Archive for the ‘SPORTS’ Category

NFL 2019-2020 Wildcard Recap

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

NFL 2019-2020 Wildcard Recap

Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans was the Saturday afternoon game. Both teams rested their starters in the regular season finale and came in with matching 10-6 records. The Texans have lost several playoff games at home. An emotional home crowd saw the return of JJ Watt from injured reserve. Yet the first half of this game belonged to the Buffalo defense. After a touchback on 2nd and 8 from their own 38, Josh Allen had a wide open hole and ran for a 42 yard gain. On 2nd and 6 from the Houston 16, Sean McDermott went to the bag of tricks. A lateral to Brown was followed by him finding a wide open receiver…Allen. Although he got hit at the one, Allen stretched over the pylon for the touchdown. On the 75 yard drive, Allen had 69 of those yards, with 42 rushing, 16 receiving, and 11 passing to give the Bills the 7-0 lead. The second quarter saw Buffalo drive twice near the red zone but settle for a pair of 40 yard Steve Hauschka field goals as the Bills took a 13-0 lead to the locker rooms. The game got bizarre with the second half kickoff. The return man in the back of the end zone caught the ball and flipped it to the referee without taking a knee. The ref jumped out of the way and the Bills fell on the live ball in the end zone. Initially it was ruled a Houston touchdown, but after a lengthy discussion it was reversed to a touchback. A few plays later Deandre Hopkins had the ball punched out anyway, and the Bills recovered at the Houston 38. The key play of the game came with the Bills facing 3rd and 8 at the Houston 12 and on the verge of delivering the knockout blow. Allen went back to pass and got belted by JJ Watt. Steve Hauschka hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 16-0 Bills, but the sack fired up the crowd and momentum changed.

After a touchback, Johnson ran for 10. Deshaun Watson hit Carter for 5 and Hopkins for 14. Carlos Hyde ran for 8, 6 and one. On 3rd and 8 from the Buffalo 30, Watson under heavy pressure just before getting knocked to the ground found Hopkins near the sideline for 10. Watson then took it himself and literally carried everything on his back. At the 5 yard line, he banged it into 2 defenders and dragged both of them just over the plane of the goal. The 20 yard touchdown run was followed by a 2 point conversion try. Watson ruled out and stormed around the end. He stretched the ball and again got just past the pylon as the Texans were within 16-8. Buffalo moved after a touchback to a 3rd and 8 at their own 47 to start the fourth quarter. This time Allen was sacked and fumbled. Martin recovered for the Texans at midfield. Watson hit Kenny stills for 20 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 21, Watson was sacked. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 41 yard field goal to get the texans within 16-11 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Houston got it back and soon faced 2nd and 5 at their own 31. Watson went deep to Hopkins for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 15, Watson went to Fells for 14 yards down to the one. On the next play a pitchout was fumbled and the Texans were lucky to escape with a  4 yard loss. On the next play Watson rolled out and found a wide open Hyde in the flat for the 5 yard touchdown. With 4 1/2 minutes left the Texans had their first lead of the game. On the 2 point conversion, Sean McDermott sent an all out blitz and Watson fired a laser over the middle to Hopkins to put the Texans up 19-16. 

Momentum shifted again after a touchback. Allen combined with Singletary on a short pass, and Singletary got to the sideline for a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 28. Allen found a crease and gained 3 yards. On 2nd and 10 from the Houston 25, Frank Gore got bottled up for a 3 yard loss as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. At this point, the tying field goal try would be 49 yards. Hauschka never got the chance. Romeo Crennel’s defense unleashed everybody. Under heavy pressure, Allen threw the ball and hit an offensive lineman. Intentional grounding meant 4th and 27. Sean McDermott opted against a 60 yard field goal try. Now it was up to either a Hail Mary or the hook and laterals. Again Crennel brought the house. This time Allen got buried for a 19 yard loss. The Bills had all 3 timeouts. With 1:21 left, it all came down to the Texans facing 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 30. A first down would end the game. Bill O’Brien decided to go for it rather than try a 48 yard field goal. Watson took the quarterback sneak and ran into a Buffalo brick wall. The Bills were still alive. 

On the next play, Allen ran for a 20 yard gain but then lost his mind. Without a timeout, he tried to lateral the ball backward to nobody in particular. This was unnecessary since an entire minute remained. Allen was lucky that his own offensive lineman batted the ball out of bounds at the last moment. With 34 seconds left on 3rd and 10 from the Houston 39, Allen hit Cole beasley, who dove midair and landed just past the first down marker. Had he been short, it would have been 4th and inches. Because it was 1st and 10, the Bills could spike the ball to stop the clock. They did with 20 seconds left. Allen took two more deep shots that were both incomplete by a mile. With 5 seconds left, Hauschka came in for the 47 yard field goal try to tie the game. It was the exact length as Scott Norwood’s miss heard round the world 29 years ago. Hauschka was good. This thrilling football game was tied 19-19 and going to overtime.

The Texans got the ball first in overtime. On 3rd and 3 from their own 32, Watson under heavy pressure fired to Fells, who just dropped it. The Bills took over and soon faced 3rd and 12 at their own 28. Allen ran around like he was in the circus and found Knox for 14 yards. On 3rd and 9 from his own 43, Allen ran all the way to the sideline and fired over the middle to Singletary for an acrobatic 14 yard gain. On 2rd and 9 from the Houston 42, Allen got around the end and went airborne, gaining 5 yards. A field goal try would have been 55 yards or more. Hauschka again never got the chance. An illegal blindside block on the offense meant a 15 yard penalty against Buffalo. It was also unnecessary since Allen had already escaped. It pushed the Bills out of field goal range. On 3rd and 24, a short pass to a wide open receiver just to gain a few yards was dropped. Houston got it back at their own 17. A sack of Watson had the Texans facing 3rd and 18 at their own 19. With Buffalo playing way back, an underneath throw from Watson to Johnson saw johnson lunge for Just enough for a first down. Watson then ran for 5 and hit Stills for 10. Then came the play of the year for Houston. From the Buffalo 44, Sean Mcdermott again brought pressure. Watson got belted by 2 rushers, one on each side. What should have been a sack for a huge loss somehow Watson shake off the direct hits and stay upright. He then rolled out and found Taiwan Jones for a 34 yard gain. Bill O’Brien immediately brought in Fairbairn on first down to try the 28 yard field goal. The kick was good and the Texans had the brutally hard-fought win. 

I have said many times that every life lesson can be learned from football. The Buffalo Bills lost, but they are not losers. They lost in heartbreaking fashion in a game where the other team made one spectacular play when it mattered most. The Houston Texans showed heart, guts, and an absolute refusal to die.Deshaun Watson got belted by a couple defenders and somehow stayed upright to complete what was effectively the game winning pass. JJ Watt played the entire game with one arm. He made the key sack that turned the game around when it looked like Buffalo was going to win easily. We already know that Watt is a superior human being off the field. Today we were reminded that he is a superior athlete on the field.v20 years after the Music City Miracle, Buffalo lost another gut-wrenching playoff game they thought they had won. For Houston, it was an epic comeback.This is why we watch football. This is the best of football and the best of the human condition. What a fine start to the playoffs on the 100th year of the NFL. 22-19 Texans

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots was the Saturday night game. A snowstorm was expected, but the first half was just played in a thick fog, although nowhere near like the 1988 Fog Bowl. After a touchback to start the game, the Patriots moved to a 3rd and 3 at the Tennessee 18. Tom Brady threw incomplete. Nick Folk hit the 36 yard field goal and the Patriots led 3-0. After another touchback, Ryan Tannehill hit Smith for 9 yards. Derrick Henry gained 8 and 4. Tannehill went to Sharpe for 6 and Henry ran for 10, 9 and 6. On 3rd and 10 from the New England 12, Tannehill went to Firkser for the touchdown as the Titans led 7-3. The Patriots got it back and faced 2nd and 11 at their own 24. Brady hit Mohammed San for 11. Sony Michel gained 25. Brady went to Watson for 11 and Burkhead for 9. On 3rd and 2 from the Tennessee 21, James White gained 14. On the first play of of the second quarter, Julian Edelman took a handoff around the end for a 5 yard touchdown and a 10-7 Patriots lead. 

Tennessee’s defense was resilient. When the Patriots faced 3rd and 1 at their own 47, Roberts got the carry and got stopped. on 4th and 1 Bill Belichick opted to punt. A 23 yard punt return had the Patriots getting it back at the Houston 47. On 3rd and 6 from the Tennessee 32, Brady hit Harry for 7. Michel ran for 12 and Brady hit Burkhead for 12 more to set up 1st and goal at the one. Michel lost a yard and Burkhead got it back to set up 3rd and goal at the one. Michel got the carry and got blasted for a 2 yard loss. Nick Folk hit the 21 yard field goal to make it 13-7 Patriots with 2:16 left in the half. 

After a touchback, Henry bulldozed ahead for gains of 29, 11, 9 and 3. Then Henry caught a pass from Tannehill for a 22 yard gain down to the one. With 35 seconds left in the half, the entire football world knew Henry was getting the ball. It didn’t matter. He got in for the score as the Titans led 14-13.  The Patriots moved after a touchback to a 4th and 2 at their own 48 with 6 seconds left. On the Hail Mary, the Titans rushed nobody…zero defenders. 5 offensive lineman stood there as not one defender rushed. Brady had plenty of time to throw and the ball reached the end zone but was well-defended and incomplete. 

The second half was a slog. After a scoreless third quarter, the Titans in the fourth quarter mounted a 10 play drive that took 8 minutes off the clock. From their own 20, the Titans moved to a 3rd and 3 at the New England 36. Henry had been running over the Patriots. Everyone knew he was getting the ball again, even on a passing down. He never got the chance. Tannehill fumbled the snap out of the shotgun but was lucky enough to fall on it for a loss. Mike Vrabel was not going to try a 54 yard field goal in brutally cold weather. Vrabel played some gamesmanship and deliberately took a delay of game and a false start to take another minute off the clock. The Patriots got it back at their own 11, but on 2nd and 4 from their own 37, Brady threw incomplete twice. Bill Belichick decided to punt and trust his defense. With 3 minutes left the Titans took over at their own 13. 

On 3rd and 8 from their own 15 with 2:54 left, the entire world knows you run the ball and force the Patriots to take their final timeout. Mike Vrabel tabbed his balls of steel and went with a pass. Tannehill hit Firkser for 11 yards. Henry then ran for another 11 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 38 with 1:11 left and the Patriots out of timeouts, this time Vrabel went conventional. Henry slammed into the line for 3 yards and the Titans took the clock down to 25 seconds. A perfect punt pinned the Patriots at their own one yard line with 15 seconds left. Rather than throw a bomb or do hook and laterals, Brady tried a short swing pass just to give his offense some room. The pass was deflected in the air and intercepted by Ryan, who coasted 9 yards into the end zone. With 9 seconds left, the only score of the second half had the Titans up by 7. Vrabel went for a 2 point conversion to put the game out of reach. That failed, but Julian Edelman needed to return the ensuing kickoff 87 yards. He only gained 11 yards before a series of laterals and fumbled were recovered by the Titans at the New England 4 yard line. Tannehill finished with only 72 yards passing on 8 completions in 15 attempts. That was because the Titans ran the ball 40 times for 201 yards. Henry gashed the New England defense for 182 yards on 34 categories. In a shocking upset, it is the Titans who are on to Baltimore. The Patriots are done for the year as questions swirl around whether Brady has played his final game. He is almost definitely returning, but then again the Patriots were definitely winning this game before they weren’t. This was a beautiful kind of ugly smash mouth. The Titans just hit the Patriots in the mouth. 20-13 Titans

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints was the Sunday morning game. A decade go in the NFC Title Game, Drew Brees and the Saints won a controversial NFC Title Game over Brett Favre and the Vikings. Two years ago the Vikings shocked the Saints as Case Keenum hit Stephan Diggs for the Minneapolis Miracle. The 13-3 Saints became the first ever division winner not to have a bye week. The Vikings were locked into the wildcard so they treated last week like a bye week and rested everyone. The Saints have been in Super Bowl or bust mode after being denied in shocking fashion the last two years. Yet Mike Zimmer’s defense gave the Saints a street fight. On the third play from scrimmage on 2nd and 1 from their own 39, Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 3 yards. Janoris Jenkins put a helmet on the ball and Thielen fumbled. The Saints took over at the Minnesota 37. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 4, Brees was sacked. Wil Lutz hit the 29 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Saints. After a touchback, Dalvin Cook ran for 7, 3 and one. On 3rd and 1 from his own 44, Cook gained 7. Mattison added 16. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Saints 28, a trick play saw a lateral to Stefan Diggs followed by an attempt to throw it. Diggs was blown up in the backfield for a 6 yard loss. Dan Bailey hit a 43 yard field goal to make it 3-3.

The second quarter saw Taysom Hill enter the game, which means the Saints were up to something big. Alvin Kamala ran for 5. Then Hill took a wildcat snap and ran for 11. Then Hill took the snap at quarterback and threw a 50 yard bomb to Harris. On the next play Hill was a blocker as Kamara ran for the 4 yard touchdown. The Saints led 10-3. The Vikings after a touchback embarked on a 13 play, 72 yard 6 1/2 minute drive. On 2nd and goal at the one, Kirk Cousins threw incomplete. On 3rd and goal, Cook got blasted for a 2 yard loss. Dan Bailey hit the 21 yard field goal to get the Vikings within 10-6 with 3 minutes left in the half. Three plays later the Saints faced 3rd and 6 at their own 28 with 2:18 left in the half. Brees went deep into double coverage and was intercepted by Harris. Harris got off the ground without being touched and then returned the interception 30 yards to the Saints 45 at the 2 minute warning. Cousins then went to Thielen for 19. On 3rd and 4 from the Saints 18, Cousins hit Thielen for 13. With 23 seconds left in the half, Cook ran for the 5 yard touchdown as the Vikings took the 13-10 lead. The Saints got a break when Cook returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards to the Saints 45. Brees then went to Thomas for 20 yards. With 5 seconds left, Lutz came in for a 43 yard field goal to tie the game. It was no good. 

Midway through the third quarter the Vikings took over at their own 36. Defensive pass interference added 10 more yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 47, Cousins went deep to Thielen for a 34 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Saints 10, Cousins went to Diggs for 9 yards. On 2nd and goal at the one, Cook got leveled at the goal line. It appeared that he was short of the goal line but officials ruled he did break the plane. After three quarters, it was the Vikings with the 20-10 lead in front of a very nervous home crowd. Very late in the third quarter, Sean Payton called a fake punt on 4th and 3 from his own 35. Taysom Hill got the first down but a false start negated the play as the Saints punted. The Saints got the ball back to start the fourth quarter at their own 15. Brees hit Cook for 14, Kamara for 5, Cook for 14 again to midfield, and Kamara for 18. Latavius Murray ran for 4 and 8. Brees then went to Hill for a 20 yard touchdown. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Saints were within 20-17.

The Saints got it back at their own 29 midway through the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 1 from their own 38, a Wildcat snap to Hill went for 9 yards. Another Wildcat snap to Hill saw him bowl over defenders for a 28 yard gain to the Minnesota 20 with 4 1/2 minutes left. The Saints were easily in tying field goal position but were looking for the lead. Brees had not fumbled all year. The Saints had not had two turnovers in a game all year. At the worst possible time, Brees got hit and fumbled, his second turnover on the day. The Vikings took over at their own 37. On 3rd and 9 from their 38, Cousins hit Thielen, who got the first down by the nose of the football. With 3 1/2 minutes left, a pitchout to Cook saw him get blasted in the backfield by Klein, resulting in a fumble that popped up into the arms of Bell, who raced 38 yards for a defensive touchdown. The “Are you kidding me” moment was all for naught as replay clearly showed that cook’s knee was down before he lost the ball. Nevertheless, the 9 yard loss followed by a sack on 3rd and 19 had the Saints getting the ball back at their own 30 with 1:55 to play. The Saints had one timeout left. Now it was up to the Pinball Wizard. 

Brees went to Kamara for 6, Cook for 8, Kamara for 9, Thomas for 7, and Cook for 14. With 21 seconds left from the Minnesota 26, Brees spiked the ball to stop the clock. The Saints were not set, resulting in a false start. To avoid taking their last timeout, the Saints opted to receive the 10 second runoff penalty. After another incompletion left 7 seconds, Sean Payton decided not to run another play even though he had a timeout. Lutz came in for the 49 yarder to tie it. The kick was a low line drive but it was good. For the third time in a decade, the Saints and Vikings were playing a thriller that would come down to the last play as this one was headed to overtime. The Vikings got the ball first and faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Cousins went to Diggs for 10 yards. Cook gained 11 more. Cousins then went deep to Thielen with a perfect bomb for 43 yards down to the Saints 2 yard line. On 2nd and goal from the one, Cook got nailed for a 3 yard loss. Everything came down to 3rd and goal at the 4. A field goal would still give the Saints another shot. A touchdown would end it. Cousins threw a fade route to Kyle Rudolph in the corner of the end zone. Both players hand-checked each other, but Rudolph caught the ball inbounds for the touchdown. The desperate Saints fans prayed for offensive pass interference, but the touchdown stood. For the third straight year, the Saints lost a playoff game in heart-wrenching fashion. It was vindication for Kirk Cousins, who finally won a big game. In a reverse of a decade ago, this time it was the Saints with Brees and Payton who never saw the ball in overtime. Minnesota is on to San Francisco. 26-20 Vikings, OT

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles is the Sunday afternoon game. In November Seattle went into Philadelphia and won a brutal defensive struggle 17-9. This game was just as brutal. In the first quarter, Jason Myers had a 35 yard field goal try for the Seahawks blocked. The Eagles on a routine 3rd and 10 from their own 33 saw Carson Wentz run for 3 yards and then land hard on the ground. He was out for the game with a concussion and backup Josh McCown played the final 3 1/2 quarters. Seattle got it back and moved from their 24 to a 3rd and 2 at the Philly 30. Russell Wilson threw incomplete. This time from 49 yards out, Myers was good and the Seahawks led 3-0. In the second quarter the Eagles took over at their own 8 yard line. On 3rd and 3 from their own 30, Myles Sanders ran for 13. On 3rd and 7 from their own 46, McCown hit Dallas Goedert for 17 yards. The drive died at that point. With 3 minutes left in the half, Jake Elliott hit a 46 yard field goal for a 3-3 tie. 

At the 2 minute warning, Seattle faced 3rd and 4 at their own 24. A short pass from Wilson to DK Metcalf went for 26 yards to midfield. On 3rd and 10 from the Philly 43, another short pass from Wilson to Moore went for 38 yards. On 2nd and goal at the 10, Wilson threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 1st and goal at the 5. On the next play Marshawn Lynch ran it in as the Seahawks led 10-3. Doug Pederson is a West Coast Offense dink and dunker, but he was not going to force McCown to be a game manager. After a touchback to start the third quarter, McCown on the first play went deep to Zac Ertz for a 32 yard gain. Defensive pass interference on another deep ball meant 20 more yards. Boston Scott ran for 15 to make it 1st and goal at the 5. A false start hurt matters, and on 3rd and goal at the 6, McCown was sacked. Elliott hit the 26 yard field goal to get the Eagles within 10-6. The Seahawks responded quickly. On 3rd and 1 from their own 28, Wilson went to Lynch for 20 yards. Wilson then went deep to Metcalf, who beat the double coverage, made a diving catch around the five yard line, got up without being touched, and stretched over a defender to extend the ball past the plane of the goal. The 53 yard touchdown bomb had the Seahawks up 17-6 midway through the third quarter. After a touchback, the Eagles again moved the ball. An 11 play, 55 yard drive took 6 minutes. Yet again in the red zone the Eagles bogged down. On 3rd and 3 from the Seattle 17, Scott lost 3 yards. Elliott his hit third field goal from 38 to get the Eagles within 8 and the exact score of the initial meeting. 

Both teams then held the ball for 6 minutes and came up empty. On 3rd and 8 from the Philly 41, Wilson was sacked. Then on 4th and 4 from the Seattle 24, Doug Pederson decided to go for it. McCown threw to a wide open Sanders in the flat and Sanders dropped it with 6 1/2 minutes left. Seattle went 3 and out and the Eagles got it back at their own 31 with 5 minutes left. McCown went to Goedert for 17 yards. Then defensive pass interference on a deep ball meant a 39 yard gain.On 1st and 10 from the Seattle 13, McCown was sacked. On 3rd and 13, a West Coast Offense Dink and Dunk pass wasted precious time. The clock hit the 2 minute warning as the Eagles were down to their last gasp. On 4th and 7 from the Seattle 10, McCown was sacked again. With 1:56 left, the Seahawks tried to close out the game. The Eagles had 3 timeouts left and took them on defense. On 3rd and 10 from their own 11 with the Eagles down to their last timeout and 1:37 remaining, the entire world knows you run the ball and force the defense to take their last time out. You absolutely do not throw the ball and risk an incompletion that stops the clock. That is why Pete Carroll is a Super Bowl winning head coach and I’m not. He went high risk, high reward and had Russell Wilson go for a bomb. Metcalf caught it for a 36 yard gain and Seattle then ran out the clock. Seattle’s defense had an outstanding day, and the Seahawks are headed to Green Bay for the Divisional round. Matt Hasselbeck will not be throwing to Al Harris, but it should still be a great game. As for the Eagles, the fans will soon enough wonder if Carson Wentz will ever finish a season healthy. 17-9 Seahawks

The NFL Divisional Playoffs are set.

Saturday, January 11 

4:30 pm: NFC: Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers

8:00 pm: AFC: Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

Sunday January 12

3:00 pm: AFC: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs

6:30 pm: NFC: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

eric

NFL 2019-2020 Wildcard Prequel

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

Hanukkah 2019 Night 8: NFL 2019 Week 17 Recap

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

NFL 2019 Week 17 Recap

Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals — Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention but coaches Freddie Kitchens and Zac Taylor could be Black Monday casualties. The Bengals are guaranteed the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Johnson returned the opening kickoff 47 yards as the Browns started at their own 44. On the third play from scrimmage, Baker Mayfield went bombs away to Ratley for a 46 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Browns. The Bengals took over at their own 21. On 3rd and 7 from their own 35, Red Rifle Andy Dalton hit Tyler Eifert for 9 yards Joe Mixon then ripped off a 41 yard run. Dalton hit Uzomah for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 7-7. The Browns soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 20. Mayfield was intercepted by Phillips, who returned 28 yards to the Cleveland 3 yard line. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Mixon got in to make it 13-7 Bengals. The extra point was no good. In the second quarter the Bengals faced 3rd and 14 from their own 30. Dalton went to Boyd for 22 and for 9 more. Mixon ran for 17. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Dalton got around the end and got in to make it 20-7 Bengals.

