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Row12.com - A Community of Sports Writers and Fans!                                               ***Attention Writers***
Week 15 Observations
By Matt Horkman

Last Thursday saw San Diego defeat Denver in one of the biggest upsets of the year. The Chargers did it by keeping Peyton Manning and Denver’s vaunted offense off the field. Behind fourth-year running back Ryan Mathews, San Diego rushed for 177 yards on a season-high 44 attempts. This was the second consecutive week in which the Chargers ran the ball 40 or more times. Because of their effective running game, the Chargers were able to possess the ball for nearly 40 minutes. 

In seven games, Chicago quarterback Josh McCown threw exactly one interception. In the first half of the Bears’ victory over Cleveland, Jay Cutler threw two. Turnovers remain a concern for Cutler, who has 10 interceptions in nine games.
Penalties cost the Bears a chance at points in the second quarter. Chicago was setup with a fourth-and-1 situation inside Cleveland territory, but wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was called for offside, forcing the Bears to attempt a field goal. However, during the attempted kick, the officials called defensive end Corey Wootton for holding. The two penalties combined to back Chicago up 15 yards and forced them to punt.

All the focus in Washington is on Mike Shanahan’s relationship with quarterback Robert Griffin III and owner Daniel Snyder. While the ongoing distraction matters, it’s overshadowing the biggest reason for Washington’s regression. During their six-game losing streak, Washington’s defense is allowing 30.2 points per game. Until they correct their defensive woes, Washington will struggle regardless of who the head coach is. All the drama surrounding Griffin, Shanahan, and Snyder is just background noise.

Trent Richardson’s second-quarter touchdown was his first touchdown since week four against Jacksonville. That was only his second game as a Colt. Richardson now has 623 yards on 156 touches since joining Indianapolis. That’s an average of less than four yards per touch. Eddie Lacy

With his 141 yards on Sunday, Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy became the first Green Bay rookie since John Brockington to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a season. No play was more important than his 60-yard run on the first play of the second half. On the play, fullback John Kuhn deserves an assist for leveling safety Barry Church. The run led to a Matt Flynn touchdown pass and helped set the tone for Green Bay’s second-half comeback.

During Jason Garrett’s postgame press conference, the Dallas head coach revealed that quarterback Tony Romo actually checked out of a run and into a pass on his critical fourth-quarter interception with 2:58 remaining. You have to wonder why the coach felt compelled to make that news public. Nevertheless, Romo’s foolish decision doesn’t exonerate Garrett for one of the worst called games of the year. DeMarco Murray rushed 18 times for 134 yards, but 11 of those carries game in the first half. Murray had exactly seven carries in the second half, despite a 26-3 halftime lead. And it’s not as if he wasn’t producing, either. He ran for 41 second-half yards, averaging about 5.9 yards per carry. In addition, the Dallas running back had negative yardage on just one play throughout the entire game, yet Romo ended the game with 48 pass attempts. 

Jamaal Charles became the first running back in NFL history with four receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in a game. It’s an incredible feat on paper, but only one of Charles’ touchdowns actually came via a downfield pass. The other three were simple screens, and while Charles deserves credit for his elusive running, the Raiders awful tackling played a major role.

Calvin Johnson dropped four passes on Monday night. No drop was more significant than his failure to catch a lob from Matthew Stafford on Detroit’s failed two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Had Johnson made the catch, Justin Tucker’s epic 61-yard field goal would’ve tied the game instead of won it.

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