Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened on Sunday afternoon. Get the full Sunday breakdown from Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling on The MMQB: 10 Things Podcast. Subscribe now and it will be in your feed first thing Monday morning
Things That Made Me Giddy
Vikings Win the Vikings Way: Case Keenum didn’t have to do a lot of heavy lifting in this one. It was a matter of a smothering defense. The Falcons, in their own building, got nothing in the way of big plays (their long play on the day was 20 yards). And then Mike Zimmer’s group held them to 1-for-10 on third downs. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Rams Win Nine!: Clinching a winning season for the first time since 2003. Somewhere in Bozeman, Jeff Fisher softly weeps.
Ken Crawley Can’t Be Beat: The Saints’ usual No. 2 corner (No. 1 with Marshon Lattimore held out against the Panthers) was solid all day, especially on a big tackle of the catch on a fourth-and-6, stuffing Devin Funchess on a fourth-quarter play. He’s also on a personal 10-game winning streak (and the Saints are 0-3 without him this season).
Jimmy Garoppolo Is Fine!: He was solid in the victory in Chicago. If you were excited about him in San Francisco, keep being excited. If you were skeptical, be a little less skeptical.
Alex Smith Lives and Breathes and Loves: He crawled back into his shell for a little bit during the middle stanza of the game (it’s almost like the 70-yard run did more harm than good, as Smith then started to look to run on every play). But, with a little help from a Jets defense that had apparently done no advanced scouting on the Chiefs, Smith attacked downfield and played more than well enough to win. And after the offense disappeared for weeks, the defense did the same.
Marshawn Lynch, Still Fresh: Well, he didn’t look that fresh toward the end of his 51-yard TD run early on, but he ended up carrying tacklers a couple times over the course of the game and finished with his first 100-yard rushing game in more than two years. The Raiders held him back early, but they’re leaning on him now. Lynch had 29 touches last week and 19 more this week.
Someone Give Dean Lowry a Boost!: Though for the sake of fan safety, there should probably be an enforced weight limit for Lambeau leaps.
Robbie Gould Owns Soldier Field: Five-for-five including the game winner in his return to Soldier Field. KICKER REVENGE™!
Joe Flacco: Was actually pretty sharp today. It’s been a miserable last two seasons, but could he get back to his old, pretty O.K. form?
Saints Flatten Panthers Run D: The 148 yards they rolled up didn’t tell the story of Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara and the front five repeatedly flattening the Panthers. These are two teams that have dominated time of possession, and the Saints were on the field for more than 33 minutes on Sunday.
Taysom Hill Covering Kicks: Tackling quarterback! The rookie and No. 3 QB, wearing uniform No. 7, made two tackles covering kicks. He’s just like baby Joe Webb!
Josh Gordon: The guy’s got some demons he’s battling, and hopefully he’s in the early stages of turning his life around. But purely from a football standpoint, he was one of the five most talented wide receivers in football when we last saw him. To miss three years, come back and do what he did on Sunday (he was a missed connection or two away from a monster statistical game) is rather incredible.
This Johnny Holton Catch: Good on you, buddy. He got an opportunity with Amari Cooper injured and Michael Crabtree suspended, and aside from an near-unforgivable fumble Holton did some things, including this catch:
Geno Smith: He was fine in this game. He really was. It’s just a bad system featuring bad players right now (except for Evan Engram). It’s probably too late for Geno, but if you ignore his past he’s a serviceable No. 2 QB with a chance to be a bridge guy. He just never had a chance, going from one dysfunctional organization to another.
Giants vs. Raiders: “Preseason in December!”: Now that’s branding, Park Avenue.
Chargers Should Offer Baltimore Multiple 1’s for Justin Tucker: They bring in Travis Coons as kicker No. 3 this season (probably looking for KICKER REVENGE™!), and he opens up his Chargers career by shaking a 38-yarder. Chargers are 16-for-24 on field goals this year, threatening to become the second team in the last five seasons to make less than two-thirds of their field-goal attempts over the course of a season. (They’re a hilarious 3-for-9 from 40 and beyond.)
Ravens Lose Jimmy Smith: The Ravens are going to make the playoffs and there’s nothing you can do about it. They might even win a game considering they’ll be going to either Jacksonville, Tennessee, Kansas City or the Chargers. But the Ravens have to win ugly, and it becomes much more difficult if their No. 1 corner is going to be out (it’s being termed an Achilles injury, but the severity is unknown as of now).
