NFL Week 12: Grading the rookies

Here are some of the best -- and not so best -- performances made by rookies in Week 12.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins QB vs. Russell Wilson, Seahawks QB: In this matchup of the two rookies, Wilson played solidly all day. But in the end, Tannehill was fantastic in the final 12 minutes to pull out the win, severely hurting Seattle’s playoff chances and keeping the Dolphins alive for a possible postseason berth. For Seattle, this probably shouldn’t have happened. Wilson was strong, going 21 of 27 for 224 yards and two touchdowns, and early in the fourth quarter, Seattle had a seven-point lead on the road. At one point, Wilson completed 16 straight passes, one off the franchise record. That’s how well he played.

But early in the fourth quarter, Tannehill (18 for 26, 253 yards, one touchdown, one interception) -- who, until that point, had been vastly inferior to Wilson -- got hot, leading an 82-yard touchdown drive and, later in the quarter, tied the game on an 80-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard toss to Charles Clay. Then, he took over on Miami’s 10-yard line with 1:32 to play.  From there, he hit Davone Bess for 19 yards, scrambled up the middle for 15 yards and completed a 25-yarder to Bess. Three plays later, Miami place-kicker Dan Carpenter kicked the game-winning 42-yard field goal as time expired. Make no mistake, though. The fourth quarter belonged to Tannehill -- who broke the franchise record for passing yards by a rookie once owned by Dan Marino.

Tannehill grade: B+

Wilson grade: B+

Andrew Luck, Colts QB: Playing in a blah game against a blah opponent, Luck played well enough to win but not well enough to impress. He completed 20 of 37 passes for 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception. All very blah, right? Indianapolis’ special teams played an important role in the game, and T.Y. Hilton, even though he had to leave the game midway through after he took a big shot to the head, had a punt return for a touchdown and a touchdown catch. Grade: B-

Brandon Weeden, Browns QB: Although Cleveland pulled off the upset by beating the Charlie Batch-led Steelers -- who, ahem, turned the ball over eight glorious times -- Weeden had a tough day. One minute into the game, Weeden watched as Lawrence Timmons picked off his pass and returned it 53 yards for the touchdown. He finished completing 17 of 26 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, and late in the fourth quarter, Weeden had to leave the game with a head injury. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that Weeden should be fine, but still, today was a struggle for Weeden. Grade: C

Ryan Lindley, Cardinals QB: Making his first career start, Arizona’s sixth-round pick had a great first drive, completing 7 of 8 passes for 80 yards as his team took a 7-0 lead. The bad news was that he was not very good for the rest of the game. He finished by completing 31 of 52 passes for 312 yards and four interceptions -- two of which were returned for touchdowns by Janoris Jenkins. The Cardinals, I’m sure, were really hoping Lindley could provide the answer John Skelton and Kevin Kolb couldn’t. So far, he hasn’t. Grade: D+

Other notable performances:

Mohamed Sanu, Bengals WR: For the first time in his career, Sanu recorded a multiple-touchdown performance, and in the past three games, he’s got four scores. On his first touchdown catch, he made a fantastic one-hander in the end zone to give the Bengals a 14-0 lead.

Blair Walsh, Vikings: For only the second time this season, Walsh attempted a field goal that didn’t sail through the uprights. With Minnesota struggling through a bad day vs. the Bears, Walsh had his 30-yard field goal attempt blocked by Julius Peppers early in the second quarter. On the season, Walsh is 24 of 26.

Chris Rainey, Steelers RB: Bit of an up and down day for Rainey, who made a nice touchdown run when he rammed into a goal line stand before slinging himself back out of the scrum and going around the left end for the score. Of course, he also was one of four Steelers running backs to fumble and he was injured near the end of the game. Plus, his team lost to the Browns.

Mike Harris, Jaguars CB: Not a bad day for Harris, who recorded his first career sack and notched the game-ending interception (also his first pick) in Jacksonville’s win vs. the Titans.

Janoris Jenkins, Rams CB: He certainly enjoyed playing against Lindley, especially since he returned two interceptions for touchdowns in St. Louis’ win vs. the Cardinals. The first went for 36 yards, and the second went for 39. According to Fox Sports, Jenkins is the first rookie to notch two pick-6s since 1960, and it's the first time it’s happened in franchise history.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

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