Team Notes week 11 2020
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 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss reported it, after using his legs to pull the Cardinals back into a game they trailed for the majority of, quarterback Kyler Murray used his arm to win it.
Murray found DeAndre Hopkins for a 43-yard Hail Mary touchdown with two seconds left to give the Cardinals a 32-30 win over the Buffalo Bills at State Farm Stadium on Sunday to move the Cardinals into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West.
Hopkins was draped by three Bills defenders -- Jordan Poyer, Micah Hyde and Tre'Davious White -- when he pulled down the unlikely catch on the far left side of the end zone in front of 4,200 socially distanced fans.
"It was on three people," Hopkins said with the kind of swag only the three-time All-Pro can have. "They were in position. It was just a better catch by I."
Murray said he had never thrown a Hail Mary touchdown. Hopkins said he had never caught one, calling it the best catch of his career. Coach Kliff Kingsbury, admitting he was at a loss for words, said he had never been a part of such a play either.
"Just to get the pass off was incredible," Kingsbury said. "If you watch the replay, he's running and dodging and ducking. I didn't think he could get it off and then to put that type of loft on it and give him a chance. From my vantage point, I couldn't see much, but I saw the crowd go crazy. I just kept asking our guys, 'Did he catch it?'
Said Murray, "I knew when it left my hand it had a chance."
The Cardinals needed that last-second touchdown after the Bills pulled ahead 30-26 with 39 seconds left on a Josh Allen TD pass to Stefon Diggs.
After betting support for the Cardinals drove the line up over the weekend, Arizona closed as a consensus 3-point favorite at sportsbooks. Hopkins' touchdown put the Cardinals up by two with no time left. Instead of risking the extra point being blocked and returned by Buffalo for a tying two-point conversion, Arizona elected to kneel down and end the game.
The favored Cardinals attracted slightly more betting action than the Bills at most sportsbooks.
Murray finished with 245 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 22-for-32 passing. For the second straight week, Murray did what he could to put the Cardinals in a spot to win.
As the Cardinals struggled to convert in the red zone Sunday by throwing the ball, leading to a field goal fest in the first 2½ quarters, Murray found the end zone with 5:48 left in the third quarter on a 1-yard run to cut Buffalo's lead to 23-16.
Following a Patrick Peterson interception, Murray's brilliance on the ground was on display again in the final seconds of the third quarter, when he took off for 28 yards to move the Cardinals deep into Bills territory.
Three plays later, Murray ran in barely untouched for his second touchdown, this one from the 15, giving the Cardinals their first lead of the game. Murray's two rushing touchdowns gave him 10 for the season, the first time a quarterback has reached that mark since Cam Newton in 2011. Murray had 61 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.
Murray is just the second quarterback in NFL history to have at least 10 rushing touchdowns in the first 10 games of a season. Johnny Lujack had 10 in his first 10 games in 1950 and Murray still has a game to surpass him.
It's one of several rushing touchdown superlatives for Murray so far this season:
Sunday was Murray's eighth game this season with a rushing and passing touchdown, tying him with Steve Grogan in 1976, Daunte Culpepper in 2002 and Cam Newton in 2011 for the single-season record.
Murray's eight rushing touchdowns on zone reads since the start of 2019 leads all NFL QBs in that span.
Murray became the fourth quarterback in NFL history with a rushing touchdown in at least five consecutive games. Sunday was his fifth straight.
Murray rushed for 61 yards Sunday, giving him 604 yards on the season.
Kingsbury said getting Murray more involved in the rushing game was "an emphasis this year."
So far, it's mission accomplished on that front. ...
Hopkins, who was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, had 127 yards and a touchdown on seven catches. Kenyan Drake had a rough start. He went the wrong way on a play that ended in a seven-yard Murray loss. He false started. He lost a fumble. But he ran hard and well, and gained 100 yards on 16 carries, and if he plays like that going forward, the Cardinals -- with Murray and Chase Edmonds -- are going to have an epic running game.
Next up, the Cardinals travel to Seattle on Thursday night. ...
On the injury front. ... Drake (ankle), safety Budda Baker (groin/ankle) and linebacker Haason Reddick (neck) were limited in practice on Tuesday. Tight end Darrell Daniels, who was carted to the locker room after an ankle injury in the first half last week, has not practiced this week.
Nose tackle Corey Peters is out for the season with a knee injury, Kingsbury said Wednesday morning.
Peters suffered the injury in the final minute of the second quarter of the Cardinals' win over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. He left the game and did not return.
Arizona is now down to four defensive linemen on its depth chart, but Jordan Phillips missed Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. The Cardinals have two linemen -- Zach Allen and Rashard Lawrence -- on injured reserve, and Kingsbury doesn't expect either back for Thursday's game.
"We'll have enough guys to play," Kingsbury said.
QBs: Kyler Murray, Chris Streveler, Brett Hundley
RBs: Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster, Jonathan Ward, Eno Benjamin
WRs: DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, Andy Isabella, KeeSean Johnson, Trent Sherfield
TEs: Dan Arnold, Maxx Williams, Darrell Daniels
Atlanta FalconsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco noted this week, in signing running back Todd Gurley to a one-year deal, the Atlanta Falcons were betting the former first-round pick could return to the form that made him one of the league's top backs for the Los Angeles Rams. Knee issues bothered Gurley during the 2018 playoffs and again last season before the Rams cut him in March.
This season, the 26-year-old hasn't quite reached the level he did in 2017, when he was NFL Offensive Player of the Year, but he is enjoying a resurgence as he tries to prove he can continue to be a productive back beyond 2020. His 584 rushing yards rank fifth in the NFL.
"Right now, what he's given us is a really good red zone runner," Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said. "He knows how to get his pads down and find the end zone.
"That's been awesome. He's done a really good job."
Gurley has nine rushing touchdowns, second in the NFL to Minnesota's Dalvin Cook, who has 12 (five of which have come in the past two weeks). All but one of Gurley's TD runs have come in the red zone, ranking second to Cook's nine.
One of them, of course, was a TD that Gurley didn't want to score late in the Week 7 game against Detroit -- it gave the Lions a chance to come back for a 23-22 victory on the final play. That might be one of the things that sticks with people about Gurley's season, but Morris is focused more on how complete of a back Gurley has been.
He wasn't sure what kind of pass-protector Gurley was until training camp. Quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked 19 times despite leading the NFL with 351 pass attempts and 382 dropbacks -- that's just one sack for every 20 dropbacks.
"The best thing [Gurley] has done for us right now really is in protection," Morris said. "When he has a chance to go out there and protect Matt and keep the hits off him so Matt can make some of the throws down the field, that's really been nice to see and a really nice addition that you don't know you're necessarily getting when you get a really good runner like that."
Gurley had monster seasons in 2017 and 2018, rushing for 2,556 yards and 30 touchdowns and catching 123 passes for 1,368 yards and 10 more TDs. But Gurley, who had signed a four-year, $60 million extension with the Rams, had just 14 carries and two catches combined in the 2018 NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIII because of an injury to his left knee.
Last season, he had career lows in carries (223) and rushing yards (857), though he did rush for 12 TDs. There was significant concern over whether he was near the end of his career, though neither Gurley nor the Rams confirmed reports that he had developed an arthritic condition in the knee.
"It's always something, but that's just part of life," Gurley said recently. "You get knocked down, you've got to keep getting back up. People are going to expect you to fold, but you've just got to be able to overcome.
"That's just part of life. Part of life, part of football."
After the Rams cut him, Gurley quickly agreed to come back to Georgia, where he starred in college, giving him the chance to prove he can still be a featured back. Now Gurley is on pace for his fourth 1,000-yard season (1,038 yards). He's also on pace to set a career high with 283 carries. But he isn't fixated on what comes next.
"I don't look far in the future," Gurley said. "I live for today and prepare for tomorrow."
Meanwhile, another newcomer is faring well too.
Midway through the season, Hayden Hurst has 37 catches for 411 yards and three touchdowns. He's on pace to finish with 730 yards receiving and maybe 6-8 touchdowns. It took his predecessor, Austin Hooper, four seasons to eclipse the 700-yard mark before he signed with the Browns via free agency. ...
For what it's worth, the Falcons have a rough stretch ahead coming off the bye week.
They face the Saints twice (including this week), the Buccaneers twice and the Raiders, Chargers and Chiefs before all is said and done.
This week in particular is worth noting.
The Saints have allowed just 691 rushing yards this season, fewest in the NFL, just 38 rushing first downs, fewest in the NFL, and are tied for best in the NFL with an average of 3.3 yards per carry allowed, and a total of just five rushing touchdowns allowed.
In the last two weeks, against the 49ers and the Buccaneers, the Saints have allowed a grand total of just 57 rushing yards. The 49ers’ leading rusher on Sunday, Jerick McKinnon, was held to 18 carries for 33 yards. The week before, the Buccaneers gave up on the running game, carrying five times for eight yards. ...
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley sprained his foot against the Panthers in Week 8 and missed Atlanta's Week 9 win over the Broncos, but they could get him back coming out of the bye week.
Interim coach Raheem Morris told reporters on Tuesday that Ridley has resumed running with trainers and that the team will take a look at him on the field when they resume their practice schedule on Wednesday.
"We should have a better feel for him on Wednesday, getting him in here, getting him into individual drills, getting him into a little bit of team work and see how he goes, talking him through it and just seeing where he's at little by little, step by step in order to get him to Sunday and see if we can get him going," Morris said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ridley is tied with Julio Jones for the team lead with 43 catches and leads the team with 657 receiving yards and six receiving touchdowns.
I'll have more on Ridley's progress, he was officially limited on Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
One last note here. ... The Atlanta Falcons announced Saturday that defensive end Dante Fowler has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. On Tuesday, the Falcons announced that wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has been placed on the list.
There has been no word on whether Treadwell and Fowler tested positive, or whether they were placed on the list because they have been in contact with an infected person.
QBs: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub
RBs: Ito Smith, Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison
WRs: Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Christian Blake, Brandon Powell, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus
TEs: Hayden Hurst, Jaeden Graham, Luke Stocker
Baltimore RavensCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
The Ravens entered their matchup with the Patriots missing several key players.
They left even more battered after being pushed around in a 23-17 loss on Sunday night.
Baltimore (6-3) was already short-handed on defense with tackle Calais Campbell (calf) and linebacker L.J. Fort (finger) out. Cornerback Jimmy Smith also sat with an ankle injury.
That ledger now includes tight end Nick Boyle after he was carted off the field in the third quarter. The team said he sustained a knee injury when he had his left leg pinned underneath him while being tackled by Terez Hall following a 4-yard reception. The replay of Boyle's injury looked particularly gruesome, and head coach John Harbaugh said he is out for the season.
Boyle is considered one of the top blocking tight ends in the NFL. He entered Sunday's game as Baltimore's sixth-leading receiver.
"It's hard to really quantify what Nick does for us as an offense and as a team," said tight end Mark Andrews, who is a close friend of Boyle's. "He's a person that people gravitate towards. For me, he's meant a ton to me, and it sucks. It sucks for him; he's worked so hard to get to where he's at."
For the Ravens' offense, this was the second time in three games it lost a starter to a season-ending injury. On Nov. 1, All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley was lost to an ankle injury.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams also left with an ankle injury and did not return. And, cornerback Terrell Bonds needed help getting off the field in the third quarter after suffering a knee injury.
The Ravens entered the game ranked eighth in the NFL, allowing 102 yards per game. They gave up 173 rushing yards to the Patriots, including a career-high 121 to Damien Harris.
"I'm sure it affected it," Harbaugh said of the injuries' toll on the Ravens run defense. "It's impossible to measure it, but I'm sure it had an impact there,"
As Associated Press sports writer Kyle Hightower suggested, it was part of a Murphy's Law kind of night for Baltimore, which compounded its losses in personnel with miscues on the offense as it struggled to deal with rainy conditions and winds that gusted above 20 mph at times.
Trailing 20-10 in the third quarter, the Ravens were facing 4th and 1 on their own 48, but a bad exchange between Lamar Jackson and center Matt Skura resulted in five-yard loss.
It happened again in the fourth quarter. Down 23-17, Baltimore had a chance to take the lead with 7:09 remaining. This time an errant snap by Skura resulted in a 16-yard loss, blowing up the possession and leading to a punt. New England was then able to run the clock down, punting the ball back to Baltimore with just 1:05 remaining.
Sunday's loss ended the Ravens' road winning streak at 10 and dropped them to 0-6 in the regular season in New England.
Baltimore's streak of scoring at least 20 points in an NFL-record 31 consecutive games also came to an end.
Still, Jackson said offensive coordinator Greg Roman did "a great job" calling plays and that it was on the players to do a better job of finishing on the field.
Things don't get any easier with the Tennessee Titans (6-3) visiting next Sunday (followed by another game against the Steelers). Baltimore needs to solidify its run defense before facing Derrick Henry again.
Jackson said there isn't time for them to feel sorry about themselves. With seven games left, they have to turn the page quickly, he said.
"We're ticked off. Don't nobody like losing," Jackson said at his postgame press conference. "I know none of you guys like losing. Especially we got a lot of talent on our team. Just got to regroup. Tuesday go watch film on our opponents, Tennessee, and go from there."
Receiver Willie Snead said that will start with getting contributions from new places.
"A lot of guys have got to step up," he said. "We're going to find out a lot about ourselves. We've got a lot of injuries, but that's uncontrollable. Whoever the next guy is has to step up. I'm excited to see what happens to us. We're 6-3. We're still in a good spot. ..."
For what it's worth, Jackson threw two touchdown passes to Snead and led Baltimore in rushing (55 yards). But his biggest mistake was his first interception in six prime-time games. Late in the first half, Jackson forced a pass deep down the right sideline to Marquise Brown and was picked off, ending a chance of a long field goal (which could have tied the game at 13).
One last note here. ... Mark Ingram (ankle) rushed five times for five yards and caught two passes for 24 yards in Sunday's loss.
Ingram returned from an ankle injury that sidelined him for three weeks. As CBSSports.com noted, the veteran back couldn't get anything going on the ground, finishing with single-digit rushing yards for the first time this season.
The Ravens continued to deploy an even three-man committee between Ingram (seven touches), J.K. Dobbins (six) and Gus Edwards (eight). Add in the carries from Jackson, and there simply isn't enough opportunity for Ingram to return to his 2019 form, through which he reached the 1,000-yard mark and produced 15 total touchdowns.
The 30-year-old simply can't be relied upon in fantasy given the current configuration of Baltimore's rushing attack. Of course, the same can be said of Dobbins and Edwards as well.
QBs: Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, Trace McSorley, Robert Griffin III
RBs: J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Justice Hill, Mark Ingram
WRs: Marquise Brown, Dez Bryant, Willie Snead, Miles Boykin, Devin Duvernay, James Proche
TEs: Mark Andrews, Eric Tomlinson
Buffalo BillsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques noted, entering Sunday's game, the Bills were in the driver's seat in the AFC East, sporting a 7-2 record on the heels of a three-game win streak -- but there's a backseat driver.
After the Bills' loss in the final seconds to the Cardinals the Dolphins' demands to take the wheel aren't getting any quieter.
Buffalo (7-3) lost, 32-30 on a Hail Mary from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins with two seconds remaining, spoiling what would have been the Bills' game-winning drive just 30 seconds prior and sending the Bills into their bye week with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Josh Allen led a 12-play, 78-yard drive to take a 30-26 lead with :34 seconds remaining, seemingly dulling the noise from the second-place Dolphins' win against the Chargers earlier in the day. But Murray and the Cardinals pulled off the miracle, with Hopkins reeling in the last-ditch pass over three Bills defenders.
What was once a comfortable division lead has turned into a tight race -- and could completely disappear next week with Buffalo one its bye week and Miami (6-3) just a 1/2 game behind and playing the Broncos (3-6). With seven weeks remaining in the season, the Bills-Dolphins matchup in Week 17 should slowly be circled on every calendar in both western New York and south Florida.
For now, the Bills enter their bye week before playing again Nov. 29 at home against the Chargers. ...
Worth noting. ... Allen is the only quarterback in league history to have at least 2,800 passing yards, 21 or more passing touchdowns and five or more rushing touchdowns in a team's first 10 games.
He also joins Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson as the only quarterbacks with at least 20 touchdown passes and at least five rushing touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. Allen had 20 passing touchdowns and nine rushing touchdowns in 2019.
Allen additionally became the fourth quarterback in NFL annals to have at least two touchdown passes and a touchdown catch in the same game since 1990 joining Brad Johnson, Matt Ryan and Watson.
Stefon Diggs entered the game leading the league in targets, seeing 10 per game. But midway through the fourth quarter, both Cole Beasley and John Brown had more targets than the NFL's leading receiver. Perhaps it was the shadow coverage from all-pro cornerback Patrick Peterson but Buffalo's offense clearly needs a certain level of production from Diggs in order to play its best football.
Peterson is one of the best to ever do it but at first glance, this seemed like a game that needed a heavier dose of the Bills' best skill player.
Still -- when it mattered most, Diggs was a crucial part of the Bills' game plan. On their go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter, Diggs caught three passes for 32 yards, including the game-winning 21-yard touchdown catch with Peterson trailing behind. You could argue he should have been more involved throughout the game but it's tough to argue with the results.
Beasley finished his day with a game-high 11 receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. His 642 receiving yards and 55 receptions are career highs through 10 games.
Beasley and Diggs became the first Bills receivers to tally 10 or more receptions in the same game. They join an exclusive list of Bills receivers with multiple 10-catch performances in a single season, accompanied only by Andre Reed, Pete Metzelaars, and Eric Moulds.
Beasley's 11 receptions matched a career-high from Buffalo's Week 7 game against the Jets. It was also Diggs' second game this season with 10 or more catches (10 at Tenn. Week 5).
The two become the fourth and fifth Bills receivers to have multiple 10-plus catch games in a season (Andre Reed -- 1989, Pete Metzelaars -- 1993, Eric Moulds, 2000).
Beasley's receiving yardage total thus far in 2020 is a career best for the first 10 games of the season. His previous high was 591 yards through 10 games in 2016. He needs just 192 receiving yards over the last six games to set a new single-season high (833 with Dal. - 2016).
Diggs still leads the league in receptions and receiving yards. With 73 receptions on the season, he has already surpassed his reception total for all of last season (63) in just 10 games. ...
Zack Moss carried the ball seven times for 20 yards and caught one of two targets for minus-3 yards in Sunday's loss. As poor as Moss's performance was, Devin Singletary was just as ineffective, netting 10 yards on five touches, and Allen wound up leading the Bills in rushing yards.
With the team headed into its bye, Sean McDermott and the coaching staff will get some extra time to figure out how to spark a backfield that has seen a running back top 50 rushing yards only once in the last five games. ...
McDermott confirmed that Brown tweaked his ankle in the game. Said he's working through it and will know more over the course of the bye week and beyond. ...
And finally. ... Rookie kicker Tyler Bass set career longs on three consecutive kicks on Sunday from 54, 55 and 58 yards. Those long-range field goals made him the second kicker in league history to hit three field goals in a game from 54 yards away or longer joining Houston's Kris Brown, who did it in 2007 (54, 54, 57).
Sunday marked just the 12th time in NFL annals that a kicker had three 50-plus yard field goals in a game, two of which already happened this season (Stephen Gostkowski, Graham Gano).
QBs: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Jake Fromm
RBs: Devin Singletary, T.J. Yeldon, Taiwan Jones, Devonta Freeman, Zack Moss
WRs: Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, John Brown, Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Andre Roberts
TEs: Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith, Reggie Gilliam
Carolina PanthersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
Frustration is growing in Carolina.
Following the team's fifth straight loss, an embarrassing 46-23 setback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Panthers linebacker and team captain Shaq Thompson cussed out his teammates in the locker room.
A short while later, first-year coach Matt Rhule said on a Zoom call he was "unbelievably disappointed" in his team's second-half performance, while calling Sunday's home loss "completely unacceptable from every member of that locker room -- player (or) coach."
