Team Notes week 10 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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss noted, Kyler Murray may be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, the face of a franchise and the future of a position, but on Sunday, he showed he can't do it all for the Arizona Cardinals.
Murray set a career high with 106 rushing yards and became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to rush for eight touchdowns in a team's first eight games, but when crunch time reared its ugly head against the Miami Dolphins, those around Murray didn't come through when needed most in a 34-31 loss.
First, it was running back Chase Edmonds, who got stuffed on fourth-and-inches with the game tied at 31 with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left.
Then it was kicker Zane Gonzalez, who missed a 49-yard field goal with 1:58 left with Arizona trailing by three points.
Murray did his part all day, even after he got stripped in the first quarter for a scoop-and-score touchdown. He threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns on 21-for-26 passing, finishing with a passer rating of 150.5. His 106 rushing yards and 12-yard touchdown run came on 11 carries.
The rest of the running game didn't pull its weight with 72 yards on 26 carries -- 70 on 25 carries by Edmonds and 2 yards on one carry by D.J. Foster.
But, perhaps, it was coach Kliff Kingsbury who should shoulder most of the blame for Sunday's loss. Since Murray was playing as well as he was, maybe it was Murray who should have been the one with the ball on the fourth-and-inches and a third-and-1 late in the fourth when Murray's pass to Christian Kirk fell incomplete.
Regardless, going for the field goal at the end of the game was the right call, according to ESPN's win probability model. The Cardinals' win probability by attempting the field goal was at 38.6 percent. It was 30.7 percent had they gone for it. But Murray's effort essentially went to waste and Arizona fell to 5-3, losing out on a chance to be tied for first place in the NFC West and own its first four-game winning streak since 2015.
"Personally, I wasn't really worried about first place in the division," Murray said in his postgame press conference. "I don't think anybody should be worried about that. I don't think anybody should be worried about that. We came out here and laid an egg. We have to be better."
The loss put an end to the Cardinals' three-game winning streak. They have another tough home game next weekend, hosting the Buffalo Bills (7-2), who just beat the Seahawks. ...
For what it's worth. ... Murray had his first career double-triple on Sunday.
As Profootballtalk.com laid it out, a double-triple is when a player reaches triple digits in two different yardage categories, such as more than 100 yards rushing and more than 100 yards passing. Murray had a career-high 106 rushing yards to go with 283 passing yards.
Murray would have had a double-triple in Week 1, until he kneeled down at the end of the game and saw his rushing yardage fall from 100 to 91.
It's been an excellent season running the ball for Murray, who is now on pace to gain 1,086 rushing yards and score 16 rushing touchdowns. Murray is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to score eight touchdowns in his team's first eight games of a season.
The NFL's all-time leaders in double-triples are Lamar Jackson and Michael Vick, who have eight each.
According to ESPN.com's Tristan Cockcroft, Murray's 233.5 fantasy points through the Cardinals' first eight games of the season are the most by any QB at a season's midway point in history. ...
One issue that needs correcting heading into this week's game is not getting receiver DeAndre Hopkins involved early and often. In fact, Hopkins wasn't targeted in the first half, the second time in his career it has happened. He ended up finishing with 30 yards on three catches -- although he drew a handful of flags.
According to Darren Urban of the team's official website, the passing offense for the Cardinals was pretty good, save for Murray's last incompletion. "D-Hop isn't going to go 10-120 every week," Urban wrote. "But I'll be curious to see how he responds to really the first game in which he didn't get a ton of opportunity. Especially when it turned out to be a loss. ..."
Kirk had another big game, catching five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
The tight ends made an impact. Maxx Williams scored a touchdown in his first start back from injury, and the TD catch from Darrell Daniels -- improbably stealing an interception from cornerback Byron Jones in the end zone -- was an incredible play. It had to feel good for Daniels, who struggled in the last game against the Seahawks.
The Cardinals loaded up Edmonds with Kenyan Drake out. Edmonds had 25 carries (for only 70 yards; there was little room between the tackles all night) and another three catches for 18 yards. That's 28 touches and Urban expects him to see after that kind of workload. "I would guess they'll be smart with practice all week," Urban added, "especially knowing Drake probably wouldn't play again (this) week."
It's unclear whether Drake will be back for Sunday's matchup with the Bills. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said that Drake remains day-to-day on Monday.
On Wednesday, multiple reporters at the open portion of Cardinals practice shared that Drake was on the field and working with the rest of the team.
I'll have more on Drake's progress via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
And finally. ... The Cardinals activated linebacker Devon Kennard and cornerback Byron Murphy from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Arizona also signed cornerback Johnathan Joseph, placed cornerback Kevin Peterson (concussion) on injured reserve and designated defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence and offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy to return from IR.
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 10 November 2020
The Atlanta Falcons (3-6) were without Calvin Ridley on Sunday in their 34-27 win over the Denver Broncos (3-5) and didn't seem to miss a beat offensively.
That's in large part due to play of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Olamide Zaccheaus and Brandon Powell who all contributed significantly to the win.
Ryan threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his three touchdown passes were to players who had yet to score a touchdown this season: Zaccheaus and Powell.
Ryan's first score of the day came when he hit Zaccheaus deep down the field on a 51-yard play. According to NextGen Stats, Ryan's TD pass to Zacchaeus had 56.68 yards of air distance, which is his longest on a touchdown pass in the last five seasons.
Zaccheaus has developed into a player who's capable of creating explosive passing plays for Atlanta's offense in the last two years. He showed good vertical speed -- maxing out at 20 mph Sunday, per NextGen Stats -- and impressive concentration, as he was able to fight through pass interference by Davontae Harris to haul in the 51-yard touchdown.
Even though his performance came against a banged-up Broncos secondary, Zaccheaus did enough to earn more targets, especially if Ridley misses more time. He finished the game with four catches for 103 yards.
Next up to score for the Falcons was Powell when Ryan made his best throw of the day for a nine-yard touchdown play to put the Falcons up 17-3 in the second quarter. Powell also went undrafted in 2018 and this was his first career touchdown. The Falcons went into halftime leading 20-3. Ryan's third score of the game when he found a wide-open Jones in for a 21-yard play.
Zaccheaus and Powell stepped up in place of Ridley and earned the respect of running back Todd Gurley who saw the work they put in all week during practice.
"They did a great job," Gurley said. "The offense did a great job; those two touchdowns came on third down. You take those two touchdowns away, that's a close ball game. Credit to Matt for staying in there and slinging it and those guys coming in and stepping up and playing big. Shout out to those guys, you have to give credit. Those guys have been working hard every day in practice."
Over Ryan's 13-year career, he's played with a lot of talented wide receivers and he believes the unit he has now is just as good as any one he's ever played with.
And considering those groups have produced some of the franchise's best players over the last decade, that's quite the complement to this unit.
"I love our group; I think it's a group of guys that works extremely hard," Ryan said.
"They are all talented, they are all tough. It's a really good group, I've been lucky throughout my career to play with some great players and this group is right up there with them."
Meanwhile, the Falcons continue to surge under interim coach Raheem Morris, making them a team to watch over the second half of the season despite their horrendous start.
Ryan has lifted his play, completing at least 70 percent of his passes in each of the past four games while throwing eight touchdowns to two interceptions.
It was a similar story on defense. The Falcons were operating without starting defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Takkarist McKinley, among others, but managed nine QB hits and a sack on Drew Lock, helping Atlanta to its first home win of the season. Atlanta was allowing 32 points per game during its 0-5 start. The defense has since tightened up, yielding just 23 points on average over the last four outings.
The Falcons still have a big hole to climb out of after an 0-5 start.
But following their Week 10 bye, they play two of their next three games against the rival New Orleans Saints, providing them a chance to make further inroads in their climb out of the NFC South basement.
I'll be watching for more on Ridley during the off week.
Even after not practicing all week, the wideout tried to talk his way into the game during pregame warmups. He injured his left foot in Atlanta's win at Carolina on Oct. 29. "He was in my ear pregame," Morris said. "He's always going to want to play. Sometimes you have to protect guys from themselves and that's what we did today with him."
And finally. ... The Falcons announced Monday that they have waived former first-round pick Takk McKinley.
McKinley has been dealing with a groin injury since Week 2, which has prevented him from playing in several games this season, including Atlanta's 34-27 victory against the Denver Broncos in Week 9.
In the four games McKinley has played this season, he has recorded just eight tackles, one tackle for a loss and seven hits on the quarterback. McKinley started 25 games for the Falcons in his four seasons with the organization. He will finish his time in Atlanta with 79 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, 17.5 sacks and 45 hits on the quarterback.
The defensive end also recently publicly criticized the Falcons on Twitter following the trade deadline, claiming he had requested to be traded to another team. After McKinley made the comments, Morris said the team would hold him accountable. Releasing him qualifies.
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 10 November 2020
According to BaltimoreRavens.com, Sunday's second half was potentially a significant turning point for the Ravens' offense.
After a first half in which Baltimore was held to a paltry 55 yards and averaged just 2.2 yards per play, the Ravens found their mojo.
They sped up the pace, going with some no huddle and getting to the line of scrimmage faster. Lamar Jackson got hot, completing all 10 of his passes in the second half and scoring Baltimore's final touchdown on a 9-yard scamper. The offensive line found its rhythm in its first game with Orlando Brown Jr. starting at left tackle and Patrick Mekari starting at right guard.
The result was an impressive 24-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts that moved the Ravens to 6-2 at the midway point of their season.
And for the offense, which has struggled at times this season, it silenced some criticism.
The Ravens kept pounding away on the ground and turned the corner against one of the NFL's toughest teams to run against. And Jackson (19 for 23, 170 yards, 58 yards rushing) was unfazed by a frustrating first half and played his best football when it mattered most.
"Lamar is our guy," head coach John Harbaugh said. "We're with him all the way. We've got his back, believe in him, we love him.
"You're going to have critics in this league. You're going to have critics in life. He understands that. He's really good about that. All of our guys are."
In addition, Jackson secured a place in NFL history for victories with a win unlike any other in his NFL career.
Overcoming a halftime deficit for the first time, Jackson produced a perfect second half in leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 24-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday and matching the best 30-start mark of the Super Bowl era.
The reigning NFL MVP is 25-5 (.833) in the regular season since taking over as the Ravens' starter in the middle of the 2018 season, tying Miami Dolphins legend Dan Marino for the best start by a quarterback since 1966.
"It's pretty cool, I'm up there with a Hall of Famer," Jackson said. "But you still got to win each and every game. So, it's all right."
As ESPN.com's Jamison Hensley noted, Jackson had been 0-6 when trailing at halftime (including 0-2 in the postseason), and Baltimore had lost its past 20 games when behind after the first half, which had been the longest current streak in the NFL. This time, the Ravens rallied by going more up-tempo on offense and with Jackson throwing accurate darts all over the field.
Trailing 10-7 at halftime Sunday, Jackson was flawless throwing the ball in the second half, when he completed all 10 of his passes for 119 yards. He also ran for a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Jackson and Marino produced their record starts after being passed over in the draft. Marino was the sixth quarterback selected in 1983, and Jackson was the fifth quarterback taken in 2018.
The only other quarterbacks to win more than 23 times in their first 30 starts are: Roger Staubach and Kurt Warner, who both started 24-6.
Jackson showed how valuable he is to Baltimore by lifting the team after a week of adversity. The Ravens (6-2) were coming off an emotional loss to the rival Steelers, put two starting offensive linemen on injured reserve (left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Tyre Phillips), practiced without seven defensive players and played without their best defensive player in All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
After being shut out in the first time as a starter in the regular season, Jackson set up the Ravens' first touchdown drive of the game by completing three passes for 36 yards. In the fourth quarter, Jackson sealed Baltimore's 10th straight road win by going untouched on a 9-yard touchdown run.
Jackson faced plenty of criticism this week for not being able to win big games.
Earlier this season, he threw a career-worst 97 yards in a loss to the Chiefs and committed a career-high four turnovers in falling to the Steelers.
In rebounding Sunday, Jackson beat his first team with a winning record this season and the Ravens set a record on Sunday with their 31st consecutive game of 20 or more points.
The prior record, 30 straight games of 20 or more points, belonged to the 2012-14 Denver Broncos.
Baltimore's streak began when Jackson replaced Joe Flacco as the starting quarterback. The Ravens scored 16 points in Flacco's last start, against the Steelers on November 4, 2018.
In every regular-season game since then, Baltimore has scored at least 20 points.
They'll get a chance to extend the streak to 32 next Sunday night, against the Patriots, with Jackson gaining momentum. ...
Also of interest. ... Kudos to the Colts' rushing defense, which came in ranked second in the league, yielding an average of just 3.4 yards per carry. The Ravens averaged just 2.9 yards per attempt and that seldom happens.
Baltimore ran 38 times for 110 yards as a team, posting its 31st consecutive 100-yard game. It breaks a tie with Carolina for the league's third-longest streak since the 1970 merger.
J.K. Dobbins carried the ball 12 times for 30 yards and caught both his targets for five yards. Gus Edwards carried the ball 11 times for 23 yards and a touchdown and caught both his targets for 11 yards.
As CBSSports.com noted, while he didn't gain much real estate, Edwards was able to run for a TD for the third straight game. All three scores have come since Mark Ingram (ankle) got hurt. The fantasy value of both Edwards and Dobbins will largely depend on whether Ingram is back in the lineup.
Asked on Wednesday whether Ingram is getting closer to a return and could be an option for Sunday, Harbaugh replied: "Yes and yes."
I'll obviously be following up on Ingram, who was on the practice field Wednesday, via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Dez Bryant didn't do much for the Ravens on Sunday, but that didn't dim his excitement about being back in the NFL.
Bryant was promoted from the practice squad for the win over the Colts and played two snaps in his first game action since the end of the 2017 season. He didn't have a pass thrown his way, but said after the game that he was "very appreciative" of the chance to return to the NFL.
"It's surreal -- just being back in the locker room, just being on the sideline, just being here with these guys, it's exciting," Bryant said, via the Baltimore Sun. "Seeing the game up close versus just watching it on TV, I felt my competitive spirit come back alive."
As Profootballtalk.com suggested, it's unclear if Bryant, who reverted back to the practice squad on Monday, will be getting more opportunities or longer looks in the offense in the weeks to come, but he's back in the league and that puts him a lot closer to having such a role than he's been in a long time. ...
Mark Andrews is one of the NFL's best pass-catching tight ends, but he provided his best play of Sunday's game as a blocker.
"Halfway through the season, he's on pace for 52 catches and 594 yards, totals that would fall well short of his numbers from last year," Baltimore Sun staffer Childs Walker wrote. "Pro Football Focus graded him 17th at his position coming into the Colts game, down from second in 2019. On the other hand, he's become a more authoritative run blocker, as evidenced by the blow he delivered to set up Jackson's touchdown run."
As Jackson took the bootleg, he had no defender in front of him as Andrews almost took Colts safety George Odum off the screen with his block.
Andrews had a quiet day as a receiver (three catches for 22 yards), but his block helped extend the Ravens' lead early in the fourth quarter.
Justin Tucker hasn't missed a field goal in the fourth quarter since December 6, 2015, a sign of his consistency and clutch factor, NBCSports' Ryan Wormeli noted. Those five years have included 44 straight makes in the fourth quarter, an incredible streak that doesn't show any sign of slowing down soon.
And few final notes. ... Baltimore leads the league with 12 defensive touchdowns since 2018.
Also on that side of the ball, Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell suffered a calf strain on Sunday that will likely cause him to miss multiple weeks. There's no structural issues, and it's not a major injury. But calf strains can linger.
The Ravens on Wednesday activated Humphrey from the Reserve/ COVID-19 list, the team announced.
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Marcel Louis-Jacques pointed out, something about the NFC West has brought the best out of the Buffalo Bills this season.
Buffalo (7-2) improved to 2-0 against the NFC West with a resounding 44-34 win on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. On paper, this game had the makings of a shootout with two of the league's leading passers in Josh Allen and Russell Wilson; the real-life product did not disappoint.
Allen outdueled the MVP front-runner Wilson, completing 31 of 38 passes, tying a career high with 415 yards and three touchdowns and adding a fourth touchdown on the ground to put the Bills up three scores. It was a dream matchup against a Seattle defense that came in allowing nearly 360 passing yards per game.
On Wednesday, Allen was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
Allen started hot, completing 20 of 24 passes for 282 yards and three scores in the first half -- the best half of football he's played since entering the league in 2018. The completions and yardage in the first half alone were both the most by a Bills player since at least 1991.
Allen's 154 passing yards in the first quarter represented his highest total in a single quarter.
Considering Seattle's league-worst pass defense, the Bills needed Allen to return to his early-season form, and he delivered.
Allen's 81.6 completion percentage was the highest single-game connection rate of his career. His previous high was a 79 percent completion rate on Thanksgiving last season in the win over the Cowboys. It's also the highest in a game by a Bills QB since Trent Edwards team-record 83.3 completion percentage game against San Diego in 2008.
It marked a signature win for a Bills team that has now won three straight, and it signals a pivotal point in Allen's career. Buffalo put the ball in his hands early and dialed up a pass-heavy script to exploit Seattle's weakness. General manager Brandon Beane said this offseason that his team wanted to be able to win games when the plan called for it to throw the ball 40 times.
Allen didn't quite hit 40 attempts, but he did prove himself more than capable of winning games with his arm -- even when one of the league's superstars is standing on the opposite sideline.
Along the way, he became the only quarterback in league history to accumulate 2,500 or more passing yards, 19 or more passing touchdowns and five or more rushing touchdowns in a season's first nine games.
Next up, the Bills travel to Arizona on Sunday facing another high-powered offense that will require Allen to keep his roll going. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Stefon Diggs receptions (63) and receiving yardage (813) totals for the season now lead the NFL. The Bills top wideout had led the AFC in those two categories for several weeks, but after his nine-catch, 118-yard performance Sunday he leads the league in both statistics.
His 63 receptions also tie a team record for most catches through the first nine games of a season (Eric Moulds, 63 in 2000).
John Brown caught eight of 11 targets for 99 yards during Sunday's win.
Brown finished second behind only Diggs in targets, catches and receiving yards as he set new season highs across the board. As CBSSports.com notes, he broke off a long gain of 33 yards and added a couple of other impressive chunk plays while consistently beating the depleted Seattle secondary. This was especially promising for Brown, considering he caught just one of two targets a week ago and hadn't reached 50 receiving yards since Week 2.
Brown, who was held out of practice Wednesday (as he was last week), will look to build on this promising effort next Sunday against the Cardinals.
Gabriel Davis caught 4-of-5 targets for 70 yards and a touchdown while Cole Beasley caught 3-of-3 targets for 39 yards.
Zack Moss carried nine times for 18 yards and a touchdown while catching both his targets for an additional 30 yards against the Seahawks.
Moss, who led the team in carries as Devin Singletary received just two, struggled to the tune of 2.0 yards per tote. He offset the lack of yardage a bit with a short rushing touchdown, giving him three in the last two games. It was also impressive to see Moss contribute with limited usage in the passing game, as he notched a new career high in receiving yardage.
The rookie clearly seems to be carving out a larger role in the offense. ...
