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 emails 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.
Cincinnati Bengals 23 at Cleveland Browns 10
Cian Fahey: Robert Griffin's first drive in his return won't have instilled much confidence. A 6-yard run on an option on first down before a throwaway on second and a dropped interception on third down.
Hue Jackson clearly doesn't care at this point. RGIII threw an interception into triple coverage after Jackson called a flea-flicker on first down from his own end zone. That led to Tyler Eifert's second touchdown of the game.
Jamie Collins has played well today. That's pretty much it for positive notes on the Browns.
Rob Weintraub: If Jeremy Hill could play 16 games vs Cleveland he'd be an All-Pro. Then again, who wouldn't?
Cincy rolled out to a big lead behind Hill and Eifert (two red zone touchdowns), and Vontaze Burfict was tremendous again. Once up 20-0, on a frigid day, Cincy basically took the second half off.
Two easy wins over the league's dregs doesn't change much, but the 0-3-1 November, with four games decided by a grand total of 10 points, changed the season from "expected playoff contender" to "ruining draft position with late rush."
Oh, and Mike Nugent missed an extra point for the fourth straight game. And a field goal from similar distance.
Minnesota Vikings 25 at Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Aaron Schatz: Disappointed to see the Vikings do the "let's try to draw them offsides" game instead of going for it on fourth-and-1 from the Jacksonville 9 in the first quarter. It's a bit of a surprise, given the quality of that offensive line, but the Vikings have an average offensive DVOA on third/fourth-and-short.
Vince Verhei: Sam Bradford has had more time in the pocket today than he has probably all season, which says a lot about Jacksonville's pass rush, obviously. And sometimes that extra time just seems to confuse him. He's not sure what to do with all this protection, and he looks hesitant and indecisive. He does have 40-yard completions to both Adam Theilen and Kyle Rudolph, but otherwise all that time has just resulted in wonky scrambles and dumpoffs.
Aaron Schatz: Curious if you're noticing anything from Dante Fowler. We're talking about a third overall pick late in his first year and I don't remember seeing anything anywhere about whether he looks any good.
Vince Verhei: I wrote that comment about Bradford before Minnesota's fifth possession of the game, but that drive just emphasized Minnesota's boom-and-bust day. The drive started with Yannick Ngakoue swatting the ball out of Bradford's hand for what appears to be a strip-sack, but Bradford gets the ball back and hits Jerick McKinnon for a 15-yard catch-and-run. Two plays later, Bradford has time in the pocket and hits Stefon Diggs in one-on-one coverage down the middle for a 45-yard gain that puts Minnesota in the red zone. They get a first-and-goal at the 3, but the drive stalls there. The second-down play, a sideways pass to Rudolph that was basically a pitch, was particularly confusing. Matt Asiata is then stuffed at the 1 on both third and fourth down, and the Vikings come away with no points, though they still lead 9-6.
Fowler does have a tackle today, so he is alive. I just checked and he has 2.5 sacks and one start this season. Yeah, that pick has not worked out.
Jaguars tie the score at 9 just before halftime. Biggest plays were a 31-yard DPI on Xavier Rhodes covering Allen Robinson, and then Marqise Lee reversing field and breaking tackles to turn a short catch over the middle into a 39-yard gain before being pushed out of bounds.
Tom Gower: Fowler's done little, from everything I've seen and heard about Jacksonville this year.
Vince Verhei: If the Vikings lose this game, they'll be able to blame it all on their scoring-range offense. They've had six drives cross the Jacksonville 30 today, resulting in one touchdown, three field goals, one fourth-down stop, and just now, a lost fumble at the goal line as Matt Asiata was trying to score. Jaguars get the ball back, down 18-16, with about six minutes to go.
By the way, I have seen Fowler get a couple of pressures today, but no game-changing plays.
Oh, and adding to that: Kai Forbath has kicked four field goals today, but he missed an extra point, and that's why Jacksonville can win with a field goal.
Vikings drove down the field and had a goal-to-go situation again. This time they avoided Asiata, and Bradford hit Rudolph for a 6-yard touchdown to give the Vikings what you figure will be an insurmountable 25-16 lead.
San Diego Chargers 16 at Carolina Panthers 28
Bryan Knowles: Nasty sight in San Diego -- Melvin Gordon dove in after what he thought was a Philip Rivers fumble, and his leg got very, very awkwardly pinned behind him. He has been carted off the field.
Vince Verhei: Chargers nearly had themselves in position for an all-time comeback here. After falling behind 23-0, they crawled back to make it 26-16. Trovon Reed then intercepted Cam Newton at the goal line, and was originally ruled to have returned the ball for a 100-yard pick-six. Replay showed, though, that he had been touched down after a return of just 3 yards. So San Diego had a first down at their own 3, still down ten points -- and then Philip Rivers was sacked for a safety on third down, giving the Panthers a 28-16 lead and the ball.
