compiled by Andrew Potter
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
Buffalo Bills 16 at Cincinnati Bengals 12
Bryan Knowles: Terrible start for the Bengals -- on the second play from scrimmage, A.J. Green is put on the cart. Something with his right leg or hip. Pretty much the last thing the Bengals needed today.
Rob Weintraub: Green was carted off with a hammy. If this was Ben Roethlisberger he'd miss a game maybe two. Green undoubtedly is lost for the season, because Bengals.
Deplorable effort all the way around. Hard to comprehend this drastic a falloff from a 12-4 team, even with all the offseason departures.
Cincinnati is somehow, at 3-6-1, only 1.5 back of the division lead. But a last-place finish behind the winless Browns is more likely than a division tilt at this stage.
Update from Cincy -- indeed, it appears A.J. Green has a torn hamstring and is done for the year. That should kill any chance at some unneeded late-season wins.
Arizona Cardinals 24 at Minnesota Vikings 30
Cian Fahey: The Vikings offensive tackle problem showed up on the first drive as Sam Bradford's touchdown throw to Kyle Rudolph was wiped out. Bradford followed it up with a connection to Adam Thielen on a perfect back-shoulder throw into the end zone.
Minnesota has now missed an extra point in three straight games.
Also, this is getting crazy -- I believe that's six missed extra points in just the first half of the early games this week.
Vince Verhei: Vikings score on a Matt Asiata goal-line plunge that is called short on the field, but a touchdown on a replay review. It was set up by a 29-yard pass interference when the Vikings lined Sam Bradford up at wide receiver and gave him the ball on a reverse, and he lobbed it to Adam Thielen. The ball was badly underthrown, but that worked out for Minnesota because Thielen saw this and threw on the brakes, while Tony Jefferson never saw it and just wiped Thielen out for the penalty. The extra point was blocked, leaving Minnesota up 13-10.
Cardinals responded with a Brittan Golden kickoff return that just crossed over into Minnesota territory. Thanks in part to a couple of defensive holding calls, they get a goal-to-go situation, but then on third down Carson Palmer forces an out route to John Brown, who isn't open, and Xavier Rhodes undercuts the route for an interception and the coast-to-coast 100-yard pick-six and a 20-10 lead.
Cian Fahey: Cardinals-Vikings is a randomly great game. Carson Palmer has been betrayed by his non-Larry Fitzgerald receivers, but had a huge play from Jermaine Gresham of all people to score a touchdown before the end of the half. The Vikings offense has looked good when it has been on the field, except when they have tried to throw the ball deep of course.
Vince Verhei: With about a minute to go in the first half, Jermaine Gresham catches a pass in the middle of Minnesota's zone, then breaks a couple of tackles to dive and just barely crosses the goal line before he is down. The ball pops out of his outstretched hand, but even if he had not been ruled to have scored, it would have been a down-by-contact call to set the Cardinals up with a first-and-inches.
Vikings are left with all three timeouts, and they're cautiously driving for a late score, but when a big sack sets them up in long yardage they wave the white flag and let the half expire. Minnesota's right tackle on the sack had about as bad form as a lineman can have. I'm pretty sure that the offensive lineman is supposed to have his back to the quarterback, not to the pass-rusher, right?
The NFL has not totally banned kickoffs yet, which means Cordarrelle Patterson still has some value. He opens the second half with a 104-yard kickoff return touchdown to put the Vikings up 27-17. That's their second 100-yard non-offensive touchdown in barely three minutes of game time. Meanwhile, the offense has 109 yards, total.
Watching that Patterson touchdown again on replay. It's like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl -- he's got defenders diving to the ground left and right without ever getting close to touching him.
Cian Fahey: Frostee Rucker is having a dominant day as a run-stopping defensive lineman. If he was a pass rusher it'd be like getting three sacks in a game.
Vince Verhei: Vikings' next drive results in a fourth-and-3 at the Arizona 38. They opt to go for it, and it's an incomplete pass when Bradford throws behind Patterson across the middle. I think, with a 10-point lead there, I'd have swallowed my pride and asked my punter to pin Arizona deep, especially with the relative strengths and weaknesses of this Minnesota team.
Cardinals give the ball back to Minnesota on a deep interception on first down, and now the Arizona defense is getting some questionable personal foul calls. Minnesota has used a lot of direct snaps to Jerick McKinnon with Bradford split out wide. The last time, Patrick Peterson lined up on Bradford, and at the snap launched forward and shoved Bradford to the ground. It was a running play, so Bradford was technically a blocker, it seems like Peterson should be allowed to take a blocker out of the play.
