When the ball was in the air, I knew the Packers would catch it and win the game. Seriously. I knew it. It was a lock. There's no way Green Bay wasn't going to reel in that Hail Mary. Detroit's fate was sealed an hour before the game when I changed my selection and placed a unit on the Lions.
This was one of the truly unbelievable finishes in the NFL this year. Half of the crazy-ending sequence featured only half of what occurred in the Jacksonville-Baltimore contest a few weeks ago, and that conclusion was seen as truly nuts. The Lions had the game in hand. There were all zeros on the clock, and they were up two points. The Packers attempted a Stanford Band-type play, but after a few laterals, they ran out of gas because Aaron Rodgers had no one behind him. He absorbed the tackle, and the game was over. Except, the Lions had Rodgers by the face mask - not really, but the officials thought so in real time - extending the contest for one more play. Rodgers, taking advantage of one final chance, launched a 61-yard bomb into the end zone. Richard Rodgers hauled in the pass for the game-winning score. I'd say "unreal," but it was destined to happen.
The Packers had been struggling going into this contest, so they were very fortunate to get the much-needed win. However, this was a Pyrrhic victory. Green Bay, which already had issues on its offensive line heading into this game, lost two more blockers. Center Corey Linsley aggravated his ankle, while left tackle David Bakhtiari also got knocked out. Rodgers, as a result, had issues moving the chains for most of the evening because he was constantly under siege. At halftime, the Packers were averaging just 2.4 yards per play, and they had a turnover early on that led to a Detroit touchdown. It seemed like they were destined to drop to 7-5, but Detroit failed to put them away. That, and my bet doomed the Lions.
Rodgers finished 24-of-36 for 273 yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception, which was behind his receiver. He also did some damage on the ground, scrambling four times for 27 rushing yards and a score, which turned out to be the penultimate touchdown of the game. Rodgers fumbled as well, but his center recovered the ball. However, his center ended up getting hurt on the play, so that ended up being costly. Rodgers was on fire after intermission, going 14-of-20 for 193 yards and three scores.
Besides the win, the injuries and Rodgers' play, the big news concerning for the Packers was Eddie Lacy's benching. James Starks started, but wasn't completely effective on the ground, mustering 15 yards on nine carries to go along with five catches for 45 receiving yards. He had a 32-yard reception called back, but fumbled twice. Lacy was on the field for a bit, but following some ineffective runs (5 carries, 4 yards), the fat running back was benched in favor of some practice-squad player named John Crockett, who gained 22 yards on five carries. Both Crockett and Starks looked much better than Lacy, who needs to lose about 20 pounds.
Richard Rodgers snared all eight targets of his for 146 yards and the game-winning touchdown. I've heard people lamenting not playing him in fantasy, but his stat line prior to the Hail Mary was 7-85, which is solid, but not great. The play should have never even happened; the Lions could have just tackled Aaron Rodgers without getting him on the face mask - well, they actually did - and Rodgers would've never been in position to win the game with the touchdown.
Randall Cobb disappointed again. He scored, but only after recovering a Starks fumble. He caught four passes for just 29 yards. Davante Adams equaled the reception total, accumulating 21 yards. He reeled in a touchdown, but had a brutal drop. James Jones (1-19) struggled again.
As for the poor Lions, their season is over, all because I picked them at the 11th hour. Sorry about that, Detroit fans. The 9-7 dream was realistic until I placed a wager on your team. I take full responsibility.
The Lions had a great start, sprinting out to a 17-0 lead. Matthew Stafford was hot in the first half, going 11-of-16 for 99 yards and two touchdowns, but he was just 12-of-19 for 111 yards after intermission. Green Bay's defense settled in and clamped down on him for the most part, thanks in part to some impressive play from fourth-round rookie Jake Ryan. Stafford, however, appeared to have won the game with a crucial third-down conversion to T.J. Jones with 2:40 remaining. The Packers were slated to get the ball back with 30 seconds and no timeouts, but that was just enough time for them to achieve an improbable victory.
Stafford's final numbers were 23-of-35 for 220 yards and two scores. His touchdowns went to Calvin Johnson (3-44) and Eric Ebron (2-9). Johnson could've had a much bigger game, but Stafford missed him deep by a couple of yards on several occasions.
Golden Tate led the Lions in receiving, catching eight balls for 63 yards. Theo Riddick (5-27) was also a big factor in the passing game once again.
Ameer Abdullah had some nice runs. He gained 67 yards on 13 carries, including a 36-yard burst. Abdullah, however, had too many negative runs, as the Lions couldn't open up anything on the ground in the second half.
The Lions sustained some injuries as well, most notably Quandre Diggs. However, it doesn't really matter all that much now, as 8-8 won't cut it in the NFC wild-card race.
The NFL Network crew teased us by saying they'd make the announcement of who would be playing at halftime of the Super Bowl. Of course, anyone who had been on Twitter or watched ESPN knew already that it would be Coldplay. Their decision to tease the viewing public by making them wait until halftime to learn it was Coldplay, despite Jim Nantz's play on words, was ridiculous.
I personally don't care whether Coldplay performs or not. I'm not a music fan at all, and as I've said before, I don't know why the NFL insists on putting on musical performances during halftime of big games. Most football fans aren't looking for the music aspect of it, and the casual audience won't really care, since they can watch or listen to Coldplay elsewhere. Besides, non-football fans aren't going to start liking football because Coldplay is performing at halftime of the Super Bowl. It's stupid.
Bengals 37, Browns 3
All of the bye weeks are technically complete, but the Bengals effectively had one on Sunday. They cruised to an easy victory against the pathetic Browns, who barely showed any effort, all while self-destructing.
Andy Dalton faced absolutely no resistance. He misfired just five times, going 14-of-19 for 220 yards and two touchdowns despite not having his stud tight end, Tyler Eifert. Dalton had just two incompletions in the second half, as the Browns showed no interest in covering the Cincinnati receivers. Even A.J. Green was open on multiple occasions. It was a ridiculous display of a lack of effort.
Speaking of Green, he caught five passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. He nearly found the end zone on a second occasion, but he was ruled just shy of the goal line following replay. Still, he made an impressive catch, tapping both feet inbounds. Marvin Jones (5-55) also scored. They were the only two Bengals who caught multiple passes, but I wouldn't read into that at all, as Dalton had to attempt just 19 throws because this game was such an utter blowout.
