cloudy.png
Thursday January 20th, 2022 3:00PM

Analysis: Fun, flops, frustrations of offbeat NFL season

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

The Associated Press will hand out its individual NFL awards on Feb. 10 at NFL Honors in Los Angeles. Until then, here are some off-the-beaten track honors to consider.

BEST GAME: Week 8, Packers 24, Cardinals 21.

Overcoming injuries, COVID-19 issues and the absence of top receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, Green Bay held on. Rasul Douglas, who has had a terrific comeback season, closed it out by picking off Kyler Murray in the end zone with 12 seconds remaining after the Cardinals had a goal-line stand and began a final drive from their 1. Arizona receiver A.J. Green never turned around to see the pass.

Runner-up: Week 11, Chargers 41, Steelers 37. Mike Williams’ 5 3-yard TD reception after Los Angeles blows a 17-point fourth-quarter lead won it.

WORST GAME: Week 9, Jaguars 9, Bills 6.

You knew the Jaguars would be involved, but this was in a very rare victory. Who loses to Jacksonville? The Bills did by turning over the ball three times and settling for two field goals, becoming the first team to lose to the Jaguars in a game played in North America this season.

Runner-up: Week 8, Patriots 54, Jets 13. The Patriots ran up the score in a non-competitive game from the first snap. Bad message. New York lost first-round QB Zach Wilson to injury.

BEST CELEBRATION: Week 12, Bengals 41, Steelers 10.

Motown, Baby, thanks to Joe Mixon. Mixon ran for 165 yards and two TDs.

Runner-up: Week 15, Dolphins 31, Jets 24. Miami’s Christian Wilkins. The 310-pound defensive lineman caught a TD pass, jumped into the stands and then did “The Worm” to celebrate.

WORST CELEBRATION: Week 14, Chiefs 48, Raiders 9.

The Raiders danced on the Chiefs logo before the game, fumbled on the first play from scrimmage for a Kansas City touchdown, and disappeared.

Runner-up: Week 5, Packers 25, Bengals 22.

Hey Evan McPherson, don't celebrate when you miss the big kick.

BEST PLAY OF THE YEAR: Week 3, Ravens 19, Lions 17.

Special teams get the nod. Not only did Justin Tucker set an NFL record with his 66-yard field goal — so appropriate for perhaps the greatest kicker the game has seen — but it won the game.

Runner-up: Ever see someone actually slap down a punt like blocking a shot in basketball? Try Corey Clements in Dallas' 56-14 romp past Washington in Week 16.

WORST PLAY OF THE YEAR: Week 3, Cardinals 31, Jaguars 19.

Surprised it's the Jags? No you aren't. The Jags led 19-17 late in the third quarter when they tried a flea-flicker that included a “whirlybird” move by left guard Andrew Norwell. J.J. Watt blew up the too-cute play and forced an errant throw that Byron Murphy intercepted and returned for the go-ahead touchdown. Pretty much sums up Jacksonville’s dysfunctional season.

Runner-up: Week 16, Colts 22, Cardinals 16. Kyler Murray couldn't handle a low snap from the Arizona 11, picked it up in the end zone and hurled it. Unfortunately for Arizona, grounding was called, resulting in a safety.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER (OFFENSE):

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. The team's turnaround has been built on the running game, but Hurts' running and passing in his second season also have been key.

Runner-up: Falcons RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson, whose previous eight seasons were built on special teams contributions. He's been a dynamic presence in Atlanta.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER (DEFENSE):

Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, an interception and coverage specialist in his second pro season.

Runner-up: Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, finally healthy in his third NFL campaign.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER (OFFENSE):

Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who can't stay healthy for a full season and has been unproductive when in the lineup. Blame the Giants' offensive line, too, but Barkley was considered a generational player and won the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Runner-up: Cam Newton. He was hailed as a potential savior in Carolina, where he won the 2015 NFL MVP award. Instead, the quarterback's return was a failure.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER (DEFENSE):

Linebacker Von Miller, Rams. The perennial All-Pro candidate had little impact in 2021 in both Denver and Los Angeles, though his best game came last weekend. Maybe he will continue that and make his mark in the playoffs.

