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NFL 2020 Week 16 Recap

Monday, December 28th, 2020

NFL 2020 Week 16 Recap

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints was the Christmas Friday afternoon game. The Vikings were pretty much eliminated and the 10-4 Saints were seeking to break a 2 game losing streak. On the first play of the game after a touchback, Alvin Kamara ran for 11 yards. Emanuel Sanders got around the end for 12 more. Kamara ran for a 40 yard touchdown. The Saints quickly led 7-0. After a touchback, Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 16 and Justin Jefferson for 11. Dalvin Cook ran for 15. On 3rd and 8 from the Saints 31, Cousins hit Conklin for 9 and Thielen for 7. Cook ran for a 15 yard touchdown and a 7-7 ballgame.

The Saints struck quickly from their own 34. Kamara gained 11 and caught a pass from Drew Brees for 9. Brees  went to Jared Cook for 19 and Latavius Murray for 8. Defensive pass interference meant a 5 yard gain down to the one. Kamara got in for his second rushing touchdown to make it 14-7 Saints. The Saints got it back at their own 4 yard line. Brees went to Taysom Hill for 19. Murray ran for 21. Brees hit Johnson for 19. Kamara ran for 9 and Murray gained 11. On 3rd and 6 from the Minnesota 12, Brees threw incomplete. Wil Lutz hit a 30 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Saints early in the second quarter. The Vikings on 2nd and 8 from their own 27 saw Cousins hit Thielen for 19 and Johnson for 13. Cook gained 8, one, and on 3rd and 1 from the Saints 32, 3 more. Cousins hit Jefferson for 25. Boone ran for the 4 yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 17-14. 

The Saints moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 6 at the Minnesota 20. Brees was intercepted to kill the drive, one of the few times all day the Saints were stopped. Yet the Vikings went 3 and out and a short 34 yard punt gave the Saints a short field at the Minnesota 46 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. Brees hit Murray for 7, Callaway for 11 and Cook for 19. With 38 seconds left in the half, Kamara rushed for his third touchdown of the day from 5 yards out as the Saints took a 24-14 lead to the locker rooms. In the third quarter Brees was intercepted again to set up the Vikings at the Saints 18. Cook gained 5 and 11 and Cousins hit Irv Smith for a 2 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Vikings were within 24-20.

The Saints soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 31. Brees hit Murray for 9 and Sanders for 26. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 26, Sean Payton brought Taysom Hill in. Out of the shotgun, Hill only gained one. Payton went for it on 4th and 1, and Hill gained 2. Kamara did the rest, running for 17 and then the 6 yard touchdown. Kamara’s fourth touchdown of the game had the Saints up 31-20. The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 29. Cousins hit Smith for just enough. Cook gained 7 and Cousins hit Thielen for 24. On 3rd and 9 from the Saints 33, Cousins threw incomplete. However, roughing the passer meant 15 yards. Then came defensive pass interference and a 17 yard gain down to the one. After a loss, Cousins hit Smith for a 4 yard touchdown. After three quarters, the Vikings were within 31-27. 

The game was a shootout, but in the fourth quarter the Saints turned the lights out. On 3rd and 6 from their own 37, Brees went to Cook for a 44 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 10, Murray gained 3. Kamra ran for the 7 yard touchdown as his fifth rushing touchdown of the day had the Saints up 38-27 with 12 minutes left in regulation. The Saints held on defense and a 16 yard punt return had them at their own 42. Brees went to Sanders for 23, Kamara for 7 and Callaway for 6. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 13, Brees hit Trautman for 4. On 3rd and goal at the one, Hill got in. The Saints led 45-27 with 4 minutes left. The 10 play, 58 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive was the only Saints touchdown drive not capped by Kamara.

The Viking moved from their own 25 to a 1st and goal at the one, but Cousins threw 3 straight incompletions as time whittled down. On 4th and goal at the one, Cousins hit Thielen for the touchdown. The 2 point try failed as the Vikings trailed 45-33 with 2:10 left. The onside kick failed and the Saints took over at the Minnesota 48. Brees hit Trautman for 41. Kamara ran for a 3 yard touchdown with 1:50 left to put the game away. Kamara tied an NFL record set by Ernie Nevers in 1929 with 6…yes, 6…rushing touchdowns. Nevers also kicked 4 extra points, so his 40 points in a game remains a record. Meanwhile, the Vikings were officially eliminated and the Saints at 11-4 clinched the NFC South. They still have an outside shot at home field throughout the playoffs, but they need to win next week and have Green Bay lose. Pinball Wizard Brees threw for 311 yards, but he has the most balanced offense he has ever directed. Just look at Kamara for the evidence. 52-33 Saints

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions was the Saturday morning game. The Buccaneers came in knowing the NFC South crown was out of reach but a playoff berth was still within reach. The Lions had nothing to play for and they played like it. Lions coach Darrell Bevell missed the game due to COVID, so the Lions played without their coach. They played like it. The Buccaneers faced 3rd and 9 from their own 19 when Tom Brady was sacked. Yet the defense jumped offside. On 3rd and 4, Brady hit Chris Godwin for 8, mike Evans for 33, and Rob Gronkowski for a 33 yard touchdown to quickly put the Buccaneers up 6-0. The extra point was doinked off the upright no good, but it wouldn’t matter on this day. The Lions soon faced 4th and 1 from just shy of midfield. They were going to go for it until a false start meant 4th and 6 and a punt. Making matters worse, Matthew Stafford was injured on their first series and would not return. The Buccaneers took over at their own 20 and made it look easy. Brady went to Godwin for 47 and Evans for a 27 yard touchdown to make it 13-0 Buccaneers.

In the second quarter the Buccaneers put the game away. From their own 49, Brady hit Godwin for 12 and Leonard Fournette for 12 and 13. Fournette ran for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 20-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back at their own 9 and 91 yards came easily. Brady hit Evans for 7, Hudson for 20 and Evans for 22. Vaughn ran for 14, 12 and 9. Brady hit Godwin for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 27-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back again and faced 3rd and 3 at their own 41. Brady hit Evans for 15. On 4th and 4 from the Detroit 38, Bruce Airans kept his foot on the gas and went for it. Brady hit Antonio Brown for 15, Cameron Brate for 16, and Brown for the 12 yard touchdown as the Buccaneer set a franchise record with a 34-0 halftime lead. Brady had 348 yards and 4 touchdowns, and that was only the first half. Brady took the second half off. The third quarter began with the Lions fumbling and Blaine Gabbert throwing a 25 yard touchdown pass to Gronk one play later to make it 40-0 Buccaneers. The Lions returned a punt for a touchdown to avoid the shutout while the Buccaneers added one more touchdown. The fourth quarter was scoreless as the Buccaneers got to 10-5 on the year. 47-7 Buccaneers 

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals was the Saturday afternoon game. The 49ers were out of it and the Cardinals were desperate to stay in it. The 49ers went with 3rd string quarterback CJ Beathard in place of injured backup Nick Mullens. The Cardinals from their own 17 moved to a 3rd and 8 from the San Francisco 9. Kyler Murray threw incomplete. Mike Nugent hit a 27 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cardinals. The 49ers took over at their own 26 and Beathard hit Aiyuk for 15, George Kittle for 24, and Jeff Wilson for a 21 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 49ers. The defenses dug in and a field position game had the Cardinals at their own 41 with 3 minutes left in the half. On 4th and 3 from their own 48 at the 2 minute warning, Kliff Kingsbury went for it. Murray ran for 9. On 3rd and 3 from the Frisco 20 a false start was a killer. Then Murray threw incompletion. Nugent hit from 43 as the Cardinals trailed 7-6 at the half.

