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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

NFL 2018 Week 16 Prequel

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 16 Prequel

NFL 2018 Week 15 Recap

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

NFL 2018 Week 15 Recap

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs was the Thursday night game. This game will be talked about for the rest of the year and perhaps beyond. The 11-2 Chiefs with a win over the 10-3 Chargers would lock up the AFC West and a first round bye. This game began as expected. Philip Rivers was intercepted on the second play of the game. The Chiefs took over at the Chargers 49 yard line. 10 plays and 5 minutes later, Patrick Mahomes threw a 5 yard touchdown to DeMarcus Robinson to make it 7-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back at moved 80 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. Mahomes began with a 32 yard completion to Darrell Williams. Mahomes capped the drive with an 11 yard touchdown pass to Williams. The Chiefs led 14-0 after the first quarter. This game was over.

After a touchback to start the second quarter, Rivers went deep to Mike Williams for a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 13, Rivers threw incomplete. Yet defensive holding kept the drive going. Rivers hit Williams for a 3 yard touchdown to get the Chargers within 14-7. The Chiefs began the third quarter facing 3rd and 6 at their own 30. Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 16 yards, Tyreek Hill for 33 more, and Kelvin Benjamin for 17 more. Williams ran for a 2 yard touchdown. The Chiefs led 21-7 with a crazed home crowd cheering them on. This game was over.

The Chargers came back 76 yards in 11 plays in over 6 1/2 minutes. Rivers hit Williams for 17 yards. From the Chiefs 30, Newsome ran for 11 and Williams ran for the 19 yard touchdown to get the Chargers within 21-14. The Chiefs began the fourth quarter facing 2nd and 15 at their own 22. Mahomes threw incomplete but a facemark on Joey Boas kept the drive going. On 3rd and 10 from their own 37, Mahomes threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going as the Chargers defense kept killing themselves. On 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 42, Mahomes hit Kelce for 15 yards and again for 16 more. An incompletion on 1st and 15 was nullified by another defensive holding penalty. On 3rd and 1 from the 2, Mahomes got the yard. Williams got the final yard for the score. With 8:15 to play in regulation, the Chiefs led 28-14. For the third time in the game, they led by 14. This game was over.

The Chargers moved 75 yards in 11 plays. Rivers hit Williams for 14 and again for 8. Rivers then went to Antonio Gates for 14, Jackson for 16, and Gates again for 10. With 4 minutes left, the Chargers faced 4th and 3 at the 6. One more defensive stop and this game truly was over. Rivers threw incomplete, but defensive holding gave the Chargers life. Jackson ran for a 3 yard touchdown to get the Chargers within 28-21. All the Chiefs had to do was let their high octane offense close out the game. Instead they went backward. Mahomes was sacked and the Chargers punted on 4th and 15 at their own 6. The Chargers took over at their own 40 with just over 2 1/2 minutes to play.

Offensive holding had the Chargers facing 1st and 20 at their own 30. Rivers went deep to Benjamin for a 31 yard gain. With 1:11 left, the Chargers faced 4th and 7 at the Chiefs 36. One defensive stop and this game was truly over. Rivers went deep to Benjamin for 26 yards. With 13 seconds left, the Chargers took their last timeout as they faced 3rd and goal at the 10. Rivers threw incomplete, but a very questionable defensive pass interference call made it 1st and goal at the one. Although the defender clearly grabbed the receiver’s arm, the ball appeared to be thrown so high that the receiver would have landed out of bounds anyway. 4 seconds remained. Rivers fired to Williams for the touchdown. Now the Chargers were an extra point away from forcing overtime. 

There would be no extra point. With everything on the line, on the road, in hostile conditions, Anthony Lynn decided to go for the 2 point conversion. Are? You? Kidding? Me? If this failed, the Chargers would drop to 9-5 and possibly even miss the playoffs. This was the entire season. Rivers faked out everybody and found a wide open Williams in the flat. The try succeeded in front of a shellshocked home crowd at Arrowhead. There would be no clinching of the division, first round bye, or possible resting of starters down the stretch. Now both teams are 11-3 and will probably have to play their starters the rest of the way. The Chiefs hold the tie-breaker, but the loss made Andy Reid a most displeased Walrus Lite indeed. As for the Chargers, they are overrated every year, a trendy pick of experts that never live up to their hype. Not this year. They are for real. Road wins at Pittsburgh and Kansas City are as big a deal as it gets. The warm weather team beat the cold weather teams. Anthony Lynn and his cojones of steel made this game an instant classic. 29-28 Chargers

Houston Texans at New York Jets  was the Saturday afternoon game. The Texans had their 9 game win streak snapped last week, but playing the woeful Jets was the tonic they needed. Early on the Jets punted on 4th and 22 at their own 13, allowing the Texans to take over at their own 41. On 3rd and 7 from the Jets 9, DeShaun Watson was sacked for a 13 yard loss. Kaimi Fairbairn hit the 41 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Texans. After a touchback, the Jets moved 67 yards in 13 plays and held the ball for 7 1/2 minutes. Yet despite 2nd and 7 from the Jets 8, Sam Darnold threw incomplete twice. Jason Myers hit the 26 yard field goal for a 3-3 game.

The Texans took over at their own 26 and moved 60 yards in 10 plays. Yet early in the second quarter, on 3rd and 7 from the Jets 14, Watson threw incomplete. Fairbairn hit from 32 to make it 6-3 Texans. The first big break in the game came when the Jets fumbled and the Texans recovered at the Jets 46. Two plays later Watson went deep to DeAndre Hopkins for a 45 yard touchdown to make it 13-3 Jets. Houston got it back at their own 31 and Watson hit Thomas for a 27 yard gain. Fairbairn drilled a 53 yard field goal to make it 16-3 Texans. A close game appeared to be becoming a blowout.

Then the game changed With 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Jets soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 24. Darnold ran for 10 yards and hit Chris Herndon for 16 more to midfield. From the Houston 31, Darnold went deep to Robby Anderson for 26 yards and again for a 5 yard touchdown connection with 30 seconds left in the half. In a season gone wrong for Gang Green, Myers missed the extra point and the Jets trailed 16-9 at halftime.

The Jets got it back in the third quarter and soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 40. Darnold hit Anderson for 20 yards. Cannon ran for 8 and McGuire added gains of 14 and 4. On 3rd and 5 from the Houston 13, Darnold went to Roberts for the touchdown. Myers again missed the extra point. Instead of leading 17-16, the Jets trailed 16-15 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter the Texans took over at their own 12. Watson went to Carter for a 50 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Jets 17, Watson was sacked for a 14 yard loss. Fairbairn bailed out Houston with a 49 yard field goal to make it 19-15 Texans. The Jets came back with a 15 play, 73 yard drive that consumed nearly 7 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 8 from their own 41, Darnold went deep to Herndon for a 25 yard gain. On 4th and 1 from the Houston 25, midway through the fourth quarter, Todd Bowles decided to go for it. Darnold hit Anderson for 6 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Houston 19, Darnold ran for 14 yards with defensive holding moving the ball to the 2 yard line. McGuire got the deuce as the Jets led 22-19 with 5 minutes left and were smelling upset.

After a touchback, Watson hit Hopkins for 20 yards and Alfred Blue for 6 more. On 3rd and 4 just past midfield, Watson threw deep incomplete, but defensive holding kept the drive going. Watson then went to Thomas for gains of 20 and 3, Hopkins for 7, and Hopkins again for the 14 yard touchdown. With 2:15 to play, the Texans led 26-22. At the 2 minute warning, on 4th and 14 from their own 21, Darnold threw incomplete. The Jets took their timeouts on defense and Fairbairn hit his 5th field goal from 40 yards out to make it a 7 point Texans lead. with 54 seconds left. With 11 seconds left, on 4th and 18 from their own 17, Darnold hit McGuire for 16 yards, one yard short. Todd Bowles may be gone in 2 weeks while Bill O’Brien has a 10-4 squad. 29-22 Texans

Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos is the Saturday night game. The Browns always lose to the Broncos. The Drive, the Fumble, and the Blowout in 3 AFC Title Games was one reason the Browns had not beaten the Broncos since 1990. Yet while the Browns only won 3 out of 40 games under Hue Jackson, they came in winning 3 of 4 under Gregg Williams. Denver desperately needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Broncos punted on 4th and 23 at their own 12 and the Browns took over at their own 49. Baker Mayfield went to Jarvis Landry for 19 yards and to Breshad Perriman for a 31 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Browns.

Denver would face 2nd and 17 at their own 5 yard line. Case Keenum hit Patrick for 11 yard and on 3rd and 6 hit Patrick again for 15 more. A defensive penalty for lowering the head to initiate contact kept the drive going. On 3rd and 10 from their own 48, Keenum hit LaCosse for 11 yards. Lindsay ran for 11. Keenum then drew a 25 yard defensive pass interference call to set up 1st and goal at the 3. On 3rd and goal at the one, Keenum got the last yard for a 7-7 game after the first quarter.

The second quarter belonged to the defense. Denver moved 61 yards in 12 plays in nearly 7 minutes. From their own 13, they reached a 1st and 10 at the Cleveland 27. On 3rd and 9, Keenum threw incomplete. Brandon McManus hit the 44 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Broncos. After a touchback, the Browns moved to a 1st and 10 at the Denver 22.  run gained nothing and Mayfield threw incomplete twice. Greg Joseph hit the 40 yard field goal for a 10-10 game. The Broncos moved from their 34 to a 1st and 10 at the Cleveland 29. After a pair of incompletions, Keenum went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. With 47 seconds left in the half, the Browns took over at their own 45. with 18 seconds left from the Denver 30, Mayfield went deep and was intercepted at the 2 yard line. Both quarterbacks missed a chance at a field goal for the lead.

The third quarter brought more defense. The Browns from their own 17 and embarked on a 15 play drive that took over 9 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and 1 from the Denver 49, Mayfield hit Callaway for 12 yards. However, a 15 yard taunting penalty on Callaway moved the Browns back. On 4th and 3 from the Denver 45, Gregg Williams in a tie game aggressively decided to go for it. Mayfield hit Njoku for 5 yards. On 2nd and 6 from the Denver 36, Mayfield was sacked and fumbled. The Broncos recovered at their own 40. After over 9 minutes, Cleveland got nothing. The football world wanted to say, “These are the Browns.” Denver moved to a 3rd and 8 at the Cleveland 24 when Keenum threw incomplete. McManus hit the 42 yarder as the Broncos led 13-10 after three quarters.

The Browns began the fourth quarter punting on 4th and 23 from their own 12. The Broncos took over at their own 20 and was quickly intercepted on a deep ball. The Browns took over at the Denver 48. Mayfield hit Landry for 12 yards and Higgins for 19 more. Mayfield threw  2 yard touchdown pass to Callaway. With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Browns took a 17-13 lead.

The Broncos soon faced 2nd and 11 at their own 24. Keenum hit Patrick for 12 yards, Lindsay for 16, and Hamilton for 14. On 3rd and 9 from the Cleveland 24, Keenum hit Hamilton for only 8 yards. Vance Joseph challenged the spot and the call was reversed from 4th and 1 to a 9 yard gain and 1st and 10. Vance Joseph then went smash mouth. Lindsay gained 7 and 2 but on 3rd and 1 from the 6 got stopped for no gain. With 5 1/2 minutes left, on 4th and 1 from the 6, Joseph had a big decision to make. He angered the home crowd by opting for the field goal and trusting his defense to get the ball back. It was not a terrible decision given that the whole game had been a slugfest. After a delay of game, McManus hit the 29 yard field goal to get the Broncos within one point.

The strategy appeared to immediately backfire when after a touchback Nick Chubb raced for a 40 yard gain. Chubb kept getting the ball, going 2, 9, 3 and 1. At the 2 minute warning, the Browns faced 3rd and 6 at the Jets 15. If Denver was out of timeouts, then running the ball would be the only sensible call. However, Denver had a timeout so a pass would be fine in that situation. Mayfield hit Njoku for 5 yards. Now it was Gregg Williams who faced a major decision. On 4th and 1 at the Denver 10, he opted to go for it. A chip shot field goal would have given Cleveland a 4 point lead. Vance Joseph chose to play it safe. Gregg Williams chose to play it very aggressive. 

The original plan was to go with the hard count to try and get Denver to jump offsides. Mayfield barked, the Broncos jumped, the Browns celebrated, and it was all for naught. Williams outthought himself and got too cute by half by calling a timeout just before the snap. Cleveland would have been in the driver’s seat. Instead, it was 4th and 1 again as the the football world wanted to say “These are the Browns.” Chubb got the carry and got blasted for a 2 yard loss as the football world was screaming that “These are the Browns.” 

Joseph’s decision seemed vindicated as the Broncos had the ball at their own 13 with 1:49 left. It seemed Williams had risked it all only to see Denver win on a late field goal. It was inevitable. With 1:12 left, after a pair of Keenum incompletions, the Broncos faced 4th and 2 at their own 35. Keenum hit Booker for 15 yards to midfield as the football world shouted “These are the Browns.”

Yet Gregg Williams kept it aggressive. He did what most coaches should do in the 2 minute drill defense but never have the guts to do. Rather than sit back, Williams brought the house. He sent everybody. On 3rd and 10 from midfield, Keenum fleet for his life and was lucky to escape with an incompletion. With 43 seconds left, it all came down to 4th and 10 from midfield. One more first down would give McManus a chance to win it. 

Keenum took the snap. He never had a chance. He got blasted by Jabril Peppers in a perfect textbook quarterback sack. Every college defender should watch the play. Peppers leveled Keenum cleanly and perfectly. Jalapeño peppers have 8 units of gut punch. Ghost chili peppers have one million units. Jabril Peppers is off the charts. The Broncos are now 6-8 and Vance Joseph may be fired at the end of the season. The Browns are now a good football team. They have leaders on both sides of the ball. Gregg Williams is only the interim coach. The interim tag needs to go. He is 4-1 and perhaps the best defensive mind in the game today not named Wade Phillips. Forget Bountygate. Williams is a great defensive mind. THESE are the Browns now. They are only 6-7, but one year after going 0-16, they are legitimate playoff contender next year. They win ugly, nasty and mean, which is absolutely beautiful for the Dawg Pound. 17-16 Browns

Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts — The Cowboys came in winning 5 straight and the Colts had won 6 of 7. Dallas moved well early from their 25 to a 2nd and 1 at the Indy 27. A run lost 3 yards and Dak Prescott threw incomplete. Maher came in for a 48 yard field goal try. The kick was blocked and the Colts took over at the Dallas 44. Andrew Luck hit Hines for 5 and TY Hilton for 6. Marlin Mack did the rest, running for 19, 6, 7, and on 3rd and goal at the one, the last yard to make it 7-0 Colts.

The Cowboys moved the ball up and down the field in the first half but could not get on the scoreboard. They moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 1 at the Indy 3. Prescott threw incomplete and Jason Garrett decided to go for it. On 4th and 1, Ezekiel Elliott lost 2 yards and fumbled the ball away. The Cowboys held the ball for 7 minutes on their next drive, moving 70 yards in 15 plays from their own 9. On 4th and 1 from the Indy 41, Jason Garrett again went for it and Elliott gained 3 yards. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the Indy 37, Prescott was sacked for a 10 yard loss out of field goal range.

The Colts got it back at their own 16 with 1:53 left. Luck went to Hilton for gains of 12 and 23. On 3rd and 10 from the Dallas 42, Luck threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Adam Vinatieri hit a 43 yard field goal as the half expired to put the Colts up 10-0. In the third quarter after  a touchback the Colts marched down the field. Mack ran for 12 and luck ran for 11 more. On 3rd and 4 from the Dallas 46, Luck hit hines for 19 yards. Mack ran for 21 and then the 6 yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Colts. Baltimore’s defense did the rest as Vinatieri hit field goals of 44 in the third quarter and 23 in the fourth quarter. The defense pitched a shutout. Frank Reich’s team has won 6 straight as both teams are 8-6 and alive in the playoff chase. 23-0 Colts

Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings — Last week Miami won on a miracle. This week it was Minnesota starting from their own 24. Cook ran for 6 yards and Kirk Cousins hit Cook for a 27 yard gain. Latavius Murray gained 6 yards and Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 21 yards. Cook ran for a 26 yard gain. Cousins hit Stefan Diggs for the 13 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Vikings. A 21 yard punt return by Sherels had the Vikings getting it back at their own 40. Cook ran for gains of 5 and 11. Cousins hit Conklin for 20 yards. Cook got around the end for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Vikings.Minnesota got it back at their own 30 and kept rolling. Cousins went to Diggs for 17 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Miami 48, Cousins hit Diggs for 7 and Thielen for 14 more. Murray ran for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Vikings after the first quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, momentum changed. With the Vikings facing 3rd and 15 at the Miami 47, Cousins was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick, who returned it 50 yards to pay dirt to get the Dolphins on the board. The Dolphins got it back at their own 32 and moved to a 1st and goal at the 7. Tannehill threw 3 straight incompletions. With 18 seconds left, Sanders hit the 25 yard field goal. After 14 plays, 61 yards and 6 minutes, the Dolphins were within 21-10. In the third quarter, the Dolphins needed only one play and 11 seconds to strike again. No laterals were involved as Ballage took a handoff and raced for a 75 yard touchdown to get the Dolphins within 21-17. 