And then Carolina gets aggressive, going for it on fourth-and-1 at midfield with still half a quarter to go -- and they get it, with Jonathan Stewart getting a good gain and letting the Panthers kill more clock.
Bryan Knowles: San Diego briefly had signs of life, fighting back from a 23-0 deficit, but Carolina eventually squelched it. The 28-16 victory keeps Carolina's faint playoff hopes alive for one more week, at least.
Washington Redskins 27 at Philadelphia Eagles 22
Andrew Potter: People complain a lot about pass interference being a spot foul and automatic first down, making the penalty often disproportionate to what can be a marginal foul. No such complaints about the huge penalty against Quinton Dunbar on Philly's second drive here -- Dunbar was soundly beaten deep left by Nelson Agoholor and Carson Wentz threw for Agholor, so Dunbar simply tackled the receiver 44 yards downfield. Textbook example of why it's a spot foul and not simply set yardage.
Vince Verhei: Strong disagree! Critics of the 15-yard DPI rule say that if it was installed, defenders would just tackle receivers before the ball got there every time they were beaten. Well, here we see an example of a defender who was cleanly beaten and just tackled the receiver before the ball got there anyway -- in other words, the spot foul rule doesn't discourage that kind of behavior at all.
Aaron Schatz: I know my solution to the DPI problem is complicated, probably too much math for some people, but I think it works. Spot foul up to the 20, half the distance to the goal inside the 20. That prevents the deep ball that is just an attempt to get first-and-goal on the 1. On a deep pass of more than 20 yards, that DPI in the end zone gives you first-and-goal from the 10 instead.
Andrew Potter: Potentially critical development in Philadelphia, as Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos is out with a wrist injury and Brent Celek replaces him on a 50-yard field goal attempt. The snap, though not Travis Goethel bad, is nowhere near right and holder Donnie Jones can't get it in place for Caleb Sturgis. Doug Pederson has been aggressive on third down all year, and had a couple of big conversions today, but Dorenbos being unable to snap the ball puts them in a very tough spot on both kicks and -- more worryingly -- punts.
Washington leads 14-13, so that botched snap has already had a significant impact on the game.
Bryan Knowles: Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos is hurt, so the Eagles turn to tight end Brent Celek as their long-snapper on field goals. It costs the Eagles three points -- Celek's snap is low, and the holder is unable to come down with it. Something to watch as the game moves forward, if it ends up close.
Andrew Potter: ...and now Celek is also hurt, injured long-snapping on a Donnie Jones punt. According to Pam Oliver, the Eagles have no idea who's going to snap for them if neither Celek nor Dorenbos can return.
We just had the remarkable sight of the Eagles holding sideline tryouts for a third-string long snapper, with Dorenbos out with a wrist injury and Brent Celek questionable to return with a stinger. Fullback Trey Burton, who has been an unexpected feature of Philadelphia's passing game today, wins the job, then on his first attempt gets too much air under a snap to Donnie Jones. Jones, however, expertly catches the ball and gets it down for Sturgis to kick his third field goal of the day.
Bryan Knowles: 5 minutes left, facing fourth-and-1 from the Washington 23, the Eagles are down two points. This is an obvious field goal situation -- but with both long snappers out, the Eagles line up to go for it, figuring their odds of getting a yard are higher than their odds of completing a snap.
They do eventually call the time-out and re-think it, deciding to opt with third-string long snapper Trey Burton, who I assume must have volunteered on the sideline to give it a shot. His snap is adequate, and Philly takes the lead.
Andrew Potter: Hilariously, Doug Pederson just challenged an incomplete pass to Jamison Crowder in hopes of having the outcome reversed to a catch and fumble. Crowder did make the catch, but was then down by contact before he lost the ball, so we got the outstanding result of an incomplete pass being overturned into a 33-yard completion because of a successful challenge by the DEFENSE.
Arizona Cardinals 23 at Miami Dolphins 26
Aaron Schatz: Some interesting goings-on early in the Arizona-Miami tilt.
Carson Palmer threw a pick on the first Arizona drive with something you don't see often -- a ball tipped in the air by Larry Fitzgerald. The Dolphins marched back up the field and threw a touchdown to Kenny Stills.
Arizona takes the kickoff, and on the first series they hand the ball off to J.J. Nelson on an end-around. Nelson had not just one but two extra gears and just accelerated right through the hole and went all the way for a touchdown. Chandler Catanzaro missed the XP, so it's now 7-6 Miami.
Then Ryan Tannehill got busy throwing to tightly covered receivers on the second drive. First, Jarvis Landry on a slant had no separation from Patrick Peterson. Then Tannehill threw deep left to Stills, whose little move to try to shake off the coverage was so small, Marcus Peters stepped in front of the ball. It looked sort of like simultaneous reception but the refs gave the ball to Peters. Then the skies opened up, and the Cardinals just fumbled it right back because suddenly things got very, very wet. That's three turnovers in the first 9 minutes of this game.
