NFL 2016 Week 12 Thanksgiving Recap
Ottawa Roughriders vs Calgary Stampeders — Ok, so we threw in one game involving our neighbors to the North. Ottowa defeated Calgary in overtime Sunday night to win the Canadian Football League Grey Cup. This marks the first CFL Grey Cup in 200 years not won by Doug Flutie. 39-33 Roughriders, OT
Now back to the National Football League.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions was the Thanksgiving morning game. Thanksgiving football is quintessentially American, and the Detroit Lions are a Thanksgiving institution. Yet this year they were tied for first place in the NFC North at 6-4 with the Vikings. This game was an NFC North brawl. Each team mounted a first quarter drive that went 12 plays and 75 yards. The Lions took nearly 8 minutes off the clock and Matthew Stafford hit Anquon Boldin for a 2 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Lions lead. The Vikings used up 6 1/2 minutes and Matt Asiata ran for a 5 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. In the second quarter the defenses took over. Matt Prater hit a 29 yard field goal for Detroit, but that was it. Jim Caldwell and Mike Zimmer each saw their defense make big stops on fourth and one as the Lions led 10-7 at the break. The defenses continued ruling the second half. Kai Forbath hit field goals of 30 yards in the third quarter and 28 yards in the fourth quarter as the Vikings took their first lead of the game 13-10. The 13 play, 76 yard drive put Minnesota on top, but a full 12 1/2 minutes remained in regulation.
With 5 minutes left, the Lions were pinned at their own 2 yard line. On 3rd and 18 from their own 18, Mike Zimmer brought the house. Somehow Stafford got off a completion to Boldin for 29 yards. At the 2 minute warning, the Lions faced 2nd and 1 at the Minnesota 29. Stafford threw incomplete and then completed a pass that actually lost a yard. Prater hit the 48 yard field goal as the game was tied 13-13 with 1:45 to play. Then came the deciding play. With 38 seconds left in a game destined for overtime, the Vikings faced 3rd and 7 at their own 28. Sam Bradford was intercepted by Slay, setting up the Lions at the Minnesota 20. Stafford took one knee to take the clock down to 4 seconds. Prater came in for a 40 yard field goal try to win it. In a season where kickers are missing everything in sight, Prater nailed it. Even the stoic Jim Caldwell swung his fist in celebration, of course without making a facial expression. The Lions are 7-4 and atop their division, and they have swept Minnesota twice. 16-13 Lions
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys was the Thanksgiving afternoon game. After winning nine straight for a league best 9-1 record, the Cowboys really got cocky. They decided to tempt fate and wear their blue uniforms. Some fans believe those jerseys are cursed, and apparently Jerrah has not burned them all. Even without the all white jerseys, Dallas made it look very easy on the opening 75 yard drive. Whitehead ran for 15 yards and Ezekiel Elliott ripped off gains of 20, 12 and 7 yards. Elliott capped the drive by running for a 4 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Cowboys lead. After that both defense stiffened. In the second quarter Dustin Hopkins hit a 24 yard field goal for the Redskins and Dan Bailey countered from 46 for a 10-3 Cowboys advantage. With 4 minutes left in the half, Hopkins missed a 55 yard try wide. From the Dallas 45, Dak Prescott made the Redskins pay. He hit Dez Bryant for 10 yards, screambled for an 18 yard gain, and fired to Terrence williams, who got his toes down just inside the chalk and the pylon for a 10 yard touchdown and a 17-3 Cowboys lead.
The Redskins marched down the field during the 2 minute drill and with 11 seconds left faced 3rd and goal at the 2. Yet just like earlier when they faced 3rd and goal at the 6, again Kirk Cousins threw incomplete and again the Redskins were settling for a field goal to trail 17-6 at halftime. Midway through the third quarter the Redskins took over at their own 10. They moved over 14 plays, taking 8 minutes to do it. This time they finished the 90 yard drive. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Cousins hit Reed for the 5 yard touchdown. The w point try failed but the Redskins were within 17-12.
At this point Elliott took over, running for 21 yards and catching a pass for 19 more yards. Dak Prescott did the rest, hitting Cole Beasley for 12 yards, Dez Bryant for 13 more, and then running the final 6 yards himself. The 75 yard drive had the Cowboys up 24-12 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation.
The Redskins got right back in it in a big way. On 3rd and 2 from their own 33, rather than just move the chains, Kirk Cousins went bombs away to a wide open DeSean Jackson for a 67 yard touchdown. just like that, the Redskins were right back within 24-19. Jay Gruden decided to try a surprise onside kick, but the Cowboys recovered at their own 47. on 3rd and 7 from midfield, Prescott scrambled for just enough with a very questionable defensive personal foul tacked on adding 15 more. Prescott was very late to slide and it appeared the defenders were already in motion. After an offensive holding call wiped out a Dallas touchdown run, the Cowboys faced 3rd and 9 at the Washington 27. Prescott went to Bryant for a 26 yard gain down to the one. Elliott got the last yard as the Cowboys were back up 31-19 with 6 1/2 minutes to play.
Cousins rallied the Redskins after a touchback, but took far too much time to do it. Short completions over the middle kept the clock moving. With 3 1/2 minutes left, on 4th and 1 from the Dallas 34, Cousins hit Thompson for 5 yards. Cousins on 3rd and 1 from the 20 got the yard himself. by the time the 2 minute warning came, the Redskins had 1st and goal at the 8, but they still needed 2 scores. Cousins fired over the middle to Reed in the end zone for the touchdown. Again the Redskins were within 5 after the 15 play, 75 yard drive, but they needed the ball back.
The onside kick had a chance, but eventually ended up out of bounds. The Cowboys took over at the Washington 47. The Redskins took their second timeout with 1:47 left and the Cowboys facing 2nd and 7 at the Washington 44. Rather than play it safe, Jason Garrett trusted his rookie quarterback. Prescott hit Beasley for an 8 yard gain, putting the game on ice. Prescott was only 17 of 24 for 195 yards and 1 touchdown, but the running game allowed him to do less. Cousins was a ridiculous. 41 of 53 for 449 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cousins fell only 2 yards short of the NFL Thanksgiving pass record set by troy Aikman. It was little consolation. The Redskins fell to 6-4 while the Cowboys now for the first time in history have a ten game regular season win streak. They are an NFL best 10-1 with rookies playing quarterback and running back. 31-26 Cowboys
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts was the Thanksgiving night game. The Colts started out with a major disadvantage with Andrew Luck missing this game while in concussion protocol. Former backup to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay is Scott Tolzien, who is now backing up Luck. Tolzien fumbled the snap on the first play from scrimmage and things only got tougher. After a punt the Steelers took over at their own 48. On 3rd and 8 from the Indy 38, Ben Roethlisberger went to Rogers for a 30 yard gain. LeVeon Bell ran for a 5 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Steelers lead. The Colts drove from their 25 to a 3rd and 1 at the Pittsburgh 29. Tolzien was sacked for a 5 yard loss. Last week Adam Vinatieri had his NFL record streak of 44 consecutive field goals snapped. This week from 52 yards out he missed again. Pittsburgh took over at their own 42. On 3rd and 5 from the Indy 25, Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown for the touchdown and a 14-0 Steelers leaf after the first quarter.
