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NFL 2018-2019 Divisionals Recap

Sunday, January 13th, 2019

2018-2019 Divisionals Recap

AFC (6) Indianapolis Colts at (1) Kansas City Chiefs was the Saturday afternoon game. 5 years ago the Colts overcame a 38-10 third quarter deficit to win a playoff shocker 45-44 over the Chiefs. Andrew Luck was the Colts quarterback and Walrus Lite Andy Reid was the Chiefs coach. They still are. However, that came was in the indoor domes Lucas Oil Stadium. This time it was in outdoor Arrowhead, where snow flurries came down throughout the game. The Chiefs dominated from the start. The Chiefs began at their own 10 and made it look easy. Patrick Mahomes hit Tyreeq Hill for for 11, Travis Kelce for 16 and Sammy Watkins for 34. Damian Williams ran for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back and soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 34. Mahomes hit Hill for 10 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Colts 47, Andy Reid decided to go for it. Williams ran for 11 yards. On the next play Hill took an end around, veered to the middle, and outraced everyone for a 36 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chiefs. In the second quarter the Chiefs held the ball for7 minutes and 15 plays, moving 53 yards. They settled for a 39 yard Harrison Butker field goal to make it 17-0 Chiefs. 

With 6 minutes left in the half, the Chiefs punted on 4t and 20 at their own 19. Dustin Colquitt had his punt blocked and recovered by Pascal in the end zone for a Colts touchdown to get the Colts within 17-7. The Chiefs stayed unfazed and moved 75 yards in 10 plays. Mahomes hit Kelce for 30 yards, Watkins for 5, and Hill for 14. On 3rd and 6 from the Indy 22, Mahomes hit Kelce for 7, Williams for 9 and Watkins for 4. Mahomes scrambled for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 Chiefs with 1:46 left in the half. Luck worked the 2 minute drill and moved the Colts to the 5 yard line with 8 seconds left. The Colts suffered a self-inflicted would when he threw incomplete and Frank Reich with 3 seconds left brought in ageless Adam Vinatieri. Well Vinatieri became famous by kicking a 45 yarder in a blizzard. With slight flurries, he doinked a 23 yarder off the upright no good to end the half. Luck did hit Hilton for a 29 yard touchdown with 5 1/2 minutes left, but Vinaitieri shanked the extra point no good. The Chiefs moved from their own 39 to a 4th and 3 from the Indy 38. The Chiefs punted but running into the kicker sealed the Colts fate. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Williams took it straight up the middle to put the game out of reach with 2 1/2 minutes left. In a fitting end, the Colts reached the Chiefs 4 yard line but a pass to a wide open receiver in the end zone was dropped. The clock ran out before they could score. For the first time in nearly half a century, the Chiefs will host the AFC Title Game. The winner gets the Lamar Hunt Trophy, named after the late beloved founder and owner of these same Chiefs. 31-13 Chiefs

NFC (4) Dallas Cowboys at (2) Los Angeles Rams is the Saturday night game. After a touchback to start the game, Jared Goff hit Tyler Higbee for 19 yards. Dallas jumped offsides as Todd Gurley ran for gains of 3, 4 and 9. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Dallas 7, Goff under heavy pressure threw incomplete. Greg Zuerlein hit the 25 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. The Cowboys took over at their own 29 and soon faced 4th and 1 at the Dallas 49. Jason Garrett went for it and Ezekiel Elliott gained 5 yards with another 15 tacked on for a very questionable personal foul tacked on. On the next play Dat Prescott hit Amari Cooper, who split the seams for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Cowboys. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Goff hit Woods for 5 yards. On 4th and 1 from their own 45, now it was Sean McVay who’d decided to go for it. Goff gained 3 yards. From the Dallas 43, CJ Anderson rumbled 15 yards. The second quarter began with the Rams facing 3rd and 2 at the Dallas 20. Anderson gained another 11 yards. From the 9, Goff hit Brandon Cooks for what appeared to be a touchdown. His knee and elbow came down inbounds. Yet on further review the calls as reversed. Officials ruled Cooks juggled the ball. The Rams settled for a 23 yard Zuerlein field goal. Despite moving the ball at will, the Rams trailed 7-6.

The Rams got the ball back at their own 24 and this time they would not be denied. From their 28, Goff hit Cooks for 20 yards, Woods for 16 more, and Higbee for another 11. From the Dallas 15, Anderson ran fro 14 and then got the last yard to make it 13-7 Rams. The Rams got the ball back at their own 36 and Anderson ran for gains of 6 and 7. On 3rd and 14 from their own 45, Goff threw incomplete but a defensive penalty for illegal use of hands gave the Rams new life. From midfield, Goff hit Cooks for 15 yards. Gurley then raced for a 35 yard touchdown to make it 20-7 Rams with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Cowboys moved from their own 19 to a 3rd and 7 at the Rams 36 with 52 seconds left in the half. Prescott went back to pass, somehow escaped a couple defenders, and was ruled in the grasp by the officials. He was actually in the grasp of his own tackle, who held on to him to protect him. It was a bizarre sequence of events that resulted in an 8 yard loss to push the Cowboys out of field goal range. The closes thing to a break for Dallas came when the Rams failed to extend the lead. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein missed a 63 yard field goal at the gun. The Rams had 170 yards rushing by halftime and topped 200 early in the third quarter.

In the third quarter the Rams moved from their 26 to a 3rd and 3 at the Dallas 22. A shotgun snap on a fake handoff led to a fumble that Goff fell on. Zuerlein drilled the 44 yard field goal to make it 23-7 Rams, but they did not fully close the door. The Cowboys faced 2nd and 12 from their own 23. Prescott hit Michael Gallup for 27 yards to midfield. On 4th and 1 from the Rams 41, Jason Garrett again decided to go for it. Prescott went with the option and pitched it to Elliott, who gained 5 yards. On 1st and 20 from the Rams 46, Prescott went deep to Gallup for a 44 yard gain. From the 2, Elliott gained one and then got the other yard for the score. The 2 point conversion try succeeded. After giving up 20 unanswered points, the Cowboys were back in it down 23-15 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. After a touchback the Rams soon faced 4th and 2 at their own 47. After failing to draw the Cowboys offsides, with 3 minutes left in the third quarter the Rams punted for the first time all game. A short 29 yard punt had the Cowboys at their own 23. The fourth quarter began with the Cowboys facing 4th and 1 at the Rams 35. For the third time, Jason Garrett went for it. The entire football world knew Elliott was getting the football and it took the whole Rams defense to stop him. Michelin Man Wade Phillips celebrated his defense’s inspired stand. 

The Rams then embarked on a time consuming drive that took 12 plays and 7 1/2 minutes off the clock. From the Rams 35, Woods gained 9 and Anderson ran for 3, 7 and 9. Goff hit Woods for gains of 18 and 7. On 3rd and 2 from the Dallas 11, Cooks took an end around 5 yards. Midway through the fourth quarter, on 4th and goal at the one, Sean McVay decided to go for it even though a field goal would make it a 2 score game. Failing to convert would give Dallas a long field but a chance to tie it. McVay went for it all and Anderson crashed through the middle and into the end zone. McVay pumped his fist as the Rams led 30-15. With 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Rams took their final timeout on defense as the Cowboys had to go for it on 4th and 1 for the 4th time in the game. Prescott rolled out and ran for it himself, gaining 2 yards. With just under 3 minutes left, the Cowboys faced 4th and 3 at the Rams 17. Prescott under heavy pressure threw a prayer incomplete. However, defensive pass interference on Aqib Talib in the end zone put the ball on the one. Prescott got in himself as the Cowboys were within 8 points with 2:11 to play. The Cowboys had all 3 timeouts and the 2 minute warning. Jason Garrett decided to kick it deep and pray that his defense could get a stop. At the 2 minute warning, it came down to 3rd and 7 from the Rams 28. Obviously you have to run the ball in this situation. Goff rolled out and looked like he was going to pass. Then he raced upfield and gained 11 yards and a critical first down. Anderson got one more first down to send the Rams to the NFC Title Game. They rushed for an NFL playoff record 275 yards. 30-22 Rams

AFC (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (2) New England Patriots was the Sunday morning game. The Patriots began with a time consuming drive of over 7 minutes that took 14 plays and moved the ball 83 yards. On 3rd and 3 from their own 24, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for 6 yards. On 3rd and 2 from their own 38, Brady hit White for 10 yards and then for 17 more. Michel ran for gains of 11 and 5. On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 9, Brady threw incomplete. However, defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Michel got the yard to make it 7-0 Patriots. The Chargers took over and soon faced 3rd and 15 at their own 28. Philip Rivers went to Williams for 18 yards and then went bombs away to a wide open Keenan Allen for a 43 yard touchdown. The game was tied 7-7, but after that the Patriots exploded.

From their own 33, Michel ran for 12. Brady hit Edelman for 14 and again for 28 more. Michel then ran for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Patriots. The Patriots got it back at their own 42 in the second quarter and made it look easy. Brady hit Edelman for gains of 11 and 17, to Philip Dorsett for 11, and to Chris Hogan for 5. On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 15, Brady hit Dorsett for the touchdown and a 21-7 Patriots lead. The Patriots got it back at their own 13 and kept rolling. Brady hit James White for 28 yards. On 3rd and 2 from their own 46, Brady threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Michel then ran for a 40 yard gain and Burkhead ran for 3 and then the 6 yard touchdown as the Patriots were winning a 28-7 laugher. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Chargers finally forced the Patriots to punt on 4th and 7 from their own 24. The Chargers fumbled the punt and the Patriots recovered at the Chargers 35 yard line. Brady quickly fired to Edelman for 19 yards. Michel ran up the gut for a 5 yard touchdown as the Chargers led 35-7 with 1:43 left in the half. At this point the Patriots had 21 first downs. The Chargers had only 20 total plays.

The closest thing the Chargers got to a break was the Patriots greed at the end of the half costing them a field goal try. In running one more play, the receiver was tackled in bounds and the clock ran out. League ruled prevented the cancellation of the second half, which was uneventful garbage time. In each quarter Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal for the Patriots. The Chargers needed to reach the end zone five times and made it there only three times. The Patriots reached the AFC Title Game for an unprecedented 8th straight year. They will be at Kansas City. As staggering as the reign of excellence has been under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots have not won a road playoff game since they beat these same Chargers in the 2006 season. To be fair, one reason for that is that so many of their playoff games have been at home. 41-28 Patriots

NFC (6) Philadelphia Eagles at (1) New Orleans Saints is the Sunday afternoon game. A few weeks ago the Saints blasted the Eagles 48-7. All they had to do was beat them again to waltz into the NFC Title Game. Cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’S why they PLAY the games.” On the first play of the game from their own 35, Drew Brees went for the bomb and was intercepted by LeBlanc at the Philadelphia 24. On 3rd and 1 from their own 33, Nick Foles hit Zac Ertz for 11, Darren Spriles for 5 and Smallwood for 6. Foles went deep to Matthews for a 37 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Saints. The Saints went 3 and out and the Eagles got it back at their own 25. Nelson Agholor took an end around 12 yards. Foles hit Golden Tate for 12. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 34, Foles went deep to Ashon Jeffery for a 30 yard gain. Foles got the last yard himself for a 14-0 Eagles lead in front of a stunned home crowd. The Saints then moved from their own 8 yard line to a 3rd and 8 at their own 45. Brees was sacked and fumbled. The Saints fell on it but only after a 14 yard loss.

The Eagles got it back at their 30. From their 48, Foles went deep and was intercepted by Lattimore at the Saints 21. On 3rd and 1 from their own 30, Mark Ingram got stopped cold. The Eagles had all the momentum. It shifted when Sean Payton called a  fake punt on 4th and 1 from his own 30. Payton called a surprise onside kick in the Super Bowl, and he is from the Bill Parcells “Big balls” school of coaching. Taysom Hill gained 4 yards and the Saints finally got going. On the next play Brees went deep to Thomas for 42 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Philly 15, Alvin Kamara gained 7 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 9, Brees hit Thomas for 7 yards. Sean Payton went for it on 4th and goal at the 2. Brees threw a perfect fade pass to the corner of the end zone, and Kirkwood came down with it to cap the 12 play, 79 yard, 6 minute drive and get the Saints within 14-7. With 1:18 left in the half, the Saints took over at their own 6 yard line. Brees hit Watson for 12, Ted Ginn Jr for 21, Kamara for 23 and Thomas for 9, Ginn for 15. On 2nd and 5 from the Philly 27 with 11 seconds left, this time Sean Payton took no chances. The Saints did not have a timeout. Wil Lutz hit the 45 yard field goal as the Saints trailed 14-10 at halftime.

The Eagles went 3 and out to start the third quarter and the Saints mounted the drive of the year from their own 8 yard line. Brees hit Ginn for 8, Thomas for 11 and Kirkwood for 6. On 3rd and 3 from the Saints 45, Brees went to Hill for 9 yards. On 1st and 10 from the Philly 46, Brees went for it all but the well defended ball was batted away incomplete. Sean Payton then went to the bag of tricks and brought Hill in at quarterback. Hill went bombs away and found Kamara for the touchdown. Yet offensive holding instead meant 2nd and 20. Brees came back in and hit Thomas for 20 yards. Hill came in on a couple more runs of 5 and 3 as Kamara picked up a tough yard on 3rd and 1 from the Philly 27. On 3rd and 16 from the Philly 32, Brees hit Thomas for 20 yards. After a false start, samara gained 15 yards to the 2. Brees rifled a pass to a well-covered Thomas, who muscle for position and caught the ball for the touchdown. A mind-numbing 18 plays and 92 yards took a ridiculous 11 1/2 minutes off the clock and gave the Saints their first lead up 17-14. 

The Eagles after a touchback picked up one first down but not another one as they had to punt the ball back to the Saints. The Saints took over one minute into the fourth quarter at their own 17. On 3rd and 5 from their 22, Brees hit Smith for 15 yards. The Saints running game had been bottled up all game but the Eagles defense was exhausted. Ingram broke off a 36 yard run. However, on 3rd and 7 from the Philly 24, a pass from Brees to Kamara only gained 3 yards. Lutz hit the 39 yard field goal. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Saints led by 6. However, despite 20 unanswered points, they did not close the door. 

The Eagles again could not move the ball, and the Saints got it back at their 25 looking to put the game away. They moved 10 plays and chewed up 5 1/2 minutes. With just over 3 minutes left, the Eagles faced 3rd and 8 at the Philly 31. Rather than line up right behind the center, Brees lined up in the shotgun. The handoff was blown up in the backfield for a 3 yard loss. With 3 minutes left, Lutz came in for a 52 yard field goal try that would put the game on ice. Lutz was no good, just barely missing wide. The Eagles defense did everything they could. The defending champs were still alive. Now it was time to see if Foles had more miracle magic left.

