On Thursday, fantasy owners didn’t know what to do with themselves. There was no need for a “Red Zone Channel” or to accelerate the chase toward carpal tunnel syndrome. The computers remained powered down as owners were able to focus, for better or worse, on one game at a time. For fantasy purposes, the number of Flops far outweighed the Heroes, and the biggest story of the day came out of Detroit.
No, I’m not referring to the petitions to shut down the halftime performance of Nickelback. It was the “stomp heard across the NFL” that got a defensive hero ejected. Phone lines to sports talk radio shows lit up on a normally quiet night as discussions about Ndamukong Suh took center stage. In his immediate post-game comments, Suh tried to push a lame “separating myself from the linemen” excuse and deflected blame toward the officials. On Friday, the Lions released a statement against Suh’s conduct, and Suh himself posted a more contrite message on his Facebook page. I’m projecting a multi-game suspension (2-3) with an appeal taking it back to one.
Now, what did we see on the field? Let’s do some quick-fire Thursday breakdowns.
Green Bay at Detroit
The notes in the Twitterverse about the Packers-Lions contest were funny. Aaron Rodgers passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns, yet fantasy owners cursed his “weak” day. They could curse him for not completing passes to Jermichael Finley or Jordy Nelson. They could curse the team’s continued use of John Kuhn at the goal line (James Starks’ owners, holler if you hear me!). That final stat line was just fine.
Matthew Stafford owners were not quite as fortunate, though he did run for 31 yards to help offset some of the devastation caused by his three interceptions. Stafford passed for 276 yards, and his late touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson appeased some anxious owners. It doesn’t matter whether the score occurred in the first five minutes of the game and in the waning moments of a terrible overall effort. The touchdowns count just the same.
Brandon Pettigrew owners can join those Packer backers in shaking their fists at the fantasy gods.
Week 11 hero Kevin Smith was on his way to another strong fantasy day against the Packers (57 total yards on 10 touches), but left the game with an ankle injury early in the second quarter. Smith was set to be a blocker on a running play when pulled up out of his stance without contact. Fantasy owners that won the bidding rights to Smith’s services cursed the fates when it was initially reported that he had sustained a high-ankle injury. They breathed a moderate sigh of relief on Friday when Smith’s status was updated to a mild sprain. The Lions hold out hope that he’ll be available for next week’s matchup against the Saints.
Maurice Morris excelled as a receiver in his absence. Keiland Williams scored a rushing touchdown and posted 52 total yards on his six touches.
- It was also announced on Friday that Jahvid Best was placed on injured reserve.
Miami at Dallas
Tony Romo’s fantasy owners groaned following a blown opportunity on a deep middle route to Laurent Robinson early in Dallas’ win over the Dolphins. They received some immediate relief at the end of the first half when a botched shotgun snap to Matt Moore (recovered by DeMarcus Ware) gave the ball to the Cowboys inside the Miami 10-yard line. Romo connected with Robinson for the first of their two touchdown passes and all was right with the world. Did you realize that Robinson now has seven touchdown receptions? That total ties him for fifth place among all receivers. Robinson will rank as a WR1 until Miles Austin returns, and things will get interesting in the pecking order and in defensive meeting rooms once he does.
Jason Witten and Dez Bryant left you wanting.
DeMarco Murray continued his run of dominance with another 128 total yards on 26 touches (87 rushing yards). Murray passed 1,000 total yards (1,011) on Thursday.
Brandon Marshall’s 35-yard touchdown reception from Matt Moore ranks as one of the best individual efforts you’ll see from a receiver this season. He literally carried Terence Newman piggy-back style into the end zone and managed to haul in Moore’s pass. Aside from the brutal exchanges in shotgun formation, Moore and the Dolphins failed miserably in red zone opportunities. They settled for field goal attempts time and again.
San Francisco at Baltimore
It was the offensive shootout you expected! No, that’s not it. The defenses ruled the day in Baltimore, as expected. San Francisco continued its dominance at the goal line, shutting down Ray Rice and the Ravens in short-yardage situations.
The lone touchdown of this game came from Baltimore tight end Dennis Pitta, who was floating around in the waiver world in all but the deepest of leagues. Anquan Boldin caught four passes for 63 yards. Torrey Smith’s lone contribution came when he drew a 50-yard pass interference penalty.
Billy Cundiff out-kicked David Akers by a count of 3-2, and the injury-riddled San Francisco offensive line became a veritable turnstile. Baltimore recorded nine sacks of Alex Smith. Smith was under duress all night long, and those questions about his ability to win come January started to circulate once again.
* A total of 10.7 million fans reportedly tuned in to watch the first battle of the Harbaughs on NFL Network.