A strong kickoff return had the Colts starting at the Pittsburgh 47. On 4th and 6 the Colts set up to punt, but Chuck Pagano called a fake punt. Punter Pat McAfee executed it perfectly, throwing a pass to Swoope for a 35 yard gain. Tolzien then hit Donte Moncrief for a 5 yard touchdown to get the Colts within 14-7. After a touchback, the Steelers faced a 3rd and 13 from their own 33. Big Ben went deep to green for 32 yards and again to Brown for a 33 yard touchdown and a 21-7 Steelers lead. The Colts moved from their own 37. At the 2 minute warning, on 3rd and goal at the one, Tolzien did not get in. Chuck Pagano decided to go for it. Tozlien threw incomplete.
In the second half the Colts had the ball at their own 10 and held the ball on a mind-numbing 19 play drive that went 89 yards and took nearly 11 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 15 from their own 18, Tolzien hit Dorsett for 16. on 4th and 4 at the Pittsburgh 18, Pagano went for it. Tolzien hit Allen for 12. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 2, Tolzien only gained a yard. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, again Pagano went for it on 4th and goal at the one. Again Tolzien threw incomplete. 2 goal line stands by the Pittsburgh defense was the difference in their 21-7 lead and a 21-21 tie game. Tolzien played well enough most of the game but he was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter in desperation time. Roethlisberger and Brown hooked up for the third time on a 22 yard touchdown on third and three. Indy feel to 5-6 as the Steelers got to 6-5. The game was closer than the score, but Mike Tomlin will take the win. 28-7 Steelers.
San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans — After a scoreless opening quarter, the Texans moved 72 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. Brock Osweiler got in from the one for a 7-0 Texans lead. The Chargers came back 74 yards quickly. Philip Rivers found Inman for a 52 yard touchdown pass and a 7-7 tie. After an interception of Osweiler, the Chargers again rapidly moved 63 yards. Rivers hit Williams for a 21 yard touchdown and a 14-7 Chargers lead. After a scoreless third quarter, the first play of the fourth quarter had Houston with a chance to tie the game. On 3rd and goal at the 8, a completion to Fiedorowicz meant 4th and goal at the 2. Bill O’Brien did not thrill the armchair quarterbacks or the fans in the stadium, but he went with the safe points. Nick Novak hit the 19 yard field goal as the Texans trailed 14-10.
With 11 minutes left in regulation the Chargers faced 3rd and 10 at their own 39. Rivers found Inman for gains of 11 and 25 with unnecessary roughness adding 13 more to the Houston 12. Rivers went to Henry for the 12 yard touchdown to make it 21-10 Chargers with 10 minutes to play. Osweiler was then quickly intercepted. With 4 1/2 minutes left, on 4th and 9 from the San Diego 38, Osweiler threw incomplete. Houston got it back at their own 13 with 2:17 left, converted one fourth down, and reached the San Diego 27 with 18 seconds left. They needed 2 scores. Nick Novak kicked the 45 yard field goal. The onside kick succeeded. From the San Diego 41 with 12 seconds left, Osweiler threw a Hail Mary incomplete. 3 seconds remained. Osweiler threw one more Hail Mary that fell incomplete. San Diego is 5-6 while Houston is 6-5 with back to back losses to the AFC West. 21-13 Chargers
Tennessee Titans at Chicago Bears — Jay Cutler is out injured again and Matt Barkley was the starter for the anemic Bears offense. The Bears went 84 yards in 13 plays and 6 minutes. Matt Barkley threw his first NFL touchdown pass, a 7 yard completion to Brown for a 7-0 Bears lead. The Titans went 75 yards and Derrick Henry ran for an 11 yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter for a 7-7 contest. In the second quarter the Titans moved 64 yards and Marcus Mariota found Melanie Walker for a 4 yard touchdown and a 14-7 Titans lead. With 2:15 left in the half, the Titans got the ball back at their own 35. From the Tennessee 46, Mariota found DeMarco Murray for a 25 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Chicago 29, Mariota went deep to Ryan Matthews for another touchdown and a 21-7 Titans lead.
The Bears went bold as John Fox called a surprise onside kick to start the second half. It worked, and Chicago marched down the field. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 5, Barkley went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. Mariota quickly found Matthews for a 24 yard gain. After converting a pair of third downs, the Titans moved to a 3rd and goal at the one. Murray got the carry and did not get in. With the Titans in total control, Mike Mularkey decided to play it safe on the road. With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, Ryan Succop hit the 19 yarder for a 24-7 Titans lead. A field position game had the Titans starting at the Bears 48. Penalties slowed the drive in the red zone, but Succopt hit from 31. One minute into the fourth quarter, the Titans were winning a 27-7 laugher. They would not be laughing for long.
The Bears moved 75 yards in 14 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Barkley converted a pair of short third downs and the Bears soon faced 3rd and 10 at the Tennessee 24. Barkley found Meredith for 11 and then went to Wilson for the 8 yard touchdown. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Bears were within 27-14. Chicago got it back at their own 31 with 6 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 10 from their own 46, Barkley hit Wilson for 19. On 3rd and 11 from the Tennessee 36, Barkley found Bellamy for 12. On 3rd and 10 from the Titans 14, a completion set up 4th and 2 at the 6 with only 3 minutes left. Barkley found Thompson for the touchdown as the Bears were now within 27-21.