The Browns tried to make a game of it. On 2nd and 3 from their own 21, Mayfield went deep to Jarvis Landry for 26 and to O’Dell Beckham for 36 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Cincy 14, Mayfield was sacked. Austin Siebert hit the 42 yard field goal to get the Browns within 20-10. The Browns got it back and faced 3rd and 5 at their own 24. Mayfield hit Karim Hunt for 10. Mayfield then went bombs away to Landry for a 56 yard touchdown. The extra point failed but the Browns were within 20-16. In the third quarter the Bengals moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 8 at the Cleveland 44. Dalton hit Eifert for 25 yards. A pair of sacks killed the drive. Andy Bullock hit from 47 to make it 23-16 Bengals. The teams traded interceptions. The Bengals got it back and faced 3rd and 1 at their own 35. Dalton gained 2 yards. On 3rd and 4 from their own 43, Dalton threw incomplete but defensive pass interference added 8 yards. Dalton then hit John Ross for gains of 14 and 28. Mixon ran for 5 and then the 2 yard touchdown as the Bengals led 30-16 less than one minute into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter after a touchback, Mayfield hit Beckham for 25 to midfield. Nick Chubb gained 8 and 7 sandwiched around a 9 yard Mayfield scramble. On 3rd and 4 from the Cincy 27, Mayfield hit Hunt for 11. On 3rd and 10 from the Cincy 16, Mayfield gained 11. On 4th and goal at the 20 after a pair of sacks, the Browns were down to their last gasp. Mayfield went to Beckham for the touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Browns were within 30-23. The bengals soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 25. Dalton hit Erickson for 16. Mixon ran for gains of 6 and 28. With 1:55 left, Bullock hit the 46 yard field goal to lock up the win. Mayfield threw in another interception for good measure. The Browns did not wait until Black Monday. Freddie Kitchens was fired Sunday after the game. 33-23 Bengals

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings — The 10-5 Vikings are locked into the six seed Wildcard so Mike Zimmer rested his starters against the eliminated Bears. On the first play fro scrimmage, Boone ran for a 59 yard gain to have the Vikings at the Chicago 16. On the second play, the backup quarterback Mannion fumbled and the Bears recovered. The Bears went on a 12 play, 69 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 13, a completion only gained 5 yards. Matt Nagy decided not to gamble on 4th and 2 from the 8. Eddie Pineiro hit the 26 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bears. 3 plays later Mannion was intercepted to set up the Bears at the Minnesota 39. On 3rd and goal from the 9, Trubisky was sacked. Pineiro hit the 33 yarder to make it 6-0 Bears. The Vikings in the second quarter moved 56 yards in 14 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 19, Mannion threw incomplete. Dan Bailey hit the 37 yard field goal to get the Vikings on the board. A Chicago punt pinned the Vikings at their own one yard line. Boone got the carry and got swarmed in the end zone for a safety as the Bears led 8-3. Chicago took the free kick and marched from their own 33 to a 2nd and 2 at the Minnesota 14. A short pass lost 2 yards and then Trubisky threw incomplete on 3rd and 3. Pieneiro hit his third field goal from 34 as the Bears led 11-3 with 1:51 left in the half. 

After a touchback, Boone ran for 5 and then broke off a 41 yard run. With 30 seconds left in the half the Vikings had 3rd and 3 at the Chicago 22. A short pass gained only 2 yards. Mike Zimmer decided not to gamble on 4th and 1. Bailey hit from 38 as the Vikings trailed 11-6 at halftime. After a touchback to start the third quarter, Matt Nagy kept it on the ground. Montgomery blasted off runs of 14, 10, 6, 6, and 7. Montgomery finished the drive with a 14 yard touchdown run. The game’s first touchdown had the Bears up 18-6 after three quarters. The Bears On 3rd and 6 from their own 28, Trubisky hit Robinson for 8. After the play, unsportsmanlike conduct on Robinson moved Chicago back 15 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Chicago 21, Trubisky hit Cohen for 12. On 3rd and 1 from the Chicago 42, Montgomery got stopped. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Matt Nagy gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 42. Trubisky got stopped. 

Minnesota capitalized. Mannion hit Johnson for 12, Boone for 5 and Johnson for 8. Abdullah gained 11 on the ground. The fourth quarter began with the Vikings facing 1st and goal at the 7. Boone ran for 2, 4, and on 3rd and goal at the one, got in as the Vikings trailed 18-13. Minnesota got it back one minute later at their own 20. Boone ran for 9 and one. On 3rd and 2 from their own 38, Mannion threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 14 more yards. On 2nd and 10 from the Chicago 13, a run gained 7 yards but unnecessary roughness on the offense moved Minnesota back 15 yards. The Vikings settled for a 39 yard Bailey field goal to get within 18016 with 9 minutes left. The Bears soon faced 3rd and 16 at their own 29 after a sack of Trubisky. He was sacked again and fumbled. The Vikings took over at the Chicago 23. On 3rd and 3 from the 16 with 5 minutes left, Mannion threw incomplete. Bailey hit again from 34 to make it 19-18 Vikings. 

After a touchback, Trubisky hit Cohen, Wims and Cohen again for 3 straight 6 yard gains. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the game, the Bears faced 4th and 9 just shy of midfield. Matt Nagy decided to gamble the entire game by going for it. One stop would give the Vikings a short field. Instead Trubisky went for it all and found Ridley for a 32 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. The Vikings took their timeouts on defense. On 3rd and 2 at the Minnesota 11, Trubisky hit Robinson for 3 yards. That allowed the Bears to take the clock almost all the way down. With 10 seconds left on 4th and goal at the 4, Pineiro came in for the 22 yarder to win it. The kick was good, and Mannion’s Hail Mary was way short and intercepted. 21-19 Bears  

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs. The Falcons started 1-7 but have gone 5-2 down the stretch as Dan Quinn tries to avoid becoming a Black Monday casualty. Jameis Winston continues to throw for a ton of touchdowns, yards, and interceptions. After a touchback, runs and short passes had the Falcons at the Tampa Bay 35 Ryan went over the middle to a wide open Sambrailo on a tackle eligible. Big Man with Football lumbered into the end zone for a 7-0 Falcons lead. On the next play from scrimmage the Buccaneers fumbled and the Falcons recovered at the Tampa Bay 29. On 3rd and 6 from the Tampa 13, a completion only gained 4 yards. Koo hit the 27 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Falcons. The Buccaneers missed a chance to get on the board when Matt Gay missed a 49 yard field goal. A shanked 30 yard punt had the Falcons taking over at the Tampa 41. They went for it on 4th and 1 at the Tampa 32. Smith got the carry and lost a yard. 

In the second quarter from their own 33, the Buccaneers finally got going. Winston hit Brad Perriman for 18 and Pierre Barber for 14. On 1st and 20 from the Atlanta 42, Winston hit Barber for 11 and Winston for 24 more. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Winston threw incomplete. Bruce Arians with nothing to lose went for it, and because he is Bruce Arians. Th gamble paid off as Winston hit Cameron Brate for the touchdown to get the Buccaneers within 10-7. After a touchback, a sack of Matt Ryan had the Falcons facing 2nd and 17 from their own 30. Ryan hit Zaccheus for 11. On 3rd and 6, Ryan threw incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. On 1st and 10 at the Tampa 11, Ryan threw incomplete 3 straight times. Koo hit from 33 to make it 13-7 Falcons. After a touchback, Winston was quickly intercepted to give the Falcons 1st and 10 at the Bucs 19. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 10, Ryan was hit by Jason Pierre-Paul and fumbled. White picked it up and raced 91 yards for a defensive touchdown. Dan Quinn challenged the call, insisting it was an incomplete pass. No whistle was blown. Replay showed that Ryab’s arm was going forward only after he was hit. The arm was knocked forward. A fumble was the correct call and the officials got it right by letting it stand as the Buccaneers led 14-13 with 3 minutes left in the half.  

On 3rd and 9 from their own 26, Ryan went to Julio Jones for 29 yards at the 2 minute warning. Despite 1st and 10 at the Bucs 20, Ryan threw incomplete twice and then was sacked. With one minute left in the half, Koo hit from 45 to put the Falcons up 16-14. On 2nd and 6 from their own 28 with 35 seconds left, Winston went to Watson for 17 and Perriman for 31 more. With 11 seconds left, the Atlanta 24, Winston went to Perriman for the touchdown. Winston ran the 2 point try himself as a 22 point second quarter had the Buccaneers up 22-16 at halftime. A wild first half became a slog in the second half. Gay missed field goals of 44 and 34 to go with his earlier miss as the Buccaneers failed to extend the lead. A 13 play, 57 yard, 7 minute drive from the Atlanta 24 led to 4th and 1 at the Tampa 19. Dan Quinn went for it and Ryan threw incomplete. Atlanta got it back and moved from their own 38 to a 1st and 10 at the Tampa 25. Ryan threw 3 straight incompletions but Koo hit from 43 with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation to get the Falcons within 22-19. The Falcons got it back at their own 20 with 3 minutes left. With 1:19 left on 4th and 4 from their own 37, Ryan hit Gage for 6 yards. With 46 seconds left on 3rd and 12 from their own 41, Ryan hit Hardy for 21. With 30 seconds left the Falcons faced 1st and 10 at the Bucs 15. Ryan threw 3 straight incompletions. Koo hit the 33 yard field goal to send the game into overtime 22-22. The Buccaneers got the ball first in overtime after a touchback and Winston needed only one play to end it. He became the 8th quarterback to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. He also set the NFL record for most interceptions for touchdowns. Deion Jones returned the interception  27 yards for a defensive touchdown to end it. Jameis, Jameis, Jameis, you shame us, shame us, shame us. 28-22 Falcons, OT

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers — The 12-3 Saints came in knowing a win over eliminated Carolina and help could get them the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs. They could also fall as low as the three seed and have to host a wildcard playoff game. After a touchback, Latavius Murray ran for 13. Pinball Wizard Drew Brees hit Hill for 12 and Michael Thomas for 14 more. Alvin Kamala ran for a 15 yard touchdown as the Saints took the 7-0 lead. The Saints got it back at their own 19. On 3rd and 9 from their own 45, Brees hit Thomas for 10 and Kamara for 15. An incomplete pass was challenged by Sean Payton and reversed to a 24 yard defensive pass interference call that put the ball on the Carolina one. Kamara got in to make it 14-0 Saints. In the second quarter the Saints put the game away. Klein returned an interception of Will Grier 14 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-0 Saints. The Saints got it back at their own 35. Brees hit Smith for 7, Ortiz for 8, Jared Cook for 23, and eventually Smith for a one yard touchdown to make it 28-0 Saints. The Saints got it back and faced 2nd and 5 at their own 31. Brees hit Smith for 32, Hill for 16, and Cook for a 21 yard touchdown. The 2 minute warning had not even hit yet and the Saints had a 35-0 lead. League rules required that the second half not be canceled. The Panthers got a field goal before the half. In the third quarter On 3rd and 7 from the Carolina 45, Brees went to Taysom Hill for the touchdown to make it 42-3 Saints. Christian McCaffrey became the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 yards rushing and receiving, but it didn’t alter the outcome. Due to other teams winning, the Saints became the first 13-3 team in NFL history not to get a first round bye. 42-10 Saints

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills — The 10-5 Bills were locked into the five seed Wildcard. Although Josh Allen started, he only played two series as Sean McDermott rested his starters. The Jets moved from their own 8 to a 3rd and 2 at the Buffalo 33. A wildcat snap to LeVeon Bell gained nothing. Sam Ficken’s 51 yard field goal try was no good. In the second quarter the Jets moved from their 17 to a 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 12. The drive died there but Ficken hit from 30 to make it 3-0 Jets. On the last play of the half, from 34 yards out, Ficken was again no good. In the third quarter it was the Bills moving from their 12 to a 1st and 10 at the Jets 11. The drive died but Stephen Hauschka hit a 28 yard field goal for a 3-3 game after three quarters. After a touchback, Sam Darnold hit Berrios for 11, Crowder for 21, and Brown for 6. On 3rd and 4 from the Buffalo 37, Darnold hit Smith for 16 and 20 down to the one. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Darnold went to Crowder for the game’s only touchdown and a 10-3 Jets lead. With 5 minutes left in regulation, Matt Barkley was intercepted to set up the Jets at the Buffalo 42. Ficken hit from 47 to put the jets up 13-3 with 2:05 left. Needing 2 scores, Hauschka hit a 29 yard field goal with 47 seconds left. The onsides kick failed. The Jets start 1-7 but when Darnold came back from illness they went 6-2 down the stretch. 13-6 Jets

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots — The 12-3 Patriots with a win over the eliminated Dolphins could clinch a first round bye but the top seed was out of reach. Tom Brady has had some of his worst games in December against the Dolphins, but those games were all in Miami. This year early in the season the Patriots beat the Dolphins 43-0 in Miami. In New England, the Dolphins marched 80 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. Despite 1st and 10 from the New England 11, the drive died there. Sanders hit the 27 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Dolphins. In the second quarter, Brady completed a pass to Rowe, who plays defense for Miami. Rowe jumped the route and coasted 35 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 10-0 Dolphins lead in front of a stunned home crowd. 

The Patriots after a touchback moved to a 1st and goal at the 7. A run went nowhere and Brady threw incomplete twice. Nick Folk hit a 25 yard field goal to get the Patriots on the board. New England got it back and soon faced 2nd and 8 at their own 20. Harry gained 9 and unnecessary roughness added 15. Brady then went deep to Philip Dorsett for a 50 yard gain. From the 6, Sony Michel gained 2 and then ran for the 4 yard touchdown as the teams went to the locker rooms deadlocked 10-10. 

In the third quarter the dolphins kept fighting. From their own 17, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s magic beard hit Parker for 10. On 3rd and 2 from their own 35, Fitzpatrick went to Wilson for 24 and Laird for 20. On 2nd and 5 from the New England 26, Fitzpatrick ran for 10 and on 3rd and 5 hit Matt Gesicki for 14. Fitzpatrick ran for the final 2 yards as the Dolphins led 17-10 midway through the third quarter. After a touchback, Brady hit James White for 12. On 3rd and 6 from their own 41, Brady hit Mohammed San for 10. Michel ran for 8 and 3. Brady went to Seth Roberts for a 38 yard touchdown. The teams were tied 17-17 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Dolphins moved from their own 37 to a 3rd and 5 at the Patriots 14 yard line. Fitzpatrick threw incomplete but Sanders hit the 32 yard field goal. With 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Dolphins led 20-17 and were smelling upset. 

A 38 yard kickoff return had the Patriots taking over at their own 40. Brady hit White for 8 and Burkhead ran for 14. On 3rd and 4 from the Miami 32, Brady hit Sanu for 22. On 3rd and goal at the 13, Brady went to White for the touchdown. The Dolphins were game, but the Patriots led 24-20 with 4 minutes left. Barring a defensive meltdown, the Patriots would have a first round bye for a 10th consecutive season. After a touchback, Fitzpatrick went to Wilson for 10 and Gesicki for 9. On 3rd and 1 from their own 44, Fitzpatrick found Ford for 5. At the 2 minute warning on 2nd and 12 from their own 47, Fitzpatrick hit Parker for 24 yards and again for 5 more. On 3rd and 5 from the New England 24, Fitzpatrick hit Wilson for 7 and Parker for 8. The Dolphins took their second timeout with 30 seconds left on 1st and goal at the 5. Fitzpatrick fired over the middle to Gesicki for the touchdown. In front of a shellshocked home crowd, the Dolphins led by a field goal with 24 seconds left. After a touchback, it came down to one play from the New England 37 with 2 seconds left. The hook and laterals failed. For the first time in 10 years, the New England Patriots will not have a first round bye. They will host a playoff game on Wildcard weekend against either Pittsburgh, Tennessee or Oakland. Fitzmagic has done it again. Brian Flores got a win against his former boss Bill Belichick. If ever there was a game for ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman to say it, this was it. “THAT’s why they PLAY the games!” 27-24 Dolphins

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions — The 12-3 Packers with a win would be guaranteed a first round bye and even have a shot at the top seed. A loss could drop them down to the three seed where they would have to host a playoff game on Wildcard weekend. Matt Patricia was told that he would be back to coach the Lions in 2020 despite their miserable season. The Lions began facing 3rd and 8 at their own 29. Blough went to Kenny Golladay for 17 yards. On 1st and 20 from their own 36, Scarbrough gained 15 and Blough hit Golladay for 13 more. Johnson ran for 14. Matt Patricia with nothing to lose went into his bag of tricks. Blough lateraled to Danny Amendola, who threw a touchdown pass to a wide open Blough in the end zone. The quarterback caught the 19 yard touchdown pass to make it 7-0 Lions. In the second quarter the Lions took over at their own 20. Blough hit James for 7 and then went deep to Golladay for 42 yards. On 2nd and 20 from the Green Bay 41, Blough went to Thomas for 15 and on 3rd and 5 hit Lacy for 7. On 4th and goal at the one, Matt Patricia again with nothing to lose went for it. Johnson banged in to make it 14-0 Lions. The Packers reached 2nd and 4 at the Detroit 6 with 30 seconds left in the half but Aaron Rodgers threw incomplete twice. Mason Crosby hit the 32 yard field goal. After a touchback, Johnson ripped off a 40 yard run. Matt Prater hit a 42 yard field goal to end the half with the Lions holding a shocking 17-3 lead in front of an elated home crowd.

The Packers struggled all game. In the third quarter Mason Crosby missed a 51 yard field goal. The Packers got it back at their own 5 yard line. Rodgers went to Lazard for 10, Lewis for 12 and 18, Kumerow and Graham for 7 each, Devontae Adams for 6, and Ervin for 5. On 3rd and 10 from the Detroit 20 after several deep ball misses throughout the game, Rodgers went to Adams in the end zone for the touchdown. The Packers had gotten to within 17-10 after the 12 play, 95 yard, 6 minute drive. The Packers got it back and moved from their 27 to a 1st and 10 at the Detroit 22. Rodgers then threw 3 straight incompletions. With 12 minutes left in regulation, Crosby hit the 40 yard field goal to get the Packers within 17-13. After a touchback, a defensive pass interference call had the Lions at the Green Bay 45. On 3rd and 7 from the Green Bay 42, A deep ball to the end zone was nullified because the defense entered the neutral zone. Normally that would be a free play but it was blown dead as unabated to the quarterback. Prater leveled a 56 yard field goal to make it 20-13 Lions with 11 minutes left in regulation. 

The Lions had the momentum and they got it back and moved from their 44 to a 1st and 10 at the Green Bay 44. A sack of Blough set up 2nd and 17 just shy of midfield. On the next play under heavy pressure, Blough threw a deep ball to nobody that was intercepted. Martinez returned it 22 yards to the Green Bay 45. Unnecessary roughness on the return had the Packers taking over at the Detroit 40. On 4th and 1 from the Detroit 31, Matt LaFleur decided to go for it. Rodgers hit Adams for 3 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Detroit 28, Rodgers found Lazard, for the touchdown. With 5 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the game was tied 20-20. With 1:49 to playing the Packers facing 3rd and 20 from their own 30, Rodgers threw a deep ball that was intercepted by Oruwariye at the Detroit 26. Yet the Lions could not capitalize. With 1:20 left the Packers took over at their own 17. Rodgers scrambled for 2 yards but a very questionable defensive unnecessary roughness penalty added 15 more.Rodgers then hit Valdes-Scantling for 11. The next play was the backbreaker as a short completion from Rodgers to Jones followed by bad tackling went for 31 yards. With 3 seconds left Crosby came in for a 33 yard field goal to win it. Earlier this season the Packers fell behind 13-0 but beat the Lions on a Crosby field goal on the final play for a 23-22 win. Crosby did it again. There would not be overtime. The Packers got their first round bye but did not get the top seed and home field throughout. 23-20 Packers

Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs — The 11-4 Chiefs needed a win and a New England loss to get a first round bye. A loss would put them at risk of falling from the three seed to the four seed. The Chiefs from their own 16 mounted a 15 play, 62 yard drive that took over 8 minutes. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the Chargers 23, a completion netted only one yard. Harrison Butker hit a 40 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Chiefs. The Chargers began the second quarter facing 3rd and 7 at their own 29. Philip Rivers went to Mike Williams for 16 yards. Austin Ekeler ran for 6 and 4. Rivers went to Williams for 22. Jackson ran for 11. On 3rd and 10 from the Chiefs 12, Rivers went to Keenan Allen for the touchdown as the Chargers led 7-3. With 3 minutes left in the half, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 7 at their own 46. Patrick Mahomes went to Hardman for 30 yards and then to Demarcus Robinson for a 24 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Chiefs. After a touchback, the Chargers moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Chiefs 26 with 35 seconds left in the half. In tying field goal range, Rivers went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. Immediately after a touchback to start the third quarter, Mahomes was intercepted by Davis, who returned it 15 yards to the Chiefs 21. Melvin Gordon ran for 1, 20, and then the 5 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Chargers.

Then came the play of the game as the Chiefs had the lead again 16 seconds later. Mecole Hardman took the ensuing kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-14 Chiefs. The Chargers held the ball for 10 plays and 6 1/2 minutes yet somehow managed only 23 yards. Anthony Lynn even gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 23 and Gordon gained 3. Yet the Chargers would punt, and this time it took the Chiefs only 15 seconds to score. Williams returned the punt 84 yards for a touchdown. 2 special teams touchdowns put the Chiefs up 24-14. The Chargers from their own 23 went on a 10 play, 72 yard, 6 minute drive. Yet on 4th and 1 from the Chiefs 5, Anthony Lynn went for it and Gordon got stuffed. With 11 minutes left in regulation, the Chargers again had to go for it on 4th and 1 from their own 23. On 3rd and 12 from their own 32, Rivers hit Allen for just enough. On 3rd and 9 from their own 45, Rivers went to Gordon for 15 and then 23 more and to Badgley for the 8 yard touchdown. With 5 1/2 minutes left the Chargers were within 24-21 after the 14 play, 86 yard, 7 minute drive. With 4 1/2 minutes left the Chiefs faced 3rd and 7 at their own 26. Mahomes went deep to Tyreek Hill for 47 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Chargers 20, Williams did the rest. He gained 5, 3, and then the 7 yard touchdown to put the game away. In what may be his final game ever, Rivers’s final pass came with one minute left. He was intercepted. The Chiefs got their first round bye, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 31-21 Chiefs 

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys — The 7-8 Cowboys needed a win over the inept Redskins and a Philadelphia loss to win the NFC Least and make the playoffs. Otherwise, Jerry Jones was most likely going to fire everyone except himself. On the third play of the game, Case Keenum was intercepted. Despite taking over at the Washington 36, The Cowboys settled for a 28 yard Kai Forbath field goal to lead 3-0. Two plays later Adrian Peterson fumbled and the Cowboys recovered again. Despite taking over at the Washington 21, the Cowboys went backward. Forbath hit again from 47 to make it 6-0 Cowboys. The Redskins then turned the ball over on downs but the Cowboys fumbled it back. Despite taking over at the Dallas 16, Washington managed only 3 yards. Dustin Hopkins hit from 31 to get the Redskins within 6-3 early in the second quarter. The Cowboys after a touchback soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 36. Dak Prescott went deep to Amari Cooper for a 48 yard gain. Prescott then went to Elliott for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 13-3 Cowboys. The Redskins then went for it on 4th and 5 at the Dallas 39. Keenum threw incomplete. On 1st and 17 from their own 43, Prescott hit Randall Cobb for 18 and Cooper for 6. Ezekiel Elliott ran for a 30 yard touchdown to make it 20-3 Cowboys with 4 minutes left in the half.