Three plays later, Bradford hits Stefon Diggs on a short crosser for a third-down conversion. Diggs runs all the way to the sideline, where he's trying to break a tackle when Tony Jefferson zooms in and wipes him out, and gets called for unnecessary roughness. I have no idea why -- it was well after the catch, Diggs was fighting like hell to break the tackle, and he hadn't gone out of bounds. If that had been a tight end or a big running back instead of a wide receiver, I don't think it's a foul.
The drive ends in a field goal and the Vikings are up 30-17. Arizona had the ball three times in the third, and produced minus-2 total yards, two punts, and an interception.
Following yet another Arizona three-and-out (that's zero first downs in four second-half drives for Arizona), Bradford gets hit by Kevin Minter, and his wobbly pass is incomplete over the middle of the field. Everyone stands around for a while, then the Cardinals grab the ball and run it back for what they think is a touchdown, claiming the whistle never blew. But the play is ruled incomplete. Bruce Arians challenges, and though the hit and the pass were close to simultaneous, it's hard to argue that this was not a pass given how far the ball went forward. Cardinals lost the challenge.
And it doesn't matter, because on the very next snap, Chandler Jones blows by the left tackle for a pretty clear strip-sack, and the Cardinals recover. There was a review, because all turnovers are reviewed, but there was little doubt about that one -- fumble all the way.
Cardinals get two first downs on the drive following the fumble, both on David Johnson receptions, the latter a 4-yard touchdown to make it 30-24.
Vikings respond with a three-and-out, complete with a run for a loss of 4 on second-and-short and yet another close call between a fumble and a pass on third down. Not surprising, but their offensive line has been dominated all day.
John Brown gets a 32-yard punt return to set Arizona up with good field position, but the Cardinals then move backwards (their own offensive line isn't doing so hot) and punt. There are penalty flags everywhere, and when the smoke clears the Vikings have the ball at their own 8, up six, with just over four minutes to go.
And of course it's another three-and-out, but John Brown makes a big mistake and fails to field the ensuing punt, which takes a big Minnesota roll. It goes down as a 72-yard punt for Jeff Locke, but almost 20 of that came after the bounce. Cardinals start at their own 13 instead of the 32.
And the game ends with a whimper. Harrison Smith come unblocked around the edge for a sack on third down, and Palmer's fourth-and-long pass flutters incomplete in the middle of the field.
But I spoke too soon! it's not over! Vikings are called for roughing the passer and the Cardinals have life.
OK, NOW it's over. Cardinals fail to pick up a first down and Palmer is sacked without a penalty on fourth down.
This was the most defensive 30-24 game you'll ever see. Six total sacks, 21 quarterback hits (15 for the Vikings!), two interceptions, neither quarterback hit 200 yards. Cardinals had seven drives in the second half. None gained more than 27 yards; four of them gained zero yards or went backwards. Vikings' offense wasn't much better -- their longest second-half drive gained only 36 yards -- but they were able to avoid disaster and hang on to their lead for the win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19 at Kansas City Chiefs 17
Andrew Potter: The Chiefs haven't scored a touchdown on their opening drive in any game this season. They really looked set to break that streak in this one, opening-play Chris Conley fumble aside, moving down the field almost effortlessly on a 14-play seven-minute drive. Once they got inside the 10-yard line though, things went to pot. They followed a 10-yard gain on a Tyreek Hill sweep with a tight end sweep the same way to Travis Kelce, who had just returned after limping off two plays earlier. William Gholston blew up the second sweep, which never had the faintest chance of working. Then they threw incomplete -- to Kelce again -- before another incomplete, this time to Chris Conley. Neither of the throws covered more than the 5 yards they lost on the Kelce sweep.
The Buccaneers just had a 27-yard gain on a play-action play that amusingly happened because the Chiefs didn't bite at all on the play fake. Frank Zombo continued his pass rush; the coverage stayed with their men, and nobody was fooled by the action to Doug Martin. They were, however, so not fooled that they left Martin completely alone in the right flat with two offensive linemen in front of him. Jameis Winston looked deep then came back to Martin, and he gained around 30 on pure yards-after-catch.
