NFL 2022 Week 15 Recap

NFL 2022 Week 15 Recap

This Sunday night began Hanukkah. For leatherheads, this is Week 15. To quote john Randall and mike Singletary, “This is when the big dogs come out!”

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks was the Thursday night game. The 9-4 49ers could lock up the NFC West with a win over the 7-6 Seahawks. The 49ers would have to win with Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy. The 49ers took over at their on 14. Christian McCaffrey caught a 7 yard pass from Purdy and then broke off a 23 yard run himself. On 3rd and 3 just past midfield, Purdy hit Jennings for 8. Purdy went to McCaffrey for 11. Purdy then connected with George Kittle for a 28 yard touchdown. The 5 1/2 minute, 86 yard drive had the 49ers up 7-0 after the first quarter. In the second quarter the Seahawks took over at their own 18. They moved 62 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. On 2nd and 8 from the San Francisco 20, Geno Smith threw incomplete twice. Jason Myers hit a 38 yard field goal to get the Seahawks within 7-3.

After 28 minutes the game was a defensive bonelock. The key play came With one minute left in the half. From his own 35, Smith hit Homer for a 6 yard gain, but Homer fumbled. Ward returned the fumble 40 yards to the Seattle 6. McCaffrey ran for 5 and then for the one yard touchdown to make it 14-3 49ers. The 49ers got another big break when McCloud returned the second half kickoff 39 yards to start the 49ers at their own 41. Two plays later, Purdy went deep to Kittle for a 54 yard touchdown to make it 21-3 49ers. All the Seahawks could muster was a 51 yard field goal by Myers to get the Seahawks within 21-6. The 49ers had a chance to wrap up the game with 5 minutes left in regulation, but Robbie Gould missed a 43 yard field goal try. The Seahawks soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 42. Kenneth Walker gained 2. Smith went to Will Dissly for 13. Sith went to Walker for 33 and Fant for the 10 yard touchdown. With 3 1/2 minutes left, the Seahawks were within 8. The 49ers soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Purdy got the yard. The Seahawks challenged the spot and lost, burning their last timeout. On 3rd and 2 from their own 43, Mason went up the gut for a 55 yard gain down to the Seattle 2. Purdy took a couple knees. That is how the NFC West was won. Brock is Purdy good. 21-13 49ers

Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings was the Saturday morning game. The Vikings were 10-3 and would lock up the NFC North with a win at home over the pathetic Colts. The game was expected to be a blowout, but not in the way football fans imagined. To quote ESPN user-announcer Chris Berman, “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES!” The Colts got a jolt when they returned the opening kickoff to their own 48 yard line. The first play from scrimmage, an end around to Michael Pittman, gained 19 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 1, a lateral run was blown up in the backfield for a 7 yard loss. The 26 yard Chase McLaughlin field goal made it 3-0 Colts. The Vikings lined up to punt. The Colts came crashing through the line and blocked the punt. It popped up high in the air and and was returned by JoJo Doman for a 25 yard touchdown. The Colts led 10-0 in front of a stunned home crowd in Minnesota.

After a touchback, Dalvin Cook took a pitchout for a 35 yard gain. On the next play Cook carried again and this time fumbled. The Colts recovered and took over at their own 40. Matt Ryan found Ashton Dulin for an 18 yard gain down to the one. Ryan faked the handoff and found a wide open Adams in the flat for an easy touchdown to make it 17-0 Colts. The Vikings soon faced 4th and 1 from their own 34. In an attempt to spark his team, Kevin O’Connell gambled. Cook got the carry and got blasted in the backfield for a two yard loss. The Colts took the short field and moved to a 3rd and 2 at the Minnesota 9 early in the second quarter. Zack Moss got the carry and ran laterally. He was swarmed for a 2 yard loss. McLaughlin hit again from 28 to make it 20-0 Colts as the stunned home crowd turned to shock and disbelief.

