Archive for December, 2021

NFL 2021 Week 14 Recap

Sunday, December 12th, 2021

NFL 2021 Week 14 Recap

Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings was the Thursday night game. The Steelers won an emotional victory over archival Baltimore in the final seconds and were expected to come out flat only 4 days later. They did. The Vikings lost a stunner on the final play to previously winless Detroit and were expected to come out angry. They did. Yet by the time this game was over, nothing went as expected. Early on the Vikings missed a 53 yard field goal and the Steelers missed a 49 yard field goal. After that the Vikings exploded. From their own 39, Dalvin cook gained 30. Mattison ran for 14 and 3. Kirk Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for a 14 yard touchdown and a 6-0 Vikings lead. The extra point was no good. The Vikings got it back at their own 43 and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 20. Cousins threw 3 incompletions. Greg Joseph hit the 38 yard field goal to make it 9-0 Vikings in the second quarter. The Vikings got it back at their own 22. Cousins went to Jefferson for 22 and Cook ran for 15. On 1st and 20 just shy of midfield after offensive holding, Cousins hit Conklin for 19. Cook ran for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 16-0 Vikings. 

The Vikings got it back at their own 40. On 3rd and 1 from their own 49, Cousins threw incomplete. Mike Zimmer went for it on his own side of the field. Cousins gained 3. Cousins went to Herndon for 17. On 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 28, Cousins hit KJ Osborn for 13. On 3rd and 2 from the Pittsburgh 7, Cook ran for the touchdown. Scores on 4 straight possessions had the Vikings up 23-0 at the half. Things got worse for the Steelers when they punted in the third quarter on 4th and 14 from their own 8. a 15 yard return had the Vikings taking over at the Pittsburgh 34. The Vikings settled for a 42 yard Joseph field goal to lead 26-0. Three plays later Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted by Breeland, who returned it 18 yards to the Pittsburgh 30. Despite reaching 1st and goal at the 4, the drive stalled as Cousins threw incomplete on 3rd and goal at the 7. Joseph hit another field goal from 25. Despite settling for field goals on 2 straight possessions with a short field, it did not seem to matter as the Vikings led 29-0 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

The Steelers soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Najee Harris gained 3. Big Ben then went deep to Washington for 29 yards. On 2nd and 10 from the Minnesota 35, a completion lost 2 yards. Yet a defensive taunting penalty meant a 15 yard gain. Harris then ran for 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 3, Roethlisberger hit Harris for the touchdown. The Steelers still trailed 29-7 after three quarters. One play after a touchback, Cousins was quickly intercepted to set up the Steelers at the Minnesota 42. Harris gained 13. On 3rd and 9 from the Minnesota 28, the defense jumped into the neutral zone. On 3rd and 4, Roethlisberger hit Chase Claypool for 14. The fourth quarter began with the Steelers facing 3rd and goal at the 8. Roethlisberger threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. Harris got the last yard to get the Steelers within 29-14 only seconds into the fourth quarter. The Steelers got it back at their own 31 and struck quickly. Roethlisberger went to Johnson for 37 and to Washington for a 30 yard touchdown. With 12 minutes left in regulation, Mike Tomlin went for 2 perhaps a little earlier than necessary. The conversion failed but 3 straight touchdown drives had the Steelers within 29-20 with plenty of time left. 

After a touchback, the Vikings temporarily stopped the bleeding. Cook gained 8 and 5. Cousins then went to Osborn for a 62 yard touchdown and a 36-20 Vikings lead. The Steelers went 3 and out and the Vikings moved from their own 39 to a 3rd and 4 at the Pittsburgh 39. With 5 minutes left in regulation, the game was all but over. Then is wasn’t. Cousins was intercepted by Witherspoon, who returned it 41 yards to the Minnesota 21. Roethlisberger went to McCloud for 6 and to Pat Freiermuth for the 15 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion was successful and just like that, the Steelers were within 8 points with 4:14 to play. After a touchback and one big third down conversion, the Vikings faced 3rd and 8 from the Pittsburgh 45 with the Steelers out of timeouts. A run would take the clock down to 2 minutes. Instead Cousins threw incomplete. A great punt pinned the Steelers at their own 4 yard line with 2:16 left. Roethlisberger went to Harris for 6 and then deep to Claypool for 38. On 4th and 1 from the Minnesota 43, Roethlisberger hit Claypool for 9 and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 24 seconds left. Roethlisberger found Johnson over the middle, but he escaped a tackle and got out of bounds with 3 seconds left. The largest regular season comeback win was 28 points in 1980. The Steelers were down 29 at one point. Now they had one play from the Minnesota 12 to possibly tie the game. Roethlisberger threw incomplete as the Vikings survived in harrowing fashion. Both teams are alive in the playoffs but in deep trouble. 36-28 Vikings  

Dallas Cowboys at Washington Refugees — The Cowboys came in with a 2 game lead in the division but had struggled in recent weeks. The No-Names came in winners of 4 straight to get to 6-6. The Cowboys began at their own 29 and moved 54 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Despite reaching the red zone, a 3rd and 10 from completing by Dak Prescott from the Washington 20 gained only 3 yards. Greg Zuerlein hit a 35 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cowboys. On their next series Prescott was intercepted to set up the No-Names at the Dallas 37. Yet 3 plays later Taylor Heinicke was intercepted as the Cowboys took over at the Washington 41. On 3rd and 10 from the Washington 12, a completion gained only 8 yards. Yet the defense jumped offside. On 3rd and 5, Prescott hit Amari Cooper for the 7 yard touchdown. For some reason Mike mcCarthy went for 2 and Ezekiel Elliott ran it in to make it 11-0 Cowboys. The No-Names took over at their own 27 and moved to a 4th and 2 at the Dallas 46. Riverboat Ron Rivera went for it. Heinicke was sacked and fumbled, and Armstrong returned it 37 yards for a defensive touchdown and an 18-0 Cowboys lead. In the second quarter Zuerlein tacked on field goals of 38 and 37 to have the Cowboys dominating 24-0.

In the third quarter the No-Names took over at their own 10. Antonio Gibson ran for 13. Heinicke hit Bates for 19, Patterson for 9, and Cam sims for a 43 yard touchdown. Ron Rivera went for the 2 point conversion and Heinicke ran it in to get the No-Names within 24-8. On their next series the No-Names fumbled and the Cowboys had a short field at the Washington 25. They settled for Zuerlein’s 4th field goal from 29 to have a comfortable 27-8 lead after three quarters. With 13 minutes left in regulation, Heinicke was sacked and left injured. Kyle Allen finished the game and tried to lead a comeback. With 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the No-Names took over at their own 27 and moved 73 yards in 13 plays. On 4th and goal at the one, Jonathan Williams finally got in. The 2 point conversion try failed and the No-Names were still down 27-14 with 5 minutes left. 2 plays later from his own 26, Prescott was intercepted by Cole Holcomb, who returned it 31 yards the other way for the score. The extra point was blocked, but the No-Names were only down by 7 with 4:13 to play. With 2 1/2 minutes left the No-Names faced 3rd and 3 from their own 37. Allen was sacked and fumbled and the Cowboys recovered. The No-Names made a strong comeback but fell short to drop to 6-7 as the 9-4 Cowboys maintained an iron grip on the NFC Least. 27-20 Cowboys

Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans — Sometimes a bad team can go on the road and shock a good team in an upset for the ages. This was not that game. The Titans began at their own 26 and Ryan Tannehill hit Swaim for 9. Runs and short passes led to 3rd and 7 from the Jacksonville 48. Tannehill ran for 17, with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 15 more. Tannehill hit Donta Foreman for 11. Foreman ran for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans. Late in the first quarter Randy Bullock missed a 47 yard field goal try, but Bullock connected from 44 to put the Titans up 10-0 at the half. Midway through the third quarter the Titans faced 3rd and 9 from their own 32. Tannehill hit Anthony Firkser for 10. Tannehill hit Swaim for 24 with 15 tacked on for a defensive low block. On 3rd and 1 from the Jags 11, Tannehill gained 2. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Tannehill ran it in to make it 17-0 Titans. Trevor Lawrence was intercepted 4 times on the day, with 3 of them coming in the final 16 minutes. Bullock added a 29 yard field with 2:20 to play. The Titans offense was far from spectacular, but Mike Vrabel’s suffocating defense pitched a shutout to get the Titans to 9-4 on the year. 20-0 Titans

Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans — A bad team played an even worse team. Davis Mills was declared the starter over Tyrod Taylor. The Texans began facing 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Mills hit Davis for 17, Conley for 13, Collins for 30, and Brevin Jordan for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Texans. The remaining 56 minutes were less kind to the Texans. The Seahawks after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 2 at the Houston 16. A run lost 3 yards. Jason Myers hit a 38 yard field goal to get the Seahawks within 7-3. The Seahawks got it back at their own 3 yard line. On 3rd and 5 from their 8, Russell Wilson hit DK Metcalf for 8, Tyler Lockett for 24, and Will Dissly for 25. Rashard Penny ran for a 32 yard touchdown on the last play of the first quarter to make it 10-7 Seahawks. The Texans mounted a staggering 16 play, 72 yard, 9 minute drive. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Mills threw incomplete. Kaimi Fairbairn hit the 21 yard field goal for a 10-10 deadlock. 

With one minutes left in the half, the Seahawks took over at their own 45. Wilson went to Tyler Lockett for a 55 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Seahawks led 16-10. The Texans got one last spark as Kaimi Fairbairn drilled a 61 yard field goal to have the Texans within 16-13 at the half. Myers hit a 38 yard field goal with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter to make it 19-13 Seahawks. After 45 minutes of competitive football, the Seahawks put the game away in the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 7 from their 36, Wilson hit Everett for 14. On 3rd and 9 from the Houston 49, Wilson went to Lockett for 29. On 2nd and 4 from the Houston 14, Wilson threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the 7. On 3rd and goal at the one, Wilson hit Everett for the touchdown to make it 23-13 Seahawks. With 6 1/2 minutes left on 4th and 3 from midfield, Mills threw incomplete. Rashaad Penny ran for a 47 yard touchdown to put the game away. The Texans were game, but the Seahawks won their 2nd straight game. 33-13 Seahawks

Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs — Last year the Raiders went into Kansas City and beat the Chiefs in front of their shocked home fans. Yet this year the Chiefs went into Las Vegas and blasted the Raiders 41-14. At one point the Raiders were 5-2 and 2 games ahead of the 3-4 Chiefs. 5 weeks later the 8-4 Chiefs are 2 games ahead of the 6-6 Raiders. Before this game started as if to send a message, the Raiders met at midfield and jumped up and down on the Chiefs logo. Then the game started and the Chiefs stomped all over the Raiders. On the very first play from scrimmage, Josh Jacobs got the carry, got strung out laterally, got stripped of the ball, and Mike Hughes returned the fumble 23 yards for a defensive touchdown. 17 seconds into the game, the Chiefs led 7-0. The remaining 59 minutes and 43 seconds were more of the same. The Chiefs got it back at their own 20. Patrick Mahomes went deep to Mycole Hartman for 44 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the Raiders 29, Mahomes threw incomplete. Yet the defense jumped offside. On 3rd and 3, Mahomes went to Darrell Williams for a 23 yard touchdown. One breakdown on each side of the ball had the Chiefs up 14-0. The Chiefs got it back and soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 22. Mahomes went to Tyreek Hill for 19, Travis Kelce for 19 more, and Byron Pringle for 28. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Chiefs. 

