP."
In outplaying Watson, Jackson delivered another performance that staked his claim to being the league's top player while etching his name in the Baltimore Ravens' record book once again.
In a rout of the Houston Texans, Jackson became the first player in Ravens history to produce multiple games with four touchdown passes. On his scores, Jackson connected with Seth Roberts (15 yards), Mark Andrews (18 yards) and Mark Ingram (25 and 12 yards).
Jackson threw five touchdown passes in the season opener at Miami.
Asked about setting the Ravens record, Jackson said: "That's a good stat. I like that stat. I'd rather throw [touchdowns] than run them. Like I said before, since I'm a running 'back, they're gonna still say whatever they're gonna say."
Baltimore (8-2) extended its winning streak to six games, the longest current one in the NFL. It pulled within a half-game of New England for the top seed in the AFC, pending the Patriots' game against the Eagles.
Jackson now has as many as or more games of four touchdowns and no interceptions this season (two) than the following Hall of Fame quarterbacks had in their careers: Joe Montana (two), Bart Starr (one), Troy Aikman (one), Jim Kelly (one) and Ken Stabler (one), according to ESPN Stats and Information research. Those players also have 10 Super Bowl rings among them.
Jackson was asked whether he feels as if he has to defend himself less as a passer.
"I never tried to defend myself before," Jackson said. "I really don't care what they say. My guys know, week in [and] week out, we're practicing [and] we see it. I don't really care what the doubters say."
Overcoming a shaky first quarter (1-for-6 for 12 yards), Jackson completed 16 of his final 18 passes for 210 yards and four touchdowns. He got in a groove, completing 13 straight passes. That's the fourth-longest streak in franchise history.
"I just think he's definitely improving," head coach John Harbaugh said. "Yes, sure, from one season to the next, but from game to game, even from practice to practice. He's so locked in."
Jackson also hurt the Texans with his legs, rushing for 86 yards. His best run was a 39-yarder in which he made five Texans defenders miss.
Jackson, who was 17-of-24 for 222 yards (139.2 rating), outplayed Watson after doing the same against Russell Wilson, another MVP candidate, on Oct. 20.
Entering Sunday, Jackson was tied with Wilson for the best odds to win NFL MVP, according to Caesars Sportsbook. Watson was in a three-way tie for third with Christian McCaffrey and Aaron Rodgers.
In introducing Jackson to the postgame media session, Ingram said: "Now I would just like to introduce y'all to the man, the myth, the legend, the MVP front-runner ... if anybody else got something different to say about that, then come see me. I'm right here in B-more."
Ingram caught touchdown passes of 25 and 12 yards in the second half after Roberts and Andrews scored before halftime.
For the season, Jackson has 19 TD passes, five interceptions and a whopping 788 yards rushing.
Jackson and the Ravens will be tested in coming weeks. They play the Los Angeles Rams next Monday night, then face the San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. But the Ravens have passed almost every test this season with flying colors, and they're playing their best football in what is considered to be the hardest part of their schedule.
One more Jackson-related item: He began the season as a long shot to win NFL MVP. He's now the favorite.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the second-favorite at 2-1 at Caesars Sportsbook, followed by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (9-1) and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (10-1), the preseason favorite. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott also is 10-1, with Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins 15-1. Watson and Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey are each 20-1. ...
For the first time this season, Jackson sits atop the odds to win NFL MVP. He is 7-5 at Caesars Sportsbook, after entering the season -- his second in the NFL and first as a full-time starter -- at 50-1.
Other notes of interest. ... Jackson led the way with four touchdowns, but several offensive players also had big days against the Texans.
On the ground, Gus Edwards led all rushers 112 yards on 11 carries. He capped the victory with a 63-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and has been the perfect complement to Ingram this season.
"Edwards is a hammer and provides great relief of Ingram," Ebony Bird's Darin McCann wrote. "Today he ran for 112 yards and a touchdown, and it's good to see the steak-and-potato guys get some headlines."
Ingram provided his production in a different way than usual, catching two touchdowns of 25 and 12 yards. Baltimore Beatdown's Kyle Barber named Ingram one of his many winners from Sunday.
"After weeks of rushing the football to great success, Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman switched gears and found receiving options for the tailback, resulting in 3 catches for 37 yards and two touchdowns," Barber wrote. "He did add another 48 yards on the ground."
Andrews continued to be Jackson's favorite target, racking up 75 yards on four catches, including a 53-yard catch that featured some of his best juke moves.
As noted above. ... Roberts caught his first touchdown pass with Baltimore, a 15-yarder in the first quarter that put the Ravens ahead for good.
Roberts said he was "happy to contribute" and paid homage to Jackson, who found nine different receivers on Sunday.
"He can do anything on the field," Roberts said. "He's a freak."
Willie Snead had two catches for 13 yards. Jackson would like to involve him more, but it just hasn't worked out that way.
Snead has 21 receptions for 263 yards and two touchdowns. He led the Ravens last year with 62 catches. ...
On the injury front. ... Marquise Brown continued to play through a lingering ankle injury while fellow wide receiver Chris Moore (thumb) is a player Harbaugh hopes to get back this week. Moore missed Sunday's game and his presence would be an asset on special teams.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III, Trace McSorley
RBs: Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill
WRs: Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin, Willie Snead, Jaleel Scott, De'Anthony Thomas, Chris Moore
TEs: Mark Andrews, Nick Boyle
Buffalo BillsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques suggested, if there's ever a defense to help your offense break out of a slump, it's the one the Buffalo Bills faced in Miami on Sunday.
After failing to break 300 total yards in two of their past three games, the Bills collected a season-high 424 yards of offense in their 37-20 victory against the Dolphins, reaching a season high in scoring, as well. The win gave the Bills their fourth road win of the season after winning just five such games over the previous two seasons combined.
Beyond that, it's safe to say Josh Allen likes playing against Miami. The second-year quarterback totaled four touchdowns on Sunday to go along with 256 yards passing and 56 yards rushing. It's the second time in his career Allen has thrown for three touchdowns against Miami.
Sunday was Allen's best game of the season and arguably the best of his career.
"We want to put together a good second half of the season," Allen said, "and put ourselves into position to get into the playoffs."
The victory gave the Bills (7-3) their best 10-game record since 1999. But a recent regression - they had lost two of their past three games - and a soft schedule has left doubts about whether they deserve to make the postseason for only the second time in 20 years.
Through Week 10, Buffalo's wins had come against opponents with a combined record of 12-44.
The Bills looked like a contender Sunday, at least compared to the Dolphins (2-8).
"They had the eye of the tiger," head coach Sean McDermott said.
"That was our best game," said John Brown, who caught two touchdown passes. "But we haven't played our best game yet."
Allen's TD tosses covered 40 and 9 yards to Brown, and 23 yards to Dawson Knox. Allen also scored on an 8-yard run, and he had a 36-yard run to set up a field goal.
Allen went 21 for 33 for 256 yards without a sack or turnover, and his passer rating of 117.7 was a career high. He extended his streak of passes without an interception to 163.
The effort made Allen the first quarterback since Russell Wilson in 2015 with five consecutive two touchdown, no interception outings.
He was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.
Brown totaled 137 yards receiving, the most by a Buffalo player in nearly three years, on nine catches. It was his most prolific outing since a 10-catch 144-yard performance for Arizona in 2016.
According to Next Gen Stats, Brown accounted for 66 percent of the team's air yards in Sunday's victory.
The Bills netted a season-best 424 yards, and their point total was also a season high.
For the fifth consecutive game, Allen played risk-averse football but this time with an added element -- fearlessness. His 40-yard touchdown pass to Brown was rifled into the soft spot of Miami's Cover 2 zone, and he threaded the needle again on a 9-yard touchdown pass in which Brown had under 2 yards of separation from the nearest defender, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
Overall, Sunday's win keeps Buffalo in the driver's seat for one of the AFC's two wild-card spots, one game ahead of a crowded field. It was a much-needed win for Buffalo, which will face Denver's fourth-ranked defense next week before matching up with the NFL's top two offenses -- Dallas (currently 6-4), and Baltimore (8-2) -- in the following weeks. After that, they get Pittsburgh (5-5) and New England (9-1) before closing the season by hosting the New York Jets (3-7).
Buffalo's wins have come against opponents with a combined 15-55 record. ...
For the record, ESPN.com's Tristan Cockcroft notes the three best single-game fantasy point totals of Allen's career have all come against the Dolphins, within the Bills' past 15 regular-season games: 40.5, 2018 Week 17 33.8, 2019 Week 11 28.7, 2018 Week 13. ...
Allen has now produced two touchdowns in six consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL and the longest by a Bill since Jim Kelly (seven games) in 1991.
Brown has now notched his 10th consecutive 4-catch/50-yard performance, extending the team record he established last week. His 760 receiving yards also marks a team record for the most yards by a Bill in their first 10 games.
Brown is now past 50 catches on the season, making him the fastest Bill (10 games) to 50 catches since Stevie Johnson (10 games) in 2010.
Devin Singletary helped pace the run game with 15 carries for 75 yards to average five yards per rush. But the rookie won't merit additional touches after fumbling twice, both of which were recovered by Buffalo. ...
For what it's worth, coming into Sunday's game Buffalo ranked 25th in points per game at 19.3, but the offense, with coordinator Brian Daboll moving upstairs to call plays as Allen and company delivered points on their first four possessions while employing a no-huddle, up tempo scheme.
Buffalo's quarterback admitted that he feels more comfortable operating the no huddle attack.
"Yeah I do," Allen said. "I think it's a little easier for me to see everything and make some checks at the line and get ourselves in a good enough situation where we can call a play and be okay with it. We had some pretty good answers today. Our guys ran the ball hard and our big guys did a good job of protecting and moving the ball up front and moving the line of scrimmage, so hats off to them."
Buffalo scored on five of their first six drives, and though they went 0-for-2 in the red zone in the first half, the Bills did get a pair of touchdowns from beyond the Dolphins 20-yard line.
As for Daboll being upstairs, McDermott downplayed it, saying the coordinator has been up there before. But since Allen was made the permanent starting quarterback as a rookie, Daboll had been on the sidelines.
"All little things help here and there," said McDermott. "I'll talk to Brian and see if he liked being up there and what he was able to see. I used to call the defense from up there and you can see a lot. It's hard to see from the sidelines. It shouldn't be, but it is."
"It was very smooth and it worked out so that'll probably be what we do from here on out," said Allen. ...
Kicker Stephen Hauschka bounced back by hitting all three field goal attempts, including a 51-yarder, after missing two a week earlier. ...
On the injury front. ... McDermott says RT Ty Nsekhe is still having tests done on the injured ankle that forced him to leave Sunday's game against the Dolphins. CB Siran Neal is in the concussion protocol after being knocked out of Sunday's game, as well.
QBs: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Davis Webb
RBs: Devin Singletary, T.J. Yeldon, Taiwan Jones
WRs: John Brown, Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Isaiah McKenzie, Duke Williams, Andre Roberts, Robert Foster
TEs: Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney, Jason Croom
Carolina PanthersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
The only member of the Panthers to attend Colin Kaepernick's workout on Saturday in Atlanta was safety Eric Reid, and that was out of support for his former San Francisco 49ers teammate.
As ESPN.com's David Newton suggested, perhaps general manager Marty Hurney or another member of the scouting staff should have attended, as well.
The future of Carolina's quarterback situation became murkier than ever on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium as Kyle Allen self-destructed in a 29-3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons that put the team's playoff hopes on life support.
Allen's three first-half interceptions against a defense that had only two all season -- and none since Week 2 -- continued a trend that caused him to be benched in college at Texas A and M and Houston.
The second-year, undrafted player added a fourth pick in the second half and has eight interceptions in the past four games. He had none during a 4-0 start after taking over for Cam Newton.
The loss wasn't all Allen's fault, mind you. An offensive line that was a strength a month ago gave up five sacks against a defense ranked 30th in the league in that category. The defense at times looked confused and out of position, giving up big plays such as the 48-yard completion to Julio Jones to set up a touchdown at the end of the first half.
Special teams gave up a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown.
This was a complete breakdown by the Panthers (5-5), who with a victory could have put themselves in position for a run at the NFC playoffs.
Allen's issues Sunday add to the Panthers' uncertainty at the quarterback position, with questions about whether the 30-year-old Newton, on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury, will be brought back in 2020 for the final year of his contract.
Had Allen played well in a Panthers win, the situation might seem less dire. But if turnovers continue to plague him as they did in college -- he had two interceptions and a lost fumble in his last start for the Houston Cougars -- and losses persist, there will calls for third-round draft pick Will Grier in the coming weeks.
Of course, it's possible Allen is trying to do too much. Instead of simply getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers such as Christian McCaffrey, he forced passes. His first-half interception in the end zone after he stepped up in the pocket and had plenty of room to run was just about as bad as the one he had against Green Bay in the same situation.
Maybe defenses are taking advantage of having a bigger tape collection.
Whatever the case, Allen has to take better care of the ball. He could also use more help from his offensive line and some takeaways from a streaky defense. ...
For the record, head coach Ron Rivera said that he's not prepared to make a quarterback change, or even change up the reps in practice after Allen's four-interception blowout.
"It's tough," Rivera said. "It's a fine balance with the development [of QBs] when you've got two of them."
At the moment, their only option is Grier, the third-round pick who is only active since Newton went on injured reserve, and they don't have anyone else on the roster.
"Like a lot of us, he feels like he let a lot of people down," Rivera said of Allen.
But at the moment, they're going to stick with him. ...
In addition, the Panthers have not made a decision on Newton's future, but owner David Tepper said the team is open to having the quarterback return, Alaina Getzenberg of the Charlotte Observer reports.
Tepper spoke to Charlotte media Monday, with Newton one of the biggest topics.
Tepper said no decision has been made about whether Newton will undergo surgery, and the Panthers will make no decisions on Newton until he has fully healed.
With Newton owed $18.6 million plus a $2 million option bonus in 2020, the Panthers have a major decision to make on the former MVP. They could save $19 million on their salary cap if they cut Newton or trade him, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press.
This marks the second consecutive season that Newton's season has ended prematurely. He missed the final two games of 2018 before undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.
Also of interest. ... McCaffrey finished with 191 yards from scrimmage but failed to score for the first time since Week 2. Still, he passed LaDainian Tomlinson (238) for the most receptions by a running back in his first three NFL seasons. His 191 total yards from scrimmage gave him 1,576 for the season and put him on pace for 2,521.6 yards, which would break Chris Johnson's NFL single-season record of 2,509.
McCaffrey played 93 percent of the snaps, while Reggie Bonnafon played nine percent.
D.J. Moore caught 8-of-15 targets for 95 yards. As Rotoworld.com notes, Moore and McCaffrey were the only sources of offense for a Panthers team that mustered just three points. Moore has now drawn at least 10 targets in four of the last five games and eight targets in six straight. He's averaging 105.3 yards over his last three games.
Curtis Samuel played 96 percent of the snaps, his highest percentage since Week 2 of the season against Tampa Bay.
And finally. ... The Panthers practiced without McCaffrey on the last two Wednesdays and he’s sat out others over the course of the regular season, but there’s a different approach in place for this practice week.
McCaffrey, who was listed with a knee, foot and back issues at various points this season, was not on Wednesday’s injury report at all. Per reporters at Rivera's press conference, the coach said that McCaffrey told the team’s coaches that he wanted to practice this time around.
McCaffrey hasn’t missed any game action after spending time on the sideline during the week and the fact that he worked on Wednesday suggests he won’t be missing time against the Saints this week either.
Cornerback Ross Cockrell (ankle) and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (knee) were both out of practice Wednesday. Tackle Dennis Daley (groin), safety Eric Reid (knee) and linebacker Shaq Thompson (ankle) were limited participants.
QBs: Teddy Bridgewater, Will Grier, Phillip Walker
RBs: Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, Jordan Scarlett, Mike Davis
WRs: D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, Pharoh Cooper, Jarius Wright, Brandon Zylstra, Keith Kirkwood
TEs: Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Temarrick Hemingway
Chicago BearsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Mitchell Trubisky wanted to finish out the game, but the decision was taken out of his hands
The quarterback said he sustained a right hip injury in the first half of a 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, which prompted head coach Matt Nagy to replace him with Chase Daniel in the fourth quarter.
Nagy noticed Trubisky was struggling to create power from his lower body after being alerted to the situation by quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone in the second half. What Nagy saw was Trubisky making throws that were all arm, ultimately prompting him to pull the third-year quarterback aside and find out what was happening.
"I said, 'Listen, here's the deal. We got to know, and you got to be honest with us as to where you're at.' And it was hard for him to say that. It was really hard, but he told me exactly how he felt, and I made the decision to put Chase in there at that time," Nagy said.
Daniel was 1 of 4 passing for 9 yards on his lone drive leading the offense, which ended in a turnover on downs.
Trubisky was 24 of 43 passing for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was 7 of 9 for 66 yards on the Bears' touchdown drive in the third quarter, which ended with a back shoulder 14-yard scoring throw to Tarik Cohen.
The difference on that drive, Trubisky said, was the effective pass protection he received.
"The O-line did a great job just allowing me to sit back there, and I didn't really have to move around on that drive," Trubisky said. "Just dink and dunk down the field, and receivers got open, and Tarik made a great play on that back shoulder route to score. I just felt like I could keep doing that and that's why I kept going."
Nagy said he was not aware of the specifics of the injury, apart from his brief conversation with Trubisky on the field. That was seemingly evident from some of the calls Nagy made in critical situations in the second half that put Trubisky on the move, including an option pitch to David Montgomery to the short side of the field on third-and-1 that resulted in a tackle for loss by Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam.
"You appreciate that the kid did not want to come out, but at the same time we had to know exactly what was going on," Nagy said.
For what it's worth, Nagy heard the same skepticism as everyone else when the team said a hip injury was the reason why Trubisky was sidelined, but he said on Monday that it was "pure honesty."
Nagy said it got to a point when Trubisky couldn't sit down on the bench and was adamant that was the only reason why Daniel came into the game.
"Every decision that was made, it had zero to do with his play. Zero" Nagy said. "It was completely based off the injury that he had last night and where he was at."
Trubisky already missed one game this season because of a dislocated shoulder he sustained against Minnesota on Sept. 29, and he hopes to avoid having to sit out more games. However, he was not sure as to the extent of the hip injury, other than that he hoped to play against the New York Giants this weekend if able to do so.
"You just want to be out there with your team," Trubisky said. "But if you're not 100 percent, you can't help the team. I'm not doing the team any favors if I'm not able to run around or throw the ball with accuracy because I'm throwing with all arm. Just you got to be smart from that factor, but I'm going to fight as long as I can to try to be out there with my guys."
Trubisky's injury represents another blow in what is quickly becoming a lost season for the Bears, who dropped to 4-6 less than a year removed from a 12-4 campaign and NFC North division title. The uncertainty about the situation was evident from Trubisky's teammates, with wide receiver Anthony Miller saying he pulled Trubisky aside and told him to stay positive, even if he wasn't entirely clear about the situation.
And if the injury were to force Trubisky out of the starting lineup, Miller said that is out of his control.
"I just have to do my job," Miller said. "Really, I can't do anything about that. I'm not the GM. I'm not the head coach, so I don't gotta ask about that."
Save for a pair of three-touchdown performances versus Washington and Detroit, Trubisky's 2019 season has been otherwise disappointing. Trubisky -- the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft -- has passed for just 1,390 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions. ...
Still, Nagy said Trubisky is "absolutely" going to be the starter if he is healthy enough to play against the Giants, who have lost six straight and are coming off a bye this week.
Trubisky took the first step in that direction by practicing fully on Wednesday.
Stay tuned. I'll be following up on Trubisky daily via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
The Bears will try to bounce back against the struggling Giants (2-8). New York.
Beyond the issues at quarterback, ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson contends the Bears have a full-blown kicker crisis, again.
Eddy Pineiro had a better-than-expected September and October, but Pineiro's job appears to be in jeopardy after he missed a pair of first-half field goals (47 and 48 yards) on Sunday night. For an offense that has struggled to score points all year, Pineiro's misses devastated the Bears, who ran 41 offensive plays in the opening 30 minutes, yet went to the halftime locker room with zero points.
Following Pineiro's first miss of the night, Nagy opted to go for it on fourth-and-9 instead of letting Pineiro attempt a 49-yard field goal. Can you blame Nagy?
Pineiro has made three of his past seven field goal tries and also botched an extra-point kick in Week 10. The Bears spent the entire offseason searching for a kicker before they settled on Pineiro.
Nagy indicated after Sunday night's game that he wants to stick with Pineiro. "Eddy knows he's got to make those," Nagy said.
The Bears may not be able to find a better kicker off the street in November. And the Bears are out of realistic playoff contention, so they have higher priorities, like figuring out how they're going to rebound after this season, given that they don't have a first-round draft pick and are short on salary cap space.
So, as Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith suggested, it may not be that the Bears are actually confident in Pineiro, but that they figure they're stuck with him for six more weeks.
A game-time decision due to an ankle injury he sustained Wednesday in practice, Montgomery was active but rushed for just 31 yards on 14 carries and caught one pass for 19 yards. Cohen led the Bears in rushing with 39 yards on nine carries. ...