More desperation came for the Vikings when they had to punt on 4th and 1 from their own 30. Kevin O’Connell gambled on a fake punt that had potential but saw the punter’s pass overthrown incomplete. With another short field, The Colts went nowhere on offense but McLaughlin hit from 49 to make it 23-0 Colts. The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 8 yard line. Cousins went over the middle and Julian Blackmon jumped the route for the interception. Blackmon returned the interception 15 yards for a touchdown as the Colts led 30-0. Nothing went right for the Vikings as a 50 yard bomb was challenged by JeffSaturday and reversed to an incompletion. The Colts got it back at their own 21 and moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Minnesota 12 with one minute left in the half. With the Vikings out of timeouts, jeff Saturday was taking on chances. A safe run only gained 2 yards, but bled the clock so the Vikings would not have time for one more drive. With 8 seconds left in the half, McLaughlin hit from 27 to make it 33-0 Vikings.

The Vikings only had 3 first downs in the first half. The largest comeback in NFL history was 32 points. The 1992 Buffalo Bills in the playoffs trailed at home against the Houston Oilers 35-3 in the third quarter. Frank Reich led the NFL’s greatest comeback as the Bills won 41-38 in overtime. The Bills would go on to win the third of 4 straight AFC Championships and Super Bowl heartbreak. The Oilers suffered permanent death. A couple of years later, with a salary cap coming, Owner Bud Adams blew up the team, moved them To Tennessee, and renamed them the Titans. This game would not have consequences that drastic. Both teams would still exist next year.

The Vikings in the third quarter took over at their own 12. Cousins hit Jefferson for 13. The next play was a loss but a very questionable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the defense added 15. Cousins went deep to KJ Osborn for a 55 yard gain. With 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, it was still 33-0. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Cousins fired to the front corner of the end zone to Osborn for the touchdown. After over 36 1/2 minutes of miserable football, the Vikings were on the board. Yet they were still down 33-7 and had only a little less than 23 1/2 minutes to come back. Yet it was the Colts keeping the pedal to the metal as the ensuing kickoff had the Colts taking over at their own 40. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 35, a completion gained only one yard. McLaughlin’s 5th field goal from 52 yards out had the Colts up 36-7 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.

After a touchback, Cook ran for a 19 yard gain. A screen pass from Cousins to Cook gained 12 more. Cousins went to Jefferson for 18. A swing pass to Osborn that should have gone nowhere gained 10. From the one, CJ Ham took it up the gut and appeared to be stopped short. After unpiling everyone, the officials determined that Ham somehow broke the plane of the goal. There was a personal foul on the offense for unnecessary roughness, but luckily for the Vikings it occurred after the play. Touchdowns on two consecutive drives had the Vikings within 36-14, but they still trailed by 22 points after three quarters.

The Vikings got it back at their own 25 to start the fourth quarter. Cousins went to Jefferson for 20, with a questionable defensive personal foul adding 15 more. Cousins went right back to Jefferson for 16 more. On 3rd and 2 from the Indianapolis 7, Cousins fired a laser to Jefferson for the touchdown. The Vikings were within 36-21 with a full 13 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback, the Colts running game moved the ball well. Yet when they switched to the pass, the drive died. Matty Ice went ice cold as a 2nd and 5 pass was thrown high and incomplete. Then a West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass lost a yard. A long punt return by Jalen Reagor was wiped out by a very questionable facemask call on the receiving team.

From their own 13, the Vikings moved to midfield. Cousins then went for the bomb and was intercepted by Rodney Thomas. Midway through the fourth quarter the Colts took over at their own 2 yard line. To avoid going into a shell, Jeff Saturday got aggressive and went for a bomb as well, but Ryan threw incomplete. The Colts gained only 2 yards in going 3 and out. The Vikings got the ball back with excellent field position at midfield. Cousins went to Adam Thielen for 20 and Osborn for 17. An incompletion to the end zone resulted in defensive pass interference. The 12 yard gain put the ball on the one yard line. On 3rd and goal from the one, Cousins hit Thielen for the touchdown. With 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Vikings were within 36-28. The greatest comeback in NFL history was now a possibility. Yet the Colts still had the ability to close out the game. They had the lead and the ball.

