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NFL fines Jackie Battle $21,000 for crown of helmet violation

Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers Getty Images

Tennessee’s Jackie Battle is the first NFL running back to be fined under the new rule against lowering the crown of the helmet into an opponent.

The NFL has confirmed that Battle was fined $21,000 for a crown of the helmet violation in Sunday’s game against the Texans. Battle lowered his helmet into Houston’s Danieal Manning.

Although the rule has been much discussed, it’s still frequently misunderstood. So we’ll repeat here the exact wording of the rule:

Article 8: Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet. It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team’s end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the rule has enough gray area that even the pros can’t agree on when it should be called: The officials on the field did not penalize Battle, and when PFT checked with a league source on Sunday about the hit, we were told that the collision wasn’t “clearly outside the tackle box” and therefore the officials were right not to throw the flag.

But after the league office reviewed the hit this week, it was determined that it was, in fact, a crown of the helmet violation. And Battle has the dubious distinction of being the first running back disciplined under this controversial new rule.

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NFL morning after: The decline of Colin Kaepernick

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers has his helmet knocked off during a play in their NFL game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick is the NFL’s most significant player off the field, a player whose simple act of declining to stand during the national anthem has led to wide-ranging discussions across America about race, police brutality, free speech and the role of sport in society. That has been the subject of thousands of commentaries.

But it’s not the subject of this commentary. Instead, I want to talk about why I also consider Kaepernick the most fascinating NFL player off the field. And the reason for that is simple: He has rapidly declined from a very good quarterback to a terrible quarterback, at an age when most quarterbacks are still getting better.

It was less than four years ago that Kaepernick took over for Alex Smith in the middle of the 2012 season and putting an absolute beating on the Bears in his first NFL start. Do you remember how good Kaepernick was that year? The game that sticks with me is when he went to New England in just his fifth NFL start. Everyone said Bill Belichick would have the key to stopping this upstart young quarterback. Instead Kaepernick threw for four touchdown passes as the 49ers put up 41 points in a win over the Patriots. Quarterbacks making career start No. 5 aren’t supposed to shred Belichick’s defense. Kaepernick did.

That year Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl, with a ridiculous 263-yard passing, 181-yard rushing playoff win over the Packers along the way. In the Super Bowl he threw for 302 yards, ran for 62 yards and came up just short of delivering the game-winning touchdown. If the 49ers had beaten the Ravens, Kaepernick would have been the Super Bowl MVP.

In his second year as a starter Kaepernick was just as good, again leading the 49ers to the playoffs and this time coming up just short in an NFC Championship Game loss to the Seahawks. That was the year when Ron Jaworski famously said, “I truly believe Colin Kaepernick could be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.”

People enjoy needling Jaworski for that hyperbole, but here’s the thing: At the time, everyone was saying Kaepernick had the potential to be a Hall of Fame quarterback. It’s easy to find people who criticize Jaworski’s statement now; it’s hard to find people who disagreed with it on the merits at the time.

And then Kaepernick began to decline in 2014. In 2015, that decline reached such a depth that he was benched for Blaine Gabbert, of all people. This year Kaepernick. has finally taken the job back from Gabbert, but he isn’t very good: Yesterday he averaged a pathetic 4.2 yards per pass and completed less than 50 percent of his passes in an ugly loss to the Buccaneers.

So what happened to Kaepernick? I think it’s three things:

1. Jim Harbaugh left. Harbaugh is a singularly great coach, a coach who has proven everywhere he’s been that he can get the most out of his players. When 49ers owner Jed York and General Manager Trent Baalke foolishly decided they couldn’t get along with Harbaugh anymore, they lost a coach who could find ways to win with Kaepernick’s skill set.

2. Defenses figured him out. Kaepernick always had a strong arm, but he lacks touch on short passes. Defenses seem to be taking away the deep ball and forcing Kaepernick to throw short, and he just doesn’t do that very well. That’s why his average yards per pass has declined every season, from 8.3 in his first season as a starter, to 7.7 in his second year, 7.0 in his third year, 6.6 in his fourth year and now just 5.2 this year.