Robbie Gould missed a 41 yard field goal in the third quarter, but the 49ers got the ball back at their own 29. Wilson ran for 23 and Beathard hit Kittle for 27 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Arizona 19, Beathard hit McKinnon for just enough and Kyle Juszczyk for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-6 49ers. The Cardinals took over at their own 13 Murray hit Hopkins for 9 with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. On 3rd and 5 from their own 42, Murry threw incomplete. Kliff Kingsbury gambled again in his own territory and Murray ran for 11 yards. A sack of Murray had the Cardinals facing 2nd and 23 from their own 40. Murray went deep to Johnson for a 45 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the San Francisco 8, Murray hit Hopkins for 5. On 3rd and goal at the one, Kenyan Drake got in. The 2 point conversion saw Murray throw incomplete. The 14 play, 87 yard, 7 minute drive had the Cardinals within 14-12 with 12 minutes left in regulation. 

With 9 minutes left in regulation Kingsbury gambled a third time in his own territory on 4th and 2 from his own 35. Murray threw incomplete. The 49ers quickly took advantage. Wilson ran for 34 yards down to the one. Beathard hit Juszczyk for the touchdown. Gould missed the extra point, so the 49ers only led by 8 with 8 1/2 minutes left. The Cardinals after a touchback moved 61 yards in 10 pays. On 4th and 1 from the Frisco 43, Murray gained 30 yards. Yet on 2nd and 11 from the San Francisco 14, Murray went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. The 49ers moved in position for Gould to lock up the win with a 37 yard chip shot. Yet the normally reliable kicker who had already missed a field goal and an extra point also missed this kick. With 1:05 left, the Cardinals had life from their own 27. With 26 seconds left, the Cardinals faced 3rd and 6 from their own 44. Murray threw incomplete twice, and that was that. The Cardinals fell to 8-7 and will need a ton of help to make the playoffs. 20-12 49ers

   

Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders is the Saturday night game. The 9-5 Dolphins took on the 7-7 Raiders. Both teams were alive for the playoffs, but the Raiders barely so. Derek Carr injured his groin last week but was back in the saddle. Hunter Renfrow returned a punt 32 yards weaving through traffic to give the Raiders a short field at the Miami 43. Carr hit Nelson Agholor for 16 and Renfrow for 11. Josh Jacobs banged ahead for 13 and 3. From inside the one, Carr took the quarterback sneak over the top to make it 7-0 Raiders. 

The Dolphins soon faced 3rd and 9 from their own 26. Tua Tagovailoa hit Grant for 13. Gaskin ran for 14 and 8. On 3rd and 7 from the Raiders 44, Tagovailoa hit Grant for only 5. Brian Flores went for it on 4th and 2 from the Raiders 39. Tagovailoa ran for 7 and defensive holding added 5. On 3rd and 1 from the Raiders 18 out of the shotgun, Ahmed got the carry and lost a yard. This time Brian Flores played it safe. Jason Sanders hit the 37 yard field goal to get the Dolphins within 7-3. The Raiders moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 8 at the Miami 33 early in the second quarter. In field goal range, Carr took a killer sack to end the drive. 

The Raiders got it back at their own 38. Jacobs barreled ahead for 15. Carr went to Agholor for 19. Jacobs ran for 10. A sack of Carr had the Raiders facing 3rd and 19 at the Miami 27. Out of the shotgun, Jalen Richard gained 18. Jon Gruden went for it on 4th and 1 from the Miami 9. Davante Booker appeared stopped but on a second effort lunged past the marker. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 5, Carr threw incomplete twice. The 12 play, 57 yard drive had the Raiders settling for a 23 yard Daniel Carlson field goal and a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter. 

After a touchback the Dolphins soon faced 3rd and 5 from their own 46. Tagovailoa hit Gaskin for only 4. On 4th and 1 from midfield, Brian Flores decided to punt. Yet it was a fake punt. Fejedelem took the direct snap and appeared stopped but spun away from tacklers for a 22 yard gain. On 2nd and 1 from the Raiders 19, Gaskin got stopped for a one yard loss as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 2, Ahmed went up the middle and lost another yard. Sanders hit the 39 yard field goal as the Dolphins trailed 10-6. The Raiders took a timeout on defense as they had 1:42 to work with. 

In past games this has backfired against the Raiders. After a touchback, Carr hit Renfrow for 12. Defensive holding added 5. Carr hit Waller for 19 and Renfrow and Waller for a pair of 9 yard gains. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, a draw play gained only one yard and forced the Raiders to use their last timeout. On 3rd and 9 from the Miami 20 with 16 seconds left, Carr threw incomplete. Carlson hit the 38 yard field goal as the Raiders took a 13-6 lead to the locker rooms. 

The Dolphins began the third quarter facing 2nd and 5 from their own 30. Gaskin ran for a 24 yard gain. Tagovailoa hit Grant for gains of 6 and 14. On 2nd and 9 from the Raiders 25, a short pass gained 4 yards and was fumbled, but the Dolphins fell on it. On 3rd and 4 from the Raiders 20, Tagovailoa hit Ford for 8 as an offensive facemask was missed. Tagovailoa hit Gaskin, who shook off two awful attempts at tackling, for a 10 yard touchdown and a 13-13 game. After a touchback, Carr hit Agholor for 13 and Jacobs gained 8. Yet on 2nd and 2 from their own 46, Jacobs got stopped On 3rd and 2, Carr rolled out and threw incomplete. jon Gruden gambled on 4th and 2. Jacobs ran into the teeth of the Miami defense and got stopped cold to give the Dolphins a short field. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the Raiders 45, Tagovailoa was sacked. 

The Raiders got it back at their own 18. Carr went to Agholor for 22, to Edwards for 11, deep to Darren Waller for 33 and to Jason Witten for 10. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 5, Carr under pressure had to check down and hit Renfrow for only 3 yards. On 4th and goal at the 2, this time Jon Gruden was taking no chances. Carlson hit the 20 yarder as the Raiders led 16-13 late in the third quarter.  The Raiders got another sack of Tagiovailo to force a 3 and out. The Raiders faced 2nd and 7 from their own 23. Carr went deep to Waller for 22 yards as the third quarter ended. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Miami 48, Carr’s pass over the middle was batted high in the air. The Raiders were lucky to escape with an incompletion. Yet the Silver and Black were finally plying inspired defense, as a third sack of Tagovailoa ended another Miami drive. 

A 19 yard punt return by Renfrow gave the Raiders a short field at the Miami 45. On 2nd and 8 Carr went for the home run ball, but it was broken up at the last minute. On 3rd and 8 Carr threw incomplete. The Dolphins took over at their own 12 with 10 minutes left in regulation. Tagovailoa was benched and Ryan Fitzpatrick and his magic beard came in. On 3rd and 4 from their own 18, Fitzpatrick went to Ford for 13 and Hollins for 8. On 3rd and 5 from their own 48, Fitzpatrick fired over the middle to Gesicki for 17 and again for 31 down to the 4 yard line as the Dolphins took their first timeout. This was a typical Raiders game. The defense finally played well enough so the offense malfunctioned, allowing for the exhausted defense to break down as it always does. A run went nowhere. Then on 2nd and goal at the 4, a perfect pass into the receiver’s bread basket was dropped. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Fitzpatrick threw high and incomplete. The Dolphins moved 84 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes, but settled for a 22 yard Sanders field goal. The game was tied 16-16 with 4 minutes left. The defense bent but did not break. 

It was up to the offense to deliver rather than give the Dolphins the ball right back and lose the game. After 56 minutes, the Raiders were surviving a slugfest. At no time did they trail. Now it was time to see if they had heart when it mattered. The entire season was on the line. The Raiders after a touchback were immediately called for offense holding. On 1st and 20 from their own 15, Carr went for it all and found Agholor, who juked a couple defenders for an 85 yard touchdown bomb. Al Davis was smiling somewhere in heaven as the Raiders led 22-16 with 3 1/2 minutes to play. Yet in typical Raiders fashion, Carlson missed the extra point. 

After a touchback, Fitzpatrick hit Ford for 7 and the Raiders secondary saw Joyner go down in pain. Fitzpatrick hit Ford again for 9. Fitzpatrick then threw a short pass to Gesicki, who shook off a horrendous attempt at tackling, got to the sideline, and outraced everyone for a 59 yard touchdown. Typical Raiders game. The Dolphins had their first lead all game up 23-22, but there was still 2:55 to play.   