With 3 1/2 minutes left, complete chaos ensued. The Colts fumbled and Sullivan picked up the fumble and returned it for a defensive touchdown. Yet officials blew the whistle. It was another blown call in a game filled with them. Making matters worse for the Vikings, frustration over the blown call led to Sullivan tossing his helmet, a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. All was not completely lost. The touchdown was wiped out, but the Vikings did recover the fumble. They took over at their own 45 with plenty of time to tie the game. On 3rd and 3, Cousins hit Jefferson for 9. With 3 minutes left, 3 straight incompletions and a false start had the Vikings facing 4th and 15 from the Indy 45. Cousins was taken down after a 2 yard gain.

The Colts had excellent field position at their own 44. The Vikings had all 3 timeouts plus the 2 minute warning. Moss gained 11 but was unable to go down inbounds. That caused the clock to stop and preserve the timeouts for the Vikings. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 42, one more first down would all but end the game. Moss got the carry and came up inches short. Although McLaughlin had already been 5 for 5 on the day, a field goal try would be 54 yards. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Colts were one yard from locking up the win. After Ryan tried and failed to get the Colts to jump offside, Jeff Saturday again decided to go for it. Ryan took the quarterback sneak and appeared to have the first down after a second effort surge. Game over.

Not so fast. Officials ruled that the whistle had been blown before the surge. It was another blown call due to an early whistle. The officials brought out the chains and Ryan was short. Jeff Saturday challenged the spot, but officials ruled that forward progress had stopped before Ryan’s final lunge. Saturday lost the challenge. The Vikings had life. They were out of timeouts, but 2:19 still remained. The Vikings needed only one play and 4 seconds. A perfectly executed screen pass to Cook saw him race down the field, escape some tackles, and drag defenders into the end zone for a 65 yard touchdown.. Just like that, the Vikings were a 2 point conversion away from tying the game. Cousins fired over the middle to TJ Hockensen, who out-muscled the defender for the ball. The Minnesota home crowd went nuts. This insane game was tied 36-36. The Colts 33-0 lead had completely evaporated.

Yet with 2:11 left, the Colts had the ball at their own 25. They needed only a field goal to win and McLaughlin had made all 5 of his attempts. On 4th and 1 from their own 34, the Colts lined up to go for it. It seemed like an attempt to draw the defense offside. A false tart meant the Colts had to punt. The Vikings now had the ball at their own 26 with 1:10 left. On 3rd and 1 from their own 35, Cousins got stopped. For some reason, the Colts let 13 seconds tick off the clock before finally calling a timeout on defense with 22 seconds left. It probably would not have mattered as a perfect punt by Wright went for 64 yards and pinned the Colts at their own two yard line. In an already insane game, the only sane thing to do for the Colts was take a knee and go to overtime. That is exactly what they did.

The Vikings won the overtime coin toss. Despite the fireworks in the first four quarters and despite both defenses being exhausted, most oof the overtime session was quiet. The Vikings punted. The Colts faced 3rd and 9 from their own 34 with 1:53 left in overtime. Kevin O’Connell brought the house and Ryan was hit as he threw. He was lucky that his wounded duck fell incomplete. The Vikings got it back at their own 18 with 1:41 left. Cousins hit Osborn for 15 and Thielen for 20. Kevin O’Connell let the clock run down rather than take the Vikings last timeout. An incompletion stopped the clock with 19 seconds left in overtime. Viking’s kicker Greg Joseph’s longest field goal was 56. Joseph was looking at 57 unless the Vikings gained more yards. A quick swing pass to Jefferson went for 12 yards. Making matters worse for the Colts, a defensive penalty for delay of game added 5 more yards. The Colts were not allowing the Vikings to try and get the ball back to the official. Now Joseph’s kick was a very makable 40 yards. Vikings fans will tell you that Gary Anderson’s 1998 field goal try was only 39 yards. This is not 1998. Joseph was good. Game over. This time for real. The Vikings were NFC North champions the hard way.

Are? You? Kidding? Me?!?!?!

