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 Seahawks 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.
San Francisco 49ers 48 at New Orleans Saints 46
Bryan Knowles: The 49ers’ starting defense is lethal, so the Saints are pretty clearly opting to tackle the backups early in this one. Richard Sherman went out for a couple plays, and Drew Brees immediately targeted replacement Emmanuel Mosley for big gains. Jaquiski Tartt is out, so Brees hit Jared Cook, who bounces off replacement safety Marcell Harris and bounds into the end zone. A very, very nice opening drive for the Saints, who take a 7-0 lead early.
Scott Spratt: So much for the 49ers having the No. 1 DVOA defense against tight ends (subscription required). Jared Cook has a 38-yard touchdown catch, which is more yardage than they allow on average to the position per game.
Bryan Knowles: When people think of the 2019 49ers, we obviously think of high-powered, explosive offense. Jimmy Garoppolo was 4-of-5 for 81 yards on the 49ers’ opening drive, with Emmanuel Sanders having gains of 19 and 31 yards and Deebo Samuel having a long catch-and-run as well. Garoppolo actually had more passing yards than the drive was long, thanks to a false start penalty (it’s loud in the Superdome). 7-7 as we go back and forth in New Orleans.
Bryan Knowles: These ARE the second- and seventh-best defenses in football, right? Brees once again targets a 49ers backup, Azeez Al-Shaair, and Jared Cook picks his second touchdown of the day. Cook is shaken up on the play after a high hit by Ahkello Witherspoon. That sets the ball on the 1 for the two-point try, but the 49ers sniff it out to keep it at 13-7. Cook has been doing a fantastic job finding holes in the 49ers’ defense so far today; it’ll be a significant loss for New Orleans if he can’t come back in.
Scott Spratt: And Jared Cook grabs another touchdown, this one while diving in the end zone and being struck in the head. So much for the 49ers’ tight end defense again. Although this one may have injured Cook.
Bryan Knowles: This game is drunk. A bad punt and good return sets up the Saints for their third tight end touchdown of the day against the best tight end defense in football, and then Garoppolo throws an arm-punt that Emmanuel Sanders ends up coming down with for a 75-yard score — he’s up to 125 yards already; only Tyler Lockett and D.J. Moore have more yards against the Saints in a game this season. It’s 20-14, Saints, 17 seconds into the second quarter.
Vince Verhei: I was in the car when Cook scored his second touchdown and got hit on the personal foul. National announcers were stunned the touchdown call stood up to review, and, well, I see their point.
— Brandon Fred Jones (@bfredjones) 8 December 2019
Bryan Knowles: When I think quarterback sneaks, I don’t think Drew Brees — The Saints have enough options that they rarely feel the need to plunge their 40-year-old quarterback into the teeth of a defense. Facing fourth-and-1 from the goal line, however, that’s exactly what the Saints do. The Saints have scored touchdowns on all four possessions, and they’re up 27-14.
Bryan Knowles: If the 49ers’ defense is failing, it’s time for Kyle Shanahan to open the “only in emergencies” portion of the playbook. 21-yard pass to Samuel, 19-yard rush by Raheem Mostert, and then reverse pass option, Emmanuel Sanders-to-Mostert, for a 35-yard touchdown. 27-21 Saints, with six minutes left in the second. Just like we all expected, right?
Vince Verhei: The Saints scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions. Their fifth drive failed because of their Taysom Hill fetish. First down, he drops back to pass. Pressure gets to him and he’s able to escape the sack and scramble for a short gain. Two plays later, on third-and-1, they give him the ball on a direct snap and a quarterback sweep to the right, but Nick Bosa sniffs it out and makes the tackle in the backfield for a loss. Why would you take the ball out of Brees’ hands when he’s on fire like he has been today?
Dave Bernreuther: Vince, that’s the question I’ve been asking ever since Hill made the team. It’s great that he’s a versatile player and great athlete and hard worker, but taking a Hall of Fame quarterback off the field is never a good idea.
Sure, he’s had a few touchdowns, but they’re not adding any expected value with the gadgetry.
(Do we have any figures on the Saints’ yards per play when Hill is and isn’t on the field? With and without the Bridgewater starts included? I’d love to see that.)
Scott Spratt: Speaking of Kyle Shanahan wizardry, he just ran a play that looked like the Music City Miracle. Garoppolo rolled right and then threw a barely forward pass completely across the field to George Kittle. The big difference here is that Marcus Davenport was not fooled. Despite several blockers, he tackled Kittle for a big loss. I guess every trick play can’t work.
Bryan Knowles: Speaking of speaking of Kyle Shanahan wizardry, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fullback run the option in the NFL. A nice pitch from Kyle Juszczyk to Mostert converts a crucial third-and-1, and the 49ers find the end zone two plays later. 28-27, but the 49ers may have scored too soon.
Scott Spratt: Raheem Mostert entered this week with 6.3 yards per carry on 133 career carries. He had a 19.4% rushing DVOA last year and has a 20.5% rushing DVOA this year. Major props to Shanahan for benching his expensive back Tevin Coleman for him, but how did we all miss that Mostert was this good the whole time?
Aaron Schatz: I think that was pretty small sample last year, yes? Thirty-four carries. I don’t know how much we learn from 34 carries last year and less than 100 this year, given how long it takes for running back performance to stablize.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, Mostert flashed last season, too. Just another reason why San Francisco’s running back strategy this offseason was head-scratching. I guess it can’t hurt to have four starting running back options.
Vince Verhei: Hell, Mostert didn’t even have the best big-play resume in the 49ers backfield — check what Matt Breida had done in 2017 and 2018. The Tevin Coleman acquisition was completely gratuitous, though the way the rest of their season has gone we can obviously forgive them for that.
Bryan Knowles: And remember, Jerrick McKinnon was supposed to be the starter this season!
Bryan Knowles: I really do want to cover some other games this window, but these teams just aren’t letting up. The second half opens up with a pair of turnovers — a Jimmy Garoppolo Special off the hands of Emmanuel Sanders, and an Alvin Kamara fumble into the teeth of the 49ers’ line. The difference? The 49ers’ defense stiffened up, holding Wil Lutz to a 55-yard field goal. The 49ers turned their turnover into a George Kittle touchdown, and it’s 35-30 midway through the third.
Scott Spratt: Haha, I thought they were going to call back George Kittle’s touchdown for like the fifth time this year. He dove and knocked down the pylon, but he knocked it down with his elbow not the ball. But the 49ers kicked the extra point, so no take-backs.
