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Analysis: Some of NFL's best Week 12 drama was off the field

Tue Nov 29 5:55am ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, right, hugs Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield, left, after an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)


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Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson leaves the field after their loss during an NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)


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Fans attends the unveiling of the Sean Taylor Memorial, before the start of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Commanders, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Landover, Md. On the 15th anniversary of the death of Taylor, ever Commander player will wear a No. 21 decal on their helmet. (AP Photo/Jessica Rapfogel)


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Threatening to overshadow an intoxicating weekend in the NFL that began with a trio of Thanksgiving classics and included two successful do-or-die 2-point conversions was all the drama that happened off the field in Week 12.

Mike Purcell got up in Russell Wilson's grill and screamed right in his face at the Bank of America Stadium sideline, channeling plenty of Broncos fans weary of the robotic quarterback's inability to shake off a season-long slump that tilts his big trade from Seattle more toward the Seahawks by the week.

Lamar Jackson blasted a fan on Twitter for suggesting the Ravens let the quarterback leave in free agency following Baltimore's 28-27 loss to the Jaguars. That drew a rebuke from his coach who called it unwise to jump on social media after a loss and from the LBGTQ community for his offensive language.

The Washington Commanders drew ire on social media after unveiling a memorial to the late Sean Taylor that looked more like a mannequin from the team store than a statue of the beloved safety who was killed 15 years ago by an intruder.

And free agent Odell Beckham Jr.'s return trip to the NFL from a knee injury last year's Super Bowl took a slight detour Sunday when he was removed from an aircraft before takeoff at Miami International Airport after failing to respond to requests to buckle his seatbelt and appearing to be unconscious.

''Fearing that Mr. Beckham was seriously ill, and that his condition would worsen through the expected 5 hour flight, (flight crew members) called for police and fire rescue,'' Miami Dade police officer Luis Sierra said in a statement. ''As they tried to wake (Beckham) to fasten his seat belt, he appeared to be coming in and out of consciousness.''

A Twitter post attributed to Beckham appeared to refer to the incident, saying, ''Never in my life have I experienced what just happened to me,'' and adding with a misspelling that he had ''seen it alll.''

In Baltimore, Ravens coach John Harbaugh lamented Jackson jumping on Twitter in the moments after their 28-27 loss to the Jaguars, who overcame a seven-point deficit in the final minute of regulation for the first time in their 30-year history.

Jackson snapped back at a fan blaming him for Baltimore's loss using profane and inflammatory language, saying the fan ''never smelt a football field'' before later deleting his response.

Harbaugh said he spoke with Jackson on Monday about the star quarterback's profane postgame tweet directed at a fan, saying the language Jackson used was out of character.

Jackson insisted on Twitter that he did not intend to disrespect anyone's sexual orientation when he angrily responded to a dig following Baltimore's loss that ended with Justin Tucker coming up short on a 67-yard field goal.

Outsports.com, which covers LGBTQ sports news, published a piece about Jackson's comments that said: ''Jackson might not be homophobic, but his comment was. He would have been better off apologizing for the tweet in the first place as opposed to trying to defend its contents.''

Jackson's regrettable reaction followed the Jaguars' epic comeback in which Trevor Lawrence connected with Marvin Jones on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds remaining, followed by a 2-point toss to Zay Jones.

In Denver, embattled rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett said he spoke with both Purcell and Wilson about their brief sideline spat following a personal foul on Purcell during a field goal kick. Hackett insisted it wasn't a symptom of a locker room rift between the team's stingy defense and punchless offense that's averaging barely 14 points a game.

''It's an emotional game,'' Hackett said, later adding that he appreciates Purcell's passion.

''You want every one of your football players to want to do anything to win. You want them to hold each other accountable and you want them to try to fire each other up,'' Hackett said. ''I've always believed that it is a little different coming from a coach than it is coming from a player. Whenever it comes from the player-those guys, that means a lot to them.

