Peter King's Week 14 awards includes LeSean McCoy, Richie Incognito, Sean Lee, Adam Vinatieri, Jags fans and more
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback, Pittsburgh. Playing against a Baltimore team that hadn’t allowed a quarterback to throw for 320 yards all season, Roethlisberger threw for 506—the third 500-yard passing game of his NFL life—in the scintillating 39-38 victory over the Ravens. The way he uses Antonio Brown (11 catches, 213 yards, in perfect concert with his quarterback) and trusts him down the sideline is a thing of football beauty. It’s still pretty wild to think the Steelers, down 11 to start the fourth quarter and down nine with five minutes left, pulled this one out. The win, in such large measure, was due to Roethlisberger’s game-long brilliance.
LeSean McCoy, running back, Buffalo. In eight inches of snow, with it not stopping for the entire game, McCoy had a career-high 32 rushes for 156 yards. The final 21 came on the last play of the game, a playoff-chance-enhancing touchdown run to give Buffalo a walkoff 13-7 overtime win over Indianapolis. Man, that was fun to watch.
Richie Incognito, left guard, Buffalo. On said final play of the game, the Bills called a power run on third-and-four from the Indianapolis 21-yard-line—though no one could really tell what yard line the ball was on; it was an educated guess through the storm—and Incognito had a double-block responsibility. He had to push 308-pound defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins out of the hole to his left, then step further into the rushing lane to erase linebacker Antonio Morrison. When he did that, McCoy had the clear path. A tremendous play in ridiculous conditions by a man who has become a stalwart guard for a team that wants to mash the ball.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina. This game against the Vikings was the biggest of the year for Carolina, which had played lousy in other big ones—losses to New Orleans twice and Philadelphia. Fourth quarter, 2:33 left, Carolina ball, second-and-five at the Panther 30. Newton fakes the read-option, keeps, runs over left tackle, and goes 62 yards to the Viking eight. Jonathan Stewart scored the winning touchdown three plays later, and Carolina had a 31-24 win. Newton’s never going to be a 68-percent passer for a season, but he is going to be a man who impacts every game in different ways.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sean Lee, linebacker, Dallas. The MVP of the Cowboys defense showed that in spades in the 30-10 win over the Giants. Lee had 18 tackles, and his interception of Eli Manning on the Giants’ last-gasp drive with 3:20 left in the game and a 13-point lead ended whatever feeble chance New York had to win. The schedule may be too hard for the 7-6 Cowboys to make the playoffs (at Oakland, Seattle, at Philadelphia), but they’ll always have a chance when Lee is in mission control of the defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Adam Vinatieri, kicker, Indianapolis. “He’s never kicked in worse conditions than this,” said Steve Tasker of CBS. Down 7-6 in the final 80 seconds at Buffalo. The Colts actually converted a two-point conversion with a pass from Jacoby Brissett to Jack Boyle, but they were called for offensive pass interference on the conversion. That caused a 43-yard extra-point try in the swirling snow and strong winds of Orchard Park, in the snow belt. His linemen worked like mad to clear the eight inches of snow from the launch point, and, of course, Vinatieri would have to attempt the same kind of kick that started his career of wonder … the 45-yard field goal in the AFC playoff game against Oakland 16 years ago. “Same amount of snow as that day,” Vinatieri recalled. “But it was definitely windier today.” He booted it from the right hash, and it looked like it was going to eight feet to the right of the right upright. Three Bills either began celebrating or made the “no good” sign. Too early. The kick hooked late and just inside the upright. What a kick. “Probably the best extra point I’ve made,” Vinatieri said. I should hope so. Sadly, he missed a 43-yard field goal try that would have won the game in the final seconds. But that extra point … that’s a career kick.