The problem with Carolina (3-7) is the same issues keep occurring -- a lack of production on offense in the third quarter, and getting off the field on third down on defense.
That has sent the season into a tailspin.
"We better find a way to do something better in the third quarter," Rhule said. "It's been consistent and one of the few things we haven't improved. The third-down defense -- and really, today, third-down offense -- and third-quarter offense, those are the two things. We need to figure something out."
Achieving that objective will be complicated by ongoing injury issues.
Running back Christian McCaffrey's injury-plagued season isn't getting any better.
McCaffrey is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Lions and the Panthers are preparing for him to miss multiple weeks, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
Worth noting. ... The team’s Twitter account sent out a tweet saying McCaffrey had been ruled out along with a link to a post on their website saying the same thing. They took both the tweet and the post down a short time later and replaced them with ones saying that McCaffrey is expected to miss the game.
And as Profootballtalk.com suggests, while the Panthers are hedging, there’s no sign that the outlook has brightened for McCaffrrey. He was not at the open portion of Wednesday’s practice and that would have to change later this week to create hope that he will not miss his eighth game of the 2020 season.
It's been a rough season for McCaffrey, who has played in just three games and suffered injuries in two of them. An ankle injury forced him to go on injured reserve after Week 2, and when he returned in Week 9, he suffered the shoulder injury.
Backup running back Mike Davis will continue to get most of the workload in McCaffrey's absence.
Adding to that, Teddy Bridgewater suffered a right knee injury in the fourth quarter and did not return.
Fortunately, the quarterback received good news from his Sunday night MRI.
Citing a league source, Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio reports that Bridgewater's injury is believed to be an MCL sprain. That said, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports the QB is expected to practice on a limited basis Wednesday.
Bridgewater’s MCL sprain is considered minor, and Rhule expressed optimism Monday about Bridgewater’s chances for playing this weekend.
The knee is not the same one severely damaged in 2016.
Bridgewater has performed well this year, despite the team's 3-7 record. If he can't play, XFL phenom Phillip Walker would become the starter.
As for this week in Detroit, given Bridgewater's uncertain status, the Panthers will likely plan on a run-heavy offense, and Davis is likely to get plenty of carries.
Beyond that, the Panthers visit Minnesota in Week 12. Surely, Bridgewater will want to be on the field for what would be his first start against the team that drafted him in 2014.
Meanwhile, it's worth noting that Bridgewater, 28, opened the game with 12 straight completions and two touchdown passes as Carolina played to a 17-17 halftime tie. He added a touchdown run on a scramble in the fourth quarter after the Panthers (3-7) were outscored 12-0 in the third quarter en route to their fifth straight loss.
Bridgewater finished 18-for-24 passing for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed three times for 16 yards and a touchdown.
He has been among the league leaders in completion percentage all season as he returned as a full-time starter for the first time since 2015. He suffered a horrific injury that required multi-ligament reconstruction in 2016. Bridgewater, who has thrown for 2,552 yards with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this season, was not made available to media after the game for the first time this season.
Also worth noting. ... Davis left in the second half with a thumb injury, but returned after X-rays were negative. Still, Davis only played 52 percent of the snaps, while Rodney Smith made his career debut and played nine snaps and Trenton Cannon played five snaps.
I'll be following up on all the injury situations here via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Receiver D.J. Moore posted a game-high 96 receiving yards and a touchdown on four receptions. He passed DeAngelo Williams (178) for the sixth-most career receptions in franchise history with 181.
Tight end Colin Thompson caught a 7-yard touchdown on his first career reception. He became the fifth Panthers' player and fourth tight end to catch a touchdown on his first career reception, joining Moore, Casey Crawford, Jeff King and Donte Rosario.
Cannon returned a kick 98 yards to the 4-yard line. It marked the seventh-longest kickoff return in franchise history.
QBs: Teddy Bridgewater, Phillip Walker, Will Grier
RBs: Rodney Smith, Trenton Cannon, Reggie Bonnafon, Mike Davis, Christian McCaffrey
WRs: Robby Anderson, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Pharoh Cooper, Brandon Zylstra
TEs: Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Colin Thompson
Chicago BearsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson aptly framed it, "Matt Nagy or Bill Lazor. Old or new. It didn't matter.
"The Chicago Bears' (5-5) offense is broken beyond repair, regardless of who calls plays, an assignment that fell in Lazor's lap during Monday night's 19-13 divisional loss to the Minnesota Vikings."
Dickerson went on to concede Chicago's offense occasionally showed life in Lazor's Bears play calling debut, but it finished the night 2-of-11 on third down and contributed six points.
Losers of four straight, the Bears are stuck in a cycle of offensive futility. Nothing seems to work. No help is on the horizon. Suddenly, a team that opened 5-1 might find itself in last place in the NFC North in a matter of weeks.
The Vikings (4-5) are surging and next play the disappointing Cowboys (2-7) on a short week.
The Lions (4-5), whom the Bears miraculously beat in Week 1, take on the depleted Panthers (3-7) without Christian McCaffrey and possibly Teddy Bridgewater on Sunday.
Green Bay (7-2) looks light-years ahead of the rest of the field.
Typically, the bye week is a welcome relief. Not so for the Bears. Chicago will have to stew on its four-game losing streak for an extra week -- until the Bears travel to Lambeau Field on Nov. 29.
"The worst could be yet to come," Dickerson summed up.
The next question is who will be under center when the worst hits?
Turns out Nick Foles' injury was not as bad as it first appeared.
Foles is day-to-day with an injury to his right hip and gluteus maximus. Nagy provided the update late Tuesday morning.
On the first play of Chicago's final drive of the game, Foles was thrown hard to the ground after throwing an incomplete pass. Foles seemed to be badly hurt, lying motionless before eventually being carted off.
The lanky Foles routinely takes a pounding, fearlessly standing in the pocket behind blockers who often fail to protect him from contact.
He finished the night 15-of-26 for 106 yards and one interception.
Veteran signal-caller Tyler Bray entered the game for Chicago's final drive. Former second-overall pick Mitchell Trubisky, who lost the starting job to Foles in Week 3, was inactive because of a shoulder injury.
"I don't know about Mitch," Nagy said after the loss. "I think there's a possibility, but I don't know that for sure. We just have to take it day by day."
Also on the injury front. ... After punt returner Dwayne Harris muffed a kick in Monday night's loss to the Vikings, the team went with wide receiver Anthony Miller in that role for the rest of the night.
While the miscue would seem to explain why Harris was dropped from the role, the team later announced he was considered questionable to return to the game because of a triceps injury. That injury may open the door for Miller or someone else to take the role on a more permanent basis.
Nagy said on Tuesday that the team was waiting for confirmation that Harris tore his triceps.
Harris appeared in three games for the Bears this season. He averaged 8.1 yards on 10 punt returns. ...
I'll follow up on Foles and David Montgomery, who missed Monday night's game with a concussion, if/as developments warrant over the off week. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As Profootballtalk.com reminded readers on Tuesday, when there were conflicting reports about whether Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson asked for a trade earlier this year, Robinson's agent Brandon Parker said that he had not requested a deal but that he was "unhappy that Chicago has been unwilling to pay him market value for wide receivers."
Parker had something else to be unhappy about on Monday night.
Parker was busy on Twitter while the Bears were on their way to a 19-13 loss to the Vikings and the lack of throws to Robinson in the red zone was his focus.
"Throw 12 the Damn Ball in the Redzone! JUST ONCE! My goodness," Parker wrote.
Parker followed that up by asking "should he not be the first read in the redzone 99% of the time" and called the Bears the only team in the league that doesn't throw to their top wideout in such situations. He went on to say that he thinks Nick Foles is a good quarterback, but that the play calling is a "head scratcher" and that no quarterback could thrive behind the Bears' offensive line.
Parker also shared his feeling that Bears fans deserve better and it's pretty clear he believes Robinson deserves something different as well.
With free agency on the horizon, Robinson could look for it somewhere else. ...
Also per PFT, the Bears had six points and 117 yards of offense in the first half. They had seven points and a 104-yard kickoff return only 14 seconds gone in the second half.
This after Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 104 yards for a touchdown. Patterson, who was a first-round pick by the Vikings in 2013, has eight career kickoff return touchdowns, tying him with Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington for the all-time NFL lead.
The all-purpose threat chipped in 49 yards on offense while Montgomery sat out because of a concussion.
In fact, Patterson had 12 of the Bears' 16 rushing attempts against the Vikings. Ryan Nall rushed one time for zero yards and newly-promoted veteran Lamar Miller had no carries.
As Dickerson suggested, in what has become a running theme, rookie tight end Cole Kmet proved to be a nonfactor on Monday. The Bears simply refuse to use Kmet in the passing game. The second-round pick had one catch for 7 yards on two targets against the Vikings. That gives him seven receptions all season. Kmet has dealt with a groin injury, but the reluctance to throw him the ball is baffling.
Kicker Cairo Santos went 2-for-2 on field goal attempts (23,42) to extend his steak to 14 consecutive made field goals. Chicago has not had such an automatic kicker since Robbie Gould, who converted 17 consecutive field goals in Weeks 1-8 of the 2015 season. Santos is also perfect on extra point attempts in 2020.
The Bears' best offensive weapon -- by a wide margin -- has been their kicker.
QBs: Mitchell Trubisky, Nick Foles, Tyler Bray
RBs: David Montgomery, Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, Tarik Cohen
WRs: Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson, Javon Wims, Riley Ridley, Alex Wesley
TEs: Cole Kmet, Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, J.P. Holtz
Cincinnati BengalsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
According to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, this is why the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow.
Sure. There was the razor accuracy and dominant pocket presence and the national championship and the Heisman Trophy.
But after his first game as the Bengals franchise quarterback against the franchise they're chasing, after it all went so sour with a wobbly second half of five of 15 for 24 yards in a 36-10 loss to the undefeated Steelers in Pittsburgh in which they didn't convert a third down, he showed why the Bengals drafted him No. 1 overall.
"I was talking on the sideline, and I think we're in that game if I don't suck in the second half and I'm not going to suck a lot," Burrow said. "We're going to come back to work every day, and I'm excited to go back to practice on Wednesday and start getting these kinks worked out and move on to Washington."
Head coach Zac Taylor didn't let Burrow take all the blame. He said his play-calling didn't allow them to get into a rhythm early on. Taylor, in particular, called himself out on a play call in the last two minutes of the first half that turned into a crushing sack. It was only the Steelers' second of the game and it was off a gimmick with T.J. Watt stunting inside, but it took the Bengals out of field-goal range.
In addition, with featured back Joe Mixon (foot) missing a third straight game and the two starting offensive tackles out, Cincinnati again couldn't get much traction in the run game.
That kept most of the pressure on the 23-year-old quarterback.
Yet it was remarkable to listen to Burrow on the postgame Zoom from Heinz Field. According to Hobson, the youngster took the blame for that sack and everything else but the pandemic.
"You hear me talk and I'm not too down in the dumps because I know I'm not going to play like that very often," Burrow said.
This is why they drafted him. After he hobbled off following two hits and a sack, Taylor let him play that last series even if it was just handing off for running back Trayveon Williams' first five NFL carries.
"I'm not a quitter. I'm not going out of the game. Doesn't matter if we're down 100, down 10, down 20. I'm not going out," Burrow said.
He insisted that when he rolled his ankle smashing into the Bengals bench in the last minute of the first half after linebacker Bud Dupree shoved him out of bounds had no impact on what followed.
The numbers are going to suggest something very different. Before that play, Burrow was 15 of 24 for 170 yards. After, he was six of 16 for 33 yards.
Asked if he felt it in the second half, he relented a bit.
"It doesn't matter," Burrow said.
According to ESPN.com's Ben Baby, as humbling as the performance was for Burrow, it's to be expected for a rookie QB in the NFL, even someone who has flashed brilliance throughout the season.
When he entered the NFL, Burrow knew he was likely going to take a fair share of lumps.
That was definitely the case on Sunday. The Bengals hope these kind of learning experiences can be beneficial in 2021 and beyond when they have a team that can compete for a playoff spot.
Now, as Burrow suggested, the Bengals have to regroup before traveling to Washington (2-7) to play a much more beatable team.
Washington lost to Detroit 30-27 on a 59-yard field goal as time expired on Sunday, despite Alex Smith throwing for 390 yards. Cincinnati still has to face the Steelers and the Ravens again, but its other remaining opponents are less formidable.
"We've got to hit the reset button," Taylor said.
Other notes of interest. ... Rookie WR Tee Higgins has become a reliable option for Burrow. A second-round draft pick from Clemson, Higgins got his second 100-yard game Sunday, grabbing seven passes for 115 yards and a second-quarter touchdown.
On the injury front, Taylor said Monday that Burrow "should be fine." ... Mixon is day to day and could return to practice this week, but no official timetable had emerged yet as of Monday.
As Baby noted, a few days ago, Taylor said he didn't want to play Mixon this past weekend against the Steelers if it hampered his ability to be 100 percent for the team's final seven games. Taylor also said Mixon did not have any setbacks last week.
So, if Mixon is even limited at Wednesday's practice, take that as an encouraging sign moving forward. But as always, don't make any big decisions until later in the week. It's still going to be a day-to-day situation.
I'll follow up as needed via Late-Breaking Update. ...
Also worth noting. ... CB Mackensie Alexander left the game with a concussion in the first quarter, and his status for this week is unclear. Losing him was a blow for Cincinnati's secondary, which already was missing three cornerbacks from injuries/illness.
And finally. ... The Bengals waived defensive lineman Takkarist McKinley after he failed his physical. Cincinnati claimed the fourth-year player off waivers from Atlanta on Nov. 11.
QBs: Brandon Allen, Ryan Finley, Joe Burrow
RBs: Giovani Bernard, Samaje Perine, Trayveon Williams, Joe Mixon
WRs: Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, A.J. Green, Damion Willis, Alex Erickson, Mike Thomas, John Ross, Auden Tate
TEs: Drew Sample, Cethan Carter, C.J. Uzomah
Cleveland BrownsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Jake Trotter put it, "The severe weather finally went away.
"But Nick Chubb would not. ...
After a four-game absence due to a knee injury, Chubb returned Sunday with a pair of critical runs in the fourth quarter, lifting the Cleveland Browns to a 10-7 victory over the Houston Texans.
Chubb scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter -- topping 100 yards rushing along with teammate Kareem Hunt.
But Chubb's biggest contribution came on Cleveland's final drive when he reeled off a 59-yard run with 1:07 left and smartly ran out of bounds at the 1-yard line instead of scoring so the Texans, who were out of timeouts, wouldn't get the ball back.
Head coach Kevin Stefanski had delivered the code -- "no mas" -- to Cleveland's huddle in case any player was about to score. It was no surprise that Chubb, who doesn't like to talk about himself, followed instructions perfectly.
"He said, 'Yes sir,' ripped down the sideline there and just did his job," Stefanski said. "We are looking for smart, tough dudes, and Nick Chubb is that. I would not have been mad at him (for scoring), but knowing Nick, when you tell him to do something, he is going to do it."
Chubb shrugged off his effort.
"Luckily the run was long because I had to think about it in the last 10 yards," he said. "I should have just slid to keep the clock running or taken a knee, but it was a split-second decision."
Quarterback Baker Mayfield said Chubb's play personifies the 24-year-old.
"It's one of a kind to be that team first," he said.
Cleveland had its' 1-2 backfield punch together again as Chubb, who was out six weeks with a sprained right knee, finished with 126 yards on 19 carries. Hunt ran for 104 yards, including 37 -- and three first downs -- on Cleveland's final drive as the Browns (6-3) ate up the clock.
Chubb and Hunt are the first Browns teammates to rush for 100 yards each in the same game since Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green did it in 1966.
The game's start was delayed 36 minutes after a severe thunderstorm barreled into FirstEnergy Stadium just before kickoff.
The hail-producing storm capped a turbulent return from their bye week for the Browns.
Mayfield missed one practice after going on the COVID-19 list after having close contact with an infected staffer, and the team had to briefly shut down its facility on Friday when offensive lineman Chris Hubbard tested positive for the coronavirus.
Still, Chubb's return gives the Browns their best offensive player for a second half they hope leads to their first playoff berth since 2002.
"They did not blink," Stefanski said. "They were unfazed. I told them in the locker room, this is 2020, but you should not expect anything less. ..."
Next up, the Brown host Philadelphia on Nov. 22 -- the club's third straight home game. ...
Worth noting. ... The rainy and windy weather certainly has had an impact on slowing the Browns offense these last two games. Still, Cleveland's attack hasn't flashed much pop since the Cincinnati win Oct. 25, during which star wideout Odell Beckham Jr. was lost for the year with a knee injury.
Maybe the Browns will snap out of it, especially under better conditions.
But it's concerning just how ineffective the offense has been overall without Beckham's playmaking and, perhaps more importantly, the attention he commands from opposing defenses, which seemingly opened up the running game as well as opportunities for Cleveland's other pass-catchers.
For the record, Stefanski said he wouldn't have gotten mad at Chubb had he scored. But the coach is unhappy with a couple of his team leaders for penalties that he wouldn't expect from them.
Receiver Jarvis Landry caught an 18-yard pass in the second quarter but then gave up most of those yards by getting flagged for taunting after the play. Browns linebacker Mack Wilson handed the Texans 15 yards for unnecessary roughness, and the Texans scored a touchdown on the next play. Stefanski said those penalties were unacceptable.
"Those personal foul penalties, the 15-yarders that happen a lot of the time after the play, we can't have that," Stefanski said. "Both those guys know that. That's undisciplined that I don't expect from those two players in particular. I know they'd like to have those plays back. With Mack's, I know there's a physicality that you'd like to play with, but you've got to play within the rules."
The 6-3 Browns are fighting for their first playoff berth since 2002, and Stefanski wants to see smarter play down the stretch.
And finally. ... On Monday morning the Browns were informed that a player tested positive for COVID-19. The individual, subsequently reported as fullback Andy Janovich was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
He immediately self-isolated and the Browns facility was closed while contact tracing is being conducted. The Browns re-opened their facility Tuesday.
On Wednesday, they announced that T Jack Conklin, LS Charley Hughlett and K Cody Parkey were identified as high-risk close contacts to a non-staff member who tested positive. If they test negative, there is hope they can play on Sunday.
QBs: Baker Mayfield, Case Keenum
RBs: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, D'Ernest Johnson
WRs: Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Marvin Hall, Derrick Willies, KhaDarel Hodge, Ja'Marcus Bradley, Odell Beckham
TEs: Austin Hooper, David Njoku, Stephen Carlson, Harrison Bryant
Dallas CowboysCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon suggested, the open week must have felt a lot like the offseason for first-year Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy: Virtual meetings, with the players instructed to stay away from the facility for COVID-19 reasons.
The pandemic disrupted McCarthy's plan for getting his program going, and injuries derailed the season once it started, most notably the broken ankle that sidelined star quarterback Dak Prescott for the year.
Even though McCarthy's Dallas debut is all but wrecked just nine games in, owner Jerry Jones and his son, chief operating officer Stephen Jones, believe they picked the right replacement for Jason Garrett, who was in charge for nearly a decade.
"Absolutely. Unequivocal," Stephen Jones said when asked if McCarthy would return in 2021 regardless of the finish to a so-far dismal 2-7 season.
"I've got my man and I've got the way to handle through these tough times," Jerry Jones said on his radio show recently.
The Cowboys had to stay away from headquarters during their open week because a positive COVID-19 test for Pittsburgh tight end Vance McDonald turned up a day after he played 24 snaps in the Steelers' 24-19 victory over Dallas.
With no positive tests of their own over the bye, the Cowboys were back to in-person work Monday before returning to action this Sunday in Minnesota.
QB Andy Dalton was activated on Wednesday and will return this week. He made two starts in Prescott's place before getting a concussion against Washington, then went on the COVID-19 list about the time he was expected to clear concussion protocols.
As a result, the the Cowboys have had four starting quarterbacks in a span of five weeks after already having lost their tight end (Blake Jarwin, knee) and both tackles (Tyron Smith, neck; La'el Collins, hip) to season-ending injuries.