Bryan Knowles: Bizarre play. The Saints tried a fake punt from Taysom Hill, but it didn’t work. The 49ers massively, MASSIVELY interfered with the wideout … but there is a rule saying that there IS no pass interference on a punt. That’s … I mean, that’s very strange. Result is the 49ers get the ball back at midfield, but I’d like to see that ruling explained better.
Vince Verhei: At least three times this game, the Saints have tried a sweep, pitch, or quick toss out to Nick Bosa’s side, and all three times Bosa has sniffed out the play and made the tackle. They’re trying to take advantage of his aggressiveness but he’s showing he’s smart too.
And then the Saints try a fake punt, and there’s a deep pass downfield to the gunner, and the Saints absolutely mug the guy for what appears to be pass interference … but apparently there is no DPI on passes out of punt formations. I admit, that is news to me. But it does make sense — otherwise the defensive back would have an impossible task there, trying to cover the gunner without knowing if a pass had even been thrown.
Bryan Knowles: The first half saw the 49ers commit seven penalties, New Orleans zero. That’s changed here in the second half, as San Francisco has been bailed out a bit by New Orleans mistakes on this last drive — holding on a third-and-7 when the Saints had Garoppolo sacked, and an unnecessary roughness call on a third-and-8 incomplete pass. The 49ers take advantage and get into the end zone; 42-33 lead for the 49ers.
Bryan Knowles: Down nine, the Saints likely need points on every drive from here on out … so they go to Michael Thomas, who is pretty good at football. He’s up to nine catches for 118 yards and a touchdown; I imagine he’ll be near or at the top of Quick Reads this week, considering the 49ers’ defense. He had a 49-yard catch-and-run to get the Saints into scoring range and then a 21-yard touchdown to get them back within two points. Nail-biting time; 49ers up 42-40 with 6:06 left in the game.
Bryan Knowles: Saints get a huge sack on the 49ers in the red zone setting up third-and-20, and then Deebo Samuel goes out of bounds, saving New Orleans a timeout. The 49ers kick the field goal, so they have a five-point lead. Saints ball, 2:23 left, one timeout. Exciting finish set up for this one.
Vince Verhei: Saints pick up a critical third-down conversion on a DPI. Do a shot!
Aaron Schatz: Go-ahead touchdown, Tre’Quan Smith! Missed tackles by Fred Warner and Akheillo Witherspoon.
Bryan Knowles: Oh, the Saints just shred the 49ers defense. First, Richard Sherman gets hurt and limps off the field, and in the confusion, no one covers Ted Ginn. Huge gain for him. Then the 49ers commit pass interference on an incomplete pass on third-and-6, and the very next play, the Saints score the go-ahead touchdown. They DO stiffen up on the two-point conversion try, so the Saints have a one-point lead, 46-45. 53 seconds left and the 49ers do have all three timeouts left…
Vince Verhei: Coming into today, the 49ers had given up 12 touchdowns in 12 games.
Drew Brees has five touchdowns in this game.
Scott Spratt: George Kittle, what a beast. He snags that fourth-and-2 catch the 49ers absolutely had to have and then fought for 39 yards through a facemask penalty and multiple attempted tacklers.
Dave Bernreuther: Unreal. Dumpoffs with no sense of urgency with time running out will be rewarded because of George Kittle Beast Mode and perhaps the worst penalty we’ve seen in a day full of game-deciding penalties.
What a horrible piece of luck for Brees after what should’ve been a game winning drive.
Bryan Knowles: I don’t know how you call that facemask penalty the worst penalty we’ve seen all day; Williams was practically hanging like jewlery off of Kittle’s facemask.
Robbie Gould makes the 30-yard field goal, 49ers win, and I collapse from exhaustion.
Aaron Schatz: That facemask penalty was absolutely legit.
Dave Bernreuther: Oh I meant worst offender, not a bad call.
They’d likely have made the kick even without it though, as it was deeper in Saints territory than I thought at first. Still, I don’t like that the 49ers were throwing short and playing slow with under a minute left. If the Saints tackle Kittle in bounds shortly after that catch, they’re in really good shape with 38 seconds left.
Bryan Knowles: While I agree in theory, Dave, I’m OK with them drawing up their best play on fourth-and-2 to Kittle. Nice look out of the bunch formation; Sanders goes inside to draw the defense, leaving Kittle open to work out in the flat. Not as flashy as some of the big plays, but a great design to get the ball to the best player for two must-needed yards. The extra 37 yards, plus the 14 yards from the penalty, were gravy. Delicious, delicious gravy.
Dave Bernreuther: Yeah, Bryan, truth be told it was the second-down short toss attempt that made me angry. On fourth-and-ballgame, obviously you need to get the 2 yards. But it’s hard to imagine they expected the extra 35 yards even as the best case when they called that play. Absent those, the game probably ends differently.
I’m not sure why I even care; I’ve been rooting for the 49ers over Seattle for the West all year anyway, so this helps that cause (I’m all for their rematch being a play-in game for either 1 or 5). But for some reason I was rooting for the Saints and this outcome bothers me.
Baltimore Ravens 24 at Buffalo Bills 17
Aaron Schatz: The Baltimore Ravens are so good at the mesh point of the zone read. I’ve watched their last couple games now and over and over, defenders are crashing down on running backs who don’t have the ball while Lamar Jackson takes off for 8 yards. The Bills finally just read one right and had Justice Hill down for a loss of 6 — that ended up leading to a Justin Tucker field goal so we’re at 3-0 Baltimore. Bills have gone three-and-out in both their first two possessions.
Aaron Schatz: After one quarter, the story is how well the Baltimore defense is playing. Yes, Josh Allen has missed three deep throws with overthrows, a couple of those guys definitely had a step on the defenders, but it’s not like he was throwing at those guys from a clear pocket, the pressure’s been there. He just went down on a sack and lost the ball when tight end Dawson Knox couldn’t block Matt Judon, who’s near the top of the league in QB knockdowns this year. Then the Bills defense, which has been pretty good, tossed in a couple of penalties so the Ravens will start the second quarter with first-and-goal on the Bills 4.
Aaron Schatz: And the Ravens score on the third down, it was Lamar Jackson keeping on the zone read and when he saw he couldn’t get into the end zone he ad-libbed, tossed the ball forward to tight end Nick Boyle who was in the end zone. 10-0 Ravens.
Scott Spratt: Lamar Jackson just threw his first interception since Week 5, although I wouldn’t call this one his fault. He threw high over an intermediate linebacker, and Willie Snead got a hand on it. But really, he just tipped the ball back to Tremaine Edmunds. The Ravens are still up seven, 10-3.