The Minnesota Vikings game is now history. Every lesson in life a parent could want to teach their children can be learned from football. Don’t EVER give up. Keep fighting. This game represented everything that is right about football. Talent matters, but so do character, heart and guts. The Vikings showed plenty of it. Cousins was an insane 34 of 54 for 460 yards, 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

As for the Colts, they will build off of this crushing defeat. 171 yards rushing was not enough to put the game away. My heart goes out to Matt Ryan. In the 2016 Super Bowl, his team had a 28-3 third quarter lead before an epic collapse resulted in a 34-28 overtime defeat. This time a 33-0 third quarter lead was not safe.

Paul Allen’s “Minneapolis Miracle” radio call from a few years ago was one for the ages, as was his “Oh my heavens” welcoming of Brett Favre to the Vikings. Now he has the greatest comeback in NFL history to add to his legendary radio career. This game will never be forgotten. Nor should it be. This is history. History matters.

This game looked like a total mismatch on paper. To again quote ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES!” Add to his sentiment. That’s why they play the ENTIRE game.

To quote Peyton Manning, “God bless you all, and God bless football.” To quote John Randall and Mike Singletary: “This is when the big dogs come out!” Lastly, while only a regular season game, this is still one of the biggest wins in Vikings history. Thankfully Bud Grant is alive to see it. May he live to 120.

There are so many more things that can be said, but games like this remind me of why I love football. This is why we fans WATCH the games. As Kirk Cousins would say, “You like that!” Yes. We do. 39-36 Vikings, OT


Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns was the Saturday afternoon game. The 9-4 Ravens were tied for the division lead but were without Lamar Jackson. Tyler Huntley cleared concussion protocol and started against the 5-8 Browns. This was a typical AFC North street fight. The Ravens moved from their own 19 to a 4th and 1 at the Cleveland 7. John Harbaugh went for it Ricard got stopped for no gain. The Browns moved 64 yards in 14 plays and 8 minutes, settling for a 47 yard Cade York field goal and a 3-0 second quarter lead. Justin Tucker answered from 53 for a 3-3 game. The Browns after a touchback moved to a 1st and goal at the 4. A pair of runs went nowhere and Deshaun Watson threw incomplete. York hit from 23 to make it 6-3 Browns. On the last play of the half, the normally reliable Tucker was no good from 48. In the third quarter after a touchback, the Ravens moved to the Cleveland 15. Huntley was then intercepted. The Browns moved 91 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. Watson hit Donovan Peoples-Jones for the game’s only touchdown from 3 yards out to complete the scoring. Tucker’s 50 yard fourth quarter field goal try was blocked. York then also missed two field goals but the Ravens turned it over on downs twice. 13-3 Browns


Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills was the Saturday night game. The Dolphins won a brutal 21-19 game in week 2 in Miami that saw Tua Tagvailoa get knocked senseless. The rematch in Buffalo featured was played with snow flurries coming down. The 10-3 Bills could lock up a playoff birth with a win over the 8-5 Dolphins. In the first quarter the Dolphins moved from their own 27 on a 14 play, 52 yard, 8 minute drive. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 11, Tagovailoa was sacked. Jason Sanders hit a 39 yard field goal goal to make it 3-0 Dolphins. After a touchback, Josh Allen went deep to Dawson Knox for a 45 yard gain. Allen then went to Singletary for 14 and 40 Morris for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Bills. After a touchback, Raheem Mostert broke free for a 67 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 4. Yet another tun gained only one yard and Tagovailoa then threw incomplete twice. Sanders hit the 21 yarder to get the Dolphins within 7-6 in the second quarter.

The Bills soon faced 3rd and 17 from their own 18. Allen went deep to Greg Davis for 21. Cole Beasley just came out of retirement this week to rejoin the Bills. Allen went to Beasley for 9. Cook ran for 8 and 4. Allen went to Stefan Diggs for 20. On 3rd and 1 from the Miami 11, Singletary got the tough yard. Allen then went to Hines for a 10 yard touchdown to cap the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive to make it 14-6 Bills. The Dolphins soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 31. Tagovailoa went deep to Jalen Waddle for 32. On 3rd and 5 from the Buffalo 32, Tagovailoa went to Tyreek Hill for 6. On 3rd and 9 from the Buffalo 25, Tagovailoa went to Hill for 14. Ahmed then ran for an 11 yard touchdown. With 3 minutes left in the half, the 10 play,75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Dolphins within 14-13.

