If one happened to be watching the 49ers’ 34-24 win over the Falcons on Monday night, we wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t aware there was another team playing in the contest opposite the 49ers. In Candlestick Park’s (potentially) final game ever, the game took a backseat to festivities and people chattering and reminiscing on their memories of the 53-year-old stadium. Many didn’t give the Falcons the slightest chance in the world to win this game. It was even described as a “homecoming” game of sorts for the Niners due to the perceived lack of a quality opponent.
However, the best offensive player on the field had to be Roddy White. He started off slow, turning his first seven grabs into just 51 yards while the Falcons were mostly dinking and dunking their way down the field. (That’s how Atlanta has played much of the season on offense due to shoddy offensive line work.) But White turned it up a notch and had his best game of 2013, a season which has mostly been a disappointment. He roasted Tramaine Brock and Eric Reid out of the slot for a 39-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to pull the Falcons within three points of San Francisco. Before that grab, White displayed his vice-grip mitts on multiple third- and fourth-down catches to keep drives alive. Fantasy owners have been burned by White many times this season. For those of you that managed to stick with him and advance to championship games, White delivered with a studly 12-141-1 line. He did his damage against a defense that had entered the night allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers.
Falcons at 49ers Quick Slants
Vernon Davis caught something in his eye early in the first half. He was seen trying to wash the eye out on the sideline, but he was clearly affected by the issue all night. Davis was unable to secure any of his three targets, dropping one and failing to get his hands up in time on another that likely would have been a touchdown. … Harry Douglas went over the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career with his 46-yard night. He’s been one of the lone bright spots for Atlanta in 2013. … Anquan Boldin also eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving for the season. It’s the first time he’s done so since 2009. … Michael Crabtree looked as healthy as he has since returning four weeks ago from his torn Achilles’ tendon. If he can stay on this track, the 49ers passing attack could be lethal in the postseason. … Drew Davis filled in for Darius Johnson (ankle) as Atlanta’s No. 3 receiver and caught all three of his targets for 70 yards. His 59-yard catch-and-run helped set up Steven Jackson’s two-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. … Frank Gore is one rushing touchdown away from tying a single-season career-high (10). … Matt Ryan’s two interceptions were bad breaks. The first one bounced off Douglas and was returned 89 yards for a game-sealing pick-six by Navorro Bowman late in the fourth quarter with the Falcons trailing by three points. Ryan’s second interception was a Hail-Mary heave on the final play. He played one of his better games of the season on Monday night.
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News Nugget #1
Tony Romo spun out of the pocket in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s comeback win over the Redskins and appeared to tweak his back. He was hunched over and limping around for the remainder of the game, and the Cowboys announced after the win that Romo would undergo a Monday MRI.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported Monday afternoon that the MRI revealed a herniated disk in the lumbar region of Romo’s back. The lumbar region is the lower portion of the back. Mortensen’s colleague, Adam Schefter, added that Romo is done for the season. Surgery is required. All coach Jason Garrett would let on is that Romo is merely day-to-day, and the team will evaluate him later this week. We expect the Cowboys to make a formal announcement that Romo’s season is over within the next couple days.
With Romo out, the Cowboys will turn to Kyle Orton. Orton signed a three-year, $10.5 million deal with Dallas two offseasons ago. He’s attempted 15 passes for the Cowboys in mop-up duty the past two seasons. Orton has started 69 games in his NFL career and will be tasked with leading the Cowboys over the Eagles in the winner-take-all Week 17 game for the NFC East title. Orton gives the Cowboys a fighter’s chance to pull the victory out, but it would be a minor miracle.
News Nugget #2
Steve Smith went down with a non-contact knee injury in the first half of Sunday’s win over the Saints. He briefly returned but quickly exited and later revealed he felt something pop in his knee when he was injured. Smith underwent an MRI on Monday, and it revealed a sprained PCL. That’s good news, but Smith won’t be able to play in the Week 17 finale against the Falcons. Ted Ginn will get the start opposite Brandon LaFell, and Domenik Hixon will serve as the No. 3 receiver. Smith has a shot to return for the first round of the playoffs. The Panthers also have a shot at a first-round bye with some help.
News Nugget #3
Broncos stud outside linebacker Von Miller was forced from Sunday’s win over the Texans in the first quarter with a knee injury. He walked off the field under his own power, which was a promising sign, but a Monday MRI showed that Miller suffered a torn ACL and is done for the season. It’s a mammoth loss and is a jolt to Denver’s Super Bowl hopes, even though the Broncos went undefeated without Miller earlier this season. This is the sport’s premier 4-3 outside linebacker we’re talking about. Nate Irving will fill in on the strong side in Miller’s absence. The downgrade in terms of pass-rush ability can’t even be put into words. The Broncos need Shaun Phillips to keep up his quarterback-sacking ways.
Quarterback/Running Back Slants
The Packers plan to make a call on Aaron Rodgers’ (collarbone) Week 17 status “sooner rather than later.” We should know before Friday. … Coach Marc Trestman confirmed Jay Cutler will start in Week 17. … Matt Cassel will start for the Vikings this week. … Matt McGloin has been benched, and Terrelle Pryor will start the Week 17 finale against the Broncos. Pryor’s agent believes coach Dennis Allen wants Pryor to fail. … Coach John Harbaugh conceded Joe Flacco (knee) isn’t close to 100 percent and is dealing with swelling. He’ll continue to play through the injury. … E.J. Manuel (knee) isn’t a lock to start in Week 17. … Case Keenum (thumb) remains day-to-day. Matt Schaub was abysmal in Sunday’s loss, so interim coach Wade Phillips left the door open for T.J. Yates to start the season finale. … Coach Mike McCoy didn’t update the status of Ryan Mathews (ankle) Monday. … Dennis Johnson injured his hip Sunday, and Deji Karim broke his collarbone. The Texans named Jonathan Grimes the Week 17 starter. … Coach Mike McCarthy was noncommittal on Eddie Lacy’s (ankle) Week 17 status. … Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring) escaped Week 16 without any setbacks. … Edwin Baker played on 50-of-69 offensive snaps. The Browns clearly want to get an extended look at him. … The Chiefs may rest their starters in Week 17. They’re locked into the No. 5 seed for the playoffs.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Slants
Percy Harvin (hip) will not practice this week. Coach Pete Carroll said he has no idea when Harvin will be on the field again. The Seahawks hope it’ll be for the playoffs. … Wes Welker (concussion) has still yet to be cleared to practice. … The Packers will increase Randall Cobb’s (leg, short-term I.R.) practice reps this week. … Stevie Johnson (personal) may not play in the finale. … Stedman Bailey played a season-high 40 offensive snaps Sunday and scored his first NFL touchdown. … Calvin Johnson (knee) may not play in Week 17. With the Lions eliminated, there’s no reason for Megatron to suit up. … Emmanuel Sanders underwent an MRI on his right knee Monday. … Jordan Cameron remains in the league’s concussion protocol.
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