Tyler Bass' 74-point total is tied for the AFC lead in scoring and is tied for third in the league. Bass has 26 extra points and 16 field goals on the season. Bass is also tied for the fifth-most touchbacks in the league with 36 and has the 11th-highest touchback rate in the NFL (69.2 percent).
And finally. ... Head coach Sean McDermott told reporters after the game that Allen learned his grandmother died on Saturday night.
"I don't think that came close but it's always a consideration, right, when you experience things like this," McDermott told Profootballtalk.com after the game. "That always could happen. I think Josh certainly felt it last night but when I asked him, he said he wanted to play. I really appreciate that he wanted to play and that he stuck it out. You've got to be able to compartmentalize that for 24 hours so that you can focus and do your job and I thought he did a great job of that today and players rallied around him."
When asked if he said anything to Allen about it before Sunday's game, McDermott said he didn't and "just wanted it to be normal for him more than anything."
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 10 November 2020
Head coach Matt Rhule said earlier in the week that touchdowns were the biggest difference between his team and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs scored them at a high rate, he noted, and the Panthers settled for too many field goals.
That all changed on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium with the return of star running back Christian McCaffrey and some aggressive play calling. The Panthers, at least temporarily, ended their red zone woes by scoring touchdowns on four drives inside the 20.
That wasn't enough to upset the NFL's second-highest-scoring team, which held on for a 33-31 victory, but it gave Carolina hope for what it can be with a few more pieces.
McCaffrey was a big reason. After missing the last six games with a high ankle sprain, the Panthers didn't ease the RB into the rotation. McCaffrey took 18 of 22 handoffs Sunday and caught 10 of 10 targets. McCaffrey played 52 of the Panthers' 75 snaps.
He wound up leading the team in rushing (69 yards, TD) and receiving (82 yards, TD).
There was no rust on McCaffrey, who showed how dynamic he is as a playmaker with an acrobatic catch for a 24-yard pickup.
Now for the bad news: McCaffrey will miss more time with a shoulder injury.
Rhule all but confirmed it when he met with reporters after Wednesday's practice.
McCaffrey did not practice with the team and Rhule said, via multiple reporters, that he is “pretty much out this week.”
Rhule went on to say that the team would see “how he is for next week.”
McCaffrey was getting a second opinion on the injury suffered late in Sunday's game, according to ESPN.com's David Newton, after the running back had tests on Monday. The fact he's seeing another opinion Wednesday suggests he wasn't happy with the first opinion.
At this point, a week-to-week outlook seems like a best-case scenario.
The running back played through the shoulder injury that occurred late in the game, catching a short pass for no gain and diving out of bounds to stop the clock that set up Joey Slye's 67-yard missed field goal.
McCaffrey did not miss a game during his first three seasons, including last season when he became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season. He's now in danger of missing his seventh since signing a four-year, $64 million extension that averages $16 million a year.
If McCaffrey is shut down once again, Mike Davis would return to his workhorse role in the Panthers backfield.
And while the Panthers haven't confirmed McCaffrey will miss this weekend's game, they have added another running back to the active roster.
The team announced that they have signed Reggie Bonnafon to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. Bonnafon was activated from practice squad injured reserve on Tuesday. He had been dealing with a sprained ankle.
I'll obviously have more on McCaffrey via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Meanwhile, McCaffrey wasn't the only one making big plays. Newton characterized Teddy Bridgewater "as a human highlight machine" on a fourth-and-14 scramble on which he went airborne for the final 5 yards, resulting in a first down and setting the stage for McCaffrey's amazing catch.
Curtis Samuel pulled off a spectacular catch earlier on that drive.
The attention on McCaffrey also helped to free up Samuel, who hauled in nine catches for 105 yards and a score.
Worth noting: Samuel could see additional backfield snaps, where he's seen increasing usage in recent weeks, if McCaffrey is indeed out.
In addition, receiver D.J. Moore played a season-high 98 percent of the snaps, but was only targeted three times for two receptions.
Wide receiver Robby Anderson had nine catches for 63 yards, tying his career high for most receptions in a game. Anderson's 60 receptions ties him for third in the NFL.
Bridgewater finished 36-of-49 for 310 passing yards with two passing touchdowns and a 103.3 rating. He also ran for 19 yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater has now rushed for 180 yards this season, ranking ninth among NFL QBs and closing in on his career high (209, 2014).
But for all the big-time playmakers the Panthers have on offense, and with the imagination of offensive coordinator Joe Brady calling plays from the sideline for the first time, Carolina doesn't have enough playmakers defensively to do much more than consistently scare elite teams. That ultimately was their downfall.
Rhule was right. The Panthers (3-6) look like a version of the Chiefs (8-1). Just before Andy Reid's team improved defensively enough to win a Super Bowl, as well as games like this.
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Jeff Dickerson framed it, "The Chicago Bears are in complete free fall and in danger of having their once-promising season slip away."
The Bears' 24-17 loss to the Titans took the phrase "no room for error" to the greatest extent possible.
The main culprit -- again -- the offense.
According to Dickerson, it's hard to find the right words to describe how pathetic the Bears are on offense. Sunday's loss was such an utter embarrassment (until garbage time) that it is difficult to see how the Bears can recover.
The NFL's most penalized team, the Bears repeatedly sabotaged whatever chances they had to score by routinely self-destructing in critical moments, including, not one, but two consecutive offensive penalties on fourth-down plays.
The Titans entered Week 9 as the league's worst third-down defense.
The Bears went 2-of-15 on third down.
All season, Tennessee struggled to stop the run. The Titans had allowed 128 rushing yards per game.
The Bears collectively ran for 56 yards.
Nick Foles played behind an offensive line that was missing five players: Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Bobby Massie, Sam Mustipher and Jason Spriggs, any one of whom would have been starting if he were available.
There were positive signs. The Bears' opening drive saw Foles complete his first four passes for 40 yards. Head coach Matt Nagy's play-calling covered for the newly formed line by utilizing quick outside throws.
For his part, Foles passed for a season-high 335 yards.
However, much of that production came too late to give the Bears a shot at taking the lead. The veteran connected on a handful of nice throws to Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Riley Ridley and Darnell Mooney, but he generally underwhelmed.
The loss puts the offense in a difficult spot.
The Bears are now 2-4 with Foles as the starting quarterback. While the three-game losing streak coincides with the Bears' most-challenging opponents to date, the offense still has not found a rhythm with its new quarterback, save for his fourth-quarter comeback against the Falcons when he relieved former starter Mitchell Trubisky.
There is no Plan B.
Trubisky is week-to-week with an injured right throwing shoulder. Backup Tyler Bray has appeared in one career game over seven NFL seasons. The Bears are going to have to tough it out with Foles, who cannot play well enough to put out all of Chicago's offensive fires. Not many quarterbacks could.
"It can be difficult," said Foles, "but I'll tell you this, guys in the locker room after the game, the mindsets are about the team, each other, about continuing to work for one another. Even with a hard loss and a couple, three in a row, we continue to stay positive, and that is something we can continue to build on. We keep working, we keep working, we keep working, we keep grinding and we keep staying positive."
Up next, the Bears face the Vikings on Monday Night Football.
There just aren't many. ... But Dickerson argues that someone else has to call plays versus the Vikings.
"Nagy is a reasonable person," Dickerson wrote. "The former NFC Coach of the Year wants to win in the worst possible way. For the sake of the franchise, Nagy probably realizes it might be a good idea -- even for just one week -- to allow offensive coordinator Bill Lazor or quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, or maybe even passing game coordinator Dave Ragone, the opportunity to call plays."
On Tuesday, Nagy acknowledged that he might not be the one calling the plays when the Bears take the field on Monday night against the Vikings.
"Where we're at right now as an offense, struggling the way we are, you have to be willing to look at everything, including myself," Nagy said. "So we'll see where that goes. We play Monday, we will make the best decision possible here. I think that's part of some of the decisions we look at, for sure."
According to Profootballtalk.com, Nagy sounded a little testy when reporters asked him when he'll make his decision about whether to keep calling plays.
"I don't know and in all honesty, and with all due respect, if anything was to happen I'm not sure that you guys would know," Nagy said.
Is Nagy to blame for all the problems? No, of course not, but the head coach owes it to the team to try a different approach in Week 10. ...
Adding to the woes this week, running back David Montgomery suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss to the Titans.
Nagy confirmed Monday that Montgomery was diagnosed with a concussion and is now in the NFL's concussion protocol.
Montgomery had 14 carries for 30 yards and three catches for 12 yards on Sunday. He's the Bears' leading rusher this season with 131 carries for 472 yards.
The additional day that comes with a Monday night kickoff will work in Montgomery's favor as he works his way through the protocol, but Ryan Nall will be next man up if Montgomery can't go against Minnesota.
Nall replaced Montgomery in Sunday's game and had four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The team also has used Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield and has veteran running back Lamar Miller on its practice squad.
More on all that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
One last note here. ... Veteran Dwayne Harris has been a clear upgrade on punt return. The Bears sent ex-returner Ted Ginn Jr. packing following a disastrous performance versus the Rams in Week 7. Ginn's indecisiveness on punt return cost the Bears dearly in terms of field position. To Harris' credit, he's displayed the willingness to catch virtually every punt, even if it means taking a big hit, in order to prevent the offense from having to take over inside its own 5-yard line. Harris was a breath of fresh air on Sunday with 64 return yards.
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 10 November 2020
Head coach Zac Taylor says rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was the one piece the Cincinnati Bengals needed to get the other pieces of an already good offense to coalesce and play at a higher level.
Taylor's framing of the narrative is meant to recognize some of the guys who slogged through a 2-14 season with him last year, while acknowledging that the linchpin is the 23-year-old newcomer whose dynamic play has brought some excitement back to a franchise that was stuck in the mud.
The 2019 Heisman Trophy winner has made the Bengals interesting to watch again, and arguably better than their 2-5-1 record reflects. At the halfway point of the season, Burrow's development has exceeded expectations in Cincinnati and validated the organization's decision to make him the No. 1 overall draft pick last spring. He's already being talked about as a candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Burrow certainly has made his share of drive-killing rookie mistakes, but he's also demonstrated the poise and creativity of a seasoned NFL quarterback. The prevailing opinion is that if he stays healthy, he can be the guy here for the long haul.
"I wouldn't say it's gone smoother than I thought -- I thought I'd play well," Burrow said Wednesday. "There's obviously still a lot of room to improve. I'm just scratching the surface on where I can be and where I can go. So, that's the most exciting thing for me."
Burrow leads the league in passing attempts (330) and completions (221), and is third in passing yards (2,272). He's also been sacked 28 times -- second most in the NFL -- but has proven to be a quick study when it comes to working around the nagging deficiencies in Cincinnati's pass protection.
Last week behind an offensive line patched together with backups, Burrow adapted. He got rid of the ball extra quickly, chipping away with intermediate passes. He extended plays with his legs, took zero sacks and had no turnovers in the Bengals' 31-20 win over the Tennessee Titans.
The victory gave the whole team a much-needed shot of confidence ahead of a bye week, which couldn't have come at a better time for the beat-up O-line regulars. The Bengals get back at it Nov. 15 in Pittsburgh against the Steelers (7-0).
That the Bengals don't have much to show for Burrow's gutsy performances is due largely to their failure to protect leads. Four of their five losses have been by five points or less and easily could have gone the other way.
Tyler Boyd (54 catches, 584 yards, three TDs) has been Burrow's favorite target, but in each of the two games before the break the quarterback completed passes to seven players.
Said Taylor: "He knows where to go with the ball."
Count Boyd as an enthusiastic supporter of Burrow's bid to be NFL Rookie of the Year.
"He's just one of a kind right now in my eyes," Boyd said. "That's my guy. At the end of the day, like I said, I'm not just saying that because he's on our team, but he shows it each and every week. He never lets the team down or any critics or politics or anything like that. He comes every day to work and he proves himself. As long as he continues to ball and perform why shouldn't he be the No. 1 candidate?"
While we're at it, if Burrow's not the Bengals MVP, then Boyd is. Certainly they are the hottest new combo in Cincy, with Burrow and rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins not far behind.
What more can a savvy vet receiver do to help out his rookie quarterback than lead the NFL with 36 catches for first downs to go with the league's fifth most third-down catches and seventh most catches of any kind?
"That's just something I pride myself in. Just like the year before, last two years, I just believe I'm a third-down guy," Boyd said. "When teams go man, and I feel like I'm that guy to always find a way to get open for Joe. And I found a way to get open the quickest and just find different windows to allow Joe to throw the ball where he feels I should be."
As Taylor summed up: "I think that for a rookie he's done a tremendous job of his approach and how he's handled things. Never appearing to be overwhelmed. Never appearing to be flustered. He's been as steady as they come."
So shouldn't we expect the Bengals' high-volume offense to convert more drives into touchdowns in the second half?
As ESPN.com's Ben Bay noted, the Bengals have really turned the corner in this regard.
Last year, Cincinnati was among one of the worst teams in the NFL in red zone efficiency. Over the past three weeks, the Bengals have been clicking. Cincinnati has scored touchdowns on 73.3 percent of its red zone drives during that span, according to ESPN Stats and Information research, and it leads the NFL in points per drive.
On the injury front. ... It looks like the Bengals could have some key players back for practice Monday when they begin prepping for next week's game in Pittsburgh. Running back Joe Mixon (foot), who has missed the last two games, looked to be running on the side, as was defensive end Sam Hubbard (elbow), on injured reserve since he got hurt in Baltimore, and right guard Xavier Su'a-Filo (ankle), shelved since the opener.
Hubbard and Su'a-Filo were cleared to return to practice by designating him for return from the Reserve/Injured list.
Two of the four offensive line starters that missed Week 8, center Trey Hopkins (concussion) and left guard Michael Jordan (illness) worked last Monday. The other two, left tackle Jonah Williams (stinger) and right tackle Bobby hart (knee) didn't. Quinton Spain, who played most of the snaps at left guard Sunday, rode the bike.
Wide receiver John Ross III didn't practice and neither did defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels and cornerback William Jackson III for unknown reasons (there is no injury report during bye weeks).
On Wednesday, Taylor announced there would be no team drills for Mixon, Hart or Williams. They'll continue to watch their progress through the week. Higgins and A.J. Green worked on a limited basis.
I'll be doing the same via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Also on Wednesday, the Bengals activated linebacker Jordan Evans and cornerback Mackensie Alexander from the reserve/COVID-19 list. The team also claimed defensive end Takkarist McKinley off waivers.
One last note here. ... Kicker Randy Bullock has strong numbers at the halfway point of the season, going 18-for-20 on field-goal attempts and 20-for-20 on extra-point tries. He's had his struggles over time, but he's been rock solid playing alongside a high-volume offense.
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 10 November 2020
The Browns didn't escape the bye week completely unscathed.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Mayfield was removed from the list in advance of practice.
The return Wednesday indicates Mayfield tested negative through his brief self-isolation.
Mayfield is in his third season with the Browns (5-3). The No. 1 overall pick in 2018 has thrown 15 touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
The evaluation to determine if he's the Browns' franchise quarterback was a primary objective heading into this season.
Halfway through it, Cleveland has another surprising goal: The playoffs.
At 5-3 under Kevin Stefanski, the Browns are in position to possibly end an 18-year absence from the NFL's postseason. It's the longest current drought in the league, and it would have been hard to imagine the team being in this spot after going 6-10 last season, firing another coach and overhauling the front office -- again.
Well, add the Browns' resurgence to the list of 2020 oddities.
As the team reached a welcomed bye week that will allow injuries to heal while alive in the playoff chase, Andrew Berry, the club's first-time general manager and executive vice president, expressed optimism about the Browns' present and future.
"We are feeling encouraged but incomplete," Berry said, using a phrase that blankets Mayfield's situation and Cleveland's roster as well.
The offense, without star running back Nick Chubb for a month and which won't have deep threat Odell Beckham Jr. the rest of the way, has been plagued by inconsistency. The defense may force turnovers, but it allows too many points, and if not for standout end Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward, is a mess.
Like so many other teams this season, it's difficult to predict how the Browns will look week to week.
Stefanski didn't want "to go there" earlier this week when asked about his team's strengths, weaknesses or progress. Suffice to say, the Browns have plenty of room to grow.
"I know there are certain areas that I think we are good at, but we need to get better at those things," Stefanski said.
It's been a long time since the Browns, who didn't win a game three years ago and haven't won more than seven since 2007, were in this position. The opportunity isn't lost on Berry, but he's preaching patience and perspective.
"I am not naive to the fact that really a playoff appearance for any franchise is special because each season really is sacred and the chance to compete and ultimately get in the tournament," he said. "That all being said, our focus is really on attacking our opponents one week at a time and taking care of the little things on a weekly basis, because if we are able to successfully accomplish that, the big things will take care of themselves."
Mayfield qualifies as a "big thing."
The third-year quarterback has shown some growth after a rough 2019 season, but it's still not a given that the Browns are sold on Mayfield as their long-term solution.
He's been up, down and sideways.
Mayfield has made better decisions with the ball, but there are still too many times when he forces throws into tight spaces and pays the price. His statistics (15 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 61 percent completions) are pedestrian, but the bottom line is that he's led the Browns to five wins.
"Baker has done a nice job," Berry said while making other measured comments about Mayfield. "He's done a nice job of learning the system and getting more comfortable in the system, and again, ultimately putting the team in a position to win. We are certainly pleased with him from that perspective."
But Mayfield didn't play well -- none of the Browns did -- in two blowout losses against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, which outscored Cleveland by a combined 76-13 and showed there's still a sizeable gap between the top and bottom of the AFC North.
Those performances raised concerns about Mayfield, but Berry attributed some of the QB's overall inconsistency "to unprecedented year within the NFL."
Once the season ends, the Browns will have decisions to make on Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. He'll be eligible for an extension, and the team will must choose by May 1 whether to pick up his guaranteed fifth-year option, worth $25 million or more.
Mayfield can make his case over the final eight games. Berry, though, insists he doesn't look at the remaining games as an audition to cement Mayfield's future.
"I really do not get too caught up in that type of narrative," he said. "All I know is that I think Baker has played well and he has done a nice job during these first eight weeks. He has allowed us to play winning football. We've had winning football from (the quarterback) position. Expect him to keep doing that over the second half of the year.
"And look, we're going to be in a good place as a team and organization if that is the case. ..."
Worth noting. ... The Browns have designated Chubb for return from injured reserve. Chubb suffered a knee injury during a Week 4 win at Dallas. He had 335 yards rushing before making his exit.
The Browns will now have three weeks to move Chubb to the active roster.
They host the Texans this weekend. Next, the Eagles come to town. The Browns then visit Jacksonville and Tennessee, before a home game against the Ravens. The Browns then play a pair of games at MetLife Stadium against the Giants and Jets before finishing the season against the Steelers.
Again, five more wins are lurking. Chubb's return will help them get there.
Stefanski told reporters on Wednesday that Chubb is "progressing" and that the Browns will make a call Friday on whether he'll play this weekend. Chubb was scheduled to practice Wednesday.
I'll be following up on his status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Beyond that, tight end Austin Hooper returned to Browns practice last Wednesday, 12 days after he had an appendectomy on Oct. 23. Hooper's presence on the field came as no surprise because Stefanski said Monday the two-time Pro Bowler "will definitely be back" to face the Texans. Hooper missed the past two games.
