NFL Week 12: The Good, Bad and Ugly
The Thanksgiving weekend did not make the playoff picture any clearer. Teams that were supposed to win lost, while teams that were supposed to lose found a way to pull off some wins.
The San Diego Chargers keep finding new ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. What? And Ray Rice will go down in history for an improbable play.
So let’s dive in and check the players, plays, teams and situations that earned the good, the bad and the ugly for Week 12.
The Exceptional: Ray Rice on 4th-and-29
At the two-minute warning, the Ravens faced 4th-and-29 from their own 37-yard line. Quarterback Joe Flacco could not find a receiver deep to throw to, so he dumped it off to Ray Rice, who was standing at the 40-yard line.
Rice raced up the field, avoided a couple of tacklers, started across the field and gained 29.5 yards to give the Ravens a first down and new life. Six plays later, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made a 38-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
Tucker made another 38-yarder in overtime to give the Ravens an improbable 16-13 come-from-behind victory, but it was Rice’s 29-yard catch-and-run that will forever haunt the Chargers defense.
The Good: J.J. Watt
J.J. Watt continues his Defensive Player of the Year campaign. Watt was constantly in the Lions’ backfield and applied plenty of pressure on quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Watt started the game by sacking Stafford on the first play of the game, and he never let up. He had three sacks in the Texans' Thanksgiving Day game.
He finished with five solo tackles and also swatted a pair of Stafford passes at the line of scrimmage. His final two sacks came in the fourth quarter, and they helped the Texans force overtime.
The Bad: Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch never got into “beast mode” against the Miami Dolphins. Lynch was unable to get into a groove running the ball, and his numbers suffered.
Lynch had 19 carries and only managed 46 yards for a meager 2.4 yards-per-carry average. Lynch was also held to a one-yard gain on two receptions.
That’s not the kind of production the Seahawks need if they are to win any more games on the road.
The Ugly: Mark Sanchez Butt Slide Fumble
With the New York Jets down 14-0 to the New England Patriots early in the second quarter, Mark Sanchez had a play that was the epitome of the Jets season.
On 1st-and-10 from their own 31-yard line, there was a miscommunication between Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene. Sanchez had to keep the ball and started running back towards the line of scrimmage.
He ran straight into the backside of his guard Brandon Moore, was knocked backwards and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by the Patriots' Steve Gregory and returned for a touchdown.
To make matters worse, on the ensuing kickoff, Jets return man Joe McKnight fumbled the ball directly into the hands of Julian Edelman. Edelman returned the fumble for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 28-0 lead.
The game was over at that point.
The Good: Robert Griffin III
For the second consecutive week, Robert Griffin III threw four touchdown passes. This week, he torched the division rival Dallas Cowboys as he picked apart Rob Ryan’s secondary.
Griffin ended with a 132.6 passer rating on 20-of-28 passing for 311 yards and four TDs. He did throw one interception, but Griffin was solid for most of the game.
He also added another 29 yards on the ground on six carries. Griffin becomes the first rookie quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in back-to-back games.
The Bad: Dolphins Ground Crew
Late in the third quarter with the Miami Dolphins trailing the Seattle Seahawks 14-7, the Dolphins were driving to try and tie the game. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill had just picked up a first down with a 19-yard gain.
Just as the Dolphins were getting out of the huddle to run the next play, the stadium lawn sprinkler system was activated and started raining down water on the field. Some players got soaked, while others headed to the sidelines.
The game was delayed briefly while the sprinklers were turned off, but at least the crowd was amused while the crew worked hard to fix the problem.
Fortunately for the ground crew, the Dolphins won the game.
The Ugly: Charlie Batch
Now we know why Charlie Batch is the third-string quarterback in Pittsburgh. Batch started at quarterback in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich.
His performance left everyone wanting either Leftwich or Roethlisberger to return. Batch finished the game with a sub-par 38.7 passer rating on 20-of-34 passing for 199 yards.
He tossed three interceptions and had zero touchdown passes against the Cleveland Browns pass defense that ranked 21st in the league.
The Good: Steven Jackson
Steven Jackson did everything right for the St. Louis Rams against their division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. Jackson finished the game with an impressive 5.8 yards per carry.
Not only did Jackson help out by making some key blocks in the passing game, he gained 139 yards on 24 attempts. If this is to be Jackson’s final year with the Rams, he looks to go out in style.