On 2nd and 6 from their own 29, Carr went bombs away again and drew a 49 yard defensive pass interference penalty. Jacobs ran for 7 as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Jacobs gained 2 as the Dolphins took their 2nd timeout with 1:55 left. On 3rd and 1 from the Miami 13, the Dolphins jumped offside to set up 1st and goal a the 8. Jacobs gained 2 as the Dolphins took their final timeout. Jacobs raced up the middle and slid down at the one, purposely refusing to score so the clock would wind down. It was totally unselfish and smart, and if the Raiders lost it would not be his fault. On 3rd and goal from the one, Carr took a knee as the clock ticked down to 22 seconds. Carlson had a chance to redeem himself from 23 yards out. The season was on the line. The snap was not good. The hold was good enough. Carlson snuck it inside the right upright. The Raiders had the 2 point lead with 19 seconds left. 

After a touchback, all the Raiders had to do on defense was hold on for 19 seconds. Fitzpatrick went deep to a wide open receiver. There was nobody within a mile of Hollins. He caught the ball at the sideline for a 34 yard gain. Making matters worse, a defensive facemask added 15 more yards. The Dolphins were already in field goal range. Sanders came in for a 44 yarder to win it. Naturally, the kick was good. The Dolphins at 10-5 are in the playoffs. The Raiders at 7-8 are out after losing 5 of their last 6, the last 2 in gut-wrenching fashion. The Raiders have one more game and 7 months to stew over how badly they screwed up this season. 19 seconds. They could not hold on for 19 seconds. For the 17th time in the lsat 18 years, the Raiders will not have a trip to the playoffs or a winning season. The problem is the same. The Raiders desperately need a defensive coordinator. 26-25 Dolphins

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers — The 10-4 Colts took on a Steelers team that started 11-0 but has since lost 3 straight. The Colts soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 32. Philip rivers hit Pittman for 26. Jonathan Taylor ran for 11. Rivers hit Zach Pascal for 16. Nyheim Hines ran for 11. On 3rd and goal at the 6 with the Steelers expecting a pass, Taylor ran for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Colts. The second quarter began with the Colts facing 1st and 10 at their own 32. Rivers was sacked and fumbled, and Hilton picked it up and ran for 14 yards to give the Steelers 1st and goal at the 4. On 3rd and goal from the one, James Conner got in for a 7-7 game.

The Colts took over at their own 15 Rivers hit Jacob Doyle for 17 and TY Hilton for 25 and 14. Taylor gained 4, 3, and on 3rd and 3 from the Pittsburgh 21, 5. Taylor ran for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Colts. The Colts got it back with a 22 yard punt return with 10 more tacked on for a rare illegal block call on the kicking team rather than the receiving team. The Colts took over at the Pittsburgh 43 and struck quickly. Rivers went to Pascal for a 42 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Colts. The Colts began the third quarter at their own 25. Rivers hit Mo Alie-Cox for 20. Rivers hit Pittman for 8 and Taylor ran for 18. On 3rd and 3 from the Pittsburgh 7, Rivers was sacked. Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 28 yard field goal as the Colt led 24-7. The Steelers were on their way to a fourth straight loss. The Steelers moved from their own 20 to a 1st and goal at the one. A run lost a yard and Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete twice. Needing 3 scores, Mike Tomlin gambled on 4th and goal at the 2 rather than kick a field goal. Big Ben threw incomplete. With 5 minutes left in the third quarter, the Steelers appeared dead.

Yet the Colts could not move the ball and a short punt had the Steelers getting the ball back with a short field at the Indy 39. One play and 7 seconds later Roethlisbger hit Diontae Johnson for the touchdown get the Steelers within 24-14. The Steelers got it back at their own 26. Defensive pass interference added 24 yards to midfield. Roethlisberger hit Washington for 13 Conner and Conner for 10. On the first play of the fourth quarter, defensive pass interference added 21 yards down to the 5. On the next play Roethlisberger hit Eric Ebron for the touchdown to get the Steelers within 24-21. The Steelers got it back at their own 16. Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 8, Ebron for 10 and Washington for 7. Conner ran for 12. On 2nd and 15 just pst midfield, Big Ben hit Conner for 10 and on 3rd and 5 hit Conner for 9 more. Roethlisberger then went to Juju Smith-Schuster for a 25 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, 21 unanswered points had the Steelers up by 4.

The Colts took over at their own 30. From their own 47, Rivers went for it all and was intercepted. The Steelers took over at their own 9 with 6 minutes left. The Steelers ground down the clock. With 2 1/2 minutes left on 3rd and 2 from their own 43, a completion gained only one yard as the Colts took their final timeout with 2 1/2 minutes left. On 4th and 1 from their own 44, a first down would end it. Mike Tomlin decided not to gamble. The Colts took over at their own 15 with 2:18 left and 0 timeouts. At the 2 minute warning, the Colts faced 4th and 5 from their own 31. Rivers was intercepted, but defensive pass interference meant 9 yards. On 3rd and 6 from their own 44, Rivers hit Hilton for 21. With 90 seconds left, on 2nd and 8 from the Pittsburgh 33, Rivers threw 3 straight incompletions. The Colts fell to 10-5 and still have not clinched a playoff spot. If they win next week, they are in. If they lose, they can still get in but would need help. The 12-3 Steelers finally locked up the AFC North. The top seed in the AFC is out of reach. 28-24 Steelers  

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs — The Chiefs had all but locked up the top seed in the AFC. A win over lowly Atlanta would cement this. Cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES!” After a scoreless first quarter, the Chiefs in the second quarter moved from their own 45 to a 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 26. Andy Reid went for it and went to the bag of tricks. Rather than run the ball or have Patrick Mahomes throw it, Darrell williams took the direct snap, pitched it to Sammy Watkins, and had Watkins try to throw it to Mahomes, who went out as a receiver. The ball was intercepted at the Atlanta 2 yard line. 

Matt Ryan hit Smith for 7 and 5 and on 3rd and 2 from his own 23, hit Todd Gurley for 8. On 2nd and 6 from his own 35, Ryan connected with Calvin Ridley for a 54 yard gain. Ryan went to Hayden Hurst for a 5 yard touchdown. The 98 yard, 5 minute drive had the Falcons up 7-0 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Chiefs took over at their own 22. Mahomes hit Leveon Bell for 9, Watkins for 9 and 5, and Travis Kelce for 11. Mahomes ran for 13 and 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Atlanta 22, Mahomes hit Kelce for 2. On 3rd and 1 from the Atlanta 11, Williams gained 7 as the Chiefs took a timeout with 35 seconds left. Mahomes went to Kelce for the touchdown as the game was deadlocked 7-7 at the half. The Chiefs after a touchback to star the third quarter moved 68 yards in 10 plays. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Mahomes was intercepted at the one yard line by Oluokon, who returned it 51 yards to the Chiefs 48. The Falcons did not capitalize.

Late in the third quarter, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 11 from their own 36. Mahomes hit Kelce for 26. On 3rd and 7 from the Atlanta 35 to start the fourth quarter, a completion gained nothing. Andy Reid brought in Harrison Butker for a 53 yard field goal try. Butker was good and the Chiefs led 10-7. The Falcons moved from their own 25 to a 2nd and 4 at the Chiefs 20. Ryan hit Powell for 2 yards, but Powell fumbled and the Chiefs recovered. The Falcons got it back and after an offensive holding penalty faced 1st and 20 from their own 15. Ryan went deep to Ridley for 31. Hill gained 17. On 3rd and 4 from the Chiefs 31, Ryan hit Gage for 9, Hill for 17 and Laquon Treadwell for a 5 yard touchdown. With 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Falcons were winning a shocker up 14-10. 

