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  • Plus, Marcus Peters officially a huge problem for the Rams, the Chargers hold on despite an inability to kick, Nathan Peterman can’t catch a break any more than his receivers can catch a pass, Vance Joseph struggles to make proper decisions, FitzMagic had them where he wanted them, Lions miss Golden Tate, Browns stink no matter who coaches them, Darnold’s nightmare run continues, and the Ravens are kidding themselves if they think John Harbaugh is the problem
By Gary Gramling
November 04, 2018

Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened on Sunday afternoon. Get the full Sunday breakdown from Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling on The Monday Morning NFL Podcast. Subscribe to The MMQB Podcasts now and it will be in your feed first thing Monday morning

Things That Made Me Giddy

Drew Brees to Michael Thomas Forever: The Rams had no hope of stopping Thomas (more on that later), who followed up a couple of pedestrian performances with a monster 12-catch, 211-yard performance as the Saints knocked off the previously unbeaten Rams to take the top spot in the NFC.

Zach Line as Kyra Sedgwick in ‘The Closer’: Yes, Alvin Kamara was credited with the yardage on the game-sealing fourth-and-1 conversion, but that was Line, original star of the Rookie Journey, sealing it with the lead block.

Big Ben Bounces Back, Baltimore Bummed: It looked like a potentially scary shoulder injury when Za’Darius Smith chased him down on a scramble, and Josh Dobbs had to come on for a play. Roethlisberger came back though, and kept making timely plays in Baltimore, with the Steelers going 10-for-16 on third downs, 1-for-1 on fourth down and controlling the clock for 36:29. With the win in Baltimore, the Steelers are now in total control of the AFC North.

Josh Dobbs in Situational Relief: This summer, Roethlisberger’s controversial treatment of rookie Mason Rudolph was more a defense of Dobbs, who has held off Randolph for the No. 2 job this year. After Roethlisberger went down with what, briefly, looked like a serious injury, Dobbs came on for a second-and-20 from Pittsburgh’s own 5 and threw a huge 22-yard pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. That’s a well-coached backup and a staff that trusts him. Good on Dobbs, and good on Randy Fichtner.

This Panthers Offense: Sure, playing Tampa helps, but my goodness, the previous five quarters included 57 points against the Eagles and Ravens defenses. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 99 points over their last nine quarters of play. My podcast co-host and psychic friend Andy Benoit will have more on the Panthers in Monday’s Extra Point column.

Jahleel Addae’s Finger Tip: Many will mistakenly call it a David Moore drop, but Addae deflected Russell Wilson’s pass, causing the game-sealing incompletion. And all that after the Chargers—specifically soon-to-be-ex-Charger Caleb Sturgis—did everything to hand one to the Seahawks. Instead, it’s a road win for L.A.C.

For the Chiefs, Everywhere Is the Red Zone: When you have Kareem Hunt and downfield blocking like this.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Had ‘Em Right Where He Wanted ‘Em: Down 28 late in the first half. That’s just how FitzMagic wants to work. And he pulled Tampa to within 35-28 early in the fourth quarter! But alas, he, like the rest of the Buccaneers, couldn’t cover Christian McCaffrey.

Eric Weddle Won’t Be Fooled By a Quick-Kick: Cagey veteran moment! The Steelers went for the quick-kick on a fourth-and-6 from the Ravens’ 38, but Weddle retreated to catch Roethlisberger’s lefty kick at the 11-yard line and return it 18 yards.

Keenan Allen on Justin Coleman Violence:


No More Undefeated Teams: [Audible sigh] Alright, 1972 Miami Dolphins. Put your lame thing out on social media and let’s be done with it.

A Bad Day for Those Wonderful Rams Special Teams: Such good times in weeks past, but the trip to New Orleans brought Johnny Hekker’s failed fake-field goal run and Greg Zuerlein’s missed 51-yarder.

Vance Joseph’s Cornucopia of Bad Decisions: It wasn’t just the decision to settle for a 51-yarder at the end of the game. At the end of the first half, Joseph sent out the field goal unit for a 62-yarder with 23 seconds left, despite the fact that Houston had two timeouts remaining. Brandon McManus missed, and the Texans ran two routine plays to set up Ka’imi Fairbairn for a 46-yarder. Which Fairbairn missed! Except Joseph laughed in the face of logic and called the last-second timeout to “ice” him (which, in reality, continues to be nothing more than giving a kicker a free warmup try). Fairbairn made his do-over. And then Joseph went to the locker room for a halftime snack and dipped his french fries in mayonnaise.

The Browns Still Aren’t Very Good: It’s an organization that’s been rotten to the core for years. Though I feel comfortable saying they’d have lost 78-0 to Kansas City if Hue Jackson were still coaching. Instead, they only lost by 16.