With 2:10 to play and the Titans facing 3rd and 2 at their own 25, a completion gained only one yard. The Bears got the ball at their own 35 with 1:56 to play. Barkley put on a clinic with Wilson, connecting on gains of 14, 21 and 23. With 47 seconds to play and Mike Mularkey’s defense in total meltdown mode, the Bears had 1st and goal at the 7, plenty of time for a comeback for the ages for this franchise. Barkley threw to the end zone and a wide open Bellamy dropped a perfectly thrown pass. It was right in his bread basket and he just dropped it. A couple more incompletions set up 4th and goal with 34 seconds left. Barkley threaded a pass to the end zone to Thompson, and a sliding Thompson dropped it. It was also in his stomach and it bounced away as the Bears now have another losing season. The Titans are 6-6 and still alive in the playoff race. 27-21 Titans
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills — The Bills are still in the playoff hunt, while Jacksonville seems to just be playing out the string. Yet early on it was the Jaguars going 75 yards in 11 plays and 7 minutes. Chris Ivory ran for a 2 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Jaguars lead. For 28 1/2 minutes, Buffalo’s offense did nothing against Jacksonville’s defense. Rex Ryan had no answers. one break changed the game. Brandon Tate returned a punt 43 yards, giving Buffalo the ball at the Jacksonville 22. With one minute left in the half, Rex Ryan decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 13. Williams crashed through for a 6 yard gain. LeSean Shady McCoy ran for the yard touchdown. The extra point was no good as the Bills trailed 7-6 at halftime.
After a touchback to start the second half, Buffalo needed only one play to take the lead. McCoy took the handoff and raced for a 75 yard touchdown and a 13-7 Bills advantage. The Jaguars responded by going 65 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Blake Bortles hit Marquis Lee on 3rd and 6 for a 20 yard touchdown and a 14-13 Jaguars lead. Buffalo came back in a big way as Tyrod Taylor went deep to Sammy Watkins for a 62 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the 7, Taylor scrambled for the touchdown and a 20-14 Bills lead with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
The slugfest of the first half was gone as the teams continued the shootout. The Jaguars moved 65 yards and Borltes hit Alex Burns on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 12 yard touchdown and a 21-20 Jacksonville lead. The Bills moved from their 24 to a 3rd and 6 at the Jacksonville 44. Taylor went deep and was intercepted, but defensive pass interference on Prince Amukamara meant a 19 yard gain for Buffalo. On 2nd and 11 from the Jacksonville 16, Taylor went deep to Hunter for the touchdown. McCoy ran in the 2 point conversion as the Bills led by 7 with 11 minutes left in regulation.
The Jaguars moved from their own 27 to a 3rd and 4 at the Buffalo 40 with 3 1/2 minutes left. After Bortles threw incomplete, Jacksonville got called for a costly delay of game penalty. On 4th and 9, a completion only gained 4 yards as the Bills got to 6-5 in the playoff chase and the Jaguars clinched another losing season under Gus Bradley. 28-21 Bills
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens — The Ravens are fighting for a playoff spot in the underachieving AFC North while even the faltering Bengals have a chance. The Ravens marched 75 yards in 11 plays. Joe Flacco hit Brad Perriman for a 14 yard touchdown pass to get the Ravens on the board first. Baltimore got the ball back when Devon Hester returned a punt 28 yards to the Cincinnati 36. Justin Tucker tacked on a 52 yard field goal for a 10-0 Ravens lead. The Bengals finally got going and began the second quarter facing 2nd and 3 at the Baltimore 4 yard line. Yet Red Rifle Andy Dalton threw incomplete twice. Mike Nugent hit the 23 yard field goal to have the Bengals down 10-3.
With 1:45 left in the half, John Harbaugh decided to tempt fate. His field goal kicker Justin Tucker is the only NFL kicker not to miss a field goal or extra point all season. He had made 31 field goals in a row. Harbaugh brought Tucker in for a 57 yard field goal try, and Tucker drilled it to stay perfect and make it 13-3 Ravens. Baltimore got it back at their own 27 with one minute left in the half. Flacco hit Dennis Pitta for gains of 18 and 7. With 2 seconds left in the half, Tucker came in for a 54 yard try. Again he stayed perfect as the Ravens led 16-3 at the half.
In the third quarter the Bengals moved 86 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Dalton fired high to the back of the end zone and Tyler Eifert came down with it for the touchdown. The extra point was no good, but with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter the Bengals were within 16-9. The Ravens held the ball for 7 minutes and moved 59 yards in 12 plays, converting a 4th and 1 along the way. They settled for a 36 yard Tucker field goal, but his four kicks were the difference as the Ravens led 19-9 with 12 minutes left in regulation.
A field position game had the Bengals taking over at the Baltimore 47 with 9 minutes left. On 3rd and 22 from the Baltimore 30, Dalton threw incomplete. Yet defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 3 from the Baltimore 18, Dalton threw incomplete and this time there was no bailout. Needing 2 scores, Marvin Lewis opted for the field goal. Nugent hit from 36 as the Bengals were within 19-12 with 6 minutes left to play. The Bengals held on defense and got the ball back with 4:17 to play. Despite having several passes batted down, Dalton moved the Bengals from their 19 to a 3rd and 3 at the Baltimore 29 with 90 seconds to play. After an incompletion, on 4th and 3 Dalton found Eifert for a 13 yard gain. Time was no longer a factor. After 2 more incompletions, the Bengals had 3rd and 10 at the Baltimore 16.
Dalton was sacked by Elvis Dumervil, forcing a fumble that Dumervil also recovered. With 11 seconds left, the Ravens and to punt on 4th and 3 from their own 28. First John Harbaugh allowed an intentional delay of game. He then called for an intentional safety and the punter let the entire clock run out before stepping out of the back of the end zone. The Ravens are 6-5 while the Bengals after four straight playoff trips are now 3-7 and all but done. 19-14 Ravens
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons — These teams were supposed to have explosive offenses, but they have been inconsistent all year. Early on the shootout materialized. The Cardinals needed 5 1/2 minutes to move 75 yards. Carson Palmer hit Jermaine Gresham for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Cardinals. The Falcons came back 72 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Devonta Freeman got in from the one for a 7-7 ballgame. In the second quarter the teams traded field goals. Chandler Catanzaro hit from 25 for the Cardinals and Matt Bryant responded from 45 for a 10-10 game.
With just over 3 minutes left in the half, the Cardinals went backward and had to punt on 4th and 33 from their own 6. This allowed the Falcons to start at the Arizona 45. Matt Ryan went to Julio Jones for a 10 yard gain and then Gabriel for a 35 yard touchdown and a 17-10 Falcons lead. Atlanta got the ball back with 1:43 left in the half and quickly moved from their 31 to the Arizona 35 with 33 ticks left. Ryan was then intercepted by DJ Swearinger, setting the Cardinals up at their own 37. Palmer found Nelson for a 17 yard gain, but with 5 seconds left the Cardinals were at the Atlanta 46. Rather than go for the Hail Mary or a 64 yard field goal try, Bruce Arians took a very bold gamble. He called a quick slant over the middle, but this was not hook and lateral games. Palmer found Larry Fitzgerald for a 10 yard gain, and Fitzgerald quickly slid to the ground and called timeout. An angry Dan Quinn insisted the clock had run out, but officials ruled one second remained. Catanzaro nailed the 54 yard field goal as the Cardinals trailed 17-13 at halftime.