Trevor Davis, punt-returner/wide receiver, Green Bay. His deking 65-yard punt return with less that three minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Packers trailing by seven at Cleveland set up the tying touchdown and capped the 14-point Green Bay comeback. The Packers won in overtime.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Joe Woods, defensive coordinator, Denver. The high-flying Jets came to Denver after scoring 38 on the Chiefs last week, and the Broncos were in crisis, with eight losses in a row. Much pressure on the new head coach, Vance Joseph, and the new defensive coordinator, Woods. Both came through. Woods’ scheme and pressure got to the Jets all day. New York managed six first downs, the absurd number of 100 total yards … and, most importantly, zero points. The Jets never crossed the Denver 39.
GOAT OF THE WEEK
The Jacksonville fans. There is much blame to go around in the Seattle-Jacksonville game—Michael Bennett rolling into the legs of Jacksonville center Brandon Linder was terrible in that end-of-game fiasco—but the Jaguar fans were particularly shameful in the midst of one of their biggest wins in a decade. A fan threw something (it appeared to be a can) that hit Seattle wideout Tyler Lockett in the back, and several fans threw things—ice, and something green—at ejected Seahawk defensive end Quinton Jefferson, causing Jefferson to try to climb into the stands after the fans.
Quotes of the Week
“Now if this was a regular game, there’d be a yellow line there. But in this case, it’d be yellow snow. And nobody wants that.”
—NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson, referring to what a yellow line would look like on the snow-covered pitch of the Bills’ home field Sunday.
“This might be Geno’s chin. Not sure. A little soft. That chin’s a little soft there, Geno.”
—ESPN pregame show “analyst” Rex Ryan, holding up a marshmallow on the ESPN set Sunday, continuing his grudge against his former quarterback and current Giants backup Geno Smith.
Smith got punched in the jaw in August 2015 by linebacker I.K. Enemkpali, breaking the jaw and putting him out for two months. Ryan, apparently, has been going to Donald Trump Over The Line Quote School. Does ESPN really want that? Is that what stumping for ratings has come to?
“One thing that's come out of this that's very good, I believe, is the fact that owners are going to have a much more open line of communication with Roger now. At every owners' meeting now, we're going to have an owners-only session, and then an owners session with Roger, with everyone else out of the room.”
—Atlanta owner and NFL Compensation Committee chairman Arthur Blank, to me, on the tangible change coming with the new contract extension signed by Goodell on Wednesday.
“I want to apologize to Josh for last week in Buffalo. Our coaches work really hard. They’re responsible for putting us in a great position to succeed, so I want to get that off my chest. A lot of people see that, and they think the nature of our relationship would be something like that, but it’s really the exact opposite of that. I’ve been feeling bad all week and haven’t had a chance to say it, and he knows how much I love him.”
—Tom Brady on Saturday, six days after cameras caught him shouting on the Patriots’ sideline at offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
“I just remember telling the doc, ‘Save my leg, please.’”
—Chicago tight end Zach Miller, telling Bears play-by-play man Jeff Joniak about the moments and days after he was seriously injured on the field in New Orleans Oct. 29.
Miller, at his home in suburban Chicago, got emotional when he talked about Bears chairman George McCaskey. “Above and beyond,” Miller said. “Mr. McCaskey spent the first three days with me in the hospital in New Orleans. In ICU. Flew home. Think he was here for like two days. Flew back. Did just about everything you could have done to make this easier on us. Which you probably can never repay.”
“We’re facing a new reality in this state. This is the new normal, and this could be something that happens every year or every few years. We’re about to have a firefighting Christmas.”
—California Gov. Jerry Brown, on Saturday, after surveying the damage being fought by 8,500 firefighters, displacing 90,000 people from their homes in southern California.
Stat of the Week
The Giants went back to Eli Manning as their starting quarterback Sunday against Dallas in New Jersey after coach Ben McAdoo benched him a week earlier to look at the other two quarterbacks on the roster. The Giants fired McAdoo a day after that game, a loss to Oakland, and then reversed course, either caving to fan/billboard/airplanes-flying-overhead pressure or to try their best to get to 3-10 in a lost season. It didn’t work. Cowboys 30, Giants 10.
