Duke in the NFL: Gray aids Chiefs to win, Skura earns 4th-straight start for Rams

Matt Skura earned his fourth-consecutive start in the Rams' win against the Raiders.
Matt Skura earned his fourth-consecutive start in the Rams' win against the Raiders.

Following an intense Week 14 in the NFL, the Blue Zone breaks down the performances of former Blue Devils:

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

After starting the year 6-1 and with a return to the playoffs seeming likely, the Giants have slumped, winning just one of their past six games. Against the Eagles Sunday afternoon, the story through the middle of the season remained the same following a demoralizing 48-22 loss. 

For his part, quarterback Daniel Jones played a low-volume, decent-efficiency game, completing 18-of-27 pass attempts for 169 yards and a score. He also added a one-yard rushing score late in the third quarter, but his efforts weren’t enough to overcome Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ prolific rushing attack. As New York’s signal-caller, Jones was ineffective at moving the ball, with the Giants’ offense punting six times and turning the ball over on downs before Jones was benched late for backup Tyrod Taylor. Jones has been sacked on almost 10% of his dropbacks, a concerning and drive-ending trend heading into the final four games of the 2022-23 season. The 7-5-1 Giants head to Washington Sunday for a critical Week 15 matchup against the similarly 7-5-1 Commanders, with the hopes of keeping their playoff dreams alive. 

Laken Tomlinson, OG, New York Jets

In Sunday’s contest against the Bills, the Jets were forced to take on a pass-heavy game script thanks to defense, leaving offensive guard Laken Tomlinson to protect signal-caller Mike White. Tomlinson, who played a strong role in the 49ers’ run-oriented offense in previous years, performed admirably, playing all 74 offensive snaps. However, the Jets’ offensive line allowed four sacks on White and backup Joe Flacco, while run-blocking for just 3.5 yards per carry. After a 6-3 start before the bye week, the Jets are on the outside of the AFC playoff bubble, and require both wins and aid from other teams to sneak into the postseason. Tomlinson and the 7-6 Jets face a tough matchup against the 6-7 Lions Sunday.

Noah Gray, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon to earn their eighth-consecutive season of double-digit wins. Noah Gray contributed strongly to this victory, as he hauled in all three of his targets for 45 receiving yards, tying his career high. The former Blue Devil played 57% of offensive snaps and 66% of special teams snaps in the 34-28 win. Gray has hauled in 22 of his 28 targets on the year, proving his value as an occasional-down receiver. The 10-3 Chiefs hope to boost their standing in a competitive AFC with a win next Sunday against the lowly 1-11-1 Texans.

Michael Carter II, CB, New York Jets

Despite the Jets’ recent skid, their defense has been a bright spot throughout the entire year, allowing just 18.7 points per game, and Michael Carter II has been an important contributor to this resurgence. The slot cornerback started his fifth game of the season Sunday against the Bills, playing 81% of defensive snaps and registering one tackle. The Jets’ secondary held superstar Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen in check, allowing a mediocre 86.5 passer rating through the air. However, with the Jets’ offense only scoring 12 points, the defense could only do so much. Regardless of whether he starts, Carter is likely to see more playing time in weeks to come as the Jets hope to re-enter the AFC’s playoff picture.

Matt Skura, OL, Los Angeles Rams

Blocking for a fresh face under center, Matt Skura started his fourth consecutive game at the left guard position Thursday night. Predictably, Skura and the weathered offensive line struggled in pass protection and run-blocking, allowing four sacks on recently acquired signal-caller Baker Mayfield, and only paving the way for 3.2 yards per rush attempt by the team’s runners. Unpredictably, the Rams recovered from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to win their primetime game 17-16 in dramatic fashion, capped off by a 98-yard touchdown drive orchestrated by Mayfield to go ahead with 10 seconds remaining. Skura played all 64 offensive snaps on the day, and looks to block for Mayfield in a primetime matchup against the 5-8 Packers next Monday.


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