Jeremy Hill looked good running the ball again. He nearly hit the century mark, gaining 98 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Hill almost scored a second time, but was stuffed twice at the goal line near the end of the game. Giovani Bernard (5-26) wasn't much of a factor.
The Browns, meanwhile, are absolutely pathetic. They embarrassed themselves on national TV on Monday night, and they humiliated themselves even more in this contest. They stupidly went with Austin Davis leading up to this game, but that was just the beginning. For some reason, Mike Pettine scratched two healthy receivers, so when Travis Benjamin and another wideout got hurt, the Browns had just two wideouts at their disposal, Brian Hartline and some guy named Darius Jennings.
Once Davis had no one to throw to, he was even worse than usual. He took a sack on a fourth-and-11 in the opening half, though I'm not sure why Pettine had his team go for it in the first place. Davis also botched a later fourth-and-1, though two Cleveland players collided with each other. Davis then heaved an interception, targeting no one in particular, and he followed that up by completely botching the 2-minute drill. Repeating what he did Monday night, Davis wasted time, prompting the crowd to boo mercilessly. Despite this, Pettine didn't make the change to Johnny Manziel.
Davis finished 25-of-38 for 230 yards and the pick. Much of those positive numbers came in garbage time. The Browns didn't seem to show any interest in playing hard for Davis, and it appears as though Pettine has lost the locker room.
With all of the injuries, Brian Hartline led the team with eight catches for 83 yards. Gary Barnidge (5-59) was next, though it appeared as though he was knocked out when he hobbled off the field early on. Benjamin didn't log a single reception, as Davis got him hurt with a high throw.
Pettine continued his confusing running back rotation. Duke Johnson was given five carries for only two yards, while Isaiah Crowell handled the majority of the workload and actually looked decent, tallying 62 yards on just 11 attempts.
49ers 26, Bears 20
The Bears had a big victory on Thanksgiving night over Green Bay that seemed to give them a chance to hang around in the NFC wild-card race. Their playoff dreams came crashing down with a loss to Blaine Gabbert. That's right - Blaine Gabbert just ended a team's season.
It's amazing that the 49ers have been such a different team with Gabbert. Ever since he took over for Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers upset the Falcons, battled the Seahawks tough, nearly defeated Arizona and took down the Bears. While Kaepernick sailed helpless passes out of bounds, Gabbert has been somewhat sharp. He's not great, but he's so much better than the craven abomination we saw in Jacksonville.
Gabbert went 18-of-32 for 196 yards and a touchdown, and he also did his best positive Kaepernick impression, scrambling for 75 yards and a second score, which was a 44-yard gallop to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Gabbert's aerial score, meanwhile, won the game. He launched a 71-yard bomb to Torrey Smith in overtime, and Smith ran into the end zone to give his team the victory.
Smith, as a result of that play, led the team in receiving (2-76), though he did nothing besides that. Anquan Boldin, meanwhile, saw 13 targets, but was able to reel in just five of them for 37 yards, as he and Gabbert weren't on the same page. Vance McDonald (2-18) got hurt in the second quarter after picking up a first down.
A lot of what Gabbert did was toss checkdowns to Shaun Druaghn. The journeyman running back caught five balls for 50 receiving yards. His rushing numbers weren't as impressive (13-36), but he scored a touchdown and also had an eight-yard burst negated by a hold.
This game was a step backward for Jay Cutler, who had been playing much better this year. He couldn't do much with his early possessions even though the 49ers gave him the ball near midfield on his first two drives. Cutler then tossed a pick-six on a lazy throw to the outside. Cutler overthrew Alshon Jeffery for a potential deep touchdown, and he later nearly tossed a second pick in overtime, but Corey Lemonier dropped a ball that fell right into his lap.
The Bears made a strong effort to run the ball. In fact, on the opening drive of the third quarter, they gave one of their backs a carry on every play, and it worked - until Matt Forte was stuffed on a third-and-3. Forte gained 84 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, and he also caught five balls for 39 receiving yards. Jeremy Langford, meanwhile, had a better YPC, accumulating 59 yards on 12 carries, but he was guilty of dropping a pass.
Save for Forte, the only Chicago receiver to register more than 35 yards was Alshon Jeffery, who logged four receptions for 85 yards. However, he dropped several balls, including one that would've moved the chains on a third down. Martellus Bennett (3-14) wasn't much of a factor. He injured his ribs in the third quarter and missed a handful of plays.
The Bears, despite their mistakes, could've won this game. They had Robbie Gould set up for a decisive 36-yarder at the end of regulation, but the usually reliable kicker was way wide right. Gould also missed another attempt, though he drilled a 51-yarder. The whiff effectively ended the Bears' season; they're now 5-7, two games back of the Seahawks for the second wild-card spot. Seattle has a head-to-head win, meaning Chicago is screwed.
Titans 42, Jaguars 39
On the ESPN betting podcast, Bob Scucci joked that this game would be looked at a few years from now as an early battle between two of the prominent quarterbacks in the NFL. Chad Millman laughed him off, but this turned out to be one of the most entertaining contests of the afternoon. Blake Bortles threw for five touchdowns. Marcus Mariota accumulated four scores of his own, but was able to come away with a victory in a fantastic shootout.
Mariota was spectacular. Granted, he was battling Jacksonville's incompetent secondary, but he looked just as great as he did in the season opener at Tampa Bay. I thought he might play well because he had Kendall Wright back, but Wright suffered an injury with a minute remaining in the opening half. Instead, there were two factors - besides the Jaguars' inept defensive backfield - that helped Mariota put together one of the best performances of his young career.
First was Mariota's willingness to run. I don't know why Mariota didn't utilize his legs in many of his previous games, but he took advantage of his best attribute in this contest. He scrambled nine times for 112 rushing yards, including an 87-yard touchdown. He ran circles around the Jacksonville defense, which didn't appear to realize that Mariota is capable of running effectively when he wants to.
Second, Dorial Green-Beckham emerged. The second-round rookie would've been a top-10 pick had he been clean off the field. He showcased his talents in this game, catching five passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars had no answer for him, as his only blemish was letting a ball go off his hands, which turned out to be intercepted. Green-Beckham's great play allowed Mariota to post a strong passing line: 20-of-29, 268 yards, three touchdowns and the pick. Mariota's sole blemish was a strip-sack that eventually led to a Jacksonville touchdown.