The players on their active roster who didn't practice during the off-week session but rode stationary bikes beside the fields are defensive end Myles Garrett (knee, ankle), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (ribs), right guard Wyatt Teller (calf), left guard Joel Bitonio (unknown) and linebacker Jacob Phillips (knee).
Fullback Andy Janovich (unknown) was not at practice.
I'll be watching for any developments with those players as well.
By the way. ... Landry hasn't caught a touchdown, though he did throw one in Week 4.
The silver lining is Landry's 11 targets in Week 8 were his most since Week 13 last season and come in the team's first full game without Beckham. According to ESPN's Mike Clay, there's little reason to think Landry won't be peppered with targets going forward this season as the team's clear top wide receiver.
Despite failing to produce a top-20 fantasy week in the first half, he'll be a flex play in coming weeks.
And finally. ... Beckham is on the road to recovery and a return in 2021, the team said Wednesday.
The Browns announced that Beckham had successful surgery for the torn ACL that ended his 2020 season.
"Odell Beckham Jr. underwent successful surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee," the team said. "The surgery was performed early today by Dr. James Andrews at the Andrews Institute for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Pensacola, Florida. Beckham is expected to be ready for the 2021 season."
Even before Beckham got hurt, there was some talk that the Browns might want to move on from him, given that he hasn't produced in Cleveland at the same level he did as a Giant. But the Browns are saying publicly that Beckham is in their plans.
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Todd Archer framed it, "At the end of the day, the Dallas Cowboys are going to be the Dallas Cowboys.
"It's just that kind of season. ..."
While Sunday's 24-19 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers offered hope because of some heart and guile that had not been much on display since Dak Prescott's season-ending ankle injury, how the Cowboys lost showed just how far they have to go.
But it came right down to the final minute. In fact, with 38 seconds left, 81 yards to go, no timeouts, the Cowboys were a touchdown away from a win over the NFL's last unbeaten team.
Garrett Gilbert couldn't have asked for much more in his first NFL start.
Except the final result, of course.
"That's what you live for as a football player," Gilbert said later. "Unfortunately those last two drives I just couldn't make enough plays for us to finish that one off."
Gilbert -- signed in mid-October after Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury against the Giants -- became the fourth quarterback to start a game for the Cowboys this season.
Backup Andy Dalton went from concussion protocol last week to the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier last week. After rookie Ben DiNucci struggled in last Sunday's loss to the Eagles, head coach Mike McCarthy opted for a veteran presence against the Steelers.
Gilbert had only thrown six regular-season passes before Sunday but has been on seven NFL teams since 2014.
The experience showed. He calmly completed 21 of 38 passes for 243 yards and a second-quarter touchdown Sunday -- the Cowboys' first in three games -- that helped them jump out to an early 13-0 lead.
"I thought Garrett kept us in good plays," McCarthy said. "There was a lot that was going on at the line of scrimmage. He was prepared. You could see it during the course of the week he was getting more and more comfortable as he had the opportunity to exercise the game plan. I thought he definitely it from practice over to the game today."
Yet, as Gilbert said, the offense didn't have enough answers at the end.
Gilbert also wished he had his lone interception of the day back -- a fluttering ball picked off by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in the end zone after the Steelers' pass rush hit Gilbert during the throw.
The Steelers scored six points off two Cowboys turnovers and won by five.
"Losing sucks," Gilbert said. "I felt like our guys played really hard today and played really well and we deserved a chance to win that game. And obviously we gave ourselves that chance, but it's just tough when all of us together put everything into that thing and then come up short."
The Cowboys (2-7) aren't into moral victories, for sure. But Gilbert did give the offense something to build on during the upcoming bye week.
"Garrett's definitely a warrior. That's how I look at him," CeeDee Lamb said. "He kind of was thrown in there and just how he responded, he had a pretty decent game and I can't thank him enough for his contribution to this offense and to this team."
Whatever the case, the bye week is good news for a team that has lost four games in a row and is in a free fall. The Cowboys visit Minnesota on Nov. 22. ...
Since the beginning of the season, McCarthy has repeatedly discussed the importance of getting the running game going. The offense finally heeded his message with a strong effort against the Steelers. The Cowboys rushed for 144 yards on 31 rush attempts with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard taking turns plunging between the tackles on an assortment of tough, inside runs.
The combination of hard-nosed running from the backs and the collective push from the offensive line produced solid results for a team that desperately needed to run the ball with a young quarterback at the helm.
Pollard thrived in an expanded role.
The second-year running back continues to impress as a change-of-pace player in the backfield. PAs NFL.com's Bucky Brooks noted, Pollard has a diverse set of skills that enables him to produce explosive plays as a runner or receiver. The Cowboys utilized him prominently against the Steelers as part of a ball-control game plan that featured runs and short passes.
Pollard finished the night with 58 scrimmage yards on 10 touches while displaying toughness and pop as a runner. His ability to pick up the tough yards between the tackles from spread and tight formations enabled the Cowboys to control the game for most of the night. With Pollard beginning to stack solid efforts over the past month, the Cowboys' RB2 will continue to play a prominent role in the game plan. ...
And finally. ... Trevon Diggs suffered a fractured bone in his foot on Sunday afternoon and is out four to six weeks, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources. It's possible, given the timeline, that Diggs' first NFL campaign is done for.
Diggs has been a fixture in Dallas' secondary in his rookie year, logging 557 of a possible 596 defensive snaps, third-most on the team. The CB is coming off three of his best games to date and currently ranks as Pro Football Focus' No. 53 CB this season.
If he doesn't return to the Cowboys' secondary, Diggs will finish with two picks, 10 passes defensed, one forced fumble, one sack and 48 tackles.
In his stead, Dallas will likely rely on starters Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis and reserves Saivion Smith and C.J. Goodwin.
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 10 November 2020
In a season of canceled practices, COVID-19 protocols and a seemingly endless scroll of injuries, the Broncos have kept swinging and grinding, but they officially and unquestionably have run out of next men up.
Especially on defense when, in a 34-27 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the lineup that spent much of the day on the field wasn't in any of the plans in September.
When cornerback Bryce Callahan's ankle injury made him a game-day inactive, the Broncos were missing five players who started on defense in the season opener.
And that doesn't even include linebacker Von Miller's ankle injury before the season started.
The total included all three of the starting defensive linemen on Sept. 14 -- Shelby Harris, Jurrell Casey and Mike Purcell -- and both starting cornerbacks (A.J. Bouye and Callahan). In short, the Broncos -- and every other NFL team -- aren't built to handle that type of misery.
But there were some positives here -- especially for the offense.
After a career game in front of an audience that included two idols in Falcons WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, you'd think Jerry Jeudy would have every reason to be happy with himself.
With 125 yards and a touchdown on the day, the Broncos' rookie receiver recorded his first 100-yard game of his young NFL career -- but the only thing that mattered at the end of the day was the score.
"We ain't finish with a dub, so it don't mean nothing," Jeudy said after the game.
With the loss, the Broncos fell to 3-5 on the season. Those five losses are one more than the total number of games Jeudy's Crimson Tide lost during his three seasons.
But that fact isn't making Jeudy despondent or dispirited; he's only becoming more devoted to helping create team success.
"I'm just tired of losing," Jeudy said. "I just want to do whatever I can to make the team better and just make us better as a whole. Going out there at practice the other day, I just remind myself, 'Get better, just get better.' Everything I do, I do at 100 percent."
That commitment to improving has been visible to his teammates and his head coach, who have said as much in recent weeks and after Sunday's game.
"I think he's made really good strides here in the last couple weeks, two [or] three games," head coach Vic Fangio said Sunday. "I like where Jerry's been playing, like where's he headed. He's been practicing better, and it translates to the game. I think he's doing a good job, and his arrow is definitely up.
"He's what we thought we got when we drafted him."
But as Ben Swanson of the team's official website noted in the second half, Jeudy represented a mismatch on most plays as the Broncos looked to the air to power a comeback attempt. On 12 second-half targets, Jeudy caught six passes for 107 yards. He also accounted for four of the Broncos' seven longest plays on the day, including a 41-yarder. Jeudy also drew a pair of pass interference calls for 36 total yards.
Beyond his route-running, he also showcased some ingenious thinking to help create separation. On third down at the Falcons' 20-yard line, Jeudy began a route by sprinting down the right sideline. He brought up his right hand and waved it, a typical signal by a receiver who feels like he's open on a go route.
But instead, Jeudy stopped short at the 5-yard line as his defender's momentum carried him to the goal line. After securing the catch, Jeudy cut inside and split two defenders for the touchdown.
"I just threw my hand up to make the DB feel like I was running the go route," Jeudy said. "That's something creative I've been thinking about with my route-running."
So far in his first season, Jeudy may still be looking for more team success, but by driving himself to be better, he's become a more reliable player. His connection with quarterback Drew Lock is growing with each game, which can be seen in his production over the last two games -- 11 receptions for 198 yards.
"I mean, he's hit his stride," Lock said. "He's asserting himself in that wide-receiver room and in the NFL. Guys are going to take a second look at him. Maybe earlier in the year, they're like, 'Yeah, he runs some pretty crisp and clean routes,' but Jerry's getting physical. He does his job extremely well right now, and he's playing really, really hard. … One thing you're going to see when you watch the film is Jerry plays extremely hard. It's one of those things where you know if he does make a mistake, it's never not at 100 miles per hour, 100 percent. I'm proud of him."
As Jeudy and the Broncos move forward, more even and bigger games may await them.
"I feel like I'm getting better each week," Jeudy said. "Playing together, I feel like just as a unit we have to start off faster."
If they can accomplish that, happier days will come soon.
Faster starts would help.
According to ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold, sputtering out of the gate seems to be on the first page of the Broncos' offensive playbook these days. This came against a Falcons defense that came into the game 22nd in scoring defense and 27th in total defense. And trailing 20-3 at halftime Sunday, the Broncos have now been outscored 121-64 in the first half of games this season.
Their next chance to rectify that will come Sunday, against the Raiders in Las Vegas. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Tight end Noah Fant's first reception Sunday went for 32 yards. And, yes, Fant injured his right ankle on the play, but a Broncos tight end didn't catch another pass until Albert Okwuegbunam's reception with 5:24 left in the third quarter.
Okwuegbunam suffered a season-ending torn ACL on the play; he was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
The Broncos took Okwuegbunam in the fourth round of this year's draft. He was teammates with Lock at Missouri.
Okwuegbunam made his debut in Week 6 and had 11 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown in four appearances.
The Broncos have already placed three tight ends -- Andrew Beck, Austin Fort, and Jake Butt -- on injured reserve. Fant and Nick Vannett remain on the active roster. ...
Beyond that, consistency is still elusive for Lock, as he missed a potential touchdown pass in the first quarter to Tim Patrick, took an early sack when he retreated -- instead of climbing -- in the pocket when he had some room and threw another back-foot, sidearm interception in the fourth quarter right after the Broncos had just made it a two-score game.
According to Legwold, Lock doesn't look settled enough of the time and has struggled to find his rhythm before it's fourth-quarter scramble time. Lock continues to show the effects of virtual meetings, canceled practices and no on-field work in the offseason, especially early in games. But that doesn't mean he's powerless to fix things, such as ditching the ball when it makes sense to ditch it and not throwing an interception like he threw to Ricardo Allen, which evaporated the last hopes of a comeback.
For what it's worth, Lock didn't regret trying to connect with Jeudy on the pass that was intercepted by Allen.
"I promise, I will throw that ball 10 times out of 10 to Jerry on that pick," Lock said. "I tried to backpedal and that's a throw. ... I should make. We'll get them next time."
There will be a next time. Or next times, more likely.
Their two leading receivers on Sunday -- Jeudy and K.J. Hamler -- are rookies and Fant, in his second year like Lock, was third in receiving yards. Jeudy, Hamler and Fant also accounted for all three of the Broncos' plays of over 30 yards in the game. ...
For what it's worth, Jeudy was an observer at Wednesday's practice; I'll be following up on that as needed via Late-Breaking Update. ...
And finally. ... Melvin Gordon logged 18 rushing yards on six carries, adding one reception for nine yards while Phillip Lindsay registered 23 rushing yards on eight carries, failing to haul in any of his three targets.
As CBSSports.com noted, after racking up 281 rushing yards and four total TDs over the first quarter of the regular season, Gordon has been inconsistent since his return from an illness that beset him in mid-October. In three appearances since his two-game absence, Gordon has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry with one total touchdown and fewer than 15 receiving yards in two of the three outings.
Lindsay may have been slowed slightly by a foot injury that kept him labeled as questionable entering the weekend, but the Falcons' performance against the run has been a strength of an otherwise inconsistent unit.
The duo will continues to share this week in a more favorable matchup against the Raiders' No. 15 rush defense.
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 10 November 2020
Matthew Stafford spent the practice week in COVID-19 protocols, not getting on the field with his team and unsure he would be able to suit up for Sunday's game in Minnesota.
Another set of protocols cut his game day short.
Stafford left Detroit's 34-20 loss to the Vikings in the fourth quarter for concussion testing after a sack, adding to a tough week for the team's longtime franchise quarterback. Stafford, who previously passed COVID-19 testing, also passed concussion testing and was cleared to travel back to Detroit with the team.
"The week was obviously a different one, a little bit of a stressful one," Stafford said. "No excuse, got to come out and play better."
Stafford finished 23 of 32 for 211 yards, one touchdown and two costly interceptions in the Lions' (3-5) second straight loss. He was replaced by Chase Daniel, who was 8 of 13 for 94 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
It was nearly Daniel's game from the beginning.
Stafford was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list earlier in the week. That list was created for players who either test positive or have been in close contact with an infected person. Stafford passed all tests and, after flying to Minnesota privately on his own, was able to play Sunday.
Being placed on the list was just one of his worries leading up to the game.
On Friday night, one of his daughters fell off a high chair and landed on her head, according to an Instagram post by Stafford's wife, Kelly. In the Instagram post, Kelly Stafford had worried about getting help for her daughter because of Stafford's status on the COVID-19 list.
"So here I was with zero family around, panicking about hunter and realizing NO neighbors would come over because everyone thought we had covid," Kelly wrote in Saturday's post. "I will never understand why the NFL players health information is released to media and the whole world.. I am honestly pleading that they stop."
After Sunday's game, Stafford said his daughter was doing better. Kelly revealed in the Instagram post that her daughter had sustained a concussion.
Throughout the week, Stafford was left to prepare himself mentally by participating in meetings via video conferencing and watching video of practices.
"Mentally, just trying to be in every meeting I could be," Stafford said after the game. "Our video department and coaches did an awesome job making sure I was able to get in all those and be a part of it. Obviously, Chase ... did an outstanding job preparing the guys. They were the guys out there in practice getting the reps and they did a nice job. I was just trying to do my part to make sure I was mentally and physically ready to go."
Stafford completed 16 straight passes in the first half during a strong start, but turnovers ruined his day in the second half.
He threw an interception to Eric Wilson in the red zone when he didn't see the linebacker. On the next drive, he was intercepted by linebacker Eric Kendricks in the end zone.
"Just mistakes," Stafford said. "I felt like I was playing at a pretty good clip there for a little bit. Obviously, some throws I'd like back. The two interceptions were bad decisions. The first one was a bad decision. The second one, just a poor throw, probably got to throw it higher."
Meanwhile, head coach Mett Patricia lost to Minnesota for the fifth straight time -- and by double-digits for the fifth straight time. The Lions gave up more rushing yards Sunday (275) than any other game against the Vikings during his tenure and more than against any other opponent this season.
They gave up one less yard (487) than their season-worst against Green Bay in 2020 and in the first half allowed an average of 11 yards per play. The Lions, against a team that entered Sunday 2-5 and much like Detroit, barely holding on to their season, looked far worse than their opponent -- particularly on defense.
Bad coaching has been an issue for Detroit, especially on defense, all season long and far too often during Patricia's tenure with the Lions. Against Minnesota, the Lions looked unprepared and outmatched again.
Detroit hasn't won a divisional game this season and haven't won an NFC North game since Dec. 30, 2018 -- nine straight losses against their most common foes.
After Sunday's loss, Patricia was asked where his team has improved since the start of the season. After the loss to the Vikings, it was hard to see much other than the team's punt rush, which Patricia pointed to.
"We talk a lot about consistency and obviously that's one thing that has not been good enough," Patricia said.
The Lions host Washington this Sunday, their second of four consecutive games against teams that currently have losing records (which clearly guarantees nothing). ...
Also of interest. ... Detroit entered the game converting touchdowns in the red zone 62 percent of the time, which was tied for 15th in the NFL. It's been an Achilles heel for coordinator Darrell Bevell and the Lions' offense at times this season.
A third and goal play Sunday from the Minnesota 1-yard line that saw Adrian Peterson take a 4-yard loss was an example. That wasn't executed well all the way around, from the protection upfront and from the back. The Vikings were more physical upfront and imposed their will in a key situation to blow the play up.
Not taking advantage of those opportunities more often has to be disappointing for the offense.
With Kenny Golladay out due to a hip injury, Minnesota's defense did a good job taking away the deep part of the field Sunday, which is a strategy we've seen a lot lately from Lions opponents. Don't give up the deep play, make the Lions drive the football. Stafford attempted one pass Sunday that traveled more than 20 yards in the air, per PFF statistics.
It was the opening deep shot to Marvin Hall down the left sideline that was a little under-thrown and fell incomplete.
Stafford attempted only five passes the rest of the game that went more than 10 yards in the air. He completed three and the other two were interceptions. Everything else (all of his other 26 pass attempts) were under 10 yards in the air. ...
Peterson, who returned to Minnesota with Washington last year and with New Orleans in 2017, had eight carries for 29 yards and three catches for 14 yards while again dropping behind rookie D'Andre Swift in the pecking order. Swift rushed 13 times for 64 yards (4.9 avg.) and caught three passes for 33 yards (11.0 avg.) to total 97 scrimmage yards on the day.
Swift became the fourth Lions player to total at least 250 rushing yards and 200 receiving yards through their first eight career games, joining Jahvid Best (2010), James Jones (1983) and Billy Sims (1980).
Tight end T.J. Hockenson recorded his fifth touchdown reception of the season to lead the Lions in TDs.
Matt Prater's 46-yard field-goal attempt went wide left for the Lions in the first quarter, the only missed kick of any type in 43 attempts against the Vikings this season.
And finally. ... I'll be following the status of Golladay closely in coming days. The wideout was initially expected to miss multiple games and he did not practice Wednesday to open this week. Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.
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 10 November 2020
Davante Adams has earned three career Pro Bowl invitations but hasn't yet earned All-Pro honors.
That could change this year.
Adams continued his brilliant season Thursday night by catching 10 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in a 34-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, who were missing many key players due to injury. Adams was asked afterward if he's the best wideout in the NFL.
"Yeah, I think that's fair to say," Adams replied. "I think that's not being conceited. That's just being confident."
Green Bay has relied heavily on Adams, who has an NFL-leading eight touchdown catches despite missing two games with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers calls Adams a "joy to play with."
Perhaps the Packers will need more balance in their passing attack to make a deep postseason run. Green Bay drew criticism from fans this week when it didn't add a wide receiver before the trade deadline.
