Week 10 has come and gone and we had another big week for former Hawks. Let’s go!
Tight End University
Iowa’s tight end crew balled out this week, hitting some historic markers along the way. We’ll start with TJ Hockenson and the morning games. The resurgent Vikings, now led by Josh Dobbs, held off the Saints for a 27-19 win to get to 6-4 through 10 games. At the center of it all was Hock. He finished with 11 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Hock had 10 receptions for 128 yards and the above touchdown...in the first half. He joined elite company with his first half performance.
While Hock was tearing it up in Minneapolis, George Kittle and the reeling 49ers flew east to Jacksonville to play the first-place Jaguars. The opponent plus a healthy offense was just what the doctor ordered as the Niners smashed Jacksonville to itty bity bits in a 34-3 dismantling.
Kittle was at the center of it all, going for 3 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown.
Kittle also flew with some incredible company with his performance Sunday. Newsome, Gronk, and Keith Jackson? Not bad company to keep.
The afternoon games weren’t as productive for former Hawks, especially Noah Fant (2 receptions for 6 yards in a 29-26 win over Washington). Sam LaPorta finished Detroit’s 41-38 win over the Los Angeles Chargers with 4 receptions for 40 yards, including a crucial 4th down reception on the final drive of the game that ended with Detroit’s game-winning field goal (6 walk-off field goals this week, the most in a single week in NFL history). Seattle’s win kept them tied atop the NFC West with San Francisco, while Detroit’s win pushed them to 7-2 and firmly in command of the NFC North.
Stone had another strong day in Baltimore’s 33-31 loss to Cleveland (another walk-off game). Stone, still leading the league in interceptions, nearly had another, but a teammate batted it down instead. COME ON, GUY.
Stone finished with 5 tackles on the day as the Browns moved to 6-3, just a half-game back of the Ravens.
There’s a name we don’t hear often. ISM hasn’t recorded a reception this year but he is Carolina’s punt returner, and wow did he make a splash Thursday night with a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown in their 16-13 loss to the Bears.
That is ISM’s third career touchdown and first on a punt return. His other two touchdowns came in 2021 as a member of the Vikings.
AJ Epenesa, Micah Hyde, and Broncos Corner
Another walk-off game Monday night in what was the Iowa Reunion Game of the Week.
We’ll start with AJE - dude is having a year for the Bills. He finished the 24-22 loss to the Broncos - last walk-off of the week and OH MY GOD WAS IT A DOOZY - with 3 tackles, 1 solo, a tackle for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
The Bills defense is showing up BIG TIME in the second half pic.twitter.com/HxzEbf5ji9— Bussin' With The Boys (@BussinWTB) November 14, 2023
He picked up the half-sack late in the fourth quarter on Denver’s game-winning drive. That takes AJE’s sack total to 6.5 for the year, matching his career high set last year.
On the other sideline, Josey Jewell finished with 6 tackles (3 solo). Riley Moss and Micah Hyde did not record any statistics.
These are two ships heading in opposite directions. The Bills are now 5-5 and wowza, the playoffs look iffy for them with a stretch of at Philadelphia, at Kansas City, and Dallas looming. They should have won this game as the Broncos missed a 41-yard game-winner with 4 seconds left. BUT WAIT - the Bills had 12 men on the field so the Broncos got to kick again and Will Lutz made the winner. That plus turnovers doomed the Bills in what looks like a must-win with the upcoming schedule.
The Broncos, on the other hand, started 1-5 but have now won their last 3 to get to 4-5 and on the edge of the playoff hunt. After the defensive catastrophes early in the year to Washington, Miami, and the New York Jets, the Broncos have given up just 19, 17, 9, and 22 points in the last 4 games (two of those games were with the Chiefs; this isn’t a vintage Chiefs offense, but they’re still good). That’s massive improvement on the defensive side. There are winnable games on the horizon for the Broncos - Minnesota is resurgent but Denver can hang with them, they play the absolutely dreadful Patriots late in the year, they still have two games with the Chargers and you never know what you’ll get from them, and they close the season in Las Vegas, so a late playoff push isn’t fantasy land like it was 4 weeks ago.