/Gridiron Digest: Whos to Blame for the Browns?

Gridiron Digest: Whos to Blame for the Browns?

Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

Defender of the Week

Steelers rookie Devin Bush came through when his team needed him most, returning a fumbled Chargers snap for a touchdown and setting up a second touchdown with an interception of Philip Rivers. Bush’s early-game heroics provided plenty of breathing room so Steelers rookie third-string quarterback Delvin Hodges could manage a 24-17 victory over the Chargers. 


Offensive Line of the Week

The much-maligned Texans line helped Carlos Hyde and others combine for 192 rushing yards and held the Chiefs defense without a sack. So let’s hear it for Laremy Tunsil, rookie Max Scharping, Nick Martin, Zach Fulton, rookie Tytus Howard (who suffered a potentially serious knee injury) and Roderick Johnson. 


Special Teamer of the Week

David Moore’s blocked punt breathed new life into the Seahawks at a point when they trailed 20-9 and couldn’t accomplish much on either side of the ball.


Mystery Touch of the Week

The Eagles were clawing their way back into the game against the Vikings when they lined up for a field goal that would cut their deficit to 24-13 before halftime. But being back in Minneapolis put Doug Pederson in a Philly Special-style state of mind. Kicker Jake Elliott took a direct snap and looked for Dallas Goedert sneaking through the Vikings defense. Unfortunately, the Vikings covered Goedert, so Elliott pumped, scrambled and heaved a blooper-reel interception to Everson Griffen. 

No one will be erecting a statue commemorating that trick play outside the Eagles’ stadium. 


Best Supporting Actor in Someone Else’s Highlight

Christian McCaffrey’s early-game touchdown would look great under any circumstances, but Vernon Hargreaves made it look even better by slipping and falling at the mere sight of McCaffrey’s juke move. Linebacker Devin White deserves honorable mention for crumpling so beautifully beneath McCaffrey’s stiff arm.


Pass Interference Mystery of the Week

Officials threw a flag on a Patrick Mahomes interception by Tashaun Gipson with no Chiefs receiver anywhere near the throw. The foul appeared to be pass interference against the defender who grabbed Travis Kelce.

But officials picked up the flag, with referee Shawn Hochuli issuing the following explanation, per Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star: “After discussion, the contact that was potentially a hold was while the ball was in the air. It is not pass interference because it was not on the receiver that caught the ball.”

Mahomes explained after the game that Kelce was the intended receiver on the throw; the reason he was nowhere near the ball was because, you know, he was interfered with. And while Hochuli said Kelce was “potentially” held, no one bothered to call defensive holding. And defensive holding cannot be challenged, so there was nothing Andy Reid could do but watch a potential first down turn into a turnover. 

Can’t wait for a conference championship game to be decided by plays that are “potentially” penalties but also might not be.

Referee Overkill of the Week

The officials called six straight penalties during the Cowboys’ final fourth-quarter drive against the Jets. The calls went both ways, some where obvious and some were ticky-tack, but the officiating called attention to itself and turned what should have been a thrilling Cowboys effort to nearly tie the game (they failed on the two-point conversion attempt) into a series of random outcomes that had little to do with whether either team made a good or bad play. No one understands the rulebook or trusts the judgment of the officials anymore, anyway, so the refs should just tuck away their whistles, hockey-style, and let everyone play late in close games.


Kicker Fail of the Week

The Falcons have disappointed their fans in myriad ways since the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, but they haven’t been a “miss a game-tying extra point late” kind of team. Matt Bryant fixed that oversight by sailing a kick wide left to help the Cardinals preserve a 34-33 win.

Bryant came out of retirement this offseason to help the Falcons find new ways to be heartbreakingly awful. That’s commitment.