Dalton took part in the team's practice session on Monday and McCarthy said he was a full participant.
"We still have to line up and play like everybody else and we're getting better as a football team," McCarthy said. "But it's like anything in life, you don't really appreciate it as much until you don't have it. Not having the offseason program, and things like that, it's been challenging."
The defense under new coordinator Mike Nolan was abysmal early, repeatedly blowing assignments while giving up the most points through five games in franchise history. The unit is still on a record pace for futility, but has improved.
It's eerily similar to 2005, the last time McCarthy and Nolan were on the same staff. Nolan was coach in San Francisco, McCarthy the offensive coordinator. The 49ers finished 4-12 with four starting QBs and a terrible defense.
Stephen Jones looks elsewhere for comparisons -- to 2006, McCarthy's debut as a head coach in Green Bay. The Packers started 1-4 and were 4-8 before winning their last four games. Green Bay made the playoffs nine of the next 10 seasons and won a Super Bowl.
"The way we've played, especially the first seven games on the defensive side of the ball, it was frustrating for everybody, I think, to watch how we played there," Stephen Jones said. "But I do think we're coming around. You've got to take a deep breath on these things."
Jerry Jones hasn't been available to reporters all season because of the pandemic; he normally answers questions after every game.
The outspoken billionaire has had some testy moments with the hosts of his two weekly radio appearances, mostly over questions about whether the players are buying in and whether McCarthy has already lost the locker room. "We wanted someone that in case the you-know-what hit the fan, that had the credibility and the doability to ... stand tall and strong as the head coach," Jerry Jones said. "And he's doing that. He's doing that in the face of adversity."
The Cowboys stuck with Garrett longer than their fans wanted, believing he could end what is now a 25-year stretch without the storied franchise even making the NFC championship game. Last year's 3-0 start fueled already high expectations, and when Dallas faded and missed the playoffs, the Joneses sought a new voice for the first time since 2010.
"You're changing a culture," Stephen Jones said. "We like stability. That's why we stayed with Jason for 10 years, and we know these things don't happen overnight in terms of when you turn things around."
If Dalton returns and stays healthy, the Cowboys could finally have some stability at quarterback without Prescott. Now the trick is winning a game without the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of Year. Dallas is 0-4 so far.
Two-time rushing champion Ezekiel Elliott is without a 100-yard game this deep into a season for the first time, and what was the NFL's No. 1 offense with Prescott is far from it without him. But the defense seems to be figuring out Nolan's plan.
If nothing else, McCarthy goes forward figuring he won't be one-and-done in Dallas, which has a front office believing the NFC East is still in play because every team currently has a losing record. Philadelphia (3-4-1) leads the division.
"I think anytime you have confidence around you, it's important to your program and what you're trying to build," McCarthy said of Stephen Jones' vote of confidence. "But I'm focused on improving each and every week and try to get done what we still are capable of getting done this year."
QBs: Andy Dalton, Garrett Gilbert, Cooper Rush, Ben DiNucci, Dak Prescott
RBs: Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Rico Dowdle
WRs: Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, Malik Turner
TEs: Dalton Schultz, Blake Bell, Sean McKeon, Blake Jarwin
Denver BroncosCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
Second-year quarterback Drew Lock doesn't have to look over his shoulder following a four-interception game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, but head coach Vic Fangio made it clear Lock doesn't have any place to hide either.
Six losses into a season that is now teetering on the edge of another double-digit-defeat slog, Lock's ability to sink or swim in the coming weeks will be watched closely.
"We're committed to Drew -- the more he can play, the better he'll be," Fangio said following a 37-12 loss to the Raiders. "... He's got to fight through this ... and we're going to continue to play him."
Lock made his 12th career NFL start Sunday. As ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold noted, in the carousel that is the Broncos' quarterback situation over the past four seasons, that is already more than Paxton Lynch started but not quite as many as Case Keenum.
Legwold went on to suggest that deep down, Lock's struggles are not a shock to the Broncos or any talent evaluator in the league. He's facing very real, very legitimate items on his young quarterback to-do list that need repair or Lock will simply have more days like Sunday.
Against the Raiders, Lock completed 23 of 47 passes for 257 yards and a touchdown with the four interceptions, which played a rather enormous role in the outcome of the game.
"You're definitely frustrated after a day like that," Lock said. "Lot of stuff we need to work, lot of stuff we need to get better at. Just got to keep pushing, got to keep practicing, man."
Lock is completing just 55 percent of his passes -- last among the league's starters -- has 10 interceptions and a passer rating of 66.5, which puts him ahead of only Sam Darnold. All 10 of Lock's interceptions have come since his Week 6 return from a right (throwing) shoulder injury, and six of the interceptions have come in the past eight quarters. His confidence and his ability to navigate this part of the learning curve are a real concern.
Fangio reaffirmed that Lock wasn't alone in delivering an offensive performance that resulted in fewer than 20 points for a fifth time this season. A rushing attack with 19 carries and another game plan from offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, certainly hindered by the turnovers, contributed to another slow start.
But Fangio was not protecting Lock or his confidence on Sunday night.
"Four interceptions, you can't win turning the ball over that much," Fangio said. "Everybody's fingerprints are on that performance -- coaches, players, we all have to take a good, hard look at it ... There's only one way to rebuild [Lock's confidence]: You've got to go back to work and he's got to start experiencing good play."
Oh, and the Broncos' next three opponents -- the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs -- are a combined 21-6 with the playoffs on their minds.
Adding to the intrigue? Lock is dealing with sore ribs after Sunday's loss and Fangio said Monday that he's questionable to practice on Wednesday as a result.
Fangio also said that missing Sunday's game against the Dolphins is possible.
"There's a chance of that, with his injury the way it is," Fangio said, via Andrew Mason of DNVR Sports. "It's an injury that is day-to-day where a lot of improvements can be made, and we'll see how he does with it."
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, further testing revealed that Lock has a "pretty severe strain and bruising" but no fractured ribs. Still, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero advised his Twitter followers that it sounds like Lock has an uphill battle to be ready for the Dolphins.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Lock was not expected to do much, if anything, Wednesday (and local observers reported he did nothing). But he should practice later in the week, giving him a chance to play.
Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel are on the depth chart behind Lock and each one started a game when Lock was out earlier this season.
Also worth noting. ... Phillip Lindsay had all of four carries in the game and was targeted once in the passing game. The Broncos trailed from the jump, which will mute the run game at times, and the Broncos ran just four plays on offense in the third quarter where it all got away. Melvin Gordon rushed 11 times for 46 yards.
Neither Lindsay nor the team has said if Lindsay's foot is acting up -- he was not on the injury report this past week -- but the bottom line is he wasn't involved Sunday.
Noah Fant was not practicing Wednesday. As ABC Denver's Troy Renck noted, Fant has been battling through a high ankle sprain for weeks. He has played through it, but it has affected him at times. #Denver7
I'll have more on Lindsay, Fant and Lock as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Beyond kicker Brandon McManus, the Broncos special teams continue to be a significant issue when games are still in question. Sunday, Diontae Spencer opened the proceedings with an indecisive, spin-the-wrong way kickoff return that put the Broncos' on their own 3-yard line to open their first drive.
Receiver Tim Patrick and Las Vegas defensive back Isaiah Johnson were ejected following a scuffle in the fourth quarter. ... Jerry Jeudy caught 4-of-8 targets for 68 receiving yards; K.J. Hamler caught 5-of-10 targets for 50 yards; and Fant caught 3-of-7 targets for 18 yards.
DaeSean Hamilton had a 7-yard TD catch with 6:10 remaining. He also had a late fumble.
QBs: Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, Jeff Driskel
RBs: Melvin Gordon, Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay
WRs: Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, Daesean Hamilton, Tyrie Cleveland, Diontae Spencer, Courtland Sutton
TEs: Noah Fant, Nick Vannett, Jake Butt, Albert Okwuegbunam
Detroit LionsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Michael Rothstein, for all Matt Prater's struggles this season, when the Detroit Lions needed him the most -- to save a game, perhaps a season and maybe even a coaching tenure, the veteran kicker did what he does best.
Prater's 59-yard field goal as time expired gave Detroit a 30-27 win over Washington in his 100th game with the franchise, snapping a seven-game home losing streak that lasted 385 days.
It wasn't easy, even though early on Sunday it looked at times like it might be for the Lions. But these are the Lions -- often losers of leads and allergic to comfortable home wins -- which meant that even a seemingly safe second-half lead still became tenuous.
To get the team's first home win in more than a year, to make sure Day No. 385 without a win at Ford Field did not become No. 386, the Lions needed to rally late, mostly because of a 21-point lead it gave away.
Which, if you've followed the Lions under coach Matt Patricia, remains a theme.
Unlike in Week 1, when Detroit lost after rookie running back D'Andre Swift dropped a pass in the end zone in the final moments, it was Swift who played a big part in giving the Lions the chance to win. On Detroit's second-to-last drive in regulation, the Lions relied on Swift and the offensive line, handing it to him over and over again to move down the field to set up Prater's field goal with 2:37 left.
After a Washington field goal tied the game with 16 seconds left, Detroit drove down the field enough to give Prater, who had made 55 field goals of 50-plus yards in his career entering Sunday, a chance to make one to win.
In doing so, he saved the Lions from overtime and from another collapse under Patricia -- something Detroit desperately needed.
This isn't new, although the Lions haven't been in late-game lead-losing mode for a month or so. But it's still such an alarming trend under Patricia, who remains on the hot seat even after a last-second win. Washington is not a good football team, and Alex Smith was making his first start at quarterback in almost two years. Detroit escaped this time -- which, in some ways, is progress -- but still not something you can feel good about on the whole.
As for Swift's emergence. ... It's been coming for a while now, but the rookie finally took control of the Lions' backfield Sunday against Washington.
He earned his first start after out-snapping Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson for weeks and made the most of it, rushing for 81 yards and catching five passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Detroit relied on its rookie second-round pick throughout the game. He played the vast majority of snaps for Detroit and came up with big play after big play, including a 15-yard touchdown reception where he used his route running and power to force his way into the end zone to give Detroit a 24-3 lead.
He's clearly taken over as the Lions' No. 1 back in terms of total yards from scrimmage. Swift now has 70 carries for 331 yards and 31 receptions for 275 yards. That's 606 total yards and six TDs -- four rushing, two receiving. Peterson is second in total yards with 449 -- 371 rushing, 78 receiving.
"Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has been wanting to work Swift in more," Rothstein wrote. "And the way he performed Sunday, it's hard to go away from him now," Rothstein said. "While he might not see that much usage every week, it's safe to figure he's going to be Detroit's lead back going forward.
"He's a player to build around. ..."
Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford had a sharp game, completing 72.7 percent of his passes and throwing for three touchdowns, tying Joe Montana for No. 17 all-time with 273. He found his receivers in deep and intermediate pockets, including a 55-yard touchdown to Marvin Hall on the game's first drive.
While his 276 yards were not eye-popping, he was efficient against a pretty good Washington defense and looked much more like the quarterback Detroit had hoped he'd be all season.
Stafford hurt his thumb early in Sunday's game against Washington, but didn't come out of the contest and it doesn't look like he'll miss time in the future.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network's reported that X-rays on the thumb were negative. There were, however, further tests that revealed Stafford has a partial tear in a ligament in the thumb (on his throwing hand), sources told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. They’ll take the week to see how he throws the ball.
They didn't see that Wednesday, however. According to MLive.com's Kyle Meinke, Stafford was at practice Wednesday, as promised, but doing absolutely nothing. Didn’t even stretch. The QB was wearing a small black supportive wrap on the thumb of his throwing hand. Meinke did not see him attempt even one pass.
I'll be following up on Stafford via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
I'll also have more on Kenny Golladay, who missed his second straight game with a hip injury and has played just five times this season because of different injuries, Danny Amendola (hip), who left Sunday's game and T.J. Hockenson, who caught 2-of-4 targets for 13 yards while playing through a toe injury he suffered in last Thursday’s practice. ...
For what it's worth, Golladay was on the practice field Wednesday; so was Hockenson. Amendola and Marvin Jones Jr. (knee) were not.
Other notes of interest. ... Jones caught a touchdown pass Sunday for the third straight game. He now has 28 receiving touchdowns since 2017, tied for the sixth most in the NFL in that span. He also tied Cloyce Box for the sixth most touchdown receptions in franchise history at 32. Since arriving in Detroit in 2016, he been one of Detroit's most consistent performers.
Danny Amendola caught all three of his targets for 10 yards while Marvin Hall caught 2-of-3 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. ...
And finally. ... How clutch is Prater at the end of games?
According to Tim Twentyman of the team's official website, Prater is now an amazing 22-of-22 on game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the fourth quarter with two minutes or less left in the game (16-of-16 in regulation, six-of-six in overtime).
On Wednesday, Prater was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
QBs: Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel, David Blough
RBs: D'Andre Swift, Adrian Peterson, Kerryon Johnson, Jason Cabinda
WRs: Marvin Jones, Danny Amendola, Mohamed Sanu, Quintez Cephus, Jamal Agnew, Kenny Golladay
TEs: T.J. Hockenson, Jesse James, Hunter Bryant
Green Bay PackersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
Head coach Matt LaFleur liked the way his team finished. He just wondered why the Packers didn't show similar energy the rest of the day.
Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score, but the Packers needed to make a defensive stand in the final minute to eke out a 24-20 victory over the slumping Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
"We will challenge everybody in this organization that's a part of this football team to bring more emotion," LaFleur said. "You can't take these opportunities for granted."
Rodgers withstood windy conditions and put the Packers (7-2) ahead for good with 9:03 left by throwing a 6-yard TD pass to Davante Adams, who had left with an ankle injury earlier in the second half. Rodgers also had a 5-yard touchdown run and a 78-yard scoring strike to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught four passes for a career-high 149 yards.
"We're pretty used to being able to go out and throw in the wind and know what passes you can throw and what passes you can't throw," Valdes-Scantling said. "You have Aaron Rodgers, he can get pretty much get any football through any wind, so it doesn't really matter."
Green Bay's victory wasn't secure until the final minutes, when they did just about everything right in their final few plays after making so many mistakes the rest of the day.
"I felt like that was the first time our team came alive," LaFleur said. "You could feel it on the sidelines (with) everybody rooting for one another. We need that from the opening kick. That's the standard. We can't just pick and choose when we want to do that."
According to ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky, to convince anyone they're serious Super Bowl contenders -- and perhaps more importantly to convince themselves, a quality road win would do wonders, especially considering how badly they got handled in their Week 6 38-10 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The teams that give the Packers trouble seem to have at least one thing in common: a fast, active front seven. Bucs linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White gave Rodgers and Co. fits. The Colts entered the day with the NFL's top defense in terms of yards allowed and ranked third against the run and fifth in points allowed.
If the Jaguars (1-8) had a strength Sunday, it was their defense, led by linebackers Myles Jack and Joe Schobert. They held the Packers scoreless in the first quarter for the first time all season, although Rodgers and Valdes-Scantling made up for that with a 78-yard touchdown bomb on the first play of the second quarter.
Plenty will lament why the Packers had so much trouble against a one-win team with a backup quarterback (Jake Luton) on a miserable day at Lambeau Field in the cold, rain and wind. But what might say more about the Packers and their chances for a late run could come Sunday, when they take on the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. ...
Other notes of interest. ... While Rodgers was on the money with his deep throw to Valdes-Scantling, he might have made one of his worst throws of the season in the third quarter, when Jaguars cornerback Sidney Jones picked off a pass intended for Valdes-Scantling. It was Rodgers' first interception at home since Week 6 of last season.
He had gone seven straight games and 263 straight attempts at Lambeau without an interception. He was on cruise control to that point. His touchdown pass to Valdes-Scantling had an air distance of 54.6 yards, and Rodgers improved 7-for-12 (58 percent) on throws with 50-plus distance of air yards this season. The previous three seasons, he was 11-of-52 (21 percent) on those throws.
Valdes-Scantling not only didn't drop a ball -- although we don't know if he was at fault on the interception -- but as noted above, he also had his most productive game, giving the Packers a second option while Adams (eight catches for 66 yards and a touchdown) battled an ankle injury in the second half.
Robert Tonyan caught 3-of-4 targets for 33 yards while playing through an ankle injury of his own.
According to Demovsky, Adams took part in the stretch inside prior to Wednesday's practice but did not come outside for drills. Equanimeous St. Brown and Tyler Ervin were also sitting out.
I'll have more Adams and the others as developments warrant in coming days.
I'll also be following up on Allen Lazard, who was activated from injured reserve Tuesday, an indication he'll play this week. Lazard had surgery to repair a core muscle injury in early October. He has dealt with some soreness, but has continued working through it and a return seems to be imminent.
That said, Lazard isn't a lock to be active against the Colts. "We're certainly going to have to ease him back in," LaFleur said. "We're hopeful to have him back for Sunday, but we'll see how his body reacts."
Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
Jones registered 46 rushing yards on 13 carries, adding five receptions for 49 yards during Sunday's win. He also fumbled once, but the ball rolled out of bounds.
As CBSSports.com notes, Jones averaged an electrifying 5.7 yards per carry over his first four appearances of the 2020 campaign, but he's been contained to just 3.1 yards per attempt over his past three outings against the Buccaneers, 49ers and Jaguars.
Tampa Bay and San Francisco entered Sunday's slate ranking first and 10th in rush defense, respectively, but Jacksonville sat at 27th in the NFL with 138.1 yards per game surrendered on the ground. Jones was unable to capitalize on a seemingly favorable, though he did salvage considerable value in producing his second-highest receiving output of the year.
The fourth-year back has garnered a healthy workload of 18-plus offensive touches in six of his seven appearances this season, but he heads into a challenging Week 11 matchup against the Colts' No. 3 rush defense.
Also worth noting. ... Jamaal Williams rushed eight times for 30 yards, hauling in 3-of-4 targets for 25 yards working behind Jones.
And finally. ... Offensive tackle David Bakhtiari said after the game he had agreed to a contract extension. Bakhtiari's agent, Mark Humenik, confirmed that Bakhtiari agreed to a four-year deal worth up to $105.5 million with a $30 million signing bonus.
QBs: Aaron Rodgers, Tim Boyle, Jordan Love
RBs: Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon, Tyler Ervin
WRs: Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Malik Taylor, Reggie Begelton
TEs: Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Jace Sternberger, Josiah Deguara
Houston TexansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
Quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled in windy conditions in Cleveland on Sunday, and he said afterward that he isn't accustomed to playing in that kind of weather.
"It's tough, especially if you don't get to experience it on a consistent basis," Watson said, via the Houston Chronicle. "It [was] definitely a factor in the game, but I don't want to make excuses on that [being] the reason we didn't capitalize. That's not the reason. We just didn't make enough plays fast enough to give us a chance to win."
Watson managed just 163 yards on 30 passes, while Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had 132 yards on 20 passes. The difference was the running game: Houston totaled just 90 yards on the ground, while Cleveland's Nick Chubb had 126 yards and Kareem Hunt added 104 yards.
"You have to be able to guide the ball different ways and [in] different areas of the field," Watson said. "A couple of times, the ball was right there, but the wind took it [a] certain way. It was tough on both sides. That's why they did a lot of bootlegs, draws and different screens, but [it was] the same with us. We had to pick our spots and try to throw it down the field because that's what we want to do, but it's kind of hard with heavy wind. We just didn't connect."
The 2-7 Texans have had a lot go wrong this season. The wind in Cleveland was the latest obstacle they couldn't overcome.
But the backfield beyond Watson is also an obstacle.
The Texans have both of their running backs under contract next season, but might have to start over at the position this offseason. Starter David Johnson, who is on injured reserve with a concussion and will miss at least two more games, is owed $9 million next season, but the Texans could save $6.9 million by cutting him.
Duke Johnson, who ran for 54 games on 14 carries on Sunday, is owed $5.1 million in 2021.
The Texans acquired David in the trade that sent All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. In eight games this season, David Johnson has 408 yards and three touchdowns on 103 carries. During the offseason, the Texans opted not to re-sign Carlos Hyde, who ran for more than 1,000 yards playing on a one-year deal in 2019.
