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Monday, October 15, 2018

Blog

Chargers get away with false start on controversial TD play

The Los Angeles Chargers jumped out to a huge lead against the Cleveland Browns in the first half on Sunday, and they got some serious help from the officials on one of their scoring plays.

With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Philip Rivers threw a beautiful 29-yard touchdown pass that Tyrell Williams made a great play on. However, the play should have been whistled dead, as offensive lineman Russell Okung clearly jumped before the ball was snapped.

The officials inexplicably missed that Okung got out of his stance early, and the play was not reviewable. To make matters worse, the missed call occurred on third down. Rather than being faced with 3rd-and-12, the Chargers scored a touchdown that never should have counted.

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing officials blow calls on plays like this, but it’s rare that a team gets away with a false start. The Browns will have every right to be furious about that.

Watch: JuJu Smith-Schuster makes ridiculous catch over defender

JuJu Smith-Schuster wasn’t put off by the cornerback in front of him when making an enormous catch against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers receiver managed to reach around Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard and make a ridiculous catch to bring his team to the brink of the goal line.

It even looked like Dennard had the interception for a moment, but it was not to be. The only bad news for Smith-Schuster was the fact that he was ruled down at the one-yard line due to his helmet touching the ground just short of the end zone. Steelers running back James Conner immediately punched it in on the very next play.

Maybe, after a catch like that, Smith-Schuster will have something else to say about his Madden rating.

Watch: Devin Funchess makes incredible TD catch over defender

It took the Carolina Panthers almost an entire half to get on the board against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but their first scoring play was one of the best you will see this week.

Cam Newton can thank wide receiver Devin Funchess for his touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, as Funchess turned in a Randy Moss-style play by reaching over the defender and snatching the ball away.

Here’s another angle of the awesome grab:

Quinton Dunbar failed to make the play, but you have to tip your cap when something like that happens. That was a grown man touchdown from Funchess.

Report: Jimmy Butler expected to play in Timberwolves’ season opener

Jimmy Butler

After a tumultuous offseason and an even more tumultuous week, Jimmy Butler is set to start the season right where he left it last year.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Butler is expected to play in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season opener on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, as trade talks with the Miami Heat have fallen apart and not been resuscitated.

This promises to be a very awkward affair. Butler went off at a team practice last week and has made no secret of the fact that he wants to be traded, but the Timberwolves just haven’t found a deal for him that they’re satisfied with. That means he won’t get his wish ahead of the season, but he doesn’t appear likely to sit out.

Amari Cooper leaves game with injury after monster hit

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper left Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half after taking a huge hit over the middle of the field.

Cooper was trying to corral a low pass from Derek Carr when Seattle Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald threw a ferocious hit on him. There was contact to the head and neck area, but surprisingly no flag was thrown.

The team announced that Cooper was being evaluated for a concussion:

That should have been a penalty, and hopefully the injury to Cooper is not serious.

Astros’ Reddick: Chris Sale ‘a lot easier’ to hit when throwing slower

Chris Sale

The Houston Astros were pleasantly surprised to find Chris Sale’s velocity down a few ticks in Game 1 of the ALCS, and they took advantage of the Boston Red Sox ace’s issues.

The Astros got Sale out of the game after just four innings in a 7-2 win on Saturday, and outfielder Josh Reddick certainly noticed the difference in Sale’s velocity, which topped out around 93-94 MPH instead of his usual upper-90s.

The Astros did get just one hit off Sale and struck out five times, but with four walks, his control wasn’t where it usually was. There were no issues in his ALDS start, but this time, he just didn’t look comfortable.

Watch: Vikings RB Latavius Murray throws vicious stiff-arm on TD run

Latavius Murray was once again the starting running back for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday with Dalvin Cook out, and the veteran proved he is still capable of making big plays early on in the game.

Murray helped the Vikings jump out to an early lead with a 21-yard touchdown, and the most impressive part of the run was the vicious stiff-arm he threw on Arizona Cardinals defensive back Antoine Bethea.

While nothing will come close to the stiff-arm we saw in the Steelers-Bucs game earlier this season, that was an impressive display of strength from Murray.

Watch: Bears LB Leonard Floyd flagged for bodyslamming Danny Amendola

The early part of the NFL season has been filled with penalties for roughing the passer, but Chicago Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd reminded us on Sunday that quarterbacks aren’t the only players officials have placed a greater emphasis on protecting.

Early in the first quarter of his team’s game against the Miami Dolphins, Floyd busted out a WWE-style bodyslam while trying to stop Danny Amendola short of the first down marker. He was flagged for unnecessary roughness.

The flag got the Dolphins deeper into the red zone, and they eventually scored a touchdown.

We have heard plenty of complaints from players about roughing the passer flags this season, but what Floyd did is going to be a penalty every time.

Kirk Cousins pumps Vikings up with awesome pregame speech

Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins has only been with the Minnesota Vikings for five regular season games, but it seems obvious that the star quarterback has quickly emerged as the unquestioned leader of the team.

Prior to Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, Cousins gave a fiery speech to his teammates. He wasn’t just talking to offensive players, either, as he urged Minnesota’s defense to “suffocate” rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.

If that doesn’t make you want to run through a brick wall, nothing will. We’ve seen NFL quarterbacks get ruthlessly mocked for pregame speeches in the past, but we doubt anyone is going to taunt Cousins over that.

Twitter reacts to snow falling for Broncos-Rams game in Denver

Denver Broncos logo

The Denver Broncos and their fans have grown accustomed to football games in cold, snowy weather, but that typically is not a factor until the halfway point in the season or later. Mother Nature has different plans this year.

Hours before kickoff of the Broncos’ game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, snow was falling at an impressive rate at Mile High.

The snow was expected to continue into the afternoon, with 3-6 inches possible by the evening. Temperatures were in the 20s. Naturally, folks on Twitter believe the conditions give the Broncos the advantage.

The Rams are arguably the best team in the NFC and head into Denver undefeated, so the snow could help the Broncos — losers of three straight — pull off the upset. Although, L.A. still has the luxury of being able to feed Todd Gurley. Denver’s defense isn’t what it used to be, and the Rams are hardly a one-dimensional team.