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As if we haven't mentioned DeSean Jackson's amazing game-winning punt return enough today: it's an NFL first, too.
So says the Elias Sports Bureau, which tends to know about things like these:
Elias Sports Bureau: @DeseanJackson10 return was the first ever "WALK OFF" Punt Return in NFL History with time expiring
That punt return, a 65-yarder as time expired, made up for an otherwise average day from Jackson. As previously noted, Jackson had just three catches for 52 yards against the Giants, and nearly gave the game away for the Eagles with a late fumble.
Luckily, Michael Vick led the Eagles back in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles' defense — and Giants punter Matt Dodge — gave Jackson a chance to atone for past sins. D-Jax did the rest.
That might not be any solace for fantasy owners who were hoping for tons of yardage and a couple of touchdowns from Jackson. But I suspect the Eagles don't mind.
Well hello there Michael Vick.
Since the beginning of the 2010 NFL season it's been evident that Vick is a different quarterback than then one that was under center for the Atlanta Falcons for so many years. Entering today's game versus the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback had thrown 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions, going 186-294 (63.6 percent for his completion percentage) for 2513 passing yards and had 483 rushing yards on 82 rushes with 7 rushing touchdowns. His development into a pass first, run second quarterback seemed to have finished weeks ago. But today was the day where he Vick of old, the one who won games with his legs rather than his arm, returned to take the glory.
Vick powered a 28 point fourth quarter explosion by the Eagles offense by combining the electrifying runs of his past with smart, precision passing of his 2010-self. The three Vick led touchdown drives of the fourth quarter went for 222 yards. For the game, Vick was 21 of 35 for 242 passing yards and two passing touchdowns (both to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin) and an interception, plus 10 rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Runs of 33-yards and 22-yards set up the tying touchdown pass to Maclin. The 33-yard run run came after the Giants containment opened the left side of the field for him to start moving his legs. The 22-yarder was almost all Vick by himself, quickly evading two Giants defensive linemen en route to running up the middle of the field to get the Eagles into the Giants red zone.
DeSean Jackson most likely would agree that his impact on the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants game today was below expectations after his four catch, 210 yard performance last week (against the Dallas Cowboys). That is until there were only 14 seconds left in the game.
Jackson, who had caught three passes for 52 yards, muffed a punt from Giants rookie punter Matt Dodge, picked up the fumble and returned it 65-yards to turn a 21 point fourth quarter comeback into a win for the Eagles.
Dodge's punt went almost directly to Jackson, who already has the Eagles franchise record for most punt returns in a career (3) - in his third season in the NFL and with the Eagles. Jackson appeared to already start to make his run as the ball came to him, which he then fumbled. With the Giants punt return coverage team closing in on him, Jackson picked up the ball and ran up the middle of the field, eluding tacklers as he ran. Picking up a couple of key blocks, Jackson made his way to the right sideline and ran across the mouth of the end zone to kill the remaining time off the clock before walking into the end zone itself.
While Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick struggles against the New York Giants, all three other NFC East passers are having very productive fantasy days. Speaking of fantasies, the Sex Cannon himself is a few passes away from passing San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson as week 15’s highest-scoring fantasy player.
Grossman has four touchdowns and 279 yards after an early interception made it look like Cowboys-Redskins was destined for either vintage Grossman or current Donovan McNabb. This is already the Cannon’s biggest yardage day since mid-2007, and he might even have overtime ahead of him as we’re knotted up at 30 late. His career high is 339.
Meanwhile, Giants QB Eli Manning has thrown four of his own, plus he’s only two yards behind Grossman’s total. Kitna’s in an actual, non-fantasy shootout with Grossman, throwing for only two touchdowns — but no picks — and a division-leading 284 yards.
Kansas City Chiefs QB Matt Cassel is playing today after a week of practice limited by an appendectomy. He isn’t playing quite like the fantasy stud we’ve come to expect to our own surprise, though the Chiefs haven’t needed much through the air to put an 11-point lead on the St. Louis Rams.
Cassel has 152 yards on 24 attempts, plus a pick and a touchdown to Leonard Pope. He’s also ambled for 17 yards on the ground.
After a week off that saw the Chiefs get blanked by the San Diego Chargers, any Cassel is good Cassel. His touchdown streak extends all the way back to week six, and he’s only thrown two picks since week three. His yardage total should end up right around where it usually does, but it’s that completion percentage that is lower than Cassel’s standard. Still, most fantasy owners don’t really care about that.
For more on the Chiefs’ QB situation, join Arrowhead Pride.
Indianapolis Colts RB Donald Brown is leading a productive day for Indy’s offense, breaking for 127 total yards and a touchdown on 11 touches. His highlight reel includes a breakaway 43-yard touchdown and a 49-yard haul up the sideline. Actually that’s his entire highlight reel, but it’s better than yours! You’re just sitting there!
This is already Brown’s best game of the season, and could earn him a few more carries in what’s usually the NFL’s most pass-oriented offense.
RB Ray Rice has scored a pair of touchdowns for the Baltimore Ravens against the New Orleans Saints, adding in 75 yards on the ground and 48 yards through the air. Two touchdowns ups Rice’s season total to five — though he’s a consistent yardage man, he hasn’t found the end zone all too often.
