Week 15 wasn’t kind
While the top teams in the NFL normally use the end of the season to get primed for the playoffs, Week 15 wasn’t kind to many of them, or their best players.
Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell had a tremendous gaffe. Fortunately, his teammates overcame the mistake. The same can’t be said for Jason Myers and Sebastian Janikowski. For the second week in a row, a costly blunder from Tom Brady burned the New England Patriots. Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff struggled for the second week in a row. This time, he mimicked one of the biggest bloopers in NFL history.
These were the most notable blunders from Week 15 of the 2018 NFL season.
Chiefs defenses implodes on Thursday night stage
Despite leading for nearly all of Thursday night’s game with the Los Angeles Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs were defeated in the final seconds.
Kansas City’s defense is the main culprit. For starters, no team should ever lose a game where it leads by 14 points, especially on three different occasions. When Los Angeles spurned overtime and went for a do-or-die two-point try after cutting the lead to 28-27, the Chiefs had one final chance. They did not take advantage. A disoriented Kansas City defense left Mike Williams completely unguarded (watch here).
The Chiefs can score with anyone. But the defense has been a question all year. Nothing that happened on Thursday night did anything to change that thinking.
Case Keenum throws costly pick to end first half
The Denver Broncos had a chance to take a halftime lead against the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night. But a mistake from Keenan ended that possibility. Well within field goal range and facing a third-and-10, Keenum threw an off-balance pass toward the end zone. The Browns in the area outnumbered the Broncos, 4-2. Cleveland’s Jabrill Peppers came down with the pick.
Denver’s defense did temporarily bail out Keenum when it intercepted Baker Mayfield on an equally bad pass. But Mayfield gets to look back at his gaffe as a learning moment from a win. Keenum’s pass, on the other hand, could well have been the difference between a win and a loss for the Broncos. Not only did they lose, but they lost by a point. A simple field goal could have made a big difference.
Jets’ frustrations show in kicking game
The New York Jets gamely hung in against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Ultimately, though, New York fell short. Part of that can be attributed to Houston’s best players coming through in the big spots. But the Jets were not helped by their kicker, Jason Myers, who missed two extra-points. In the end, the two points wouldn’t have changed the end result. But both PATs happened early enough in the game that they could have made a difference in how the rest of the game was played. New York has gotten in its own way a lot in 2018. That will need to change for the Jets to compete in 2019.
Vance Joseph makes baffling conservative decision
We’ve already detailed Keenum’s mistake. But he was not the only Bronco to blunder on Saturday night. Trailing 17-13 late in the game and facing a fourth-and-one from the Cleveland six, Joseph elected to kick a field goal. The decision was not well received by fans – nor should it have been. A successful attempt would have likely led to a go-ahead touchdown. Even a failed attempt would have pinned the Browns against their own goal line and likely given the Broncos a short field with another chance to win. A field goal just didn’t make sense.
When Denver sat at 3-6, Joseph’s job seemed very much on the line. That seemed to change when the Broncos got to 6-6. But now they’ve lost two in a row and are eliminated from the playoffs. As far as job security goes, Joseph has not done himself any favors over the last two weeks.
Byron Marshall makes crushing block … for the wrong team
The Washington Redskins did defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. But even with the win, they provided one of the funniest bloopers in recent memory.
Late in the first half, Jacksonville’s Dede Westbrook torched Washington with a punt return for a touchdown (watch here). Upon closer review, we can see why Westbrook scored.
Late in the return, Westbrook was sprung by a rather impressive block from Byron Marshall (watch here). Unfortunately, Marshall plays for the Redskins. He was well positioned to tackle Westbrook. He just had other priorities, apparently.
Sebastian Janikowski has embarrassing two-play sequence
When the Seattle Seahawks struck first against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, it seemed like a blowout was inevitable. That changed in a hurry. First, he missed the PAT. Then, rather than blasting the ball through the end zone, Janikowski booted the ensuing kickoff to the three. Richie James Jr. returned the kick for a score (watch here). Janikowski was in position to make a tackle on James, but he made essentially no effort. We actually wonder why he even ran towards James to begin with.
Seattle ended up losing in overtime. Had everything else gone the same, making the PAT would have made all the difference. The poor kickoff and the weak effort on the tackle certainly made a difference, giving early confidence to a heavy underdog. We can safely call this the worst-two play sequence of Janikowski’s career.
Another Tom Brady blunder burns New England
The Patriots dropped their second straight game on Sunday. And much like in Week 14, a gaffe from Brady made a huge difference. In Week 15, it was a terrible fourth quarter interception (watch here).
The fact that the play happened on second down makes the mistake even worse. But even if it was a third down, a field goal would have been fine. There was more than enough time in the game. Getting nothing out of a trip to the red zone was just brutal.
Jared Goff breaks out flawless Garo Yepremian tribute at wrong moment
Playing at the same stadium that saw Garo Yepremian’s famed botch in Super Bowl VII, Goff decided to pay tribute. Facing a third-and-one, Goff got tripped upon receiving the snap and dropped the ball. He picked it up and tried to throw it, but it went nowhere as Corey Graham intercepted it (watch here).
That set the Philadelphia Eagles up with a short field. Two plays later, they were in the end zone with a 30-13 lead. The score ended up being the game-winner.
The physical error was bad. But we also have to wonder what Goff was thinking. The best he was going to do was throw the ball away — on third down. There was virtually no difference between a sack and an incomplete pass. Even the best-case scenario would have had the Rams punting. We can’t even really say that he was trying to make lemonade out of lemons. What he got was much worse than lemons.
Jojo Natson loses in inexplicable way
Despite Goff’s error, Los Angeles had a chance late. With just over three minutes left, the Rams trailed by only a touchdown and were set to get the ball in decent field position. That all changed when Natson fumbled on the punt return. Making matters worse is that Natson was not hit. No outside factors, except for maybe the air, caused the fumble.
Thanks to a miss from Jake Elliott, Los Angeles did get the ball back with a chance to tie and actually made it interesting. But Natson’s gaffe was one of the biggest blunders in a night filled with them for the Rams.
Interception highlights ugly game for Cam Newton
Newton is just not healthy. This was abundantly clear throughout Monday night’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. Nowhere was it more apparent than at the end of the first half. His Carolina Panthers had a chance to build on a one-point lead. But Newton was intercepted by Eli Apple on a horribly under thrown a pass in the end zone (watch here).
First of all, this mistake cost Carolina at least three points — which was the game’s final margin. Worse is that it really spotlighted Newton’s problems making simple passes. Apple had good coverage on the play, but he had no help over the top. If Newton had simply thrown the ball deeper, it would have either been caught by Devin Funchess or fallen incomplete. Newton has struggled too often with passes like that this season. And if he can’t make them, he’s doing far more harm than good to the Panthers.