The Good, Bad and Ugly of NFL Week 15
The NFL season is coming to an end, and the playoffs are almost set. After all the action of Week 15, only five playoff spots remain.
The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants find themselves needing assistance to win that division after their humiliating 34-0 loss at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. Even the New England Patriots stumbled at home, with their furious comeback against the San Francisco 49ers falling short.
Meanwhile, one player continues to shine bright. Running back Adrian Peterson is in hot pursuit of Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing yards record. So let’s start with Peterson as we take a look at this week’s good, bad and ugly.
The Exceptional: Adrian Peterson
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What Adrian Peterson is doing rushing the football is exceptional. The fact that he is doing less than one year after having major knee surgery is phenomenal.
On Peterson’s 10th carry in Week 15, he made one cut and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. Peterson rushed for 212 yards on 24 carries against the St. Louis Rams. He averaged 8.8 yards per carry, and even without the 82-yard touchdown, his average per carry is an incredible 5.7 yards.
Peterson said after the game that he felt so good that he "could have had 300.“ Since he only needs 294 yards to catch Eric Dickerson, it might be time to listen to him.
Dickerson will be watching.
The Good: The Seahawks
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Every single player and coach with the Seattle Seahawks was incredible. The Seahawks scored 50 points against the Buffalo Bills, and it was the first time since 1950 that a team scored 50 or more points in consecutive games.
Quarterback Russell Wilson rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another score as Seattle built a 31-7 lead. Wilson became the first quarterback to run for three TDs in one half since Daunte Culpepper did it back in 2000.
The defense made sure it was dominant as well. They forced three turnovers, and Earl Thomas returned an interception 57 yards for a touchdown.
Defensive end Chris Clemons was also a beast. He had five total tackles, two-and-a-half sacks and one forced fumble.
The Bad: Buccaneers Offense
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What happened to the "Muscle Hamster” this week? Not only did he hurt many fantasy football players throughout the country, he hurt his team.
Running back Doug Martin was ineffective against the New Orleans Saints. He gained a paltry 16 yards on nine carries for an average of 1.8 yards per carry.
The rest of the Buccaneers running backs were equally ineffective, as they only gained 43 yards on the ground. The Buccaneers were awful offensively throughout the day and were shut out by the lowest-ranked defense in the league.
The Ugly: Josh Freeman
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense was under the "bad" category for being shut out and having an ineffective ground game. Their quarterback and passing attack was worse.
Quarterback Josh Freeman was unable to do anything against the league’s 32nd-ranked defense. Freeman finished with a miserable 37.5 passer rating.
Freeman only completed 55 percent of his passes, going 26-of-47 for 279 yards. Freeman was also responsible for all five Tampa Bay turnovers. He threw four interceptions and lost a fumble.
The Good: J.J. Watt
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The Indianapolis Colts found it difficult to block J.J. Watt all day long. Watt was constantly in the backfield and consistently wreaked havoc upon the Colts offense.
Not only did Watt have three sacks of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, he lead the team with his 10 tackles. He had six tackles for loss and was credited for four quarterback hits.
Watt also forced a fumble en route to helping the Houston Texans get back on track.
The Bad: Eli Manning
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It has not happened a ton this season, but when Eli Manning goes bad, it’s BAD.
Manning was erratic against the Atlanta Falcons. He threw an interception on the Giants' second play from scrimmage, and it was all downhill after that.
Manning finished with a 40.7 passer rating. His stat line looks bad as well. He threw for a mere 161 yards on 13-of-25 passing with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.
Manning cannot afford another performance like this if the Giants are to make the playoffs.
The Ugly: Tom Coughlin’s 4th-Down Calls
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Eli Manning was not the only problem for the New York Giants on Sunday. Head coach Tom Coughlin had a few questionable calls as well.
Coughlin forgot that he was not playing Madden 13, deciding to go for it on three fourth-down attempts. The Giants failed to convert on any of those tries.
I can understand the third attempt midway through the third quarter with the Giants down 24-0, but the two fourth-down attempts in the second quarter are questionable.
Just before the end of the first half, with the Giants down 17-0, the Giants faced a 4th-and-1 at Falcons’ 11-yard line. Instead of a field-goal attempt to go in at half with some points on the board, Coughlin called for a pass, which fell incomplete.
Sometimes you just need a spark, and a field goal heading into the locker room at the half might have been exactly what the Giants needed.
The Good: Kirk Cousins
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Kirk Cousins helped the Washington Redskins get out of Cleveland with a 38-21 victory over the Browns. Cousins was a little shaky to start, but he settled in and was effective leading the Redskins offense.
He went 26-of-37 for 329 yards and two touchdowns. Although he did have an interception early in the game, the rookie was able to quickly forget the pick and bounce back to lead the Redskins to their fifth consecutive victory.
Many pundits gave the Redskins front office a hard time for drafting Cousins in the NFL draft behind RG3, but nobody is laughing now. The Redskins can feel confident knowing that Cousins can take over the job should RG3’s injury keep him out of more games.
The Bad: Ryan Fitzpatrick
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A little over a year ago, Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a contract extension valued at $59 million over six years for the Buffalo Bills. It does not appear that Fitzpatrick is earning his $24 million in guaranteed money.
At 5-9, the Bills are facing another season with a losing record, and this week against the Seattle Seahawks, Fitzpatrick was one of the reasons for the Bills loss.
Fitzpatrick finished the game with three turnovers by throwing two interceptions and losing one fumble. He never looked comfortable in the pocket and only completed 21 of his 38 passes for 217 yards.
His passer rating was a low 58.8 for the game. That is not the kind of production the Bills were expecting when they gave Fitzpatrick all that money.
The Ugly: Chiefs Offense
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The Chiefs offense could not do anything against the Raiders. They could not run the ball, as they gained a mere 10 yards on the ground. Jamaal Charles gained those 10 yards on nine carries.
Their passing game was equally anemic. Brady Quinn was 18-of-32 for 136 yards and an interception with zero touchdowns. The Chiefs only gained 119 yards of total offense and have totally given up on the season.
The Chiefs are dead last in scoring, averaging 13.9 points per game.
The Good: Tony Romo
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At one point in the third quarter, Romo completed 11 consecutive passes. He finished the game going 30-of-42 for 341 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions.
He is making great decisions with the ball and has made protecting the football a priority. In the past seven games, Romo has thrown 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions.
Other Nominees for Week 15
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Andre Johnson was back to his old ways, making 11 catches for 151 yards and one touchdown.
Eric Decker was Peyton Manning's favorite target against the Baltimore Ravens. Decker had eight catches for 133 yards and one touchdown.
Matthew Stafford went 24-of-50 for 246 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions with a passer rating of 37.6.
The Jacksonville Jaguars offense only managed to score three points and had less than 300 yards of total offense. They could not run the ball, as the running backs only gained 67 yards.
A horrible outing for the Jets' Mark Sanchez on Monday Night Football. He went 13-of-28 for 131 yards and one touchdown. Sanchez threw four interceptions, lost one fumble and finished with a 32.6 passer rating.
The Philadelphia Eagles offense continues to have problems holding on to the football. They committed three turnovers on three straight possessions and had four turnovers over five offensive plays and one kickoff. Not sure what defensive lineman Cedric Thornton thought he was doing trying to field a short kick.
Late in the game while leading the Bears 21-10, the Green Bay Packers attempted a trick punt return, in which Randall Cobb fielded a punt and attempted a backwards pass to Jeremy Ross. Ross was not able to catch the ball, and the Bears recovered the fumble. Fortunately for the Packers, the Bears had to settle for a field goal, and Green Bay still managed the win.