On 3rd and 10 from their own 25, Mahomes went to Kelce for a big gain. An illegal block against the Chiefs wiped out nearly half of the 36 yard gain, but it was still good for 19 yards and a first down. Mahomes went to Kelce for 16 and Mecole Hardman for 9. With 1:55 left, Mahomes threw a 25 yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson. After a touchback and defensive holding, Ryan hit Gage for 12 and Ridley for 21 and 9. With 54 seconds left on 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 28, Gurley gained 2. With 27 seconds to play, the Falcons had 1st and 5 at the Chiefs 21 with a real shot at the upset of the year. Matty Ice went ice cold with 3 straight incompletions. Yet Younghoe Koo only needed a 39 yard field goal to send the game to overtime. In a season gone wrong for the Falcons, Koo was no good. It was ugly, but the Chiefs at 14-1 locked up home field throughout the AFC playoffs. They can rest their starters in Week 17 if they choose, making Andy Reid a most happy and relieved walrus indeed. 17-14 Chiefs

Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars — The Jaguars won their opener and then lost 13 straight to give them the inside track at the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Bears began 5-1, lost 6 straight, and then won 2 in a row to get to 7-7 and actually have a shot at the playoffs. The Jaguars began at their own 21 and moved 71 yards in 12 plays and 7 minutes. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the Chicago 8, Mike Glennon threw incomplete. Aldrick Rosas hit the 26 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jaguars. 

The Bears soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Mitchell Trubisky went to Allen Robinson for just enough. Trubisky went back to Robinson for 21. Montgomery ran for 26. Trubisky went to Jimmy Graham for 12 and again for the 5 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive made it 7-3 Bears. The Bears got it back at their own 35. Trubisky went to Graham for 30. On 3rd and 9 from the Jags 34, Trubisky went to Mooney for 12. Defensive pass interference meant 21 more yards and 1st and goal at the one to start the second quarter. A run lost 3 yards and on 3rd and goal at the 2, Tribusly threw incomplete. Cairo Santos hit the 20 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Bears.

The Jaguars got it back at their own 30. Ogunbowale had gains of 8 and 2. Glennon hit Kenneth Cole for 14, Conley for 10, Cole for 7, and DJ Chark for a 20 yard touchdown. Midway through the second quarter, the game was tied 10-10. The Bears took over at their own 19 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. They moved 68 yards in 11 plays. With 35 seconds left in the half, on 1st and 10 from the Jags 13, Trubisky went to the end zone and was intercepted for a touchback. Had Doug Marrone just gone to the locker room, his Jaguars would have been fired up and smelling upset. Yet in a season gone wrong, the Jaguars unraveled. 

On 2nd and 4 from their own 26, Glennon was intercepted by Smith, setting up the Bears at the Jacksonville 32 with 17 seconds left. Santos hit from 40 to put the Bears up 13-10 at the break. The Bears began the third quarter at their own 23. Trubisky hit Robinson for 12 and Montgomery for 24. On 3rd and 5 from the Jacksonville 36, Trubisky threw incomplete. Matt Nagy went for it on 4th and 5 rather than try a 54 yard field goal. Trubisky hit  Robinson for 8 and Miller for 8 more. On 3rd and 3 from the Jacksonville 21, Trubisky hit Robinson for 7. Trubisky ran for a 6 yard touchdown. The 11 play, 77 yard, 6 minute drive put the Bears up 20-10. The Jaguars committed unnecessary roughness on a punt to set the Bears up at their own 46. Montgomery ran for 12. On 3rd and 2 from the Jags 34, Trubisky hit Robinson for 13. Montgomery did the rest, running for 13, 3, 12, and the 6 yard touchdown to make it 27-10 Bears. 

Two plays after a touchback, Glennon was intercepted as the Bears took over at the Jags 25. Two plays later Trubisky hit Graham for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 34-10 Bears. Another unnecessary roughness penalty against the Jaguars on a punt gave the Bears another short field at the Jags 48. On 4th and 1 from the Jags 29, Matt Nagy wanted the exclamation point. Montgomery gained 3 and then 23. Artavis Pierce ran for the 3 yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter as 31 unanswered points broke open a tie game and made it 41-10 Bears. The Jaguars got a garbage touchdown to complete the scoring. The 1-14 Jaguars secured the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The 8-7 Bears control their own destiny. If they win next week, they are in the playoffs. It will be a tough one. They will be playing Green Bay, who will not be resting their starters because they need a win to lock up home field throughout. 41-17 Bears

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans — Sometimes a pair of really bad teams can come together and play a great game. This actually was that game. Bengals third string quarterback Ryan Finley was back on the bench as backup Brandon Allen returned from injury. The Bengals took over at their own 29. Allen hit Giovanni Bernard for 28 and Erickson for 8. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 34, Perine gained 3 and caught a pass from Allen for 15. On 3rd and 2 from the Houston 8, Allen hit Drew Sample for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Bengals. The Bengals got it back and moved from their 17 to a 4th and 2 at the Houston 43. Zac Taylor went for it and Allen threw incomplete. Deshaun Watson went to Brandon Cooks for a 50 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 3, Watson threw incomplete. Kaimi Fairbairn hit the 21 yard field goal to get the Texans within 7-3. 

The Bengals after a touchback moved 44 yards in 12 plays and over 6 minutes. Yet on 2nd and 5 from the Houston 31, Allen threw incomplete twice. Austin Seibert had a 49 yard field goal try to extend the lead, but the kick was no good. The Bengals got it back at their own 9 and moved 74 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Houston 17, Allen threw incomplete. This time from 35 yards out, Seibert was good to make it 10-3 Bengals. After a touchback, Watson hit Keke Coutee for 17 and Cooks for 7. On 3rd and 3 just shy of midfield, Watson went to Cooks for 26 and again for the 25 yard touchdown just past the 2 minute warning. The game was deadlocked 10-10 at the half, but a defensive first half gave away to a shootout in the second half.

After a touchback to start the third quarter, Bernard caught a pass from Allen for 6 and ran for 11. Allen hit AJ Green for 12. Perine then raced for a 46 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Bengals. The Texans faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Watson gained 5. Johnson gained 5 and then ran for a 38 yard gain. Watson hit Akins for 14. Johnson ran for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 17-17. The Bengals soon faced 3rd and 11 from their own 24. Allen went to AJ Green for 14, deep to Erickson for 42, and to Tee Higgins for a 20 yard touchdown and a 24-17 Bengals lead. After a touchback Watson hit Coutee for 13. Johnson broke free for a 48 yard gain. On 3rd and 13 from the Cincy 17, Watson ran and got enough. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Watson hit Johnson for the touchdown. Each team had two 75 yard touchdown drives in the third quarter as a 10-10 game became a 24-24 game after three quarters.

The Bengals took over at their own 10. Allen hit Perine for 14 and Perine ran for 7 more. Allen went to Higgins for 22 to start the fourth quarter. On 4th and 5 from the Houston 42, Zac Taylor went for it. The Texans jumped offside, but it was still 4th and 1. Taylor went for it again and Allen hit Erickson for 4. On 3rd and 2 from the Houston 26, Perine only gained one. Zac Taylor gambled on 4th and 1 from the 25 and Allen got the yard, but an illegal formation nullified the play. Seibert hit a 48 yard field goal as the Bengals led 27-24 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Texans took over at their own 22. After a defensive holding penalty, Johnson gained 10. Watson went to Brown for 29. Unnecessary roughness on the offense reduced it to a 14 yard gain, but still enough for a first down. Watson then ran for 14 and hit Coutee for 13. Watson hit Darren Fells for a 22 yard touchdown as the Texans reclaimed the lead 31-27 with 6:15 to play. The Texans had 2nd and 8 from their own 27. Allen hit Higgins for 11. Bernard gained 9, 3 and 11. Allen hit Erickson for 20. Perine ran for 7, caught a pass for 4, and ran for the 5 yard touchdown. At the 2 minute warning, the Bengals had the 34-31 lead. 