After Green-Beckham, Delanie Walker snatched eight balls for 92 yards and a touchdown. Those were Mariota's two primary targets, as Wright was next with just three receptions for 28 yards. He had a drop prior to getting hurt.
The Titans actually ran the ball well, even when excluding Mariota's numbers. Both Antonio Andrews and David Cobb were given 13 carries, accumulating 58 and 40 yards, respectively. Andrews found the end zone once.
As for the Jaguars, Bortles, as mentioned, threw five touchdowns. He was battling a weak secondary, but it's still remarkable that he was able to go 24-of-36 for 322 yards and five scores because he was missing Allen Hurns. That, apparently, didn't matter, as he was able to engineer so many successful drives. He even nearly threw a sixth touchdown, but Perrish Cox was able to make a great pass break-up on a ball thrown to Marqise Lee.
Allen Robinson was a monster. He collected 10 receptions for 153 yards and three scores. He began the game slowly, as seven of his catches came after intermission. The Titans just didn't have an answer for him.
Bortles' two other touchdowns went to Rashad Greene and Julius Thomas, both of whom caught two balls for 15 yards.
The Jaguars have been criticized for not giving T.J. Yeldon enough carries at the goal line. They've made amends, as Yeldon punched the ball into the end zone. He had a strong outing, gaining 57 yards on 15 carries and also catching four balls for 79 receiving yards.
Seahawks 38, Vikings 7
The Seahawks took off with an incredible second-half surge last year, and it appears as though history is repeating itself. They're getting stronger every week, and this victory is a major eye-opener. Granted, the Vikings were missing key defensive personnel, but Russell Wilson is playing out of his mind and appears to be set to make another deep playoff run.
Wilson was nearly perfect at Minnesota, misfiring just six times. He finished 21-of-27 for 274 yards and three touchdowns, and if that wasn't enough, he scrambled nine times for 51 rushing yards and a fourth score. Wilson helped the team convert 9-of-13 third-down attempts, picking up 25 first downs in the process.
The Vikings were missing three Pro Bowl-caliber defenders. Linval Joseph, one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, was ruled out prior to kickoff. Harrison Smith, arguably the best safety in the league, and Anthony Barr, an outstanding linebacker, left early after aggravating their injuries. I've always maintained that the toughest things NFL coaching staffs have to do is adjust for key injuries during a game. Losing Smith and Barr put the Vikings in an impossible situation. I'm not saying the Vikings would've won with all three players on the field, but they at least would've been more competitive, at least on the defensive side of the ball.
Still, having said that, I don't want to take anything away from Wilson. He was amazing despite missing Jimmy Graham, and I love what the coaching staff has done in terms of having him release the ball quickly.
Thomas Rawls continues to be an upgrade over the previously injured Marshawn Lynch. Rawls burst for 101 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. He also chipped in with three catches for 22 receiving yards. Rawls' only blemish on the afternoon was losing a fumble in the first quarter, but it didn't end up mattering because the Vikings didn't turn it into points.
Doug Baldwin has been on a tear in recent weeks. He continued to post big numbers, catching five balls for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Baldwin tied Tyler Lockett with the team lead in targets (7). Lockett snatched all seven of those passes for 90 yards. Meanwhile, Graham's replacement, Luke Willson, hauled in two balls for 36 yards.
With all of Minnesota's injuries, I'm definitely not going to say that the Vikings might have won this game without Joseph, Smith and Barr (sounds like a law firm). That's because their offense was so utterly incompetent. Teddy Bridgewater simply doesn't seem ready for prime time, as he has struggled in his big games thus far. He fell flat on his face against the Packers, and he was even worse in this contest.
Bridgewater went 17-of-28 for 118 yards and an interception, and even those numbers were enhanced by late-game garbage time. By intermission, Bridgewater was just 9-of-16 for only 64 yards and a pick that was a poor overthrow. He was constantly under siege, as the four sacks he took isn't nearly indicative of the amount of pressure he was under. The Seahawks dominated the trenches, with Frank Clark and Michael Bennett both have amazing performances.
Being behind the entire game, the Vikings couldn't establish Adrian Peterson. I don't know if it would've mattered though, as Peterson mustered only 18 yards on eight carries. His offensive line simply didn't give him any holes to burst through.
Another issue for the Vikings: Mike Wallace was their leading receiver, catching two balls for 43 yards. Wallace is a bum and shouldn't lead any team category except for drops. In fact, the FOX play-by-play guy sounded shocked that Wallace actually caught a pass. Stefon Diggs (2-22) was smothered by the Seattle secondary. Diggs was flagged for offensive pass interference on one instance.
Cardinals 27, Rams 3
I saw it happen, yet I still can't believe that the Rams upset the Cardinals back in Week 4. These teams have gone in completely different directions since. The Rams have become one of the worst teams in the NFL, while the Cardinals have now improved to 10-2 and appear to be well in control of one of the bye slots in the NFC playoff race.
There was some concern for the Cardinals heading into this game, given all of their injuries at running back. Both Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington were out, so rookie David Johnson would start. Johnson is a talented player, but how would he handle the mental aspect of a full workload and third-down duties?
Pretty well, apparently. Johnson was just one yard shy of the century mark on 22 carries. He also caught two balls for 21 receiving yards and a touchdown. However, he was at his best when protecting Carson Palmer. Johnson did a great job in blitz pick-up. The Rams definitely tested him - Gregg Williams is infamous for sending too many pass-rushers, among other things - and Johnson passed with flying colors. Granted, the Rams were missing Robert Quinn, but Johnson was exceptional in terms of allowing Palmer to have enough time to find his receivers for big gains.
Palmer, as a result of Johnson's solid blitz pick-ups, went 26-of-40 for 356 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams, missing Quinn and top cornerback Trumaine Johnson, had no chance to stop him. The Cardinals accumulated 524 net yards and picked up 29 first downs. By comparison, the Rams moved the sticks just nine times.
With John Brown and Michael Floyd healthy, Palmer has tons of weapons at his disposal, and St. Louis simply couldn't handle all of them. John Brown led the way with six grabs for 113 yards. Michael Floyd (7-104) made an amazing catch along the sideline in the second half, as Palmer launched the ball from his own 2-yard line. Larry Fitzgerald (8-55) disappointed his fantasy owners, but performed better than the numbers indicate.
As for the Rams, it seemed like the announcers in this game said one of the following throughout the entire afternoon:
"Foles under heavy pressure, makes a poor throw."
"Foles with a rare bit of time, makes a bad throw."