Aaron Schatz: Nah, I’m going with Jackson’s fault on the interception. That ball was overthown due to pressure on Jackson, it wasn’t supposed to be that high to Snead. Bills can’t do anything with it, they get one first down then are forced to punt when Allen gets sacked on third-and-10. Allen is noticeably limping off the field. So much Ravens pressure today.
Scott Spratt: Ouch! Josh Allen just got stepped on by one of his offensive linemen. It looked like he rolled an ankle, but that was on third down. We’ll have to wait a series to see if this is going to knock him out of any snaps.
Bryan Knowles: I’m really not sure how you defend Lamar Jackson. If you spy on him to stop him from running, he can bootleg and throw a dart back across his body, like he just did to Willie Snead. Ravens take a 24-9 lead with 10 minutes left, and I think that will probably put the Bills away.
Scott Spratt: Bills went for two after scoring to pull their deficit to 24-15. The EdjSports team has to be pleased. So were the football gods, because the attempt worked and improved that score to 24-17 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Aaron Schatz: Josh Allen finally goes over 100 yards for the day on a 37-yard pass down the right sideline to Dawson Knox. Devin Singletary runs 38 yards a couple of plays later and that puts the Bills at the goal line. After a couple of penalties, the Bills eventually get it in on a short pass to Cole Beasley and then hit the two-point conversion to make this game 24-17 Ravens. The Ravens’ pass pressure and coverage has definitely been better than the run defense — the Bills had an earlier drive where Singletary had something like 40 yards on the ground and then as soon as they tried to pass, the drive bogged down.
Scott Spratt: Wow, reminiscent of last week’s Broncos finish but with way more at stake. On a fourth-and-16, Josh Allen avoids pressure and throws deep. Cole Beasley has a step but had no chance to reach the ball in the end zone. But Marlon Humphrey, maybe the best cover corner in football, inexplicably puts a hand on Beasley. That may or may not have induced Beasley to fall, but the refs called pass interference anyway. Huge play that could swing his game.
Aaron Schatz: Josh Allen took a sack he absolutely could not take, third-and-4 on the Baltimore 32. The Ravens sent seven. The Bills couldn’t block it. You knew the Ravens were going to send a big blitz, it’s just what they do this season. Bills had to leave back more blockers. Allen gets a reprieve when Baltimore commits DPI on fourth-and-16.
Aaron Schatz: Again, Josh Allen faces a big Baltimore blitz on third down. A guy came right through untouched to hurry him; Allen was lucky to get a pass off. Did the Bills not see on the film that the Ravens like to send big blitzes? It’s what everyone knows about their defense. Fourth down, Allen tried to find John Brown but Marcus Peters got his hand in there and Baltimore will win this game.
Cincinnati Bengals 19 at Cleveland Browns 27
Dave Bernreuther: Baker Mayfield’s second interception of the young day put the Bengals on a short field. Joe Mixon eventually punched in the touchdown from 1 yard away, and the Bengals are up 13-7 and looking to win their second straight game. That win would open the door for a lot of teams in the race for the top pick in the 2020 draft. Entering the weekend, the one-win Bengals had a 59.0% chance to win the top pick, but the Giants also have just two wins. And the Redskins, Falcons, and Dolphiins are all 3-9.
Can’t wait for the Week 16 Dolphins vs. Bengals matchup.
Vince Verhei: Browns have rallied for a 14-13 halftime lead on a Denzel Ward pick-six and a Mayfield touchdown run, but they could have had even more. Odell Beckham made an amazing juggling catch down the left sideline and into scoring range that involved one juggle too many. The play was ruled complete on the field, but the Browns dilly-dallyed around rather than snapping the ball quickly, and the Bengals had time to challenge the play. On replay, it was clear Beckham didn’t secure possession until he had stepped out of bounds, and the Browns ended up punting.
Vince Verhei: Browns up 24-16 at the end of three. They got a 57-yard Nick Chubb run to set up a Kareem Hunt touchdown. Bengals responded with a 16-play, 76-yard field goal drive. They actually converted a fourth-and-inches to give them a first-and-goal at the 2, but on first down Dalton hung in the pocket forever and suffered a critical sack. Browns added a 53-yard Austin Seibert field goal for their eight-point lead.
Vince Verhei: Bengals get a goal-to-go situation again, but on third down Dalton has to throw it away when a rusher comes unblocked off the edge. And then on fourth-and-goal from the 4, they run … a quarterback draw? Dalton is stopped after a gain of 2 and Cleveland takes over on downs, still up eight.
The Bengals have outgained Cleveland about 150 yards in total offense, they have nearly doubled them in first downs, they are winning the turnover battle … and they are probably going to lose because they can’t get a touchdown to save their lives.
Vince Verhei: Oh my god, it happened to Cleveland again — Jarvis Landry made a juggling catch deep downfield at the sideline. This one was ruled incomplete, but Cleveland challenged — and lost. Next play, on third down, Mayfield throws a tip-drill interception, his third of the day. Bengals take over in the red zone, needing a touchdown and two-pointer to tie.
Or not! The ball was tipped because William Jackson interfered with Beckham. The officials reviewed that on their own and reversed the call. First down Browns!
Vince Verhei: Another critical pass interference play, in this game and in this week. Jarvis Landry takes a screen for 34 yards. Bengals challenge, claiming there was OPI. The call stands, and the Bengals lose their last timeout. The Browns are perfectly happy to run three times and kick a field goal for a 27-16 lead inside the two-minute warning.
Rob Weintraub: I know few people care about this game — suffice to say that for everyone who was all “See? Andy Dalton isn’t the problem in Cincy!” this was proof positive that he sure ain’t the solution, either.
It was also readily apparent that for the disparity in record and the hype around the Browns the two teams are basically even in talent, even as both went without their respective best players today. The entirety of the result came to red zone execution and a handful of iffy calls, particularly one on William Jackson for pass interference (via replay!) that wiped out an interception deep in Cleveland territory.
Aside — I know I’m supposed to want to lose in order to ensure Joe Burrow or whatever, but I was tossing out F-bombs like Tom Brady during this one…
Denver Broncos 38 at Houston Texans 24
Scott Spratt: The Broncos are up 21-0 on the Texans. The Texans just beat the Patriots in Week 13. So I guess by the transitive property, the Broncos are better than the Patriots and probably the second-best team in football behind Baltimore?
I may have just explained why the world needs DVOA. Individual football games can be nuts sometimes.