2 plays later from his own 30, Derek Carr threw a pass to Foster Moreau, who bobbled the well thrown ball right into the arms of Tyrence Mathieu for an interception. The Chiefs took over at the Raiders 39. On 3rd and goal at the one, Mahomes hit Josh Gordon for the score to make it 28-0 Chiefs. 3 plays later on 3rd and 4 from his own 31, Carr hit Hunter Renfrow for 19, but the normally reliable Renfrow also fumbled and again it was Mathieu who recovered at his own 38. On 3rd and 3 from his own 45, Mahomes threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 30 yards. On 2nd and 10 from the Raiders 25, Mahomes threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 5 from the Raiders 15, Mahomes ran for 9. Edwards-Helaire ran for a 6 yard touchdown. With 1:40 left in the half, the Chiefs were up 35-0. 

For some reason, the final 31:40 was played. The Raiders managed a field goal before the half and the Chiefs added a field goal in the third quarter for a 38-3 lead. The Raiders managed a touchdown but kicker Daniel Carlson, who just signed a 4 year contract with plenty of guaranteed money, missed the extra point. The Raiders had now failed in all 3 phases of the game. The Chiefs added another field goal in the fourth quarter to lead 41-9. Midway through the fourth quarter, Carr got belted to the ground and fumbled. One play later Derrick Gore ran for a 51 yard touchdown to complete the total beating. At the 2 minute warning down by 39 points, the Raiders managed to get to the red zone only for Zee Jones to fumble the ball away. 5 turnovers including 4 fumbles destroyed the Raiders. They looked like an unprepared mess. The Raiders have gone 1-5 in recent weeks, their 5-2 start a mirage. At 6-7 the Raiders are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot but realistically finished. Interim coach Rich Bisaccia is a nice guy, but the results are what they are. Carr is getting no help. He can’t make his teammates hang on to the ball. His only interception was off of a pass that should have been an easy offensive reception. Right now the Raiders are bad at everything. As for the Chiefs, they have won 6 in a row to lead the AFC West at 9-4, making Andy Reid a most happy walrus indeed. 48-9 Chiefs

New Orleans Saints at New York Jets — The Saints went from 5-2 to losers of 5 straight, but the perfect tonic was a game against the lowly Jets. Taysom Hill got the start. The Saints began at their own 30 and moved 65 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the Jets 26, Sean Payton went for it and Hill gained 3. On 3rd and goal at the 7, a completion gained only 2. Brett Maher hit the 23 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Saints. In the second quarter the Saints punted on 4th and 28 from their own 22. A short 28 yard punt gave the Jets the ball at their own 44. Robert Saleh went for it on 4th and 7 at the Saints 35 and Zach Wilson hit Braxton Berrios for 14. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 18, Wilson threw incomplete. Eddy Pineiro hit a 36 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. A 15 yard penalty for catch interference on a punt gave the Saints the ball at their own 46. Hill went to Alvin Kamara for 13 and to Smith for 6. Kamara did the rest, running for 8, 9, 2, and the 16 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Saints with 3 1//2 minutes left in the half. The Jets after a touchback moved to a 1st and 10 at the saints 24 with 30 seconds left in the half. Yet consecutive offensive penalties killed the drive. Pineiro hit from 46 as the Jets trailed 10-6 at the intermission. In the third quarter the Saints moved from their own 7 on a 15 play, 80 yard, 9 minute drive. On 4th and 2 from the Jets 8, Sean Payton went for it but a delay of game penalty killed the drive. The Saints settled for a 31 yard Maher field goal and a 13-6 lead after three quarters. 

The Saints started the fourth quarter at midfield and put the game away. On 3rd and 7, Hill went to Smith for 21. On 3rd and 3 from the Jets 19, Hill threw incomplete. maher hit from 37 to make it 16-6 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. With 10 1/2 minutes left Robert Saleh went for it on 4th and 6 just past midfield. Wilson threw incomplete. Kamara ran for 9, 3, 8 and 3. Hill went to Callaway for 26. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Hill got in to make it 23-6 Saints with 5 1/2 minutes left. Needing 3 scores the Jets managed one more Pineiro field goal from 36 but never reached the end zone. With 2:47 left on 4th and 10 from their own 34 down by 14, Wilson completed a pass for only 8 yards. Hill ran for a 44 yard touchdown to turn a close game into a blowout and keep the 6-7 Saints in playoff contention. 30-9 Saints 

Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers — A pair of 5-7 teams faced off in the battle of the 2015 NFL MVP who lost a Super Bowl and the 2016 NFL MVP who lost a Super Bowl. The Panthers began at their own 35. Cam Newton hit DJ Moore for 7 and 11. Newton ran for 11. Newton hit Zylstra for 15. On 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 12, Newton ran it in for the score to make it 7-0 Panthers. After a touchback, Matt Ryan went to Gage for 36. Arthur Hill went for it on 4th and 1 from the Carolina 31. Davis gained 5. On 3rd and 8 from the Carolina 24, Ryan hit Gage for 13. Cordarelle Patterson ran for 6 and then the 5 yard touchdown to cap the 11 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive for a 7-7 deadlock. In the second quarter the Panthers took over at their own 3 yard line and moved to a 3rd and 6 at the Atlanta 36. Newton was then intercepted by Mykal Walker, who returned it 66 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 14-7 Falcons lead. The Falcons got it back just shy of midfield and moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Carolina 13. Ryan threw incomplete twice. Younghoe Koo hit a 32 yard field goal for a 17-7 Falcons lead at the break.

Koo kicked the second half kickoff out of bounds to set up the Panthers at their own 40. On 3rd and 3, Newton hit Tommy Tremble for 14 and Abdullah for 6. Newton ran for 5 and 11. Chuba Hubbard ran for a 17 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 17-14. The Falcons after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Carolina 15. Then came a false start followed by an incompletion. Koo hit the 38 yard field goal to make it 20-14 Falcons. The Panthers moved from their 24 to a 2nd and 3 at their own 47. Newton fumbled and the Falcons recovered at the Carolina 49. On 3rd and 13, Matty Ice hit Pitts for 14. Ollison ran for 11,8, and 5 and Patterson added 9 as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter began with the Falcons facing 3rd and 1 at the Carolina 5. Ryan gained 2 and then threw a 3 yard touchdown to Hayden Hurst. The 2 point try failed but the Falcons led 26-14. 

After a touchback the Panthers moved to a 4th and 10 at the Atlanta 42 with 10 minutes left. Newton was sacked for a 10 yard loss. That led to a 48 yard Koo field goal and a 29-14 Falcons lead with 6 minutes left. After a touchback, Newton was benched as Matt Rhule brought in PJ Walker. Walker fumbled his first snap but retained possession.Yet  it was deja vu as the Panthers faced 4th and 10 at the Atlanta 44 with 5 minutes left. Walker threw incomplete. The Falcons fumbled on their first play from scrimmage to give the Panthers another chance. Walker hit Robby Anderson for a 5 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 8 with 3:11 to play. A 38 yard kickoff return had the Falcons at their own 40. With 2:50 left the Panthers took their 2nd timeout with the Falcons facing 3rd and 14 at their own 36. Ryan hit Pitts for 23. The Panthers took their final timeout with 1:52 left and the Falcons facing 3rd and 2 at the Carolina 33. Ryan gained 3 and then took a couple knees. 29-21 Falcons

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns — Two weeks ago Lamar Jackson was intercepted 4 times but the defense preserved a gutty 16-10 home win over the Browns. Last week the Ravens lost a one-point heartbreaker against Pittsburgh. The Browns had the bye week, making this the first time in 30 years an NFL team played the same team in 2 straight regular season games. The Dawg Pound was fired up and the Browns defense dominated early on. The Browns moved from their own 15 backward to their own 8 and then forward to a 3rd and 5 at the Baltimore 25. Baker Mayfield threw incomplete Chase McLaughlin hit the 43 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Browns. The Brown got it back and faced 3rd and 4 at their own 40. Mayfield went deep to Donovan Peoples-Jones for 34. On 3rd and 3 from the Baltimore 19, Mayfield hit Karim Hunt for 5 and Jarvis Landry for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Browns. On the first play of the second quarter on 2nd and 15 form his own 20, Jackson scrambled for 5 but Jackson twisted his ankle on the tackle and left the game. He may be out several weeks. Tyler Huntley played the final 3 quarters. 

The Browns got it back and faced 3rd and 2 from their own 31. Mayfield gained 6. Nick Chubb gained 15. Mayfield went deep to Peoples-Jones for 27 and Austin Hooper for 9. Mayfield hit Hooper for a one yard touchdown midway through the second quarter to make it 17-0 Browns. The Brows on their next drive saw Mayfield get intercepted and Averett return it 21 yards to the Cleveland 39. On 3rd and 2 a run lost a yard. Justin Tucker hit a 50 yard field goal to get the Ravens on the board. The Ravens got it back at their own 9. From their own 20, a fumble was returned 15 yards for a defensive touchdown by Myles Garrett. With 49 seconds left in the half, the Browns were romping up 24-3. Yet the Ravens slowly mounted a comeback.

Tucker hit a 42 yard field goal to end the half with the Ravens down 24-6. The Ravens in the third quarter moved from their 25 to a 2nd and 6 at the Cleveland 12. Huntley was then sacked and fumbled as the Brows defense came up big again. The Ravens got it back at their own 17 and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Cleveland 33. A pair of offensive penalties killed the drive but Tucker bailed out the Ravens with a 55 yard field goal to get them within 24-9. The Browns moved from their own 25 t a 1st and 10 at the Baltimore 23. Yet a run went nowhere and Mayfield threw incomplete. With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation, McLaughlin came in for a 41 yard field goal try to make it 27-9 Browns and pretty much put the game away. Except McLaughlin was no good. The Ravens had life.  