3. He doesn’t have a supporting cast. In Kaepernick’s first couple seasons, the 49ers were loaded. They’re now a worse team across the board: Worse receivers, worse offensive linemen, worse running backs and a worse defense, which means the 49ers’ offense often ends up having to throw more and run less.

4. He has physically declined. Just looking at Kaepernick, it’s obvious that he’s skinnier and less muscular than he used to be. He had three surgeries that severely limited his ability to work out this offseason, and he has also lost weight after radically changing his diet. He’s just not the big, imposing athlete he was three or four years ago.

Kaepernick may some day find himself playing with a better supporting cast, and it’s possible he’ll get bigger and stronger, but I’m skeptical that he’ll ever be the same player he once was. I don’t think he’s going to end up with another coach who understands his skill set as well as Harbaugh did, and I think the deficiencies opposing defenses have found in his game are going to follow him around. Far from becoming “one of the greatest quarterbacks ever,” I don’t think Kaepernick is even going to be an above-average starter ever again. He had two incredible years, but the Colin Kaepernick of old isn’t coming back.

Here are my other thoughts from Sunday:

Smart move, Doug Pederson. After the Eagles scored a touchdown in the second quarter, they kicked the extra point. But the Vikings were flagged for roughing the kicker, and that’s when Pederson did something smart: Instead of declining the penalty and taking the extra point, Pederson accepted the penalty and went for two, from the 1-yard line after the half-the-distance penalty. Carson Wentz ran the ball in from a yard out, and the Eagles got an additional point. It surprises me how scared NFL coaches are of going for two. Pederson showed some guts, and it paid off.

Tom Brady is as great as ever. After Sunday’s win over the Steelers, Brady is currently leading the league with a whopping 132.6 psaser rating, a number that no quarterback has ever sustained for a full season. He’s showing no sign of age at 39, and he’s showing no sign of rust after his four-game Deflategate suspension.

This is a different Raiders team. We’ve become accustomed in the last decade or so to view the Raiders as an incompetent franchise, and so I think some people haven’t yet caught on to just how good the Raiders are. In Derek Carr they have one of the league’s best young quarterbacks, and they’re keeping him upright. You may remember that Carr’s big brother David was sacked an NFL-record 76 times as a rookie. Carr has now been in the NFL for two and a half seasons, and he still hasn’t been sacked 76 times: Carr has now been sacked 62 times in 39 NFL starts. There’s every reason to believe the Raiders will compete for a playoff spot this year, and for many years to come, with Carr as their leader.

Why play Shady? Playing LeSean McCoy yesterday may turn out to be a huge, season-altering mistake by the Bills. McCoy suffered a hamstring injury in practice last week, and there were conflicting reports about whether he could play. McCoy ended up playing in the loss to the Dolphins but left the game early after another hamstring injury. If this hamstring becomes a chronic problem for McCoy, it would seriously damage the Bills’ offense. The 4-3 Bills are fighting for playoff position, and they can’t afford to be at less than full strength.

An ugly game for Sam Bradford. When the Vikings traded a first-round draft pick and a fourth-round draft pick for Bradford, my immediate reaction was that they overpaid. In his first four starts for the Vikings, Bradford played very well, and rewarded the Vikings’ faith in him. But yesterday’s performance in Philadelphia was awful: Bradford was sacked six times, fumbled four times and threw an interception. The Vikings are using the washed-up offensive tackle Jake Long because they don’t have anybody healthy to play the position, and Bradford looked incredibly uncomfortable behind a patchwork offensive line. The Vikings’ trade for Bradford only makes sense if he can lead them to the playoffs, and he can’t do that if he keeps playing Kaepernick-like games the way he did on Sunday.

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Stephen Gostkowski: Right now, I just stink

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 02: Stephen Gostkowski #3 of the New England Patriots reacts after missing a field goal  in the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been one of the more reliable kickers in the league since taking over the New England job in 2006, which makes his recent struggles a surprise.