In the third quarter the Falcons moved 77 yards in 13 plays and 6 minutes. Coleman got in from 2 yards out for a 24-13 Falcons lead. In the fourth quarter the Falcons turned a close game into a blowout. Atlanta moved 60 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Ryan found Taylor Gabriel again, and he raced to the five yard line and dove midair past the pylon. The video game touchdown made it 31-13 Falcons with 9 minutes left in regulation. Palmer did throw a 5 yard touchdown pass to David Johnson with 5 minutes left, but the onside kick failed. The short field led to Freeman running it in from 5 yards out with 2:07 left to turn out the lights. The quarterbacks had nearly identical numbers, each throwing 2 touchdown passes and one interception. Palmer was 25 of 45 for 289 yards and Ryan was 26 of 34 for 269 yards. Yet it is the Falcons at 7-4 while the Cardinals are a head scratching 4-6 only one year removed from the NFC Title Game. Bruce Arians had a preseason Super Bowl team that now may not even make the playoffs. 38-19 Falcons
San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins — Despite worries that Fidel Castro’s death would leave Colin Kaepernick brokenhearted, the 49ers Mod Squad quarterback did manage to cap a 62 yard drive with an 11 yard touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde for a 7-0 49ers lead. The Dolphins finally woke up in the second quarter. They moved 91 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Jay Aayi ran the final 2 yards to tie the game. Miami got it back and moved 84 yards in 11 plays and 7 minutes. Ryan Tannell hit Sims for a 16 yard touchdown and a 14-7 Dolphins lead.
On the first play from scrimmage of the second half after a touchback, Kaepernick was intercepted. The Dolphins took over at the San Francisco 26 yard line, but had to settle for a 24 yard Franks field goal and a 17-7 Dolphins lead. The 49ers took over at their own 9 yard line and went to the ground game. Kaepernick gained 10 and Hyde added 24 more. On 3rd and 5 from the San Francisco 48, Kaepernick found Rod Streater for 25 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 4, Kaepernick found Celek for the touchdown. Midway through the third quarter, the 49ers were only down 17-14.
Yet the Dolphins came right back. Tannehill went to Kenny Stills for a 43 yard touchdown to make it 24-14 Dolphins. Miami got it back and moved 67 yards. Tannehill hit Carroo for a 15 yard touchdown and a 31-14 Dolphins lead with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The game was a laugher, but Miami would not be laughing for long. For all the deserved jokes about Kaepernick’s politics, he led a gutty comeback on the field.
After a touchback the 49ers soon faced 3rd and 12 at their own 40. Kaepernick found Harper for 16 and McDonald for another 35 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Kaepernick hit Torry Smith for the touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the 49ers were within 31-21. Miami went 3 and out and after a touchback the 49ers still had 6 minutes to get 2 scores. On 4th and 10 from midfield with 4 minutes left, Kaepernick found Harper for 16 yards Draugh for 16 more. On 2nd and 2 from the Miami 10, the 49ers suffered a killer offensive facemark penalty. Phil Dawson hit the 36 yard field goal to get the 49ers within 7 points with 2:15 to play.
Miami again went 3 and out and the 49ers got the ball back at their own 38 with 1:44 to play and one timeout. Another offensive facemask call had the 49ers facing 3rd and 21 at their own 27 with one minute left. Kaepernick hit Carlos Hyde for 10 yard as the 49ers took their last timeout with 50 seconds left. On 4th and 11 from their 37, Kaepernick found Smith for 17 yards. With 30 seconds left on 3rd and 8 from the Miami 44, Kaepernick scrambled for a 20 yard gain and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 11 seconds left. Kaepernick then found Kerley for an 18 yard gain. With 5 seconds to play, the 49ers had 1st and goal at the 6. A quick throw over the middle was incomplete and left one more chance with 2 seconds left. Kaepernick rolled out, could not find anyone, and scrambled. He was stopped two yards short of the end zone. The Dolphins have won 6 straight for Adam Gase to get to 7-4. The 49ers after an opening week win have lost 10 straight under Chip Kelly. Fidel Castro’s ghost could not get Kaepernick past the goal line. 31-24 49ers
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints — The Saints have pinball wizard Drew Brees while the Rams have Jeff Fisher’s defense and no offense. This was the return of Bountygate Gregg Williams’s return to New Orleans, this time with the visitors. The Rams moved 75 yards and Jared Goff hit Tavon Austin for a 24 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Rams lead. The Saints came back 51 yards and Brees hit Brad Coleman for a 3 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. The Saints began the second quarter at their own 14. Brees was sacked and fumbled. The Rams recovered at the Saints 6 yard line. One play later Goff hit Kenny Britt for the touchdown. The Rams had a 14-7 lead, but after that the roof caved in, and so did their defense.
The Saints marched 75 yards in 5 minutes and Mark Ingram ran for a 10 yard touchdown to tie the game 14-14. The Rams took over at their own 27. On the first play from scrimmage it was Goff who was sacked and fumbled. The Saints took over at the Rams 10. On 3rd and goal at the one, Tim Hightower failed to get in. Sean Payton decided to go for it on 4th and goal. Brees took the quarterback sneak and got in for a 21-14 Saints lead. The Saints got it back and soon faced 3rd and 15 at their own 17. Brees threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant 24 yards for the Saints. From the Rams 42, a short completion from Brees to Jeremy Hill went for 35 yards. Brees hit Thomas for a 6 yard touchdown with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half for a 28-14 Saints lead.