Duke Johnson, who replaced David in Week 9, had a career-high 20 touches in that game. Despite being the starter all game against the Browns, Johnson the 14 carries were his only touches.
Watson did spread the ball around, completing passes to eight different receivers. Wide receiver Will Fuller, who caught five passes for 38 yards, ended his streak of touchdown receptions in what was one of the least-fantasy friendly games of the season.
In fact, entering Sunday, the fewest combined points in the first half of a game this season was nine, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The Texans and Browns shattered that season-low, combining for three points at halftime.
Next up, the Texans host New England on Sunday. ...
According to Rotoworld.com, Darren Fells played 60 percent of Houston's offensive snaps in Week 10 against the Browns, the highest rate among Houston tight ends.
Jordan Akins played just 42 percent of the snaps in a favorable matchup allowing plenty of targets and receptions to tight ends. Both tight end ran 12 routes. Akins and Fells each saw one target against the Browns and Akins came half a yard from turning his sole chance into a touchdown.
Little-used Pharaoh Brown, meanwhile, caught two balls for 21 yards and a score.
One last item here. ... The Texans released DeAndre Carter, a source told The Athletic's Aaron Reiss.
Reiss suggests that cutting Carter could open up a pathway to playing time for Keke Coutee. But this coaching staff doesn't seem to trust him, so it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with that.
QBs: Deshaun Watson, AJ McCarron
RBs: David Johnson, Duke Johnson, Scottie Phillips, Buddy Howell, Dontrell Hilliard, C.J. Prosise
WRs: Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, Chad Hansen, Isaiah Coulter, Damion Ratley, Randall Cobb, Steven Mitchell, Will Fuller
TEs: Jordan Akins, Darren Fells, Kahale Warring
Indianapolis ColtsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
According to Associated Press sports writer Michael Marot, the Colts sent an unmistakable message at Tennessee: Yes, they can beat anyone in the NFL.
Just four days after enduring an excruciating loss to Baltimore, Indianapolis posted its most critical win this season. It gave the Colts a share of the AFC South lead, an opportunity to seize control of the division by winning the rematch in two weeks, and the kind of momentum that goes far beyond the traditional win-loss calculus.
"We finished the way we needed to finish," head coach Frank Reich said. "We just kind of came in (at halftime) and said, 'This is what we expected, a tight game.' Just going back and forth. We felt like we were able to do some things, but we needed to lock in and finish it off, which we did."
By beating the 2019 AFC runners-up on their home field and at their own game, the Colts finally proved they belong in a conversation about the conference's top teams. Indy (6-3) entered the game with five wins over teams with worse records, and two losses against teams with better records.
And while it temporarily halts the comparisons to last season when another promising 5-2 start turned into a playoff-short 7-9 mark, the most crucial part about this win seemed to be the confidence boost Indy got.
It was evident in the Colts' post-game voices.
"I knew one thing, I didn't want to settle for average," running back Nyheim Hines said after scoring two touchdowns. "I wanted to play great."
Hines had 115 total yards, ran for score and caught a TD pass -- his third game this season with at least two scores.
For one week, at least, this appeared to be the winning formula the Colts envisioned all along.
Philip Rivers threw for 308 yards and a TD in one of his most efficient games this season. Indy's sputtering ground game produced 133 yards, a healthy 4.6 yards per carry and two scores.
The league's No. 1 defense pitched a second-half shutout and largely kept rushing leader Derrick Henry in check. And on special teams, the Colts pressured Tennessee into one poor punt, which they eventually turned into a TD, and blocked another that was returned for the game-turning score.
It was the perfect script at the perfect moment.
Now, of course, the Colts must show they can continue to play this way when they face Green Bay on Nov. 22 and the Titans (6-3) on Nov. 29. Rivers believes they can.
"You've got to keep going because unless we continue to get better and win football games, we'll look back at this one and say, 'That was cool, but it didn't matter,' " he said. "This was a big game, even a bigger game after losing to the Ravens."
Worth noting. ... Indy threw a change-up at the Titans with heavy use of a no-huddle offense, and it helped Rivers and the offense get into and stay in rhythm for four quarters. Reich said they decided early in the week to give it a shot, and now it's one more wrinkle defenses need to prepare for.
According to Marot, one thing that still needs work is the deep passing game.
This has been a season-long problem. Most of the big plays have been manufactured from yards after the catch. Defenses continue to dare them to go over the top, but if the Colts' ground game churns out yardage like last week, perhaps they'll take advantage of more downfield shots. ...
Hines has always tried to take advantage of his opportunities, whether in the run game, the pass game or as a returner, and said the best part about having a big game like he did Thursday is it continues to make the Colts' offense even more dangerous and unpredictable.
"Every week I work hard, I prepare, and I really feel like each week I make the most of each opportunity," Hines said. "(Even if) I touch the ball twice or three times, I feel like every game I somehow make a play and try to have a positive impact on the team. That's how our team is. One week it may be (Jonathan Taylor). The next week it may be Jordan Wilkins, then tonight it was me. We're hard to prepare for but really just have to make the most of the opportunity."
This is great for the Colts. It's less great for fantasy managers. ...
One last note here. ... While the Colts had solid contributions from several players on Thursday night, perhaps the most promising performance came from one of the youngest players on the team. Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., the Colts' second-round pick in this year's NFL Draft out of USC, had a career-best seven receptions for 101 yards (14.4 avg.) on the night, and also added 21 rushing yards on a reverse play in the third quarter.
While Pittman had displayed flashes of making some big plays in his first few games, Thursday night's contest was really the first time he's been able to work himself open, get the ball in space and show off his athleticism; he had receptions of 40 and 30 yards, respectively, and added a wrinkle by making a big play in the run game, too.
The Colts are going to need explosive playmakers on offense in the second half of the season, and Pittman showed he can do just that on Thursday.
"I feel like the game is slowing down a little bit for him," Rivers said of Pittman. "Certainly (it's) not too big for him. I knew that from Day 1. Just today he was just playing fast. You see him catch that shallow and turn the corner, had some other big, physical catches. It was definitely a heck of a game by him."
On the injury front. ... Tight end Jack Doyle (concussion) did not practice Wednesday; he missed last week's game.
QBs: Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Jacob Eason
RBs: Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, Jordan Wilkins, Marlon Mack
WRs: T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Michael Pittman Jr., Ashton Dulin, Dezmon Patmon, Parris Campbell
TEs: Trey Burton, Mo Alie-Cox, Jack Doyle
Jacksonville JaguarsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As Associated Press sports writer Mark Long reminded readers, the previous time the Jacksonville Jaguars lost nine consecutive games, owner Shad Khan fired coach Gus Bradley before they left the stadium.
Khan could be on the verge of a similar move.
Jacksonville (1-8) dropped its eighth straight at Green Bay on Sunday and can match the longest, single-season skid in franchise history against unbeaten Pittsburgh. It would be impossible for Khan to ignore, even if he's giving head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell credit for cleaning up the locker room and the salary cap.
But Khan's call might not be as easy as it seems.
After all, the Jaguars have shown signs of progress in the past two weeks -- something Marrone reluctantly acknowledged after saying "there's something that's in my soul that just gets (expletive) ripped out" with every loss.
The NFL's youngest roster had two chances to upset the heavily favored Packers and had the ball near midfield both times before giving it back. Jacksonville also had a shot at tying Houston in the closing minutes a week earlier, but rookie Jake Luton's 2-point conversion pass landed at D.J. Chark's feet in the end zone.
"All I know is we're putting everything in this thing and we're fighting our butts off," Marrone said. "We're doing everything we possibly can, you know what I'm saying? We're coming up short. And it's hard. I'm not going to lie.
"It's hard, and I just want to do the best job I can for these coaches and players to keep them going so they can continue to get better. I do see that. I think if I wanted to feel good about myself, I think you can talk about some of the play or some of the players. ... And guys are playing, different guys."
Most of them young, too.
A handful of rookies have flashed, most notably running back James Robinson, receiver Laviska Shenault, cornerback C.J. Henderson, defensive tackle Doug Costin, nose tackle DaVon Hamilton and safety Daniel Thomas.
Add Chark, defensive end Josh Allen, linebacker Myles Jack, cornerback Sidney Jones and offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor into the mix, and the Jaguars appear to have a number of building blocks to go along with two more first-round draft picks and two second-rounders in 2021.
But the end results might not be enough to save Marrone and Caldwell, who have dropped 19 of their past 28 games.
"Obviously, we can come up with a lot of excuses, but at the end of the day, we line up in front of them and we have to finish it," receiver Keelan Cole said. "We're starting to figure out how to come out, how to be consistent throughout the game, and then we have to figure out how to finish it through -- not even in the fourth quarter, but the last four minutes of the fourth quarter."
The Jaguars are now 41-99 in Khan's nine-year tenure. One more loss would tie him with former New Orleans Saints owner John Mecom Jr. as the second fastest to reach 100 losses.
If the Jaguars don't beat the Steelers, Khan will hit the dubious mark in 141 games, one more than late Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse. ...
Other notes of interest. ... With Shenault out because of a hamstring injury, the Jaguars needed another receiver to make an impact to complement Chark, and Cole delivered.
Cole had caught just two passes for 18 yards on four targets in the Jaguars' past two games but he led the Jaguars in targets and catches on Sunday. His 91-yard punt return was the longest franchise history (surpassing Reggie Barlow's 85-yarder against Kansas City in 1998) and he's the first player in franchise history to catch a TD pass and return a punt for a TD in the same game.
Per Elias, Cole also is the first player in NFL history to catch a TD pass and return a punt for a TD in the same game against the Packers.
Cole has made a nice comeback from an awful October 2018, when he got benched after dropping give passes and losing two fumbles. He didn't get much work for the first half of the 2019 season, but caught 30 of his 35 passes in the final eight games and the Jaguars applied a second-round restricted free agent tender to him in the offseason.
Other than the past two games, Cole has been pretty consistent and should have a bigger role going forward, especially as Shenault continues to recover from the hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Jaguars.com's John Oehser feels we need to know that Robinson is good. Really good.
Oehser went on to explain it's difficult to find new ways to say this because the Jaguars' rookie running back is consistently good in the same way each week. He's not spectacular. He doesn't have a bunch of 30-yard runs. But his 109-yard rushing game Sunday was his third such game of the season.
He rushed for six yards on each of his first three carries Sunday. That's fitting for a player who over and over again gets the most out of runs. Robinson is a strikingly good runner at squeezing the most from every carry and every opportunity.
He's not "good for a rookie." He's not "good for a rookie free agent." He's really good. Period. ...
Also worth noting. ... Luton misfired on six of his final seven passes and was sacked twice, showing his inexperience in crunch time. He's much better when there's a threat of running the ball.
Still, ESPN.com's Michael DiRocco believes Luton will remain the Jaguars' starter the rest of the season.
Luton has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 473 yards and two TDs with two INTs in his two starts.
Luton has shown very good pocket poise as well as the willingness to take shots down the field. Minshew hadn't shown improvement in the areas in which he needed to the most: pocket presence, throwing players open and working the middle of the field. Luton might not be the franchise's long-term QB, but he at least should spend the rest of the season auditioning.
Marrone said Gardner Minshew (thumb) will start throwing routes on air in practice this week; he was listed as a limited participant Wednesday. Marrone said they'll see what he looks like but "he [Minshew] won't be ready [to play against Pittsburgh]."
Elsewhere on the injury front. ... RB Chris Thompson (back) is heading for injured reserve, according to John Reid of the Florida Times-Union while C Brandon Linder (back) and Shenault, who missed Wednesday's practice with his ongoing hamstring issue, are hoping to play against Pittsburgh.
Robinson (shoulder) was limited Wednesday.
I'll follow up via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant.
For what it's worth, Dare Ogunbowale and Devine Ozigbo are currently the only running backs on the Jaguars roster besides Robinson.
QBs: Mike Glennon, Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton
RBs: Dare Ogunbowale, Devine Ozigbo, Ryquell Armstead, Chris Thompson, James Robinson
WRs: D.J. Chark, Keelan Cole, Laviska Shenault, Collin Johnson, Chris Conley, Michael Walker, Dede Westbrook
TEs: Tyler Eifert, James O'Shaughnessy, Tyler Davis, Josh Oliver
Kansas City ChiefsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
In case you've forgotten over the bye week, the Kansas City start offered this reminder: "OK, simply put: Patrick Mahomes continues to raise the bar on playing the position and make his case for a second career NFL MVP award."
Indeed, with Mahomes running one of the NFL's top offensive units, the Chiefs rank first in big plays, defined as 20 yards or more, and the unit's nine big-play touchdowns is tied for second-most in the league.
On the season, Mahomes has completed 220 of 329 passes for 2,687 yards and 25 touchdowns against just one interception. He currently ranks second in the league in yards passing, second in touchdown passes and third among starting quarterbacks with a 115.9 passer rating.
Mahomes, who was chosen the AFC Offensive Player of the Week in Weeks 3 and 8, also continues to rewrite the NFL's record book this season.
In Week 3, the fourth-year pro became the fastest player to record 10,000 career yards passing, a feat he accomplished in just 34 games. In Week 9, Mahomes' four touchdown passes gave him 101 in 38 career games, making him the fastest signal-caller in league history to top 100 and breaking Hall of Famer Dan Marino's previous mark of 44 games.
As for the running backs. ... Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs' first-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, leads the team in rushing with 586 yards, which also ranks as the fourth-most yards rushing in the league. The rookie running back found the end zone three times in 2020, two on the ground, and also has 28 catches for 224 yards.
The Chiefs added Le'Veon Bell in Week 7 as complementary piece to Edwards-Helaire. In three games with the Chiefs, Bell has rushed for 54 yards on 16 carries and added four catches for 26 yards.
Darrel Williams has rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 20 catches in a third-down role, while Darwin Thompson's contributions come mostly on special teams.
In Week 3, fullback Anthony Sherman was on the receiving end of one of Mahomes' underhanded touchdown passes in a play called "Smoked Sausage." Sherman missed three games while spending time on the reserve/COVID-19 list after being exposed to someone who tested positive. He's back and ready to contribute going forward. ..
Tyreek Hill leads the wide receiver group with 44 catches for 650 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns, which also leads all wide receivers in the NFL. The explosive Hill also has 62 yards rushing and a touchdown on eight carries.
The Chiefs have been without Sammy Watkins since he suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5. Before Watkins went down, he had 21 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns in five games.
Others have stepped up in Watkins' place.
Mecole Hardman enters the bye third on the team in yards receiving (395) and he found the end zone three times. Demarcus Robinson has 21 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns, while Byron Pringle produced clutch catches on offense and exploded with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Week 7.
The Chiefs have utilized the practice squad to compensate the absence of Watkins by rotating an elevation between wide receivers Marcus Kemp and Gehrig Dieter.
Both players mostly helped out on special teams as the fifth receiver.
And of course, with 769 yards receiving on the season, Travis Kelce is well on his way to a fifth consecutive 1,000-yard campaign and likely a third career All-Pro selection. His 769 yards ranks as the third-most in the league behind wide receivers Stefon Diggs (813) and DK Metcalf (788).
Kelce's 159 yards in Week 9 marked his 22nd career 100-yard receiving game, which is the second-most in team history. He also has recorded a catch in 104 straight games, which is the fifth-longest active streak in the NFL.
Nick Keizer, Deon Yelder and Ricky Seals-Jones round out the tight ends group.
Keizer, who has four catches for 43 yards, sees the most action as the complementary blocking piece to Kelce's receiving in the Chiefs' 12-personnel package (one running back, two tight ends).
Seals-Jones, who signed as a free agent during the offseason, has been invisible this season, appearing in just one game while being a healthy inactive the other eight contests.
This week, the Chiefs return to work this week in advance of Sunday night's game against the Raiders in Las Vegas.
And there are issues.
The Chiefs placed Hardman on the reserve/COVID-19 list, last week.
On Monday, The Chiefs placed both starting OTs Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz on the reserve COVI1- list. According to multiple reports, both were classified as "close contacts" rather than as having tested positive. That would allow them to return in time for Sunday's game.
I'll be following up via Late-Breaking Update as needed. ...
One last note. ... The Chiefs have announced new contracts for head coach Andy Reid and G.M. Brett Veach.
In late August, the deals reportedly were closed to being finalized. Obviously, they now are.
The announcement from the team doesn't specify the duration. Prior reporting pegged the deals as running through 2025.
Reid became coach of the Chiefs in 2013. Veach joined the team at the same time, and he became the G.M. after the 2017 draft.
Veach became the team's in-house champion for Mahomes, prior to the 2017 draft. Veach sold Reid on the idea of Mahomes pushing the franchise over the top, Reid agreed, and the fact that it worked should keep both Veach and Reid employed by the Chiefs for as long as they want to be.
QBs: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne
RBs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Le'Veon Bell, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson
WRs: Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Marcus Kemp, Byron Pringle, Sammy Watkins
TEs: Travis Kelce, Deon Yelder, Nick Keizer
Las Vegas RaidersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez, the last time the Raiders made a deep playoff run, way back in 2002, it was a safety who made a touchdown-saving interception to save the season.
At the goal line.
Against the Denver Broncos.
That's not to say Jeff Heath is Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, who had a 98-yard pick-six in a tight game back then, but Heath's goal-line pick of Drew Lock (it was Heath's second INT of the day) with seconds to go in the first half saved the Raiders' 10-6 halftime lead.
Heath, combined with a rugged rushing performance by Josh Jacobs, helped launch the Raiders to a 37-12 win over the Broncos as Las Vegas improved to 6-3 on the season and stayed on track for a playoff spot. It was the Raiders' third straight win and they are 3-0 in the division for the first time since 2010.
Even with a makeshift offensive line, Jacobs was getting plenty of real estate before being touched.
In the first half alone, Jacobs gained 52 of his 66 rushing yards before contact, averaging 5.2 yards before contact per rush. He entered the day averaging just 1.92 yards before contact per rush, which was 45th among 48 qualified rushers. Jacobs, who finished with 112 yards rushing on 21 carries for his second triple-digit rushing day of the month, was also untouched on his third-quarter TD.
In fact, it was Jacobs' sixth career multiple rushing TD game, tying him with Hall of Famer Marcus Allen for most such games in through a player's first two seasons in franchise history. Devontae Booker also added two late rushing TDs against his former team.
Worth noting, Jacobs and Booker combined for 193 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Signed in the offseason, Booker was brought in to spell Jacobs and give the Raiders' star running back some breathing room when needed, but since he arrived, he's continued to exceed expectations.
Entering Sunday's matchup, Booker was averaging an absurd 6.8 yards per carry on 33 carries, amounting to 223 rushing yards and one touchdown across eight games, and he continued to build on his impressive season. The former Utah Ute rushed 16 times for 81 yards and two touchdowns, adding one reception to his final line.
Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock and the scouting department recognized Booker's talent and pulled off one of the biggest sleeper signings of free agency.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to continue to lean on the rushing attack going forward, starting with Sunday night's meeting with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, whose lone loss in the last calendar year came against these same Raiders back in Week 5. ...
Other notes of interest. ... As Gutierrez suggested, it might be that the ever-shifting offensive line is finally having an effect on Derek Carr, because he was not sharp early. Still, he did enough, and on this day that's all the Raiders needed. Carr's completion percentage was less than 67 percent for the fourth game in a row but, hey, the Raiders are 3-1 in those games. He passed for 154 yards while completing 16 of 25 attempts and did not have a TD pass for the first time since Week 12 last season at the New York Jets.
Still, he held onto the ball as he did not throw a pick and he still has only two INTs on the season.
Carr was, though, victimized by curious drops from Darren Waller and Nelson Agholor and a strange no-catch by Henry Ruggs III on a deep ball.
Ruggs caught 3-of-4 targets for 31 yards; Agholor caught 1-of-4 targets for eight yards; Waller caught 3-of-5 targets for 37 yards. ...