Gostkowski missed an extra point in Sunday’s 27-16 win over the Steelers and has now missed two extra points in the last two weeks. Gostkowski, who also missed an extra point in last year’s AFC title game, has also missed three field goals this year after missing three all of last season.

“I’m not scared to screw up. I’ve screwed up plenty of times in my career. It’s kind of piling on right now,” Gostkowski said, via the Providence Journal. “In my position, you only get so many opportunities and that’s part of it mentally, taking advantage of the opportunities you get. I know that’s the deal coming in. News flash, this is my 11th year doing it. Right now, I just stink and I need to figure out how to get better. It’s not working out and kind of piling on. But [I’ll] hold my head high, keep working hard and keep doing the best I can as long as they keep giving me opportunities.”

Gostkowski’s miss wasn’t the only miscue for the Patriots on Sunday. They lost two fumbles and saw a couple of drives end after dropped passes, but the Steelers couldn’t take full advantage of chances to put points on the board and New England improved to 6-1 without being all that sharp.

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Monday morning one-liners

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23:  Todd Gurley #30 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles  Landon Collins #21 of the New York Giants during the NFL International series game between Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants at Twickenham Stadium on October 23, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Bills lost the battle up front on both sides of the ball on Sunday.

The Dolphins moved Mario Williams to defensive tackle at points in Sunday’s win.

Were the Patriots lucky to face a injury-depleted Steelers team on Sunday?

Jets RB Matt Forte bounced back with 154 total yards and two scores.

Said Ravens S Eric Weddle, “We didn’t play good enough. I’m not going to get into ‘We should do this.’ We’ve been out-played and they played better than us.”

WR A.J. Green’s catch on a Hail Mary was the talk of the Bengals locker room.

Browns defenders know they weren’t good enough on Sunday.

LB Jarvis Jones did some good things in the Steelers’ loss to the Patriots.

Texans RB Lamar Miller wants to keep things going after a breakout game.

It was another record-setting day for Colts K Adam Vinatieri.

How can the Jaguars boost their offensive production?

The Titans pass rush never got going against the Colts.

Simon Fletcher, Jason Elam and John Lynch are the new members of the Broncos Ring of Honor.

Chiefs S Eric Berry said the Arrowhead Stadium crowd had a hand in the team’s win.

The Raiders defense wasn’t perfect, but it was better against the Jaguars.

The Chargers defense came up big when the team needed it in Atlanta.

Drew Bledsoe gave Cowboys QB Tony Romo some advice about being bumped aside for another quarterback.

Giants S Landon Collins made the play of the day in London.

The Eagles had no problem creating pressure on Vikings QB Sam Bradford.

Wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson were quiet for the Redskins.

Suggesting a few quick fixes for the Bears.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford credited WR Andre Roberts for bailing him out on a bad throw on the game-winning drive.

Everyone is pitching in on offense for the Packers right now.

T Jake Long had a rough debut for the Vikings.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan set a record by throwing for at least 200 yards in a 46th-straight game.

After walking on in college and going undrafted, Panthers T Mike Remmers has carved out a long NFL career.

Saints RB Mark Ingram was left to lament a fourth quarter fumble.

Another week, another career high in rushing yards for Buccaneers RB Jacquizz Rodgers.

Cardinals K Chandler Catanzaro said there was “no excuse” for his overtime miss.

Said Rams RB Todd Gurley, “We’ve got to play better, man. It’s football, we’ve been doing this our whole life. Can’t be shooting ourselves in the foot.”

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick has to be better if the 49ers are going to end their losing streak.

The Seahawks defense’s courage was praised by coach Pete Carroll.

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Eli Manning says there was no Trump audible on Sunday

ASHEVILLE, NC - SEPTEMBER 12:  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump meets with volunteers manning a phone bank prior to a rally on September 12, 2016 at U.S. Cellular Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Trump continues to campaign for his run for president of the United States.(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) Getty Images

During Sunday’s win over the Rams in London, the on-field microphones captured Giants Eli Manning making calls at the line of scrimmage and one play featured what sounded like a very familiar name.