The Rams fought back from their own 21. With 1:25 left in the half the Rams faced 3rd and 2 at their own 44. Goff went deep to Kendricks for a 24 yard gain, to Britt for 17 more, and back to Kendricks for a 15 yard touchdown. With just under one minute left in the half, the Rams were back within 28-21. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half after a touchback, Mark Ingram broke free for a 61 yard gain. On 3rd and 17 from the Rams 21, Brees went to Ingram for the touchdown as the Saints led 35-21. It was then deja vu all over again as the Saints moved 92 yards and Brees again hit Thomas for a matching 21 yard touchdown and a 42-21 Saints lead. Yet Sean Payton really wanted to run up the score against Gregg Williams. In the fourth quarter Payton called a halfback option pass, and Snead went deep to Hightower for a 50 yard touchdown to complete the blowout. In only his second start, Goff was not bad, going 20 of 32 for 214 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception. Yet Brees was 28 of 36 for 310 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. 49-21 Saints
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns — The 7-3 Giants are not as good as their record, and they play down to there competition. Meanwhile the desperate Browns came in still winless at 0-11, but were still fighting hard for Hue Jackson. Yet as Bill Parcells used to say, your record is what it is. Midway through the second quarter, the game was still scoreless and the Dawg Pound felt hopeful. The Browns took over at their own 25 and the first mistake of the game killed them. Isaiah Crowell fumbled and the Giants recovered at the Cleveland 31. Eli Manning went to Lewis for 18 yards and Harris for the 13 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Giants. The Browns got a break when the Giants fumbled a punt, setting up Cleveland at the Giants 30. On 4th and 1 at the 21, Hue Jackson decided to go for it. Crowell got the carry and gained 2 yards. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 2, Josh McCown threw incomplete. This time Hue Jackson angered the home crowd by opting for the field goal. Cody Parker was good from 20. with only 1:40 left in the half, the Browns were only down 7-3.
The Browns defense had played well the whole half, but melted in the 2 minute drill. From the Giants 31, Manning went deep to Victor Cruz for 37 yards and then to O’Dell Beckham for a 32 yard touchdown and a 14-3 Giants lead. Their entire drive took 22 seconds, leaving 1:13 left on the clock. After a touchback, the Browns would soon face 2nd and 30 at their own 40 with 45 seconds left. McCown went deep to Terrelle Pryor for 22 yards. On 3rd and 8 McCown threw incomplete but defensive holding meant an automatic first down. With 9 seconds left, on 1st and goal at the 7, McCown threw incomplete again. with 5 seconds left, Hue Jackson took no chances. Parker hit from 25. However, the Browns were kicking field goals as the Giants were scoring touchdowns, as the Browns trailed 14-6 at halftime.
Cleveland’s defense dug in as the third quarter was scoreless. One minute into the fourth quarter, the Browns punted on 4th and 13 from their own 5. Beckham returned the punt 59 yards for a touchdown, but holding on the return nullifed the score. After holding on defense, the Browns still had life. The Browns got it back at their own 5. Hue Jackson went bold, because at 0-11, why not? McCown went bombs away to Terrelle Pryor for a 54 yard gain. One score could tie the game. Another pass lost 4 yards and a false star meant 2nd and 19 from midfield. McCown threw a short pass that was intercepted by Jason Pierre Paul, who is not three different people. JPP returned the pick 43 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, but with 11 minutes left in regulation the Giants led 20-6. These are the Browns.
The Browns kept fighting after a touchback. McCown found higgins for 19, with a defensive face mask adding 15 more. After another sack set up 2nd and 14 from the Giants 21, McCown hit Coleman for the touchdown. The Browns were only down 20-13 and a full 8 1/2 minutes remained. They 2 plays later, on 2nd and 6 from the Giants 31, a short mass from Manning to Beckham went for a 41 yard gain. Shepard then ran for 22 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 6. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Manning hit Beckham for the touchdown with only 5 minutes left to put the game on ice. The Giants are 8-3 under Ben McAdoo while the 0-12 Browns are still searching for one complete game. 27-13 Giants
Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The buccaneers have not been laying that badly, but Seattle was expected to shut them down. Early on it was all Buccaneers. They moved 78 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. Jameis Winston threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans to start the scoring. Tampa Bay quickly moved 62 yards on their next drive as Winston threw a 23 yard touchdown to Evans for a 14-0 Buccaneers lead. Early in the second quarter the Buccaneers faced 2nd and 10 at their own 4. A completion from Winston to Evans gained 12 yards but offensive holding in the end zone meant a safety for the Seahawks. Seattle got the free kick at their own 28. On 3rd and 14 from their 41, Wilson threw incomplete. However, defensive pas interference meant a 29 yard gain. The Seahawks settled or a 43 yard Steve Hauschka field goal to get within 14-5. Although it was still early in the second quarter, the defenses dominated as nobody scored the rest of the game. Russell Wilson was intercepted twice, including in the final 2 minutes. The Buccaneers brought back Pewter Power and Buc Ball not seen since the days of warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks. Tampa Bay is 6-5 while Seattle at 7-3 lost a stunner. 14-5 Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers at Oakland Raiders — The Oakland Raiders have known heartbreak.
In 1986 they started 8-4 and ended 8-8. In 1995 they started 8-2 and ended 8-8. In 2011 they started 7-4 and ended 8-8. In 1995 and 2011 it was injuries to their starting quarterback that did them in. In 2016 the Raiders started 8-2. To get that ninth win they needed to face 4-6 Carolina at home. With the Raiders, nothing is ever easy.
Midway though the first quarter the Raiders took over at their own 38. Short passes went for big gains as Derek Carr hit Latavius Murray for 32 yards and Seth Roberts for 24 more. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Carr lobbed a fade and Roberts made an acrobatic touchdown catch for a 7-0 Raiders lead. After a touchback, Newton threw incomplete but but benefited from a very questionable roughing the passer call. Stewart then raced up the middle for a 47 yard gain. On 2nd and 9 from the Oakland 12, Newton threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference on Karl Joseph made it 1st and goal at the 3. Newton ran around the end and got in for a 7-7 ballgame.
The Raiders dominated the second quarter, moving from their own 29 to a critical 3rd and 3 at the Carolina 37. Murray gained 6 yards. On 2nd and 13 from the 34, Carr went deep to Johnny Holton for 30 yards. Murray gained the last 4 yards for the touchdown and the 14-7 Raiders lead. Carolina punted it back and the Raiders had a short field at the Carolina 46. Defensive pass interference moved the ball to the Carolina 35. Yet despite 2nd and goal at the 5, Carr threw incomplete twice. Sebastian Janikowski hit the 23 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Raiders midway through the second quarter.
With one minute left in the half, the Panthers faced 2nd and 6 at their own 13, Newton threw a short pass that turned disastrous. Khalil Mack did his best Jack Squirek impersonation, intercepting the ball at gliding 6 yards into the end zone for a touchdown and a 24-7 Raiders halftime lead. The Raiders were 30 minutes away from ending 13 straight non-winning seasons. They even were to receive the second half kickoff. Just when it looked like the black clouds were giving away to a silver lining, one simple play had the home crowd gasping for air.