''I appreciate his passion and understand it. I just don't want him to get that personal foul in that situation. Besides that, I love when the guys are fired up. That's what we ask for. We want everyone fired up.''

Fans in Washington were fired up over Taylor's tribute.

''Sean Taylor Deserved a Statue,'' former Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III tweeted.

Instead of a statue, the memorial to Taylor was a glass-enclosed installation on the concourse of FedEx Field featuring a helmet, No. 21 jersey, pants and cleats stood up in mannequin form.

Some on social media pointed out the display included a strange mix of a Nike jersey, Reebok pants and Adidas cleats. The use of soccer cleats instead of football ones also sparked criticism, but Taylor's daughter, Jackie, said it was intentional and called it a special tribute.

Seahawks linebacker Darrell Taylor saw to it that all the drama of the weekend wasn't relegated to the sidelines or the concourses.

When Seattle safety Quandre Diggs intercepted Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr's first pass Sunday, TV cameras caught Taylor deciding to leave the Seahawks sideline to run onto the field and block for Diggs.

Astonishingly, the Seahawks weren't flagged for having too many men on the field.

So, kudos to Taylor for getting away with returning some of the drama to the field itself over the weekend and for giving an entirely new meaning to the Seahawks' famed ''12th Man.''

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Player Notes
Alec Pierce Nov 29 12:00pm ET
Alec Pierce

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce failed to catch any of his two targets in the Colts' 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12. The Colts' rookie wideout was targeted early, but faded out of the game plan in favor of tight end Jelani Woods. With the Colts offense struggling to consistently function at a professional level, Pierce's zeroes may become mainstays in the fantasy football world. The Colts seemingly always finding themselves in close games could work in the favor of Pierce and other Colts' skill position players, however. But with too many mouths to feed in Indianapolis, it will be hard to trust Pierce as anything more than a boom-or-bust WR4 in Week 13.

From RotoBaller

Jelani Woods Nov 29 11:50am ET
Jelani Woods

Indianapolis Colts tight end Jelani Woods caught eight of nine targets for 98 yards in the Colts 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 12. Woods was peppered with targets all night as quarterback Matt Ryan was in dump off mode due to being pressured all night. Woods' 98 yards let the Colts, and his nine targets were second on the team. Whether this performance is a fluke or not remains to be seen, but it is noteworthy that he almost doubled fellow tight end Mo Alie-Cox in snaps. Woods is a name to keep an eye on for the tail end of the fantasy regular season, especially in a position as weak as tight end. He's a low-end, sleeper option in Week 13 versus Dallas.

From RotoBaller

Parris Campbell Nov 29 11:40am ET
Parris Campbell

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell caught two of three targets for 14 yards in the Colts' 24-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The stat line for Campbell was disappointing, as his three targets were his fewest since Week 8. Campbell's role of the short yardage security blanket was actually played by tight end Jelani Woods, and Campbell's targets weren't very nicely placed. Frankly, with quarterback Matt Ryan's struggles in the loss, Campbell was lucky to even have two catches. This seems to be the floor for Campbell, and he has a chance to rebound as a mid-range WR3 against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 13.

From RotoBaller

Michael Pittman Jr. Nov 29 11:30am ET
Michael Pittman Jr.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. caught seven of 11 targets for 61 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' Week 12 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittman paced the team with a team-high 11 targets, but was surprisingly out-gained 98-61 by tight end Jelani Woods. Quarterback Matt Ryan was under duress for most of the night and dump offs at or a few yards in front of the line of scrimmage seemed to be his preferred play. Pittman was still able to remain the lead target for Ryan, a role that figures to see high volume should the Colts continue to trail football games. Pittman's high floor keeps him ranked as a solid WR2, especially in PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Jonathan Taylor Nov 29 11:00am ET
Jonathan Taylor

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor rushed 20 times for 86 yards and a touchdown; adding three catches for 12 yards on four targets in the Colts' Week 12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Taylor was consistently ripping off big runs, and looked like his elite self. The problem for Taylor, however, is that quarterback Matt Ryan is a shell of his former self and is unable to consistently move the ball down the field. The good news for Taylor is that the backfield, including passing downs, is entirely his. The volume, and explosive playmaking keep Taylor ranked as a high-end RB1 heading into Week 13 versus Dallas.

