NFL Game Recaps: Week 12, 2017







Vikings 30, Lions 23

  • The Lions were the better team in the second half of this game, but it didn't matter. Minutes into the third quarter, Detroit was losing, 27-10, as the team buried itself in a huge hole with numerous mistakes throughout the game.

    The errors began early when Ameer Abdullah fumbled a handoff, setting up the Vikings in Detroit territory, allowing them to convert the turnover into a touchdown. Matthew Stafford then had some major accuracy issues. He overthrew Golden Tate twice and Kenny Golladay once. He should've thrown a touchdown to Darren Fells, but his tight end dropped the ball, and then Stafford couldn't connect on a perfect screen to Theo Riddick, who would've been able to walk into the end zone because the play was dialed up so perfectly.

    Things only got marginally better in the second half. Stafford overthrew Abdullah on a screen on the opening drive of the third quarter, and then Fells dropped yet another touchdown. On a later drive, Stafford was able to finally hit a big play on a perfect touchdown pass to Marvin Jones, but he was on the ground for a while because a lineman was pushed into the back of his leg. He limped off the field, and he was never the same after that. He had to settle for short passes, and he was way high for Tate on what should've been a big play over the middle of the field. On the next play, Stafford was picked on a fourth-down desperation play.

  • While the Lions made numerous mistakes, the Vikings were nearly perfect. They converted half of their third downs (6-of-12) until they ran out the clock out at the very end, as Case Keenum was absolutely lethal. He was precise on most of his throws, misfiring on just nine occasions. He finished 21-of-30 for 282 yards and two touchdowns, making so many clutch throws. One of his touchdowns was a perfect pass to Kyle Rudolph while under pressure to go up 20-3. He also converted a third down by avoiding a potential Teez Tabor sack. He then moved the sticks yet again on a third-and-long to Stefon Diggs to keep the chains moving with five minutes remaining.

    Keenum also picked up some first downs with his legs, which is an underrated aspect of his game. Keenum scambled seven times for 20 rushing yards and a third touchdown on the ground. That was crushing to the Lions, who just couldn't get off the field on most of Minnesota's possessions. The Vikings won the time-of-possession battle by about 10 minutes.

  • Adam Thielen once again logged more than five receptions, marking the 11th time in as many games he's done so this year. Thielen caught eight of his 11 targets for 89 yards, leading the team in both categories. Diggs didn't do as much (5-66), but he had a big gain during a fourth-quarter drive to kill time of the clock and give the Vikings an insurance field goal. Rudolph, meanwhile, caught both of Keenum's passing touchdowns. He logged four catches for 63 yards.

  • The Vikings couldn't run the ball very well for most of the afternoon, save for one bizarre drive right after halftime when Minnesota rammed the ball down Detroit's throat, scoring a touchdown on a drive that featured just four runs, including a 46-yard Latavius Murray burst. Murray struggled to find running room otherwise, gaining 84 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while Jerick McKinnon was limited to 23 yards on 13 attempts. McKinnon at least had a 31-yard reception on a nice screen play.

  • Going back to the Lions, Stafford finished 20-of-35 for 250 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He was way off in the opening half - he completed just nine of his 17 throws - but was extremely hot in a comeback attempt following halftime until he suffered a leg injury. He was utterly useless after that. It'll be interesting to see if he'll be able to suit up next week, though it'll help that he'll have extra rest.

  • As with the Vikings, a single Detroit player caught both of his quarterback's touchdowns. That player was Marvin Jones, who logged six receptions for 109 yards and the two scores. He also drew a deep interference flag. Tate, conversely, had a forgettable afternoon. Stafford missed him numerous times downfield, but Tate made one of the biggest mistakes of the afternoon when he caught a pass in the fourth quarter on third down. He was ahead of the first-down marker, but ran behind it to gain more yardage. He failed and was tackled, and the Lions had to punt as a consequence.

  • The Lions once again struggled to run the ball. Abdullah sucks, as he was limited to just 14 yards on six carries. He absolutely murdered his team with the fumble in the opening quarter. I have the Lions selecting a running back in the second round of my 2018 NFL Mock Draft.







    Chargers 28, Cowboys 6

  • The Chargers may have won this game by "just" 22 points, but it could've been far uglier for the Cowboys. Los Angeles absolutely dominated this game from start to finish. Near the end of the third quarter, the Chargers had outgained Dallas, 397-116, averaging about 4.5 more yards per play.

    The reason the Chargers didn't score more was because of some kicking problems. Nick Novak whiffed wide right on a 35-yard try on the opening drive, suffering an injury in the process. The Chargers were forced into going for it on fourth down rather than attempting field goals with their punter, who actually missed the kicking net while practicing on the sidelines. It was so bad that the Chargers tried a fourth-and-13 on Dallas' 16, but came up a yard shy.

    The Chargers eventually broke through in the third quarter. They entered the half with just a 3-0 advantage, but managed to score two touchdowns with long drives, converting countless third downs. This continued the theme from the opening half, as the Chargers held the ball for 26:33 of the first 43 minutes.

  • Philip Rivers was on top of his game, torching a helpless defense that hasn't nearly been the same since losing Sean Lee. Rivers was unreal, misfiring on just six of his passes. He finished 27-of-33 for 434 yards and three touchdowns. It's a shame Dallas couldn't keep up, or Rivers could've had a historic performance.

    By the end of the game, the Cowboys' tackling efforts disappeared. Keenan Allen scored on a 42-yard touchdown, thanks to five missed tackles. The worst effort came from former first-round safety Byron Jones, who literally ran out of the way rather than try to bring Allen down.