As Manning got the Giants set, it sounded like he was yelling “Trump” over and over again before the ball was finally snapped. Was the audible a message to the team that they shouldn’t accept the results of the play if it didn’t gain them yards? Or was it a reminder to the offensive line that they should build a wall around Manning and then make the Rams pay for it?

Manning was asked about the call after the game and said it wasn’t the name of the GOP candidate while pivoting away from any explanation of what it actually was.

“Trump call, Trump call … nah, no Trump call. No Trump call,” Manning said, via “We have something very similar, but no, it was not a Trump. It was not an audible this week. Nothing there.”

The Giants won 17-10 on Sunday despite generating just 232 yards over the course of the proceedings. They’ll take their bye week now and making the offense great again will likely be on the list of priorities ahead of their return to action.

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Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier: “We’re looking like garbage right now”

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) takes a pass from quarterback Tom Brady ahead of Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Robert Golden (21) for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Jared Wickerham) AP

The Steelers knew that without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger yesterday, other parts of the roster were going to have to play better.

They decidedly did not, and Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier owned his part of it.

We’re looking like garbage right now,” Shazier said, via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “[Opposing offenses] can do whatever they want to do right now.”

While harsh in tone, it may also not be inaccurate, as the Patriots hit them for enough big plays to turn an otherwise decent day into a loss.

Of the 362 yards allowed (below their average), the Patriots gained 117 of them on four plays, two of them deep balls to tight end Rob Gronkowski. Those chunk plays were the difference.

Shazier said the early plan on Gronkowski was good, but the Steelers may have fiddled too much with their defense.

“We were giving them calls that Tom didn’t like, and I guess when we changed up a little bit and [Brady] got to seeing things he liked, they took advantage of it,” Shazier said.

“When you think about it, they weren’t having a lot of success,” linebacker Arthur Moats said. “And then you throw those two [Gronkowski] plays in the second half, you look at the scoreboard, and that ends up being the difference.

“It’s definitely frustrating. But we’re not looking for comfort. We understand that we dropped the ball with that, execution-wise, a couple plays where we really just didn’t execute the way we needed to, and that’s the difference in the game. It’s frustrating because we know how good we can be, but at the end of the day, when you’re making those mistakes and we‘re not executing the way we need to, you gotta deal with the result.”

And the result was rubbish, according to Shazier.

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Paul Posluszny: “Unacceptable” to have two players ejected

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 25:   Steve Smith #89 of the Baltimore Ravens carries the ball with pressure from  Paul Posluszny #51 of the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 25, 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Jaguars came into Sunday’s game with the Raiders with a chance to extend their winning streak to three games and move their record to .500 on the year.

That didn’t happen, however. The Jags fell behind 20-6 in the first half and hopes of a comeback were hurt by a series of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties and personal fouls that eventually led to the ejections of defensive tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

The game likely would have remained out of reach without the loss of composure, although that didn’t make it any easier for linebacker Paul Posluszny to see his team melt down in the final quarter of the game.

“I think it’s terrible,” Posluszny said, via “We need to act like professionals at all times, regardless of what happens. To have guys get thrown out, multiple penalties over and over again, that’s not who we are and we can’t tolerate that moving forward. I’ve never seen anything like that before. That’s unacceptable on a lot of different levels. Fans don’t want to see that, you guys don’t want to see that and we don’t want to be a part of it. Just from a higher standard of playing in the NFL, we can’t have that.”

The Jaguars were penalized 13 times for 122 yards overall on Sunday, something that isn’t going to help them win games even if they avoid having any players disqualified from the proceedings. They’ll try to clean things up quickly as they face the Titans on Thursday.

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Dan Quinn had “a gut feeling” on failed fourth down

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 23:  Head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons converses with his player as they head into overtime against the San Diego Chargers at Georgia Dome on October 23, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Falcons coach Dan Quinn made a surprising decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 at his own 45-yard line in overtime on Sunday. It didn’t work.