But it's worth noting that Green Bay won those two games Adams missed due to injury, with Allen Lazard having a career-best game at New Orleans and tight end Robert Tonyan scoring three touchdowns against Atlanta.
As the Packers (6-2) reach the midway point of their season, there's reason to believe Adams might start getting more help from Green Bay's other receivers.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped a third-down pass early in Thursday's game, then bounced back by catching a 52-yard touchdown pass and scoring again on a 1-yard reception. Those were his first two touchdowns since a season-opening victory at Minnesota.
"I'm proud of Marquez," Rodgers said. "He's done a really nice job for us of just staying focused and staying confident."
Lazard is approaching a return from the core injury that has sidelined him for five games. Lazard had 17 catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns in three games.
Adams has 53 catches for 675 yards in just six games. He's the first NFL player to have at least 50 catches, 600 yards receiving and eight touchdown receptions over his first six games of his season.
"At this point when the ball's in the air, I expect to come down with it regardless of the situation (when) the ball's thrown to me," Adams said.
Also, the guy throwing it is really good.
With their running game hobbled or sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols, the Packers needed Rodgers to do what Rodgers does.
Clearly he did.
Rodgers was near perfect and dominated as he should have against an opponent that struggled to find warm bodies.
He had just six incompletions in 31 attempts, tossing for 305 yards and four touchdowns and looking every bit vintage Rodgers. He was 13-for-18 for 149 yards, three touchdowns, no picks and a 136.3 rating in the first half.
And it somehow didn't even seem or look that spectacular, it just looked like Rodgers going to work against an overwhelmed (and undermanned) opponent.
With no Jamaal Williams or A.J. Dillon available due to COVID-19 protocols, the return of Aaron Jones was all the more important.
It was believed the plan was for Jones to be limited, but out of the gate he was flying. Jones had the first four offensive touches of the game on the Pack's opening drive, tallying 37 yards that led to the Adams score to get the ball rolling. Jones started strong and was able to rest easy. The Packers didn't really need the running game for the majority of the night, but Jones' initial burst was more than enough to give the 49ers' defense something else to worry about.
At the end of the evening, Jones' dialed-back performance saw him tally 79 scrimmage yards on 20 touches (why he was still in during the fourth quarter is baffling although a knee injury to Dexter Williams left them with Tyler Ervin as the only option beyond Jones).
Jones, bum calf and all, showed up for the Packers when they needed him.
LaFleur said the Packers will be following intensive COVID-19 protocols for a few days as they prepare for their Nov. 15 home game with the Jacksonville Jaguars after Jordan Love was added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Friday. "We're hoping to get everybody through either today or tomorrow just to kind of flush their systems, and then we will reconvene on Monday," LaFleur said.
For the record, LaFleur told reporters he's not sure on the timeline for the return of Dillon. But Jamaal Williams was back at practice on Monday and Love was removed from the list on Tuesday.
CB Jaire Alexander is still in the concussion protocol but Kevin King (quad) was practicing. Also not practicing: S Will Redmond, S Vernon Scott, T Rick Wagner, WR Darius Shepherd and Dexter Williams (who is back on the practice squad).
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Sarah Barshop noted Sunday, the Texans took offers for wide receiver Will Fuller before the Nov. 3 trade deadline but ultimately did not find a deal that suited them, with interim head coach Romeo Crennel saying the speedy playmaker wouldn't be traded "for peanuts."
If Fuller had been traded, it wouldn't have sat well with the Texans' most important player: quarterback Deshaun Watson.
"It would have been hell if they would have did that, for sure," Watson said. "Honestly. I'm glad to continue to play with Will. We've been making a lot of big, big plays since I came into this league, [and we're] going to continue to do that as we continue to go the rest of this year and hopefully the rest of our careers."
Fuller and Watson's impressive chemistry was on display on Sunday in the Texans' 27-25 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Watson's trust in Fuller led to a 77-yard touchdown, on which the quarterback lofted the ball down the right sideline and trusted his playmaker to go get it. Fuller did, as he often has when the two try to connect for a big play.
Sunday marked the sixth straight game in which Fuller has caught a touchdown. According to ESPN Stats and Information research, Fuller's streak is the longest of the season and the longest streak by any player since Antonio Brown caught a touchdown pass in eight straight games in 2018.
Fuller, who is playing on his fifth-year option, said "it really sucked" to be "shopped around like that."
"Just giving this organization my all, coming to work every day, very unselfish player, do everything they ask, and then, just to be shopped around ... I did feel a certain type of way," Fuller said. "But like I said, I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to play with Deshaun and continue to try to get wins with this organization."
When the pending free agent was asked whether he wants to stay in Houston, he said, "I'm just focused on staying healthy and helping my team win."
Midway through the season, Fuller has 36 catches for 590 yards and six touchdowns. He already has more touchdowns this year than he had in either of his past two seasons.
Watson and Fuller have had tremendous success when on the field together, but Fuller has dealt with injuries throughout his NFL career, missing 22 games in his first four seasons. Fuller has played in all eight of the Texans' games this season.
After Fuller caught five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, Crennel reiterated his stance on trading the receiver only for a "deluxe-nut package."
"I think we saw today why I would only take deluxe nuts for Will Fuller," Crennel said. "Because he makes tremendous plays, he's a tremendous athlete, tremendous receiver, and I'm so glad that we have him."
Meanwhile, the Texans will travel to Cleveland to face the Browns this weekend. Houston has won five straight and seven of eight in the series.
On the injury front. ... Running back David Johnson (concussion), guard Senio Kelemete (concussion) and defensive end Charles Omenihu (leg) were all sidelined in Jacksonville.
Johnson was hit hard on a tackle by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack in the second quarter. Backup running back Duke Johnson took over for David.
Prior to his injury, David ran for 16 yards on two carries.
Watson finished as the team's leading rusher with 50 yards; the QB had a number of runs that gave the Texans additional first downs. One of those runs was a scramble that got him down to the one yard line. Duke Johnson ran it in on the next play for the Texans only rushing touchdown of the day. ...
Crennel told reporters on Wednesday that David Johnson would probably not practice Wednesday. As NFL Network's Ian Rapoport suggested, no practice on Wednesday for someone in the concussion protocol does not bode well for their participation on Sunday.
I'll have more via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
According John Harris of the team's official website, Brandin Cooks' touchdown was the first touchdown on an opening drive in a regular season game started by Watson since 2018. Two full calendar years. The last time that it happened was in Week 9 of 2018 against the Denver Broncos when Watson completed a seven yard pass to rookie tight end Jordan Thomas.
That's a span of 29 games in the regular season between Watson opening drive touchdowns.
To be clear, in the playoff loss to Kansas City, Watson hit Kenny Stills for a touchdown right out of the chute and when A.J. McCarron started in week 17 against the Titans, he led the Texans on a touchdown drive. But, in the regular season with Watson at the helm, it was a lengthy streak. ...
And finally. ... J.J. Watt notched the 100th sack of his career when he stripped Jake Luton in the fourth quarter. Watt became the 35th player in NFL history to reach the century mark and the first to accomplish the feat for the Texans. "I appreciate the sentiment and everything, but I probably should have done this three or four years ago," Watt said. "It's a big deal, but to me it's past due."
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Mike Wells notes, everything was going the Colts' way for just about two quarters against the Ravens, the opponent that represented their biggest test so far this season.
The Colts defense had bottled reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense during the first half, holding them to 54 total yards and no points in the first 30 minutes of the game.
"But," Wells continued, "There usually is a but with the Colts. ..."
They had two costly mistakes that led to 14 points, and then that stalwart defense started to wear down against the reigning NFL MVP and his teammates.
The Colts, who started the most grueling part of their schedule Sunday, couldn't get it together on either side of the ball in the second half of their 24-10 loss to the Ravens on Sunday.
Indianapolis doesn't have much time to regroup because it goes on the road to face AFC South counterpart Tennessee on Thursday. The Titans (6-2) beat Chicago on Sunday to take a one-game lead over the Colts (5-3) in the division.
To put into perspective how little room for error the Colts have, they were on their way to potentially taking at least a 10-0 lead over the Ravens when rookie running back Jonathan Taylor fumbled at Baltimore's 35-yard line. Ravens safety Chuck Clark picked up the ball and returned it 65 yards for the touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.
That was Taylor's first fumble in 108 carries this season.
The Colts, again, had momentum going their way after defensive lineman DeForest Buckner forced a fumble at Indianapolis' 7-yard line to preserve -- momentarily, at least -- their 10-7 lead. The game completely flipped in Baltimore's favor after quarterback Philip Rivers, who struggled with his accuracy all game, underthrew a pass to receiver Marcus Johnson.
Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters grabbed the ball out of the air didn't appear to have control of the ball before going to the ground, but Baltimore coach John Harbaugh challenged the play and the officials ruled that Peters took three steps to establish possession of the interception.
Baltimore used the interception to turn it into another touchdown to take a 14-10 lead.
The Colts had the ball for a total of four plays and one yard in the third quarter, while the defense started to tire out against the Ravens, who played with more tempo and mixed in more of the passing game to go with their rushing attack.
After holding the Ravens to 54 yards in the first half, the Colts gave up 212 yards in the second half.
According to Wells, the problem the Colts faced Sunday and will continue to face this season is that their offense is not built to play from behind against playoff-caliber teams because they rely so much on shorter passes instead of stretching the field through the air.
Other notes of interest. ... Rivers didn't hold back in voicing his displeasure over the NFL's murky rule of what is and isn't a catch after Peters' interception.
"It's gotten so jacked up how the catch rule is," the quarterback said. "No one who has been around football or watched thought that was a catch, including the guy [Peters] who dropped it. But some guy who has probably never thrown a football in his life gets to decide."
Al Riveron, the NFL's senior vice president of officiating, said there was "clear and obvious visual evidence" that Peters controlled the ball and took three steps to establish possession before fumbling.
Rivers tried to soften his stance on the changed call at the end of his Zoom session with the media.
"I'll probably get in trouble for saying the guy has probably never thrown a football, but they called it an interception, so it's an interception," he said. "Bottom line is I probably shouldn't have thrown the ball. Shouldn't have thrown it short. You throw it short, you leave it in other people's hands."
Rivers had played the best football of the season in the two games before Sunday -- wins over Cincinnati and Detroit -- but lacked accuracy for most of the game against the Ravens. Rivers, who often threw behind his receivers, finished 26-of-44 for 227 yards and no touchdowns.
The 59-percent completion percentage was his lowest of the season. ...
When the Colts drafted running back Taylor in the second round this year, the word was that he and Marlon Mack would share the top spot on the backfield depth chart.
Mack went down for the year with a torn Achilles in Week 1 and Taylor saw more work in subsequent games, but things have trended the other way the last two weeks. He played 13 fewer snaps than Jordan Wilkins in Week 8 and Wilkins got more touches in Sunday's loss to the Ravens as well.
As Profootballtalk.com notes, Taylor had six carries for 27 yards and a touchdown, but lost a fumble that Ravens safety Chuck Clark returned for a touchdown late in the first quarter. Only one of his carries came after that miscue, but head coach Frank Reich insists that wasn't a sign of diminished confidence in the rookie.
"I can tell you this, there was never any discussion over the headset about, 'Hey, let's get the other guys in there,'" Reich said, via Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. "That was not talked about. It was, 'He has to get over it and get ready to go.' We have confidence in him, all the confidence in the world."
Taylor had a history of fumbles at Wisconsin and the team started working with him on better ball security once he was drafted. He didn't fumble in the first seven games of this season and should get further opportunities to show it isn't an issue based on Reich's answer. ...
Reich also told reporters on Monday that tight end Jack Doyle is in the league's concussion protocol, and with the quick turnaround this week it's "probably going to be tough for him to get cleared" by Thursday night's game against the Titans.
Doyle was officially ruled out on Wednesday, meaning the team will continue to turn to veterans Trey Burton and Mo Alie-Cox (questionable, knee) at the tight end position. Undrafted rookie Noah Togiai could be called up to play in his fourth game of the year.
In other injury-related news, the team will get wide receiver T.Y. Hilton back against the Titans.
Hilton suffered a groin injury during the Colts' Week 8 win over the Detroit Lions and didn't return; he missed practice all of last week and was inactive for Sunday's loss to the Ravens.
With the Colts holding mostly walkthrough-type practice sessions this week on a short week -- Hilton made his return, was listed as a full participant all three days and was removed from the final injury report on Wednesday.
Hilton has had a quiet season, but the Colts could use all the offensive help they can find after being held to 10 points by Baltimore. ...
One last note here. ... The Colts have signed wideout DeMichael Harris to the 53-man roster from the practice squad, signed running back Darius Jackson to the practice squad and waived defensive end Ron'Dell Carter.
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Mike DiRocco framed it, "New quarterback, same result. ..."
But rookie sixth-round pick Jake Luton provided a definite spark and late-game surge that could potentially signal the end of Minshew Mania in Jacksonville.
Luton nearly rallied the Jacksonville Jaguars to tie the Houston Texans late at TIAA Bank Field, but his two-point conversion pass with 1:29 to play was rushed because of a blitz and went wide of receiver D.J. Chark. The Jaguars lost 27-25.
It was the Jaguars' seventh consecutive loss but the closest they've come to a victory since the season opener and they did it with a quarterback who hadn't been active this season until Sunday and got the start because Gardner Minshew is out with a thumb injury.
In his first game action since his final game at Oregon State on Nov. 23, 2019, Luton completed 26 of 38 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He also ran for what could have been a game-tying touchdown, finishing it with a spin move against cornerback Keion Crossen near the goal line.
"I thought he made some really nice throws," head coach Doug Marrone said. "I'm sure there's some he wants back. First time you're starting and down by a score and two-point conversion and lead your team down the field and potentially tie the game with a two-point conversion, that's a check mark. There's a lot of check marks."
After the game, Luton said he felt comfortable in his new role.
"I would say I was more nervous for like my first practice this week," Luton said, via John Reid of the Florida Times-Union. "I felt confident and never overwhelmed at the moment."
In announcing earlier last week that Luton would start, Marrone said he wouldn't guarantee that Minshew would regain his job when he got healthy. If Luton was playing really well, he could remain the starter.
So it's no surprise Luton will start again this week against the Packers, which Marrone confirmed Monday.
Marrone said he was "not really looking at the future because it's going to me a while to get over this one" and that there wasn't a decision to make at quarterback because Minshew isn't throwing.
Marrone said he liked a lot of what he saw from Luton, especially the way he kept his eyes downfield when trying to scramble and his willingness to take those downfield shots. He hit Chark on a 73-yarder for a TD on his second career pass and narrowly missed another deep throw to Keelan Cole.
"So, when under duress, you see him still working to push the football down the field. And then, at the end of the game, you saw him have the ability to take off and go," Marrone said. "So, I think those things go to one of the things that you look for, checking the boxes. I thought communication-wise, just his getting in and out, not getting delays of game -- a lot of that stuff happens early in someone's career, you could have those situations. So, being able to spit the plays out, get everybody lined up.
"And then really, the two two-minute drives, especially the one at the end, he's a guy that has zero work. We tried to get in some extra work with him on two-minute at the end of the day and I thought he really handled himself well throughout the four quarters."
Minshew originally hurt his right thumb on Oct. 11 but hid the injury from the team until after the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 25. He completed a season-low 51.9 percent of his passes (14 for 27) for 173 yards and two touchdowns and the offense started the game with four consecutive three-and-outs.
Minshew has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,855 yards and 13 touchdowns with five interceptions this season.
Other notes of interest. ... Running back James Robinson has four touchdowns in three games, further establishing himself as the team's most consistent player. The undrafted rookie from Illinois State has 805 yards from scrimmage, including 580 rushing, to go along with seven touchdowns.
Chark caught seven passes for a season-high 146 yards, including the above-mentioned 73-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. He could be the biggest beneficiary of the switch from Minshew to Luton, who has the arm to get the ball down the field.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars need a new kicker.
Kicker Josh Lambo is likely done for the season after aggravating his gluteus medius muscle, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. It's a worse version of the injury that caused him to miss four games this year, Rapoport added. The team placed him on injured reserve on Monday.
Lambo has connected on all five of his field goal attempts in 2020, including a 59-yarder in this past Sunday's loss to the Texans. The sixth-year veteran has arguably been the most reliable kicker in the league since joining Jacksonville in 2017, connecting on 76 of 80 field goals.
With Lambo presumably headed to injured reserve -- he's already been on IR once so a second trip officially ends his season -- the Jags needed a replacement. On Tuesday, they decided on Chase McLaughlin, signing him off the Vikings' practice squad. He will become Jacksonville's sixth kicker this season.
McLaughlin will have to go through the league's COVID-19 protocols before he can begin practicing with the team.
It's been a brutal year for the Jaguars at the kicking position, with Lambo, Stephen Hauschka, Jon Brown, Brandon Wright and Aldrick Rosas all coming and going because of injuries, ineffectiveness or (in Rosas' case) an NFL suspension.
The Jaguars will now hope McLaughlin can give them some consistency at a position where they've had anything but.
Elsewhere on the roster, receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., who left Sunday's loss with a hamstring injury, has a chance to play Sunday against the Packers, Rapoport reported. I'll be following up on his status via Late-Breaking Update in coming days, but Shenault was on the field for Wednesday's session.
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 10 November 2020
According to ESPN.com's Adam Teicher, Travis Kelce wasn't surprised to hear after the Chiefs' 33-31 victory over the Panthers on Sunday that Patrick Mahomes had become the fastest quarterback to reach 100 career touchdown passes.
"Another record," Kelce said. "Put it on the shelf.
"I'm looking forward to a lot more good memories, man, a lot of records to be broken."
Mahomes threw four touchdown passes on Sunday, giving him 101 in his 40th regular-season game. Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins had previously been the fastest to 100, reaching the milestone in 44 games.
Mahomes threw touchdown passes of 1 yard to Demarcus Robinson, 4 yards to Clyde Edwards-Helaire and 28 and 2 yards to Tyreek Hill on Sunday. He has 25 touchdown passes to just one interception this season for the 8-1 Chiefs, who have their bye week upcoming.
"You're seeing the best of him right now," head coach Andy Reid said. "And some of it you might not see, the things he does behind the scenes, whether it's the look-offs and [other] small, subtle things.
"We have full confidence that he'll do what he needs to do to win a game. That's how he operates."
Hill claims thee 2018 MVP is playing at a higher level than he has at any point in the past.
"The year that he threw the 50 touchdowns, he was amazing, obviously," Hill said, via Nate Taylor of TheAthletic.com. "But this year, it's like he's seeing things differently. He's doing more no-looks. He's reading the defense better. He's changing the play. He's just great. He has gotten a lot better."
Mahomes threw at least four touchdown passes in a game for the 12th time in his career, including the playoffs. That's the most such games in the NFL over the past three seasons. It's five more than the next closest quarterback, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, since the start of the 2018 season.
Mahomes had 50 touchdown passes in 2018, his first season as a starter. That total dropped last season to 26, but he's almost at that same mark just past the halfway point this year.
"I think I just understand the game more," Mahomes said. "Last year I just didn't have as many stats to kind of [pad the total], I guess you could say. But I feel like I was playing better last year than I did the year before. This year we're getting the touchdowns we didn't have last year. But every year I'm more comfortable within the offense, I'm more comfortable reading the defenses and understanding where the ball is going to go even before the snap of the ball."
