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Sunday, May 31, 2020

15 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 15

Ben Roethlisberger

We’re running out of weeks in the NFL season, and it’s put up or shut up time for many teams and players. Jobs are on the line now on lesser teams, while playoff spots are the obvious reward for those who still have things to play for. The big wins and heartbreaking losses only get more pronounced from here.

Here’s a glance at 15 big disappointments from Week 15 of the NFL season.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ late-game execution

At minimum, the Steelers looked like they had pretty much wrapped up a shot at a game-tying field goal against the Patriots. Even after Jesse James’s go-ahead touchdown was overturned on replay — controversial in itself — the Steelers had second and goal from the ten. A three-yard catch and a lack of timeouts saw the Steelers forced to run hurry-up, and they seemed to be in two minds as to whether they should spike it and take the field goal or try to force the issue. Ben Roethlisberger went with the latter and threw a backbreaking interception. The call will get all the attention, but Roethlisberger made a terrible decision to throw, and didn’t seem fully committed to the decision anyway, which he blamed on his coaches. Costly mistakes like that can’t happen.

Seattle Seahawks

There was nothing good to say about this Seattle performance in any way. The offense totaled just 149 yards. Russell Wilson was sacked seven times. The team was penalized nine times for 60 yards. They lost two fumbles. Then on defense, they gave up 352 yards and 19 first downs. Even special teams was found wanting, as the Seahawks allowed several lengthy punt returns and 128 yards total on punt returns. This should all but end Seattle’s playoff hopes, and it’s the worst performance this team has put together in a long while.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Packers

Despite everything that went wrong for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, they still went down to the wire with a chance to win the game. In fact, it seemed as though they’d already accomplished the hardest part of their comeback effort by recovering an onside kick down 31-24 with under three minutes left. They were already into Carolina territory when wide receiver Geronimo Allison caught a pass, turned to run, and fumbled. Carolina recovered to effectively end the game. There was a long way to go even if Allison held onto the football, but the loss more or less ended Green Bay’s playoff hopes. Had he held on, Green Bay would have been in good position to tie the game.

Jay Cutler, QB, Dolphins

Buffalo’s defense can present a challenge, but Cutler was really disappointing on Sunday for a Miami team that could have made it to .500 with a win. Cutler didn’t throw for a single touchdown and was held to 274 yards on 28 completions — not a particularly good margin. On top of that, the veteran quarterback was picked off three times in the 24-16 loss. The fact that this game was still within reach despite his struggles will probably only make this one tougher to swallow.

Sean Davis, S, Steelers

Davis was put on the Rob Gronkowski beat on Sunday, and he was very much not up to the tough task. Gronk had nine catches and went off for 168 yards — all but ten of which came with Davis on him, according to Pro Football Focus. He was downright abused on New England’s late two-point conversion that put them up a field goal, a play that ended up looming large once Pittsburgh made it into the red zone with under a minute left. Davis couldn’t stop Gronkowski, and his poor performance was a big reason the Patriots were able to come back.

Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers

Funchess has been a favorite target of Cam Newton’s over the last several weeks, but his individual production dried up on Sunday. The receiver only had one catch for 19 yards — a particularly underwhelming total considering Newton threw for four touchdowns. It was the first time since the end of October that Funchess was held to fewer than 50 yards receiving, and the first time since Nov. 26 he failed to find the end zone.

Blaine Gabbert, QB, Cardinals

Disappointment is a relative term. It implies that there were expectations in the first place. It is fair to say that expectations weren’t particularly high for Gabbert on Sunday, but one would have expected him to be competent-to-mediocre. Instead, he went 16-for-41, threw an interception, and fumbled three times, losing two of them and running into an offensive lineman on the other. He was historically awful, even in lieu of expectation.

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