The Bad: Packers Offensive Line
The Green Bay Packers offensive line was extremely inconsistent against the New York Giants. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and suffered another seven quarterback hits.
Aaron Rodgers fumbled the ball on one of the sacks. He also threw an interception on a pass where he felt pressure, and the Giants almost had another interception when Rodgers was hit by Justin Tuck while throwing the ball. The ball fluttered in the air for a few seconds before Jermichael Finley came in to catch it before it hit the ground.
The O-line was also penalize five times. They were caught holding four times and penalized once for a false start. T.J. Lang struggle blocking in both the passing and running games, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers was never comfortable in the pocket.
The Ugly: Steelers Running Backs
Not only did each of the Pittsburgh Steelers running backs fumble the ball, they struggled to run the ball effectively against the Cleveland Browns.
The group of Isaac Redman, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer and Chris Rainey rushed for combined 49 yards on 20 carries. That’s not helping an offense that is starting a third-string quarterback.
Rainey and Mendenhall each fumbled twice and each lost the ball once. Dwyer and Redman also fumbled the ball away once. The Steelers’ running backs group had more turnovers (four) than yards per carry (2.5).
The Good: Cam Newton
Cam Newton was able to bring back his Superman stance. Newton torched the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.
Newton finished the game with a 125.0 passer rating on 18-of-28 passing for 308 yards. He tossed a pair of touchdown passes and zero turnovers.
Newton also rushed for two touchdowns and runs of one and two yards out. He gained 52 yards on the ground on 14 carries.
The Bad: Cowboys' 1st-Half Offense
For the second consecutive week, the Dallas Cowboys offense was abysmal in the first half. On Thanksgiving, the Cowboys managed a single field goal in the first two quarters of action.
The Cowboys were held scoreless in the first have the previous week against the Cleveland Browns. Last week they were able to overcome a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Browns in overtime, but their furious comeback fell short this week against the Washington Redskins.
Jason Garrett has to figure out why his team is not as effective in the first half of games but comes out on fire in the second half.
The Ugly: Saints Defense
The New Orleans Saints defense continues to struggle shutting down opposing offenses, and they still are dead last in total defense. The Saints are giving up over 450 yards of offense per game.
This week, they faced the San Francisco 49ers at home and allowed young Colin Kaepernick to lead the 49ers to his second consecutive victory. Kaepernick tossed a touchdown pass and rushed for another score in the 49ers' 31-21 win over the Saints.
The Saints defense was unable to get off the field when they needed a stop for Drew Brees and the offense. It will be difficult for the Saints to make the playoffs if their defense does not improve for the final five games.
The Good: Arian Foster
We are confident that as a vegan, Arian Foster did not have any turkey on Thanksgiving. However, that did not stop Foster from carving up the Detroit Lions on the field.
Foster rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns on Thanksgiving. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry in the game and added another 15 yards on five receptions.
We are also confident that the Houston Texans were thankful for Foster for his performance.
The Bad: Chiefs Offense
The Kansas City Chiefs offense had sunk to new lows. They rank dead last in points scored on the season.
For the second game in a row, the Chiefs failed to score a touchdown. Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Chiefs only managed to score two field goals.
This week against the Denver Broncos, all they could muster was three Ryan Succop field goals. The Chiefs rank dead last in scoring with 161 points in 11 games for an average of 14.6 points per contest.
The Ugly: Ryan Lindley
Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt is going to have a difficult time convincing anyone he made the right decision to start quarterback Ryan Lindley.
Lindley was awful against the St. Louis Rams, and that is an understatement. He finished the game with an abysmal 44.7 passer rating on 31-of-52 passing for 312 yards. Those stats alone are serviceable; it was the four interceptions to zero touchdown passes that the Cardinals can do without.
If this is better than Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, the Cardinals are in a world of hurt.
The Good: Tom Brady
Not to pile on the Jets, but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we will end with another player in the good section. Tom Brady had a great performance on Thanksgiving as well, and we will end this week’s edition with his performance.
Brady finished with a near perfect 139.4 passer rating. He completed 18-of-28 passes for 323 yards with three touchdowns and zero turnovers. About the only thing that went wrong from Brady was his inability to eat the turkey leg awarded to him by the NBC broadcast crew.
He held it like it was the last thing on the planet he wanted to eat. Still, his performance on the field left the Jets looking like a bunch of turkeys.