Momentum changed again when the Dolphins punted on 4th and 19 from their own 29. Sherels returned it 70 yards to the Miami 22. Yet on 3rd and 6 Cousins threw incomplete. Dan Bailey hit the 36 yard field goal to make it 24-17 Vikings. In the fourth quarter the Vikings poured it on. Minnesota moved from their 27 to a 3rd and 4 at the Miami 8. Cousins was sacked but Bailey hit from 34 to make it 27-17 Vikings. Minnesota got it back at their own 45. On 3rd and 9 from the Miami 40, Cousins went to Aldrick Robinson for the touchdown to make it 34-17 Vikings. Miami had to go for it on 4th and 11 at their own 24. Tannehill was sacked. The Vikings took over at the Miami 16. After a false start, Dalvin Cook ran for a 21 yard touchdown. Minnesota is 7-6 and Miami is 7-7, as both teams are hanging on. 41-17 Vikings 

Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals — A field position game early on saw the Raiders eventually face 3rd and 9 at the Cincinnati 42. Derek Carr, who barely avoided an interception earlier in the game, was hit and fumbled. The Raiders were starting rookie guards on both sides in place of injured veterans. The blindside hit saw the Bengals recover the fumble at midfield. Driskel immediately went deep and was intercepted inside the 5 yard line. The Raiders punted and Cincinnati got it back at the Oakland 45 yard line. On 4th and 2 from the Oakland 37, Marvin Lewis decided to go for it. Driskel fired to Tyler Boyd for 7 yards and again for 21 more. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Driskel fired a strike over the middle to Boyd for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Bengals.  

In the second quarter the Bengals were pinned at their own 10 yard line. It didn’t matter. Joe Mixon ran for gains of 8, 7 and 5. Mixon then ripped off a 47 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 at the Oakland 18, Driskel ran for 15 yards. On 2nd and goal at the one, Mixon got stopped and Driskel threw incomplete. Marvin Lewis decided to go for it on 4th and goal at the one. Although Mixon appeared stopped, officials unpiled the bodies and ruled that Mixon crossed the plane of the goal to make it 14-0 Bengals. Jalen Richard then fumbled and the Bengals recovered at the Oakland 34. On 3rd and 4 from the Oakland 16, Driskel threw incomplete. Randy Bullock hit the 34 yard field goal to make it 17-0 Bengals.

The Raiders soon faced 1st and 15 at their own 20. Carr went to Atman for 8 and Seth Roberts for 20 more. Martin ran for 7 and Carr went to Waller for a 44 yard gain down to the one. Carr found a wide open Lee Smith for the touchdown as the Raiders were on the board down 17-7. Yet a 41 yard kickoff return by Erickson with 15 more tacked on for a facemark against the kicker had the Bengals taking over at the Oakland 46. On the next play a taunting penalty on Arden Key tacked on 15 more yards. 30 yards in penalties were more than enough for Bullock to hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 20-7 Bengals at halftime.

In the third quarter the Raiders were backed up to a 2nd and 12 at their own 9. Carr hit Roberts for 7 and on 3rd and 5 hit Jared Cook for 10 yards. Martin gained 7 and Richard ripped off a 32 yard gain. On 2nd and 5 from the Cincy 30, Carr had a pass batted back to him. Instead of knocking it down, Carr caught it, quickly realized his mistake, and voluntarily went down for a 9 yard loss. Daniel Carlson bailed out the Raiders with a 50 yard field goal to get the Raiders within 20-10. 

Oakland got it back at their own 40. Carr went bombs away to Jordy Nelson for a 44 yard gain down to the Cincy 7 yard line. After a false start, Martin gained 9 yards down to the 3. Then came another false start followed by a pair of incompletions. The Raiders inability to finish drives meant a 26 yard Carlson field goal as they still trailed 20-13. 

Needing a stop after a touchback, of course the Oakland defense could not get one. On 3rd and 10 from the Cincinnati 36, Driskel escaped tacklers and strolled down the sideline for a 13 yard gain. On 2nd and 17 from the Cincy 42, Driskel hit Uzomah for 27 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Oakland 29, Driskel hit Giovanni Bernard for 22 yards. Driskell threw incomplete on 3rd and goal at the 4. Bullock hit from 23 to make it 23-13 Bengals with 10:45 left.

A short punt had the Raiders taking over at their own 48 with 7 minutes left. Carr went to Nelson for 14 and Marcel Ateman for 12. Carlson hit a 40 yard field goal and the raiders were only down 23-16 with 5 minutes left. They needed one stop. They had hope. 12 seconds later hope was gone as Erickson returned the kickoff 77 yards to the Oakland 21. Driskel ran for 6 and Mixon ran for the 15 yard touchdown to ice the game. The Bengals came in losing 5 straight and 7 of 8. However, they got to play the Raiders today, and the Raiders are now 3-11. It’s tough to win with 4 rookies on the offensive line, a defense that cannot stop anyone on 3rd and long, and special teams that cannot tackle. In every phase of the game the Raiders find ways to lose. 30-16 Bengals

Tennessee Titans at New York Giants — The Giants came in winners of 4 of their last 5. Early on it was the Titans moving the ball well. They missed a field goal on their opening drive but got it back and moved 75 yards in 15 plays and nearly 8 minutes. Derrick Henry ran for 5 yards, Marcus Mariota ran for 11, and Henry ran for gains of 7, 6 and 3. On 3rd and 9 from the Giants 45, Mariota hit Davis for 11 yards. On 3rd and 12 from the Giants 36, Mariota hit Davis for 17 yards. From the Giants 19, Henry did the rest. He gained 5 with 5 more added for defensive holding. He gained 4 and 4 more to set up 3rd and goal at the one. Mariota got stopped, and Mike Vrabel decided to go for it. Henry banged forward and broke the plane of the goal to make it 7-0 Titans.  

In the third quarter the Giants moved from their own 25 to the Titans 18. Yet an illegal use of hands penalty on the offense was followed by an interception of Eli Manning. The Giants got it back and faced 3rd and 10 at their own 17 following a pair of Manning incompletions. Manning was then sacked and fumbled, and the Titans recovered at the Giants 14. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Mariota was sacked but a defensive facemark put the ball on the one. Henry got in to make it 14-0 Giants. In the fourth quarter Ryan Succop hit a 22 yard field goal as Tennessee got to 8-6 with suffocating defense. 17-0 Titans 

Washington Redskins at Jacksonville Jaguars — Sometimes a pair of bad teams can come together and produce a thrilling game for the ages. This was not that game. A short punt had the Redskins taking over at the Jackonsville 44. Dustin Hopkins hit a 46 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Redskins. In the second quarter an even shorter 30 yard punt had the Jaguars taking over at the Washington 46. Kai Forbath hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-3. The difference in the game was a 74 yard punt return for a touchdown by Westbrook to make it 10-3 Jaguars at halftime. In the third quarter the Redskins had a 16 play, 60 yard drive that consumed 7 1/2 minutes. On 1st and 10 from the Jags 15, a run went nowhere and Josh Johnson threw incomplete twice. Hopkins hit from 33 to get the Redskins within 10-6. Forbath answered from 41 to make it 13-6 Jaguars with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. 

Washington faced 2nd and 13 at their own 29. Johnson hit Vernon Davis for gains of 7 and 9 more on 3rd and 6. Johnson was then sacked and fumbled but the Redskins retained possession. On 3rd and 15 from the Washington 40, Johnson hit Crowder for 33 yards. Johnson hit Jeremy Sprinkle for a 6 yard touchdown. After more than 54 minutes without an offensive touchdown, the game was tied 13-13. Jacksonville moved from their 25 to a a 3rd and 6 at the Washington 35, in winning field goal range. Offensive pass interference was followed by Cody Kessler was intercepted. Blake Bortles cannot be blamed for that one as the Redskins took over at their own 45 with 2 1/2 minutes left. With 3 seconds left, Hopkins came in for a 36 yard try to win it for Washington. The kick was good as they got to 7-7 with the win. 16-13 Redskins

Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons — The Cardinals took over at their own 36. Josh Rosen hit Larry Fitzgerald for 8 yards and went deep to Johnson for a 40 yard gain. On 3rd and 15 from the Atlanta 17, Rosen hit Johnson for the exact amount to set up 1st and goal at the 2. Johnson gained a yard and then got the other yard to make it 7-0 Cardinals. On the next Arizona series, Rosen was intercepted by Jones, who returned it 41 yards the other way for the tying touchdown and a 7-7 ballgame. After that Atlanta carpet-bombed Arizona.

Atlanta got it back at their own 28 and Coleman raced for a 65 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 3 Matt Ryan threw incomplete. Matt Bryant hit the 22 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Falcons. The Cardinals then fumbled and the Falcons took over at the Arizona 34. Ryan went to Julio Jones for a 22 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Arizona 9, Ryan hit Smith for 8 yards. Atlanta got it back and moved from their 21 to a 3rd and 7 at the Arizona 14. Ryan threw incomplete but Bryant hit from 33 to make it 20-7 Falcons. Another interception of Rosen had the Falcons taking over at their own 29 with one minute left in the half. Ryan hit Ridley for 14 and Jones for gains of 14 and 7. Ryan ran for 15 and then threw a 21 yard touchdown pass to Jones with 13 seconds left. The 2 point try failed but the Falcons led 26-7 at the break.

The second half was a formality. In the third quarter Coleman went around the end for a 43 yard touchdown. In the fourth quarter the Falcons moved 76 yards in 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Ryan hit Hardy for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 40-7 Falcons. 40 unanswered points was followed by the inevitable Arizona garbage touchdown. 40-14 Falcons

Detroit Lions at Buffalo Bills — After a scoreless first quarter, the Lions began the second quarter facing 2nd and 8 at their own 27. Matthew Stafford went deep to Kenny Golladay for 31 yards. Theo Riddick ripped off gains of 7 and 19. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Stafford hit Andy Jones for the touchdown. For some reason Matt Patricia went for the 2 point conversion which failed as the Lions led 6-0. 

The Bills quickly faced 2nd and 9 at their own 14. Allen McKenzie for 11 yards and Foster for 28 more. Defensive pass interference meant a 43 yard gain. Josh Allen ran for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Bills. From the Detroit 23, Stafford threw 3 straight incompletions but offsetting penalties on 3rd and 10 gave the Lions another chance. Stafford then went to Golladay for 24 yards. On 3rd and 7 from midfield, Stafford went deep to Golladay for 40 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Zac Zenner got it to make it 13-7 Lions.

The second half belonged to the defense as the third quarter was scoreless. In the fourth quarter the Bills took over at their own 39. Allen went deep and drew a 23 yard defensive pass interference penalty. Allen then went deep to Foster for a 42 yard touchdown as the Bills led by one point with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Lions moved from their 25 to a 4th and 5 at the Buffalo 30 with 6 minutes left. Matt Prater came in for the 48 yard field goal try to give the Lions the lead. The kick was no good. With 2:50 left Sean McDermott got aggressive after a touchback. Rather than keep running, Allen threw a 25 yard completion to Croom to midfield.With 1:50 left on 4th and 1 at the Detroit 41, McDermott risked it all by going for it. If Buffalo does not make it, the Lions have excellent field position to again try a winning field goal. Allen gained 2 yards as the failed early 2 point try was the difference. 14-13 Bills

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears — A field position game had the Bears taking over at their own 40. Mitchell Trubisky hit Howard for 15 yards. Howard capped the drive with a 9 yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 Bears. In the second quarter the Packers moved from their 39 to a 2nd and 5 at the Green Bay 19. A run lost 4 yards and Aaron Rodgers threw incomplete. Mason Crosby hit the 41 yard field goal to get the Packers within 7-3. With 1:43 left in the half the Bears took over at their own 39. Trubisky hit Burton for 9. Tariq Cohen ran for 22 yards. Trubisky hit Bellamy for for 18 yards and Cohen for the 12 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Bears at halftime.

In the third quarter the Packers moved 50 yards in 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. They faced 2nd and 7 at the Chicago 25, but Rodgers threw incomplete twice. Crosby hit from 43 to get the Packers within 14-6. A key play in the game came with the Bears facing 4th and 2 just past midfield. Matt Nagy went for a fake punt that didn’t work. The Packers took over at midfield. On 3rd and 8 Rodgers went deep to Devonta Adams for 28 yards and again for 10 more. Williams ran for a 10 yard touchdown and Rodgers hit Adams for the 2 point try to tie the game 14-14. The Bears moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 1 at the Green Bay 23. Rather than go smash mouth, Matt Nagy had Trubisky in the shotgun. Cohen lost 4 yards and fumbled the ball away as the third quarter ended.

With 13 minutes left in regulation a penalty on a punt had the Bears starting at the Green Bay 45. Trubisky threw a 13 yard touchdown pass to Burton to make it 21-14 Bears with 10 minutes left. Cohen then broke the game open with a 44 yard punt return to the Green Bay 15. On 4th and 1 from the 6, Nagy made the safe and totally right call by opting for the field goal. Cody Parkey hit the 24 yarder to put the Bears up 24-14 with 6:43 to play. 

The Packers moved after a touchback to a 1st and goal at the 9. Rodgers threw incomplete twice and on 3rd and goal was intercepted in the end zone. Green Bay got it back and again faced 3rd and goal at the 9 with only 24 seconds left. Rodgers was sacked for an 18 yard loss. Crosby hit the 45 yard field goal to make it a 7 point game with 11 seconds left, but the onside kick failed. Rodgers always beats the Bears. Not this time. This is the type of win that shuts up critics. The Bears are 10-4 and deserve to be. 24-17 Bears

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens — A Lamar Jackson fumble had the Buccaneers taking over just shy of midfield late in the opening quarter. On 3rd and 5 from the Baltimore 46, Jameis Winston went to Mike Evans for a 23 yard gain. In the second quarter on 3rd and goal from the 6, Winston threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. On the next play Barber got in for the score. The extra point was no good as the Buccaneers led 6-0.

The Ravens came back with a staggering 16 play, 73 yard drive that consumed over 8 minutes. From their own 27, Dixon ran for 17 and 2 and Edwards gained 7 and 3. On 3rd and 15 from the Tampa 35, the defense jumped offsides. On 3rd and 10, Jackson went to Snead for 14 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the 7, Jackson got stopped. John Harbaugh decided to go for it. On 4th and 1, Jackson gained 5 yards. After a sack, Jackson threw a 5 yard touchdown to Moore to make it 7-6 Ravens with 4 minutes left in the half.

The Buccaneers moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 2 at the Baltimore 3. Winston threw incomplete and Dirk Koetter opted for the field goal. Cairo santos hit from 21 to make it 9-7 Buccaneers. Baltimore got it back at their own 31 with 1:48 left. This time it was the Ravens moving to a 3rd and 5 at the Tampa 6 with 23 seconds left in the half. Jackson threw incomplete and Justin Tucker hit from 24 as the Ravens led 10-9 at intermission.

In the third quarter the Ravens moved 78 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and 7 from their own 25, Jackson hit Andrew for 17 yards. Dixon ran for 10 and Jackson added gains of 14 and 11. On 2nd and 14 from the Tampa 38, Jackson ran for 22 yards. Edwards ran for 6 and then for the 10 yard touchdown to make it 17-9 Ravens. The Buccaneers punted but the Ravens fumbled it. The Buccaneers took over at the Baltimore 14. On 3rd and 5 from the 9, Winston threw incomplete. Santos hit the 28 yarder to get the Buccaneers within 17-12.

The fourth quarter belonged to Baltimore’s NFL leading defense. Baltimore’s offense took over at their own 45 and held the ball for over 7 minutes and 15 plays. Tucker hit a 35 yard field goal 90 seconds into the fourth quarter to put the Ravens up by 8 points. Winston went deep and was quickly intercepted. The Bucs got it back and moved from their 38 to a 3rd and 1 at the Baltimore 30. A run lost 3 yards. Dirk Koetter midway through the fourth quarter decided to go for it and Winston threw incomplete. Baltimore ran another 12 play drive that moved 57 yards and took the remaining 7 minutes off the clock. The porous Tampa defense could not get a stop. With 2:18 left from the Tampa 33, Edwards gained 26. Baltimore got to 8-6 and alive for a playoff spot. 20-12 Ravens

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers — The Seahawks came in winning 5 straight while the 49ers had the inside track for the to pick in the 2019 Draft. Seattle quickly faced 3rd and 4 at their own 47. Russell Wilson Went to Tyler Lockett for 28 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for the touchdown. Sebastian Janikowski missed the extra point but the Seahawks led 6-0. 12 seconds later the 49ers had the lead as James took the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-6 49ers.

