• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle makes up for Tyreek Hill’s absence in massive game

Dolphins' Jaylen Waddle makes up for Tyreek Hill's absence in massive game


It was another week when teams moved up and down the playoff picture in the NFL, and Week 15 didn’t disappoint with some insane stats of players who helped their squad’s cause in reaching the postseason.

Let’s take a look at who shined in Week 15.

Tyreek Who? 

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Jaylen Waddle celebrates

Teammates celebrate with Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) after he scored a touchdown during the first half against the New York Giants, Oct. 8, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Florida. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee )

No, that’s not what Jaylen Waddle was saying on Sunday with his counterpart, Tyreek Hill, inactive due to an ankle injury he suffered against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 11. Hill leads the league in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, so his loss when facing the New York Jets this past Sunday could’ve had a big impact on the game.

At the same time, head coach Mike McDaniel and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa were likely going to lean on one man heading into this. Waddle was up for the challenge, and he was ready to showcase his speed as the team’s top receiver.

Waddle racked up 142 yards on eight catches, including a 60-yard touchdown catch-and-run that helped the Dolphins defeat the Jets, 30-0. The Dolphins hope Hill will be healthy enough to return in Week 16, but it’s good to know Waddle was ready for the call against a tough Jets defense.

Perfectly Baker

Not a single opposing quarterback in Lambeau Field’s history has posted a perfect 158.3 passing rating since its doors opened in 1957 as City Stadium.

Enter Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller Baker Mayfield, who played superbly against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, leading his team to a 34-20 victory behind that 158.3 mark.

Baker Mayfield warms up

Baker Mayfield of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before the game against the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston on Nov. 5, 2023. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Mayfield was 22 of 28 for 381 yards – which led the NFL in Week 15 – and four touchdown passes.

His top receiver in the win was Chris Godwin, who had 10 catches for 155 yards, which also led the NFL in that category. Godwin posted the third-most receiving yards for his career with his Sunday performance.

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McCaffrey magic

Yes, San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey continues to haunt the Arizona Cardinals, scoring three touchdowns in the dominant victory that clinched the NFC West for the franchise.

He did so by picking up his 30th career game with at least 50 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards, joining Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk as only the second to do so.

McCaffrey had 115 yards on the ground and 72 through the air for the Niners as he continues to keep himself in the MVP conversation.

Cookin’

Buffalo Bills running back James Cook reset his career high in rushing yards twice this season, including a 123-yard performance on Sept. 17 against the Las Vegas Raiders.

James Cook jumps

Buffalo Bills running back James Cook, top center, celebrates a touchdown during the first half against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, New York, on Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

He blew that right out of the water when the Bills needed it against a tough Dallas Cowboys team at home on Sunday, rushing for 179 yards to lead the league with two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air, in the 31-10 victory.

Cook has been a big part of these last two wins for the Bills, scoring a touchdown with 83 receiving yards and 58 rushing yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in the previous week.

Sacks race

The league leader in sacks is Pittsburgh Steelers star T.J. Watt with 16 after his two-sack performance in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts. However, Minnesota Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter is right behind him with 15.5 sacks after two of his own in the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

And let’s not forget how great Montez Sweat has been with the Chicago Bears since he was traded from the Washington Commanders. Sweat had 2.5 sacks on Joe Flacco of the Cleveland Browns this week, jolting his position to tied-eighth with 12.5 on the season.

Los Angeles Chargers’ Khalil Mack and Bengals’ Trey Hendrickson sit behind Watt and Hunter with 15 sacks on the year as well. Hendrickson had 1.5 sacks on Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens, who got the start over Josh Dobbs on Saturday.

Sam LaPorta

Sam LaPorta of the Detroit Lions celebrates his touchdown with teammates during the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Ford Field in Detroit on Dec. 16, 2023. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

LaPorta joins elite company

Detroit Lions star rookie tight end Sam LaPorta found the end zone three times in the 42-17 win over the Denver Broncos on Saturday as quarterback Jared Goff took advantage of his 1-on-1 matchups in the red zone. 

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LaPorta became the fourth rookie tight end since 1980 to score three touchdowns in a single game, joining Rob Gronkowski, Eric Green and Joseph Fauria. He’s also tied with Junior Miller for the third-most touchdowns by a rookie tight end with nine on the year. Mike Ditka owns the NFL record with 12, followed by Gronkowski with 10.



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