Ron Parker ended the drive by yet again failing to bring in an interception in the left (defensive) corner of the end zone, as he did against Jacksonville. Winston made a terrible decision to force the ball toward Mike Evans in double coverage while being hit by Chiefs defensive end Chris Jones; he had rolled out right away from the pressure, and ought to have simply thrown the ball away. Instead, he threw it straight to Parker and got lucky when Parker bobbled the ball as he fell out of bounds. That was third down, so on the next play the Buccaneers kicked a field goal for the lead.
Also, I know we don't like to talk about him, but Tyreek Hill has added a completely new dimension to this Chiefs offense. He's a threat on sweeps and reverses, slowing the pass rush and opening running lanes, but can also take the top off the coverage on deep shots and beat people after the catch on shorter routes. Whatever his other issues he's a very exciting football player, and definitely one to watch if he can keep his head in the game.
Steven Nelson was very impressive the last time I watched him. Today, not so much. Nelson has been forced into a starting role today by the injury to Marcus Peters. Mike Evans will beat legitimate No. 1 corners, and he beat Nelson with physicality on a deep ball earlier. That's not a big concern. Adam Humphries, however, just turned Nelson inside-out on an out-and-in (Winston badly missed the throw), and Nelson got the first flag of the game earlier because he was struggling to cover Humphries. That is a bit more of a worry for the Chiefs, who take a one-point lead into the half-time locker room.
Travis Kelce was so convinced that Lavonte David just intercepted a bad Alex Smith throw that he suplexed the Bucs linebacker. On the next play, he juked Bradley McDougald so badly that McDougald was still moving the opposite way when Kelce caught the ball in 10 yards of space. Kelce and Tyreek Hill are the only two bright spots on an utterly mediocre Chiefs performance today.
If Jameis Winston could get any consistency whatsoever in his throws -- particularly his three bears' porridge deep balls -- the Buccaneers would be up by way more than their current two-point lead. As it is, he's lucky to have avoided two interceptions along the right sideline -- the earlier Parker bobble, and a badly underthrown deep ball to Mike Evans which was pretty much dropped by Kenneth Acker -- so even that two-point lead is precarious. Hard to imagine Marcus Peters turning down those opportunities if he was on the field.
Chris Conte made the play of the game so far, reading Smith in underneath coverage on the goal line and intercepting an end zone throw intended for Chris Conley. His return set the Buccaneers up at midfield, and they're currently deep in Chiefs territory looking for their first touchdown of the day ... which duly arrives to Alan Cross, fourth of four Buccaneers tight ends on the field for that play.
Not much to say about the ending in Kansas City. The Chiefs aren't built to come from down two scores in the fourth quarter, and they only looked in the remotest danger of getting that second score for one very fleeting moment when Tyreek Hill cut upfield on a punt return. Great win for the Buccaneers, achieved without being anywhere near their best.
Baltimore Ravens 17 at Dallas Cowboys 27
Aaron Schatz: Have we secretly exchanged the Baltimore offensive line and the Dallas offensive line while nobody was looking? Actually, no, it's just that the Dallas run defense is not that good, but wow... Ravens just completely slashing the Dallas defense so far. Mike Wallace had a great catch for about 20 yards on a ball that was WAY too low and he basically picked it up off the ground, but the rest of the touchdown drive was almost entirely runs. The Terrance West 12-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty. Marshal Yanda pulls left and just obliterates Sean Lee, then Kyle Juszczyk leads to the second level to take out Anthony Hitchens, and West breaks a leg tackle by J.J. Wilcox, and in. 7-0 Baltimore, 3:00 left in first quarter.
Vince Verhei: Ravens have run the ball six times so far. Four of those carries have gained 10 or more yards. That's quite bad for the Cowboys.
Andrew Potter: Getting Yanda back is huge for the Ravens; their line has had a rash of injuries putting guys in and out of the lineup. I have been waiting for their run game to get going for a couple of weeks now, and no surprise it finally happens when Yanda returns.
Aaron Schatz: Midway through the second quarter, the Cowboys turned a first-and-30 (after two 10-yard penalties on the offensive line) into a third-and-6 and then hit a 41-yard pass down the left sideline to Brice Butler. That's a good offense.