Mahomes, who threw five touchdown passes in last week's win over the New York Jets, now ranks second in the league in TD passes for the season, one spot ahead of the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers and right behind Wilson (26).
"The year he threw the 50 touchdowns he was amazing, obviously," Hill said. "But this year it's like he's seeing things differently. He's doing more no-looks, he's reading the defense better, he's changing the plays."
Mahomes ranks second in the NFL in passing yards (2,687) and passing touchdowns (25) while ranking third in passer rating (115.9).
Meanwhile, Kelce hauled in 10 grabs for 159 yards on Sunday, which were both season-highs. It marked the third-highest yardage total of his career, and his most productive outing since 2018.
He tallied three receptions of at least 20 yards, matching Dwayne Bowe for the second-most 20-yard career catches in franchise history (101), and since 2014, only five players have more across the NFL.
Kelce also notched his 22nd career 100-yard game, matching Jackie Smith for the fourth-most 100-yard performances by a tight end in NFL history.
Hill put together another impressive game on Sunday, tallying nine catches for 113 yards and the two touchdowns. It marked Hill's second-straight game with two touchdowns, and when looking at his body of work over the past four seasons, no player has more multi-receiving touchdown games (9) than Hill.
Additionally, his 22 receiving touchdowns of at least 25 yards in that span rank first in the NFL and eight catches ahead of second place.
The Chiefs featured two 100-yard receivers for the first time in a while
Both Kelce and Hill's performances marked the first time the Chiefs featured multiple 100-yard receivers since Week 2 of last season, when Kelce and Robinson each tallied 100-plus yards through the air.
Harrison Butker nailed another long field goal.
Butker connected on a 55-yard field goal early in the second quarter, marking his third kick of at least 55 yards this season. Remarkably, as of Monday morning, no other kicker in the NFL has connected on more than one such kick.
The Chiefs scored 23-plus points for the 23rd straight game on Sunday, breaking the NFL record that this same squad set back between the 2018-19 seasons.
In other words, Kansas City has scored at least 23 points in 45 of their last 46 games.
So yes. ... The Chiefs head into their bye week pretty much right where we need them to be -- although more production from the backfield duo of Edwards-Helaire and Le'Veon Bell would be great. ...
Now the less great news. ... The Chiefs have placed WR Mecole Hardman on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. I'll be watching for more on this throughout the off week.
One last note here. ... Reid continues to establish himself as one of the all-time greats
Reid passed Curly Lambeau for sole possession of fifth place on the all-time wins list (including the postseason) on Sunday, as Reid notched career victory No. 230.
Only Don Shula (347), George Halas (324), Bill Belichick (306) and Tom Landry (270) have more career victories than Reid.
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez framed it, "Go ahead, check that first box on the Las Vegas Raiders' three-game march through the AFC West. ..."
Because with a 31-26 win at the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, the Raiders not only improved to 5-3 on the season, but, perhaps more importantly, 2-0 in the division. And with the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs, who were handed their lone loss of the season by Las Vegas, coming to Allegiant Stadium the next two weeks, the Raiders gave themselves a greater opportunity at the midway point of the season to actually make some legitimate, second-half noise.
The Raiders were able to come together as a team and get a couple of big stops from cornerback Isaiah Johnson, who forced two incompletions in the end zone to win the game. The Raiders defense was assisted once again by the explosive play on the other side of the ball as Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs were able to once again get it done for the Raiders.
Carr found success despite missing three starting offensive linemen and rookie guard John Simpson, throwing for 165 yards and two touchdowns to Nelson Agholor and Darren Waller.
As Levi Edwards of the team's official website notes, Carr has been enjoying a sleeper MVP-caliber season, with over 1,800 passing yards, 14 touchdowns with a 110.2 quarterback rating. Carr's individual success has not taken his mind off the bigger picture though.
"I love putting up big numbers and all that kind of stuff but I've done those things," said Carr. "Been to the Pro Bowl, it's fun for people to pat your back but none of that stuff matters unless you win."
"Really proud of the guys who have stepped up, and really proud of our coaching staff for getting those guys ready."
Defensive end Maxx Crosby admired his quarterback as well. Crosby ended the game with six tackles and a sack.
"Derek, he's not thinking, he's just being himself, he's playing not worried about what anyone is saying," said Maxx Crosby. "He's been so impressive and we're halfway through the season he's just getting started.
"I love Derek, he's getting better every day and I know he puts in the time so I'm just glad to see him putting it together."
A dimension of Carr's game that he showcased Sunday that some overlook was his vertical.
Carr was able to use his feet and dive over a defender on a third-down situation to set up the touchdown for Darren Waller in the third quarter. Carr claims that Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was on his mind on the play. "Especially with the sleeve on, absolutely. We're in L.A. and I'd be lying to you if I told you Kobe wasn't on my mind this week."
It will be intriguing to see how many more tricks Carr can pull out of that sleeve as the Raiders will return home to play the Broncos in Allegiant Stadium Sunday.
Other notes of interest. ... Carr's longest pass of the day was arguably his best play of the year. He moved out of the pocket, extending the play with his feet, pointed downfield to Hunter Renfrow and fired a perfect pass 53 yards.
Carr completed 13 passes out of 23 attempts for 165 yards and two touchdowns, but 98 of those yards came on two pass plays. The first was a 45-yard touchdown to Agholor and the second was the aforementioned 53-yard strike to Renfrow. Carr is pushing the ball downfield this season, much to the delight of Raider Nation.
The rushing attack was strong for the second straight game, gaining 160 yards and averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Devonte Booker led the way with 68 yards on eight carries and Jacobs had 14 carries for 65 yards.
Booker opened the scoring, going 23 yards around right end for his first touchdown in two years. After Los Angeles tied it, Jacobs put the Raiders back on top with a 14-yard run in the second quarter.
"Every week coming in I think we are going to run the ball good," Jacobs said. "I don't think we're close to our peak. There are a lot of things where we have to eliminate the mental errors."
On the injury front. ... CB Trayvon Mullen (hamstring) and FB Alec Ingold (ribs) were injured during the first half. LT Kolton Miller (ankle) was inactive for the first time in his three-year career.
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 10 November 2020
Just when you thought the Los Angeles Chargers had exhausted all the ways to lose a game, they came up with a new one in Sunday's 31-26 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders at SoFi Stadium.
As ESPN.com's Shelley Smith reported it, down by five points with one last gasp and one second on the clock, tight end Donald Parham Jr. appeared to catch the ball in the end zone -- he was single covered by the Raiders' Isaiah Johnson on the right side of the field -- but then came the official ruling: He didn't have control.
It was a stunning loss (haven't they all been?), especially because rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had valiantly led his team from its own 25-yard line all the way to the 4, but couldn't get them in the end zone. The play before Parham's non-touchdown, Herbert threw a beautiful fade to Mike Williams in the corner of the end zone, which Williams caught but eventually had jarred away by Johnson.
Herbert had led the Chargers back from a 28-17 deficit (a change from the norm of the Chargers squandering double digits) to within two points at 28-26 after throwing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Nabers with 9:04 left. Herbert was shaken up on the play and the Chargers chose to have Tyrod Taylor, the QB who was injured by an errant pain-killing shot that collapsed his lung before the second game, come in for the score-tying 2-point conversion instead of taking a timeout and having Herbert return.
Taylor came in and tried to run the ball in for the 2-point conversion, but was stopped short.
Herbert was 26 of 42 for 326 yards and two touchdowns for the Chargers (2-6), who had a game come down to the final play for the second straight week only to come up short.
Los Angeles' six defeats have been by a combined 24 points and all have been decided by seven points or fewer. The Chargers have dropped nine straight AFC West games.
"Right now we've been kicked in the gut six times, and that's six times too many for me," head coach Anthony Lynn said.
Lynn was asked what his message was to his team after another painful loss.
"I told the guys just keep competing," Lynn said during his press conference. "They did what I asked them to do. They competed for four quarters. I thought they were resilient and I thought they bounced back. I thought they played for one another. I do know if you continue to do that, at some point good things will happen."
Indeed, the Chargers became the first team in nearly 11 years to score 10 or more points in the final 20 seconds of the first half as they rallied to take a 17-14 lead.
The last team to score 10 points that late in the half was Philadelphia on Dec. 28, 2008, against Dallas.
There was a lot to like about the way Herbert brought the team back late in Sunday's game and plenty of reason to think that his future is a bright one, but the present remains a frustrating one for the Chargers.
They'll be looking for a different outcome against the Dolphins and their rookie QB, Tua Tagovailoa, in Miami this weekend. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Herbert is the fourth quarterback in NFL history with at least 2,100 yards through his first seven career starts. He ranks third on the list with 2,146 which puts him above Cam Newton (2,103) and below Patrick Mahomes (2,149.) Former Chargers QB Billy Volek holds the top spot accruing 2,305 yards during his first seven starts with the Titans.
Allen finished with nine receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown. With the nine catches, Allen tied Hall of Fame wideout Charlie Joiner for the second-most receptions by a Charger in franchise history (586.) Allen reached the feat in 94 games. Sunday also marked Allen's 26th 100-yard game. It was his third 100-yard game of the season and third career 100-yard game against the Raiders.
Kalen Ballage had 15 carries for 69 yards and his first career touchdown. He was signed to the Chargers' practice squad earlier in the season and was called up for the game due to injuries.
"Kalen, he stepped up and I thought he did a good job," Lynn said. "In the second half I thought he started looking too much downfield instead of taking what was in front of him."
Ballage's big day came after Justin Jackson sustained a knee injury during the first quarter. According to The Athletic's Daniel Popper, Lynn told reporters on Wednesday he's leaning toward resting Jackson this week in practice.
The coach will make a decision later in the week as far as whether Jackson will play against the Dolphins. According to Popper, it "doesn't sound promising."
Herbert's injury, which came as he was hit as he threw the ball to Nabers, didn't appear to be serious, as he was back in the game on the Chargers' next series.
Tackle Bryan Bulaga left the game with an injury to his back. He had just returned after aggressively rehabbing his back and said he had been feeling good. It's a big loss to the Chargers' offensive line, which just can't get back to full strength.
DE Joey Bosa and RB Troymaine Pope were inactive with concussions. Bosa was slated to participate in individual drils Wednesday, but he's still in the concussion protocol.
I'll be following up on all the walking wounded via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Lindsey Thiry reported, head coach Sean McVay didn't mince words following an embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 8.
"This is a sick taste in your mouth," McVay said after the 28-17 defeat.
A day later, at the outset of the Rams' bye week, McVay didn't feel much better.
"You've got that disappointing feeling of not accomplishing what we felt like we were supposed to," McVay said. "Unfortunately, you've got to kind of sit on this a little bit longer than what you'd like, but you can't allow it to linger too long."
The Rams finished the first half of the season 5-3 overall and 0-1 in the NFC West. Despite sweeping the NFC East, the Rams' only victory over a team with a winning record was a 24-10 rout of the Chicago Bears (5-3) in Week 7.
"We're good," L.A. wide receiver Robert Woods said. "We're not great."
McVay had the best summary of the offense's performance.
"It's been up and down," he said. "Overall, not consistent enough for the standards that we have."
The Rams have utilized more playmakers than in McVay's previous three seasons, but the offense's identity remains in flux through eight games.
The first three contests saw the Rams assert their ability to run the ball, and they demonstrated an capacity to stick with it despite trailing the Buffalo Bills by 25 points in a Week 3 game that they nearly came back in to win. However, despite their success behind Darrell Henderson Jr., Malcolm Brown and Cam Akers, the Rams were slow to establish the run during recent losses to the 49ers and Dolphins.
Quarterback Jared Goff has performed masterfully at times but woefully at others. In a Week 2 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Goff got off to a blazing start and passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns. But on Sunday, Goff failed to navigate the Dolphins' pressure and completed 35 of 61 passes for 355 yards and a touchdown and was responsible for four turnovers.
"Just need to be better, got to be better," said Goff, who has passed for 13 touchdowns with six interceptions and whose 59.9 total QBR ranks 24th in the league. "Got to learn from some things and be a lot better, and I will be."
The offense is averaging 396.4 yards per game (ranks eighth), however the Rams are scoring only 24.1 points per game (20th).
"The biggest thing is consistency," said Woods, who has scored a team-high six touchdowns. "That's where we need to measure our success, and right now, we're not up to par where we need to be."
The second half of the Rams' schedule will require them to produce at a higher level.
According to ESPN analytics, their remaining strength of schedule ranks as the third-most difficult in the league, and they have a 61 percent chance of making the playoffs.
The Rams open the second half of season playing host to the division-leading Seattle Seahawks (6-1), then must travel to Tampa Bay to take on the NFC South leading Buccaneers (6-2). The Rams return to SoFi Stadium to play the injury-riddled San Francisco 49ers (4-4) in Week 12, then travel to Arizona to play the surging Cardinals (5-2). ...
Looking for positives, look no further than Henderson.
As USA Today suggested, he still hasn't been handed the keys as the Rams' workhorse running back the way Todd Gurley was for years -- and Henderson may never reach that point. He has just one game this season with more than 16 carries, and has just 95 total rush attempts through eight games (11.9 per game).
Yet, Henderson remains one of the most efficient and explosive running backs in the NFL -- which is a deadly combination.
Of his 95 carries, 16 have gone for at least 10 yards. That's the fourth-highest total of any running back this year, trailing only Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook and Kareem Hunt.
It's reasonable to think that if Henderson gets more opportunities moving forward, he'll push 1,000 yards rushing. He already has 458 yards in the first eight games, and that's with barely playing in the season opener against Dallas due to a hamstring injury.
By just about every measure, Henderson has been one of the NFL's best running backs this year and there's still room for improvement.
Cooper Kupp has been targeted at least seven times in six consecutive games, so while his inevitable regression to the mean in the scoring department has limited his production, fantasy's No. 15-scoring WR will remain a high-floor WR2/3 play once the Rams return.
Should we be buying into Gerald Everett as a consistent producer following a nine-target Week 8?
According to Thiry, no.
Everett had an uptick in action because of Tyler Higbee's hand injury. While Everett continues to be an explosive option, don't expect him to be targeted at this pace moving forward, given Higbee's expected return to health and Everett's inability to consistently capitalize on the increased opportunity.
While I'll be watching for more on Henderson, it was Kupp who McVay said would be limited at practice Wednesday. The coach added, Kupp will likely play against the Seahawks, however. I'll continue to follow up as needed via Late-Breaking Update in coming days.
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 10 November 2020
As ESPN.com's Cameron Wolfe framed it: "The Miami Dolphins have found their quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, and it was made clear in his second career start when he led an undermanned team on the road Sunday to defeat a playoff-contending Arizona Cardinals squad 34-31 for the Dolphins' fourth consecutive win.
"After a lackluster first start, the rookie QB showed off his electric star potential by consistently stepping up in pressure, making clutch throws and clinching a game with his legs."
In a week in which head coach Brian Flores had to squash the idea that Tagovailoa was on a 10-game audition and had to deal with a COVID-19 scare that notably affected the coaching staff, Miami showed it could overcome adversity and trade punches with another NFL playoff contender.
Perhaps the best measure?
The Dolphins' point differential, plus-61, is fifth in the NFL, and a measurement of their improvement in the past 12 months. At midseason in 2019 they were minus-153.
It's hard not to think playoffs with this Dolphins team that improved to 5-3.
The Dolphins would hold the No. 7 spot in the AFC playoff race if the season had ended Sunday, thanks to a strength-of-victory tiebreak over the Cleveland Browns (5-3). Miami is 1 1/2 games back of the Buffalo Bills (7-2) for the AFC East lead. It should be a fun December for Dolphins fans.
After besting Arizona's Kyler Murray, Tagovailoa faces another matchup of young guns Sunday when the Dolphins play host to Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The showdown marks the start of an inviting four-game stretch against opponents (the Chargers, Broncos, Jets and Bengals) who were a combined 7-24-1 through Sunday, which should allow the Dolphins to strengthen their case for the franchise's first playoff berth since 2016.
Other notes of interest. ... As Associated Press sports writer Steven Wine noted, the Dolphins have made huge strides since Flores took over, but he has yet to get the ground game going. Last year it was so bad that the Dolphins' leading rusher was 37-year-old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and this season they again rank last in the NFL in yards per carry at 3.6.
A line that has started three rookies has been unable to create holes with any frequency, and the options at running back are such that 2019 seventh-round pick Myles Gaskin became the starter before he was sidelined by a knee injury.
Veteran newcomers Jordan Howard and Matt Breida have failed to provide an upgrade at running back, combining for 65 carries for 161 yards, a 2.5 average. ...
With Gaskin on IR, Breida was slated to start until a hamstring injury sidelined him. Howard started with Patrick Laird chipping in on passing downs. But it was running back Salvon Ahmed who led the team in rushing in his NFL debut and did so averaging 2.43 yards after initial contact. That number led all backs, but Tagovailoa's 2.57 average yards after contact led the team on the day.
Wide receiver Preston Williams produced 60 yards and a touchdown on just five targets, an average of 12 yards per target. DeVante Parker caught six of his seven targets for 64 yards (9.14 YPT) and Jakeem Grant caught all four of his targets for 35 yards (8.75 YPT).
Tight end Mike Gesicki picked up 42 yards by catching three of his four pass targets. His 331 receiving yards are 10th among tight ends in the NFL and fifth among AFC tight ends.
The Dolphins have remained relatively healthy, but the toll on offense is beginning to mount. Williams left Sunday's game because of a foot injury and is being placed on IR, and tight end Durham Smythe was evaluated for a concussion.
Williams had 14 catches for 228 yards and three touchdowns this season as one of the Dolphins' starting outside receivers.
Flores said earlier this week that Williams was day-to-day with a foot injury, but confirmed on Wednesday that Williams will be going on injured reserve.
"More significant than we thought," Flores said, via Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
Williams will miss at least three games as a result of the move and Flores declined to give a timeline on when the team expects him back.
Speedy receiver Jakeem Grant will need to step up if Williams can go. I'll have more on that via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
Kicker Jason Sanders nailed a 50-yard field goal with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter that put the Dolphins ahead for good. It set a franchise record for Sanders' 20th consecutive field goal made, breaking a record set by Olindo Mare in 1999. Sanders is 17-of-17 this season, including a career-long, 56-yard field goal that he also hit Sunday.
Sanders has won an AFC Special Teams Player of the Week and AFC Special Teams Player of the Month award, and his value on the Dolphins has been more than worthy of a Pro Bowl bid this season.
Grant's 237 punt return yards leads the NFL and the 13.9 average yards per return ranks third (min. 5 returns).
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 10 November 2020
Dalvin Cook overtook the NFL's rushing lead and put together another career day in the Minnesota Vikings' 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions.
The day held special meaning for the fourth-year running back to do it in front of a future Hall of Famer and the player he replaced in Minnesota after he was drafted in the second round in 2017.
With Adrian Peterson on hand, Cook rushed for 206 yards -- a career high -- and two touchdowns on 22 carries and caught two passes for 46 yards, setting a personal best for scrimmage yards with 252. Cook reached his previous career high (226 yards) last week in a win over Green Bay.
