The light has drastically dimmed on the Washington Redskins’ playoff hopes after a dismal showing on Monday night against the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers, who were playing for pride only. Carolina prevailed 26-15 as the Redskins repeatedly stalled in the red zone, which has been the offense’s M.O. all season. Now let’s get to the rest of the worst of Week 15.
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The Brock Lobster gets cooked
His shoddy play nearly tanked the Texans’ season but head coach Bill O’Brien made the necessary and “gutsy” (according to owner Bob McNair) decision to pull the high-priced quarterback in favor of backup Tom Savage on Sunday after back-to-back interceptions by Osweiler.
Savage proceeded to rally Houston back from a 13-0 hole against the Jaguars (the Jaguars aided Houston in this effort) on 23-of-36 passing for 260 yards. The Texans are financially married to Osweiler for at least one more year so barring a major turnaround, he’s likely to be a very highly paid backup in 2017. The free-agent signing is a cautionary tale against buying desperate in the absence of evidence that the product is any good.
The Jets get embarrassed at home again
In their first home game since getting torched by the Colts 41-10 on Monday Night Football in Week 13, the Jets melted down again, allowing a pair of passing touchdowns of 52-plus yards, a blocked punt touchdown, and two more passing touchdowns by Dolphins backup quarterback Matt Moore despite the Dolphins managing just 13 first downs.
Also, Jets QB Bryce Petty got cremated when center Wesley Johnson snapped the ball before the rest of the line was ready, leading to Petty becoming the lifeless, nearly dead meat on a Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake sandwich. The Jets tackles didn’t even get a hand on the rushers as Petty suffered a badly bruised chest but fortunately (and surprisingly) did not suffer broken ribs or damage to internal organs.
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The Detroits Lions running game is no running game at all
Also at MetLife Stadium, on Sunday, the Detroit Lions got locked in a defensive struggle against the New York Giants, who turned the Lions completely one-dimensional on offense in a 17-6 victory.
Lions lead running back Dwayne Washington (pictured) rushed 14 times for just 31 yards (2.2 average), a figure buoyed a bit by a 12-yard run. Now the Lions have a date with the Cowboys in Dallas on Monday night before what is shaping up to be the NFC North championship game with the Green Bay Packers in Week 17. The Lions will have a hard time winning either game without running back Theo Riddick, who missed the Giants game with a wrist injury.
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The Minnesota Vikings' collapse nears completion
Elsewhere in the NFC North, the miraculously healing Adrian Peterson could not rescue the Vikings from their spiral around the drain. At home against a Colts defense allowing 371 yards per game (ranked 27th) and 24.2 points (22nd), the Vikings’ first six offensive possessions looked like this: punt (3 and out), punt (4 plays), punt (3 and out), lost fumble (2 plays), interception (1 play), lost fumble (on a sack).
Behind what remains of a Vikings offensive line that’s been decimated by injuries, Peterson rushed 6 time for 22 yards and after his longest gain of 13 yards, fumbled. After starting the season 5-0, the 34-6 loss to the Colts drops Minnesota to 7-7 and gives them a roughly 1 percent chance of reaching the postseason as the No. 6 seed.
San Francisco’s rushing defense gets shredded again
The 49ers defense continues to hemorrhage rushing yards at a ridiculous pace, bleeding 248 to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, bringing the season total up to 2,468 (176 per game), eclipsing the team’s previous rushing defense futility record of 2,365 yards set in 1978. And there are still two games left.
The D has gotten considerably worse since linebacker Navorro Bowman went down with a torn Achilles in early October. It doesn’t help that San Francisco’s offense spends less time on the field than any other team in the league, a feature/glitch in Chip Kelly’s system that puts a large burden on the defense.
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The Broncos offense lets the team down again
The defending champs’ offensive miscues and inability to score points has become a point of contention in the locker room. After Denver’s defense held Tom Brady and the Patriots to just 16 points on Sunday in a 16-3 loss, offensive tackle Russell Okung sparked an offense vs. defense locker room tiff when he sought to address the team.
The rift is rooted in competitive spirit but the defensive players apparently are having a hard time bottling their frustration. “We feel like we played almost good enough defense to win that game” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "I don’t know if [we] ever kept Brady under 16 points, and we did that today. … “Y’all see what has to get changed. I’m not going to speak on it too much.”
Blake Bortles and the Jaguars second half offense equal Gus Bradley’s firing
Bradley was almost certainly going to get fired at season’s end anyhow, but Jaguars owner Shad Khan put fans and perhaps the players out of their misery by axing the coach after 14 wins and 48 losses in four season. Bradley’s fealty to quarterback Blake Bortles’ futility was reportedly one of the reasons for the firing.
In the final straw at Houston, the Jaguars offense managed just 44 total yards in six second-half drives as the team failed to preserve a 20-8 second-half lead, falling 21-20. Bortles’ mechanics are shot and he has badly regressed this season; against the Texans he completed just 12 of 28 passing attempts for 92 yards and one game-ending pick. His 5.98 yards per attempt on the season is better only than Brock Osweiler. Jaguars interim head coach Doug Marrone should do what Bradley wouldn’t and take a hint from Bill O’Brien.
Andy Reid “ices” Titans kicker Ryan Succop but actually warms him up
Former Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop got some revenge on his old team when Chiefs head coach Andy Reid attempted to ice him, but only helped him refine his approach. The kicker came up short on the initial try that officials whistled dead and got a second chance at a 53-yard game-winner and he put it through.
“On the second one I just kind of had to throw technique out the window a little bit and really go after it and kick it as hard as I could,” Succop said. “I told some of the guys this afterward: You could give me 10 kicks from there and I don’t know if I could make one, honestly, in the weather and the cold and just kicking a frozen football.” Especially in the cold, opposing coaches need to resist the urge to “ice the kicker” because the kicker and the ball are already freezing cold.
The Bengals’ second half against the Steelers is a perfect disaster
Playing for the satisfaction of spoiling a rival’s aspiration, the Bengals mounted a 20-9 halftime lead over the Steelers before flatlining on offense in the second half in an eventual 24-20 Steelers win. The Bengals’ four second-half drives ended in three punts and one Andy Dalton interception as the offense gained just 38 total yards. Perhaps some voodoo curse was placed on the offense after Jeremy Hill shredded a Terrible Towel after a second-quarter rushing touchdown to take a 17-3 lead.
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Some defense in Arizona?
The defenses combined to allow a Sun Bowl-like 913 yards of total offense plus 98 penalty yards. As are most Drew Brees-era Saints games, the 48-41 offensive bonanza was a really fun game to watch, unless you prefer a 6-6 Cardinals-Seahawks overtime tie. Meanwhile, Saints and Cardinals defensive players did not have a good time watching the game film on Monday.