On the second play of the third quarter, the Raiders faced 2nd and 1 from their own 31. Carr took the snap, fumbled it, and raced to the sideline screaming in pain. It was a simple quarterback-center exchange. Carr was not touched. Somehow the ball jammed his pinky on his throwing hand. He was taken to the locker room as the entire Oakland crowd and Raiders fans everywhere had a collective lump in their throat. The ball was fumbled on the play, and momentum immediately shifted.
Carolina took over at the Oakland 30. A pair of defensive penalties inside the 5 only delayed the inevitable. Stewart got in from the one. Graham Gano’s extra point was blocked. The Panthers were within 24-13, but that extra point would be key later on. Matt McGloin came in for Carr and it was clear the Raiders were going to run it. On 3rd and 2, Murray gained the first down but an illegal shift instead meant 3rd and 7. McGloin got blown up on a blind side hit and was lucky it was an incomplete pass. The Panthers soon faced 3rd and 6 from their own 12. Newton went deep and found Ted Ginn for an 88 yard touchdown in front of a shellshocked home crowd. Because of the earlier blocked extra point, Ron Rivera went for 2. Newton threw incomplete but the Panthers were within 24-19 midway through the third quarter.
The crowd cheered loudly after a touchback when Carr came back into the game. He was wearing a glove over his injured throwing hand. For the remainder of the game, he took every single snap out of the shotgun. Carr immediately found Clive Walford for 17 yards to let the crowd know he was ok. On 3rd and 2 from midfield, Carr fired a dart to Michael Crabtree for 3 yards. Carr has frequently been compared to gunslinger Brett Favre, and he then made a Favre move. On 2nd and 13 from midfield, Carr threw against his body across the field and was intercepted by Davis. Davis returned the interception 31 yards to the Oakland 28. Stewart ran for a 3 yard touchdown late in the third quarter. Newton’s pass to Greg Olsen for the 2 point conversion failed. The Raiders went 3 and out as Carr threw incomplete 3 straight times. The Panthers wiped out a 24-7 halftime deficit and now led 25-24 after three quarters.
The Panthers got it back and soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 29. Newton threw incomplete, but defensive holding on DJ Hayden meant an automatic first down. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Panthers faced 3rd and 2 at the Oakland 44. Newton went deep to Kelvin Benjamin for the touchdown. The Raiders were in full collapse mode, as 25 straight unanswered points made it 32-24 Panthers. if not for the missed 2 point tries, it would have been a 2 score game, but despite the defense giving up 4 straight touchdown drives, the Raiders were one score from tying the game.
Injured hand or not, Carr was still going to do his Favre impersonation. The hole was dug, and he and he alone had to get the Raiders out of it. After a touchback, he hit Crabtree for 9, and a defensive facemark penalty on the next play had the Raiders at the Carolina 39. On 3rd and 3 from the 32,, Carr found Crabtree for 7 yards. On 3rd and 11 from the 26, Carr hit Walford for 14 and again for the 12 yard touchdown. Now it was time for the 2 point conversion. Carr fired to Seth Roberts. Good! With 8 1/2 minutes left, the game was tied 32-32. Now it was time for the defense, which had been shredded the entire second half, to get something right.
Carolina took over at their own 20. On 3rd and 10 from their own 31, Newton found Benjamin wide open near the sideline. Yet Benjamin cut his route short and caught the ball and was forced out a yard short of the first down. With 5 minutes left, Riverboat Ron Rivera was not going to gamble in his own territory. The Raiders had held on defense and got the ball back at their own 13. With 4 minutes left the Raiders faced 3rd and 9 at their own 14. Then came the play of the game.
With a man in his face, Carr went deep and found Crabtree for a 49 yard gain. Crabtree lost his helmet on the play but not the ball. Carr fired to Crabtree again for 15 more yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Carolina 8 after the Panthers took their first timeout, Murray got 2 yards. The clock hit the 2 minute warning. The Raiders had 1st and goal at the 6. The Panthers had 2 timeouts left. Running the ball would force the Panthers to use all their timeouts and take the clock down to one minute. After a run, Jack Del Rio called a pass play. Carr threw incomplete, stopping the clock. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Carr threw incomplete again, stopping the clock again. Sebastian Janikowski made the 23 yard field goal to give the Raiders the 3 point lead, but they allowed the Panthers to keep their last timeout. Instead of less than one minute, Carolina got it back at their own 25 with a full 1:45 left.
Newton immediately went to Olsen for 20 yards and then to Devon Funchess for 11 more. With a full 1:15 to play, the Panthers already had 1st and 10 at the Oakland 44. One more first down would mean long field goal range. A pair of incompletions meant 3rd and 10, and Newton let the play clock go down to nearly zero. It was a terrible break that forced the Panthers to use their last timeout. Newton fired high for Olsen, who got his fingers on it but could not corral it. On 4th and 10, Newton got belted by Khalil Mack, who forced the fumble and recovered it. Still with an injured hand, Carr was still in the shotgun for the final two kneel downs as last year’s NFC Champions fell to 4-7.
After 13 years, the Oakland Raiders are now winners. They are 9-2, 1st place in the AFC West, tied for the top record in the AFC, and led by league MVP Derek Carr. Finally, they are not the same old Raiders. Whatever happens the rest of the way in 2016, they are winners. Reggie McKenzie for President. Jack Del Rio for Vice President. Khalil Mack for Secretary of Defense. Derek Carr for any position he wants. Just. Win. Baby. 35-32 Raiders
New England Patriots at New York Jets — The patriots are in cruise control while the Jets are collapsing. Surely this game would just be a scrimmage for the Patriots. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman reminds is, “That’s why they play the games.” Early on the Patriots faced 3rd and 10 from their own 20. A completion on third down at the sticks was challenged by Todd Bowles and reversed to fourth and one. The Patriots punted. The Jets moved from their own 26. On 3rd and 4 from their own 45, Ryan Fitzpatrick found Brandon Marshall for 20 yards. Nick Folk hit a 51 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jets. Later on the Jets took over at their own 21. From their 30, Fitzpatrick went deep to Enunwa for a 40 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from the Patriots 29, Fitzpatrick hit Marshall for 11. On the first play of the second quarter, Fitzpatrick hit Marshall for the touchdown and the Jets had a stunning 10-0 lead.