And finally. ... Desperate for tight end production with Trey Burton on injured reserve and Adam Shaheen nursing a foot injury, the Bears turned to a preseason stud Wednesday.
Jesper Horsted was promoted to the active roster. Despite playing just three offensive snaps in the first two exhibition games combined, he finished the preseason with eight catches for 121 yards. They were second-most receiving yards on the team during the preseason -- and are still more than any single Bears tight end has totaled during the regular season.
As a wide receiver at Princeton, Horsted set school records with 196 catches and 28 touchdown receptions. The Bears converted to him to tight end and kept him on the practice squad all season.
The team put Burton on injured reserve Saturday. He fought a groin injury all year and hurt his calf against the Lions.
QBs: Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles
RBs: David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Ryan Nall
WRs: Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley
TEs: Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, J.P. Holtz, Eric Saubert, Jesper Horsted
Cincinnati BengalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As Associated Press sports writer Michael Wagaman reported, for a little while, at least, it seemed as if Cincinnati would finally join the rest of the NFL and win a game.
Joe Mixon ran strong for a second consecutive week, and the Bengals forced a pair of turnovers to cool down Oakland's offense. But, reality sank in when rookie Ryan Finley dropped back to pass.
Finley was sacked five times, including four by Raiders rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby, and threw an interception that ended Cincinnati's hopes for a late comeback during a 17-10 loss to Oakland on Sunday.
That's 12 consecutive losses for the Bengals dating to last year. Cincinnati's 0-10 start this season matches the worst in franchise history.
"I've got be better," said Finley after his second career start in place of benched starter Andy Dalton. "A lot of these NFL games come down to one score, and you need to score in the two-minute situation. Just got to be better all around."
Cincinnati led 7-0 behind Mixon's running early. The Bengals running back had a 30-yard run to start the drive, then scored on a 3-yard run after changing directions in the backfield.
It was Cincinnati's first rushing touchdown this season by someone other than Dalton.
Mixon had 47 yards on seven carries in the first half, but became a non-factor when the Raiders geared up to stop the run and the Bengals fell behind.
"Eventually, they stared zeroing in on the run, and you've got to try and stay one step ahead," head coach Zac Taylor said. "We felt like there were some opportunities there in the pass game, play-actions, to complement our run. Sometimes it went accordingly and sometimes it didn't. But our run game was really helping us today."
Mixon finished with 86 yards and 15 carries.
But Mixon and Giovani Bernard led the offense. The Bengals used the two running backs together more than they have in other games, trying to find a way to shelter a rookie quarterback and make up for the lack of a deep threat with receivers A.J. Green and John Ross injured.
Mixon averaged 5.7 yards per carry, and Bernard added 30 yards rushing and 16 receiving.
Still, Finley struggled for a second straight week since replacing Dalton. The rookie quarterback was 13 of 31 for 115 yards and a 39.0 rating.
"Overall, offensively it wasn't enough," Taylor said, adding that Finley will remain the Bengals' starter. "He tried to keep some plays alive, but it's hard. Right now, we are not creating a lot of separation and there are some guys that get in (our) backfield pretty quick. So, it's a hard day for most quarterbacks.
"There are some plays that he has got to learn from and he would like to have back, but it's the whole unit together and that starts with him."
In two games as Cincinnati's starter, Finley has completed 29 of 61 pass attempts for 282 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
"We need to get better at not getting behind the stick," Finley said. "We need to be better on converting third downs and we need to be better in the red zone. That falls onto me and I'm going to get better. We're all going to keep getting better."
As ESPN.com's Ben Baby noted, the Bengals' beleaguered group of wide receivers struggled to get any separation, an issue that Taylor referenced following the previous week's loss against Baltimore.
NextGen Stats back that contention as the unit averaged 1.4 separation yards against the Raiders. Coming into Week 11, the lowest by any group of receivers in the NFL was 1.31 yards
When Dalton was benched earlier in the season, Taylor noted that the offensive problems weren't squarely on the quarterback.
With Finley behind center, that sentiment still holds true.
Cincinnati's front office will have to evaluate several positions across the roster this offseason as they collectively roll up their sleeves to start the rebuilding process. And it's going to take more than a young quarterback to fix the passing attack.
Remember: When the Bengals switched to Finley, Taylor said it wasn't going to be a game-by-game decision because the Bengals wanted to find out how Finley fits in their plans for next season.
On Monday, Taylor left the door open for another switch.
"Ryan's our starter this week against Pittsburgh, and I have a hard time looking beyond that," Taylor said. "Feel like he's going to give us an opportunity to win this week. ..."
If there was a positive, it came from the Bengals defense. Cincinnati sacked Oakland's Derek Carr three times. Carr had been sacked only 12 times in the Raiders previous nine games.
Still, it wasn't enough to take away the sting from being 0-10.
"It's a big hit on everybody in the organization," Mixon said. "It sucks to be in this position. I've never been 0-10 in my life. It's the same thing each and every week, and it's frustrating."
For what it's worth, the Bengals were eliminated from playoff contention with yesterday's loss to the Raiders which dropped them to 0-10.
Week 11 is the earliest a team has been knocked out of the playoff race since at least 2002. ...
Other notes of interest. ... On Monday, receiver Tyler Boyd complained about his lack of opportunities in the passing game.
"I feel like I'm the go-to guy with [Green] down," Boyd told Baby on Monday. "I felt like [my] targets were not where they should have been. I feel that I'm a game-changer and I could have utilized my talents in any way to move the chains, and nothing was coming my way."
Boyd had one catch for zero yards on three targets.
"The way I'm playing, the level that I bring, I believe I get open in any one-on-one coverage across the board against anyone," Boyd said. "All you gotta do is just read the defense. If [quarterback Ryan Finley] sees he has me, just gotta put it there, and I'm going to make a play for him."
For the season, Boyd has 58 catches for 598 yards and one touchdown. He has a pair of 120-plus yard games. He said he won't be approaching Taylor or offensive coordinator Brian Callahan to get the ball more often.
"I'm not the type of player that's going to go and tell them to throw me the ball, force me the ball and get it done, regardless if that's what's going in my mind," Boyd said. "But I know they see it, and I know that they know I'm a reliable guy."
Of course, Boyd doesn't really need to say anything to them directly, now that he's made his concerns known publicly.
Also of interest. ... Receiver Auden Tate said he was OK after a scary sequence Sunday that ended with him being carted off the field at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in the fourth quarter.
Tate suffered a neck injury after he made a 20-yard completion on third-and-19. After roughly eight minutes, he was loaded onto the medical cart and flashed a thumbs-up multiple times as he left the field.
He flew back to Cincinnati with the rest of the Bengals, the team confirmed.
"I'm good y'all," Tate tweeted out on Sunday night.
Since the Bengals inserted him into the starting lineup on Week 3, he has been one of the team's most dependable receivers. Despite the injury on Sunday, he still led the Bengals with four catches on six targets for 56 yards, which were all team highs.
"When something like that happens to him, it's hard," Taylor said. "That affects us."
In addition to the scary injury to Tate, Cincinnati lost cornerback William Jackson and defensive end Carlos Dunlap to injuries in the fourth.
I'll have more on Tate and Green, neither of whom practiced Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
QBs: Ryan Finley, Jake Dolegala, Andy Dalton
RBs: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Trayveon Williams, Rodney Anderson
WRs: A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Auden Tate, Damion Willis, Mike Thomas, Alex Erickson, Stanley Morgan Jr.
TEs: C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample, Cethan Carter, Mason Schreck
Cleveland BrownsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Jake Trotter framed it, "In the span of two weeks, the Cleveland Browns have gone from inevitably undisciplined to unequivocally embarrassing."
Last Thursday night, that culminated with defensive end Myles Garrett ripping the helmet off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and clubbing him in the head with it. The NFL responded rapidly, handing Garrett an unprecedented punishment for a single on-field act, suspending him for the rest of this season, playoffs included.
Even when the Browns win, they still seem to lose.
Garrett's indefensible lapse amid one of the ugliest melees in NFL history overshadowed one of Cleveland's biggest victories in recent years.
The Browns' antics outside playing football this season have overshadowed everything.
Garrett's infraction obviously stands alone. But it's hardly isolated, either.
In just the past 11 days, the Browns have lost three starters for reasons other than injury.
That includes safety Jermaine Whitehead, who was waived after sending threatening Twitter messages from inside the visitors' locker room two games ago in Denver. Whitehead's tweets were so vicious, his account had been suspended before he even boarded the departing team bus.
Then just four hours before kickoff Thursday, the Browns announced they had cut wide receiver Antonio Callaway, too. In a game against Buffalo the week before, he was benched for showing up late to the stadium. Turned out Callaway, whose "growth" general manager John Dorsey had praised only a month ago, had also violated the NFL's substance abuse policy for a second time and was slapped with a 10-game suspension, abruptly ending his troubled tenure in Cleveland.
"I think every time something bad or good happens, you try to evaluate and see what you could have done differently," said head coach Freddie Kitchens, who seemed visibly shaken and in disbelief by what transpired Thursday night. "I just know that we preach all of the time about maintaining our composure and it only comes up whenever you have the opportunity to maintain your composure. That is where we are sitting with that."
Former Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley expressed his belief that the incident was a reflection of Kitchens' leadership.
"This to me, this comes back to coaching," Haley told SiriusXM Radio on Friday. "This falls squarely right on the head coach. Because the head coach talks to every assistant coach, who then talk to their groups of players. And there's an old saying in coaching: 'You're either coaching it or you're allowing it to happen.'"
It's a fair point. Ultimately, a team's composure -- or lack thereof -- falls back on the head coach.
Haley also said he didn't view what happened Thursday as a "fluke" incident.
"If you're not coaching it, you're allowing it to happen, and when I watch the Cleveland Browns, I see a lot of stuff being allowed to happen, whether it's clown shoes, visors, whatever it may be," Haley told SiriusXM. "Myles Garrett hitting the quarterback low, hitting the quarterback in the head, it's happening too much."
Haley said the discipline problem has existed with the Browns for a few years.
Haley's comments also come with some baggage. He was fired as Browns offensive coordinator in October 2018 after less than one year on the job, with Kitchens taking over the role before being hired as head coach after the season.
That said, counting the Pittsburgh game, the Browns have now been penalized 87 times this season, their most through 10 games since 1978, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
Cleveland (4-6) also now leads the NFL in ejections, which includes left tackle Greg Robinson kicking a Tennessee Titans player in the head in Week 1. That same game, by the way, Garrett punched Titans tight end Delanie Walker in the face mask.
"I think we are always searching for ways to improve the way we are viewed, as an organization, as a coach, as a player," Kitchens added. "Especially in times like this."
According to Trotter, Kitchens warrants much of the blame for the way these Browns are now being viewed, which is as the league's dirtiest team. That dates back to a joint practice in Indianapolis in August, when the Browns instigated several skirmishes with the Colts, to the point the scrimmages almost had to be called off.
Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi added to that reputation when he drilled a helmetless Rudolph in the back Thursday after Garrett had already struck the quarterback in the head. Ogunjobi, whom the NFL suspended a game as well, curiously claimed he was coming to Garrett's defense.
But by that point, Rudolph was nowhere near Garrett, who was fighting off other Pittsburgh players, notably center Maurkice Pouncey. In reality, Ogunjobi delivered just another Cleveland cheap shot.
Kitchens might be culpable for that, the never-ending barrage of penalties and the uncanny knack the Browns have for self-sabotage.
But nobody can be blamed for what Garrett did other than Garrett, who severely damaged his team's playoff chances with one inexplicable swing of a helmet.
For the record, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Garrett's appeal was scheduled for Wednesday. It will be heard by former NFL wide receiver James Thrash, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to hear appeals of discipline for on-field actions, and Schefter adds that Garrett will travel to New York to make his case.
One of the issues expected to be part of Garrett's hearing is the indefinite nature of the suspension. The current Collective Bargaining Agreement does not allow for such suspensions for on-field behavior, so Garrett will be looking for a finite number of games to be part of the resolution.
Thrash also heard the appeal of Ogunjobi, which he subsequently upheld (Thrash did rescind the additional fine of $10,527).
In other disciplinary news. ... Baker Mayfield had his $12,500 fine for criticizing officials overturned on appeal, Trotter reports.
Mayfield's criticism was deemed "not strong enough to warrant a fine," per Trotter.
Mayfield had questioned the officiating after the Browns' loss to the Seahawks in Week 6, saying, "I'll probably get fined for this, but they were pretty bad today."
The league did fine him, and a few days later, he defended his comments and questioned the fine.
"I'd say that's just stating facts," Mayfield said. "Freedom of speech I thought, but that's OK, I get fined for it. It's the league, that's what they do. They fine you for some ridiculous things. That's just how it is. There's a reason that everybody is talking about it."
Whoever heard Mayfield's appeal agreed with him.
And finally this week. ... Tight end David Njoku was designated for return from injured reserve and will practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering a wrist injury in Week 2.
The Browns have 21 days to activate Njoku or decide to leave him on injured reserve. It seems unlikely that they'd designate him for return if they weren't expecting him to get back on the field.
Njoku caught four passes for 37 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. He didn't catch a pass before getting hurt in Week Two. Last year he had a solid season, catching 56 passes for 639 yards and four touchdowns.
Kitchens called Njoku day-to-day. "We've got to get him on the football field and see where he's at," the coach added.
Safety Morgan Burnett tore his Achilles in last Thursday's game against the Steelers and the Browns formally removed him from the 53-man roster on Tuesday.
Burnett has been placed on injured reserve. His first season in Cleveland ends with 41 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
In addition to Garrett and Burnett, the Browns have been playing without safety Eric Murray and defensive end Olivier Vernon recently. Neither practiced on Monday (and Vernon was slated to sit out Wednesday) and the team is also set to play without Ogunjobi.
The Browns did not announce a corresponding move, so they have an open roster spot at their disposal.
QBs: Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum, Garrett Gilbert
RBs: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Dontrell Hilliard, D'Ernest Johnson
WRs: Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Taywan Taylor, KhaDarel Hodge, Damion Ratley
TEs: Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Pharaoh Brown, Stephen Carlson
Dallas CowboysCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
The Cowboys bounced back from their Week 12 prime-time defeat on Sunday by outlasting the Lions in Detroit, 35-27.
But not before head coach Jason Garrett put the Week 10 loss to Minnesota, and his role in it, behind him.
Garrett had a meeting with Cowboys players on Thursday in which he "took accountability" for what transpired at the end of the Vikings' game, among other things, a team source told NFL Network's Jane Slater on Sunday.
Slater added that Garrett's message was "really well-received" by the team.
The coach took some heat in the aftermath of Dallas' 28-24 loss to Minnesota last Sunday after Garrett and his staff seemingly took the ball out of Dak Prescott's hands while the Cowboys were driving to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Prescott was in the midst of a prolific night, but with time running out and the game on the line, Dallas siphoned touches to Ezekiel Elliott, who was struggling. The Cowboys' drive ended on a failed fourth-down conversion to Zeke.
Garrett was also criticized for his role on a Tavon Austin fair catch on the ensuing Vikings punt. The coach said during the week that Dallas didn't "communicate" well enough to Austin on Minnesota's late punt what to do. With acres of space ahead of Austin at the ball's arrival, the punt returner instead called for a fair catch, squandering an opportunity to gain more than 10 yards and to set up an easier Hail Mary. Prescott's last-ditch heave fell incomplete four plays later and the Cowboys fell to 5-4.
However, all appears to be forgiven now, as Dallas bounced back with an assured win over Detroit.
Prescott enjoyed his third 400-yard passing game of the season, special teams miscommunications did not appear to be an issue and the Cowboys assured their place atop the NFC East for at least one more week.
As NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman put it, "In football, as in life, communication is key, on the field and in the locker room."
Still, as ESPN.com's Todd Archer noted, since 2014, the Cowboys' offensive DNA has been their run game with DeMarco Murray and Elliott leading the league in rushing in 2014, 2016 and 2018. With the way quarterback Prescott is playing, that appears to be changing.
Prescott threw for 444 yards on 29 of 46 passing and had touchdown passes to Randall Cobb, Tony Pollard and Elliott in Sunday's win.
This was a must-win for the Cowboys (6-4), who had lost four of their past seven games, considering the Philadelphia Eagles are nipping at their heels in the NFC East and their wild-card chances are almost nil.
And Prescott was at his best.
In the first half, Prescott threw for 274 yards, the most in a half in his four-year career. He hit seven different players and did not need to rely on Amari Cooper, who had just one catch for 7 yards in the first half.
In the second half, the Cowboys almost exclusively went to Prescott. Elliott had only six carries in the third and fourth quarters.
Prescott made big plays with Michael Gallup and Cobb each going for more than 100 yards apiece. He made small plays, like the 17-yard screen pass to Elliott that gave the Cowboys a two-score advantage. Prescott made a sidearm flip to the running back, who used key blocks from Zack Martin and Jason Witten to get to the end zone.
To clinch the win, Prescott hit tight end Blake Jarwin on a bootleg pass, allowing him to take a knee for the win.
On Wednesday, Prescott was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.
For the record, Prescott's 841 passing yards in the last two games are the most in consecutive games by a quarterback in team history.
"I don't think about performances in the past," he said. "I'm not going to sit here and look too much on this performance. It's about what we can do now, how can we get better. We're going to close this book and the next one is a very, very good opponent so I got to keep playing like this and put our team in position to win games."
If the Cowboys are going to make a playoff run, it will be on Prescott's arm. Times have changed. ...
As much as Prescott can be praised, is as much as the running game can be questioned.
Two weeks ago, Elliott was lauded for his 139-yard effort against the Giants for picking up the tough yards, if not breaking the long runs. But Archer contends something is not right with the Cowboys' running game.
After rushing for 47 yards on 20 carries last week against Minnesota, Elliott was held to 45 yards on 16 carries by the Lions, who entered the game allowing 126.7 yards on the ground per game.
"At the end of the day, we've got the highest paid runner and a really, really good offensive line, that draws attention," coordinator Kellen Moore said. "Whether it eventually flips or impacts in other ways as we continue to throw it, we'll keep doing what we do. I think for myself, hey, I've got to find different ways. Maybe we need to approach it a little bit differently from a run game perspective."
Elliott has now gone 158 carries since his most recent run of more than 20 yards, 27 yards in Week 2 at Washington.
On a positive note. ... The Cowboys had a pair of running backs -- Elliott and Pollard -- catch TD passes for the first time in a game since 2001. ...
Worth noting: Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are alone in first place in the NFC East again. Now they get to play the team that helped restore sole possession of the division lead: defending Super Bowl champion New England, which beat Philadelphia while the Cowboys (6-4) won at Detroit.
It's the start of a season-defining stretch of five consecutive games against teams that either have a winning record or made the playoffs last season. ...
On the injury front. ... According to Dallas Morning News staffer Michael Gehlken, Cooper is "still fighting through" knee injury that limited him throughout practice week. He appeared to favor the ailment Sunday following a 7-yard reception in first quarter. He rotated out but re-entered and finished game. When all was said and done, Cooper played 41 of 74 snaps, a relatively low number for him.
That said, Cooper was a full participant Wednesday and appears to be on track to play as usual (though I'll be following up as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days). ...
Beyond that, cornerback Anthony Brown tore his triceps during Sunday's game, Garrett said Monday.
Brown will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season after being placed on injured reserve.
Brown played 12 snaps against the Lions, breaking up one pass before leaving in the second half.
Jourdan Lewis will take over full-time in the slot, Todd Archer of ESPN reports, with C.J. Goodwin available to play in the dime package.
Right tackle La'el Collins, who played 64 of 74 snaps before leaving with a left knee injury Sunday, has a similar injury to the one from earlier this season, Garrett said.
Collins missed one game with a medial collateral ligament sprain when he originally injured his knee.
For what it's worth, owner Jerry Jones said on Tuesday he expects Cooper, Collins and DeMarcus Lawrence to play Sunday at New England despite dealing with injuries.
QBs: Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Clayton Thorson
RBs: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Jordan Chunn
WRs: Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Devin Smith, Tevin Jones, Ventell Bryant, Lance Lenoir, Tavon Austin, Noah Brown
TEs: Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, Blake Bell
Denver BroncosCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
After Courtland Sutton beat the Vikings for much of Sunday's game, Minnesota wasn't going to let him that happen on the final plays.
As the Broncos tried to complete a comeback - one that was surprisingly necessary after leading 20-0 at halftime - they had three chances from the 4-yard line in the final minute.
On first down, Brandon Allen targeted Tim Patrick. On second down, he searched for Noah Fant. On third down - the final snap of the game - Allen again went back to Fant.
Sutton, who finished the game with five catches for 113 yards, was not targeted.
After the Broncos left the field with another last-second loss, Sutton confirmed he was double-teamed on each of the final three snaps.
"Coach knows what he's doing," Sutton said. "We all trust Brandon's decision-making. He was throwing the ball where we had the best opportunity to score."
After the way Sutton played, it's clear the Vikings made the right decision to swarm the SMU product at the end of their 27-23 win.