Daniel Carlson was perfect from the field Sunday, knocking all three of his field goals through the uprights. His longest attempt came on a 52-yard attempt he drilled with ease. ...
And finally. ... The Raiders put two more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Tuesday's daily transaction wire revealed that defensive end Clelin Ferrell and safety Lamarcus Joyner are now on the list. Right tackle Trent Brown and linebacker Cory Littleton were already on it.
It's not known whether Ferrell and/or Joyner tested positive for COVID-19 or if they had close contact with someone who did. If it is the former, they won't be able to play against the Chiefs this week. If not, they could be able to return but may not be able to practice.
Ferrell has started every game this season. He has 19 tackles, three tackles for loss, and seven quarterback hits. Joyner has 46 tackles and five tackles for loss while appearing in every game.
But wait. ... There's more. Nearly the entire Raiders starting defense is going on the COVID-19 list because of high-risk close contacts, but all are eligible to play in the game if they continue to test negatively, according to NFL Network. At least eight starters and others who play key roles won’t practice. Some will only be eligible on Sunday.
I'll obviously be following up as needed.
The Raiders have been fined multiple times for COVID-19 protocol violations this season.
QBs: Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, Nathan Peterman
RBs: Josh Jacobs, Devontae Booker, Jalen Richard
WRs: Henry Ruggs III, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, Zay Jones, Tyrell Williams
TEs: Darren Waller, Jason Witten, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier
Los Angeles ChargersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Shelley Smith reported, it was the same ending for the Chargers -- another loss -- this one 29-21 to the Dolphins. But there was no wait-till-the-last play of the game drama, as was the case the two previous losses to Las Vegas and Denver, as the Chargers were behind the Dolphins throughout in falling to 2-7 on the season.
While this was technically another one-score loss for the Chargers, their seventh of the season, the Dolphins were comfortably ahead from the moment they converted a blocked punt into a touchdown after the Chargers' initial drive. That said, their seven one-score losses in the first nine games is tied with the 2015 Baltimore Ravens, 1983 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 1944 Brooklyn Tigers for most in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It was far from quarterback Justin Herbert's best game. In fact, it was the rookie's worst.
Herbert had just 187 yards on 20-of-32 passing -- 77 yards fewer than his previous lowest output, which was a 264-yard performance against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5.
So much for the rookie quarterback battle.
Tua Tagovailoa was convincingly better for the Dolphins, completing 15-of-25 for 169 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Herbert made a few great decisions (running into the end zone from 1-yard out for the Chargers' first touchdown) and a made a few nice throws.
He threw two touchdown passes, a 2-yarder to Hunter Henry in the third quarter and a 13-yarder to Keenan Allen late in the fourth quarter, but it was the interception at the start of the fourth quarter -- an errant toss intended for Mike Williams but grabbed by Xavien Howard, who ran 28 yards it to the Chargers 32 -- which sealed his team's fate.
The Dolphins scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Durham Smythe, putting them up 26-14 and placing the game out of reach.
No doubt the 2,400-mile flight home will be a quiet one for the Chargers, who next play the winless New York Jets at SoFi Stadium. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Kalen Ballage, who was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round in 2018, further established himself as the Chargers' running back of record by rushing for 68 yards on 18 carries and hauling in five receptions for 34 yards. According to Rotowold.com, Ballage ran 22 pass routes against the Dolphins, the seventh most among running backs in Week 10.
This is the second straight week Ballage, who was activated from the practice squad before Week 9, has shouldered the load at running back. Expect that to continue, as starting running back Austin Ekeler -- who was injured in Week 4 -- is still a few weeks away from returning. ...
With his receptions on Sunday, Allen passed Hall of Fame wideout Charlie Joiner for sole possession of the second-most receptions in team history. Allen currently has 589. No. 1 on the list is Antonio Gates with 955. ...
Herbert had three total touchdowns against the Dolphins, but his two passing TDs marked the sixth-consecutive game of his with multiple touchdown passes. This is the longest multi-touchdown streak by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. Still, Smith reports that Herbert's emotion from having his worst game as a Charger was written all over his face, as he sat on the bench as the game wound down.
Even though he became the first rookie in NFL history to record multiple passing touchdowns in six straight games, he looked sullen and traumatized.
QBs: Justin Herbert, Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick
RBs: Austin Ekeler, Kalen Ballage, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Troymaine Pope
WRs: Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson, Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, Jason Moore, Keenan Allen
TEs: Hunter Henry, Stephen Anderson, Virgil Green
Los Angeles RamsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry reported, the Rams offense found its rhythm, while the defense smothered Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Rams' performance wasn't perfect Sunday, but two weeks removed from an embarrassing Week 8 loss to the Miami Dolphins and after recharging during a bye week, Los Angeles defeated the Seahawks, 23-16, at SoFi Stadium to jump-start a grueling second-half schedule.
The Rams improve to 6-3 overall and 1-1 in the NFC West. The Seahawks are 6-3, 1-2.
Next, the Rams return to Florida -- their fifth cross-country trip of the season -- to take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3) on Monday Night Football.
Then, with a remaining schedule that ranks as the fourth most difficult in the NFL according to ESPN analytics, the Rams return home to play a division contest against the 49ers, followed by a trip to Arizona to take on quarterback Kyler Murray and the Cardinals.
The good news?
The rushing attack is hitting stride. The bad news? The rushing attack is hitting stride with all three backs contributing.
As Thiry put it, "Fantasy owners won't necessarily be happy, but the Rams running back committee finally found its rhythm as head coach Sean McVay successfully deployed Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers and Malcolm Brown."
Stu Jackson of the team's official website reminded readers, through their first eight games, the Rams hadn't been able to deploy a balanced backfield approach for various reasons.
Sometimes, one of the three got the hot hand and therefore commanded the lion's share of the carries or touches -- see Henderson against the Bears, Washington, 49ers, Eagles, Bills; Brown against the Cowboys (though Brown found the end zone against the Bears). In other instances, it has been a matter of health -- look no further than Akers' rib injury against the Eagles which forced him to miss the next two weeks and caused him to miss additional opportunities.
That changed Sunday against the Seahawks.
Brown rushed for a team-high two touchdowns in Sunday's win, also recording the second-most rushing yards (33). Each of those touchdowns helped the Rams gain a double-digit lead. Though he had the fewest rushing attempts of the rotation, he was the most efficient of the bunch with an average of 5.5 yards per carry.
Brown also added a pair of receptions for 18 yards and displayed his usual steadiness as a pass-protector on blitzes.
"He's been doing that for a long time, which is the easy answer there," Jared Goff said. "Ever since he was working with (current Falcons RB) Todd Gurley, when Malcolm would come in the game, I would never have any thought that there was any fall off. It was always very consistent, always good in pass protection, always smart with the ball. He's a really solid, solid back and we're lucky to have him."
Henderson had second-most carries (7) and third-most rushing yards (28), but still managed to score a 1-yard rushing touchdown, also chipping in a five-yard reception. Meanwhile, Akers' 10 rushing attempts for 38 yards led Los Angeles' backfield.
"(Akers) did a nice job," McVay said. "I thought there was really good space all day and I thought he leveled some runs off fairly well."
Altogether, the trio rushed for a combined 99 yards on 23 attempts in addition to those three scores, good for an average of 4.3 yards per carry against a Seahawks team that entered the contest with the NFL's No. 4 rush defense.
McVay's original vision for the backfield was this committee approach, with carries being allotted accordingly if a running back expressed himself in a way that warranted additional opportunities. While the latter is beneficial, it's still helpful to be able to rely on the former at times too.
"I think you're exactly right," Brown said, when a reporter asked if this is what that approach is supposed to feel like. "This is definitely what it feels like. It was fun. It was a whole lot of fun to just watch those young guys get out there, to get out there myself and do what I do. It was great."
According to Rotowold.com, Cooper Kupp ran 29 pass routes against the Seahawks while Reynolds ran 37 routes and Robert Woods ran 35 routes. Reynolds paced the team with 10 targets. Kupp, who played just 53 percent of the team's offensive snaps, looked to be bothered by a wrist injury he sustained in Week 8 against Miami.
Kupp caught 5-of-7 targets for 50 yards while Woods caught 5-of-6 targets for 33 yards. Gerald Everett caught 2-of-3 targets for 27 yards and Tyler Higbee caught 3-of-6 targets for 60 yards. ...
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey shadowed Seahawks standout wide receiver DK Metcalf on the majority of snaps Sunday, making it nearly impossible for Wilson to look for his go-to receiver who leads the team 788 receiving yards. Metcalf was not targeted in the first half and recorded his first reception of the game -- a nine-yard catch -- with a minute remaining in the third quarter.
A few concerns?
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth suffered a left knee injury when he collided with Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright in the second quarter. McVay told reporters that Whitworth's knee injury is "about as good as it could be" and it's not season-ending. The estimate is 6-8 weeks. Third-year pro Joe Noteboom, who was drafted in 2018 as Whitworth's eventual replacement, took over in his absence.
Noteboom started two games this season at left guard before he was placed on injured reserve because of a calf injury. He was activated ahead of Sunday's game.
Also. ... After losing Kai Forbath to injured reserve due to an ankle injury, the Los Angeles Rams are bringing in former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay.
According to Greg Beacham of the Associated Press, Rams head coach Sean McVay said that Gay will compete with practice squad kicker Austin MacGinnis for the team's kicking duties.
MacGinnis is on the Rams' practice squad and would be an obvious candidate to take over the duties for the time being. Forbath will need to miss at least three weeks as he works back from an ankle injury that knocked him out of Sunday's 23-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
Gay will need to clear COVID intake protocols in order to join the roster. With the Rams not playing again until Monday night, it gives the team a chance to see both kickers prior to making a call on who will kick this week.
Gay spent last season with the Buccaneers. He appeared in all 16 games for Tampa Bay, converting 27 of 35 field goal attempts and 43 of 48 extra point attempts. The Buccaneers waived Gay in September. He also spent time on the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts earlier this season.
And finally. ... A player has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Tuesday night.
The player immediately entered self-quarantine, according to the Rams, and "out of an abundance of caution," the team said it will conduct all football activities and meetings remotely on Wednesday.
The Rams hosted the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, and following the 23-16 win over the division rival, L.A. coach Sean McVay gave players Monday off. Tuesday is a regularly scheduled day off, and the team was scheduled to return to the practice facility on Wednesday for a walk-through, but it has since been canceled.
This is the first Rams player to test positive for the coronavirus since rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis reported to training camp.
QBs: John Wolford, Jared Goff
RBs: Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown, Raymond Calais, Xavier Jones, Darrell Henderson
WRs: Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, Van Jefferson, Nsimba Webster, Trishton Jackson
TEs: Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Johnny Mundt, Brycen Hopkins
Miami DolphinsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Cameron Wolfe framed it, "There's something special brewing in South Florida."
A 29-21 Miami Dolphins win over the Los Angeles Chargers was the latest example of a young team consistently playing complementary football for the first time in a long time. This is a team the fans can believe in, and the playoffs become a more realistic goal every week.
An exciting rookie quarterback with the ability to make premier throws. A playmaking defense and special-teams group that always seems to make the game-changing play. A coach in Brian Flores who, along with his assistants, seems to get the most out of his personnel.
The 6-3 Dolphins are on a five-game winning streak, and that's their best record through nine games since 2001. Sunday was an efficient, relatively mistake-free day for Tua Tagovailoa, who outplayed Chargers rookie Justin Herbert, earning the win in their first head-to-head battle.
Sunday's game also showed how the Dolphins win as a team.
Tagovailoa didn't need to carry his team to victory. He didn't light it up with a superstar, 300-plus-yard passing day like Herbert and Cincinnati's Joe Burrow have done this season, but he continues to enjoy fruits they haven't consistently tasted: Winning. Through three games, Tagovailoa has more wins (three) than Herbert (two) or Burrow (two).
Tagovailoa went 15-of-25 for 169 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was the quarterback who didn't make the big mistake, and he continues to flash superstar potential, particularly when offensive coordinator Chan Gailey gets him on the move.
The Dolphins have a takeaway in 16 consecutive games, the longest streak in the NFL. And while their defense and special teams force mistakes, rookie Tagovailoa continues to avoid them. He joined Philadelphia's Carson Wentz as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to win their first three career starts while not throwing an interception.
Bottom line? The Dolphins have set Tagovailoa up for success, from seamless play calling from Gailey to the focus of having Tagovailoa as the point guard of the team, rather than the superstar. That's what Tagovailoa does best, and it seems like the best is still to come for both the rookie quarterback and this team.
Worth noting, Monday was the first anniversary of Tagovailoa's hip injury that ended his Alabama career; also worth noting: Tagovailoa was included in the team's injury report Wednesday, but as a full participant. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy (hip) did not practice but Matt Breida got in a full workout after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury. ...
This Sunday, Miami plays at Denver (3-6) for the first time since 2014.
The next three opponents -- Broncos, Jets and Bengals -- are combined 5-21-1, and those games could propel the Dolphins toward a showdown at Buffalo in Week 17.
Other notes of interest. ... Jordan Howard's two-year deal in Miami didn't even make it to the end of year one.
The Dolphins released Howard on Monday, Flores announced. Flores called it a "mutual parting," per the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley.
"A lot of respect for him, respect for the way he worked," Flores said, via Beasley. "No ill will. Just thought it was best for both parties."
Seen as an answer to Miami's need for a bigger-bodied back in power situations, Howard arrived via a two-year, $9.75 million deal in the offseason. He saw minimal usage outside of short-yardage situations, though, carrying the ball just 28 times for 33 yards and four scores in 2020.
Howard was a healthy scratch Sunday in a game in which lead back Myles Gaskin was unavailable. Former Washington Huskies runner Salvon Ahmed instead carried the load, rushing 21 times for 85 yards and one touchdown against the Chargers. That's the second-best performance by a Dolphins back this season Gaskin had 91 rushing yards against the New York Jets).
Wolfe believes Ahmed will continue to be a key contributor and potentially secure the starting running back role, even after Gaskin returns from injured reserve because of his knee sprain. Ahmed looked spry and quick, maximizing the openings he had in the running game. We'll see what Breida does if he's ready to contribute this week.
The Dolphins still rank last in the league with an average of 3.6 yards per carry.
Miami was Howard's third team in as many seasons.
At 26 years old, it wouldn't be surprising to see another club try him out, but with little production to speak of this season, 2020 appears to be a wash for Howard. ...
Meanwhile, DeVante Parker was targeted seven times against the Chargers and had just two catches for 31 yards. Miami's top receiving threat has totaled 14 catches in the past five games.
On a more positive note, NFL punt return leader Jakeem Grant had his first receiving touchdown of the year and led the team with four catches for 43 yards.
"I'm not just a returner, I'm a receiver, too," he said. "I'm a total package."
Grant also had three punt returns for 57 yards.
QBs: Tua Tagovailoa, Ryan Fitzpatrick
RBs: Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Matt Breida, DeAndre Washington, Patrick Laird
WRs: DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant, Lynn Bowden Jr., Malcolm Perry, Isaiah Ford, Mack Hollins, Preston Williams
TEs: Mike Gesicki, Adam Shaheen, Durham Smythe, Michael Roberts
Minnesota VikingsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin suggested, the Vikings are a new team three weeks after their bye and capped off a three-game win streak over their NFC North opponents with a 19-13 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Monday night.
It was quarterback Kirk Cousins' first win on Monday Night Football, which snapped a league-worst 0-9 streak to start his career.
"You know, for me it's all about playing well and doing my part," Cousins said. "I've played long enough to know there is not a lot you can control as a quarterback. The ball is in your hands, but so many things are out of your control. So you just do the best you can, play the best you can, and that's where my focus always is."
Cousins was 25-of-32 for 292 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on Monday night.
The Vikings were particularly successful on third downs as they converted 8-of-15 against a defense that only allowed opponents to convert 31 percent of them heading into the game.
"I just think as the season goes on you start to figure out who you are and how you play and who you lean on," Cousins said. "I think it's been nice to kind of figure ourselves out, find an identity as we play through things."
As Cronin pointed out, several weeks ago, the Vikings took a gamble on themselves and chose not to blow up this roster when it looked like a rebuild was inevitable. This team is not elite, and Monday night's game was ugly. But the Vikings have been able to scrap their way back into playoff contention after a 1-5 start with a group they believe can now make a push toward the postseason.
The Bears have always made things difficult for Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, who entered Monday night with 34 rushes for 86 yards and one touchdown in three career games against his NFC North rival. The chirping between Cook and Bears defensive tackle Akiem Hicks made for a competitive matchup, and Chicago's defense made Cook fight for every one of his 96 yards (3.2 yards per carry).
With so much attention on Cook, the Vikings knew it would be up to Cousins. But Minnesota didn't need to rely on its quarterback to get into a drop-back game to pull off the win, which was smart. A handful of perfectly calculated intermediate throws using receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and tight end Kyle Rudolph aided Cousins in moving the ball methodically.
And then Cousins was able to pick his spots to air it out, including a 54-yard pass to Jefferson that set up the Vikings to tie the game 13-13 in the third quarter. They followed through with a similar strategy for Cousins at Soldier Field that has become status quo since the Week 7 bye, and it paid off.
They'll try to keep that winning identity in place against the Cowboys in Week 11. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Head coach Mike Zimmer's defense is much improved from where it was earlier this season. The Bears' own offensive ineptitude can be blamed for the loss, but the Vikings' defense came through after two first-half turnovers (Rudolph's fumble and Cousins' INT) and held Chicago to two field goals.
But Zimmer has expressed concerns with the Vikings' special teams in recent weeks. After the Bears' Cordarrelle Patterson returned the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown, Zimmer was irate and gave special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf an earful on the sideline.
Zimmer said it was "poor technique" that led to two blocked punts against Detroit in Week 9. In Chicago, rookie Dan Chisena's second-quarter gaffe on a punt cost the Vikings 20 yards when he stepped into the end zone instead of downing the ball at the Bears' 1-yard line.
The Vikings' kickoff to open the third quarter went right to Patterson, who they know fully well is capable of going to the house on kickoff returns (that was the eighth kickoff return TD of his career, the majority of which happened while he was in Minnesota).
After the Vikings finally wrestled the lead back in the fourth quarter, a bad snap from long snapper Austin Cutting, who spent last week on the COVID-19/reserve list, wrecked a point-after attempt. That also happened last week against Detroit. Zimmer has every reason to be concerned with Minnesota's special teams given its poor play on Monday could have cost the Vikings a win.
And finally. ... Getting back to Cook.
As Profootballtalk.com's Michael David Smith pointed out, missing time with a groin injury hasn't stopped Cook from putting up impressive statistical totals this season.
Cook exited the Vikings' Week 5 game against the Seahawks early, then missed Week 6 against the Falcons. Missing a game and a half out of nine games played would ordinarily keep a player from topping the statistical leaderboards.
But Cook still leads the NFL with 954 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 1,143 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns. He also leads the NFL with three two-point conversions, giving him a total of 84 points this season, which gives him a chance at being the first non-kicker to lead the NFL in points scored since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.
Cook's average of 119.3 rushing yards per game is the best the NFL has seen since Adrian Peterson averaged 131.1 yards per game in 2012.
QBs: Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion
RBs: Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone, Ameer Abdullah, Dalvin Cook, Jake Bargas
WRs: Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson, Olabisi Johnson, Chad Beebe, K.J. Osborn, Davion Davis, Dan Chisena
TEs: Irv Smith Jr., Tyler Conklin, Kyle Rudolph
New England PatriotsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
According to ESPN.com's Mike Reiss, Cam Newton shared something head coach Bill Belichick told the team after Sunday night's 23-17 upset victory against the Baltimore Ravens.
"Coach said it best -- we are a good enough team to be better than what our record kind of displays. We're just finding that out," Newton relayed in his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI on Monday morning.
The Patriots (4-5) haven't left themselves much margin for error, as they trail the Buffalo Bills (7-3) and Miami Dolphins (6-3) in the AFC East.
But as they turn their attention to Sunday's Week 11 road game against the Houston Texans (2-7), they do so with a mindset that everything they are shooting for is still ahead of them.