And with another Carson Palmer pick (pressure in his face, plus a slippery ball, led to a pass thrown too high) and then a Miami fumble at the goal line (botched center-quarterback exchange), we're now at five turnovers in the first quarter. The city of Miami is very, very wet right now.
Vince Verhei: Funniest thing about the weather in Miami is that the other game in Florida today is being played in perfect sunshine. (And yes, I realize Jacksonville and Miami are hundreds of miles apart.)
Aaron Schatz: One of the elements of the Arizona Cardinals collapse that nobody is really talking about: their offensive line has gone from a major strength to a huge weakness, particularly in pass protection. The Cardinals were fifth in adjusted sack rate last year but are 24th going into this game. They're now missing two opening day starters (left tackle Jared Veldheer, right guard Evan Mathis), which also means D.J. Humphries has been moved over to left tackle and they're stuck playing a 2014 seventh-rounder cut by Miami earlier this year, Ulrick John, as their starting right tackle. Humphries is a bit overmatched on the left side and John is awful on the right. They've also got John Wetzel now at right guard, a former UDFA on his fourth team.
Oh boy. D.J. Humphries is now out with an injury and Wetzel is playing left tackle. Andre "Don't Call Me Alan" Branch just brutalized him with a speed move to the outside to strip-sack Palmer. Wetzel recovered, but man, that looked terrible. Two players later, Palmer nearly threw a pick to Branch when the Cardinals were trying to throw a screen and Branch sniffed it out. Branch couldn't hold on to the ball, but again, horrid play. How do you expect David Johnson to do awesome things when the quarterback can't get Johnson the ball?
The Arizona Cardinals offensive line suddenly started holding up halfway through the fourth quarter. I must admit I have not watched things close enough to know whether or not the issue was that the Dolphins are now sending fewer guys or what, but Arizona had a long drive downfield with Palmer getting plenty of time to throw. Touchdown to Brittan Golden... and then Chandler Catanzaro gets the XP blocked and the Dolphins return it for a two-point defensive conversion. 23-15 Miami.
Andrew Potter: Chandler Catanzaro better hope he looks really good in some other team's tryouts next offseason.
Bryan Knowles: After nearly accidentally running out their own clock, the Dolphins line up for a 21-yard field goal for the win. It's not a gimme, in a rainstorm when there has already been an extra point blocked this game -- but it goes through.
No points for Adam Gase there -- the complete lack of clock awareness from the Dolphins nearly cost them even the chance to kick a field goal here. That would have been mortifying for a team that's in playoff position now, with Denver's loss.
The Miami win means New England will have to wait another week before claiming the AFC East title yet again.
Aaron Schatz: The Cardinals came back with a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie things, and I just kept wondering where the hell the Dolphins pass rush had gone. But they didn't need it. The rain was enough. Palmer botched the snap when the Cardinals got the ball back with 2:00 left, which led to a three-and-out and the Dolphins getting the ball back.
With 40 seconds left, Matt Moore took the pressure from a blitz and launched it deep to Kenny Stills. The ball hung but Stills adjusted to it better than Justin Bethel did and caught it at the Arizona 1 (with a declined DPI flag to boot). The Dolphins tried really hard to screw up this almost-sure win, handing the ball off for a 2-yard loss, then wasting time getting set up, and running another play with 10 seconds left anyway... and then Damien Williams wouldn't go down, fighting for a pointless yard for 9 seconds. The Dolphins got lucky when he went down and Adam Gase, standing next to the official, called the timeout immediately. Andrew Franks field goal, Dolphins win. I'm not sure what happens to their playoff odds now, because the word is that Ryan Tannehill has a torn ACL, which means we're talking the Matt Moore show for the rest of the year.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 at Buffalo Bills 20
Bryan Knowles: You'd think the winter storm conditions would slow down the road team, while the home team would be more prepared. So far, however, Pittsburgh has 134 total yards, and Buffalo has minus-1. So, you know. That's not going fantastic. The Bills defense has an interception, but that's about it -- they do not, at the moment, seem prepared to stop Le'Veon Bell in any way, shape or form.
Scott Kacsmar: Only a pair of Ben Roethlisberger interceptions has kept this one close (14-7) at halftime. The Steelers are running their normal offense in the snow, but Roethlisberger has been off on a few passes that killed promising drives, including a red zone pick to start the game. Le'Veon Bell has basically been unstoppable with two touchdown runs and an 80-yard first quarter. The Buffalo offense has yet to put a long drive together, only scoring on a short field after the second interception. Tyrod Taylor has been pressured and has also taken some pretty bad sacks. He came into the game holding the ball longer than any quarterback this season, and it has shown today. But the Bills have taken advantage of some mistakes by Pittsburgh's rookie defensive backs. Artie Burns was caught for holding to wipe out a William Gay pick-six, and safety Sean Davis was beaten easily for a touchdown by Sammy Watkins in the red zone.