At halftime in Dallas, the winner of the battle between the No. 1 run defense and the No. 1 run offense is "tie." Ezekiel Elliott has six runs for 26 yards. The problem is that Ezekiel Elliott has only six runs, in part because Baltimore is holding onto the ball FAR more than you would have expected, and in part because penalties have put the Cowboys into some bad down-and-distance situations. (They have gotten out of them, as I noted about the first-and-30, but it does mean less Elliott.) Oddly, for the second straight week Elliott did not gain a single rushing yard in the second quarter -- this time because he didn't even have a carry.
On the other side of the ball, I realize the Ravens have only 10 points (10-10 tie at halftime) but they are moving the ball pretty well considering they are the No. 32 offense by DVOA. This does not inspire confidence in the Dallas defense.
The general facts about these teams certainly reasserted themselves in the second half. The Baltimore offense went back to mostly struggling, although they did hit a couple of nice passes to Mike Wallace. Their one touchdown drive was extended by a face mask penalty on what would have been a sack on third-and-12. Meanwhile, the Dallas offense has moved the ball much better against the Baltimore defense. Elliott is still getting only about 4 yards per carry, but the passing game is moving the ball. The Ravens' cornerbacks are a real weakness with Jimmy Smith not playing due to injury. Tavon Young has a lot of promise and was a good choice for our midseason Top 25 Prospects list, but he's simply not ready to be covering Dez Bryant. Gave him something like 10 yards of cushion on a 13-yard touchdown pass. It's not always Young; Shareece Wright was covering Bryant and was easily boxed out on Bryant's first touchdown catch (4 yards in the third quarter). Jerraud Powers has also gotten beat a couple times.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Cleveland Browns 9
Scott Kacsmar: This game is flying by with all of the successful runs by Pittsburgh and short Ben Roethlisberger completions. Coming into Sunday, there were eight drives of nine-plus minutes this season. The Steelers have started with two field goal drives that were at least nine minutes each. That's the disappointing part, but Le'Veon Bell looks fantastic. He missed both Cleveland games last year when the Steelers were held to 94 yards rushing combined. Bell has already rushed for 77 yards on two drives today. Meanwhile, Cleveland's running game has been completely stifled by a Pittsburgh defense that has not missed Cameron Heyward yet today. That's a bit troubling in this nasty weather for Cleveland, because Cody Kessler is not someone you want to rely on too much. He started the game with a great 38-yard throw to Terrelle Pryor, but has been under a lot more pressure since then, going down three times on sacks. Corey Coleman has had a few drops already. The Steelers may get to halftime with just three possessions, but a 6-0 or 9-0 lead would still feel like a disappointment.
Well, this sounds like something an 0-10 team would do. Pittsburgh basically just ran a red zone practice to end the half. Tomlin was aggressive to go for the touchdown with only five seconds left, and Roethlisberger took too long on the play before forcing an incompletion that should have ended the half. However, the Browns were penalized for a needless hold, extending the half. Tomlin still went for it, but another bad pass play was forgiven by pass interference in the end zone. Finally, the Steelers just ran Bell up the middle since he has been dominating all day, and added a two-point conversion from Roethlisberger to a wide-open David Johnson. Instead of allowing zero points with a good stand, the Browns just gave up eight points and trail 14-0. That's 14 points on just three drives for Pittsburgh.
Aaron Schatz: So in the first half Pittsburgh has only three drives, and Cleveland has only 14 plays. This sounds like one of the most mind-numbing games of all-time.
Vince Verhei: What is it about the Browns that no matter how bad they are, they manage to have one receiver who's exciting enough that he almost makes them worth watching by himself? First it was Josh Cribbs (OK, more of a returner than receiver), then Josh Gordon, and now Terrelle Pryor. He just made a great leaping sideline catch, showing great physical talent and mental timing to get up and high-point the football, while the cornerback just kept on running. That set Cleveland up at the 1-yard line. Then, because they are Cleveland, they moved 5 yards backwards before kicking a field goal. But man, that Pryor catch was outstanding.
Scott Kacsmar: As is often the case, the Steelers won in Cleveland by dominating on defense. A very unexpected eight sacks put some pain on Kessler and Josh McCown, the latter of whom was dying to throw a pick in his relief appearance with a ton of dangerous throws. A fumble-six put the game away, but I too came away impressed with Pryor as a wide receiver. But that offensive line was a mess against a short-handed Pittsburgh defense that has struggled all year to get pressure.
Bryan Knowles: The Browns are now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, the first team officially out this year. That's 14 seasons and counting since they have seen postseason action, as well as 10 straight losing seasons. Ben Roethlisberger won his 10th game at FirstEnergy Stadium, tying the record for most wins for a starting quarterback there despite only playing one game per season in Cleveland.
