A.J. Green ejected for slamming, punching Jalen Ramsey. Mike Evans penalized for blindsiding Marshon Lattimore

By Peter King
November 06, 2017
Kirk Cousins stood tall in Seattle on Sunday and helped the Redskins rally late for a 17-14 win.
Otto Gruele Jr./Getty Images

OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Washington. Two weeks in a row we’ve seen ridiculously exciting quarterback play down the stretch at Seattle. I would wager Cousins would call the game-winning drive—four plays, 70 yards, 35 seconds, with the season, arguably, on the line—the biggest of his NFL life. His 31-yard completion to Brian Quick down the right sideline, followed by a 38-yard diving catch by Josh Doctson down to the Seattle 1-yard line, and Rob Kelley’s 1-yard dive, gave Washington a 17-14 win and a 4-4 record. Superb clutch performance down the stretch, under a typical Seattle rush.

Andrew Whitworth, left tackle, Los Angeles Rams. Another clean sheet for Whitworth, in the 51-17 skunking of the Giants in the Meadowlands, per Pro Football Focus: zero sacks, pressures or hits allowed on Jared Goff, who posted the first four-TD game of his career. Whitworth also made the pass-block of the day. Facing an impossible third-and-33, Goff dumped a short pass to Robert Woods, and Whitworth got in front and waylaid a Giant to spring Woods. The result: a stunning 52-yard touchdown. Whitworth, who signed with the Rams as a free agent after 11 years in Cincinnati, has been a godsend for an offensive line beleaguered for so long.

DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

DeAngelo Hall, free safety, Washington. Hall, two weeks shy of his 34th birthday, hadn’t played a football game in 58 weeks due to injury, and he was a vital piece to the puzzle in a game Washington desperately needed at Seattle. Hall not only totaled five tackles and two passes defensed, but also served as punt returner, with Washington in desperate straits in the return game. Hall may not have many big Sundays left in his NFL life, but he came through when his team had to have a big performance at Seattle.

Cam Jordan, defensive end, New Orleans. The Bucs totaled just 200 yards of offense in a 30-10 beatdown by the Saints, and about six Saints could have been in this space. I chose the best all-around player on their front seven. Jordan’s seven tackles and 1.5 sacks—and two additional quarterback pressures—set the tone for the suddenly defensively imposing Saints.

Jordan Jenkins, linebacker, New York Jets. In the Jets’ dominating 34-21 win over the Bills on Thursday night, Jenkins sacked Tyrod Taylor on Buffalo’s first snap of the game; after a change of possession, New York scored to take a 7-0 lead. In the fourth quarter, Jenkins’ second sack of the game stripped the ball from Taylor. It was recovered by the Jets, and they followed with an insurance touchdown to make it 31-7. This was the biggest impact performance of the second-year linebacker’s young career.

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Justin Hardee, cornerback, New Orleans. A superb punt-rush by the former practice-squad player from Illinois led to Hardee breaking free up the middle and smothering a punt from Bryan Anger. Hardee picked up the blocked ball on a perfect hop and ran it in for a touchdown. Textbook example of a block, scoop and score.

Sam Koch, punter, Baltimore. Want to see a fake punt executed perfectly? Look at Koch’s play in the first half in Nashville. On fourth-and-seven at the Tennessee 43, Koch threw a perfect spiral to the gunner on the left side of the field, 23 yards in the air, to convert the first down.

Jaydon Mickens, wide receiver/punt returner, Jacksonville. Thrice waived by Oakland in the past 14 months, Mickens may have found a home with the Jags. His 63-yard punt return, weaving and juking and sprinting, put the game away against Cincinnati early in the fourth quarter.

COACH OF THE WEEK

Doug Marrone, head coach, Jacksonville. His decision to deactivate the best player on his team with the division lead on the line was a bold one. Marrone sat running back Leonard Fournette knowing—presumably—that he had a slew of players in his locker room wondering: Are you going to let this guy get away with three or four violations that none of the rest of us are guilty of? Marrone banished Fournette … and the team responded: 40 Fournette-less carries, 149 yards, a 40:14 time of possession in a 23-7 win over Cincinnati.