In addition to Sutton's five catches, he also drew a 24-yard pass interference call against Xavier Rhodes. The cornerback is a two-time Pro Bowler and former first-team All-Pro, and Sutton still recorded the second-highest receiving yardage total of his young career.
As DenverBroncos.com's Aric DiLalla reminded readers, only Sutton's performance in Week 1 against Oakland was better than his Week 11 showing, as he topped 100 yards for just the second time.
Sutton recorded a catch of 48 yards on the Broncos' first touchdown drive, and he then threw a 38-yard pass and picked up a fourth-and-1 on a jet sweep as Denver marched to another touchdown.
In the second half, Sutton had another reception for a first down as the Broncos added a field goal to push their lead to 23-7. Allen then found Sutton for 43 yards to the Minnesota 32-yard line in the fourth quarter, but Brandon McManus missed an ensuing 43-yard field-goal attempt.
"I've been impressed with Courtland all year," head coach Vic Fangio said. "He's tough to handle. We thought we could get some balls to him this game up the field, and we did. That pass interference for a lot of yards is part of that, which kind of gets lost in the shuffle. They gave him a lot of attention too, but he still is a great player for us and one that we can build around."
Patrick, who was on the receiving end of Sutton's 38-yard pass, said he knows Sutton is among the league's best receivers.
"He's definitely [at] the top, week in and week out," Patrick said. "He's gaining respect now. He's getting double-teamed, but he's still coming out with big plays. When you're still making plays once you get double-teamed, you're up there with the elite."
Through 11 weeks, excluding "Monday Night Football," Sutton ranks ninth in the NFL in receiving yards and has already surpassed his 2018 total by more than 100 yards. With another touchdown, Sutton will also best his touchdown total.
Among players with at least 20 total catches, Sutton also ranks 11th in the NFL in yards per reception with 16.4 yards per catch.
As the Broncos continue their season, he could be well-poised to earn his first Pro Bowl nod. Only Buffalo's John Brown has more receiving yards among AFC receivers.
Chances are, Sutton will be up to the task. As he demonstrated Sunday in Minneapolis, three more road games in the next four weeks won't be an issue.
And, as ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold suggested, at some point, the Broncos will perhaps talk about all of the character they earned in one soul-crushing loss after another in the season that was 2019.
"The Broncos scratch, they claw, they show far more vocational character than plenty of other teams that have been in their position," Legwold wrote, "including some that have preceded them in the same uniforms. But not good enough is not good enough."
Going into Sunday, the Broncos had lost three games this season in the final 22 seconds of a game, including two losses on the game's final play.
Sunday it was more of a chip-chip-chip-away affair as the Vikings spent the second half finding the right matchups against the Broncos' defense. Denver was simply unable to crank up much of anything on offense after halftime until that final drive. ...
Facing a stretch of four road games in five weeks that began in Minnesota, the Broncos play at Buffalo next Sunday. They've lost their last two road games against the Bills in 2017 and 2011. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Except for an ill-advised red zone interception late in the first half, Allen largely avoided the hit-the-road mistake.
He has shown some mobility when he needs to get out of trouble, and the Broncos have been willing to try some different things to get him space in the pocket. But Sunday was another example of his biggest hurdle to keep the gig -- he has to find a way to make a play or two after the defense has made its adjustments.
As the Vikings continued to deal with the unscouted looks the Broncos gave them, Allen had far more difficulty keeping the offense moving.
But his grit in the final minutes, including some difficult conversions, was again proof of the moxie his teammates have said he has.
Next up, facing a stretch of four road games in five weeks that began in Minnesota, the Broncos play at Buffalo next Sunday. They've lost their last two road games against the Bills in 2017 and 2011.
Also of interest. ... Rookie quarterback Drew Lock can be added to the active roster at any point, but it does not look like that's going to happen in time for this week's game against the Bills.
Lock returned to practice last week for the first time since hurting his right thumb and going on injured reserve in September. Fangio said on Monday that he'll continue to practice with the team this week, but that it is "unlikely" he'll be on the 53-man roster for Week 12.
There's a three-week window for players on injured reserve to practice before teams have to choose whether to activate them or shut them down for the season.
According to Mike Klis of KUSA, fullback Andy Janovich is out for the rest of the year after a gruesome right elbow injury.
Janovich suffered a dislocated elbow in the second quarter, and didn't return to the game. The injury came after he caught a short pass, and braced his fall with his right hand. The hand stayed put while his elbow moved in a direction elbows do not normally move.
He had scored a touchdown earlier.
Janovich was having an MRI Monday to determine the extent of the damage, but with six weeks left in the season, it's likely he'll be placed on IR just three weeks after signing a contract extension.
Denver Post staffer Ryan O'Halloran reported on Tuesday the Broncos were signing TE Orson Charles to take Janovich's roster spot.
QBs: Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien
RBs: Melvin Gordon, Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Khalfani Muhammad
WRs: Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, Daesean Hamilton, Juwann Winfree, Fred Brown, Diontae Spencer
TEs: Noah Fant, Jeff Heuerman, Jake Butt, Troy Fumagalli, Nick Vannett
Detroit LionsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
The Detroit Lions tried to upset Dallas with Jeff Driskel throwing passes and Bo Scarbrough carrying the ball.
Not exactly what this team planned at the beginning of the season.
Driskel threw two touchdowns and Scarbrough scored in his NFL debut, but despite a decent day from that no-name offense, the Lions lost 35-27 to the Cowboys on Sunday. Detroit has now lost six of its last seven games. Injuries to Matthew Stafford and Kerryon Johnson have hurt, but it was the defense that came up short against Dallas.
Stafford missed a second straight game with back and hip problems. The Lions lost 20-13 at Chicago with Driskel at quarterback, but the offense looked sharper against Dallas.
Driskel finished with a passer rating of 109.3 for the game, and he also ran for 51 yards on eight carries. His mobility was a plus for Detroit, which trailed for the entire second half but was in the game at the end.
"Getting the reps during the week helps. Those guys hearing my cadence, things like that, getting in and out of the huddle - the more you do it the more comfortable you're going to be," Driskel said. "We can still clean some things up. We had a couple of penalties and that's kind of what set us back at times. Overall, I thought it was definitely cleaner than last week."
Scarbrough made his NFL debut and scored the game's first touchdown on a 5-yard run just 2:27 into the game. He ran for 55 yards on 14 carries.
Scarbrough's touchdown came after the Lions had a short field following a Dallas fumble. That was the only real highlight for the defense. Dak Prescott threw for 444 yards and three touchdowns for the Cowboys, who were 8 of 14 on third down.
Penalties hurt Detroit as well.
But make no mistake: Lack of defense is the biggest issue here.
The Lions have given up 20 or more points for the eighth straight week and 450 or more yards for the third time in five games. They wasted another offensive performance -- 27 points with a backup quarterback and practice-squad running back -- that should have been enough for a win. Although Matt Patricia dismissed that thought -- he called looking at the 27 points "a flat stat line" -- reality is different.
The Lions are averaging 24.4 points per game on offense. That puts them -- heading into Sunday night -- 13th in the league.
Detroit has now lost six of its past seven games.
Only one team above them has a losing record, Tampa Bay, which means the Detroit offense is doing its part. The defense is where it all has gone wrong.
"I think for us right now, we just came off the game, we're going to go back and evaluate the game and take a look at it," Patricia said. "For us, we're going to always try to push to do whatever we can to win the next week and we'll make those decisions as we go."
The schedule could help. The Lions are favored this weekend, when they're on the road against an awful Washington team. Then they return home for their Thanksgiving game against Chicago. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Driskel didn't look like Stafford, but he did what was necessary, completing 15 of 26 passes for 209 yards, the above-mentioned pair of touchdowns and no interceptions along with the above-mentioned 51 rushing yards with a touchdown. According to ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein, there were a couple of scramble run-versus-pass decisions that he might have wanted to go the other way -- in hindsight choosing to run instead of pass -- but otherwise he managed the game well and gave Detroit an intriguing dimension with his ability to run and roll out.
He's showing that, at worst, he can be a serviceable backup for Detroit and a fill-in starter.
In addition, Detroit has been searching for a star rusher since Johnson went on injured reserve in October with a knee injury. Scarbrough, who was signed to the practice squad a week ago and was promoted Saturday, looks as if he has some potential to at least be part of a committee. The running back said he found out he was going to start out of the backfield earlier in the day on Sunday. He added that the experience "felt regular" while citing his days playing for Alabama coach Nick Saban.
A bigger back at 6-1, 235 pounds, he showed good power, hitting holes on his way to 55 yards on 14 carries.
Scarbrough got the bulk of touches out of the backfield as Ty Johnson ran twice for 6 yards and J.D McKissic three times for 13 yards. Driskel was the team's second-leading rusher.
Both Driskel and Scarbrough had touchdowns and long runs of 23 yards in Detroit's sixth loss in its last seven games. Johnson, the sixth-round rookie, was making his return from concussion protocol and was cleared for Week 11's matchup on Saturday.
"I think he's (Scarbrough) been working hard since we got him. He's a big back. He comes downhill, and some of things that we saw, we wanted to give him that opportunity to go out there and show us what he could do," Patricia said. "I thought he ran hard, thought he showed the physical part of the run game. That was good for us to see. Certainly, we have to go back and look at all the runs and the decisions and the vision and all the rest of it, but I just thought it definitely gave some life to some of the downhill runs that we had and some of the physicality in the run game that we needed. ..."
Marvin Jones Jr. now has eight receiving touchdowns through Week 11, tied with Kenny Golladay for the most in the NFL. They're the first Lions receivers through the first 10 games of a season to have eight touchdowns apiece since 1963 (Terry Barr and Gail Cogdill).
And finally, on the injury front. ... There's not a specific timeline for the return of Stafford.
Patricia told reporters on Monday that Stafford remains "week to week." A report over the weekend suggested the injury won't heal for six weeks.
Stafford was not slated to practice Wednesday.
"There's nothing firm, set anywhere," Stafford said during a Monday appearance on the Mitch Albom Show on WJR 760-AM, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "I think for me it's a fluid situation and just something I'm monitoring and trying to make sure that when I'm back out there I'm ready to go and obviously, I'm doing, like I said earlier, everything I possibly can to get out there as fast as I can."
Although Stafford could return before he's fully healed, there's no reason for him to hurry back to the field. The Lions are in last place and all but eliminated from playoff contention. The Lions would be foolish to allow Stafford to return to the field at less than 100 percent healthy when they don't have much to play for down the stretch.
QBs: Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel, David Blough
RBs: Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, Tra Carson, Wes Hills
WRs: Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Chris Lacy, Travis Fulgham, Geronimo Allison, Marvin Hall
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Isaac Nauta
Green Bay PackersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
According to Associated Press sports writer Keith Jenkins, a single injury changed everything for the Green Bay Packers' offense this season.
Davante Adams caught 10 passes for a career-high 180 yards in the Packers' Week 4 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.
With 10:45 left in the fourth quarter, the two-time Pro Bowl receiver caught a 13-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers that set up first-and-goal at the Philadelphia 8.
After being tackled by safety Andrew Sendejo, Adams immediately reached down and grabbed his right foot. He knew something was wrong.
Adams was forced to watch as Green Bay suffered its first loss of the season.
After the 34-27 defeat, Adams told reporters he believed he had suffered a turf toe injury. He was right.
Adams was sidelined for the next four games. During that stretch, the Packers didn't miss a beat, going 4-0 and posting staggering offensive numbers.
"I can promise you we need him and we're a better offense with 17 on the field," Rodgers said of Adams following a 42-24 win over the Raiders in Week 7. "We've just been spreading it out a little bit more and guys have been stepping up. ... I think without him there, we've had to scheme up plays for other guys and guys have made plays when their number's been called."
Undrafted second-year receiver Allen Lazard had a breakout game while Adams was sidelined, as did 6-4 speedster Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
But no players benefited more from Adams' absence than running backs Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones.
"Yeah, I think it is something that's kind of evolved," head coach Matt LaFleur said. "And those guys have done a great job, both those guys. I know we talk about Aaron Jones quite a bit, but Jamaal Williams, he brings so much energy, so much juice. He's a tough, physical, hard-nosed guy. He's tough to bring down. He breaks tackles. I think he's done a great job in the pass game, as well. We are really, really lucky to have that one-two punch with those guys."
Jones was up first. The third-year pro scored four rushing touchdowns in a 34-24 victory over the Cowboys in Week 5. Jones, who played high school and college ball in El Paso, Texas, became the first player to run for four touchdowns against Dallas.
Williams, who suffered a concussion in Week 4 and was inactive against the Cowboys, followed up Jones' big day the following week with 104 yards on 14 carries and a receiving touchdown in a 23-22 victory against the Lions. It was the second 100-yard game of his career, the other coming as a rookie in 2017.
Jones, who was drafted one round later than Williams in the same class, scored three rushing touchdowns in a Week 10 win over the Carolina Panthers. He became the first Packers player since Sterling Sharpe in 1994 with multiple three-touchdown games in a season. Jones is also the first Green Bay running back since Jim Taylor in 1962 with multiple three-touchdown games in a season. Taylor did it three times that year.
"The boy got too many touchdowns," Williams said of Jones. "All I know is, inside the 20, you hand him the ball, he's going to get it in the end zone."
The Packers are sitting at 8-2 with a matchup at San Francisco on Nov. 24. A big reason for that is Jones. The 5-foot-9, 208-pound back is tied with Christian McCaffrey for the league lead in rushing touchdowns (11) and total touchdowns (14).
"That was one of my goals to start the season," Jones said of leading the NFL in touchdowns. "So going into a bye, over halfway through the season and to be leading that, it's big time, but I've got to keep it up, I've got to keep grinding and continue to score touchdowns."
Rodgers said after the 24-16 victory over the Panthers that it was time to start mentioning Jones in the conversation for league MVP.
What does Williams think?
"Do I see him as MVP? Most definitely," Williams said.
"I don't see why not," Adams said of Jones. "I mean, he's been doing everything. ..."
We'll see if Jones can keep that roll going in San Francisco. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As ESPN's Mike Clay pointed out last week, it appears Valdes-Scantling's days as a starter in Green Bay are over (at least for now).
The second-year receiver played 10 snaps in Week 10, which was well behind Adams (44), Geronimo Allison (35), Lazard (25) and Jake Kumerow (21).
Valdes-Scantling was targeted once against the Panthers and hasn't cleared three targets in game since Week 4. He also hasn't caught a pass since Week 8. While Valdes-Scantling can obviously be dropped, Allison (one weekly fantasy finish better than 46th this season) and Lazard (one weekly finish better than 48th) do not need to be rostered.
And finally. ... The Packers entered the bye week on a four-game streak without a turnover, and LaFleur's team now leads the NFL with seven games without a turnover in 2019.
The Packers are 6-1 when they don't turn the ball over this season. They rank third in the NFL in total giveaways (7) and second in turnover differential (+9), two highly important metrics for LaFleur.
"It goes back to our players. They do a great job protecting the football," LaFleur told Packers.com. "Aaron does a great job in decision making. The offensive line does a great job blocking in the run and the pass."
The Packers' last turnover was an interception of Rodgers off a drop from Darrius Shepherd in the fourth quarter of the team's win over the Detroit Lions on Oct. 14.
LaFleur's team got through games against the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers without a single giveaway. The Packers and Raiders were the only teams without a turnover between Weeks 7-10, although the Raiders only played three games.
Through 10 games, Rodgers has thrown two interceptions and lost two fumbles, while Shepherd, Jones and Allison have each lost one fumble.
The Packers went 2-1 in their three games with a turnover. They are one of six teams with a winning record in games with at least two turnovers. Overall, NFL teams are 32-81-1 when they have two or more turnovers in a game.
QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Tim Boyle, Manny Wilkins
RBs: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, Dexter Williams, Tyler Ervin, John Crockett
WRs: Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard, Devin Funchess, Jake Kumerow, Darrius Shepherd, Equanimeous St. Brown
TEs: Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger
Houston TexansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop reminded readers, the Houston Texans went all-in in the offseason, making dramatic moves to boost their near-term chances at the expense of future draft picks. They made trades and signings to win this season because they believed their roster had enough talent and quarterback Deshaun Watson gives them a chance to beat any opponent.
The Texans traded two first-round picks and a second-rounder to protect Watson's blind side with Laremy Tunsil, and they added wide receiver Kenny Stills. The Texans traded a third-round pick for running back Duke Johnson and traded away Jadeveon Clowney for a third-round pick and two players. Houston then traded that third-round pick to the Raiders for cornerback Gareon Conley.
Although still favored to make the playoffs, the Texans aren't showing signs that they would be much of a threat, once there, to the teams that are pulling away from the pack in the AFC: the Patriots (9-1) and the Ravens (8-2).
Coming into the season, the Texans' weaknesses were on the offensive line and in the secondary.
The secondary started Sunday ranked 29th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing an average of 277.3 passing yards per game. On Sunday, the Texans allowed quarterback Lamar Jackson to throw for 222 yards and four touchdowns.
The line showed improvement in the middle of the season -- entering Sunday, Watson had been sacked seven times in five games -- despite having to play with moving pieces due to injuries. But on Sunday, Watson and the Texans reverted to the poor play they showed early in the season in a loss to the Panthers and a close win over the Jaguars.
Against the Ravens, who entered the game with 23 sacks this season (tied for 23rd in the NFL), Watson was sacked seven times and took 10 hits. He completed 18 of 29 passes for 169 yards and an interception, and Houston finished with 232 net yards of offense.
The Texans' defense, which allowed 41 points on Sunday and was carved up by the Colts earlier this season, is chock-full of players on one-year deals or expiring contracts. Cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Johnathan Joseph will be free agents after the season. Nose tackle D.J. Reader is in the last year of his rookie deal. Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus, the only proven pass-rusher the Texans have since J.J. Watt tore his pectoral muscle in Week 8, will be a free agent after this season.
The Texans will likely give Watson and Tunsil big contract extensions this offseason, and star receiver DeAndre Hopkins is under contract through 2022, so nobody is suggesting that this is the end of the window in Houston.
But the Texans clearly have a lot of work to do to make this big bet pay off, and with fewer draft picks next spring, it will be tougher for the team to replenish talent.
Even if the Texans play better than they did against the Ravens on Sunday, they have a tough stretch coming up. Houston hosts Indianapolis on Thursday, then New England in Week 13. The Texans and Colts both enter the game at 6-4, but Indianapolis holds the tiebreaker after winning the teams' first meeting of the season.
He took the loss in stride, saying the Texans would "flush it and move forward" and immediately start focusing on a short week of preparation for Thursday night's home game against the Colts.
"For me, a loss is a loss," Watson said when asked if a rout was harder to digest than a narrow defeat. "We could have went back and forth, it could have been 41-42 and a loss and still be disappointing."
"It's a must-win Thursday," Hopkins said. "Everybody knows that. We have to move forward. What we want is still ahead of us."
That is absolutely the case: The Texans could look back at the end of their season and point to the Ravens loss as the turning point before they went on a run. But for a franchise that has never been to an AFC Championship Game, Sunday's blowout loss showed just how far behind the Texans remain in comparison to the best teams in the AFC. ...
Meanwhile, Watson completed 18 of 29 passes for 169 yards and an interception in Baltimore. He did not throw a touchdown. Watson was sacked six times by the Ravens. He had been sacked just seven times in his past five games combined entering Sunday. He has now been sacked six or more times in a game for the seventh time over the past two seasons, which is more than twice as many as any other quarterback.
Watson was replaced by backup quarterback AJ McCarron for the Texans' final offensive drive. ...
With his fourth catch against the Ravens, Hopkins became the 74th receiver in NFL history with 600 career receptions. Hopkins is the second-youngest to hit that mark, trailing only Larry Fitzgerald. Hopkins finished the game with seven catches for 80 yards. ...
On the injury front. ... Watson got his leg caught underneath him on a sack by Jaylon Ferguson late in the first half Sunday. He stayed on the ground, but trainers never came out.
The Texans called timeout, and the quarterback stayed in the game. He played 57 of 61 snaps (leaving, as mentioned above, for McCarron on the last series with the game out of reach).
Watson apparently tweaked his ankle on the play.
The Texans, of course, didn't practice Monday after playing 24 hours earlier. But they had to do a practice report anyway, with their game against the Colts looming in three days.
Houston estimated Watson as a full participant with an ankle injury.
The Texans listed safety Mike Adams (concussion), cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. (ankle) and safety Justin Reid (concussion/shoulder) as non-participants. Inside linebacker Dylan Cole (knee), receiver Will Fuller (hamstring), safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. (back), offensive lineman Tytus Howard (knee) and cornerback Bradley Roby (hamstring) were limited.
Watson will certainly play through his injury (barring the unforeseen) while Fuller, who is officially listed as questionable, appears to be on track to return for this one as well, although head coach Bill O'Brien said on Tuesday that the wideout will be a game-time decision. That being the case, I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update in advance of Thursday's game. ...
And finally. ... After what appeared to be a clear instance of pass interference wasn't called even after a replay review, Hopkins called for action by the NFL.
In the first quarter, cornerback Marlon Humphrey appeared to grab Hopkins while trying to make a play in the end zone.
O'Brien challenged the play, but the no-call was upheld and Houston turned the ball over on downs.