Washington took over at their own 26. On 3rd and 9 from their 39, Keenum was sacked for a 12 yard loss. Yet a defensive facemask penalty meant 15 yards and a new set of downs. On 3rd and 9 from the Dallas 20, Keenum threw incomplete with 45 seconds left in the half. Yet on further booth review, it was reversed to a completion to Steven Sims for just enough. Keenum then went to Harmon for 5 and back to Sims for the 6 yard touchdown. The Redskins were only down 20-10 at halftime. The Redskins began the third quarter at their own 18. Peterson ran for 32 to midfield and Keenum hit Hentges for 24. Yet on 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 24, Keenum threw incomplete. Hopkins hit the 42 yard field goal as the Redskins were now within 20-13. They would get no closer. 

After a touchback, Prescott went to Cooper for 21. On 3rd and 2 from the Washington 46, Prescott got around the end for 23. Prescott went to Randall Cobb for 17 and then to Gallup for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 27-13 Cowboys. After a touchback, Keenum went to Sims for a 65 yard gain. On 1st and goal at the 10, Keenum threw 3 straight incompletions. Hopkins hit from 28 to get the Redskins within 27-16. After that the Cowboys blew the game open. Kai Forbath hit a 48 yard field goal to make it 30-16 Cowboys. Dallas got it back at their own 47. Elliott gained 13. On 3rd and 2 from the Washington 32, Prescott went to Gallup to make it 37-16 Cowboys after three quarters. In the fourth quarter the Redskins turned it over on downs as the Cowboys took over just past midfield. On 3rd and 6 Prescott went to Gallup for a 45 yard touchdown to make it 44-16 Cowboys. Dallas capped their day with a 15 play, 72 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive that added one more field goal. Despite the carpet-bombing, the Cowboys at 8-8 missed the playoffs. Jason Garrett and everyone else at not-so-Happy Valley awaited the wrath of Jerrah. 47-16 Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams — Both teams were out of the playoffs, but a win would at least give the rams a winning season. The Rams began facing 3rd and 8 at their own 27. Jared Goff hit Cooper Kupp for 9. On 3rd and 13 from their own 33, Goff went to Cooks for 14. On 3rd and 10 from the Arizona 29, Goff threw incomplete. Greg “the Leg” Zuerlein hit from 47 to make it 3-0 Rams. Later in the opening quarter Sean McVay tried a fake punt on 4th and 7 at their own 17. No coach with a shot at the playoffs even considers that. The direct snap to Scott only gained 6 yards, one yard short. Kyler Murray went straight to Dan Arnold for a 23 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Cardinals. A field position game had the Rams beginning the second quarter at midfield. Goff went to Tyler Higbee and Todd Gurley for a pair of 14 yard gains. Gurley ran for one, 8, and on 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 20, 6. On 3rd and goal from the 6, Goff threw incomplete but defensive holding meant a new set of downs. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Malcolm Brown got in to make it 10-7 Rams. The Cardinals took over at their own 16 and disaster struck immediately. Murray fumbled and the Rams recovered at the Arizona 8 yard line. On 3rd and goal from the 6, Goff went to Kupp for the touchdown. With 3:49 left in the half, the Rams led 17-7.

The Cardinals fumbled again, but with one minute left in the half Zuerlein missed from 47. The Cardinals took over at their own 37. On 1st and 20 from that same spot, Murray went to Larry Fitzgerald for 12 and then to Byrd for 33 yards. With 21 seconds left in the half, the Cardinals had 1st and 10 at the Rams 13. Murray threw 3 straight incompletions. Zane Gonzalez hit the 31 yard field goal as the Cardinals were within 17-10 at the break. In the third quarter Murray was intercepted, but the Rams did not capitalize. The Cardinals got it back at their own 12. Murray hit Arnold for 12 and Kirk for 15 and 6. On 3rd and  6 from midfield, Murray threw incomplete but illegal contact kept the drive going. Lowering the head to initiate contact on the next play meant another 15 yards. Murray went to Williams for 23 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Murray went to Dennis Byrd for the touchdown. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, the game was tied 17-17. 

The Rams soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Goff hit Kupp for 24 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 38, Goff hit Cooks for just enough. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 14, the Cardinals jumped into the neutral zone. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Goff hit Higbee for the touchdown. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Rams were back in front 24-17. The Cardinals quickly moved from their own 22 to a 3rd and 4 at the Rams 37. After a costly delay penalty meant 3rd and 9, Murray went deep and was intercepted by Rapp. The Rams took over at their own 29. On 3rd and 2 from their own 37, Goff went to Woods for 37 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 20, Goff hit Kupp for 9 and Robert Woods for the 11 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Rams led 31-17. After a touchback, Murray hit Byrd for 9. Kenyon Drake ran for 13. Murray hit Byrd for 12. Roughing the passer on the next play added 15 but Murray exited from the hit and backup Brett Hundley came in. Drake ran for 12, Hundley added 6, and Drake got the last yard. The Cardinals were within 7 with 4 minutes left. The Cardinals got it back at their own 20 with one minute left and Murray back in the game, but an offensive holding penalty killed them. With 2 seconds left from their own 46, they were well within Hail Mary range. Instead they tried the hook and laterals and fumbled the ball away. 31-24 Rams 

Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants — The 8-7 Eagles needed a win to clinch the NFC Least and make the playoffs as the four seed. A loss coupled with a Dallas win would knock the Eagles out altogether. The Giants were just playing out the string in what may be Eli Manning’s final game. The Eagles moved from their own 7 to a 4th and 7 at the Giants 38. In a snowstorm, Doug Pederson was not trying a 56 yard field goal. They went for it and Carson Wentz threw incomplete. The Eagles got it back at their own 18 and Wentz hit Dallas Goedert for 14. Sanders ran for 21. On 3rd and 7 from the Giants 44, Wentz hit Goedert for 28. On 3rd and 8 from the Giants 14, a completion only gained one yard. Jake Elliott hit the 31 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles. Midway through the second quarter, the Giants took over at their own 14. Saquon Barkley gained 6. Daniel Jones went to Smith for 25 with roughing the passer adding 15 more. Jones then went to Golden Tate for 20. On 3rd and 9 from the Philly 19, Jones threw incomplete. Aldrick Rosas hit the 37 yard field goal. With 5 minutes left in the half it was a 3-3 slugfest.

After a touchback, Wentz hit Goedert for 9, Boston Scott for 29, and Burnet for 7. With 2:41 left in the half, Doug Pederson decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Giants 26. Wentz gained 2 and on the next play hit Josh Perkins for a 24 yard touchdown. It was ugly but the Eagles led 10-3. In the third quarter the Giants took over at their own 24 Barkley ran for 6 and Jones hit Smith for 11. On 3rd and 10 from their own 42, the defense jumped offsides. On 3rd and 5, Jones went to Shepard for 7. On 4th and 1 from the Philly 37, a 55 yard field goal try in snow was not an option. Pat Shurmur went for it. Jones ran for 17 and then threw a 20 yard touchdown pass to Tate for a 10-10 ballgame. The Giants got it back again at their own 19 and moved to a 2nd and 1 at the Philly 35. A run lost 3 yards and Jones threw incomplete. Shurmur went for it on 4th and Jones threw incomplete. On 2nd and 2 from their own 43, Wentz hit Ward for 5 and 11. On 3rd and 8 from the Giants 36, Wentz hit Goedert for 14 Scott ran for 15 and then for the 7 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Eagles late in the third quarter. 16 seconds later the game was tied again as Barkley ran for a 68 yard touchdown. After three quarters the game was tied 17-17. The Eagles were fighting for their playoff lives.

The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 29. Wentz hit Ward for 8. On the first play of the fourth quarter with the Eagles facing 1st and 20 from their 37, Wentz went deep to Burnett for a 41 yard gain. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Giants 32, Wentz threw incomplete 3 times. One minute into the fourth quarter, Elliott buried the 50 yard field goal to put the Eagles up 20-17. Then came the play of the game. Jones cannot hold onto the ball. He has fumblitis. On 2nd and 8 from his own 27, Jones fumbled again after being hit by Malcolm Jenkins. Fletcher Cox recovered it for the Eagles all the way at the Giants 2 yard line. One play later scott got in as the Eagles led 27-17. With 8 minutes left the Giants went for it on 4th and 2 at their own 39 Barkley got stopped cold. On 3rd and 13 from the Giants 41, Wentz and Scott connected on a 39 yard gain down to the 2. Scott got in on the next play to make it a blowout. The Giants actually had the ball 2 more times. On 1st an 10 from the Philly 29, Jones went deep and was intercepted. With 14 seconds left on 4th and 7 at the Philly 13, Jones threw incomplete. The Eagles were 5-7 and went 4-0 down the stretch. They are no longer the defending champions, but they are still very resilient. Pat Shurmur awaited Black Monday. Despite not playing, the fans gave Eli Manning an emotional sendoff in the loss. 34-17 Eagles 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens — The 13-2 Ravens had already clinched home field throughout the playoffs. John Harbaugh gave Lamar Jackson and other starters the day off to relax. Robert Griffin III got the start. The 8-7 Steelers needed a win and a Tennessee loss to get in the playoffs as the six seed. With Mason Rudolph injured, Mike Tomlin had to go to third string quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges. James Conner was also out. In a rainstorm, the Pittsburgh starters had to go on the road and beat the Baltimore backups. Twice in the first quarter RGIII led the Ravens down the field only to come up short. Justin Tucker hit field goals of 45 and 22 for a 6-0 Ravens lead. The Steelers soon faced 3rd and 2 their own 33. Hodges hit Johnson for 11. On 3rd and 7 from their own 47, Hodges went to Johnson for 21. From the Baltimore 32 to start the second quarter, Benny Snell did the rest. He ran for 7, 2, and on 3rd and 1 from the Baltimore 23, 19. Snell then ran for the 4 yard touchdown as the Steelers had the 7-6 lead. 

The Ravens took over at their own 20 and RGIII showed flashes of his rookie year with a 16 yard run. On 3rd and 12 from the Pittsburgh 47, RGIII hit Hurst for 20 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Pittsburgh 24, Griffin threw incomplete. Tucker hit from 42 to put the Ravens up 9-7 with only 1:10 left in the half. Pittsburgh took over at their own 29. From their 45, Hodges was sacked and fumbled. Pierce recovered for Baltimore at the Pittsburgh 23 with 54 seconds left. On 3rd and 5, Griffin hit Justice Hill for 10. Hill then ran for an 8 yard touchdown. Pittsburgh’s defense was stout the entire first half but one mistake had the Ravens up 16-7 at the intermission. In the third quarter the Steelers recovered a Baltimore fumble at the Baltimore 34. Snell ran for 15, 4, and 2. On 3rd and 4 from the Baltimore 13, Hodges threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 8, Hodges threw incomplete again. Chris Boswell hit a 26 yard field goal. With a full 25 minutes to play, the Steelers were only down 16-10.

Yet the rest of the game belonged to the Baltimore defense. On 3rd and 9 from their own 38, the Steelers entered the neutral zone. On 3rd and 4, RGIII gained 8 yards. Hill ran for 13. Justin Tucker hit his fourth field goal from 47 yards out 90 seconds into the fourth quarter for a 19-10 Ravens lead. 3 straight incompletions had the Steelers facing 4th and 10 at their own 19. Needing 2 scores with 4 1/2 minutes left, Mike Tomlin had to go for it. Hodges was hit in the end zone and fumbled. Jordan Richards recovered for the defense to make it 26-10 Ravens. The ensuing kickoff pinned the Steelers at their own 6 yard line. 2 plays later the Baltimore defense added a safety for the final score. The 14-2 Ravens knocked their hated rivals out of the playoffs and now had another week to rest and get healthy. 28-10 Ravens

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans — The 10-5 Texans clinched the AFC South and were the four seed when the day began. Bill O’Brien spent the entire week being coy on whether he’d rest his starters. A Houston win plus a Kansas City loss would move Houston up to to the three seed. However, Kansas City won before the Texans game started. Locked into the four seed, Deshaun Watson was given a clipboard as AJ McCarron got the start. The 8-7 Titans had a simple situation. Win and they were the six seed Wildcard. Lose and they would probably be out of the playoffs. Derrick Henry returned from a one game injury. He was the difference. The Texans looked good early on. On 2nd and 8 from their own 27, McCarron hit Akins for 8. Carlos Hyde gained 4 and 7. On 3rd and 10 from the Houston 46, McCarron hit Mitchell for 21. On 3rd and 2 from the Titans 25, McCarron hit Johnson for 14 and Carter for 6. On 3rd and 1 from the 2, McCarron threw incomplete. Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. Howell got the yard. On the next play Duke Johnson got the other yard. The 15 play, 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Texans up 7-0. However, in a game between the Tennessee starters and the Houston backups, Tennessee took over.

After a touchback, Ryan Tannehill ran for 19. On 3rd and 5 just shy of midfield, Tannehill went to AJ Brown for a 51 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. The Titans got it back and faced 3rd and 9 from their own 11. Tannehill hit Davis for 12. On 3rd and 8 from their own 25, Tannehill hit Sharpe for 13 and to Blasingame for 7 as the second quarter began. Tannehill came out for a play and Marcus Mariota came in. From midfield, Mariota’s only pass was a 24 yard completion to Brown. Henry ran for 6 and 8. Tannehill threw a one yard touchdown pass to Mycole Pruitt for a 14-7 Titans lead. The Titans began the third quarter at their own 22. Mike Vrabel went pure smashmouth. Henry ran for 15, 5, 3, and 8. Smith ran for 7 and Henry added 5. Lewis gained 7 and Henry then ran for 7 and the 3 yard touchdown to cap the 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive and make it 21-7 Titans. 

The Texans tried to make a game of it after a touchback. Jones ran for 9 and 2, caught a pass for 9, and ran for 5. On 4th and 2 from the Tennessee 42, Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. McCaron hit Johnson for 3 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Tennessee 39, McCarron hit Mitchell for 16. McCarron ran for a one yard touchdown. The staggering 16 play, 75 yard, 9 minute drive had the Texans within 21-14. Tennessee quickly closed the door. After a touchback, Tannehill hit Pruitt for 12. Henry ran for 8 and 7. Tannehill went deep to Brown for a 47 yard gain down to the one. Henry ran around the end, appeared stopped at the goal line, and bulldozed the ball past the pylon. One minute into the fourth quarter, the Titans led 28-14. With 5 minutes left the Texans actually began a drive at the Titans 47. Yet on 4th and 7 from the Titans 30, McCarron was intercepted at the 15. Henry did the rest himself on 4 carries. He ran for 5, 23, 4, and finally a 53 yard touchdown to put the game on ice. Henry ran for 215 yards. The Titans and Texans both play on Wildcard weekend, but not against each other. 35-14 Titans

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars — Both teams were eliminated from playoff contention, but other teams were looking at the results of this game in case of tie-breaking scenarios that turned out to be unnecessary. Early on the Colts faced 2nd and 20 at their own 15. Jacoby Brissett hit Nahim Hines for 9 and on 3rd and 11 found TY Hilton for 18. Brissett then went to Alie-Cox for 15. Marlon Mack ran for 20. Brissett hit Johnson for 16. On 3rd and goal at the one, Mack lost a yard. Frank Reich opted for the field goal. Chase McLaughlin hit from 20 to make it 3-0 Colts. Cole returned the ensuing kickoff 59 yards to the Indy 44. Despite 2nd and goal at the 2, Gardner Minshew threw incomplete twice. Doug Marrone was not in a gambling move either. Josh Lambo hit the 20 yarder for a 3-3 game. 

The Colts soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 24. The Jaguars entered the neutral zone. On 3rd and 2, Brissett went to Hilton for a 33 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Jags 34, Mack gained 8. On 3rd and 13 from the Jags 29, Brissett hit Inman for 6 yards. Yet defensive unnecessary roughness added 12 more. On 3rd and 4 from the Jacksonville and the Jacksonville defense smelling pass, Mack ran it in as the Colts led 10-3. The Jaguars began the second quarter facing 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Minshew hit Westbrook for 11 and DJ Chark for 19. Lambo drilled a 53 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 10-6. Jacksonville got it back at their own 10. Minshew hit Armstead fo 11. Ozigbo and Armstead ran for a pair of 9 yard gains. On 3rd and 8 at their own 41, Minshew found Cole for 45 yards. On the next play Minshew hit Kelan Cole for the 1 yard touchdown. With 5 1/2 minutes let in the half the Jaguars led 13-10. 

Dullin returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards to the Colts 45. Mack was a mack truck, running for 16 and 9. Hines ran for 7 and 15. Mack ran for an 8 yard touchdown. With 2:11 left in the half the Colts led 17-13. An interception of Minshew set up the Colts at the Jags 37. On 3rd and 9, a completion gained only 4 yards. McLaughlin nailed a 50 yard field goal. With only 39 seconds left in the half, the Colts led 20-13.

Then came the onslaught. On 3rd and 3 from their own 34 with 23 seconds left, Minshew hit Conley for 17 and Cole for 8. Lambo drilled a 56 yard field goal to end the half with the Jaguars only down 20-16. In the third quarter the Jaguars took over at their own 20. Minshew hit Chark for 8. Ryquell Armstead caught a pass for 8 and ran for 7. Minshew hit Westbrook for a pair of 11 yard gains. On 3rd and 6 from the Indy 29, Minshew threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 20 yard gain. Minshew hit Conley for 6 and Armstead for the 3 yard touchdown. Minshew hit Westbrook for the 2 point conversion to make it 24-20 Jaguars. In the fourth quarter the Colts self-destructed. On 3rd and 12 from their own 3, a fumble was recovered by Calais Campbell, who returned it 8 yards for a defensive touchdown to make it 31-20 Jaguars. Midway through the fourth quarter, a sack of Brissett resulted in another fumble that the Jaguars recovered at the Indy 34. On 3r and 3 from the Indy 27, Minshew ran for 7. On 3rd and 8 from the Indy 18, Minshew went to Westbrook for the clinching touchdown. 25 unanswered points gave the Jaguars a positive end to a negative season. 2 weeks ago owner Shad Khan fired Tom Coughlin. Now Doug Marrone and General Manager Dave Caldwell awaited Black Monday. 38-20 Jaguars

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos — The 7-8 Raiders had to beat the eliminated Broncos and get plenty of help to make the playoffs. Just like their game against Jacksonville 2 weeks ago, this game showed why the Raiders have a long way to go. They dominated the entire first half and found a way to be losing anyway. Their self-destruction was helped along by 5… yes, 5…horrendous calls by the officials. It is not a conspiracy when it’s true. For whatever their reasons, the Raiders had to fight the Broncos and the refs. The final game ever in Oakland 2 weeks ago was a gut punch. The final game ever as the Oakland Raiders was a doublers gut-punch. 

Early on the Raiders moved with ease, going 55 yards in 11 plays and taking up 6 1/2 minutes. From their own 25, Derek Carr hit Hunter Renfrow for 6 and Darren Waller for 18. Everything was clicking as the Raiders faced 3rd and 1 at the Denver 20. On a play-action pass, Carr had a wide open Renfrow. Carr overthrew him and the ball landed just off of Renfrow’s outstretched fingers. That was blown opportunity number one. Jon Gruden decided not to go for it. Daniel Carlson came in for a 39 yard field goal. The goat who cost the Raiders the game 2 weeks ago missed this kick. That was blown opportunity number two as the game remained scoreless. The Raiders got it back and faced 3rd and 9 at their own 8. A swing pass to Waller went for a 75 yard gain. The second quarter began with the Raiders facing 3rd and 4 at the Denver 5. Carr threw incomplete. That was blown opportunity number 3. This time Carlson hit the 23 yard field goal. Yet 2 red zone trips only had the Raiders up 3-0. 

After a touchback, Drew Lock hit Cortland Sutton for 19. On 3rd and 4 from the Oakland 37, Lock hit Sutton for 11. Brandon McManus hit a 43 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Car hit Jalen Richard for 33 yards and Renfrow for 22 more. Carr went to Deandre Washington for 10. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Carr fired over to Renfrow at the goal line for the touchdown. The Raiders celebrated the 10-3 lead. Then came the officials war on the Raiders. The touchdown was reversed as the officials ruled Renfrow down inches short of the goal line. He was clearly across. This was the first blown officials call against the Raiders. Jon Gruden went for it on 4th and goal. Ingold got the carry. Initially he was stopped, but a second effort appeared to get the ball over the plane of the goal. Again the referees did their Helen Keller impersonation and ruled Ingold short. This was the second blown call against the Raiders and the fourth blown opportunity for them. With 1:11 left in the half, the Raiders faced 3rd and 5 at their own 33. Carr went to Marcel Ateman for a 20 yard gain. Even though Ateman was down before the ball was ripped out, officials ruled it was a fumble. This was the third blown officials call against the Raiders. From the Oakland 41, Lock ran for 12. With 45 seconds left on 3rd and 6 at the Oakland 25, Lock went to Hamilton for 11 yards. Lock then threw incomplete to the end zone. The ball was actually thrown out of the end zone. Making matters worse, a horrendous defensive pass interference penalty on Trayvon Mullin put the ball on the one. The replay showed offensive pass interference. This was the fourth blown officials call against the Raiders. Lock hit Andrew Beck for the touchdown. Despite being totally outplayed, the Broncos led 10-3 at halftime. 4 blown calls and 4 blown opportunities killed the Raiders.

In the third quarter after a touchback, Washington ran for a 36 yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. Despite 1st and 10 from the Denver 39 and only needing a few yards for long field goal range, a fumbled snap lost 2 yards. A completion then gained nothing. On 3rd and 12 Carr threw incomplete. It was the 5th blown opportunity as the Raiders punted. The Broncos moved from their own 11 to a 2nd and 12 just shy of midfield. Lock threw incomplete to Sutton and Sutton got blasted blasted by Harris. Harris was called for unnecessary roughness even though he clearly led with his shoulder. This was the 5th blown call against the Raiders. It was enough for McManus to nail a 49 yard field goal. The Raiders went 3 and out and Denver got it back at their own 41. Lock hit That was enough for Lock to hit Hamilton for 15 and Patrick for 14. McManus hit again from 51 on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Broncos led 16-3. 5 blown calls and 5 missed opportunities, and yet somehow the Raiders still were not completely dead. 