  • Speaking of Allen, he had a terrific showing for the second-consecutive game. He caught 11 of his 14 targets for 172 yards and a touchdown. Rivers' other two scores went to Hunter Henry (5-76) and Tyrell Williams (2-58).

  • Unlike Allen, Melvin Gordon couldn't parlay last week's success into a dominant performance in this contest. The Cowboys did a good job of bottling him up for the most part, limiting him to 65 yards on 21 carries.

  • As for the Cowboys' offense, they really struggled to move the chains until garbage time. Dak Prescott had just 46 passing yards in the opening half! The problem was the offensive line. Tyron Smith returned to the field for the first time in a few weeks, but he clearly wasn't 100 percent. He was whistled for a hold on a Prescott touchdown run. Meanwhile, guard Zack Martin, one of the top players at his position in the entire league, left the game in the first half with a concussion. That was practically a death sentence against the Chargers' ferocious front seven.

    Prescott had some yardage in garbage time, but threw two interceptions late in the game to spoil things for his fantasy owners. He finished 20-of-27 for 179 yards and the two picks, one of which was returned by Desmond King for six. The throw occurred in the red zone, as Prescott delivered a late pass toward Cole Beasley.

  • Dez Bryant inexplicably didn't see a single target in the opening half. Prescott made an effort to get Bryant the ball following the break. The two connected on a pretty back-shoulder throw, but it wasn't enough. Bryant had just five catches for 37 yards. He trailed Terrance Williams (4-54) and Jason Witten (7-44) on the stat sheet.

  • Alfred Morris (9-36) wasn't the leading rusher for the Cowboys. That was Rod Smith, who gained 41 yards on nine carries. He also scored a touchdown.





    Redskins 20, Giants 10

  • Both of these teams were playing on a short week following overtime affairs, and they certainly looked like they were playing on a short week following overtime affairs. The Redskins and Giants played an extremely sloppy, grindy affair that may have even put some vegetarians into a turkey coma.

    The Redskins are the better team, and they were able to keep their season alive by improving to 5-6. It definitely was not pretty. This was a scoreless affair for a while, and they trailed 3-0 right before halftime. They had major issues sustaining drives because of a leaky offensive line. Trent Williams and the top two centers on the depth chart were out, while Morgan Moses suffered multiple injuries throughout the evening. The Giants consequently sacked Kirk Cousins six times. The Redskins were just 4-of-14 on third down.

    Cousins still finished with a respectable stat line, going 19-of-31 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, which wasn't his fault. Cousins released a pass on a non-descript third-down play to Byron Marshall. The fourth-string running back had the ball pop out of his hands and into Janoris Jenkins', and Jenkins went all the way back for six. That was New York's only touchdown.

    It's a miracle Cousins was able to generate those numbers, given the amount of heat he saw in this contest. He was nearly picked a second time when he took a deep shot into double coverage, but things opened up for him in the second half, as he was able to connect on a couple of deep passes to Jamison Crowder. Having said that, Cousins had a huge mental mistake when he was responsible for a delay-of-game penalty on a fourth-and-1 attempt right after Jay Gruden called timeout. Cousins tried to ask for another timeout, but was denied because of the rules.

  • Speaking of Crowder, he had a monstrous performance, accumulating more than half of Cousins' stat total. Crowder caught seven passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. Crowder struggled earlier in the season, but he has been terrific of late. Meanwhile, Josh Doctson (2-28) caught the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.

  • Samaje Perine looked like he was running in quicksand in the opening half, generating just three rushing yards before the break. Perine punished the Giants after halftime, breaking free for several nice runs. He actually managed to hit the century mark on 24 carries. He also caught three passes for 30 receiving yards.

  • While the Redskins surrendered lots of pressure in the pocket, that's nothing compared to what Eli Manning saw. Manning took four sacks - two from Ryan Kerrigan - and that total could've been much higher had the Giants asked Manning to attempt anything downfield. They didn't, as Manning settled for short and intermediate throws.

    This did not prove to be a successful strategy, as Manning's receivers let him down. Manning finished 13-of-27 for 113 yards, but he would've put together a better performance had his targets not dropped numerous passes. Manning wasn't blameless, however, as he missed Shane Vereen on a screen that may have resulted in a touchdown.

    Manning can still play, but it's looking like this will be his final season with the Giants. I have New York selecting Lamar Jackson in my 2018 NFL Mock Draft and then finding weapons and blockers for him on Day 2.

  • Evan Engram had a horrific evening, dropping three balls. He managed to catch three passes for 18 yards, but the mistakes greatly outweighed the positives. Sadly, only two players had more yardage than Engram: Tavarres King (2-36) and Roger Lewis (3-26).

  • The Giants' awful blocking also affected the running game, as Orleans Darkwa was limited to just 30 yards on 11 carries. Wayne Gallman outgained Darkwa by seven yards on two fewer attempts.


    Falcons XX, Buccaneers XX






  • Eagles XX, Bears XX




  • Patriots XX, Dolphins XX




  • Panthers XX, Jets XX




  • Bengals XX, Browns XX




  • Titans XX, Colts XX




  • Chiefs XX, Bills XX




  • Seahawks XX, 49ers XX






  • Raiders XX, Broncos XX




  • Jaguars XX, Cardinals XX




  • Rams XX, Saints XX




  • Steelers XX, Packers XX




  • Ravens XX, Texans XX




  • For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.



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    2016: Live 2017 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
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    2010: Live 2010 NFL Draft Blog - April 22
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