After a touchback, Watson hit Akins for 15. Yet Watson was then sacked and fumbled. The Bengals recovered at the Houston 38 with 1:35 to play and a chance to close out the game. The Texans had all 3 timeouts and took them on defense. With 1:09 left and the Texans out of timeouts, The Bengals faced 3rd and 6 at the Houston 22. A first down would ice it. Zac Taylor played it safe and Allen ran for 4. The Bengals rook the clock down. Seibert hit a 36 yard field goal. Only 18 seconds remained and the Bengals were up by 6. The Texans took over at their own 18 with 14 seconds left. Watson hit Cooks for 12, leaving 9 seconds. Yet 70 yards was too far away for a Hail Mary. The Hook and laterals actually gained 30 yards to the Cincy 40, but nothing more. Both teams have lost 10 games, but they put on an exciting battle on this Sunday. The Bengals have won 2 straight, giving them something to build on. 37-31 Bengals. 

New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens — The Giants were 5-9 and the Ravens 9-5, but both teams were in the playoff race while not having clinched anything. The Ravens dominated from the start, taking over at their own 18. Lamar Jackson went to Willie Snead for 13, Boykin for 13 and Marquise Brown for 9. On 3rd and 2 from the Giants 27, Duvernay gained 7. Jackson gained 8 and threw a 6 yard touchdown to Brown. The 13 play, 82 yard drive took more than 8 minutes off the clock and made it 7-0 Ravens. The Ravens got it back at their own 35 and Jackson ran for gains of 18 and 6. On 3rd and 1 from the Giants 38, Edwards gained 2. On 3rd and 4 from the Giants 30, Jackson hit Snead for 11. JK Dobbins ran for 17. and then the 2 yard touchdown. The Ravens led 14-0 after the first quarter. There were still three quarters left, but this game was basically over. In the second quarter the Ravens had another 13 play, 60 yard drive that again took over 8 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Jackson threw incomplete. Justin Tucker hit from 20 to make it 17-0 Ravens with 5 minutes left in the half. The rest of the game was pointless.

Graham Gano managed a 31 yard field goal with one minute left in the half to get the Giants on the board, but that was enough time for the Ravens to move 65 yards in 10 plays. On 2nd and goal from the 10 with 7 seconds left, Jackson threw incomplete. Tucker hit from 28 as the Ravens led 20-3 at the intermission. The Giants in the third quarter from their own 10 moved 66 yards in 13 plays and 7 minutes. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Baltimore 19, a short pass lost 5 yards. Then Daniel Jones was sacked. Gano hit another field goal from 42 to get the Giants within 20-6 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. A 23 yard kickoff return had the Ravens at their own 41. Jackson went to Edwards for 10. Dobbins ran for 25. On 3rd and 1 from the Giants 14, Edwards ran for 6. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jackson hit Dez Bryant for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 27-6 Ravens. The Giants managed a 15 play, 76 yard, 6 minute drive for a touchdown, but ball control is not good when down by 21 points. The Giants got it back twice more and both times turned it over on downs. The 10-5 Ravens cannot win their division but are in the playoffs with a win next week. If they lose, they will need help to get in. The 5-10 Giants can actually win the NFC Least if they win next week and Washington loses. They would be the worst division winner in NFL history, but they would still host a playoff game. 27-13 Ravens

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets — The Jets finally got a win last week after 13 losses. The 10-4 Browns still had an outside shot at the AFC North but were not in the playoffs yet. The Brows were missing their wide receivers due to COVID. Yet surely they could run over the Jets. Again, cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’s why they PLAY the  GAMES!” A short 38 yard punt and a 10 yard return had the Browns taking over at their own 40. Baker Mayfield went deep to Austin Hooper for a 28 yard gain. Yet at the Jets 21, the drive died. Cody Parkey hit a 44 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Browns. 

Late in the first quarter the Jets took over at their own 34. Sam Darnold hit Jermaine Crowder for a pair of 9 yard gains. Adam Gase then went to the bag of tricks. Rather than Mayfield, it was Crowder throwing the halfback option pass to Braxton Berrios for a 43 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Jets. After a touchback, Mayfield hit Bryant for 13 as the Browns began the second quarter at their own 38. Mayfield was then sacked and fumbled. The Jets recovered at the Cleveland 30. Crowder gained 14 and Darnold hit Chris Herndon for an 11 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked but the Jets led 13-3. After a touchback to s tart the third quarter, the Jets soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 41. Darnold hit Crowder for 25. On 3rd and 6 from the Cleveland 30, Darnold went to Crowder for the touchdown. For the second straight week, the Jets led 20-3 in the third quarter. For the second straight week, the finish would be a close one. 

The Jets moved from their own 37 to a 4th and 7 at the Cleveland 32. Ficken came in for a 50 yard field goal try to extend the lead. The kick was blocked and the Browns took over at their own 40. Mayfield went to Bradley for 7, Nick Chubb for 15, Bradley for 22 and Karim Hunt for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Jets 7, Mayfield gained 4. On 2nd and goal from the 3, Mayfield threw incomplete but the defense had too many men on the field. Chubb ran for a one yard touchdown to get the Browns within 20-10. The Browns got it back at their own 17. Mayfield hit Njoku for 11 and Bradley for 8 and 17. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Chubb ran for 16. On 3rd and 10 from the Jets 26, Mayfield threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant an 11 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Jets 6, Mayfield gained 2. Hunt ran for the 4 yard touchdown. Then came the King of doinks as Parkey doinked yet another kick off the upright no good. Someone needs to check who holds the doink record, because Parkey has potential. Meanwhile, the Browns were within 20-16 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Jets stiffened after that. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Browns faced 3rd and 6 from their own 15. Mayfield was sacked and fumbled. The Jets took over at the Cleveland 17 with a chance to put the game away. Yet on 3rd and 4, Darnold threw incomplete. Ficken hit the 34 yard field goal to put the Jets up by 7 with 3 minutes left. Yet Ficken hit the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to set up the Browns at their own 40. Mayfield hit Hunt for 24 and Hooper for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 28, Hunt gained 3. On 3rd and 10 from the Jets 25, Mayfield hit Hooper for 9 with 90 seconds to play. It came down to 4th and 1 from the Jets 16. Mayfield took the sneak, fumbled the ball for the third time, and saw hit teammate recover short of the sticks. Darnold took 3 knees as the Jets won 2 straight over winning teams. The Jets cannot win the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Browns lost out on the AFC North. With a win next week, the 10-5 Browns are in the playoffs. If they lose, they would need help to make it in. 23-16 Jets 

Carolina Panthers at Washington Lumps of Coal — The Panthers are done while the Washington Lumps of Coal at 6-8 were actually one game up in the NFC Least. Riverboat Ron Rivera was hoping for a win against his former team. Rivera stripped Dwayne Haskins of his captaincy due to his being caught in a strip club in violation of COVID rules. With Alex Smith injured, Rivera let Haskins start. Late in the first quarter the Panthers punted and the Washington return man got blasted in a perfectly timed hit that caused a fumble. Brandon Zylstra fell on it in the end zone for a touchdown and a 6-0 Panthers lead. The extra point was no good. The Panthers got it back and moved 80 yards in 10 plays and 6 minutes. Curtis Samuel ran for a 45 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the one, Mike Davis got stopped. Matt Rhule went for it. On 4th and goal at the one, Davis got in to make it 13-0 Panthers. After a touchback, the No-Names faced 1st and 10 at their own 44. Haskins was intercepted and the Panthers took over at their own 45. On 3rd and 16 from their own 39, Teddy Bridgewater went to Samuel for 44. On 3rd and 7 from the Washington 14, Bridgewater went to Robby Anderson for the touchdown to make it 20-0 Panthers with 3 minutes left in the half.