From their own 42, Foles hit Ertz for 16 yards. Roughing the passer on the next play had the Eagles all the way at the Saints 27 yard line at the 2 minute warning as the crowd held their hearts in their throats. Foles went to Jeffery, but the ball sailed through his hands and was intercepted by Lattimore with 1:52 to play. With one minute to play and the Eagles out of timeouts, the Saints faced 3rd and 10 at their own 33. The Eagles last hope was a stop and a punt block. Kamara gained 12 yards and that was it. Champions fight to the very end. The defending champs fought valiantly. The Philadelphia Eagles played with guts, but were knocked off. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, who will host the Rams in the NFC Title Game. 20-14 Saints 

The Conference Title Games are now set.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

NFC Title Game: Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints at 3:00 p.m. on FOX

AFC Title Game: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs at 6:30 p.m. on CBS

NFL 2018-2019 Divisionals Prequel

Saturday, January 12th, 2019

NFL 2018-2019 Wildcard Recap

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

AFC (6) Indianapolis Colts at (3) Houston Texans was the Saturday afternoon game.The teams split the regular season, but this game was all Colts from the start. On 3rd and 12 from their own 23, Andrew Luck hit TY Hilton for just enough. On 3rd and 7 from their own 38, the defense jumped offsides. on 3rd and 2, Luck hit Hilton for 13 yards. Luck then went deep to Hilton for a 38 yard gain, splitting triple coverage. Luck capped the drive with a 6 yard touchdown pass to Eric Ebron to make it 7-0 Colts. The Colts got it back at their own 26 and Marlin Mack ran for a 25 yard gain. From the Houston 24, Luck hit Rogers for 16 and Mack for 6. Mack ran for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Colts after the first quarter. In the second quarter the Colts took over at their own 35. From their 46, Luck hit Dontrelle Inman for 21, Ebron for 15, and Inman for the 18 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Colts. The Colts defense did the rest. The Texans had 4th and 1 at the 9. Bill O’Brien went for it and Deshaun Watson threw incomplete. Houston finally reached the end zone with 11 minutes left in regulation, but no more. On 2nd and 10 from the Indy 24, Watson threw 3 incompletions. Frank Reich has seen his team now go 10-1 in their last 11 games as they travel to Kansas City for the divisional round. 21-7 Colts

NFC (5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Dallas Cowboys was the Saturday night game. The first 28 minutes was a brutal slog that saw Cowboys receiver Allen Hurns get carted off with a gruesome leg injury. Brett Maher hit a 39 yard field goal for the Cowboys in the first quarter. In the second quarter Sebastian Janikowski hit from 27 to tie the game. After Maher missed from 58, Sebass hit from 42 to make it 6-3 Seahawks with 1:47 left in the half. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Ezekiel Elliott ran for a 44 yard gain. Prescott hit Michael Gallup for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 10-6 Seahawks with 24 seconds left in the half. Tyler Lockett returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Dallas 49. On the last play of the half, Seabass missed from 57 and crumpled to the ground with an apparent hamstring injury. In the third quarter a punt pinned the Cowboys at their own 2 yard line. Seattle got it back at the Dallas 44. On 4th and 5 from the Dallas 39, a 57 yard field goal was out of the question with Seabass injured. Pete Carroll decided to go for it and Wilson delivered a perfect sideline pass to Doug Baldwin for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 12, Wilson faked a handoff and kept it himself for a 7 yard gain. Wilson did that again for a 4 yard touchdown. An injured Seabass forced Pete Carroll to go for 2 rather than kick extra points. Davis punched it up the gut for a 14-10 Seahawks lead after three quarters. 

This time Dallas came back quickly. On 3rd and 1 from their own 42, Prescott hit Brown for 6 yards. From midfield, Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 34 yard gain. Elliot gained 6 and Prescott gained 9 to set up 1st and goal inches short of the goal line. Elliott banged it in to put the Cowboys up 17-14 with 13 minutes left in regulation. Dallas had a chance to put the game away when Tavon Austin returned a punt 51 yards to the Seattle 38. Prescott went to Cooper for 27 yards. Prescott went to the end zone to Noah Brown and KJ Wright made an acrobatic interception in the end zone for a touchback. 

Dallas took over again midway through the third quarter at their own 37. A pair of defensive penalties killed the Seahawks. With 2 1/2 minutes left, an offensive penalty set up 3rd and 14 from the Seattle 16. With everything on the line, Prescott took a delayed draw up the middle, leapt up in the air, and gained 15 yards down to the one. With 2:14 left the Seahawks were forced to take their final timeout. Prescott snuck it in to give the Cowboys the 24-14 lead. After a touchback and needing 2 scores, Wilson hit Lockett deep for a 53 yard gain. On 4th and 4 from the Dallas 7 with 1:18 left, Pete Carroll again had to go for it with no kicker. Chris Carson ran it in to get the Cowboys within 2. Jerry Jones was prepared to fire everyone if the Cowboys lost and blow up his stadium for the insurance money. Punter Dickson had to try drop kicking an onside kick. It floated up in the air and was easily fielded as  Jason Garrett and the rest of the staff got to stay employed with the hard fought win. 24-22 Cowboys

AFC (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (4) Baltimore Ravens is the Sunday morning game. Ray Lewis fired up the crowd before the game, but it was the Chargers defense that dominated the first half. Baltimore fumbled on 3 of their first 8 offensive plays. The third fumble set up the Chargers at the Baltimore 15. However, on 3rd and goal at the one, a run up the gut was blown up in the backfield for a loss. Lamar Jackson was constantly under pressure and had one pass intercepted. Mike Badgley made field goals of 21 and 53 in the first quarter and from 40 and 34 in the second quarter as the Chargers took a 12-0 lead to the locker rooms. King returned the second half kickoff 73 yards to the Baltimore 27. Badgley’s 5th field goal try from 41 yards out was blocked. The Ravens got a second break when they forced a fumble and took over at the Chargers 21 yard line. They settled for a 33 yard Justin Tucker field goal to trail 12-3. The Ravens got a third break when they blocked a punt and took over at the Chargers 39 yard line. Yet Tucker missed a 50 yard field goal.  

The Chargers took over at their own 40. From the Baltimore 43, Philip Rivers hit Williams for 28. Melvin Gordon ran for 14 yards to set up 1st and goal at the one. First Gordon lost a yard. Then a pass to a wide open Watt in the flat was under thrown. Watt caught it and rolled over into the end zone. However, he was ruled short of the goal line. Then on 3rd and goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, chaos ensued. Gordon got the carry, stretched for the goal line, fumbled, and saw the defense pick it up and race 103 yards the other way. The Ravens thought they had a touchdown and a 12-10 ballgame. Officials ruled a Chargers touchdown instead. John Harbaugh challenged the call, and it was reversed. Neither team had a touchdown. Gordon was ruled down. On 4th and goal from inches away, Anthony Lynn decided to go for it. Gordon went up the gut and this time broke through for the score. Anthony Lynn then decided to go for the 2 point conversion. A defensive breakdown let Rivers loft a pass to a wide open Williams for a 20-3 Chargers lead. After 3 quarters, Jackson was 3 of 9 for 25 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 1 lost fumble. He entered to heavy boos as Super Bowl winner Joe Flacco stayed on the sideline. Badgley hit his 5th field goal from 46 with 9 minutes left to make it 23-3 Chargers. At this point the Ravens had negative 2 passing yards. 

Now it was desperation time after a touchback. The Ravens faced 4th and 11 at their own 40. One more stop would end it. Jackson went deep to Willie Snead for 29 yards and then threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. With 6 1/2 minutes left the Ravens were within 23-10. The onside kick failed but the Ravens got the ball back at their own 20 with 4:45 left. On 3rd and long from midfield, Jackson was flushed out, rolled all the way to his right, through across his body to the middle of the field, and somehow hit Ed Dickson who had nothing in front of him but green. He was caught from behind at the Chargers 11 after a 39 yard gain. On 4th and 8 from the Chargers 9, one stop would end it. Jackson fired to Crabtree for the touchdown. At the 2 minute warning, the Ravens were within 6 points. They still had 2 timeouts. Everything came down to the Chargers facing 3rd and 6 from their own 26 and the Ravens out of timeouts. Anthony Lynn played it safe and ran the ball. Gordon got around the end for the first down as the Chargers celebrated. However, offensive holding negated the play. On 3rd and 16, the Chargers played it very risky and Rivers threw a pass. it was caught for 8 yards as the Chargers set up to punt with 54 seconds left. With 54 seconds left, the Ravens took over at their own 34 yard line. With 30 seconds left from the Baltimore 47, Jackson had the ball knocked from his hand. The fourth fumble of the day was the second one recovered by the defense. Melvin Ingram fell on it and the Chargers were off to New England. 23-17 Chargers

NFC (6) Philadelphia Eagles at (3) Chicago Bears was the Sunday afternoon game.Dick Butkus and Brian Urlacher fired up the crowd pregame. The first half had Buddy Ryan and George Halas smiling in heaven. Nick Foles was intercepted twice, including once in the end zone for a touchback. Jake Elliott hit a 43 yard field goal in the first quarter for the Eagles. In the second Cody Parkey hit a 36 yarder and then a 29 yarder to end the half with the Bears up 6-3. Tremendous confusion of whether one play was a fumble or an incompletion was exacerbated when nobody recovered the ball and left it sitting there. Al Michaels commented that “The Dead Sea Scrolls are easier to dissect than the (NFL) rulebook.” In the third quarter the Eagles faced 3rd and 6 at their own 21. Foles threw incomplete but unnecessary roughness gave the Eagles 14 yards. On 3rd and 5 from their own 40, Foles hit Golden Tate for 9 yards. From the Chicago 43, defensive pass interference on Prince Amukamara meant a 33 yard gain. Foles threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to Dallas Goedert to make it 10-6 Eagles. Less than one minute into the fourth quarter, Parkey hit from 34 to get the Bears within 10-9. The Bears got it back and soon faced 3rd and 11 at their own 19. Mitchell Trubsky hit Taylor Gabriel for 19, Jay Bellamy for 34, and Robinson for the 22 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Bears led 15-10 with 9 minutes left in regulation. 

A short Bears punt of only 36 yards had the Eagles taking over at their own 40 with 4:48 to play. Foles hit Alshon Jeffery for 15 yards, Goedert for 10, Nelson Agholor for 8, Zac Ertz for 13 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. With 1:55 left the Eagles faced 3rd and 9 at the Chicago 13. Foles hit Jeffery for 11 yards and for some bizarre reason, Matt Nagy decided not to take a timeout on defense. 40 seconds ticked off the clock before the Eagles ran another play. Twice Darren Sproles got the carry and twice he was stopped. Foles then threw incomplete. With 1:05 left, it all came down to 4th and goal at the 2. Foles fired to the front corner of the end zone and Tate caught it. The Eagles led by a point and Doug Pederson went for the 2 point conversion. Sproles got the carry and tried to leap over the top. He had the ball knocked out for a fumble. The Eagles insisted Sproles broke the plane, but replay appeared to show that he lost the ball just shy of the plane. The Bears got a major break when Tarik Cohen returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Chicago 42. Trubisky hit Robinson for gains of 25 and 8 yards. With 10 seconds left, Parkey came in for a 43 yard field goal to win it. The kick was dead center but Doug Pederson called a timeout. Now it was time for the real kick. Earlier this year Parkey doinked 4 kicks off the upright no good in one game. In Minnesota, he did it once. In this came the ball bounced off the upright, then hit the crossbar, and with the world watching, fell toward the field of play no good. To quote Paul Maguire, “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.” As for the Eagles, champions do not go down without a fight. The Eagles are off to New Orleans, who walloped them 48-7 a few weeks ago. Until proven otherwise, they are still champs. 16-15 Eagles

The Divisional playoff games are now set.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

4:30 p.m. AFC (6) Indianapolis Colts at (1) Kansas City Chiefs on NBC

8:00 p.m. NFC (4) Dallas Cowboys at (2) Los Angeles Rams on CBS

Sunday, January 13

1:00 p.m. AFC (5) Los Angeles Chargers at (2) New England Patriots on FOX

4:30 p.m. NFC (6) Philadelphia Eagles at (1) New Orleans Saints on FOX

NFL 2018-2019 Wildcard Prequel

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

NFL 2019 Coaching Carousel Predictions

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

NFL 2018 Week 17 Recap

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 17 Recap

This is when the biggest of the big dogs come out!

Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills — No playoff implications. Buffalo moved 68 yards. On 3rd and 16 from the Miami 47, Josh Allen went to Chris Ivory for 46 yards. Ballage got the last yard for a 7-0 Bills lead. Ryan Tannehill was intercepted, setting up the Bills at the Miami 18. One play later Allen hit Jones for the score to make it 14-0 Bills. Another interception of Tannehill led to nothing when Steve Hauschka surprisingly came up short on a 42 yard field goal. There was no rain or snow but field goals in Buffalo in late December is like kicking a brick. Momentum then changed. in the second quarter.

The Dolphins took over just shy of midfield and 11 plays later were on the scoreboard. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 22, Tannehill went to Kenyan Drake for 19 yards. Tannehill went to Kenny Stills for the 3 yard touchdown. With one minute left in the half, the Dolphins were within 14-7. On 2nd and 12 from the Buffalo 23, Allen was intercepted by Jones, who returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. Rather than a 17-0 Bills lead, the game was tied 14-14. Buffalo dominated the first 29 minutes and gave up 2 scores in the final minute. In the third quarter momentum shifted back again.

The Bills moved 78 yards in 10 plays. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Allen hit Reuben Foster for the touchdown to make it 21-14 Bills. Tannehill then got sacked and fumbled to set up the Bills at the Miami 23. LeSean Shady McCoy ran for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 28-14 Bills. Miami moved from their own 34 to a 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 12. On 3rd and 9 Tannehill threw incomplete. Sanders hit a 29 yard field goal to get the Dolphins within 28-17, but the Bills put the game away in the fourth quarter. 

The Bills moved 70 yards and Allen ran for a 30 yard touchdown to make it 35-17 Bills. Another fumble by Tannehill set up Buffalo at the Miami 48. Allen hit Jones for 11 with a defensive penalty tacked on and then connected with him again for a 26 yard touchdown to turn a once close game into a Bills blowout. Adam Gase and Sean McDermott were both expected to return next year. 42-17 Bills

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans — The Jaguars were eliminated from playoff contention while the Houston Texans came in at 10-5. They were the three seed, but could go all the way to the top seed with home field throughout the playoffs or fall to the six seed and play road playoff games. The Jaguars kicked a 26 yard field goal. The Texans moved to a 3rd and goal at the one. DeShaun Watson got stopped and Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. A false start killed the chance. Kaimi Fairbairn hit the 23 yard field goal for a 3-3 tie. 