The Chargers stuffed the Falcons’ fourth-down attempt and took advantage of their great field position to kick the game-winning field goal, upsetting the Falcons 33-30. Afterward, Quinn said going for it on fourth down was just what he thought was right at the time.

“Honestly, we had real belief we were going to make it and keep the drive going and keep extending it,” Quinn said. “Just a gut feeling that I went with. It didn’t work. We can second guess it, that’s easy to do, but it was more of a mindset. I have such belief in the guys to go get aggressive and get that half-yard that we needed so when we didn’t, that was a costly mistake.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said the players deserve at least as much of the blame as Quinn.

“As players, it’s our responsibility to make him right and to go out there and make the plays, and we had two chances on third-and-short and then fourth-and-short and we didn’t get it done. From a player’s perspective, that’s the point that’s very disappointing,” Ryan said.

It was undeniably disappointing for the Falcons, who lost a game they thought they were going to win. It’s likely that if the Falcons find themselves in a similar situation again, Quinn will have a different gut feeling.

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Tyrann Mathieu on tie: It’s upsetting

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Wide receiver Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks runs after the catch under pressure from free safety Tyrann Mathieu #32 of the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Cardinals and Seahawks played a 6-6 tie Sunday night that may have felt more painful for Arizona than it did for the Seahawks.

Arizona was playing at home, their offense gained 443 yards and their defense held the Seahawks to 257 yards and 11 first downs over the course of the evening. Those activities didn’t lead to enough points to win the game and a series of special teams blunders loomed large over the final result, although Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said that the defense could have done more to push the team to a win by taking the ball away.

“It’s upsetting,” Mathieu said, via “We all have to be held accountable. We have to be better on special teams, offensively we have to score points, and defensively we have to create turnovers.”

Finding much fault with the Cardinals defense would be difficult, but it’s always good to avoid finger pointing if at all possible in the wake of a game like this one. There’s little doubt, though, that the Cardinals have to translate the good things they do into points a little more regularly in future games.

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Russell Wilson has more heart than knee or ankle at the moment

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) scrambles away from the reach of Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden (44) during the second half of a football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AP

Russell Wilson’s only rushing attempt of the night was in the first quarter, and he lost a pair of yards, and they didn’t bother calling any more runs for him.

Mostly, that was because the Seahawks wasn’t physically able to execute them, as he’s clearly still bothered by knee and ankle injuries.

“We just couldn’t get in sync at all,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of his offense, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “We just couldn’t find any rhythm.’’

The Seahawks gained just 130 yards of offense in regulation (29 rushing), and though they had a pair of decent looking drives in overtime, the tie was practically a win for them considering how limited they were offensively.

Carroll admitted Wilson’s lack of mobility was “a factor.”

“He played his heart out,” Carroll said. “I don’t know how much harder you can ask a guy to play.”

Of course, it’s not always a matter of hard. Sometimes well matter too, and Wilson wasn’t the player we’re accustomed to seeing.

His problems also compounded themselves later in the game, with left tackle Bradley Sowell leaving with what was described as an MCL sprain. They put undrafted rookie George Fant there to finish the game, and protection was already an issue for a team that struggles to run.

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Bruce Arians waiting to hear NFL’s “B-S” explanation of calls

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians hands the referees the red flag during the first half of a football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) AP

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians didn’t lose last night, but he was in no mood to consider the official explanation he’d get from the league later this week.

In fact, that explanation may come in the form of an invoice.

In discussing one particular play during his team’s 6-6 tie with the Seahawks, Bobby Wagner’s leaping field goal block, Arians didn’t seem satisfied with the explanation he got from officials on the field.

“I’ll talk to the league and I’m sure we’ll get some kind explanation that’s all bullsh—like normal,” Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

While not specifically a criticism of the call, it certainly cast the officiating department in a less that flattering light, which could cost the Cardinals coach later in the week.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino explained on Twitter that because Wagner didn’t land on a Cardinals player, there was no foul. Wagner’s foot appeared to graze the back of the Cardinals long snapper, but it didn’t propel him forward (if anything it took a bit of momentum off his amazing jump).