On 4th and 11 from their own 30 and down to their last gasp, Huntley hit Mark Andrews for 13 and again for 20 and then went Bateman for 36 down to the one. Latavius Murray got the last yard. With 9 minutes still remaining, John Harbaugh went for the 2 point conversion earlier than necessary. Huntley threw incomplete and the Ravens were down 24-15. With 5 1/2 minutes left the Ravens got it back at their own 10 as the Cleveland offense went into a conservative shell. Huntley went to Hollywood Brown for 12 and Devin Duvernay for 11. On 4th and 1 from their own 45 with 3 minutes left, Huntley hit Andrews for 2. On 4th and 6 from the Cleveland 38, Huntley went deep to Bateman for 30 and Andrews for the 8 yard touchdown. The Ravens were within 2 with 1:17 to play. The Browns defense had every chance to close out the game but gave up three fourth down conversions. The dog pound went into shellshock when Tucker’s perfectly executed onside kick was recovered by the Ravens at their own 41. All they needed was a field goal to win. With one minute left it came down to another 4th down play. This time on 4th and 6, Huntley threw a 2 yard pass to Bateman. The Dawg Pound erupted. The Ravens 2nd straight loss has them at 8-5, only one game up on Cleveland in the AFC North. 24-22 Browns 

New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers — Sometimes a bad team can go on the road and shock a good team. This was not that game. A field position game early had the Chargers at their own 40. Austin Ekeler ran for 14 and 9. Justin Herbert hit Jalen Guyton for 9. Jackson ran for a pair of 5 yard gains. Ekeler ran for 9 and then for the one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Chargers. After a touchback, On 3rd and 10 from his own 35, Mike Glennon went deep to Kyle Rudolph for a 60 yard gain. Glennon then hit Elijhaa Penny for a 3 yard touchdown. The game was tied 7-7 after the opening quarter, but after that the Chargers exploded.

An out of bounds kickoff had the Chargers at their own 40. On 3rd and 1, Herbert gained 2. The second quarter began with Ekeler running for 17 and Herbert hitting Donald Parham for 15. On 3rd and 8 from the Giants 12, Herbert hit Joshua Palmer for the touchdown to make it 14-7 Chargers. The Chargers got it back at their own 22 and moved 69 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Brandon Staley went for it on 4th and 1 at the Giants 5, but a false start killed the drive. Dustin Hopkins hit a 27 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Chargers. With 39 seconds left in the half the Chargers took over at their own 25. Herbert hit Guyton for 17. With 17 seconds left the Chargers faced 3rd and 11 from their own 41. Herbert rolled out and went bombs away to Guyton for a 59 yard touchdown. The Chargers led 24-7. and that was pretty much the back-breaker. Hopkins hit third quarter field goals of 28 and 39 to make it 30-7 Chargers. A Giants fumble meant another short field for the Chargers at the Giants 41. On 3rd and goal at the one, Herbert hit Jared Cook for the score to make it 37-7 Chargers in the fourth quarter. The Giants got a pair of garbage touchdowns to give the illusion of a respectable score. The 8-5 Chargers are one game back in the AFC West. 37-21 Chargers

Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos — The Lions finally won their first game of the year last week. They took on a 6-6 Broncos team fighting to survive. After an opening touchback, Melvin Gordon gained 11, 8 and 3. Teddy Bridgewater went to Patrick for 13. On 3rd and 9 from the Detroit 42, Bridgewater threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 14 yard gain. Gordon ran for 13, 9 and one. Javonte Williams ran for a 5 yard touchdown to cap the 11 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive and make it 7-0 Broncos. The Broncos got it back at their own 26. Williams ran for 6, 3, and on 3rd and 1 from his own 35, 3, followed by gains of 9 and 4. Bridgewater then went deep to Noah Fant for 32. Gordon ran for 2, 2, and on 3rd and goal at the one, the final yard. The 14 play, 76 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive made it 14-0 Broncos. 

The second quarter began with the Lions facing 3rd and 8 at their own 27. Jared Goff ran for 13. Goff then went to St. Brown for 13. Reynolds ran for 35 and then 5 more. Goff hit Kalif Raymond for a 7 yard touchdown to get the Lions within 14-7. The Lions got it back at their own 25 and moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Denver 18. Goff threw incomplete twice. Riley Patterson hit the 36 yard field goal. Just when the game looked like a blowout, it was almost tied as the Lions got within 14-10. Yet just when it looked competitive, it then became a blowout.

With one minute left in the half the Broncos took over at their own 22. With 12 seconds left in the half the Broncos faced 3rd and 2 at the Detroit 46. Bridgewater hit Jerry Jeudy for 7. Then when Bridgewater spiked the ball to stop the clock, the Lions were offside. That extra 5 yards turned a 57 yard field goal try into a 52 yarder. Brandon McManus was good as the Broncos took a 17-10 lead to the locker rooms. On the 2nd play from scrimmage in the third quarter on 2nd and 5 from their own 30, the Lions fumbled and the Broncos recovered at the Detroit 36. Gordon ran for 6 and 16. On 3rd and 6 from the Detroit 10, Williams ran for the touchdown to make it 24-10 Broncos. Dan Campbell gambled on 4th and 2 from his own 33. Goff had his pass batted down incomplete. Williams ran for 5, 5 and 9 and Gordon ran for the 14 yard touchdown to make it 31-10 Broncos. A fourth quarter interception of Goff led to a 14 play, 88 yard, 7 minute drive. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Bridgewater hit Albert Okwuebunam for the last score. The 7-6 Broncos are still alive. Last week the Lions had an emotional win after a school shooting in Michigan. This week the Broncos had an emotional win after the untimely death of 33 year old Demaryius Thomas. Also, the Lions are really bad. 38-10 Broncos 

San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals — Neither of these teams will be mistaken for their 1981 or 1988 squads that faced off in 2 exciting Super Bowls, but this was a good football game between a pair of teams with legitimate playoff aspirations. An early fumbled punt saw the 49ers take over at the Cincinnati 23. On 3rd and 4, Jimmy Garoppolo hit Hasty for 7 but offensive holding killed the drive. Robbie Gould hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers. The Bengals took over at their own 14 and moved67 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. On 2nd and 7 from the San Francisco 25, an incompletion was followed by a false start. On 3rd and 12, Joe Burrow hit Sam Perine for 11. On 4th and 1 from the San Francisco 19, Zac Taylor decided not to gamble. Evan McPherson hit the 37 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. 

The second quarter began after a touchback with Garoppolo hitting Brandon Aiyuk for 21. Wilson gained 9 and 12. Deebo Samuel ran for a 27 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 49ers. The Bengals took over at their own 37 and moved on a 12 play, 53 yard, 6 minute drive. At the 2 minute warning the Bengals faced 3rd and 13 at the Frisco 21. Burrow hit Perine for 11. On 4th and 2 from the 10, Zac Taylor again decided to play it safe. McPherson hit from 25 to get the Bengals within 10-6. Yet there was still one minute left in the half when the 49ers punted on 4th and 15 from their own 21. The Bengals again fumbled a punt and the 49ers recovered at the Cincy 31. On 3rd and 7 Garoppolo threw incomplete but a dumb taunting penalty meant 14 yards and a first down. On the next play Garoppolo hit George Kittle for the touchdown to make it 17-6 49ers. In the third quarter the 49ers after a touchback moved 69 yards in 12 plays and 5 minutes. On 2nd and goal at the 6, a touchdown pass was reversed to an incompletion. Then Garoppolo threw incomplete again. Gould hit from 24 to make it 20-6 49ers. Things got worse for the Bengals when McPherson missed a 46 yard field goal try.

After being dominated for 3 quarters, the Bengals came to life in the fourth quarter. With 12 minutes left from their own 34, Joe Mixon gained 17. Burrow then went deep to Tee Higgins for 27. On 4th and 5 from Frisco 17 with 9 1/2 minutes left, Zac Taylor went for it and Burrow hit Jamarr Chase for the touchdown to get the Bengals within 20-13. With 2:40 to play the Bengals took over at their own 13. A sack of Burrow had the Bengals facing 2nd and 18 from their own 5. Burrow then hit Uzomah for 12 and on 3rd and 6 hit Higgins for 22. On 3rd and 10 from their own 39, Burrow went to Boyd for 29. Burrow then found Chase for a 32 yard touchdown. Zac Taylor was not in a gambling mood, so he opted for the extra point and the tie rather than the 2 point conversion and the win. It was the smart move, and the game was tied 20-20. 

Yet the 49ers from their own 21 still had 1:15 left in regulation and 2 timeouts. From their own 35, Garoppolo hit Aiyuk for 17. On 3rd and 10 from the Cincy 48, Garoppolo hit Kittle for 19. With 4 seconds left, Gould came in for a 47 yard field goal try for the win. His kick was no good and the game went to overtime. The Bengalsgot the ball first in overtime. On the first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Burrow hit Higgins for 26 and then Uzomah for 23. On 3rd and 3 from the San Francisco 19,  Burrow was sacked. McPherson hit the 41 yard field goal. 17 unanswered points had the Bengals up 23-20, but the 49ers would get one chance with the ball from their own 25. Garoppolo went to Jennings for 25 and Kittle for 21. On 3rd and 5 at the Cincy 21, Garoppolo hit Kittle for 9 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning in overtime. On the next play Garoppolo hit Aiyuk for the 12 yard touchdown and the win. Both teams are 7-6 and alive in the playoff chase. 26-23 49ers, OT

Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Buccaneers still have a chance at the top seed in the NFC while the Bills were in survival mode after a gut-wrenching defensive loss to New England in which the Bills defense faced 46 runs and only 3 passes. The Buccaneers began at their own 33. On 2nd and 10 from their own 48, Brady threw incomplete but defensive holding meant an automatic fist down. On the next play Leonard Fournette ran for a 47 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back at their own 15 and moved 80 yards in 15 plays and 7 minutes. The second quarter began with the Buccaneers facing 1st and goal at the 4. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 5, Brady threw incomplete. Ryan Succop hit the 23 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Buccaneers. 