Bryan Knowles: I've never seen this before.
Super-snowy, of course, so during halftime, the grounds crew used snow-blowers to blow off the excess snow. All well and good -- except it also, apparently, blew off all the ground-up rubber pellets that form the base for the artificial surface. So the sidelines and end zone are littered with black rubber, and the field is currently being re-rubbered; it's unsafe to play on at the moment. And, of course, by the time they remove all of them from the sideline and re-apply them on the field, it's going to be covered in snow again.
Nice little day for Le'Veon Bell. 236 rushing yards -- a Pittsburgh franchise record -- 62 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. A helpful performance in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. let me tell you. The passing game never really got going in the snowy conditions -- Roethlisberger ended up throwing three interceptions -- but who needs passing when you've got performance like that on the ground?
Scott Kacsmar: The best game of Bell's career bailed out one of Roethlisberger's worst. You just wonder how many more weeks Bell can sustain such a big workload, but maybe DeAngelo Williams will be back soon. Then again, the Steelers haven't shown any willingness to actually use another back with any real frequency as long as Bell is healthy.
Houston Texans 22 at Indianapolis Colts 17
Aaron Schatz: This may be one of my favorite descriptive tweets of all-time.
sometimes when osweiler throws his arm looks like an orca trying to leap over a stone wall to freedom
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) December 11, 2016
Chicago Bears 17 at Detroit Lions 20
Vince Verhei: Lions lead 10-3 at halftime, and the game hasn't been any more exciting than that sounds. Ultra-conservative schemes by both teams have led to a bunch of first downs, but few big plays or red zone conversions, and only one three-and-out. It's just a bunch of eight-play drives ending in punts or field goals. The only exceptions have been Marvin Jones' 48-yard catch on a bomb (where I thought the Lions' offensive line got away with holding, but anyway) that set up a field goal, and then Detroit's two big plays on their late touchdown drive: Tracy Porter's 38-yard DPI in coverage against Jones, and then Anquan Boldin's 16-yard touchdown catch, where it looked like Matthew Stafford was actually throwing to a guy running towards the back corner of the end zone, but Boldin came over on a crossing route and leaped to "intracept" the ball.
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With Detroit taking a 13-3 lead and threatening to put the game away, Chicago keeps itself alive with a 31-yard touchdown pass down the sideline from Matt Barkley to Cameron Meredith. Darius Slay was in coverage on the play. I know that Slay had made noise this season about getting top cornerback money, and his charting numbers this season (5.0 yards per target, 60 percent success rate in coverage) have been pretty good, but I kind of feel like you can't be a No. 1 corner if you're giving up long touchdowns to Matt Barkley and Cameron Meredith.
And then Detroit is threatening to extend its lead, but Matt Stafford's pass into the end zone bounces off Bryce Callahan and Golden Tate before Demontre Hurst reels in the interception. This has basically been every Detroit game this season, with the roles reversed. This time Detroit is the superior team letting the underdog hang around with a chance to win at the end.
The Bears punt after that interception, but they pin the Lions inside their own 10. A run and an incompletion puts Detroit at third-and-5, and then Cre'Von LeBlanc jumps an out route to Boldin and returns it 24 yards for a touchdown. Chicago now leads 17-13. That's two interceptions for Stafford today after he had thrown only one in Detroit's last eight games.
Bryan Knowles: We all had Chicago taking the lead over Detroit thanks to a couple key interceptions by Matthew Stafford, right?
Stafford threw an interception in the red zone to Demonte Hurst, his first red zone pick since Week 16 of 2014. Chicago ends up not being able to do anything off of that turnover, but on the ensuing possession, Stafford is picked off by Cre'Von LeBlanc, who is apparently an actual person and not a random collection of syllables. LeBlanc takes it all the way back to the house. 17-13, Chicago, and they're not mathematically eliminated yet…
Bryan Knowles: Detroit will eventually run out of fourth-quarter comeback magic, right? Right? Right?
Their 20-17 comeback win, keyed by Matthew Stafford running over everyone on his way to the end zone, keeps them atop the NFC North, and officially eliminates the Bears.
Vince Verhei: After a couple of holding penalties set the Bears back in a first-and-30, the game ends when Barkley's fourth-and-11 pass bounces off Jay Bellamy's shoulder pads. Detroit's string of fourth-quarter comebacks and nail-biting wins continues.
Denver Broncos 10 at Tennessee Titans 13
Tom Gower: Titans lead 13-0 at the half. Great to be up 13-0, but Titans have really dominated the first half to an extent even greater than that. Denver can't put together anything on offense, with a fumble by newly acquired Justin Forsett and a pair of third-and-1 failures among the biggest miscues. In fact, they have failed on their last 15 third downs dating back to the Kansas City game, and it's not because they have been in third-and-longs. I wonder how much the foot is affecting Trevor Siemian -- he has attempted just one deep shot, which Emmanuel Sanders should have caught but failed to haul in after the corner tipped it -- because almost everything else has been short, shorter, and shortest even morseo than I think of from the Denver offense. And the offensive line isn't where it needs to be.