"It means a lot to me," Cook said of having Peterson present on his milestone day. "A guy that has done it before me and was in the same shoes I was in, just a few years ago. It means a lot. When I got drafted, I really didn't know what I was getting myself into. I thought I was going to be a guy that just came in and played behind Adrian. But they drafted me to come play right away, and I had to be ready. I was just a kid; didn't know. Just to be playing on the field with Adrian, it's always a blessing for me to soak that up, every time."
As ESPN.com's Courtney Cronin noted, last week, Peterson called Cook "a lethal weapon," a compliment the Vikings' star has embodied in back-to-back wins for a Minnesota team (3-5) that is suddenly inching closer to being in the hunt for one of the last playoff spots in the NFC.
"Lethal weapon, yeah that made me feel great," Cook said. "Like I said, I can't say enough about him. We can sit here and I can tell you so much about him, how I feel about him. I'm just, if he hear this or he don't, I'm just glad that I got a chance to watch him growing up as a young kid. To see that, it was something special for me. He don't know how he impacted my career as far as a running back. I appreciate him for everything. Just for being my big brother for anything. All Day, just keep doing you, man, and I appreciate it."
Despite having missed one and a half games after injuring his groin in Seattle in Week 5, Cook now leads the NFL in rushing with 858 yards and a league-best 10 rushing TDs. In his past two games, the running back has amassed 478 scrimmage yards and six total TDs, the fourth player ever to reach that feat in a two-game span.
Cook's performance in Week 9 was filled with plenty of highlight-reel plays. Some, like the 70-yard touchdown run he broke off in the fourth quarter, held noteworthy statistical value. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the expected rushing yards on that TD was 7 yards, meaning Cook had 63 rushing yards over expectation. It's the fourth time this season in which the Vikings' back has posted at least 30 rushing yards over expected on an attempt this season.
As it stands, no player has more than two such runs this season (Miles Sanders and Sony Michel each have two).
Cook reached the second-fastest speed by a ball carrier (20.9 miles per hour) in Week 9 and traveled 81.7 total yards (fifth-longest play of the week) during the 70-yard touchdown.
"I think the most impressive run for me, among several, was the flip," quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "We pitched it out to him late in the game with a corner blitz. And he made the corner miss and was able to dart up the field for a big gain. That play was not looking good with that corner blitz. But when you have a great player like that that can make somebody miss, it turned into a big gain and that says a lot about Dalvin and his ability."
Others won't show up on the stat sheet but held equal importance to the success of the Vikings' offense.
On Irv Smith's second touchdown, Cook picked up a critical block as the tight end came across the formation to give Cousins the space to find Smith in front of the end zone.
"Dalvin is a terrific player because it doesn't matter to him," head coach Mike Zimmer said. "Obviously he wants to get 200 yards every week but he's going to do all the dirty work ... he's going to do everything. That's why he's a captain. That's why he comes to work every single day. He's a terrific leader, he's energetic and guys in the locker room really love him."
By the way, backfield backup Alexander Mattison also recorded a pair of remarkable rushes, ranking sixth (a gain of 18 on a play expected to gain 3) and 13th (a gain of 14 on a play expected to gain 3).
Next up, the Vikings visit Chicago on Monday. The Vikings have lost four straight games to the Bears and three consecutive Monday night contests.
A few more Cook-related items. ... Per the NFL, Cook's 252 yards from scrimmage against Detroit coupled with 225 yards from scrimmage in last week's upset of the Packers, coupled with his two touchdowns today and four from last weekend, makes him only the third player in league history to have 225 or more yards from scrimmage and two or more touchdowns in consecutive games.
Jim Brown did it in 1963, and Deuce McAllister duplicated it in 2003.
Cook also matched Emmitt Smith by scoring a rushing touchdown in each of his first seven games of the season. Cook's 12 rushing touchdowns in seven games are fourth most in league history, behind Jim Brown (14 in 1958) and Emmitt Smith and Priest Holmes, who had 13 rushing touchdowns in seven games in 1995 and 2004, respectively.
For a second week in a row, Cook was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. ...
Other notes of interest. ... The Vikings seem to have found the sweet spot for their quarterback in terms of passing volume, bolstered by play-action, the screen game and quick throws to get Cousins in a rhythm. The quarterback completed 13 of 20 passes for 220 yards, three touchdowns, a 141.7 passer rating and did not commit a turnover for a second straight game.
Cousins executed a brilliant two-minute drive at the end of the first half with a host of running back screens and dump offs to give the Vikings a 10-point lead.
Smith, the second-year tight end, had a quiet start to the season. But he finished Week 9 with two touchdowns and emerged as an important red-zone scoring option for Cousins. That's a role the Vikings envisioned for him when he was drafted in the second-round in 2019.
Smith is an explosive playmaker and should continue to see his role expand as such as the season goes on. Cronin considers him a big waiver pick up in fantasy this week.
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 10 November 2020
The New England Patriots' 2020 season, on life support while facing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter against the winless New York Jets, has been revived.
For another week, at least.
The Patriots stopped a four-game losing streak by coming back to beat the Jets 30-27 on Monday, improving to 3-5 before they turn around to host reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.
As ESPN.com's Mike Reiss suggested, it wasn't pretty against the Jets, and key context comes from the fact that it was the Jets, so it's not like all of the Patriots' issues are suddenly solved.
Even while missing cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy because of injury and not having much firepower on offense, this was a game the Patriots had to have if they wanted to keep their postseason hopes alive.
Maybe they will get some of their other injured players back and make a charge. It seems like a long shot, but consider that the obituary for their season would've been written if this had gone the other way.
Kicker Nick Folk's 51-yard field goal at the gun helped the Pats avoid what would have been rock bottom, as the Jets were winless on the season and playing their backup quarterback, Joe Flacco.
Cam Newton did what the Patriots ask him to do: protect the football and play conservatively. He completed his first 11 passes, which reflected that approach, as he nearly matched his record of 14 straight passes with a completion (vs. Seattle, Week 12, 2018). Then, when he had to open it up late, he delivered, with receiver Jakobi Meyers a bright spot and fellow receiver Damiere Byrd delivering a big play to set up the game-tying touchdown.
Bigger picture, Newton has been marginally better for the Patriots over the last two weeks with at least not turning the ball over with interceptions.
As Profootballtalk.com reminded readers, Newton had been intercepted five times combined in a pair of losses to the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. While a key fumble late sunk the Patriots chances a week ago against the Buffalo Bills, he's gone two straight games without throwing an interception after the Patriots' win over the Jets on Monday night.
When asked after the game by reporters what he owed the improvement to, Newton was direct.
"I'm getting tired of sucking," Newton said. "Simple. As a competitor, you know what your standard is. Taking pride in your way, that's what it comes down to."
Newton finished the night having completed 27 of 35 passes for 274 yards. Newton has only thrown two touchdown passes all season long and none since Week 3 against the Las Vegas Raiders, but he was able to find the end zone twice on the ground with his legs against the Jets.
He still sees plenty of room for improvement.
"You not being able to hold your head up because you're thinking too much, that's one thing," Newton said. "But at the same time, you're solely responsible for the performance that you put up and I was extremely disappointed. And, you know, this is not like 'I just did my job today.' That's what it's supposed to be each and every week. Efficient football. If it's not there, just get it out. I had a couple mistakes tonight that I'll learn from and get better from. But yet at the end of the day, this offense thrives when we just keep pressure on the defense throughout. When we're running or passing, short passes as well as deep passes, and we just have to get better from it."
Worth noting. ... Newton took a few hits during Monday night's win, including a shot from safety Ashtyn Davis that drew a penalty for roughing the passer.
While replays showed Davis avoided a helmet-to-helmet hit, he came in high enough to draw the attention of officials. During an appearance on WEEI on Tuesday morning, Newton said his neck was still feeling the aftereffects of the shot that he took.
"My neck is only working at a degree angle that shuts off the degrees to one side," Newton said. "My eye muscles are getting a lot of work in today. ... I told the guys on the sideline, 'That's my fault and I deserved it.'"
Newton was well enough to remain in the game and ran for the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it sounds like the effects of the hit will be lingering for a bit.
Clinging to long-shot playoff hopes, the Patriots will need Newton to be at or near full speed against the Ravens.
One more Newton-related item. ... With the two touchdowns he ran in Monday night, the QB continued climbing up the NFL's all-time leaders list in career rushing touchdowns.
Newton has run for 66 touchdowns in his career, which ties him for 40th in NFL history.
On Monday night Newton moved ahead of Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas, who had 65 career rushing touchdowns. Other Hall of Fame running backs with fewer rushing touchdowns than Newton include Larry Csonka, Lenny Moore, O.J. Simpson, Terrell Davis, John Henry Johnson, Floyd Little and Gale Sayers.
Among quarterbacks, Newton is far and away the all-time rushing touchdown leader. Steve Young is second among quarterbacks in NFL history with 43 rushing touchdowns, while Aaron Rodgers is second among active quarterbacks with 28 rushing touchdowns.
As Profootballtalk.com suggested, Newton may not be quite the player he used to be, but he now has eight rushing touchdowns in seven games this season. His combination of size and speed makes him a different running threat than any other quarterback. ...
Other notes of interest. ... The win over the Jets could come with a heavy price after Damien Harris left in the fourth quarter after absorbing a big hit upper-body shot from Neville Hewitt.
Harris, who had a game-high 71 yards rushing on 14 carries, took a handoff on the game-tying drive and snuck through the first line of defense before he was met by Hewitt.
The second year back crumpled to the turf and it was unclear what his ailment is. He stayed down for a while as the medical staff tended to him. Harris eventually walked off the field gingerly but under his own power. He eventually made his way to the locker room escorted by staffers.
Harris has given the Patriots rushing attack an injection of power and energy over the last month, rushing for more than 100 yards against the Chiefs and Bills after returning from a thumb injury suffered late in training camp.
The Patriots were shorthanded at the position with Sony Michel (quadriceps) on injured reserve and rookie J.J. Taylor out with an illness.
In addition to Harris's 71 yards, Rex Burkhead rushed 12 times for 56 yards while Newton and Gunner Olszewski rushed for 16 yards apiece.
I'll be watching for more on Harris, who was limited by chest and ankle issues, Michel, who is eligible to come off IR at any time, and N'Keal Harry, who missed a second-straight game with a concussion, in coming days. Harry was on the practice field Wednesday.
Check the Late-Breaking Updates section for more. ...
With Harry out, on the same day he turned 24 years old, Meyers turned in unquestionably the best performance of his young NFL career. The undrafted wideout out of NC State made 12 receptions on 14 targets for 169 yards, career highs all around. Had it not been for penalties, another two catches and 29 yards could have been added to that total.
"Man, I'm extremely proud of Jakobi," Newton said after the game. "For him to be morphing into the player that he is today, it's just hard work paying off for him."
Newton seems to have developed a bit of a soft spot for Meyers, as the two actually have some history. Back when Meyers was a quarterback in high school, he attended one of Newton's camps and played for his 7-on-7 team.
Now, with Meyers as a wide receiver, their connection has since blossomed in a way that neither probably would have expected.
Meyers was clearly Newton's go-to guy Monday. In the first half, he caught all of his seven targets for 93 yards, including a long of 33. On the day, eight of his catches converted for first downs.
"I knew he would have success," Newton said. "Playing the quarterback position makes you intellectually sound, cerebral by default, because you know what the quarterback is looking for. He's such an easy target to throw to, as you can kind of tell."
Meyers became the first Patriot not named Julian Edelman or Rob Gronkowski to eclipse 100 receiving yards since Josh Gordon in 2018.
"He just finds a way to get open," Newton said. "He's got a knack for the ball."
Added coach Bill Belichick: "Jakobi's done a good job for us all year. He's a good route-runner and really understands coverages and timing and when to be open on the route and how to take advantage of different coverage leverages."
With Edelman on injured reserve and Harry sidelined, Meyers said he wants to use this time to build trust with the coaching staff and continue adding to his tape. Edelman will miss at least one more game, while Harry has not practiced since his injury.
That being the case, it's worth noting that newly-acquired wide receiver Isaiah Ford will be available to play against the Ravens, according to Reiss.
The Patriots sent a 2022 conditional sixth-round pick to the Dolphins at the trade deadline to acquire the 24-year-old Ford. He was ineligible to play in Monday night's victory over the New York Jets due to the COVID-19 protocols. Originally a seventh-round pick out of Virginia Tech in 2017, Ford produced 18 grabs for 184 yards in seven games for Miami in 2020 and all 225 of his snaps have come from the slot.
With Edelman sidelined, the Patriots are in desperate need for help in the middle of the field despite Newton's connection with Meyers. While it seems unlikely Ford will surpass Meyers on the depth chart and there is still hope Edelman can return this season, Ford could overtake Byrd as the second most-targeted wideout in an offense that needs all the help it can get.
Meanwhile, tight end has been an issue as well.
Against the Jets, the position group consisted of just one person -- Ryan Izzo -- while rookies Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi sat out injured. And because Izzo was dealing with a hamstring injury, It made sense to rest him in favor of more four-receiver sets or two-back sets.
That's not what happened. Izzo played a significant role yet again, though he didn't factor into the box score as a receiver. The Patriots did use fullback Jakob Johnson as a wing back at times -- a role typically played by tight ends in the Patriots offense.
And Josh McDaniels inserted a wrinkle to have tackle Korey Cunningham play as a jumbo tight end early on. It paid off as he helped protect Newton on his longest completion of the night to Meyers.
But the Patriots claimed tight end Jordan Thomas off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, according to the NFL transaction wire.
He could be a factor going forward.
Thomas, a 2018 sixth-round pick out of Mississippi State, is 6-5, 277 pounds and has 22 career receptions for 226 yards with five touchdowns in 25 career games. He caught 20 passes for 215 yards with four touchdowns as a rookie in 2018. Thomas was drafted by Houston, where he played under former Texans head coach -- and ex-Patriots offensive coordinator -- Bill O'Brien.
So, he comes to New England with knowledge of a similar offense. ...
As noted above, Folk's 51-yarder with no time remaining on Monday night lifted the Patriots victory and sealed the kicker garnering AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Folk was perfect on the evening with three field goals and three extra points. ...
And finally. ... The Patriots played their first game of the season without an offensive turnover. Yes, it was against the Jets, but you have to start somewhere. They entered the night with a minus-2 turnover differential, with 15 giveaways and 13 takeaways, tied for 19th in the NFL. They took a conservative offensive approach overall Monday, which contributed to the clean sheet, but again, you have to start somewhere.
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 10 November 2020
"Apparently," ESPN.com's Mike Triplett wrote, "the return of Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders helped to wake up a sleeping giant on Sunday night."
Turns out. ...
The New Orleans Saints (6-2) took control of the NFC South race with a stunning 38-3 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) in Tampa, Florida.
It was the worst loss of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady's career and one of the most convincing wins in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era. The Saints' victory was so thorough that former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston made his 2020 debut as New Orleans' backup, completing his only pass for 12 yards while running out the clock over the final six minutes.
Not only did the Saints complete a season sweep of the Buccaneers after beating them 34-23 in Week 1, but they also seem to have fully gotten their mojo back with their offensive lineup intact for the first time since Thomas left that Week 1 game in the final minutes with a high ankle sprain.
"It's been a long time coming, just trying to play a complete game on offense, and I think that's the most complete game we've played," running back Alvin Kamara said. "You see what it looks like -- it's poetry in motion when we get going like that."
Thomas wasn't dominant in his return, catching five passes for 51 yards Sunday night. But his presence helped to open things up for a Saints offense that could do no wrong.
"It felt great just to be out there with the guys and dominate the game on all sides of the ball," he said. "That's what we expect as an offense, that's the standard. That's how we've been trying to play the past six weeks. Unfortunately, I wasn't out there to help the guys, but I'm back out there and I'm trying to do my job to the best of my abilities, and we're all complementing each other.
"[Coach] Sean Payton calls tremendous plays. Every play he called tonight was working. So, if we protect the ball, we're gonna be a dominant offense."
Thomas spoke Sunday for the first time since he was disciplined by the Saints for an altercation that included him punching teammate C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
"My emotions got the best of me in that situation, and I've grown from that. And I'm here to help my team win games and ... win a championship," said Thomas, who set an NFL record with 149 catches last season. "So, I'm just here to contribute and add value to the offense and add value to this team and help my guys win."
The Saints became just the third team in the past 30 years to have 12 different players catch a pass, according to the Elias Sports Bureau data. Brees completed passes to 11 different players in the first 19 minutes alone while New Orleans ran up a 31-0 lead in the first half.
Even more remarkably, Brees was on the injury report all week because of an injury to his right throwing shoulder that limited him in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. It didn't show, as he threw four touchdown passes to regain his lead over Brady as the NFL's all-time leader in passing touchdowns (564-561).
"I'd say those [dominant performances] are rare, especially against a football team as good as the one we just played," Brees said. "As many weapons as they have on the offensive side of the ball, our defense just played phenomenal."
Sanders, who was back in the lineup after missing the past two games on the reserve/COVID-19 list, caught four passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.
"It was great to have everybody back there. I know Mike was excited; I know Emmanuel Sanders was excited. I think, honestly, my biggest thing coming into the game was just to keep those guys calm and slowly bring them back into it, and not make it to where the expectations were at a certain level," Brees said. "So, I think the balance of how much those guys played, their production, getting them re-indoctrinated was just perfect."
The Saints have now won five in a row. ...
Meanwhile, Thomas told reporters after the game he's coming back better.
Thomas has been out both because of injuries and because he was disciplined by the team for punching teammate Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in practice.
"My emotions got the best of me in that situation," Thomas said, via NOLA.com. "I've grown from that, and I'm here to help my team win games and finish the mission: To win a championship."
Again, Thomas wasn't a dominant force, but he was the Saints' leading receiver. He appears to be healthy and good to go.
If you had told the Saints before the season that at the halfway point they'd be 6-2 despite Thomas having played only two games, they surely would have taken it. If Thomas is on board, they may be even better over the second half of the season.
Next up, the Saints host the injury-depleted and struggling 49ers on Sunday.
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 10 November 2020
Well after completing his longest pass of the season and avoiding the mistakes that have cost the New York Giants games, Daniel Jones faced one final challenge to preserve his first game of 2020 without a turnover.
Jones absorbed contact on a blindside sack, held on to the ball, and Logan Ryan intercepted Alex Smith not long after to seal a 23-20 victory against Washington. After head coach Joe Judge stressed to his players to "finish" following several blown leads, the Giants finally did so Sunday and pick up their second win, Jones didn't throw an interception or lose a fumble and the defense forced five turnovers.
"That's been a focus of mine: I obviously know the importance of holding on to the ball," Jones said. "We were able to protect it today, and that was a big advantage for us."
Jones was 23 of 34 for 212 yards, including a 50-yard connection with Austin Mack and a touchdown pass to Evan Engram to build a 17-point halftime lead.
Then they held on to it.
But with the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1) on deck next week at MetLife Stadium, it's a game that can put New York a half game out of first place. There is no denying it will go a long way in determining the 2020 NFC East champion.
All the Giants have to do is play the way they did against Washington in the first half, when they outgained their opponent 244-132 and forced three turnovers. And run the ball like they did (rushing for 166 yards on 35 carries) while Jones doesn't hurt the team with turnovers.