After a touchback, the Non-Redskins moved to a 1st and 10 at the Carolina 29 at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 11, Haskins threw incomplete. Dustin Hopkins hit a 48 yard field goal to get the No-Names on the board. The Panthers began the third quarter at their own 29 and moved 45 yards in 13 plays, taking 8 minutes off the clock. Yet on 2nd and 12 from the Washington 19, Bridgwater was sacked and fumbled. The No-Names recovered and faced 3rd and 2 from their own 34. Haskins hit Sims for a 50 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Carolina 8, Haskins threw incomplete. Needing 3 scores, Ron Rivers was not in a Riverboat gambler mood. Hopkins hit the 26 yard field goal to get the Non-Redskins within 20-6 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. 

In the fourth quarter the No-Names moved from their own 13 to a 4th and 2 at the Carolina 36 with 10 1/2 minutes left. Haskins was sacked. The No-Names got it back at their own 8. Haskins was benched and Heinecke came in. Heinecke led a staggering 16 play, 70 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. On 4th and 8 from the Carolina 12, Heinecke hit Logan Thomas for the touchdown. Yet offensive holding nullified the score. On 4th and 18 with 3 1/2 minutes left, Heinecke threw incomplete. Washington got it back again at their own 9 with 3 minutes left. Heinecke quickly moved them 91 yards and hit JD McKissic for a 29 yard touchdown to get the No-Names within 7 with 1:50 left. The onside kick failed and Bridgewater took 3 knees. Despite being 6-9, Washington still leads the NFC Least by one game. If they win next week against Philadelphia, they win the division with a losing record and would host a playoff game. If they lose, they are almost certainly out. They would still get in if the Giants game against Dallas ends in a tie. Barring that, a Washington loss means whoever wins the Dallas game against the Giants wins the division and Washington is out. That would truly give them Lumps of Coal. 20-13 Panthers

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers — Both teams are eliminated from the playoffs. The Chargers almost always play close games, including this one. Adderly returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to set up the Chargers at the Denver 39. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the Denver 19, Justin Herbert threw incomplete. Mike Badgley hit the 37 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Chargers. The Broncos took over at their own 13 and move 71 yards in 14 plays and nearly 8 minutes. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 16, Drew Lock went to the end zone and was intercepted in the end zone. A 15 yard punt return gave the Broncos the ball back at their own 45. Yet Brandon McManus missed a 37 yard field goal early in the second quarter. 

The Chargers faced 3rd and 2 from their own 35. Herbert went to Williams for 25 and 10 and to Johnson for 10. On 3rd and 3 from the Denver 9, Herbert went to Austin Ekeler for the touchdown to make it 10-0 Chargers. The Chargers got it back at their own 35. On 3rd and 8 from their own 47, Herbert hit Guyton for 29. An illegal use of hands call on the offense on the next play meant 1st and 25 and killed the drive. Badgley hit a 43 yard field goal as the Chargers took a 13-0 lead to the locker rooms.

A 21 yard punt return in the third quarter had the Broncos taking over at their own 47. Yet on 2nd and 5 from the Chargers 12, Lock was tackled for no gain and then threw incomplete. McManus hit from 30 as the Broncos were on the board with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. After a touchback, the Chargers moved 68 yards in 11 plays and nearly 5 1/2 minutes. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 2 to start the fourth quarter, Herbert threw incomplete. Anthony Lynn played it safe with the lead. Badgley hit the 25 yard field goal to put the Chargers up 16-3. 

The Broncos moved from their own 21 to a 2nd and 7 at the Chargers 31. Lock threw incomplete twice. With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Vic Fangio opted for the field goal. McManus hit from 50 to get the Broncos within 16-6. The Denver defense held on 3rd and 1 and the Broncos got it back and soon faced 3rd and 5 from their own 33. Lock hit Jerry Jeudy for 10. On 4th and 7 from their own 46 and down to their last gasp, Lock hit Patrick for 27 and Hamilton for 15 down to the one. Lock got in to get the Broncos within 16-13 with 6 1/2 minutes left. The Broncos got it back in excellent field position at their own 42. Lock went to Fant for 19. Yet on 3rd and 10 from the Chargers 37, a short completion gained only 4 yards. McManus came in for a 52 yard field goal try to tie the game. It was good and another Chargers meltdown meant a 16-16 game.

Yet after a touchback, the Chargers still had 2:42 to play and all 3 timeouts. Ekeler gained 11. Herbert went to Guyton for 23. Ekeler ran for 23 more. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 13, Herbert was sacked. With 45 seconds left, Badgley came in for a 37 yard field goal try to give the Chargers the lead. For the 4th time on the day, Badgley was good. After a touchback and 3 incompletions, it came down to 4th and 10 for the Broncos. Lock hit Hamilton for 25 to midfield and spiked the ball to stop the clock with one second left. Lock threw the Hail Mary, and it was intercepted at the one yard line. 19-16 Chargers 

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys — Both teams came in with 9 losses but were still alive for the division crown in the horrendous NFC Least. The loser of this game would be out. Early on it was all Eagles. After a touchback and defensive holding, Miles Sanders ran for 7, 5 and 3, with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 15. Jalen Hurts ran for 11, 12 and 5. On 3rd and 3 from the Dallas 10, Sanders gained 6. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Sanders ran for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Eagles. The Cowboys after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 5 at the Philadelphia 8. Yet a sack of Red Rifle Andy Dalton killed the drive. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein hit the 35 yard field goal to get the Cowboys on the board. Yet 20 seconds later the Eagles were on the board again. Hurts went bombs away to DeSean Jackson, who out jumped the defender and outraced everyone for an 81 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Eagles. After the first quarter, the game drastically changed.

The Cowboys late in the first quarter faced 3rd and 9 from their own 38. Dalton went to Michael Gallup for 14. On 3rd and 4 from the Philly 42, Tony Pollard got just enough as the first quarter ended. Dalton began the second quarter by hitting Ezekiel Elliott for 9 and 7 and Gallup for a 21 yard touchdown to get the Cowboys within 14-10. The Cowboys got it back at their own 23. From their 36, Dalton connected with Gallup for a 55 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and goal at the one, Dalton lost a yard. Mike McCarthy took no chances. Zuerlein hit the 20 yard field goal to get the Cowboys within 14-13. The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 26. Hurts went to Ward for 17 and ran for 8 himself. Hurts hit Dallas Goedert for 23. On 3rd and 4 from the Dallas 20, Hurts threw incomplete. Jake Elliott hit the 38 yard field goal just before the 2 minute warning. The Eagles led 17-13, but then came the avalanche.

On 3rd and 4 from their own 31, Dalton hit Gallup for 5 and Pollard for 8. On 3rd and 2 from their own 44, Dalton hit Schultz for 16. On 3rd and 3 from the Philly 33, Dalton hit Lamb for 7, Gallup for 19, and Gallup again for a 7 yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the half. The Cowboys only led 20-17, but it was a back-breaker. The second half was all Dallas. After a touchback to start the second half, Dalton hit Amari Cooper for 11. On 3rd and 3 from their own 48, Dalton went to CeeDee Lamb for a 52 yard touchdown to make it 27-17 Cowboys. The Cowboys got it back and faced 2nd and 5 from their own 22. Dalton connected with Cooper for a 69 yard touchdown. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Dalton threw incomplete. Zuerlein hit from 21 to make it 30-17 Cowboys. The Eagles had 3 turnovers in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys capped an 87 yard drive with Lamb running for a 19 yard touchdown. A 34-3 difference including 24 straight points gave the Cowboys their 3rd straight win after a 3-9 start. If they beat the Giants next week and Washington loses, the Cowboys win the division and are in the playoffs. If the Cowboys lose, they are out. The Eagles are out. 37-17 Cowboys

Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks — The 9-5 Rams suffered a shocking home loss to the previously winless Jets to fall one game back of the 10-4 Seahawks. This showdown was for the NFC West crown. A Seahawks win, and they clinch, A Rams win would still require them to win next week. The first half was a defensive slog. Matt Gay hit a 44 yard first quarter field goal for the Rams. In the second quarter Jason Myers answers from 45 for a 3-3 game. Gay hit from 51 and Myers answered from 49 as the teams went to the half deadlocked 6-6.