A good punt had the 49ers pinned back at their own one yard line. Nick Mullens was sacked and fumbled and the Seahawks recovered for a touchdown. However the defense jumped offsides to nullify the score. The 49ers moved to their own 46. Wilson then gained 14 yards but fumbled the ball away. The 49ers got it back at their own 2 yard line to start the second quarter and this time they went the distance. On 3rd and 7 from their 5, Mullens hit Taylor for 8 yards. On 3rd and 11 from their own 28, the defense jumped offsides again. On 3rd and 6 Mullens hit Pettis for 26 yards. Mullens then went deep to Greg Celek for a 41 yard touchdown to make it 14-6 49ers.

Seattle soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 23. Wilson hit Baldwin for 11 yards. Carson ran for 24 yards. Wilson went deep to Baldwin for a 35 yard touchdown to get the Seahawks within 14-13. After a touchback the 49ers moved to a 3rd and 4 at the Seattle 9. Mullens threw incomplete. Robbie Gould hit the 28 yarder to make it 17-13 49ers. Tempers flared in the third quarter. The Seahawks were called for 3 personal fouls on defense, giving the 49ers 45 free yards. Yet in the red zone, a silly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the 49ers killed the drive. After a reception, the receiver tossed the ball in the direction of the officials but accidentally hit a Seattle defender. Gould hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 20-13 49ers with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. 

After a touchback, Chris Carson took over. He ran for 21, 5 and then 26 yards. On 2nd and goal at the one, Carson lost a yard. On 3rd and goal at the 2 out of the shotgun, Carson gained one yard. On 4th and goal at the one, Pete Carroll decided to go for it. Again he opted for the shotgun, which fans everywhere should hate. Carson appeared stopped cold. He was stopped cold. Somehow he turned into a young Marshawn Lynch, bulled his way forward, and in a nearly superhuman act got the ball across the plane before his knee came down. One minute into the fourth quarter, the game was tied 20-20.

After a touchback, Mullens went to Pettis for 30 yards. With 10 minutes left, Gould nailed a 45 yard field goal to give the 49ers the 23-20 lead. After another touchback, Wilson threw incomplete but roughing the passer added 15 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 43, Wilson went to Baldwin for 26 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the San Francisco 27, Wilson was sacked for a 3 yard loss. With 5 1/2 minutes left, Seabass came in for a 48 yard field goal try to tie the game. The kick was good and the game was tied 23-23. 

Each team got the ball twice more but had to punt as the game went into overtime. Seattle won the toss and started at their own 14. The play of the game happened on 3rd and 4 from the Seattle 20. Wilson went deep to JD McKissick for a 32 yard gain. Yet offensive holding nullified the gain and killed the drive. The 49ers took over at their own 38. On 2nd and 15 from their own 44, Mullens threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 16 yard gain. Wilson ran for 16 yards. With 3 minutes left in overtime, the 49ers faced 3rd and 3 at the Seattle 18. Kyle Shanahan opted for the 36 yard field goal try on 3rd down in case of a bad snap in the hard rain. The snap, hold, and kick were gold…more like Gould…and the 49er had the upset win. Seattle still has the inside track for a wildcard 26-23 49ers, OT 

New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers — The Patriots were 7 seconds and one miracle of laterals away from clinching the AFC East last week. The Steelers came in losers of 3 straight and only 1/2 a game up in the AFC North. They lost at Oakland after nearly pulling off a lateral miracle of their own. However, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick own Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin. Yet in this game it was the Steelers who started after a touchback with an 11 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. From the Pittsburgh 36, Samuels gained 6 yards and then 25 more. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Roethlisberger hit Vance McDonald for the score to make it 7-0 Steelers.

The Patriots struck back quickly. On 3rd and 1 from their own 32, Pittsburgh’s defense was called for having too many men on the field. On the next play Brady went deep to a wide open Chris Hogan for a 63 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. The Steelers late in the first quarter faced 2nd and 14 at their own 4. Roethlisberger went to Juju Smith-Schuster for 22 yards and again for 9 more to end the quarter. From the New England 43 in the second quarter, defensive pass interference added 26 yards. On the next play Big Ben went to Antonio Brown for a 17 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Steelers.

In the third quarter the Steelers were in total control when they moved from their own 25 to a 1st and goal at the 4. A run went nowhere. Then Big Ben was called for intentional grounding. On 3rd and goal from the 14, Roethlisberger went to the end zone to McDonald, but McDonald could not get both feet down inbounds. The air came out of the home crowd when Chris Boswell missed the 32 yard field goal try. The fourth quarter was inevitable. New England would come back and win again.

The Patriots mounted a 13 play, 63 yard drive that consumed 8:15 off the clock. Starting at their own 22, the Patriots soon faced 3rd and 16 at their own 29, Wilson threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 21 yard gain to midfield. Bill Belichick went to the ground and pound game. Michel ran for 5, 5, and 2. Burkhead ran for 9, 10 and 4. On 3rd and 4 from the Pittsburgh 13, a pass from Brady to Julian Edelman only gained 3 yards. On 4th and 1 from the 10, Bill Belichick decided not to gamble. Stephen Gostkowski hit the 28 yard field goal as the Patriots trailed 14-10 after three quarters.

The Steelers began the fourth quarter at their own 25. On 3rd and 6 form midfield, Roethlisberger had a short pass riches and get intercepted. The Patriots took over at their own 41. With 9 minutes left they faced 1st and goal at the 5. The entire football world knew the Patriots would take the lead. First came offensive holding. Then on 2nd and goal from the 16 under heavy pressure, Brady went to the corner and was intercepted by Joe Haden at the 4 yard line. 2 receivers tried to remove the ball from Haden’s hands but he kept control and somehow got both feet down inbounds.

On 3rd and 7 from their own 7 with 6 minutes left, Roethlisberger hit McDonald for 8 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 26 with 3 minutes left, Roethlisberger hit Samuels for 20 yards. Samuels then ran for a 15 yard gain with 5 more tacked on for defensive holding. With 2 1/2 minutes left, Boswell came in for a 48 yard field goal try. This time Boswell was good and the Steelers led by 7. Yet Brady now had the ball.

On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, White gained 6 yards. At the 2 minute warning, on 1st and 15 from their own 35, Brady went deep to Edelman for 34 yards. Brady then hit White for gains of 9, 6 and 5. With 37 seconds to play, the Patriots had 2nd and 5 at the Pittsburgh 11. Of course they were going to tie the game. First came offensive holding. Then came a pair of deep incompletions. With 14 seconds left, it came down to 4th and 15 at the Pittsburgh 21. Brady went to the end zone and Edelman got position in front of 2 defenders at the goal line. Ye the ball was high and Edelman couldn’t corral it. The Steelers finally got the monkey off their back. The Patriots are 9-5 and have lost 2 straight. They still have not clinched the AFC East, although they almost definitely will. The Steelers are only 1/2 a game ahead of Baltimore in the AFC North. 17-10 Steelers

Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams was the Sunday night game. Last year these teams met in a thriller won 43-37 by the Eagles. They won the game but lost Carson Wentz for the rest of the season. Nick Foles replaced him and the rest is history. This year the Rams are riding high at 11-2 while the 6-7 Eagles are on the brink of elimination. Again, Wentz is out for the rest of the year and Foles fills in. The Eagles took over at their own 24. Foles hit Goedert for 10 yards. On 3rd and 4 from their own 43, Darren Sproles ran for 17 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 40, a completion only gained 7 yards. Jake Elliott nailed a 51 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles.

The Rams came back 80 yards in 13 plays and nearly 7 1/2 minutes. Todd Gurley got started early, gained 6, 3, and on 3rd and 1 catching a pass from Jared Goff for 6 yards. On 1st and 20 from the Rams 35, Goff went to Gurley for 8 and Woods for 18. From the Eagles 14, Gurley caught a pass for 9 yards and then ran for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Rams after the first quarter. 

In the second quarter the Eagles faced 3rd and 6 at their own 29. Foles found Alshon Jeffery for a 26 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Rams 40, Foles hit Smallwood for only 4 yards. However, unnecessary roughness added 15 more. On 3rd and 5 from the Rams 16, Foles threw incomplete. Elliott hit the 34 yard field goal to get the Eagles within 7-6. After a touchback, Woods gained 19 yards. However, on the next play Goff was intercepted by Maddox at the Eagles 42 yard line. On a deep incompletion, Foles got blasted on a clean hit. On 3rd and 3 from their 49, Adams only gained 2. Doug Pederson decided to go for it. Adams got the carry, got stopped, and even with a good second effort came up short of the sticks. 

The Rams moved from the Philadelphia 49 to the Philly 14, but then the drive unraveled. Offensive pass interference moved them back. Then on 3rd and 11 Goff was sacked for an 8 yard loss. Greg Zuerlein hit from 41 yards out to make it 10-6 Rams with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half.

The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Foles hit Goedert for just enough. Goedert appeared stopped short of the first down, but officials gave him a favorable spot. On 3rd and 5 from the Eagles 40, Foles went deep and Jeffery made a leaping catch for a 36 yard gain. Foles went back to Jeffery for an 18 yard gain. Adams ran up the middle for the 6 yard touchdown as the Eagles reclaimed the lead 13-10 with just over one minute left in the half.

After a touchback, Goff hit Cooks for gains of 8, 12 and 5. From midfield, Goff fired to Woods, who raced for a 20 yard gain as the Rams took their final timeout with 27 seconds left. From the the Philly 18, three straight incompletions left 4 seconds. Zuerlein hit the 36 yard field goal attempt as the teams went to the locker rooms deadlocked 13-13.

In the third quarter the Rams punted on 4th and 6 from their own 9. The Eagles took over at their own 41. Foles went for the bomb right away and got belted as soon as he threw it. Somehow Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor both beat the defense but were in the same area. Both receivers jumped for the ball and almost knocked each other out of the way in what would have been a major Keystone Cops moment. However, Jeffery outjumped his own teammate without hitting him and hung onto the ball for a 50 yard gain. On the next play Smallwood went right up the gut and bowled over a defender while standing upright for a 9 yard touchdown and a 20-13 Eagles lead.

The Eagles got it back at their own 26. Foles hit Jeffery for 13 and Smallwood for 11 to midfield. Foles hit Golden Tate for 10 and Smallwood gained 11. Elliott hit a 40 yard field goal to make it 23-13 Eagles. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34 and disaster struck. Goff was stepped on by his own offensive lineman after he took the snap, causing him to trip and fall down. It would have only been a 3 yard loss, but Goff got up and tried to make something happen with the pocket collapsing in his fate. As he was getting hit, he threw a bizarre sideways pass that bounced off a helmet and was intercepted by Graham. Graham returned it 16 yards to the Rams 12 yard line. Smallwood ran for a 4 yard touchdown as the Eagles had the shocking 30-13 lead after three quarters.

Sean McVay goes for fake punts more than any other coach because punter Johnny Hekker is a former quarterback. McVay gambled on 4th and 5 from his own 30 with a fake punt and Hekker threw a 7 yard completion to Hodge. Doug Pederson challenged the completion and on further review the well thrown ball went through the receiver’s hands and hit the ground incomplete. From the Rams 18, Foles went for the kill shot to Zac Ertz at the 5 yard line, but Aqib Talib jumped the rout at the last second and intercepted the ball. Talib returned the interception 30 yards to the Rams 35. The Rams were still barely alive.

On 3rd and 3 from the Philly 27, Goff threw a West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass that should have been a 4 yard loss. However, woods broke a tackle and ended up gaining 11 yards. On 1st and 10 from the Philly 16, Goff had Gerald Everett wide open in the end zone and missed him. Then came offensive holding. On 3rd and 12 from the Philly 18, Goff fired to the end zone to Gurley but the throw was high incomplete. Needing 3 scores, McVay opted for the field goal. Zuerlein hit the 27 yarder as the Rams trailed 30-16 with only 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Rams got it back at their own 18 with 6:18 to play. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson kept bringing pressure, forcing Goff to settle for underneath throws rather than go deep. Yet on 3rd and 10 from the Philly 34, Goff finally got time to throw and fired a strike to Reynolds. Initially ruled a touchdown, replay showed that Reynolds came down inches short of the plane of the goal. On 1st and goal Goff was in the shotgun and threw incomplete. On 2nd and goal the Rams decided to play normal football. Goff lined up behind center, handed it to Gurley, and he got in. The Rams were within 30-23 but only 4 minutes remained.

The Eagles took over at their own 16 and a pair of offensive penalties were followed by a ball that was almost intercepted. on On 3rd and 17 from their own 10, Foles went with the safe dump off. The Rams were going to get the ball back with one timeout and the 2 minute warning. However, disaster struck when Watson fumbled the punt without being touched. It just flew out of his hand while he was running with it. With 2:50 to play, the Eagles took over at the Rams 36 yard line. At the 2 minute warning, it all came down to 3rd and 10. 

For those who have ever watched a football game, the only sane decision in this situation is to run the ball. You don’t risk an incomplete pass. You line up behind the center and run. Instead the Eagles lined up in the shotgun. At least they ran the ball but only gained one yard. The field goal try to ice the game was 53 yards. The kick was wide, no good. The Rams had 1:08 left with 0 timeouts at their own 43 yard line, a very doable situation.

Goff fired to Reynolds for 12 yards and Everett for 6 yards as Everett got out of bounds with 45 seconds left. Goff fired to Everett a couple more times for gains of 5 and 8 as Everett got out of bounds at the Philly 26 with 20 seconds left. Goff fired to Gurley, but Gurley did not get out of bounds. Goff spiked the ball to stop the clock with 4 seconds left. It all came down to one play from the Philly 18. Goff went to the end zone incomplete and there were no flags. For the second straight year the Eagles went into Los Angeles and beat the Rams. The Eagles at 7-7 are still alive, while the Rams lost their second straight. The Rams are still 11-3, but they are now a game and a tie-breaker behind New Orleans for the top seed and only one game ahead of Chicago to avoid losing the first round bye. 30-23 Eagles

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers was the Monday night game. These teams both have star quarterbacks who have led high octane offenses over the years. This game was head-knocking defense. The Panthers began their first drive facing 3rd and 10 at their own 10. Cam Newton went deep to Samuel for 17 yards. On 3rd and 9 at their own 43, Newton hit Moore for 7. On 4th and 2 at midfield, Riverboat Ron Rivera decided to go for it and offensive coordinator Norv Turner dialed up the perfect place call. Newton pitched to Christian McCaffrey. Rather than run it, McCaffrey stopped and threw a perfect halfback option pass to a wide open Chris Manhertz for the touchdown and the 7-0 Panthers lead. All the Saints could mister was a 46 yard Wil Lutz field goal in the first quarter and a 24 yard Lutz field goal in the second quarter. The third quarter was scoreless as the Saints trailed 7-6.

A key play in the game came when the Panthers moved from their 15 to midfield. Moore got the carry and gained 22 yards. However, Moore fumbled and the Saints recovered at their own 16. On 2nd and 8 from the Saints 19, defensive pass interference was good for exactly 18 yards. The Fourth quarter began with the Saints at their own 46. Brees hit Thomas for 12. Hill gained 17 and Mark Ingram added 7. Kamara then ran for a 16 yard touchdown to put the Saints up 12-7 with 12 minutes in regulation. Chaos ensued on the 2 point conversion try.

Kicking the extra point would make it 13-7. Making the 2 pointer would be 14-7. Even missing it would be 12-7. However, Brees had his 2 point pass intercepted by Jackson, who got to the middle of the field and outraced everybody. It was a 2 pointer, but for Carolina’s defense. The Panthers were only down by one field goal. The Saints tried to run out the clock. They moved 64 yards in 14 plays and 7 minutes. With 1:51 left and the Panthers out of timeouts, the Saints faced 3rd and 4 at the Carolina 5. The next play was a stunner. Lewis took a pitchout and appeared to be tackled at the one yard line. Yet he made the mistake so many others have made. In trying to stretch for the pylon, he fumbled the ball. It went through the end zone for a touchback. 

Carolina had a chance to tie or win it at their own 20 with a full 1:44 to play. With 38 seconds left on 4th and 5 from their own 39, Newton threw incomplete. Despite Drew Brees not throwing a touchdown pass, the Saints got the win to get to 12-2. The Saints need only one win in their final two games to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. If they win next week, Sean Payton can rest his starters in the final week if he chooses. Despite a stellar effort by the Carolina defense, the Panthers lost their 6th straight game to pretty much be eliminated from playoff contention. These teams meet again in 2 weeks in the season finale in New Orleans. 12-9 Saints

NFL 2018 Week 15 Prequel

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

Hanukkah 2018 Night 8: NFL 2018 Week 14 Recap

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Hanukkah 2018 Night 8: NFL 2018 Week 14 Recap

The Festival of Lights was beautiful. Now let’s get down to football. This is when the big dogs come out.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans was the Thursday night game. After snapping their 7 game losing streak with a 6-0 victory, Jacksonville reverted back to form in a game that was over from the start. Tennessee from their own 27 moved easily. From the Jacksonville 48, Marcus Mariota hit Lewis for a 29 yard gain. Derrick Henry ran for 14, 2, and then the 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans. The Jaguars managed a safety to trail 7-2.