In the second quarter the Texans took over just shy of midfield. Defensive pass interference added 27 yards. Watson ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Texans. Houston got it back and moved 63 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Jacksonville 20, Watson hit Hopkins for 13 yards. Lamar Miller ran for the 7 yard touchdown to make it 17-3 Texans. Fairbairn hit a 24 yard field goal in the fourth quarter to salt it away. Doug Marrone did not have long to wait for his Black Monday fate. Owner Shad Khan immediately after the game announced that nobody is getting fired. It was the right call.  The 11-5 Texans won the AFC South but not the first round bye. They are the three seed and will host a playoff game on Wildcard weekend 20-3 Texans 

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers — No playoff implications. The Lions moved 56 yards in 12 plays and 5 minutes. Matthew Stafford fired over the middle to the back of the end zone and Jones caught it for the 7-0 Lions lead. In the second quarter the Lions moved 78 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. On 4th and 3 from the Green Bay 8, Matt Prater came in for a 26 yard field goal try. Prater has the NFL record of 64 yards. Yet Matt Patricia called a fake field goal, and Prater threw to Toilolo for the touchdown as the Lions led 14-0. Aaron Rodgers walked to the locker room in the second quarterback with a possible concussion as DeShone Kizer replaced him. The Lions moved 73 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Zac Zenner ran straight up the middle for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Lions. Prater added a 43 yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 24-0 Lions. In the fourth quarter Stafford threw a 23 yard touchdown pass to Jones to complete the blowout as Joe Philbin awaited Black Monday. 31-0 Lions

New York Jets at New England Patriots — The Jets were out of the playoffs while the 10-5 Patriots had clinched their division. The Patriots were the two seed, but had a shot at the top seed. They could even fall lower and miss out on a first round bye. New England capped a 59 yard drive with Tom Brady hitting James White for a 17 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Patriots. Sam Darnold ripped off a 28 yard run to set up Jason Myers for a 40 yard field goal to get the Jets within 7-3. The second quarter brought the reality check.

The Patriots moved 75 yards and Brady hit Ronnie Burkhead for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Patriots. The Jets fumbled, giving the Patriots 1st and goal at the 8. On 3rd and goal from the 18, Brady threw incomplete but a mindless roughing the passer penalty after the play gave the Patriots a new set of downs. If Todd Bowles gets fired on Black Monday, plays like that will be cited. On 3rd and goal from the 9, Brady hit Philip Dorsett for the touchdown to make it 21-3 Patriots. In the third quarter with the Jets facing 3rd and 10 just past midfield, Darnold was hit and fumbled. Kyle Van Noy ran it back 46 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 28-3 Patriots lead. In the fourth quarter Stephen Gostkowski hit a 38 yard field goal and Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 5 yard touchdown as the 11-5 Patriots captured a first round bye for the 8th straight year. Bill Belichick almost smiled. On the other sideline, Todd Bowles did not have to wait until Black Monday. On Sunday after the loss he was fired  38-3 Patriots

Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints — No playoff implications. The Panthers were out of the playoffs while the 13-2 Saints clinched home field throughout the playoffs. Both teams brought in their backup quarterbacks. Kyle Allen replaced the injured Cam Newton while Teddy Bridgewater saw some action as Drew Brees rested for the postseason. The Panthers moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. Allen hit Moore for a 19 yard gain down to the one. On the next play Allen got in himself to make it 7-0 Panthers. Carolina came back 89 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Carolina 36, defensive pass interference meant a 39 yard gain. Artis-Payne ran for a 15 yard touchdown. The extra point was doinked off the upright no good but the Panthers led 13-0.

In the second quarter the Saints moved 65 yards in 13 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 2 from the Carolina 10, Sean Payton decided to go for it. Bridgewater threw incomplete. The Panthers came back with a staggering 16 pay, 90 yard drive that took nearly 8 minutes. On 3rd and 10 from the Saints 18, Allen ran for 10 yards and then hit Thomas for the 8 yard touchdown to make it 20-0 Panthers. Catanzaro hit a 22 yard field goal to end the half to make it 23-0 Panthers. In the third quarter the Panthers quickly moved 75 yards. Allen went bombs away to Samuel for a 53 yard touchdown and a 30-0 Panthers lead after three quarters. The fourth quarter was all garbage time as the Saints scored a pair of touchdowns and Carolina tacked on another field goal. The Panthers snapped their 7 game losing streak as Ron Rivera awaited Black Monday. The Saints starters can now enjoy relaxing and getting healthy during the bye week. 33-14 Panthers

Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants — No playoff implications. The Giants were out while the Cowboys as division champs were locked into the four seed. They will host the top Wildcard next week. For some reason Jason Garrett decided to play Dak Prescott even though Ezekiel Elliott was given the week off. Eli Manning threw a pair of interceptions although one of them was ruled a fumble. He still had two turnovers. The Cowboys failed to capitalize as Brett Maher missed a 34 yard field goal try. After a hideous scoreless first quarter, the Cowboys moved 65 yards in 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 12 from the Giants 13, Prescott fired to Blake Jarwin for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Cowboys. 

Dallas got it back and moved 75 yards in 13 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. With 1:50 left in the half on 3rd and 9 from the Giants 19, Prescott went to Jarwin again for the score and the 14-0 Cowboys lead. After doing nothing for 28 minutes, the Giants worked the 2 minute drill. With 15 seconds left in the half, on 3rd and 10 from the Dallas 21, Manning went to the end zone to Latimer, who was double covered. Despite defensive pass interference, Latimer made a one-handed catch and got both feet down for the score as the Giants only trailed 14-7 at recess. A 48 yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas got the Giants within 14-10 in the third quarter.

The Cowboys moved 75 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 39, Prescott went deep to Jarwin for their third touchdown connection on the day and a 21-10 Cowboys lead. The Giants got it back and soon faced 1st and 20 at their own 17. Saquon Barkley then ripped off a 68 yard gain. Lost in the Giants bad season was rookie Barkley, who joined Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as the only rookies to have more than 2,000 combined yards from scrimmage. On 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 6, Manning hit Evan Engram for the touchdown. Manning hit Shepard for the 2 point conversion to get the Giants within 21-18.

The Giants got it back at their own 19. On 3rd and 5 from their own 35, Manning went to Engram for a 51 yard gain. Gallman ran for a 2 yard touchdown. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Giants had their first lead of the game up 25-21. less than 90 seconds later the lead changed. Dallas took over at their own 25. Prescott hit Gallup for 24 yards. On 3rd and 10 from just shy of midfield, Prescott went deep to Hurns for a 49 yard gain. Smith got the last yard as the Cowboys retook the lead 28-25.  

Midway through the fourth quarter with nothing to lose, Pat Shurmur gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 35. Manning got 2 yards on the quarterback sneak. On 3rd and 5 from the Dallas 38, Manning went deep to Cody Latimer for a 31 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Barkley went airborne from deep in the backfield, stretched the ball from the backfield, had it knocked out of his hands for a fumble, but it didn’t matter. He broke the plane of the goal first for the touchdown as the Giants led 32-28 with 3:20 to play. 

After a touchback, a fumble by Amari Cooper set up the Giants at the Dallas 18. Offensive holding killed the Giants drive. Rosas hit the 38 yard field goal to make it 35-28 Giants with 2:40 to play, but the Giants did not close the door. Dallas took over at their own 30. Prescott went to Jarwin for a 30 yard gain. With 1:12 to play, it all came down to 4th and 15 from the Giants 32. One stop and the Giants had the win. Prescott went deep to Cole Beasley, who made a diving catch in the back of the end zone. However, his elbow came down out the back of the end zone on the white chalk. The officials ruled the play incomplete as the Giants celebrated. The celebration would not last long.

On further review, Beasley’s knee hit down inbounds about a millisecond before his elbow hit out of bounds. He held control of the ball. Officials reversed the call to a touchdown. In a meaningless game that nobody wanted to go into overtime, Jason Garrett decided to go for the 2 point conversion and the win. Prescott hit Michael Gallup and the Cowboys had the one point lead. Yet the Giants were in a strong position to win it when Latimer returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Giants 48 yard line. If this was Manning’s final game with the Giants, he had the chance for the fairy tale ending. 

He didn’t get it. 4 incompletions meant a bitter loss. While the Cowboys won, there will be more than one football analyst who will question Jason Garrett for playing Dak Prescott for an entire meaningless game. Nevertheless, Prescott finished a spectacular 27 of 44 for 387 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Manning went 24 of 41 for 301 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. 38-36 Cowboys 

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — No playoff implications. The Buccaneers moved 93 yards in 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Jameis Winston hit Mike Evans for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Buccaneers. Cairo Santos tacked on a 36 yard field goal in the second quarter to make it 10-0 Buccaneers. Tampa got it back and moved 70 yards. Winston went to Chris Godwin for a 30 yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Buccaneers. 

Only 46 seconds remained in the half, but the Falcons made the most of it. Matt Ryan hit Mohammed San for 8, Hooper for 20 and 19, Coleman for 9, and Julio Jones for a 19 yard touchdown pass. The entire drive took 26 seconds as the Falcons trailed 17-7. In the third quarter the Falcons moved 75 yards in 14 plays and 6 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Ryan hit Sanu for the score to get the Falcons within 17-14. Santos hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 20-14 Buccaneers, but after that the Falcons took over. 

Matt Bryant countered from 49 yards out to get the Falcons within 20-17. An interception of Winston set up Atlanta at the Tampa 43. Tevin Coleman ran for a 23 yard touchdown to give the Falcons their first lead up 24-20. In the fourth quarter the Falcons moved 75 yards. Ryan threw a 7 yard touchdown pass to Calvin Ridley to put the Falcons up 31-20 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. After being outscored 31-3 since taking a 17-0 lead, now the Buccaneers had their comeback moment.

With the Buccaneers facing 3rd and 8 at their own 27, Winston was sacked for a 9 yard loss. Yet defensive holding instead kept the drive going. Winston then hit Humphries for 19 yards and Brate for gains of 18 and 21. Winston then went to Evans for the 10 yard touchdown. With 8 minutes left in regulation, Dirk Koetter went for the 2 point conversion. It failed and the Buccaneers trailed 31-26. Matt Ryan was soon intercepted, setting up the Buccaneers at the Atlanta 34. Winston went to Humphries for 15 and to Godwin for the 19 yard touchdown. Again Koetter went for 2 and again the try failed. With 5 minutes left the Buccaneers led 32-31, but the failed 2 point drives loomed large.

On 2nd and 8 from the Atlanta 27, Hill ran for 12 and Ryan hit Jones for 16 more. On 3rd and 11 from the Tampa Bay 32, Matty Ice hit Jones for 16 yards. With the Buccaneers out of timeouts at the 2 minute warning, Dan Quinn took no chances. He had Ryan take 3 knees to take the clock down to 4 seconds. Bryant came in for the 37 yard field goal try for the win. The kick was good. Dan Quinn and  Dirk Koetter both awaited Black Monday. The Buccaneers did not even wait until Monday. Koetter was fired after the game. 34-32 Falcons 

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens — The Browns were out. The Ravens with a win would clinch their division. They came in the four seed but could go as high as the two seed. If they lost and Pittsburgh won, the Ravens would miss the playoffs entirely. An early interception of Baker Mayfield had the Ravens taking over at their own 39. On 2nd and 8 from the Browns 20, Lamar Jackson threw incomplete twice. Justin Tucker hit the 38 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Ravens. The Browns came back quickly. On 3rd and 6 from their own 29, Mayfield went deep to Callaway for 38 yards. Mayfield then went deep to Perriman for a 28 yard touchdown and a 7-3 Browns lead. 

Baltimore took over at their own 31. Jackson went to Michael Crabtree for 7 yards. Jackson then scrambled for 24 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Cleveland 36, Jackson threw incomplete but defensive holding on Jabril Peppers kept the drive going. On 3rd and 4 from the Cleveland 25, Jackson ran all the way for the touchdown to put the Ravens back on top 10-7. Baltimore got it back at their own 23. Jackson hit Brown for 7 yards, Dixon ran for 15 more, and Edwards added another 24 on the ground. Dixon ran for 20 and Jackson ran for the 8 yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to make it 17-7 Ravens. Tucker added a 35 yard field goal to put the Ravens up 20-7 at the half.

In the third quarter the Browns missed a chance to get closer when Greg Joseph missed a 46 yard field goal. Yet the defense held and the Browns got it back at the Baltimore 48. Mayfield immediately went for it all and hit Jarvis Landry for the touchdown to get the Browns within 20-14. The Ravens after a touchback moved 12 plays in 5 1/2 minutes. On 1st and 10 from the Cleveland 33, Jackson ran all the way for the touchdown. Yet offensive holding nullified the touchdown. On 3rd and 9 from the Cleveland 21, Jackson was sacked. Midway through the third quarter, Tucker hit the 44 yard field goal to make it 23-14 Ravens.

The Browns took over at their own 23 and Mayfield went deep to david Njoku for a 42 yard gain. The fourth quarter began with the Browns facing 1st and 10 at the Baltimore 19. On 3rd and 8, Mayfield threw incomplete. Joseph hit the 35 yard field goal to get the Browns within 23-17. The Ravens then held the ball for 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes, moving 78 yards. Baltimore settled for Justin Tucker’s fourth field goal from 23 yards out for a 26-17 Ravens lead  midway through the fourth quarter. Baltimore had breathing room, but they would not be breathing easy for long.

After a touchback, Mayfield hit Njoku for 13 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Cleveland 40, Mayfield hit Landry for 14 yards and Higgins for 33 yards. Mayfield hit Callaway for a one yard touchdown. With 3:24 to play, the Browns were within two points. Baltimore soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Jackson tried a pitchout that was fumbled. The Ravens were lucky that it was only a 6 yard loss rather than a turnover. At the 2 minute warning, the Ravens had to punt. The Browns took over at their own 26.