The Seahawks began the third quarter facing 3rd and 8 from their own 32. Russell Wilson went deep to Moore for a 45 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from the Rams 22, Wilson went to Hyde for 18. Wilson ran for the 4 yard touchdown as the Seahawks led 13-6. The Rams moved from their own 30 and moved 69 yards in 12 plays and nearly 7 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and goal at the one. Jared Goff got stopped. Sean McVay went for it and on 4th and goal at the one, Malcolm Brown got stopped cold by Pete Carroll’s defense. The Rams got it back at the Seattle 44 and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Seattle 16 early in the fourth quarter. Goff was sacked to kill the drive. Gay hit from 33 but the Rams trailed 13-9.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Seahawks took over at their own 20. Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for 11. Chris Carson ran for 15. Wilson hit Lockett again for 24. On 3rd and 7 from the Rams 27, Wilson hit DK Metcalf for 8. The Rams defense desperately needed to hold the Seahawks to a field goal. On 3rd and 4 from the Rams 13, Wilson hit Jacob Hollister for the clinching touchdown with 3 minutes left. The 9-6 Rams have lost 2 straight. If they win their regular season finale, they make the playoffs. They can still lose and get in, but if the Rams lose and Chicago and Arizona both win, the Rams are out. The 11-4 Seahawks clinched the NFC West. Right now they are the 3 seed. If they win their finale and New Orleans loses, the Seahawks move up to the 2 seed. If the Seahawks win and New Orleans and Green Bay both lose, the Seahawks would be the top seed in the NFC with home field throughout the playoffs and a first round bye. 20-9 Seahawks  

Tennessee Titans at Green Bay Packers was the Sunday night game. The 10-4 Titans came in tied for the AFC South lead and they held the tie-breaker. However, they had not clinched a playoff spot. The 11-3 Packers clinched the NFC North and had a one game lead in the race for home field throughout the playoffs. With snow coming down, the Packers jumped all over the Titans from the start. Stephen Gostkowski kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds to set up the Packers at their own 40. There was mild amusement as the officials had trouble finding the 40 amidst the snow. Aaron Rodgers hit Davante Adams for 7 and 8. Aaron Jones ran for 12. Rodgers hit Dafney for 13. Rodgers hit Lazard for 7 and Adams for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 6-0 Packers. The extra point was no good. 

The Packers got it back and soon faced 2nd and 9 from their own 21. Rodgers ran for 14. On 3rd and 10 from their own 35, Rodgers hit Dillon for nothing, but defensive illegal use of hands meant 5 yards and a new set of downs. From the Titans 47, Rodgers hit Robert Tonyan for 17. The second quarter began with the Packers facing 3rd and 1 from the Titans 21. Rodgers went to Equanimeous St. Brown for the touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Packers led 12-0. Ryan Tannehill was soon intercepted and the Packers took over at the Tennessee 34. Dillon ran for 14. On 3rd and 3 from the Titans 13, Dillon ran for 6. Rodgers hit Adams for the 7 yard touchdown to make it 19-0 Packers.

The Titans punted on 4th and 27 from their own 14 and the Packers got it back at their own 45. They moved to a 2nd and 5 at the Titans 14 and were about to blow the game open. A run lost 3 yards and Rodgers threw incomplete. Mason Crosby came in for a 35 yard field goal. It was blocked and returned 66 yards to the Green Bay 20. Yet a horrendous defensive offside call nullified the entire play and gave the Packers another shot on 4th and 3. This time Matt LaFleur went for it. Rodgers was sacked for a 17 yard loss. The Titans faced 3rd and 4 from their own 35. Tannehill hit AJ Brown for 10 and 12. Derrick Henry gained 10. On 2nd and 12 from the Packers 32, Tannehill hit Brown for 12, Jonnu Smith for 8, and Smith again for the 12 yard touchdown just before the half as the Titans were within 19-7. The Titans struck quickly in the third quarter from their own 34. Tannehill hit Brown for 9. On 3rd and 1 from their own 45, Tannehill faked a handoff to Henry and raced untouched up the middle for a 55 yard touchdown. The Titans were within 19-14 with plenty of time left.

Yet on the very next play from the Packers 34, the door was slammed shut. Jones tried to go up the middle, got stopped, bounced to the outside, and raced down the sideline for a 59 yard gain. Replay showed Jones may have stepped out of bounds, but officials never saw it. Mike Vrabel never saw it so he did not challenge the play. 2 plays later Rodgers hit Adams for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 26-14 Packers. The Packers got it back at their own 26. Rodgers hit Adams for 11. Dillon ran for 8 and 6. Rodgers hit Dillon for 7 and Adams for 8. On 3rd and 1 from the Titans 30, Jones got stopped. Matt LaFleur gambled on 4th and 1 and Dillon got the first down and the 30 yard touchdown to make it 33-14 Packers. In the fourth quarter the Packers chewed up 6 minutes with a 91 yard touchdown drive. Dillon ran for a 7 yard touchdown to complete the blowout. The 10-5 Titans still win the AFC South with a win next week or a loss by Indianapolis. If the Titans lose and Indianapolis wins, the Titans could miss the playoffs depending on other results. The 12-3 Packers clinch the top NFC seed with a win next week. They can lose and still get the top seed only if New Orleans and Seattle both lose.  

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots is the Monday night game. The 11-3 Bills have already clinched the AFC East. The top seed was out of reach, so this was just about whether they would be the two, three or four seed. The 6-8 Patriots are done for the year. The Patriots started out strong, although they settled for a 45 yard Nick Folk field goal to lead 3-0. The Bills moved from their own 47 to a 3rd and 2 at the Patriots 3. Singletary lost a yard. Tyler Bass hit a 22 yard field goal for a 3-3 game. 

The Bills soon faced  4th and 5 from their own 35. Bill Belichick went for a punt block, leaving a wide open man on the edge. Sean McDermott called a fake punt and Johnson hit the open Neal for 13. On 4th and 1 from the Patriots 43, this time McDermott went for it. Josh Allen ran for a 22 yard gain. Moss gained 11. On 1st and goal at the 10, an interception of Allen was nullified by the defense jumping offside. Moss ran for a 5 yard touchdown to start the second quarter as the 12 play, 70 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive made it 10-3 Bills. The Patriots got it back at their own 10. Runs and short passes had the Patriots facing 3rd and 2 from their own 39. Sony michel ran for 21 and JJ Taylor added 28 and 3. Cam Newton appeared sacked when he somehow broke free, joked out defenders, and banged in for a 9 yard touchdown. It was a brief flash of 2015 Newton. The extra point was no good but the Patriots were within 10-9. 

After that the Bills took over. After a touchback, Allen went to Knox for 24, Cole Beasley for 6 and Knox for 12. On 3rd and 7 from the Patriots 28, Allen ran for 11. Allen hit McKenzie for 13 and Smith for a 4 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive made it 17-9 Bills. The Bills got it back at their own 33 and struck quickly. Allen went to Stefan Diggs for 17 and again for a 50 yard touchdown to make it 24-9 Bills. In the third quarter after a touchback, Allen went to Knox for 15, Diggs for 11 and Beasley for 7. On 3rd and 3 from the Patriots 42, Singletary gained 4. Allen hit Davis for 10 and Diggs for 10 and then again for the 18 yard touchdown to make it 31-9 Bills. The Bills made it a humiliation with a 10 play, 95 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive. Early in the fourth quarter Allen’s fourth touchdown pass went to Diggs for 8 yards. The Bills led 38-9, and Allen’s backup Matt Barkley played most of the fourth quarter. Jarrett Stidham played mop-up for Newton. The 6-9 Patriots had their streak of 19 straight non-losing seasons snapped, as did coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots were swept by a division opponent for the first time in 20 seasons. The 12-3 Bills are a legitimate contender. 38-9 Bills 

NFL 2020 Week 16 Prequel

Friday, December 25th, 2020

NFL 2020 Week 16 Preview, Bettor’s Guide, and team Christmas presents

NFL 2020 Week 15 Recap

Monday, December 21st, 2020

NFL 2020 Week 15 Recap

Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders was the Thursday night game. The Raiders at 7-6 were technically alive, but they needed a miracle bomb to beat the winless Jets and a dropped pass in the end zone to survive the Chargers earlier in the year. The Raiders finally fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, elevating Rod Marinelli. Marinelli would have to scheme on a short week and without several players out with COVID. Jonathan Abram was one of several men on the secondary who were out. On the offense, Henry Ruggs was out due to COVID rules. So was offensive coordinator Greg Olsen. A defense unable to stop anyone and an offense that bogs down in the red zone meant the Raiders could get blown out by the 4-9 Chargers.