In the second quarter the Jaguars faced 4th and 1 at the Tennessee 5. Kessler gained 2 yards. On 4th and goal at the one, Doug Marrone again decided to go for it. A touchdown would give the Jaguars the lead. Leonard Fournette got the carry and got stopped. Then came the play of the game and perhaps the season. From their own one, the Titans took over. Henry got the carry and went the full Tony Dorsett with a 99 yard touchdown run. This was not speed. It was power, as Henry stiff-armed more than one Jacksonville defender out of the way. The extra point failed but the Titans led 13-2. 

The game was pretty much over. Ryan Succop added a 33 yard field goal to end the half. In the third quarter the Titans moved 68 yards in 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 11 from the Jacksonville 28, Mariota ran for 12 yards and Henry ran for the 16 yard touchdown to make it 23-2 Titans. The Jaguars fumbled and Tennessee took over at their own 46. Again they needed only one play as Henry ran for a 54 yard touchdown to make it 30-2 Titans. Henry was a one man wrecking crew, finishing with 238 yards on 17 carries with 4 touchdowns. Jacksonville did get a touchdown in the third quarter and the fourth quarter was scoreless. 30-9 Titans

Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs — The number one defense traveled to face the number one offense. After a touchback to start the game, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 8 at their own 38. Patrick Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 17 yards, Conley for 7, Ware for 9, and Kelce for 15 down to the Baltimore 13. Defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Williams got the yard to make it 7-0 Chiefs.

After a touchback, Edwards ran for 8 yards, Lamar Jackson added 21 more, Edwards ran for 7, Dixon added 14 more, Edwards added 11, Jackson gained 9, Edwards added 2, and Dixon ran for the 3 yard touchdown. Baltimore tied the game 7-7 in the second quarter without throwing a single pass. The Chiefs missed a chance to take the lead when Harrison Butker missed a 51 yard field goal try. The Ravens took the good field position and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 11. The drive died at that point but a 28 yard Justin Tucker field goal made it 10-7 Ravens.

A touchback followed by an 18 yard completion from Mahomes to Tyreeq Hill plus a roughing the passer penalty had the Chiefs at the Baltimore 42. On 3rd and 6 from the Baltimore 15, Mahomes hit Kelce for the touchdown to make it 14-10 Chiefs with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Chiefs got it back at their own 19 with 1:36 left. Mahomes hit Robinson for gains of 9 and 17 and Ware for a 31 yard gain. With 10 seconds left in the half, the Chiefs had 3rd and 4 at the Baltimore 6. Mahomes threw incomplete but Butker hit from 24 to make it 17-10 Chiefs at halftime.

In the third quarter the Ravens moved from their 25 to a 4th and 1 at the Chiefs 39. John Harbaugh went for it. Edwards got the carry and got stopped cold. Yet on 3rd and 8 from the Chiefs 41, Mahomes was intercepted. From the Baltimore 27, the Ravens kept running the ball smash mouth style. Even on 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 14, John Harbaugh kept running it. Jackson gained 4 yards, and Harbaugh gambled again on 4th and 2 from the 10. This time Jackson hit Maxx Williams for the touchdown to make it a 17-17 game with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. 

The defenses dominated,, and Mahomes was getting harassed by the blitzing Baltimore defense. With 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation, a 55 yard punt return by Jones had the Ravens at the Chiefs 14 yard line. On 3rd and 5, Jackson hit John Brown for the touchdown. With 4 minutes to play, the Ravens led 24-17 and were smelling upset.  

In a surprising turn of events, pass happy Andy Reid had Ware run three straight times for 6, 3, and 5 yards on 3rd and 1. With 90 seconds left, the Chiefs were down to their last gasp, facing 4th and 9 at their own 40. This time the Ravens did not blitz but they brought pressure with their front four anyway. Mahomes rolled all the way to his right, and just before going out of bounds, twisted his body and threw back across his body to the middle of the field where only bad things happen. Somehow, Hill came down with it, broke some tackles, and got to the sideline for a 48 yard gain. With 53 seconds left the Chiefs were again down to their final chance, facing 4th and 3 at the Chicago 5 yard line.

This time Baltimore brought the house, and Mahomes hit a wide open Williams in the flat for the touchdown and a 24-24 game. Baltimore took over after a touchback. With 44 seconds left from their own 36, disaster struck the Ravens. This time it was Kansas city sending a blindside blitz. Jackson never felt the pressure as he got hit and fumbled. The Chiefs recovered t the Baltimore 23. All they had to do was run down the clock and kick a field goal. With 3 seconds left, Butker came in for the 43 yard try to win it. The kick was no good. Butker’s second miss on the day sent this fine football game into overtime.

The Chiefs won the toss and after a touchback, Mahomes went right to work. He hit Harris for 15 and Hill for gains of 18 and 15. The Chiefs reached 1st and 10 at the Baltimore 12. Then Mahomes got nailed and fumbled. The Chiefs were lucky that Eric Fisher fell on the ball. the Chiefs retained possession but lost 13 yards. With 4:42 left in overtime, Butler came in for a 35 yard try. This time his kick was good. The Ravens would get one chance to tie or win the game.   

On 3rd and 7 from their own 28, Jackson hit Willie Snead for 14 yards. At the 2 minute warning, the Ravens had 2nd and 8 at the Chiefs 45. Then it all unraveled. Offensive holding moved them back. On the next play Jackson was sacked. He was injured on the play. On 3rd and 22, Robert Griffin III had to enter the game under the most impossible of conditions. RGIII threw incomplete twice, including a deep ball where defensive pass interference could have been called. The Ravens fell to 7-6 but still have the tie-breaker wild card advantage. The Chiefs at 11-2 still hold the top seed in the AFC, but they are only one game up in the AFC West with a major division showdown on Thursday. Ugly wins count, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 27-24 Chiefs, OT

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans — The Colts saw their 5 game winning streak snapped with a head-scratching 6-0 loss at Jacksonville. Houston came in winning 9 in a row. The Texans took over at their own 18. DeShaun Watson hit Akins for 13 yards and again for 27 more with another 15 tacked on for unnecessary roughness. On 3rd and 13 from the indy 30, Watson scrambled for just enough. Frank Reich challenged the spot, and it was reversed to 4th and 1. Bill O’Brien decided to go for it, and Watson hit Thomas for 6 yards. Alfred Blue ran for a 3 yard touchdown late in the first quarter for a 7-0 Texans lead. Then in the second quarter, the Colts took over.

Midway through the second quarter, the Colts took over at their own 36. Andrew Luck went bombs away ton TY Hilton for a 60 yard gain. On the next play Marlin Mack ran for the 4 yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie. The Colts got it back at their own 34. Luck went to Eric Ebron for 23 yards, Pascal for 28 more, and back to Ebron for a 14 yard touchdown. The Colts led 14-7 with 3 minutes left in the half. The Colts got it back at their own 11 with 1:15 left. With 26 seconds left the Colts faced 3rd and 10 at their own 38. Luck hit Ebron for 15 and Carlos Rogers for 11 more. Adam Vinatieri drilled a 54 yard field goal to end the half with the Colts up 17-7.

The Texans began the third quarter with a staggering 16 play, 75 yard drive that consumed nearly half the period. On 3rd and 1 from the Colts 44, Watson hit Thomas for 14 yards. On 3rd and 8 at the Indy 28, Watson hit Hopkins for 10. On 4th and goal at the one, Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. Lamar Miller got in and the Texans were within 17-14. The Colts soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Luck hit Grant for 15 yards and Hilton for 8 more. On 2nd and 18 from the Houston 46, Luck went deep to Hilton for a 34 yard gain and then to Zach Pascal for the 12 yard touchdown. After three quarters the Colts led 24-14.

With minutes left in regulation and still needing 2 scores, the Texans faced 3rd and 8 at their own 32. Watson hit Thomas for 9 yards and went deep to Griffin for a 47 yard gain. Watson hit Hopkins for a 7 yard touchdown. With 2 1/2 minutes left the Texans were within a field goal and needed to get the ball back. Bill O’Brien opted against an onside kick and the Colts took over at their own 22. Everything came down to the 2 minute warning. The Texans were out of timeout. It was 3rd and 1 for the Colts at their own 48. Luck barked the hard count, and Jadavean clowned jumped offsides. The 9-4 Texans still lead the 7-6 Colts, as each team won on the other’s home field. Watson was 27 of 38 for 267 yards, one touchdown and 0 interceptions. Luck was a sensational 27 of 41 for 399 yards and 2 touchdowns with one interception. 24-21 Colts

Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers  — McCarthy is out and the even blander nondescript Joe Philbin is in. In the first 83 seconds, Matt Ryan went to Julio Jones for gains of 28 and 19 yards. Philbin unsuccessfully used both challenges on those catches. On 3rd and 8 at the Green Bay 26, Ryan hit Mohammed Sanu for 10 yards and Jones for the 16 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Falcons.

After a touchback Aaron Rodgers came out firing. He hit Brown for gains of 8 and 4 and Randall Cobb for 8 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Green Bay 45, Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for 21 yards and Valdes-Scantling for 14 more. Rodgers hit Adams for a 7 yard touchdown to make it a 7-7 game. The Falcons missed a chance to take the lead. On 3rd and 7 from the Green Bay 19, Ryan was sacked and fumbled. The Falcons retained possession but the 16 yard loss turned a 37 yard field goal try into a 53 yard attempt. Matt Bryant missed it. After the first quarter, a close game between a pair of underachieving teams turned into a blowout.

The Packers after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 7 at the Atlanta 23. Rodgers threw incomplete and then was sacked for a 9 yard loss. Mason Crosby hit the 50 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Packers. With 6 minutes left in the half, the Falcons faced 3rd and 4 at their own 14. Ryan was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland, who returned it 22 yards for a touchdown and a 17-7 Packers lead. The Packers got the ball at their own 7 yard line with 2:45 left in the half. A mind-numbing unnecessary roughness penalty gave the Packers some breathing room. On 3rd and 6 from their own 31, Rodgers ran for 16 yards and then again for 21 more. With 26 seconds left in the half on 3rd and 1 from the Atlanta 27, Rodgers was sacked. Crosby hit the 48 yard field goal to end the half with the Packers up 20-7.

In the third quarter from their own 28, the Packers quickly moved to put the game away. Another pair of defensive penalties gave the Packers 20 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Atlanta 24, Rodgers hit Cobb for the touchdown to make it 27-7 Packers. Green Bay got it back and faced 3rd and 14 at their own 20. Rodgers hit Adams for 16 yards and Jones for 15 more. Jones then ran for 14 yards and again for a 29 yard touchdown to make it a 34-7 Packers mauling. Atlanta scored twice during the garbage time fourth quarter as the Falcons fell to 4-9. The Packers at 5-7 are still clinging to life. Aaron Rodgers set an NFL record in this game. He has now thrown 368 straight passes without an interception. 34-20 Packers 

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills — Rex Ryan coaches neither of these teams, reducing this to a game between bad teams. On 1st and 20 from their own 17, Josh Allen hit Foster for 18 yards and ran for 8 yards on 3rd and 1. Allen scrambled for a 31 yard gain and then for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bills. On their next series the Bills fumbled and the Jets took over at the Buffalo 32. Sam Darnold went to the locker room injured and Josh McCown came in. Jason Myers hit a 47 yard field goal to get the Jets within 7-3. The Bills after a touchback soon faced a 3rd and 4 at the Jets 48. Allen went deep and drew a 33 yard defensive pass interference call. On the next play Isaiah McKenzie ran for a 15 yard touchdown. The Bills led 14-3 after the first quarter, but the game would tighten. 

A 51 yard kickoff return had the Jets taking over at the Buffalo 46. On 3rd and 9 from the Buffalo 45 to start the second quarter, Sam Darnold went deep to Anderson for 25 yards. Yet on 2nd and goal at the one, McGuire lost 2 yard and Darnold threw incomplete. Jason Myers hit the 21 yard field goal to get the Jets within 14-6. The Bills from their own 29 moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Jets 13. A halfback reverse option was incomplete. Steve Hauschka hit the 31 yard field goal to make it 17-6 Bills. After burning the Bills for a 51 yard kickoff return, Roberts returned this one 86 yards to the Buffalo 8 yard line. Trenton Cannon ran for a 4 yard touchdown to get the Jets within 17-13.

Buffalo saw Josh Allen get intercepted. Buffalo got it back and Hauschka came in for a 49 yard field goal try to end the half. The kick was blocked. Despite earlier heroics, this time Roberts fumbled the second half kickoff. The Bills recovered at the Jets 13 but could not get in the end zone. Hauschka hit the 29 yard field goal ago make it 20-13 Bills. The Jets moved from their 35 to a 3rd and 9 at the Buffalo 33. Darnold was intercepted. Yet the Bills did not capitalize. Despite every chance to put the game away, Buffalo didn’t do it.

The Jets faced 3rd and 10 at their own 15. Darnold hit Enunwa for 11 yards. McGuire then ripped off a 34 yard gain. Darbold hit Leggett for 13 yards as the Jets began the fourth quarter at the Buffalo 27. Darnold hit Herndon for 14 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Buffalo 7, Darnold hit Robby Anderson for the touchdown. With 12 minutes left in regulation the Jets had tied the game 20-20. The Bills moved from their 16 to a 1st and 10 at the Jets 38. Offensive holding was costly. Midway through the fourth quarter, Sean McDermott gambled on Hauschka trying a 54 yard field goal for the lead. The kick was no good.

Buffalo got it back with 6:15 to play. From their own 39, Allen went deep to Foster for a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Jets 18, Allen threw incomplete. This time Hauschka’s attempt for the lead was only 36 yards. Despite 2 earlier misses, this kick was good. With 2 1/2 minutes to play in a game they led from the beginning, the Bills led again 23-20. Allen had his chance. Now Darnold would have his.

Roberts returned the kickoff 22 yards with 5 more tacked on for a kicking team illegal formation. The Jets took over at their own 39. On 3rd and 1, McGuire gained 4 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. From the Buffalo 42, Darnold went deep to Anderson for a 37 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Darnold only gained 3 yards. The Bills took their final timeout as Todd Bowles decided to go for it all on 4th and goal at the one. Neither team was going to the playoffs, so why not? McGuire got in and the Jets had their first lead of the game with 1:17 to play. Allen would have his chance to be the hero snuffed out with an interception. 27-23 Jets

New York Giants at Washington Redskins — The Giants began 1-7 but came in winners of 3 out of 4. The reeling Redskins saw both their starting at backup quarterbacks go down with leg injuries. Third stringer Mark Sanchez got the start, with fourth stringer Josh Johnson as his backup. The game was a blowout that was over by halftime. A field scoreless field position game saw a perfect punt pin the Redskins at their own 2 yard line with 3 minutes left in the opening quarter. A run lost a yard. A short pass by Sanchez was intercepted by Riley, who bulled his way forward for a 9 yard touchdown. The Giants led 7-0 after one quarter, and had a second quarter for the ages.

A 23 yard punt return had the Giants taking over at their own 40. Despite 1st and goal at the 3, Eli Manning was sacked for a 14 yard loss. Aldrick Rosas hit the 35 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Giants. The Giants got it back at their own 22. One play was all Saquon Barkley needed to rip off a 78 yard touchdown run to make it 17-0 Giants. Sanchez was then intercepted by Alex Ogletree, who returned it 18 yards to the Redskins 10 yard line. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Manning hit Sterling Shepard for the score to make it 24-0 Giants. 

Big Blue got it back at their own 18. Manning hit Penny for 16 yards. Barkley ran for 6 and then ripped off a 52 yard gain. Manning hit Bennie Fowler for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 31-0 Giants. 1:48 still remained in the half. The Giants got it back at their own 42 thanks to a 15 yard punt return. From the Washington 44, Manning went deep to Evan Engram for a 39 yard gain. Despite 1st and goal at the 5 with 13 seconds left, Manning threw incomplete twice. Rosas hit the 23 yard field goal to end the half as the 27 point second quarter explosion had the Giants up 34-0 at halftime.

League rules prevented the second half from being canceled. In the third quarter the Giants moved 81 yards. Manning hit Shepard for the 11 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, but with the Giants up 40-0, Pat Shurmur seemed unconcerned. Manning had 3 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions. Sanchez was a miserable 6 of 14 for 38 yards and 2 interceptions in little more than one half of football. Jay Gruden had seen enough and brought Johnson in to replace Sanchez. Johnson went 11 of 16 for 195 yards, although the entire rest of the game was garbage time. Washington scored twice in the fourth quarter as they fell to 6-7 and the Giants got to 5-8 with the big win. 40-16 Giants

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Last week the Saints had their 10 game winning streak snapped. In this game it was the Buccaneers taking the opening kickoff and going 75 yards. Jameis Winston after a touchback went deep to Mike Evans for a 36 yard gain. Peyton Barber ran for 13 yards and Winston scrambled for 14 more. On 3rd and 9 from the Saints 11, Winston hit Cameron Brate in the front corner of the end zone for the 7-0 Buccaneers lead. 