Nick Foles was an abomination, going 15-of-35 for 146 yards and an interception, which was a horrible floater that looked like a punt. He was nearly picked on several other occasions, including one instance in which Patrick Peterson inexplicably dropped the ball. Foles probably won't start again this year.
This was another wasted effort by Todd Gurley, who gained 41 yards on nine carries. Thirty-four of his yards came on one attempt, however, as Gurley didn't have any room to run despite Rob Havenstein's return to the field.
Not that it matters, but the Rams' leading receiver was Kenny Britt (2-41). Jared Cook (3-22) fumbled, but managed to recover. Tavon Austin did nothing; he had just three touches, for some reason. He gained 38 total yards.
Buccaneers 23, Falcons 19
Remember when the Falcons were 5-0? Their downward spiral continues, as the Buccaneers managed to sweep them. In doing so, Jameis Winston has surpassed Matt Ryan as a superior quarterback in the NFC South. Winston engineered a brilliant, game-winning touchdown drive at the end of regulation, while Ryan, who had about 1:10 remaining to answer, immediately tossed an interception to Lavonte David, icing the victory for the Buccaneers.
Winston, having all of his weapons back, helped his team generate 388 net yards, a number that could've been much greater had the Buccaneers not been guilty of their usual penalties. For example, a Doug Martin 15-yard run was nullified by an illegal shift. Martin later had a 28-yard burst that was negated by a Demar Dotson hold. Still, the Buccaneers were able to overcome these errors and get the victory, highlighted by a Winston scramble on the final offensive drive. Winston scrambled on a third-and-long. The Falcons had him, but Winston, who somehow stayed off the ground, was able to break out of a tackle and run past the first-down marker.
Winston finished 18-of-27 for 227 yards, one touchdown and an interception that was tipped up into the air. He scored a second time on the ground, going along with 15 rushing yards on five scrambles. He was great - he would've had a second score if it wasn't for an Austin Seferian-Jenkins drop - and is a completely different player than the one who embarrassed himself in the season opener.
Winston's aerial score went to Mike Evans (5-61), who dropped a pass, per usual. He was outgained only by Vincent Jackson (3-87), while Seferian-Jenkins (3-31) also contributed in his first game back, but was guilty of dropping a touchdown.
Martin, as mentioned, had two long runs that were called back. Thus, he should've eclipsed the century mark. Instead, Martin gained 95 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. His only blemish on the afternoon was a lost fumble near midfield that set up an Atlanta score.
The Falcons, meanwhile, continued to shoot themselves in the foot. The errors began early when a face mask gave Tampa a first-and-goal, leading to a touchdown. Later, there was one sequence in which Atlanta was penalized on three of four plays, which set up an easy Buccaneer field goal. The Falcons also continued to screw up in the red zone. They once again resorted to kicking too many field goals.
Ryan went 30-of-45 for 269 yards, one touchdown and the game-ending interception in which he inexplicably didn't see Tampa's best linebacker. He struggled with pressure, especially in the red zone, which is ridiculous considering that the Buccaneers were missing their two top pass-rushers, including All-Pro Gerald McCoy. That's how bad Atlanta's offensive line is.
Ryan's inconsistency and lack of protection prevented him from hooking up with Julio Jones very often. Jones caught eight passes for 93 yards, but didn't even snare half of his targets (17). Jones was battling a weak secondary and should've had a bigger game. Instead, he was the only receiver who accumulated more than 35 receiving yards for the Falcons. Justin Hardy (2-34) was next. Hardy will have to be a bigger part of the offense with Leonard Hankerson out for the season and Roddy White (3-33) completely done. White, by the way, was open for a touchdown at one point, but Ryan overthrew him.
Devonta Freeman made his return, but couldn't run on a Tampa defense missing McCoy, which is just inexplicable. He managed just 47 yards on 14 carries. However, he helped his PPR owners out with 10 catches for 45 receiving yards.
Jets 23, Giants 20
The Jets tried their hardest to lose this game. They dominated the yardage count throughout the afternoon, yet they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot, at least during the opening three quarters. The Jets surrendered a punt return touchdown while holding a 3-0 lead. They then got away from running the ball after Chris Ivory was so effective on the opening drive. They went back to Ivory after a while, and he responded by losing a fumble deep in his own territory, leading to a Giants field goal. Later on, the Jets were offsides on a fourth-and-4 punt, and then they dropped an interception in the red zone.
However, the Jets' fortunes turned around. In the middle of the fourth quarter, they had another chance to pick off a pass, and they did so. The Giants had a chance to go up 13 or 17, but Manning's interception gave the Jets new life. A field goal, followed by a touchdown, and then an overtime scoring drive helped them steal a game that appeared to be lost.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was excellent for the second week in a row, as it appears as though he's completely over his thumb injury. Fitzpatrick went 36-of-50 for 390 yards and two touchdowns. He also scrambled five times for 22 rushing yards. Granted, the Giants have a horrible secondary, but Fitzpatrick was impressive nonetheless.
Three Jets accumulated more than 90 receiving yards. Two were the usual suspects. Brandon Marshall reeled in 12 of his 13 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown, which sent the game into overtime. Eric Decker (8-101) did most of his work in the second half. The third Jet was Bilal Powell, who was thrown to 13 times. Powell accumulated eight catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
Powell didn't do much on the ground, which was expected. Chris Ivory gained 47 yards on 10 carries. He was given just three attempts after intermission because the Jets were behind so much and had to go into catch-up mode. It's a shame, as Ivory looked great, aside from his fumble. There was one carry where he broke three tackles and made a nasty spin move to pick up a 20-yard gain. The Giants were guilty of horrid tackling early on.
The Giants, meanwhile, screwed up as well. They seemed to be gifted a victory, but they threw it all away, beginning with Manning's interception. After that, Odell Beckham couldn't locate a deep pass and then was flagged for kicking the ball out of frustration. This was capped off by a 48-yard missed field goal in overtime to give the Jets the win.
Eli Manning went 18-of-34 for 297 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Manning didn't have much time - he lost Ereck Flowers to an injury - but when he did, he just threw the ball up for grabs to either Beckham or Will Tye. The latter, filling in for the injured Larry Donnell, caught three balls for 70 yards.
Beckham, on the other hand, snatched six balls for 149 yards and a touchdown, as he had the luxury of battling the Jets, who didn't have Darrelle Revis available. Beckham's afternoon was highlighted by a 72-yard catch-and-run score. However, as mentioned, he had some mistakes in overtime. He also dropped a touchdown as a result of a fierce Calvin Pryor hit.