GOATS OF THE WEEK

A.J. Green, wide receiver, Cincinnati. Someone has to explain Green’s actions against Jalen Ramsey. Shameful. Ramsey lightly popped Green away from the play in Jacksonville, and Green went crazy, choke-slamming Ramsey and throwing punches at his helmet. A very strange reaction from a player who very rarely loses his cool. Green was ejected.

Mike Evans, wide receiver, Tampa Bay. Midway through the third quarter against the Saints, near the Tampa sideline, Evans took a running start and blindsided Marshon Lattimore, the Saints’ rookie cornerback, like he was trying to knock his head off. Bush league, and totally uncalled for.


Quotes of the Week

I

“Make no mistake about it: There is zero tolerance, complete zero tolerance, complete zero tolerance by me and by the Cowboys about domestic violence.”

—Dallas owner Jerry Jones, to the Dallas Morning News.

How possibly can Jerry Jones say this? Let’s say there was zero, complete zero, complete zero evidence that Ezekiel Elliott ever touched his girlfriend in anger. (And no one who looks at this case objectively would say that.) What about Greg Hardy? Can Jerry Jones say with any degree of legitimacy that there’s no evidence Hardy abused a girlfriend before the Cowboys signed him in 2015? That’s an incredible statement from Jones.

Now if in Hardy’s case, Jones said the Cowboys believe in giving players a second chance, fine. But that’s not what he said.

II

“Don’t do that.”

—Carolina coach Ron Rivera, when seeing the over-the-top negative reaction on the field from Cam Newton and Devin Funchess when Rivera called for a field-goal try on fourth-and-short against Atlanta. Rivera took a timeout and changed his mind, going for it and succeeding. But the reaction was … disrespectful, to say the least. That cannot be tolerated by Rivera.

III

“Regardless of his desires to do different things, he wasn’t as good of a player the second year. I don’t know what happened to him. But he just wasn’t the same person, wasn’t the same player. Again, he was trying to be someone he wasn’t. … I feel like Robert was trying to be Aaron Rodgers, or trying to be someone he wasn’t instead of embracing himself and what he’s good at and building on that.”

—Former Washington quarterback Rex Grossman, on teammate Robert Griffin III, to ESPN 980 in Washington (via the Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Bog), concerning Griffin’s NFL flameout after his offensive rookie of the year season five years ago.

IV

“Dude, you should play the lottery.”

—World Series MVP George Springer, to Sports Illustrated baseball scribe Ben Reiter, in the victorious Astros clubhouse Wednesday night after they won the World Series in seven games over the Dodgers.

Springer, the coverboy for SI’s amazing 2014 Reiter piece declaring them the 2017 World Series champions, was recognizing the work of Reiter, baseball editor Emma Span and managing editor Chris Stone in writing the story, and editing the story, and placing the story on the cover. It became one of the most iconic covers in the history of the magazine. More about that and what’s happened to Reiter since, lower in this column in 10 Things I Think I Think.

V

“The league’s got to move the trading deadline away from Halloween.”

—A chuckling Philadelphia GM, Howie Roseman, after the frenetic late action on Oct. 31, this year’s trading-deadline date.

Roseman has four children under 10, and trades be damned, he was going trick-or-treating with them late Tuesday afternoon. And Roseman did, not long after making the Jay Ajayi trade with Miami.

VI

“The ball’s not heavy.”

—Arizona coach Bruce Arians, asked about the career-high 37 carries (for 159 yards) for Adrian Peterson in the Cards’ 20-10 victory over the 49ers on Sunday.


Stat of the Week

I

A tale of two quarter-seasons:

  W-L Point Differential Denver QB Rating
Denver, First Four Games 3-1 +9.5 89.0
Denver, Past Four Games 0-4 -14.0 61.6
 

Denver is 3-5, and New England’s coming to town on Sunday. As crazy as this sounds about a guy who is Denver's third-string quarterback and hasn’t taken a snap all season … it’s Paxton Lynch time, if he’s healthy.