From RotoBaller

Matt Ryan Nov 29 11:00am ET
Matt Ryan

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan completed 22-of-34 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown and an interception in the Colts' Week 12 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ryan was struggling right out of the gates as his first two passes were a near-interception and then an interception. He failed to recognize and escape pressure and was unable to consistently put drives together. The lone bright spot here is that the Colts will almost always be trailing, meaning plenty of garbage time for the Colts skill position players. Ryan is not a recommended start even in deeper superflex formats in a tough Week 12 tilt against the Dallas Cowboys

From RotoBaller

Daniel Bellinger Nov 29 9:10am ET
Daniel Bellinger

New York Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger (eye) has missed the past four games but could return to action in Week 13. The rookie showed some promise with 16 receptions for 152 yards and two touchdowns in his first seven games. Head coach Brian Daboll said he's "improving," which likely means he'll be back on the field soon. Given the current landscape of the tight position, he would immediately enter the mix as a streamer because the Giants are so void of offensive weapons, and there are very few reliable players for fantasy managers to start.

From RotoBaller

Mike White Nov 29 9:00am ET
Mike White

New York Jets quarterback Mike White led his team to a dominant 31-10 victory over the Bears on Sunday, injecting life into a previously dreadful offense. His performance was good enough to earn him another start this week when the Jets travel to Minnesota to face the Vikings. The 27-year-old filled in for Zach Wilson last year with a 1-2 record as a starter, including an upset against the Bengals in Week 8, where he threw for 405 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions. New York is currently in third place in the AFC East, sitting only one game back of Miami and Buffalo, making every game an important one down the stretch. White not only boosts the fantasy football value for all the offensive weapons but also possesses intrigue as a streamer himself.

From RotoBaller

Ja'Marr Chase Nov 29 8:40am ET
Ja'Marr Chase

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (hip) has missed the past four games and was close to suiting up last week. Additionally, there was a report on Monday morning that he is expected to play this week. However, when head coach Zac Taylor spoke to the press later in the day, he was less confident in the 22-year-old returning on Sunday to face the Chiefs. He noted that their star wideout "did some stuff on Monday" in practice but that Wednesday's practice would be the real test. The Bengals have a 7-4 record, tied with the Ravens for first place in the AFC North, so getting a win this week is critical. It's also possible the team limits his snaps in his first game back, meaning fantasy managers will need to keep an eye on practice reports the rest of the week.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Nov 29 8:20am ET
Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (thumb, rib) exited Sunday night's game against the Eagles in the fourth quarter and did not return. When speaking at a press conference on Monday, head coach Matt LaFleur said the 39-year-old is feeling better than he was on Sunday and will get the start if he's cleared by medical staff. Green Bay is currently sitting at 4-8, meaning their chances of making the playoffs are very slim, but they are not mathematically eliminated. If the former MVP is sidelined, the team will turn to Jordan Love, who came in to replace Rodgers on Sunday, throwing for 113 yards and a touchdown in relief. He would be a streaming option facing the Bears on Sunday if Rodgers is out.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Wright Nov 29 5:50am ET
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Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Matthew Wright made all three of his field goals and added an extra point in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Wright made field goals from 45, 52, and 25 yards in the Monday night win for the Steelers. The veteran kicker has made eight of his 10 field goals in his three games with the Steelers while Chris Boswell (groin) has been on injured reserve. With Boswell required to miss at least one more game, Wright will head on the road to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13.