The Browns were playing like it was 1980 and Brian Sipe was in charge. The entire AFC North depended on the new Cardiac Kids. Mayfield went to Perriman, who made an acrobatic catch on the sideline for a 19 yard gain. Mayfield went deep to Landry for a 16 yard gain as another acrobatic catch survived official review. With 1:18 left the Browns had 1st and 10 at the Baltimore 39. That’s when Baltimore did what every defense should do in this situation. Their defense did not sit back and play zone. They brought the entire d@mn house at Mayfield. 3 incompletions later, it was 4th and 10. With 1:06 left, Gregg Williams opted against a 57 yard field goal try. Mayfield dropped back to pass, the Ravens sent everybody, and the pass was intercepted. It was a heart-stopper, and the 7-8-1 Browns will be a force next year. As for this year, Baltimore won the AFC North and knocked hated rival Pittsburgh out of the playoffs altogether. Baltimore has the defense to beat anyone, anywhere. 26-24 Ravens

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins — Washington is eliminated. The Eagles needed to win and hope for a Minnesota loss to make the playoffs as the six seed Wildcard. Nick Foles and Josh Doctson were both intercepted on their opening drive in an ugly first quarter. Elliott hit a 23 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles. In the second quarter the Eagles went on the mist mind-numbing drive of the year. 19 plays. 87 yards. Nearly 12 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the Washington 15, Doug Peterson went for it. Foles gained 2 yards. Foles hit Alshon Jeffery for a 2 yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half to make it 10-0 Eagles. 

In the third quarter the Eagles moved 68 yards in 13 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the 6, Foles hit Nelson Agholor for the touchdown as the Eagles led 17-0 after three quarters. Nick Foles for the second straight week got rocked with a shot to the chest and left the game. Nate Sudfeld threw a fourth quarter touchdown, his first as a pro. The 4-6 Eagles went 5-1 down the stretch. With Minnesota losing, The Eagles are in the playoffs as the six seed Wildcard. Champions don’t go down without a fight, and the Eagles are still the defending champs. 24-0 Redskins

Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs — In 1999, the Raiders played at the Chiefs. The Raiders had nothing to play for. The Chiefs had everything to play for. The Raiders fell behind 17-0, took a 21-17 halftime lead, fell behind again, and rallied back for a wild 41-38 overtime win. They knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs in front of a shellshocked home crowd. Jon Gruden was the coach. In 2018, he is again. The Raiders are eliminated, while the 11-4 Chiefs right now are the top seed. However, if they lose and New England and Houston win, the Chiefs could fall to the two seed or even the three seed. If the Chiefs lose and the Chargers win, the Chiefs would fall to the five seed and play road playoff games. Earlier this year in Oakland the Raiders lost 40-33. While the Raiders supposedly had no chance, they heard that in 1999. 

The Chiefs defense is very deceptive. They give up a ton of yards but far fewer points because they force turnovers. The Raiders moved the ball at will but self-destructed. The Raiders became the first NFL team since 2003 to have turnovers on their first 4 possessions. The Raiders won the coin toss and deferred. A pair of Patrick Mahomes incompletions had the Chiefs facing 3rd and 10 at their own 16. Mahomes went back to pass and had a defender draped all over him back at the 5 yard line. Mahomes escaped the sack and threw a completion to Sherman, who evaded several awful attempts at tackling for a 12 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Chiefs 33, Mahomes went deep to Tyreek Hill for a 67 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Chiefs lead.

The Raiders moved from their 25 to a 2nd and 2 at their own 48 yard line. Muscle Hamster Doug Martin got the carry and fumbled. The defense held and the Raiders moved from their own 12 to midfield. Jon Gruden called a formation with 4 receivers lined up to the left and only Jared Cook to the right. Carr fired to Cook, who stopped and did not even run a route. Carr had gone 332 passes in 10 straight games without an interception. This time he was intercepted by Sorenson, who coasted 54 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 14-0 Chiefs lead.

On the next Oakland series in the second quarter the Raiders took over at their own 25. The Raiders held the ball for 11 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 2nd and 10 from the Chiefs 33, Carr went back to pass, He had the ball chopped out of his hands by Justin Houston, who fell on it at the Chiefs 40. Again the Raiders killed themselves with a penalty. On 3rd and 4 from their own 46, Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 8, Williams for 8 more, Kelce again for 19 and Kelvin Benjamin for 9. Williams ran for a 4 yard touchdown. 3 times Mahomes threw passes that should have been intercepted. 3 times the Raiders defenders dropped the ball. 3 times the Chiefs scored touchdowns to lead 21-0.

Harris returned the ensuing kickoff 34 yards to the Oakland 45. The Raiders moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Chiefs 34. Sadly for the Raiders, the Chiefs defenders can catch the ball, especially when it is thrown right to them. Carr was intercepted for the second time by Ragland, who returned it 67 yards to the Oakland 4 yard line. It was offensive tackle Kolton Miller who somehow outraced everyone to make the tackle and save the touchdown. The play mattered because Walrus Lite Andy Reid decided to go for it on 4th and goal at the one. Williams got the carry and got rocked. The Raiders could have been down 28-0, but an inspired goal line stand gave them a ray of hope.

The Raiders held the ball for 13 plays and moved 66 yards. From their own 2 yard line, they moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 34. The drive stalled, but for the first time in 5 drives, the Raiders did not turn it over. Daniel Carlson hit a 50 yard field goal as the Raiders trailed 21-3. Mahomes went for the kill shot, but a bomb into double coverage was intercepted at the Oakland 2 yard line as the Raiders got to the half without any more damage.

The third quarter was more of the same. The Raiders moved from their own 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 36. Carr completed a pass to Jordy Nelson for 26 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 10, but it was all for naught. Offensive holding wiped out the gain. On 2nd and 15, Carr was sacked and fumbled again. The Raiders retained possession. It was a 4 yard loss but not a 5th turnover. On 4th and 10 from the Chiefs 41 and down by 18, Jon Gruden decided to punt. The Chiefs were pinned at their own one yard line.

It didn’t matter. With the Chiefs facing 3rd and 10 at their own 11, the Raiders only rushed 3 defenders. Mahomes went deep to Robinson. The defender went for the ball and not the tackle. Robinson coasted to an 89 yard touchdown and a 28-3 lead. Mahomes became the third quarterback to throw for at least 50 touchdowns in a season and one of only several quarterbacks to pass for 5,000 yards in a season. The Chiefs followed up a 99 yard drive with a 92 yard drive in the fourth quarter. Hill rushed for a 15 yard touchdown to complete the massacre. The Chiefs are the top seed while the Raiders begin preparing for the draft. 35-3 Chiefs

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings — Minnesota right now is the six seed. If they lose and Philadelphia wins, the Vikings are out of the playoffs altogether. Chicago came in as the division champs and the three seed. With a win and a Rams loss, the Bears would move up to the two seed. There would be cold weather playoff football, just as Bears fans like it. The Bears began at their own 29. Howard ran for 7 yards and then ripped off a 42 yard gain. Miller then ran for an 8 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Minnesota 15, Mitchell Trubisky hit Burton for a 9 yard gain. Howard ran for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bears.

In the second quarter the Bears moved 85 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 11 from their own 24, Trubisky threw deep incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 41, Trubisky went deep to Gabriel for a 40 yard gain. Howard got the last yard. Kicker Cody Parkey earlier this year doinked 4 kicks off the upright no good in one game. In this game he did it once as the Bears led 13-0. 

Minnesota tried to slowly claw back into the game. Dan Bailey hit a 45 yard field goal with less than one minute left in the half to get the Vikings on the board. In the third quarter the Vikings took over at their own 8 yard line. On 3rd and 2 from their own 16, Kirk Cousins threw incomplete but roughing the passer on Khalil Mack kept the drive going. On 3rd and 8 from just past midfield, Cousins the incomplete but defensive pass interference on Prince Amukamara meant 11 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Chicago 4, Mike Zimmer decided to go for it. Dalvin Cook gained 2 yards. Cousins hit Stefan Diggs for a 2 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 92 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Vikings within 13-10 with less than 2 minutes left n the third quarter.

The fourth quarter belonged to Chicago. They just hit Minnesota in the mouth on both sides of the ball. The offense led a staggering 16 play, 75 yard drive that took 9 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and 5 from their own 30 Trubisky ran for 12 yards. On 3rd and 6 from their own 46, Trubisky hit wins for 16 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Minnesota 38, Trubisky was sacked bu defensive holding was a killer penalty. On 3rd and 6 from the Minnesota 29, Trubisky hit Burton for 9 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 17, Trubisky hit Wims for 9. Tarik Cohen ran for a 3 yard touchdown. For some reason, Matt Nagy went for 2. Trubisky hit Kwiatkoski for the 2 pointer as the Bears led 21-10 midway through the fourth quarter.

After a touchback Cousins threw incomplete, ran for 7 yards, and on 2nd and 3 threw 3 straight incompletions. Parkey tacked on a field goal to complete the scoring as Chicago’s suffocating defense did the rest. Minnesota had the ball two more times and turned it over on downs two more times. With Philadelphia winning, Minnesota was knocked out of the playoff race. Chicago is the three seed, unable to get the first round bye. They will be at home on wildcard weekend, with their defense and cold weather. 24-10 Bears 

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers — The Bengals were out. The Steelers were on the outside looking in. The Steelers needed to win and hope for a Baltimore loss to win the division and make the playoffs as the four seed. After a scoreless first quarter, the Steelers in the second quarter moved from their 18 to their 45. Ben Roethlisberger was then intercepted by Williams, who evaded tacklers and raced for a 58 yard defensive touchdown and a 7-0 Bengals lead. Cincinnati got it back and moved 51 yards in 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. They settled for a 49 yard Randy Bullock field goal and a 10-0 Bengals lead with just over 2 minutes left in the half. 

A 27 yard kickoff return had the Steelers taking over at their own 45. On 4th and 1 from the Cincy 46, Roethlisberger hit Xavier Grimble for a 16 yard gain. With 35 seconds left the Steelers had 1st and 10 at the Cincy 18. Yet an unnecessary roughness penalty on the offense meant 3rd and 25. Matt McCrane ended the half with a 39 yard field goal as the Steelers trailed 10-3. With 5 minutes left in the third quarter, the Steelers took over at their own 26. Roethlisberger went deep to Washington for a 47 yard gain. James Conner then ran for 16 yards. Roethlisberger hit Juju Smith-Schuster for the 11 yard touchdown and a 10-10 deadlock after three quarters. Neither team reached the end zone in the fourth quarter. It came down to the kickers. 

The Steelers held the ball for 7 1/2 minutes and 13 plays. On 3rd and 8 from their own 37, Roethlisberger hit Vance McDonald for a 22 yard gain. On 4th and 4 from the Cincy 35 with 12 minutes left, Mike Tomlin opted against a 53 yard field goal try with a backup kicker on the road. He went for it and Roethlisberger hit Samuels for a 6 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Cincy 29, Big Ben threw incomplete. McCrane nailed the 47 yard field goal to give the Steelers the 13-10 lead with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Bengals took over at their own 34 and Joe Mixon ripped off a 51 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Pittsburgh 12, Jeff Driskel threw incomplete but defensive offsides gave the Bengals another chance. On 3rd and 2, Driskel was sacked for a 7 yard loss. Bullock hit the 32 yard field goal as the game was tied 13-13 with 6 minutes left.

After a touchback, Roethlisberger hit Conner for 20 and Washington for 10 more. With 2 1/2 minutes left, on 3rd and 10 from the Cincy 34, Roethlisberger hit Rogers for just enough. The Bengals took their timeouts on defense. With 1:56 left, McCrane came in to give the Steelers the lead from 35 yards out. The kick was good. The Bengals took over at their own 35. On 4th and 5 from their 40 with 1:08 left, Driskel threw incomplete. After 16 seasons and 0 playoff wins, Marvin Lewis again awaited his Black Monday fate. As for the 9-6-1 Steelers, their hearts were broken a few minutes after the game. Baltimore won their game and the division, knocking the Steelers out of the playoffs. Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season in Pittsburgh, but this year they needed 1/2 game more.16-13 Steelers

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos — The Broncos were out. The 11-4 Chargers were the five seed Wildcard, but with a win and a Kansas City loss would vault all the way to the top seed. Denver went on the road a few weeks ago and stunned the Chargers. In Denver, the game was tied 0-0 with 6 minutes left in the half. On 1st and 10 from the Denver 46, Devontae Booker got around the end and ran for a 54 yard Broncos touchdown. Offensive holding nullified the score. Another offensive holding call had the Broncos facing 1st and 30 at their own 26. Out of the shotgun, Case Keenum fumbled the snap. He picked it up and threw a sideways pass that was dropped. However, since the ball was thrown behind the line of scrimmage, it was a lateral and a live ball. Emanuel picked it up and raced 18 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 7-0 Chargers lead. 

The Broncos then moved from their own 10 yard line to a 1st and goal at the 6 with 9 seconds left in the half. After a pair of incompletions, Keenan on 3rd and goal went to the end zone and was intercepted. It seemed like 84 yards in 10 plays was all for naught. It should have been, but Addae refused to go down in the end zone and take a touchback. Instead he ran it out and fumbled the ball back to the Broncos at the Denver 20. With 20 seconds left in the half the Broncos again had 3rd and goal at the 6. This time Keenum was sacked but held on to the ball. Brandon McManus hit the 28 yard field goal as the Broncos trailed 7-3 at halftime.

With 6 minutes left in the third quarter, another fumble killed the Broncos as the Chargers took over at the Denver 16. On 3rd and 3 from the 9, Philip Rivers hit Williams for 6 yards and the other Williams for the 3 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Chargers after three quarters. With 12:20 left in regulation, the Broncos took over at their own 44. Case Keenum hit Sutton for 25 yards and Freeman for 9 more. Keenum hit Andy Janovich for a 20 yard touchdown with 10 minutes left. An extra point would make it a 4 point game. Vance Joseph decided to go for 2. Keenum had his pass intercepted at the goal line and returned 100 yards the other way for a 2 point defensive score. Rather than be down by 3, the Broncos trailed 16-9.

The Chargers then moved to put the game away. On 2nd and 3 from their own 32, Austin Ekeler ran for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 22, Philip Rivers hit Keenan Allen for 21 yards. Ekeler got the last yard with under 6 minutes left to put the game on ice. Vance Joseph awaited Black Monday. The Chargers at 12-4 had to settle for the Wildcard and road playoff games. Kansas City won their game, and Kansas City owned the tie-breaker. 23-9 Chargers

San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams — The 49ers were out. The Rams came in 12-3 as the two seed with the top seed out of reach. However if the Rams lost and Chicago won, the Rams would fall to the three seed. A win was critical to play warm weather playoff games. Early on the 49ers fumbled and the Rams took over with 1st and goal at the 7. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Jared Goff hit Cooks for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Rams. An interception of Nick Mullens again had the Rams in the red zone at the 49ers 13 yard line. Anderson ran for 11 and then ran for the one yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Rams. The 49ers took over at their own 30 and Alfred Morris ran for a 51 yard gain. A sack ended the drive but Robbie Gould hit a 30 yard field goal to get the 49ers on the board.