Excluding Beckham and Tye, only two Giants had multiple receptions: Rueben Randle (2-22) and Shane Vereen (2-7).
The Giants, once again, chose to spread the wealth in the backfield. Orleans Darkwa led the way with 23 yards on eight carries, while Andre Williams (6-22) was given too many attempts; he was stuffed on one short-yardage try. Rashad Jennings (5-14) wasn't much of a factor.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I hate the Texans right now for the four-unit loss they gave me back in Week 7, given that they've won repeatedly since then. They finally lost, which brought a smile to my face.
The Texans' defense had been playing at a superb level over the last month, but the offense that the Bills envisioned for this season kept them in the playoff race with a much-needed home win thanks to the dual-threat Tyrod Taylor, the running of LeSean McCoy, and the vertical plays from Sammy Watkins.
Houston's defense came out flat, and Mike Gillislee (7-41) ripped off a 30-yard run to set up a first-and-goal. Three plays later, Sammy Watkins went over Kevin Johnson for a short touchdown catch. The Texans got going with Chris Polk gashing Buffalo for 20 yards, before Hoyer converted a third down with a pass to offensive lineman Kendall Lamm, and then Jonathan Grimes ran for 18 yards on a third-and-7. The Texans ran a quick play when the Bills defense wasn't even lined up, so Hoyer threw to the flat to Ryan Griffin, who walked into the end zone from a few yards out. Nick Novak missed the extra point.
Buffalo came right back as McCoy bounced a run to the outside for 32 yards. More McCoy runs moved the ball inside the 10-yard line. Taylor finished the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. The Texans answered as Hoyer methodically moved the ball down the field before throwing an 11-yard touchdown to Polk. Watkins soon beat Johnson again for a 53-yard bomb inside the Houston 20. On third-and-goal, Robert Woods beat Johnson for a short touchdown. The Bills took a 21-13 lead into halftime.
Late in the third quarter, Watkins burned Jonathan Joseph on a double move to get open for a 52-yard catch. Buffalo missed the field goal, though. DeAndre Hopkins came alive as the Texans moved the ball down the field with passes to their star receiver for catches of 23 and 29 yards. He got away with a push-off on Ronald Darby to haul in a 19-yard touchdown to finish the possession. Grimes ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game at 21.
McCoy ripped off a 20-yard run to get Buffalo to midfield in response. After the 2-minute warning, Charles Clay got wide open down the field for a 40-yard touchdown in busted coverage. Dan Carpenter missed the extra point, but the Bills' defense slammed the door for the win. Carpenter added a field goal after the Texans went four-and-out.
Taylor was 11-of-21 for 211 yards with three touchdowns. He ran for 28 yards and a score as well. Taylor played well against a good Houston defense, but got lucky as interceptions were dropped by Kevin Johnson and Andre Hal in the fourth quarter. Hal's would have been a pick-six with three or four minutes remaining.
LeSean McCoy totaled 112 yards on 21 totes, but missed the majority of the second half in the concussion protocal.
Watkins had 109 yards and a score on three receptions. His catches were huge. Charles Clay (4-66) made up for a bad drop with his game-winning touchdown.
Brian Hoyer was 26-of-43 for 293 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He missed on a number of opportunities and illustrates why he really is a backup in the NFL; not a starter.
DeAndre Hopkins had 88 yards on five receptions with a touchdown. Nate Washington (6-44) and Cecil Shorts (6-91) chipped in, but had some painful dropped passes.
If you're playing a Texans running back in fantasy, you're in big trouble as the coaches spread the ball around. Chris Polk (12-61), Jonathan Grimes (5-28) and Alfred Blue (4-14) spilt the carries.
The Houston defense was flat. Jadeveon Clowney played well with a sack and a tackle for a loss, plus drew a holding penalty. Bacarri Rambo had an excellent game for the Bills with six tackles and a sack, plus broke up some long downfield passes.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Poor Matt Schaub. Everyone knew the pick-six was coming, and it happened. It wasn't even his fault this time, but sure enough, Schaub had his usual interception returned for a touchdown. He's cursed, just as I am with my picks.
These two teams came into this game with little but pride to play for. Both had records of 4-7 and no real shot at the playoffs. The Dolphins had just canned their offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and not long before, had let their head coach go, while the Ravens lost their starting quarterback, No. 1 receiver and No. 1 running back. This game, was in fact, not ready for primetime.
These teams decided to play football anyway, and we did get to see some football. Mostly bad, but enough good to feel like you didn't just black out for three hours.
Ryan Tannehill threw for 86 yards in this game, and the Dolphins somehow won. This stat is largely due to the new offensive coordinator Zac Taylor, who is more of a Dan Campbell puppet than anything. Campbell wants a hard-nosed run-focused offense and tough defense, and that worked out this week.
That run-first philosophy was evident from the fact that Lamar Miller rushed for 20 times for the first time since December 1, 2013. And in the passing game, Tannehill threw the ball just 19 times. On the day, the Dolphins threw the ball 19 times and ran it 27 times. On the whole, Miami had eight first downs and 219 total yards. That's not usually your recipe for a win, but the defense came up big.
The Dolphins' first score came in the second quarter with the game knotted up a0-0 after Reshad Jones intercepted a Matt Schaub pass deflected by defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. That turnover was quickly converted into a touchdown on the first play, as Tannehill put it up for rookie DeVante Parker, who jumped out of the stadium for a great catch to make it 7-0 Dolphins.
On a side note, Parker's ability has never been in question, but he wasn't doing enough in practice to move ahead of Rishard Matthews, but Matthews cracked his ribs last week against the Jets and Parker took over, catching a touchdown in the process. The Dolphins need his big-play ability to offset Jarvis Landry's slot receiver skills.
That Tannehill-to-Parker connection ended up being Miami's only offensive touchdown. The run-first, pass-sometimes game plan might not have worked if it weren't for miracle worker Matt Schaub, who, you guessed it, threw yet another pick-six. This one came about just three snaps and 20 game-play seconds after the Parker touchdown catch.
Schaub's pick-six was bad, but the fact that he threw one last week, in his first start of the season and that he now has thrown six pick-sixes in his last nine starts, well, that's mind-bogglingly bad.
The Dolphins went up 15-0 after a Jay Ajayi 2-point conversion and that was all she wrote. Well, other stuff happened, but the Dolphins didn't score another point and still won the game.