From RotoBaller

Matt Ryan Nov 29 5:50am ET
Matt Ryan

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense played well in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12's Monday night game. Pittsburgh held the Colts to just 290 yards of total offense while logging three sacks and two takeaways. The Steelers intercepted Matt Ryan once and also forced the quarterback to lose a fumble in the contest. Pittsburgh got sacks from Alex Highsmith, Terrell Edmunds, and Arthur Maulet while James Pierre provided the interception. The Steelers will now head on the road to take on the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13.

From RotoBaller

George Pickens Nov 29 5:40am ET
George Pickens

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver George Pickens caught three of his six targets for 57 yards and added a two-point conversion in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Pickens led the Steelers in receiving while finishing second on the team in targets in the Monday night victory. In what has been common this year, the rookie wideout made an exceptional catch with a defender in close coverage down the right sideline for a 35-yard gain during the first half. Pickens is going to be inconsistent in the Pittsburgh offense but he has shown the potential to be a top-shelf wide receiver in the NFL. He will be a flex play in Week 13's road matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.

From RotoBaller

Pat Freiermuth Nov 29 5:40am ET
Pat Freiermuth

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth caught three of his four targets for 39 yards in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Freiermuth finished third on the team in targets and receiving on an evening where Kenny Pickett only threw for 174 scoreless yards. Freiermuth has been a consistent receiving option for the Steelers in 2022 as he's caught at least four passes in all but three of his games played this season. Freiermuth will be a TE1 heading into a Week 13 road matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.

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Anthony McFarland Jr. Nov 29 5:30am ET
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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland Jr. carried the ball six times for 30 yards and added 11 yards on two catches in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. McFarland received his first touches of the season with Jaylen Warren (hamstring) inactive and Najee Harris leaving with an abdominal injury late in the first quarter. The third-year running back could have a role in Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons if Harris and/or Warren were unable to play, although it is apparent that McFarland is behind Benny Snell Jr. in the pecking order in the Pittsburgh backfield.

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Diontae Johnson Nov 29 5:30am ET
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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson caught five of his eight targets for 49 yards in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Johnson appeared to be on his way to a big game with all but one of his catches coming before halftime. The stat line is similar to what Johnson has been doing for Pittsburgh for much of the season as he led the Steelers in targets but didn't score a touchdown and tallied a pedestrian yardage total. Johnson is looking like a WR4 for the remainder of the season in the Kenny Pickett offense. He will head on the road to face the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13.

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Kenny Pickett Nov 29 5:20am ET
Kenny Pickett

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett completed 20 of his 28 passes for 174 yards while adding 32 yards on six carries in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Pickett played mistake-free football on Monday night but he wound up without a touchdown pass for the fifth time in eight starts in 2022. The rookie quarterback once again showed the ability to get some yardage on the ground as he has run for at least 32 yards in three of his past four games and has three rushing touchdowns on the year. Pickett draws a plus matchup in Week 13 as he will head on the road to take on the Atlanta Falcons.

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Benny Snell Jr. Nov 29 5:20am ET
Benny Snell Jr.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. carried the ball 12 times for 62 yards and a touchdown while adding a six-yard reception in a 24-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12. Snell saw his first touches of the season with Jaylen Warren (hamstring) inactive and Najee Harris leaving the game at the end of the first half with an abdominal injury. Warren's status for Week 13 against the Atlanta Falcons is unclear but this has the potential to be a messy three-man committee in Pittsburgh with Snell and Anthony McFarland Jr. all in line to possibly see touches if Harris isn't able to suit up. Stay tuned to the injury statuses of both Harris and Warren heading into Week 13.

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Zaire Franklin Nov 28 11:53pm ET
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Indianapolis Colts LB Zaire Franklin posted a game-high 11 total stops with five solo tackles in Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Derek Watt Nov 28 11:43pm ET
Derek Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Zach Gentry, FB Derek Watt and WR Cody White each registered one reception apiece in Week 12 against the Indianapolis Colts. Gentry had one target and minus-4 yards, Watt had a 1-yard catch and a 4-yard run on his two touches, while White was good for a 2-yard grab on his lone touch and target.

From TheHuddle