As ESPN.com's Jordan Raanan noted, Jones didn't commit a turnover for the second time in 21 career starts. Ironically, both of those came against Washington, the only team Jones has beaten since winning his first career start. Jones is 4-0 against Washington. He's 1-16 against everybody else. This season, it's enough for the Giants to at least pretend they have a chance to win this terrible division.
The Giants have refused to let themselves think about competing for the division lead; they have maintained they need to worry about themselves getting better and doing enough to win games. Now at least they have more than one measly win vs. Washington -- it's now a second consecutive season sweep of Washington.
The Giants have improved because this was the kind of game they would have lost in recent weeks. They had their halftime lead cut to three and Washington had the ball twice in the final five minutes. But this time, they made the key stops.
Next on the list?
Proving they can beat Philadelphia or the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have lost eight straight to the Eagles and seven consecutive to the Cowboys. The Eagles will also be coming off their bye week and getting healthier with several key contributors expected to return from injury. ...
Other notes of interest. ... In making a bold prediction for this week, Raanan went with "Golden Tate returns with a bang. He scored a long touchdown the last meeting with Philadelphia, one of his former teams. He will do it again next Sunday. ..."
Tate is expected to be back at practice this week for the Giants after being left at home for Sunday's matchup with Washington as discipline for his actions on Monday night. And while his snaps might be limited -- Mack likely earned some playing time moving forward by leading the Giants with four catches for 72 yards in his place -- we've still seen Tate produce despite the decreasing playing time.
Tate has scored a touchdown in each of the past two games he's played.
Before Sunday, Mack had just one reception for a single yard in his first three NFL games.
A casualty of the team's final roster cuts, Mack spent the first month of the season on the practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster on Oct. 3 - only to revert two days later after not suiting up in Week 4 in Los Angeles. He got his shot two weeks later in the first leg of the season series against Washington, a team he helped to sweep in Week 9.
"We answered the bell today," Engram said after the game. "Obviously, Golden is a great talent who has made plays over and over again all year. It was unfortunate not to have him today, but Austin and a lot of other guys stepped up today. We just had to answer the adversity of not having one of our play-makers and go out there and compete and win the game."
The Giants were without running back Devonta Freeman because of an ankle injury.
With Freeman out again, Wayne Gallman registered 68 rushing yards and one touchdown on 14 carries, adding a nine-yard catch. Alfred Morris delivered 67 rushing yards on nine carries, adding a four-yard catch in Freeman's absence.
Gallman logged double-digit carries and a touchdown for a third-straight outing during Sunday's victory, while his 4.9 yards-per-carry average from Week 9 marks his best of the three-game stretch (3.5 YPC average Weeks 7 and 8 combined). As CBSSports.com noted, Gallman paced New York's backfield in carries in a run-heavy game script, though he accounted for only 40 percent of the team's total in that category, with seven different Giants contributing to a total of 35 team carries.
He and Morris will continue to head up the Giants backfield Week 10 against Philadelphia if Freeman is ruled out again.
That said, Freeman and Sterling Shepard (toe, hip) were listed as limited participants Wednesday; I'll have more on both via Late-Breaking Update as the week progresses. ...
The held on for the win, with kicker Graham Gano's 11 points crucial in the victory. Gano earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week on the strength of three field goals in three attempts and a perfect two-for-two showing with extra points. ...
And finally. ... The Giants activated guard Will Hernandez off the reserve/COVID-19 list and activated former 49ers wideout Dante Pettis. The team waived cornerback Corey Ballentine.
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 10 November 2020
According to ESPN.com's Rich Cimini, "The New York Jets have done a lot of losing in their history, but never like this.
Outlasted by the New England Patriots in a surprisingly entertaining Monday night game, the Jets -- 30-27 losers at MetLife Stadium -- fell to 0-9 for the first time.
Cimini advised readers to take a moment to think about that.
"A franchise known for its losing moments -- the Butt Fumble, the Rich Kotite era, Dan Marino's Fake Spike, the "Heidi" Game, et al -- has added a new low," Cimini wrote. "Behold, the Adam Gase Jets, who, barring an upset, are on their way to joining the 2017 Cleveland Browns and 2008 Detroit Lions as the only 0-16 teams in NFL history."
The Jets clinched their 30th losing season in 61 years, including a current streak of five in a row. There was only one other 0-8 start, in 1996, but they managed a win before finishing 1-15.
Perhaps the only silver lining for the Jets is they remain the frontrunner for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft -- a 67 percent chance, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. The fan base is buzzing about the prospect of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the presumptive top pick.
That possibility will hover over the team -- and incumbent Sam Darnold -- for the next several months.
Making this even harder to swallow, this one started well, which was definite progress for an offense that ranks last in the NFL in nearly every major statistical category.
Joe Flacco, playing with Darnold out due to a shoulder injury, threw touchdown passes to Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder in the first half. Sergio Castillo, in for injured Sam Ficken, kicked field goals of 35 and 50 yards to give New York a 20-10 halftime lead.
Even after Rex Burkhead's 1-yard touchdown run made it a three-point game in the third quarter, the Jets answered right back. Flacco connected with Perriman, his teammate in Baltimore from 2015-17, for a 15-yard TD that again made it a 10-point game with 30 seconds left in the period.
But the Jets just couldn't seal it in the end.
"They played their (butts) off," Gase said. "We're not finding ways to win."
According to Associated Press sports writer Dennis Waszak Jr., that will probably cost Gase his job at the end of this season. The heat on him has been turned way up with each loss, but it appears unlikely the Jets will make a coaching change during the bye week.
But it still won't be a comfortable week for the coach, who dropped to 7-18 with the Jets after being hired with great expectations -- particularly on offense. That hasn't panned out at all.
For what it's worth, Darnold said on Tuesday he is "feeling better" and is hoping to return to the starting lineup after the team's Week 10 bye.
The Jets venture to Los Angeles to play the Chargers in Week 11.
Meanwhile, it took until Week 9, but the Jets finally got their starting wide receivers on the field at the same time -- Perriman, Crowder and rookie Denzel Mims. Gase had been telling people for weeks that things would improve once they got them back. He was right. They combined for 11 catches, 189 yards and three touchdowns, easily the best passing day of the season.
Perriman's speed was a factor; his ability to stretch the defense opened lanes for others. Now all they have to do is keep him healthy.
But, as the Redzone.org suggested, even with the Jets' top three receivers finally all healthy at the same time, Darnold is pretty much off the radar for fantasy purposes. ...
One last note here. ... Rookie offensive tackle Mekhi Becton left Monday's game with a chest injury. On Tuesday, Gase said that Becton had trouble breathing due to the chest injury and was held out of the remainder of the game as a precaution.
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 10 November 2020
The Eagles reached the midpoint of their season with a losing record and a spot in first place.
Only in the NFC East.
The Eagles (3-4-1) won two straight games entering a bye to take control of the weakest division in the NFL. They struggled to earn both victories over the Giants (1-7) and Cowboys (2-6), but they have reasons for optimism.
"We understand we have to get better," head coach Doug Pederson said. "But there's a lot of positives that we see as coaches on the inside that give us the encouragement and the opportunity to get better as a team."
First, the Eagles have played better after going winless in September. They are 3-2 in the last five, starting with an impressive victory at San Francisco. The offense scored 57 points in the two losses against Pittsburgh (7-0) and Baltimore (5-2), with the outcome decided late in both games.
Second, some of the injured players are closer to returning. Right tackle Lane Johnson, running back Miles Sanders, tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will bolster the offense when they come back.
Third, rookies and younger players gained valuable experience getting more action than expected. Wide receiver Travis Fulgham emerged from the practice squad and has become a legitimate go-to target for Carson Wentz. Offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, a former rugby player from Australia, has developed into a solid starter. Linebackers T.J. Edwards and Alex Singleton have shown promise.
"With so many moving parts offensively right now with the amount of injuries, so many guys are shuffling in and out of the lineup that it's hard to get continuity and rhythm and timing and flow," Pederson said. "It makes it look really bad on the outside when, quite honestly, you probably don't believe it, but it's encouraging from our side. We're 1 1/2 games up in the NFC East. We have a chance to get healthy here at the bye. We have a chance next week against the Giants to hopefully get some more starters back and see what happens, and correct some of the things that are going on."
Injuries depleted the offense in the first half, forcing the Eagles to start 10 offensive linemen and backups at wide receiver, tight end and running back. Wentz and center Jason Kelce are the only starters on offense who've played each game.
Wentz has struggled with turnovers, tossing 12 interceptions to go with four fumbles. He had only thrown seven picks in each of the previous three seasons, so the rapid increase is surprising and alarming. All the turnovers aren't his fault, but quarterbacks get too much credit when things go well and too much blame when they don't.
As Associated Press sports writer Rob Maaddi noted, Pederson fielded questions about benching Wentz for the first time since the two arrived together in 2016. Rookie Jalen Hurts moved ahead of Nate Sudfeld into the No. 2 role and has been used sparingly with Wentz split wide on several plays.
Pederson pointed to when he was Kansas City's offensive coordinator under Andy Reid in 2015 and the Chiefs started 1-5. They stuck with quarterback Alex Smith and won the final 10 games and a playoff game.
"Coach Reid and I made a decision not to bench Alex. He was our starter, and we were going to get it fixed, and we did," Pederson said. "Not saying that we are going to win 11 straight here, but what I'm saying is, we are going to work through our issues. We are going to work through our problems.
"Carson understands that we've got to hold everybody accountable, and it starts with me, and I'm going to look at myself in the mirror. I'm going to look at some of the decisions and calls I've made in the first eight games and that's part of what this week is about, and it's about getting better. The only way we get better, especially with some young players on offense that are playing, who are getting valuable reps, is to continue to work and they have to work with Carson.
That's what we are going to do, and that's our focus moving forward."
Jalen Reagor (43 snaps, 74 percent) and Dallas Goedert (49 snaps, 85 percent) returned from injured reserve and played substantial roles against Dallas in Week 8.
As ESPN's Mike Clay notes, Reagor was third in line for snaps behind Fulgham and Greg Ward, but wasn't short on opportunities with six targets (3-16-1 receiving line) and one carry for 6 yards. Goedert was surprisingly limited to one target (1-15-0), though Wentz attempted only 27 passes in the win.
Clay contends both players are fine to stash on your bench. That's especially the case for Goedert, who was targeted 17 times during his two full games earlier this season.
For what it's worth, ESPN.com's Tim McManus thinks Goedert is the tight end to have here. "The writing appears to be on the wall that Zach Ertz isn't in the team's long-term plans," McManus wrote. "While both will get their share of snaps and targets, it's easy to envision Goedert being more of the focal point down the stretch as they turn the page at the tight end position."
And finally. ... The Eagles announced on Tuesday that a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. "The individual and close contacts who were identified through contact tracing have been placed in self-isolation," the team said in a statement." We are following the NFL-NFLPA intensive protocols and remain in close communication with the league."
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 10 November 2020
According to Associated Press sports writer Will Graves, "The style points are lacking. The win total is not. The Pittsburgh Steelers are hardly complaining.
"Well, technically, that's not true. ..."
The NFL's last unbeaten team, the one that improved to 8-0 for the first time in franchise history following a closer-than-it-had-to-be 24-19 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, finds itself with the epitome of first-world problems in 2020: mildly expressing frustration even as the victories pile up.
"We can't keep having these conversations every week because one of these weeks we'll be doing it with an 'L' if we're not careful," head coach Mike Tomlin said.
The Steelers aren't overwhelming opponents as much as they are outlasting them, very aware of the fine line they are walking.
They are third in the NFL in point differential (plus-74), behind defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City (plus-103) and the two-loss Ravens (plus-84). Their run defense has shown signs of slippage each of the last two weeks. The offense has looked lifeless recently when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn't going no-huddle and working out of empty sets, in some ways making it up as he goes along.
The special teams, which had been so solid through seven games, spent most of Sunday looking like a discombobulated mess.
And in the end, it didn't matter. They found a way, just as they've throughout the first half of the most unusual season in league history.
"I kid on the sideline, I feel like I'm too old for this stuff," the 38-year-old Roethlisberger said. "My body gets worn down."
Maybe, but he isn't playing like it. A year removed from right elbow surgery, Roethlisberger is on pace to set a career high in touchdown passes and is largely avoiding mistakes. Three of his four picks came against the Titans, and his current interception rate (1.4 per 100 passes) would be a career low if he keeps it up.
"I think that so many times, the line and guys are looking at me on the sideline, 'Ben, we believe in you,'" Roethlisberger said. "So I want to give everything I have. I wish we didn't have to have fourth-quarter comebacks. I wish I'd played better early in the game. ... But as long as we win, we'll take it."
Still, the Steelers have the inside track to the only AFC bye under the new playoffs format. While there's no talk of going 16-0, the schedule isn't overwhelmingly difficult. The Ravens visit on Thanksgiving night. There are trips to Cleveland and Buffalo in the final month. If the Steelers don't beat themselves, they believe nobody can beat them.
"We have a target on our back," tight end Eric Ebron said. "We're undefeated."
But there are issues this week.
Four Steelers joined tight end Vance McDonald on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, the team announced.
Roethlisberger, Vince Williams, Jaylen Samuels and Jerald Hawkins are the Steelers who have landed on the list and will be isolated for five days. Each will have to pass COVID-19 tests throughout the week before potentially being eligible to play in Sunday's game against Cincinnati.
Each of the four were deemed to have "high risk" close contact with McDonald on Sunday, resulting in their placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. Each can return to the team's facility on Saturday if they test negative and don't exhibit any symptoms.
In the meantime, the five listed will only be permitted to participate in virtual meetings.
For the record, Roethlisberger's locker is next to McDonald's, he sat next to Vance on the plane and NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala has been told he's continuing to have negative COVID tests.
Roethlisberger's status was already uncertain due to the double knee injuries sustained in Week 9. But neither of the knee injuries is considered serious and he's expected to play this week assuming he avoids a positive COVID test, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Although Roethlisberger briefly left the game and was replaced by Mason Rudolph, he returned, played well and helped the Steelers to a comeback win.
"Someone hit me right on the side of the knee," Roethlisberger said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. "Felt like it kind of bent my knee a little bit. Part of the game of football. Guys get hit all the time. Have some discomfort and so we thought, end of the half, we'll head in and get it looked at. Doc just wanted me to keep him updated the second half, so I was just keeping it loose and keeping it warm."
Roethlisberger went 14-of-19 for 111 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He was 15-of-23 for 195 yards and two touchdowns in the second half in bringing the Steelers back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. The Steelers trailed by as many as 13 points.
"I didn't want to let my guys down," Roethlisberger said. "I think so many times the line and guys are looking at me on the sideline, they're like, 'All right Ben; we believe in you.' I just don't want to let them down. I want to give everything I have and fight. I wish that we didn't have those fourth-quarter comebacks.
"I wish that I played better early in the games and that we were up, and we didn't have to do it. But that's the way it is. If we have to have a situation like this where we have to score late or win in the fourth quarter, as long as we win, I'll take it."
For what it's worth, Tomlin said there was no anxiety about playing Roethlisberger after not practicing.
"I'm not overly concerned about it," Tomlin said. "This guy has been doing his job for 17 years."
Tomlin said that Rudolph will get the bulk of the work in practice, but that Josh Dobbs will also see some work as they prepare for the possibility that Roethlisberger won't be able to play.
I'll be watching for more on both Roethlisberger, McDonald and the COVID situation in coming days and report back via Late-Breaking Update. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Exactly how much leeway Roethlisberger has in calling plays when the team goes no-huddle is up for debate. The results are not. In each of the last two weeks Roethlisberger's freelancing has allowed the offense to snap out of a first-half funk to spark comebacks from double-digit deficits.
"If Ben is drawing plays in the dirt, it's something that he wants and it's something that they can't stop," wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said.
The rushing attack that was so solid over the first five games (136.8 yards per game) has taken a significant step backward over the last three weeks (62.7 yards per game).
Facing the league's worst rushing defense, the Steelers had an opportunity to run all over the Cowboys.
Instead, the team put up just 46 rushing yards. The performance comes a week after managing just 48 rushing yards against one of the best rushing defenses.
Conner struggled mightily in this one, turning 11 touches into 20 yards.
And it's not just that the Steelers weren't running the ball well, it's that they weren't running the ball much at all. While Roethlisberger attempted 42 passes, the Steelers ran the ball just 18 times for an average of 2.6 yards per carry.
"We were looking at some of their defensive personnel groups and we found that they didn't have a lot of defense when we spread them out," Tomlin said. "So it reduced the amount of things that we would have to see, so we were comfortable working in that space. That's why we did it. ..."
One last note here. ... Perhaps no team in the NFL does as good a job at finding wide receivers outside the first round of the draft. Second-round pick Chase Claypool is the latest find, vaulting into the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation by racking up seven touchdowns in eight games.
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 10 November 2020
After a week filled with bad news from injuries, a positive coronavirus test and a lopsided loss to Green Bay, the San Francisco 49ers finally got a piece of good news.
Receiver Kendrick Bourne tested negative for COVID-19 for a second straight day last Friday, clearing the way for him and close contacts Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel to return to the team.
But Bourne is back on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It's not clear what's led to Bourne going back on the list Monday.
But none of the impacted players -- Bourne and those in close contact -- were available last Thursday night as the 49erslost 34-17 to the Packers.
"I know it's frustrating, but it is what it is," head coach Kyle Shanahan said Friday. "That's what everyone in this world's got to deal with right now. They're doing that for the safety. Unfortunately, it wasn't necessary, but I get why it did happen. So, got to deal with it and we obviously dealt with that last night. So, hopefully it won't happen going forward."
The Niners paid the price for the rules when they were forced to play without their two projected starting receivers for the game, Bourne and Aiyuk, as well as their starting left tackle in Williams. Samuel was already ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury.
Backup tackle Justin Skule allowed six pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, including one that led to an interception late in the first half that helped Green Bay open up a big lead.
Those absences were in addition to a run of injuries that sidelined quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, 2019 All-Pro tight end George Kittle, leading rusher Raheem Mostert, as well as several key defensive players.
"That's the most frustrating part, we know that we can be so much better," backup quarterback Nick Mullens said. "Even with the guys that we had on the field, myself included. We really feel like we can be a lot better and so with these couple of days away, just regroup, reset, and just foot on the gas for these upcoming weeks."
Though it was a rather dismal day for the 49ers, there was still a big highlight to be found in Thursday's loss in the form of Richie James.
James took on the big role meant for Aiyuk before he was forced to miss the game and caught nine passes for 184 yards and one TD. James entered the game without a catch since last November and had more yards in one game than he had in each of his two previous seasons.
The only other 49ers players with at least 184 yards receiving and a TD in a game since the merger are Jerry Rice (four times), Terrell Owens, Kittle, John Taylor and Anquan Boldin.
On the more disappointing note. ... With Trent Taylor the only active receiver who had caught a pass in the NFL this season, it figured that he would be a big part of the offense. Instead, Taylor caught one pass for 9 yards on four targets as he struggles to get back to the form he showed as a rookie when he had 43 catches in 2017.
Taylor struggled in 2018 and missed all of last season with a foot injury. He's healthy this year but has only 10 catches for 86 yards in nine games.