Bryan Knowles: It is really too bad Drew Lock was hurt for most of the first half of the season, because Denver might have a quarterback. At halftime, he’s 16-for-19 for 235 yards and three touchdowns, as the Broncos are stomping a mudhole into the Texans. It’s 31-3, Denver, at the half, and that might be THE shocking score of the early window.
Miami Dolphins 21 at New York Jets 22
Dave Bernreuther: Not much to say about this one, other than that my first thought when I saw the broadcast with the third-tier announcers and the Jets clad in the all-blacks was “why are they re-airing a college game?”
Whoever this play-by-play guy is (a quick check of the506.com reveals that it’s Tom McCarthy), though, I like him. When the Fins chickened out and took a 25-yard field goal, his comment leading to the commercial was a disappointed “well that was a little conservative … but it’s now 9-6 New York.”
Zach Binney: I have a nomination for stupidest stat of the week. After the opening drive of the second half, Miami’s scores have been a 22-yard field goal, 25-yard field goal, 28-yard field goal, and then a 31-yard field goal.
I got a cool $20 that says if they score again it’ll be a 34-yard field goal. At least our game can be arithmetically interesting.
Zach Binney: Well Miami did ATTEMPT a 34-yard field goal! Just wide right. Next up, 37. Let’s keep this going, fellas!
Scott Spratt: Jason Sanders has made six field goals to give the Dolphins all of their 18-16 lead. Can’t stop the Fins!
Scott Spratt: And Sanders drains his seventh field goal to put the Dolphins up 21-19 with less than two minutes for Darnold to try to answer.
Vince Verhei: I’ve got the Bills and Jets games on side-by-side TVs here. Almost simultaneously to Buffalo’s fourth-and-16 DPI conversion, the Jets get a third-and-18 incompletion reversed to a DPI and a first down. And in this case, that’s almost all they need — they pick up one more first down, then kick the winning field goal as time expires.
As a fan, I am really, really getting sick of games being decided by pass interference flags.
Carolina Panthers 20 at Atlanta Falcons 40
Scott Spratt: Calvin Ridley just taunted the Panthers by stopping short of the goal line on a bunny touchdown and then reaching the ball across without the rest of his body. I don’t love the karma play. It’s not breaking news the Panthers are a mess. They fired their coach a few days ago.
Scott Spratt: Yikes, Panthers. First, they allow a 93-yard touchdown to Olamide Zaccheaus. It was his first career catch — really nice 93.0 average YPC — and the longest completion of Matt Ryan’s career. Then the Panthers fumble away the ensuing kickoff, which kicker Younghoe Koo amazingly recovers.
Bryan Knowles: Olamide Zaccheaus. That’s not a name I’ve ever had to type before; he just caught his first NFL pass … a 93-yard touchdown, the longest scoring play of the year. Sure, why not. And on the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers fumble and Younghoe Koo dives into the pile and comes up with the ball! 30-10 Falcons, as the Panthers have just given up on the year.
Scott Spratt: They just showed a stat on the broadcast that the Panthers have 18 turnovers since Week 6, second most in the NFL. My initial reaction was “who could possibly have more?” But then I realized we’d been talking about the Buccaneers in this thread all day. It absolutely has to be them.
Indianapolis Colts 35 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38
Bryan Knowles: Weird sequence at the end of the first half here. Indianapolis lines up to go for it on fourth-and-1 from near the goal line, but they don’t like what they see, and Jacoby Brissett turns around to call a timeout. Problem: they had just called a timeout after getting down there, and you can’t call back-to-back timeouts! The refs, correctly, do not stop the play, and Brissett has to whirl, run back to the line, snap it and just dive forward. It picks up the first down but not the touchdown, and the Colts just kick a field goal to take a 27-21 halftime lead. Bad situational awareness, decent result for Indy.
Bryan Knowles: Jameis Winston is OUT with a hand injury (and also possibly two interceptions). Ryan Griffin makes his NFL debut as part of his scheme to continuously make me screw up “R.Griffins” around the league.
Scott Spratt: Wait, did Jameis Winston just throw that touchdown to Justin Watson? Was he un-benched?
Bryan Knowles: He did — came back in after missing two series, I think it was. His hand was apparently better!
Andrew Potter: He was being checked by the trainers, and they didn’t get him back out of the locker room until their first drive of the second half was underway. I don’t think he was ever benched, as such.
Andrew Potter: Word of Jameis Winston’s demise is somewhat premature, as he returns midway through the third quarter with the Bucs trailing 35-21 and immediately drives them down the field for another score. Winston has now thrown for three touchdowns and rushed (well, snuck) for a fourth, but also had a pick on his first drive and a pick-six in the second quarter. This game has been a microcosm of Winston’s season, which itself has been a microcosm of Winston’s career. I still have no idea what the team will do after this season. They’ve never extended a drafted starting quarterback past his rookie contract, and I guess Winston is good enough to get that monkey off their back, but he’s so extreme as a passer that you just can’t be sure what you’re going to get on any given play. Wedding your rebuild to a player like that is a tough sell.
Scott Spratt: Haha, on a fourth-and-2, Jacoby Brissett throws, has his pass batted, and catches it. He ends up throwing a sideways pass that is ruled an illegal forward pass. But Jack Doyle didn’t get close to the first-down yardage he needed anyway. Bucs ball with less than two minutes left. The Bucs are going to pull this one out thanks to/despite the full Jameis experience.
Bryan Knowles: Just clearing up the Jameis Winston confusion from earlier — Winston has a “slight crack” in his thumb, which is why he missed the start of the second half. Mike Evans is the more significant injury, as his hamstring injury “doesn’t look good.” With the Buccaneers officially eliminated from the postseason today, there’s no need for Evans to come back at all.
Washington Redskins 15 at Green Bay Packers 20
Vince Verhei: Packers lead in this one, but it has been more of a struggle than you’d think. They were up 14-6 at halftime as Washington only had one good drive, getting a big run from Derrius Guice and a big catch by Kelvin Harmon to set up an Adrian Peterson touchdown run. Third quarter, Packers drive into scoring range looking to drive a stake in their heart, but after Jamaal Williams converts a fourth-and-1, they still end up settling for a field goal. 17-6 now, and though Washington has looked unimpressive most of the game, they are hanging around.
Scott Spratt: Oh no, Derrius Guice is out with another knee injury? Did anyone see whether that was serious or not?
Vince Verhei: It was a slog for Green Bay, but it looks like they finally finished this one off. Their last drive covered 74 yards over 14 plays and ate up nearly seven and a half minutes of clock. They ended up kicking a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the 15, but that kick gave them a 20-9 lead with less than three minutes to go, so can’t blame them for that one.
