November 15, 2009
The Jaguars trailed the Jets 22-21 late in the fourth quarter, but they had the ball at New York's 10-yard line. A field goal from that distance is basically a layup. The game clock was at 1:48. The Jets were without timeouts. Jones-Drew took the handoff from quarterback David Garrard(notes) and ran up the middle…where he was met with no resistance whatsoever.
New York's defense moved at half-speed, conceding the touchdown. The Jets were in an odd game-management situation in which they needed Jacksonville to score quickly, having no other way to stop the clock. Rather than accommodate them, Jones-Drew took a knee at the 1-yard line, declining the TD. You'll find the highlight here beginning at the 1:45 mark.
Jets corners Darrelle Revis(notes) and Lito Sheppard(notes) did everything possible to allow MJD to score, short of actually carrying him over the goal line on their shoulders. By kneeling at the one, Jones-Drew allowed the Jaguars to run the clock down to the final tick and then kick a 21-yard field goal.
"Brilliant!" said the announcers.
"Brilliant!" said the five people who actually cheer for the Jaguars.
It was essentially the Brian Westbrook(notes) play all over again. In 2007, Westbrook cruelly took a knee against Dallas in Week 15, guaranteeing a 10-6 win for the Eagles and a loss for thousands of fantasy owners.
The NFL rules committee needs to take a strong stand against that sort of deliberate non-scoring. Urgently. Tonight, if possible. It might be a smart tactical play in real-life, but it's a disaster in the imaginary game. Players should be severely fined. Not suspended, obviously, because that just punishes the fantasy owner again.
To his credit, Jones-Drew understands the damage he's done:
"Sorry to my fantasy owners," Jones-Drew deadpanned. "I apologize. I had myself today. It was a tough call, but whatever it takes to get the victory, that’s what counts."
If he's serious about earning forgiveness, four touchdowns against the Bills next week might be a nice start.
• Let there be no doubt: Beanie Wells(notes) is a more dangerous runner than Tim Hightower(notes). The rookie carried 16 times for 85 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle. The second score was really of the highest quality, as Wells bounced off multiple defenders, spinning into the end zone. Video here. Both Wells and Hightower should be useful down the stretch, as Arizona has an absurdly easy schedule in the most important weeks of the fantasy year. The Cards face the Lions and Rams in Weeks 15 and 16.
• After 45 minutes of game time, the Packers and Cowboys finally remembered that you're expected to do more than commit penalties (22 total) and allow sacks (nine). Green Bay led 3-0 after three quarters, eventually winning 17-7. Aaron Rodgers(notes) saved his fantasy day with a 1-yard rushing score and a 2-yard fourth quarter TD pass to Spencer Havner(notes). Jordy Nelson(notes) was denied a touchdown by inches; can't believe he didn't get that score on review.
• Darren McFadden(notes) was a useless distraction in his return from the knee injury, finishing with four catches for 11 yards. Michael Bush(notes) had most of the rushing yards for the Raiders (14-for-119) while Justin Fargas(notes) took the touchdown (10-41-1). JaMarcus Russell(notes) was benched in favor of Bruce Gradkowski(notes), who was predictably unhelpful (4-for-8, two INTs).
• Jamaal Charles(notes) had an 18-to-9 edge in carries over Kolby Smith(notes) and a 103-to-12 edge in rushing yards. Charles also added four receptions in the Chiefs' 16-10 win. He's the guy to own, if you're investing in the KC backfield.
• Brian Westbrook suffered another concussion, complicating his situation going forward. That's two concussions within a month. The Eagles fell behind 14-0 early in the second quarter on Sunday, so they completely abandoned the run per their usual. Donovan McNabb(notes) passed 55 times for 450 yards and two TDs in the loss to San Diego.
• The early word on Cedric Benson's(notes) hip injury is encouraging. He reportedly believes that he'll be OK for Week 11. Rookie Bernard Scott(notes) is the handcuff.
• It was just a miserable week for injuries, particularly among the running backs. Michael Turner(notes) will have an MRI on Monday to help determine the nature of his ankle issue. The current fear is that it's a high ankle sprain. Jason Snelling(notes) was serviceable in relief, picking up 93 total yards on 21 touches, but he's no Burner.
"We took X-rays. We’ll wait to see what happens," Brown said. "I don’t think it’s too bad."
…but don't expect solid answers until later in the week.
• Yup, another RB injury: Julius Jones(notes) reportedly has a broken rib. Justin Forsett(notes) was fantastic in Jones' absence, gaining 149 total yards on 23 touches. He's an obvious add for Week 11 and beyond.
Posted at 8:45 pm ET
• With Larry Johnson(notes) on the scrap heap, Jamaal Charles is attempting to call dibs on the Chiefs' starting running back job. Let's hope Coach Haley is listening. Charles had most of the first half carries for Kansas City (9-for-51) and he scored his team's only TD. Check the clip of his 44-yard run. There's no catching Charles when he gets a step on your defense (at least not if your defense is Oakland).