What’s the fantasy football impact of Terrell Owens’ knee injury? If he’s out for the season, it would be wise to take a look at the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals receiving corps.
WR Chad Ochocinco is the first name that comes to mind, but rookie WR Jordan Shipley might be a better trade value, depending on how much attention your potential trade partners pay to what happens on Sundays. Despite missing a game, Shipley has only about 200 fewer receiving yards than Ochocinco does this season, and the Bengals have to start thinking about the future of their aging offense as the season dies out. More balls to Shipley would make sense.
TE Jermaine Gresham and RB Cedric Benson also catch passes — with T.O. out, Cincy’s offense is going to need to become more conservative. Owens stretches the field for receivers like Ochocinco and Shipley, and Carson Palmer may find himself dumping to Gresham or Benson more often than before.
Join Cincy Jungle to contemplate the future of Cincinnati’s offense.
All eyes were on Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick in today’s NFC Easy slugfest with the New York Giants, but so far it’s Giants WR Mario Manningham who’s lighting up the box score. He has 84 yards and two touchdowns already, the latter a season high and the former darn near one.
QB Eli Manning threw scores of 33 and 35 yards to Manningham, along with a pair of other completions. Manningham has seven targets already, so it looks like New York’s game plan was to get him heavily involved early, and it’s paying off.
Vick is four of eight with 22 yards and what we’d like to call a rare interception, except that he’s thrown four picks in four straight games after a turnover-free start. He’s also added 14 yards on the ground.
Join Big Blue View for more on all players whose names begin with Manning, except for Peyton Manning.
You may have heard Rex Grossman is starting today for the Washington Redskins over Donovan McNabb. Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin should be glad Grossman isn’t starting for Dallas, because Cowboys QB Jon Kitna is slingin’ it today. Seven-for-13 for 100 yards and a three-yard touchdown to Austin, Kitna has helped lead the Cowboys to a 13-0 early lead over the rival Skins.
Grossman has already thrown his first interception, with Gerald Sensabaugh the happy recipient. This was the Sex Cannon’s first interception since 2009, when he threw one among his only nine attempts of the season in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. I realize none of you started Grossman in fantasy today, but maybe you started some Skins receivers?
If so, things may be looking bleak, though Grossman has thrown for 79 yards already.
UPDATE: I take it all back. Grossman has now thrown for three scores and 279 yards with ten minutes left.
In a game with NFL playoff picture implications, the NFL’s tallest and shortest* star quarterbacks have gone back-and-forth with early touchdown passes. New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees threw a sideliner to TE Jimmy Graham, with Graham making a great play to turn it into an 18-yard score. Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco responded with 34-yard score to rookie TE Ed Dickson.
Brees continues his absurd scoring streak, with a touchdown in every game this season and the last 11 of 2009. He’s also scored multiple touchdowns in 10 of his last 12 games — with over three quarters to go today, it would not be insane to presume another will be on the way soon.
Flacco, ridin’ high off the FCS semifinals win by his Delaware Blue Hens, threw his 22nd touchdown of the season. He’s also only thrown one pick since week 10 and only three since week two.
Graham’s touchdown was the second of his NFL career.
In Cleveland Browns QB Colt McCoy’s first game since week 11 and first game as Browns perma-starter, the rookie threw a touchdown on Cleveland’s opening drive. McCoy suffered a high ankle sprain in week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but appears to be back in the form that helped lead the Browns to upsets of the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, plus close losses to the Jags and New York Jets.
McCoy’s touchdown pass went 20 yards to Robert Royal and was countered by a one-for-four, three-yard drive by Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer. McCoy has thrown for 71 already on seven attempts, with Brian Robiskie and Benjamin Watson catching a pair each.
In his five previous games as a starter, McCoy scored four touchdowns, threw three picks, thrice threw for more than 200 yards, and displayed a little bit of the scrambling ability that served him so well in college.
To talk McCoy and the Browns, join Dawgs By Nature.
Injured Indianapolis Colts WR Austin Collie was a question mark this week due to the lingering effects of a recent concussion. He’s on the field and playing very well, grabbing a seven-yard floater from QB Peyton Manning on Indy’s opening drive in addition to two other passes. He has 20 yards already.
He’s only played in three games since week six, with only seven catches and no touchdowns in that meager span. The Colts clearly feel Collie is back in business and ready to contribute, and he’s on pace to have his best game of the season since two early season outbursts of more than 160 yards each.
Fantasy owners have had a hard time knowing when to play Collie for much of the season, but it looks like today was the day. Collie now has seven touchdowns in nine games.
Colts fans and Collie fans alike, join Stampede Blue today.
Collie suffered a concussion back in week 9 versus the Philadelphia Eagles, when he was the NFL's receiving yards leader. Since the concussion Collie has been week-to-week for the Colts. After missing week 10 because of the concussion Collie played versus the Patriots in week 11, catching five passes for 60 yards with a long of 28 yards. The following week began a streak of three straight weeks that Collie would miss play because of symptoms relating to the concussion he suffered versus the Eagles.