Runner-up: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Eagles. Signed to bolster a defense in need of his skills on the edge, Kerrigan barely contributed in Philly's turnaround season.

MOST SURPRISING TEAM:

Has to be Cincinnati, no matter where it ends up at season's end. Bungles no more.

Runner-up: Philadelphia, which got things headed in the right direction when it devoted the offense to the ground game.

MOST DISAPPOINTING TEAM:

A slam dunk for the Seahawks, a perennial playoff team and AFC West winner who never were in contention in 2021.

Runner-up: So many teams underachieved due to injuries and COVID-19. The next-biggest flop probably was Cleveland, which hasn't built on last season's rare playoff appearance.

WEIRDEST INCIDENT: How about Mac Jones throwing all of three passes in an entire game, the Patriots’ 14-10 win in the swirling winds at Buffalo in Week 13?

Runner-up: The Panthers' Zane Gonzalez got hurt an hour before the Bills game in Week 15, leaving Carolina with no placekicker in a Week 15 defeat.

BEST PLAY-BY-PLAY ANNOUNCER: We know he doesn’t do too many NFL games -- hopefully soon he will -- but NBC’s Mike Tirico is as good as it gets. Insightful, informative, 100% prepared, able to play off his analysts, plus a nice touch of humor.

Runner-up: Among the “regulars” who do games weekly, no one touches Kevin Harlan (CBS on television, Westwood One on radio). He paints a perfect picture of the game for listeners, and he adds nuance and plenty of humor for viewers.

Very honorable mentions to Ian Eagle (CBS), Kenny Albert and Kevin Kugler (Fox).

BEST ANALYST: If we want to go the funny, at times outrageous and at times profane route, how about Peyton and Eli on Monday nights? A session with the QB Bros. is like sitting on the couch with a couple of brews and talking football with real experts. And other stuff with fun guys.

Runners-up: Taking the more traditional route, CBS adding Charles Davis in 2020 to team with Eagle for the best pairing on the network was smart. Davis not only dives deep into the games he covers, he’s ahead of everyone with his analysis and expectations.

Honorable mentions to newcomer Greg Olsen (Fox), Louis Riddick (ESPN) and Kurt Warner (Westwood One).

___

AP Pro Football Writers Teresa M. Walker, Mark Long, Dennis Waszak Jr, Josh Dubow, Arnie Stapleton, Dave Campbell, and Sports Writers John Wawrow, Steve Megargee and Steve Reed contributed.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NF