After a touchback, Josh Allen went to Emanuel Sanders for 25 to midfield. Allen hit Stefan Diggs for 24 and Davis for 21. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 3, Allen threw incomplete. Sean McDermott played it safe and Tyler Bass hit the 21 yard field goal to get the Bills on the board. After a touchback, Brady went to Chris Godwin for 12 and Rob Gronkowski for 18. on 3rd and 5 at the Buffalo 29, Brady threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 11 more yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Buffalo 13, Brady hit Mike Evans for the touchdown to make it 17-3 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back at their own 28 and Brady hit Gronk for 16 and Godwin for 13 and 7. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 22, Brady hit Evans for 20. Brady ran for a one yard touchdown with 90 seconds in the half. 4 straight scoring drives including 3 touchdown drives had the Patriots cruising 24-3 at the break. Yet the second half was a totally different ballgame.

In the third quarter Sean McDermott gambled on a fake punt on 4th and 2 from his own 45. It got blown up for a 3 yard loss. Bruce Arians then passed up a 52 yard field goal try to extend the lead by going for it on 4th and 2 at the Buffalo 34. Brady threw incomplete. There was a defensive penalty for unnecessary roughness but it occurred after the change of possession. The Bills took over at their own 19. Singletary gained 29. Allen hit Diggs for 13. On 4th and 1 from the Tampa 30, Mcdermott went for it again and Allen gained 4. On 3rd and 2 from the Tampa 18, Allen ran for the touchdown to get the Bills within 24-10. The Buccaneers took over at their own 10 and Brady hit Evans for 24. The fourth quarter began with the Buccaneers facing 3rd and 6 at their own 40. Brady hit Evans for 18. Despite 1st and 10 from the Buffalo 14, a completion for no gain and an incompletion meant 3rd and 10. Brady hit Godwin for only 8. On 4th and 2 from the Buffalo 6, Bruce Arians took no chances since a field goal would make it a 3 score game. Succop hit from 27 and the Buccaneers led 27-10 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

In desperation mode, Allen hit Dawson Knox for 4 and Diggs for 10. Singletary gained 18 and Allen ran for 23. Allen hit Knox for the 15 yard touchdown. With 9 minutes left, the Bills were still down 27-17. The Bucs went 3 and out and a 35 yard punt gave the Bills a short field at the Tampa Bay 46. On 3rd and 1 from the Tampa 37, Singletary gained 2. Allen hit Beasley and Diggs for 12 apiece. Allen hit Gabriel Davis for a 4 yard touchdown. With 5 minutes left the Bills were within 27-24. After a touchback the Buccaneers faced 3rd and 6 at their own 45 with 3 1/2 minutes left as he Bills took their 2nd timeout on defense. A first down would all but end it but Brady was sacked. The Bills got it back at their own 23 with 3 minutes left and one timeout plus the 2 minute warning. With 1:48 the Bull faced 4th and 4 at their own 40. Allen hit Davis for 5. Allen hit Beasley for 15 and knox for 24. With 28 seconds left the Bills had a chance at a shocking comeback win as they faced 3rd and 2 at the Tampa 7. Allen threw incomplete. Sean McDermott was not in a gambling mood on the road. Bass hit the 25 yard field goal as 17 unanswered points had the game tied 27-27. 

The Bills got the ball first in overtime. On 3rd and 4 from their own 31, Allen threw incomplete. Going for it was not even a consideration and the Bills punted. A 63 yard punt pinned the Buccaneers at their own 6 yard line. On 3rd and 1 from their 15, Fournette barely got the yard. Brady went deep incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant a 19 yard gain. A swing pass lost 7 yards. On 2nd and 17 from their own 28, Brady hit Gronk for 14. Halfway through overtime, the big play had the Buccaneers facing 3rd and 3 from their own 42. It was also the final play of the game as Brady went to Breshad Perriman for a 58 yard touchdown to win the game. It was Brady’s 700th career touchdown pass. Brady entered the game with the most touchdown passes and wins. Now he has the most completions as well, passing Drew Brees. Brady will never reach Brett Favre’s interception record, but he is ok with that. The Buccaneers at 10-3 have a stranglehold on the NFC South and a legitimate shot at home field throughout the NFC. The Bills at 7-6 are on life support. 33-27 Buccaneers, OT

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers is the Sunday night game. A few weeks ago the Packers beat the Bears in Chicago and Aaron Rodgers shouted at the crowd, “I own you! I still own you!.” In Green Bay, the NFC North leading Packers were expected to easily dispatch with the overmatched Bears. Early on it did not turn out that way. The first quarter saw Jakeem Grant return a punt 34 yards to have the Bears starting out at the Green Bay 44. Yet despite 1st and goal at the 4, a false start harmed the Bears. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Justin Fields threw incomplete. Cairo Santos hit the 23 yard field goal. The first quarter ended with the Bears up 3-0, but the second quarter was an insane 45 point explosion. The Bears took over at their own 19 and Fields ran for 8. Williams added 8 more. Defensive pass interference on the next play added 15. Fields then went to Jakeem Grant for a 46 yard touchdown and a 10-0 Bears lead.

The Packers soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for 12 and Deguara for 25. Aaron Jones ran for 11. Rodgers hit Marcedes Lewis for 12. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Rodgers threw incomplete. Matt LaFleur went for it and on 4th and goal Rodgers hit Allen Lazard for the 2 yard touchdown to get the Packers within 10-7. A strong kickoff by Herbert had the Bears taking over at their own 41. Yet on 3rd and 3, Fields went to the sideline and Rasul Douglas jumped the route for a 55 yard interception return touchdown and a 14-10 Packers advantage. Then momentum shifted again.

Mason Crosby hit the kickoff out of bounds and the Bears took over at their own 40. On 3rd and 4, Fields found Damiere Byrd for a 54 yard touchdown. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half the Bears led 17-14 but were just warming up. The Packers moved from their own 24 to a 2nd and 4 at midfield. Rodgers threw incomplete twice. with 90 seconds still left, Matt LaFleur opted to punt. Jakeem Grant then turned into the second coming of Devin Hester. Grant returned the punt 97 yards for the NFL’s first punt return touchdown this season and a 24-14 Bears lead. After a touchback, 90 seconds was plenty of time for Rodgers. He hit Deguara for 13, Adams for 6, Lazard for 18, and Adams for a 38 yard touchdown. Rodgers only needed 48 seconds to get the Packers within 24-21, but 44 seconds still remained. Herbert followed up his earlier 40 yard kickoff return with a 42 yard kickoff return as the Packers were getting torched on special teams. Fields ran for 20 and 4 and Santos hit a 44 yard field goal to end the half with the Bears up 27-21.

Yet in the third quarter, the Packers steamrolled the Bears. After a second half touchback, Dillon gained 11 and 5. Rodgers hit Adams for 12 and 16. Dillon ran for 8 and 11. Aaron Jones ran for a 3 yard touchdown to give the Packers the lead again 28-27. 2 plays later on 2nd and 5 from their own 30, Fields was sacked and fumbled. The Packers recovered at the Bears 23. One play and 8 seconds later, Jones was in the end zone again as the Packers now led 35-27. A field position game had the Packers taking over at the Bears 48. The Packers moved to a 1st and goal at the 8 but an incompletion and a failed run were followed by a 3rd and goal completion that gained only 6 yards. On 4th and goal at the 2, Matt LaFleur played it safe to make it a 2 score game. Crosby hit from 20 as the Packers led 38-27. In the fourth quarter Rodgers switched to smash mouth as the Packers mounted a 13 play, 71 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive. A 3 yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Adams meant 24 unanswered points and a 45-27 Packers lead with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Bears did managed a field goal and a successful onside kick, but nothing more as Fields was intercepted with one minute left. Rodgers still owns the Bears. The 10-3 Packers are so far ahead in the NFC North it’s ridiculous, but their goal is home field advantage throughout the NFC. They have a realistic shot at playoff football in Lambeau Field in the cold. 45-30 Packers

 

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals was the Monday night game. Earlier in the season the Cardinals went into Los Angeles and belted the Rams. The 8-4 Rams now came to the desert with the rematch against the 10-2 Cardinals in a critical NFC West showdown with home field advantage on their minds. After a touchback to start the game, the Cardinals moved to a 1st and 10 at the Rams 35. Kyler Murray threw 3 straight incompletions. Matt Prater hit a 53 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cardinals. The Cardinals got it back at their own 33 and moved 63 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. Yet on 2nd and goal at the 4, Murray fired over the middle and was intercepted by Jones, who returned it 31 yards to the Rams 32.

Momentum shifted as Matthew Stafford hit Odell Beckham for 5 and Cooper Kupp for 13. On 3rd and 6 from the Arizona 46, Stafford hit Kupp for 7 and 11 to end the first quarter. From the Arizona 28, Sony Michel began the second quarter by running for 19. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Stafford fired a laser over the middle to Beckham for the touchdown. Instead of being down 10-0, the Rams led 7-3. The Rams got it back at their own 29 and moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Arizona 37. Stafford threw incomplete twice. Matt Gay nailed a 55 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Rams.

After a touchback, Murray hit James Conner for 10. Murray then went deep to Kirk for 41 yards and then to Conner for 13. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Murray went to Ertz for only 3. Kliff Kingsbury went for it on 4th and goal at the one. Conner got the carry and ran into a brick wall on the right side. Somehow instead of being belted for a loss, he was able to bounce backward and then go in from the left side for the touchdown. What seemed to be a sure goal line stand instead was a tough touchdown and a 10-10 game. The Rams took over at their own 20 and moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Arizona 19. A completion gained only 2 yards. Matt Gay hit the 35 yard field goal to make it 13-10 Rams with only 38 seconds left in the half. After a touchback, short passes had the Cardinals facing 3rd and 7 just shy of midfield with 10 seconds left. Murray rolled out to his left and prepared to launch the Hail Mary. Instead he kept the ball, ran for 16 yards, and got out of bounds with one second left. Prater nailed the 53 yard field goal for a 13-13 tie at the half.

After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Rams quickly exploded. A short completion and defensive unnecessary roughness had the Rams at their own 48. Stafford went bombs away to Van Jefferson for a 52 yard touchdown to make it 20-13 Rams. Two plays after a touchback Murray was intercepted by Floyd, who returned it 11 yards to the Arizona 19. On 3rd and 1 from the 10, Sony Michel gained 2. On 3rd and goal at the 8, Stafford threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 4. Stafford went to Kupp for the touchdown and the 27-13 Rams lead. The cardinals moved from their own 25 to a 4th and 2 at the Rams 14. Kliff Kingsbury went for it and Murray threw incomplete. 