Other than that, not a bad day for Browns fans.
Tom Gower: Have we linked tothis yet? We should, because it's just so fun notwithstanding the deep and fundamental limitations of quarterback wins.
Chicago Bears 16 at New York Giants 22
Bryan Knowles: Jay Cutler has bounced back quite well from last week's disaster; he's 8-for-9 for 105 yards and a touchdown already. He might be being helped by Jordan Howard having a great day on the ground -- 63 yards on 10 carries. The Giants just have no answers for this, ahem, high-powered Bears offense.
Aaron Schatz: Red Zone switches to the Bears on the New York 30 with 2:00 left and no timeouts. They need a touchdown. First play, Jason Pierre-Paul puts the Chicago right tackle completely on skates and slaps the ball out of Jay Cutler's hand. Cutler doesn't even see it. Who is 76 for the Bears? Wait... that's Mike Adams? Mike Adams is on Chicago now? Oh, man, that offensive line is not in a good place if Mike Adams is starting. I guess he's in with Bobby Massie and Kyle Long both injured on the right side. Whoa boy.
The Bears recovered but Cutler threw a pick to Landon Collins on the very next play. Terrible decision, terrible throw, receiver totally covered. Just awful. Announcers then talk about how the Giants defense has been trending upwards. No it hasn't. It's been good all year. There's no trend. It's good now. It was good early. It's been good. It was not good for two games or so, but otherwise, it's pretty good. There's no trend.
Tennessee Titans 17 at Indianapolis Colts 24
Aaron Schatz: Uh, Tom? What in the Sam Hell is going on in Indianapolis?
Tom Gower: Colts up 21-7 at the half, a score that probably flatters the Titans. Tennessee's offense was mostly miserable for the first 28 minutes of the half. The Colts were the one team in the past four games DeMarco Murray and company were able to have consistent success against (not surprising, given that whole league-worst rushing defense and all), but Indy has been solid up front and limited him to 10 yards on six carries. That hasn't been a problem for the Titans, because the passing offense has been so efficient on third down, but they're not today. First four third downs: incomplete, sack, incomplete, checkdown on third-and-26, and zero points. At the end of the first half, Marcus Mariota got their first two conversions, the first with his legs and the second finding DeMarco Murray after using his legs to avoid an unblocked Hassan Ridgeway.
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The dirty secret of last week's game is the Titans didn't play good defense after the first quarter. Green Bay scored on their next five non-kneeldown possessions, and Richard Rodgers miscues (drop and bad route) ended the next two Green Bay possessions. And Indianapolis has more explosive wide receivers, to better challenge a none-too-fast Tennessee secondary. Explosive pass plays have been a problem -- Frank Gore had 49 yards on a catch-and-run on a play where he took the direct snap, tossed the ball back to Andrew Luck, back in the backfield after lining up out wide, and Luck eventually checked it down to Gore, whom the Titans had seemingly ignored. The other went to Phillip Dorsett, wide open after two Titans ran into each other on pursuit crossers (T.Y. Hilton was probably even more open). The Titans have actually been getting near Luck, which they weren't really in the game in Nashville, but he has made throws off balance and under duress, including a touchdown throw that Hilton pretty much took away from Perrish Cox. The Titans' only stop (Indy only had four non-kneeldown possessions) came when Dwayne Allen, open and past the sticks, dropped a ball and Adam Vinatieri missed his first field goal since Week 4 of 2015 (karmic punishment by the cruel Football Gods for Pagano keeping the field goal team out after a Titans penalty turned fourth-and-6 into fourth-and-1).
Aaron Schatz: On the Red Zone, I just saw the Titans run a "chaos" formation play. Baltimore had one earlier today where they started in that formation and then motioned out of it. Hue Jackson, what hath ye wrought? Is this going to be like the Wildcat, where everyone tries to run something that looks like "Chaos" or "Emory & Henry" but they all run it wrong without the proper handoff option?