Kansas City Chiefs 23 at New England Patriots 16
Scott Spratt: I’m sure we’ll have plenty to say about this game when it starts in 20 minutes. But I’m just now seeing this hilarious story that half of the Chiefs’ players equipment got mistakenly sent to Newark, N.J., instead of Boston. If they hadn’t gotten that to Foxboro in time for the game, the Chiefs would have had to forfeit.
Aaron Schatz: By the way, the Chiefs luggage has arrived at Gillette.
Aaron Schatz: I don’t have a total for you but there have been roughly twice as many flea flickers this season as in the average NFL season. I love this play so much. Patriots just scored their first touchdown on one, with Julian Edelman wide open deep down the right sideline for 37 yards.
Scott Spratt: This game feels like it’s going to be just as exciting as the 49ers-Saints one, Aaron.
Scott Spratt: The Patriots didn’t turn the Texans over last week, the first time all year they did not get any turnovers in a game. But they didn’t even need a quarter to force one this week, with J.C. Jackson jumping in front of Demarcus Robinson to intercept Patrick Mahomes. With a short field, the Pats are getting close to going up multiple scores early.
Scott Spratt: Patrick Mahomes was looking at his wrist after landing on it a couple of plays ago. He just completed an intermediate pass, but this could be a thing.
Carl Yedor: The Mahomes hand issue is definitely looking like a thing. As the broadcast cut to commercial, he was getting it looked at on the sideline. It doesn’t seem to be preventing him from getting the ball where it needs to be for now, but it could definitely be a problem moving forward. Now 7-3 New England after a Harrison Butker field goal.
Bryan Knowles: Injured hand or no injured hand, Mahomes tosses a deep shot to Mecole Hardman. It doesn’t really hit him in stride; Hardman has to stop and come back a bit to catch the floater. Perhaps that is what jukes Jonathan Jones, who misses the tackle and lets Hardman scamper the rest of the way into the end zone. 10-7 Chiefs.
Aaron Schatz: Great play by Bashaud Breeland who was covering Julian Edelman but saw Matt LaCosse’s route all the way, came off Edelman and easily intercepted a pass to LaCosse. Chiefs get the ball back.
Bryan Knowles: Nice play design by the Chiefs on their last touchdown. Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and Spencer Ware all lined up in the backfield along with Mahomes; that’s not something I think the Patriots would have seen on film coming in to today. The direct snap goes to Kelce, and full credit to him for not just plunging at the hole, but veering back and finding an open lane for the touchdown, as the Chiefs turn the Brady interception into seven.
Carl Yedor: That Kansas City touchdown was pretty cool. On third-and-goal from about the 5, the Chiefs motion into a full house backfield with Travis Kelce lined up at quarterback in the pistol. From there, they run inverted veer and Kelce plunges in for the score. As Bryan mentioned, that definitely would not have been something the Patriots should have expected from film study heading into today’s game.
Carl Yedor: It feels like the referees have been picking up flags every third play. Obviously an exaggeration, but in the past few drives, the refs have picked up a flag for intentional grounding on New England, roughing the passer on New England, and a likely illegal block downfield on Kansas City. Jerome Boger’s crew has taken a very collaborative approach to officiating so far in this game. Kansas City’s two-minute drill stalls out shortly after the picked-up flag for an illegal block, forcing them to settle for three. 20-7 with New England getting the ball back with about a minute left in the half.
Bryan Knowles: I approve of the refs getting together to make the calls correct. Not so much in the time taken to do so, but I suppose accuracy is better than speed, if you had to pick one.
Bryan Knowles: Was that … booing as the Patriots left the field? Yeah, today’s game isn’t going well, but you’re booing Tom Brady in New England? C’mon, guys.
Aaron Schatz: I’ve been adamant that the Patriots offense over the last few games has been closer to average, not really that bad. But this is bad today. This is a bad run defense, and the Patriots can’t run on them except for one James White 19-yard gain. The Chiefs are getting pressure on Brady, and he’s missing guys because of it. He has no trust in his receivers other than Edelman, and then he even has missed an open Edelman thanks to the pressure. The Mohamed Sanu trade clearly didn’t work, Sanu mostly has been off the field. N’Keal Harry has been on the field for a grand total of one play, so he’s no kind of savior. It’s a mess, totally discombobulated. Each week’s offensive performance seems worse than the one before it. The defense hasn’t played up to its early-season level either but considering how much Kansas City has had the ball, and in what good field position, and the fact that Kansas City is a damn good offense, it’s hard to blame them too much for giving up 20 points.
Vince Verhei: Chiefs kick a field goal on fourth-and-2 from the New England 23 for a 23-7 lead. Ordinarily I’d be snarling about the need to be aggressive against the Patriots in New England. Given how lost the Patriots have looked on offense today, however, I can’t fault for Kansas City to extending their lead to two touchdowns and two two-pointers.
Bryan Knowles: Does anyone know the record for punts blocked in a season? I don’t think New England is challenging it quite yet, but I think they just picked up their fourth of the year. Bolden runs in an end-around for a touchdown two plays later, and it’s back to a 23-13 Chiefs lead.
Aaron Schatz: Blocked punt for Nate Ebner. There have been nine official blocked punts in the NFL this year and the Patriots now have four of them. I don’t count blocked punts in special teams DVOA because they are “non-predictive” plays, even though they have a lot of value. But four in one year makes you wonder if they are predictive when you have a team in the extreme like this. Or is it just a case that every so often, some special teams unit is bound to have four in one year? Patriots score two plays later, with running plays finally working against the Chiefs — one for 10 yards, one for 9 yards. The run on the two-point conversion doesn’t work, so it’s now 23-13 Chiefs.
Aaron Schatz: Devin McCourty knocks the ball free from Travis Kelce, but the officials blow the play dead when Stephon Gilmore recovers it and it looks like he may be running for a touchdown. Patriots challenge showed it was a fumble but the Patriots lose the possibility of that defensive score. Given the way their offense is playing right now, that whistle may have cost them seven points, because I don’t know if the offense can score even starting at midfield.
Bryan Knowles: The Patriots join the elite club of teams killed by an early whistle. Tracis Kelce fumbled, the Patriots scooped and were on their way for a defensive score, but the refs blew the whistle and called the play dead. But no, Kelce’s fumble WAS real, the play was overturned, and the Patriots don’t get the benefit of the return. Oops.