"I'm not going to sit up here and say I'm a prophet. I'm not going to sit up here and say I told you so. I'm not going to sit up here and rant and rave. But I've always believed, and still do believe, that we were close," Newton said.
"I do believe that it only takes one. This NFL season is very fickle already, in 2020, and I just know in regular NFL seasons it has always has been said, 'The league changes every two weeks.' So no matter how good you feel about your team, no matter how bad you feel about your team, it will be a different story every two weeks. For us to have gotten that win, to have had close losses -- and knowing who we are as an offense, defense and special teams, as a whole team -- it's just on us to make sure we keep that faith and not go on the assumptions of what our record is."
After the Patriots visit the Texans on Sunday, they return home to host the Cardinals (6-3) before back-to-back road games against the Los Angeles Rams (6-3) and Los Angeles Chargers (2-7) -- in which they figure to spend six days out West because the Chargers' game is on a Thursday night.
Then they finish with a road game against the Dolphins, followed by home dates with the Bills and Jets (0-9) -- three games that could ultimately decide the division title.
Part of what helped the Patriots pull off the upset Sunday night was the return of some injured players and development of others. Newton is hopeful that veteran receiver Julian Edelman will join that group in the coming weeks, as he is eligible to come off the injured reserve list this week.
"I can confirm he's getting better, he's getting well. ... Just to see him in good spirits and knowing that we're doing our job as a team so when he comes back, it's evident he'll have help at that position," Newton said. "We just need him to be healthy, we need him to have that same speed he's always had, but now being a little bit more healthy he's able to cut it loose without necessarily thinking. I think that's all he wanted, and that's all we wanted as a team.
"Julian Edelman is a person that is on the Mount Rushmore of Patriot history over the years for everything he has done and what he represents as a player. I'm just anticipating the day that he comes back. ..."
A full-speed Edelman would be useful. But likely not as useful as a full-speed rushing attack.
We saw that against the Ravens.
Damien Harris has elevated to the No. 1 spot on the Patriots' running back depth chart and has no intentions of giving the job back. His performance was critical in the Sunday night's upset win, complementing a defense that gave quarterback Lamar Jackson fits.
The former No. 1 back, Sony Michel, has been designated to return from injured reserve, but didn't make it back for Sunday's game. On Tuesday, Belichick didn't give a hint about whether the team will be activating him in time to face the Texans in Week 11.
"Sony's been working hard. He's practiced the last two weeks, so we'll see how things go this week," Belichick said, via Ryan Hannable of WEEI.
If the Patriots do activate Michel, it will be interesting to see how he fits into the offense. Reiss contends it's hard to imagine Michel gets the job back.
Harris finished with 22 carries for 121 yards. He gained 79 of those yards before initial contact, according to ESPN Stats and Information. He had entered the night averaging 3.7 yards before contact per rush, fourth most among NFL running backs.
Per Reiss, that reflects Harris' hard-charging, decisive running style, which is a good fit behind what is arguably the strength of the team -- the offensive line.
Harris' 121 yards were the most against the Ravens since the Tennessee Titans' Derrick Henry totaled 195 in a Baltimore playoff loss last season.
Harris has three games of 100 rushing yards or more this season (in his first six career starts). The only players with more 100-yard games are Henry (5), Dalvin Cook (4) and Ronald Jones II (4). ...
Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers' 24-yard touchdown pass to running back Rex Burkhead, on a lateral from Newton, had an air distance of 43.6 yards. That's the second-longest air distance -- and longest on a TD -- by a Patriots player this season (54.4 yards from Newton to Edelman in Week 2).
Jakobi Meyers caught 5-of-7 targets for 59 yards against the Ravens while N'Keal Harry, in his first game back from a concussion, was held without a catch.
And finally. ... For the first time in weeks the Patriots came out of the game without a significant injury. That is huge considering they still have several key players on the mend, including Michel, Edelman, cornerback Stephon Gilmore (knee) and linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley (groin).
QBs: Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer
RBs: Damien Harris, James White, Sony Michel, J.J. Taylor, Rex Burkhead
WRs: Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, N'Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, Julian Edelman, Kristian Wilkerson
TEs: Devin Asiasi, Jordan Thomas, Dalton Keene, Ryan Izzo
New Orleans SaintsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
Drew Brees has been diagnosed with multiple rib fractures and a collapsed right lung, according to multiple reports.
Brees' injuries, which were first reported by ESPN, are expected to sideline the quarterback for multiple weeks. Two of the Saints' next three games are against the Falcons, first on Sunday in the Superdome and then in Atlanta on Dec. 6. In between, New Orleans visits Denver on Nov. 29.
Head coach Sean Payton said Monday he would not comment on any injuries before the first required injury report of this week on Wednesday.
Brees was seeking a second medical opinion on the rib fractures and collapsed lung he suffered in Week 10 against the 49ers, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.
Werder said on Tuesday that Brees was "having his scans sent to other medical specialists for a second opinion to determine the full scope of his chest injuries."
On Wednesday, we learned the second opinion didn't change the prognosis: Brees will miss at least two weeks with his broken ribs and punctured lung.
Whether Brees will go on injured reserve, which would require him to miss at least three weeks, is unknown.
Whatever the case, with Brees virtually certain to miss upcoming games, the Saints' offense is likely to be run primarily by Jameis Winston, the 2015 first overall draft choice by Tampa Bay whom New Orleans signed to a one-year contract as a free agent this offseason. Taysom Hill, a utility player who intermittently takes over for Brees on option plays -- but also plays tight end and on special teams -- also could see his snaps at quarterback increase, depending on Winston's performance.
While Brees initially missed just two plays after the hit by Street and returned for another touchdown drive in the final two minutes of the half, he told Payton he did not feel fit to continue in the second half on Sunday. Winston took most of the snaps after that, with Hill also running a number of plays behind center.
Winston completed 6 of 10 passes for 63 yards and Payton said he thought Winston "did a good job," but added that the offense as a whole was hampered by injuries to other key regulars, including receiver Tre'Quan Smith and tight end Josh Hill, who both left with concussion symptoms.
Winston was a starter for most of five seasons in Tampa Bay, but became a free agent after former Patriots QB Tom Brady agreed to join the Buccaneers.
"Both (Winston) and Taysom have a good feel of what we're trying to do," Payton said. "They pick things up and I feel like it's a good (quarterback) room."
I'll obviously be following this one closely in coming days; watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.
But ESPN.com's Mike Triplett believes this could also serve as an invaluable audition for Winston and the Saints, since Brees could potentially retire this offseason and leave a full-time void for New Orleans to fill.
Hill is also in the mix as a long-term option for the Saints. But in the short term, they will likely turn to Winston because they won't have to revamp their offense to suit Hill's unique skill set -- and because they can keep using Hill as a playmaking QB/RB/WR/TE/FB. In the five games Brees missed last season, Bridgewater took 304 snaps at quarterback and Hill 13.
"Both he and Taysom have a good feel for what we're trying to do," Payton said Monday. "They pick things up. And I feel like it's a good room."
Winston showed some rust on Sunday. He missed two throws and took two sacks in the red zone. And he nearly threw an interception over the middle of the field that would have been heavily scrutinized if 49ers safety Jimmie Ward had held onto it. But Winston didn't turn the ball over, and he did lead the Saints to both a field goal and a touchdown.
"I was excited that I had a marvelous opportunity. And I just knew that my main job was to go in there and do what Drew would do -- just protect the football and try to lead us down there and score," Winston said after Sunday's game. "I try to give everybody my all. I try to be right there with Drew along the way, watching film with him, preparing with him. So I felt like I went out there and I was prepared to lead this team."
Remember, Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 as the Saints' starter last year after Brees tore a ligament in his thumb -- then signed a three-year, $63 million contract to become the Carolina Panthers' starter in the offseason. Now, according to Triplett, the Saints are optimistic Winston can do the same for three reasons:
He will be surrounded by one of the NFL's best offensive minds in Payton and some of the league's best offensive talent. Running back Alvin Kamara is a leading candidate for the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year award with a league-high 1,134 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns -- and Winston wisely relied on him throughout the second half of Sunday's win. Receiver Michael Thomas, who won last year's Offensive Player of the Year award with a NFL-record 149 catches, was a go-to guy for Brees and Bridgewater. Receiver Emmanuel Sanders, tight end Jared Cook, Hill and others create matchup problems. And the Saints have one of the league's most talented offensive lines.
The Saints' defense and special teams can win a couple games on their own when needed.
Last but not least, Winston is no slouch.
Although he infamously became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 30 TD passes and 30 interceptions in the same season last year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he was the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft for good reason. He has immense arm talent that helped him lead the league with 5,109 passing yards last year. He has ample experience (28 wins in 70 career starts). He has intangible leadership qualities like poise and a positive attitude the Saints have raved about.
And he appears to be in great shape after shedding weight this offseason.
"I thought he played great," Brees said after Sunday's game. "That's a tough job, especially as elaborate as our game-planning is on offense. To be able to come in and execute that offense is very, very difficult, especially when you're just kind of coming in midstream. I thought he had great command of the huddle. ... I thought he made some great throws, some really good decisions."
Just last week, Brees praised Winston's development behind the scenes, saying he has been most impressed with his work ethic.
"This guy's here early, he stays late, he puts in a ton of time, and he's got the way that he watches film, breaks down film. He spends a ton of extra time after practice receiving additional reps, additional throws, really trying to master the game, master the position and this offense," Brees said. "I appreciate that a lot about him."
Of course, none of that will guarantee success for Winston -- even against an upcoming schedule that isn't overly daunting with games against Atlanta (3-6), at Denver (3-6), at Atlanta, and at Philadelphia (3-5-1). Winston put himself in this "prove it" position because he showed too much inconsistency over five years in Tampa.
Still, Payton also credited Winston for his ability to make plays outside of the pocket or off-balance, saying, "It doesn't have to be perfect around him."
"He loves football. He loves competing. He's got extremely, extremely good arm talent. And, man, I'm glad he's here," Payton said. "There's something about him. I think he's a very good leader. He's been a good addition for us."
Worth noting. ... Kamara scored all three of the Saints' touchdowns on Sunday, continuing to make his case as the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year, if not an MVP candidate.
And finally. ... Smith and Josh Hill both missed Wednesday's practice with their concussions. More on their status via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses.
QBs: Drew Brees, Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston
RBs: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Ty Montgomery, Dwayne Washington
WRs: Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Deonte Harris, Marquez Callaway, Juwan Johnson, Tre'quan Smith
TEs: Jared Cook, Adam Trautman, Josh Hill
New York GiantsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan wrote, "Watch out. The New York Giants don't even resemble the team that struggled badly early this season. Or even the team that had blown an 11-point lead in the final five minutes the first time they faced the Philadelphia Eagles last month. ..."
First-year head coach Joe Judge seems to have them moving in the right direction.
The Giants held on to an early 11-point lead on Sunday in a 27-17 victory over the Eagles that drew them even in the win column for the NFC East lead. The Giants ended an eight-game losing streak to Philadelphia dating back to the 2016 season.
The Giants (3-7) remain a full game back of Philadelphia (3-5-1) but, believe it or not, they have quickly become the sexy favorite to win the NFL's worst division.
Judge isn't looking at the standings yet even though his Giants are inching closer to the top.
"I'll tell everyone right now, it's irrelevant," Judge said about the standings. "The only thing that matters is if we keep improving as a team and go 1-0 every week. The overall standings, we're not going to look at those, we're not going to focus on those. We're going to have an emphasis on organization. We have to keep improving as a team to give ourselves a chance to be the program we want to be."
How did this happen? First, the Giants won consecutive games for the first time this season. They built a double-digit lead for the sixth straight game, but held on for dear life for the second straight week.
Judge has preached repeatedly the goal is to improve each week. Forget the record. Don't look at the division standings.
They seem to be checking boxes. Their quarterback, Daniel Jones, isn't turning the ball over anymore at a ridiculous rate. He didn't commit a turnover for the second consecutive game. Their running game continues to improve, and their defense has found the panacea for its late-game struggles. No more blowing double-digit leads in ridiculous fashion on a weekly basis.
On Sunday, Jones threw for 244 yards and ran for a touchdown while Wayne Gallman Jr. had two TD runs.
But it was a team effort.
Up by seven with just under five minutes remaining, the Giants stopped the driving Eagles inside of midfield. Looking to put the game away, Jones lofted the ball perfectly down the left sideline as wide receiver Darius Slayton made an over-the-shoulder catch. Several plays later, kicker Graham Gano nailed a 44-yard field goal that put the game out of reach.
The Giants are an ascending team now. They might be the only team in the NFC East that can say that right now.
Heading into the bye, they see a run game on the rise. Led by Gallman and Jones, New York has now topped 160 yards in each of the past three games. That's notable because in the first three games combined, the Giants barely topped 160 yards on the ground.
A lot of credit needs to go to the Giants' offensive line. They have seemingly gotten better each week.
Gallman has also solidified the running back position. He ran hard again on Sunday, finishing with 53 yards on 18 carries -- to go with the two touchdowns. It was his fourth straight game with a rushing touchdown.
It also helped that Jones again crushed the Eagles on the zone-read, this time with a 34-yard keeper that went for the game's first score.
According to NextGen Stats, it was 19.70 miles an hour for Jones on his TD run. It wasn't the 21.23 miles per hour Jones hit on the 80-yard run and stumble against the Eagles several weeks back. He didn't need to hit top speed this time. This time it was just a touch under 20 mpg.
Jones had topped 20 mph on four runs this season. It wasn't necessary this time when he raced untouched into the end zone. ...
Following the bye, the Giants visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 29. Here's hoping they can keep their offensive momentum up during the off week.
They'll do so with a different offensive line coach.
New York fired Marc Colombo, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday, and Judge is tapping into his past to replace Colombo, bringing in veteran assistant Dave DeGuglielmo. Judge worked with DeGuglielmo in New England in 2014 and 2015, and had hired him as a consultant last week, making for an easy replacement.
The original plan was for DeGuglielmo to work alongside Colombo, only the latter didn't take the news well and expressed as much, leading to his dismissal, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported.
Colombo came to New York with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and with the proof of his work in hand from Dallas' improvement up front during the 2018 season. But he didn't have the same effect with the Giants. Fourth-overall pick Andrew Thomas has struggled, and the unit as a whole has been subpar until the last couple of weeks -- a key detail in potentially understanding why Judge made the move now.
Garafolo recently reported Judge has been spending additional time with the offensive line, which the rookie head coach identified as a position group that needed closer attention, and it has produced notable improvement. He also might have identified an issue while getting a closer look at the way Colombo ran individual drills with his offensive linemen, and relied on his own judgment in making a personnel move.
Thomas now has his second offensive line coach in just his first NFL season. Perhaps DeGuglielmo can pick up where Judge's increased involvement left off, and this will end up proving to be the right move. ...
One last note here. ... Gano signed a contract extension with the Giants just moments after kicking a pair of field goals against the Eagles.
Gano, who was added late this summer on a one-year, $2.25 million deal (including $1 million guaranteed), is now signed through 2023.
After missing the final four games of 2018 and then all of last year with a fractured femur, Gano has been close to flawless since joining the Giants. He has made 21 of 22 field goal attempts, including 4 of 5 from over 50 yards.
The veteran kicker joined the Giants after eight years with the Panthers, including a Pro Bowl appearance in 2017. He spent part of his time there with former Carolina and current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman. That familiarity played a role in New York making the late switch this summer.
He's been almost as successful this season as he was in his Pro Bowl year. Gano has connected on 95.5 percent of his field goal attempts this year; he made 96.7 percent of his kicks in 2017.
Now the bad news: Gano has been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. I'll follow up as needed.
QBs: Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy
RBs: Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, Dion Lewis
WRs: Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Austin Mack, Cody Core, C.J. Board, Dante Pettis
TEs: Evan Engram, Levine Toilolo, Kaden Smith
New York JetsCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
The rest of this lost season is about next season -- and beyond -- for the winless New York Jets.
They've already set embarrassing franchise history with the team's first 0-9 start. And with the games dwindling, pulling off just one victory might become a tougher task by the week.
That makes going 0-16, something only two other NFL teams have done, a distinct possibility.
"These guys keep coming back to work" head coach Adam Gase said after the Jets' 30-27 loss Monday night to New England. "They keep trying to find ways to get better. They keep trying to execute what is being asked of them. They played their (butts) off.
"We're not finding ways to win."
That likely ultimately will cost Gase his job after this season, although general manager Joe Douglas said last week he sees him as part of the solution to turning the franchise around.
Meanwhile, Sam Darnold is sitting out again this week -- and he could be sidelined a few more games.
The quarterback was ruled out Monday for a second straight game as he recovers from an injured right shoulder. Gase announced that Joe Flacco will start in Darnold's place when the winless Jets take on the Chargers in Los Angeles on Sunday.
"I think it's a smart decision not to play," Darnold said. "I've given it thought and it's just got to heal. It's got to have time, and that was kind of our mindset."
Darnold sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder against Denver on Oct. 1, but stayed in the game before being sidelined for two contests. He reinjured it at Kansas City on Nov. 1 when he took a hard hit, but also finished that game.
He sat out the following week against New England, when Flacco nearly led the Jets to their first victory before New York fell 30-27 on a field goal as time expired. Darnold was limited in practice on Nov. 6, then sat out practice the following day and was ruled out for the game.
Despite the Jets having a bye-week break, Darnold still isn't ready to play.
"When we got as close as we did last week and then having to shut him down, I was hoping that the week off and then a few extra days before we actually start practicing, he'd feel better than he did last week," Gase said. "We're just trying to make sure his strength is where it needs to be for him to go out at practice and make the throws he wants to be able to make. You know, throw the ball and place it where he wants to, instead of him feeling any kind of struggling and doing what he needs to do down-in and down-out."
Gase said Darnold will be eased into an interval throwing program when his shoulder feels up to it.
"We'll kind of see where he is after this game," Gase said. "Hopefully, we can get him back sooner than later."
The coach also couldn't predict if Darnold would be ready to play in Week 12 against Miami. Gase added that the team hasn't considered placing Darnold on injured reserve.
"We're taking this week to week right now," Gase said.
As Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr. reminded readers, after the initial injury, Gase and the Jets spoke of it being mostly a pain management issue for Darnold -- that he could play if he could stand the discomfort. It now appears the team won't put the quarterback on the field again until he's 100 percent healthy.
"When he came back the first time, he wasn't having issues making throws and the pain of what it was last week wasn't the same as it was the time before," Gase said. "I think it was just, for whatever reason, it was tough for him last week. When he was throwing a couple of throws that he tried to make, he couldn't throw it the way that he thought he should be able to, so that was the reasoning why he didn't play last week."
Darnold brushed aside a question about whether it was a mistake -- by him and/or the team -- to return so quickly after the shoulder was first injured.
"No, I think with everything that the doctors told me, I thought it was a good decision to come back," he said. "Obviously, I look back on that play against Kansas City where I could have gotten down and slid. I think that was the biggest mistake of it all. So, I just think where I'm at right now, I just need to let it heal. I've got to let this thing run its course for where it's at right now and make sure I'm 100% before I come back."
Darnold said he obviously wants to play, but agreed with the decision after weighing several factors, including risk of further injury and the potential effects on his long-term future.
"After doing that, I thought it was the best decision not to play this week," said Darnold, who will miss his 10th game in three NFL seasons.
While Darnold is running out of time to get back on the field this season, his sights are set on returning to the huddle.
"I'm very confident that I'll play (again) this year," Darnold insisted.
Beyond that, the Jets continue to try to learn more about their personnel. A glimpse of the future came last Monday night when the Jets used 10 rookies. That includes draft picks who are already foundational pieces in left tackle Mekhi Becton, wide receiver Denzel Mims and punter Braden Mann, with safety Ashtyn Davis, running back La'Mical Perine, cornerback Bryce Hall and defensive ends Jabari Zuniga and Bryce Huff all expected to get increased snaps down the stretch.
"These guys are getting a ton of playing time now," Gase said, "and that's going to work to our benefit in the long run."