After a touchback the Patriots moved 68 yards in 10 plays. From the Jets 39, Bill Belichick went to the bag of tricks, calling a halfback option pass. It was incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant a 31 yard gain and 1st and goal at the 8. The defense held and Stephen Gostkowski hit a 28 yard field goal to get New England on the board down 10-3. Two plays later from the Jets 25, Fitzpatrick went deep to Anderson for a 25 yard gain to midfield. Yet Anderson fumbled and Malcolm Butler recovered for New England at the mid stripe. Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for 18 and again for 7 on 3rd and 5. On 2nd and goal from the 4, Brady fumbled a snap, picked it up, and fired to Mitchell for the touchdown. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half, the game was deadlocked 10-10. Just before the 2 minute warning, a 54 yard field goal try by Folk to give the Jets the lead was blocked. with 6 seconds left in the half, a 39 yard try by Gostkowski to give the Patriots the lead was no good.
In the third quarter the Patriots moved from their own 31 to a 4th and 1 at the Jets 18. Bill Belichick decided to go for it. The Jets lined up in the neutral zone, giving away the first down. Yet on 2nd and 8 from the 11, Brady threw incomplete twice. Gostkowski hit from 29 to make it 13-10 Patriots. The Jets began the fourth quarter at their own 27. Fitzpatrick hit Anderson for 9, Matt Forte for 15, and Marshall for 13. On 2nd and 10 from the Patriots 22, Fitzpatrick went deep to Enunwa. Initially ruled incomplete, Todd Bowles challenged the call. It was reversed to a touchdown as the Jets led 17-13 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.
The Patriots got it back at their own 25 and Brady hit Mitchell for 13 and Hogan for 23 more. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Jets 22, Brady threw incomplete twice. Gostkowdki hit from 41 as the Patriots were within 17-16 midway through the fourth quarter. The Jets failed to move the ball and the Patriots got it back at their own 17 with 5 minutes left. Brady hit Edelman for 24 yards and Lewis for 16 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Jets 43, Brady hit Edelman for 6. With 3 minutes to go and the Patriots down by one, Bill Belichick decided to trust his Hall of Fame quarterback on 4th and 4 from the Jets 37 rather than try a 55 yard field goal. Brady hit White for 4 yards. Brady then went deep to Hogan for 25 yards and hit Mitchell for the 8 yard touchdown. Initially it looked like the 2 point pass from Brady to White succeeded. On further review, White’s feet broke the plane but the ball never did. The Jets got it back at their own 25 with 1:56 to play down by 5 points. 2 plays later Fitzpatrick was hit and fumbled. Once again, Jets stands for Just End The Season. Meanwhile, the Patriots at 9-2 keep rolling. 22-17 Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos was the Sunday night game. These 7-3 teams are mirror images of each other. They both win with stifling defense. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half, the game was still scoreless. The Broncos faced 3rd and 7 at their own 8. Trevor Siemian was sacked at the goal line and fumbled. Russell Okung recovered in the end zone for Denver, but the result of the play was a safety. Then came the free kick, which Tariq Hill returned for an 86 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Chiefs led 9-0. Denver then moved from their own 25 to a 2nd and 1 at the Chiefs 11. A false start followed by Siemian throwing incomplete twice had the Broncos settling for a 33 yard Brandon McManus field goal and 9-3 Broncos deficit with 1:47 left in the half.
In the third quarter the Broncos moved from their 37 to a 4th and 1 at the Chiefs 9. Gary Kubiak went for it and Siemian took the quarterback sneak and barely got the first down. Andy Reid decided not to challenge the very generous spot. On 3rd and goal from the 6, Siemiean rolled to his left, ran for his life all the way back to the 20, ran all the way back to the right, and at the last moment fired to Jordan Taylor, who got both feet down. The touchdown midway through the third quarter made it 10-9 Broncos.
After a touchback the Chiefs moved 75 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the Denver 21, Alex Smith threw one of his typical West Coast Offense dink and dunk passes short of the marker. On 4th and 2 from the 17, Andy Reid went with the field goal. Cairo Santos hit from 35, but a rare illegal formation penalty on the defense had Reid take the points off the board and go with 1st and 10 at the 12. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Tyreeq Hill took a handoff out of the wildcat, barely shed a tackle from Von Miller, bounced to the outside, got another great block, and reached the corner of the end zone for a 16-10 Chiefs lead after three quarters.
With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Chiefs had to punt on 4th and 20 from their own 4. Denver was expected to have excellent field position but Jerrius Norwood fumbled the punt and the Chiefs recovered at their own 41. Denver held on defense and received the next punt, but lost about 50 yards of field position, starting at their own 12. They got it back in one play. Siemian went deep to Emanuel Sanders for a 64 yard gain, although 15 yards were reversed due to Gary Kubiak accidentally bumping an official. Siemian then went deep to Sanders for a 35 yard touchdown as the Broncos retook the lead 17-16 midway through the fourth quarter.
With 4:14 to play the Broncos were facing 3rd and 11 at their own 3. Another holding in the end zone would mean another safety and a one point deficit. Even a punt would give the Chiefs great field position for the winning field goal. Instead Siemian found Derby for a 13 yard gain. On 2nd and 16 from the 10, Siemian scrambled for 14 yards.. On 3rd and 2, rather than just move the chains, Siemian went deep to Fowler for a stunning 76 yard touchdown. The Broncos now had an 8 point lead with 3 minutes left.
Since the Chiefs were down late in the fourth quarter, Alex Smith was allowed to throw passes longer than 4 yards. After a touchback, a sack of Smith had the Chiefs facing 2nd and 17. On 3rd and 10, Smith found Travis Kelce for just enough and Conley for 13 more to the Chiefs 48 at the 2 minute warning. Consecutive defensive penalties moved the Chiefs to the Denver 42. On 3rd and 1 from the Denver 25 with one minute left, Smith found Conley for 6 yards. With the Chiefs out of timeouts and the clock ticking down, an incomplete pass followed by illegal contact on the defense meant 1st and 10 at the 14 with 35 seconds left. 3 straight incompletions left 4th and 10 with 20 seconds left. Smith found Hill for 11 yards, and Hill got out of bounds with 15 seconds left. On 1st and goal at the 3, confusion then reigned.
Smith fired over the middle to Roby near the goal line. Roby caught it at the goal line and fell into the end zone. The Chiefs celebrated thinking they had a touchdown. However, the referees ruled Roby down 6 inches short of the goal line with the clock ticking. The Chiefs scrambled to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock but the clock ran out. Then the Broncos celebrated thinking they had won. The referees reviewed the play, which was complex. Roby was touched down short of the goal, but was only juggling the ball at that point. By the time he fully secured the ball for the catch, he was already in the end zone. His failure to secure the ball immediately actually worked in his favor. The referees got the call right and explained it perfectly right. The call was reversed and the Chiefs got the touchdown, but now they needed the 2 point conversion for the tie. Smith fired to Harris and this thrilling game went to overtime tied 22-22. If Fidel Castro had known what a thrilling Sunday Night Football game would have been, he would have waited until Monday to die.