Arians had plenty of other reasons to be salty, as a missed field goal in overtime and a blocked punt in regulation which set up Seattle’s game-tying field goal made it a night to forget for his special teams.

“I thought our football team, other than the three plays in the kicking game, was outstanding,” Arians said.

Of kicker Chandler Catanzaro in particular, the missed 24-yarder in overtime which hit the upright drew a stern response.

“Make it,” Arians said. “You’re a professional; this ain’t high school. Make it.”

The league’s response might be similar to Arians, except with “Pay it,” as the signature line.

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Sunday Night wrap-up: Cardinals and Seahawks in a tie for the ages

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) is hit after the throw by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) during the first half of a football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) AP

Subtle, it was not. Stylish, it was not.

But that doesn’t mean it was bad, either.

For all the problems the NFL has had putting entertaining games on in prime time this year, the Cardinals and Seahawks delivered a beauty, though it’s admittedly in the eye of the beholder.

And if you watched them pummel each other for a 6-6 tie, you probably have a black eye just from being close to such a physical game.

From Cardinals coach Bruce Arians complaining at halftime about his receivers being held, to the Seahawks defense running on fumes (because their offense couldn’t do anything), both teams were gassed by the end of this one because of the start-to-finish bludgeoning. There were more punts than points (15-12), a pair of missed game-winning field goals in overtime, and that’s not for everyone.

It wasn’t the kind of game that will make fantasy players happy, but it’s also the kind of game we need from time to time, to cleanse the palate, to remember there’s a part of the game that can’t be quantified.

Unless you count copays, and the amount of ice both teams are going to need after this one.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson can talk all he wants about being healthy.

But he’s not (Source: My two eyes).

Wilson’s been dealing with a high ankle sprain and a sprained MCL (different legs), and it’s clearly impacted his ability to be a component of the Seahawks running game.

Of course, they were adjusting that anyway without Marshawn Lynch this year (and Thomas Rawls‘ recovery from a broken leg), but the lack of Wilson’s normal ability to scramble is clear. He was limited to one carry for minus-2 yards and the Seahawks only managed 130 yards in regulation.

The field goal drive in overtime was OK (though the third-down throw-away was a little bizarre), but the Seahawks don’t have enough players on offense, and Wilson isn’t well enough to bail them out.

2. On the other hand, Cardinals running back David Johnson continues to contribute in many ways.

Johnson had 113 yards rushing and another 58 receiving, on a night when no one else was getting anything done.

He has now gained at least 100 yards from scrimmage in seven straight games, the consistent part of their offense. At a time when the Cardinals are running low on reliable receiving targets, they need him more than ever.

3. The Seahawks already had problems with their offensive line. But an injury to left tackle Bradley Sowell in the fourth quarter underscored how thin they actually are.

Sowell was carted off with some degree of leg injury.

Undrafted rookie George Fant replaced him at left tackle for the pivotal final minutes of regulation.

The Seahawks have been changing tires on that particular moving car since last season, with very little resembling stability up front. And when a solid-not-spectacular player such as Sowell creates serious issues with his absence, it speaks to the pre-existing condition.

With Wilson not well and the running game not working, it’s the kind of thing that could snowball and turn into an even bigger problem in a hurry.

4. The Cardinals have some major issues on special teams.

Letting Bobby Wagner hurdle your line (and the first was a clean play, the OT one, maybe not) was one thing. But a blocked punt late was the extent of the offense Seattle was going to muster, and the missed field goal in overtime was the kind of play that could linger beyond a single game.

When you’re operating on a fine margin as they were Sunday night, it could be a killer, and they figure to have some close games in front of them.

5. On a night when defenses dominated, a guy the Cardinals were expecting to have a bigger role was not to be heard from.

First-rounder Robert Nkemdiche hasn’t been active on a regular basis, and didn’t contribute anything visible.

The 29th overall pick had elite talent at Ole Miss, but fell to the Cardinals with the 29th pick because of teams being scared of off-field issues. Many thought he’d flourish on the Cardinals defense, but he’s not made a good impression. Coach Bruce Arians has taken a few swipes at him in press conferences, and he hasn’t exactly responded.

