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Scarlet Knights in the NFL - Week 15: Logan Ryan has turning point INT return

Playoff races heat up for many former Knights.

NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
Harmon, McCourty, and Ryan celebrate the Patriots victory against defending Super Bowl champion Broncos.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night saw a candidate for Knights in the pros MVP, Kenny Britt. Kenny Britt did his part (again) leading his team with 4 catches for 50 yards, but the Rams got smoked by a streaking Seattle team that locked up the NFC West, 24-3. Britt has had a solid campaign, but once the Rams knew they were going nowhere they inserted rookie QB Jared Goff in the lineup. There have been more growing pains.

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks
The hideous Seahawks uniforms were a lot brighter than anyone on the Rams, even Britt.
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Next up was a Saturday night game as Leonte Carroo returned home to the garden state to take on his uninspired division rival Jets. The Jets played about as well (not very) as their previous primetime appearance and were smoked at home. Carroo did not have the ball thrown in his direction, nor did he make any special teams tackles as Miami grounded and pounded with the lead. The Dolphins are also the subject of our Knights in the Pros flashback ... 2008, listed below.

In the Sunday early games like Carroo, the Lions’ Michael Burton saw his team return to his home state. Unlike Leonte, his squad got completely shut down by the suddenly streaking New York Giants 17-6. The Lions still remain one game up in the NFC North. Burton only saw 2 snaps on offense, but may be in line for more action next week as Detroit is back to the drawing board after rushing for only 2.9 yards per carry on the day.

Jeremy Zuttah’s Ravens looked to rebound with a game against the upstart Eagles. Their short drive home up I-95 was a sad one for Philly, as in what may have been the best game of the day, Baltimore held on for a 27-26 win. They held on with the strength of a previously sputtering running game that ran for over 150 yards. Their 8-6 record has them in the thick of a crowded AFC playoff race.

Cincinnati Bengals v Arizona Cardinals
The cold weather in the NFC North has not crippled Harris and the Bengals kicking game.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Clark Harris and Tyler Kroft of Cincinnati could not assist their fellow Knight, falling to division leading Pittsburgh 24-20 in a game many thought would not be so close. Kroft recorded one tackle. Harris snapped well as the Bengals were 2-2 on XPs, 2-2 on FGs, and their punter averaged 47 yards per kick, dropping one inside the 20.

Jason McCourty and his Titans defense fresh off their big win a week prior, this time upsetting another AFC power, the now 10-4 Chiefs. McCourty was removed from the game and listed as questionable with a chest injury, but did not return and record any stats. His availability this week with a shoulder sprain is up in the air. The Chiefs attempted to ice the Titans game-winning field goal attempt, but it failed and Tennessee jumped temporarily a half game ahead of their division rival Texans.

Tom Savage lead the Texans to victory as well, covered by Mike Voza. Houston defeated their division rival Jaguars 21-20 in comeback fashion. He will start next week as the Texans look to make the playoffs for the second straight year, knotted up in the AFC South with Tennessee.

Late games started with Marcus Cooper’s Cardinals hosting their friends from the Big Easy. Cooper saw less of Brandon Coleman across the line than expected. Coleman went from being the featured receiver one week to being target-less with Michael Thomas’s return to the lineup. Despite that, Drew Brees is a future Hall of Famer so he would not be denied two weeks in a row. He absolutely shredded the Cardinals to the tune of 389 yards and 4 touchdowns. Cooper did have 7 tackles in an obviously busy day for the home Arizona secondary.

New Orleans Saints v Arizona Cardinals
Brees kept Cooper and the Cards off balance all day, sparked by the return of Thomas.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Elsewhere in the NFC South, Mohamed Sanu looked to return from injury without stunting the momentum of his Falcons. He didn’t, as Atlanta with the NFL’s highest scoring offense annihilated the 49ers 41-13. They had to sit and wait to see the results of the Bucs Sunday Night game to see if they would have the share the NFC South lead. Sanu caught all three of his targets for 44 yards in a balanced Falcons aerial attack that saw no receiver with more than 4 catches.

Quentin Gause was reunited with former teammates as Denver took on the Pats. Gause did record his first NFL tackle, but probably won’t want to remember anything else about the game itself as Denver lost 16-3. Logan Ryan had the game’s turning point play as Denver had their best opportunity all day in the red zone before Ryan picked off a pass and returned it 46 yards (sound familiar?) Ryan led the team with 7 tackles (all solo) as well, Duron Harmon chipped in one himself, and Devin McCourty had 5 more. The Pats have already clinched a first round bye.

Sunday Night football featured the league leading Cowboys for the second straight week this time against the Bucs. Andrew DePaola and his team did not have the same success the Giants had the week before, falling 26-20, ending their 5 game win streak. Like Harris before him, DePaola and his units had a solid day, 4-4 on FG/XPs and solid punting. Pending the outcome of the Redskins Monday Night, Tampa Bay is now tied for 6th in the NFC.

Monday Night football had no Knight-cap.

NOTES: Injured Reserve tracker (Freeny, Wright, Johnson). Practice squad (Longa)

Knights in the pros FLASHBACK ... 2008. Partially thanks to talent from the Rutgers, the New England Patriots have won every AFC East title since 2002, except once. In the 2008 season, the Patriots looked to avenge their Super Bowl loss preventing their chance at a perfect season the year before. In the first game, Brady tore his ACL and it became a three horse race for the division crown between the Patriots, the Jets, and the surprising Miami Dolphins.

In week 15, the Dolphins hosted San Francisco, needing a win to keep pace. Miami clung to a 14-6 lead in the 4th quarter and the 49ers were on the move, driving 10 plays for a 1st down at the Miami 15 yard line. An under the radar nickel back, Nate Jones came through for his second sack of the game (coming into the game he had 1 career sack in 63 games) which put the 49ers in a long situation and forcing a field goal. They would not score again and Miami held on for the win. The Jets and Patriots won as well and the standings remained knotted up, with all three teams at 9-5.

San Francisco 49ers v Miami Dolphins
Jones sack ended the 49ers momentum.
Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

The following week, Jones added another sack, but more importantly had an interception at Miami’s own 6 yard line against the Chiefs. They ended up winning by a touchdown. In the final week of the season, Miami knocked off the Jets and earned a playoff berth. Despite their 11-5 record with backup quarterbacks all season, the Patriots were left out of the playoffs as Miami edged them in tiebreakers.

Jones was the star of the earliest Rutgers teams under Greg Schiano. His most memorable moment came when he returned the opening kickoff in Knoxville for a touchdown that stunned a Tennessee crowd of over 100,000. Jones began his NFL career in Dallas as a 7th round pick before Bill Parcells took the DB with him to Miami. He finished his career with 106 games played, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and just 6 sacks. His career ended for guess who? The Patriots, as he teamed with Devin McCourty where the team fell in the AFC title game to the eventual champion Ravens.

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos
Nate Jones makes a tackle as Devin McCourty pursues the play.