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Hawks in the NFL - Week 15

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Week 15 is in the books and we’re now getting close to playoff time. Let’s see how former Hawks did this week!

Tight Ends + Hawkeye Reunion + Broncos Corner

There is a lot going on here between tight ends, Hawkeye Reunion, and the Broncos. This week we start with Sam LaPorta. LaPorta caught 5 passes for 56 yards in Detroit’s 42-17 throttling of the Broncos Saturday night in Detroit. Ok, pretty ho hum...and then you see that LaPorta finished with a hat trick of touchdowns as the Lions grabbed full control of the NFC North and are now a win away from their first division title since 1993.

I haven’t watched a ton of Lions games this year start to finish, but I did go wire-to-wire with this game since I’m a Denver resident. One of the fun things about Detroit is how they use LaPorta. Brian Baldinger laid it out yesterday afternoon.

The game also featured some Hawk-on-Hawk violence on LaPorta’s first touchdown as he shook Josey Jewell - 9 tackles, 7 of them solos - on his way to the end zone.

Lastly on LaPorta - he’s now at 9 touchdowns for the year, which leaves him 3 away from tying the rookie record for a tight end set by Mike Ditka in 1961.

This game had two more Hawks involved in Riley Moss and Jack Campbell for our Hawkeye Reunion of the Week. Moss had one tackle on special teams, a really great play as the gunner where he upended the Detroit returner with one hand, while Campbell finished with 5 tackles. The win moved Detroit to 10-4, and after Sunday and Monday’s games, Detroit is now in a three-way tie for the second seed in the NFC with Dallas and Philadelphia after both lost, to Buffalo and Seattle respectively (on Buffalo; both AJ Epenesa and Micah Hyde were inactive in their 31-10 win over the Cowboys).

Meanwhile, Denver falls to 7-7 and now they’re in trouble. Cincinnati and Buffalo both won, moving to 8-6. Fortunately for Denver their closing schedule is New England and LA Chargers at home, then a road game at Las Vegas to close the season. That’s doable but they can’t slip up again.

Speaking of Cincinnati - the Bengals came from behind to beat the Minnesota Vikings in a game the Vikings absolutely should have won. I watched this game wire-to-wire as well - that’s all I did Saturday; sit on my ass and watch football - and Minnesota seemingly controlled the first three quarters. They led this game by 14 entering the fourth quarter, then retook the lead late, only to fall in overtime (Tee Higgins had one of the plays of the year to force overtime). Minnesota also had two drives die inside the Cincinnati 30 (one inside the 5) after some truly awful interceptions from Nick Mullens. TJ Hockenson finished with 6 receptions for 63 yards in this game as the Vikings fell to 7-7 and landed squarely in the weird morass of 7-7 teams in the middle of the NFC (Minnesota, Tampa, LA Rams, Seattle, and New Orleans are all knotted up at 7-7). Minnesota is still alive in the division, though they have to win out and hope Detroit drops their last three games (if you remember last week’s recap, Minnesota and Detroit still play twice).

In Seattle, Noah Fant finished Seattle’s 20-17 win over Philadelphia with 3 receptions for 16 yards as the Seahawks stayed alive in the NFC playoff picture. Fant is now on 27 receptions for 355 yards on the year. He has not found the end zone yet this season.

Lastly, George Kittle had 2 receptions for 54 yards as San Francisco beat Arizona 45-29 in the desert. The Niners are now 11-3 and tied for the best record in the NFL with Baltimore. Those two square off in Santa Clara next weekend. The Niners also have a 1-game lead at the top of the NFC, plus they carry the tiebreakers over Dallas and Philadelphia.

Tyler Goodson

Week 15 and Goodson is now a viable NFL running back. YOU LOVE TO SEE IT! Goodson found himself firmly in the Indianapolis running back rotation with Trey Sermon, as both Jonathan Taylor and now Zack Moss are injured (Moss could be back next week, however). Goodson finished Saturday’s 30-13 rout of Pittsburgh with 11 carries for 69 nice yards, as well as 2 receptions for 10 yards. The play of the game for Goodson was this 31-yard scamper.

Goodson nearly found the end zone as well, but was ruled down at the 1 after review. That was a shame, but otherwise this was a great game from Goodson. The Indy run game looked explosive between Goodson and Sermon as they chewed Pittsburgh’s defense up. Indy is now 8-6 and in a three-way tie in the AFC South with Jacksonville and Houston. If the playoffs started today, Indy would be in as the 7-seed.

Desmond King II

Man, what a revival from Des. King finished Sunday’s 19-16 overtime win over Tennessee with a team-leading 11 tackles (6 solo), 1 sack, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 quarterback hits. King had one of the biggest plays of the game in overtime, registering that sack on Will Levis that ended Tennessee’s potential game-winning drive.

This is a pretty remarkable turnaround by the Texans. They were 3-13-1 last year. They’re now in that aforementioned logjam atop the AFC South. Excellent job by DeMeco Ryans. He should win Coach of the Year.


While we are in the Tennessee-Houston game, Amani Hooker finished with 9 tackles in the loss. The result officially knocked Tennessee out of the playoff picture.

We had a mini-reunion in Green Bay as Tampa went north to face the Packers. Anthony Nelson finished with 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 2 quarterback hurries, while Lukas Van Ness also finished with 4 tackles and a sack as Tampa won 34-20 to move into that 7-7 cluster in the middle of the NFC.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette finished Carolina’s 9-7 win over Atlanta - one of the worst games of the year, without question - with 4 carries for 31 yards while also registering 2 receptions for 1 yard. I should note here that both Goodson and ISM finished with more rushing yards than Breece Hall this week. No shade intended at all, as the Jets are truly awful offensively.