Bryan Knowles: N’Keal Harry dives into the end zone — but the refs rule him out of bounds at the 3. He’s pretty clearly in bounds on the replay, but the Patriots are out of challenges and can’t throw the flag!
But the Patriots, of course, get all the calls, right?
Carl Yedor: That was a great example of why spot challenges are often not worth it. Kansas City definitely got a very favorable spot on a first down on their previous drive, but since the correct spotting of the ball *probably* would have netted a first down, the call stood upon replay review. As a result, New England could not earn a third challenge after winning their second challenge on the Kelce forced fumble. Super surprised that happened at home given that home-field advantage often comes into play with officiating decisions.
Bryan Knowles: James White throwing passes, Tom Brady rushing for first downs (fourth-longest carry of his career) … New England’s just making this offense up as they’re going along, and it’s working.
Bryan Knowles: Ooooh, if Julian Edelman doesn’t fall down, that’s at least a first, probably a touchdown. As it is, Bashaud Breeland knocks down the fourth-down play, and the Chiefs are going to win.
Aaron Schatz: The funny thing is that in the long run this may not mean anything to the Patriots. Let’s assume they beat Cincinnati and Miami … if they beat Buffalo at home in Week 16, they’re going to be the second seed. Baltimore won its hardest remaining game today and would probably be in the No. 1 seed no matter what. So the Pats were probably the No. 2 seed win or lose today. Where it matters is in putting Kansas City past Houston/Tennessee for the No. 3 seed, which probably means Kansas City comes back here in a few weeks for a divisional round game. Hopefully the officiating in that one is more agreeable to everyone.
Aaron Schatz: It’s also worth noting something that I’m sure will be discussed a lot, which is that the Patriots pulled everything possible out of the playbook to try to win this game. The flea flicker, the halfback option pass, the all-out punt block rush with no return man. They’re showing desperation. They know the offense is a problem and they’re coaching like it.
Rob Weintraub: Calling it now — Bengals shock the Pats next week…
Rob Weintraub: Crap — forgot that the last time New England got beat by Kansas City then played the Bengals it was “On to Cincinnati” and they of course demolished us so never mind.
Tennessee Titans 42 at Oakland Raiders 21
Vince Verhei: Dion Jordan tips Ryan Tannehill’s pass at the line of scrimmage, and 291-pound Maurice Hurst reels in the interception. He’s rumbling down the field, and it’s looking like we’re going to get a quality big-man touchdown , but then Tannehill, the former wideout, zooms in out of nowhere and just LEVELS him to the turf. Didn’t accomplish much, but it sure was exciting.
Josh Jacobs is out for Oakland, but DeAndre Washington is in, and he rumbles through some tackles for a 14-yard touchdown to put Oakland up 7-0.
Bryan Knowles: I know Tannehill’s resurgence is sparking the Titans’ late-season push, but Tannehill has never had a back like Derrick Henry to help take some of the pressure off of him. Henry’s already up to 50 yards rushing on in the day late in the first quarter, popping into the end zone to tie the game at seven.
Vince Verhei: First-and-10 from the 9, Tannehill hangs in the pocket and takes a big hit, but delivers a strike to A.J. Brown downfield. Daryl Worley is beat in coverage, and then can’t bring Brown to the ground, and Brown escapes his grasp for a 91-yard touchdown.
Derrik Klassen: Not any sort of surprise the Titans are having their way with the Raiders defense. Oakland’s defense is soft all around, but has a particularly weak middle of the field. Ryan Tannehill shines in that area and it has shown so far. One of Tannehill’s only two incompletions through 12 attempts so far was a weird tip-drill interception at the line on a screen pass, which isn’t really indicative of anything. Sometimes fluky interceptions like that just happen. If Oakland’s offense keeps this close enough to force a “shootout,” I expect Tannehill to clear 400 yards by the end of this one.
Vince Verhei: Big-man picks aside, not much defense in this one. Rico Gafford is no Olamide Zaccheaus, but his first NFL reception was a 49-yard touchdown when he ran a corner route out of a bunch formation and all the Titans covered the inside receivers, leaving Gafford all alone on the perimeter.
Tennessee’s response drive wasn’t nearly so spectacular, but it did cover 77 yards in eight plays, ending in a touchdown on third-and-13 from Tannehill to Brown. Titans up 21-14 and we’re still partway through the second quarter.
Vince Verhei: Raiders finish the first half with a 14-play, 71-yard drive that lasts six-plus minutes and ends with a Carr touchdown pass to Foster Moreau for a goal-line touchdown. At some point during that drive Derrick Henry went jogging into the locker room. Very weird that he would just leave in the middle of an Oakland drive.
I spoke too soon about Oakland finishing the half! They left 24 seconds for Tennessee to work with, which is enough for Tannehill to hit MyCole Pruitt downfield for 39 yards. That sets up a 42-yard field goal try, but Ryan Succop’s kick hits the uprights, and we remain tied at 21. Raiders will get the ball to start the second half.
Bryan Knowles: There has been one punt in this game as we reach the halftime break. Six touchdowns, an interception, and then a missed field goal as time expired. The Titans have been the more explosive team to this point, but the one Tannehill interception looms large. A.J. Brown is up to 141 yards with a pair of scores, including the second 90-plus-yard touchdown of the day. Ryan Tannehill is going to get paid, as pregame reports have the Titans working on a long-term deal, and not just the franchise tag. I’d be highly hesitant about giving a long term deal to a player basically on a six-week hot streak, but it’s hard to argue with the sorts of numbers he’s putting up.
Vince Verhei: After all the fireworks in the first half, we open the second half with an exchange of punts. Henry is back in for Tennessee.
Derrik Klassen: Derek Carr just threw what should have been an interception. Broke the pocket while under pressure and tossed a frantic pass to a receiver who slipped. Pass didn’t look right regardless, but the falling wide receiver gave a Titans defender a free shot at it. Lucky for Carr, the defender couldn’t come up with it. Seems like both offenses have slowed down here in the second half.
Bryan Knowles: In case no one mentioned it earlier, Derrick Henry is back in the game. He just scored his second touchdown of the day, but it was set up by a 42-yard catch-and-run by MyCole Pruitt; a good job of Pruitt getting free and turning a medium gain into a big one. Titans retake the lead, 28-21.
Derrik Klassen: Well, Tennessee opens up the second-half scoring with a drive that started deep in their own territory. Tannehill strung together a few short gains before ripping one down the right hash to MyCole Pruitt. Henry finished off the drive by punching it in with a strong run down the middle, stretching over the goal line to complete the play. Oakland’s offense needs a response.
