It’s officially Thanksgiving week! What am I thankful for? Well, in this moment, I’m quite appreciative of the individual studs who just made my Sunday a fun day. So let’s give ’em their shine.
Here are the heroes from the 11th NFL Sunday of the 2021 season, Schein Nine style:
With a whopping five touchdowns in the Colts’ 41-15 beatdown of the Bills in Buffalo, Taylor leads the NFL with 15 total scores. Having accounted for 204 of Indianapolis’ 370 yards of offense on Sunday, Taylor also paces the league with 1,444 scrimmage yards. Since starting the season at 0-3, Indy (6-5) has ridden Taylor to six wins in the last eight games, with the RB rushing for 951 yards and 13 TDs in this span. Add it all up and here’s what you get: a bona fide MVP candidate. Yes, I know only one back has earned the honor over the past 14 seasons — Adrian Peterson in 2012 — but this 5-foot-10, 226-pound blend of power and speed has dragged the Colts squarely back into the playoff picture. According to NFL Research, Taylor has now tied the single-season NFL record for most consecutive games with 100-plus scrimmage and one-plus rushing touchdown (eight). Whose record did he equal? LaDainian Tomlinson, who set it during his MVP season.
After venturing out to the edges and missing a few games due to a wrist injury, Jones is back to being the most valuable and important Chief not named Patrick Mahomes. And Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, which has given up a grand total of 47 points during K.C.’s four-game winning streak, is back to being the kind of complementary unit that can win a Super Bowl.
Los Angeles Chargers
Up 27-10 late in the third quarter on Sunday night, Los Angeles appeared well on its way to an easy win over Pittsburgh. But then, in the fourth quarter, the Chargers started to Charger: A blocked punt here, a tipped-pass pick there and a fourth-and-1 failure at their own 34-yard line. Suddenly, the Bolts found themselves trailing by three points with three minutes and change remaining.
What in the name of Mike McCoy was going on? Same old Chargers, right? Wrong! Herbert swiftly guided Los Angeles 75 yards, hitting Mike Williams for a 53-yard, go-ahead touchdown that ultimately proved to be the game-winning score.
Herbert was breathtaking all night, throwing for 381 yards and three scores, while also running for 90 yards on nine carries. He’s the first player in the Super Bowl era, per NFL Research, to post 350-plus passing yards and 90-plus receiving yards in the same game. Still just 23 years old, Herbert is doing his best to exorcise decades of Chargers demons, one week at a time.
Baltimore was predictably stuck in the mud on offense for most of the game, but still clung to a 9-7 lead late in the fourth quarter. Then Andy Dalton, who was also filling in for a sidelined starter, hit Marquise Goodwin for a 49-yard touchdown with under two minutes remaining. And the game felt over. With no Lamar, the game was over. Or so it seemed. But it’s like they always say: You never want to give Tyler Huntley too much time. Or something like that.
In stunning fashion, Huntley led the Ravens 72 yards to paydirt in five plays, with the key moment being a 29-yard completion to Sammy Watkins on third-and-12. Pulsating stuff. While Baltimore scored just 16 points on the day, Huntley rocked steady enough to nab a win that keeps the Ravens alone at the top of the AFC North standings. Not bad for a quarterback who found out he’d be making his first NFL start on the way to Solider Field.
With 11 100-yard games to his name, Jefferson only trails Odell Beckham Jr. (15) for the most such outings in the first two years of a career in NFL history. And hey, with seven games left in Jefferson’s sophomore campaign, OBJ’s seat on the throne isn’t exactly secure.
Benched earlier in the season, King played like royalty on Sunday, picking off Ryan Tannehill in the fourth quarter not once but twice! Did I mention that Tennessee just let King walk in free agency this past offseason?
Piling up 123 yards and two touchdowns on a whopping 30 carries, the 25-year-old back allowed the road team to completely dominate time of possession, 37:20-22:40. He routinely demoralized the Raiders with slick cuts and power bursts. Joe Burrow’s been ahead of schedule in his recovery from major knee surgery, and Ja’Marr Chase has proven to be electric right off the bat, but Zac Taylor’s offense is at its best when it’s running through No. 28.
The AFC playoff race is extremely tightly packed, but I still believe Cincinnati will hit the postseason for the first time in six years.
Ertz has been a steady presence since coming over from the Eagles, but the tight end provided his best effort yet in Sunday’s 23-13 win at Seattle. With Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins and Chase Edmonds all sidelined by injury, Ertz served as backup QB Colt McCoy’s most devastating weapon, catching eight passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Now the Cardinals get to rest up on the bye week with an NFL-best 9-2 record.
The Saints came into Sunday’s game with the No. 1 rush defense in football, yielding a measly 65.6 yards per game over the first 10 weeks of the season. No matter. Philadelphia ran roughshod over New Orleans, piling up a whopping 242 ground yards on 50 carries (a healthy 4.8 yards a pop). Miles Sanders returned to action with a team-high 94 rushing yards, but Hurts ran for 69 yards of his own, scoring three touchdowns along the way.
The Hurts-led Eagles are knocking on the playoff door, and their remaining schedule includes two games against the Giants (3-6), two games against the Football Team (4-6) and a contest versus the Jets (2-8). Suddenly, the future looks pretty bright in Philly. What if the Eagles have three first-round picks in April and they already have an answer at quarterback?