KC gets Buffalo and Cleveland in Weeks 14 and 15, so various Chiefs could prove helpful in the fantasy playoffs.
• Julius Jones checked out of the Seattle-Arizona game in the first quarter with a chest injury, and Justin Forsett has been extremely useful in his absence. At halftime, Forsett has 79 total yards on 12 touches and he's rushed for an 11-yard TD. Jones is hardly the biggest name to suffer an injury in Week 10 – see below for details on Benson, Turner and Brown – but his replacement is talented and widely available.
• It's a pitcher's duel in Green Bay, where the Packers lead the Cowboys 3-0 at half. Roy Williams had a costly fumble; no one else has anything.
• The Panthers' running game was dominant again on Sunday (185 net yards, two TDs), but they lost Pro Bowl left tackle Jordan Gross(notes) to a broken ankle. He's likely done for the year. You can find free agent help at many positions, but left tackle isn't one of them. This is a massive loss for the Carolina offense.
• One more piece of Panthers news: Steve Smith returned following his back/rib injury. He has a history of making discomfort appear life-threatening.
• LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) is showing signs of life at home against a tough Philly defense. Late in the third quarter, he's delivering a fantasy line that's straight out of 2005: 15 carries, 81 yards, two TDs.
• We failed to give Washington's spectacular fake field goal proper recognition earlier today. Highlight here. That's a thing of beauty, straight from some SEC playbook. And that was a legitimately nice throw by Hunter the punter.
Posted at 6:30 pm ET
• Chris Johnson has piled up highlights all year, most of them on long scoring plays. But the most impressive yard he's picked up this season was gained in the fourth quarter against the Bills. He lowered his head and flattened both Paul Posluszny(notes) and Bryan Scott(notes), then bounced outside and crossed the goal line to give his team a 24-17 lead. (Take that Penn State). Watch the clip here.
Johnson finished with 132 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and two TDs. Just another day by his standards. He's now on a 1,940 rushing yard pace.
• Devin Thomas(notes) made the '09 Broncos look like the '08 Broncos on his 27-yard third down reception late in the fourth quarter. He broke no fewer than four tackles, setting up Ladell Betts'(notes) 1-yard TD. Chris Simms(notes) was a mess in relief of the injured Kyle Orton(notes) (ankle). Simms went 3-for-13, he was sacked three times and he threw one pick. You asked for it, Woody Paige, and you got it.
• The Falcons may just have a kicker problem. Jason Elam(notes) badly missed a 34-yard attempt that would have given Atlanta a 22-21 lead over Carolina in the fourth quarter. Recall that Elam also had a pair of ugly misses against the Saints in Week 8.
• Ben Roethlisberger(notes) nearly had another improvised big play to Mike Wallace(notes), but Ben just missed his rookie receiver in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Santonio Holmes(notes) was open on the play, but he couldn't get his QB's attention. The Grahams ultimately beat the Reeds, 18-12. Cincinnati's defense is absolutely for real. That group limited Rashard Mendenhall(notes) to 36 rushing yards and held Roethlisberger to 174 through the air.
• Josh Freeman(notes) nearly led the Bucs to another improbable win, thanks in part to a crazy decision by Miami's Chad Henne(notes). He threw a brutal pick in his own territory late in the fourth quarter, ahead 22-16. Tampa Bay's Carnell Williams(notes) scored a touchdown to give the Bucs a temporary lead, but the Dolphins managed to put together a game-winning drive in the final 1:10. Dan Carpenter(notes) gets credit for the final three points.
Ronnie Brown was limping badly after suffering an ankle injury in the third quarter. Sunday has been a rough day for marquee backs. (See below). Ricky Williams(notes) received a season-high 20 carries. Based on Brown's on-field reaction to the injury, it would be a surprise if he played next week at Carolina.
• St. Louis was quite a bit more competitive than anyone imagined, challenging New Orleans until Marc Bulger's(notes) final pass fell incomplete. Donnie Avery(notes) caught a pair of TDs for the Rams; Steven Jackson finished with 176 total yards and one score. Marques Colston(notes) is going to repeat as Dud of the Week at wide receiver, thanks to this play (which might just cost me a win).
• Brett Favre(notes) finished with 344 passing yards in the Vikes' 27-10 win over Detroit. Every-week fantasy starter Sidney Rice(notes) collected 201 of those yards on seven catches. Harvin, Shiancoe and Berrian grabbed the crumbs. Adrian Peterson caught two more balls, giving him 21 receptions for the year. That's a career high.
• Maurice Jones-Drew pulled a Westbrook-style kneel down inside the final two minutes in New York, apparently following his coach's instructions. The Jets had no timeouts; they couldn't stop the clock as seconds ticked away. Josh Scobee(notes) kicked a layup game-winner as time expired. Some of us could have used those six points, MJD. Not cool.