Bryan Knowles: I’ll add that Oakland’s worst defensive DVOA came in the 42-24 loss to Green Bay back in Week 7 (though the blowout against the Jets came close). They might top that today.
Bryan Knowles: I think the Raiders are toast. The Titans just had back-to-back 80-yard drives, as they’re just turning the Raiders defense into shreds. It’s 35-21 Tennessee to start the fourth, and I don’t see the Raiders putting anything together to get back in this one.
Vince Verhei: Pro Fooball Reference just Tweeted that Tennessee is over 500 yards of offense for the first time since 2009. There’s still more than 13 minutes left in this game. And there’s a defensive score, as Tye Smith forces a Darren Waller fumble and Jason Brown returns it for a touchdown and a 42-21 lead. This Tennessee team is starting to look really, really scary.
Bryan Knowles: A moment of silence for the relevancy of the Oakland Raiders; this loss essentially kills their playoff chances for this year, and they’re leaving town.
Tom Gower: The simple summary of this game is that both teams moved the ball well in the first half, while only the Titans continued to do so in the second. Derrik was a bit off in his yardage prediction — Tannehill finished with a mere 391 yards passing. From a defensive perspective, I might be most exasperated by the 91-yard touchdown to Brown, both the yards after catch and the way Clelin Ferrell played the play as a rusher — pulling the tight end (Jonnu Smith) across as a blocker is a thing I’ve seen get blown up over and over, but not there, not in time to prevent the throw. Tannehill remained the same effective and aggressive player he has been and that the Titans have been happy with.
I don’t have a good enough feel to say what might have changed with the Titans defense in the second half so that Oakland’s offense struggled more. It felt to me more like it was just a series of individual plays. The most important one might have come on the Raiders’ first drive of the second half. They got to third-and-2 at the Titans 39, excellent go-for-it territory in a 21-21 game, but Carr took a 4-yard sack and Gruden punted. The defense would force their first punt the ensuing possession, but cracked the next drive and the one after that. The losses by Houston and Indianapolis today help them out, but the two remaining Texans games sandwiching the Saints game will determine their fate.
Los Angeles Chargers 45 at Jacksonville Jaguars 10
Bryan Knowles: This is kinda-sorta a playoff game, in the sense that the loser will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The winner might be out too, depending on how the Steelers and Titans do, but at the very least, a loss would end one of two disappointing seasons.
So far, the Chargers have been the less disappointing of the two, with touchdowns on two of their first three possessions, each sparked by big Austin Ekeler runs. 14-3 Chargers early.
Bryan Knowles: There’s no reason to pay attention to this one, but Mike Williams just made a great catch to extend the Chargers’ lead to 38-10. More notably … that’s Williams’ first touchdown of the year, after scoring 10 in 2018. Coming into today, he had 778 receiving yards with no scores — that would have been the seventh-most of all time.
It wasn’t even first THIS season, mind you. Robert Woods has 835 yards and no touchdowns; he’s chasing Al Toon’s 963 yards from 1991 for the all-time record.
Bryan Knowles: We all wondered if the Chargers would have to replace Philip Rivers, and they’ve finally had enough. With a 38-10 lead, the Chargers have put Tyrod Taylor in to start the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh Steelers 23 at Arizona Cardinals 17
Vince Verhei: Special teams touchdowns are maybe the worst things to happen for football analysts. They’re very important, but there’s not much to say about them. “Punt return touchdowns are good. Teams should return punts for touchdowns whenever they can.”
Well, anyway, Diontae Johnson returned a punt 85 yards for a Pittsburgh touchdown.
Vince Verhei: Steelers get a field goal at the gun to take a 13-10 halftime lead. This is apparently the first quarterback matchup in league history pitting that year’s first overall draft pick against an undrafted rookie, and so far Devlin Hodges has better numbers than Kyler Murray. He’s 9-of-10 for 90 yards and also leads the team with 28 rushing yards. But the Steelers have only scored a pair of field goals in four offensive possessions — they kicked a field goal on fourth-and-3 from the 12, and punted on fourth-and-5 from the Arizona 42. Benny Snell also fumbled the ball away on one drive.
Murray is 13-of-17 but still below 100 yards passing. Arizona’s field goal came on a 22-yard drive after the Snell fumble. Murray did hit Charles Clay for a 5-yard touchdown on Arizona’s one good possession, but for 30 minutes both offenses have mostly been sputtering.
Vince Verhei: Brilliant interception by Joe Haden to snuff out an Arizona drive on the brink of the red zone. Looked like he had deep-third responsibility, but broke instantly on a short out route by a slot receiver, covering a ton of real estate in a very short time and making the diving grab for the pick. Pittsburgh’s defense now leads the league in takeaways.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) 8 December 2019
Vince Verhei: Steelers make the turnover pay off with a touchdown. Most of the yardage came on runs and penalties, but on third-and-goal Hodges hits Johnson coming back to the left pylon for the score. That puts the Steelers up 20-10 at the end of four, but that lead is in danger — Christian Kirk has put the Cardinals in scoring range again with a 14-yard gain on third-and-6 and then a 31-yard catch after a Murray scramble on the last play of the third.
Bryan Knowles: T.J. Watt with a big interception in the end zone to keep this a two-score game. Murray had an open lane for the first down, but decided to throw it instead, and Watt was all over it.
Vince Verhei: Well, never mind. Cards go for it on fourth-and-2 from the 6. Murray scrambles and it looks like he has easy room to run for a conversion, but he forces a pass into the end zone — right to T.J. Watt for the interception and the touchback. Oops.
Bryan Knowles: The Steelers just got obliterated on a fake punt; one that was blocked so badly I honestly wonder if it was a called play or an audible by the punter.
Our fake punt > Their fake punt pic.twitter.com/yY0gxkFGHN
— Arizona Cardinals ⋈ (@AZCardinals) 8 December 2019
Arizona takes the opportunity and goes deep, scoring a touchdown to make it 20-17 with 6:44 left. We have a game again!
Vince Verhei: Well Arizona gets back into this after some weirdness. Steelers are set to punt, but Jordan Berry takes the deep snap and just charges forward. Only problem is, none of his teammates are blocking for him. He’s hit for an 8-yard loss, and not that it matters but he fumbles and the Cards recover. If that was a designed fake, it was designed very poorly. If it wasn’t, well, Berry’s going to have some explaining to do to his teammates.
And right away Murray makes him pay — third-and-2, he finds David Johnson in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown, dropping the ball over a leaping Pittsburgh defender. Steelers still lead 20-17.