The Cardinals got it back and soon faced 3rd and 9 from their own 28. Murray went to AJ Green for 23. Offensive holding had the Cardinals starting the fourth quarter facing 1st and 20 at their own 41. Murray hit Hopkins for 15 and then went deep to Green for 36. On 1st and goal at the 8, Conner took the direct snap and bulldozed over most of the defense for the touchdown to get the Cardinals within 27-20. The Rams from their own 25 embarked on a 10 play, 69 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. On 2nd and goal at the 7, Stafford threw incomplete. On 3rd and goal Stafford was sacked. Gay hit the 33 yard field goal to give the Cardinals some breathing room up 30-20 midway through the fourth quarter. 

The Cardinals quickly moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 1 from the Rams 37. Murray went deep incomplete. With 5 1/2 minutes left and needing 2 scores, a field goal try of 55 yards would have been in Prater’s range. Yet Kliff Kingsbury went for it and Conner, who had beaten up the defense all game, this time got the carry up the gut and hit a brick wall for no gain. At the 2 minute warning, the Cardinals were down to their last gasp facing 4th and 9 at their own 24. Murray went bombs away to Kirk for a 47 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 39, Murray hit Hopkins for 11. Needing 2 scores, Kingsbury decided to go for the touchdown rather than kick the field goal right away and go onside. On 3rd and 8 from the Rams 26, Murray was sacked. By the time Prater hit the 49 yard field goal to get the Cardinals within 7, only 37 seconds remained. 

The onside kick was a good one and a mad scramble ensued. Two Rams had it and knocked into each other and it squirted away. The Cardinals recovered and had 34 seconds just shy of midfield. Murray scrambled for a 15 yard gain but offensive holding was a killer as only 26 seconds remained. Then came a false start. A completion on 1st and 25 gained 9 yards, but the clock kept ticking. rather than spike the ball to stop the clock, Murray took the snap with 5 seconds left from his own 42. The Hail Mary never had a chance as Murray was eventually sacked for an 18 yard loss. Rather than have a stranglehold on the division, the 10-3 cardinals are now only one game up on the 9-4 Rams. Both teams won on the opposing team’s field. A third game in the playoffs would be highly anticipated. The Cardinals lost sole possession of the top record in football and are now tied for the NFC lead. The tie-breaker has Green Bay and Tampa Bay ahead of the Cardinals. 30-23 Rams

NFL 2021 Week 14 Prequel

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

NFL 2021 Week 14 Preview and Bettor’s Guide: Big Dogs are sleeping

NFL 2021 Week 13 Recap

Monday, December 6th, 2021

NFL 2021 Week 13 Recap

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints was the Thursday night. The Cowboys started 7-1 and lost 3 straight. The Saints started 5-2 and lost 4 straight. Both teams suffered key injuries. Something had to give. Taysom Hill has been used as a multi-position threat, but on this night he was the starting quarterback in place of the ineffective Trevor Siemian. Meanwhile, the Cowboys got Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb back from injury but were without head coach Mike McCarthy, who was in Covid protocol. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn took over the Cowboys head coaching reins for this one game. Early on Sean Payton gambled on a 56 yard field goal try that was no good. Quinn passed up a 52 yard try and gambled on 4th and 2 from the Saints 34. Dak Prescott threw incomplete. Late in the first quarter the Cowboys faced 3rd and 7 from their own 23. Prescott went deep to Cooper for 41 yards. Lamb got around the end for 33 down to the one. Prescott hit Michael Gallup for the touchdown to put the Cowboys up 7-0. 

After a touchback, Hill went to Johnson for 27. On 3rd and 8 just shy of midfield to start the second quarter, Hill gained 9. Hill then hit Harris for 9 and Montgomery added 9. Hill then went to Jordan Humphrey for a 24 yard touchdown for a 7-7 ballgame. After a touchback, Prescott went to Lamb for 21, Turner for 10 and Schultz for 10. Offensive holding killed the drive but Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein drilled a 55 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Cowboys. The Saints moved from their own 34 to the Dallas 26. Hill then went deep and was intercepted at the 5 yard line with 2:19 left in the half. The Cowboys quickly moved 79 yards in 13 plays. On 1st and goal at the 7 with 16 seconds left, offensive holding killed the drive. Zuerlein hit from 34 as the Cowboys took a 13-7 lead to the locker rooms. In the third quarter the Saints moved from their own 21 to a 1st and 10 at the Dallas 24. Hill threw 3 straight incompletions. Brett Maher hit a 42 yard field goal to get the Saints within 13-10.

The Cowboys took over at their own 29 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Prescott hit Lamb for 13. Tony Pollard then broke off a 58 yard touchdown run for a 20-10 Cowboys lead. Midway through the fourth quarter, Prescott was intercepted to give the Saints 1st and 10 at the Dallas 46. Yet after 3 1/2 quarters of relatively stable play, Hill had a meltdown late. He threw 3 interceptions on 3 straight possessions. The 4th and last of Hill’s interceptions on the night was returned 29 yards for a defensive touchdown by Carlos Watkins to make it 27-10 Cowboys with 3 minutes left. 2 plays and 30 seconds later, Hill did connect with Deonte Harris for a 70 yard touchdown, but it was too little, too late. The Saints lost their 5th straight while the Cowboys righted the ship and remained on top in the NFC Least. 27-17 Cowboys

 

New York Giants at Miami Dolphins — These teams came in both 5-7 but that was misleading. The Giants had won 3 of their last 4 and the Dolphins had won 4 straight. Mike Glennon started for the injured Daniel Jones. Graham Gano hit a 39 yard field goal for the Giants early in the second quarter, and Jason Sanders answered from 48 for a 3-3 game. With 4:18 left in the half, the Dolphins took over at their own 11. Tua Tagovailoa hit Mike Gesicki for 8, Wilson for 4, Jalen Waddle for 8, Wilson for 5, and Gesicki for 9. Tagovailoa then hit Gesicki for 9 and Parker for 17. On 3rd and 6 from the Giants 12, Tagovailoa hit Waddle for 6. Tagovailoa hit Mack Hollins for a 5 yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in the half to cap the 14 play, 89 yard drive for a 10-3 Dolphins lead. In the third quarter the Giants moved from their own 15 to a 2nd and 9 at the Miami 16. Glennon threw incomplete twice. Gano hit from 34 as the Giants trailed 10-6. The fourth quarter began with the Dolphins at their own 39. Tagovailoa went to Waddle for 25, Parker for 11, and Wilson for 13. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Tagovailoa hit Isaiah Ford for the touchdown to make it 17-6 Dolphins. Both teams made one field goal and missed one field goal to cap the scoring as the Dolphins won their 5th straight game. 20-9 Dolphins

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans — Sometimes a bad team can shock a good team in an upset for the ages. This was not that game. On the first play from scrimmage, Tyrod Taylor was intercepted to give the Colts the ball at the Houston 23. Jonathan Taylor ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Colts. The Texans then fumbled the ball away but the Colts missed a 35 yard field goal try. Midway through the second quarter the Colts took over at their own 46. Taylor ran for 8 and 2. Frank Reich gambled on 4th and 1 from the Houston 31. Wentz kept it and gained 2. On 3rd and 11 from the Houston 30, Wentz hit Jaxob Doyle for 13. Taylor ran for 15. Wentz hit Ashton Dulin for a 2 yard touchdown with 43 seconds left in the half for a 14-0 Colts lead. After a third quarter touchback, Wentz hit TY Hilton for 8. Taylor ran for 11. Wentz hit Pittman for 17 and Nyheim Hines for 24. Taylor ran for 4, 9, and the 3 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Colts. Tyrod Taylor was benched for Davis Mills. The fourth quarter was a formality. Badgley hit a 23 yard field goal to make it 24-0 Colts. Deon Jackson ran for a 3 yard touchdown to complete the scoring as the Colts got to 8-6 on the year. 31-0 Colts 

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions — The Lions were winless but they had the Vikings beaten until the final play in a 19-17 Vikings win in Minnesota. The rematch was also competitive. EARLY ON dan Campbell gambled on 4th and 1 at his own 41 and Jared Goff got stuffed for no gain. Greg Joseph hit field goals of 41 and 31 for a 6-0 Vikings lead. The Lions exploded int he second quarter. From their own 31, Goff hit Williams for 9. Justin Jefferson ran for 8. The second quarter began with Goff going deep to TJ Hockensen for 25, with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 14 more. Goff hit Patterson for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Lions. The Vikings then fumbled and the Lions recovered at their own 44. Goff went to Reynolds for 28 and to Brock Wright for a 23 yard touchdown to make it 14-6 Lions. The Lions got it back at their own 10 and moved 77 yards in 13 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 2nd and 7 from the Minnesota 13, a run went nowhere and Goff threw incomplete. Riley Patterson hit the 31 yard field goal to make it 17-6 Lions with 90 seconds left in the half. With 35 seconds left Mike Zimmer gambled on 4th and 10 from the Detroit 42. After 3 straight incompletions, Kirk Cousins was sacked. Goff then hit St. Brown for 6 and Raymond for 24. Patterson hit from 41 to end the half with the Lions up 20-6.

The Vikings began the third quarter at their own 28 and moved 60 yards in 11 plays and nearly 5 minutes. Yet on 3rd and 10 from the Detroit 12, Cousins threw incomplete. Joseph hit a 31 yard field goal to get the Vikings within 20-9. The Vikings got it back at their own 33 and Cousins went deep to Jefferson for 48. On 3rd and 6 from the Detroit 15, Cousins hit Conklin for 7. Alexander Mattison ran for an 8 yard touchdown. Mike Zimmer went for 2. The try failed but the Vikings were within 20-15. After a touchback, the Lions moved to a 3rd and 10 at the Minnesota 36. Dan Campbell called a run that gained 5 yards. Patterson hit his 3rd field goal from 49 as the Lions led 23-15 after three quarters. After a touchback, Cousins hit Jefferson for 16. On 3rd and 11 from their own 40, Cousins hit KJ Osborn for 21 and 14 and Mattison for 16. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Cousins hit Osborn for the touchdown. With 12 minutes left in regulation Zimmer went for 2 and again the try failed. Had the Vikings not gone for 2 the first time they would not needed to have gone for 2 the second time. This classic mistake of chasing points early had the Vikings down 23-21 rather than tied.