It didn’t matter. In the second quarter with the 49ers facing 3rd and 4 at their own 12, Mullens was intercepted by Littleton, who returned it 19 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-3 Rams. The Rams got it back and moved 86 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. Goff hit Cooks for an 18 yard touchdown as the Rams were carpet-bombing the 49ers 28-3. The 49ers did get in the end zone but Greg Zuerlein hit a 28 yard field goal to put the Rams up 31-10 at halftime. 

The second half was a formality as Sean McVay kept his foot on the gas. In the third quarter the Rams quickly went 75 yards. Goff went to Reynolds for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 38-10 Rams. The 49ers reached the end zone again but their defense could not stop the Rams, who gashed them on the ground. After a touchback, Anderson ran for a pair of 9 yard gains. Kelly ran for 6 and 5 and Anderson ran for 11 more. Unnecessary roughness added 15 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Goff hit Reynolds for another touchdown as the Rams were obliterating their hated rival 45-17 after three quarters. This was with Todd Gurley not playing. 

The fourth quarter was a coronation. The Rams added another field goal and the 49ers scored a couple of garbage time touchdowns to make the final score look almost respectable. The 49ers have the building blocks to improve next year. The Rams held the two seed and the first round bye and will not have to play any cold weather playoff games. 48-32 Rams

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks — Arizona was out and a loss would guarantee the Cardinals the top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The 9-6 Seahawks had locked up a Wildcard spot but their division was out of reach. An early interception of Russell Wilson set the Cardinals up at the Seattle 28. Yet the defense held Arizona to a 36 yard Zane Gonzalez field goal and a 3-0 Cardinals lead. Arizona got it back and Steve Wilks gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 48. Josh Rosen threw incomplete. After that reality set in. On 3rd and 3 from the Arizona 29, Wilson went deep to Tyler Lockett to make it 7-3 Seahawks. The Cardinals fumbled and Seattle took over early in the second quarter at the Arizona 34. Chris Carson ran for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Seahawks.

Seattle got it back but had to punt on 4th and 17 from their own 6. The punt was partially blocked to set up the Cardinals at the Seattle 27. Rosen threw a 15 yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald to get the Cardinals within 14-10. Arizona kept killing Seattle on special teams when a Seattle punt was returned 45 yards to the Seattle 21. Arizona went backward but Gonzalez bailed them out with a 50 yard field goal as the Cardinals only trailed 14-13 at halftime.

Midway through the third quarter the Seahawks took over at their own 2 yard line. On 3rd and 6 from their own 6, Wilson was sacked and fumbled. Patrick Peterson recovered for the defense and rumbled 3 yards for the score as the Cardinals had the lead. It was all for naught. Defensive holding nullified the score. On the next play from the Seattle 11, Carson ran for a 61 yard gain. Wilson then hit Gannett for 11 yards. Davis ran for a 17 yard touchdown. Rather than trailing 20-14, the Seahawks with the 98 yard drive led 21-13.

Yet special teams were killing the Seahawks. They punted on 4th and 5 from their own 25. For the second time on the day, the punt was blocked. Dennis Gardeck recovered it in the end zone for an Arizona touchdown. David Johnson ran in the 2 point conversion, as replay showed he broke the plane of the goal. After three quarters, the game was tied 21-21. A loss would guarantee the Cardinals the top draft pick. They didn’t want it. There is no tanking in football. 

With 9 minutes left in regulation, the cardinals faced 3rd and 10 at their own 40. Rosen was sacked and fumbled and the Seahawks recovered at the Arizona 31. With 6:20 to play, Sebastian Janikowski hit a 42 yard field goal to put the Seahawks up 24-21. After a touchback, Rosen hit Sherfield for 18 yards and Williams for 12 more. With 1:49 to play, Steve Wilks on 4th and 12 from the Seattle 37 brought in Gonzalez to try a 55 yard field goal. Gonzales buried it and the game was again tied 24-24. 

Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Russell Wilson still had time to work with after a touchback. On 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 34, Davis gained 4 yards. On the next play, Wilson went deep to Lockett for a 37 yard gain. Carson ran for gains of 2 and 11. With 3 seconds left, Seabass came in for the 33 yard try to win it. The kick was good, and the Seahawks went from a 3-5 team to 7-1 down the stretch and a road Wildcard playoff game. They will be at Dallas, who also started 3-5 and went 7-1 in the second half of the season. Arizona at 3-13 secured the top draft pick as Steve Wilks hoped to survive Black Monday and be a head coach for more than just one season. 27-24 Seahawks

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans is the regular season closing Sunday night game. Both teams came in 9-6 in the NFL regular season do or die closing game. The winner was in the playoffs and the loser was out. The winner could also move up from a Wildcard to the division winner if Houston also lost. That is the difference between being at home or on the road in the wildcard round. Tennessee had the home field advantage but the injured Marcus Mariota was inactive in favor of Blaine Gabbert.

Andrew Luck was healthy, and the Colts made it look easy early on.  The Colts moved 92 yards in 12 plays and nearly 7 minutes. From their own 8, Marlin Mack gained 6 and Luck hit Hines for 17 yards. Luck went deep to Dontrelle Inman for 24 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 43, Luck hit TY Hilton for 18 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Tennessee 11, Luck hit Inman for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Colts. The Colts followed that up with a brutalizing 16 play, 90 yard drive that consumed 10 minutes. From their own 10, Mack gained 9 and 2. On 3rd and 10 from their own 21, Luck hit Eric Ebron for 16 yards. Wilkins gained 8 and Mack ran for 6, 1, 5 and 2. On 2nd and 12 from the Tennessee 37, Luck hit rogers for 17, Grant for 4, and Ebron for a 9 yard touchdown. With 9 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Colts led 14-0. 

The Colts got it back at their own 6. After touchdown drives of 92 and 90, this one was much shorter. Luck threw his 3rd touchdown pass, but this one went to the Tennessee defense. Brown returned the interception 22 yards for the score to get the Titans within 14-7. With 44 seconds left in the half, Adam Vinateri drilled a 52 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Colts. That was enough time after a touchback. Blaine Gabbert hit Davis for 16 yards, Lewis for 9, Jennings for 6, and Davis for 6. Succop hit a 38 yarder to end the half with the Titans down 17-10.

In the third quarter the Colts took over at their own 32. Mack ran for 11 and Luck hit Ebron for 22 yards. On 3rd and 18 from the Tennessee 43, Luck threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 13 yards and an automatic first down. Luck then went deep to Inman for a 29 yard gain down to the one. Luck hit Hewitt for the touchdown to make it 24-10 Colts. A field position game very late in the third quarter had the Titans taking over at their own 45. Derrick Henry ran for a 33 yard gain. Gabbert hit Stocker for a 22 yard touchdown as the Titans only trailed 24-17 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter the Titans moved from their own 3 yard line to a 3rd and 6 at their own 46. Then came the play of the game with just over 9 minutes left in regulation. Looking to tie the game, Gabbert was intercepted by Moore, who returned it 16 yards to the Tennessee 38. The Colts bled 5 minutes off the clock. Although a touchdown run was nullified by offensive holding, Vinatieri kicked a 25 yard field goal to give the Colts a 27-17 cushion with 4 minutes left. Tennessee’s last gasp on 4th and 14 from their own 9 with 2 1/2 minutes left saw Gabbert throw incomplete. Mack ran for a touchdown on the next play for the exclamation point. Mike Vrabel saw his Titans fall to 9-7 and out of the playoffs. After starting 1-5, the Colts went 9-1 the rest of the way and will play a road Wildcard game. They did not get the division crown due to the Houston victory, but they are in the tournament. 33-17 Colts

The Wildcard Playoffs are as follows:

AFC: 6) Colts at 3) Texans, 5) Chargers at 4) Ravens

The Chiefs and Patriots have the bye week.

NFC: 6) Eagles at 3) Bears, 5) Seahawks at 4) Cowboys

The Saints and Rams have the bye week.

The NFL 2018 regular season is now in the books. The playoffs have arrived.

NFL 2018-2019 AFC Playoff Predictions

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

NFL 2018-2019 NFC Playoff Predictions

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

NFL 2018 Black Monday Predictions

Saturday, December 29th, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 16 Recap

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 16 Recap

Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans was the Saturday afternoon game. Both teams came in fighting for their playoff lives. Washington began facing 3rd and 6 at their own 32. 4th string quarterback Josh Johnson hit Crowder for a 30 yard gain. Dustin Hopkins hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Redskins. Tennessee came back 69 yards in 11 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. From the tennessee 31, Marcus Mariota hit Taylor for 15 yards and Davis for 16 more. On 3rd and 6 from the Washington 22, Mariota gained 7 yards. From the one, Derrick Henry appeared stopped, shook a tackle, and dove for the end zone. He stretched the ball over the pylon just before his knee hit the ground. The extra point was no good but the Titans led 6-3. 

The Redskins began at their own 7 yard line and mounted what may be the drive of the year. A sack of Johnson had the Redskins facing 2nd and 27 from their own 2. Adrian Peterson ran for 13 yards. On 3rd and 14 from their 15, Johnson hit Josh Doctson for a 22 yard gain. From the Tennessee 26, Johnson hit Sprinkle for 15 yards. The drive took a mind-numbing 17 plays. It covered 93 yards. It consumed over 11 minutes off the clock. Johnson hit Michael Floyd for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 10-6 Redskins.

The Titans soon faced 3rd and 11 at their own 24. Mariota hit Firkser for 12 yards, Jennings for 6, Lewis for 18 on 3rd and 4, Davis for 14, and Jennings for 9. Despite 1st and 10 from the Washington 14, a sack of Mariota was more than an 8 yard loss. It injured Mariota as Blaine Gabbert replaced him. A sack of Gabbert had the Titans settling for a 42 yard Ryan Succop field goal to end the half. The Titans trailed 10-9 due to the missed extra point. 

The second half belonged mostly to the kickers.The Redskins moved 64 yards in 11 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Washington moved from their 14 to a 2nd and 7 at the Tennessee 22. Johnson threw incomplete twice. Hopkins hit from 40 as the Redskins led 13-9 after three quarters. The Titans moved 60 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. They moved from their 25 to a 4th and 2 at the Washington 15 to start the fourth quarter. Mike Vrabel decided not to go for it. Succup hit from 33 as the Titans were within 13-12. Washington moved 12 plays and held the ball for 7 minutes after a touchback. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the Titans 18, Johnson was sacked for a 10 yard loss. Hopkins hit the 46 yard field goal to make it 16-12 Redskins midway through the fourth quarter. Yet they did not close the door.

Gabbert is awful. There is no way he is going to win a game for anyone. After a touchback, he went deep to Talor for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Washington 37, Gabbert threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. From the Washington 32, Henry ran for 7, 5 and 18 yards. From the 2 yard line, with the Redskins totally committed to stopping the run, Gabbert faked a handoff to Henry and found a wide open MyCole Pruitt in the flat for the touchdown. With 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Titans had the 19-16 lead. 

Washington moved after a touchback to a 3rd and 3 at the Tennessee 44 with 1:22 to play. Johnson had managed the game and played mistake free football. Yet when it mattered most, he went deep and was intercepted. By the time Washington got it back at their own 15, only 14 seconds remained. Needing a Hail Mary miracle, Johnson went deep and found Malcolm Butler for a long touchdown. Problem: Butler plays defense for Tennessee. The 56 yard interception return was an exclamation point as the Titans got to 9-6 and stayed alive while the Redskins at 7-8 are cooked. 25-16 Titans

Baltimore Ravens at Los Angeles Chargers was the Saturday night game. Baltimore’s top ranked defense dominated the first half and their offense held the ball for 20 minutes before the intermission. On the first play from scrimmage, Philip Rivers went for the bomb and was intercepted. Yet all Baltimore could muster was a 24 yard field goal from Justin Tucker in the first quarter and a 35 yarder in the second quarter to lead 6-0. In the first quarter John Harbaugh gambled on 4th and goal at the 2 and Lamar Jackson threw incomplete. Tucker also missed a 53 yarder in the first quarter and a 65 yarder to end the half that would have been an NFL record. The Chargers killed themselves with penalties, but it was a pair of defensive penalties on the Ravens in the final 2 minutes of the half that gifted the Chargers field position. Mike Badgley hit a 38 yard field goal with 45 seconds left in the half as the Chargers only trailed 6-3.

On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter from their own 20, it was the Ravens fumbling the ball away and giving the Chargers the ball at the Baltimore 17. Melvin Gordon did the rest, running for 13, 3, and then the last yard to make it 10-6 Chargers. The Ravens took over at their own 15 and this time they struck quickly. Jackson went to Brown for 17 yards and then went deep to Andrew with a perfect pass that split the seams and went for a 68 yard touchdown. After a first half without a touchdown, both teams reached the end zone in the first three minutes of the second half as the Ravens led 13-10.

Baltimore got it back and soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 41. Jackson faked a handoff and kept the ball himself for a 10 yard gain. On 4th and 8 from the Chargers 38, John Harbaugh trusted his kicker despite two earlier misses from very long range. Tucker drilled the 56 yarder as the Ravens led 16-10. The Chargers took over at their own 26 and held the ball for nearly 8 minutes. Rivers converted 3 times on 3rd and long. On 3rd and 5 from the Baltimore 29, Rivers got belted for an 11 yard loss. Anthony Lynn was not going to try a 58 yard field goal. A perfect punt pinned the Ravens back at their own one yard line with 4 1/2 minutes left. 

Baltimore ran it 3 straight times and punted. The Chargers took over with 3 minutes left at the Baltimore 39. Gordon ran for 8 yards, but offensive holding meant 1st and 20 instead. On the next play Rivers found Gates and bedlam ensued. Gates had the ball punched out by the Baltimore defense. It was returned 62 yards the other way for a defensive touchdown to put the Ravens up by 12 with 2:40 to play. Officials huddled for a lengthy amount of time before determining that the ball came out just before Gates’s knees hit the ground. The call could have gone either way. The Ravens got to 9-6 and are in a strong wildcard position. They even have a shot at winning their division. The Chargers at 11-4 have all but lost out on their division and will almost definitely have to settle for a wildcard as well. 22-10 Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns — The battle of Ohio saw the Browns coming in winners of 4 of their last 5 games. After a scoreless first quarter, the Browns got going in the second quarter. From the Cleveland 26, Nick Chubb ran for 22 yards. Jarvis Landry ran for 6 and Chubb ran for 7 more. On 4th and 1 from the Cincy 15, Gregg Williams decided to go for it. Baker Mayfield hit Landry for 6 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Mayfield hit Njoku for the score to make it 7-0 Browns. The Browns for it back at their own 30 and struck quickly as Gregg Williams went to the bag of tricks. Mayfield handed it to Calloway who pitched it to Jarvis Landry who then threw a deep option pass to Brad permian for a 63 yard gain. Mayfield then hit Darren Fells for a one yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Browns. The extra point dunked off the upright no good.