After the game, Hopkins tweeted, "As a leader in the NFL, we need someone new in New York deciding calls."
In the offseason, the NFL changed its rules to allow coaches to challenge pass interference penalties that were or were not called. Through the early-afternoon games this past Sunday, coach's challenges for pass interference were 6-for-58 (10.3 percent) this year, including 2-for-37 (5.4 percent) since Week 4.
The Jets did successfully overturn a call Sunday.
When O'Brien was asked about the non-call, he said, "I have no idea what pass interference is anymore. No idea."
Watson said the play could have been a turning point in the game, but acknowledged that once the call was made and upheld, the Texans needed to find a way to move on from it.
"Everyone saw it," Watson said. The guy wrapped him around. But they didn't make that call. You've got to live with it. You can't really dwell on it. It definitely could have been a changing point of the game. A momentum switch. But it's just one of those calls that, it didn't go our way, and we've got to continue to push forward."
In Week 6 against the Chiefs, O'Brien challenged a non-call of pass interference against tight end Travis Kelce; that non-call was also upheld.
QBs: Deshaun Watson, AJ McCarron
RBs: David Johnson, Duke Johnson, Buddy Howell
WRs: Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills, DeAndre Carter, Keke Coutee
TEs: Darren Fells, Jordan Akins, Jordan Thomas, Kahale Warring
Indianapolis ColtsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Entering Sunday and having lost two straight, the Colts were without their best receiver and two other players at that position. They also lost their starting running back and were missing their backup, who missed the game with an injury.
None of that stopped the Colts from putting on their best performance of the season in what ended up being an easy 33-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts' first nine games of the season had been decided by seven points or fewer.
Now they will head into Houston on Thursday in first place in the AFC South and with an opportunity to sweep the Texans.
After not having receiver T.Y. Hilton for four games and quarterback Jacoby Brissett for six quarters, not to mention the season-long problems with Adam Vinatieri, the Colts (6-4) answered an abundance of questions against the Jaguars.
How would Brissett perform two weeks after suffering a strained MCL in his left knee?
Could the Colts keep the Jaguars from getting to him?
Would there be any carryover from the loss to the Dolphins?
The Colts answered their questions without much doubt.
Brissett threw for 148 yards and a touchdown. The Colts offset the Jaguars' pressure with their best rushing game in nearly 15 years. And the defense chipped in by getting two sacks and forcing a turnover.
Indianapolis needed the victory because Sunday began three straight games against division opponents.
The Colts will go to Houston with a number of injury concerns after Marlon Mack left the game with a hand injury and rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who had an interception, suffered an ankle injury.
Mack underwent surgery on his fractured hand, Reich said Monday.
Reich did not have a timetable for when his star running back might return.
The injury, a fracture of the metacarpal bone in Mack's right hand, is not thought to be season-ending at this time, sources tell ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Mack, who leads the Colts with 862 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns, suffered the injury in the third quarter of Sunday's 33-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It's uncertain how he injured his hand.
He was having his best game since Week 5 at Kansas City before the injury, rushing 14 times for 109 yards, including four runs of at least 10 yards against the Jaguars.
Mack's injury meant the Colts were without their top two running backs because Jordan Wilkins missed the game with an ankle injury.
Jonathan Williams became the Colts' primary running back after Mack left the game and will likely start against the Texans on Thursday with Nyheim Hines backing him up. Williams, who went into Sunday with just 1 yard rushing on the season, rushed for a career-high 116 yards against the Jaguars.
It's worth noting the Colts had their best rushing game in Reich's tenure and most since 2004 as they rushed for 264 yards. Mack rushed for 109 yards on 14 carries before the injury knocked him out of the game early in the third quarter.
Williams and Mack are the first two Colts running backs to rush for at least 100 yards in the same game since Randy McMillan and Albert Bentley did it on Oct. 6, 1985.
Williams will likely start against the Houston on Thursday, with Hines backing him up. But Wilkins was removed from the final injury report after practicing fully on Wednesday and I'll remind you he was ahead of Williams on the depth chart when healthy.
Along those lines. ... Hilton (calf) might be available to play against the Houston Texans. Hilton was upgraded from a non-participant to a full participant (per projection, since the team didn't actually practice) Wednesday and is questionable to play.
Hilton hasn't played since Week 8's win over Denver.
Tight end Eric Ebron (ankle) followed a similar progression and will also be questionable for Thursday, as will Ya-Sin, who upgraded to limited Wednesday.
The negative: receiver Parris Campbell (hand), a limited participant all week, was ruled out Wednesday. Also out: Mack, safety Khari Willis (concussion) and corner Shakial Taylor (ankle).
Just as the Colts received a surprise chance of Hilton playing Thursday, they've lost Campbell, meaning Jacoby Brissett's stable of targets will still be limited. We'll see who ends up dressing to take on the Texans in a battle for first place in the AFC South.
Devin Funchess returned to practice last week and there was some hope Hilton would play against the Jags.
Getting both back would help offset the loss of Mack.
I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update in advance of Thursday's game. ...
Also worth noting. ... According to ESPN's Mike Wells, Adam Vinatieri can fix his season-long kicking woes. He was a perfect 5-of-5 on kicks on Sunday -- four extra points and a field goal. That's the type of performance Vinatieri needed after general manager Chris Ballard worked out four kickers last week -- bringing the season total of kicker workouts up to 10 -- because the NFL's all-time leading scorer has struggled so much.
Vinatieri went into Sunday having missed 11 kicks, including a league-worst six extra points, this season.
Vinatieri broke Morten Andersen's league record for field goal attempts in the first half. He now has 710, one more than Andersen. ... Vinatieri also became the first Colts player to make 500 extra points and top the 1,500-point mark. He has made a league-record 597 field goals and has 503 extra points and 1,505 points since joining the Colts in 2016.
QBs: Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Chad Kelly
RBs: Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins
WRs: T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Daurice Fountain, Ashton Dulin, Chad Williams
TEs: Jack Doyle, Matt Lengel, Xavier Grimble, Mo Alie-Cox
Jacksonville JaguarsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco noted, it took 2½ months longer than anyone originally expected, but the Nick Foles era is finally here for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It didn't get off to a great start with a 33-13 loss at Indianapolis on Sunday, but the team is encouraged by what it saw in Foles' first game since he suffered a broken collarbone in Week 1. Unfortunately, the Jaguars don't have the luxury of giving Foles several weeks to work out the kinks because they need him to play at a high level to save their dwindling playoff hopes.
"I've got to play better, absolutely," Foles said Sunday. "We lost. That's ultimately a lot on the quarterback, so I have to watch the film and improve on things I can improve on to obviously put more points on the board. That's on me. And I'll do that.
"We'll go watch the film, be critical of it [and] improve. We're going to communicate with one another and we're going to go back to work."
It was an up-and-down day for the former Super Bowl MVP against the Colts. Foles completed 33 of 47 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns, both to receiver D.J. Chark Jr. He moved well in the pocket, stepped up to avoid pressure and spread the ball among eight players.
However, he also underthrew multiple passes, including a deep one to Chark in double coverage that was intercepted, and threw an interception on a two-point conversion attempt that was returned 99 yards.
Considering he hadn't thrown a pass in a game since he was hurt on the team's 11th snap in the season opener, when Kansas City defensive lineman Chris Jones landed on him and broke his collarbone, it wasn't an overall bad performance.
"Some good plays and some not-so-good plays," said receiver Chris Conley, who caught six passes for 58 yards. "I think as an offense we all needed to elevate [on Sunday]. There were some things we missed and not all of that is his fault. Some of that is us as receivers. We've got to tighten things up for him to get on the same page with him."
Receiver Dede Westbrook is probably the one player on the roster who completely understood Foles' situation on Sunday. He missed the first nine games of his rookie season after undergoing sports hernia surgery and caught just three passes in his first game back, but then he caught 17 in his next three games.
"First time being out there, being able to still dissect everything, go through his progressions, get completions and move the ball down the field," said Westbrook, who caught four passes for 32 yards Sunday. "... It's very difficult [to come in and play after that long absence]. It's just a tough situation. ... He's a great player, very mature, very understanding, so I know that he's going to figure it out and give us the best shot to go out there and win football games."
Foles' timing was, naturally, off a bit on some throws after the long absence. Even though he has practiced for three weeks, there's no substitute for game reps.
"Obviously something that we'll always improve on," Foles said. "I think that my big focus will be watching the film, and I know that every little detail when you lose will be brought out. I played in Philly for a little while. Things are going to be brought up. The key is not to really listen to it but also to know it's there and be aware of it."
At 4-6, the Jaguars have no margin for error to keep their playoff hopes alive. It might even require them winning out, which places a lot of pressure on Foles. But he has thrived in this situation in the past three seasons, going 10-2 in games played in November or later (including playoffs) beginning in 2016 and entering last Sunday's game at Indianapolis.
Foles had a good supporting cast with him in Philadelphia, but he doesn't have the same level of playmakers with the Jaguars other than Chark. That puts even more pressure on Foles, especially if the Jaguars are going to eschew the run game the way they did against the Colts: Leonard Fournette had only five carries in the first half and only three more when the Jaguars trailed by 10 points early in the second.
Foles has to deliver, regardless of how little he has played.
"I think the big thing is don't press," Foles said. "I think it's easy to press in this situation and think the sky's falling [and] the world is over. It's not. ... We are 4-6. That is the situation. But we can't win six games at once."
Jacksonville fell to 1-3 in the AFC South, including 0-3 against division-leading Houston and Indianapolis. The Jaguars play at Tennessee (5-5) on Sunday, a chance to get out of the AFC South cellar and move closer to .500.
The Titans have won five in a row against the Jags in Nashville. Another loss would leave Jacksonville another step closer to missing the playoffs for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons. ...
Meanwhile, DiRocco went on to suggest that offensive coordinator John DeFilippo must have gotten caught up in the return of Foles, which he demonstrated by ignoring Fournette.
As noted above, Fournette had just five carries -- two in the second quarter -- and two catches in the first 30 minutes. Granted, the Jaguars didn't have any long drives in the first half, but he had success when he ran it (4.8 yards per carry), so that wasn't the reason he was so minimally involved. The Jaguars used Ryquell Armstead in the first half more than they have all season (he had one carry), too.
Maybe that was an attempt to keep Fournette fresh because he played 89 percent of the offensive snaps in the first nine games.
But Fournette is the key to the offense. He entered the game sixth in the NFL in rushing (831 yards) but has just 63 yards in the last two games. While it's understandable that the Jaguars wouldn't give him carries after falling behind by 17 points in the third quarter, there's no excuse for Fournette to not get a lot of work in the first half when the game was close.
Whatever the plan, and whatever the situation, the nine rushing attempts Sunday were the fewest in franchise history and the Jaguars won't win with that approach.
There were few bright spots for the Jaguars Sunday. Chark was one of them. The second-year receiver now has eight touchdown catches for the season with 796 yards receiving. He's been on the receiving end of each of Foles' three TD passes in 2019. He remains a positive in a season that's getting dim elsewhere quickly. ...
The Jaguars will have a new face at tight end this week.
The agents for Nick O'Leary announced on Monday that their client is signing on with Jacksonville. The move comes a day after Seth DeValve sat out the team's loss to the Colts with an oblique injury.
O'Leary opened the season with the Dolphins and appeared in seven games before being released in late October. He had four catches for 37 yards in those appearances.
O'Leary joined the Dolphins in 2018 after three seasons with the Bills. He has 44 catches for 596 yards and three touchdowns over his entire career.
Josh Oliver and Ben Koyack join DeValve on the 53-man roster at tight end (James O'Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim are both on injured reserve), but Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports Oliver suffered small fractures in his back, which increased the need for help at tight end.
And finally. ... Josh Lambo is human. The kicker's 46-yard miss snapped his franchise-record streak of 24 consecutive successful field goals. When things go bad, everything goes bad.
QBs: Gardner Minshew, Josh Dobbs
RBs: Leonard Fournette, Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo, Jeremy McNichols
WRs: D.J. Chark, Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, Chris Conley, CJ Board, Keelan Cole, Michael Walker
TEs: Tyler Eifert, Josh Oliver, James O'Shaughnessy, Charles Jones
Kansas City ChiefsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As NFL.com's Kevin Patra framed it, "The Kansas City Chiefs defense went to Mexico City, and in the thin air at Estadio Azteca suffocated the Los Angeles Chargers, 24-17."
"They won the game for us," star quarterback Patrick Mahomes said of his defensive teammates, via The Athletic's Nate Taylor.
For a beleaguered group, who had been mashed in recent weeks -- giving up 29.7 points per game (T-27th in NFL), with 3.7 TDs per game, a 115.3 passer rating and just one takeaway from Weeks 8-10 -- it felt good to make game-changing play after game-changing play.
"As funny as it sounds," pass rusher Frank Clark said with a smile. "The game has been put in the defense's hands before."
Turnovers were the name of the game, as the Chiefs intercepted Philip Rivers four times, including the game-sealing INT by safety Daniel Sorensen in the end zone. A blatant drop of a pick by Tyrann Mathieu late could have made it five INTs.
Monday night, Clark reminded the world what kind of influence he can have off the edge, and why K.C. made the move in the offseason to trade for and give him a big contract. Clark pummeled fill-in tackle Trey Pipkins down after down after down, living in Rivers' lap. The edge-rusher compiled a sack, three QB hits, five tackles -- one for a loss - a pass defended (doinked off his helmet) and a forced fumble.
"We showed an attitude," Clark said. "We're trying to build this identity. I want (us) to be selfish and make every play that comes to us. Defend your gap and make the play. If you keep on developing that attitude, you're going to develop into a winner."
On a night Mahomes was stymied -- held to 182 passing yards with 1 TD and 1 INT -- and when the Chiefs lacked explosive plays sans injured playmakers Tyreek Hill and Damien Williams, the K.C. defense provided the needed spark.
With a pivotal division tilt after next week's bye against the Oakland Raiders, who are threatening the Chiefs' AFC West supremacy, followed by a matchup at New England in Week 14, K.C. will need its defense to step up large once again down the stretch until the offense recaptures its groove. ...
Other notes of interest. ... After catching just one pass in the first half, Travis Kelce (92 yards) grabbed six in the second, beating the Chargers' zone coverage again and again, including on a picture-perfect toe-drag snag in the end zone.
As noted above, Hill left the game with a hamstring strain in the first quarter. The team said Hill was questionable to return but the wideout never returned to the game. He stayed on Kansas City's sideline for the duration of the contest in full uniform but with no helmet in sight.
Head coach Andy Reid had no update after the game on Hill's status going forward, but Hill had an MRI on his injured hamstring upon return to Kansas City, and the news was good.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Hill's hamstring injury was deemed minor, and he's considered day-to-day.
Hill tried to return to the game, after limping off early, but did not get back in the game. Obviously the coming bye week is well-timed, but the difference in their offense without him is apparent.
Hill was targeted twice but did not have a reception at the time of his departure.
This isn't the wideout's first brush with injury this season. Hill missed four games after injuring his clavicle in Week 1.
As noted abovek, Williams (ribs) was also knocked out of the game. Running back LeSean McCoy was evaluated for a concussion in the fourth quarter and did not return, as well.
Mahomes took a hit on the right knee that recently had a dislocated kneecap on a second-half scramble.
According to ESPN.com's Adam Teicher, the QB looked for a few plays afterward like he was favoring the leg but reported no problems when the game was over.
"I got hit on my knee for the first time," he said. "I'm kind of sitting there like 'That's the first time I've taken a shot there.' I just kind of felt it. It felt fine. I just kind of got back up and kept going."
The good news?
They bye offers more time for all involved to rehab and heal before an important visit from the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Dec. 1. ...
One last note here. ... The divots during the Chiefs-Chargers game at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City were noticeable up close and far away, in person and on a national television broadcast Monday night, as Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star reported.
Within a matter of the first few plays of the Chiefs and Chargers' game in Mexico City, the playing surface inside Estadio Azteca was a talking point, only one year after it forced the NFL to relocate a game.
It wasn't great, players said after the game.
"I feel like it wasn't that much of a factor," safety Tyrann Mathieu said. "Maybe it was a little bit slick, but we play in snow; we play in ran; we play in different conditions.
"I felt like it was fine. I didn't have any complaints about it."
One year ago, the league canceled its plans to have the Chiefs and Rams play in Mexico City. The field wasn't suitable for an NFL game. Wasn't safe for its players.
In its agreement with stadium and Mexican government officials to return one year later, the NFL hired a consultant to check on the field often. The surface - intended for soccer - was completely replaced and changed to natural grass this summer. And Televisa, which owns Estadio Azteca, agreed to lighten the load in the weeks and months leading up to the game.
The two teams received positive reports as they headed for Mexico City, with Chiefs owner Clark Hunt saying, "It's in much better condition than it was last year."
That proved true.
But to what measure? It depended on the player you asked. To a man, they described the surface as soft. Sometimes it played slippery.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was among those vocally critical of the surface. "It was disgusting," he said, adding, "I've never seen something like that."
Safety Juan Thornhill added, "It was kinda different, almost like it was kind of wet. A couple times my feet left me, but I was just out there playing. You just gotta try to keep your feet."
Wide receiver Byron Pringle didn't. Once, anyway. As he slipped trying to reverse field in the first half, it fueled speculation that the field would play a major factor in the game's outcome.
But Pringle didn't blame the field. His shoulder placement was the culprit, he said. In fact, there were aspects of the surface he actually liked.
"I liked it, but I like soft grass like that," Pringle said. "It was slippery, but I like it. I can plant, and I can drive on it. I can get out of breaks faster. I bend low a lot, so I like it. I know some people don't."
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Jordan Ta'amu, Kyle Shurmur
RBs: Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, Elijah McGuire, Darrel Williams
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Gehrig Dieter
TEs: Travis Kelce, Deon Yelder, Nick Keizer, Ricky Seals-Jones
Los Angeles ChargersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As NFL.com's Jelani Scott suggested, "The Los Angeles Chargers (4-7) have looked more like a bridesmaid rather than a bride for the bulk of the 2019 season. ..."
On Monday night in Mexico City, the Chargers fell to the Kansas City Chiefs, 24-17, in a fashion that has, unfortunately, been far too consistent with the way their games have been mostly playing out the past 11 weeks.
Down by a score, the Chargers had a chance to come away with a win after doing just enough to hang around in spite of being the eight ball at various points throughout. But, in the end, the contest resulted in yet another heartbreaking one-score loss for head coach Anthony Lynn's squad, giving them a league-high total of seven such defeats in 2019, according to NFL Research.
"I thought offensively, we got to get the ball in the end zone. We kicked too many field goals in the first half. With a team like Kansas City, you can't kick field goals, you got to score and I thought we let them hang around," Lynn said. "We got the ball back several times and offensively we weren't able to get the ball down the field until that last drive ... We did not finish the game. Kind of underthrew that last one and that was just kind of been the way our season's gone so far."
The underthrown pass Lynn's referring to came moments after Philip Rivers got the offense to the KC 25 after completing a 50-yard bomb to wideout Mike Williams. With 24 seconds to go, Rivers lobbed a jump ball to running back Austin Ekeler in the end zone only for Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen to step in front of it and snag what was Rivers' fourth interception of the evening.
It was a rough night for Rivers (28-of-52, 353 yards, TD, 4 INTs) that was made worse by the fact that one of his first two picks led to a Chiefs score and the final two came on consecutive drives to close the game.
"He went out, he gave it his all. It didn't work out for us this week. He made some mistakes and he understands that. He's a 16-year veteran, he knows when he's played well and when he's played bad," Lynn said of his signal caller. "I thought he did some good things. ... He put us in positions when we did move the ball down the field especially there at the end. He just ended up with a bad throw at the end."
Two of their three first-half FGs came inside the red zone with a third from 49 yards out coming after an offensive holding may have cost them a shot at a TD before half. Still, with the Chargers' backfield rolling (83 rushing yards on 14 carries) and Rivers outgunning Patrick Mahomes -- 237 to 63 through the air -- things looked encouraging despite being down 10-9.
However, the Chiefs defense adjusted and the run game was stifled, adding just 10 yards for the rest of the night and putting a lot of pressure on Rivers to execute. L.A. just came up short.
"Not scoring in the red zone and turning it over, man, that gets you beat. And that's what's gotten us beat all year," said Rivers, who earned the 61st loss of his career by seven of fewer points on Monday, the most of any starting QB in the Super Bowl era, per ESPN.
In the past two weeks, Rivers has thrown three touchdowns and seven INTs, upping his season totals to 15 and 14, respectively. A startling difference considering he threw 32 TDs and 12 INTs all of last season.
"It's a football game, it's a football game. If you could just pick and choose and never throw 'em ever, I'd choose to throw zero," Rivers said of his uptick in turnovers. "So, certainly don't want to throw 'em but certainly I know it's hurting us right now so obviously need to cut 'em out."
Dropping a division game to a team that is right at the top of the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders (6-4) is clearly detrimental but the team still has to begin eradicating the costly mistakes. The odds of things working out aren't completely impossible but the turnaround has to begin immediately after their bye.
"I felt like if we could've won this game today and won out, we could control our own destiny but now obviously I don't feel that way," Lynn said. "I still think we have enough to win [in Week 13] and beyond that but we're probably going to need some help."
