Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Former Ute players thrive, Romo chokes in the best and worst of Week 15 in the NFL (7 items)

By Mitch Kunzler
For the Deseret News

Dec. 17, 2013

After Week 14 in which an NFL record was set for most touchdowns (104) scored in one week, this past week had big shoes to fill.

Week 15, however, answered the bell and more points (763) were scored last Sunday than on any other day in NFL history.

As the season nears its completion, there are still plenty of games with playoff ramifications. With points being scored in bunches, explosive plays, and tight finishes, it was an exciting week of football. Here are the best and worst of Week 15.

For additional sports information and updates, you can follow Mitch Kunzler on Twitter at @MitchKunzler.

1 of 7. Best: Former Ute running back Matt Asiata makes most of opportunity

The Minnesota Vikings faced the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday afternoon in a game in which the Vikings were missing MVP running back Adrian Peterson and backup running back Toby Gerhart to injuries.

In their place, Asiata started for the Vikings and made the most of his opportunity and spark the offense.

Asiata carried the ball 30 times and ran for three touchdowns in the Minnesota win to capture its fourth win of the season. Asiata ground it out all game long, and made the plays needed to fill the big shoes Peterson left. After a career day, it wouldn't be surprising to see Asiata get more touches in the future.

2 of 7. Worst: NFL's leading rusher LeSean McCoy gets only eight carries

Coming off a week where he broke the franchise record for rushing yards in a single game with 217, it was expected that Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy would have another big game against the sluggish Minnesota Vikings defense. But to the shock of football fans and fantasy owners everywhere, McCoy ran the ball only eight times and finished with just 38 yards in the Eagles' loss to the Vikings.

The fans weren't the only ones stunned by McCoy's single-digit carries, the players were as well.

“I’m very surprised,” Eagles tackle Jason Peters told CSNPhilly. “I’d have almost bet money coming into today’s game, if they said Shady was only going to get eight carries, I would have put money on it and said they were wrong."

Normally the offense of Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly is one that runs the ball quite frequently, and with a running back like McCoy, who is the current NFL leader in rushing yards this season, it is hard to believe he wasn't able to be a big part of the offense.

Expect McCoy to get more carries in the future, as the Eagles' success depends on it. Since 2010, Philadelphia is 16-2 in games that McCoy gets 20 or more carries. When he doesn't, the Eagles are 15-27.

3 of 7. Best: Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles come up big as Chiefs clinch playoff spot

Just one year removed from the NFL's worst record, and now with a win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs have clinched a playoff spot. In just one year's time, the Chiefs have gone from being a team that seemed sluggish in every aspect of the game to having an electric offense and one of the stoutest defenses in the NFL.

"Anytime you can be a part of the turnaround, it's a special feeling," Smith told ESPN. "These guys have worked hard and deserve a ton of credit. It's special to be a part of this."

In the win over Oakland, Smith completed 17-of-20 passes for 287 yards and five touchdowns, and seemed flawless all game long. Four of the touchdown passes went to running back Jamaal Charles, who racked up 195 receiving yards, as well as running in an additional touchdown.

The chemistry between Smith and Charles has been a thing of beauty all season, and as they continue to work in unison moving toward the playoffs, it will be tough to bet against the Chiefs.

4 of 7. Worst: Tony Romo, Cowboys choke again

The Dallas Cowboys matched up against the Green Bay Packers, who were without quarterback Aaron Rodgers on Sunday in a game which the stage was once again set for the Cowboys to choke when it mattered most.

Dallas led Green Bay 26-3 at halftime, and looked on track to cruise to the win. But it seemed the cruise-control wasn't set to a fast enough speed. Green Bay quarterback Matt Flynn tossed four touchdown passes in the second half.

With just over two minutes left in the game, the Cowboys had the ball and were leading 36-31. On a second-and-six all Dallas had to do was continue to chew the clock and hope to bleed Green Bay of its final timeout. Instead, Romo audibled from the running play, and called a passing play. Romo took the snap, escaped a sack, and lasered the ball into the waiting hands of Packers cornerback Sam Shields.

Following the interception, the Packers drove down the field and scored a touchdown to put the score at 37-36 with 1:31 left.

Romo took the field hoping to redeem himself of the previous interception and aimed to put together a game-winning drive for the Cowboys. His first pass was complete for nine yards, his second pass ... was an interception.

With the final interception, Green Bay kneeled on the ball to secure the win. As the clock ticked its way down, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant left the field early so he wouldn't be seen crying.

No matter what happens, it seems that the Dallas Cowboys can't help but disappoint. As the season draws closer to the end, the Cowboys' playoff hopes are in their own hands. If they win the rest of their games, they will capture the division lead. But funny enough for the Cowboys, "in their own hands" may just be the least attractive place for their playoff hopes to be.

5 of 7. Best: Steelers show flashes of former dominance

For a team that has played in three Super Bowls — winning two — in the past eight years, the Steelers have definitely had a rough season. Early on, they couldn't find their identity, and started 0-4. Since then, they have shown healthy signs of improvement, and made progress toward making the playoffs.

The Steelers faced the Cincinnati Bengals, a team which entered the game with an impressive record of 9-4. But from the start of the game, the Steelers looked like the 9-4 team. They dominated the Bengals on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh hit harder, played with more energy, and made big plays and jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

Although the Bengals made a late-game push, it was never enough to flirt with victory. The Steelers rolled to a 30-20 win. Running back Le'Veon Bell racked up more than 100 yards of total offense with a touchdown, and wide receiver Antonio Brown caught a touchdown pass, as well as returned a punt for another score.

If the Steelers can somehow sneak into the playoffs, they have proven that they are a team that at any given time can find its way into the Super Bowl.
1. evansrichdm
west jordan , UT,
Dec. 17, 2013

Could careless what school they went too, once they leave the state to the NFL we all should be cheering for them.