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Entertainment, AP Online TV News, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Stocks slip following mixed jobs data as tech sinks again
Stocks are slipping Friday as Treasury yields rise, with much of Wall Street seeing the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates as soon as March despite a mixed report on the U.S. jobs market
11:20AM ( 8 minutes ago )
US unemployment sinks to 3.9% as many more people find jobs
The nation’s unemployment rate fell in December to a healthy 3.9% — a pandemic low — even as employers added a modest 199,000 jobs, evidence that they are struggling to fill jobs with many Americans still reluctant to return to the workforce
11:11AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Supreme Court weighs vaccine rules affecting more than 80M
The Supreme Court is taking up two major Biden administration efforts to bump up the nation’s vaccination rate against COVID-19 at a time of spiking coronavirus cases because of the omicron variant
11:10AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
'I can feel it': Djokovic sends thanks for the support
Novak Djokovic is spending one of his important religious holidays in an Australian detention hotel working on his challenge against deportation regardless of who made an error on the visa or the vaccination waiver or whatever
10:29AM ( 58 minutes ago )
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic spends religious day in detention
Novak Djokovic is spending one of his important religious holidays in an Australian detention hotel working on his challenge against deportation regardless of who made an error on the visa or the vaccination waiver or whatever
8:12AM ( 3 hours ago )
Banned from the Olympics by IOC, NKorea puts blame elsewhere
North Korea says it will skip next month’s Beijing Olympics because of the COVID-19 pandemic and “hostile forces’ moves."
4:49AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Sports
Bears place quarterback Fields on reserve/COVID-19 list
The Chicago Bears have placed quarterback Justin Fields on the reserve/COVID-19 list, likely sidelining him for the finale and ending his rookie season
8:02PM ( 15 hours ago )
Bucs make it official: terminate Antonio Brown's contract
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially severed ties with Antonio Brown, terminating the contract of the mercurial receiver who claimed he was fired in the middle of a game for not playing through an ankle injury
7:35PM ( 15 hours ago )
Playing hurt, often willingly, is common for NFL players
Philip Rivers played an AFC championship game with a torn ACL
6:50PM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Online Football
Japan tycoon Maezawa returns from space with business dreams
Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has returned from space with hopes of new celestial investments
12:30AM ( 10 hours ago )
Cain-Gribble and LeDuc take pairs lead at US championships
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc upstaged a brilliant performance by Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson on Thursday to take the lead after the pairs short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships
7:38PM ( 15 hours ago )
Conservative networks minimize insurrection on anniversary
Media coverage of the first anniversary of the U.S. Capitol attack reflected and reinforced differing political realities
5:54PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Ryan Seacrest still king of New Year's Eve television
Rockin' Ryan Seacrest is still the king of New Year's Eve television, no matter what Andy Cohen might say
6:10PM ( 1 day ago )
TV host Seth Meyers contracts COVID-19, show dark this week
This week’s remaining episodes of “Late Night with Seth Meyers” have been scrapped after the host tested positive for COVID-19
1:38PM ( 2 days ago )
ESPN+ to offer 4 streaming feeds in new PGA Tour deal
A new year means the start of the PGA Tour's new media rights deal
12:51PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online TV News
Saints defense hopes for a better rush vs. Falcons QB Ryan
The Saints' defense has been menacing quarterbacks and racking up sacks in three recent victories that have kept New Orleans alive in the NFC playoff race
8:33PM ( 1 day ago )
Ross Browner, 2-time All-American at Notre Dame, dies at 67
Ross Browner, a two-time All-American at Notre Dame and longtime defensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals, has died
6:46PM ( 1 day ago )
NFL looks at contingency sites for Super Bowl amid COVID-19
The NFL, not surprisingly in the midst of a rise in COVID-19 cases, has looked into other potential sites for next month’s Super Bowl
6:37PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - NFL
Supreme Court weighs vaccine rules affecting more than 80M
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on two major Biden administration work rules to bump up the nation’s vaccination rate against COVID-19 at a time of spiking cases because of the omicron variant
11:22AM ( 5 minutes ago )
Stocks slip following mixed jobs data as tech sinks again
Stocks are slipping Friday as Treasury yields rise, with much of Wall Street seeing the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates as soon as March despite a mixed report on the U.S. jobs market
11:20AM ( 8 minutes ago )
US unemployment sinks to 3.9% as many more people find jobs
The nation’s unemployment rate fell in December to a healthy 3.9% — a pandemic low — even as employers added a modest 199,000 jobs, evidence that they are struggling to fill jobs with many Americans still reluctant to return to the workforce
11:11AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Oscar winner and groundbreaking star Sidney Poitier dies
Sidney Poitier, the groundbreaking actor and enduring inspiration who transformed how Black people were portrayed on screen, became the first Black actor to win an Academy Award for best lead performance and the first to be a top box-office draw, has died
11:00AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Germany to toughen restaurant rules, cut COVID quarantine
Germany’s leaders have agreed to toughen requirements for entry to restaurants and bars
10:57AM ( 30 minutes ago )