In the second quarter the Buccaneers missed a 46 yard field goal that would have extended the lead. The Saints took over at their own 36 and moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Bucs 12. Drew Brees threw incomplete and the Saints settled for a 30 yard Wil Lutz field goal to trail 7-3. With 2:22 left in the half, an interception of brees set up the Buccaneers at the Saints 39. A defensive penalty for lowering the head to initiate contact moved the Bucs closer. On 3rd and goal at the one, Winston hit Cameron Brate for the score as the Buccaneers had the stunning 14-3 lead at the Big Sombrero. 

Momentum changed in the third quarter when the Buccaneers punted on 4th and 3 from their own 41. It was blocked, and the Saints took over at the Tampa 30. Mark Ingram ran for 11 and 4 and Brees hit Line for the touchdown. Alvin Kamara ran for the 2 point conversion to get the Saints within 14-11. 

A 20 yard punt return had the Saints getting it back just shy of midfield. Brees went to Lewis for 20 yards. Kamara ran for 8 and caught a pass for 4 on 3rd and 2. With 11:45 left in regulation on 4th and goal at the one, sean Payton decided to go for it. Brees got the yard himself as the Saints led 18-14. The Saints got it back again with great field position at their own 47. On 3rd and 5 Brees hit Thomas for 11 and Watson for 9. Kamara ran for 9 and Ingram ran for the 17 yard touchdown to make it 25-14 Saints. Lutz added a 36 yard field goal with 1:15 left as the Saints got to 11-2 and clinched the NFC South. 28-14 Saints

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins — Tom Brady has had some of his worst games at Miami. This one will be relived forever by anyone who loves football. Brady finished 27 of 43 for 358 yards. Tannehill was 14 of 19 for 265 yards. Both quarterbacks threw 3 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions in this instant classic. 

In this game the Patriots soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Brady hit Josh Gordon for 16 yards and Julian Edelman for 17 more. On 3rd and 3 from the Miami 28, Brady hit Edelman for 4 yards and Cordarelle Patterson for 10 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, James Develin got in. The Patriots led 6-0, but Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point. It would loom large throughout the game. On 2nd and 6 from the Miami 29, , Tannehill hit Devonta Parker for 15 yards. Tannehill then ran for 13 and Frank Gore ran for a 36 yard gain. Tannehill hit Kenny Stills for the 7 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Dolphins. The second quarter was a pinball machine of action.

Late in the first quarter the Dolphins punted from their own 33 on 4th and 19. The punt was blocked, and the Patriots took over at the Miami 18. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Brady hit Julian Edelman for the touchdown to make it 13-7 Patriots early in the second quarter. After a touchback Miami struck rapidly. Tannehill hit Stills for 21 yards. The Brandon Bolden ran for a 54 yard touchdown and a 14-13 Dolphins lead. 

After a touchback, Brady hit Rob gronkowski for 17 yards. On 3rd and 10 from their own 47, Brady hit Edelman for 16 yards and then went to Patterson for the 37 yard touchdown to make it 20-14 Patriots. Again after a touchback Miami responded. Tannehill went deep to Stills for a 43 yard gain. Brandon Bolden ran for a 6 yard touchdown as the Dolphins led 21-20. 

After another touchback, Brady hit Gordon for 18 yards and Edelman for 20 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Miami 31, Brady hit Gronkowski for 15 and again for the 16 yard touchdown. The Patriots led 27-21 with 4 minutes left in the half. With 30 seconds left in the half, on 4th and 29 from their own 13, Miami had a punt blocked for the second time in the first half. The Patriots took over at the Miami 15. With 21 seconds left the Patriots had 1st and goal at the 2. Brady threw incomplete twice. On 3rd and goal at the 2, the Patriots took their final timeout. It was a major mistake. 14 seconds still remained. Rather than kick an easy field goal, Belichick went for it all. Brady was sacked and the clock ran out. That was a killer mistake. After a 35 point second quarter, the game cooled in the second half.

In the third quarter, the Patriots missed a chance to get some breathing room when Gostkowski missed a 42 yard field goal. From the Miami 32, defensive holding moved the ball to the 37. Gore ran for gains of 16 and 24 yards. Tannehill then hit Brice Butler for a 23 yard touchdown. The 7th lead change of the game had the Dolphins up 28-27 after three quarters.

With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Patriots took over at their own 31. Brady hit Gordon for gains of 21 and 8 with defensive holding adding 5 more. Brady hit White for 9 yards. Despite 1st and 10 at the Miami 15, a run gains done yard and Brady threw incomplete twice. With 6:45 left in the half, Gostkowski came in for a 32 yarder to give the Patriots the lead. The kick was good and the 8th lead change of the game had the Patriots up 30-28. 

Miami took over at their own 22. On 3rd and 4 from their own 40, Tannehill threw incomplete. With 4 1/2 minutes left, Adam Gase decided to punt. The Patriots took over at their own 27. With 3 minutes left, offensive holding had the Patriots facing 1st and 20 at their own 29. White gained 11 and Brady hit gordon for 12  as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Brady went deep and drew a 41 yard pass interference penalty. With 1:50 to play the Patriots had 1st and goal at the 7. White gained a yard and the Dolphins took their final timeout. A touchdown would put the game out of reach, but running the ball would grind down the clock to almost nothing. 

Bill Belichick played it safe and it was absolutely the right thing to do. In that situation you don’t even think of throwing the football. After gaining nothing, on 3rd and goal at the 6, Michel gained 2 yards. Critics will wonder why Belichick did not trust one of the greatest NFL players in all time in Brady to pass. Josh McDaniels calls the plays, and in that situation you must run the ball. By the time Gostkowski made the 22 yard field goal, only 16 seconds remained. The Patriots led 33-28. If not for Gostkowski’s misses and Brady’s blunder at the end of the first half, it would have been 40-28. Nevertheless, surely the Patriots could hang on for 16 seconds.

The short kickoff was returned 16 yards to the Miami 31. Only 7 seconds remained. All that was left was the Hail Mary, and nobody knew if Tannehill even had the arm strength to throw it 69 yards. Bill Belichick took defender Devon McCourty out of the game and brought in tight end Gronkowski to defend the Hail Mary. Adam Gase decided that the Hail Mary was not doable. He decided to go with the hook and laterals made famous by Cal knocking over the Stanford Marching Band.

From the 31, Tannehill fired over the middle to Stills, who caught the ball at midfield. As several defenders converged on Stills, he calmly lateraled the ball to DeVante Parker. Parker lateraled the ball to Kenyan Drake, who was near the sideline. Drake advanced from the sideline to the middle of the field at about the New England 30 yard line. Drake expected to lateral the ball again, but noticed that the New England defense had broken down. Drake kept the ball, veered back to the sideline, and it came down to him against Gronkowski. Gronk had a bad angle and stumbled. Drake made it to the end zone as the entire home crowd erupted in celebration. 

There were no flags on the field. The laterals were all backward and legal. It was a Miami miracle. Although this happened on the last night of Hanukkah, there was no word on whether any of the players involved on the final play were Jewish. New England fell to 9-4 and Miami at 7-6 is still alive in the playoff chase. Although league rules require an extra point attempt, the pandemonium made that impossible. Speaking of impossible, the 9th lead change ending in the play of the year will be watched as long as football and televisions exist. 34-33 Dolphins

Carolina Panthers at Cleveland Browns — The Panthers took over at their own 35. Runs and short passes led to a 3rd and 9 at the Cleveland 24. Cam Newton hit Christian McCaffrey for 20 yards and McCaffrey ran for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Panthers. On the very first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Gregg Williams went for it all. Baker Mayfield went deep and hit Brad Perriman for a 66 yard gain. Jarvis Landry ran for a 3 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. 

In the second quarter the Browns fumbled and the Panthers took over at the Cleveland 17. McCaffrey ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Panthers. After a touchback, the Browns would face 3rd and 17 just shy of midfield. Mayfield went deep to Landry for a 51 yard touchdown and a 14-14 ballgame. 

The Panthers moved from their 18 to a 4th and 4 at the Cleveland 12. Chandler Catanzaro, filling in for injured Graham Gano, hit the 30 yard field goal to make it 17-14 Panthers. After a touchback the Browns moved to a 1st and 10 at the Carolina 31. They got no further but Greg Joseph nailed the 49 yard field goal. 3 times Carolina took the lead and 3 times Cleveland tied it for a 17-17 game at the half.

Defense dominated the second half. In the third quarter Carolina recovered a fumble at the Cleveland 32. They lost 3 yards, attempted a 53 yard field goal, and suffered a killer delay of game penalty before Catanzaro could kick the ball. Ron Rivera smartly opted to punt. Cleveland had to punt it back on 4th and 16 from their own 5. Carolina took over and soon faced 4th and 1 at the Cleveland 45. Riverboat Ron Rivera went for it and Newton hit Thomas for a 9 yard gain and a first down. Yet Thomas then drew a boneheaded unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to move the ball back 15 yards. It was still 1st and 10. Newton was then intercepted, but it was nullified by defensive holding. 

From the Cleveland 46, Newton hit Thomas for 16 yards, this time without incident. McCaffrey then ran for 25 yards. A 3 yard touchdown run was nullified by offensive holding. On 3rd and goal at the 18, Ron Rivera this time had seen enough. He played it safe, called a run that gained 2 yards, and brought in Catanzaro for a 34 yard try for the lead. It was good and the Panthers led 20-17 after three quarters the hard way.

After a touchback, The Browns began the fourth quarter facing 3rd and 2 at their own 45. Landry got the carry and gained 51 yards. On the next play Nick Chubb ran for the 4 yard touchdown. Joseph doinked the extra point off the upright no good. With 13 minutes left in regulation the Browns had their first lead of the game up 23-20. The Browns got it back and moved from their 37 to a 4th and 8 at the Carolina 23. Joseph hit the 41 yard field goal to put the Browns up by 6 with 8:45 to play.

Carolina moved 72 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. With 3 1/2 minutes to go, they had 2nd and goal at the 3. Would this be another Cleveland collapse? Moore gained nothing, Newton threw incomplete, and Riverboat Ron Rivera had a big decision to make. On 4th and goal at the 3 with 2 1/2 minutes left, he could kick a field goal and rely on defense. He went for it, a reasonable decision. Newton threw incomplete. The Panthers got it back at their own 35 with 1:07 left. Newton went deep and was intercepted. The reeling Panthers are 6-7 including 5 straight losses. They are 1-6 on the road. The Browns are 5-7. Under Hue Jackson, the Browns won 3 of 40 games. Under Gregg Williams, they have won 3 of their last 4 games. 26-20 Browns

Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers — The Broncos came in winners of 3 straight to get to 6-6 and still alive for a playoff spot. The 49ers came in leading the chase for the worst record and the top draft pick. Some games are just head-scratchers. The 49ers moved 56 yards in the first quarter and Robbie Gould hit a 40 yard field goal to put the 49ers up 3-0 after the first quarter. They got it back at their own 19. On the last play of the quarter from their own 36, Nick Mullens hooked up with George Kittle for a 52 yard game. The second quarter saw the 49ers face 3rd and 2 at the Denver 4. Mullens was sacked. Gould hit from 29 as the 49ers led 6-0.

The 49ers got it back at their own 15. One play was enough for Mullens to connect with Kittle for an 85 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 49ers. With 55 seconds left in the half, the 49ers took over at their own 28. Mullens hit Bourne for 12. From the Denver 45 with 30 seconds left, Mullens hit Kittle for 13 yards and again for 18 more. With 8 seconds left in the half, Mullens hit Pettis for the one yard touchdown as the 49ers had the surprising 20-0 lead at halftime. 

The 49ers slept through the entire second half as Denver tried to rally. In the third quarter a 20 yard punt return had the Broncos taking over at their own 44. On 4th and 1 from the 49ers 33, Vance Joseph had to go for it. Janovich gained 3 yards. On 4th and 2 from the Frisco 22, Keenum went to Patrick for 19 yards. Philip Lindsay ran for the 3 yard touchdown to get the Broncos on the board down 20-7. Denver got it back at their own 8 yard line and moved to a 4th and 3 at their own 44 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Lindsay got the carry and only gained 2 yards.

Mullens was quickly intercepted, giving the Broncos the ball at their own 41. They moved to a 4th and 3 at the Frisco 22 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Keenum completed a pass to Lindsay, but only for one yard. Denver got it back at their own 31 with 6:40 to play. with 5 1/2 minutes left they faced 4th and 7 at the Frisco 24. Keenum hit Patrick for 9 yards. With 4 1/2 minutes left they faced 4th and 1 at the Frisco 6. Lindsay gained 3 yards. On 1st and goal at the one, Keenum threw 3 straight incompletions. On 4th and goal at the one, Keenum hit DaeSean Hamilton for the score. With 4 minutes left Denver was within 6 points. 

With 3 1/2 minutes left, the 49ers faced 3rd and 7 at their own 23. Mullens hit Pettis for 31 yards. With 2 1/2 minutes left, it all came down to 3rd and 3 at the Denver 39 with the Broncos out of timeouts. In a gutsy move, Kyle Shanahan called a pass knowing an incompletion would stop the clock. when you’re 2-10, why not? Mullens hit Taylor for 6 yards and then took 3 knees. At 6-7, Denver’s playoff hopes took a brutal hit. The 3-10 49ers may still get the top pick, but in the NFL, there is no tanking. Everyone wants to win. 20-14 49ers

Cincinnati Bengals at Los Angeles Chargers — The Bengals are done for the year while the Chargers still have an outside shot at the AFC West crown. After a touchback, Philip Rivers ran for 5 yards and Austin Ekeler added 18 more. Rivers hit Williams for 19 and Ekeler ran for 14 and 15. Rivers hit Keenan Allen for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chargers. The Bengals moved from their own 20 to a 3rd and 8 at the Chargers 34. A short pass from Driskel to John Ross gained only 5 yards. Marvin Lewis decided not to gamble on 4th and 3. Randy Bullock hit the 47 yard field goal as the Bengals trailed 7-3. 

In the second quarter after a touchback, runs and passes moved the Chargers to the Cincy 42. Rivers hit Jackson for 17 yards. Rivers then went to Ekeler for 21 yards and the Chargers began the second quarter with 1st and goal at the 5. Ekeler ran for the touchdown to make it 14-3 Chargers. A short punt would give the Bengals the ball at the Chargers 46. They moved to a 3rd and goal at the one. Driskel got in, but on further review it was ruled short. Marvin Lewis decided to go for it on 4th and goal at the one. A false start killed the Bengals as they settled for a 23 yard Bullock field goal. They trailed 14-6, and field goals were not going to get it done.

With 1:35 left in the half, a short punt had the Bengals taking over at the Chargers 35. With 20 seconds left in the half, Driskel hit Ross for the touchdown. The 2 point try failed, but the Bengals were within 14-12, which should have been the halftime score. Yet the Bengals could not get to the half. The Chargers had 10 seconds left from their own 32. With one second left from the Cincy 46, Rivers was sacked. Yet the defense jumped offside to give the Chargers one untimed down. Anthony Lynn went with a 59 yard field goal try. Mike Badgley drilled it as the Chargers took a 17-12 lead to the locker rooms.

The Bengals began the third quarter with Marvin Lewis gambling on 4th and 1 from his own 35. Joe Mixon got stopped. The Chargers capitalized on the short field. On 4th and 1 from the Cincy 26, Anthony Lynn went for it and Ekeler gained 2 yards. The drive died at the 13 yard line but Badgley hit the 31 yarder to make it 20-12 Chargers after three quarters.

With one minute left in the third quarter the Bengals moved from their 39 to a 3rd and 5 at the Chargers 28. Driskel threw incomplete. Bullock hit the 46 yard field goal to get the Bengals within 20-15, but again field goals were not going to get it done. The Chargers moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 3 at the Cincy 14. Rivers threw incomplete, but Badgley hit the 32 yard field goal to make it 23-15 Chargers midway through the fourth quarter.

The Bengals moved 79 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes, taking over at their own 21. On 3rd and 6 from their own 48, Driskel hit Bernard for 9 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 39, Driskel threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 9 yard gain. Mixon then ran for gains of 19, 4, and 5 to set up 3rd and 1 at the 2 at the 2 minute warning. Driskel threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the one. Mixon got in with 1:50 left. now it was time to try the tying 2 point conversion. Driskel was sacked and the Chargers still led 23-21.