After a touchback, Carr went to Washington for 12, Jones for 16, Rico Gafford for 17, and Richard for 6. On 3rd and 1 from the Denver 20, this time Washington gained 7 yards. A sack of Carr had the Raiders facing 3rd and 16 at the Denver 19. For some bizarre reason, Carr went with a check down pass that gained 4 yards. This was the 6th missed opportunity for the Raiders. Although the Raiders needed 2 touchdowns, Jon Gruden was not going to go for it on 4th and 12 given that 9 minutes still remained. Carlson hit the 33 yard field goal as the Raiders trailed 16-6. Denver moved from their own 24 to their own 42 and looked to try and put the game away. In a game where every single break went against the Raiders, they finally got one. Lock fumbled and the Raiders recovered at the Oakland 41. On 3rd and 15 from the Oakland 36, Carr went deep to Renfrow for a 39 yard gain. Just before going down, Renfrow lateraled to Ateman for 9 more yards. Yet despite 1st and 10 at the Denver 16, on the next play Carr was called for intentional grounding and a 10 yard loss. On 3rd and 14 from the Denver 20, Carr hit Washington for 10. On 4th and 4 from the Denver 10, Jon Gruden did not even try to go for it. Carr was not even given a chance to draw the Broncos offsides. The Raiders settled for a third Carlson field goal from 28 yards out. With 4 minutes left the Raiders were within 16-9. 

The Raiders held on defense and got the ball back at their own 21 with 2:45 to play. On 2nd and 4, Carr fired over the middle to Ateman. He dropped it. On 3rd and 4 Carr hit Waller right in the bread basket. Waller dropped it. With 2:13 left, Gruden had to go for it. On 4th and 4, Carr found Waller open deep. Again it was right in the numbers. Again Waller dropped it. 3 straight dropped passes had the Raiders in full meltdown mode. Yet the Raiders still had one timeout left and the 2 minute warning. From the Oakland 27, all Denver needed to do was run the ball, kick a field goal, and go home. A safe run lost one yard and the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Then it was the Broncos who self-destructed. A false start meant 2nd and 16. Lindsay gained 8 as the Raiders took their final timeout with 1:55 left. On 3rd and 8 from the Oakland 25, a first down would end the game. So would a field goal. Lindsay only gained one yard, but 42 yards was well in McManus’s range. However, a mindless unnecessary roughness penalty on Denver after the play was over moved the Broncos back 15 yards. McManus begged Vic Fangio to let him try a 57 yard field goal. A couple weeks ago McManus threw his helmet in disgust when Fangio wouldn’t let him try from 65. This time Fangio relented. The kick was long enough and just barely wide. The Raiders were actually alive. 

The Raiders took over at their own 47 with 1:41 left. Neither team had a timeout. With 42 seconds left, the Raiders appeared down to their last gasp with 4th and 2 at the Denver 45. Carr found Ateman at the sideline for an 11 yard gain. The officials almost made another horrendous call. They were about to rule that Ateman was going backward when he went out fo bounds, meaning the clock would keep running. Twice this year officials’ inability to know the out of bounds rules cost the Raiders games. This time the refs after a long delay finally figured out that since Ateman was not touched by a defender, it did not matter whether he was going forward to backward. The clock was stopped at 36 seconds. Then things got even crazier before another play could be run. A fan ran on the field and was taken down by a security guard. The security guard was actually injured making the tackle. A stretcher had to be brought out. Fans gave the Denver security guard cheers as he pumped his fist while being carted off. This game had truly seen everything. After a very long delay, it was time for the final 36 seconds.

Carr went deep to Renfrow for a 28 yard gain. Renfrow came down inbounds. Carr raced to the line to stop the clock. When the Broncos tried to delay the play from happening, Denver was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Instead of 2nd down, it was 1st and goal at the 3 with 14 seconds left. Carr fired to the end zone, but another pass was dropped. 11 seconds remained. Carr fired to the end zone again and Renfrow caught it. The officials failed to disallow it. Despite 6 missed opportunities and 5 blown officials calls against the Raiders, they were only down by one point. An extra point would tie the game. Yet Jon Gruden decided to risk it all and go for the 2 point conversion and the win. Had the Raiders been alive for a playoff spot, the only sane decision would be kicking the extra point and going to overtime. However, by this time the entire sideline knew that Tennessee had won their game. The Raiders fought to the final week, but they were eliminated from the playoffs. There was no point in going to overtime and risking injuries in a now meaningless game. This 2 point try was going to be the final play in the history of the Oakland Raiders. Next year they would be the Las Vegas Raiders. A win would make the Raiders 8-8. They were 2 yards away. Carr fired over the middle and his pass was knocked down incomplete. The Broncos had survived. 

Both teams finished 7-9. Both teams are improved from last year and should be better next year. However, the Raiders started 6-4 and went 1-5 down the stretch. The Broncos began 3-8 and went 4-1 down the stretch. Carr finished 29 of 46 for 391 yards and one touchdown without an interception. Yet too many screwups cost the Raiders 2 games in the final 3 weeks. The difference between winning and losing is so small, and the Raiders kept ending up on the losing side. They are 3 games better than they were in 2018, and 2020 will be Gruden’s third year. The last time he was coach the Raiders were 12-4 in his third year. Expectations will be high but Mike Mayock must draft defensive backs who can fix the awful secondary. A top receiver will also be of vital importance. The Raiders played three of the last four games without Josh Jacobs. They are a totally different team with him, and keeping him healthy must be a top priority. They fell apart without him. For the second and final time, the football world says goodbye to Oakland. This time it seems permanent. The Raider Nation will play in their new 2 billion dollar stadium in Las Vegas. They still have fans in Los Angeles. However, they will always be the Oakland Raiders. They were one play and 2 yards from a fantastic finish that would have closed out Oakland football the right way. 16-15 Broncos

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks was the season ending Sunday night game. This was the major showdown of the day and perhaps the year. The 12-3 49ers were at the 11-4 Seahawks. Earlier in the year, Seattle went on the road and shocked the 8-0 49ers in overtime 27-24. The stakes were sky high. The 49ers with a win would be the top seed with home field throughout the playoffs. A 49ers loss would send them all the way down to the five seed. They would have to play all road playoff games. Due to action earlier in the day, a first round bye was out fo reach for the Seahawks.  With a win they would be the three seed but would still have to host a Wildcard playoff game. A loss would drop them to the five seed and all road playoff games. Two weeks ago Seattle was one of four 11-3 teams. The other 3 teams got to 12-3, but Seattle stumbled at home in a stunning loss to lowly Arizona. Ending the season with 2 home losses was unthinkable. The 12th man was fired up as Brian Bosworth got them riled up. Marshawn Lynch was back in a football uniform for the first time in over a year. Yet when the game kicked off, the first half was all 49ers.

The 49ers began facing 3rd and 12 at their own 19. Then the Seahawks entered the neutral zone. On 3rd and 7, Jimmy Garoppolo found Greg Kittle for 11 and Emanuel sanders for 8 and 12. Mostert ran for 17. A sack of Garoppolo killed the drive, but Robbie Gould hit a 47 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers. The 49ers got it back at their own 6 yard line. On 3rd and 5 from their 11, Garoppolo hit Sanders for just enough. On 2nd and 7 from their 19, Garoppolo went to Deebo Samuel for 30 and Kittle for 15. Mostert ran for 6 and Samuel ran for a 30 yard touchdown and a 10-0 49ers lead. In the second quarter the 49ers moved from their 17 to a 1st and 10 at the Seattle 15. After a pair of incompletions, on 3rd and 10 Garoppolo hit Samuel for 8 yards. On 4th and 2 from the 7, the 49ers took a delay of game penalty. Gould hit the 30 yard field goal as the 49ers led 13-0. The Seahawks after a touchback moved to a 4th and 1 at the Frisco 31 with 49 seconds left in the half. Seahawks fans are still tormented that Lynch was not give the ball at the one yard line in the Super bowl 5 years ago. This time he got the carry and did not get the yard. 

The second half was a totally different game. However, every time the Seahawks struck, the 49ers countered. On 3rd and 4 from their own 44 in the third quarter, Wilson gained 5 and then another 5. Lynch gained 8 and 15. On 1st and 20 from the Frisco 38 after a touchdown was called back, Homer ran for 11. On 3rd and 5 from the Frisco 23, Wilson went to Homer for 8. On 3rd and 9 from the Frisco 14, Wilson found Tyler Lockett for the touchdown. The 11 play, 62 yard, 7 minute drive had the Seahawks within 13-7. Yet the 49ers answered quickly after a touchback. Garoppolo went deep to Kyle Juszczyk for a 49 yard gain and Samuel for 24 more. Moster ran for the 2 yard touchdown. Kyle Shanahan opted for the 2 point conversion. Garoppolo hit Kevin Bourne at the goal line, but Bourne was tackled just short of the plane of the goal. The 49ers led 19-7.

After a touchback, Homer gained 11. On 3rd and 7 from their own 39, Wilson hit Hollister for 7. On 3rd and 5 just past midfield, Wilson hit Lockett for 8 and Moore for 17. On 3rd and 3 from the Frisco 17, Wilson hit Lockett for 6 yards and DK Metcalf for 8 more down to the one. This time Lynch did get the carry and he did get in. He went over the top and punished a defender before landing well past the plane of the goal. With 10 minutes left in regulation the 14 play, 75 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive had the Seahawks within 19-14. Yet again after a touchback, the 49ers responded. Kittle ran for 7 and Mostert added 13. Garoppolo hit Kittle for 16. Matt Breida gained 6. On 3rd and 5 from the Seattle 34, Garoppolo went deep to Samuel for 21. Mostert ran for the 13 yard touchdown. With 6 minutes left, the 49ers had a comfortable 26-14 lead. They would not be comfortable for long. 

The ensuing kickoff was kicked out of bounds, setting up the Seahawks at their own 40. Wilson hit Moore and Homer for a pair of 13 yard gains. On 3rd and 6 from the Frisco 30, Wilson threw incomplete. However, defensive pass interference meant a 14 yard gain. Wilson went to Metcalf for a 14 yard touchdown. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Seahawks were within 5. They needed a stop. A sack of Garoppolo meant 3rd and 17 for the 49ers at their own 14. A dumpoff pass to Mostert almost killed the Seahawks, but the 16 yard gain came up one yard short. The Seahawks took their first timeout with 2 1/2 minutes left. On 4th and 1 from his own 30, Kyle Shanahan did not even consider going for it. The Seahawks took over at their own 27. Wilson hit Homer for 5, Metcalf for 10, Homer for 11, Metcalf for 24 and Lockett for 11. With 55 seconds left the Seahawks had 1st and 10 at the Frisco 12. Wilson threw 3 straight incompletions. With 42 seconds left on 4th and 10 from the 12, Wilson found Ursua for 11 yards down to the one. The Seahawks had the first down but not the touchdown. Wilson spiked the ball to stop the clock with 23 seconds left. On 2nd and goal at the one and the Seahawks out of timeouts, there was still enough time to hand Lynch the d@mn ball. Yet the Seahawks inexplicably lost track of time and suffered a delay of game penalty. Lynch came out as the ball was moved back to the 5 yard line. Wilson threw incomplete twice. 

12 seconds remained. The entire NFC playoff picture came down to one play. Wilson fired to Hollister. at the goal line. Hollister was met by 2 defenders at the goal line. As he came down and rolled over, the ball was over the plane of the goal. The Seahawks celebrated, thinking they had won. The ball came out after the play. No whistle had blown. A 49ers defender picked it up and raced over 100 yards the other way. Each side thought they had a touchdown. Each side thought they had won. Yet the officials did not make a call on the field. Everyone waited as utter confusion reigned. Last week the 49ers lost a heartbreaker at the goal line when the Atlanta receiver got the ball just across the plane. It looked like Hollister had done the same. Before anyone could wear the Seattle Seahawks 2019 NFC West Champions t-shirts, officials ruled that Hollister was stopped just short of the goal. This one will be talked about forever. The 49ers have home field throughout the playoffs. The Seahawks are the Wildcard. Each team won on the other’s home field. If the Seahawks win their first playoff game and New Orleans wins their home playoff game, the Seahawks would in the divisional round travel to play…who else? The 49ers. If you thought their 2013 NFC Title Game was epic, just wait for a third game this year. Richard Sherman has switched sides, but he and the rest of us would be amped up. This game was a thrilling conclusion to the 2019 NFL regular season and the final NFL game this decade. 26-21 49ers 

Hanukkah Night 7: NFL 2019 Week 17 Prequel

Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Hanukkah 2019 Night 4: NFL 2019 Black Monday Coach Firing Predictions

Friday, December 27th, 2019

Hanukkah 2019 Night 3: NFL 2019 NFC Playoff Permutations and Combinations

Friday, December 27th, 2019

Hanukkah 2019 Night 2: NFL 2019 AFC Playoff Permutations and Combinations

Friday, December 27th, 2019

NFL 2019 Week 16 Recap

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

NFL 2019 Week 16 Recap

Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the Saturday morning game. The 9-5 Texans came in knowing a win would clinch the AFC South. The Buccaneers are out, as Jameis Winston is resembling Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Not since Brett Favre has a quarterback played with such reckless abandon. Winston became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 450 yards in 2 consecutive weeks. He piles up yards, touchdowns…and interceptions. He is often good for a touchdown pass to both teams. Bruce Arians tells him to keep firing. Winston was playing with a fractured thumb and his counterpart Deshaun Watson had a banged up leg. Yet from the opening kickoff, this game was ridiculous.

On the second play from scrimmage from his own 17, Winston completed a pass to Bradley Roby. problem: Roby plays defense for the Texans. Roby returned the interception 27 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 Texans only 40 seconds into the game. 3 plays later on 3rd and 6 from his own 16, Winston completed a pass to Reid. Problem: Reid plays defense for the Texans. Reid returned it 27 yards for another defense touchdown less than 2 minutes into the game. This time an illegal blindside block on the return nullified the touchdown. Despite taking over at the Bucs 24, Houston’s offense could not capitalize. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 32 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Texans. The Buccaneers took over at their own 15 and Ronald Jones escaped multiple tacklers for a 49 yard gain. On 4th and 2 from the Houston 28, Bruce Arians decided to go for it. Pierre Barber took a pitchout 17 yards, but offensive holding nullified the run and made it 4th and 10 from Tampa Bay 36. Matt Gay came on for a 54 yard field goal try. The kick was blocked. Houston moved from their own 49 to a 4th and 7 at the Tampa Bay 36. Fairbairn came in for a 54 yard field goal try, but Bill O’Brien called a fake and punted instead. 

The Buccaneers took over at their own 10. On 2nd and 6 from their 14, Winston went to Perriman for 27 yards. On 2nd and 15 from their 36, Winston went to Howard for 13 and on 3rd and 3 hit Ogunbowale for 19. Yet despite 1st and 10 from the Houston 32, Winston kept going to the end zone and overthrowing open receivers. 3 incompletions later, Gay came on for a 50 yard field goal try. This time Gay was good as the Buccaneers trailed 10-3 after a wild first quarter. The second quarter was just as crazy. After a touchback, the Texans soon faced 1st and 10 at their own 40. Johnson got the carry and fumbled. The Buccaneers took over with a short field at the Houston 31 yard line. One play later, Winston went deep and found Jonathan Joseph. Problem: Joseph plays defense for the Texans. Houston took over at their own 14 yard line. The Buccaneers got it back at their own 30. One play later Barber ran for 7 yards and then fumbled the ball away. It was Reid again for the defense as the Texans took over at the Tampa Bay 42. Watson hit Darren Fells for 17. Carlos Hyde ran for 5, 6 and 3. On 3rd and 7 from the Bucs 11, Watson hit Fells for 10. Hyde got the last yard for the score. Thanks to 4 Buccaneers turnovers in the first 18 minutes, the Texans led 17-3. 

With 5 minutes left in the half, the Buccaneers took over at their own 19. Howard gained 15. On 3rd and 10 from his own 34, Winston hit Watson for 12. A 32 yard completion to Perriman was successfully challenged by Bill O’Brien and reversed too incomplete. On 3rd and 3 from the Houston 47, Winston went to Perriman for 13 and then deep to McElroy for 30 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 4 at the 2 minute warning. On the next play Jones ran it in to get the Buccaneers within 17-10. With one minute left in the half, a sack of Watson had the Texans facing 2nd and 17 at their own 28. Watson went deep and found Dean. Problem: Dean plays defense for the Buccaneers. Dean weaved through traffic and returned the interception 31 yards to the Houston 39. Winston went deep to Hyman for 31 yards. With 13 seconds left in the half it came down to 3rd and goal at the 8. Winston fired to Watson for the touchdown. The Buccaneers had outgained the Texans 281-84 in yards. 6 turnovers, 4 of them by the Bucs, led to most of the points as the teams went to the locker rooms deadlocked 17-17.

The game calmed down in the third quarter. The Texans took over at their own 25. Watson hit Kenny stills for 12, Deandre Hopkins for 7, and back to Stills for 21. On 4th and 1 from the Tampa Bay 26, Bill O’Brien decided to go for it. Watson faked a handoff and kept it himself. He evaded a defender and lunged past the marker after initially appearing stopped. On 3rd and 15 from the Bucs 29, a clearly hobbled Watson somehow scrambled for a 19 yard gain. Yet despite 2nd and goal at the 7, Watson threw incomplete twice. After a 14 play, 63 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive, the Texans settled for a 25 yard Fairbairn field goal to lead 20-17. The Buccaneers soon faced 3rd and 8 at their own 22. Winston hit Cameron Brate for 12. On 3rd and 13 from their own 31, Winston somehow scrambled for 14. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 46, Jones got the tough yard. On 3rd and 3 from the Houston 38, Winston hit Ogunbowale for 6. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 23, Jones got stuffed. Bruce Arians is a gambler, but he took no chances on this 4th and 1. Gay hit the 41 yard field goal as the game was still tied 20-20 after three quarters. 

In the fourth quarter the Texans took over at their own 12. Hyde ran for 4 and caught a pass for 10. On 3rd and 6 from their 30, Watson went to Carter for a 39 yard gain. On 2nd and 9 from the Bucs 19, Watson threw incomplete twice. Fairfairn hit from 37 as the Texans had the lead again midway through the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 23. Winston went to Watson for 7, Jones for 23, and Perriman for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 38, an off-tackle run got blown up in the backfield for a 2 yard loss. With 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Bruce Arians went for it on 4th and 3 from the Houston 40. Winston hit a wide open Brate over the middle past the first down marker, and Brate just dropped it. Tampa’s defense had kept them in the game the whole day, and now they needed to do it again. Meanwhile, rather than try to run out the clock, Bill O’Brien went for a pass on first down. Watson was sacked for a 7 yard loss. Watson went to throw again and hit Stills for 11. On the critical 3rd and 6 from their own 44, Watson threw again and hit Carter for 5 yards. With 2 1/2 minutes left, it all came down to 4th and 1 from their own 49. The Buccaneers inexplicably took their second timeout before the play started. Bill O’Brien changed his mind about going for it and punted. 

A great punt had the Buccaneers pinned at their own 10 yard line with 2:15 to play. Winston went to Perriman for 19 yards as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. With 90 seconds left, the Buccaneers faced 3rd and 1 from their own 38. Winston fired a completion to Jalil Addae. Problem: Addai plays defense for the Texans. From the Tampa Bay 37, the Texans could have run out the clock. All they had to do was take a knee. Instead out of the shotgun, a run led to an offensive holding penalty. That stopped the clock and preserved a precious 40 seconds. The Texans still had to punt the ball with 28 seconds left. In a game of mistakes, the Buccaneers made yet another mistake when the punt returner called for a fair catch at his own 3 yard line. With 21 seconds left and 0 timeouts, the Buccaneers needed a miracle. A meaningless short pass was followed by a hook and laterals attempt that never happened when the original pass was dropped for an incompletion. Had Houston lost this game, a loss next week at Tennessee would have knocked them out of the playoffs altogether. Instead the Texans clinched the AFC South and may even be getting JJ Watt back from injured reserve for the playoffs. A first round bye is out of reach, so Bill O’Brien may decide to bench his starters in the regular season finale to get everyone healthy. 23-20 Texans   

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots was the Saturday afternoon game. The 10-4 Bills came in one game behind the 11-3 Patriots. A Buffalo win would give them a shot at finally break the New England stranglehold in the AFC East. A New England loss would put them in danger of losing a first round bye and the division all in one. Tom Brady came in 31-3 in his career against Buffalo. Earlier this year in Buffalo the Patriots won 16-10 but their only touchdown came on a blocked punt. Both Bill Belichick and Sean McDermott have very good defenses. The Patriots took over at their own 21 to start the game. From their own 35, Brady found Rex Burkhead for an 18 yard gain, but Burkhead fumbled. Micah Hyde recovered for the Bills at the New England 31. On 2nd and 7 from the New England 17, a run went nowhere and Josh Allen threw incomplete. Steve Hauschka hit the 35 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bills. After a touchback, the running backs did the bulk of the work. From the New England 31, Burkhead ran for 6 and caught a pass for 5. Sony Michel ran for 7, 12, 6 and 2. On 3rd and 2 from the Buffalo 31, Brady hit Harry for 9 and Watson for 7. On 3rd and 2 from the Buffalo 14, Brady hit Watson for 6 and LaCosse for an 8 yard touchdown as the Patriots led 7-3. The 11 play, 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive was  just the beginning.

In the second quarter the Patriots took over at their own one yard line and led a mind-numbing 17 play, 81 yard drive that consumed 9 minutes. On 3rd and 4 form their own 7, Brady went to Julian Edelman for 17 yards and Mohammed San for 10 more. On 3rd and 2 from their own 42, James White gained 4. Harry gained 18 and caught a pass for 12. On 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 27, Bill Belichcik decided to go for it. Michel got the hard yard. Yet on 3rd and 14 from the Buffalo 30, Brady’s completion to Edelman only gained 12. On 4th and 2 from the Buffalo 18, Belichick opted for the field goal. Nick Folk hit the 36 yard field goal as the Patriots led 10-3 with 5 minutes left in the half. A defensive bonelock had the Patriots going for it on 4th and 1 at the Buffalo 41 with 33 seconds left in the half. Harry got the carry and got stopped cold.  It was a big momentum shift as Allen ran for 16 and went to Cole Beasley for 9 yards. From the New England 34 Allen went deep to Knox for 33 yards down to the one. With the clock ticking, Allen went to Dawkins for the touchdown as the clock hit double zeroes. In front of a stunned home crowd in New England, the teams went to the locker rooms deadlocked 10-10.

In the third quarter the Patriots took over at their own 23. Michel ran for 7 and 4. Brady went to Burkhead for a 31 yard gain. On 2nd and 8 from the Buffalo 33, Brady went to Watson for the touchdown. However, offensive pass interference on Julian Edelman nullified the score. On 3rd and 18, Brady went to san for 10 yards. Nick Folk drilled the 51 yard field goal to make it 13-10 Patriots. Roberts returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Buffalo 36. From the Buffalo 47, Allen went bombs away and found John Brown for a 53 yard touchdown. A disbelieving home crowd saw the Bills up 17-13 midway through the third quarter. This was no New England cakewalk. It was a real street fight. Late in the third quarter the Patriots took over at their own 21. Michel ran for 25 and Brady hit Meyers for 15 and Burkhead for 23. On 3rd and 5 from the Buffalo 10, Brady went to Burkhead for just enough. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Brady could not find a receiver and tried to run to the end zone. He took a stutter step and for once showed himself to be older, which he is. Buffalo’s defense is better than most of what Brady has seen most of the year. Brady gained only 3 yards. On 4th and goal from the 2 with 10:45 left in regulation, Bill Belichick was not taking any chances again the stout Buffalo defense. After 11 plays, 77 yards and 6:40, the Patriots settled for a 20 yard Nick Folk field goal and still trailed 17-16. 

