Resident NFL expert Eoin Purcell is here to take a look back at ‘The Good, The Bad & The Crazy’ action from NFL week 12.
- Tony Romo
Yet again Romo showed his importance to this Cowboy team on Sunday night against the New York Giants. The Cowboys are trying to keep pace with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, but more importantly secure a playoff spot. Keeping Tony Romo healthy is crucial to this push. The two matches Romo missed through injury showed just how important he is to his team.
On Sunday night Romo had an impressive stat line, completing 18 of his 26 pass attempts for 275 yards and four TD’s, delivering a 31-28 victory on the road in New York. The calmness and leadership Romo showed throughout the game on Sunday is his greatest strength for the Cowboys.
In years past Romo has often been inconsistent in the biggest moments. Before the Cowboys’ game winning drive on Sunday Romo remained calm and confident and always believed his team would deliver. This is the Tony Romo Dallas need if they have any shot at going deep in the playoffs.
- Manning, Anderson and Thomas in Denver
When your number one and number two running backs, your all-pro tight end, your number one pass rusher and your number one corner back are all injured for a crucial AFC contest, most teams would hit the panic button.
The Broncos are not most teams. It helps that they have the greatest QB of all time under centre. The Broncos overcame all adversity to get a very important 39-36 win against strong AFC opposition in the form of the Miami Dolphins (who had serious injury issues themselves).
The key contributors in the victory were Peyton Manning who completed 28 of 35 pass attempts for 257 yards and four TD’s, CJ Anderson (3rd string RB no more) who helped Denver control the clock in the second half, finishing with 167 yards and a score, and Demaryius Thomas who was on the receiving end of three of Manning’s TD passes.
- Odell Beckham
Although Beckham is being singled out this week, there are a number of rookie Wide Receivers who are worthy of a mention in this position. Mike Evans had another huge weekend, as did Jarvis Landry.
However, Beckham was the pick of the bunch this weekend finishing with 146 yards and two TD’s on ten catches. As has been the case for most of this season, Beckham’s great play on Sunday was not enough to bring his New York Giants the victory. What Beckham did produce on Sunday is one of the greatest catches in NFL history.
For his second TD Beckham ran a post route on the right sideline, and managed to get behind his coverage. Eli Manning threw a ball high and to the outside where only his man could make the catch.
Despite being fouled Beckham managed to turn around, locate the football (which was sailing three feet over his head and to his right), readjust his body and make a one handed grab, in which he secured the ball between his thumb, index and middle finger. Words don’t do it justice, take a look for yourself:
- Justin Forsett
As bad as the New Orleans Saints have been all season, travelling to play the Saints in New Orleans is still a daunting trip. The Baltimore Ravens knew they would need somebody to step up and give them the edge if they were to get the win on Monday Night.
Enter Justin Forsett, the 4th string running back at one stage. Forsett ran all over the Saints, finishing with 22 carries for 182 yards and two TD’s, securing a 34-27 win for the Ravens.
- Coach Smith in Atlanta
The Falcons, despite all of their poor play this season, are still top of the NFC South with a 4-7 record. The first rule of trying to turn around a team’s poor fortunes is to not make silly mistakes. This has to start with the head coach and filter down through the team.
On Sunday night the Falcons were in prime position to beat the Cleveland Browns, trailing by two points, with possession of the ball on the Cleveland 34 yards line, with 52 seconds left and the clock running.
The Falcons were already in field goal range, so all they had to do was let the clock run down, attempt one more play to try and make it an easier kick and then kick the game-winning field goal.
For some reason Coach Smith called time out. Then on 3rd and two the Falcons threw an incomplete pass before kicking the field goal to take a one point lead.
The problem is that the Browns got the ball back with 45 seconds on the clock and two time outs left. The Falcons could have run the ball and forced the Browns to use both of their time outs. The Browns used the time left to move the ball into field goal range and kick the game winner. This was a serious error on the part of Coach Smith, and one that could cost the Falcons, come playoff time.
- Brian Hoyer
Keeping with the Falcons and Browns match, Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer had his worst match of the year, and his second stinker in a row. Hoyer is constantly playing under the threat of being benched for fan and media favourite Johnny Manziel, and a performance like Sunday night just intensifies the spotlight on Hoyer.
Hoyer tossed three Interceptions, two of which were awful decisions in the 4th quarter and should have cost Cleveland the game, only for Atlanta’s terrible coaching.
Hoyer was off target and shaky all night, and the only thing saving him for the next week is his game-winning drive with under a minute left on the clock.