The Bengals recovered the onside kick, but it only went 9 yards. Plus, an illegal block made matters worse as the Chargers took over at the Cincy 34. Anthony Lynn played it very safe as the Chargers ran 3 straight times. Badgley hit the 45 yard field goal as the Chargers led by 5. The Bengals took over at their own 23 with 43 seconds left. A sack of Driskel left 3rd and 19 with 18 seconds left. With no shot for a Hail Mary, a 9 yard completion ended the game. The Chargers at 10-3 are in strong playoff position and have a major showdown with 11-2 Kansas City on Thursday. 26-21 Chargers    

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals — Sometimes a pair of bad teams can come together for a thrilling game for the ages. This was not that game. Matt Prater hit a 47 yard field goal in the second quarter for the Lions. Zane Gonzalez missed from 54. In the third quarter, Josh Rosen completed a pass to Darius Slay, who plays defense for Detroit. The 67 yard interception return touchdown made it 10-0 Lions. The Cardinals did get a field goal midway through the fourth quarter, but Zach Zenner capped a 75 yard drive with a one yard touchdown run for Detroit that iced a game that deserves no further elaboration. It was not a Happy Hanukkah for Rosen. 17-3 Lions

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys — This NFC Least showdown saw Philly winning 2 straight against a Dallas team that had won 4 straight. Most of this game was a slog. Brett Maher hit field goals of 28 yards in the first quarter, 62 yards on the final play of the half, and 21 in the third quarter to make it 9-0 Cowboys with 9 minutes left in the third quarter. Maher also missed a 45 yarder in the second quarter. 

The Cowboys were in total control until Dak Prescott made a very bad decision. From his own 9, a deep ball was intercepted and returned by Graham 29 yards to the Dallas 2 yard line.Carson Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery for the score. The extra point was no good but the Cowboys led 9-6. After three quarters of a slog, the fourth quarter was a track meet. The Cowboys after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 8 at the Philly 44. Prescott was sacked and fumbled. The Eagles took over at their own 45. Early in the fourth quarter they had 1st and goal at the 8. They got no closer as Wentz threw incomplete on 3rd and goal. Elliott hit the 26 yard field goal for a 9-9 game with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Dallas faced 3rd and 12 at their own 23. Prescott went to Amari Cooper for just enough. From the Philly 46, Prescott went to Cooper for 13 yards and again for a 28 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Cowboys led 16–9. Yet the final few minutes were a frenzy. With 5 1/2 minutes left, a field position game had the Eagles taking over at the Dallas 47. Wentz hit Jeffery for 12 and Goedert for 26 yards. Wentz hit Goedert for a 3 yard touchdown. The game was tied 16-16 with 3 minutes left, but it was far from over.

One play and 11 seconds later, the Cowboys had the lead again. Prescott and Cooper connected on a 75 yard touchdown to make it 23-16 Cowboys. After a touchback, the Eagles were at the Dallas 44 at the 2 minute warning. Wentz went deep to Nelson Agholor for a 42 yard gain. Wentz hit Darren Sproles for a 6 yard touchdown. For the third time in a game they never led, the Eagles had tied the game at 23-23. 1:35 still remained. The Cowboys moved from their 18 to a 2nd and 6 at the Philly 41 with 21 seconds left. Out of the shotgun, a fumbled snap meant a 6 yard loss out of field goal range. Prescott was then sacked as these bitter rivals went to overtime.

The Cowboys won the toss and went straight to their best player. Ezekiel Elliott ran for gains of 8 and 10. Prescott then hit Schultz for 16 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Philly 40, Prescott hit Cooper for 12 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Philly 19, Elliott got stopped. Jason Garrett had a big decision to make. A field goal would still give the Eagles one chance with the ball. Garrett went for it and on 4th and 1, Elliott gained 2 yards. With 2 minutes left in overtime, it came down to 3rd and 8 at the Philly 15. 

Prescott fired to Cooper. The ball was deflected in the air. Somehow Cooper caught the deflections and waltzed into the end zone. The Eagles never saw the ball as Doug Pederson saw his defending champions fall to 6-7. The Cowboys are now 8-5. Prescott was a ridiculous 42 of 54 for 455 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Elliott had 113 yards on 28 carries. Cooper had 217 receiving yards on 10 catches, with 3 touchdowns. Jerry Jones has a new set of triplets. 29-23 Cowboys

Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders — Despite losing 2 straight, the AFC North leading Steelers were expected to roll over the 2-10 Raiders. Cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman. “THAT’s why they PLAY the games.” This was not as special as their AFC Title Games of the 1970s, but it was a heart-stopping football game. Ben Roethlisberger and Derek Carr both threw 2 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions. They both completed 25 passes with Roethlisberger only throwing 29 times and Carr throwing 34 times. Carr threw for 322 yards to 282 for Big Ben. This game came down to a stunning final play. It was far from an Immaculate Reception, but it was a surprise.

The Raiders despite their awful record frequently start fast, and this game was no exception. From their 26, Muscle Hamster Doug Martin gained 9 yards and Carr hit Jared Cook for gains of 30 and 19 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Martin got in to make it 7-0 Raiders. Both defenses dug in for the rest of the first quarter.

With 3 minutes left in the opening quarter the Steelers faced 2nd and 7 at their own 36. Roethlisberger connected with James for a 22 yard gain. The second quarter began with the Steelers facing 3rd and 4 at the Oakland 24. Roethlisberger hit McDonald for 8 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Oakland 14, Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 12 yards. Stevan Ridley ran for the 2 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

The Raiders took over at their own 28. Carr hit Jordy Nelson for 13 yards and Cook for 12 more. On 3rd and 8 from the Pittsburgh 45, Carr found Cook for 12. On 3rd and 3 from the Pittsburgh 26, Carr threw incomplete. Daniel Carlson hit the 44 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Raiders. The Steelers after a touchback moved to a 1st and 10 at the Oakland 16. On 3rd and 9, Roethlisberger was sacked. Boswell missed a 39 yard field goal try that would have tied the game.

Yet as they have done so many times this season, the Raiders self-destructed at key moments. A facemask penalty on a punt return had the Steelers taking over with 3 minutes left in the half at their own 47. Roethlisberger went to Juju Smith-Schuster for a 20 yard gain. With one minute left in the half, the Steelers faced 3rd and 9 at the Oakland 12. Roethlisberger hit McDonald for a 10 yard gain. With 10 seconds left in the half, the Steelers faced 3rd and goal at the one. Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for the touchdown. Despite neither of them being Jewish, their touchdown on the last night of Hanukkah had the Steelers up 14-10. 

The second half started in shocking fashion. The Steelers had the ball but Roethlisberger was not on the field. Backup quarterback Josh Dobbs was in the game. Roethlisberger had gotten belted in the second quarter and badly injured his ribs. He gutted it out for the rest of the half and even led the team to the lead. At halftime, he told Mike Tomlin he couldn’t go. Dobbs played the third quarter, which was a scoreless slugfest. The Raiders have had a weak defense all year, but on this day they were playing tough football. Sadly, they could not get the stop on the last play of the half which is why they were trailing.

Dobbs did move the Steelers from their 37 to a 4th and 1 at the Oakland 42. Mike Tomlin went for it and Dobbs completed a pass to McDonald, but for no gain. The Raiders moved from their 36 to a 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 12. On 3rd and 9, Carr hit Nelson for 7 yards, but offensive holding instead meant 3rd and 19. Carr was then sacked and fumbled the ball away, killing the drive. Dobbs was then intercepted at the Oakland 44, but the Raiders could not pick up a first down. 

With 13 minutes left in regulation, the Raiders took over at their own 27. On 2nd and 6, Carr hit Atman for 28 yards. On 2nd and 13 from the Pittsburgh 44, Carr hit Nelson for 8 and Ateman for 7. On 3rd and 8 from the Pittsburgh 27, Carr hit Nelson for only 7. On 4th and 1 from the 20 with over 8 minutes left, Jon Gruden decided to go for it. He had Carr line up in the shotgun, which should make Raiders fans tear their hair out. Nevertheless, Jalen Richard gained 5 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the 12, Carr hit Nelson for 10 yards. On 2nd and goal from the 3, Carr hit Lee Smith for the touchdown. With 5:20 to play, the Raiders led 17-14. Now their defense needed to close out a win against a backup quarterback who had done nothing.

Except after a touchback, Dobbs was not in the game. Ben Roethlisberger willed himself back on the field. Sports history is loaded with injured heroes who get up and gut out wins. The most notable are Michael Jordan, Willis Reed, Joe Montana and Pete Sampras. Now Roethlisberger was going to add his name to that list. He hit Brown and Samuels for a pair of 13 yard gains. He hit Samuels for 23 and Smith-Schuster for 12 more. An 8 yard completion to Smith-Schuster put the ball on the one. Roethlisberger fired to the back of the end zone to Smith-Schuster, who made a jiggling catch. He appeared to be out of the back of the end zone but officials called it a touchdown. The Raiders had collapsed again and trailed 21-17 with 3 minutes left.

Two years ago Carr willed the Raiders to multiple wins. Anyone who thinks he has lost his ability has lost their minds. After a touchback, Carr hit Richard for 5 and Ateman for 10 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Carr hit Cook for 14. Then Carr went deep to Seth Roberts, who beat the double coverage. A perfectly placed ball went for a 39 yard gain and 1st and goal at the 7 with 1:15 to play. For some reason, Mike Tomlin decided not to take any timeouts on defense until 25 seconds remained. It was 4th and goal at the 6 after a pair of incompletions. It all came down to one play.

It was Derek to Derek, Carr to Carrier. Carr hit Derek Carrier for a 6 yard touchdown as the home crowd erupted in celebration. The Raiders led by 3. A 25 yard kickoff return by Ryan Switzer had the Steelers at their own 30. Only 15 seconds remained. Could the Silver and Black finally close out a game? Roethlisberger threw a 5 yard pass to Washington. 2 defenders converged on Washington. He evaded them long enough to lateral the ball to Smith-Schuster, who got to the sideline and appeared to be pulling out the Immaculate Reception Part II. 

Smith-Schuster was finally forced out of bounds after racing 43 yards for a total gain of 48 yards on the play. 5 seconds remained when Franco Harris scored in December of 1972. 5 seconds remained when Smith-Schuster got out of bounds in December of 2018. The ball was on the Oakland 22. Boswell came in for a 40 yard try to tie the game. Surely, the Steelers would win in overtime. There would be no overtime. The miserable Oakland dirt that has hurt Raiders kickers finally helped the home team. Boswell slipped on the dirt and his low kick was blocked. Happy Hanukkah Mark Davis. Derek Carr is not Jewish, but he pulled off the biggest Hanukkah Miracle since Judah Maccabee. Roethlisberger has never won in Oakland, going 0-4. The Raiders have won 2 of their last 3, and are finally showing some fight. Just win baby. 24-21 Raiders  

Los Angeles Rams at Chicago Bears is the Sunday night game. The 11-1 Rams have already won the NFC West and the 8-4 Bears are atop the NFC North. The Rams have the offense and the Bears have the defense. This game was all defense. Mitchell Trubisky was intercepted 3 times. Jared Goff was picked off 4 times. In the first quarter an interception set up the Rams at the Chicago 15. They settled for a 27 yard Greg Zuerlein field goal. The Bears reached 3rd and 5 at the Rams 11. Trubisky was sacked. Cody Parkey hit the 39 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. In the second quarter an interception of Goff had the bears at the Rams 4 yard line. Trubisky was sacked and Parkey hit from 31. Sean McVay gambled on a fake punt on 4th and 7 from his own 28. Johnny Hekker hit Everett for just enough. Zuerlein hit from 50 as the teams were tied 6-6 at halftime.

The first half was all defense. So was the second half. The Rams began the third quarter at their own 13 yard line. Todd Gurley lost 5 yards. Then came the play of the game. Goff was sacked in the end zone for a safety and the Bears led 8-6. The Bears took the free kick at their own 19 and moved to a 3rd and goal at the 2. Matt Nagy may look like a boring nondescript guy, but he runs an exciting offense. He brought defensive players in to play offense. Trubsisky faked a handoff to a defensive tackle and threw a tackle eligible to 

Sowell. His first ever catch put the game away, as both defenses dominated the rest of the way. This game had Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary approving and Deacon Jones scowling in football heaven. As Singletary said, “This is when the big dogs come out.” 15-6 Bears

Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks was the Monday night game. A few years ago the Seahawks survived a road playoff win at Minnesota 10-9. This game was even more brutal and much closer than the final score. Sebastian Janikowski’s 37 yard field goal in the second quarter was the only score for 45 minutes as the Seahawks led 3-0 after three quarters. The Seahawks had 1st and goal at the one with 16 seconds left in the half. Russell Wilson threw a horrendous interception that he was lucky was not returned the other way for a score. In the third quarter Minnesota went for it on 4th and 1 at the Seattle 40. Latavius Murray got stopped. A 31 yard defensive pass interference penalty led to Janikowski hitting a 35 yarder as the Seahawks led 6-0 with 13 1/2 minutes left in regulation. 

Minnesota moved to a 4th and goal at the one with 9 minutes left. Mike Zimmer decided to go for it and Kirk Cousins’s pass was broken up in the end zone incomplete. Minnesota got it back at the Seattle 41. With 5 1/2 minutes left Dan Bailey came in for a 47 yard field goal try. Bobby Wagner leapt over the line and blocked it. From the Seattle 39, Wilson scrambled and gained 40 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, after over 57 minutes of 0 touchdowns, Chris Carson got in. Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for the 2 point conversion to make it 14-0 Seahawks. The exclamation point came when Justin Coleman returned a fumble 29 yards for a score to make it 21-0 Seahawks. Minnesota got a garbage touchdown to drop to 6-6 as Seattle got to 8-5. Wilson finished 10 of 20 for only 72 yards and one interception. Pete Carroll just wants to win. This was not the Purple People Eaters or the Legion of Boom, but it was pretty close. 21-7 Seahawks

Hanukkah 2018 Night 5: NFL 2018 Week 14 Prequel

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Hanukkah 2018 Night 5: NFL2018 Week 14 Prequel

THIS IS WHEN THE BIG DOGS COME OUT!

Big Dogs come out: NFL 2018 Week 14 Preview and Bettor’s Guide

Hanukkah 2018 Night 1: NFL 2018 Week 13 Recap

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

Hanukkah 2018 Night 1: NFL 2018 Week 13 Recap

New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys was the Thursday night game. This one belonged to the defense. The Cowboys owned the first half. Brett Maher hit a 26 yard field goal to start the scoring. Dan Prescott then hit Ezekiel Elliott for a 16 yard touchdown to cap an 85 yard drive and make it 10-0 Cowboys after the first quarter. In the second quarter the Cowboys mounted a staggering 16 play,70 yard drive from their own 2 that consumed over 9 minutes. They settled for a 46 yard Maher field goal and a 13-0 halftime lead. Dallas had the ball for 22 minutes in the first half.

The third quarter belonged to the Saints. Wil Lutz hit a 33 yard field goal to cap a 10 play, 60 yard, 5 minute drive. A 10 play, 88 yard drive including a successful fake punt culminated in Drew Brees hitting Keith Kirkwood for a 30 yard touchdown. The Saints were within a field goal after three quarters. They never got it. On a night dominated by defense, an interception of Brees sealed the upset Dallas win. The Saints fell to 10-2 while the Cowboys are at 7-5 and now atop their division. 13-10 Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals at Green Bay Packers — Nothing says December football like snow in Green Bay. A field position game saw a scoreless first quarter. In the second quarter a 24 yard punt return had the Packers taking over at the Arizona 35. On 4th and 4 from the Arizona 13, Mike McCarthy passed up a 31 yard field goal try and decided to go for it. Aaron Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. Arizona came back 75 yards in 11 plays and 7 minutes. Edmonds ran for a 6 yard touchdown to tie the game. Green Bay used up the final 4 1/2 minutes of the half. This time Mike McCarthy put his faith in Mason Crosby, who hit the 32 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Packers at halftime.

The Cardinals were a 2-9 warm weather team playing a rookie quarterback on the road. Nobody told them that. In the third quarter from their own 13, Kirk ran for 23 yards and caught a 37 yard pass from Josh Rosen. Despite 2nd and 9 from the Green Bay 26, Rosen threw incomplete twice. Zane Gonzalez hit a 44 yard field goal for a 10-10 game.

Arizona got it back and from their own 35, Rosen ran for 33 yards and Edmonds added 29 more. Edmonds ran for an 8 yard touchdown as the Cardinals had the stunning 17-10 lead. With 11 minutes left in regulation the Packers took over at their own 5 yard line. On 3rd and 4 from their 11, Rodgers hit Adams for 11 yards. Valdes-Scantling then ran for 21 yards. From the Arizona 27, Rodgers hit Adams for 19 yards. Jones ran for an 8 yard touchdown and a 17-17 game with 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

With 4 1/2 minutes left a sack and a penalty had the Cardinals facing 3rd and 23 at their own 12. One stop and the Packers would give Rodgers a chance to do what he does. Instead Rosen went deep to Larry Fitzgerald for a 32 yard gain. With 1:41 left, Gonzalez came in for a 44 yard field goal try to give the Cardinals the lead. The kick was good. There was no way a 2-9 warm weather team was going to go on the road into snowing Green Bay and win. Surely Rodgers would get it done.

