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On his 65-yard touchdown run, St. Louis wide receiver Tavon Austin received excellent blocking from Chris Givens, Lance Kendricks, and Austin Pettis. Kendricks did a nice job of leading Austin out of the backfield before Givens executed a textbook block on Chicago safety Chris Conte. This sprung Austin on the play. Finally, Pettis delivered a crushing blow to rookie linebacker Khaseem Greene, allowing the St. Louis wide receiver to score.
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson isn’t a stranger to fumbles, but he had a legitimate gripe regarding his lost fumble in the second quarter of Sunday’s game in Green Bay. A.J. Hawk got away with grabbing Peterson’s facemask, while punching the ball from his hands. The Vikings would’ve kept the ball had the officials identified the foul.
Down 23-7 in the fourth quarter, Green Bay did an excellent job of clawing their way back into the game. Led by the returning Matt Flynn, the Packers scored on three fourth-quarter possessions to tie the game. Nevertheless, there’s no way Green Bay can feel content with how they played in their final drive of overtime. The Packers had the ball with 1:59 remaining and one timeout left, but what followed was pure sloppiness. They had three penalties on the drive, including a devastating holding call from rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari. Mike McCarthy isn‘t without fault, either. Following a fall start, instead of using his last remaining timeout, he allowed a 10-second runoff. Bad execution and bad coaching prevented the Packers from having any chance of winning the game.
On one of Jamaal Charles’ fourth-quarter runs, San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o did a great job of filling an open hole. He completely whiffed on the tackle, though. Charles put a move on him and Te’o didn’t stance a chance. The missed tackle allowed Charles to scamper 46 yards, leading to a Ryan Succop field goal.
The Chiefs were clearly in the wrong defense on San Diego’s game-winning touchdown. Nevertheless, Kansas City cornerback Sean Smith needs to do a better job of jamming the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. Seyi Ajirotutu’s route went undisrupted because he got a clean release off the ball. Smith was expecting help over the top, but Kansas City safety Quintin Demps was late getting over because he had to account for another receiver in the middle of the field. Poor execution from Smith and a bad play call led to Ajirotutu’s score.
The most interesting play of the afternoon came from Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals ran a reverse with Fitzgerald, but Indianapolis had stopped him about six yards in the backfield. Instead of giving himself up, though, Fitzgerald just threw the ball away. His awareness saved the Cardinals six yards. As a result, they faced a second-and-10 instead of a second-and-17. Two plays later, the Cardinals converted a third down on a 16-yard pass to Fitzgerald. The Cardinals ended the drive on a long field goal from Jay Feely.
It was a difficult first half for the Patriots. They gave up 24 points, scored none, and quarterback Tom Brady was sacked three times. As you might expect, the Patriots rebounded in the second half. Brady completed 24-of-33 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and overtime. The Pats scored 34 points.
The Broncos wasted no time attacking the middle of New England’s defense. They ran the ball 13 times in the first quarter, opposed to just five passing plays. All 13 carries were runs between the tackles from Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno. The duo combined for 71 first-quarter rushing yards and a touchdown. It was a sign of things to come, as Denver ended the game with a season-high 280 rushing yards.
In overtime, on a pivotal third-and-8, Denver wide receiver Wes Welker appeared to have secured a six-yard catch. New England linebacker Jamie Collins managed to swat the ball out of Welker’s hands, though, resulting in an incompletion. This was the play of the night. Because of Collins’ pass defense, the Broncos faced a fourth-and-8 instead of a fourth-and-2. Under the latter scenario, Denver could’ve gone for the first down by calling an inside running play. And I’m not sure the Patriots would’ve stopped it, given the way their run defense was playing. Denver punted instead, and more importantly, never got the ball back.