On major problem?
The Chargers gained 312 yards in the first half but failed to score an offensive touchdown. According to ESPN.com's Eric D. Williams, the only other team to record more than 300 yards in a half without scoring a touchdown this season was the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of Week 7.
According to Elias data, the Chargers' 203-yard advantage over the Chiefs is the largest halftime yards differential by a team trailing at the half since 1981 (when the Washington Redskins outgained the Philadelphia Eagles by 210 yards but trailed 7-6).
The Chargers have lost five straight games on Monday Night Football; the only teams with active losing streaks on Monday Night Football that long are the Redskins (8) and Cincinnati Bengals (5).
On a more positive note. ... Offensively, running backs Ekeler and Melvin Gordon powered the Chargers, finishing with a combined 222 yards from scrimmage. Ekeler led the Chargers with eight receptions for 108 receiving yards and also added another 24 on the ground, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the first time.
Ekeler now has 1,010 yards from scrimmage on the year. Gordon finished with a game-high 69 rushing yards on 14 carries. ...
For what it's worth. ... According to ESPN Stats and Information research, Rivers is the first Chargers quarterback to throw at least three interceptions in back-to-back games since Erik Kramer in 1999.
Rivers now has 13 interceptions and 15 turnovers on the year. The last time Rivers had that many turnovers in a season was 2016.
Last week, Rivers reiterated his desire to continue to play for the Chargers when the move into their new stadium in Inglewood next season.
"I think that is my desire," Rivers told Williams. "But I do think that it only seems right to say, 'All right, let's take a deep breath and regroup.' I kept saying, a couple years, a couple years or a handful, and then I went to the 'one year at a time.' And I think that's where it is, and that only makes sense when your contract is up and you're going to be 38 here in a few weeks."
Rivers officially becomes two years shy of 40 on December 8.
"I'm just going to have kind of a self- and family-evaluation of it all, and also know that it's not solely my decision. If you would've asked me and I had two years left [on a contract], I would say, 'Of course I'm going to play.' I'm not turning in on them, you know what I mean? So I think it only makes sense. I don't think this is breaking news, but I think that's the prudent thing to do and the most reasonable thing. But my intention certainly is to be playing in 2020."
The Chargers have significant say in whether Rivers returns. Although, as Williams notes, GM Tom Telesco said earlier this year that Rivers will be back, it would be foolish for the Chargers to not explore all options, especially as they struggle to establish a foothold in L.A. As Profootballtalk.com noted, the Rams consistently have made personnel decisions with both substance and style in mind, and they've developed a team that both contends and compels.
The Chargers need to begin building their team with an eye toward whether and to what extent a given player will move the needle in a city that remains largely fickle and fractured when it comes to NFL loyalties.
So whether it's Cam Newton or Tom Brady or a trade up for a rookie with sizzle or whoever, the Chargers need to make entertainment value a factor in the broader decision regarding whether No. 17 should return for a seventeenth season.
QBs: Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick
RBs: Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome, Troymaine Pope
WRs: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Andre Patton, Jason Moore, Darius Jennings
TEs: Hunter Henry, Virgil Green, Stephen Anderson
Los Angeles RamsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
According to Associated Press sports writer Joe Reedy, Todd Gurley was told by head coach Sean McVay before Sunday night's game against the Bears that he was going to be a focal point of Los Angeles' offense.
Gurley rose to the occasion and delivered his best game of the season.
The All-Pro running back had a season-high 133 scrimmage yards and scored a touchdown to lead the Rams to a 17-7 victory to help them keep pace in the NFC playoff race.
The yardage and his 28 touches were both season highs.
"I guess I felt like the old Todd," Gurley said after the game. "But it's cool, man. I'm just happy I was able to go out there and take advantage of my opportunities."
Quarterback Jared Goff shared words with Gurley as they left the field.
"I told him he fights, he fights, man," said Goff. "He's been through the ringer and that dude fights, and I couldn't be more proud to be his teammate."
On a night when the Rams were missing two of their starting receivers and had a reworked offensive line, McVay reined things in. Los Angeles (6-4) ran it on 65.4 percent of its plays (34 of 52). That is the highest run percentage in McVay's three seasons as coach and only the fourth time they have gone to ground more than 60 percent of the time.
Gurley led the way with a season-high 25 carries. His 97 rushing yards also tied for his most this year.
"What I loved the most about what Todd did was after we put the first carry on the ground he didn't flinch," McVay said. "He came back, had some good, tough, physical runs, made some good catches out of the backfield and he was a big-time contributor tonight."
Goff was 11 of 18 for 173 yards and an interception with many of his completions coming off play action.
Gurley came in averaging 53.5 rushing yards per game, but had 63 in the first half, including three carries of 10 yards or more. After Greg Zuerlein opened the scoring with a 38-yard field goal early in the second quarter, Gurley put the Rams up 10-0 with 3:28 remaining on a 1-yard drive up the middle.
Gurley's TD was set up when Goff connected with Cooper Kupp for a 50-yard gain. Kupp beat Buster Skrine up the left sideline and hauled in the pass at the 15 before he fumbled going out of bounds at the 1. It appeared as if Kupp might have fumbled it at the pylon, which would have been a Chicago touchback.
"When we're at our best is when we're running the ball well. There have been games when we haven't and we've overcome it and thrown it but that's not usually how we want to do it," Goff said.
Goff's 11 completions and 18 attempts were career lows when starting a game, but the game plan was effective. Chicago's Khalil Mack was held without a tackle or sack.
A lot of credit goes to the reworked offensive line. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was the only constant with Austin Blythe moving from left guard to center. Austin Corbett, who was acquired last month from Cleveland, got his first Rams start at left guard with rookies David Edwards and Bobby Evans on the right side. Edwards got his fourth start at guard and Evans his first at tackle.
"It's a testament to those guys how much they prepared," Whitworth said. "You put four new guys at four new spots in the NFL and you lose 50-0. These guys came out and executed. That's what good teams do and that's what we've got to do more of."
With the win over the Bears, the Rams improve to 6-4 and remain in the playoff hunt.
When asked if Gurley would be utilized more going forward, McVay said, "I think so."
"That's an ideal situation," McVay said. "Anytime you get Todd involved like that, it's usually always a good thing for our offense."
Gurley, who was sidelined in Week 6 because of a thigh contusion, has rushed for 525 yards and seven touchdowns in nine games. He also has caught 18 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.
The Rams host the Baltimore Ravens (8-2) Monday night. ...
Robert Woods was a surprise scratch and did not attend the game because of a personal issue, a Rams spokesperson said. That left Goff without two of his three starting receivers. Brandin Cooks was ruled out early in the week, as the Rams continue to closely monitor his recovery from the two concussions he suffered last month.
The Rams also played without right tackle Rob Havenstein, who was sidelined because of a knee injury.
McVay said Monday that there's no update on Woods, who was not at the Rams' building Wednesday. However, McVay said that he anticipates Cooks will be available against the Ravens.
QBs: Jared Goff, Blake Bortles
RBs: Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, John Kelly
WRs: Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Josh Reynolds, Nsimba Webster, Greg Dortch
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt
Miami DolphinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
According to Associated Press sports writer Steven Wine reported, when running back Kalen Ballage tried to get from the dressing room to the training room following Sunday's game, the door was locked.
Ballage knocked but there was no immediate response, so he disappeared out a different doorway, stymied once more at the end of a frustrating afternoon.
Ballage netted just 9 yards on nine carries, and the Dolphins totaled only 23 yards rushing in their 37-20 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
The sputtering ground game was nothing new for the Dolphins. They came into the game ranked last in the NFL in rushing and yards per attempt, and Ballage ranked 215th at a woeful 2.1 yards per try.
That made Miami no match for Buffalo's stout front seven.
"We made them look a lot better than they really are," tackle Jesse Davis said.
Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander agreed that the Dolphins contributed to their own problems.
"We moved a lot, and they didn't handle it well," Alexander said. "We took advantage of some of their lack of execution."
Buffalo's front didn't manhandle Miami only on running plays. The Bills also had a season-high seven sacks.
"It starts with not establishing the running game, not having positive plays early," center Dan Kilgore said. "It opens things up for them."
Part of the Dolphins' chronic problem is that because of injuries and roster moves as they rebuild, they've started seven different combinations from tackle to tackle.
"It takes time to build that chemistry," Davis said, "but I don't want to blame anything on that."
The lack of continuity, however, has clearly hurt communication and led to unsightly breakdowns.
"It's tough to win in this league if you can't run the football," head coach Brian Flores said.
Ballage's inability to break tackles is part of the problem, and in four starts this year, he has totaled 57 yards.
But the Dolphins have no experienced alternative because they traded Kenyan Drake on Oct. 28, and Mark Walton is halfway through a four-game NFL suspension.
The Dolphins' best success on the ground Sunday came when they went with the wildcat on consecutive plays to score their final touchdown.
Ballage took the snap and carried up the middle for 7 yards -- his longest run of the day. On the next play, Ballage handed to receiver Jakeem Grant on a jet sweep for a 7-yard score.
From other formations, the Dolphins netted 9 yards in 11 carries. That's 2½ feet per attempt.
Because they were repeatedly stuffed in the early going, the Dolphins faced third-and-13 or longer four times in their first three possessions.
"Negative runs on first down and second-and-longs and you get into difficult spots," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "That's what the Bills' defense thrives on, and they did a great job early with that. We've got to be able to find ways to run the ball better."
Of course, progress isn't a straight line and Sunday's loss doesn't erase the small signs of good that this team has shown.
But the Dolphins (2-8), after erasing talk of their being winless with two consecutive victories, were snapped back to reality Sunday, when they looked like just a regular bad team.
The Dolphins recovered a surprise onside kick in the second quarter. Entering Sunday's games, teams were 1-of-29 on onside kicks. (The Bears had the lone recovery.) The Dolphins and kicker Jason Sanders -- who recovered the ball -- got the season's second successful recovery.
Miami recovered two other onside kicks this season, but they were offside both times. The special-teams magic didn't stop there, as Jakeem Grant returned a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. He is the Dolphins' all-time leader in kick/punt-return touchdowns with four. The Dolphins are the 12th team since at least 1991 to recover an onside kick and return a kickoff for a touchdown in the same game.
Grant traveled a total of 138 yards on his return TD, the most total yards run on a play by a ball carrier this season, per Next Gen Stats.
Grant now has four career kick/punt-return touchdowns, most in Dolphins history. He's also the only player in Dolphins history with multiple kickoff and punt-return touchdowns in his career. He now has two of each.
DeVante Parker had a career-high 135 yards receiving on seven catches. Some came in garbage time, but the fifth-year pro is on pace for career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns.
"He has been the most consistent guy that we have on our offense, and has been all year long," Fitzpatrick said. "He's a guy that I know I can count on every Sunday. ..."
The Dolphins have been outscored 70 to three in the third quarter this season. It was 7-0 Sunday.
Coming up. ... The Dolphins need to dig out the cold-weather gear. They play Sunday at Cleveland (4-6), which has won two games in a row, and have December dates at the Jets, Giants and Patriots. ...
The Dolphins announced a flurry of roster moves Wednesday. Miami placed Gary Jennings (shoulder), Reshad Jones (chest) and Bobby McCain (shoulder) on injured reserve, signed safety Adrian Colbert and activated linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel from injured reserve. They also promoted defensive tackle Gerald Willis from the practice squad. ...
Beyond that, ESPN.com's Cameron Worfe reports that every Dolphins player on the active roster practiced Wednesday.
Fitzpatrick was limited listed with a right shoulder/forearm. CB Ken Webster (ankle) returned to practice after missing last three games; I'll follow up on Fitzpatrick via Late-Breaking Update as needed in coming days. ...
And finally. ... Walton won't be returning to the Dolphins when his four-game suspension is up after Week 13.
The Dolphins announced on Tuesday that they have waived Walton. In a statement, general manager Chris Grier indicated that Walton's involvement in a "police matter" led to the decision.
"We were made aware of a police matter earlier this morning regarding Mark Walton," Grier said in a statement. "We hold our players to a high standard and take these matters very seriously. We will have no further comment at this time."
The police report alleges Walton pushed a woman against a wall and punched her several times in the face and head this morning. The report states he learned two days ago the woman was pregnant with his child.
Walton was arrested three times this offseason and the Bengals waived him in April after the last of those arrests. His suspension came in response to those incidents and Walton could face further discipline depending on the nature of this police matter.
Walton ran 53 times for 201 yards and caught 15 passes for 89 yards for the Dolphins this season.
QBs: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, Jake Rudock
RBs: Jordan Howard, Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird, De'Lance Turner
WRs: DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns, Isaiah Ford, Mack Hollins
TEs: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Michael Roberts
Minnesota VikingsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin reported it, Stefon Diggs jumped up and down on the Vikings' sideline, screaming in elation as "Enter Sandman" blared out of the speakers inside U.S. Bank Stadium with just over 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
Moments before, Diggs had caught a 54-yard touchdown from Kirk Cousins on a route the quarterback noted is hit "once a decade" to breathe life into a Vikings team that was on the verge of losing to the Denver Broncos in befuddling fashion after entering Week 11 as a double-digit favorite over its last-place AFC West opponent.
The Vikings found the spark they needed through their star wideout, who notched five receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown in the second half to lead Minnesota to a 27-23 win over Denver.
"It would have been pretty bad if we lost," Diggs said. "Going into a bye week, and you just didn't win. For us, coming out victorious gives us not necessarily a sigh of relief but proof that we can do things to come back from behind and win the game. There are good things that we can take from this game moving forward."
No team has blown a 20-point halftime lead since the San Francisco 49ers lost to the Chargers in Week 16 of the 2014 season. According to ESPN Stats and Information, teams leading by 20 or more points at halftime are 400-13 (95-1 since the start of 2015). Collectively, NFL teams had won 97 straight games when leading by 20 or more points at halftime.
Prior to Sunday's come-from-behind win, the Viking were 0-8 under head coach Mike Zimmer when trailing by 20 points at any point in the game.
"It doesn't just happen like that," Cousins said. "You have to have character, and as one person texted me, that doesn't happen to basic people. You got to have something to you to be able to bring that back. So I'm proud of my teammates and our coaches for the way they found a plan to get it done."
This was the second-largest comeback of Cousins' career and his first win with the Vikings after trailing in the fourth quarter (he was previously 0-10-1).
His previous biggest comeback came in Week 7 of the 2015 season, when he led the Washington Redskins to a victory after being down 24 points and famously screamed "You like that?!" following the game.
Despite completing 11 of 12 passes in the first two quarters, Cousins totaled 58 yards, and the Vikings trailed the Broncos 20-0 at halftime. The key to Minnesota's getting on track was an up-tempo approach reliant on Cousins and the offense going into two-minute mode.
"I've played a lot of football, and I go back to college," Cousins said. "Whenever we were stalling, Mark Dantonio would say, 'Hey, jump into two minute.' Many times you jump into two minute, it has a different feel to it, and next thing you know, you're going. You hesitate to do it because you also know they have Von Miller and a really good pass rush, and you don't want to just get in a dropback game with some of the best pass-rushers to ever play. It worked today. I don't know if that's because you run play after play after play without huddling and they start to get a little winded, and now they don't have the same get-off as they do in the first half when they're huddling every play. I'm not sure.
"I also have to just credit Coach Fangio and their defense for what they did in the first half. To stay in our base offense clearly wasn't working. So I wonder, if it had been a closer game, if you still want to jump in at two minute just because they were defending us so well in the first half to what we were doing. We just weren't running the football, and they were taking away a lot in the pass game."
Cousins threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.
According to Elias, the Vikings are the only team in the past 40 seasons to score a touchdown on every second-half possession and win after trailing by 20 points at the half.
Meanwhile, after the second-latest bye week on the schedule in team history - in 1991, they were off the weekend of Dec. 1 - the Vikings return to action on Dec. 2 at Seattle. This is their second straight year with a Monday night game on the road against the Seahawks in December. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Though Dalvin Cook surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season, the first Vikings player to get there since Adrian Peterson in 2015, a ground game that went nowhere in the first half was mostly abandoned with the hurry-up approach.
That the Vikings could win with minimal production by Cook and another absence for wide receiver Adam Thielen was another testament to how sharp Cousins has been over the last seven weeks.
He's in the top five in the NFL in most passing categories, including second in the NFL, according to Sportradar, with 42 completions of 20-plus yards. Cousins has 18 touchdown passes with only one interception and one lost fumble over the last seven games, and the comeback against the Broncos gave him and the Vikings a win for the second straight week after facing a fourth-quarter deficit.
"It was probably his best game that he's played since he's been here," Zimmer said.
The offense directed by coordinator Kevin Stefanski and designed by adviser Gary Kubiak favors multiple tight end formations, increasingly so with Thielen out, and all three of them played a significant part in the victory. Kyle Rudolph had the go-ahead touchdown reception, giving him 32 points over the last five games. Irv Smith Jr. had his first career score, putting the Vikings on the board for the first time. Tyler Conklin had his first two catches of the season, including a 20-yard haul over the middle on third-and-14 late in the third quarter.
"I just had to come with the mindset that I can't be stopped and this offense can't be stopped," Smith said.
And finally. ... After making it through the first half of the schedule with scant injury concerns, the list of sidelined starters has piled up. Strong safety Harrison Smith (hamstring) was hurt in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and free safety Anthony Harris (groin) had a setback during the week that put him on the inactive list for the first time this year. Nose tackle Linval Joseph (knee) missed his second game in a row, with Jaleel Johnson filling in. Weakside linebacker Ben Gedeon (concussion) was also hurt on Sunday, when Eric Wilson took over.
Right guard Josh Kline (concussion) was out, replaced by Dakota Dozier, and Thielen (hamstring) did not suit up for the third time in five games. Thielen has played a total of only 16 snaps in that span, with rookie Olabisi Johnson taking on an increased role.
The coaching staff has a whopping 15 days between games to plan for their game against Seattle.
Just as important as strategizing during the time off will be healing, with Thielen, Joseph and Smith particularly critical to have against the Seahawks.
QBs: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion
RBs: Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone, Ameer Abdullah
WRs: Adam Thielen, Tajae Sharpe, Olabisi Johnson, Chad Beebe, Davion Davis
TEs: Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., Brandon Dillon, Tyler Conklin
New England PatriotsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Tom Brady acknowledged disappointment with the team's offense Monday morning, which helped explain why his media session following the team's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles felt more like it came after a loss.
"It's just frustration with the offense; we're trying to grind them out. I'm happy we won on the road, but at the same time, I just wish we'd score more points," Brady said on "The Greg Hill Show" on sports radio WEEI. "We have to figure out how we can fix our problems as best we can."
ESPN.com's Mike Reiss noted the game marked the first time in Brady's 20-year career that he played from start to finish and didn't lead the Patriots in touchdown passes, according to ESPN's Stats and Information. The Patriots' lone touchdown pass was thrown by receiver Julian Edelman in the third quarter.
Overall, this is just the fourth time Brady has started a game and didn't lead the team in touchdown passes. The other three instances were cases when he left injured (2001 AFC Championship Game; 2008 season opener) or was pulled early (Week 17, 2006).
Brady was notably dejected after the game, with his media session lasting just 1 minute, 40 seconds. He had said he was tired after playing a three-hour game, but allowed Monday morning that displeasure with the offense was part of it too.
"As crazy as it sounds, we're still kind of relatively new; getting familiar with each other on offense," Brady said on the radio program, while also crediting the Eagles' defense.
"The strength of our team is our defense and special teams. So on offense, we just have to take advantage when we get opportunities, understand where our strengths lie and try to play to them. Not giving short fields. Not turning the ball over. Try to take advantage when we get into the red area and score touchdowns. That's kind of where our offense is, and that's kind of where our team is."
Brady finished 26-of-47 for 216 yards against the Eagles, and he would have had a touchdown pass if Edelman didn't drop a strike in the end zone in the second quarter.
Brady's reference to some personnel on offense getting familiar with each other comes as wide receiver N'Keal Harry, the 2019 first-round draft choice from Arizona State, made his debut Sunday after opening the season on injured reserve.
While the Patriots are easing Harry into the mix, Reiss believes they could have used him on a fade route in the red zone. Harry played 32 of 74 snaps (including a 2-point conversion) and finished with three catches for 18 yards. He also played on the punt return unit in a rush-based role.
Tight end Matt LaCosse, who has missed five games this season, returned from a knee injury Sunday. Also, veteran tight end Benjamin Watson missed the first four games of the season while serving an NFL suspension, was released by the team after that, and then was re-signed; he has played in the past four games.
In addition, veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu was acquired in a late October trade and has played in the past three games, while 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn was officially activated to the 53-man roster on Tuesday.
The Patriots naturally miss retired tight end Rob Gronkowski, and have been adjusting after placing starting fullback James Develin and starting center David Andrews on injured reserve earlier in the year.
"I just wish we would play better offensively," Brady said in the radio interview. "We have to go do it. I don't think it's about talking about it. It's about doing it and trying to get the best we can out of our offense, and seeing if we can be more productive and score more points."