New England got it back at their own 41 and Brady hit Edelman for 30 yards. Michel gained 8, 7 and 6. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 5, Brady gained 3 yards. On 1st and goal at the one, Burkhead got the carry and was stopped in the backfield. Somehow he broke through a tackle and bulldozed his way into the end zone. Brady went to Edelman for the 2 point conversion. With 5 minutes left in regulation, the Patriots were up by 7. After a touchback, Allen went to Beasley for 13 and 12 to midfield. Allen ran for 11. With 3 minutes left, Sean McDermott decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the New England 30. Allen tried to go over the top and was stopped cold. Yet Allen landed on his feet, faked a handoff, and lunged forward again off-tackle for a gutty 2 yard gain. On 1st and 15 from the New England 33, Allen went to Beasley for 25 yards. The Patriots took a timeout on defense with 2:21 left as the Bills had 1st and goal at the 8. A pair of sacks surrounding an incompletion set up 4th and goal from the 15 with one minute left. Under heavy pressure, Allen threw off his back foot to the end zone and the defense knocked the ball down incomplete. The Bills were game, but at 10-5 will have to settle for being a wildcard. The 12-3 Patriots clinched the AFC East for the 11th straight year, extending their own record. They finished atop or tied for the AFC East lead for the 19th straight year. They are one game ahead of Kansas City in the race for a first round bye but have not locked it up yet. They still have an outside shot at the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs, but that is less likely. 24-17 Patriots

Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers was the Saturday night game. The 11-3 49ers were one of 4 teams trying to get home field throughout the playoffs, including NFC West rival Seattle. The 8-6 Rams needed to win out and have Minnesota lose out to make the playoffs. The 49ers thumped the Rams 20-7 in Los Angeles, and were expected to steamroll over them in San Francisco. The Rams were desperate, and they gave the 49ers all they could handle. After a touchback to start the game for the Rams, Jared Goff hit Robert Woods for 12 and Reynolds for 24 more. Goff hit Cooks for a 10 yard touchdown as the Rams led 7-0 only 4 minutes into the game. James returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to the Rams 18. Yet despite the spectacular field position, the 49ers settled for a 26 yard Robbie Gould field goal and trailed 7-3. The first quarter was relatively quiet. The second quarter was a pinball machine. 

With the 49ers facing 1st and 10 at the Rams 47 with 4 minutes left in the first quarter, Jimmy Garoppolo went deep and was intercepted by Jalen Ramsey, who returned it 13 yards to the Rams 37. On 3rd and 12 form their own 35, Goff went to Woods for 29 yards and Cooper Kupp for 8 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Frisco 13, Goff gained 2 with unnecessary roughness adding 6 more. The Rams began the second quarter facing 1st and goal at the 5. Todd Gurley got in to make it 14-3 Rams. The 49ers soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Garoppolo gained 2 with 4 more yards added for the defense having 12 men on the field. Garoppolo then went to Samuel for 18 and Juszczyk for 23. Samuel got around the end for a 19 yard touchdown run to get the 49ers within 14-10. The Rams soon faced 2nd and 6 at their own 40. Goff hit Tyler Higgle for 11. Woods caught a pass for 14 and ran for 6 more. Goff hit Kupp for 12 and Higbee for 9 down to the one. Gurley got in as the Rams led 21-10 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. 

After a touchback, Garoppolo hit Kittle for 13, Sanders for 12, Kittle for 15, Emanuel Sanders for 3, and Kevin Bourne for 11. Raheem Mostert ran for a 16 yard touchdown to get the 49ers within 21-17 with 2:21 left in the half. After a touchback, The Rams had 2nd and 10 at their own 48 with 46 seconds left in the half. Goff threw a sideline pass and Fred Warner made a heaping catch to jump the route for the interception. Warner kept his balance and raced 46 yards the other way for a defensive touchdown. Just like that, the 49ers had their first lead of the game up 24-21 at halftime. In the third quarter a Garoppolo pass was batted up in the air. After several players on both teams played the tip drill, it was eventually intercepted by Darius Williams. The Rams took over at the Frisco 25. Yet on 3rd and 9, Goff was called for a killer intentional grounding penalty and a 10 yard loss. Greg Zuerlein came in for a 52 yard field goal try to tie the game one minute into the third quarter. The kick was wide no good. The 49ers moved from their 42 to a 3rd and 6 at the Rams 40. A completion only gained 2 yards. On 4th and 4, Kyle Shanahan opted against going for it or trying a 56 yard field goal. The 49ers punted and the Rams took over at their own 3 yard line.

Midway through the third quarter the Rams took over at their own 32. Goff hit Woods for 11 and again for 26. On 2nd and 15 from the Frisco 31, Goff went to Higbee for 9 and Kupp for the 22 yard touchdown. With 5 minutes left in the third quarter, the Rams led 28-24. With 9 minutes left in regulation, the 49ers took over at their own 9 yard line. Garoppolo connected with Kittle for a 36 yard gain. Coleman ran for 12. Garoppolo went to Dwelley for 25. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Garoppolo hit Kittle for the touchdown. With 6 minutes left in regulation, the 49ers had the 31-28 lead. With the Rams facing 3rd and 8 at their own 27, Goff hit Cooks for 16 and Higbee for 19. On 2nd and 10 from the 49ers 38 yard line, Goff threw a high pass over the middle that should have been intercepted. The defender just dropped it. With 2 1/2 minutes left, Zuerlein came in for a 52 yard field goal try to tie it. Zuerlein snuck it inside the right upright as the game was tied 31-31. 

After a touchback, Garoppolo got blasted by Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler for a 6 yard loss. On 3rd and 16 from their own 19, Garoppolo fired over the middle to Bourne for an 18 yard gain. On 2nd and 9 from their own 38, Garoppolo was sacked again to set up another 3rd and 16 from the San Francisco 38. With a man in his face, Garoppolo went for it all and hit Sanders on a 46 yard bomb. The Rams took their final timeout on defense with 35 seconds left, but they were helpless. The 49ers ran one play and Coleman gained 9. The 49ers then took their 2nd timeout with 17 seconds left. Garoppolo took a knee after centering the ball. With 3 seconds left, Gould came in for a 33 yard chip shot field goal try. Gould nailed it. The Rams were eliminated from playoff contention while the 49ers got to 12-3. The 49ers have a major showdown next week at Seattle. If the 49ers win, they get the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs. 34-31 49ers

Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons — Owner Shad Khan fired President Tom Coughlin and is expected to fire everyone else after the season. After starting 1-7, the Falcons have gone 4-2 since although Dan Quinn could be fired after the season as well. On 2nd and 6 from the Atlanta 22, Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for 11, Devontae Feeman for 16 and Austin Hooper for 25. Freeman got around the end to make it -0 Falcons. The Jaguars fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Falcons recovered at the Jacksonville 25. On 3rd and 6 from the Jags 8, Ryan hit Freeman for the score to make it 14-0 Falcons. Josh Lambo did manage a 40 yard field goal for the Jaguars in the second quarter, but Koo hit a 23 yarder to end the half with the Falcons up 17-3. An uneventful second half saw the Jaguars kick a third quarter field goal. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter Qadree Ollison capped an 87 yard drive with a 3 yard touchdown run to make it 24-6 Falcons. Nobody piles up garbage yards and touchdowns like the Jaguars, and they got one in this game as well. 24-12 Falcons

New Orleans Saints at Tennessee Titans — The 11-3 Saints were one of four teams tied for the top record in the NFC and trying to get home field throughout the playoffs. The 8-6 Titans would clinch a playoff spot with 2 wins but would be in danger of being knocked out with a loss. They were playing without star running back Derrick Henry. The Titans took over at their own 27. Ryan Tannehill hit Davis for 12, Lewis for 19, and Smith for a 41 yard touchdown as Smith split the seams for a 7-0 Titans lead. The Saints punted on 4th and 25 from their own 28 and the Titans took over at their own 30. Tannehill hit Smith for 15. Lewis ran for 6. Then AJ Brown took a pitchout and raced 49 yards for another touchdown and a 14-0 Titans lead. 

The Saints embarked on a 13 play drive that took over 6 minutes. On 3rd and 8 from the Titans 20, Brees was buried for a 9 yard loss. Wil Lutz hit the 47 yard field goal as the Saints trailed 14-3 early in the second quarter. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Saints took over at their own 39. Brees went deep to Jared Cook for a 61 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Saints were within 14-10. The Saints struck just as quickly in the third quarter from their 39. Defensive pass interference added 17 yards and Kamara ripped off a 40 yard touchdown run to make it 17-14 Saints. The Saints got it back and faced 3rd and 12 at their own 28. Brees went to Thomas for 26, Smith for 13, Kamala for 14 and Thomas for 10. Kamara ran for 3 and then the one yard touchdown. 24 straight points had the Saints up 24-14 midway through the third quarter.

After a touchback, Lewis ran for 8. Tannehill hit Davis for 22 and Pruitt for 5. On 3rd and 1 from the Saints 36, Tannehill found a wide open Sharpe, who coasted in for a touchdown to get the Titans within 24-21 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Harris returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Saints 48. On 3rd and 1 from from the Titans 43, Hill gained 4. Brees then went to Hill for 23 and to Cook for the 16 yard touchdown as the Saints led 31-21 after three quarters. A field position game in the fourth quarter had the Saints facing 3rd and 10 from their own 9. Brees was sacked and the Titans celebrated a safety. However, officials ruled that Brees was sacked just outside the end zone inside his own one yard line. A 12 yard punt return had the Titans at the Saints 42. Dawkins ran for 14, 9 and 4. On 3rd and 2 from the Saints 7, Tannehill went to Sharpe for the touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Titans were within 31-28.

The Saints went from their own 28 to a 2nd and 7 at the Titans 38. Brees threw incomplete twice. Sean Payton did not want to try a 56 yard field goal. With 4 1/2 minutes left, he opted to punt. Except the coach with “big balls” who called an onsides kick in the Super Bowl decided on a fake punt with the game on the line. Hill took the snap and fired a perfect pass to Hardee past the first down marker. Hardee dropped it. From their own 38 the Titans needed only a field goal to tie it. Tannehill went to Raymond for a 23 yard gain, but Raymond got blasted by 2 defenders and fumbled. Gardner-Johnson picked it up for the Saints and raced 37 yards to the Tennessee 25. Latavius Murray ran for 5 and Brees hit Kamara for 5 more. Brees went to Thomas for 13 yards down to the one. On 2nd and goal at the 2, Brees hit Thomas for the touchdown. With 2:10 to play the Saints led by 10. After a touchback, Tannehill hit Brown for 34 yards. Despite 1st and 10 at the Saints 41, Tannehill threw 4 straight incompletions. The Saints at 12-3 still have a shot at home field throughout the playoffs. The 8-7 Titans still control their own destiny. They make the playoffs as a wildcard next week with a win at Houston. If they lose, they will need a ton of help to still get in. Last week Brees broke Peyton Manning’s record for most NFL touchdowns, but Tom Brady is breathing down his neck. This week Michael Thomas broke Marvin Harrison’s record for most catches in a season. Harrison had 143 and Thomas still has a game to go. 38-28 Saints

New York Giants at Washington Redskins — Sometimes a pair of awful teams can come together and produce a thrilling game. This actually was that game. A pair of 3-11 teams was not even the worst game of the day. Eli Manning was back on the bench and Daniel Jones was starting for Big Blue. On the first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Wilson hit Shepard for 43, Scott for 11, and Shepard again for a 23 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Giants only 2 1/2 minutes into the game. The Giants needed only 3 plays. So did the Redskins. After a touchback, Thompson ran for 60 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 10, Dwayne Haskins hit Sims for the touchdown to make it 7-7. The Giants needed only 2 plays to take the lead again. After a touchback, Saquon Barkley ran for 8 and then broke free for a 67 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Giants. The Redskins soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 25 when Haskins hit Sims for just enough and then hit Harmon for 13. On the first play of the second quarter, Haskins hit Hentges for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 14-14. 

The Giants took over at their own 17. On 3rd and  5 from their 30, Jones only gained 4 but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 46, Jones went to Shepard for 5. On 3rd and 2 from the Washington 41, Jones went to Golden Tate for 8 and deep to Barkley for a 33 yard touchdown to make it 21-14 Giants. The Giants finally got a stop on defense and took over at their own 27. Barkley ran for 7 and 4. On 2nd and 10 from his own 38, Jones was sacked. However, unnecessary roughness on the defense meant a new set of downs. Jones then went deep to Tate for 31 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Washington 15, Jones hit Tate for 5 and then found Latimer for a 10 yard touchdown. With 38 seconds left in the half, the Giants led 28-14. 

In the third quarter the Redskins took over at their own 40. Case Keenum was in for an injured Haskins. Keenum hit McLaurin for 9 and Harmon for 22. Bill Callahan went with an option pass and the bag of tricks had Harmon finding Thompson for 11. Keenum hit Sims for a 7 yard touchdown to get the Redskins within 28-21. The Giants took over at their own 27. On 2nd and 7 from their 35, Jones went to Barkley for a 51 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Washington 9, Jones went to Smith for the touchdown as the Giants led 35-21.  

The fourth quarter began with the Giants punting on 4th and 15 from their own 28. Dixon’s punt was blocked by Orchard. The Redskins took over at the Giants 17. Defensive pass interference moved the ball down to the one. Adrian Peterson got in as the Redskins only trailed 35-28. The Giants moved from their 25 to a 4th and 4 at the Washington 35 With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Aldrich Rosas came in for a 53 yard field goal try to give the Giants some breathing room. The kick was no good. With 6 1/2 minutes left the Redskins were pinned at their own one yard line. On 3rd and 9 from their 2, Keenum went deep to Sims for 32 yards. On 3rd and 5 from their 39, Keenum hit Hentges for 22 yards and McLaurin for 15 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Giants 15, Keenum hit McLaurin for 5. With 41 seconds left the Redskins were facing 4th and goal at the 3. Keenum threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. with 30 seconds left, Keenum got in himself. Despite this being an exciting game, nobody wants overtime between 3-11 teams. Bill Callahan took no mercy on the fans and opted for the extra point and the tie rather than go for the 2 point conversion. The kick was good. The Giants after a touchback moved to a 1st and 10 at the Washington 45 with 2 seconds left. Rosas wanted to try a 63 yard field goal but that was not happening. Jones threw the Hail Mary near the end zone and it was knocked down incomplete. Overtime it would be tied 35-35.

The Giants got the ball in overtime andScott returned it 35 yards to the Giants 34. On 3rd and 7 from the Giants 37, Jones went deep to Shepard for 23 yards. Barkley ran for 8 and 3. Jones hit Shepard for 9. Barkley ran for 6 and 12 to set up 1st and goal at the 2. With 4:15 left in overtime, it came down to 3rd and goal at the . A field goal would give the Redskins a chance with the ball. They never got that chance. Jones hit Smith for the touchdown. Forget Draft position. There is no tanking in football. These teams wanted to win, and beleaguered Pat Shurmur got the win. Jones was 28 of 42 for 352 yards, 5 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. 41-35 Giants, OT

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Jets — The 8-6 Steelers would make the playoffs if they won out but could be knocked out with a loss. Sam darn old came out firing after a touchback. He hit Leveon Bell for 7 and Smith for 8. On 3rd and 3 from their own 46, Darnold threw incomplete but defensive pass interference added 14 yards. Arnold then hit Ty Montgomery for 17 and Robbie Anderson for a 23 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Jets. An interception of Devlin “Duck” Hodges led to a field position game that had the Jets taking over at their own 41. On 3rd and 2 from their own 49, Montgomery ran for 7 On 3rd and 2 from the Pittsburgh 36, Bell got stopped. Adam Gase brought in Sam Ficken for a 54 yard field goal try to start the second quarter. Ficken was good and the Jets led 10-0. The Steelers moved after a touchback to a 3rd and 3 at the Jets 19. Hodges went to the end zone and was intercepted by Maye for a touchback. 

Mike Tomlin had seen enough. Hodges was benched, and Mason Rudolph started with 4 minutes left in the first quarter. The Steelers took over at their own 14. Rudolph hit Washington for 13, Johnson for 9 and Samuels for 27. A sack had the Steelers facing 3rd and 19 from the Jets 39. Rudolph hit Johnson for 8 and Boswell hit the 49 yard field goal to get the Steelers on the board with 1:22 left in the half. The Jets took over at their own 15. With 36 seconds left in the half the Jets had 1st and 10 just shy of midfield. Darnold was sacked and fumbled. The Steelers took over at the Jets 41 with 28 seconds left. On 3rd and 3 from the Jets 34 with 14 seconds left, Rudolph went deep incomplete but illegal contact meant 1st and 10 from the Jets 29 with 4 seconds left. Rudolph went deep to Johnson for the touchdown. Gregg Williams’s unit had a meltdown at the worst possible time. Despite Gang Green dominating the game, the teams were tied 10-10 at halftime. 

A brutal second half saw Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey leave injured. In the third quarter the Jets moved from their 19 to a 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 19. A run gained one yard, Darnold threw incomplete, and on 3rd and 9 Darnold was sacked. Ficken hit the 37 yard field goal to make it 13-10 Jets with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Rudolph got knocked out of the game and Hodges came back in to play the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter the Jets moved from their 39 to a 2nd and 7 at the Jets 29, in field goal range. Hodges was sacked for a 9 yard loss. On 3rd and 16 a horrendous snap out of the shotgun was covered by Hodges for another 8 yard loss. The Steelers had to punt. The Jets took over at their own 22. Darnold hit Smith for 14 and Crowder for 20. Bell ran for 3, 2, and on 3rd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 39 with the Steelers smelling pass, ran for 7 more. On 1st and 10 from the Pittsburgh 32, Darnold fumbled the snap out of the shotgun and covered it up for a 3 yard loss. On 3rd and 13, Adam Gase called a safe draw play. Bell gained 11. On 4th and 2 from the Pittsburgh 24, Gase took no chances. Ficken hit the 42 yard field goal. The Jets led by 6 with 3:11 to play. 

At the 2 minute warning the Steelers faced 4th and 14 at their own 21. Mike Tomlin opted to punt and trust his defense. Adam tase ran 3 straight times and took only 20 seconds off the clock. A horrendous 28 yard punt had the Steelers at their own 40 with 1:27 to play. Hodges hit Cain for 16. On 3rd and 7 from the Pittsburgh 44, Hodges went for it all and found single coverage in the end zone. The defender made a spectacular play to pry the ball away incomplete. With 38 seconds left on 4th and 7, Hodges threw a ball that was well-defended and went through the receiver’s hands. Gregg Williams’s defense got it done as the Steelers playoff hopes took a blow. They are still alive but do not control their own destiny. 16-10 Jets

Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins — In the worst game of the year, the 1-13 Bengals could secure the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft with a loss to the 3-11 Dolphins. Sometimes a pair of miserable teams can produce a thrilling game. shockingly, this actually also was that game. The Dolphins marched 75 yards in 11 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Alex Hurns for 14. On 3rd and  3 from th Miami 48, Fitzpatrick hit Albert Wilson for 12. On 2nd and 19 from the Cincy 49, Fitzpatrick hit Hurns for 27 yards, and Wilson for gains of 14 and 7 down to the one. Fitzpatrick hit big man Wilkins at the goal line. Wilkins fumbled and recovered his own fumble in the en zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 Dolphins lead the hard way. Miami got it back and faced 3rd and 12 at their own 23. Fitzpatrick went deep to Parker for 19 and then deep again for a 51 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Fitzpatrick hit Parker for the touchdown to make it 14-0 Dolphins as the Bengals began leaving early for the Draft. 

In the second quarter the Bengals moved from their 20 to a 3rd and goal at the one. Joe Mixon got the carry and got hit for a one yard loss. Bullock hit the 20 yard field goal, but the last chance for the Bengals to make a game of it evaporated. The Dolphins took over at their own 13. Fitzpatrick ran for 15, hit Wilson for 35, hit Ford for 4, and then went deep to Matt Gesicki for a 31 yard touchdown to make it 21-3 Dolphins. The Bengals did get a 57 yard field goal to end the half, but the Dolphins shut the door in the third quarter. From their own 17, Fitzpatrick went to Parker for 22. On 3rd and 10 from their own 39, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. On 3rd and 13 from the Cincy 49, Fitzpatrick went to Ford for 15, Walford for 15 more, and Gesicki for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 28-6 Dolphins. 

The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 11 at their own 24. Red Rifle Andy Dalton went to Erickson for 19 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 44, Dalton hit John Ross for 15. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter and down by 22, The Bengals went for it on 4th and 3 from the Miami 34. One stop would end the game. Instead Dalton went deep to Boyd for the touchdown. The 2 point conversion try failed but the Bengals were within 28-12. An interception of Fitzpatrick set up the Bengals at their own 40. Yet on 3rd and 10 from the Miami 43, Dalton was sacked and fumbled. The dolphins took over at the Cincinnati 45. The fourth quarter began with the Dolphins facing 3rd and 6 at the Cincy 41. Fitzpatrick threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 7 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Cincy 14, Gaskin gained 3. Wilson ran for 9 and Gaskin got the final 2 yards. With 11 minutes left in regulation the Dolphins were wining a laugher 35-12. They would not be laughing much longer. 

From their own 28, Dalton hit Mixon for 17, Tyler Eifert for 16, and Boyd for 13. On 3rd and 5 from the Miami 19, Dalton hit Erickson for 7. On 1st and 15 from the Miami 17, Dalton hit Bernard for 9 and Uzomah for the 8 yard touchdown. The Bengals were within 35-19, but only 6 minutes remained. The Dolphins moved from their own 14 to a 3rd and 1 at the Miami 27. This game was just about over. Then gaskin lost 2 yards. Sanders came in for the 47 yard field goal try to ice it. The kick was no good. The Bengals were still down by 16 with 3 minutes left. The Bengals took over at their own 37 and at the 2 minute warning were down to their last gasp at 4th and 10 from the Miami 32. One defensive stop would end the game. Dalton went deep and was intercepted by defensive holding gave the Bengals life. With 30 seconds left in the game, the Bengals faced 4th and goal at the 3. They needed a touchdown, a 2 point conversion, a successful onsides kick, another touchdown, and another 2 point conversion. They had 30 seconds to do it. 

Dalton hit Boyd for the touchdown. Dalton hit Eifert for the 2 point conversion got the Bengals within 35-27. A perfectly executed onsides kick had the Bengals taking over at their own 46. Dalton went deep to Boyd for 29 yards. Dalton raced up to the line and spiked the ball to stop the clock with 4 seconds left. It all came down to one play from the Miami 25. Dalton went to Eifert for the touchdown. Are you kidding me!!!??!! After all of that it would mean nothing without the 2 point conversion. Dalton scrambled, got around the end, and got in the end zone. Are? You? Kidding? Me!!!???!!! 16 points in 30 seconds and 23 points in 3 minutes meant a 35-35 game and overtime. 