That "other stuff" was mostly rookie Javorius "Buck" Allen, who played a great game, putting up 170 yards and a touchdown on 17 rushing attempts and an amazing 12 receptions! Matt Schaub was a checkdown machine with 13 targets to Allen, who did well to catch 12 of them and put up 107 yards receiving and his touchdown. Kamar Aiken couldn't do as much with his short- to mid-range targets, which he saw 11 of, but only caught six for 48 yards.
Schaub's conservative play almost got it done, as Justin Tucker hit two field goals and Allen took a short screen for a 41-yard touchdown, to bring the Ravens within two points, but that short timeframe when Schaub was picked twice in the second quarter, doomed Baltimore to yet another loss and a 4-8 record.
The Dolphins move to 5-7 and still have a slim hope of squeaking into the playoffs, but Tannehill has bred little confidence of late. And you don't get to play Matt Schaub every week. If Miami's defense can come up big the rest of the season, and Jay Ajayi and Lamar Miller can control the ground game, this team could turn things around enough to at least stay in the hunt.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Surprise, surprise, the Chargers lost again at home. I think it's fair to begin wondering if they have the worst homefield advantage of all time. The good news for them is that they'll be moving soon. The bad news is that the people in Los Angeles care even less than those who live in San Diego.
Denver's defense was back to its early-season form, and Brock Osweiler improved to 3-0 as a starter. This win very much resembled the Broncos at the beginning of the season as their defense suffocated San Diego, while they got just enough offense to win.
To open the game, the Broncos marched down the field as Osweiler found Demaryius Thomas wide open in the end zone for a 3-yard score. That was really the only drive for Denver's offense, which totaled 293 yards on the day. Late in the first quarter, Philip Rivers was hit as he threw by Malik Jackson, and the ball floated to Danny Trevathan for an interception. Trevathan coasted into the end zone from 25 yards out. It was Rivers' sixth pick-six of the season. Each team had a field goal drive before the half, and the Broncos took a 17-3 lead into the locker room.
Early in the third quarter, Melvin Gordon had his fifth fumble of the season, which was recovered by the Broncos before they missed the field goal from 52 yards. San Diego wide receiver Malcom Floyd later fumbled the ball away after a hit from Josh Bush, and once again, Denver had great field position. Virgil Green burned Manti Te'o for 22 yards to get inside the 30 yards, but Osweiler threw a ball up for grabs in the end zone that Jason Verrett intercepted for San Diego. Both defenses shut the door, so there was no scoring in the second half.
Philip Rivers completed 18-of-35 passes for 202 yards and an interception. He was under heavy pressure from start to finish.
Melvin Gordon ran for 55 yards on 12 carries, but once again had ball-security issues. Adrian Peterson is the only back who has fumbled the ball more than Gordon than this season.
Antonio Gates led the Chargers' receivers with six catches for 50 yards. Both Stevie Johnson and Dontrelle Inman sustained injuries.
Brock Osweiler was 16-of-26 for 166 yards with a touchdown and one interception. He did a decent job of managing the game, but missed some opportunities to go vertical on San Diego.
Ronnie Hillman led the Broncos on the ground with 56 yards on 19 carries. C.J. Anderson got hurt, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.
Demaryius Thomas had 61 yards and a touchdown on six receptions.
Denver's defense was tremendous. Von Miller had two sacks and a forced fumble. Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett also added sacks. Chris Harris, Vance Walker and Josh Bush also forced fumbles for Denver. The Chargers' defense played well and received good games from Denzel Perryman, Melvin Ingram and Jason Verrett.
Chiefs 34, Raiders 20
The Chiefs may have won by two touchdowns, but this was a close game throughout. The Raiders led by a touchdown at halftime and by six points going into the fourth quarter. However, they had a complete meltdown in the final frame, allowing Kansas City to run away with its sixth-consecutive victory.
It began when Derek Carr overthrew a wide-open Michael Crabtree for a potential touchdown. The Raiders would've gone up 13 points had Carr connected with his open receiver. Instead, he hung on to the ball for far too long on an ensuing play. Like an idiot, he danced around the pocket and heaved an interception that was nearly taken back for a touchdown by linebacker Josh Mauga, who was tackled at the 2-yard line. The Chiefs scored shortly after, but couldn't take the lead because of a botched snap on the extra point.
Still, the Raiders appeared as though they were going to take the lead to break the 20-20 tie. However, Crabtree dropped a pass, and then Carr followed that up with an interception on a miscommunication, which the Chiefs turned into a touchdown. They once again screwed up the extra point, so they were up six. The Raiders had a chance to slice the Kansas City advantage in half, but Sebastian Janikowski whiffed on a 49-yard field goal. One drive later, Carr was pick-sixed, as a ball slipped out of Amari Cooper's hands. With a two-point conversion, the Chiefs were able to go up a couple of touchdowns.
The Chiefs were outgained, 361-232 and had 12 fewer first downs. Credit them for taking advantage of their opportunities, but they easily could've lost this game had the Raiders not shot themselves in the foot repeatedly. Alex Smith was his usual, mediocre self, going 16-of-22 for only 162 yards and two touchdowns, though he did scramble five times for 23 rushing yards and a third score. Smith had an opportunity for another aerial touchdown, but badly overthrew Albert Wilson.
Both of Smith's touchdowns went to Jeremy Maclin, who reeled in nine of his 10 targets for 95 yards and two touchdowns. His only blemish on the afternoon was a lost fumble in the first half. Travis Kelce (2-42) also coughed up the ball.
The Chiefs indicated that they might split carries between Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, and sure enough, that's exactly what they did. West gained 35 yards on nine carries, while Ware tallied 26 yards and a touchdown on seven tries. Ware nearly scored again, but was stuffed on a goal-line carry.
Going back to the Raiders, Carr looked great at times, finishing 31-of-48 for 283 yards and two touchdowns. He endured some drops as well, so he could've had a much better performance. However, those three interceptions were absolute killers and single-handedly (triple-handedly?) swung the game in Kansas City's favor.
Both Cooper and Crabtree had games to forget. Cooper, who caught four passes for 69 yards, dropped a fourth-down reception early on and then was responsible for Carr's pick-six. Crabtree, on the other hand, logged five catches for 45 yards and a touchdown, but was guilty of several drops.
Latavius Murray was bottled up for the most part; save for a 35-yard burst, he didn't do much. He finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries against one of the NFL's top run defenses.