The Lions moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 4 at the Minnesota 38. Goff was intercepted. The Lions got it back at their own 19. On 3rd and 1 from their own 28, Williams got stopped short. With 4 minutes remaining, the obvious decision is to punt. It’s not even a question. Yet Dan Campbell summoned his inner Barry Switzer and made a mind-numbingly dumb decision. On 4th and 1, he went for it and Goff was sacked for a 7 yard loss. The Vikings took over at the Detroit 19. On 3rd and goal at the 3 with 1:50 left, Cousins hit Jefferson for the touchdown. For the 3rd time on the day, the Vikings tried a 2 point conversion and failed. Rather than lead 30-23, they were up 27-23. Yet it didn’t matter. The Lions had blown a 14 point lead and lost another one. After a touchback, the only thing left for the Lions to do was fail. Goff hit Hockensen for 5 and Reynolds for 6 and spiked the ball with 1:18 left. On 3rd and 10 from their own 36, Goff hit Igwebuike for 13, Hodge for 9, and Amon-Ra St. Brown for a pair of 9 yard gains. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 24 with 23 seconds left, the Lions suffered a delay of game. On 3rd and 6, Goff hit Hockensen for 10 and spiked the ba ll with 12 seconds left. The Vikings took timeouts on defense. With 4 seconds left, everything came down to one play, It was 4th and 2 from the Minnesota 11. Goff fired to St. Brown for the touchdown. The Lions will not be winless, witless and worthless. This is not 2008. They will not go 0-16. After several heartbreaking losses on the final play of regulation, they got a win. 29-27 Lions

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Jets — The Jets got a spark when the opening kickoff was returned 80 yards by Braxton Berrios to the Philadelphia 21. On 3rd and 2 from the Philadelphia 3, Zach Wilson hit Elijah Moore for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Jets led 6-0. Gardner Minshew’s mustache is now on the Eagles and in place of an injured Jalen Hurts. Minshew went to Dallas Goedert for 16, 9, and for a 36 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Eagles. The Jets soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 35. Wilson hit Davis for 10. Coleman ran for 17. Moore gained 9. Wilson hit Crowder for 10. Wilson got the last yard himself. Again the extra point was no good as the Jets led 12-7 after the 11 play, 68 yard, 6 minute drive. The Eagles took over at their own 31. Minshew hit Goedert for 12. On 3rd and 6 from their own 47, Minshew hit Watkins for 10 and Sanders for 12. The second quarter began with the Eagles facing 3rd and 4 at the Jets 25. Minshew went to Goedert again for the touchdown as the Eagles led 14-12. 

The second quarter began with the Jets at their own 25. Coleman gained 15 and Wilson went to Moore for 29. On 3rd and 4 from the Philly 25, Wilson went to Crowder for 19. On 3rd and goal at the one, Wilson threw incomplete. Robert Saleh went for it. On 4th and goal, Wilson hit Griffin for the touchdown. Rookie kicker Alex Kesselman had already missed 2 extra points in his first NFL game, so Saleh went for 2. The conversion try failed as the Jets led 18-14. The Jets scored touchdowns on their first 3 possessions, but after that they went to sleep. The Eagles took over at their own 6. Minshew hit Smith for 13 and Kenneth Gainwell for 16. A sack of Minshew was nullified by a defensive facemask. Minshew ran for 9, Sanders added 7, and Gainwell ran for an 18 yard touchdown to make it 21-18 Eagles. The 3 failed extra point tries had the Jets trailing instead of tied. The Eagles also scored touchdowns on their first 3 possessions as well. Neither team reached the end zone again, but the Eagles had a field goal kicker to put the game away. Jake Elliott hit from 31 near the end of the half, from 32 in the third quarter, from 43 to start the fourth quarter, and from 46 to cap the scoring. The Jets now officially have another losing season. 33-18 Eagles

Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears — The Cardinals had the best record in football, but could this warm weather team win in the cold? Hard rain came down along with sleet. Red Rifle Andy Dalton was in for the injured Justin Fields. On the 3rd play from scrimmage on 3rd and 6 from their own 29, Dalton was intercepted by Thompson as the Cardinals took over at the Chicago 28. Kliff Kingsbury gambled on 4th and 2. Murray went deep to Deandre Hopkins for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Cardinals. After a touchback the Bears moved 55 yards in 10 plays and 7 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the Arizona 20, a short pass to Cole Kmet should have been caught but instead bounced off of Ket and into the arms of Buddha Baker. Baker returned the interception 77 yards to the Chicago 15. On 3rd and goal at the 9, Murray scrambled for the touchdown himself for a 14-0 Cardinals. 

The Bears took over at their own 12. Montgomery ran for 13 as the Bears began the second quarter facing 3rd and 5 from their own 41. The Cardinals took over at their own 26 and James Conner ran for 8 and 21. Murray hit Benjamin for 12 and Moore for 7. Murray hit Conner for a 23 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Cardinals. In the third quarter the Cardinals moved from their own 34 to a 1st and 10 at the Chicago 18. A pair of runs lost yards to kill the drive, but Matt Prater hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 24-7 Cardinals. 

The Bears took over at their own 27. Dalton hit Montgomery for 10. On 3rd and 12 form their own 35, a completion gained only 8 yards, but defensive illegal use of hands meant an automatic first down. Montgomery then took a direct snap and lateraled it to Dalton, who went deep to Grant for 34 yards. After getting stopped on 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 17 and needing 3 scores, Matt Nagy went for it. Montgomery gained 2. On 3rd and goal from the one, Dalton hit Jimmy Graham for the touchdown to cap the 13 play, 73 yard, 7 minute drive and get the Bears within 24-14. 

After that, the Bears self-destructed. An interception of Dalton gave the Cardinals a short field at the Chicago 28. Prater hit a 25 yard field goal to make it 27-14 Cardinals. Another interception of Dalton was returned 25 yards to the Chicago 12. Murray ran for 9 and then the 3 yard touchdown and a 33-14 Cardinals lead. The Bears managed one garbage touchdown but no more. The Cardinals got to 10-2 on the year to maintain the best record in the NFL. As for the Bears, if only the late Dennis Green was still alive. He would tell us what he told us 15 years ago. “The Bears are who we thought they were!” As for the Cardinals, don’t “crown their @ss” just yet. 33-22 Cardinals 

                           

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals — The 6-5 Chargers took on the 7-4 Bengals but only one team showed up to start the game. Roberts took the opening kickoff 48 yards to set up the Chargers at their own 45. Justin Herbert hit Keenan Allen for 10. Herbert went deep to Mike Williams for 41. After Herbert threw incomplete on 3rd and goal at the 4, super gambler Brandon Staley went for it. On 4th and goal at the 4, Herbert hit Allen for the touchdown to make it 6-0 Chargers. The extra point try was no good. Joe Burrow was then strip sacked and the Chargers recovered at the Cincinnati 29. Offensive holding killed the drive but Dustin Hopkins hit from 43 to make it 9-0 Chargers. The Bengals took over at their own 12. From their own 29, Burrow went deep to Jamarr Chase, but the ball bounced right off of Chase and was intercepted. From their own 27, Herbert went deep to Mike Williams for 47. Herbert hit Allen for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 16-0 Chargers. In the second quarter the Chargers took over at their own 44. From the Cincy 44, Herbert went deep to Guyton for the touchdown. Staley went for 2 and brought out the Philly special. A lateral to Allen saw him then throw to Herbert for the conversion and the 24-0 Chargers lead. 

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 31. Burrow went to Tyler Boyd for 32 and again for 16. Burrow then went deep to Tee Higgins for a 29 yard touchdown. Brandon Staley went for 2 but a false start on the try had him instead go for the extra point. That was no good anyway as the Bengals trailed 24-6. The Chargers moved from their own 21 to a 3rd and 8 at the Cincy 43. Herbert went to Austin Ekeler near the sticks, but Ekeler had the ball ripped out of his hands. Jeremy Bates returned the fumble 46 yards to the Chargers 19. Burrow ran for a 6 yard touchdown to get the Bengals within 24-13. The Chargers moved from their own 27 to a 1st and 10 just past midfield. Consecutive sacks of Herbert meant 3rd and 25. Herbert then went deep and was intercepted. 

In the third quarter after a touchback the Bengals moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chargers 32. Offensive holding killed the drive but Evan McPherson hit a 48 yard field goal to get the Bengals within 24-16. The Chargers soon faced 2nd and 13 from their own 22. Herbert hit Ekeler for 9 but Ekeler fumbled again as the Bengals took over at the Chargers 32-. Burrow hit Chase for gains of 6 and 9. Joe Mixon ran for a 7 yard touchdown to get the Bengals within 24-22. Brandon Staley went for 2 to tie the game and Mixon got stuffed short. The Chargers have blown 24-0 leads before in their history, and were on the verge of doing so again.

The Bengals began the fourth quarter at their own 43 with a golden opportunity to take the lead. On 2nd and 2 from the Chargers 34 in long field goal range, the key play of the game one minute into t he fourth quarter shifted momentum again. The Bengals fumbled, and Tevaughn Campbell returned it 61 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 31-22 Chargers lead. The Chargers got it back at their own 47. Herbert went to Mike Williams for 18 and Guyton down to the one. Ekeler got in for a 38-22 Chargers lead. Burrow was intercepted on his next series and then turned it over on downs on their last chance. Hopkins hit a 43 yard field goal with just over one minute left to complete the scoring. Both teams are 7-5 and in the thick of the AFC playoff race. 41-22 Chargers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons — Did anyone expect Matt Ryan to beat Tom Brady? After an opening touchback, Brady hit Leonard Fournette for 15. On 3rd and 5 from his own 45, Brady hit Chris Godwin for 11. Bruce Arians gambled on 4th and 4 from the Atlanta 44. Brady hit Godwin for 6, Evans for 3 and 15, Godwin for 7 and 4, and Fournette for the 3 yard touchdown. The 13 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive made it 7-0 Buccaneers. The Falcons soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Ryan hit Zaccheaus for 6. Cordarelle Patterson caught a pass for 6 and then ran for 39. Davis ran for a 17 yard touchdown and a 7-7 ballgame. 

After a touchback, Brady hit Godwin for 25 and Evans for 36. Brady hit Brate for a 3 yard touchdown. The extra point try doinked off the upright no good as the Buccaneers led 13-7. In the second quarter the Falcons moved from their own 25 on a 15 play, 74 yard drive that took 7 minutes off the clock. On 1st and goal at the one, Ryan threw incomplete but roughing the passer again meant 1st and goal at the one. Ryan threw incomplete again. Then Ryan fumbled the snap but recovered for a 2 yard loss. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Ryan threw incomplete again. Younghoe Koo hit the 21 yard field goal but the Falcons trailed 13-10. 