Once a difference maker in the early season for fantasy owners, Collie looks destined to remain an afterthought for any owner still alive in the playoffs. Collie is set to play in today's game versus the Jacksonville Jaguars but he will most likely play in the slot, not start.
It is officially the beginning of the Tim Tebow era in Denver: Tebow will make his first NFL start today for the Broncos against the Raiders
Broncos tight end Dan Gronkowski tweeted the news first, as the Denver Post's Lindsey Jones notes.
It's hard to predict what Tebow will do — he doesn't have a ton of weapons at his disposal with the 3-10 Broncos, and has only thrown one pass all season — and it gets harder when the weather is considered. It's a windy, stormy day in Oakland, and anyone with Tebow on a roster and questions about his arm strength might be better off sitting the Florida product.
Consequently, Brandon Lloyd's value may also be diminished. Lloyd has been a top-ten fantasy wide receiver all season thanks to Kyle Orton's proficiency, and expecting Tebow to mimic that production on a grim day is probably too much to ask. Anyone who rode Lloyd's surprising season to a playoff berth in fantasy might be rightfully worried about starting him today.
And now the Matt Cassel owners can exhale.
ESPN's Stephania Bell tweets that Cassel is officially starting for the Chiefs against the Rams.
It remains to be seen how well Cassel will play for Kansas City — Cassel is still recovering from an emergency appendectomy and was reportedly limited in warmups — but him starting at least makes the Chiefs more potent on paper. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones just got marginally better as options at running back, and Dwayne Bowe, if he is healthy enough to start, will have the best quarterback Kansas City has throwing to him.
Then again, a quarterback recovering from emergency surgery is probably a significant injury risk. And the Rams, with Chris Long rounding into form, can rush the passer. Starting Cassel requires a bit of faith that his offensive line will keep him upright, but if the Chiefs believe in that line, why shouldn't the average fantasy owner?
Note to anyone who owns Matt Cassel: you're halfway to being okay with starting him.
That's because Cassel is active for the Chiefs' Week 15 game against the Rams, but has not yet been cleared to start or announced as Kansas City's starter.
On one hand, that's bad news for the Chiefs, who are trying to stay ahead of the Chargers in the AFC West and will have to turn to Brodie Croyle if Cassel can't start, but it's also bad for fantasy owners hoping for anything out of any of the Chiefs. Cassel makes Kansas City multidimensional, and gives the Chiefs balance on offense; without him, expect the Rams to stack the box to stop Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones and dare Croyle to beat them through the air.
And it's still not looking great for Cassel's attempt to start, even if the "assumption" is that Cassel will start: Adam Schefter tweets that one person observing Cassel texted him to say "warmups weren't pretty."
It's no big surprise, but Maurice Jones-Drew and David Garrard are both active for the Jaguars.
It wouldn't be like that team's two best players on offense to miss a game that could give the Jaguars their first AFC South title. And for fantasy players, both make good plays in championship or playoff weeks.
Jones-Drew has been one of the most consistent performers in fantasy football in 2010, racking up almost 1,300 rushing yards, adding almost 300 more receiving yards, and scoring seven touchdowns. He should also be in great position to do damage against the Colts' woeful run defense if the knee injury that threatened to knock him out of this week's game doesn't slow him down.
Garrard may also be able to stay hot against the Colts. He's thrown for multiple touchdowns in four of his last six games, and accounted for three touchdowns in Jacksonville's win over the Colts earlier this year.
Colts owner Jim Irsay tweets the Colts' inactive players — here, I will pause while you take a time machine back to 2002, say that out loud to someone, and clean up the brain spatter — and they include running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, who have battled injuries all season.
Here's hoping you weren't relying on either of those players to return and carry your team to a fantasy playoffs win.
Without Addai and Hart, the Colts are likely to turn to Donald Brown and Dominic Rhodes on the ground against the Jaguars, and may rely even more than usual on Peyton Manning's arm.
The Colts are also in a must-win situation: the Jaguars are one game ahead of Indianapolis in the AFC South and won the teams' previous meeting this season, so Jacksonville can clinch its first AFC South title with a win. And with the Colts' hopes in the AFC playoff picture virtually limited to winning the division, Manning and Co. probably need a win today to have any hope of heading to the Super Bowl in Dallas.
The Saints travel to Baltimore for a showdown with the rugged Ravens defense today, and will likely be without the services of rookie runner Chris Ivory in the Charm City.
ESPN's Rachel Nichols tweets that Saints players don't expect Ivory, who is nursing an injured hamstring, to play against the Ravens.
For the Saints, Ivory not being available is a loss, but a calculated one. Though the undrafted free agent from Tiffin University has been one of the surprises of the 2010 NFL season, tallying 683 yards and five touchdowns, the Saints still figure heavily into the NFC playoff picture, and don't want to push Ivory too hard before the playoffs begin.
If Ivory is out, expect the Saints running game to resemble its 2009 vintage: both Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are back from injury, and combined for 127 yards of total offense last week against the Rams. And Drew Brees likely becomes a bit more valuable, too: the Ravens allow under 100 rushing yards per contest, put give up over 220 yards per game through the air.
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