Tom Gower: Colts offense started misfiring in the second half, repeatedly. After marching up and down the field the first two quarters, they managed only one first down in the third quarter and two in the fourth. The two in the fourth were both incredibly important, though. The first was on a 50-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton to set up a field goal that extended the lead to 24-17, and the second was a conversion on third-and-5 that helped Andrew Luck tank his official rushing yardage totals (officially 8-22 today, actually 4-18 plus 4-(minus-4) that would be attributed to TEAM by the NCAA). Why'd the offense sputter? Derrick Morgan against Joe Haeg (and Jack Doyle at least one play) was a big reason -- the pass rush got there enough to sack or disrupt, not just harass Luck. Hilton dropped what would have been a big gain, potentially a 41-yard touchdown. Brice McCain had two big plays on Hilton -- one to break up a third-and-16 would-be conversion and the other an interception.
And the Titans offense actually did something. No, not the ground game, really, as DeMarco Murray didn't break any long runs and it seemed like he had to break tackles in the backfield just to get 6 yards on first down, but "good" Marcus Mariota picking apart the weak links (mostly, though Vontae Davis did get flagged for PI) of DVOA's 31st-ranked defense. But Clayton Geathers sticked Murray on fourth-and-1 after a fourth-and-2 conversion earlier, that Indy first down, and that was that.
Jacksonville Jaguars 19 at Detroit Lions 26
Aaron Schatz: The Lions just picked off Blake Bortles YET AGAIN to win 26-17. That team is just living off close wins, but screw it, they're 6-4. If somebody gets to be on top of their division despite not really being that good, it might as well be a team with a long-suffering fanbase that deserves some happiness (and where I like the guys in the front office).
Philadelphia Eagles 15 at Seattle Seahawks 26
Cian Fahey: God, I love C.J. Prosise.
Vince Verhei: Remember in Quick Reads, when I said the Eagles defense was vulnerable to long runs? Second drive for Seattle, C.J. Prosise takes it off tackle to the right, makes Jalen Mills miss, and gets a 72-yard touchdown. And of course, the extra point is blocked. Announcers are literally scrambling to keep track of all the missed XPs today, trying to figure out if this one came before one in San Francisco.
First quarter ends with the score still 6-0, but the Eagles are driving. They moved the ball well on each of their first two possessions, but stalled in Seattle territory and twice punted into the end zone. Richard Sherman hasn't been playing his typical left corner spot -- it looks like he's spending more time inside, covering tight ends. As a result of that, the Eagles have run a ton of quick slants to the right wide receiver, whoever ends up lined up over there, with more success than failure.
Meanwhile, Seattle's offense has done nothing aside from the one long run -- 85 total yards on three drives, 72 of them on one play.
Seahawks go back up top 13-7 on an all-time great Russell Wilson touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham. With pressure from his left, Wilson steps up in the pocket and scrambles to the sideline. With a defender closing in, and his chest and shoulders pointed directly toward the sideline, he keeps his eyes downfield, then brings his arm up behind his head, and I swear that ball actually went behind him based on where he was running. And somehow it hits an ad-libbing Jimmy Graham right in the hands, and Graham breaks a couple of tackles to get into the end zone. I don't know if there's another quarterback in the league who could have made that throw.
That pressure from the left, by the way, came in part because George Fant has left the game. Announcers are saying Fant was backing up Bradley Sowell, but that's not true anymore -- Seahawks have announced that Fant, the college basketball player, has won the left tackle job, and Sowell will compete with Garry Gilliam on the right side when he's healthy again. Jason Peters also left for Philadelphia, though he's back on the field now.
Here's that Wilson touchdown. Look at this form and then realize he laid this down soft as a baby into Graham's hands, 20 yards downfield.
— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2016
Chancellor redeems himself with an interception on a deep cross on the Eagles' last possession of the half. Seahawks get the ball at their 40 with 16 seconds and three timeouts, but Wilson missed Paul Richardson on a deep pass that would have given them a chance at a field goal from the 30, and that was that.
So it's 16-7 at halftime. Seattle's offense has looked tremendous all in all, especially considering this is DVOA's top defense. The defense has made some plays, but has also gotten lucky that the Eagles have beaten themselves in some big instances. They had a 57-yard middle-screen touchdown to Zach Ertz called back on an illegal formation penalty on the far side of the field. On the next drive, Nelson Agholor beat Richard Sherman on a deep post and was open for a 20-plus-yard gain, but dropped a perfect pass from Carson Wentz. In fact, Agholor might have been the guy who screwed up on the formation foul too.