Vince Verhei: Hodges completes a pass for a third-down conversion at the Arizona 9 at the two-minute warning. Cardinals still have two timeouts, so this isn’t over yet, but it brings up a point about failed completions: Hodges is now 8-for-8 on third downs … but only three of those completions have picked up first downs.
Vince Verhei: Oh man, huge mistake by Pittsburgh just left the door open for Arizona. Second-and-goal, they try a quick pass to the flat, but the Cardinals knock it down for a clock-stopping incompletion. Steelers eventually get the field goal, but now Murray and the Cardinals have 1:42 left needing a touchdown to win.
Vince Verhei: Well, Pittsburgh’s pass rush shut that door real quick. Sacks on first and second down, then pressure on third and fourth down to force an incompletion and a game-sealing interception. The crowd was cheering for Pittsburgh so loudly the Cardinals had to go to a silent count — yes, in Arizona.
Detroit Lions 7 at Minnesota Vikings 20
Tom Gower: I didn’t get a chance to watch the Lions on Thanksgiving, so I missed partaking in the first version of the David Blough Experiment, or “if you’re on your third quarterback, you’re probably in trouble.” This one by and large went by the book, save perhaps that it was a little lower-scoring than expected. Minnesota stuck with the run game, which was effective enough, and Kirk Cousins was extremely efficient even if not aggressive on play-action passes. The Lions cross midfield three times in the first 55 minutes; all three such possessions ended with a sack for big loss of yards on third down (-14, -12, and -8) and a subsequent kick (two punts, one missed field goal). It’s tough to score when you can’t sustain offense and don’t produce explosive plays (longest gain 23 yards, on the late touchdown drive).
Seattle Seahawks 12 at Los Angeles Rams 28
Bryan Knowles: The Seahawks have now faced nine fourth-and-1s on the season (not counting one penalty). They have punted five times, and attempted one field goal. Teams are going for it at about a 55% clip this season, so the Seahawks are really showing how much faith they have in their offense, I guess.
So far, their defense is struggling to slow down the Rams. They’re mostly staying in base defense against the Rams’ three-wide sets, and it’s not really working; the Rams are averaging 9.6 yards per play. It’s 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, and the Rams are driving again.
Vince Verhei: Rams up 7-3 and driving at the end of one. Pretty much everything they’ve tried has worked, and there has been a lot of classic McVay stuff — motion, misdirection, play-action, and quick throws. Biggest play on the touchdown drive was a long pass to Tyler Higbee when the Seahawks were fooled on a fake screen.
Seahawks looked good on their first drive but the second was the Schottenheimer special: three handoffs and a punt on fourth-and-1 with Russell Wilson getting no chance to make a play.
Aaron Schatz: Courtesy of Business Daddy EdjSports, Pete Carroll ranks 30th this year in their critical call index. His allergy to going for it on fourth down is a significant problem.
Bryan Knowles: I noted that Mike Williams had his first touchdown catch today, and that Robert Woods still hadn’t found the end zone. Scratch that — Woods has 62 yards on five catches, the most recent getting him into the end zone for the 14-3 Rams lead.
That puts Dalvin Cook and his 503 yards atop the no-touchdown-catch leaderboards, and helps ensure Al Toon’s record will stand for another year.
Carl Yedor: Rams score again, pushing it to 14-3. Seattle doesn’t look like they have answers to stop the Los Angeles passing game, which may help them in limiting Todd Gurley’s yards but likely won’t help them make stops against the offense as a whole. If they don’t score on this drive, it could get ugly quick.
Aaron Schatz: OMG Pete Carroll actually went for a fourth-and-1. Ugh, it didn’t work, which will discourage him from doing it again.
Bryan Knowles: Of course, now that we’ve dug up those stats, the Seahawks DO go for it on fourth-and-1, and Jalen Ramsey breaks it up. Damned if you do, I guess.
Vince Verhei: And then Seattle does go for it on fourth-and-1 in field goal range, and the play works perfectly, except that Malik Turner drops the easy pass. Can’t win for losing.
Carl Yedor: Yeah, I was about to say, we may never see it happen again, especially if the Rams score off of it now. Carroll fully tilted toward not going for it after the New Orleans game this year. In that one, a somewhat more aggressive fourth-and-1 turned into a Saints score in short order, and Carroll made a massive swing in the opposite direction. They missed a couple of conversions in that game, and those missed conversions definitely stuck with him.
Vince Verhei: No Rashad Penny, so C.J. Prosise is in, and he and Wilson botch a handoff in the backfield. Third down, Jacob Hollister drops what should have been a conversion. Seahawks doing a fine job of beating themselves.
Carl Yedor: Back-to-back Seattle drives end thanks to dropped passes, as Wilson hits Jacob Hollister right between the numbers only for his tight end to drop the pass. Seattle’s defense will need another stop given that Los Angeles gets the ball after halftime as well.
Bryan Knowles: 21-3 at the half, in a game that Seattle is in danger of getting washed out of. It’s not so much their performance on offense that’s causing the Seahawks problems, though drops have been killing them — it’s the defense really struggling to stop Sean McVay and the Rams. The Rams are going fairly high tempo, and the Seahawks aren’t even getting lined up properly, much less executing. They’ve gotta find a way to get some pressure on Jared Goff in the second half, or this thing is going to get ugly.
Bryan Knowles: Make that 21-9 real quick — Robert Woods stopped on a route, Jared Goff threw where Woods should have been, and Quandre Diggs is there to take it into the end zone. Jason Myers misses the PAT, but that’s exactly what Seattle needed to get back into this one.
Vince Verhei: Game changes on the first drive of the second half. Shaquem Griffin stunts inside and is unblocked in Goff’s face. Goff’s pass goes right to Quandre Diggs for a pick-six. Griffin has zero career sacks but he might still be Seattle’s best pass-rusher. That’s not good. And Jason Myers misses the PAT because of course he does.
Vince Verhei: Not a pick-six, but Diggs gets another interception, in part because Griffin got pressure again.
Vince Verhei: So in that third quarter, the Seahawks got two interceptions and a blocked field goal. The offense contributed ten plays for 40 yards.
Vince Verhei: Todd Gurley stampedes over Tre Flowers into the end zone to make it 28-9 and pretty much end this one. Among Seattle’s problems tonight — and there were many — they never adjusted to L.A.’s jet sweeps and end-arounds. Rams wide receivers have five carries for 58 yards, including a few good gains on that last drive.
Bryan Knowles: I’m not sure Tre Flowers can show his face in Seattle this week after that Gurley stiff-arm. Yowza.