I was concerned about today's matchup for the Titans offense, because DeMarco Murray had been terrible the last two games before the bye (minus-30 DYAR each game, despite facing horrible Indy and mediocre Chicago), but the Titans ran the ball pretty effectively in the first half. Murray looks better with the extra rest, they've been getting Marcus Mariota involved (which says something about how much of a priority they put on winning this game), and Derrick Henry was involved from the very first series. And when they have gotten to third downs, they have done a good job of getting an extra set of downs -- 6-of-10, including Murray's score on the opening drive of the game.
More impressively, the Titans have done it getting about as little as you would have expected from the wide receivers. They have one catch, a Harry Douglas play for 10 yards that was negated by a 10-yard penalty (so, repeat third-and-7) that was basically a delayed swing pass behind the line of scrimmage. The only other passes wide receivers have caught have been when Delanie Walker has committed offensive pass interference on short crossers to get them open. Very obvious. Denver's corners have also gotten away with some physical play in the secondary -- more physical than you normally see defenses get away with, but I guess it's that kind of day. Oh, and Harry Douglas also decided to cheap-shot Chris Harris, going with a helmet to the knee. Aqib Talib went after Douglas the next play, unsurprisingly. Thankfully, Harris was able to return (I root against any and all injuries).
Bryan Knowles: The AFC wild card race continues to get a bit more complicated. Sixth-seed Denver, attempting to drive for a game-tying field goal, lose a fumble on a short pass from Siemian to A.J. Derby. The Titans fall on it, and are able to run out the clock. That'll probably knock Denver out of playoff position at the moment, with Miami likely to take that slot. It continues Tennessee's outside chance at a late run for the AFC South, and keeps San Diego and Cincinnati mathematically alive for another week. Great result for chaos, there.
Tom Gower: Tennessee wins, 13-10. Titans offense in the second half was about like I thought it would be all game. They started out with a couple first downs running, got to midfield, then punted, and went three-and-out their next five possessions. They had precisely one good offensive play, but it was a big one. Mariota hit Rishard Matthews (a wide receiver!) for 26 yards on a slot fade. Perfect placement, and Matthews did well to put the ball in the outside hand so Talib couldn't rake it away from him. Titans took the passing a bit too far in the four-minute situation, though, and followed it up with a couple of incomplete passes to let the Broncos keep their timeouts with under three minutes to play.
Broncos offense... they completely abandoned the run, finishing with 54 dropbacks to nine runs. Nine their 18 rushing yards came on Forsett's fumble. Abandoning the run so completely made sense. But they didn't get much deep. Siemian finally found Demaryius Thomas for a 34-yard gain in the fourth when he outmuscled Valentino Blake for the ball, but their second-longest gain was 17 yards. They finally converted a third down, but you have to be more efficient than they were when you're not getting explosive plays. They finally found the end zone in the fourth quarter, but that drive started at the plus-26 following a good punt return and a penalty on Tennessee. Of course, that punt was set up by going for it on fourth-and-goal from the 4 down 13-0 early in the fourth, a decision that made perfect sense but a play that caused me to wonder more still about Siemian's injured foot as he air-mailed a throw with coverage after the scramble. I know, he's not a strong-armed passer, but I think he's normally better than he was today. Kubiak kicked the field goal to make it 13-10 with 4:33 left; holding all three timeouts and at fourth-and-goal from the 16, it made sense. But the final possession was much too casual, and the Titans got their second forced fumble of the game and the season against A.J. Derby, and for the first time since they won the 2011 season finale Tennessee won a game and was over .500 after the month of September.
New York Jets 23 at San Francisco 49ers 17 (OT)
Vince Verhei: The first three plays from scrimmage of the Bryce Petty era: Matt Forte run for 2; interception thrown right to Jimmie Ward that probably should have been a pick-six; Colin Kaepernick hits Carlos Hyde off the play-fake for a 7-yard touchdown that might well prove to be the game-winner. The game is 63 seconds old.
I went to the bathroom after that last email, and by the time I got back the Jets had already gone three-and-out and punted. The San Francisco defense was 29th coming into the weekend, 28th against the pass and dead last against the run.
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Ensuing drive: Carlos Hyde run for 11, Kaepernick-to-Patton for 19, Hyde run for 47, Shaun Draughn 4-yard touchdown run. That's four first downs for San Francisco in five plays. They had ten first downs in a whole game last week. It's 14-0 San Francisco and we're not even five minutes into the game.
Bryan Knowles: By DVOA, the Jets had the second-best rushing defense in the league coming into the week. For all their faults, they have only allowed four teams to have 100-yard days on the ground.