With Wynn set to return to his spot at left tackle, Reiss the one-dimensional, pass-based offense will finally find its groove with some more balance in the run game. Wynn, if he can stay healthy, is the key piece because he can provide more comfort on Brady's blindside. Veteran Marshall Newhouse has competed in his place, but Wynn is a decisive upgrade.
The offensive line struggled to protect Brady. He was sacked once and hit six times.
New England wasn't able to run the ball, either, gaining 74 yards on 22 carries, an average of 3.4 yards per attempt.
The good news?
The defense continues to rank among the NFL's all-time best.
The Patriots have allowed 108 points through 10 games, which would put them on pace for 173 in a full season. The NFL record for a 16-game season was the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who allowed 165 points. The New England defense has only allowed nine touchdowns; the fewest in a 16-game season were the 16 allowed by the 1986 Bears and the 2000 Ravens.
This week, The Patriots host Dallas (6-4) on Sunday. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Veteran Nick Folk has helped settle things down with the Patriots' previously shaky kicking situation after Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve. He made field goals of 35, 22 and 39 yards in Sunday's first half, in some windy conditions.
Receiver Phillip Dorsett left the game with a head injury and did not return, a loss to the already thin receiving corps.
The good news?
Dorsett was at practice Wednesday but did no participate. Patrick Chung and Damien Harris -- both ruled out for the Eagles game due to injury -- were present as well.
Sanu, who looked like he suffered an ankle injury during a punt return Sunday, was held out along with Dorsett. Edelman (shoulder) was limited.
I'll have more via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
The Patriots need a roster spot for Wynn, and it appears they'll create it by putting wide receiver/special teamer Gunner Olszewski on injured reserve.
He's been dealing with ankle and hamstring issues, and hasn't played since Week 8.
And finally. ... Bill Belichick doesn't forget.
Two years ago, after Super Bowl LII, Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson questioned how much "fun" the Patriots have while winning.
After the Patriots' 17-10 victory Sunday, the Patriots coach appeared to take a jab at Johnson without using Johnson's name.
"It really was a good team victory for us today. I am really proud of the way our guys competed," Belichick said. "They just went out there and competed for 60 minutes. I know we didn't get off to a great start, but we just kept battling and made plays in all three phases of the game. We played for 60 minutes and played some good situational football and made plays that we needed to make to win. Big drive offensively coming off of the goal line in the fourth quarter put our defense in a good field position. Defense played really well in the second half. The players covered well, rushed well, and they tackled real well. They just did a good job. It looked like everyone had fun out there today and we played a lot of good energy and it was good to come down here and get a win."
Johnson, who played only 25 snaps Sunday before leaving with a head injury, had fun when he went on a Pardon My Take podcast after the Eagles' Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
"I just think that The Patriot Way is a fear-based organization," Johnson said. "Obviously, do they win? Hell yes, they win. They've won for a long time. Do I think people enjoy and can say, 'I had a lot of fun playing there'? No, I don't. That's just the God's honest truth. "They're successful, but when they go to interviews, they act like [expletive] robots. Hey, stop being a [expletive] head. We can be cordial for a little bit. You only get to do this job one time, so let's have fun while we're doing it. Not to be reckless, but we'd much rather have fun and win a Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls. But hey, it is what it is."
He did not have so much fun Sunday.
This just in: Winning is fun.
QBs: Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
RBs: Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris
WRs: Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski
TEs: Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo
New Orleans SaintsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Mike Triplett suggested, the Saints needed to revive their offense after a 26-9 loss to Atlanta in Week 10. And they needed to get dynamic running back Alvin Kamara going after knee and ankle injuries had slowed his momentum in the middle of the season.
They accomplished both on Sunday.
Kamara's 14 offensive touches in the first half were a career high. And he finished with 13 carries for 75 yards, 10 catches for 47 yards while also returning punts.
"It's huge," Kamara said of getting back on track after losing to the Falcons. "Any time you lose, it's just a little bit more of a heightened awareness to go into the next game, execute and ... come out with a victory."
Indeed, the Saints played with the urgency of a team determined to get back on track.
"You lose a game, you move forward. The next game can't come quick enough," coach Sean Payton said Sunday after the NFC South leaders rebounded from an ugly loss to last-place Atlanta with a 34-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Drew Brees threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns, and NFL receptions leader Michael Thomas became the first player in league history with 90-plus catches in the first 10 games of a season for the Saints (8-2).
In addition to a 16-yard scoring pass to Thomas in the first half, Brees tosses TD passes of 3 yards to Jared Cook and 6 to Ted Ginn Jr. after New Orleans was held out of the end zone during the previous week's 26-9 loss to the Falcons.
Thomas, who also became the first player with at least 90 receptions in each of his first four NFL seasons, had eight catches for 114 yards. That boosted his totals for 2019 to 94 receptions for 1,141 yards. The previous high for most catches in the first 10 game of a season was 89 by Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and Atlanta's Julio Jones.
Brees isn't surprised.
"Here's the thing, if you saw the guy work, if you saw the guy prepare, it's just what we see every day in practice, honestly," Brees said in his postgame press conference. "Maybe it's one of those things that when it's all said and done, you look back and you really, really appreciate. I just love his mindset. He is a 'I want the ball', 'I will get open', 'I will make the play for you' kind of guy and that's the kind of guy you want."
The Saints gave Thomas a huge contract before this season and it is safe to say that any fears about money changing the way he plays can be put to rest.
"I've played with a lot of good ones, a lot of great ones, and the thing that's common with those guys is the trust factor," Brees added. "You have to be able to anticipate certain things which allow you to play with confidence and be accurate and make a lot of those throws that others might not try to make."
Meanwhile, Cook made a dazzling 3-yard TD catch in the second quarter when Brees floated the ball up high to him and let him win a jump ball even though he was well-covered. That is now three TDs for Cook in his past four healthy games, as he continues to show signs of getting more involved down the stretch.
But the Saints continued to shoot themselves in the foot with too many offensive penalties -- which have plagued them all year long, including last week. Kamara had a touchdown run nullified by a holding penalty against Cook in the first quarter. And two other big gains by Kamara were nullified by offensive pass interference against receiver Tre'Quan Smith and another holding call against Cook.
On a more positive note, the Saints beat the Bucs 31-24 in New Orleans in Week 5, holding Mike Evans without a catch. While replicating that success figured to be difficult, even if injured cornerback Marshon Lattimore -- the primary defender on Evans in the earlier meeting -- had played Sunday, the Saints nevertheless did a nice job again of containing one of the league's top receivers with P.J. Williams filling in for Lattimore.
Evans had four catches for 69 yards and no touchdowns.
The Saints played without Lattimore (hamstring) and Andrus Peat (forearm), who were injured during last week's loss to Atlanta.
Tight end Josh Hill went out with a concussion. Hill is a regular in both the offense and special teams and it's unclear when he'll be back. The Saints also are hoping Lattimore's return from a hamstring injury will be sooner than later, but his timeline also remains unclear. ...
Also worth noting. ... The offensive line and running game got back on track after an anemic showing against Atlanta that saw Brees sacked six times.
The Saints allowed only one sack and rushed for 109 yards against a Tampa Bay front that ranks second against the run.
"That Atlanta game was not what we're about and something we weren't proud of at all. There was a lot of bad stuff that happened in that game and we looked at that film and corrected it," Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk said. "Two of the most important things are keeping Drew protected, keeping him clean, and then being able to open up the run game. So week to week that's something we take a lot of pride in."
The Saints host the Panthers with a chance to take a four-game lead in the NFC South, then have a quick turnaround at Atlanta on Thanksgiving night. Also on the horizon are what looks like a significant matchup for top seeding in the NFC playoffs when San Francisco visits on Dec. 8.
QBs: Drew Brees, Taysom Hill
RBs: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray
WRs: Emmanuel Sanders, Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, Tre'quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Emmanuel Butler
TEs: Jared Cook, Josh Hill
New York GiantsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan noted, with six games left in his second season as coach of the Giants, Pat Shurmur doesn't have a lot to show for his tenure.
His record is 7-19 and the Giants (2-8) are going into their bye week on a six-game losing streak. If they lose one more, it will guarantee a third straight losing season. Also very likely are a third straight year out of the playoffs, and seven out of eight overall out of the postseason since winning the Super Bowl in February 2012.
Co-owner John Mara has not talked about the team with the media since training camp so his thoughts about its struggles and the future of Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman are uncertain.
The previous time he spoke with the media, Mara had said he wanted to feel positive about the team's future after its final game this season.
Mara will eventually talk about the team again and probably vent a little since he hates losing. People might lose jobs.
Before that happens, Canavan believes there are a couple of things to be said about Shurmur after 10 games with a young team.
The 54-year-old former offensive lineman has kept the locker room together despite the losing. Even more important, he had the guts to sit two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning after two losses to start the season and make the quarterback switch to Daniel Jones, the sixth pick overall in the draft.
There is no doubt Jones has made more than his fair share of mistakes over the past eight games as a starter. His 16 turnovers since becoming the starter are unacceptable. His is learning though and for the first time in more than a decade the Giants know they have a replacement for Manning on the roster.
It's another Eli, but this one has wheels to go along with a good arm and keen mind.
Jones said Shurmur has helped his development.
"I think he's been extremely patient with me and supportive of me. I've been up and down, I've played well at times and not so well at times," Jones said. "He's continued to support me and continued to coach me hard and give me the points of emphasis or the things that I need to be looking at closer. I think that's been a huge help for me. Like I said, his experience coaching quarterbacks, his experience coaching offense has been awesome for me."
Jones has impressive numbers. The 22-year-old Duke product has completed 187 of 297 passes for 1,984 yards and 15 touchdowns. His 208 yards rushing is second best on the team behind Saquon Barkley, who has 402 on three times as many carries.
"He has made some mistakes and that is going to come with a rookie quarterback, but he also has made some phenomenal throws, phenomenal plays," center Jon Halapio said. "It's things you want to see out of a No. 6 draft pick. He is doing well and managing the game experience. I'm excited for him. I have been a big Daniel Jones fan since he got here."
The problem for Shurmur is Jones isn't the only young guy making mistakes.
Cornerback DeAndre Baker, the third of the team's three first-round draft picks this spring, has struggled. Linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle B.J. Hill are not living up to expectations in their second season and Barkley, the 2018 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, has struggled since sustaining a high ankle sprain in the third game.
Even the older guys have messed up, particularly on the defense. The team though is playing hard.
Barkley intends to keep on playing until he can't.
"I feel like myself," he said. "I would love to be going for 100 yards every game, I would love to be doing the things I was doing last year. I don't like the fact that I was able to have 1 yard against the Jets, a great team, respect to them. I feel like when you see me get in open space I still was making people miss."
If Jones stops turning the ball over and Barkley returns to his form of a year ago and everyone else stops making mistakes, maybe the final six games will be different for the Giants.
"I really believe we're on the right path," Shurmur aid. "We don't have the wins to quantify that, but I believe in my heart of hearts we are on the right path and it will come."
The Giants didn't have tight end Evan Engram on the field the last time they played a game, but he said on Monday that he may be back in action against the Bears in Week 12.
Engram did not take part in practice as the Giants returned from their bye week, but he is out of the protective boot he was wearing to protect his injured foot. He told reporters that his foot is feeling better and called playing in Chicago "definitely possible."
How possible that is will likely be determined by what Engram can do on the field at the rest of this week's practices, but he was not on the field Wednesday.
That will also be the case for wide receiver Sterling Shepard. He's missed the last five games with his second concussion of the year and remains in the concussion protocol, although he was able to do some on-field work Monday and he was listed as a full participant Wednesday along with cornerback Janoris Jenkins (concussion).
Both need final clearance, but Shurmur said that would come at the end of the week.
QBs: Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, Alex Tanney
RBs: Saquon Barkley, Wayne Gallman, Dion Lewis, Javorius Allen, Elijhaa Penny
WRs: Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton, Cody Core, Da'Mari Scott, Corey Coleman
TEs: Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Eric Tomlinson
New York JetsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Toward the end of the game, all Sam Darnold wanted to talk about on the sideline was his interception.
Thanks to Darnold's career-high four touchdown passes and the Redskins' offensive ineptitude, that mistake was a mere blip in the New York Jets' 34-17 rout Sunday.
"For us as an offense as a whole, it's just another stepping stone in the right direction," Darnold said. "Once our offense is in a really good rhythm, it's easy for me and a lot of the other guys on the offense to go and make plays."
Despite getting picked off deep in his own territory by Jon Bostic, the 2018 third overall pick bounced back and now has 11 TDs and 10 INTs this season. Darnold excelled at throwing on the run and managed the game well.
The Jets played their best all-around game, but the big story was Darnold, whose confidence seemed shattered only a few weeks ago. As ESPN.com's Rich Cimini noted, instead of tanking after seven interceptions in back-to-back losses to the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, he rallied by displaying the mental toughness required for long-term success in the NFL.
Behind the scenes, Darnold took ownership of the offense, becoming more assertive in meetings with head coach Adam Gase. He took the same approach in the huddle, according to teammates. This is Darnold 2.0. He's not seeing ghosts anymore; he's seeing open receivers.
On Sunday, he threw touchdowns to four different receivers -- tight ends Daniel Brown and Ryan Griffin and wide receivers Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. He finished with 293 yards and a 121.3 passer rating.
Darnold spread the ball evenly and made plays with his legs, both on designed rollouts and off-schedule plays in which he was flushed from the pocket. He made the one bad decision, but it was only a momentary loss of poise.
"He's still developing," Crowder said. "You can definitely tell that he's starting to be a little more vocal, take ownership of the offense, which he should - that's part of the development of a quarterback in this league. I'm just glad he's taking the right steps to become a great quarterback in this league."
For the record, Darnold became the second Jets quarterback in the past 15 years to have minimums of 200 yards and one touchdown pass in four straight games. Ryan Fitzpatrick did it in 2015.
Of course, it's not all perfect.
The Jets' running game is still stalling. New York ranks 31st in the NFL with 72.1 yards per game, ahead of only Miami (60.3). There are multiple layers to the struggles, from the constant shuffling on the offensive line because of injuries and the early season absence of Darnold because of mononucleosis.
But, it's still surprising considering New York has Le'Veon Bell in its backfield. Bell had just 59 yards rushing and a TD on 18 carries and hasn't cracked 100 yards in any game this season.
The Jets tried a wrinkle against Washington, using a fullback more than in previous weeks, but Bell was unable to get to the second level. He managed a fourth-quarter touchdown to ease the frustration, but as Cimini wrote, "Let's be real: His hunt-and-peck running style isn't a great fit with this struggling offensive line, which started its sixth different combination."
Cimini went on to suggest that Bilal Powell (seven rushes for 42 yards) was more effective than Bell in a change-of-pace role.
For the record, Bell played 75 percent and 56 percent of the snaps in the last two games, his lowest numbers of the season.
Three reasons, per Gase: They don't want to be predictable. The other RBs "deserve" to play. They want to keep him fresh.
Said Gase: "We want to make sure we have a strong, 16-game season from him."
It seems like a smart move, especially since Powell has provided a spark off the bench. ...
Griffin has suddenly become a favorite target of Darnold. Griffin had five catches for 109 yards - the first 100-yard game of his career - and a touchdown at Washington. He has 25 receptions for 269 yards and a career-high four TDs.
On a less positive note, Sam Ficken is the team's fourth kicker since training camp and had given the Jets some stability at the kicker spot, but has been up and down lately. Ficken missed his first extra point of the season and was wide right on a 49-yard field goal attempt against the Redskins. He's 7 of 11 on field goals overall, with one miss in each of the last three games.
Nonetheless, the Jets' season, unraveling after an embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago, has an upbeat feel.
The Jets have scored a touchdown on their opening possession in four straight games. That comes after New York had gone 30 consecutive games without getting into the end zone on its first drive.
New York's run defense continues to be downright stingy. The Jets are allowing a league-low 79.1 yards rushing per game after holding Washington to just 54. New York has allowed just one 100-yard rusher: Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott, who had 105 on 28 carries in Week 6.
The Jets will try for their first three-game winning streak since Weeks 3-5 of the 2017 season - yes, over two years ago. It won't be easy, though, as the Oakland Raiders (6-4) come to New York having won three straight. After taking advantage of facing rookie quarterbacks in the Giants' Daniel Jones and the Redskins' Dwayne Haskins the past two weeks, the Jets will take on Derek Carr, who has seven TD passes and one INT in his last four games.
One last note here. ...Bell is fed up with the NFL's apparent obsession with drug-testing him, Dennis Young of the New York Daily News reports.
The running back tweeted Wednesday morning that the league has done five HGH blood tests on him in 10 weeks.
"I'm not doing another after today," Bell said. "Whatever y'all lookin for it obviously ain't there & I'm not about to keep allowing y'all to stick me with those dirty ass needles."
Bell was suspended four games in 2016 while with the Steelers for missing three drug tests in nine months. The league has been all over him after he didn't play a snap in 2018. He was pulled from two straight practices during Jets training camp for urine tests.
The NFL's drug testing policy says that players are subject to a maximum of six blood tests per year, but the league can test players more than that if they're "in reasonable cause testing."
Bell also responded to people tweeting about the fact that he's been suspended for marijuana before, accurately pointing out that a urine test is adequate for weed.
"I can easily pee in a cup," he said.
QBs: Sam Darnold, David Fales
RBs: Le'Veon Bell, Bilal Powell, Kenneth Dixon, Josh Adams
WRs: Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder, Quincy Enunwa, Braxton Berrios, Josh Doctson, Josh Malone, Vyncint Smith, Josh Bellamy
TEs: Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown, Trevon Wesco
Oakland RaidersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Surviving a five-game worldwide odyssey made sure the Raiders' final season in Oakland wouldn't get derailed early. Sweeping a three-game homestand in Oakland for the first time in 39 years has put the Raiders in the thick of the AFC playoff race.
The Raiders handled business at home by beating the Cincinnati Bengals 17-10 on Sunday, are tied for the final wild-card spot in the AFC and in position to challenge the Kansas City Chiefs for the division title.
"We don't have many games here left in this stadium that are promised," quarterback Derek Carr said. "We have a lot of work to do before we can hope for anything else. ... Now we have to go on the road, again, but when we get back home, hopefully there's still some things that we need to be playing for."
Contending for the playoffs seemed far-fetched for Oakland after an 18-point loss at Minnesota dropped the team to 1-2 on the first game of a 48-day stretch without a game in Oakland.
But the Raiders managed to pull out wins at Indianapolis and in London against the Bears to survive that trip, and then swept the homestand against Detroit, the Chargers and Bengals behind strong play from Carr and an impressive rookie class.
Led by running back Josh Jacobs, defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow, the Raiders lead the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,676), touchdowns (14), yards rushing (937), receptions (73) and sacks (10) from the rookie class.
As Associated Press sports writer Josh Dubow notes, the Raiders are the first team to have at least 10 sacks and 10 touchdowns from rookies in the first 10 games of the season since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
"Success is a great confidence builder and when you can have success and win as a rookie in this league it goes a long way," head coach Jon Gruden said. "Sometimes it takes two or three years for that to happen for a young player in particular. Some guys don't get to play until their second or third season, but we are getting a lot of production."
Carr passed for 292 yards and a touchdown while Jacobs had his fourth 100-yard game in the last six weeks.
Neither were especially pleased after the game.
Despite the fact he broke a tie with Hall of Famer Marcus Allen for most 100-yard rushing games by a rookie in franchise history, Jacobs couldn't have cared less.
Carr completed his first 14 passes and posted a triple-digit passer rating. That stat line was met with a shrug.
The Raiders will gladly take the win, but they openly acknowledged an underwhelming offensive performance that must be improved against better competition.
"We could have had more," Carr said. "Honestly, that's how I feel. I left the game and I get our stat book and I looked at it and I was like, 'They look pretty, but I could have played better.' I'm hard on myself. ... I think that's the standard that Coach Gruden puts on me."
Jacobs felt the same way, disappointed to leave plays unmade despite several highlights during the game.
"We left a lot of points out there as an offense," Jacobs said. "I missed a couple holes. Honestly, it wasn't a great game for me. I had 100-and-something yards or whatever, but there's a lot to improve on."
The Raiders offense had been humming. The unit had scored at least 24 points in six straight games over a 4-2 stretch. The unit was balanced, steady and impactful against some solid teams, creating the expectation that the Raiders should go off against a Bengals team ranked 22nd against the pass and dead last against the run.
That didn't happen. The Raiders weren't bad, either. Not by a long shot. They converted half of their third- and fourth-down attempts. They accumulated 386 yards of offense and had nine explosive plays of 20 yards or more.
They misfired a few times, which bothered both Carr and Jacobs after this win. Jacobs fumbled in the red zone -- that's a major no-no -- and Carr threw his first interception since Oct. 20 when Bengals safety Jessie Bates III cut off a pass intended for Renfrow.
"[Josh] never wants to put the ball on the ground," Carr said. "I threw an interception, he fumbled. If Coach is going to put the ball in our hands every single play, one of us, then we need to be better."
This was a day where the Raiders held Cincinnati to 10 points, and just a field goal after the opening drive. After having to win so many high-scoring games, the offense didn't have to do much in this one. They were productive but not efficient enough scoring, and the Raiders playmakers believe it didn't do well enough even though the box score looks good.