II

At 11:28 a.m. Sunday, the Jaguars issued a stunning tweet, with coach Doug Marrone saying star running back Leonard Fournette would be inactive for violating a team rule. “This has been addressed internally,” Marrone’s statement read, “and further details will not be made public.”

Oh really? Let’s see...

11:52 a.m.: Just 24 minutes after the statement was issued, ESPN’s Field Yates reported part of the reason for the benching was Fournette missing the team photo this week.

12:09 p.m.: Just 41 minutes after the statement was issued, Fox’s Jay Glazer reported that Fournette missed an injury treatment, a workout and the team photo.

12:18 p.m.: Just 50 minutes after the statement was issued, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Fournette missed “some appointments.”

Looks like the Jags really bottled up that story.


New section of the column this fall—My MVP, as part of The MMQB’s partnership with State Farm. Each week, I ask an NFL person what his Most Valuable Possession is, and why.

Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams. “I have a lot of memorabilia that I like, a lot of baseball stuff. My dad [Jerry Goff] played major league baseball, so I was around the game a lot. I might have been about 9, but I was at the ballpark one day and I got Ken Griffey to sign a ball for me. I still have it. I’m really proud of that. It’s cool to have, because I liked him so much as a player.”


Factoids That May Interest Only Me

I

This is the 50th season in Cincinnati Bengals history. In those 50 seasons, the Bengals have made 106 trades. The Bengals were founded in 1968 by Paul Brown, the same man who founded the Cleveland Browns in 1946.

The royal trade-deadline screw-up last Tuesday—the Bengals nearly traded backup quarterback A.J. McCarron to the Browns, but the trade was not called into the league office by the 4 p.m. deadline—kept one of football’s most interesting streaks alive.

In a half-century sharing pro football in Ohio, the Bengals and Browns have never made a trade with each other.

II

The number of those 106 Bengals trades in a half-century that have been made with Pittsburgh: zero. I sense a pattern with Bengal archrivals.


Tweets of the Week

I

II

III

Scully called NFL games for CBS from 1975 to 1982. His final game: the NFL title game in the 1982 season, and his final touchdown call was “The Catch,” Dwight Clark’s reception from Joe Montana that started the San Francisco dynasty.

IV


Photo Op

A picture or image with a good story behind it.

Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian didn’t splurge on a new car when he made the NFL. He kept the elderly Range Rover he had while a student at Northwestern, complete with on-campus parking sticker on the back window. The sticker is now nearly three years old.

“Believe it or not, that’s a pretty tough decal to remove,” he said last month. “I’ve tried to get it off, but at this point I kind of like it. It’s stuck on, so …” 


Pod People

From “The MMQB Podcast With Peter King,” available where you download podcasts.

This week’s conversations: Investigative reporter Don Van Natta of ESPN and Pro Football Focus analyst Steve Palazzolo.

• Van Natta on the the similarities between Roger Goodell and Goodell’s father, former New York senator Charles Goodell: “Roger Goodell is the son of a senator from New York who was a principled man, who ended up losing his senate seat and resigning in principle over a fight with President Nixon … Charles Goodell decided that he was no longer going to support the Vietnam War. I would not be surprised, if the pressure does get turned up on Roger by the more hard-line owners, that this is how Roger sees this fight. If he decides to stay with the players [on the fight over standing for the national anthem], this is a principled fight, like his father fought, and I would not be surprised to see that he would fight it to the end and go out in a blaze of principled glory, if he feels he is being forced to do something against his own conscience. It would be history repeating itself in the Goodell family.”

• Palazzolo on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, his top-rated QB in the 2018 draft: “He doesn't have the perfect look. He's only listed as 6'2". He might be pushing six feet. He's not tall enough, and some people don't love his arm strength. But the phrase I always come back to is I don't want to be the guy that doubts Baker Mayfield. He is a walk-on who exceeded expectations. He was our top-graded guy last year … top-graded guy this year … was number three back in 2015 … every which way, the guy produces. Under pressure, against the blitz, rolling out, inside the pocket, outside the pocket, the guy just continues to make plays.”

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