Cardinals Special Teams, Crappy Again: One week after Phil Dawson’s 57-yarder beats the Jaguars, Arizona manages to have an extra point and a field-goal blocked. SAD!
Matthew Stafford’s Hand: Is hurt, and the Lions’ season is over.
This Tyrod Taylor Red Zone INT: His most steadfast supporters and his most vocal critics can all agree: Tyrod’s strength is that he doesn’t turn the ball over. But even if he was the most reckless, turnover-prone quarterback to ever play the game, this is still worthy of a lengthy spit-take. I’ve watched it a dozen times and I can’t find an explanation; I was expecting Tyrod to pull off a mask Scooby-Doo style and reveal himself as Nathan Peterman and talk about those who meddle. This is simply as bad an interception as you’ll see (and Tom Brady doesn’t really need the help).
Jeff Allen False Starts Forever: The Texans were facing a fourth-and-4, down four, trying to stay alive late in Nashville. Then Allen backed them up five with a false start. And then backed them up with another false start. And then he tried to change things up, but decided to go with a third consecutive false start to make it a do-or-die fourth-and-19. (And Tom Savage coverted it!)
Trevor Siemian Picks Up Where He Left Off: You know what would fix this? Another offensive coordinator change.
Alvin Kamara Is Your Offensive Rookie of the Year: Everyone else can go home. It’s a landslide.
Mohamed Sanu Blows a Couple Third Downs, Then Demands the Ball: I dunno. It’s fine, I guess. You like the confidence, and he was targeted a few times in the second half and caught the ball. But after a drop on one third down and whiffing on a block on another, maybe not the time to go Keyshawn Johnson.
Brett Hundley Looks Like Every Play Is His First NFL Play Again: It would have been nice to build something off last week’s success in Pittsburgh. Instead, Hundley reverted to his old (and not good) form, and Mike McCarthy was calling plays like he had Tim Tebow under center. All’s well that ends well, and the Packers got a win they needed. But this was dreadful.
Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Gronk With the Cheapest Shot: Tre’Davious White definitely gets away with a penalty here—Gronk has five inches and 60 pounds on him, this is nothing new. But much like I’m not allowed to lob an active grenade at the car that rolls through that four-way stop, Gronk isn’t justified in dropping his body weight plus an elbow into the back of the head of an opponent who is face-down on the turf. This is a hefty fine. My personal opinion is that a suspension is too much here. But there can’t be much of an uproar if he gets a week off. This is dumb and reckless and filthy.
Tarik Cohen Is the Greatest Show on Earth: You’re running the wrong wa! . . . ohhhhhh.
Marcus Peters Chucks a Flag and Goes Home: He wasn’t ejected, he just decided he was done. (Or at least that, if he was going to go back onto the field, he wasn’t going to wear socks; he came back to the sideline with cleats and no socks on. Put your socks on, guy! Your team has the ball down seven with more than two minutes left, overtime is a real possibility.) This was a nightmare performance from the defense that’s been otherwise solid during a nightmare stretch. Peters played poorly in this one, but isn’t a lost cause; they don’t need to trade him. He does need to understand that he can’t leave before the game is over.
Tony Romo Narrating Brady/McDaniels Sideline Flap: This is Morgan Freeman-caliber
What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
Packers Are Probably Dead, But . . . : It’s Cleveland next week, then they might have Aaron Rodgers back for Week 15 in Carolina (home vs. Minnesota and at potentially Matthew Stafford-less Detroit to finish). Even running the table won’t get them in at 10-6, but winning in Cleveland would guarantee they’ll bring Rodgers back and make a run for it.
Ben McAdoo: Good Night, Sweet Prince: Is this the end? It seems like we’ll find out in 24 hours or so. And if it’s not over, I assume we’ll do the same thing every week until the end of eternity (or at least the end of the regular season).
Defending NFC Champs Have a Mountain to Climb: A home and home with New Orleans and the Panthers at home are still on the schedule, but Atlanta is entering run-the-table-or-else territory. Sunday was especially brutal. They were within striking distance all day but couldn’t make a play when they needed one, which was the story of the season’s first half.
Titans Can Win Ugly and Only Win Ugly: Derrick Henry’s garbage-time long TD run pushed the final to 24-13, but this was survival, in their own building, against the Tom Savage-led Texans. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a less impressive 8-4 team in recent memory. But they have the luxury to spend the next month ironing things out for the playoffs.
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