"I'm never into fantasy stats or my stats or anything like that," Carr said. "I'm into doing whatever coach Gruden wants me to do at a high level. I didn't do that well enough today."
The Raiders were held to 17 points by the winless Bengals in part because of two missed opportunities in the red zone. Jacobs fumbled at the 10 in the first quarter for Oakland's fifth red-zone turnover of the season, tied for the most in the NFL. The Raiders then had first-and-goal at the 1 in the fourth quarter, but Richie Incognito committed a false start and the Raiders eventually settled for a field goal.
In fact, the offensive line had kept Carr well protected all season with his pressure rate of 16 percent ranking lowest in the NFL coming into the game, according to SportRadar. But Carr faced more pressure than usual, getting sacked three times and being hit a season-high six times.
Carr has been sacked six times the past two weeks after going down only twice the previous five weeks.
In addition, according to NextGen Stats, Raiders receivers were able to create a lot of separation in the first half. They were open (3-plus yards of separation) on 67 percent of their targets and averaged 4.4 yards of separation.
The Raiders travel cross-country to take on the New York Jets (3-7) on Sunday. New York has won two straight.
One last note here. ... Return specialist Dwayne Harris was placed on injured reserve after dealing with injuries to his foot and ankle most of the season. Oakland signed linebacker Preston Brown, who was released last week by the Bengals.
The Bengals signed Brown to a three-year, $16.5 million contract last offseason, but he didn't make it through the first year of that deal, before being benched and eventually cut. He had already worked out for the Raiders, so he was familiar with what they want him to do when he rolled in today.
QBs: Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Mike Glennon
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, Rod Smith
WRs: Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, Nelson Agholor, Keelan Doss, Marcell Ateman
TEs: Darren Waller, Jason Witten, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier
Philadelphia EaglesCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Facing the NFL's stingiest defense without their two best wide receivers and top running back, the Eagles still had a chance.
They couldn't make a big play.
Carson Wentz misfired on three straight passes from the Patriots 26 and then Nelson Agholor couldn't make a twisting catch in the end zone on a fourth-down pass with under a minute left.
"Undermanned. Underwhelming. Underachieving."
According to Associated Press sports writer Rob Maaddi, that sums up Philadelphia's offense this season.
A 17-10 loss to New England on Sunday left the Eagles (5-5) searching for answers to fix their inconsistent, out-of-sync offense.
Poor throws. Dropped passes. Missed blocks. Questionable play-calling.
It's all contributed to an ineffective, inconsistent offense that has plagued the Philadelphia Eagles through 10 games.
"It affects you in a few ways," head coach Doug Pederson said about not having three injured starters. "We still game plan the same. You always miss players. But this is football. You have to coach up the guys you have."
After jumping out to a 10-0 lead against the Patriots, they managed 152 total yards on the final 10 drives.
Wentz was sacked five times, lost a fumble and completed only half his passes. In Philly, that results in heavy criticism.
"It's not about one guy," Pederson said Monday. "It takes 11 on offense. So we have to do better up front in protection, obviously, the backs have to do a better job there as well and then our skill guys have to get open. So there is a combination of a lot of things that we can all take away from this game."
The Eagles are missing speedy wideout DeSean Jackson, out for the season after abdominal surgery. Alshon Jeffery and leading rusher Jordan Howard returned from the bye unable to play because of injuries sustained two weeks ago. Then All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson left with a concussion after the touchdown drive. The run game was nonexistent without Johnson paving the way, and all five sacks came after he exited.
The Eagles had used a power run attack in consecutive wins at Buffalo and home against Chicago. But Howard couldn't go because of an ankle injury and the Patriots limited Miles Sanders and Boston Scott to 64 yards on 18 carries.
Forced to throw often, Wentz had a tough time finding open receivers and connecting when he had any. Zach Ertz was his only reliable target, catching nine passes for 94 yards.
"They are the No. 1 defense in the league for a reason," Ertz said. "They are extremely well-coached and they don't beat themselves but overall we have to play better."
The Eagles converted 3 of 13 on third down and had to punt on six straight possessions at one point, and 10 of 12 drives lasted five plays or less.
"We're a better football team than what we played," Pederson said. "We have to coach better. We have to play better. We didn't make enough plays. Defense kept us in the game, but offense failed to execute."
Even Philadelphia's only touchdown wasn't conclusive. Wentz's 5-yard TD pass to Dallas Goedert was initially ruled an interception because Jonathan Jones ripped the ball away. But the call was overturned after a review.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't see it that way.
"I felt like we gave up three points," Belichick said. "We got an interception. They overturned it."
Despite Philadelphia's struggles, Pederson is confident the offense can get going again. Jackson isn't coming back, so the Eagles won't have their only deep threat. But Jeffery and Howard could return next week against Seattle.
"When you have your guys out there, we've proven that we have been able to execute."
The truth is, as ESPN.com's Tim McManus suggested, Wentz is going to have to play transcendent football if the Eagles are to overcome the slew of injuries on offense and make a playoff push down the stretch.
The problem is obvious, however: Wentz has no reliable target other than Ertz. He also has no deep threat with Jackson out for the season. Agholor has too many costly drops. Jeffery is normally sure-handed but he has slowed down this season. JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins have difficulty getting open. Jordan Matthews just returned for his third stint with the team.
Still, it falls on Wentz to thrive amid the adversity and make everyone around him better, as other top-end quarterbacks, such as Sunday's counterpart Tom Brady, have done over their careers. That might be a tall order or even unfair, but these are the moments that franchise quarterbacks have to find a way to get it done.
The Eagles host Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks (8-2) on Sunday. Wilson is 3-0 with 6 TD passes, no interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating against Philadelphia.
It gets much easier from there: at the Dolphins, against the Giants, at Redskins, against Cowboys and at Giants. Philadelphia is just a game back of the Cowboys and has plenty of time to make up the deficit. ...
On the injury front. ... Johnson remains in the league's concussion protocol, Pederson told reporters Wednesday. Rookie Andre Dillard will take reps in Johnson's spot during practice.
Howard (shoulder) has not been cleared for contact but was slated to participate in individual drills in practice. Jeffrey (ankle) was expected to be limited while Agholor was not seen on the field for the start of Wednesday's session.
I'll have more on their status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
And finally. ... Ertz had nine catches for 94 yards during Sunday's game against the Patriots, but none of those catches came on third down or in the red zone as the Eagles slumped to a 17-10 home loss.
Pederson credited the Patriots for doing a "nice job" of keeping Ertz in check during what was a rough day for Philly's offense overall. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore played a big role in the Patriots' plan for dealing with Ertz and said after the game that the tight end's frustration with how things were going began to come to the surface.
"He was crying," Gilmore said, via NBCSportsBoston.com. "He does that on film a lot. If you get into him. If he don't get the ball or he don't get a call, he'll cry. But he's a good receiver. He's a good tight end. He's a great player. ... He's a great player, but when he don't get his way, he'll complain to the ref. But who don't do that?"
The Patriots have long been known for trying to make offenses beat them without their top weapons leading the way. Given their offensive injuries, Ertz was clearly filling that role for the Eagles and the Patriots largely accomplished their mission.
QBs: Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld
RBs: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Elijah Holyfield
WRs: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, Robert Davis
TEs: Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Josh Perkins
Pittsburgh SteelersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As Associated Press sports writer Will Graves framed it, "The chaotic ending will live on in infamy. The carnage that came before it, however, could have just as significant an impact on the Pittsburgh Steelers' season. ..."
The ugly confrontation between Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph on the final play of the Browns' 21-7 victory last Thursday- an altercation that culminated with Garrett drilling Rudolph in the head with Rudolph's own helmet, a swing that resulted in Garrett being suspended indefinitely by the NFL -- provided a chilling flashpoint that reverberated far beyond the 120 miles that separate the longtime AFC North rivals.
Rudolph insisted in the aftermath that he's fine. Maybe, but the Steelers (5-5) most certainly are not.
Not with wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson both dealing with concussions sustained following illegal helmet-to-helmet hits by Cleveland defensive backs. Not with running back James Conner aggravating a shoulder injury that could keep him out an extended period. Not with center Maurkice Pouncey facing a three-game ban for punching and kicking Garrett while attempting to retaliate for Garrett's swipe at Rudolph.
Even when healthy, Pittsburgh's offense has been a mixed bag with Rudolph under center after Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season in September because of a right elbow injury. Now the Steelers face the prospect of moving forward without their top running back, two of their top three receivers and one of the best centers in the league.
"Just injuries wearing us down a little bit," guard David DeCastro said. "That's part of the game when you're losing guys and stuff. It's a player-driven league, it really is. I wish I had a better answer for you. Injuries are tough."
And, for the Steelers this season, relentless.
Smith-Schuster and Johnson are both in the concussion protocol. Smith-Schuster also hurt his knee. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the knee injury is not serious for the long term but he’s not expected to play Sunday against the Bengals. Too much to overcome with knee and concussion protocol.
Conner's AC joint injury isn't worse than it has previously been after he exited last week's game against the Browns, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports. Still, Graves reports that Conner's setback could be potentially longer term, another staggering blow to an offense that ranks in the bottom 10 in the league in both points and total yards.
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com, head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed on Tuesday that Conner re-injured his shoulder and that his status for this week's game against the Bengals is "unclear."
ESPN's Adam Scherter advised his Twitter followers it would be a "mild upset" to see Conner, Johnson or Smith-Schuster play against the Bengals -- although Johnson was on the practice field Wednesday, which is a step in the right direction (though he remains in the protocol).
The Steelers are welcoming some reinforcements, however, as Benny Snell Jr. should be on the practice field this week.
He's coming off a knee procedure to repair a meniscus issue, and has missed the last three games.
But whoever is running behind it, is going to need better play from the offensive line.
Save for a concussion that cost veteran guard Ramon Foster two games last month, Pittsburgh's line has been relatively healthy. While the group had done a solid job protecting Rudolph before the Browns took him down four times -- the Steelers entered the game having allowed the fewest sacks in the league -- it has struggled to generate any significant push in short-yardage situations.
Seven times against Cleveland the Steelers faced a third or fourth downs with 2 yards to go or less. They only converted one of them, a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Rudolph. The other six plays featured five incompletions and a 1-yard loss by running back Trey Edmunds, who began the season on the practice squad but now finds himself second on the depth chart.
"We've just got to execute," running back Jaylen Samuels said. "When they send pressure on third downs, we've got to pick it up with our pass protection. Receivers have got to make tough catches. Mason's got to make good throws. Everybody's got to execute. That's the main thing."
Having healthy, capable and eligible bodies would help. There haven't been many to go around of late, and Pouncey's absence will only make things more difficult. The seven-time Pro Bowl's appeal on his suspension was held Tuesday. While there's a chance it may be reduced, the odds of it being lifted are practically nonexistent.
"Hopefully we can get him back soon," DeCastro said.
B.J. Finney will likely start until Pouncey returns. Finney's filled in capably at several offensive line spots, including center, during his four-year career. Yet for a team with limited playmakers, losing a player with Pouncey's capabilities only further decreases Pittsburgh's margin for error, one that may be nonexistent if Smith-Schuster and Johnson aren't cleared in time to face the Bengals.
If neither can go it means only one receiver who began the season on the two-deep depth chart -- James Washington -- will be available. The Steelers cut Donte Moncrief late last month and placed Ryan Switzer on injured reserve last week. Rudolph ended the Cleveland game throwing to Washington, Johnny Holton and practice squad graduate Tevin Jones, who caught two passes in his NFL debut.
The Steelers added some depth in the wake of the injuries, signing rookie wide receiver Deon Cain and rookie running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. to the 53-man roster and placing wide receivers Quadree Henderson and Amara Darboh and running back Ralph Webb on the practice squad. Combined career total yards from scrimmage: 123 yards.
Cain -- who was on Indianapolis' practice squad -- wasn't surprised when his phone rang with an offer from the Steelers. He caught the Browns' game. It wasn't hard to put two and two together.
"Once I watched the game and kind of seeing everything that went down, I was like, 'OK. You guys do need a little bit of help around here,'" Cain said.
Maybe more than a little bit. Pittsburgh's schedule down the stretch remains user-friendly -- only two of its final six games are against teams with winning records -- but considering the ever-expanding injured list, nothing is guaranteed.
"They're in a run to get into the playoffs," Cain said. "So they need some immediate playmakers. That's definitely me. I just want to come in here and show them what I've got."
As Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staffer Ron Cook noted, the Steelers were able to beat the Rams and the Indianapolis Colts in their previous two games without a running game because their defense was so spectacular. It had forced at least three turnovers in each of the previous five games and had at least four sacks in each of the previous three.
Rudolph compared the defense to the '85 Bears Sunday after it held the Rams to 1-for-14 on third down, sacked quarterback Jared Goff four times and forced four turnovers.
But the defense wasn't nearly so disruptive against the Browns.
The good news this week?
The Bengals defense hasn't been disruptive at all this season. They are ranked last in the league and allowed Derek Carr to complete all but one pass in the first half last week. ...
One last note here. ... Rudolph talked to reporters Wednesday, for the first time since he was hit in the head with his own helmet by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
Via Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette, Rudolph read a prepared statement and took a few questions, apologizing to his teammates and saying he had no ill will toward Garrett.
"I did not agree with the way [Garrett] took me to the ground and my natural reaction was to get him off from on top of me," Rudolph said. "I have no ill-will toward Myles Garrett. I know if Myles could go back he would handle this situation differently."
Rudolph said he should not have put Pouncey in a situation to have to defend him. Pouncey was suspended three games for kicking Garrett at the tail end of the scuffle, which began with Rudolph and Garrett squaring off, Rudolph tugging on Garrett's facemask, and Garrett then jerking Rudolph's helmet off and swinging it at him. Garrett was suspended indefinitely, and his hearing with the league is today.
Asked if he did anything to provoke Garrett, Rudolph said: "Definitely didn't say anything. I got to do a better job of keeping my composure in those situations."
Rudolph said he hasn't been fined yet, though more fines are anticipated from the incident last Thursday. He said he'd comply with whatever the league handed him.
QBs: Ben Roethlisberger, Devlin Hodges, Mason Rudolph
RBs: James Conner, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, Trey Edmunds, Kerrith Whyte
WRs: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington, Ryan Switzer, Deon Cain
TEs: Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald, Zach Gentry
San Francisco 49ersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Nick Waggoner noted, for the 49ers to bounce back from their first loss of the season, they had to do something they hadn't done since 2011. After falling 16 points behind the Arizona Cardinals, the Niners authored their biggest comeback in eight years to win 36-26 and improve to 9-1 on the season at Levi's Stadium on Sunday.
The emotional win came less than a week after a disappointing overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks under similar circumstances on Monday Night Football.
"It's exhausting, whether you're a head coach or a coordinator," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "It's exhausting for me. I'm sure it's exhausting for our players. I know it's exhausting for my wife watching it and I'm sure it's exhausting for all the fans. That's an intense game that goes back and forth. I think that's why everyone loves this sport. It's a lot more fun for us when it's easier, but after the game it's always so fun when you go through stuff like that and it's not perfect and you still find a way to win."
The Niners' path to victory Sunday was one they haven't traveled in quite some time. Before Sunday, they had lost 35 consecutive regular-season games when trailing by 16 or more points. Their last such win had been against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011.
Their victory Sunday was also San Francisco's largest comeback win including the postseason since trailing the Atlanta Falcons by 17 in the 2012 NFC Championship Game.
The Niners also became the first team to win by 10 points after trailing by three with under a minute to go since Dec. 13, 2004, when the Kansas City Chiefs rallied past the Tennessee Titans.
To get over the hump, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had to deliver one of the biggest drives of his career. The Niners started at their 35 with 2:02 to go and drove to the game-winning touchdown, a 25-yard pass to running back Jeff Wilson Jr. with 31 seconds remaining. The 49ers scored a defensive touchdown on a 4-yard fumble return by D.J. Reed Jr. with no time remaining to seal the victory.
The touchdown from Garoppolo to Wilson capped a huge day for Garoppolo that was slightly marred by a pair of costly interceptions but ultimately ended with the winning touchdown to the seldom-used Wilson.
Before the touchdown, Garoppolo hit tight end Ross Dwelley -- himself an unsung hero who scored two touchdowns in the game -- for a 3-yard gain on third-and-3. The play was ruled a first down on the field but went to a booth review.
As he awaited the result of the review, Shanahan said he went through every possible scenario, including his call on fourth down as he planned to go for it.
"It was a very stressful discussion," Shanahan said. "We thought about everything in that long minute and a half that it took."
One of those options was running what the Niners call a "choice" route and plugging in Wilson, who had not played an offensive snap all game to that point, to run it. According to Shanahan, Wilson ran it the best in practice during the week, so even though he was seen doing high knees in the huddle to warm his legs before the play, he was the guy Shanahan wanted in there.
It paid off as Wilson beat his man with a quick angle to the middle of the field as the Cardinals ran an all-out blitz and Garoppolo laid the ball over the middle. Wilson hauled it in and raced to his first career receiving touchdown.
"I just know to be ready when my number is called," Wilson said. "That is something that my coach has stressed to me, even my teammates and other running backs in the room. They stress that to me all day as well. No matter what, just be ready. That is our motto for all of us."
In Garoppolo's case, it was the second time in as many games against Arizona in which he was asked to carry the freight for the offense. Like in the previous meeting on Oct. 31, the Cardinals sold out to stop the run and tried to make Garoppolo beat them.
Also like in that meeting, Garoppolo delivered.
He finished 34-of-45 for 424 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 115.4. In the process, he became the first player in franchise history with multiple four-touchdown-pass games against the same team in a season and joined Joe Montana and Steve Young as the only Niners quarterbacks to throw for at least 400 yards and four touchdowns in a game.
It was Garoppolo's fifth career fourth quarter or overtime comeback win and second this season. The game-winning touchdown pass was just the third for a 49er in the final minute of regulation in the last 15 seasons, including the postseason, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
While multiple Niners refused to blame the slow start on a hangover from Monday night, it was clear that they were not themselves in the early going.
So massive were the offense's struggles that Shanahan admitted to abandoning the run game that had been the team's bread and butter in the first eight weeks.
The approach worked as Dwelley caught his two touchdowns and the Niners fought back to take a 17-16 lead and then exchanged blows with Arizona throughout the second half as Garoppolo's interceptions allowed the Cardinals to jump back in front.
But, as they have all season, the Niners got contributions from up and down the roster and scratched their way to a win, their most unlikely of the season.
"Last week, we played real hard, so did Seattle," Shanahan said. "It was just a tough emotional loss and to not have much time to recover from that. It lingered a little bit this week. We had to address a ton of it, which I think our guys did great. I think we were feeling good about it and ready to go to this game, but you never really can put that to bed until you end up winning another one. This game had a lot of similarities to it, which I think really challenged our will. Challenged the guys' character. They rose to the occasion. I think we got stronger from the Seattle week, even though it didn't go the way we wanted. I think we got stronger from it, I believe we got stronger today."
The 49ers figure to need that strength with a three-game gantlet including a home contest against the Green Bay Packers followed by road games at Baltimore and New Orleans next up. ...
Meanwhile, as George Kittle works his way back from knee and ankle injuries and primary wideout Emmanuel Sanders battles through a rib cartilage ailment, the 49ers have been left to wonder who will step up to fill the void for the offense.
As Waggoner put it, "The answer has come in the form of a 6-foot, 215-pound battering ram of a rookie with a moniker that matches his relentless approach to the game: wide receiver Deebo Samuel."
"Deebo Samuel is fearless," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "He'll run through any catch. You get some receivers running across the middle, and they're looking for who is going to hit them. Deebo is looking for who he's gonna hit. That's a much different mentality from most people. ... That's a fearlessness that can't be coached, and it can't be taught. You either have it, or you don't."
The fact that Samuel has it has made him one of the 49ers' most important players heading into the season's final six weeks and, without question, their biggest offensive weapon the past two.
Against Arizona, Samuel was again at the top of his game, posting eight catches for 134 yards. The most spectacular catch was an acrobatic 26-yarder down the sideline on third-and-9 late in the third quarter, a catch that led to him gingerly walking to the sideline after landing awkwardly on his shoulder.
The injury didn't keep Samuel out for long, as he returned to the game and delivered two more catches for 18 yards and a first down on the game-winning drive on his way to joining elite company.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Samuel's 134 receiving yards are the third-most by a 49ers rookie in a game, trailing tallies by Jerry Rice (241 yards in 1985) and Dave Parks (146 in 1964). Samuel is the second Niners rookie to have consecutive 100-yard receiving games, joining Parks, and he is the first Niner of any experience level to do that since Marquise Goodwin in 2017.
Without Kittle and with Sanders playing hurt the past two games, Samuel's productivity has been on par with that of the league's best receivers. Only Saints wideout Michael Thomas (266 yards) has more receiving yards in that span than Samuel's 246 heading into Monday.
That Samuel has done this in his typical wrecking-ball style while developing a better grasp of the offense -- at a time when the Niners needed someone, anyone to move the chains -- should bode well for when Kittle and Sanders get back to full strength.