The Buccaneers soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 27. Brady hit Evans for 15. On 2nd and 14 from their own 38, Brady hit Godwin for 17 and Fournette for 12. On 3rd and 4 from the Atlanta 27, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for the touchdown as the Buccaneers led 20-10. With 22 seconds left in the half, the Buccaneers had the ball at their own 8 yard line. Rather than take a knee, the Buccaneers decided to get aggressive at the wrong time. Brady faded back and was intercepted by Davidson, who walked into the end zone for a 3 yard gift interception touchdown. The Falcons only trailed 20-17 at halftime.

It didn’t matter. The Buccaneers defense clamped down in the second half. With 6 minutes left in the third quarter, the Buccaneers used almost all of it. From their own 13, Brady hit Godwin for 9 and 7 and Fournette for 11 to midfield. Brady hit Perriman for 5 and Bernard for 7. On 3rd and 7 from the Atlanta 35, Brady hit Evans for 18. On 3rd and 4 from the Atlanta 11, Brady went to Gronk for the touchdown. The 14 play, 87 yard drive had the Buccaneers up 27-17 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Buccaneers embarked on another 13 play, 78 yard 5 1/2 minute drive. Ryan Succop hit a 31 yard field goal with 1:49 left to complete the scoring. Again, Ryan had a miserable second half in a game against Brady. The Buccaneers at 9-3 are in strong position in the NFC playoff picture. 30-17 Falcons 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Rams — The once 7-1 Rams had lost 3 straight. The Jaguars were a total mess. Sometimes a bad team can go on the road and shock a good team in an upset for the ages. This was not that game. Goliath beat up David and took his lunch money in a game that was never competitive. Powell returned the opening kickoff 65 yards to have the Rams starting at the Jacksonville 34. Matt Gay hit a 40 yard field goal for a 3-0 Rams lead. 2 plays later the Jaguars fumbled and the Rams had another short field at the Jacksonville 27. After moving back 5 yards, Stafford went to O’Dell Beckham for 27. Sony Michel ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Rams. In the second quarter the Jaguars moved 73 yards in 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Carlos Hyde ran for a one yard touchdown to get the Jaguars within 10-7. After that the Rams turned out the lights.

The Rams moved 57 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes, leading to a 44 yard Gay field goal and a 13-7 Rams lead. In the 2 minute drill, the Rams moved 70 yards in 10 plays. Gay hit from 37 to make it 16-7 Rams. The Rams took over at their own 15 in the third quarter and made it look easy. Stafford went deep to Cooper Kupp for 43 and back to Kupp for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 23-7 Rams. The Jaguars moved from their own 25 to a 2nd and 1 at the Rams 37. A run lost a yard and a 3rd and 2 run got the one yard back. Urban Meyer went for it and on 4th and 1 Lawrence threw incomplete. The Rams then moved 62 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and 7 from their own 41, Stafford hit Kupp for 8. On 3rd and 1 from the Jags 42, Stafford hit Kupp for 19 and Higbee for 22 down to the one. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Stafford hit Van Jefferson for the score to make it 30-7 Rams. The Jaguars added one more fumble, leading to a one yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Beckham to complete the scoring. The Rams at 8-4 are very much alive in the playoff picture. 37-7 Rams 

Washington Omicron Variant at Las Vegas Raiders — The Washington No-Names started 2-6 but then won 3 straight. The Raiders started 5-2 and finally snapped a 3 game losing streak in a thrilling overtime win at Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Raiders had 10 days to prepare for this game at home. This game represented everything the Raiders have come to symbolize over the last 19 years. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Again, the Raiders talked about having a fast start rather than a slow start. Again, they opted to defer rather than just let their offense have the ball first. Coaches used to always demand the ball first. Then Bill Belichick began deferring and so every other coach started copying him. The logic behind it is getting the ball last to end the first half and first to begin the second half. If your offense is reasonably good and your defense is not, start with your offense. The Raiders keep failing to grasp this. 

After a touchback, the No-Names on their first 2 plays saw Gibson run for 22 and Taylor Heinicke hit Bates for 23. On 3rd and 10 from the Raiders 30, Heinicke hit Terry McLaurin for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Raiders 8, , Gibson got the yard. Heinicke hit Logan Thomas for a 7 yard touchdown. The No-Names led 7-0. After that came 24 minutes of punts as the Raiders were lifeless on offense. With 1:41 left in the half the Raiders took over at their own 20. Then Derek Carr was sacked. On 2nd and 18 form his own 12, Carr found Bryan Edwards for exactly 18. Carr hit Josh Jacobs for 10. Another sack meant 2nd and 15, but Carr scrambled for 17. With 13 seconds left in the half the Raiders had 2nd and 10 at the Washington 36. Carr completed a 2 yard pass. Daniel Carlson drilled the 52 yard field goal as the Raiders trailed 7-3 at halftime. As for the first drive of the second half, the Raiders wasted it and punted it. However, they got the ball back at their ow 9 and moved 71 yards. Yet on 2nd and 3 from the Washington 20, Carr threw incomplete twice. Carlson hit the 38 yard field goal but the inability of the offense to reach the end zone had the Raiders still trailing 7-6. 

After a touchback, Heinicke Gibson for 10. Offensive holding had the No-Names facing 1st and 20 and a completion gained nothing. Yet a defensive penalty for a low block gave the No-Names 15 yards and a first down. On 2nd and 10 from their own 40, Heinicke threw incomplete but defensive holding meant another automatic first down. Just when it was a close game, the defense went stupid. On the next play Heinicke went deep to Thomas for 35 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Raiders 16, Heinicke gained 7. The fourth quarter began with the No-Names facing 1st and goal at the 9. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Heinicke hit Gibson for the touchdown and the 14-6 No-Names lead.

After a touchback, Carr finally went deep and hit Hunter Renfrow for 28. Defensive holding added 5 more. Carr then connected with Desean Jackson for 14 with roughing the passer adding 13 more. Then defensive pass interference on an incompletion meant 9 yards down to the one. Jacobs got in. With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Raiders were within 14-2. The 2 point try to tie the game naturally failed. The No-Names moved from their own 20 to a 3rd and 4 at the Raiders 47. Heinicke went for it all and was intercepted by Nate Hobbs, who returned it 30 yards to the Raiders 39 with 6:49 to play. Carr led a drive that took the clock down. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Raiders faced 3rd and 7 at the Washington 18. A first down would really help bring the clock down. Yet Carr threw incomplete. Carlson hit the 37 yard field goal. The Raiders led 15-14. Yet there was still 2:22 to play. Despite ineptness on offense in the red zone, the defense had kept the Raiders in the game. Could the defense avoid the meltdown and get to 7-5? 

Of course not. After a touchback, Heinicke hit Bates for 9 and Humphries for 10 and 12. With one minute left, the No-Names had 1st and 10 at the Raiders 40. Heinicke threw a pass right to a defender that should have been returned for an interception touchdown to ice the game. Instead, the defender dropped the ball for an incompletion. The ending was inevitable. The Raiders had all 3 timeouts and began taking them on defense. On 3rd and 4 from the Raiders 34, Samuel only gained 3 yards. The Raiders took their final timeout with 42 seconds left. Brian Johnson came in for a 48 yard field goal try to give the No-Names the 2 point lead. Naturally, the kick was good. The Raiders had 37 seconds left and 0 timeouts. That was what they had when they won in their season opener. They only needed to get in field goal range. This time there would be no miracles. With 30 seconds left from their own 25, Carr’s bomb only saw one receiver and one defender in sight. Zee Jones had beaten the defender. There was obvious defensive pass interference, but it was not called. Jones should have caught it anyway, He dropped it.  Carr’s Hail Mary from his own 43 with 2 seconds left also fell incomplete. The No-Names have won 4 straight while the Raiders have lost 4 of 5. Both teams are 6-6. The 2019 Raiders started 6-4 and went 1-5 to finish 7-9. The 2020 Raiders started 6-3 and went 1-5 before winning their meaningless finale to end up 8-8. The 2021 Raiders started 5-2 before going 1-4. Now they go to Kansas City, who blew them out by 27 points in Las Vegas. In Arrowhead, expect 1-4 to become 1-5 and 6-6 to become 6-7. This is why this team is known as the Faders. 17-15 Omicron Variant

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers — The 8-3 Ravens were atop the division and the Steelers were fighting for their playoff lives. Yet when these 2 teams play, it is a head-knocker that often goes down to the final play. This was a classic AFC North barefisted slobberknocker with teams that are mirror images of each other. The first quarter was scoreless. The Ravens began by moving 65 yards in 11 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the Pittsburgh 10, Lamar Jackson went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. The Ravens got it back and embarked on a staggering 16 play drive that consumed 10 1/2 minutes off of the clock. From his own one yard line, Jackson came out throwing and hit Ricard for 9. On 3rd and 7 from his own 16, Jackson hit Mark Andrews for 9. On 2nd and 15 from their own 31, Jackson hit Freeman for 8, but a defensive unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on TJ Watt added 15 more yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 46, Jackson hit Andrews for just enough. On 3rd and 1 from the Pittsburgh 27, a false start meant 3rd and 6. Jackson went deep to Andrews for 29. Devonta Freeman then ran for the 3 yard touchdown. The 99 yard drive had the Ravens up 7-0 in the second quarter. The Steelers missed a chance to tie the game when a deep bomb by Ben Roethlisberger was dropped in the end zone. The defenses dominated. Chris Boswell nailed a 53 yard field goal to end the half for the Steelers. Justin Tucker hit a 35 yard field goal midway through the third quarter as the Ravens led 10-3 after three quarters.

The Steelers began the fourth quarter facing 3rd and 1 at their own 31. Roethlisberger hit Chase Claypool for a 40 yard gain. On the next play Roethlisberger went to Diontae Johnson for a 29 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Steelers were an extra point from tying the game. Boswell’s attempt was wide by a mile as the Steelers trailed 10-9. The Ravens moved from their own 38 to a 3rd and 4 at the Pittsburgh 12. Jackson only gained one yard. Tucker hit from 28 as the Ravens led 13-9. After a touchback, Big Ben hit Johnson for 25. Najee Harris ran for 8 and 3 and caught a pass for 9. Yet on 3rd and 8 from the Baltimore 26, Roethlisberger threw incomplete. Boswell hit from 43 but the Steelers trialed 13-12 midway through the fourth quarter. The Steelers got it back and soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 39. Roethlisberger hit Gentry for 5 and Johnson for 9. Harris ran for 13. With 3 minutes left on 3rd and 2 from the Baltimore 26, Roethlisberger had a pass batted in the air and intercepted. Yet defensive pass interference meant 5 yards. With 1:48 to play, on 3rd and goal at the 5, Roethlisberger found Johnson for the touchdown. Mike Tomlin went for 2 and Roethlisberger found Pat Freiermuth in the front corner of the end zone for a successful conversion. The Steelers had the 20-13 lead, but this game was not over.