With 1:05 left the Packers faced 4th and 5 at their own 30. Rodgers hit Jimmy Graham for 7 yards. With 15 seconds left from the Arizona 40, Rodgers found Randall Cobb for 9 yards. with 9 seconds left, Rodgers went deep incomplete. Now it was 4th and 1 from the Arizona 31 with 3 seconds left. Crosby came in to tie the game from 49 yards out. The kick was no good. The crowd was shellshocked. The only things not frozen were the red hot seats of Mike McCarthy and Mason Crosby. Later that night, despite being in his 13th season with a Super Bowl ring, Packers President Mark Murphy fired McCarthy and named Joe Philbin interim coach. For Josh Rosen, it was a sweet way to start Hanukkah. 20-17 Cardinals

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans — One week after losing team founder and owner Bob McNair, the Texans grieved the loss of favorite son and former President George Herbert Walker Bush. Meanwhile, the Houston offense kept rolling. A 13 play, 63 yard drive took 7 minutes. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 35 yard field goal to start the scoring. Houston got it back and mounted a 10 play, 82 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. Deshaun Watson hit Jordan Thomas for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Texans.

In the second quarter Baker Mayfield was intercepted by Cunningham, who returned it 38 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 Texans lead. Mayfield was then intercepted again, leading to a 42 yard field goal and a 20-0 Texans advantage. Fairbairn would connect again from 48 as the Texans led 23-0 at halftime.

The second half was a formality. Nick Chubb would run for a 2 yard touchdown in the third quarter for the Browns, but Fairbairn then drilled a 53 yard field goal as the Texans were cruising up 26-7.  Fairbairn hit from 38 with 6 minutes left in regulation to make it 29-7 Texans. Cleveland got one garbage touchdown but nothing more. After an 0-3 start, the Texans have won 9 straight games. 29-13 Texans

Baltimore Ravens at Atlanta Falcons — The Falcons held the ball for 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes, but settled for a 44 yard Matt Bryant field goal to make it 3-0 Falcons. Baltimore after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 15 from the Atlanta 18. A pass only gained one yard, but defensive illegal use of hands kept the drive going. On the next play Lamar Jackson ran around the end and got to the pylon for a 13 yard touchdown and a 7-3 Ravens lead.

In the second quarter the Ravens began a drive just past midfield. On 4th and 7 from the Atlanta 46, Jim harbaugh called a fake punt. Punter Koch hit Moore for 21 yards. Yet from the Atlanta 22, Jacksongot hit and fumbled. Vic Beasley returned it 74 yards the other way for a defensive touchdown and a 10-7 Falcons lead. Yet Atlanta could not get their offense going. Justin Tucker hit a 41 yard field goal to end the half and tie the game. In the third quarter the Ravens moved to the Atlanta 3 yard line but Jackson threw incomplete on 3rd and goal. Tucker hit from 21 to make it 13-10 Ravens.

Jackson got hit and left the game. Robert Griffin III led a 14 play, 60 yard, 8 minute drive. Tucker hit a 45 yard field goal as the Ravens led 16-10 after three quarters. Jackson cleared concussion protocol and returned. In the fourth quarter a 13 play, 55 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive led to a 47 yard Tucker field goal. Midway through the fourth quarter the Ravens led 19-10. After a touchback, Matt Ryan got sacked and fumbled. Young returned it 11 yards for a score as the Ravens led 26-10. Atlanta did get a touchdown but not the 2 point conversion. Baltimore has won 3 straight games with Jackson. John Harbaugh will have a big decision to make when Joe Flacco returns from injury. 26-16 Ravens

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Tampa Bay marched 75 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. Jameis Winston hit Adam Humphries for 11 yards and again for 5 more. Winston hit Chris Godwin for 10 yards. Winston then ran for gains of 6 and 18 sandwiched around a 17 yard run by Peyton Barber. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Winston fired over the middle to Humphries for the score to make it 7-0 Buccaneers. An interception of Cam Newton off a deflected pass gave the Buccaneers a short field. Cairo Santos hit the 35 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Buccaneers.

Carolina got it back at their own 27. From their 39, Christian McCaffrey ran for a 53 yard gain. On the next play Newton hit McCaffrey for an 8 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 10-7. With one minute left in the half an interception of Newton set up Tampa at the Carolina 32. With 13 seconds left in the half, on 3rd and 11 from the Carolina 13, Winston hit Godwin for the score to make it 17-7 Buccaneers.

In the third quarter after a touchback, the Panthers moved to a 3rd and 7 at the Tampa Bay 9 yard line. A touchdown was nullified by offensive holding, killing the drive.Graham Gano hit a 37 yard field goal to get the Panthers within 17-10. The Buccaneers soon faced 3rd and 7 from their own 28. Winston threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 12 yard gain. On 3rd and 11 from their own 39, Winston hit Godwin for 18 yards. On 1st and 20 from their own 47, a defensive pass interference call on a deep ball meant 1st and goal at the one. Barber got in to make it 24-10 Buccaneers.

The Panthers came back 92 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and 7 from their own 11, Newton hit McCaffrey for 15 yards and Moore and Thomas each for gains of 11. McCaffrey ran for 18 and Samuel added 8 more. Newton hit Devon Funchess for a 10 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 7 after three quarters.

Defense dominated the fourth quarter. The Panthers took over at their own 26 with 1:05 left and 0 timeouts. On 2nd and 1 a swing pass failed to gain the first down or get out of bounds. Only 13 seconds remained with the Panthers at their own 44. The Hail Mary failed but a defensive penalty gave the Panthers one more shot. Ron Rivera took out Cam Newton and brought in backup Taylor Heinecke for the final Hail Mary try. This time it reached the end zone but was batted down. The Panthers lost their fourth straight game, with Newton throwing 4 interceptions in this game. 24-17 Buccaneers

Chicago Bears at New York Giants —Chase Daniel got the nod again in place of the injured Mitchell Trubisky. Early on from deep in his own territory, Daniel had a swing pass intercepted by Alec Ogletree, who bulled over Daniel for an 8 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Giants lead. The Bears came back 70 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the Giants 48, Matt Nagy decided to go for it. Tarik Cohen gained 8 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Giants 35, Howard gained 22 yards. Daniel hit Shaeen for a 2 yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie.

In the second quarter the Bears moved 74 yards. From their own 26, howard ran for 25 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Giants 45, Daniel threw incomplete but defensive illegal use of hands kept the drive going. On 3rd and goal at the one, Howard got stopped. Matt Nagy decided to go for it. Hicks got in to make it 14-7 Bears. Then the game changed. With 1:15 left in the half the Giants took over at their own 43. On the last play of the half, Aldrich Rosas drilled a 57 yard field goal. The Giants only trailed 14-10 at halftime and had momentum.

In the third quarter the Giants moved 75 yards and Pat Shurmur went to his bag of tricks. O’Dell Beckham took an end around and threw a deep option pass to Sterling Shepard for a 49 yard touchdown and a 17-14 Giants lead. The Giants got it back at their own 40. On 3rd and 5 from the Chicago 30, Eli Manning hit Saquon Barkley for 17 yards. Defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Barkley got stopped twice and Manning threw incomplete. On 4th and goal from the one, Pat Shurmur decided to go for it. Manning hit Beckham for the score as the Giants led 24-14 and were smelling upset.

In the fourth quarter the Bears moved to a 1st and 10 at the Giants 13. Penalties killed the drive. Cody Parkey hit  36 yard field goal to get the Bears within 24-17 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation. With 2 1/2 minutes left the Bears took over at their own 2. They quickly fumbled the ball, giving the Giants the ball at the Chicago 13. Rosas hit the 37 yard field goal. With 1:53 left the Giants led 27-17. They celebrated the upset win. They celebrated way too early.

After a touchback, the Bears moved to a 4th and goal at the 3 with 1:15 left. Needing 2 scores, Matt Nagy opted for the field goal. Parkey hit the 21 yarder to get the Bears within 27-20. A perfectly executed onside kick had the Bears taking over at their own 47. Daniel went to Cohen for 14 yards. With 17 seconds left, the Bears faced 4th and 3 at the Giants 32. They needed a miracle and got one as Daniel went to Cohen for 23 yards. An incompletion left 3 seconds. Daniel threw incomplete again but defensive pass interference meant the Bears would get one untimed down from the one yard line.

Rather than go textbook run or even play-action pass, Matt Nagy went to the bag of tricks and called perhaps the craziest play ever with the game on the line. A double reverse option pass led to Anthony Miller hitting Cohen for the score. 2 scores in the final 75 seconds had the teams going to overtime tied 27-27. For the second straight week the Giants had blown a fourth quarter lead, but this time they still had a chance to win.

After a touchback, The Giants moved from to a 2nd and 3 at the Chicago 23. A run lost 3 yards and Manning threw incomplete. Rosas came in for a 44 yard field goal try to give the Giants the lead. The kick was good. 6 minutes remained in overtime, but Chicago would get a chance with the ball. On 4th and 7 from their own 28, Daniel hit Robinson for 10 yards. With 3 minutes left in overtime, on 4th and 8 from their own 40, Daniel went deep incomplete. The Bears fell to 8-4 while the Giants have won 3 of 4. They did it the hard way, but they got the upset. 30-27 Giants, OT

Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins — After a touchback to start the game, Ryan Tannehill went to work. He hit Kenny Stills for11 yards and Brice Butler for 5 more. A roughing the passer call tacked on another 15. Tannehill on 3rd and 9 hit Devontae Parker for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Dolphins.

The Bills began the second quarter at their own 45.From the Miami 41, LeSean Shady McCoy ran for 12 and Josh Allen ran for 11 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Miami 18, defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the 4. On 2nd and goal from the 15 after a holding penalty, Allen hit Jones for the touchdown. Steve Hauschka missed the extra point as the Bills trailed 7-6. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half the Bills fumbled a punt and the Dolphins took over at the Buffalo 36. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 19, Ryan Tannehill hit Frank Gore for 10 yards. Tannehill hit Kenyon Drake for a 3 yard score to make it 14-6 Dolphins at halftime.

Hauschka hit a 32 yard field goal in the third quarter to get the Bills within 14-9 in a badly played game. Allen was intercepted, but Tannehill gave the interception right back. The Bills took over at their own 17 to start the fourth quarter. Allen scrambled for 28 yards and then hit Thompson for 12 more. Allen then went to Zay Jones for a 25 yard touchdown. Allen went to Jones again for the 2 point conversion as the Bills led 17-14 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback, from the Miami 37, a defensive pass interference penalty moved Miami 25 yards forward. Drake then ripped off a 20 yard gain, with a defensive taunting penalty moving the ball to the 11. After a failed run, Tannehill hit Stills for a 13 yard touchdown. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Dolphins had regained the lead by 4 points. After a touchback the Bills moved to a 1st and 10 at the Miami 24. Consecutive sacks of Allen had the Bills facing 4th and 23 at the Miami 37. With 3 1/2 minutes left, Sean McDermott had Hauschka try a 55 yard field goal to get the Bills within one point. The kick was no good.

Buffalo got it back with 2 1/2 minutes left at their own 10. Allen went deep to Foster for 27 yards, to McCoy for 11, and deep again to McKenzie for 23 more yards. With 1:10 to play, the Bills faced 3rd and 11 at the Miami 30. Allen went deep to Jones for a 24 yard catch to set up 1st and goal at the 6. Yet officials reviewed the catch and reversed it to an incompletion. On 4th and 11, mayhem ensued. Allen ran for his life under heavy pressure, escaped everyone, zigged and zagged, ended up to his left, and threw across his body to the right. Jones was wide open in the end zone. There was nobody near him. The ball was under thrown but catchable. Jones had to go from the back of the end zone to the front of the end zone. He dove and dropped the ball. He just dropped it. Miami got to 6-6 with the dumbest of dumb luck. 21-17 Dolphins

Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals — Red Rifle Andy Dalton is now on injured reserve for the year as Jeff Driskel started his first NFL game. After a scoreless first quarter, in the second quarter Denver took over at their own 45. On 3rd and 10 from the Cincy 44, Case Keenum went to Donte Booker for a 30 yard gain. Lindsay ran for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Broncos with 1:56 left in the half. After a touchback, Cincinnati quickly moved to a 1st and goal at the 7 with 30 seconds left in the half. Intentional grounding killed the drive. Randy Bullock hit a 35 yard field goal as the Bengals trailed 7-3 at the break.

In the third quarter the Bengals fumbled a punt and Denver recovered at the Cincinnati 33. Two plays later Keenum went deep to Chris Sutton for a 30 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Broncos. The Bengals moved to the Denver 30, but Driskel went deep and was intercepted. The Broncos took over at their own 15. On 3rd and 6 from their own 19, Keenum hit Sutton for 16 yards. On the next play Lindsay got around the end for a 65 yard touchdown and a 21-3 Broncos lead. The Bengals tried to rally, moving 75 yards. Driskel threw a 30 yard touchdown to Core as the Bengals trailed 21-10. They would get no more as Denver tacked on a fourth quarter field goal. Once left for dead, Vance Joseph has seen Denver win 3 straight to get to 6-6 and alive for a playoff berth. 24-10 Broncos

Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions — The 10-1 Rams faced a 4-7 Lions team ready for a fight. In the first quarter the Rams moved 74 yards in 10 plays. On 3rd and 4 from the Detroit 6, Jared Goff threw incomplete. Greg Zuerlein hit a 24 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Rams. The Lions moved 65 yards in 10 plays in the second quarter and faced 3rd and 2 at the Rams 7. a swing pass from Matthew Stafford lost 3 yards. Matt Prater hit a 28 yard field goal for a 3-3 game.

After the Lions failed to capitalize on an interception of Goff, the Rams moved 71 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. On 3rd and 7 from the Detroit 8, Goff hit Woods for the score to make it 10-3 Rams. The Rams got it back at their own 32 and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Detroit 29. Goff threw 3 straight incompletions. Zuerlein hit the 47 yard field goal to make it 13-3 Rams at halftime.

In the third quarter the Lions recovered a fumble and took over at the Rams 47. On 1st and goal at the 4, a run lost 5 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 9, a touchdown pass was nullified by offensive pass interference. Prater hit a 29 yard field goal to get the Lions within 13-6. Matt Patricia called a surprise onside kick that did not work. The Rams took over at the Detroit 38. On 3rd and 2, Todd Gurley got stopped. Sean McVay opted for the field goal and Zuerlein delivered from 48 to make it 16-6 Rams.

After a touchback from the Detroit 38, Stafford went to Toilolo for a 39 yard gain. Stafford hit Theo Riddick for 12 yards and to Decker for the 11 yard touchdown. After three quarters the Lions only trailed 16-13. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation, a sack of Stafford forced a fumble that Ebukam recovered at the Detroit 24. Gurley ran for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 23-13 Rams. After a touchback and needing 2 scores, the Lions moved to a 1st and 10 at the Rams 15. A pair of runs each lost a yard and Stafford then threw incomplete. With 3 minutes left, Matt Patricia opted for the field goal. Prater hit from 35 to get the Lions within 23-16.

The onside kick failed and the Rams faced 3rd and 3 at the Detroit 38 with 2:44 left.Gurley then showed why he is not only a legitimate MVP candidate but the league’s most unselfish player. For the second time this season, Gurley gave up a chance at a touchdown. He broke through the line and was on his way when he stopped at the one yard line and allowed himself to be tackled. This forced the Lions to take their final timeout. By the time Gurley ran for the 2 yard touchdown, the Lions were left with only 1:54 rather than 2 1/2 minutes. The Rams at 11-1 have the NFL’s best record. 30-16 Rams

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars — The Colts came in winners of 5 straight to get to 6-5 against a reeling Jaguars squad that had lost 7 straight. Yet this game was all defense. Josh Lambo hit a 30 yard field goal with 2 minutes left in the half and a 37 yarder with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. With 1:51 left the Colts took over at their own 15 and moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Jags 29 with 15 seconds left. Luck went to the end zone incomplete. With 9 seconds left, Luck inexplicably threw a short pass that gained only 4 yards. Despite being near the sideline, officials ruled the receiver inbounds as the clock ran out. 6-0 Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders — The Chiefs cut Kareem Hunt after video showed him punching a woman. Meanwhile, the 9-2 Chiefs were supposed to punch the daylights out of the helpless 2-9 Raiders with ease. On the first play of the game from the Chiefs 22, Patrick Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for a 24 yard gain. Kelce fumbled and the Raiders recovered at their own 44. 16 seconds into the game with a fired up home crowd, and the Raiders were in business. On 4th and 1 from the Chiefs 47, Jon Gruden decided to keep the crowd fired up by going for it. Muscle Hamster Doug Martin gained 10 yards. However, offensive holding negated the run and made it 4th and 11. The Raiders were out of business and punted. A shanked 22 yard punt had the Chiefs starting at their own 35.