Teams open the third exchanging punts and interceptions, then the Seahawks extend their lead to 23-7 on a Doug Baldwin pass to Russell Wilson, and no, that's not a typo. I'm not going to lie, that was so great because I could see it coming as soon as Wilson faked to the running back and pitched back to Baldwin. We're almost exactly halfway through the third quarter and the Seahawks are averaging 9.2 yards per play against DVOA's top defense.
Carl Yedor: It seems like players are dropping like flies in Seattle today. By my count, DeShawn Shead, Fletcher Cox, Darren Sproles, Ryan Mathews, Jason Peters, George Fant, C.J. Prosise, and Connor Barwin have all had to leave the field with an injury at some point today. Earl Thomas also looked like he might have a hamstring issue after the Richard Sherman interception. These are two of the best defenses in the league, and halfway through the third quarter the physicality of the game may be taking its toll.
As I'm typing this, Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson reverse roles, with Baldwin throwing a touchdown to Wilson on a trick play. I remember the Seahawks running this once in 2014 against Denver, but it didn't result in a score that time. That's a play they certainly couldn't have ran successfully with Wilson as hobbled as he was earlier in the season.
Vince Verhei: I should add that injuries are hurting both teams in this game. Peters and Fant have returned, but Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles are both out for Philadelphia. I think C.J. Prosise is out for Seattle, and Earl Thomas has left the game after tweaking his hamstring on a Richard Sherman interception. (Do not ask me why Carson Wentz was forcing a deep pass to Bryce Treggs with Sherman and Thomas both in coverage, but that's what happened.)
Philadelphia just punted with about six minutes to go in the third. At this exact moment, Russell Wilson has 15 receiving yards -- or, exactly as many as all Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers combined.
Aaron Schatz: This really feels like a dominant performance by the Seahawks. The offense looks good -- especially considering the quality of the Eagles defense coming into this game -- and the defense has shut this Eagles offense down completely. This game is nowhere near as close as the 23-7 score. With 20 minutes left, the Seahawks have outgained the Eagles by 228 net yards and have a minus-2 turnover margin.
Vince Verhei: Eagles got the ball with 7:15 left, down 19. They got 8 points, but used 3:33 to do it. Remind me who Doug Pederson coached for last year? It looks like the student has learned from the master.
Seahawks recover the ensuing onside kick, but they are literally out of running backs. And so we have got Trevone Boykin trying to play deep tailback. Seriously.
Miami Dolphins 14 at Los Angeles Rams 10
Tom Gower: 7-0 Rams after one half of play (not all of which I saw). Neither offense is that good at consistently executing, which is a problem when you don't have many explosive plays or the sort of field position where you just need one explosive play to put points on the board. In point of fact, there was precisely one third-down conversion in the first half, when Jared Goff spun to his left and found an open Lance Kendricks for 20 yards on third-and-8. The lone score game when I saw a unicorn -- oh, wait, that was just Todd Gurley's first rush of the season for more than 24 yards. He sped through a crease, and the Dolphins didn't have much at the second level.
Vince Verhei: Miami, by the way, another defense that ranked poorly in Quick Reads at allowing explosive runs.
Tom Gower: Miami's depleted offensive line, sans Mike Pouncey and Branden Albert and without Laremy Tunsil late in the first half as well, has been creating problems in pass protection and making it hard for Jay Ajayi to find consistent success, no matter how violently he runs. Damien Williams' (I think) blitz pickup has been a particular problem, with Ryan Tannehill going down a couple times on third downs to unblocked defensive backs while Williams didn't get anybody.
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Goff in general? Not a disaster, but this isn't a good situation and I don't see him transcending it.
Aaron Schatz: I think I have figured out how the Rams are playing so well against the Dolphins today. They think they are playing the AAFC's Miami Seahawks. They always do well against the Seahawks.
It's like the Rams' defense suddenly froze up with five minutes left, except for the Jarvis Landry touchdown where a crowd of Dolphins had to push a crowd of Rams into the end zone. And then the Rams had 40 seconds to come back to score, one timeout left, and they threw an 8-yard slant in the middle of the field. Seriously, guys?
Tom Gower: Rams pass rush completely shut down the Dolphins offense for the first 53 minutes, then disappeared for Miami's final two drives, unless you want to count Aaron Donald's roughing-the-passer penalty that helped kick off the second, decisive touchdown drive.