The Browns got it back with 5 minutes left in the half at their own 20. Mayfield hit Fells for 9 and Perriman for 13. Greg Joseph ended the half with a 37 yard field goal to make it 16-0 Browns. In the third quarter the Browns moved 87 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Cleveland 21, Mayfield hit Landry for 19 yards. Chubb ran for 15 and Mayfield hit Hilliard for 15 more. On 3rd and 4 from the Cincy 17, Mayfield went to Higgins for the touchdown to make it 23-0 Browns after three quarters.

The Bengals tried to make a game of it, moving from their 31 to a 1st and 10 at the Cleveland 21. A pass lost 4 yards and Jeff Driskel was sacked for 8 more. The fourth quarter began with the Bengals facing 4th and 22 from the Cleveland 33. Marvin Lewis decided to just try and avoid the shutout with a 51 yard field goal try. Randy Bullock hit it and the Bengals were within 23-3. The Browns then held the ball for 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes, moving 62 yards. Joseph hit a 31 yard field goal as the Browns comfortably led 26-3 midway through the fourth quarter. 

Driskel tried to rally the Bengals, moving them 75 yards. With 5 minutes left Driskel threw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Uzomah to get the Bengals within 26-10. The Browns went 3 and out when Mayfield threw incomplete on 3rd and 4 from the Browns 34. The punt was blocked, and the Bengals recovered at the Cleveland 23. Driskel threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to John Ross. Driskel hit Core for the 2 point conversion. The Dawg Pound got nervous as a 23 point lead was down to 8 points with a full 3 minutes left.

Before football fans could complain about the “same old Browns,” these are absolutely not the same old Browns. They took over at their own 16. Chubb ran for gains of 4 and 6. With 2:01 to play and the Bengals expecting another handoff, Gregg Williams showed why he is head coaching material. A short pass from Mayfield to Njoku went for a 66 yard gain down to the Cincy 3 yard line. With the Bengals out of timeouts, Williams decided to have Mayfield take 3 knees rather than run up the score. After a 4-1 start, the Bengals collapsed as Marvin Lewis awaited his Black Monday fate. After winning only 3 of 40 under Hue Jackson, the Browns have won 5 of their last 6 games under Williams. Yes, the Brows are a good football team. 26-18 Browns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys — The Buccaneers took o er at their own 36. Jameis Winston went deep to Mike Evans for a 38 yard gain to set up 1st and 10 at the Dallas 13. Offensive holding killed the drive. Cairo Santos hit the 37 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Buccaneers. The Cowboys after a touchback soon faced 3rd and 12 form their own 34. Dak Prescott went deep to Gallup for 31 yards. On 1st and 20 from the Tampa 35, Prescott hit Ezekiel Elliott for 10 yards and Amari Cooper for 11 more. Prescott ran for the 7 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Cowboys. The Buccaneers after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Dallas 34. Winston was sacked and fumbled. Smith recovered it and rumbled 69 yards the other way for a defensive touchdown to make it 14-3 Cowboys.

The Buccaneers in the second quarter embarked on a 14 play drive that consumed 7 1/2 minutes. After moving from their own 29 to a 1st and 10 at the Dallas 27, an illegal block killed the drive. Santos hit from 45 as the Buccaneers still trailed 14-6. With 1:43 left in the half, Brett Maher drilled a 59 yard field goal to put the Cowboys back up 17-6. After a touchback, the Buccaneers still had 1:43 to work with. Winston went to DeSean Jackson for 24 yards. Winston then went to Humphries for 5 and Evans for 11. Unnecessary roughness on the defense led to Jacquez Rodgers running for a 2 yard touchdown as the Buccaneers only trailed 17-13 at halftime.

In the third quarter Santos missed a 52 yard field goal, setting the Cowboys up at their own 42. Prescott hit Gallup for 18 and Cole Beasley for 13 more. On 2nd and goal at the 3, Jason Garrett tried a reverse with Cooper that was blown up in the backfield for a 7 yard loss. On 4th and goal at the 2, Garrett decided not to gamble. Maher hit the 20 yarder to make it 20-13 Cowboys. 

Things got worse for the Buccaneers when Winston was hit and fumbled and the Cowboys took over at the Tampa Bay 4 yard line. Prescott hit Gallup for the touchdown to make it 27-13 Cowboys after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Buccaneers had the ugliest mind-numbing drive of the season. Starting from their own 25, They began the fourth quarter facing 4th and 2 at their own 45. Winston hit Rodgers for 5 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Dallas 16, a rare call for delay of game on the defense kept the drive going. On 4th and 1 from the 2, with everything on the line, a delay of game this time was on the offense. On 4th and 6 from the 7, Winston scrambled up the middle and came up inches short of the sticks. 17 plays, 73 yards and over 9 1/2 minutes of clock resulted in nothing.

The Buccaneers got the ball back at their own 29 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Winston did throw a 7 yard touchdown pass to Evans with 2:05 to play to get the Buccaneers within 7 points. The onside kick failed, and an 11 yard by Elliott let Dallas run out the clock. The Cowboys were 3-5 at the midpoint. Now they are 9-6 and have clinched the NFC East title. Jerry Jones stuck with Jason Garrett and he again delivered. As for Dirk Koetter, he may be a Black Monday casualty. 27-20 Cowboys

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions — The 7-7 Vikings clung to faint playoff hopes but early on ran into a buzzsaw. Detroit dominated but cold not crack the end zone. Matt Prater hit field goals of 47 in the first quarter and 35 and 48 in the second quarter to make it 9-0 Lions with 4 minutes left in the half. From the Minnesota 31, Kirk Cousins hit Cook for 29 yards with 10 taken off for offensive holding. Cousins then hit Kyle Rudolph for 15 yards. On 3rd and 17 just past midfield, Cousins went deep to Adam Thielen for 40 yards. Cousins hit Stefan Diggs for the 8 yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 9-7. 

The Vikings got it back at their own 30 with 36 seconds left in the half. With 12 seconds left, the Vikings faced 2nd and 19 at their own 39. Cousins hit Rudolph for 17 yards. with 2 seconds left it came down to the Hail Mary on 3rd and 2 from the Detroit 44. One year after the Minneapolis Miracle, Cousins threw a perfect bomb and Rudolph caught it cleanly for the end zone. The Vikings led 14-9 at halftime. Nobody gives up Hail Marys like the Lions at home. In the third quarter the Vikings moved 69 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. They settled for a 24 yard Dan Bailey field goal to make it 17-9 Vikings. 

The Vikings got it back at their own 47 and Cousins hit Rudolph for 11 yards. On 2nd and 19 from the Detroit 38, Cousins went to Rudolph for 17 yards. Cousins then went to Cook for a 4 yard gain. Cousins hit Rudolph for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 24-9 Vikings. Bailey tacked on a 29 yard field goal to complete the scoring. 27 unanswered points and a big effort from Mike Zimmer’s defense got the Vikings to 8-7 and alive in the playoff race. 27-9 Vikings

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots — A field position game had the Patriots taking over at their own 45. Michel ran for 5. Cordarelle Patterson took an end around 12 yards. Michel ran for 19, 12, 3 and finally for a 4 yard touchdown. Without a single pass, the Patriots led 7-0. In the second quarter, the Patriots took over at their own 44. From midfield, Patterson ran for 15 yards. James White ran for a 27 yard touchdown as the Patriots led 14-0. This was ugly turnover-filled first half. The Bills missed a 43 yard field goal. The Patriots fumbled the ball away. The two quarterbacks traded interceptions. 

The Bills tried to make a game of it. Steve Hauschka hit field goals of 35 and 41 in the third quarter to get the Bills within 14-6. The Patriots moved 88 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. On 4th and 4 from the Buffalo 32, Bill Belichick decided to go for it. Brady fired to Julian Edelman, who broke tackles all the way for the score to make it 21-6 Patriots. The Bills moved to the New England 5 yard line but fumbled the ball away. Midway through the fourth quarter Stephen Gostkowski hit a 23 yard field goal to put the game away and make it 24-6 Patriots. Buffalo got a garbage touchdown to complete the scoring.

The Patriots got to 10-5 and won the AFC East. The list of their accomplishments is staggering. 10 straight AFC East titles. 16 straight seasons of at least 10 wins. 18 straight winning seasons (They went 9-7 in 2002). 15 AFC East Titles in 16 seasons (They went 11-5 in 2008. They were tied for the division lead but lost the tie-breaker to Miami and missed the playoffs). Quarterback Tom Brady has led the Patriots to 15 consecutive AFC East Titles (He was injured the entire 2008 season where New England lost the tie-breaker. Matt Cassel led the team that year). 8 Super Bowl appearances with 5 Super Bowl wins. The Patriots have also been to the AFC Title Game 7 straight years. To make it 8 in a row, the Patriots may have to do it the hard way. For Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, that is fine with them. 24-12 Patriots  

Green Bay Packers at New York Jets — Sometimes a pair of bad teams can produce a thrilling game. This actually was that game. The Jets moved to the Green Bay 18. Sam Darnold was then sacked for a 10 yard loss. A 36 yard field goal try was no good. Gang Green got it back at their own 17. Darnold hit Anderson for 16 yards, Kearse for gains of 7 and 13, McGuire for 16, Kearse for 6, and on 3rd and 6 from the Green Bay 19, to Herndon for 15. McGuire ran for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Jets. In the second quarter the Jets took over at their own 24. Darnold hit Anderson for gains of 14 and 9. On 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 36, Todd Bowles decided to go for it. Darnold gained 3 yards. On the next play Darnold went to Anderson for the 33 yard touchdown as the Jets had the surprising 14-0 lead.

The Packers took over at their own 10. Aaron Rodgers hit Williams for 10 and Williams ran for 13 more. On 3rd and 4 from the Jets 49, Rodgers went deep to Kumerow for the touchdown as the Packers got within 14-7. After the 90 yard drive, the Packers would trail by 14 again only 12 seconds later. Roberts took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for the score to make it 21-7 Jets. The Packers soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 42. Rodgers went deep to St. Brown for 34 yards. On 2nd and 15 from the Jets 29, Rodgers went to St. Brown for 14 yards. However, a defensive penalty on Williams led to him being ejected and set up 1st and goal at the 7. The Packers have their own Williams, and he ran for the score to get the Packers within 21-14. 

In the third quarter the Packers moved the ball but settled for Mason Crosby field goals of 42 and 29 as the Packers trailed 21-20. After a touchback, Darnold hit McGuire and Anderson for a pair of 14 yard gains. On 3rd and 7 from the Green Bay 15, Darnold hit Anderson for 5 yards. Darnold hit Herndon for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 28-20 Jets. Moore got blasted on the ensuing kickoff and fumbled the ball. The Jets took over at the Green Bay 18. On 2nd and 12, Darnold hit McGuire for a 20 yard touchdown as the Jets had the 35-20 lead after three quarters. Then came Aaron Rodgers.

From their own 39 to start the fourth quarter, the Packers moved to a 1st and 10 at the Jets 20. Rodgers threw 3 straight incompletions. Down by 15, Joe Philbin made what seemed like a very uninspiring decision. Mason Crosby hit the 38 yard field goal, but with 11:45 to play the Packers still trailed 35-23. The Jets went nowhere but a great punt pinned the Packers at their own 6 yard line with 9 1/2 minutes left. Rodgers went deep to St. Brown for 24 yards with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. On 4th and 1 from the Jets 46, Rodgers hit Tonyan for 11 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Jets 29, Rodgers threw deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the 3. Rodgers got the last yard. The Jets had every chance under the sun to put the game away, but with 6 1/2 minutes left the Packers only trailed 35-30.

The Packers got it back with 3:12 to play at their own 17 yard line. Rodgers hit Williams for 4, Graham for 16, Kumerow for 13 and Williams for 26. Rodgers then scrambled for 23 yards to set up 1st and goal at the one. Rodgers threw incomplete and Wiliams got stopped as the Jets took their second timeout on defense with 1:15 left. On 4th and goal at the one, Rodgers went for the quarterback sneak. A pileup ensued. The Jets thought they had a goal line stand. The officials ruled touchdown. The Packers led 36-35 and decided to go for the 2 point conversion. Then came a play that has defined the Jets for the last 50 years. 

Rodgers had his 2 point pass intercepted by Roberts, who returned it over 100 yards the other way for a score. That under league rules is a 2 point score for the defense, as the home crowd celebrated the Jets retaking the lead 37-36. It was all for naught. Defensive holding nullified the entire play. Given a second chance from the one, Rodgers got in himself. 18 straight points had the Packers up 38-35 with 1:12 left. 

Just when it appeared the Jets were dead, Roberts returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to the Green Bay 38. Darnold hit Herndon for gains of 9 and 14. With 36 seconds left the Jets had 1st and 10 at the Green Bay 15. They still had one timeout and a chance to win. Darnold threw 3 straight incompletions. Jason Myers hit the 33 yard field goal with 17 seconds left. The game was going to overtime tied 38-38.

The Packers won the toss in overtime. After a touchback, Rodgers ran for 8 and Williams added 7 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Green Bay 40, Rodgers threw deep incomplete. However, defensive pass interference meant a 33 yard gain to the Jets 27. Williams gained 9 and 5. On 2nd and 10 from the Jets 13, Rodgers threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the 6. Rodgers scrambled for the touchdown, but offensive holding nullified it. It didn’t matter. On the next play Rodgers went to Davante Adams for a 16 yard touchdown. The game was finally over as Joe Philbin and Todd Bowles awaited their Black Monday fates. 44-38 Packers, OT

Houston Texans at Philadelphia Eagles — The 10-4 Texans had not yet locked up the AFC South but still had an outside chance at the top seed in the conference. The 7-7 Eagles were on the brink of elimination. The Eagles moved 77 yards in 13 plays and 7 minutes. On 4th and 2 from the Houston 37, Doug Peterson decided to go for it rather than try a 55 yard field goal. A short pass from Nick Foles to Darren Sproles saw Sproles fake out tacklers, bull over defenders inside the 5, and get to the end zone to make it 7-0 Eagles. The Texans came back 63 yards in 11 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the Philly 7, a false start and an incompletion ended the drive. The second quarter began with Kaimi Fairbairn hitting a 30 yard field goal to get the Texans within 7-3. Foles was then sacked and fumbled, setting up the Texans at the Philly 5 yard line. Deshaun Watson ran for the score. The extra point was no good but the Texans led 9-7. 