Nathan Peterman Did His Best Tyrod Taylor Impression, and Yet… : Buffalo trotted out an exceptionally conservative game plan that was shades of last year with Tyrod, and Peterman didn’t put the ball in danger. But his receivers did. Down 7-0 but driving, Jason Croom got his pocket picked for a scoop-and-score TD, then Terrelle Pryor took a throw between his numbers and threw it straight into the air for an interception that led to another Bears score. A heady play by Kyle Fuller (hitting a receiver within one yard, which isn’t pass interference) caused Zay Jones to bat a ball into the air for Leonard Floyd Pick-6. Buffalo’s options at quarterback are bad, but this supporting cast is so under-manned that it really doesn’t matter.

Seahawks Are In Trouble If They’re Not Getting Turnovers: On Sunday, they were only gifted a series of missed kicks against the Chargers. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough.

Alex Smith Playing From Behind: This is what it looks like. Washington, much like the Buffalo Bills a year ago, are entirely dependent on game flow and jumping out to a lead early. They fell behind Atlanta early and stood little chance of coming back.

Xavier Rhodes Is Unhealthy: Metaphorically speaking, he was moving around like a professional football cornerback dealing with fairly serious ankle and foot injuries.

Lions Really Coulda Used Another Weapon: The decision to trade Golden Tate remains the most confusing move of the trade deadline. With the Vikings having their own struggled offensively, this was a winnable game that got away from Detroit. The Lions offense was completely disjointed in a mistake-filled performing, allowing 10 sacks in a loss to the Vikings.

Get the Wizard of Sod to South Beach!: Apparently the field conditions at Hard Rock Stadium were no good. Neither was the quarterback play, and I’m not sure those things were related. Anyway, the Dolphins beat the toothless Jets in a game that featured zero offensive touchdowns.

Terrelle Pryor Tells Lies: He said they were gonna make Nathan Peterman look good. It was quite the opposite, as pass-catchers were responsible for all three of Buffalo’s first-half turnovers, two of which were interceptions credited to Peterman. That included Pryor turning a throw into his belly into an interception.

Josey Jewell in Coverage: Denver’s rookie linebacker had some moments! They just didn’t come when he was dropping into coverage.

Oh, Teez Tabor: The Vikings were feasting on him with Don Beebe’s baby boy. It’s been a rough couple weeks for the second-year corner, who is wearing a neon target on his chest.

Caleb Sturgis Has Gotta Go, Man: A missed PAT, which led to the Chargers unsuccessfully going for two after the next touchdown, then a pulled 42-yarder early in the third quarter, then another missed PAT in the fourth quarter. CBS said he was the first kicker to miss a field goal and a PAT in three consecutive games since 1979. You know, the year The Smashing Pumpkins wrote that song.

Michael Thomas Takes Out a Cell Phone: Just like in 2003, when Joe Horn did it. What Thomas didn’t know was that Horn only took out the cell phone to make a frantic call in search of a better celebration.

Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About

Johnny Hekker’s Spot: I did a full-on Kombucha spit-take when they announced the call would stand on Hekker’s fake-field goal run, on which he sure seemed to extend the ball a half-yard beyond the first-down marker before his knee hit. Butterfly effect and all, but that was a three-point and potentially seven-point call.

Curtis Samuel on a Triple Reverse Minus One Reverse:

Julio Jones Touches Down!: As in, reaches the end zone with the ball! That’s Julio’s first TD since the Trump administration. Well, very early in the Trump administration. Last January’s wild-card game in L.A.

Malcolm Brown Walks the Tightrope:

Christian McCaffrey’s Best Olympic Event Would Be Pole-Less Pole Vault:

Benjamin Watson’s Catch Post-Mangled Finger:

What We’ll Be Talking About This Week

John Harbaugh’s Job Security: Things happen inside a building that we’re not privy to, but the Ravens’ playoff draught is a result of the front office’s miscalculation on Joe Flacco. They once had a chance to extend the QB for a reasonable price but waited until it was too late, then had to—in strictly financial terms—pay out the butt. It’s a contract that has limited Baltimore’s ability to build things up on the offensive side of the ball, and Flacco’s uneven play since signing the deal certainly hasn’t helped. If anyone in that building thinks Harbaugh or this coaching staff is the problem, they’re not being honest with themselves.

Marcus Peters Is an All-Out Liability: I wrote Sunday morning about how the Rams made a mistake building an aggressive risk/reward defense to complement their all-world offense. Peters is the epitome of that style, and it’s been nothing but downside since the early part of this season. You’re starting to see at least part of why no one else wanted him despite his affordable rookie deal. Do you bench him? Ask him to become an ultra-conservative zone corner? It is going to be a huge challenge for the Rams coaching staff to try mold him into a usable player over the second half of the season.

It Was Always Too Soon for Sam Darnold: He wasn’t ready to start Week 1, he isn’t ready to start Week 9, and the Jets don’t seem to have a great plan for him. Darnold’s fourth-quarter pick-six to Jerome Baker was as bad as it gets. We’ll see whether this is detrimental to his long-term development, but it seems unwise, especially as he continues to regress.

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