Carlos Hyde's already at 141 rushing yards, and we haven't hit the two-minute warning in the second quarter yet. Hyde's career high is 168, set in the 49ers' trademark Surprising Week One Victory last season. He might top that before halftime.
Vince Verhei: Hyde has 141 yards... on seven carries. I think that second total is just as important as the first.
Bryan Knowles: To add to that, the 49ers overall have 13 rushes for 180 yards. When you can get 13.8 yards per rush, you're probably doing pretty good.
The 49ers should actually be up by more than their 17-3 lead; Phil Dawson missed a pair of makeable field goals.
It should be noted, though, that the 49ers are 1-8 in games in which they scored first this season, so if any team could blow this lead...
Scott Kacsmar: The 49ers have a fourth-quarter lead for the first time since Week 1, a 28-0 win over the Rams. Coincidentally, the Rams are down 28-0 to Atlanta right now.
Bryan Knowles: That fourth-quarter lead? Gone. The Jets just kicked a field goal, bringing the score to 17-17 with 38 seconds left.
Who's ready for some bonus football in THIS one? Woo! Woo? Woo.
Of course, the first game between two mathematically eliminated teams would go to overtime. Of course. Big draft ramifications in this one -- a Jets win probably means the Browns roll to the top pick, with the 49ers needing a loss to keep pace.
Really, both teams should swap uniforms and play overtime, because a win is only a moral victory for either franchise at this point -- and how much of a moral victory can you have when you've had to go into overtime against the 49ers or Jets? A loss and better draft position is much more valuable now.
And mercifully, it's over. Bilal Powell rumbles in for a 19-yard touchdown, and the 49ers pick up their 12th straight loss. A clutch performance there, pulling defeat from the jaws of victory in order to maintain that high draft spot.
Seattle Seahawks 10 at Green Bay Packers 38
Vince Verhei: First drive of the game, Davante Adams scorches Jeremy Lane on an out-and-up for a 66-yard touchdown down the sideline. Would Earl Thomas have been able to at least make a tackle from centerfield? We'll never know, but Steven Terrell had no chance.
Bryan Knowles: Seattle's offensive line issues reared their heads again -- facing a third-and-short inside Green Bay's 10-yard line, the Packers just swarm, with Jayrone Elliott and Jake Ryan stopping Thomas Rawls behind the line, forcing Seattle to settle for just a field goal. Rawls may have slipped on the icy turf there, but still, huge stop in a near must-win game for the Pack.
Vince Verhei: Interesting situation here as Green Bay's primary runner today, Christine Michael, is still Seattle's leading rusher this season. He's understandably running hard against his old team and getting some good gains, but then on third-and-3 at the edge of field goal range, he goes the wrong way on a play, Aaron Rodgers has nobody to hand off to, and the quarterback ends up going down for a loss. That leads to a 51-yard field goal try, and Mason Crosby pushes it right.
Carl Yedor: As was mentioned on the broadcast, Russell Wilson has had two receivers open deep for what would've been touchdowns that he overthrew. Instead, the Seahawks have managed 3 points from their first two drives. Part of it could be the cold weather, but he'll definitely need to be sharper moving forward. Green Bay will now start the second quarter with the ball inside their own 20.
Vince Verhei: Packers take a 14-3 lead on a Ty Montgomery touchdown run. That was set up by Morgan Burnett's interception of Russell Wilson. Jimmy Graham slipped and fell on that play, but as Troy Aikman pointed out on commentary, Burnett had great position on the play and it wasn't likely to have been completed anyway. This isn't like early in the season or the Tampa Bay game where Wilson was under constant pressure and being forced into mistakes. He's just making bad throws. A very bad game for him so far.
Carl Yedor: Rough end to the drive for K.J. Wright there. On a big third-down conversion to Ty Montgomery, Wright trips over Jared Cook's foot, leaving him unable to make the tackle short of the sticks. Then, down on the goal line, Wright slips trying to change directions and Jordy Nelson gets free for the touchdown. 21-3 now with 5 minutes to go in the first half.
Aaron Schatz: This is a miserable start for Seattle, down 21-3. The Packers' coverage has been awful this year, but not today. There are a number of plays where Wilson has nobody open. And when he does have someone open, he's missing them. A few overthrown, and he just threw way too low to Doug Baldwin on what should have been a third-down conversion.
Vince Verhei: Welp. After Green Bay goes up 21-3, Seahawks put together a drive and threaten to score, but then Wilson tries to throw back to the right after scrambling to the left. Had the pass been two steps earlier Doug Baldwin would have had a long touchdown, but Damarious Randall had time to make a great play and cut in front of Baldwin for the pick. As bad a day as Wilson has had in a long time.
Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are just shredding the Seahawks defense. Or, more specifically, whichever outside corner is not Richard Sherman. It has just been a parade of deep balls down the sideline against either Jeremy Lane or DeShawn Shead, and it's working way more often than not. At halftime, he's got the perfect passer rating of 158.3. They've been stopped twice, once on the blown handoff, and once when a receiver was open down the sideline and Rodgers overthrew him.
Really, that's the story of this game. Rodgers has hit almost all of his opportunities for big plays. Wilson has missed almost all of his.
Great stat from Danny O'Neil of KIRO radio: Russell Wilson had two interceptions in his first 342 attempts this season. Now he has five in his last 78.
It's 31-3 with less than 11 minutes to go and Russell Wilson is still out there throwing passes.
Bryan Knowles: This Seattle performance will probably top the Tampa Bay game for the worst DVOA game in recent Seattle history.
Assuming the Green Bay game and Tampa Bay game will remain below -50% DVOA after adjustments, that'll be nuts -- they had zero such games from 2012-2015, and now two in three weeks.
Vince Verhei: And both without Earl Thomas (though the defense played OK against Tampa Bay).
Seahawks get a touchdown to Tanner McEvoy and then a fourth-down stop, and down 31-10 with about six minutes left, you start doing math and wondering if this is really possible -- and then Wilson throws a pass that Troymaine Pope has to jump for in the backfield, and it bounces off Pope's hands into Micah Hyde's. And then on the next play Jeff Janis takes an end-around 19-yard touchdown to make it 38-10. Davante Adams blocked the snot out of Richard Sherman, knocked him down three times on one play.
Bryan Knowles: Seattle's loss means they won't be clinching the NFC West this week, though obviously that's not exactly at the top of their mind at this point in time. Wilson ends with five interceptions in this game, and only Ryan Fitz-Six-Picks has topped that in 2016. A day to forget all around.
Scott Kacsmar: Had Seattle's competitive streak continued in Tampa Bay, it would have ended at exactly 100 games with this loss in Green Bay, a true gut punch to fans of round numbers. Really, this was a weird game and I'm not sure it says too much about either team going forward. Yeah, this was more like an old-school Green Bay home game where the Packers came out hot, Aaron Rodgers was super efficient, and turnovers led to an avalanche of points. Similar to the 2014 NFC Championship Game, Russell Wilson alternated between terrible throws and bad luck to finish with five interceptions. No crazy comeback this time, but it's not like the Packers were driving up and down long fields. The final 31 points came on just 144 yards of offense with no drive longer than 48 yards (four drives of 32 yards or less). Gifts left and right from Seattle to facilitate the scoring. Semantics debate over, we can now all agree that the Seahawks have finally been blown to smithereens in a game in the Wilson era. This outcome may have ended the Seattle DVOA dynasty. And yet, the Packers are still the ninth-place team in the NFC where there doesn't seem to be much of a difference between second (now Detroit) and ninth. It's Dallas' conference to lose at this point.
Vince Verhei: Two final thoughts on Seattle:
1) With Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Detroit all winning, Seattle is now a half-game behind the Lions, and just a half-game ahead of the Bucs and Falcons, for the second first-round bye in the NFC. This race is going to come down to the fourth quarter of Week 17.
2) This Thursday night's game between the Seahawks and Rams is going to feature two teams that lost today by a combined score of 80-24. In Color Rush uniforms. Probably on a cold, rainy night. Enjoy!
New Orleans Saints 11 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16
Andrew Potter: Another absolute squib of an offensive opening for the Saints against the Buccaneers. Midway through the first quarter, New Orleans has one first down and it came on a facemask penalty against Lavonte David. Two plays (and one delay of game) later, Drew Brees threw over the middle to a covered Coby Fleener, Kwon Alexander tipped the ball, and Vernon Hargreaves intercepted it. Each of the previous two drives went three-and-out mainly thanks to solid coverage by the Buccaneers secondary.
On the other side, Tampa Bay punted on their opening drive but has scored on all three drives since then -- two Roberto Aguayo field goals and a goal-line touchdown for Doug Martin. In a quirky footnote to our previous conversation, the Buccaneers were given first-and-goal at the 1-yard line not once, but twice by defensive pass interference penalties (neither of which was really debatable).
Saints finally get a drive together as I type this, but it stalls out around the Buccaneers 25-yard line and Wil Lutz drills a 42-yarder.
Now Josh Huff, in his first game for the Buccaneers, completely screws up fielding a bouncing kickoff at the goal line and the ball squirms out of bounds at the 1. That inexcusable error costs his team a safety on the next play when the Saints defense rocks the Buccaneers offensive line backward at the snap and Paul Kruger tackles Doug Martin in his own end zone.
Following the safety, Bryan Anger sends the free kick out of bounds and the Saints get the ball at midfield. Wouldn't like to see Tampa Bay's special teams rating for those two plays, directly turning a received kickoff into minus-2 points and opponents' ball at the 50. Drew Brees fails to make them pay further when he badly overthrows Brandin Cooks on a play-action deep post. The Saints do get points off the drive, however, as Wil Lutz knocks through a 34-yarder to end the half.