Denver won the coin toss and soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Siemian found Denarius Thomas for an 11 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Denver 48, a completion to Booker went for 22 yards. From the Chiefs 30, the Broncos were already in field goal range. However, a touchdown would end the game. On 2nd and 12, Siemian went deep and drew defensive pass interference. Now Denver had 1st and 10 at the Kansas City 20. On 3rd and 9 Siemian got sacked for a 7 yard loss. McManus came in for the 44 yard field goal to give the Broncos the lead. His kick was good, but the Chiefs would have a chance with 9 minutes left in overtime to tie or win the game.
A 41 yard kickoff return had the Chiefs starting at their own 35. A defensive offsides tacked on 5 more yards. From the Chiefs 48, Smith hit Kelce for 21 yards. With 4 1/2 minutes left in overtime, the Chiefs faced 2nd and 9 at the Denver 19. Smith threw incomplete. On 3rd and 9, under heavy pressure, Smith threw incomplete again. Denver could have been called for defensive pass interference, but they even more could have been called offsides. It looked like they jumped, but there was no call. Cairo Santos came in for the 37 yard field goal try to tie the game. A miss would end the game. Santos was good. Now whoever scored next would win.
After a touchback, the Broncos soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 46. Siemian found AJ Derby for a 10 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. A failed run and a batted down pass meant 3rd and 10 with 1:17 left. Rather than try to pick up a few yards, Siemian went deep with single coverage and Fowler was unable to haul in the well thrown but well defended pass. A field goal try would be 62 yards, and the wind was not as heavy as it was earlier in the game. Kubiak decided not to go for it or punt. He gambled on his field goal kicker in the high altitude knowing a miss would give the Chiefs excellent field position.
The kick was long enough but hooked wide left. Now the Chiefs had the ball at the Denver 48 with one minute left. Now it was up to Alex Smith to win the game. Dunking and dunking would not cut it. Denver’s defense helped matters by jumping offsides again. Smith had a wide open receiver for an easy touchdown but never saw him. On the next play Smith did find Hill for an 11 yard gain to the Denver 32. Smith spiked the ball and stopped the clock with 37 seconds left. A field goal try would be 50 yards. Smith fired to Kelce for a 16 yard gain and let the clock run down. With 5 seconds left in overtime, now Santos had his chance to be the hero from 37 yards out. The kick doinked off the left upright, shot sideways, and somehow made it just inside the right upright. Good! The 8-3 Chiefs are one game back of Oakland in the AFC West, while Denver fell to 7-4. All of Colorado will be debating Kubiak’s decision to try a 62 yarder with everything on the line. To think the entire AFC Playoff picture could be decided by a doink. For Walrus Lite Andy Reid, that would be just fine. 30-27 Chiefs, OT
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles was the Monday night game. These teams are on the brink of playoff elimination, with the Packers having lost 4 straight to fall to 4-6 and Philadelphia barely better after a 3-0 start. Each team started hot. The Packers moved 75 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. Aaron Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for a 12 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Packers. The Eagles came back 81 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. Carson Wentz got the last yard for a 7-7 game after the first quarter. The game slowed a bit after that. In the second quarter the Packers again moved 75 yards. Rodgers hit Adams again for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Packers. The Eagles moved 69 yards in 13 plays but settled for a 48 yard Caleb Sturgis field goal to trail 14-10 at halftime.
In the third quarter the Eagles moved from their 25 to the Green Bay 45. However, one play after getting belted, Wentz threw a pass with no receiver in the area that was intercepted by Haha Clinton-Dix. From the Green Bay 28, Rodgers went deep to Adams again for a 50 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Philly 15, Rodgers threw incomplete. Mason Crosby hit the 33 yard field goal to make it 17-10 Packers. Wentz moved the Eagles after a touchback with a pair of key third down conversions, including a 16 yard completion on 3rd and 9. Yet on 2nd and 8 from the Green Bay 32, Wentz threw incomplete twice. Sturgis nailed the 50 yard field goal to get the Eagles back within 17-13.
The Packers soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Rodgers threw incomplete but a roughing the passer call kept the drive going. Rodgers converted a couple more short third downs. Then on 3rd and 10 from the Philly 26, Rodgers hooked up with Adams again for a 23 yard gain. One minute into the fourth quarter, Aaron Ripowski got in from the one for a 24-13 Packers lead. After a touchback penalties on both teams had the Eagles moving backward and then forward. From the Green Bay 36, a bad snap in the shotgun led to a sack of Wentz and a 10 yard loss. An incompletion on 3rd and 20 had the Eagles now out of field goal range. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Eagles still needed 2 scores.
The Packers began with terrible field position and moved backward to a 2nd and 14 at their own 4. Rodgers hit Ripowski for 9. On 3rd and 5, Graham jumped into the neutral zone, a killer defensive penalty. On 3rd and 12 from their own 28, Rodgers went deep to Jordy Nelson for a 22 yard gain. On 2nd and 10 from the Philly 40, Rodgers hit Nelson for a 13 yard gain. Yet a killer offensive holding penalty ended the drive. On 4th and 10 from the Philly 40, the defense got called for too many men in the huddle. On 4th and 5, Mike McCarthy brought his offense back on the field and decided to go for it. Rather than just go for a quick pass, Rodgers went deep to Nelson for a 21 yard gain. Nelson appeared to get away with offensive pass interference, but there was no call. The desperate Eagles took their last timeout with less than 3 minutes to play. Mike McCarthy kept it on the ground. By the time Crosby hit the 32 yard field goal to put the Packers up by 14, Green Bay had eaten up 8:30 minutes on their staggering 17 play, 78 yard drive.
The Eagles got it back at their own 13 yard line with only 1:50 to play. After a 24 yard completion, consecutive sacks closed the lid on the Eagles. Dom Capers saw his defense give up 30 points or more for 4 straight weeks, which the Packers had no experienced since 1953. Tonight, for at least this week, they righted the ship in a big way. Wentz was not bad, going 24 of 36 for 254 yards, 0 touchdowns, and one interception. Rodgers was just fantastic, going 30 of 39 for 313 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. 27-13 Packers