Unlike other sports, there is no tanking in NFL football. The worst teams still badly want to win. They don’t want the top Draft pick. They want to win. Both teams tuned twice in overtime and the Dolphins took over with 3:19 left in overtime. On 3rd and 10 from their own 30, Fitzpatrick hit Ford for 15 and Gesicki for 14. At the 2 minute warning from the Cincinnati 42, Fitzpatrick went to Ford for a 28 yard gain. From the Cincy 14 with the Bengals out of timeouts, Fitzpatrick took 3 knees to center the ball and take the clock down to 4 seconds. Sanders came in for the 37 yard field goal try to win it. The kick was good. The Bengals were game, but they will have the top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. These may be bad teams, but this was great football. Dalton was 33 of 56 for 396 yards. Fitzpatrick and his beard was 31 of 52 for 419 yards. Both quarterbacks threw 4 touchdown passes. Fitzpatrick had one interception, Dalton none. That’s why they play every game. That’s why we watch the games. 38-35 Dolphins, OT 

Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts — Both teams are out of the playoffs. Nyheim Hines returned a punt 40 yards to set up the Colts at the Carolina 36. Jacoby Brissett hit Doyle for 11. On 3rd and 1 from the Carolina 13, Marlon Mck was tackled for a 5 yard loss. However, the defense jumped offsides to keep the drive going. On 4th and goal at the one, Frank Reich decided to go for it. Brissett got in to make it 7-0 Colts. The next time Hines was even more deadly as he returned the next punt 84 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 Colts. The Panthers moved from their 30 to a 2nd and 6 at the Indy 9. Will Grier threw incomplete twice and the Panthers settled for a 27 yard Joey Slye field goal to trail 14-3. After a touchback, Marlon Mack ran for a pair of 6 yard gains. On 3rd and 4 at the Carolina 47, Brissett ran for a 24 yard gain and hit Alie-Cox for 21 more down to the 2 yard line. Mack ran it in from there as the Colts led 21-3 with 5 minutes left in the half. The second half was pointless. The Colts kicked a third quarter field goal to make it 24-3. The Panthers also kicked one to finish their offensive output. The only excitement in this game was Hines. For one game, he turned into the second coming of Devon Hester. In the fourth quarter he took another punt 71 yards to the house to make it 31-6 Colts. Jordan Wilkins added one more Colts score from one yards out to complete the blowout and the Colts defense got 2 more interceptions. Hines had 195 punt return yards on only 3 punt returns. Deion Sanders, call the man! 38-6 Colts

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns — Baltimore came in 12-2 and needing only one win in its final 2 games to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. A win today would give them the option of resting everyone in Week 17. The Dawg Pound is always jacked up for their hated rival. Early on john Harbaugh went for it on 4th and 3 at the Cleveland 41. Lamar Jackson threw incomplete. On their next series Jackson fumbled and the Browns took over at the Cleveland 45. On 4th and 2 from the Baltimore 37, Freddie Kitchen went for it rather than try a 55 yard field goal. Baker Mayfield went deep and was intercepted, but defensive holding nullified the pick and kept the drive going. Kitchens gambled again on 4th and 1 from the Baltimore 23. The defense committed encroachment. On 3rd and 6 from the Baltimore 13, Mayfield threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 12 yards and 1st and goal at the one. Mayfield hit Harris for the touchdown and the extra point was no good as the Browns led 6-0. 

After 28 minutes, the Browns defense was dominating. With 1:50 left in the half, the Ravens took over at their own 37. Jackson went deep to Mark Ingram for 24 yards and deep again to Andrews for a 39 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Ravens led 7-6. Cleveland went 3 and out and the Ravens got it back t their own 25 with one minute left. Jackson went too Andrews for 24. With 30 seconds left on 3rd and 10 just shy of midfield, Jackson went to Hill for 14 and Seth Roberts for 12 and 11. With 9 seconds left in the half from the Cleveland 14, Jackson avoided the rush, stayed in the pocket, and fired high in the end zone. Andrews made a leaping catch near the back of the end zone as the Ravens led 14-6 over the heartbroken home fans in the Dawg Pound. The Ravens began the third quarter facing 3rd and 10 at their own 31. Jackson scrambled for 15 yards. On 3rd and 5 just past midfield, Jackson hit Andrews for 7. On 2nd and 10 from the Cleveland 42, Jackson ran for 18 more yards. Jackson hit Boyle for 8 and ran for 8 more. Jackson hit Ingram for the 12 yard touchdown as the 13 play, 69 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive put the Ravens up 21-6. 

The Browns did manage another field goal, but in the fourth quarter Justin Tucker hit one for Baltimore as the Ravens led 24-9 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Browns moved 75 yards and Mayfield hit O’Dell Beckham for a 3 yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Freddie Kitchens made the decision to go for 2 rather than kick and make it an 8 point game. Mayfield threw incomplete and the Browns still trailed 24-15. Baltimore took over at their own 16. Edwards ran for 7 and 9. Jackson gained 6 and Edwards added 10. Jackson added 8 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Cleveland 43 Edwards gained 10 and unsportsmanlike conduct on the defense added 15 more. On the next play Justice Hill ran for the 18 yard touchdown to put the game away. The Brows were officially eliminated from the playoffs while the 12-3 Ravens clinched home field throughout the playoffs. 31-15 Ravens

Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos — Both teams are eliminated form playoff contention. Matt Patricia was assured he would be back in 2020 to coach the Lions. The Lions moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 6 at the Denver 7. Blough threw incomplete. Matt Prater hit the 26 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Lions. In the second quarter the Broncos punted on 4th and 15 form their own 15. Agnew lugged it back 64 yards for a touchdown to make it 10-0 Lions. The Broncos woke up after a touchback. Lindsay ran for 6, 3 and 14 with defensive holding adding 5 more. From the Detroit 47, Drew Lock hit Hamilton for 13 and Cortland Sutton for 15. Lock hit Patrick for 10 yards down the one. Freeman got in to get the broncos within 10-7. Brandon McManus hit a 34 yard field goal near the end of the half to tie the game and again from 26 in the third quarter to give the Broncos the 13-10 lead.

After a touchback Johnson ran for 8 and Scarborough added 18. On 3rd and 9 from the Denver 48, Blough went to Danny Amendola for 12. Johnson gained 6 and 8. Blough hit Kenny Golladay for 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Denver 3, Blough hit Golladay for the score. The 11 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive had the Lions up 17-13 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. Denver moved from their 25 to a 4th and 1 just shy of midfield with one minute left in the third quarter. Vic Fangio decided to go for it and went to the bag of tricks. It was Beck rather thAN drew Lock who hit Lindsay for 6 yards. Lock then went to Sutton for 13 and Patrick for 12. Lindsay ran for 13. With 13 minutes left in regulation, Lock hit Hamilton for the touchdown to make it 20-17 Broncos. The 11 play, 75 yard drive took 6 minutes off the clock. The Broncos got it back and faced 3rd and 3 at their own 46. Lock hit Patrick for 5 yards, Heuerman for 6, and Patrick for 16. Lindsay then raced up the middle for a 27 yard touchdown to lock up the win with 6:40 to play. 27-17 Broncos

Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers — Despite losing 4 straight to drop to 6-8, the Raiders needed a Hanukah miracle to even have a shot at the playoffs. They got it when, Pittsburgh Tennessee and Cleveland all lost before their game started. The Raiders needs d2 road wins and other help, but they were still barely alive. The game in Los Angeles felt like a home game for the Raiders. They had a shot, but would have to win without Josh Jacobs. Just like last week, they started out red hot. From their own 29, Derek Carr hit Darren Waller for 11 yards. On 3rd and 6 from their own 44, Carr fired over the middle to Hunter Renfrow, who split the seams and raced for a 56 yard touchdown. 4 minutes into the game, the Raiders led 7-0. Just like last week, they then went into an offensive shell and put way too much on their defense. With 5 minute left in the half the Chargers faced 3rd and 9 at their own 23. The Raiders defense had stopped them for 25 minutes but finally bent. Rivers threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 17 yard gain. Rivers then went to Hunter henry for 17 more and Keenan Allen for another 10. Rivers hit Williams for 10 down to the one at the 2 minute warning. Melvin Gordon got the yard as the game was tied 7-7. 

It looked like another Oakland collapse. This time after a touchback, Carr worked the 2 minute drill to perfection. Carr hit Waller for 5, Williams for 20, Jones for 3 and Williams for 6. On 3rd and 1 at the Chargers 41, Jalen Richard lost a yard. With one minute left, Jon Gruden gambled on 4th and 2. This seemed like a suicide mission and the reason the Raiders lose so many games. Yet Carr rolled out and found Richard for 10 yards, Jones for 7 more, and Renfrow for 13 and 9. With 8 seconds left in the half the Raiders faced 3rd and 1 at the Chargers 3. The Raiders still had one timeout left. Carr faked the handoff, rolled out, and headed for the pylon. He has had disastrous experiences diving for pylons in the past, but this time he got there as the Raiders led 14-7 at halftime. The Raiders got the ball to start the third quarter after a touchback and Jon Gruden went full-on smashmouth. Deandre Washington gained 4, 6 and 4. Carr went to Waller for 20 and Carrier for 6. On 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 32, Washington gained 5 and then 6 more. Richard gained 5, 2 and 3. On 3rd and 5 from the Chargers 11, Carr hit Richard for 6. Washington then ran for the 5 yard touchdown. The 13 play, 75 yard drive took nearly 9 minutes off the clock. The Raiders led 21-7. Now the defense had a chance to put the game away.

From their own 17, Rivers hit Gordon for 5, Henry for 10, and Allen for 14. On 3rd and 2 from the Oakland 46, Rivers threw incomplete. With 3 minutes left in the third quarter, Anthony Lynn decided to go for it. One defensive stop would all but end it. Gordon gained 10 yards. The Raiders do not close out games. Rivers hit Austin Ekeler for 17 and Allen for 18 down to the one. Gordon got in from there. With one minute left in the third quarter the Charger were right back in it down 21-14 after the 10 play, 83 yard, 5 minute rive. Again, the Raiders do not close out games. Yet the offense remained resilient. From their own 23, Washington ran for 4, caught a pass for 13, and ran for 4 more. On 3rd and 5 from their own 45, Carr hit Renfrwo for 6. On 3rd and 3 from the Chargers 42, Carr hit Renfrow for 5. On 3rd and 2 from the Chargers 29, Washington got stopped. Daniel Carlson came in for a 48 yard field goal try to give the Raiders some breathing room. Last week Carlson was the goat who blew the game. This week he was good as the Raiders led 24-14 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The 12 play drive took another 7 1/2 minutes off the clock.

After a touchback, the Chargers faced 2nd and 6 from just shy of midfield. Rivers was buried for a 14 yard loss on a sack and the Chargers had to punt. the Raiders got it back at their own 32 with 6:40 to play. On 2nd and 12 from their 30, Washington gained 12. Yet on 3rd and 6 from their own 46, Richard only gained 4. On 4th and 2 from midfield, Jon Gruden took no chances. A good punt had the Chargers pinned at their own 10 with 3 1/2 minutes left and one timeout plus the 2 minute warning. Again, the Raiders had not closed out a game. Rivers hit Williams for 23, Henry for 4, Williams for 12 and 6 and Allen for 9. Despite clearly being tackled inbounds, for the second straight week the officials ruled a catch against the Raiders out of bounds to stop the clock. On the next play Rivers hit Green for 4 and Patton for 10 to the Oakland 22. Trayvon Mullen was injured on defense, stopping the clock with 2:05. The Raiders were doing everything they could to give the Chargers more time. Mullin was taken out by his own man and stayed down. The stretcher came out but Mullin was moving his arms and legs. 

After a lengthy delay, Rivers hit Ekeler for 8. Then the defense jumped offsides. With 1:51 left the Chargers faced 1st and goal at the 9. 24-21 seemed inevitable. Then the Raiders defense that completely broke last week bent but refused to break this week. Rivers threw 3 straight incompletions under heavy pressure. Needing 2 scores, Anthony Lynn went with the field goal. Mike Badgley hit from 27 to get the Chargers within 7. Now it came down to the onsides kick. Waller mishandled it but quickly fell on it foe the Raiders. On 3rd and 10 from the Chargers 49, Washington broke through the middle for a 13 yard gain as the clock hit double zeroes. The Oakland Raiders at 7-8 are still alive for a playoff spot. They will need another miracle, but they got one today. They have enough oil to last 8 days, and on the 8th night of Hanukkah they will know their fate. One week after their most heartless effort in years, they showed a ton of heart and character in getting the win. Rivers finished 27 of 39 for 279 yards without a touchdown pass. Carr was a lights out 26 of 30 for 291 yards and one touchdown pass. Neither quarterback was intercepted in a clean game without a turnover. 24-17 Raiders

Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles — Both teams came in 7-7 tied atop the NFC Least in a do or die game. This was a street fight. The Eagles on their opening drive moved after a touchback to a 1st and 10 at the Dallas 24. After an incompletion, a run was blown up for a 5 yard loss. Jake Elliott hit a 36 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles. The Eagles got it back at their own 37. Sanders gained 6 , 4 and 8. Carson Wentz hit Sanders for 29 and Dallas Goedert for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Eagles. The game tightened in the second quarter. Kai Forbath hit a 49 yard field goal to get Dallas on the board. The Eagles faced 4th and 1 at the Dallas 33 and Doug Pedersen decided to go for it. Wentz threw incomplete. With 33 seconds left in the half the Eagles faced the and 6 at the Dallas 35. Pedersen opted for the 53 yard field goal try. The kick was no good. From their own 43 with 30 seconds left, Dan Prescott hit Michael Gallup for 16, Amari cooper for 6, Gallup again for 13, and Jason Witten for 8. On 2nd and 2 from the Philly 14, only 6 seconds remained. Jason Garrett decided not to get greedy. Forbath hit from 32 as the Cowboys trailed 10-6 at the intermission.

The second half was just as brutal. The Cowboys moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 1 at the Philly 25. Pollard got the carry and fumbled and the Eagles recovered. With 5 minutes left in the third quarter the Eagles took over at their own 20. Wentz hit Scott for 6, Zac Ertz for 5 and 7, and Ward deep for a 38 yard gain. Wentz ran for 7 and hit Ertz for 6. On 3rd and goal at the one on the last play of the third quarter, Sanders got in up the gut as the Eagles led 17-6. With 11 minutes left in regulation Doug Peterson gambled on a 55 yard field goal try to extend the lead. Elliott was no good. With 9 minutes left in the game the Cowboys were down to their last gasp as they faced 4th and 9 at their own 46. Prescott hit Randall Cobb for 17 yards. That was enough for Forbath to hit from 49 as the Cowboys trailed by 8 midway through the fourth quarter. Dallas got it back at their own 12 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Prescott hit Cobb for big gains of 13, 21 and 18, Austin for 5, and Cooper for a pair of 6 yard gains. On 2nd and 4 from the Philly 19 with 1:54 left, Prescott was sacked. On 3rd and 8 he threw incomplete. On 4th and 8, a well thrown ball to the end zone was perfectly defended incomplete. With 1:15 left, the Cowboys still had all 3 timeouts. With 52 seconds left and the Cowboys out of timeouts, it came down to the Eagles facing 3rd and 2 at the Dallas 42. Sanders got the carry, broke free, and was racing toward the end zone when he unselfishly slid to the ground inbounds so the Eagles could run out the clock. The 8-7 Eagles can lock up the NFC Least with a win next week or a Dallas loss. If the Eagles lose next week and the Cowboys win, Dallas wins the division. 17-9 Eagles

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks — The 11-3 Seahawks entered one of four teams tied atop the NFC with a shot at home field throughout the playoffs. All they had to do was beat the woeful Cardinals at home. Cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman. “THAT’s why they PLAY the games!” The Seahawks made it look easy from their own 11. Chris Carson ran for 10. Russell Wilson hit Hollister for 20. Carson gained 16 and Moore added 19. Wilson went to Turner for 23 and to Bellore for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Seahawks. Then came the inexplicable. 

17 seconds later the game was tied. Kenyon Drake raced for an 80 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. A field position game had the Cardinals taking over at their own 46. Kyler Murray scrambled for 10 and 17. Murray threw a 21 yard touchdown pass to Lary Fitzgerald. With 5 minutes left in the half the Cardinals led 14-7. With 2 1/2 minutes left the Cardinals got it back at their own 45. On 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 46 at the 2 minute warning, Murray lost a yard. Cliff Kingsbury went for it on 4th and 2. Murray hit Cooper for 14 yards and Fitzgerald for 11 more. With 27 seconds left on 3rd and goal at the 4, Murray went to Fitzgerald for the touchdown.On further review it was reversed incompelte. Zane Gonzalez hit the 22 yard field goal as the Cardinals led 17-7 at the break in front of a stunned Pacific Northwest home crowd. The third quarter began with the Seahawks facing 3rd and 10 at their own 34. Wilson hit Moore for 21 yards, but Moore fumbled and the Cardinals took over at their own 36. Murray hit Arnold for 20 and Drake ran for 15. Gonzalez hit a 46 yard field goal as the Cardinals led 20-7. However, Murray was injured on the drive and did not return. The Cardinals had to go the rest of the way with Hundley.

The Cardinals were dominating the game and in position for the upset as they drove again from their 28 to a 2nd and 5 at the Seattle 26. Hundley threw incomplete twice. With 1:20 left in the third quarter, Gonzalez came in for a 45 yard field goal try to make it 23-7 Cardinals. Instead it was blocked and returned by Blair 46 yards to the Arizona 16. Yet the Arizona defense brought it today. on 3rd and 3 from the Arizona 9, Homer got the carry and lost 3 yards. On the first play o h fourth quarter, Myers hit a 30 yard field goal to get the Seahawks within 20-10. Seattle got it back at their 25 and Wilson went to Tyler Lockett for 12 yards with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. On 3rd and 11 just past midfield, Wilson hit Hollister for 16. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Arizona 33, Wilson threw 3 straight incompletions. Myers nailed a 51 yard field goal as the Seahawks crept within 20-13 with 10 minutes left in regulation. From their own 22, Hundley hit Williams for 28 to midfield. On 3rd and 2 from the Seattle 42, Hundley ran for 14, 6 and 12. Drake ran for the 3 yard touchdown as the Cardinals were winning a shocker up 14 with 4:18 to play. With 3  minutes left the Seahawks faced a desperate 4th and 22 from their own 35. Wilson went deep but there were no miracles as he threw incomplete. The stunning upset dropped the Seahawks to 11-4. Next week they have a showdown at home against San Francisco. If they win, they win the NFC West. If they lose, they are a wildcard and have to play all their playoff games on the road. Home field advantage throughout the playoffs seems unlikely with 3 teams all one game ahead of them. 27-13 Cardinals.

Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears was the Sunday night game. The 10-4 Chiefs still had an outside chance at a first round bye but with a loss would have to settle for hosting a playoff game on wildcard weekend. The Bears punted on 4th and 21 from their own 39. The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 18. Patrick Mahomes hit Sammy Watkins for 17, Robinson for 13, Bell for 10 and Ware for 4. A sack of Mahomes meant 3rd and 18 from their own 47. Mahomes went to Tyreeq Hill for 19 and again for 6. On 3rd and 4 from the Chicago 22, the Bears entered the neutral zone. On 3rd and 5 from the Chicago 12, Mahomes ran for the touchdown to cap the 15 play, 82 yard, 8 minute drive and make it 7-0 Chiefs.The Chiefs began the second quarter at their own 30 and moved to a 2nd and 9 at the Chicago 39. Mahomes threw incomplete twice but Harrison Butker leveled a 56 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Chiefs. The Chiefs got it back at their own 5 and had 2nd and 28 from their own 33. A pair of 12 yard completions had the Chiefs punting on 4th and 4 from the Chicago 43 at the 2 minute warning. The Bears ran into the kicker and the Chiefs kept the ball. That penalty was a killer as Mahomes from the Chicago 19 hit Travis Kelce for 13 and again for the 6 yard touchdown to finish the 13 play, 95 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 17-0 Chiefs. The second half was pointless. The Bear in the third quarter moved from their own 13 on a 15 play, 83 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive. On 4th and goal at the 4, Matt Nagy went for it and Mitchell Trubisky threw incomplete. The Bears did get a field goal on the last play of the third quarter to avoid the shutout. In the fourth quarter Mahomes on 3rd and 8 hit Damien Williams for a 14 yard touchdown and Butker tacked on a 32 yard field goal to complete the scoring. The 11-4 Chiefs need a win next week and a New England loss to get a 1st round bye. Another win has Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 26-3 Chiefs 

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings was the Monday night game. A major NFC North showdown took place as the 11-3 Green Bay Packers took on the 10-4 Minnesota Vikings. Both teams are in the playoffs. A Packers win would clinch the NFC North and give them a shot at a first round bye and even home field throughout the playoffs. The Vikings would be a Wildcard. A Vikings win and a win next week combined with another Green Bay loss would give Minnesota the NFC North crown and a shot at a first round bye although home field throughout the playoffs is out of reach. The Packers would be a Wildcard. On 3rd and 5 from their own 30 on the third play of the game, a short completion from Aaron Rodgers to Aaron Jones gained 3 yards. Then Jones had the ball chopped out of his hands. Kendricks returned the fumble 10 yards to set up the Vikings at the Green Bay 24. Despite 2nd and goal at the 5, Kirk Cousins threw incomplete. Dan Bailey hit from 23 to put the Vikings up 3-0 less than 2 minutes into the game. The Packers rebounded and moved from their own 27 to a 2nd and 3 at the Minnesota 24. Rodgers threw incomplete twice. Mason Crosby hit a 42 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. 

The second quarter began with the Packers facing 2nd and 18 at their own 28. Rodgers was intercepted by Harris, who returned it 10 yards to the Green Bay 26. On 3rd and 5, Cousins went to the end zone and Stefan Diggs made a catch in the back of the end zone and got both feet down for the touchdown and the 10-3 Vikings lead. The Packers responded from their 25 and again drove to the red zone with a 2nd and 5 at the Minnesota 15. Again Rodgers threw incomplete twice. Again Mason Crosby hit from 33 as the Packers still trailed 10-6. A third Green Bay turnover on a fumble had the Vikings taking over at the Green Bay 48. On 3rd and 4 from the Packers 42, Mike Zimmer called a double reverse with a pass to Cousins. The ball was slightly overthrown incomplete. Zimmer decided to go for it on 4th and 4 and Cousins threw deep incomplete. With 55 seconds left the Packers took over at their own 45. Rodgers went to Graham for 18, Williams for 11, Devonta Adams for 13 and 6 and Williams for 8 to set up 1st and goal at the one with 7 seconds left. Rodgers fired to Adams in the end zone, and Adams just dropped it. 3 seconds remained. Matt LaFleur decided not to gamble. Mason Crosby hit the 19 yard field goal as the Packers trailed 10-9 at halftime despite holding the Vikings to 26 yards passing.  

