FOOTBALL RECAP

NFL Week 12 observations: The good, bad and ugly

Phil Dawson had a huge kick for Arizona. Arizona Cardinals

Week twelve in the NFL brought us some interesting matchups. While it’s still as fuzzy as our judgment after a few too many drinks, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. This week is akin to you waking up and trying to get your bearings, but you can’t find your keys just yet.

The Good

-In a battle of the former and current sorry excuse for a Jacksonville Jaguar quarterback, the Arizona Cardinals’ Blaine Gabbert was able to “outduel” Blake Bortles thanks to Phil Dawson’s career long 57-yard field goal with one second left on the clock. Kudos to Dawson. He’s a 19 year vet who’s been written off more than once and still getting it done.

-Props to Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. After being unceremoniously benched for rookie backup Nathan Peterman to start last week’s game, he came back to lead the Bills over the Kansas City Chiefs 16-10. He was understandably upset about the benching last week (which he attributed to being judged more harshly because he’s a black quarterback). This week, he led the most Tyrod Taylor-esque win while going 19/29 for 183 yards and a touchdown, along with 9 rushes for 27 yards. This win keeps the Bills in the playoff picture at the six seed.

-The Minnesota Vikings are still rolling along at 9-2 after outlasting the Detroit Lions 30-23 on Thanksgiving. Case Keenum has come in and continued the Vikings dominance. Credit Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for working with whomever he’s been given at quarterback and making them successful since his hire there in January of 2016.

The Bad

-The Dallas Cowboys lost at home to the Los Angeles Chargers (it feels just as weird typing as it does saying) on Thanksgiving 28-6. The most troubling thing to me wasn’t Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott’s play, but the offensive line’s play against the Chargers’ front seven. The Chargers made them look fairly average. Sure they’re missing their star running back, but an offensive line widely recognized as one of the league’s best shouldn’t get dominated the way they did at home on Thanksgiving.

-The Washington Redskins (maybe quarterback Kirk Cousins specifically) almost shot themselves in the foot during a 4th quarter sequence. On a 4th and 1, they called a timeout, decided to go for it, called another timeout to prevent a delay of game penalty, and got a delay of game penalty anyway for calling consecutive timeouts. Even though they won 20-10, that could’ve cost them big time.

-The Green Bay Packers tied the Pittsburgh Steelers at 28 with about two minutes left in the game. After forcing a Steelers punt, the Packers punted the ball back to the Steelers with about 30 seconds left. They proceeded to give up the game winning field goal after a drive that saw them play terrible coverage. Granted, they’re missing some depth in the defensive backfield, but playing too far off Antonio Brown was utterly ridiculous. Cover 2 with outside corners playing back, or quarters/cover 4 would’ve been better in that situation knowing all they needed was a field goal to win.

The Ugly

-Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver Broncos corner Aqib Talib have had quite the beef since Talib ripped off Crabtree’s chain in a game late last year. Not even a full 5 minutes into the game, Talib and Crabtree ignited a brawl when Talib snatched Crabtree’s chain off his neck Debo style for the second time. It’s time for this beef to stop before it gets to a level in which all actions are regrettable.

-Speaking of Raiders/Broncos…Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper suffered concussion on an accidental helmet to helmet hit. Not only was Cooper out cold, but his eyes were closed and hands fixated in a catching position as he lie motionless on the turf.

-The Cleveland Browns are now 0-11 after losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 30-16. Before the loss, the 0-10 Browns needed 47 different things to go right for them to make the playoffs. Following the loss, they’ve been officially eliminated. Here’s to hoping they can finally draft a franchise quarterback and end the process of rebuilding they’ve been in since reincarnating in 1999.  

In a “clash of the unexpected titans”, the Los Angeles Rams bested the New Orleans Saints 26-20. Both teams are now 8-3, but the Rams hold the tie breaker when it comes to playoff implications. Tom Brady is 40 years old and looking like a serious MVP candidate as his Patriots are 9-2 following a 35-17 thrashing of the Miami Dolphins. The Philadelphia Eagles are the class of the league at 10-1. But perhaps one of the best moments from this past week came when Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was asked about Brandin Cooks’ touchdown celebration in which Gronk appeared to play the role of Trigger to Cooks’ Lone Ranger. Gronk has never been at a loss for words, but he was this time. Overall, I’d give week 12 of NFL action a perfect 10.

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TEXANS HAVE ZERO DEPTH AT CORNER

Here's what Davante Adams' big day against the Texans really proved

Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Seven weeks into the season, Bradley Roby has been the sole bright spot playing for a secondary that has been subpar at best. He entered Week 7 against the Green Bay Packers trailing only Eric Murray for the most tackles as a defensive back, while owning the Houston Texans' only interception of the season.

During his media availability on Thursday, Roby spoke about having the Texans' confidence to trust him as the primary defender shadowing the opposing team's best receiver.

And with Davante Adams coming to NRG Stadium with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, Roby had an opportunity to illustrate why Houston's coaching staff have so much faith in him.

Three plays into the game, Roby sustained a knee injury that sidelined him the rest of the afternoon. In his absence, the Texans felt his importance competing with a depleted secondary.

Adams would go on to have a career day against the Texans. He recorded a career-best 196 receiving yards on 13-of-18 targets and two touchdowns — as the Packers handed the Texans a 35-20 loss on Sunday.

Had the Fort Worth native avoided the injury, would it have resulted in a victory for the Texans? Perhaps not. It is always hard for a team to come away victorious after going scoreless during the first half, but Roby would have limited the destruction caused by Adams. Rogers completed four deep passes where he recorded 28 or more yards, with Adams being the recipient of three.

Not only did Houston have to deal with the effects of not having their best corner shadow one of the league's premier receivers, but the team was not prepared to battle without Roby, according to Michael Thomas following the loss.

"When you lose your starting corner like that, it's going to affect [the team]," Thomas said. "Anytime you have to make adjustments. If you're not prepared, and you don't have the right mindset, then you're probably not going to get the right results you want. Maybe we could have done it a little sooner, but you definitely miss a guy like Roby. You plan on having your number one guy go against their number one guy all the time."

Roby's premature exit left the Texans with a gaping void to slowdown Rodgers and the Packers without two of their projected starting corners. Gareon Conley — who revived his career during the second half of last season — has yet to play a single snap for Houston in 2020 as he continues to recover from offseason ankle surgery.

Their lackluster performance on Sunday showcased the lack of depth and talent the Texans have in the secondary. And with the trade deadline a week away, it may be in the Texans' best interest to invest in a young defensive back they can build around in the future — especially considering the timetable on Conley's return remains unknown.

Interim head coach Romeo Crennel said on Monday that the team is hoping Roby's injury is short-term and hopes to have their top corner make his return following the bye.

At 1-6 on the year, all the Texans have left to play for is pride as they close out the remaining nine games of the season, and the best way is to prevent another receiver from recording nearly 200 yards in a single game.

For this vulnerable secondary, it is a feat easier said than done. And with the talents of Jarvis Landry, T.Y. Hilton, and A.J. Brown remaining on the schedule, it is only best for Roby to make his return to the field sooner rather than later.

"I take pride in it. It's an opportunity that not a lot of guys get throughout the league, and I'm thankful for that. Just to be able to go against the best and try my best for the team and see how I match up. I'm very thankful for that." — Roby.

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