NFL week 11 saw the playoff picture continue to take shape with a quick turnaround to the Thursday Thanksgiving Day games.
Logan Ryan (Titans) got the best of the Steelers on Thursday night. Pittsburgh has an offense that when clicking, has the best QB-RB-WR trio in the game. On a short week, they did as Big Ben threw for 299 yards and 4 TDs, including three to Antonio Brown. Ryan himself had an ok game, notching 8 tackles and one pass defended. Tennessee is still 6-4 and very much in the AFC playoff hunt.
Michael Burton, Marcus Cooper, and Andrew DePaola faced another tough challenge with Detroit. Doesn’t it seem like the NFC North plays one another every week? The Bears dropped yet another close one (27-24), but surely will be a team on the rise in 2018. Cooper added two tackles and the Bears special teams overall were solid, except for a missed field goal that proved to be the difference. They lined up for a game tying 46 yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining in the game, but Connor Barth’s attempt landed wide right in tough weather conditions. Detroit’s Steve Longa was re-joined on the Lions by George Johnson this past week, but before was let go yet again just one day later. It seemed to bring the best out of Steve, as Longa had a nice game, totaling 3 tackles.
Jason McCourty and Kenny Britt of Cleveland continued to search for their first win, this time at home against Jacksonville. It was an ugly contest in bad weather as each team fumbled 5 times. McCourty (1 tackle, 1 PD) and the Brown D held Bortles to 154 yards passing and he fumbled twice. Britt (2 catches) and the Browns offense was simply worse as DeShone Kizer threw two picks and fumbled three times himself. The Browns next chance to avoid the wrong side of history comes against in-state foe Cincinnati.
Leonte Carroo’s Dolphins kept their inconsistency streak going as they were defeated by the Bucs in the makeup of week 1’s postponement due to Hurricane Irma. Even though Miami behind backup quarterback Matt Moore tied it up at 20, this one was never really in doubt as Tampa Bay scored again on their ensuing drive. The Bucs won 30-20 and Miami has now lost four straight.
Bengals Clark Harris and Tyler Kroft in the Mile High City to face Denver. Kevin Snyder and the Broncos were in the media all week after GM John Elway referred to them as “soft”. It was a see saw affair, that Cinci pulled out 20-17. Kroft made two catches including his 4th touchdown of the year. The Bengals special teams was not at their best, as they did miss an extra point but it did not impact the end result.
Brandon Coleman and the Saints just cannot be stopped right now. After trailing big in the 4th quarter, they sent their game against Washington to overtime on a late touchdown and two point conversion in what was the best game of the day. With all the momentum, New Orleans pulled out the victory with an overtime field goal. Coleman had one catch as the Saints leaned heavily oh his and the rest of the offense’s blocking ability, running for 160 yards including 134 from Mark Ingram.
Even more than a mile high, the Oakland Raiders returned to Mexico to face the league’s second hottest team, New England. Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon were able to contain Derek Carr and the Oakland offense at the extreme altitude. McCourty had no defensive stats, but did register 12 kick return yards. Harmon added one tackle and had an awesome interception (clip below), the 9th of his career. The Pats return home for Miami after the LONG road trip to Denver, staying the week at the Air Force Academy, and Mexico City.
Mohamed Sanu got Monday Night Football in Seattle. The regular season game between these two clubs last year ended in controversy as Seattle’s final score came after two questionable pass interference calls, one on a fourth down. Then Atlanta’s last chance ended on a fourth down where Julio Jones had his one arm completely pulled behind his back by Richard Sherman, so you can tell there’s a little bad blood between the clubs.
Sanu (3 catches, 34 yards) had an acrobatic, one-handed TD grab (below) to put Atlanta up 14-0. Each time Seattle closed the gap and each time Atlanta seemed to generate a little breathing room. Heading to the 4th it was Falcons up 31-23. Atlanta seemed to ice the game with a Touchdown with about 6 minutes to go, but the runner was ruled short and Atlanta had to go for a short field goal. Seattle responded by going 79 yards in just 49 seconds for a TD and two point conversion to cut the lead back to 34-31 with an even 3 minutes to play. Seattle opted not to onside kick, and pinned Atlanta inside their own 20. After forcing a three and out, Seattle had the ball down 3 with 1:55 to go and no timeouts. After moving the ball across midfield, Blair Walsh came on for a 52 yard try to tie it with time running out and came up barely short, as did Seattle.
Practice squads: Andre Patton (Chargers), Carlton Agudosi (Cardinals)
Knights in the Pros flashback ... November 24, 2013.
Underwood still has speed. The Sunday before Thanksgiving in 2013 he showed it big time when his Buccaneers hosted the playoff hopeful Detroit Lions. With the Lions leading 10-7, Underwood caught his first TD of the day on a 7 yard pass from Mike Glennon.
The teams exchanged barbs into the 4th quarter with Detroit holding a 21-17 edge. After Tampa Bay converted a third down to give themselves some breathing room, they called for a shot downfield. The defense bit on a play-action fake to Brian Leonard and Underwood got behind the defense, barely breaking stride to haul the pass in past midfield. He took it the rest of the way for an 85 yard score that would be the game winner. In the game, Tiquan had three catches for 108 yards and the two TDs as well as drawing at least one flag on a defensive back trying avoid letting him free for a third. Brian Leonard added one catch, but the other hero was Tim Wright who pitched in 8 receptions for 75 yards plus a tackle on special teams.
Underwood finished that season with 24 catches for a whopping 440 yards as a true big play threat, but headed north of the border and has remained there ever since. He defied odds along the way as the North Brunswick product was only a two-star recruit out of Notre Dame high school in Lawrenceville. At RU after a freshman season mostly as a wildcat quarterback, he started as flanker his last three seasons including a 1,000 yard season as a senior. He began his NFL journey as a 7th round pick of Jacksonville, but was most noted for his haircut as Super Bowl media day 2012. After making the headlines for having Patriots buzzed into his hair, New England cut him right before the Big Game, replacing him with fellow RU alum Alex Silvestro. The Patriots bad karma came back to haunt them as they fell to the underdog Giants for the second time in 5 years.