Sunday night was the return of star WR Josh Gordon and it looked as though Hoyer was trying the force the ball to Gordon on occasion, especially for the third INT. Cleveland still have playoff aspirations and they need Hoyer to calm down and play the mistake-free football he was playing though the first 10 weeks of the year.
- New York Jets
For the first time all year there was some optimism amongst Jets fans entering Monday’s contest away to Buffalo (played in Detroit). The Jets were coming off a bye week, and the week before they had just surprised everybody by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With Mike Vick at QB Jets fans could sense a victory. On top of that, heavy snow in Buffalo had disrupted the Bills’ practice and forced the game to be played in Detroit, nullifying home field advantage. Jets fans finally had reason to be optimistic.
What happened next knocked all optimism out of everybody associated with the organisation. Mike Vick was terrible, completing seven of 19 passes for 76 yards, one interception and five sacks before being benched for Geno Smith, who was just as bad.
The Bills ran out comfortable winners 38-3, leaving Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan counting down the days until the season is over and he gets his marching orders. There is nothing positive to take from Monday’s game for Jets fans.
- Oakland Raiders finally win
It has been a long wait but finally Raiders fans have a reason to celebrate. Following 16 consecutive losses, dating back to last season, the Raiders finally got win number one of the season on Thursday Night Football over their AFC West rivals Kansas City.
In an ominous sign for the Chiefs the rain poured out of the sky all night, and the worse the weather got, the more Raidernation loved it. Oakland RB Latavius Murray was the story of the night, scoring two TD’s on four carries (112 yards) before leaving the game with concussion.
This is a painful loss for the Chiefs who had won five consecutive games entering the match and were right in the thick of the AFC playoff race. For at least one week, the Oakland Raiders can practice as a team on a winning streak.
Game of the Week
There were a number of candidates for the week twelve game of the week, but one game stood out above all the rest. The Miami Dolphins travelled to Denver to take on the Broncos with both teams having a lot at stake. The Dolphins were playing for a wildcard spot, while the Denver Broncos had slipped up in week eleven and were now in a tie for top spot in the AFC West. Both teams need a win to boost their playoff hopes.
The Miami Dolphins offence, lead by third year QB Ryan Tannehill has been playing excellent football following a shaky 1-2 start to the season. The Dolphins have a solid running game and Tannehill has developed into a confident QB who delivers at the right times. It was this offence that gave Miami an early lead, which they would not surrender until the 4th quarter.
Both teams had to overcome injuries in this contest. The Broncos were without RBs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, TE Julius Thomas and they lost MLB Von Miller and CB Aqib Talib during the game. Miami have been missing RB Knowshon Moreno all season, and they lost OL Branden Albert and Juwan James in the last two weeks.
The Dolphins were also without CB’s Cortland Finnegan and Jamar Taylor and TE Clay.
In the second half, trailing by as much as 11, the Broncos started to dominate the time of possession behind the running of CJ Anderson.
Entering the fourth quarter the Broncos trailed by 11 points, but they had the thin Miami defence out on their feet. The Broncos scored 22 straight points in the 4th quarter to give themselves an 11 point lead at 39-28, which should have been enough to see out the game.
Back came Tannehill and the Miami offence. With 1:34 left on the clock Tannehill found WR Jarvis Landry to cut the lead to 5 points. Miami went for the two point conversion, and succeeded thanks to Lamar Miller setting up a nail biting onside kick. The Dolphins tried to fool the Broncos by faking the kick one side and actually going the other way but the Broncos recovered and sealed the victory.
Top 5/Bottom 5:
- New England Patriots (9-2) – The Patriots won their 7th straight game, destroying the strong Detroit Lions in the process.
- Arizona Cardinals (9-2) – Despite a loss to NFC West rivals, Seattle the Cardinals are still in a strong position in the division.
- Green Bay Packers (8-3) – The Packers improved to 8-3 despite getting a scare from the lowly Minnesota Vikings.
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-3) Mark Sanchez continues to deliver wins for the Eagles, and LeSean McCoy looks to be playing well again.
- Denver Broncos (8-3) – The Broncos bounced back to beat AFC rivals Miami and return to the top of the AFC West.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9) – The constant silver lining for Tampa Bay is the high level of play by WR Mike Evans.
- Tennessee Titans (2-9) – The Titans have very little reason to be optimistic, the outlook is in Tennessee.
- New York Jets (2-9) – I wonder do Jets fans long to have Mark Sanchez back at QB?
- Oakland Raiders (1-10) – The Bagel is finally removed from the menu in Oakland, enjoy this moment Raidernation.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (1-10) – Having briefly climbed the rankings the Jags are back in their rightful spot at the foot of the league.
Eoin Purcell, Pundit Arena