Third quarter in Tampa Bay resulted in only a field goal each way, on exactly two drives each. The Saints took a five-minute drive to the Buccaneers 4, but settled for three thanks in part to Brandin Cooks failing to haul in what would have been a Drew Brees touchdown pass -- the play was initially called a touchdown on the field, but was possibly the most obvious replay overturn of the year. On the next drive, the Buccaneers also took a long drive into the red zone but settled for three -- this time because Jameis Winston threw late for an open Russell Shepard on an end zone slant, and Sterling Moore knocked the ball away. Big missed opportunities for both sides.
The first drive of the fourth quarter for the Saints results in the second tipped Brees interception of the day, knocked in the air by Keith Tandy -- who jumped the slant in a slant/flat combo -- and intercepted by Brent Grimes. Generally, Tampa Bay feels in control of this one, but they're not quite translating their superiority on the field into superiority on the scoreboard, with Mike Evans noticeably quiet under the coverage of Delvin Breaux. Breaux went out injured during Tampa Bay's long third-quarter drive, however, which moves B.W. Webb into coverage on Evans. That might well be a matchup to watch if Breaux can't return.
It's a genuine shame that his horrible safety free kick went out of bounds earlier, because Bryan Anger has had a terrific second half. He has now pinned the Saints at the 1 and the 3 on consecutive punts, with his other punt being a 57-yarder.
The only thing that has the Saints in this game is that horrible special teams sequence I mentioned earlier, yet they now have a chance in the two-minute drill to gain an unlikely come-from-behind victory. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, their punter has made that a lot harder than it might otherwise be by pinning New Orleans at their own 3.
The comeback attempt ends abruptly at midfield when Keith Tandy jumps another slant route for another Bucs interception. Brees has now thrown zero touchdowns and six interceptions in the past two weeks, including two game-sealing picks.
It was comfortable in the end for the Buccaneers, apart from that bizarre 60-second sequence in the first half. Especially encouraging will be the fact that they managed the win without a big performance from their offense -- under 300 total yards, and only one touchdown.
Atlanta Falcons 42 at Los Angeles Rams 14
Bryan Knowles: Another rough outing for Jared Goff so far. He just threw his second interception of the game, as Deion Jones was reading him the entire way. Jones jumped on the slant and took it to the house, and the Rams are already in a 21-0 hole.
To be fair, Goff could really use an offensive line, or some functioning receivers -- but that pick was all him completely failing to see Jones. Growing pains for the rookie.
Cian Fahey: Vic Beasley's development has been spectacular and the Rams are feeling the full force of it in this game. Beasley has a couple of sacks and has generally been unblockable coming off the right side of the offense.
Bryan Knowles: The Rams loss officially, mathematically eliminates them from contention this year. But hey, at least they have their head coach and starting quarterback locked up, right?
Dallas Cowboys 7 at New York Giants 10
Aaron Schatz: I realize that my first comment nearly 25 minutes into this game should be more concrete than just a tossed-off five-word phrase, but... man, Ereck Flowers is awful.
OK, so, at halftime, I think this game is a good example to people of why I've been saying all year that the Giants defense is pretty good and their offense is not. Every first-half drive ended in a fumble or punt and only one of them went more than four plays. Even Odell Beckham dropped a deep pass. Everything is just so meh, and the bad offensive line makes it impossible to really develop stuff.
Meanwhile, Dak Prescott is having his second straight bad game. Ezekiel Elliott had 15 carries for 86 yards in the first half and it barely mattered because the Cowboys couldn't convert the good third-down situations he got them into. The second quarter featured such drives as:
- Elliott 4 yards, Elliott 4 yards, interception.
- Elliott 15 yards, Elliott 4 yards, sack, incomplete, punt.
- Elliott 14 yards, Elliott 4 yards, incomplete, 4-yard pass on third-and-6, punt.
Scott Kacsmar: This game is also doing statistical wonders for the Dallas defense even though it has mostly been poor New York offense. I really have no idea what Eli Manning was thinking on some of these throws. Barry Church had a really bad dropped interception that could have made this 10-0 or 14-0 right now. The Giants are hanging around thanks to that defense again, but I expect the Dallas offense to find its way in the fourth quarter.
Well, the problem with a defensive battle is that if you give up one big play, suddenly you're behind. So one big Odell Beckham 61-yard touchdown right through the Dallas coverage, and suddenly it is 10-7 at the start of the fourth quarter.
I love Ezekiel Elliott too but come on, Dallas, did you just run halfback toss left on third-and-ELEVEN?
Scott Kacsmar: This season kind of deserves a late Sunday afternoon game in Dallas on divisional weekend with the Giants coming for the 3-0 sweep. It could be like the 1999 Jaguars going 15-3 with all the losses to the Titans.