The Bills soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 27. Allen gained 4. Allen then went to Diggs for 13 and Knox for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Miami 47, Singletary gained 3. On 3rd and 4 from the Miami 38, Allen went to Isaiah Mckenzie for 19 with 26 seconds left in the half. A pair of defensive holding penalties moved the Bills closer and kept stopping the clock. Allen went to Cook for a 4 yard touchdown as the half ran out with the Bills up 21-13. The Dolphins struck quickly in the third quarter. On 3rd and 4 from their own 33. Tagovailoa went deep to Waddle, who split the seams and outraced everyone for a 67 yard touchdown. Mike McDaniel went for the 2 point conversion. Tagovailoa threw incomplete as the Dolphins trailed 21-19.

A field position game saw a great punt pin the Bills back at their own 2 yard line. That led to another punt and the Dolphins getting the ball at midfield. The Dolphins went nowhere and had to punt on 4th and 10. A mind-numbingly dumb roughing the kicker penalty allowed the Dolphins to keep the ball and gain 15 yards to the Buffalo 35. Three plays later Tagovailoa went to Hill for a 20 yard touchdown pass. The Dolphins after three quarters had the 26-21 lead. The fourth quarter began with the Bills having excellent field position just shy of midfield. Allen was sacked and fumbled. The Dolphins recovered at the Buffalo 47. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 27, a dangerous sideways pass by Tagovailoa lost 2 yards. Sanders hit the 47 yard field goal. With 12 minutes left in regulation, the Dolphins led 29-21. The warm weather Miami team was beating up the cold weather Buffalo team in Buffalo. The snow came down much worse for the rest of the game, making for a winter wonderland classic.

After a touchback, Cook gained 16. Allen then took a perfectly executed draw play for a 44 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 5 Allen found Knox for the touchdown. Sean McDermott went for the 2 point conversion and chaos ensued. Out of the shotgun, Allen took the draw up the middle and leaped in the air. He collided at the goal line with a defender and the ball popped out. Allen landed in the end zone without the ball but convinced he had a touchdown. Officials never blew the whistle and a mad scramble eventually saw the ball recovered way back at the 30 yard line. After an official review, the nose of the ball just barely broke the plane of the goal before landing on a defender’s helmet and being fumbled. It was as close as humanly possible, but it counted and the game was tied 29-29 with 9 minutes left in regulation.

The Bills got the ball back at their own 7 yard line with 6 minutes left. Allen went to Davis for 14. A sack lost 8 yards but Allen went back to Davis for 15 to set up a key 3rd and 3 for the Bills at their own 28. Allen went to Diggs for 6. On 3rd and 2 from their own 42, Allen hit Isaiah McKenzie for 5. Singletary gained 8, 7 and 4. The key play of the game came with 50 seconds left. On 3rd and 6 from Miami 34, Allen went deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 21 yard gain. The call was an easy one as the defender never turned around to look for the ball. Now with 39 seconds left, a pair of safe runs meant 3rd and 1 at the Miami 4. 30 seconds remained. On the 2nd down run, the defense tried to let Singletary score, but he went down on purpose to prevent the Dolphins from getting the ball back. With the Dolphins out of timeouts, Allen purposely took a knee and centered the ball. Tyler Bass came in for the 25 yard field goal with everything on the line. The offensive line cleared away all the snow. Although the ball briefly got lost amidst the snow, Bass hit it dead center. The Bills were in the playoffs and had all but clinched the division. The Dolphins were still alive for a wildcard. Barring a spectacular Buffalo collapse, the division would be out of reach  A third match between these teams in the playoffs would be eagerly anticipated. 32-29 Bills

Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Detroit Lions at New York Jets

Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans

Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos

New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders

Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers

Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New York Giants at Washington Commanders is the Sunday night Hanukkah kickoff game.

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers is the Monday night game.

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