And that's what the Jets will be focused on the last seven games of this season: Who will be part of the future by making a mark now?
Other notes of interest. ... The Jets claimed OL Pat Elflein off waivers from Minnesota. The 2017 third-round pick missed most of the first half of the season with a thumb injury. Gase said Becton "looks like he's good to go" to practice and play after leaving the game against New England with a chest injury.
Breshad Perriman (shoulder) was limited at Wednesday's practice. PK Sam Ficken (right groin) appears close to returning after missing three games.
More on Perriman and Ficken via Late-Breaking Update as developments warrant.
QBs: Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, James Morgan
RBs: Ty Johnson, Josh Adams, Lamical Perine, Frank Gore
WRs: Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, Denzel Mims, Jeff Smith, Braxton Berrios, Vyncint Smith, Chris Hogan
TEs: Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown, Trevon Wesco
Philadelphia EaglesCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
The Philadelphia Eagles feel broken, no matter their first-place standing in the horrendous NFC East.
They had a bye week to recalibrate and entered Sunday's game against the New York Giants as healthy as they'd been since the beginning of the season, but the same old warts surfaced in a 27-17 loss.
The defense talked all week about respecting Daniel Jones' legs after he posted 92 rushing yards in their Week 7 matchup but were again vexed by New York's zone-read game as Jones racked up 64 rushing yards on nine carries (7.1 average) with a touchdown.
There was an emphasis on eliminating self-inflicted wounds, yet the lack of discipline persisted in the form of 11 Eagles penalties. They went 0-for-9 on third down -- the first time they were held without a third-down conversion since 2004.
"I knew we struggled on third down, I didn't realize we were that poor," Carson Wentz said. "Anytime you're 0-for-9 you're obviously not doing something very well. Hats off to them. They had a good game plan. That's a good defense over there. They made it hard on us. It's extremely frustrating."
Wentz indicated he thought the story of the game was more that the Giants' defense played well than that the Eagles' offense played poorly.
"We don't go into a game thinking we're going to struggle like that and go 0-for-9 on third downs and only put up a couple points," Wentz said. "But I've got to give a lot of credit to that defense. I thought we had a good game plan ready to go. They made a lot more plays than us and we didn't deserve to win."
Wentz was looking to rebound from a rocky first half but continued to struggle with his accuracy, going 21-of-37 for 208 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Some passes sailed high. Some were at his receivers' shoelaces. He's playing erratic football, and it's hurting his team.
Nobody is happy about this.
As Profootballtalk.com reported, Doug Pederson waited on hold Monday morning for his weekly interview on WIP, he heard the results of the show's poll question.
Of more than 5,500 votes cast, more than 73 percent of responders blamed coaching for the Eagles' 10-point loss to the Giants.
Pederson threatened to hang up on host Angelo Cataldi.
"Good morning, Angelo," Pederson said, via a transcript from NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com. "Thanks for the lead in. I appreciate that. That was awesome. Listen, that just puts me in a great mood today. Already in a good mood, appreciate it. ... Can I hang up now? I'm filling my obligation now if I hang up."
Pederson said he was "pissed off," and repeated the phrase several times just so everyone was clear about how he was feeling Monday.
"I'm pissed off. I'm pissed off at myself. I'm pissed off at the way we played," Pederson said. "It frustrates me. It frustrates me to no end. We have too much pride. I have too much pride. These players have too much pride. We work our ass off during the week. It's frustrating. It is frustrating. Blame it on me all you want. I'll handle it with the players. You can blame it on me. I'm a big guy. I can handle it. That's fine. But this is. We’re self-inflicting ourselves. We are killing ourselves. We are shooting ourselves in the foot. All those cliche little statements are still showing up, and it's frustrating."
The loss dropped the Eagles to 3-5-1. Even so, the Eagles remain in first place and still have a 70 percent chance of winning the division.
But this season should be setting off alarm bells inside the team's facility, regardless of whether it ends with an NFC East title by default.
Adding to the concerns, the Eagles are heading into the roughest part of their schedule. They're at the Cleveland Browns next before facing the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. ...
Other notes of interest. ... While Wentz wasn't great, ESPN.com's Tim McManus notes the QB did avoid committing a turnover for the first time in nine games.
His streak of eight straight games with a turnover was the longest active streak in the NFL.
The return of Miles Sanders and Alshon Jeffery couldn't help the offense get on track. Sanders had 85 yards rushing, but dropped two passes. Jeffery was only targeted once in his first game since December 2019.
"I saw an offense that just wasn't disciplined, including myself. We're beating ourselves," Sanders said.
The Eagles were hoping to get more help on their offensive line but left guard Isaac Seumalo wasn't ready to return from a knee injury and guard Nate Herbig didn't start because of a hand injury. Reserves Sua Opeta and Matt Pryor filled in and New York's defensive line dominated upfront for much of the game. ...
Also according to McManus, running back Boston Scott would be on track for a Hall of Fame career if he played the Giants every week. He now has 421 total yards and six TDs in four career games against the Giants, compared to 377 yards and one TD against the rest of the NFL.
And finally. ... The Eagles have designated tight end Zach Ertz to return from injured reserve, opening a 21-day practice window. The team can activate him to the 53-player roster at any point in the next three weeks.
Ertz hasn't played since Week 6 when he injured his ankle. The Eagles placed Ertz on injured reserve Oct. 22.
He has only 24 receptions on 45 targets for 178 yards and one touchdown, while averaging a career-low 7.4 yards per catch.
QBs: Jalen Hurts, Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld
RBs: Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Jordan Howard, Corey Clement, Jason Huntley, Adrian Killins
WRs: Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, John Hightower, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Quez Watkins
TEs: Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Richard Rodgers, Josh Perkins
Pittsburgh SteelersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Brooke Pryor framed it: "Ben Roethlisberger might never practice again.
"OK, that's unlikely, but Roethlisberger proved Sunday he didn't need a week of practice when he put together his best game of the season in a 36-10 win against the Cincinnati Bengals to preserve the Pittsburgh Steelers' undefeated record. ..."
"Really just felt nice and rested coming into today," Roethlisberger said. "I tried to talk Coach into seeing if I could take next week off, too."
Unable to be at team headquarters, Roethlisberger spent five days in isolation after being labeled as a "high-risk close contact" of tight end Vance McDonald, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week. Because he never tested positive or developed symptoms, Roethlisberger was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday in time for an extended walk-through with the team.
That was all he needed.
The veteran quarterback completed 27 of 46 attempts for a season-high 333 yards and four touchdowns, also a season high. With the four touchdowns, he set a franchise record with 124 multi-touchdown games, good for eighth in NFL history.
"I threw about 50 balls on Friday, and that was it," Roethlisberger said of his preparation. "I wanted to kind of let it rest just to kind of -- at that point in the season when not throwing is a good thing. I iced it a lot."
It's also Roethlisberger's first game of throwing for four touchdowns since Week 10, 2018, against the Carolina Panthers, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. He hasn't thrown four touchdown passes against an AFC North opponent since he had six against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9 of the 2014 season.
Roethlisberger, who was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, went into Sunday's game averaging 241 passing yards per game, a mark he eclipsed in the first half when he completed 17 of 27 attempts for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
To build the lead, the Steelers followed the script that has helped them in second-half comebacks the past two weeks.
With the run game stalling out, the Steelers went to an empty set on 32 percent of dropbacks, per ESPN Stats and Information research, double the amount used in the first half against the Ravens and Dallas Cowboys. Roethlisberger was productive in those first-half sets, completing 6 of 9 passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
With a significant lead, the quarterback's output slowed a bit in the second half. Roethlisberger completed 8 of 16 attempts for 77 yards and another touchdown in the third quarter and added another touchdown throw in the fourth -- both to rookie Chase Claypool (4 catches, 56 yards, 2 TDs) -- before coming out for Mason Rudolph.
JuJu Smith-Schuster caught 9-of-13 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown and Diontae Johnson caught 6-of-11 targets for 116 yards and a touchdown. Eric Ebron caught 2-of-6 targets for 38 yards.
Roethlisberger has 11 touchdowns out of empty sets this season, a mark that leads the NFL by a wide margin.
One of the reasons the Steelers have gone five-wide so often?
As Associated Press sports writer Will Graves notes, the running game that was methodical if not dominant during the first five games has vanished. Pittsburgh is averaging just 58 yards rushing over the past month, including a season-low 44 yards against a Cincinnati defense that was ranked 29th in the league against the run.
James Conner rushed 13 times for 36 yards, adding two receptions for 12 additional yards.
Whatever the case, head coach Mike Tomlin was never worried about his veteran quarterback playing without a week of practice -- and with good reason. After 17 years in the NFL, Roethlisberger is more than capable of playing in a game without a week of going through the motions.
He has done it before, too, throwing for nearly 400 yards against the Cleveland Browns in 2015 after not practicing all week because of a foot injury.
This time, though, the week without practice was a little different.
In the past, Roethlisberger has missed practice reps, but he has still been on the field, watching every move and listening to every play call.
But because protocol for high-risk close contacts required Roethlisberger to isolate for five days, all he could do was watch silent footage of practice on his iPad and text his coaches to ask about specific plays he saw on the film.
Meanwhile Pryor believes Sunday was the kind of win the undefeated Steelers needed to remind the NFL -- and themselves -- that they can be a dominant team. And it's the kind of win the Steelers need to carry with them into Jacksonville this week to face a Jaguars team that came within a score of upsetting the Packers in Green Bay.
With the Thanksgiving rematch against the Ravens coming a week later, the upcoming game against the one-win Jaguars has the classic markings of a trap game.
Sunday's win coupled with the Ravens' loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday night gives the Steelers a three-game lead in the division. But to prevent the distance from closing, the Steelers need to put together another dominant performance to keep the upset-minded Jaguars at bay. The Steelers already have navigated one trap game this season, eking out a close win against the Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Garrett Gilbert after beating the Ravens and Titans on the road in back-to-back weeks.
One area of concern?
The Steelers have managed 138 rushing yards over the last three weeks and Tomlin said on Tuesday that the team has spent a lot of time talking about how to stop that part of their offense from being “ineffective.”
Tomlin said teams “always go through lulls in a season where components of your play are lacking” and that he feels that’s where the Steelers are right now in terms of the run game. He also feels confident the team can push things in the other direction.
“I look forward to getting in the lab with the coaches and the guys in attacking this run game situation,” Tomlin said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It’s something we shouldn’t have difficulty pushing through, to be honest with you. We have very capable people, but it is below the line as we sit here today.”
The Jaguars allowed Green Bay to run for 80 yards last weekend, which is the lowest total they’ve allowed all season. They allow over 131 yards per game on average, so this weekend may be a chance for the Steelers run game to get back on track. ...
On the injury front. ... The Steelers are hopeful defensive back Mike Hilton's aching shoulder will be good enough to return next week against Jacksonville. Hilton, one of the best tacklers on the team, hasn't played since a win over Philadelphia on Oct. 11.
QBs: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, Josh Dobbs
RBs: James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland Jr., Jaylen Samuels, Wendell Smallwood
WRs: Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud
TEs: Vance McDonald, Zach Gentry, Eric Ebron
San Francisco 49ersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
According to ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner, given the names that dot their lengthy injured reserve list, the San Francisco 49ers will enter just about every game the rest of this season at a disadvantage when it comes to firepower.
That alone makes winning games -- especially on the road against an NFC contender like the New Orleans Saints -- a difficult proposition. It also means the 49ers aren't able to overcome the kind of self-inflicted errors they made Sunday.
Absent the likes of George Kittle, Nick Bosa, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Richard Sherman, the margin for error for these Niners is razor thin. That point was hammered home Sunday against the Saints as the Niners fell 27-13 in a game that was there for the taking.
Already was missing a slew of players, the 49ers lost running back JaMycal Hasty to a broken collarbone and safety Johnathan Cyprien to a hamstring issue.
The 49ers placed Cyprien and Hasty on the injured reserve list.
Entering their bye week, the 49ers hope to get some players back for their next game on Nov. 29 against the Los Angeles Rams. In particular, head coach Mike Shanahan expects Mostert, Samuel and Tevin Coleman back in Week 12.
"We've basically had a revolving door at almost every position," offensive tackle Trent Williams said. "Every week we are just mustering up to get 11 guys on the field."
The first quarter couldn't have gone much better for the Niners, who jumped out to a 10-0 lead and held the ball for more than 13 minutes. If there was a blueprint for an upset, the 49ers were following it. Alas, the 49ers couldn't get out of their own way.
Holding a 10-3 lead and set to get the ball back with 9:30 to go in the second quarter, Niners punt returner Trent Taylor called for a fair catch at San Francisco's 22. But Taylor inexplicably declined to make the catch, as it bounced, hit 49ers cornerback Ken Webster and the Saints recovered at the 21.
Five plays later, with the help of an abysmal roughing the passer penalty that nullified a sack, the Saints scored to tie it at 10. New Orleans soon took the lead and never trailed again.
It was the kind of error that a full-strength Niners team likely would have been able to overcome. It also wasn't the only costly mistake, as quarterback Nick Mullens threw a pair of interceptions and punt returner Richie James, replacing Taylor, muffed a return of his own in the fourth quarter.
In the 49ers' injury-ravaged new reality, there's no room for such miscues.
At 4-6 heading into a much-needed bye week, the Niners' season hangs by a thread. The time off should bring some reinforcements but even if it does, these 49ers have no chance to overcome their opponents and themselves.
Other notes of interest. ... Mullens seemed to have a good rhythm in the early going as the Niners converted multiple third downs on the game's first drive. That didn't last long. He finished 24-of-38 for 247 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions for a passer rating of 68.7 as the Niners never found the end zone again after the opening drive.
But there were positives.
Jordan Reed hauled in five of his six targets on Sunday for a season-high 62 yards, his largest output since Week 11 of the 2018 season with the Washington Football Team (75). His most impressive catch came on a one-handed grab on a third-and-long play where the tight end scooped up the pass with the nose of the ball just inches from the turf.
And rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk led the team with seven receptions on a career-high 14 targets for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Saints. Over the last three contests, Aiyuk has amassed 21 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Fourteen of his 21 catches have resulted in either a first down or touchdown. ...
And a few final items. ... Despite having led the 49ers to a Super Bowl berth last season, Garoppolo's stay as San Francisco's franchise quarterback has come under a firestorm of scrutiny. Shanahan is optimistic Garoppolo can return this season and the coach is likewise dedicated to Garoppolo being the franchise QB beyond this year, Grant Gordon of NFL.com reports.
"I expect Jimmy to be our starter next year," Shanahan said Tuesday, via The Athletic's David Lombardi. "I mean, I expect him to come and play with us this year. We have six games left. We are not out of the playoffs yet."
Shanahan added that Garoppolo, sidelined by an ankle injury, has just gotten out of a walking boot.
Finally. ... Shanahan didn’t play coy about the team’s hopes of landing defensive end Takk McKinley via waivers on Tuesday and his transparency didn’t wind up costing the team a shot at adding the 2017 first-round pick.
According to multiple reports, the 49ers have been awarded McKinley on Wednesday. Shanahan confirmed that the team tried to claim him when Atlanta put him on waivers last week and that they planned to do the same after the Bengals cut McKinley after a failed physical.
McKinley was sidelined by a groin injury during his final days with the Falcons and has not played since Week 7. He was hoping for a trade before the November 3 deadline and wound up being fined by the team after making critical comments about their failure to deal him.
McKinley has eight tackles, seven quarterback hits, and a sack in four games this season.
QBs: C.J. Beathard, Josh Rosen, Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens
RBs: Jeff Wilson, Jerick McKinnon, Tevin Coleman, Austin Walter, JaMycal Hasty, Raheem Mostert
WRs: Kendrick Bourne, Richie James, River Cracraft, Trent Taylor, Jordan Matthews, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel
TEs: Jordan Reed, Ross Dwelley, George Kittle, Charlie Woerner
Seattle SeahawksCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Brady Henderson noted, with as bad as their defense has been this season, the Seahawks have needed Russell Wilson to be nearly perfect.
The quarterback was far from that in Seattle's first two losses, throwing three interceptions against the Arizona Cardinals and committing four turnovers last week against the Buffalo Bills.
The difference on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams was that Seattle's embattled defense did its job after starting slow. Wilson and the NFL's highest-scoring offense did not.
Wilson threw two more interceptions and didn't have anything close to his MVP form from earlier in the season. The result was a 23-16 loss that drops the Seahawks (6-3) out of first place in the NFC West, with the Rams and Cardinals now atop of the division with 6-3 records and wins over the Seahawks.
"Sometimes you go up to the plate, and you don't have your way," Wilson said after the loss, borrowing a baseball metaphor. "That's what it was today."
Not that the importance of securing the football is lost on him, obviously.
"I just got to get better," Wilson said, via the Seattle Times. "I'm not going to make it overly complicated. It's not on anybody but me. I put it on my shoulders, and we'll get it fixed."
Wilson's 13 turnovers this season are his most through the first 10 games in his career.
He had 11 each in his 2012 rookie season and in 2013, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.
Wilson has seven interceptions in the past four games, including three in the end zone.
He has seven total turnovers the past two games.
To be fair, one of his three turnovers Sunday was the result of a low snap he couldn't handle, which was not all his fault. But, as Henderson recounted it, Wilson's first interception was brutal, ruining a great scoring chance after a Jamal Adams strip sack set up the offense with a short field. Wilson had room to run. It was another indication that he might be pressing because of Seattle's defensive struggles.
Either way, the MVP talk will have to be put on hold after another less-than-stellar performance by Wilson, his third over the past four games.
That said, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters on Monday that his quarterback is "busting his ass" to clean up his mistakes.
"Russ would tell you that he always tries hard. He tries as hard as he can," Carroll said on his weekly radio show on 710 ESPN Seattle, via Ben Arthur of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "But there is a point in there where you feel like if I don't do something here, maybe it won't happen. And that's where over-trying does take place. You don't see the situation like you would normally see it. You see it with other circumstances and other criteria. It can change the way you perform. So we have to really work hard at that. It's a big, big deal about consistent high performance and staying within yourself. That's part of the game I have to continue to help Russ and everybody.
"Russ is busting his ass to play for this football team, and he's doing everything he can. I would never ever think twice about anything but that. But that doesn't mean that he can't fall prey to [over-trying], too. ... He'll come back, and he'll be great."
Carroll and Wilson talked for a "long time" after Sunday's loss. The coach stressed the basics of taking what the defense is giving him and being more decisive on his reads.
"I'm reminding Russ he is a great player," Carroll said. "I'm reminding him that he does make great decisions, and that he does know how to take care of the football and all that because he does. So we just have to get back to allowing that to coming to the front.
"We got to make sure that he's not feeling too much burden, and he's trying to do too much. He'll get back on track. He'll be right back where he needs to be. We have to help him around. We have to do better around him so we're not in these situations."
Indeed, this would have been one of the Seahawks' more impressive regular-season wins of the Carroll era, given everything they were missing: their top two running backs (Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde), top two cornerbacks (Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar) and starting center (Ethan Pocic), which forced inexperienced backup Kyle Fuller to start against Aaron Donald and a tough Rams front.
Still, it's their second straight loss following a 5-0 start.
Thursday night's rematch against Arizona has as much of a must-win feel as there can be in mid-November.
Worth noting. ... Not getting DK Metcalf involved more was an issue in the loss.
To be fair, he was matched up for much of the game against Jalen Ramsey, maybe the NFL's best cornerback. Metcalf didn't see his first target until his 9-yard catch late in the third quarter. He finished with two catches for 28 yards on four targets. Wilson slightly overthrew a would-be touchdown pass to Metcalf in the fourth quarter and appeared to not see him open on a few other plays.
Back on the injury front. ... Starting receiver Tyler Lockett has a knee injury, and he missed Monday’s non-practice and Tuesday’s actual practice.
Carson (foot) participated on a limited basis, as did linebacker K.J. Wright (ankle) and running back Travis Homer (wrist/knee/thumb).