Boswell’s bad day continued when he kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to set up the Ravens at their own 40. On 3rd and 14, Jackson went over the middle to Hollywood Brown for 22. Jackson then found Devin Duvernay for 18 and Sammy Watkins for 13. With 20 seconds left, the Ravens had 3rd and 5 at the Pittsburgh 6. Under heavy pressure, Jackson fired high over the middle and Watkins came down with it for the touchdown with 12 seconds remaining. The Ravens were an extra point away from tying the game and going to overtime. They had the best kicker in the game in Tucker. Yet Tucker was kept on the sideline. John Harbaugh decided to go for 2 on the road for the win. This seemed like an insane decision. Take the tie and play for overtime. Jackson faked the handoff and had a wide open Andrews in the flat. Jackson also had TJ Watt in his face. Jackson’s throw was off the mark and Andrews could not haul it in. Harbaugh explained after the game that injuries had left him without cornerbacks. Roethlisberger was carving up his defense in the fourth quarter. Jackson showed his typical leadership by taking all the blame himself. He said he agreed with the call and wanted to win. The Ravens at 8-4 are still tied for the conference lead while the 6-5-1 Steelers are in the hunt. 20-19 Steelers

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks — The 49ers rebounded after a slow start to the season to get to 6-5 while the Seahawks were 3-8. Yet in this nasty NFC West showdown, records are often irrelevant. The 49ers always struggle in Seattle. Since Russell Wilson was drafted in 2012, the Seahawks are 17-4 against the 49ers. Less than 2 minutes into the game, the Seahawks went 3 and out and were punting from their own 27. Pete Carroll called a fake punt, a ridiculous decision in that part of the field. It worked perfectly as Travis Homer sprinted untouched for a 73 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Seahawks lead. On the next Seahawks series, they fumbled and the 49ers took over at the Seattle 24. One play and 7 seconds later, Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle for the touchdown and a 7-7 game. 

The 49ers got it back at their own 23 and Garoppolo was immediately intercepted. Despite 1st and 10 at the San Francisco 28, the Seahawks self-destructed. Offensive holding, a sack and a fumble had the Seahawks facing 2nd and 43…yes, 2nd and 43…at their own 39. On 3rd and 32, Wilson gained 12. That was just enough for Pete Carroll to gamble on a 55 yard field goal that was no good. The 49ers soon faced 3rd and 1 at the Seattle 45. Mitchell got stopped and Kyle Shanahan went for it. This time Garoppolo got the yard. On 3rd and 2 from the Seattle 36, Garoppolo hit Kittle for 28. Mitchell ran for 6 and then for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 49ers. The 49ers got it back at their own 37 to start the second quarter. They reached 1st and 10 at the Seattle 28. In the exact same spot as their opponents earlier, the 49ers self-destructed. Yet they only fell back as far as 3rd and 21. Garoppolo hit Sherfield for 7 to get back into long field goal range. Robbie Gould hit from 50 and the 49ers led 17-7.

The Seahawks took over at their own 37. Wilson hit Swain for 7 and DK Metcalf for 12.. On 3rd and 3 from the San Francisco 37, Adrian Peterson…yes, that Adrian Peterson…took the handoff. Cut by Tennessee a couple weeks ago, he was added to the Seahawks practice squad a few days ago and activated for this game. Peterson gained 4. On 3rd and 14 from the San Francisco 37, Wilson went deep to Metcalf for 33. Peterson ran for a one yard touchdown to get the Seahawks within 17-14. After a touchback, the 49ers soon faced 3rd and 7 from their own 39. Garoppolo hit Sherfield for 9. Garoppolo then connected with Kittle on a 48 yard touchdown. The 49ers led 23-14 with 1:48 left in the half.

The Seahawks took over at their own 35. Wilson hit Everett for 5 and Metcalf for 9. Roughing the passer on the next play added 15. On 3rd and 2 from the Frisco 26, Wilson hit Dee Eskridge for 11. Roughing the passer on another incompletion meant 8 yards and 1st and goal at the 7 with 20 seconds left. Wilson hit Eskridge for the touchdown as the Seahawks trailed 23-21 at the half. The first half was all offense. The second half belonged to the defense. The 49ers fumbled the second half kickoff and the Seahawks took over at the Frisco 26. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the Frisco 5, Wilson went to the end zone and was intercepted. Rather than take the touchback, Williams tried to run  it out and got tackled at his own 3 yard line. On 3rd and 8 from his 5, Garoppolo was sacked in the end zone for a safety as the game was tied 23-23. 

The Seahawks wasted the free kick but Garoppolo was soon intercepted to give the Seahawks another short field at the San Francisco 28. On 3rd and 6 from the Frisco 12, Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for the touchdown. The Seahawks led by 7 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Neither offense could move for awhile. With 11 minutes left, the Seahawks began a 13 play, 71 yard drive that took 7 minutes off the clock. On 4th and 1 from the Seattle 4, Pete Carroll decided to go for it rather than kick the safe field goal and go up by 2 scores with 6:19 left. Homer gained 3. On 3rd and goal at the 2, only 4:15 remained. Again, a field goal would all but ice the game. No, Pete Carroll did not call a pass play and lose a game. He played it safe. Everett got the carry and fumbled. The 49ers took over at their own 2 with 4 minutes left. Marshawn Lynch is still retired and had no comment. The 49ers moved the ball 95 yards, but they needed  98. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Garoppolo threw incomplete with 22 seconds left as the 49ers took their final timeout. On 4th and goal, Garoppolo threw incomplete again. The 6-6 49ers are still in the playoff picture but this was a tough loss. 30-23 Seahawks

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs was the Sunday night game. Patrick Mahomes came in having never lost to the Broncos. His 7-0 mark against them was part of 11 straight Chiefs wins over the Broncos. The 6-5 Broncos with a win over the 7-4 Chiefs would move into a tie atop the AFC West. The Chiefs came in winners of 4 straight overall thanks to a much improved defense. The Chiefs dominated from the start. From their own 28, Carl Edwards-Helaire gained 10. Mahomes hit Robinson and Travis Kelce for a pair of 9 yard gains. On 3rd and 1 from the Denver 42, Burton gained 3. On 1st and 20 just past midfield, Mahomes hit Robinson for 12 and Tyreek Hill for 13. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 19, Mahomes hit Hill for 9. Mahomes ran for a 10 yard touchdown The 12 play, 72 yard, 6 minute drive had the Chiefs up 7-0. After that the defenses dominated. Harrison Butker nailed a 56 yard field goal in the first quarter for a 10-0 Chiefs lead. The Broncos after a touchback began the second quarter with 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 14. Soon, they faced 3rd and 30 and gained 10. Brandon McManus hit from 42 to get the Broncos on the board. 

The Broncos got it back at their own 3 yard line and had the drive of the year that was as exhausting as it was frustrating. 20…yes, 20…plays. 11…yes, 11…minutes off the clock. 88 yards. After all of that, on 3rd and 2 from the Chiefs 8 yard line, Teddy Bridgewater threw incomplete. Vic fang decided to go for it rather than take the easy field goal. After the game he said he needed more points, but the game was becoming a defensive slugfest. On 4th and 2, Williams got the carry and got blown up for a one yard loss. Mahomes was intercepted early in the third quarter but the Broncos could not capitalize. Butker added a 45 yard field goal to give the Chiefs a 13-3 lead. Bridgewater was intercepted but the Chiefs could not capitalize. Yet the Broncos fumbled the punt, setting the Chiefs up at the Denver 16. The defense held and Walrus Andy Reid did not gamble on 4th and 2. Butker hit from 26 to make it 16-3 Chiefs. The Broncos defense played very well but their own offense killed them. On 4th and 2 from the Denver 27 with 10 minutes left in regulation, Bridgewater was intercepted bu Daniel Sorensen, who returned it 75 yards for the dagger touchdown. The Chiefs led 22-3. They gave up one garbage touchdown but nothing else. The Broncos fell to 6-6, two games back of the Chiefs. Mahoes is 8-0 against the Broncos. The Chiefs have won 12 straight over the Broncos. The Chiefs at 3-4 were in last place in the AFC West. 5 straight wins have them 8-4 and in the division lead, making Andy Reid a most happy walrus indeed. 22-9 Chiefs   

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills was the Monday night game. After winning the AFC East for about 8 billion straight years, last year the Patriots took the year off as the Bills won the division. This year the 8-4 Patriots took on the 7-4 Bills in a major division showdown. The Patriots came in on a 6 game win streak. The game featured light snow flurries and swirling winds. Mac Jones threw 3…yes, 3…passes the entire game. He completed 2 of them for 19 yards. Yet the Patriots ran the ball 46…yes, 46…times for 222 yards. In the first quarter on 3rd and 5 from their own 36, Damien Harris ran for a 64 yard touchdown. For some bizarre reason Bill Belichick opted for a 2 point conversion. Bolden ran it in to make it 8-0 Patriots. Later in the first quarter the Patriots fumbled a punt and the Bills recovered at the New England 14. One play and 5 seconds later, Josh Allen hit Davis for the touchdown. The Bills trailed 8-7. Neither team reached the end zone in the final 50 minutes. Nick Folk hit a 41 yard field goal for the Patriots in the second quarter. Tyler Bass hit from 35 in the third quarter to get the Bills within 11-10. Folk hit from 34 early in the fourth quarter. Midway through the fourth quarter from 33 yards out, Bass was no good. The Bills got it back at their own 20 with 6 minutes left. The Bills moved to the red zone but a false start and a pair of incompletions had the Bills facing 4th and 14 at the New England 18 at the 2 minute warning. Allen threw incomplete and the Patriots escaped with their 7th straight win and a 1 1/2 game AFC East lead over the Bills. 14-10 Patriots

NFL 2021 Week 13 Prequel

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

NFL 2021 Week 13 Preview and Bettor’s Guide: Cardinals vs. Bears

Dedicated to the late Dennis Green.

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