The Vikings moved from their own 23 to a 1st and 10 at the Green Bay 46. Cousins went for it all and threw into double coverage. King made the leaping interception at his own 8 yard line and returned it 39 yards to his 47. The Vikings offense never got going. The defense kept the Vikings in the game, but in the second half they finally broke. Williams ran for 8 and 4. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 33, Rodgers hit Adams for 6. Jones ran for 9. Rodgers hit Valdes-Scantling for 6. Jones ran for the 12 yard touchdown. Rodgers then hit Greg Allison for the touchdown as the Packers led 17-10 late in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter the Packers faced 2nd and 9 at their own 26. Rodgers went to Adams for 18. Then Jones busted through some tackles, got to the sideline, and raced for a 56 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good but with 6 minutes left in regulation the Packers led by 13. With 4 minutes left on 2nd and 14 from their own 47, Cousins went bombs away for a 53 yard touchdown. Yet offensive holding nullified the score. Two years ago with the division on the line, the Vikings went into Green Bay and hit the Packers in the mouth. Two years later it was the Packers going into Minnesota and knocking a very good Vikings team on their hides. As Aaron Rodgers reminded the league in Week 1, the Packers now have a defense. The Vikings are now locked into the six seed Wildcard. The Packers are currently the two seed with a first round bye. They could fall as low as the three seed or go as high as the top seed with home field throughout the playoffs. 23-10 Packers

NFL 2019 Week 16 Prequel

Saturday, December 21st, 2019

NFL 2019 Week 15 Recap

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

NFL 2019 Week 15 Recap

New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens is the Thursday night game. Sometimes a below average team can go on the road and shock a great team in an upset for the ages. This was not that game as the 11-2 Ravens handled business easily. Baltimore took over at their own 16. Lamar Jackson hit Hurst for 19 and ran for 20 himself. Jackson hit Snead for 15. On 3rd and 1 from the Jets 16, Mark Ingram gained 5. Ingram ran for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Ravens. The Jets moved from their 36 to a 1st and 10 at the Baltimore 32. A run gained one yard, Sam Darnold threw incomplete twice, and Sam Ficken missed a 49 yard field goal try. From their own 39, Ingram ran for 29, Jackson added 25, and Jackson hit Boykin for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Ravens. The extra point was no good. The Jets tried to make a game of it, taking over at their own 37. On 3rd and 9 from midfield to start the second quarter, Darnold went deep to Jamison Crowder for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Darnold hit Crowder for the touchdown. The Jets were only down 13-7, but after that Baltimore took over.

After a touchback, Ingram ran for 7, Jackson added 12, and Edwards added 4. A defensive pass interference penalty on a bomb went for a 43 yard gain down to the one. It took 5 tries due to penalties on both teams, but Jackson hit Mark Andrews for the one yard touchdown and Ingram ran in the 2 point conversion to make it 21-7 Ravens. The Jets moved from their own 26 on a 13 play, 67 yard, 8 minute drive. At the 2 minute warning, Adam tase went for it on 4th and 1 from the Baltimore 7. Darnold threw incomplete. The Jets got it back at the Baltimore 41 with one minute left in the half. From the Baltimore 25, Darnold went deep and the last chance for the Jets to make a game of it ended with an interception at the 5 yard line. Midway through the third quarter the Jets took over at their own 15. On 3rd and 8 from their own 35, Darnold was sacked and fumbled. The Ravens recovered at the Jets 24. Jackson went deep to Brown for the 24 yard touchdown to make it 28-7 Ravens. Baltimore got it back and a possibly overconfident John Harbaugh went for it on 4th and 1 from his own 29. Out of the shotgun, Jackson went deep to Andrews for a 36 yard gain. On 2nd and 20 from the Jets 33, Jackson went deep to Seth Roberts for the touchdown and a 35-7 Ravens lead. The Jets did get a s special teams touchdown in the fourth quarter on a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, but the onside kick failed and a short field led to a 10 yard touchdown pass to Ingram to make it 42-13 Ravens. The Jets got one more garbage touchdown. After his third game this year with 5 touchdown passes, Jackson took a seat and backup Robert Griffin III took some snaps. The 12-2 Ravens as of now are still the top AFC seed and can win home field throughout the playoffs with one more win in their final two games. 42-21 Ravens

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions — Jameis Winston continues to complete passes to both teams. Early on he was intercepted, but the Buccaneers held on defense. The Bucs took over at their own 21 and Winston hit Brate for 9, Brad Perriman for 22, and Watson for 5. On 3rd and 1 from the Detroit 36, Winston gained 2 and then went deep to Perriman for a 34 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back at their own one yard line. On 3rd and 6 from their 5, Winton went to Miller for 11, deep to Godwin for 51, and then deep to Miller for the 33 yard touchdown. 99 yards the easy away made it 14-0 Buccaneers. In the second quarter the Buccaneers took over at their own 33. From their own 44, Winston hit Ogunbowale for 13 and Godwin for 20. On 3rd and 15 from the Detroit 25, Winston went to Perriman for the touchdown to make it 21-0 Buccaneers as Matt Patricia contemplated where he’d be applying for work next year. 

The Lions tried to make a game of it. Matt Parater hit a 44 yard field goal with just over 3 minutes left in the half to get the Lions on the board. Matt Gay answered form 46 early in the third quarter to make it 24-3 Buccaneers. After a touchback, Blough hit James for 11 and 13 and Kenny Golladay for 5. On 3rd and 10 from their own 48, Blough went deep to Danny Amendola for a 46 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the one, Hills got in to get the Lions within 24-10. The Lions got it back and faced 3rd and 1 at their own 22. Blough went deep to Golladay for 26 and deep again to Lacy for a 48 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the one, Hills got in again on the first play of the fourth quarter to get the Lions within 24-17. Midway through the fourth quarter, Gay missed a 54 yard field goal that would have given the Buccaneers some breathing room. The Lions moved from their 44 to a 1st and 10 at the Detroit 32 looking to tie the game. Blough was sacked for a 3 yard loss. With 5 minutes remaining on 2nd and 13, Blough was intercepted by Bunting, who returned it 70 yards the other way to put the game on ice with the Buccaneers up 31-17. After the Lions turned it over on downs at their own 46, Winston on 3rd and 7 threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to Perriman to complete the blowout. The Lions added one more fumble for good measure. Winston has his critics, but on this day his 458 yards and 4 touchdowns did not come during garbage time. His only interception came early in the game. He played well. 38-17 Buccaneers. 

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins — The 6-7 Eagles came in actually tied for the NFC Least lead. In the first quarter the Eagles moved from their own 5 yard line on a staggering 16 play, 88 yard drive that took over 7 1/2 minutes. Despite 2nd and goal at the 7, Carson Wentz threw incomplete twice. Elliott hit the 25 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Eagles. 12 seconds later the Redskins had the lead. After a touchback, a short pass from Dwayne Haskins to McLaurin went for a 75 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Redskins. The Eagles got it back and faced 2nd and 8 at their own 27. Wentz threw incomplete but defensive unnecessary roughness added 15 yards. Wentz went to Dallas Goedert for 16 yards. Penalties had the Eagles facing 2nd and 22 from the Washington 26. Wentz threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 15 yards and another first down. Another offensive penalty had the Eagles facing 1st and 20 at the Washington 31. On 2nd and 12 from the Washington 23, Wentz hit Goedert for 9 and on 3rd and 3 went to Ward for 6. Sanders ran for 7 and then for the one yard touchdown to cap the 10 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and make it 10-7 Eagles. Again after a touchback Washington responded. Defensive pass interference added 14 yards. Haskins went to Sims for 19. Adrian Peterson ran for 13. A sack was wiped away by defensive holding. Peterson ran for 14 more. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Haskins hit Sims for the score to make it 14-10 Redskins midway through the second quarter. 

The Eagles in the third quarter faced 2nd and 8 from their own 36. Wentz threw incomplete, but yet another roughing the passer penalty added 15 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Washington 48, Wentz hit Zach Ertz for 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Washington 29, Scott gained 3. On 3rd and 5 at the Washington 21, Wentz hit Scott for 5, Goedert for 6, and after a false start, Sanders for the 15 yard touchdown to put the Eagles back in front 17-14. The 12 play, 66 yard drive took 6 minutes off the clock. The Redskins after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 1 at their own 44. Peterson gained 10. On 3rd and 1 from the Philly 37, Haskins got around the end for 23 yards. Peterson ran for 4 and then for the 10 yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 21-17 Redskins. The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Sanders got around the end for a 56 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Wentz hit Ertz for the score as the Eagles led 24-21 with 10 minutes left in regulation. Sims returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to the Washington 45. Haskins hit McLaurin for 22. Hopkins drilled a 53 yard field goal for a 24-24 game midway through the fourth quarter. 

The Eagles took over and soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 33 with 6 1/2 minutes left. Wentz was sacked and fumbled. The Redskins took over at the Philly 34. On 4th and 1 from the Philly 25 with 5 minutes left, Bill Callahan was not in a gambling mood. Hopkins hit the 43 yard field goal to make it 27-24 Redskins. After a touchback came the thrilling finish. On 3rd and 5 from their on 30, Wentz hit Ward for 13. Scott caught a pass for 6 and ran for 6 more. Wentz went to Goedert for 20 and Ward for 13 and 10. With 30 seconds left in the game, the Eagles had 1st and goal at the 4. Wentz hit Ward for the touchdown as the Eagles led 31-27. Sims returned the ensuing kickoff 30 yards to the Washington 31 with 18 seconds left. Haskins hit Harmon for 17 and Thompson for 10. With 13 seconds left the Redskins had 1st and 10 at the Philly 42, well in Hail Mary Range. Yet a shotgun snap was fumbled at midfield. Bradham picked it up and returned it 47 yards for a defensive touchdown exclamation point. The 7-7 Eagles are very much alive in the NFC Least as they find ways to win ugly in the final moments. 37-27 Eagles

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers — The 10-3 Packers came in one game up in the NFC North but one game back in the overall NFC. Early on the Bears punted on 4th and 19 from their own 16. A short punt followed by a catcher interference penalty on Chicago had the Packers starting at the Chicago 35. On 4th and 4 from the 29, Matt Lafleur decided to go for it rather than try a 47 yard field goal. Aaron Rodgers went deep to Devontae Adams for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. The Bears managed a 30 yard Eddie Pineiro field goal just past the 2 minute warning, but this was a game about the Green Bay defense. In the third quarter the Packers took over at their own 27. Rodgers went to Adams for 34 yards and ran for 17 more himself. Aaron Jones then ran for a 21 yard touchdown as the Packers led 14-3. The Bears after a touchback moved to a 3rd and 4 at the Green Bay 32. Mitchell Trubisky was sacked for a 2 yard loss and Matt Nagy went for it on 4th and 6. Trubisky threw incomplete. The Packers faced 3rd and 4 at their own 40. Rodgers went deep to Kumerow for 49 yard and Adams for 9 more. Jones ran for the 2 yard touchdown as the Packers were safely ahead 21-3.  

The Bears tried to make a game of it in the fourth quarter. They moved from their own 16 to a 3rd and 6 at the Green Bay 9. Trubisky threw incomplete. Needing 3 scores, on the first play of the fourth quarter Matt Nagy opted for the field goal. Pineiro hit from 27 to get the Bears within 21-6. Chicago got it back at their own 33. Trubisky hit Robinson for 9 and Anthony Miller for 17. On 3rd and 15 from the Green Bay 41, Trubisky only gained 8 but defensive holding meant an automatic first down. On 3rd and 7 from the Packers 25, Trubisky hit Robinson for 15. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Trubisky hit Miller for the score. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bears were only down by 8. They had 3 more chances with the ball. With 6:40 to play, Trubisky was intercepted to set up the Packers at the Chicago 33. With 5 minutes left the Packers had 3rd and 4 at the Chicago 27, in easy field goal range for the clinching field goal try. Rodgers was sacked for an 11 yard loss and the Packers punted. The Bears mood from their own 5 yard line to a 1st and 10 just past midfield. Trubisky then threw 4 straight incompletions with 1:51 left. Chicago’s defense held again and the Bears got it back at their own 22 with 36 seconds left. With 9 seconds left from the Green Bay 34, Trubisky threw a Hail Mary. It bounced off the fingers of the defenders and then bounced off the fingers of the receiver in the back of the end zone. The Bears almost had it. One second still remained. This time the Bears went for the hook and laterals. It was working. Trubisky hit Cohen for 13, back to Trubisky for 5 more, then to Horsted for 9 all the way to the Green Bay 7. Then big man with football coughed it up and a scramble ensued. The Packers recovered at their own one yard line. It was typical ugly NFC North Black and Blue football, but the 11-3 Packers got the win. 21-13 Packers. 

New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals— The Patriots do cheat, but does anyone think they could possibly gain a competitive advantage by spying on the Bengals? What could they possibly learn? After a touchback, Tom Brady immediately went to James White for 22 yards. Sony Michel gained 8 and 12. Harry gained 10. Brady went to White to make it 7-0 Patriots barely 3 minutes into the game. After a touchback, the Bengals rammed it on the ground. Joe Mixon ran for 2, 7, 3 on 3rd and 1, 2, and then 29. Bernard ran for 17, 4 and 3. On 3rd and 3 from the 8, Red Rifle Andy Dalton threw his first pass of the entire drive. He hit Carter for the touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Bengals got it back at their 35. Mixon gained 13 and 5 and Dalton hit Tyler Eifert for 19. Despite 1st and 10 at the New England 17, a false start ended the drive. Bullock hit the 34 yard field goal as the Bengals had the surprising 10-7 lead after the first quarter. Then reality set in. 

In the seconds quarter the Patriots moved from their own 25 to a 4th and 4 at the Cincy 35. Bill Belichick decided to go for it rather than try a 53 yard field goal. Brady threw incomplete. The Bengals moved from their own 35 to a 4th and 1 at the Patriots 30. The Bengals also went for it and Mixon got stuffed. The Patriots then moved from their own 31 to a 4th and 4 at the Cincy 22. This time Belichick opted for the field goal. Nick Folk hit from 40 for a 10-10 deadlock with 4 minutes left in the half. With 90 seconds left in the half, the Bengals fumbled a punt and the Patriots recovered at the Cincinnati 23. These are the plays that cause the Patriots to win games and the Bengals to lose games. Yet on 3rd and 8 from the Cincy 21, Brady was sacked for a 7 yard loss. Folk drilled the 46 yard field goal with 5 seconds left in the half to make it 13-10 Patriots. The third quarter began with the Bengals facing 3rd and 6 at their own 29. Dalton was intercepted at his own 43. Brady hit LaCosse for 6, Sony Michel for 14, and on 3rd and goal, Harry for the 7 yard touchdown in the back of the end zone to make it 20-10 Patriots. The Bengals moved from their own 12 to 1st and 10 at the Patriots 36. Dalton hit Mixon for 6 more, but an ineligible man downfield instead made it 1st and 15 from the Patriots 41. On the next play a short sideline pass saw Stephan Gilmore jump the route  and glide 64 yards the other way. The defensive touchdown had the Patriots comfortably ahead 27-10. The Bengals did manage a field goal but the onsides kick failed and the short field gave the Patriots another touchdown. At 11-3 the Patriots are one step closer to a first round bye but still trail in the race for home field advantage throughout. 34-13 Patriots. 

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans — These 8-5 teams came in tied for the AFC South lead and play each other twice in the last 3 weeks. Early on the Texans moved from their 26 to a 2nd and 7 at the Titans 20. Deshaun Watson went to the end zone and was intercepted. The Titans moved from their own one yard line to a 2nd and 7 at the Houston 27. Ryan Tannehill threw incomplete twice. Ryan Succop’s 45 yard field goal try was blocked. In the second quarter the Titans moved from their own 24 to a 1st and goal at the 5. Tannehill was intercepted by Mercilus at the 2 yard line. Mercilus was merciless, returning the interception 86 yards to the Tennessee 12. Watson then went to Kenny Stills for the touchdown as the Texans led 7-0. The Texans got it back at their own 28. From the Titans 45, a 6 yard completion saw a 15 yard facemark call added on. On 3rd and 2 from the Titans 16, Watson went to Stills for the score as the Texans led 14-0 with just over 3 minutes left in the half. 

The Titans began the third quarter facing 3rd and 5 at their own 29. Tannehill hit AJ Brown for 9 yards. On 3rd and 3 from their own 45, Tannehill hit Smith for 11. On 3rd and goal at the one, Henry got stopped. Mike Vrabel decided to go for it. After 15 plays, 76 yards and 9 1/2 minutes, it came down to 4th and goal at the one. Tannehill got around the end and got in to get the Titans within 14-7. The Titans moved from their own 36 to 2nd and goal at the 4. In a game of big defensive stops, Watson went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. The Titans began the fourth quarter facing 2nd and 3 at their own 27. Smith got around the end for a 57 yard gain. Tannehill went to Brown for a 5 yard touchdown. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, the game was tied 14-14.

The Texans took over at their 25. From their 36, Watson went to Deandre Hopkins for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Titans 27, Watson gained 12, with defensive holding adding 5 more. Carlos Hyde ran for the 10 yard touchdown to put the Texans back in from 21-14 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Houston got it back at their own 9 yard line. On 3rd and 1 from their 18, Hyde gained 2. Watson then went deep to hopkins for 35 yards.  and again for 25 more. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 29 yard field goal with 3 1/2 minutes left to give the Texans some breathing room up 24-14. After a touchback, Tannehill did what he could. He hit Smith for a pair of 5 yard gains and then for 23, Sharpe for 12, Davis for 19 and Lewis for the 11 yard touchdown. The Titans were within a field goal at the 2 minute warning. Tennessee got it back with 17 seconds left at their own 12. Tannehill was sacked to end the game. Houston’s big road win put them at 9-5 and dropped Tennessee to 8-6. The rematch is in 2 weeks in the season finale in Houston. 24-21 Texans

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers — The 10-3 Seahawks came in one game back in the NFC West. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Chris Carson gained 23 yards. Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for and CJ Prosise for a pair of 10 yard gains. Carson ran for 6 and then for the 16 yard touchdown to make it 6-0 Seahawks. The extra point dunked off the upright no good. Seattle got it back at their own 20. From their 30, Wilson went deep to Lockett for 44 yards and to DK Metcalf for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Seahawks. 

After that the Panthers finally got going. On 2nd and 11 from their 24, Kyle Allen hit Samuel for 12 and Christian McCaffrey ran for a pair of 13 yard gains and then 5 and 4. On 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 29, Moore gained 10. On 3rd and goal from the one, McCaffrey got in to get the Panthers within 13-7 only one minute into the second quarter. Yet Seattle kept rolling. On 2nd and 18 from their own 17, Wilson went deep to Josh Gordon for 58 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Carolina 19, Wilson was sacked and fumbled. However, defensive offsides kept the drive going. On 2nd and 15 from the Carolina 19, Wilson went to Lockett for the touchdown to make it 20-7 Seahawks. A hideous third quarter saw the Panthers kick a field goal to get within 20-10. 

Allen was intercepted, then Wilson was intercepted, and then Allen was intercepted again. The Seahawks managed the answering field goal to lead 23-10 after three quarters. The Seahawks began the fourth quarter at their own 18. Carson ran fro 15 and Wilson hit Lockett for 20. On 3rd and 9 from the Carolina 46, Wilson went to Metcalf for 17 and Brown for 9. On 4th and 1 from the Carolina 6 midway through the fourth quarter, Pete Carroll went for the kill shot. Carson got in to make it 30-10 Seahawks. After a touchback, Allen mounted a furious rally. He hit McCaffrey for 4, Moore for 9, Thomas for 11, Hogan for 13, and Moore for 15. McCaffrey ran for a 15 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 30-17 with 5 minutes left. 30 seconds later the Panthers got it back at their own 16 after taking their timeouts on defense. Allen Moore for a pair of 22 yard gains and then for 17 more, McCaffrey for 18, and on 3rd and goal, Curtis Samuel for the 5 yard touchdown. The Panthers were within 6 with 3:14 to play. With 2:21 left on 3rd and 11 from their own 24, Wilson hit Lockett for 14 yards. At the 2 minute warning on 2nd and 9 from the Seattle 39, Carson gained 10 and Wilson took a couple knees. It was scary at the end, but with the win the Seahawks moved to 11-3 but still in the wild card slot. 30-24 Seahawks

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs — The Chiefs made it look easily early on in a game with snow falling at Arrowhead. From their own 21, a roughing the passer penalty added 15 yards. Patrick Mahomes then hit Sammy Watkins for 10, Robinson for 13, and Tyreek Hill for a 41 yard touchdown to make it 6-0 Chiefs. Due to miserable weather conditions, the extra point snap was fumbled and the try never got off the ground. The Chiefs mounted two long drives in the second quarter that bogged down inside the Denver 10 yard line. Harrison Butker kicked field goals of 23 and 24 yards for a 12-0 Chiefs lead. Denver did move after a touchback to a 4th and 1 at the Chiefs 48. Needing a spark Vic Fangio went for it. Rather than ram it up the gut, Drew Lock went for it all and hit Nick Fans for a 43 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 9. Yet a run lost 5 yards and Lock threw incomplete twice. Brandon McManus hit the 32 yard field goal to get the Broncos on the board, but the Chiefs came back again. From their own 21, Mahomes went to Travis Kelce for 12, 17, and 39. Despite 1st and 10 at the Denver 21 with 37 seconds left, Mahomes threw incomplete twice and on 3rd and 10 was sacked for a 5 yard loss. With 2 seconds left Butker came in for a 44 yard try. The kick was good as the Chiefs led 15-3 at the break. The Chiefs looked to quickly put the game away in the third quarter from their 25. Mahomes went to Kelce for 9 and Hill for 7. On 3rd and 4 from their own 43, Mahomes went to Hill for 12, Kelce for 16, Bell for 11, Kelce for 10, and Hill for the 5 yard touchdown. Mahomes went to Watkins for the 2 point conversion to cap the 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive. In heavy snow, the final 21 minutes were scoreless. At 10-4, the Chiefs still have an outside shot at a 1st round bye, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 23-3 Chiefs

Miami Dolphins at New York Giants — The 3-10 Dolphins faced the 2-11 Giants in a game that league officials said would not be canceled. In the second quarter, the Dolphins moved from their own 11 to a 2nd and 9 at the Giants 47. Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Gesicki for 6, to Wilson on 3rd and 3 for 21, and to Parker for the 20 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Dolphins. The Giants responded quickly. On 3rd and 10 from their own 25, a defensive pass interference call on an incomplete pass added 24 yards. Eli Manning then went deep to Golden Tate for a 51 yard touchdown to make it 7-7. With 90 seconds left in the half, an interception of Manning set up the Dolphins at the Giants 28. Yet on 4th and 1 from the Giants 6 with 47 seconds left, Brian Flores took no chances. Sanders hit the 24 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Dolphins. The third quarter began with the Giants at their own 30. Manning went to Slayton for 26, to Saquon Barkley for 6, to Latimer for 21, and to Slayton for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 14-10 Giants. A hideous third quarter saw the Dolphins facing 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Fitzpatrick gained 5 but fumbled the ball away at their own 33. On 3rd and 1 from the Miami 24, Manning was intercepted by Baker, who returned it 34 yards just shy of midfield. Despite 2nd and 6 from the Giants 29, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete twice. Sanders hit the 47 yard field goal to get the Dolphins within 14-13. 