That leads to this question: Should Manning be the Giants’ quarterback of the future, with New York likely to have a top-five pick in a draft that has multiple first-round-projected quarterbacks? Since Manning quarterbacked the Giants to their last Super Bowl win in his age-30 season, 2011, here’s how he ranks against all other quarterbacks in the league (minimum 50 games played) in some major statistical metrics.
In all, 23 quarterbacks have played at least 50 games at quarterback since 2012. (Statistics entering Sunday’s games.)
|Category||Stat||Rank among 23 Qualifiers|
|Yards per attempt||6.99||19th|
Manning, then, is in the bottom five of passer rating, completion percentage, interceptions and yards per attempt among quarterbacks over the past six years. The Giants, whoever the GM and the coach will be in a month, are going to have a decision to make on their 37-year-old quarterback.
Factoids That May Interest Only Me
The replay explanation by Ed Hochuli in the first half of Detroit-Tampa Bay was 87 words long. The 15th word was “therefore.” The 18th word was “indeed.”
The explanation was 27.43 seconds long.
In their past six games, the Steelers have played on Sunday night, Sunday afternoon, Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night and Sunday night. Five night games out of six. Has that ever happened before?
Rushes in Army-Navy game Saturday: 95.
Passes in Army-Navy game Saturday: 3.
Tweets of the Week
Overtime Record Including Playoffs— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 10, 2017
- Brett Hundley: 2-0
- Aaron Rodgers: 1-7
Highland Park QB John Stephen Jones was offered a full ride scholarship to Arkansas. New Razorbacks coach Chad Morris presented the offer to Jerry Jones' grandson immediately after HP's victory Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Texas State Playoffs.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) December 10, 2017
John Stephen has a chance to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and play football at Arkansas. Stephen Jones, Cowboys VP and Jerry’s son, is John Stephen’s father.
Source: Stanton from #Marlins to #Yankees is “virtually done.” Close to finish line. Hear #Marlins will get at least Starlin Castro plus good but not top prospects if completed. Again physical review can still be part of this so nothing final, but close.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 9, 2017
Man, you burned the midnight oil, Joel. Heck of a news break on Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, in the middle of the night.
New section of the column this fall, as part of The MMQB’s partnership with State Farm. Each week, I’ll ask an NFL person about his most valuable possession.
Philip Rivers, quarterback, Chargers. “Oh, this is a tough one. I’d say my truck. My 2008 F-250. It’s got 75,000 miles and people say to me, ‘Why don’t get a new truck? Why don’t you drive a new car?’ I don’t know. That’s just me, I guess. I’ve got these old boots that I can’t get rid of. They’re just comfortable, so why get rid of ‘em? I guess that’s why I love my truck. It’s comfortable for me.”
From “The MMQB Podcast With Peter King,” available where you download podcasts.
This week’s conversations: Carl Banks, the former Pro Bowl Giants’ linebacker and current analyst on their radio network, and writer Thomas George, author of the book “Blitzed: Why NFL Teams Gamble on Starting Rookie Quarterbacks.”
• Banks on his advice for Giants CEO and co-owner John Mara: “I'm going to tell him that he needs to get a general manager who is a grinder, a football guy. He's got enough suits. He's got enough executives. He needs a football guy. And a coach, I would recommend not a West Coast offense guy. Get a guy who is flexible with personnel, who understands how to adapt to injury and how to adapt to personnel loss and changes in your strengths because they need to get back to football now. It's not about what is en vogue. You've got to get football players and build personnel, something that has been lost, let's be honest. Picking players is not an exact science and most general managers miss more than they hit. But you've got to be able to have core foundation players that you can look back four years later and be like, ‘Okay, where are we signing this guy [to a second contract]? Because he is good for us.’ That's what I would tell John.”