By Juan Lozano and Marc Harper | November 4, 2020
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers- Foyesade Oluokun (LB)
- The average fan has been conditioned to believe that the final plays of the game are the most crucial in determining the outcome of the game. Sometimes that is the case, but not always. Those plays just happened to be the most memorable.
- Oftentimes, the play of the game takes place much earlier. The Thursday night contest between the Falcons and Panthers provides an example.
- With 4:01 remaining in the second quarter, the Panthers attempted a fourth down conversion from the Atlanta 34-yard line. Needing only one yard, Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ran over the right side of the line. He was not successful. Bridgewater was stopped by Falcons linebacker Foyesade Oluokun.
- The Falcons offense had favorable field position and embarked on a 10 play, 47-yard drive that would result in a field goal to give the Falcons a 16-14 advantage and the lead for good, right before the half.
- Olokun, the 200th pick overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, finished the game with five tackles. We feel that even in a team game, there should be some advanced stat that recognizes plays such as this. It wasn’t just a tackle. It was much more.
- The Yale product made an immediate impact as a rookie and his play has improved each season. He’s turning his best season to date.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens – Robert Spillane (LB)
- We’ve said the Steelers are good at drafting wide receivers, but maybe they are also good at finding players from Western Michigan University. Robert Spillane went undrafted in the 2018 draft, signed and was eventually waived by the Titans. Now, Spillane is starting in place of injured Devin Bush.
- On Sunday, Spillane didn’t disappoint in helping lead the Steelers to a hard-fought win in a physical game. He started the game with an interception for touchdown to set the tone. He followed it up with ten tackles and recovered a Lamar Jackson fumble right at the 2-minute warning. He was everywhere on the field for a defense that did a great job of limiting Jackson throughout the day.
Los Angeles Rams @ Miami Dolphins – Andrew Van Ginkel (OLB)
- With 10:01 remaining in the second quarter, Dolphins defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah strip-sacked Rams quarterback Jared Goff and Van Ginkel, a second-year outside linebacker recovered and returned the fumble seventy- eight yards for a touchdown. Miami took a 14-7 lead that they would not relinquish. Van Ginkel would finish with three tackles on the day.
- Van Ginkel, a fifth-round 2019 draft pick out of Wisconsin began his career at FCS program, the University of South Dakota. Now he’s scoring touchdowns in NFL games.
New York Jets @ Kansas City Chiefs – Armani Watts (S)
- The Chiefs are better than the Jets in all facets of the game. But on the last play of the second half the Jets had a field goal opportunity to cut the score to 21-12. They were dominating time of possession and the game was much closer than expected. The Jets had also made multiple field goals of 40 yards or more in the half.
- Watts perfectly timed the field goal attempt to end the half. The Jets never really threatened again after that, and we saw more of what you might expect: Patrick Mahomes to his favorite targets: Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson. Sometimes, the little plays help flip the momentum for the half. Watts helped do that on Sunday.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers – Dalvin Cook (RB)
- We have consistently said we don’t want to choose the stars in this column. But sometimes, we don’t have a choice. When we look at this game, we asked a few questions before picking Dalvin Cook.
- Did the Vikings pass well? No.
- Did they stop the only receiver on the Packers? Adams only had 53 yards, but had three touchdowns. So, yes and no.
- Did the Vikings block well? Not particularly, including on some crucial short yardage situations. The Vikings only had one sack, which happened to be the last play of the game.
- Sometimes, it is as simple as the best player having the most impact on the game. Cook had 163 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. He also had two catches for 63 yards and a receiving touchdown. He accounted for two-thirds of the Vikings yards on the day and all of the scores. He is the reason the Vikings won.
Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions – Jordan Wilkins (RB)
- In the past few years, it seems as if the Indianapolis Colts draft a running back nearly every draft. They’ve drafted Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines, Jonathan Taylor in recent years.
- On Sunday, Hines turned in a strong effort with two touchdowns. However, the Colts were able to sustain drives and keep the Lions offense off the field (37:46 to 22:14 time of possession advantage) because of the work turned in by third-year running back Jordan Wilkins.
- With 13:34 remaining in the fourth quarter Wilkins scored a touchdown from one yard out and then rushed in to convert on a two-point conversion to give the Colts a two-score lead. Wilkins would carry the ball 20 times for 89 yards, both career highs. Wilkins also caught one pass for 24 yards.
- Wilkins is a 2018 5th round pick from Ole Miss and he backs up Hines and Taylor, as well as Mack who is out for the season. The Colts were unable to get anything going on the ground and turned to Wilkins who came in the clutch.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Cleveland Browns – Daniel Carlson (K)
- Sunday was a tough day for kickers. The wind was howling at many games, and in Cleveland it was also pouring rain. Not ideal kicking conditions. Carlson even had a tough attempt early in the game stead, Carlson followed up the miss with three made field goals and an extra point. On a day when nothing could be taken for granted (and in a close game), Carlson managing the tough weather conditions was enough to put the Raiders on top.
Tennessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals- Giovani Bernard (RB)
- Surprisingly, the Cincinnati Bengals, a home touchdown underdog, controlled the game against the Tennessee Titans. They would score on their opening possession and hold the lead for the entire game. The Bengals dominated in time of possession, (35:57 to 24:03) and kept the potent Titans offensive attack on the sidelines.
- The Bengals turned to an old contributor to help the stave off Tennessee. Running back Giovani Bernard, a former second-round pick now in his eighth pro season, carried the ball 15 times for 62 yards and scored on a 12-yard run to give the Bengals a 17-7 lead right before the end of the first half.
- Bernard is Cincinnati’s number two running back and will most certainly be replaced by Joe Mixon once he returns from injury. But in Week 8, Bernard’s efforts were first- string and without him Cincinnati likely doesn’t pull the upset.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills – Justin Zimmer (DT)
- Zimmer is a defensive tackle out of Division II Ferris State. He has already played for four NFL teams and had a stint in the CFL. If you stick around long enough sometimes you can make huge plays to help win some games.
- Zimmer only had one tackle on the day, but it was the biggest one of the game. With the Patriots driving to either take the lead or force overtime, Zimmer made a tackle on Cam Newton and stripped the ball loose. The Bills recovered and won the game.
- So often we have seen the Patriots score on those types of drives because defenses fail to make that last stop or big turnover to ice the game. On Sunday, Zimmer made the play, and the Bills finally beat the Patriots at home.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos – Albert Okwuegbunam (TE)
- Even though he had only one catch, rookie tight end Albert Okwuegbunam would factor into two of the bigger plays in Denver’s come from behind victory over the Chargers.
- The first play was a touchdown pass from fellow Missouri alum quarterback Drew Lock with 11:42 remaining in the game. Okwuegbunam’s touchdown catch, the first of his career, would cut the Chargers once twenty-one-point lead to 24-17.
- As important as that play was, another equally important play came with 7 seconds left when on a 4th-and-4 from the Chargers 18-yard line, Okwuegbunam drew a pass interference in the end zone. The ball was placed at the 1-yard line and Drew Lock found KJ Hamler for a 1-yard touchdown pass to make the comeback complete.
- Okwuegbunam, a fourth round selection in the 2020 Draft from the University of Missouri, redshirted his first year in Columbia (2016) and decided to forego his redshirt senior season to enter the draft. It took some time to get him going this year, but it looks like will be a nice addition to the Broncos passing game.
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks- D.J. Reed (CB)
- Former San Francisco 49er D. J. Reed came back to haunt his old team on Sunday. With the 49ers driving and at the Seattle 20-yard line in a scoreless game, the diminutive but versatile cornerback, Reed, intercepted a Jimmy Garoppolo pass intended for tight end George Kittle.
- Seattle would embark on a seven play, 86-yard drive and convert the turnover into six points with a D.K. Metcalf touchdown. Reed finished the game with six tackles and added two passes defended.
- Reed was claimed off waivers by Seattle in August 2020. The cornerback from Kansas State was originally drafted by the 49ers in the fifth round (142nd overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft. Reed started his career at Fresno State in 2014, departed after his freshman season and spent a season at a community college in Southern California, Cerritos College before heading to “The Little Apple” of Manhattan, Kansas.
New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears – David Onyemata (DT)
- A University of Manitoba alum, Onyemata made his presence felt in the backfield all day. He assisted on 4 tackles, had a tackle for loss, and had a big sack on Nick Foles in overtime.
- The sack on Foles was important for what it prevented. Foles had geared up to throw a long bomb late in the overtime session, but had to tuck the ball instead given Onyemata’s presence. For a Saints defense that consistently commits penalties on deep balls (and if they don’t commit penalties they give up explosive plays), not letting Foles get the ball off played a huge part in winning the game. The entire Saints D-line played great to give the team a chance on Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles – Travis Fulgham (WR)
- Fulgham is on his third team in two years. Just this past August he was waived by the receiver- needy Packers after the Lions let him go. Fortunately, the Eagles also need receivers. Fulgham wasn’t even promoted to the active roster until October 3rd of this season.
- Since then, he has led the NFL in receiving yards on a team that actually drafted a receiver in the first round this year.
- On Sunday, Fulgham had 6 catches for 78 yards and a score. Good things happen when the ball is in his hand, and he has played a key role for the Eagles the last few games.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Giants- Jaydon Mickens (WR)
- Entering the 2020 season, Mickens, mostly a kick returner to this point in his career, had six total career catches. Mickens nearly matched that in one game as he had five catches for 36 yards in a victory over the Giants.
- The Bucs offense struggled for much of the night. Mickens had one of the biggest plays of the night in the third quarter when on 4th- and-2 from the Giants 39-yard line, Mickens had an eight-yard reception to keep a Bucs drive alive. The drive would result in a Bucs field goal to cut the Giants advantage to 14-9.
- Mickens, undrafted out of the University of Washington, is in his first year with Tampa Bay after spending the previous four years on three teams: Oakland (2016-17), Jacksonville (2017-2018), Carolina (2019).
Opinions expressed are solely of the author and do not express the views or opinions of Headcoachranking.com.