New England Patriots 30 at San Francisco 49ers 17
Aaron Schatz: Patriots defense still trying to figure out how to organize without Jamie Collins around. They also left Jabaal Sheard home today, and they're blitzing more defensive backs than usual trying to get pressure on Colin Kaepernick. It's been very hit-or-miss. Patriots sacked Kaepernick five times in the first half, but Kaepernick also went 8-for-9 when he threw the ball. The Patriots offense is moving the ball well -- egads the 49ers run defense is awful -- but they went into halftime with only 13 points because of a drive ruined by penalties, a good drive that ended in no man's land as the half ran out of time, and a missed extra point.
Chip Kelly has really slowed down his offense since Colin Kaepernick became the starting quarterback, it seems. Look at these play times for five plays on a third-quarter drive: 13:27, 12:58, 12:23, 11:41, 11:02. Who are you and what have you done with Chip Kelly?
Tom Brady just bought time with his feet against San Francisco pressure, got free to connect with Malcolm Mitchell downfield for a 56-yard touchdown, about half air yards and half after the catch. Brady's pocket movement today has been outstanding.
Tom Gower: In what I have seen of this game, San Francisco's relatively anemic pass rush has been doing a good job of getting Brady off his spot, but he has done an even better job of pocket movement and resetting and then finding open receivers (or maybe I have just had the good/bad/whatever luck of flipping over to see Patriots scoring drives).
Green Bay Packers 24 at Washington Redskins 42
Aaron Schatz: Can I register that I really don't quite understand Jordy Nelson's touchdown catch with 9:27 left in the second quarter? It looked to me like Josh Norman slapped it out of his hand. You lose a catch if you have it for a while but don't hold on while going to the ground, but not if you have it for a while but don't hold on while standing still?
Tom Gower: The rules for going to the ground are different. Nelson wasn't going to the ground, so he needed control, two feet, and had the ball long enough to become a runner by tucking the ball away (or doing some other actions). Nelson controlled the ball immediately, got two feet down, and turned before Norman slapped the ball out. Catch, touchdown.
Vince Verhei: Well that's ridiculous. (The rule, not Tom's explanation.) I know nobody knows what a catch is anymore, but that looked like such a non-catch I was angry at the call, and I don't have a dog in this fight. The TV announcers had a good point: are you telling me that if that catch had been at the 50 instead of the end zone, they would have called it a catch-and-fumble?
Tom Gower: Correct, catch plus fumble.
Washington up 13-10 at the half. I don't know what to say about this game. Packers offense is the Packers offense, mostly improvisational after nothing happens in the quick game, except when it does, in which case it's often devastating barring receiver failure. Washington has a lot of talented pass catchers. Green Bay's defense seemed to get a Clay Matthews-related bump (what's the DVOA split with and without him? probably not as much as the 15-points-per-game difference would suggest), but the cover guys are still problems, and Washington has pass catchers.
Aaron Schatz: The other thing is that honestly it's like the problem with the route combinations in the Packers offense has just been worse because of the high winds that are basically taking any deep passes out of the playbook.
Third quarter, Packers defense having some real problems. Their secondary is so banged up... no Sam Shields, Demetri Goodson going out tonight. Washington just hit Jamison Crowder deep for a 44-yard touchdown. I can't believe I wrote "Jamison Crowder deep." It's like saying "Wes Welker deep." Apparently, Washington does not think the winds have taken deep passes out of the playbook.
Bryan Knowles: Washington playing the interesting "have no one on the same side of the field as James Starks" defense. Looks like there was confusion pre-snap, and everyone decided that they'd better cover Jordy Nelson. Easiest 31-yard touchdown you'll ever see. I could have scored on that, and my 40-yard time is measured with an hourglass.
Aaron Schatz: Well, Washington just came back with another deep torching of the Green Bay secondary. This one was by Pierre Garcon so it made a little more sense. Shouldn't DeSean Jackson be getting involved in this?
Vince Verhei: Is it just me or is NBC's audio mix all screwed up? The announcers are too loud and the ambient stadium noise is way too quiet. Or is there just nobody in this stadium?
Scott Kacsmar: I like any quarterback sneak call, but that one by Washington was especially exciting. A little bit of a risk with a 5-point lead in your own end, but felt like the right call with the way the game has been going. Don't want to risk a crap punt in this wind. For that reason, hope Washington remains aggressive on this drive. Touchdown wins the game, but field goal will keep it a one-score game.
Bryan Knowles: 12 missed extra points today. I know it's a fluke that all are happening in one day, but that's certainly remarkable.