Of course, I'll be watching for more on Kittle and Sanders, along with Matt Breida (ankle) and Robbie Gould (quad), both of whom missed Sunday's win. Kittle, Breida and Gould all will be evaluated this week to see if they will be able to return.
That process will begin without Kittle, Breida, Sanders, Gould and Samuel on the practice field Wednesday.
I'll have more on their status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
Previous reporting has indicated Breida could miss this week's game as well. Also, DE Dee Ford left the game with a hamstring injury and could miss a couple of weeks.
And finally. ... Shanahan said it "has not been looking good" on getting rookie receiver Jalen Hurd back from IR. Sounds like Hurd, who is dealing with a back injury, probably won't be available this year.
QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
RBs: Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Jeff Wilson, Jerick McKinnon
WRs: Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, Richie James, Jalen Hurd, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Travis Benjamin
TEs: George Kittle, Ross Dwelley
Seattle SeahawksCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As Associated Press sports writer Tim Booth pointed out, Quandre Diggs became part of the Seattle Seahawks less than a month ago. He has appeared in one game during that time. His only bond to the Seahawks before his arrival via trade from Detroit was a longstanding friendship with wide receiver Tyler Lockett.
He has no lengthy history or understanding of the program Pete Carroll has built other than its reputation throughout the league and by word of mouth.
Yet it hasn't taken long for Diggs to notice one of the key characteristics of this group that appears to be defining this team -- and has the Seahawks contending in the NFC with six games to go.
"Resilient. Since I've been here, all of our games have been close. ... And we've been really resilient," Diggs said after Seattle's 27-24 overtime win over San Francisco last Monday. "You can tell these guys have the utmost confidence in themselves. I just want to bring that also. I'm proud and excited to be here."
Whether it's a newcomer like Diggs or one of Seattle's holdover veterans like Russell Wilson or Bobby Wagner from when it was the best team in the NFC, there is a growing belief that no matter the situation these Seahawks can find a way to win.
They're not the dominant team they were in 2013 and 2014 when they went to the Super Bowl in consecutive years. But arriving at the bye week at 8-2, one game behind San Francisco in the division and in firm grasp of a playoff spot at this moment, is not to be ignored. The Seahawks are tied for the second-best record in franchise history through 10 games. Only the 2013 team that went on to win the Super Bowl had a better 10-game stretch (9-1) to begin a season.
"I think the great thing about this game for our football team was just the resilience," Wilson said after the wild win over San Francisco. "We've had it all year. We've been, I think, the toughest team just in terms of resilience all year, in my opinion. Just how we stay encouraged, how we stay focused, how we keep having the faith and believe something great is going to happen."
Clearly resiliency is not the only reason why Seattle has been so successful. Wilson may be the favorite for the MVP based on the way he has played the first 10 weeks of the season. Chris Carson is fourth in the league in rushing and well on his way to another 1,000-yard season. Lockett has become a No. 1 receiver and made up for the loss of Doug Baldwin to retirement. Jadeveon Clowney has been worth the expense paid to Houston to land him via trade before the start of the season.
Despite all of those positives for Seattle, it's not inconceivable to think the Seahawks could be winless at home and lost at least a couple on the road by this point. Their three home wins are by a combined eight points and both losses have come at places that used to be impenetrable for opponents. Take away the victory at Arizona in Week 4, and Seattle's other seven wins have all been decided by one score.
It can be dangerous to balance on that thin a margin between success and failure. But it also speaks to the belief instilled by Carroll and the way it has resonated with this group. Yes, there are a couple of holdovers from Seattle's stars from earlier this decade to speak Carroll's gospel. But there has been buy-in all around among the newcomers. And to steal one of Carroll's catchphrases that appear on signs all around Seattle's facility, this group appears to be "All In."
"Where that comes from is belief. You believe that things are going to go the right way. Without that, then you can't be resilient," Carroll said. "You have to believe and trust that there's a chance that things can turn the way you want them to. This group has been a really positive, receptive bunch. Nobody is doubting anything, nobody is going off in a different direction, nobody's got their own agenda. These guys are on board."
The victory over San Francisco seemed to personify all those elements Carroll described. Seattle trailed early. It rallied to take the lead, coughed it up, had multiple chances to win or lose in overtime and somehow managed to kick the game-winning field goal after a 70-minute roller coaster.
"That's the right spirit of taking on the opportunity to succeed and to overcome, and that comes from belief," Carroll said. "They've got reason to believe that good things are going to happen. When you've got a good QB like Russ, and the approach like we have, it kind of has come together. Possibly, when we come back, we can ride this and take advantage of it and see if we can't come up with some more stuff here to make this a really fun season. ..."
On the injury front. ... After spending two extra nights in the Bay Area last week, Lockett is on the mend from a severe leg contusion.
Lockett did not appear in overtime for Seattle as his injury kept him out for the extra period. He was taken to the hospital for further evaluation due to concerns of compartment syndrome. He stayed an extra night for precautionary reasons before returning to Seattle.
Carroll said that Lockett is improving and the outlook is positive.
"He's really on the road to recovery now. He's past that," Carroll said. "That was just the initial concern and we're very fortunate to where he was at a great place and they took great care of him and all of that and everything worked out fine. Now he's just on the road back and we're optimistic about it but he's still going to have to do it. The extra days absolutely are helping us here so we'll take full advantage of that."
Lockett was not slated to practice Wednesday, but the belief is he'll return on Thursday (I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days).
Lockett was held to just three catches for 26 yards by the 49ers, which are his lowest totals of the season in either category this year. However, Lockett is still compiling one of the best seasons from a Seahawks receiver in franchise history. He could set records for receptions and yards by the end of the year with 62 receptions for 793 yards and six touchdowns through 10 games.
Carroll said he doesn't believe Luke Willson (hamstring) will play Sunday.
Carroll claimed Willson had a "legit" hamstring issue following Week 10's win over the 49ers, and it doesn't look like he made enough progress during the bye week to warrant much optimism. If Willson is ruled out, Jacob Hollister will be the Seahawks' top tight end while Ed Dickson (knee) will return from IR and fill a serviceable role.
And finally. ... The Seahawks will have linebacker Mychal Kendricks for the entire season no matter when their season ends.
For the fifth time, Kendricks' sentencing date for insider trading has been delayed, Brady Henderson of ESPN reports. No reason was given for the postponement.
Kendricks was scheduled for sentencing in Philadelphia on Thursday, three days before the Seahawks play the Eagles. The new date is in February, per Henderson.
QBs: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
RBs: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, Robert Turbin
WRs: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Phillip Dorsett, David Moore, John Ursua, Malik Turner
TEs: Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As ESPN.com's Jenna Laine put it, "The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally learned how to close out a game last week in their first win in over a month against the Arizona Cardinals. But Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, it appeared they forgot how to start one, falling behind 20-0 in the second quarter before losing to the New Orleans Saints, 34-17. ..."
The Saints smothered quarterback Jameis Winston, resulting in four interceptions and a fumble (which the Bucs recovered). They dominated the line of scrimmage in the run game, resulting in negative yardage for Ronald Jones, and they capitalized on the Bucs' double coverage of Michael Thomas, allowing Alvin Kamara to run free.
And they held Mike Evans in check. Again.
The Tampa Bay receiver had just one catch for 6 yards in the first half and finished with four overall on Sunday.
New Orleans beat Tampa Bay 31-24 at home on Oct. 6, holding Evans without a catch. The defender who primarily covered Evans, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, didn't play Sunday due to a hamstring injury.
"It's the exact same coverages as the last time they played us" Evans said. "A lot of two-man and cover-2 almost every single snap. If I'm outside, it's pretty much a double-team."
Evans said other teams employ a similar scheme at times but not as "big of a dose."
"If you look up the stats, they're probably in two-high at least 90 percent," Evans said. "They're a good defense. They can switch it up on you. This time they just were very basic. They were just getting after us."
Evans produced 69 yards on his four grabs, including a long of 27 late in the fourth, to move within 7 yards of joining Randy Moss as the only players to reach 1,000 yards receiving in each of their first six NFL seasons.
"He's never one-on-one against these guys," head coach Bruce Arians said. "It's a matter of finding ways to get him balls. We did a better job in the second half."
An eventful fourth quarter saw Evans being called for offensive pass interference near the line of scrimmage, negating a 6-yard reception on a fourth-and-1 near midfield with the Bucs trailing 27-17.
"It was a simple release, what every receiver in the NFL does," Evans said. "It cost us pretty big. That's just how it goes. The ref is a human being. He made an error."
Arians challenged the call, which stood after a video review.
"I have no comments on officiating," Arians said. "They already wrote up the letter for my file."
Evans also left the game briefly in the fourth when he had the wind knocked out of him while being tackled by Saints safety Vonn Bell.
The loss dropped Tampa Bay to 3-7.
"Obviously, I don't like losing," Evans said. "Nobody likes losing. But I'll never stop fighting, ever. This is my job. I love doing what I do, and my teammates do as well.
"We're going to fight to the end and live with the result."
Beyond that, even with a healthy offensive line and a better screen game -- neither of which Winston had when he faced the Saints in Week 5 -- Winston was sacked twice and hit 12 times. He was noticeably limping by the game's end and struggled to step into his throws. A fourth-quarter pass intended for Evans went high and was instead pick-sixed by Marcus Williams.
When Winston did manage to get the ball to his targets, they squandered opportunities. Tight end O.J. Howard inexplicably attempted to juggle a first-quarter pass behind his body, resulting in an interception at the Tampa Bay 17 and the Saints' first TD of the day.
The Buccaneers benched Howard after that, leaving him to play a season-low 17 snaps and finish the game with no catches. Howard was at a loss to explain what went wrong.
"I had it and I tried to cut upfield and then next thing I know the ball gets loose and I start bobbling it and it gets behind me some kind of way, which is crazy," Howard said, via the Tampa Bay Times. "It all happened too fast."
Arians was also at a loss to describe what's wrong with Howard, who has just 17 catches for 223 yards and one touchdown this season.
"It's hard to say," Arians said. "He's a talented, talented guy, but it's not showing up on Sundays."
When Arians was hired, there was talk that he'd be the perfect coach to get the most out of Howard's talent. Instead, Howard is having his worst NFL season.
For what it's worth, Winston's best moments came when he found rookie speedster Scotty Miller deep in the second quarter, with Miller hauling in a 48-yard pass on a corner route against C.J. Gardner-Johnson, and running back Peyton Barber snagging a 6-yard touchdown three plays later.
In the third quarter, Winston also beat the blitz and found receiver Chris Godwin on a 30-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
But Winston now has 18 interceptions this season, tied with Jay Cutler in 2009 for second-most by any player through 10 team games in the last 25 seasons behind only Peyton Manning (20) in his rookie season (1998), per ESPN Stats and Information.
Cameron Brate told Lane after Sunday's game that he feels like the team continues to let down Winston. "The stat book will show four picks again, but they're not all on Jameis. I've kinda said that multiple times this year and that's not a good thing…because we have to be there for him and make the plays we need to. ..."
Brate was targeted 14 times and had 10 receptions for 73 yards, primarily because New Orleans's game plan was geared to shut down leading receivers Evans and Godwin. As ESPN's Mike Clay suggested this week, neither Tampa Bay tight end can be trusted right now, but Brate is worth a flier if you're shaky at the position.
He'll join the TE1 discussion if we get confirmation that he has actually passed Howard on the depth chart. ...
On the injury front. ... Arians believes Winston will be fine to play this week against Atlanta despite suffering an ankle sprain Sunday that was impacting his ability to step into throws. He said "we'll see" when asked about Will Gholston, who was in a boot on Monday.
The coach said there's a chance outside linebacker Carl Nassib, who missed the past two games, could return from a groin injury in a very important game against an Atlanta team that's won two straight to improve to 3-7. Sunday's loser will be left with sole possession of last place in the NFC South.
QBs: Tom Brady, Ryan Griffin, Blaine Gabbert
RBs: Ronald Jones, Dare Ogunbowale, T.J. Logan
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, Justin Watson, Cyril Grayson, Spencer Schnell
TEs: O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair, Tanner Hudson, Jordan Leggett
Tennessee TitansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
As Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker noted this week, Ryan Tannehill has given the Titans more than just the offensive spark they so desperately needed both by throwing the ball all over the field and using his legs.
With the 31-year-old quarterback helping his team climb back to .500, the Titans now have more than just hope they can make a run at a playoff berth after their bye.
"You feel it man," cornerback Logan Ryan said of what Tannehill has done for the Titans (5-5). "It's a team sport. He's a quarterback, and he's 3-1 since he's been our quarterback. He's scored points for us. Any time you're scoring points, I tell you we're going to win the game. We're going to find a way to win the game, and he did a great job of bailing us out."
This isn't what the Titans had in mind in March when they traded with Miami for the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft.
Back then, Tennessee was looking to upgrade its backup to Marcus Mariota, who hadn't played a full 16-game season through his first four seasons because of injury. Tannehill came in on a one-year deal, and the Titans didn't consider him as a starter.
The franchise's plan was to have Tannehill available only if something happened.
"I think that now where he's at starting for us, it's been everything that we'd hoped for having him come in -- to be ready to go, to assume that role," head coach Mike Vrabel said.
The Titans benched Mariota during a 16-0 loss in Denver and turned to Tannehill, looking to jump-start an offense that had managed only one touchdown in the previous 10 periods. Tennessee was 2-4 with its playoff hopes dimming and fans starting to call for Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson to be fired.
Tannehill has come through.
He's thrown for 1,017 yards with eight touchdowns and only three interceptions despite being sacked 13 times in his four starts. Better yet, the Titans are scoring 26.2 points a game -- plenty of production for a defense that the NFL's No. 9 scoring unit, giving up only 19.7 points.
Safety Kevin Byard said the Titans now need to get back to holding teams to 20 points or fewer, which they did for the first seven games.
"Ryan Tannehill, he's been patient in his process getting traded from Miami, pretty much being patient knowing he was coming to be the backup quarterback," Byard said. "And when he got his number called and when he got his shot, he's making a lot of great plays."
Tannehill posted a 133.9 passer rating in the Titans' 35-32 win over Kansas City last weekend, the third time he's had a rating over 100 in this span. He turned in his third game-winning drive in that span and 16th of his career, starting the drive by running for 18 yards. He threw a pass for 20 yards to Anthony Firkser, then found Adam Humphries for a 23-yard TD pass with 23 seconds left.
He capped the drive by running for the first 2-point conversion of his career.
And Tannehill is having fun.
"I love preparing, just trying to push these guys to get the most out of them," Tannehill said. "Game days are a lot of fun, especially when you win. I'm having a lot of fun right now. We've just got to keep grinding, keep putting the work in and getting ourselves ready to play every Sunday."
He is averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt and has a 104.4 passer rating for the season, according to Pro Football Reference. Both would be career highs for the quarterback due to hit the free agent market in March.
"Tannehill's done an amazing job," left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "I mean he sits in the pocket man. He moves around that pocket really well. He fires some rockets. And I think there's a confidence about him that is really good."
The Titans need that to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 and first under Vrabel.
The Titans are right in the thick of things in the AFC South, just a game behind the Texans (6-4) and Colts (6-4), and a game ahead of the Jaguars (4-6). Four of the team's final six games are against division opponents, starting with Sunday's game against the Jaguars.
If the Titans can take care of business in those games down the stretch, they'll be in great shape. The Texans and Colts play on Thursday night, so barring a tie, the Titans will be even in the loss column with all but one team when the game kicks off Sunday.
"We have some fight in this team, some scratch and claw, picked against," Ryan said. "That's cool. But whoever's on the field, we're going to fight to the end. ..."
Worth noting: Running back Derrick Henry has 832 yards after 10 games, and he's projected to finish with 1,331 rushing yards on the season, which would be a new career-high. At his current pace, Humphries would lead the team with 53 catches, while A.J. Brown is projected to lead the team with 714 receiving yards.
On the injury front. ... Tight end Delanie Walker (ankle), defensive lineman Jurrell Casey (shoulder), receiver Corey Davis (hip) and linebacker Jayon Brown (groin) all missed the team's game against the Chiefs, and Walker and Casey have been sidelined multiple weeks.
TitansOnline.com's Jim Wyatt saw several of those guys walking the halls late last week, which meant they stuck around rehabbing during the bye week.
Better still, Davis (hip), Brown (groin), Casey (shoulder) and Walker (ankle) were all on the field working to some degree as practice opened Wednesday.
QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Logan Woodside
RBs: Derrick Henry, Dalyn Dawkins, David Fluellen
WRs: A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, Adam Humphries, Kalif Raymond
TEs: Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, MyCole Pruitt
Washington RedskinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 19 November 2019
Dwayne Haskins learned a painful lesson in his first game as the Washington Redskins' full-time starting quarterback.
"Life is hard," Haskins said. "You've got work harder."
Haskins was sacked six times and threw an interception before scoring two garbage-time touchdowns in Washington's 34-17 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday. A 45-yard screen pass to running back Derrius Guice early in the fourth snapped Washington's franchise-worst streak of 16 consecutive quarters without a touchdown, but that and a later TD pass to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle did little more than pad Haskins' stats.
Sixteen quarters without a touchdown were the most by a team since the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and broke a tie with the 1936 Boston Redskins for the most in franchise history.
Despite that, Haskins said he felt more comfortable in his second NFL start.
The 15th overall pick out of Ohio State finished 19 of 35 for 214 yards. Washington fell to 1-9.
"It took him a little time to get comfortable," interim coach Bill Callahan said. "I thought the passing game, we opened it up a little more today to make it player-friendly for him. ... I didn't think it was anything that was elaborate or anything that was too much or would congest his mind with a lot of thinking. I really thought the reads were simple, but you've got to execute them."
Easier said than done for a QB with raw talent, but a lot to learn.
One-time Redskins coach Gregg Williams dialed up some different looks against Haskins, who looked flustered in the pocket and couldn't develop much of a rhythm until the outcome was already decided.
"We showed him a lot of different looks and showed one thing that looks similar to one play that we previously ran when we might've blitzed this guy and switched it up to where that guy's actually dropping, but it's in the same look so he didn't know possibly what was coming," said linebacker Neville Hewitt, who picked off Haskins early in the fourth.
He now has two touchdowns and five interceptions in four pro games and is still trying to get a grip on being a leader at this level.
Haskins was seen on video exhorting his linemen during the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the Jets. He was yelling to them, asking what he could do to help. The linemen didn't respond much. Tackle Morgan Moses said they were in a bind with five man protections against seven man rushes.
He also said he spoke to Haskins and didn't take offense to the situation.
"It's tough," Haskins said. "You've got guys who have been in the league for a long time and as a young dude with a new voice, you have to earn that trust and earn that ability to ask for what you see out there."
After Sam Darnold threw a career-high four touchdown passes and showed the kind of progress the Redskins hope they'll see out of Haskins as time goes on, the 2018 third overall pick had some advice as someone who's been there and done this.
"I just told him after the game to keep his head up," Darnold said. "No matter what people say, the doubters, people who are going to say anything bad, I said: 'Just block it out, man. Just continue to go to work, and if you go to work every single day, you'll be all right.'"
The loss clearly was not because of Haskins, but his inexperience showed against a good defensive coordinator, who was able to create pause in the coverage to allow the rush to get free.
As ESPN.com's John Keim suggested, "There's a long way to go in his -- and this team's -- development. ..."
Also according to Keim, there wasn't much of anything good to come out of this game. But at least they finally got a chance to see what Guice can do. It wasn't a lot, but Guice did show a physical style in the run game on his four runs for 24 yards. He had one run in which he trucked a defender for 4 extra yards.
But he then sprinted 45 yards for the above-mentioned touchdown on a screen pass. The Redskins lack explosive talent, but a healthy Guice would at least give them someone who could become a big help.
Worth noting: Guice was on the field for 30 percent of the offensive snaps. That's compared to 26 percent for Adrian Peterson and 44 percent for Wendell Smallwood.
As ESPN's Mike Clay suggested, Guice's strong performance figures to lead to additional playing time, but Washington seems committed to a committee that could eventually also include Chris Thompson (out with a toe injury).
The Redskins rank dead last in offensive touchdowns (13) this season, which also doesn't help Guice's cause. ...
Even though Haskins and third-round pick Terry McLaurin were teammates at Ohio State, sixth-round pick Kelvin Harmon was the QB's most popular target against the Jets. Harmon caught five of six balls thrown his way and, along with the smaller McLaurin and Trey Quinn, gives Haskins a big receiver to throw to when things break down. ...
On the injury front. ... Paul Richardson didn't play because of a hamstring injury. TE Vernon Davis (concussion) missed his sixth consecutive game and Thompson his fourth -- although Thompson returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.
I'll be following up on their progress as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Remember: With Matthew Stafford injured, the Redskins could face Lions backup Jeff Driskel when they host Detroit Sunday. Every little bit helps at this point.
QBs: Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith
RBs: Derrius Guice, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Barber, J.D. McKissic, Bryce Love
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims, Kelvin Harmon, Trey Quinn, Cody Latimer
TEs: Jeremy Sprinkle, Richard Rodgers, Logan Thomas, Hale Hentges