Tafoya's Notebook: Week 13 - NBC Sports

Tafoya's Notebook: Week 13
December 2, 2013, 4:30 pm

REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK

Three Games in Eight Days

Michele Tafoya

@TafoyaNBCSports

 

 

From Foxboro to Baltimore to Landover, our Sunday Night Football crew saw a lot over the Thanksgivikkah week.

 

Here are a few things that didn't make air:

 

DENVER @ NEW ENGLAND:  KNOW-SHOW

 

Remember when Knowshon Moreno got benched by John Fox last season?  Because of fumbling issues, Moreno was a healthy scratch for eight games during the 2012 season.

 

Not every NFL player would respond well to such a humiliation.

 

Hard to imagine a former first-round draft pick handling the situation better than Moreno did.  He told me he simply stayed focused and did whatever he needed to do to help the team. 

 

Furthermore, he understood and accepted his new role.  "Know your role; that's what Coach (Fox) always says," Moreno told me.

 

The former Georgia star performed it to the best of his abilities, even though that role was running the scout team. 

 

And on on Sunday's during that stretch?  "Just be a cheerleader," Moreno said.

 

202 AND COUNTING...

 

Moreno's approach to his conquering his fumbling issues was largely mental.  He told me, "Knowing that everyone (on the team's) livelihood is on the line when you're holding that ball" sharpened his focus.  He took  that notion to heart and did whatever he had to do in practice and then took those things into the game.

 

After his 27 carries against the Patriots, (and 15 more in Kansas City Sunday) Moreno now has 202 straight touches without a fumble. 

 

Along the way, the running back has matured.  And it hasn't hurt that he's playing alongside a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

 

Moreno said he's grown up in that he's "Taking things to heart and wanting to be perfect, just like Peyton (Manning).  Peyton always wants to be perfect.  I feel the same way." 

 

One example:  After he scored three touchdowns against Jacksonville in week six, Moreno was the man the media wanted to talk to after the game.  Moreno met with reporters, but he did so begrudgingly.  He was glad the team won, but he was mad at himself for missing a blitz-pick-up that led to a sack late in the game.

 

Manning surely had to be glad to hear that.

 

 

STEELERS @ BALTIMORE:  ANSWERING THE BELL

 

Steelers rookie Le'Veon Bell had played on plenty of big stages.  But according to him, playing in an NFL Thanksgiving Day game was "a dream come true."

 

Bell told me that he would "light up just thinking about the opportunity to play" in this Thursday night rivalry game with the Ravens.  His mom and stepdad were in Baltimore for the occasion.

 

Bell recounted to me how as a kid, he and his family would congregate around the television set on Thanksgiving to watch football.  Clearly, the memory was a warm one for him.

 

Ironic that he would have no recollection of the hit that took him out of his first Thanksgiving Night game as a pro.

 

It happened with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.  Bell was on his way to the end zone when he absorbed a helmet-to-helmet blow by two Ravens defenders.  The hit sent his helmet flying and his head to the ground.  A woozy Bell was then escorted to the locker room.

 

Bell was later diagnosed with a concussion and said he could not remember the collision that sent him out of the game.

 

But the former Michigan State Spartan's performance was not one to forget.  He had his finest game as a pro, delivering 136 yards of offense in the Steelers losing effort.

 

He also produced Pittsburgh's longest run of the season -- a 43 yard rush for a TD in the third quarter.

 

On the bright side, Bell will have extra time to pass his concussion tests as the Steelers enjoys a ten day break between the Thanksgiving night game and their match-up with Miami next Sunday.

 

 

GIANTS @ WASHINGTON: KISSING COUSINS

 

There are so many rumors swirling about the nation's capitol regarding whether or not Robert Griffin III will finish out the Redskins' dismal season.

 

On one side of the aisle are those who say RG3 should continue to play and build upon his excellent performance Sunday Night against the Giants.

 

On the other side of the aisle are those who believe Kirk Cousins should get a chance while RG3 saves his knee for better days next season.

 

Like any Washingtonian worth his salt, Cousins is being very diplomatic about the situation.

 

The Redskins' back-up told me he'd certainly like to get a shot at playing for Washington, but his mindset is that his opportunity will come elsewhere.

 

"My job is to be Griffin's back-up, not to hold him back or get in his way," Cousins told me.  "My dad always told me the cream rises to the top, so I'm trusting in that."

 

Meanwhile, the second year vet recently became engaged.  He popped the question to his girlfriend, Julie, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and she said, "Yes."  It was a rare occurrence of two sides reaching complete agreement on Capitol Hill.

 

Maybe the better story is how Cousins met his bride-to-be.

 

They were complete strangers until January 2, 2012, after he led his Michigan State Spartans to a triple OT victory over her Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl.

 

Mutual friends introduced them after the game and, in spite of her Bulldog pride, they hit it off.  They'll be married next summer.



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