Panthers 41, Saints 38
I was skeptical the Saints were going to show up for this game. That would've been normally crazy to say, given that they were a huge home underdog in a big divisional rivalry, but with the rumors circling around Sean Payton, I thought he might coach as if he had one foot out the door, but that wasn't the case at all. He put together a great offensive game plan, and his team gave the Panthers all they could handle. In the end, however, Carolina prevailed to improve to 12-0.
Cam Newton had a fantastic statistical performance. He went 28-of-41 for 331 yards, five touchdowns and an interception, and he nearly scored on another occasion on the ground, but was tackled shy of the goal line. His rushing numbers (10-49) were solid as well. However, despite the monstrous stats, Newton had his ups and downs in this contest. Newton opened with a very poor throw that was intercepted; he forced it unnecessarily to Ted Ginn. Newton then had Greg Olsen open, but sailed the ball out of bounds.
Right after halftime, Newton was blasted by Michael Mauti on the goal line, and it appeared as though he sustained a concussion. Newton actually went into the locker room for a bit, but returned to the field shortly afterward; he didn't miss a snap. However, Newton caught fire after that, as he was 15-of-22 for 224 yards and four touchdowns in the second half. He missed Olsen for a first down at one point, but was able to engineer a game-winning touchdown drive at the very end to achieve the team's 12th victory.
Newton actually could've enjoyed a much better day had Ted Ginn not disappointed him. That may sound strange after looking at Ginn's stat line - five catches, 80 yards, two scores - but Ginn dropped two long passes, both of which would've gone for touchdowns. They were long bombs, but both balls fell right into Ginn's lap. Any quality receiver would've reeled them in.
Ginn wasn't the only productive Panther play-maker who made mistakes. Olsen caught nine passes for 129 yards, but lost a fumble in the red zone. As mentioned, he could've had a greater performance had Newton not missed him a couple of times. He didn't find the end zone.
Newton's other touchdowns went to Jerricho Cotchery (3-26), Mike Tolbert (2-18) and Devin Funchess (1-13).
Jonathan Stewart ran well, as expected. He gained 82 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. He nearly scored a second time twice. He was stuffed at the goal line on one occasion, and an end-zone trip of his was wiped out because of a holding penalty. However, he was guilty of a lost fumble that was returned for a score by rookie linebacker Stephone Anthony.
Going back to the Saints, Drew Brees played well considering that he was going up against one of the NFL's top defenses. He went 24-of-42 for 282 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, which was an overthrow deep downfield. He did his best to keep his team in the game, and he even had the lead in the fourth quarter, but his defense ultimately betrayed him, per usual.
Brees' scores went to Brandin Cooks (6-104), Brandon Coleman (4-73) and Ben Watson (4-38). Josh Norman had great coverage on Cooks, but he wasn't on him when Cooks reeled in his 54-yard touchdown. Coleman, a fantasy preseason sleeper, has lots of potential, but he'll likely be a reserve again once Willie Snead returns from injury.
The Saints couldn't run the ball as much as they wanted to because they were trailing in a shootout during the middle of the game, but Mark Ingram still had a solid fantasy output, accumulating 56 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Two interesting things from this game: First, Brandon Browner and new defensive coordinator Dennis Allen got into a shouting match on the sideline. Browner once again had a terrible performance. Also, for the first time ever, a blocked extra point was returned for two points. How exciting.
Eagles 35, Patriots 28
Even though I've written why I've been listing the Patriots as an overrated team for more than a month now, I still receive e-mails from time to time asking why I think they're in the overrated section. I hope that everyone realizes why now. New England was once the best team in the league, but that's no longer the case. There are just too many injuries, and that has become quite apparent in the wake of this eye-opening loss.
Tom Brady's pass protection sucks, and he barely has anyone to throw to. Brady took four sacks, but that's not nearly indicative of how much pressure he was under in this contest. Brady took so many fierce hits, and adding injury to insult, one of his better remaining blockers, Josh Kline, sustained an injury late in the game. The pass rush rattled Brady so much that he threw two poor interceptions into double coverage. The first one, aimed at Danny Amendola, was taken back the other way for a 99-yard touchdown. It was the first time the Eagles had ever intercepted Brady.
Even when Brady had time to throw, he couldn't locate any open receivers. No one could get open, save for Amendola on occasion, and even Amendola screwed up sometimes; he dropped two passes, including a potential touchdown. Brady had so many miscommunications with his other wideouts, who also dropped balls. In fact, New England's failed, final offensive drive featured a whopping three drops.
However, despite all of these issues, Brady still posted a strong fantasy stat line, going 29-of-56 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and the two interceptions. Most of this came in garbage time, though two of his scores occurred in the early going when New England established a 14-0 lead that quickly vanished. It should be noted that Brady also caught a 36-yard pass from Amendola on a trick play, but an interception was thrown right afterward.
Brady's three touchdowns went to James White (10-115), Amendola (7-62) and Scott Chandler (4-61). Both Amendola and White tied for the team lead with 13 targets.
White, as you can see, was a big factor in the passing game, but he barely did anything on the ground, gaining just four yards on two carries. LeGarrette Blount handled most of the workload, but wasn't very effective, gaining 54 yards on 13 carries.
Glancing at this score, one might think that the Eagles defeated the Patriots in a shootout. That's hardly the case. In fact, the Patriots had 12 more first downs (27-15) and 179 more net yards (427-248). Philadelphia won by scoring 21 points on returns. The first was a blocked punt. The second, the Brady pick-six. The third, an 83-yard Darren Sproles punt return.
Sproles, by the way, was a huge factor on offense. He handled more carries than any other running back, taking his 15 attempts for 66 rushing yards and also catching four balls for 34 receiving yards. The Patriots are weak to outside runs, and DeMarco Murray couldn't take advantage of that liability, which would explain why Sproles handled the majority of the workload. Murray, by the way, managed just 24 yards on eight attempts. This was just the wrong type of matchup for him.
Sam Bradford went 14-of-24 for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't have to do much, though he made a big throw late in the game to Riley Cooper with 2:30 remaining to keep the clock moving.
Bradford's scores went to Jordan Matthews (3-36), who continues to catch garbage-time touchdowns, and Zach Ertz (2-9). Save for Matthews and Sproles, no Philadelphia player accumulated more than 16 receiving yards.