The Eagles came back 75 yards in 14 plays and over 7 minutes. On 3rd and 1 from the Philadelphia 39, Foles went deep to Sproles for 31 yards and Zac Ertz for 15 more. On 4th and 3 from the Houston 8, Doug Pederson decided to go for it. Foles hit Dallas Goedert for 6 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Foles threw incomplete but JJ Watt was called for roughing the passer. From the one, consecutive offensive penalties moved the Eagles back to the 16. On 3rd and goal at the 10, Foles hit Ertz for 9 yards. Doug Pederson again gambled on 4th and goal at the one. Foles hit Ertz for the touchdown. The Eagles went for 2 but Foles was sacked. The Eagles led 13-9. With 3 minutes left in the half the Texans took over at their own 20. Watson hit Thomas for 15 and Akins for 11. A pair of defensive penalties for lowering the head to initiate contact and roughing the passer gifted 30 yards to move the Texans to the Philadelphia 17. Watson ran for a 6 yard touchdown as the Texans took a 16-13 lead to the locker rooms. 

In the third quarter the Eagles took over at their own 12. Foles went deep to Alshon Jeffery for a 52 yard gain. Jake Elliott hit the 47 yard field goal for a 16-16 game. The Eagles got it back at their own 17 and needed only 14 seconds to take the lead. Foles went deep to Nelson Agholor for an 83 yard touchdown bomb as the Eagles led 23-16. On the next series Watson got belted and fumbled. Fletcher Cox recovered for the Eagles at the Houston 44. On 3rd and 3 from the Houston 23, Foles went to Ertz for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Eagles had a commanding 29-16 lead with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.    

The Texans moved from their 23 to a 3rd and 1 at the Philly 21 midway through the fourth quarter. Watson was sacked for an 8 yard loss. Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. On 4th and 9 Watson’s completed pass only gained 5 yards. The Eagles on 2nd and 7 from their 27 saw Foles go to Goedert for 24 yards. Yet on the next play the Eagles fumbled and the Texans recovered at their own 45. On 2nd and 10 Watson completed a 5 yard pass but unnecessary roughness added 15 more. Watson hit Hopkins for a touchdown but the Texans still trailed 29-23 with 5 minutes left.

Houston got it back at their own 20 with 4 minutes left. Watson hit Foreman for 8 and then ran for 12 more. On 3rd and 11 from the Houston 44, Watson hit Akins for 22 yards. On 3rd and 11 from the Philly 35, Watson threw a perfect bomb to Vyncint Smith. Smith got his knee down before sliding out the back of the end zone. With 2:04 to play it was the Texans with the 30-29 lead. With 1:50 left, the Eagles faced 3rd and 10 at their own 11. Then came the play of the game.

Foles went back to pass and got blasted by Jadavean Clowney just as the ball was thrown. Somehow Alshon Jeffery caught the ball over the middle in traffic for a 19 yard gain. On top of that, a very questionable defensive roughing the passer penalty on Clowney added 15 more yards. Clowney led with the crown of his helmet. He hit Foles in the chest, but using his own helmet meant a penalty. Foles was down. He had the wind knocked out of him. He eventually walked off the field. Third string quarterback Nate Sudfeld came in and threw his first NFL pass, an incompletion. To wild cheers, Foles came back in the game. 

On 3rd and 10 from his own 45, Foles went deep to Ertz for 20 yards. Sproles then ran for 16 yards. With 3 seconds left, Elliott came in for a 35 yard field goal try. Everything was on the line for both teams. Elliott’s kick was good. The Eagles at 8-7 cannot win their division but are still clinging to wildcard playoff life. The Eagles are still the defending champs, and champions do not go down without a fight to the end. As for Foles, he continues to show heart and guts. The Texans at 10-5 saw their chances for a first round bye get less likely. 32-30 Eagles

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers — After 6 straight losses and a shoulder injury, Cam Newton was shut down for the year. Taylor Heinicke got the start and fumbled the snap on his first play from scrimmage. Yet he still managed to lead a 14 play, 73 yard drive that took 8 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and 9 from the Atlanta 34, Heinicke scrambled for 11 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Heinicke threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Heinicke hit Thomas for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Panthers. 

The Falcons came back 85 yards in 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 33, Matt Ryan hit Mohammed San for 18 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Carolina 40, san gained 24 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Carolina 14, Ryan hit Julio Jones for 11 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Ryan went to Jones for the score to tie the game 7-7 after the first quarter. In the second quarter from the Carolina 23 on 3rd and 9, Heinicke went deep to Thomas for a 27 yard gain to midfield. On 3rd and 13 from the Carolina 47, Heinicke was sacked for a 13 yard loss. However, roughing the passer kept the drive going. Heinicke went to the locker room after being injured on that play. 

Third string quarterback Kyle Allen was just activated from the practice squad earlier this week. Now he was playing professional football. Chandler Catanzaro hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Panthers. Matt Bryant responded with a 39 yarder for a 10-10 game. The Panthers moved from their 36 to a 2nd and goal at the 4 with one minute left in the half. At the 2 minute warning, Heinicke was back in the game. Heinicke was intercepted at the 2 yard line to end the threat. On the first play of the third quarter, Ryan went deep to Calvin Ridley for a 75 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Falcons. 

Atlanta got it back at their own 15. Ryan hit Ridley for 11 and Tevin Coleman ran for 20. Ryan went deep to Sanu for a 44 yard touchdown to put the Falcons up by 14. The fourth quarter was scoreless as the Panthers lost their 7th straight. In 2015, Ron Rivera led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl trip. In 2016, Dan Quinn led the Falcons to the Super Bowl, where they led 28-3 in the third quarter. This season both teams both fell apart. It would be surprising if either one of these coaches were Black Monday casualties, but anything is possible, Carolina has new ownership, adding to the tension. 24-10 Falcons 

New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts — The Colts came in with playoff hopes. Eli Manning came out firing, hitting Sterling Shepard for 12 yards, Latimer for 10, and on 3rd and 6 from the Indy 42, back to Shepard for 17 more. Saquon Barkley from the one got stopped in the middle but bounced to the outside and got in to make it 7-0 Giants. After going 75 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes, the Giants came back again 87 yards. On 3rd and 11 from their own 38, Manning went deep to Shepard for a 55 yard gain. Manning hit Simonson for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Giants. 

In the second quarter the Colts moved from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Giants 26. Andrew Luck went to the end zone and was intercepted. The Colts got it back and moved 78 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. From the Giants 40, Luck went to TY Hilton for 25 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 8, Luck went to Hines for 7 yards. Hines got the last yard to get the Colts within 14-7. The Giants soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 27. Manning went to Bennie Fowler for a 26 yard gain and to Shepard for 20 more. Aldrick Rosas hit a 40 yard field goal as the Giants led 17-7 at the midpoint. 

In the third quarter the Colts faced 2nd and 8 from their own 17. Luck hit Rogers for 11 yards and then went deep to Hilton for a 55 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 2, luck Dontrelle Inman for the score as the Colts trailed 17-14. The Giants took over at their own 15. Manning hit Simonson for 5, Ellison for 16 and Barkley for 18. On 3rd and 5 from the indy 41, Manning went to Engram for 8 and again for 32 yards down to the one. Manning got in himself o make it 24-14 Giants.

The Colts soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 28. Luck went to Inman for a 29 yard gain and to Hines for 28 more yards. On 1st and 10 from the Giants 15, Luck was sacked and fumbled the ball away. However defensive holding kept the drive going. Marlin Mack ran for the 3 yard touchdown as the Colts only trailed 24-21 after three quarters.

After a touchback, the Giants held the ball for over 6 minutes. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Manning connected with Engram for a 27 yard gain. Engram took an end around 14 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Colts 23, Manning hit Engram for just enough. On 2nd and 2 from the Indy 9, a run lost 2 yards. On 3rd and 4 Manning threw incomplete. With 9:20 to play, Rosas hit a 27 yard field goal. The Giants led 27-21 but left the door open for a Colts comeback. The Colts moved from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Giants 39. Luck threw 3 straight incompletions. Frank Reich opted against a 57 yard field goal try or going for it as the Colts punted. A perfect punt pinned the Giants back at their own 4 yard line. The Colts got it back at their own 47 with 3:43 left.

On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 46, Luck threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant an automatic first down. From the Giants 44, Luck ran for 14 yards. Luck then hit Chester Rogers for 3 and Inman for 9. On 2nd and 12 from the Giants 20, Luck hit Hilton for just enough. On the next play defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Luck hit Rogers for the touchdown with 55 seconds left as the Colts led by one point. With 23 seconds left Manning was intercepted as the Giants remained the best 59 minute team in football. Frank Reich saw his once 1-5 Colts go 8-1 since to get to 9-6. The Colts are alive in the playoff race and have a major showdown next week with 9-6 Tennessee where the loser is out. The Colts even have an outside shot at winning the AFC South. 28-27 Colts 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins — The Dolphins took over at their own 22. On 3rd and 6 from their own 38, Ryan Tannehill hit Danny Amendola for 20 yards. A swing pass from Tannehill to Ballage went for a 31 yard gain down to the 11. Tannehill found Brandon Bolden for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Dolphins. The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Cody Kessler hit Dante Moncrief for 10 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Miami 46, Kessler hit Greene for 10. On 3rd and 8 from the Miami 31, a pass only gained 6 yards but roughing the passer added 13 more yards. Kessler hit Leoanrd Fournette for 11 yards down to the one. Fournette got in to make it a 7-7 game.  

The second and third quarters were scoreless. In the fourth quarter the Jaguars took over at their own 41. Kessler was benched in favor of Blake Bortles. Bortles ran for 13. On 2nd and 13 just past midfield, Bortles ran for 14. Kai Forbath hit a 26 yard field goal. With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Jaguars led 10-7. One minute later after a touchback came the play of the game. On 1st and 15 from the Miami 32, Tannehill found Smith. Problem: Smith plays defense for Jacksonville. Smith returned the interception 33 yards for the clinching touchdown as the beleaguered Jaguars knocked the Dolphins officially from playoff contention. 17-7 Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals — The Rams came in having lost 2 straight, pretty much denying them the top seed in the conference and in danger of even missing a 1st round bye. The Cardinals are still on pace for the top pick in the Draft. Early on the Rams fumbled and the Cardinals took over at the Los Angeles 41. Zane Gonzalez hit a 41 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cardinals. Then reality set in. After a touchback, Anderson gained 6 and Cooks gained 17, with 15 more tacked on for a lowering the head to initiate contact penalty. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 31, Jared Goff hit Robert Woods for 11 and Tyler Higbee for 16. Woods ran for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Rams.The Rams in the second quarter got it back at their own 16. Runs and short passes moved them to the Arizona 41. Anderson ran for gains of 27 and 9. Goff got the last yard to make it 14-3 Rams.

The Cardinals on 2nd and 8 from their own 27 tried to come back. Defensive pass interference moved the ball 11 yards. Josh Rosen then ran for gains of 14 and 16. Then steve wills went to his bag of tricks. Rosen fired a backward pass to Larry Fitzgerald, who threw a perfect deep ball to David Johnson. The 32 yard touchdown had the Cardinals within 14-9 after the missed extra point. Yet the Rams had too much firepower. On 2nd and 16 from their 19, Goff hit Everett for 6 and Cooks for 18 more. From the Arizona 32, Goff hit woods for gains of 13 and 11. Anderson ran for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-9 at halftime. Both teams missed a field goal from over 50 yards before the half ended. 

The second half was a formality. Zuerlein hit from 21 in the third quarter as the Rams led 24-9 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Rams took over at their own 5 yard line and made it look easy. Anderson went up the gut for a 46 yard gain. Goff then went deep to Woods for a 39 yard touchdown to complete the blowout. The win got the Rams to 12-3. Although home field throughout the playoffs is out of reach, a win next week will guarantee them a first round bye. 31-9 Rams

Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers — The 49ers still have a shot at the top Draft pick. The 10-4 Bears still had a slim chance at a first round bye. The Bears win ugly with defense. In a scoreless first quarter, Cody Parkey missed a 37 yard field goal. In the second quarter Robbie Gould made field goals of 33 and 30 against his old team to make it 6-0 49ers. After a touchback, Mitchell Trubisky hit Mizzell for 26 yards, Howard for 16 more, and Braunecker for 18. On 1st and 10 at the San Francisco 13, Trubsiky went to the end zone and was intercepted. However, defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and goal at the 4 with 1:52 left in the half, Trubisky hit Miller for the touchdown as the Bears led 7-6.The 49ers took over at their own 32. Wilson gained 8 and 5. Nick Mullens hit Goodwin for 17 and Taylor for 23. Gould hit from 23 to end the half with the 49ers up 9-7. 

In the third quarter the bears took over at their own 10 yard line. Trubisky hit Robinson for 9. On the next play a facemark added 15 yards. Runs and short passes moved the Bears to a 3rd and 2 at the Frisco 20. Trubisky hit Robinson for 10 and Gabriel gained 8. Howard got the final 2 yards as the Bears led by 5 after three quarters. The fourth quarter was all defense. The Bears had a chance to put the game away when they fumbled the ball away at the Frisco 24 with 1:52 left. With 1:40 left on 2nd and 4 from the Chicago 45, Mullens threw 3 straight incompletions. It was hideous, but Matt Nagy has an 11-4 Bears squad that has an outside chance at a 1st round bye. 14-9 Bears

Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints — The Steelers snapped their 3 game losing streak with a big win over New England. Two more wins would lock up the AFC North while losses could knock them out of the playoffs altogether. The Saints with a win would lock up home field throughout the playoffs. Drew Brees threw a bomb to the end zone that was intercepted, setting up the Steelers at their own 40. Chris Boswell hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Steelers. After a touchback, Brees hit Thomas for 28 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Pittsburgh 34, Sean Payton decided to go for it. Brees went deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Mark Ingram got in to make it 7-3 Saints.

The Steelers took over at their own 10. On 3rd and 4 from their own 38, Ben Roethlisberger went deep to Vance McDonald for 49 yards. The drive died there but Boswell hit the 30 yarder to get the Steelers within 7-6. After a touchback, Brees went to Ted Ginn for 15 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Saints 42, Brees went to Thomas for 20. Defensive pass interference added 22 more yards. On 3rd and 2 from the 8, Alvin Kamara ran it in to make it 14-6 Saints.