Hyde (hamstring) fully participated, along with safety Jamal Adams (shoulder), tight end Greg Olsen (foot), receiver Freddie Swain (foot), and receiver Penny Hart (knee).
Carroll said Lockett has a "bit of a knee sprain" and that he's dealing with a bit of discomfort and swelling today. Carroll described it as not being a serious injury.
"So we'll look to see how he does day-to-day and take it to Thursday."
Carroll also said he thinks Hyde is going to make it back for Thursday night's game but he doesn't know about Carson. "Chris is working to get back," Carroll said. "He's trying to make it. Carlos is a little bit ahead of him now."
In fact, Hyde avoided injury designation on Wednesday's final injury report. Carson and Lockett are questionable. Homer is doubtful. CBs Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) and Quinton Dunbar (knee) are out.
I'll have more on all involved when Late-Breaking Updates commence early Thursday. ...
One last note here. ... Jason Myers is having a tremendous second season with Seattle. He made the longest field goal in franchise history when he barely cleared the crossbar on a 61-yard attempt to end the first half. He made another late field goal to stay a perfect 10-of-10 this season. He's 34-of-35 on PATs.
The structure of the four-year contract Myers signed last year meant there was virtually no way the Seahawks could move on from him after his up-and-down 2019. But he needed a strong 2020 to ensure he saw the third year of that deal, and he's delivering one.
The franchise's previous career long was 58 yards (Josh Brown in 2003, Stephen Hauschka in 2014).
QBs: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
RBs: Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Rashaad Penny, DeeJay Dallas, Travis Homer
WRs: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, David Moore, Freddie Swain, Penny Hart, Phillip Dorsett
TEs: Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Greg Olsen, Colby Parkinson
Tampa Bay BuccaneersCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
By Tom Brady's own admission, the Buccaneers are still trying to establish an offensive identity.
As Associated Press sports writer Fred Goodall notes, the six-time Super Bowl winner is surrounded by an impressive collection of playmakers that have helped him lead the team to its best start in a decade. However, the Bucs (7-3) have not performed with the consistency Brady feels is necessary to realize the team's vast potential.
"I think we're trying to figure it out. It's going to change from week to week based on who we play. That's what teams are all about," Brady said.
"Football is a tough sport," the 43-year-old quarterback added. "There's different matchups every week, there's different elements to every game that are a challenge. It's never really the same."
That was before Sunday's 46-23 rout of the Carolina Panthers, which saw the Bucs rush for 210 yards, gain 544 overall and score on nine consecutive possessions after an early fumble positioned the Panthers for a quick 7-0 lead.
It was exactly the kind of response Brady and coach Bruce Arians were looking for coming off a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints the previous week.
Ronald Jones scored on a 98-yard run and finished with 192 yards rushing as Tampa Bay revived a ground attack that had been nonexistent the previous two weeks, including a league-record-low five carries for 8 yards against the Saints.
Jones' career-best rushing total was the third-highest total in the NFL this season. Only Derrick Henry, who has topped 200 yards twice for the Tennessee Titans, has run for more.
Brady, meanwhile, enjoyed better pass protection and threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns without an interception while completing throws to eight players, including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski.
Godwin caught all six targets for 92 receiving yards, making two key catches in traffic on third down -- first on third-and-7 lining up in one of Arians' go-to double-out concepts, for a 14-yard catch on the outside, setting up Cameron Brate's 5-yard touchdown catch. Then on third-and-11, Brady beat the blitz to connect with Godwin across the middle.
Brown was a force to be reckoned with, too, catching seven passes on eight targets for 69 receiving yards, while Brady found Gronkowski in the corner of the end zone for a 7-yard score.
The Bucs owned third down, converting 10 of 15, which was to be expected given the Panthers' defensive struggles in that area. They wound up outgaining the Panthers 544 yards versus 187 yards of total offense.
Arians said the dominant performance was a significant step in the right direction, evidence it is possible for the Bucs to have numerous players involved in the offense without force feeding anyone.
"It's all about their egos," the coach said Monday. "If you check your ego at the door and it's all about winning, it's not hard at all."
The Bucs improved to 3-0 in games following a loss this season. They've scored 31, 38 and 46 points in those victories.
"It's a team sport, so the team has got to come together and understand the things we need to improve," Brady said, explaining his knack for rebounding from losses with strong performances.
"Football, it's tough. It's not a game of perfect," Brady added. "You've got a lot of talented players, you've got a lot of talented coaches, and you've got to figure out ways to win. Every week is a little different."
Whatever the case, the Bucs are 7-3 for the first time since 2010, when they finished 10-6 but didn't make the playoffs. They've already matched their win total for all of last season, while they failed to earn a postseason berth for the 12th consecutive year. That's the second-longest playoff drought in the league.
But there are specific issues to work on.
With the Los Angeles Rams heading to town next Monday night, Arians is adjusting the team's schedule this week in hopes it helps the team perform better.
“I gave the guys off until Thursday,” Arians said earlier this week, via JoeBucsFan.com, “we’re a really tired team. We haven’t had a bye yet. So this is kind of a little bit of a mini-bye for us. And then Friday and Saturday night, we’ll practice at night, the same time as the game. Do a couple of different things on Monday morning to try and shake it up and see if we can start the game better.”
Practicing at night my not make things any better for the Bucs, who have not played great in three prime-time games this season. It likely won’t make things worse.
This year, the Buccaneers have lost to the Bears on a Thursday night, barely beaten the Giants on a Monday night, and got blown off the field by the Saints on a Sunday night.
"We've got to try something," Arians said.
Worth noting. ... Monday night's test against the Rams begins a tough two-game stretch heading into the team's bye week. Defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City visits Raymond James Stadium the following Sunday.
Also of interest. ... During his debut with the Buccaneers, Brown participated in 39 snaps with the Tampa Bay offense. In Brown's second game, he also participated in 39 offensive snaps.
His percentage of participation, however, dropped sharply. From 78 percent down to 49 percent.
That part surely was by design. In the aftermath of the loss to the Saints, Arians made it clear that he wants fewer three- and four-receiver sets and more one- and two-tight end sets, in order to boost the running game. It happened, and it worked.
Brown also was on the field for five special-teams plays, primarily on the punt-return team. (He had two fair catches, and no returns.)
Brown had three catches for 31 yards against the Saints. He had seven for 69 against the Panthers, along with a rushing attempt that lost three yards. Along the way, Brady missed a wide open Brown for what would have been a long touchdown.
Meanwhile, the odd man out for Tampa Bay has become receiver Scott Miller. He participated in 19 snaps (38 percent) against the Saints.
Against Carolina, Miller's playing time fell to nine snaps, a mere 11 percent. Miller had one catch for 10 yards in Week Nine, and one catch for four yards in Week 10.
Could Miller benefit from a newly-revealed incident with Brown?
The wideout was accused last month by the community in which he lives of destroying a security camera and throwing a bicycle at a security guard on Oct. 15, the Miami Herald reported Monday, citing a police report. The Hollywood (Florida) Police decided they had probable cause to charge Brown with criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, but the president of the Hollywood Oaks homeowners association declined to press charges, the Herald reported.
According to the report, the president, Sylvia Berman, told police she feared Brown "may retaliate against her employees."
Berman told the Herald "we're not afraid" of Brown but instead the Hollywood Oaks board decided the incident wasn't serious enough to press charges and that the receiver agreed to fix the camera that was damaged.
Alana Burstyn, a spokeswoman for Brown, told the newspaper that any issues between the homeowners association and Brown "have been fully and amicably resolved, and everyone is getting along just fine." She added: "I am not sure who is trying to promote this narrative."
In a second statement sent to the Herald, Burstyn said: "Antonio regrets that he lost his cool that day and he has made amends with the HOA (Hollywood Oaks Homeowners Association).
"However, he is rightly concerned that he is routinely targeted by some people for mistreatment and undue scrutiny because he is Antonio Brown. He wants to be a good neighbor, good citizen and a good teammate."
The case was closed by the Hollywood Police Department on Nov. 5, the Herald reported.
The league office was not aware of this alleged incident before Brown was reinstated from his suspension this season and signed with the Buccaneers, a source told ESPN's Jenna Laine.
The NFL is now taking a look at what happened.
"The league reviews any such incident of this kind," NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy said, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Buccaneers released the following statement: "We are aware of the reported incident involving Antonio Brown prior to his signing. When Antonio joined us, we were clear about what we expected and required of him. Thus far, he has met all the expectations we have in place."
I'll be watching for more. ...
One last note here. ... Left guard Ali Marpet has missed the past two games due to a concussion. With veteran Joe Haeg standing in, the Bucs yielded three sacks and Brady was hit nine times against the Saints. Arians juggled the lineup against Carolina, with center Ryan Jensen shifting to left guard and A.Q. Shipley starting at center. The move worked.
Brady was hit seven times Sunday, however, he was sacked once.
"Those two guys, you're talking about two grizzly, old veterans who are really pro football players. ... I thought they really, really played well," Arians said.
QBs: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin
RBs: Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Kenjon Barner
WRs: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scott Miller, Justin Watson, Tyler Johnson, Jaydon Mickens
TEs: Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair, O.J. Howard
Tennessee TitansCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
The Tennessee Titans handled the NFL's first COVID-19 outbreak during the season in winning fashion. And even though they placed LB David Long Jr. on the Reserve/COVID 19 list on Monday, the Titans face another, bigger issue threatening their season: Themselves.
The team that won its first five games during a stretch when Tennessee had two games rescheduled by that COVID-19 outbreak has lost three of the last four. The Titans' 34-17 loss to Indianapolis on Thursday night cost them the top spot in the AFC South.
Injuries and mistakes keep cropping up across the board.
"No excuses," running back Derrick Henry said. "Just we have to be better as a team. We know that. We need to fix the mistakes."
The Titans (6-3) couldn't protect a 17-13 halftime lead. Head coach Mike Vrabel says he doesn't think wholesale changes are the answer. He ticked off playing better, healing up and fixing mistakes as the keys Friday.
The Titans get a rematch with the Colts on Nov. 29 in Indianapolis. The rest of the schedule provides no help, with five of their final seven games on the road.
"No matter where we play we're just going to have to play better," Vrabel said. "We're going to have to coach better and be ready to get going. We're in this thing, but (we're) going to have to win games."
But there are positives, starting with the defense.
Yes, Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker advised readers, a unit that gave up 430 yards to the Colts is showing signs of improvement. The Titans have gotten four sacks in two games, including one against the Colts' very stingy offensive line. They've had big fourth-down stops, including on the Colts' opening drive of the third quarter backed up at the Tennessee 1.
As for what needs the most help, Walker believes the offense wins in a coin flip over special teams.
The Titans scored at least 31 points in four straight games. But they haven't topped 24 now in the last four games, three of those losses. After the defense turned the Colts over on downs at the Tennessee 1, the Titans managed only 28 yards in the third quarter.
Henry got the Titans out to the 20 with three straight runs. But Ryan Tannehill was sacked for a 10-yard loss on third-and-1 before Trevor Daniel shanked a 17-yard punt. They also went three-and-out on the next drive before Daniel's punt was blocked and returned for a Colts' TD.
They've been held to 294 yards or less on offense in each loss, and receivers have had too many dropped passes.
A.J. Brown had a defender beaten down the sideline Thursday night and couldn't haul in a Tannehill pass.
As for the special teams, Stephen Gostkowski now is 12 of 20 on field goals after missing a 44-yarder wide right in the fourth quarter. He's made a career-high six field goals from 50 yards or longer, going 6 of 7 in that range but is just 2 of 7 between 40 and 49 yards.
"We're going to have to continue to evaluate that and see what our options are and make a decision," Vrabel said.
Now the Titans have a crucial two-game road swing starting Sunday at Baltimore before that trip to Indianapolis.
Worth noting. ... Henry had 31 carries and 34 touches in the season opener. He has not come close to that since.
In fact, in the past four games, Henry has averaged 19.5 carries, 89.5 yards and has scored two touchdowns. The Titans are 1-3.
“Yeah, I mean that’s been by design,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said, via Terry McCormick of titaninsider.com. “He started off the season on a really high rate of carries per game and something that’s probably going to be unsustainable not only as you get deep into this year or into his career. Wanted to take something off his plate there and give our other guys some opportunities to make plays. Derrick’s going to continue to be a huge part of our offense and the workhorse that he is.
"But it’s been by design to keep his carries to a manageable level, a level to where he can still go out and make some huge plays for us and get into a rhythm but where he’s not getting 40 carries a game and stacking up an insurmountable amount of reps. So really just trying to be smart and diligent with that.
"We know that Derrick’s going to go out there and do a good job anytime he’s in there.”
The Titans went 5-0 to start the season with Henry averaging 24.6 carries per game for 117.6 yards per game, and he scored six touchdowns. So, as Profootballtalk.com suggested, "maybe it’s time to get him more involved again."
One last note here. ... The Titans designated RB Darrynton Evans for return from injured reserve. The team has a 21-day window for Evans to practice with the team while not counting on the active roster.
QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Logan Woodside
RBs: Derrick Henry, Jeremy McNichols, Senorise Perry, Darrynton Evans
WRs: A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, Kalif Raymond, Nick Westbrook_Ikhine, Cody Hollister, Adam Humphries
TEs: Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim, MyCole Pruitt
Washington Football TeamCompiled by FootballDiehards Editor Bob Harris | Updated 16 November 2020
Alex Smith took another big step in his personal comeback. His team, on the other hand, fell just short again after another late rally.
Smith's first start since November 2018 nearly finished in storybook fashion when he threw for 390 yards and led Washington back from a 21-point third-quarter deficit. But the Detroit Lions ultimately prevailed 30-27 on Matt Prater's 59-yard field goal on the final play. Smith completed a career-high 38 passes, but his team couldn't completely overcome some missed opportunities in the first half.
Smith appeared twice in relief earlier this season, an inspiring return to the field after he endured a broken leg, 17 surgeries and a life-threatening infection. Detroit was up 24-3 on Sunday before Smith calmly led Washington back.
"I think that was the scary part -- is how normal it felt," Smith said. "Felt really normal; a little bit, I've got to pinch myself how lucky I am to feel that way."
Now the question is whether Smith can guide Washington to a playoff spot, somehow still a possibility despite the team's 2-7 record. NFC East-leading Philadelphia is only 3-5-1.
"We didn't make plays in the first half," head coach Ron Rivera said. "When you get down to the red zone, you've got to put points on the board."
There were nevertheless some good signs offensively.
Washington finished with 464 total yards and 34 first downs. Much of that was through the air as Smith tried to make up the deficit.
"I thought he played a heck of a football game," Rivera said. "I think he's getting more and more comfortable back there."
Washington scored three straight touchdowns, tying the game at 24 with 6:09 remaining in the final quarter. After a Detroit field goal, Smith led a 17-play, 66-yard drive that ended when Dustin Hopkins connected from 41 yards to tie it at 27. That drive was kept going by a pass interference call on fourth down.
Detroit still had 16 seconds left after that kick, and a roughing-the-passer call on rookie Chase Young helped the Lions set up the final field goal by Prater. That spoiled an otherwise impressive day for Smith.
"I got extended time last week coming off the bench, and then another step here this week, starting and taking all the reps," Smith said. "It felt good. It felt like I saw it well. I didn't feel like I was hindered at all. Felt like I moved around well when I needed to."
He'll get another chance to get a win against the Bengals on Sunday.
As Profootballtalk.com suggested, Smith likely won the league's comeback player of the year award in Week 5 when he initially stepped on the field this season. But the quarterback has done far more than merely get back on the field.
Smith set career high in completions (38), attempts (55) and yards (390) in Sunday's loss to the Lions, which was 728 days since his last start and followed 17 surgeries to save his life and save his leg.
So what now?
Smith turns 37 in May. Washington drafted Dwayne Haskins as its franchise quarterback with the 15th overall pick in 2019, but he fell to third on the depth chart until Kyle Allen's injury.
Rivera was asked Monday whether the team had its franchise quarterback in Smith.
"Well, possibly," Rivera said, via Ben Standig of TheAthletic.com. "You have to look at how much longer can he play? How much does he want to play?"
In the past two weeks, since Allen was injured, Smith has completed 71.3 of his passes for 715 yards, averaged 8.22 yards per attempt and completed nine passes for 20-plus yards. It marks the first time in his career that Smith has thrown for 300 or more yards in back-to-back games.
"He's proved that he's back as a player," Rivera said, via JP Finlay of NBCSportsWashington.com.
Smith said two weeks ago that he would wait until the offseason to decide his future.
In a related note. ... The Football Team placed Allen on injured reserve Monday, eight days after his gruesome ankle injury.
Allen underwent surgery Friday in Green Bay, NBCSportsWashington.com reports.
Other notes of interest. ... Rookie running back Gibson once again led the team in rushing yards after Washington's matchup against the Lions with 13 carries for 45 yards and two touchdowns. He also had four receptions for 20 yards.
With Washington trailing, 24-10, at the start of the fourth quarter, the offense moved down the field on an 11-play, 84-yard drive. With the ball set at the two-yard line, Smith handed the ball off to Gibson, who then found a crease in Detroit's defensive line and ran into the end zone.
Not only did Gibson's touchdown close the gap to 24-17, but he also put himself into Washington's record books; his seven rushing touchdowns in nine games are the second-most for a rookie in that span.
It was also productive day from Washington's pass-catchers; not only did nine players receive at least one target from Smith, but five of them had 50-yard performances.
Leading the pack was wide receiver Terry McLaurin with seven receptions for 95 yards. That was followed by Thomas, who had four receptions for 66 yards. Then, undrafted rookie Isaiah Wright accounted for six receptions and 59 yards. Cam Sims had another strong game with four catches for 54 yards, while Steven Sims Jr. had five catches for 46 yards in his second game since returning from Injured Reserve.
It's evident that Smith is beginning to establish more trust in his pass-catchers to make plays once they have the ball in their hands, and Rivera attested to that after the game by saying Smith has specifically been working with Sims and Wright to help develop the young wide receivers.
Include running back J.D. McKissic and tight end Logan Thomas, who caught 4-of-6 targets for 66 yards, on that list.
McKissic rushed eight times for six yards and a touchdown, but he also added seven receptions for 43 yards. McKissic again dominated targets for Washington, seeing 15 passes from Smith. As Rotoworld.com put it, "McKissic now has a Kamara-like 29 targets in two weeks with Smith under center. ..."
A few final items. ... OL Saahdiq Charles was slated to undergo season-ending knee surgery Tuesday, a source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The promising fourth-round draft pick dislocated his kneecap on his second NFL snap and hoped to rehab. Instead, he'll have surgery and should be on track for minicamp. ...
The Football Team has decided to stick with Dustin Hopkins as their kicker, according to John Keim of ESPN.com.
Rivera had said on Monday that the team was considering its options at the position after Hopkins missed a 43-yard field goal wide right in Sunday’s loss.
“Well, it is something that we are talking about and discussing,” Rivera told reporters on Monday. “The hard part is when you bring a guy in you want to make sure you have a guy that’s going to fit you, you have a guy with a lot of experience because you’re going to replace an experienced guy. So, again, it’s something that we’re discussing.”
Hopkins is just 12 of 17 on field goal attempts this season with misses coming from 43, 44, 47, 48 and 54 yards out. He is 16 of 17 on extra point attempts on the season.
Washington has Kaare Vedvik on its practice squad and could have been a consideration had the team decided to shake things up. Instead, Hopkins will continue in the role for this week’s game against the Bengals.
And last. ... A Football Team player has tested positive for COVID-19.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that the player didn't travel with the team to Detroit to play in the game on Sunday and has not been in the facility for the last three days, so there's some reason for optimism that this player will prove to be an isolated case.
Still, the Football Team will go into the league's intensive protocols with additional safety measures in their facility.
QBs: Alex Smith, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen
RBs: Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, Javon Leake, Lamar Miller, Bryce Love
WRs: Terry McLaurin, Cam Sims, Isaiah Wright, Steven Sims, Antonio Gandy-Golden
TEs: Logan Thomas, Jeremy Sprinkle