The Cards were willing to give 2015 first-rounder D.J. Humphries a red-shirt year, as he wasn’t even active last year. And Nkemdiche might become a value pick for them, but he hasn’t shown signs of it yet.

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Joe Staley is available, too

SANTA CLARA, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Tackle Joe Staley #74 of the San Francisco 49ers warms up before a game against the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2014 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  The Seahawks won 19-3. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Getty Images

There are a couple of not-so-average Joes with no-so-average jobs who are available to change employers in the next week or so.

In addition to Browns left tackle Joe Thomas, 49ers left tackle Joe Staley also could be had in trade.

Staley, drafted in the same round (first) of the same draft (2007) as Thomas, has been tied to the same teams that have some degree of interest in Thomas: Vikings, Giants, Cardinals, Seahawks and, if the 49ers are willing to take whatever they can get, the Patriots.

While the Browns would deal Thomas for a second-round pick, a source with knowledge of the dynamics tells PFT the 49ers are angling for a first-round pick from a contender for Staley, which likely would come late in the round.

Staley, 32, is under contract through 2019. His base salary spikes from $5.4 million this year to $8.25 million in 2017.

The trade window closes on Tuesday, November 1 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

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Cardinals running short of targets, Jaron Brown won’t return

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) scrambles as Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark (55) pursues during the first half of a football game, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) AP

Neither team is doing much offensively tonight, but if the Cardinals are going to, they’re going to do it short-handed.

Cards wideout Jaron Brown, who left earlier with a knee injury, has been downgraded to out.

The Cards were already without John Brown (hamstring, sickle cell trait), and Michael Floyd has been in and out of a hard-hitting game.

Coupled with tight end Darren Fells being checked out by trainers, they’re short on wideouts and targets in general, and the game reflects that, as they cling to a 3-0 lead.

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Aaron Lynch: 49ers are possibly one of the best teams in the NFL

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 23:  Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers breaks a tackle from Aaron Lynch #59 of the San Francisco 49ers during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Confidence. The food of the wise man and the liquor of the fool.

And while I’m not saying 49ers linebacker Aaron Lynch is a fool, I’d like to have a little of whatever liquor he was drinking before he offered up some supremely-confident comments about his employer.

We have the team,” Lynch said after a loss to Tampa that dropped San Francisco to 1-6, via Matt Maiocco of “We possibly have one of the best teams in the NFL, easily. Hands down. We need to know how to keep finishing games and work together throughout the whole game. Once we get that down, nobody’s going to be able to mess with us.”

They need to get that down quickly, because they’re nearly out of contention in the NFC playoff field.

Lynch wasn’t the only member of the defense talking big after the 49ers yielded gigantic yardage on Sunday: 513 total yards.

“I love this scheme,” safety Eric Reid said, via Maiocco. “If everybody does their job, we shouldn’t get beat. But whenever there’s an explosive play, somebody is out of position. We just got to tighten up.”

There’s a lot of tightening that needs to be done to make the 49ers relevant and competitive. Currently, they simply aren’t.

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Browns center Erving leaves game with illness

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 30:  Will Hill #33 of the Baltimore Ravens returns a blocked field goal for a touchdown in front of Jim Dray #81, Cameron Erving #74 and Andy Lee #8 of the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on November 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. Baltimore won the game 33-27.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns center Cameron Erving left Sunday’s loss to the Bengals at halftime due to an undisclosed illness and did not return.

After the game, the Browns did not know if the illness was related to the bruised lung that Erving suffered in Week Two that kept him out of the next three games.

“Illness. Definitely illness,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said after the game. “Not going to get into anything [else]. It was an illness and he wasn’t ‘pulled.’ He didn’t come out for the second half, so that’s what happened.”

Erving’s absence caused another offensive line shuffle. John Greco went from right guard back to center. Rookie Spencer Drango started at left guard, and Alvin Bailey also played left guard before going back to right guard when Greco had to move inside.

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