Steelers 45, Colts 10
The Steelers are currently out of the playoff picture. They're 7-5, but they happen to be the seventh seed in the AFC, given that both the Chiefs and Jets have tie-breakers over them. However, Pittsburgh could actually be the best team in the conference. The Steelers have caught fire lately, owning a high-powered offense that seemingly can't be stopped.
Pittsburgh was down 10-6 early on because of two lost fumbles by Jacoby Jones and DeAngelo Williams. The team then went on a tear, scoring 39 unanswered points. Ben Roethlisberger was out of his mind, going 24-of-39 for 364 yards and four touchdowns. He nearly had a fifth score midway through the final quarter, but Martavis Bryant dropped a pass that was only slightly high.
Having a strong running game to support Roethlisberger was huge. DeAngelo Williams was fantastic, trampling the Colts for 134 yards on 26 carries. Cris Collinsworth gushed all night at how incredible Williams' vision and cutting ability were. He's not even close to the same running back we saw in Carolina. Williams told the media that he finally figured things out; he's now apparently running with his feet instead of his head. It works, apparently, as Williams ripped off quality run after quality run.
The Colts eventually figured out that they couldn't double team Antonio Brown because they had to dedicate more defenders to stop Williams. Brown went off, snatching eight of his 11 targets for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Brown, who also scored on a punt return, had an amusing celebration after that sequence, when he jumped into the goal post and appeared to injure himself for a split second, but he turned out to be fine. Brown became the seventh player in league history since the merger to score two receiving touchdowns and a punt return since the merger.
Roethlisberger's other touchdowns went to Bryant (4-114) and Markus Wheaton (3-50). Bryant just missed out on a career night; he dropped two touchdowns, which was especially painful for me because I had him paired with Roethlisberger in FanDuel. Wheaton, meanwhile, had all of his production in the first half. His score came right after Bryant's first drop.
A bit on the Colts: They didn't stand much of a chance to compete with the Steelers in a shootout. Matt Hasselbeck has beaten some mediocre opponents like the Buccaneers and Falcons, but Pittsburgh was just a different animal.
Hasselbeck was exposed, going 16-of-26 for 169 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and a lost fumble. One pick occurred because he didn't see Jarvis Jones dropping in coverage in the red zone. The second was a telegraphed throw. Hasselbeck wasn't terrible, but he just gave his team no chance against an elite foe because he's no longer good enough. Fortunately for the Colts, Andrew Luck is due back in Week 15.
Another silver lining for Indianapolis is that Frank Gore no longer looked like he was running in mud. His rushing numbers weren't great (13-45), but he was able to catch three passes for 49 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The Steelers were able to silence Indianapolis' receivers. T.Y. Hilton was limited to three catches for 36 yards, while Donte Moncrief didn't even log a reception until he caught a 33-yard ball in garbage time. Andre Johnson (2-44) was the team's leader in receiving yardage after Gore.
Cowboys 19, Redskins 16
For the first 58 minutes, this was the sloppiest game of the year. Neither team had success moving the chains, particularly in the first half. The Cowboys had slightly more success, but three lost fumbles crushed them. Meanwhile, Washington could not pass protect against Dallas' blitz-happy defense. Part of the issue was that a power outage prevented both teams from looking at live shots to figure out what as going on. The Cowboys repeatedly ran the same blitz prior to intermission, and the Redskins had no idea how to deal with it. Kirk Cousins, as a consequence, took three sacks in the opening quarter alone.
And then, the final two minutes happened. With the game tied at nine, DeSean Jackson asked the crowd to cheer him on as he stood back, awaiting a punt return. He ran forward, then turned around and tried to reverse field. He was nearly tackled on the 1-yard line and then proceeded to lose a fumble. The Cowboys recovered, and despite some mistakes of their own - Darren McFadden ran out of bounds, then sprinted into the end zone prematurely - they took a touchdown lead. The Redskins, however, had a long kickoff return because of a Dallas penalty and proceeded to score a touchdown, with Cousins finding Jackson, who easily beat Morris Claiborne's single coverage.
This game seemed destined to head to overtime, but a nice kickoff return and a couple of completions set up Dan Bailey with a 54-yard, game-winning field goal, allowing Dallas to pull off the upset.
The Cowboys, who are still somehow alive at 4-8, have an incredible defense that will give them a chance to win the division. Unfortunately for them, Matt Cassel is still a liability. He didn't commit a turnover, which is a positive, but sailed some inaccurate passes, especially early on. He finished 16-of-29 for 222 yards.
Dez Bryant's numbers were disappointing. He caught three balls for 62 yards, though one of his receptions helped put the team into field-goal range at the end of regulation. Bryant, who spent most of the evening whining and complaining, managed to draw a pass interference on a field-goal drive, which happened to be a very questionable call. His big play was a 42-yard diving catch to set up Dallas at the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter.
The only Cowboy with more receiving yardage than Bryant was Terrance Williams (2-63). Jason Witten, meanwhile, logged five receptions for 45 yards. He recorded his 1,000th career catch in this contest, becoming only the second tight end to do so (Tony Gonzalez).
McFadden didn't have the greatest game. His numbers weren't terrible - 14 carries, 53 yards, one touchdown - but he had the aforementioned mistakes in addition to a pair of lost fumbles. McFadden missed some time with some sort of injury that he sustained on his second fumble - Robert Turbin (6-12) took his place - but he eventually reentered the contest.
The Redskins didn't have much success running the ball either. Dallas' front seven was flying all over the place, tackling both Matt Jones and Alfred Morris before they could do much. Jones had a couple of nice runs and outgained Morris (6-12) with 49 yards on 18 attempts. He's the better runner and should be the featured back going forward - as long as he can keep from fumbling.
Cousins went 22-of-31 for 219 yards and a touchdown. He barely had enough time, so I wouldn't criticize him for this loss. Besides, he did manage to locate Jackson (6-80) for a game-tying touchdown that should've sent the contest into overtime.
After Jackson, Pierre Garcon (5-54) and Jordan Reed (3-33) were next on the receiving list. Both nullified significant gains with offensive pass interferences.
If you're confused about the NFC East situation, here's a quick explanation: Despite this loss, the Redskins are still in control of their destiny. The Eagles are in control of their own destiny as well because they play both Washington and New York. The Giants will be in control of their own destiny as long as the Redskins lose one more game. As for the Cowboys, if everyone in the division suffers one more defeat (Philadelphia to either the Giants or Redskins), they will claim the division by winning out.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.