As brutal as the injury report has been for San Fran this season, it has bestowed opportunity upon other players and James made the most of his on this night.
Now, with only one game in a 23-day span, the Niners have a chance to get healthy for the stretch run.
Shanahan was hopeful Mostert (ankle) and Samuel could return for this week's game at New Orleans, but Mostert was ruled out on Wednesday. He also said Garoppolo doesn't need surgery on his injured right ankle and could return in December.
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 10 November 2020
The Seahawks played so poorly, head coach Pete Carroll wasn't sure what team he was watching from the sideline.
If it wasn't Russell Wilson uncharacteristically coughing up the ball, it was the Seahawks' porous defense showing no resistance against the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen-led offense in a 44-34 loss on Sunday.
"What I will tell you is I don't recognize that game. We haven't seen us look like that, and it's a game that I don't have any place in my brain for it," Carroll said. "It's just such an out-of-character game across the board that I don't even recognize us."
The NFC West-leading Seahawks (6-2), pegged as a Super Bowl contender since early in the season, have lost two of three.
On a day Carroll announced signing a multiyear contract extension, he watched his team give up the most points in his 11 seasons in Seattle and lose by double digits for just the seventh time since Week 9 of 2011.
Buffalo opened a 17-0 lead before the game was 20 minutes old, and Wilson couldn't keep pace as he turned the ball over four times, with two interceptions and two lost fumbles.
What's more worrisome is a defense that continues squandering a season in which Wilson has emerged as an MVP contender. The Seahawks reached the midpoint of the season allowing 30-plus points and 460-plus yards per game.
The once-proud Legion of Boom is looking more like a bust.
While the Seahawks finished with a season-high seven sacks, they were burned too often when blitzing. That was particularly apparent on a key play early in the fourth quarter, after the Seahawks cut Buffalo's lead to 27-20.
Carroll called a blitz with the Bills facing third-and-16 at the Seattle 35. Allen countered with a quick pass to his right to John Brown, who followed his blockers and cut up the middle for a 33-yard gain. Zack Moss scored on a 1-yard run two plays later.
Carroll blamed himself, saying he wasn't anticipating the Bills to come out throwing.
"These guys didn't even try to run the football today. We didn't expect that to happen," Carroll acknowledged. "We had a real nice plan for how they were going to run it. We have to be able to adapt better."
Until Seattle can shore up its defense, the Seahawks are going to have to rely on Wilson and a high-scoring offense to carry the load.
Seattle became the NFL's sixth team to score 25 or more points in each of its first eight games. Wilson finished 28 of 41 for 390 yards, but it wasn't enough.
"We scored 34 points. We're a pretty good offense, but I think that we can be better," said Wilson, who was sacked five times. "I know it's always easy to harp on the bad ... but also understand that we also did a lot of good."
The Seahawks still have a one-game lead in the NFC West over Arizona (5-3) and the Los Angeles Rams (5-3), their next opponent. They still have a quarterback who has played like an MVP for six of their eight games. And they still have plenty of talent on defense -- too much of it to be getting gashed as badly as they are.
Meanwhile, the Bills defense entered the game Sunday against the Seahawks ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed at 4.7 per attempt, and Seattle seemingly hoped early on to exploit that.
But the Seahawks got little more out of the backs the rest of the way, and their early deficit meant Seattle had to throw it a lot.
As Seattle Times staffer Bob Condotta reported, the upshot was Seattle had just 30 yards on 11 carries from its running backs in the final three quarters and finished with 57 yards on 17 attempts, which, even in a season when the Seahawks are throwing it more than ever, was a season low by a wide margin -- the previous low was 84 in the season opener at Atlanta, and Seattle had 98 or more in every game since.
Of course, this was the second consecutive game without both Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, which meant the second consecutive start for rookie DeeJay Dallas.
Dallas had 27 yards on three attempts in the first quarter but took a hard shot to the head after one play and was out for a while, and then got just 4 more yards on four more carries the rest of the game -- including a 4-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Travis Homer, used again mostly as a third-down back, had 16 yards on six carries (though also 64 yards receiving on three catches on three targets) while newly-signed Alex Collins had 5 yards on two carries.
Carroll said Dallas was not hurt and his time on the sidelines was about wanting "to see other guys. Wanted to see Homer, get a couple shots from Alex. That's kind of what we did. That's all. Just mixing guys."
Seattle is hoping Carson and Hyde can make it back for the game Sunday against the Rams in Los Angeles.
Carroll indicated on Monday that Hyde might be slightly ahead of Carson in his chances to play this week, but both are expected to practice and see if they can find a way back into the lineup.
"Carlos will be working this week to try to get back, so we'll see what that means on Wednesday, Thursday, but he is running and he is working with the thought that if he can make through the week that he could," Carroll said. "Chris in the same boat really. I got an update just now that he's got a chance, and we'll have to see how he tolerates the work—he's already out running and working on is cutting and stuff like that, so that's a good statement going into Wednesday, and we'll see how that works.
"I had hoped that we would get a look at him last week on Friday, that's what we had planned to do, it just didn't work out. So we'll see as we're going, it's encouraging though."
Hyde pulled a hamstring late in the team's overtime loss to the Cardinals. Carson left that game in the second quarter due to a mid-foot sprain.
For what it's worth, the Seahawks reportedly are bringing in Bo Scarbrough -- who was with the team in 2018 and 2019 -- for a visit.
Eventually, Seattle hopes 2018 first-round draft choice Rashaad Penny will return from the physically unable to perform list. He hasn't played since Dec. 8, 2019, when he tore an ACL against the Rams. But there's no clear timeline yet for Penny.
I'll have more on Carson and Hyde via Late-Breaking Update in coming days. ...
DK Metcalf finished Sunday's game with 108 receiving yards and also recorded his eighth touchdown reception of the season. Metcalf currently ranks second in the league in receiving yards (788), is tied for second in touchdown catches (8), and third in yards per reception (18.3)
Wilson has five rushing TDs in three games against Buffalo.
Oddly enough, 25 percent (5 of 20) of Wilson's career rushing touchdowns have come against the Bills, a team he has only faced three times out of 136 games played.
Tight end Jacob Hollister posted a season-high 60 receiving yards, the third highest total of his career. Hollister also continues to see his playing time increase, playing a season-high 31 snaps, the most of Seattle's three active tight ends.
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 10 November 2020
As NFL.com's Kevin Patra framed it: "The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got walloped on primetime TV Sunday night by the New Orleans Saints. Bruce Arians' club got taken to the woodshed in every facet of the game in the 38-3 loss."
"We got our ass kicked pretty good," Arians told reporters Monday after watching the film.
Despite losing the division series to the Saints and falling behind their division rival in the NFC South race, Arians doesn't believe the failure will rock his veteran squad.
"I don't think our confidence is shaken one bit," Arians said.
The blunt coach said the linebackers and safeties didn't play well against the Saints' chain-moving offense. On the other side of the ball, Tom Brady was battered with New Orleans teeing off on the 43-year-old QB. Arians noted that Brady made some good throws but added that the interception when it appeared TB12 and Antonio Brown weren't on the same page was "just a poor throw."
As to an interception on a throw to receiver Chris Godwin, Profootballtalk.com notes Arians was more subtle, by his standards.
"The one to Chris Godwin -- Chris read the route properly, [but] Tom thought he was going deep," Arians said. "He stopped [and] those things can happen sometimes when you're doing it on the run."
Arians offered another backhanded critique of Brady when asked to explain whether the offense isn't making an effort to get receiver Mike Evans more involved.
"Mike was open a bunch in that ballgame," Arians said. "He didn't get targeted -- that was all. Mike was open."
In assessing Brown's debut, Arians said that, on the first third down of the game, "[W]e should have went to him [but] decided to go to [Rob Gronkowski]."
While Arians never comes out and says that Brady played poorly, PFT's Mike Florio contends the various comments, taken together, paint an inescapable portrait as unflattering as that notorious courtroom sketch: Arians thinks Brady played poorly.
Of course, Brady did play poorly.
He would agree.
"We didn't play well in any phase of the game," Brady said. "Everyone's got to do a lot better. And it starts with me."
As Patra summed up: "Teams lose games. How the Bucs were bodied by a division rival should be concerning if you're a Tampa fan. But Arians' group isn't a youthful bunch. Brady and Co. should move on swiftly with the Panthers and Rams on tap the next two weeks.
"The season still sits in front of a playoff-caliber team, even if they keep laying eggs in primetime. ..."
For the record. ... Brady completed 22 of 38 passes for 209 passing yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions for a QB rating of 40.4. He was pressured heavily -- on 19 of 41 dropbacks Sunday (46 percent, the highest rate he has faced this season (the previous high was 25 percent against the Saints in Week 1). He did not fare well under duress either, completing just 6 of 16 passes, with three sacks.
The Bucs' offense -- the league's third-best-scoring unit, averaging 29.75 points a game heading into Week 9 -- couldn't even get a first down until its fifth offensive possession. But just as it did, Marcus Davenport batted down a Brady screen pass intended for Ronald Jones that was intercepted by David Onyemata.
There were communication issues with Brady and his receivers much of the night, an issue Brady encountered in Week 1 against the Saints.
Brown caught only three passes for 31 yards on five targets. But he was able, after playing only one game in nearly two years, to participate in 39 offensive snaps.
That's more than anyone expected from Brown, who joined the Buccaneers only recently and who first became eligible to practice just five days ago.
Brown also had an impressive back-end-of-the-ball catch on a laser from Brady. It happened well after the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt, but it was a glimpse of what he and the Bucs can do.
The only bright spots of the night were takeaways and the solid kicking of Ryan Succop. In addition to a Mike Edwards' fumble recovery, Jordan Whitehead knocked the ball loose from tight end Jared Cook, with Lavonte David recovering it.
In the fourth quarter, Succop nailed a 48-yard field goal to avoid a shutout.
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 10 November 2020
According to Associated Press sports writer Teresa M. Walker, the Titans are exactly where they wanted to be, sitting atop the AFC South with their playoff fate firmly in their hands.
The Titans learned the importance of needing to at least start the postseason at home after being forced to win three straight road games to reach the AFC championship last January before losing to the Chiefs.
Tennessee is off to a 6-2 start midway through this season. It's the Titans' best start since 2008, and that's also the previous time Tennessee won the AFC South.
"We put ourselves in position again to play a lot of meaningful games in the second half of the season," head coach Mike Vrabel said Monday.
The Titans won their first five to start this season, then stumbled with back-to-back losses. But Tennessee has not lost three straight since making Ryan Tannehill the starting quarterback, and they snapped that skid with a 24-17 win over Chicago.
Tannehill said they've done some good things and need to clean up some things.
"Excited about the toughness we have, both mentally and physically, and being able to find a way to win," Tannehill said.
The offense with Tannehill and Derrick Henry ranks seventh in points, scoring 29 a game. The Titans also are second only to Seattle scoring touchdowns inside an opponent's 20 at a clip of 80 percent.
Tannehill so far has answered doubts he could follow up last season when he led the NFL in passer rating. He has thrown 19 TD passes with only three interceptions. Henry leads the AFC and is second in the league with a career-best 843 yards rushing midway through the season, and he's third among running backs with eight TD runs.
The defense, however, is struggling.
The Titans are tied for 15th in fewest points allowed, giving up 25.1 points a game. But they remain the league's worst unit on third down allowing 55.3 percent conversions even after holding Chicago to just 2 of 15 (13.3 percent). They're not much better in total yards, ranking 25th giving up 394.1 yards a game.
But whatever forces Tannehill and the offense to put points on the board helps fantasy managers.
And A.J. Brown is a big part of that.
The second-year wide receiver is showing no signs of a sophomore jinx as he leads the Titans with 31 catches for 457 yards with six TDs despite missing two games with an injured knee. Brown has two 100-yard receiving games this season and seven in his short career. He's also had at least one TD catch in five straight games.
Stephen Gostkowski, on the other hand, is struggling.
He's just 11 of 18 on field goals for a 61.1 percent success rate. That's still a big improvement for the Titans, who were last in the NFL last year at 44.4 percent. He's also had two field goals blocked, and Tennessee waived its veteran long snapper last week. The four-time Pro Bowl kicker came in making 87.4 percent of kicks in his career and now is down to 86.3 percent.
The easy portion of the Titans' schedule ends Thursday night when they host Indianapolis (5-3) in an AFC South showdown. Then they will have to be road warriors with five of the final seven games away from home, including a Nov. 22 trip to Baltimore and a Dec. 27 visit to Green Bay.
Only three of the final seven currently have losing records: Jacksonville, Detroit and Houston.
Worth noting this week, the Colts have the NFL's second-best rushing defense, allowing 79.9 yards per game on the ground. Indianapolis hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. ESPN.com's Turron Davenport believes the Titans will end that streak with Henry putting up his fifth 100-yard rushing performance this season.
On the injury front. ... Brown has been dealing with a knee injury for much of the season and the Titans estimated that he would have sat out if they had practiced on Monday. Brown had four catches for 101 yards and a touchdown on Sunday and recent history says he'll do limited work at practice before playing against the Colts.
Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney (knee, illness) was also estimated to be out of practice. He did not play on Sunday and word is that he may require surgery to repair an injured meniscus.
Safety Dane Cruikshank (groin), wide receiver Adam Humphries (concussion), left tackle Dennis Kelly (knee), cornerback Chris Milton (hamstring), and tight end MyCole Pruitt (knee, ankle) were others listed as out of practice. Left guard Rodger Saffold (shoulder) was listed as limited.
Pruitt -- who went down in obvious pain Sunday with a right knee injury -- had an MRI that showed just a sprain, a source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. Pruitt won't play against Colts, but there's optimism he'll return soon.
I'll have more on Brown and Humphries as developments warrant heading into the weekend. Watch the Late-Breaking Updates section for more.
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 10 November 2020
Washington will start its third quarterback in nine games this season, and that's only the start of the problems.
Inconsistencies at that position and others contributed to a 2-6 record at the midway point. Yet Washington is still in the mix because the NFC East leader has three victories, so the team is stuck in the middle of trying to contend and building for the future.
"We're still in it," head coach Ron Rivera said. "Keep your fingers crossed. You just never know. But at some point, you have to win football games. That's the truth of the matter."
Rivera said at his Monday press conference that it was premature to say that Kyle Allen would miss the rest of the season after dislocating his ankle in Sunday's loss to the Giants.
Rivera also said that no decision had been made about surgery, but it appears they have reached decisions on both fronts. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Allen will have surgery and that it will bring an end to his 2020 season. Given the way Allen's leg looked after colliding with Giants safety Jabrill Peppers, it comes as no surprise that Allen will be out the rest of the way.
Per the report, Allen's recovery timeline is four months so he'd be ready in plenty of time for the 2021 season. Whether there will be a spot with him on the Football Team is a different question as the offseason could bring changes to a group that also includes Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins.
Rivera considered Allen the quarterback best positioned to win games for Washington.
Now that he's out with a left ankle injury, it's 36-year-old Smith, not 2019 first-round pick Haskins, who was considered the future of the franchise before Rivera was hired.
Haskins started the first four games this season, leading Washington to a comeback victory in Week 1 before losing three in a row and Rivera's confidence. It's now up to Smith starting with a game at the Detroit Lions to keep this team in a very sad race for first place in a bad division.
It will be Smith's first start since Nov. 18, 2018, when he suffered a broken fibula and tibia in his right leg.
"I have continued to progress and continue to get better, and I am thankful for that," said Smith, who has made two relief appearances this season but will on Sunday make his first start since breaking his right leg in November 2018. "Kind of going full steam ahead. I'm not thinking about any of that other stuff going on with this opportunity. I am so thankful for it. I am going to make the most of it."
Haskins might get a chance to start again, but Rivera demoting the Ohio State product to third string so Smith can back up is an indictment of where he is right now. Haskins has completed 59.6 percent of passes with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 13 pro games (11 starts) and is now a developmental prospect.
"He's got the skill set," Rivera said. "The arm is legit. Now, let's see him put it all together. That's what I'm hoping to get out of Dwayne for the next few weeks and as we go forward for the rest of the season."
Meanwhile, the running game was going, until this week's loss. Sunday was the first time in franchise history Washington finished with fewer than 10 carries. Overall, however, Associated Press sports writer Stephen Whyno considers the ground game a success story after cutting Adrian Peterson and turning to rookie Antonio Gibson as the top option in a running back by committee approach.
"We weren't as good as we'd like to be running the football" against the Giants," Rivera said. "It doesn't allow our play-action to be as effective as we would like it to be."
Running it up against Dallas two weeks earlier and Gibson's potential after time as a college receiver are reasons for optimism the ground game can get back on track.
So in addition to getting the rushing attack back on track, the primary goal this week is knocking the rust off Smith, who threw for 325 yards and a touchdown but had three costly interceptions against the Giants.
This is Smith's team for now, and the right offensive plan around him could be worth a few more wins -- and that might be enough. ...
Other notes of interest. ... Gibson's five rushing touchdowns are tied for third-most for a Washington player through eight-career games.
Washington had two wide receivers record over 100-plus receiving yards (Terry McLaurin: 115, Cam Sims: 110) for the first time since Nov. 20, 2016 (Pierre Garcon: 116, Jamison Crowder: 102).
According to Pro Football Reference, Sims became the second player in Washington history to record three or fewer receptions and tally 110 or more yards, joining Gary Clark who did so in 1991. McLaurin reeled in seven catches for 115 yards (16.4 avg.) and a touchdown.
McLaurin had been having a quiet game on Sunday. That changed all at once. And it came on Smith's first touchdown pass in two years. On first down from the Washington 32-yard line, Smith threw into a tight window to McLaurin, running a deep crosser. As McLaurin adjusted to make a catch, New York Giants defensive back Isaac Yiadom, coming from the other side, knocked into him.
But McLaurin bounced off and started running as Yiadom tried to reach out and trip him up. He failed. McLaurin then sped down the field to complete the 68-yard touchdown catch and put Washington within three points, at 23-20, with roughly 10 minutes to go in the game.
It was Smith's first touchdown pass since Nov. 11, 2018, one week before he suffered a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg.
McLaurin's 10 receiving touchdowns are second-most through 22-career games in Washington franchise history. In addition, McLaurin ties Charlie Brown for the most games with 100-plus receiving yards in Washington history with six through 22-career games.
Since the start of last season, McLaurin is averaging 89.7 yards per game against NFC East opponents, the most amongst any NFC East receiver and sixth-most in the NFL in inner-division play.
Running back J.D. McKissic paired nine receptions of 65 yards with 17 yards on three rushes.
According to Washington Post staffer Nicki Jhabvala, Bryce Love, who has been on IR because of a knee injury, will return to practice Wednesday. The team has 21 days to activate him or leave him on IR for the season.
NFL Network's Mike Garofol suggests it could be deeper into the three-week window before the Footbal Team makes a call on his status.
And finally. ... Despite picture-perfect, dry conditions, it looked early on like the ball was covered in grease -- or just that this was an NFC East game.
Gibson fumbled after a 20-yard reception on Washington's first offensive play, and the ball slipped through several players' fingers before New York recovered 26 yards downfield. Jones' 50-yard pass to Mack came on the next snap.
Washington punt returner Isaiah Wright muffed a catch not long after, setting up Wayne Gallman's 2-yard TD run.
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