This time the Chiefs struck quickly. Tyreeq Hill ran for 33 yards. Defensive pass interference added 26 more yards. Mahomes hit Kelce for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chiefs. The Raiders then fumbled and the Chiefs recovered just past midfield. Harrison Butker hit a 29 yard field goal as the Chiefs led 10-0 after the first quarter. The Raiders moved from their own 38 in the second quarter to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 28. Deandre Washington got the carry and fumbled. The Chiefs recovered at their own 30. 12 plays and 6 minutes later, Butker nailed a 50 yard field goal to make it 13-0 Chiefs.

The Raiders were desperate to not get blown out. After a touchback, Martin gained 7 yards and Derek Carr went deep to Jared Cook for 29 more yards. On 3rd and 13 from the Chiefs 42, Carr hit Seth Roberts for 16 yards and Harris for 9 more. With 1:12 left in the half, on 3rd and 5 from the 7, Carr threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Martin got the yard. The 11 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive had the Raiders within 13-7.

Only 55 seconds were left in the half. A defensive stop would actually make this a competitive game. From the Chiefs 18, Mahomes hit Conley for 5 yards and Kelce for gains of 25 and 8. With 12 seconds left, the Chiefs were only at the Oakland 44. It didn’t matter. Mahomes went deep to Robinson for a 38 yard gain with 7 seconds left. Mahomes then went to Kelce for the 6 yard touchdown. The extra point try was blocked but the Chiefs led 19-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter after a touchback the Raiders moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 34. Carr was sacked and fumbled, but the Raiders retained possession. Dan Carlson hit a 50 yard field goal to get the Raiders within 19-10. The Chiefs moved after a touchback to a 3rd and goal at the one. Ware got the carry and got stopped. It was now 4th and goal at the one. Walrus Lite Andy Reid decided to go for it. The whole world knows he passes in that situation. One stop would send the crowd into overload. Instead Reid actually called another run and Ware got in to make it 26-10 Chiefs.

The Raiders got it back at their own 32. Carr hit Jordy Nelson for 6 yards and Cook for 20 more On 3rd and 4. Jalen Richard ripped off a 23 yard gain. Carr hit Cook for a 24 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Raiders were within 26-16. The Raiders held on defense and got the ball back at their own 34. Richard ran for a 17 yard gain but fumbled the ball away. The Chiefs took over at their own 48. On 3rd and 10 from the Oakland 41, Mahomes went to Kelce for 28 yards and to Demetrius Harris for a 13 yard touchdown. After three quarters the Chiefs had their biggest lead of the game up 33-16.

As awful as the Raiders are, they did not quit. After a touchback, Martin ran for gains of 7, 4 and 17. Carr hit Nelson for 13 yards. On 3rd and 4 at the Chiefs 28, Carr hit Nelson for 9 yards. Richard ran for a 16 yard gain. Carr hit Smith for a one yard touchdown. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Raiders were within 33-23. The Raiders held on defense and soon faced 2nd and 12 at their own 44. Defensive pass interference added 17 yards. Carr hit Nelson for 20 and Marcell Ateman for a 9 yard touchdown. With 6:46 to play the Raiders were only down 33-30. A defensive stop could actually give the Raiders a chance for the upset of the year.

It was too much to ask. After a touchback, Mahomes ran for 8 yards with defensive holding adding 5 more. On 3rd and 5 from the Chiefs 43, Mahomes threw incomplete but the Raiders had jumped offsides. On 3rd and 5 from the Oakland 29 with 2:14 left, one more stop would give the Raiders a chance. Mahomes went to Kelce for a 25 yard gain. With 1:54 left, it all came down to 3rd and goal at the 2. The Raiders needed one stop. Instead, Mahomes hit Conley for the touchdown to make it 40-30 Chiefs.

Carr furiously led the Raiders down the field. With 30 seconds to play the Raiders had 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 26. Needing 2 scores, Jon Gruden decided to go for the field goal immediately. Carlson hit from 44 to get the Raiders within 7 points. The onside kick failed and the Raiders were done. Both quarterbacks threw 38 passes. Carr completed 29 of them for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mahomes completed 23 of them for 4 touchdowns. Neither quarterback was intercepted. The Raiders are 2-10, and Jon Gruden still has a shot at the top draft pick. The Chiefs are 10-2 with a shot at home field throughout the playoffs, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 40-33 Chiefs.

New York Jets at Tennessee Titans — This was a tale of 2 games. The Jets moved from their own 39 to the Tennessee 36 before the drive stalled. Jason Myers drilled a 54 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jets. On 3rd and 4 from their own 31, Marcus Mariota was intercepted by Trumaine Johnson. Johnson took it 31 yards for the score as the Jets led 10-0. In the second quarter the Jets mounted a 14 play, 59 yard, 7 minute drive. Myers hit a 34 yard field goal to make it 13-0 Jets. The Jets then blocked a punt and took over at the Tennessee 18. They went backward but Myers hit from 43 as the Jets were dominating 16-0 with less than 3 minutes left in the half. Then the game totally changed.

Mariota moved the Titans from their own 32. At the 2 minute warning on 3rd and 1, the Jets jumped offsides. From the Jets 48, Mariota went to Davis for 22 yards. Mariota then ran for 14 yards. Finally he hit Anthony Firkser for a 12 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked but the Titans were within 16-6 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Jets took over at their own 40. Myers would hit a 39 yard field goal. His fourth kick of the day made it 19-6 Jets. After a touchback, Mariota hit Sharpe for 28 yards and again for 20 more. From the Jets 24, Mariota hit Smith for 13. Derrick Henry ran for 12 yards and then got the last yard to get the Titans within 19-13. The Jets then mounted a 15 play, 55 yard drive that consumed nearly 7 1/2 minutes. Yet for the fifth time on the day, they had to settle for a field goal. Myers hit again from 39 as the Jets led 22-13 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter it was the Titans moving the ball but settling for field goals. From their own 36, they moved to a 1st and goal at the 5. A pair of runs by Mariota went nowhere and then he threw incomplete. Ryan Succop hit a 24 yard field goal to get the Titans within 22-16 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Tennessee got it back at their own 35. Mariota went deep to Taylor for a 55 yard gain. Yet a pair of incompletion sandwiched around a sack again left it up to Succop. He hit from 33 as the Titans trailed 22-19 with 5 1/2 minutes left.

With 90 seconds to play, the Titans were facing 2nd and 10 at their own 14 yard line. Mariota was sacked, but defensive illegal use of hands stopped the clock and kept the drive going. Mariota then scrambled for 25 yards, fumbled, recovered his own fumble, and saw 15 more yards tacked on due to a defensive facemark. Mariota then hit Firkser for 25 yards. With 36 seconds left, it all came down to the Titans facing 3rd and 7 at the Jets 11. Mariota hit Davis for the score. Josh McCown had his Hail Mary intercepted as mike Vrabel saw his Titans get to 6-6. Todd Bowles experienced another agonizing loss in what may be his last year with the Jets. 26-22 Titans

Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots The Patriots began their first drive on their own 19 yard line and went right to work. On 2nd and 15, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for 13, Chris Hogan for 18, Cordarelle Patterson for 24, and Ronnie Burkhead for 15. Edelman took an end around 15 yards down to the one. James Develin got in to make it 7-0 Patriots. The Patriots moved from their 25 to the New England 22, but a sack of Kirk Cousins was followed by Dan Bailey missing a 48 yard field goal.

In the second quarter the Patriots moved 68 yards in 15 plays and took nearly 8 1/2 minutes off the clock. On 3rd and goal at the one, Brady threw incomplete. In a surprising move at home, Bill Belichick decided not to go for it. Stephen Gostkowski hit the 20 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Patriots. With 1:52 left in the half the Vikings took over at their own 26, Cousins hit Stefan Diggs for 24 yards and Kyle Rudolph for 23 more. With 15 seconds left, Cousins hit Adam Thielen for a 5 yard touchdown. Despite being dominated, the Vikings only trailed 10-7 at halftime. In the third quarter Gostkowski missed a 48 yard field goal. The resulting field position led to Bailey making a 39 yard field goal. with 2:20 left in the third quarter, the game was tied 10-10.

After a touchback Brady went to Josh Gordon for 24 yards and Rob Gronkowski for 15 more. James White ran for 12 yards and Brady went back to Gordon for a 24 yard touchdown to put the Patriots up 17-10 after three quarters. The fourth quarter began with Edelman returning a punt 23 yards to midfield. Defensive pass interference added 20 yards. With 11 minutes left in regulation, Develin ran for a 2 yard touchdown to put the game on ice. The Vikings are 6-5 while the Patriots at 9-3 are in a strong playoff position. 24-10 Patriots

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks — The NFC’s nastiest rivalry in recent years is now just a case of a good team beating up on a bad team. In the first quarter the Seahawks moved 74 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Russell Wilson hit Jaron Brown for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Seahawks led 6-0 and never looked back. In the second quarter Seattle got it back at their own 43 and struck quickly. Wilson connected with Tyler Lockett for a 52 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Seahawks. The 49ers then fumbled a punt and the Seahawks recovered at the Frisco 33 with 1:51 left in the half. On 3rd and goal at the one, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin for the score as the Seahawks led 20-0.

The 49ers did get a field goal before the half, but it didn’t matter. Lockett returned the second half kickoff 84 yards to the Frisco 20. One play later Rashaad Penny ran for the touchdown to make it 27-3 Seahawks. The 49ers did reach the end zone to get within 27-10 after the three quarters, but this game was a Seattle carpet-bombing. Seattle moved 88 yards. The fourth quarter began with Wilson Brown for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 34-10 Seahawks.

Nick Mullens did come right back with a 75 yard touchdown pass to Dante Pettis to get the 49ers within 34-16. Seattle responded with a 6 1/2 minute drive that ended with a 40 yard field goal by Seabass to make it 37-16 Seahawks. After a touchback, the 49ers moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Seattle 5 with 4 minutes left. Mullens was intercepted by Bobby Wagner, who returned it 98 yards for a touchdown the other way to complete the mauling. Seabass missed a 2nd extra point, but when you win by 4 touchdowns it can get overlooked. Mullens was 30 of 48 for 414 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Wilson was only 11 of 17 for 185 yards. Yet he also threw 4 touchdown passes with 0 interceptions. Seattle is 7-5 and Pete Carroll has them on the right path. 43-16 Seahawks

Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers is the Sunday night game. The Chargers are always talked about as the real deal until they lose a game like this. They go on the road in cold weather and fold like the Southern California boys they are. Respect is earned, and much of this game was the Steelers beating the Chargers up. Until they weren’t. The Chargers moved from their 25 to a 4th and 1 at the Pittsburgh 34. Anthony Lynn opted for the 52 yard field goal try, and Mike Badgley was no good.

Pittsburgh took over at their own 42. From the Chargers 47, Ben Roethlisberger went deep to Antonio Brown for a 46 yard gain. James Conner got the last yard to make it 7-0 Steelers. A short 36 yard punt gave the Steelers a short field at the Chargers 48. On 3rd and 7 from the Chargers 29, a deep ball drew defensive pass interference and put the ball on the one. Conner got in again. The extra point was no good but the Steelers led 13-0.

The Chargers ron faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Philip Rivers went to Keenan Allen for 9 yards and Williams for 14 more. Rivers then went to Travis Benjamin for a 46 yard touchdown as the Chargers only trailed 13-7 after the first quarter. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half, a fumbled punt had the Steelers taking over at the Chargers 34. Boswell hit a 48 yard field goal to make it 16-7 Steelers.

With 1:35 left in the half, the Steelers took over at their own 9 yard line. Conner ripped off a 20 yard gain. Roethlisberger hit Juju Smith-Schuster for 16 yards. With 30 seconds left in the half, the Chargers faced 3rd and 4 at the Chargers 45. Defensive pass interference moved the ball 17 yards and left 17 seconds. Big Ben went to Antonio Brown for the 28 yard touchdown. The Steelers led 23-7 at halftime, and the game appeared over. It seemed silly at the time, but the missed extra point that had the Steelers up by 16 instead of 17 would loom large later on.

In the third quarter the Chargers took over at their own 12 yard line. On 3rd and 2 from their 20, Rivers went to Allen for 21 yards. On 2nd and 14 just shy of midfield, Rivers went to Williams for 20 yards. On 3rd and 14 from the Pittsburgh 35, Rivers went to Williams for 18 yards. Rivers hit Allen for the 10 yard touchdown. A 24-7 game would have meant an extra point try and a 24-14 game. However, a 23-7 game meant a 2 point conversion try. Rivers hit Antonio Gates and the Chargers only trailed 23-15 after three quarters.

The play of the game came with 13 minutes left in regulation. The Steelers were punting on 4th and 24 from their own 16. Desmond King returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. Rivers went to Allen for the 2 point conversion. Rather than trail 24-21, the Chargers had tied the game 23-23. One minute later the Chargers got it back at their own 21. Rivers hit Allen for 14 and Justin Jackson ran for 18 more. Rivers then hit Jackson for 19 yards. Jackson ran for the 18 yard touchdown. With 8 minutes left in the game, 23 unanswered points had the Chargers up 30-23.

The Steelers took over at their own 22. From their 26, Big Ben hit James for 7 and Brown for 15. With 6 minutes left the Steelers faced 4th and 1 at the Chargers 43. Mike Tomlin decided to go for it and Conner got 2 yards. Unnecessary roughness a couple plays later tacked on 15 more yards. Roethlisberger hit Jaylen Samuels for a 10 yard touchdown to tie the game 30-30 with 4 minutes left.

From their own 25, Rivers hit Ekeler for 10 yards and Allen for 12 more. Jackson gained 11. With 1:12 to play, the Chargers faced 3rd and 4 at the Pittsburgh 34. At that distance it would be a 52 yard field goal try. Rivers hit Allen for 12 yards. With 3 seconds left, Badgley came in for a 39 yard field goal try to give the Chargers a stunning road win. Badgley swung his leg, and pandemonium ensued.

The kick was no good. It appeared to be just over the top of the upright, but at the last moment was just outside of it. However, the Steelers had jumped offsides. Badgley would get a second chance from 34 yards out. This time the kick was blocked and nearly returned for a Pittsburgh touchdown. However, the Steelers had again jumped offsides. Badgley had a third chance, this time from 29 yards out. The kick should have been blocked, but the defender got such a jump that he dove past Badgley, who kicked it behind him. This time the kick was dead center. Besides, the Steelers were offsides for a third time anyway.

Rivers finished 26 of 26 for 299 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Roethlisberger was 29 of 45 for 281 yards, 2 touchdowns, and one interception. The Steelers fell to 7-4 and barely in the AFC North lead. They have lost 2 straight games and were one Jacksonville collapse away from 3 straight losses. The Chargers got to 9-3 and only one game back in the AFC West. Again, respect is earned. On this night, the Chargers finally earned some by winning a big cold weather road game against a good team. 33-30 Chargers

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles was the Monday night game. This was a competitive football game for three quarters. After a touchback, Carson went hit Zac Ertz for 11 yards and the Eagles were rolling. Runs and short passes led to a 6 yard touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Golden Tate and a 7-0 Eagles lead. In the second quarter the Redskins moved from their 39 to a 1st and 10 at the Philadelphia 16. Penalties moved the Redskins back to a 3rd and 30, and they were lucky to escape with a 44 yard Dustin Hopkins field goal to trail 7-3. Colt McCoy was not so lucky. 2 weeks after Alex Smith was lost for the year with a broken leg, McCoy suffered the same cruel fate. Third stringer Mark Sanchez played the rest of the game.

Washington got it back at their own 10 and needed only one play to take the lead. Who said Adrian Peterson is washed up? Certainly not the defenders he blew by on the way to a 90 yard touchdown run and a 10-7 Redskins lead. The Eagles moved from their 22 to a 4th and goal at the one. Doug Pederson decided to go for it. Adams got the carry and got blasted for a 2 yard loss. Yet the Redskins offense wasted the goal line stand and the Eagles got the ball back at the Washington 40. Darren Sproles ran for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Eagles with 1:46 left in the half. Sanche moved the Redskins in position for a 47 yard Hopkins field goal with seconds left. The Redskins trailed 14-13 at halftime and after a scoreless third quarter.

The Eagles took over at their own 15. Adams ran for 18 yards. Wentz hit Clement for 23 yards and Ertz for gains of 8 and 5. The fourth quarter began with Wentz hitting Jordan Matthews for a 4 yard touchdown. For reasons somebody somewhere understood, Doug Pederson went for the 2 point conversion. Wentz hit Golden Tate to make it 22-13 Eagles. Sanchez was then intercepted, setting up a 46 yard Jake Elliott field goal to make it 25-13 Eagles. Elliott tacked on a 44 yarder to complete the scoring. Both teams are 6-6 and one game back in the NFC Least but moving in opposite directions. 28-13 Eagles

Hanukkah 2018 Night 0: The Festival of Lights Prequel

Saturday, December 1st, 2018

Hanukkah 2018 Night 0: The Festival of Lights Prequel

Hanukkah 2018: The Festival of Lights begins Sunday at sundown