ASN’s NFL Top 10: A conquest of sorts for Norman against Beckham


Carolina Panthers CB Josh Norman isn’t one to keep his mouth shut and Sunday was no exception. After a particularly acrimonious pairing with New York Giants star Odell Beckham, Jr., Norman called on the NFL to suspend the receiver and went so far as to describe Beckham’s behavior as “malicious.”

In particular, Norman was commenting on the helmet-to-helmet hit Beckham laid on him. The hit was one of three personal fouls Beckham was whistled for and on Monday resulted in a one-game suspension.

Despite Beckham’s behavior, Norman wasn’t exactly a model citizen himself. Known for his aggressive play — he often imagines himself as a warrior from one of his favorite films — it’s possible Norman will ultimately be fined by the league. CBS Sports’ Will Brinson believes the cornerback out of Coastal Carolina could be fined as much as $50,000 for unnecessary roughness, fighting and grabbing an official.

But for his ability to get inside of the head of one of the league’s top receivers and help the Panthers to a 14th consecutive victory, becoming the fourth NFL team to start 14-0, Norman is ASN’s Most Notable Player for Week 15.

1Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers

Norman got a one-on-one matchup with Beckham and though things played out in Carolina’s favor, Norman called out Beckham, saying: “Players like that shouldn’t be on the field.” The pair jawed throughout the game, which the Panthers won, 38-35, on a last-second field goal. Norman, who had three tackles, took issue with Beckham’s on-field behavior, saying he danced “around like a ballerina.” Beckham scored a game-tying touchdown against Norman, finishing with six catches for 76 yards.

2Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

Fitzpatrick came out of the Jets’ fourth consecutive win looking like he’d done battle. But the Harvard grad didn’t let a gash on his nose stop him from engineering a fourth-quarter comeback, beating the Dallas Cowboys, 19-16, on Saturday night. Fitzpatrick, who completed 26 of 39 passes for 299 yards, threw his only touchdown pass at 9:01 of the fourth quarter to give the Jets their first lead of the game. The 3-yard pass to Eric Decker capped a 10-play, 70-yard drive. On the Jets’ next possession, Fitzpatrick quarterbacked a drive ended with a 40-yard game-winning field goal. The fourth-quarter comeback was Fitzpatrick’s second in three games. New York is now in second place in the AFC East behind New England. The teams play Sunday.

3Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Big Ben had his second-best game in terms of passing yards on Sunday, but more importantly, he brought the Steelers back from a 27-10 deficit to a 34-27 defeat of the Denver Broncos. Roethlisberger engineered four consecutive scoring drives, beginning with a field goal in the waning seconds of the first half for the victory. Roethlisberger completed 40 of 55 passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions. Roethlisberger (Miami Ohio) is ranked No. 7 in NFL completion percentage (67.9) among quarterbacks who have played in more than six games. He is No. 17 in passing yards (3,369), despite missing four games.

4Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

Of course Roethlisberger needed a target for all of those touchdowns on Sunday and Brown was his favorite receiver. The veteran receiver out of Western Michigan caught 16 passes for 189 yards and two critical touchdowns — a 9-yard catch in the third quarter to cut the Broncos lead to 27-20 and the 23-yard game-winner with 3:29 to play. Brown is the league leader in receiving yards with 1,586 on 116 catches. He has scored nine times.

5Rashad Jennings, New York Giants

Jennings had his best game in terms of rushing yards, carrying 16 times for 107 yards and his second running TD of the season. Jennings, a veteran running back out of Liberty, scored the second of four consecutive Giants touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters when he darted down the left side on a 38-yard run. The rally was enough to draw the Giants even, but they lost to the Panthers, 38-35, on a field goal with five seconds to play. The 38-yard touchdown run was Jennings’ longest of the season. He’s scored a total of five times.

6Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City won its eighth consecutive game on Sunday and West, out of Abilene Christian, has played a critical role in the Chiefs’ success. West, who carried the ball 16 times for 76 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, has scored in four of the Chiefs’ last eight victories. On Sunday, West scored the first touchdown of the game when he raced 38 yards down the left side at the 9:13 mark of the first quarter. K.C. went on to beat the Baltimore Ravens, 34-14.

7Kyle Juszczyk, Baltimore Ravens

The third-year fullback out of Harvard doesn’t get a lot of touches, but on Sunday he made the most of his five receptions, scoring his third touchdown of the season. Juszczyk reeled in a 1-yard pass from Jimmy Clausen in the first quarter for one of the Ravens only two touchdowns in a 34-14 loss to Kansas City. Juszczyk’s five receptions tied a season high. He had 26 yards.

8Will Tye, New York Giants

Over the last two weeks, Tye is two-for-two. As in he’s scored his only two touchdowns in the Giants last two games. Tye, a rookie tight end out of Stony Brook, tipped off the Giants late-game rally with an 8-yard touchdown reception to close out the third quarter. New York went on to score 21 more unanswered points, but still lost to Carolina. For the game, Tye caught five passes for 43 yards.

9Mike Adams, Indianapolis Colts

Adams played a key role in the Colts only touchdown in this loss, when he forced and recovered a fumble at the Texans 42 in the first quarter. The change of possession resulted in an Indianapolis touchdown on the next possession. Adams (Delaware) has forced a fumble in each of the last three games. He was credited with 10 tackles (five solos, five assists). The Colts lost to Houston, 16-10.

10Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints

The struggling Saints couldn’t pull out a victory against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football, but Colston, a veteran wide receiver out of Hofstra, added a third touchdown in two games, bringing his season total to four. Colston scored on an 11-yard catch over the middle in the fourth quarter to cut the Lions lead to 28-19. Colston had two catches for 39 yards.

Honorable mention

Cowboys rookie Lucky Whitehead (Florida Atlantic) returned five kickoffs for an average of 26.2 yards and two punts for an average on nine yards in the Saturday night loss to the Jets.  … Vikings DT Tom Johnson (Southern Miss) had a sack and three solo tackles in Minnesota’s victory against Chicago. … Bills S Corey Graham (New Hamsphire) led all Buffalo defenders with five solo tackles. He was also credited with three assists in a 35-25 loss to Washington. … Redskins RB Alfred Morris (Florida Atlantic) led all rushers with 84 yards on 14 carries in Washington’s victory. … Chargers TE Antonio Gates (Kent State) led all receivers in San Diego’s 30-14 victory against Miami with six receptions for 88 yards.

Above: Josh Norman courtesy Carolina Panthers

Jill R. Dorson

Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.