With 6:45 left in the half, the Steelers were pinned at their own 3 yard line. On 3rd and 2 from their own 11, Big Ben went deep to Antonio Brown for 28 yards and again for 10 more. On 3rd and 11 from the Saints 39 at the 2 minute warning, Roethlisberger went back to Brown for 16 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Saints 22, Big Ben threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 20 yards and 1st and goal at the 2. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Roethlisberger hit Samuels for the touchdown. The 15 play, 97 yard, 6 minute drive had the Steelers within 14-12 with 40 seconds left in the half. Roethlisberger hit Rogers for the 2 point conversion and a 14-14 game. After a touchback, Brees hit Ginn for 13, Watson for 6, and Kamara for 31 yards. Wil Lutz hit a 43 yard field goal as the half ended to put the Saints up 17-14. 

In the third quarter the Saints moved 75 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. On 2nd and 11 from their own 24, Brees connected with Kamara for a 42 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Pittsburgh 16, Brees hit Thomas for 8 yards. Ingram ran for 7 and Kamara on 3rd and goal got the last yard to make it 24-14 Saints. The Steelers soon faced 1st and 15 at their own 20. Roethlisberger hit Juju Smith-Schuster for gains of 12 and 23, Brown for gains of 17 and 12, Switzer for 13, and on 3rd and goal from th 3, Brown for the touchdown. The Steelers were  now within 24-21. The Steelers got it back at their own 34 and struck quickly. Roethlisberger hit Brown for 26, Smith-Schuster for 20, and Brown for the 20 yard touchdown as the Steelers led 28-24 after three quarters.

The Saints offense was doing nothing and the Steelers began the fourth quarter at their own 25. Samuels ran for gains of 7, 4 and 9. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Steelers faced 3rd and 2 at the Saints 34. Looking to put the game away, Stefan Ridley fumbled and the Saints recovered at their own 35. Lutz came in for a 50 yard field goal try with 6 minutes left. The kick was blocked. 

A sackof Roethlisberger had the Steelers punting on 4th and 5 at their own 42 with 4 minutes left. Mike Tomlin gambled on a fake punt. Fullback Nix took the snap up the middle, gained only 4 yards, and came up celebrating and dancing, doing the first down gesture. He was jubilant until it was pointed out that he did not make the first down. The Saints took over at the Pittsburgh 46. At the 2 minute warning, the Saints faced 4th and 2 at the Pittsburgh 27. Brees fired incomplete, and again the Steelers celebrated too early. Defensive pass interference meant 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 22. 

Offensive holding and a pair of incompletions including a perfectly thrown dropped ball set up 3rd and 20 from the Pittsburgh 32. Brees fired over the middle to Ginn for a 25 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 7 as Mike Tomlin took a timeout on defense. Brees fired to Thomas for a 6 yard gain as the Steelers took their last timeout. With 90 seconds left, two yard separated victory from defeat. Brees fired to Thomas. Officials ruled Thomas down at the one but replay clearly showed Thomas broke the plane of the goal. He caught it past the goal line and then fell back to the one after the catch. Officials reversed the call to a touchdown. With 1:25 left, the Saints led by a field goal as the Superdome Who Dat Nation exploded in joy.

The Steelers began with a false start and three straight incompletions that set up 4th and 15 from their own 20 with 1:09 left. Roethlisberger fired to Brown at the sideline for a 19 yard gain. Roethlisberger then hit Smith-Schuster for 14 yards over the middle and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 45 seconds left. On the next play the Saints got flagged for illegal contact and were lucky it was not pass interference. The Steelers came in with 5 wide receivers. Roethlisberger completed a pass to Smith-Schuster, who was in field goal range. 

Smith-Schuster had the ball ripped out of his hands by Rankins and the Saints fell on it. Smith-Schuster was never down. He was laying on top of another defender and never hit the ground himself. The Steelers lost their 4th game in 5 weeks and are now 1/2 a game behind Baltimore in the AFC North. If the Steelers win next week and Baltimore loses, the Steelers win the division. Otherwise, the team that started 7-2 is done. Roethlisberger finished 33 of 50 for 380 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, all for naught. The 13-2 Saints have now locked up home field throughout the playoffs. The 2009 team that won it all finished 13-3. The Saints have never won 14 games. Brees finished 27 of 39 for 326 yards, one touchdown and 0 interceptions. 31-28 Saints  

Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks was the Sunday night game. The Chiefs with a win would lock up the AFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A loss would put them at risk of dropping all the way to a Wildcard and a road playoff game. The Seahawks would clinch a Wildcard playoff spot with a win, while a loss this week and next week would eliminate them from playoff contention. The Chiefs have the high powered offense but Seattle has the deafening roar of the 12th man. Early on the Seahawks moved 78 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes On 3rd and 13 from their own 19, Russell Wilson scrambled for 19 yards. Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for 16 yards and Chris Carson ran for 17 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 4, Carson got in to make it 7-0 Seahawks.

After a touchback, Damian Williams ran for 25 yards to midfield. On 3rd and 3 from the Seattle 43, Williams gained 7. Despite 1st and 10 from the Seattle 36, Patrick Mahomes threw 3 straight incompletions. Andy Reid trusted Harrison Butker with a 54 yard field goal on the road in a hostile environment, and Butker delivered to get the Chiefs within 7-3. Late in the first quarter, Sebastian Janikowski doinked a 36 yard field goal try off the upright no good. 

The Chiefs took over and a sack of Mahomes had them facing 2n and 18 at their own 18. Williams gained 5. On 3rd and 13 Mahomes hit Conley for 18. On 3rd and 1 from midfield, Williams took an end around 21 yards. Tyreek Hill gained 9 and Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 17 yards down to the Seattle 2. Mahomes hit Williams for the score as the Chiefs led 10-7. The Chiefs got it back at their own 20. On 1st and 15 from their 30, Williams lost 6 yards and fumbled. The Seahawks took over at the Chiefs 21. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Wilson threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a new set of downs. Wilson hit Vannett for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Seahawks. With 23 seconds left in the half from the Chiefs 30, Mahomes hit Conley for 23 yards but Conley had it punched out of his hands and the Seahawks recovered to end the half.

In the third quarter the Seahawks moved 65 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. After a touchback, Carson ran for gains of 15 and 4. On 3rd and 6 from the Seattle 44, Wilson hit gannett for 10 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 29, Wilson was sacked for a 5 yard loss. Janikowski missed a 47 yard field goal, but roughing the kicker gave the Seahawks new life. Janikowski was clearly hurt on the play. on 2nd and 6 from the Chiefs 10, Wilson threw incomplete twice. Seabass did hit the 28 yarder for a 17-10 lead, but he was forced to drop kick his kickoffs. 

The Chiefs took over at their own 17. Mahomes went to Kelce for 23, Williams for 12, and Hill for 11. On 3rd and 3 from the Seattle 30, Mahomes hit Kelce for 5 yards on a throw across his body. On the next play Mahomes went to West for a 25 yard touchdown to tie the game 17-17. After a touchback, Pete Carroll went to the ground game. Carson gained 6 and 9. Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for 18 yards. On 3rd and 15 from the Chiefs 47, Wilson hit Ed Dickson for 18 yards. Wilson then went deep to Baldwin for a 27 yard touchdown where Baldwin somehow kept his feet inbounds. The Seahawks had the 24-17 lead after three quarters. 

The Chiefs began the fourth quarter at their own 30. Mahomes hit Kelce for 16 yards and the Chiefs were on the march. On 3rd and 2 at the Seattle 36, Mahomes went deep to Hill for a 32 yard gain. Yet 1st and goal at the 4 was followed by a pass that lost one yard, a false start, and another 2 incompletions. With 10 1/2 minutes left, Walrus Lite Andy Reid decided not to gamble. Butker hit the 29 yard field goal to get the Chiefs within 24-20.

The Seahawks took over at their 30 and Wilson went to Tyler Lockett for a 25 yard gain. Wilson then scrambled up the middle, broke through a tackle, and gained 26 yards. Carson ran for 11 more yards. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Wilson threw incomplete. However, defensive holding was a killer penalty. On the next play Wilson hit Dickson for the 2 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had breathing room up 31-20. 

Breathing room would not last long. From the Chiefs 28, Mahomes hit Williams for 5, Conley for 13 and Kelce for 7. With 5 1/2 minutes left, the Chiefs faced 4th and 1 at the Seattle 45. Mahomes scrambled for a 22 yard gain. Mahomes then hit West for 12 yards and fired to Robinson in the back of the end zone for the 11 yard touchdown. On the 2 point conversion try, Mahomes evaded a tackler and ran up the middle and in. With 4 1/2 minutes left to play, the Chiefs were within 31-28.

On 3rd and 6 from their own 29, Wilson calmly fired a completion at the sticks for a critical 1st down. On 2nd and 11 from their own 34, Pete Carroll went for it all rather than play it safe. Wilson went deep to Lockett for a 45 yard gain. From the Chiefs 21, Carroll again wanted to stay aggressive since the Chiefs still had timeouts. Yet this time Wilson was sacked for a 9 yard loss. Carroll didn’t care. He had Wilson keep throwing. Wilson lobbed a fade into the arms of Baldwin, who made a one handed juggling catch at the goal line. Only inches away, out of the shotgun, Wilson handed off to Carson. Carson was met before the goal line and bulldozed over 2 defenders and into the end zone. With 2 1/2 minutes left the Seahawks had finally put the game out of reach.

No, they did not. The ensuing kickoff was returned 61 yards to the Seattle 31. On 3rd and 5 from the Seattle 15, Mahomes under heavy pressure threw deep incomplete. Butker hit the 32 yard field goal to get the Chiefs within 7 points with 80 seconds left. Now it was time for the onside kick. It was kicked out of bounds and the Seahawks survived.

The Chiefs loss dropped them to 11-4, the same record as the Chargers. The Chiefs hold the tie-breaker, so they can still win the AFC West and clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win next week. However, if they lost and the Chargers win, the Chiefs tumble all the way to the five seed Wildcard and would have all their playoff games on the road instead of at home. The Chiefs missed a chance to rest all their starters next week. The Seahawks with the win got to 9-6 and are in the playoffs. 38-31 Seahawks

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders was the Christmas Eve Monday night game. Vance Joseph came in wondering if this would be his last game as Denver’s coach. The Raiders came in wondering if this would be their last game ever playing in Oakland. The Raider Nation came out in full force. The Raiders came out with a ton of emotion as Jon Gruden and Derek Carr visited the Black Hole. 5 minutes into the game, the Broncos punted on 4th and 12 at their own 34. Denver attempted to down the ball at the one yard line. Harris picked up the ball for the Raiders, knowing that even if he fumbled it the Raiders would still keep possession because Denver touched it first. Harris got to the sidelines and outraced everybody for a 99 yard special teams touchdown. There were no flags on the field.The Raider Nation erupted as the Raiders led 7-0.

Neither team could move the ball on offense. Denver killed themselves with offensive penalties. A 47 yard bomb was wiped away when Jon Gruden successfully challenged the completion. The ball hit the ground. In the second quarter the Raiders took over at their own 11. Muscle Hamster Doug Martin ran for 5 yards. Carr hit Jordy Nelson for 12 yards. Defensive pass interference added 6 more yards. Carr hit Jalen Richard for 14 yards, Darren Waller for 6, Martin for 9 and Richard for 6. After all those passes, Martin broke off a 24 yard touchdown run. Midway through the second quarter, the Raiders led 14-0.

The Raiders got it back and faced 2nd and 20 at their own 10. Carr hit Richard for 10 and on 3rd and 10 found Nelson for 16 and again for 14 to midfield. Martin gained 11 and Carr hit Seth Roberts for 11 more. The drive stalled but Daniel Carlson hit a 43 yard field goal. The Raiders led 17-0. Only 19 seconds remained in the half. However, the Raiders this year have not finished games. Carlson kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving Denver the ball at their own 40. On 3rd and 10, Case Keenum hit Sutton for 20 yards with 4 seconds left. The Raiders allowed Brandon McManus to try a 58 yard field goal. The kick was dead center but barely short of the crossbar no good. The Raiders dodged a bullet, but they led Denver 12-0 in Denver at halftime and 19-7 in the fourth quarter only to lose 20-19 on the final play. 

Midway through the third quarter the Broncos took over at their own 18. Keenum went to Patrick for 26 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Denver 44, the Raiders had Keenum did to rights in the backfield. Several mistackles later, and Keenum had gained 17 yards. Keenum threw a 7 yard touchdown pass to Hamilton. The Broncos were within 17-7. Raider fans have seen this movie before. Yet this time the Raiders responded. From their own 28, Jon Gruden was determined to run the football. Martin gained 7 and 9. On 1st and 20 from the Oakland 34, Carr hit Richard for 10, Nelson for 6, and on 3rd and 4 from midfield, Nelson for 12. The fourth quarter began with the raiders facing 3rd and 3 at the Denver 31. Carr hit Nelson for 7 yards. Martin ran for 4, 14, and 3. Richard ran for the 3 yard touchdown. With 12 minutes left in regulation, the Raiders led 24-7.

Again, the biggest problem with the Raiders is their inability to finish games. The Broncos took over at their own 23. On 3rd and 3 from their own 35, Keenum hit Hamilton for 6 yards. On 3rd and 1 from midfield, Keenum hit Patrick for 13 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Oakland 28, Booker gained 9 yards. Keenum went deep to Sutton for a 19 yard touchdown. The Broncos were only down 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter. The Raiders needed to show they can finish a game.

The Raiders went 3 and out, but it was not all bad. They ran the ball 3 straight times. Jon Gruden was determined to keep pounding the rock. A good punt pinned the Broncos at their own 12 yard line. Keenum went over the middle and was intercepted. The Raiders took over at the Denver 31 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Gruden took no chances, with 2 straight runs and a short pass. Carlson nailed a 45 yard field goal to put the Raiders up by 13 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Denver got it back and soon faced 4th and 19 at their own 9 yard line. Keenum was intercepted by Harris, who returned it 21 yards to the Denver 18.

Martin gained nothing. Then he gained one yard. On 3rd and 9, he got the ball again and banged up the gut for a 12 yard gain. The crowd erupted, Gruden pumped his fists, Carr celebrated, and the clock hit the 2 minute warning. With Denver out of timeouts, Carr took 3 knees. An emotional Carr took a lap and high-fives the fans, who stayed and waited for him. He fought back tears at his press conference and told everyone how much he loves Oakland. He lives in Oakland and doesn’t go anywhere in the offseason. He just finished his 11th straight game without an interception. Two years ago he spent Christmas Eve with a broken leg. This year he spent it helping his team win. There is plenty of time to discuss other issues like where the Raiders will play in 2019. For now, it was a sweet win for the entire Raider Nation to enjoy. 27-14 Raiders