Posted at 5:05 pm ET
Injured running back alert (also known as a "Larry Johnson employment alert"): Cedric Benson is out with a hip injury, after carrying seven times for 22 yards against the NFL's top run defense. Rookie Bernard Scott has taken over for Cincinnati. Also, Atlanta's Michael Turner is reportedly done for the day due to an ankle sprain. He carried nine times for 111 yards before checking out. Jason Snelling is getting all the carries for the Falcons; he scored a 1-yard TD in the second quarter.
Updated at 3:10 pm ET
• Just when we started to worry about Knowshon Moreno's(notes) workload, he got the call repeatedly on Denver's first series. Moreno began the game with a 28-yard run, his longest of the year. Three plays later, Kyle Orton went downfield – REPEAT: KYLE ORTON WENT DOWNFIELD – to Brandon Marshall(notes), who was completely alone. Video here, via NFL.com. That might be the easiest 40-yard score you'll see all year. Correll Buckhalter(notes) rotated into the backfield on Denver's second possession, losing a fumble on his second carry. Washington failed to convert the turnover into anything useful, though.
Incredibly enough, the 'Skins allowed Marshall to run free again with 3:35 on the clock in the first quarter. Orton connected with No. 15 for arguably the easiest 75-yard score in NFL history. More video. The DBs were barely in the frame. Denver could have had another long passing TD in the second quarter, too, but Orton badly overthrew Eddie Royal(notes). (And the agony continues for Royal owners). Orton later limped off the field at the end of the first half with an ankle injury; Chris Simms has taken over in the third quarter.
• Steve Smith has a pair of first half touchdowns for the Panthers, and he missed a third by inches. He took a knee to the back and/or ribs on the second TD, however, and was in obvious pain. He's questionable to return. Still, congrats to those who trusted Jake Delhomme(notes) enough to roll with Smith.
• The Bills scored a touchdown out of the WildFred formation, as Fred Jackson(notes) hit Lee Evans(notes) with a beautifully thrown pass for a 27-yard TD. Sweet playcall; excellent work by Jackson selling the run. But five minutes later, Tennessee tied the game at 7-7 when Chris Johnson easily broke the plane from 28 yards away, coasting at the end of the run. Buffalo linebacker Paul Posluszny took an angle that would have been appropriate for LenDale White(notes), but not CJ.
• Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu(notes) is out for the remainder of the day after suffering an early tweaking of the left knee against Cincinnati. It's a huge loss for the Steelers' D, obviously. Perhaps they can give tackling machine Jeff Reed(notes) a look at safety. Check out the glide-by from Reed on Bernard Scott's 96-yard return TD.
• Mike Sims-Walker(notes) 1, Fantasy Gurus 0. Many of us were frightened by Sims-Walker's matchup today (and by David Garrard's year-to-date performance on the road). But MSW has two catches for 40 yards and a score at half. Maurice Jones-Drew has his usual long rushing score for Jacksonville, a 33-yarder in the first quarter. He also erased a blitzing Kerry Rhodes(notes) to setup Garrard's easy 11-yard TD.
• Marc Bulger's first quarter interception was shameful. Never had a chance. The safety had it all the way, no question. He could have signaled for a fair catch. However, the Rams are impressively hanging with New Orleans. Steven Jackson has an even 100 rushing yards at half with a 1-yard TD. S-Jax is having an absolutely heroic season.
• Adrian Peterson is having the huge day we all expected (111 total yards at half). His 22-yard rushing TD was…well, it was a play that only he can make. Check the tape; note the way he tosses DE Jason Hunter(notes) aside behind the line of scrimmage. That's just cruel. Peterson has a pair of first half fumbles, however. The first was somewhat fluky – he was tossing the ball to a receiver on a reverse – but the second was more traditional, as the football was poked out from behind.
Posted at 2:45 pm ET
Early injury updates: DeAngelo Williams(notes) (knee), Ladell Betts (ankle/foot), Roddy White(notes) (knee), Bernard Berrian(notes) (hamstring) and Terrell Owens(notes) (hip) are all reportedly ACTIVE. Antonio Bryant(notes) (knee) and Lance Moore(notes) (ankle) are INACTIVE.
Scott Pianowski will tweet today's action, by the way. You're encouraged to follow along.
Posted at 11:50 am ET
Welcome to Mismatch Week, everyone. If you'd like to propose a Rams-win or Lions-win scenario, please share it with the group in comments. And if that seems too difficult, then maybe tell us how Washington can possibly defeat Denver. Or give us the roadmap to victory for Cleveland against Baltimore.
Those who are in desperate need of last-minute fantasy advice should watch Fantasy Football Live beginning at noon ET. You're also invited to follow Sunday Scene throughout the day for biased observations and analysis.
Stay classy, Minnesota.
Photos via Getty Images (Vikes fan, Jones-Drew), US Presswire (Marshall) and AP Images (Johnson, Charles)