Miami got it back but a good punt pinned them at their own 3. A false start meant 1st and 11 from their 2. Laird was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make it 16-13 Giants. That was the turning point in the game. Scott returned the free kick 34 yards to the Miami 40. Manning went to Shepard for 15 and 24 down to the one. Barkley got in for the score to make it 23-13 Giants. The Giants got it back at their own 34. Barkley gained 6 and 4. Manning went to Shepard for 24 yards. Barkley ran for 8, 7 and the 10 yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 30-13 Giants. With 6:40 left and the Dolphins having to go for it on 4th and 12 from their own 44, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete. Javorious Allen ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 36-13 Giants as 22 straight points turned a close game into a blowout. Nobody piles up garbage yards and points like Ryan Fitzpatrick, as the Dolphins got a garbage touchdown. With the win, Giants fans will complain that they blew it by losing a spot in the 2020 NFL Draft. 36-20 Giants

Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders — The final Raiders home game in the history of Oakland had the team emotional. At 6-7 after a 3 game losing streak, they needed a miracle to make the playoffs. Yet winning their final ever game in the Black Hole had to happen. The Jaguars were a total mess, and they had the 30th ranked rushing defense. The Raiders had Josh Jacobs back from a one game injury. If ever there was a game the Raiders could win, this was it. With Raiders legends past and present on hand, the Raiders did what they could. In the first half Derek Carr was 14 of 23 for 221 yards passing and one touchdown. Gardner Minshew was 3 of 10 for 69 yards, with most of that coming on one play. The Jaguars had one first down in the entire first half. The Jaguars had 10 total yards rushing and 75 total yards. The Raiders had early 300 yards of total offense. The Raiders had the ball for over 21 minutes compared to less than 9 minutes for the Jaguars. The Raiders had only one penalty for 5 yards. It was total Silver and Black domination everywhere except where it mattered…on the scoreboard.  

After a touchback to start the game, John Gruden pounded the rock. Jacobs ran for 8, 1, and on 3rd and 1, 6. Derek Carr hit Deandre Washington for 9 and Darren Waller for 10. On 2nd and 9 from the Jacksonville 40, Carr found Tyrell Williams, who blasted through a would-be tackler and coasted in for the touchdown. The Raiders led 7-0 only 3 1/2 minutes into the game, but all their yards would not get them in the end zone the rest of the half. The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Gardner Minshew went deep to Cole for a 55 yard bomb. That one play was more than 2/3 of what would be the entire yards Jacksonville would gain in the first half. On 3rd and 9 from the Oakland 13, Minshew only gained 3. Josh Lambo hit the 28 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 7-3. They would not have another first down the entire rest of the half. Daniel Carlson hit field goals of 33 in the first quarter and 34 and 27 in the second quarter, the last one coming to end the half. The Raiders led 16-3 at halftime, but missed opportunities in the red zone prevented this from being a blowout. The end result was inevitable.

The Jaguars in the third quarter held the ball for 8 1/2 minutes on a 14 play, 59 yard drive. From their own 16, they moved to a 4th and 1 at the Oakland 36. Doug Marrone went for it and the Raiders had 12 men on the defense. On 3rd and 9 from the Oakland 32, Minshew hit Conley for 18. On 3rd and 9 from the Oakland 13, Minshew was sacked for a 12 yard loss. Lambo hit a 43 yard field goal to get the Jaguars within 16-6. The Raiders punted on 4th and 21 from their own 35 with 11 minutes left. The Jaguars took over at their own 21. Minshew hit Devalve for 11. On 3rd and 8 from the Jacksonville 34, Minshew only gained 6 but the Raiders jumped offsides. On 4th and 1 from their own 41, Doug Marrone had to go for it. One defensive stop would end it. Leonard Fournette was hit in the backfield but gutted ahead. He still appeared short but was given a first down by half a football length. The spot was not challenged. With 5:15 to play, Minshew hit Conley for the touchdown. The Jaguars only trailed 16-13. The entire world knew what was going to happen to the Raiders, but the way it happened was still shocking.

They moved from their own 30 to the Jacksonville 43. Carr ran for a 12 yard gain and pumped his fist. The clock should have ticked down to the 2 minute warning. Then the refs who have hated the Raiders since the arrival of Al Davis struck again. The Tuck Rule was bad. This was a knife in the heart. Officials ruled that Carr slid out of bounds, even though replay clearly showed his knee inbounds. John Gruden was not allowed to challenge the call. tHE raiders were also charged with a delay of game. So instead of 2:00 left and 1st and 10, it was 2:05 and 1st and 15. Jacksonville was gifted an extra timeout on this horrendous all. With 1:52 left the Raiders had 3rd and 11 from the Jags 32. The Raiders had to run the ball. Instead Carr threw incomplete. Carlson came in for a 50 yard field goal try to make it a 6 point game. He was no good, but the Raiders got a gift when Jacksonville ran into the kicker. Given another chance from 45 yards out, Carlson was no good again. The end of this game was inevitable.

From the Jacksonville 35, Minshew hit Board for 8 and ran for 8. Minshew hot Fournette for 11 and Conley for 21. An incompelte pass was nullified by a very questionable roughing the passer penalty. With 34 seconds left, it came down to 3rd and goal at the 4. Did anyone think the heartless Raiders defense would get a stop? Gardner hit Minshew for the score and the collapse was complete. With 13 seconds left from their own 17, a defensive pass interference call put the ball at midfield for a 33 yard gain. With 8 seconds left from the Jags 40, Carr’s Hail Mary was knocked down. With 2 seconds left, the final Hail Mary was also knocked down incomplete. Oakland finished with a heartless effort in the most meaningful Raiders game since Al Davis died in 2010. Jon Gruden must fire defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Gruden and Mike Mayock must fix the pass defense, especially the secondary. To the refs who hate the guts of the #RaiderNation, we hate your guts too. It’s not a conspiracy when it’s actually happening. The Raiders had the game stolen from them, but they can blame themselves for being 6-8 and out of the playoffs. 20-16 Jaguars

Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers — The 9-4 Vikings came in one game back of Green Bay in the NFC North. Minnesota began facing 3rd and 1 at their own 34. Kirk Cousins hit Kyle Rudolph for 5 yards and again for 21 more. Cousins hit Stephan Diggs for another 10. On 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 16, Cousins threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. On the next play Cousins hit Smith for the touchdown to make it 6-0 Vikings. The extra point was no good. The Chargers moved from their own 15 to a 2nd and 4 at the Minnesota 23. A run went nowhere and Philip Rivers then threw incomplete. Mike Badgley hit the 41 yard field goal to get the Chargers within 6-3. The Chargers got the ball back at their own 4 yard line. From their 11, Melvin Gordon fumbled and the Vikings took over at the same spot. The Chargers held Minnesota to a 26 yard dan Bailey field goal and a 9-3 Vikings lead on the first play of the second quarter. The Chargers soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 28. Rivers went to Keenan Allen for 19. A sack of Rivers had the Chargers facing 2nd and 19 at their own 38. Rivers hit Williams for 11 and on 3rd and 8 Allen for 14. Rivers then went to Austin Ekeler for 27 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Rivers went to Williams for the touchdown. The Chargers led 10-9 but after that Mike Zimmer’s defense pounded the Chargers into the ground.

The Vikings moved from their 25. On 3rd and 7 from their own 42, Cousins went to Adam Thielen for 13 yards and Dalvin Cook for 11 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Chargers 26, Cousins threw incomplete. Bailey hit from 44 to make it 12-10 Vikings. The teams traded interceptions and the Chargers moved from their 43 to a 2nd and 2 at the Minnesota 26 with 23 seconds left in the half. Even a field goal would give the Chargers the lead. Rivers was sacked for a 10 yard loss and fumbled. Odenigbo picked it up and rumbled 56 yards for a defensive touchdown as the Vikings led 19-10 at the intermission. in the third quarter a Chargers fumble led to a Bailey field goal of 38 yards. Bailey hit again from 27 to have the Vikings up 25-10. The Chargers moved from their own 23 to a 4th and 2 at the Minnesota 35. Anthony Lynn went for it and Rivers went to Hunter Henry for 24 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Minnesota 7, Rivers was sacked for a 3 yard loss as the third quarter ended. Then came a false start. Then Rivers threw incomplete. The Vikings began the fourth quarter at their own 15. Cousins went to Rudolph for 22. on 3rd and 14 from their own 46, Cousins went deep to Diggs for 46 yards. On the next play Boone ran for the 8 yard touchdown. with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Vikings led 32-10. One play after a touchback, a short completion was fumbled and the Vikings recovered at the Chargers 10 yard line. Boone ran for 3, 5, and on 3rd and goal got the 2 yard touchdown to make it 39-10 Vikings. 

Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals — The Cardinals began at their own 10. Kenyon Drake ran for 16 and 13 sandwiched around a Kyler Murray completion to Drake for 9. Murray then went to Larry Fitzgerald for a pair of 16 yard gains and then for 10 more. Drake ran for the 5 yard touchdown as the 10 play, 90 yard  5 minute drive had the Cardinals up 7-0. The Browns moved to the Arizona 20 but Baker Mayfield went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. The Cardinals began the second quarter facing 1st and 10 at their own 33. Murray got around the end for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and 14 from the Cleveland 36, Murray hit Cooper for 17 and Clay for 18 down to the one. Drake got in to make it 14-0 Cardinals. 

The Browns took over and after a delay of game faced 2nd and 15 at their own 12. Mayfield went to O’Dell Beckham for 17 and Ratley for 12. Nick Chubb did the rest, running for 6, 17, 3, and then the 33 yard touchdown to get the Browns within 14-7. A quick interception of Murray had the Browns taking over at the Arizona 28. On 3rd and 2 form the Arizona 20, a truck play of laterals lost 6 yards. Austin Seibert hit the 44 yard field goal to get the Browns within 14-10. The Cardinals got it back at their own 13. Murray and Byrd combined on a 51 yard gain. On 4th and 1 from the Cleveland 26, Klff Kingsbury went for it. Drake gained 3 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Cleveland 14, Murray gained 7. Murray hit Arnold for the 6 yard touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half. The 11 play, 87 yard drive had the Cardinals up 21-10. After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Browns faced 3rd and 4 at their own 36. Mayfield went to Karim Hunt for just enough. Chubb then ran for 12 and 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Arizona 41, Mayfield ran for 4 with defensive holding adding 5 more. Chubb then ran for 29 down to the 3. Mayfield hit Seals-Jones for a 2 yard touchdown to get the Browns within 21-17. 

The Cardinals took over at their own 39 and Murray hit Byrd for 17, Kirk for 15, and Byrd for 5. On 3rd and 3 from the Cleveland 22, Murray threw incomplete. Arizona challenged the call, and it was reversed to defensive pass interference and 1st and goal at the one. On the next play Drake ran it in to make it 28-17 Cardinals after three quarters. The Browns moved from their own 22 to a 4th and 3 at the Arizona 27 with 12 minutes left in regulation. Needing 2 scores, Freddie Kitchens opted for the 45 yard field goal try. It was no good. After that the Cardinals turned out the lights. The Cardinals took over at their own 35. From their 38, Murray hit Byrd for 7. Drake ran for 12 and 7. On 3rd and 3 from the Cleveland 36, Murray went to Kirk for 10. Drake ran for 9 and then the 17 yard touchdown to make it 35-17 Cardinals. One play after a touchback, Mayfield went to Seals-Jones for 26 yards but Seals-Jones fumbled and the Cardinals recovered. Zane Gonzalez hit a 21 yard field goal to make it 38-17 Cardinals. The Browns did get a garbage touchdown on a 91 yard drive, but needed 19 plays to do it. 38-24 Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons at San Francisco 49ers — The 11-2 49ers entered one game ahead of Seattle, Green Bay and New Orleans in the NFC, and Green Bay and Seattle won earlier in the day. In the first quarter the 49ers took over at their own 12 yard line. On 3rd and 1 from their own 21, Mostert ran for 7 and 8, Matt Breida added 9, and Samuel gained 8 more. On 4th and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it. Jimmy Garoppolo hit Greg Kittle for 5 yards. On 3rd and 19 from the Atlanta 40, Garoppolo threw incomplete but a roughing the passer call meant 15 more yards and more downs. The second quarter began with the 49ers facing 3rd and 1 at the Atlanta 16. Garoppolo gained 3. On 3rd and 4 from the Atlanta 7, Garoppolo hit Kittle for 5. Mostert ran for the 2 yard touchdown to cap what may be the drive of the year. 21 plays. Yes, 21 plays. 88 yards. Nearly 11 minutes. The 49ers led 7-0 but the Falcons finally got moving. On 3rd and 4 from their own 36, Matt Ryan hit Julio Jones for 28 yards and again for 9. On 3rd and 2 from the Frisco 23, Ryan hit Austin Hooper for 5. On 3rd and 3 from the Frisco 11, Matty Ice went to Jones for 6 and then again for the 5 yard touchdown as Jones made a gorgeous toe-tap in the end zone to make it 7-7. The rest of the half was a slugfest. Koo hit a 43 yard field goal for the 49ers. With one minute left in the half the Falcons had 2nd and goal at the 3. A run lost a yard and Ryan threw incomplete. Robbie Gould hit from 22 as the teams went to the locker rooms deadlocked 10-10.  

In the third quarter the 49ers took over at their own 37.  Garoppolo was sacked but roughing the passer added 15 yards. Robbie Gould hit a 46 yard field goal to make it 13-10 49ers. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Falcons fumbled a punt and the 49ers recovered at the Atlanta 2 yard line. Garoppolo hit Juszczyk for the touchdown. The extra point was no good as the 49ers led 19-10. The Falcons soon faced 3rd and 4 at their own 31. Ryan hit Jones for just enough. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 40, Ryan hit Jones for 15. From the Frisco 33, Ryan threw deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 32 yard gain and 1st and goal at the one. Ollison got in to get the Falcons within 19-17 with 5:15 to play. The 49ers after a touchback tried to run out the clock. At the 2 minute warning, the 49ers faced 3rd and 4 at the Atlanta 28. Garoppolo hit Kittle, who fumbled but retained possession for a 3 yard gain. On 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 25 with 1:52 to play, Kyle Shanahan opted for the field goal. Gould hit from 43 but the 49ers only led 22-17. 

Now it was time for a finish that would scramble the entire NFC upside down. From the Atlanta 30 with 1:42 left, Ryan hit Freeman for 13, Gage for 8, and Jones for 25. Ryan ran for 9. With 30 seconds left on 3rd and 1 from the Frisco 15, Ryan went to Jones for 10. With 8 seconds left and 2nd and goal at the 5, Ryan went to Hooper for the touchdown. The Falcons celebrated but on further review, the call was reversed incomplete. Unlike Oakland, San Francisco gets every single call. With 5 seconds left, Ryan hit Jones at the goal line. Officials ruled Jones was short, but replay clearly showed that Jones broke the plane of the goal. On further review, the call was reversed. For the first time in decades, San Francisco did not get the call. With 2 seconds left, the Falcons led 23-22. On the ensign kickoff, the hook and laterals were fumbled and returned for another touchdown. An Absolute shocker dropped the 49ers to 11-3. Just like that, they are no longer the top seed. They are tied with Seattle but Seattle has the tie-breaker. The 49ers if the playoffs ended today would be a wildcard and have to win on the road. In 1995, the defending champion 49ers needed a win over lowly Atlanta to secure home field throughout the playoffs. They led 21-6 and somehow lost 28-27. They lost home field and were knocked out in the wildcard round. 24 years later we shall see if history repeats itself. 29-22 Falcons

Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys — Despite the Rams being 8-5 and the Cowboys being 6-7, Dallas was actually in a better playoff position because of the woeful NFC Least. Midway through the first quarter the Cowboys faced 3rd and 3 at their own 17. Ezekiel Elliott gained 4 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 34, an interception of Dak Prescott was wiped away by offsetting penalties. On the next play Prescott went Amari Cooper for 19 and Jason Witten for 9. Elliott ran for 9 and Pollard added 8. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 19, Prescott went to Witten for the touchdown. The 15 play, 90 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive had the Cowboys up 7-0. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 2 at their own 33. Jared Goff hit Robert Woods for 5 yards and then went to Reynolds for 28 more as the first quarter ended. On the first play of the second quarter, Goff went to Tyler higgle for 26 more. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Goff hit Todd Gurley for the score to make it 7-7. After that Dallas took over the game.

After a touchback, Elliot ran for 15 and Prescott went deep to Teryl Austin for a 59 yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 14-7. Dallas got the ball back at their own 3 yard line and then delivered a backbreaking drive. On 3rd and 4 from their own 9, Prescott went to Jarwin for 20. Elliott gained 8 and 2. Pollard ran for 25 and Prescott hit Jarwin for 20. On 4th and 1 from the Rams 7, Jason Garrett decided to go for it. Prescott gained 2. On 3rd and goal at the one at the 2 minute warning, Elliott got in to make it 21-7 Cowboys. The Rams soon faced 2nd and 15 at their own 20. Goff was intercepted by Sean Lee, who returned it 25 yards to the Rams 9. With 30 seconds left in the half on 3rd and goal at the 7, Prescott threw incomplete but defensive illegal use of hands meant 1st and goal at the 3. On the next play Elliott got in to have the Cowboys up 28-7 at halftime. A pointless second half saw Kai Forbath hit field goals of 50 in the third quarter and a pair of 42 yarders in the fourth quarter to put the Cowboys up 37-7. The Rams got a pair of garbage touchdowns sandwiched around another Cowboys touchdown. Jason Garrett is the new Wayne Fontes. Every time he is about to get fired, he wins. 44-21 Cowboys 

Buffalo Bills at Pittsburgh Steelers was the Sunday night game. The 9-4 Bills took on the 9-5 Steelers in a game that had playoff implications for both of them. This was an old-school barefisted slobberknocker. A shanked 22 yard punt had the Bills taking over at the Pittsburgh 40. On 4th and 6 from the Pittsburgh 36, Sean McDermott decided to go for it rather than try a 54 yard field goal. Josh Allen hit Brown for 10. On 3rd and 2 from the Pittsburgh 18, Singletary ran for 3 and then 14 down to the one as the first quarter ended. The second quarter began with Allen getting the last yard to make it 7-0 Bills. The Steelers moved from their 28 to the Buffalo 28, but a run lost 3 yards and Devlin “Duck” Hodges threw incomplete twice. Chris Boswell hit a 49 yard field goal to get the Steelers within 7-3. The Steelers began the third quarter at their own 31. Hodges went to Johnson for a 29 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 31, Hodges hit Gentry for 4. James Conner ran for 17 and caught an 11 yard touchdown pass from Hodges as the Steelers took the 10-7 lead. Late in the third quarter on 1st and 10 from the Buffalo 43, Hodges was intercepted by White, who returned it 49 yards to the Pittsburgh 18. The fourth quarter began with the Bills facing 3rd and 2 at the Pittsburgh 10. Allen got just enough. Despite 1st and goal at the 8, three straight runs all went for losses. Steve Hauschka hit the 36 yard field goal with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation for a 10-10 tie. 

With 10 minutes left the Bills took over at their own 30. Allen went deep to Brown for a 40 yard gain. Singletary gained 15. The Bills fumbled but retained possession. On 3rd and 9 from the Pittsburgh 14, Allen went to Kroft for the touchdown as the Bills led by 7 midway through the fourth quarter. With 5:13 to play Pittsburgh took over at their own 19. Hodges hit Johnson for 4 and 10 and Vannett for 7. With 3:10 to play on 3rd and 1 from the Pittsburgh 42, out of the shotgun Hodges went deep to Washington for a 32 yard gain. On 3rd and 20 from the Buffalo 36, Hodges hit Vannett for 13 yards. It all came down to 4th and 7 from the Buffalo 23 at the 2 minute warning. Hodges went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. Pittsburgh took their timeouts on defense and a short 31 yard punt gave the Steelers the ball back at their own 43 with 90 seconds left. A mindless offensive holding penalty on Buffalo before the punt stopped the clock and preserved 40 seconds for the Steelers. Two defensive penalties on Buffalo including a facemark gave Pittsburgh 20 free yards and kept stopping the clock. With 39 seconds left the Steelers had 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 26. Yet on the next play Hodges was sacked for an 8 yard loss. The clock kept ticking down to less than 15 seconds. From the Buffalo 34, a desperate Hodges again went into the end zone, again found double coverage, and again was intercepted for a touchback with 6 seconds left. The Bills got to 10-4 and clinched a playoff birth but remain one game back of New England in the AFC East. The Bills have a showdown at New England in 6 days on a special edition of Saturday Night Football. The 8-6 Steelers can still make the playoffs with a win in either of their final two games, but both will be on the road. This was the biggest win for Buffalo in some time. 17-10 Bills

Indianapolis Colts at New Orleans Saints was the Monday night game. The Colts at 6-7 are collapsing, and they played like it. The 10-3 Saints are in Super Bowl or bust mode and they played like it. This game was over by halftime. In the first quarter the Colts punted on 4th and 19 at their own 39. It was partially blocked to set up the Saints at the Indy 33. Wil Lutz hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Saints. The Saints got it back at their own 10. Drew Brees went to Michael Thomas for 23 and Latavius Murray for 10. The second quarter began with the Saints facing 3rd and 2 at the Indy 37. Brees threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 11 from the Indy 33, Brees went to Jared Cook for 18 and to Thomas for the 15 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Saints. The Saints followed up the 12 play, 90 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive with a 10 play, 85 yard, 6 minute drive. On 3rd and 1 from their own 24, Line got the yard. Brees then went to Thomas for 24 and Murray for 10. Brees threw a 21 yard touchdown pass to Treyquon Smith to make it 17-0 Saints. The Saints then moved 80 yards in 10 plays at the end of the half. They went from their own 12 to 1st and goal at the 6 until the Colts defense finally got a stop. Lutz hit from 26 to end the half with the Saints up 20-0. The second half was pointless. In the third quarter the Saints went 75 yards in 12 plays and 8 minutes. Brees hit Josh Hill for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 27-0 Saints. The Saints got it back at their own 49 and Brees threw a 28 yard touchdown pass to Taysom Hill to make it 34-0 Saints. Brees had a game for the ages. He completed 29 of 30 passes. You read that correctly. One incompletion. 307 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. The 11-3 Saints are one of four teams tied for the top record in the NFC. The Colts got a fourth quarter garbage touchdown to avoid the shutout. 34-7 Saints