The Raiders began with 3rd and 3 at their own 32. Carr threw in the flat to…nobody…as the Raiders went 3 and out. The Chargers took over at their own 22 and Justin Herbert torched the pathetic Raiders secondary. Herbert hit Austin Ekeler for 8. On 3rd and 11 from his own 32, Herbert hit Hunter Henry for 14. and Johnson for 18. On 3rd and 6 from the Raiders 29, Herbert hit Keenan Allen for 17 and Henry for a 10 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 78 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Chargers up 7-0.

After a touchback, the Raiders offense showed some promise. Josh Jacobs caught a pass from Derek Carr for 17 yards and then ran for 20 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Chargers 35, Carr went deep to Nelson Agholor for 30 yards. On 2nd and goal at the 2, Jacobs got stopped. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Carr rolled out and then all of a sudden began hobbling. He managed to hobble out of bounds for a 3 yard loss, but he was in tremendous pain. Without being touched, he had injured his groin. For the Raider Nation, it was a death blow. Carr was out for the rest of the game and perhaps the remainder of the season. Daniel Carlson hit the 23 yard field goal, but the Raiders trailed 7-3. 

The Chargers got it back at their own 26 and moved to a 3rd and 4 just shy of midfield early in the second quarter. Herbert threw a perfect pass to Guyton, who just dropped it. It was Herbert’s first incompletion on the night. The Raiders took over at their own 14 and Marcus Mariota came in for Carr. Mariota looked good early, hitting Foster Moreau for 22 and Darren Waller for 13. Mariota out of the shotgun then ran for 11 yards. Mariota went deep to Waller for a 35 yard touchdown. The Raiders led 10-7. If their awful defense could give their offense the slightest amount of help, the Raiders would have a chance.

After a touchback, Kalen Ballage ran for 9 and 2. Herbert hit Guyton for 12 and Henry for 15. On 3rd and 5 from the Raiders 32, Herbert hit Henry for 7. On 3rd and 5 from the Raiders 20, Herbert hit Guyton for 11. At the 2 minute warning, it came down to 3rd and goal at the 4. Herbert threw incomplete. Mike Badgley hit the 22 yarder for a 10-10 deadlock. The 14 play, 71 yard drive ate up 7 1/2 minutes. Despite being totally outplayed, the Raiders were still in it. If they could just get to the half without doing something stupid…that was too much to ask.

After a touchback out of the shotgun, a run lost 5 yards. On 3rd and 9, a completion gained only 4 yards. Then punter AJ Cole shanked a punt for only 19 yards. With one minute left in the half, the Chargers were given gift field position just past midfield. With 30 seconds left, the Chargers faced 3rd and 12. It didn’t matter. Herbert went deep to hill for 25 and deep again to Johnson for a 26 yard touchdown. The Chargers led 17-10, and there was nothing that suggested the Raiders could come back.

The Chargers began the second half at their own 26. Herbert threw incomplete but defensive pass interference on AND a facemask on…who else? Travon Mullen…gave the Chargers 28 free yards. Mullen can always be counted on to get called for a penalty, but two on the same play is ridiculous even for him. On 3rd and 1 from the Raiders 38, Ballage got the ball and went up the middle, but this time the defense was ready as Ballage got hit for a 4 yard loss. Given that the Raiders have no pass defense, it was a wonder Anthony Lynn even bothered to call any running plays. Renfrow returned the punt 16 yards to the Raiders 24 before getting belted and exiting the game injured. 

Mariota took a designed run 26 yards to midfield. On 3rd and 10, Mariota connected with Waller for a 25 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 16, Jacobs lost a yard. Jon Gruden gambled on 4th and 2. Mariota rolled out and was about to be tackled short of the sticks. At the last moment he lunged the ball forward and got just barely enough for the first down. Two plays later defensive pass interference in the end zone meant 1st and goal at the one. Jacobs summoned his inner Marcus Allen and leapt over the top for the touchdown. The 10 play, 76 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the game tied 17-17 midway through the third quarter. 

After a touchback, Herbert continued to torch Mullen, hitting Guyton for 15. Jon Gruden successfully challenged another completion. Although he won the challenge, it was only a 2 yard gain anyway. It didn’t matter. On the next play Herbert went to Mike Williams for 14. Ekeler ran for 5 and Kelly added 5 more. On 1st and 10 from the Raiders 36, Herbert went for the bomb and Guyton beat Mullen again. Yet at the last moment, what seemed like a sure touchdown wasn’t as Mullen pried it away incomplete. Again, it didn’t matter. On 3rd and 5, Herbert found a wide open Henry over the middle for 19 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Raiders 11, nobody expected the defense to hold. Herbert went to the end zone incomplete, but naturally there was defensive pass interference. Does anyone want to guess who drew the foul? That’s right. Mullen. The Chargers had 1st and goal at the one with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Raiders burned a timeout on defense so they could talk about how to give up a touchdown. Ballage ran it in to cap the 12 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive for the 24-17 Chargers lead.

After a touchback, Mariota hit Waller for 10. On 3rd and 2 from their own 43, Jacobs got stopped cold. Knowing his defense could not stop anyone, Jon Gruden had to go for it on 4th and 2 in his own territory as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Mariota rifled a quick pass to Agholor for a 5 yard gain. Mariota went deep and had a wide open Agolor, but the throw was off the mark incomplete. Agholor got blasted in the ribs on the play. On 3rd and 7 from midfield, Mariota raced for the sideline and gained 8. A 10 yard gain by Jacobs was wiped out by offensive holding. On 2nd and 13, Mariota hit Jacobs for 15. On 2nd and 13, Mariota fired over the middle to Waller for a 14 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 10, Jacobs got stopped inches short. 

Midway through the fourth quarter, Jon Gruden again had to go for it. Rather than give it to Jacobs on 4th and inches, Mariota went for the play action pass, pedaled backward, and off his back foot lobbed a pass to Waller for 6 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 4. On 2nd and goal at the 2, the Raiders had a receiver with no defender covering him. Mariota never saw it, giving the Chargers a chance to recover. Mariota threw high and incomplete. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Mariota rolled out and appeared stopped. Instead he hurdled over 2 defenders and stretched the ball over the pylon for the touchdown. The drive was staggering. 19…yes, 19…plays. 75 yards…11…yes, 11…minutes. With 6 minutes left the game was tied 24-24. The Raiders defense was beyond well rested. They had no excuses. They needed to make a stop. If they could, their offense could take advantage of the exhausted Chargers defense. 

Of course they could not. Ekeler ran for a 27 yard gain. Then Herbert ran for 12. The Chargers were already in field goal range. On 3rd and 3 from the Raiders 28, Herbert threw over the middle and the pass was well defended and incomplete. Finally, the defense made a stop. Badgley came in for a 47 yard field goal try to give the Chargers the lead. The snap was low and hit the ground. Badgley’s kick was wide, no good. With 3 1/2 minutes left, the Raiders were very much alive. They would have the ball at their own 37. Their defense had survived. Now it was up to their offense not to have a meltdown against a Chargers defense that it had moved well against all game. 

Jacobs got stopped for no gain. Then Mariota looked like he was about to be sacked when he somehow escaped and hit Waller for 15. Mariota again avoided a sack in the nick of time and hit Waller for 25 yards. The Raiders were well within field goal range. Now it was just about avoiding mistakes and setting up for the winning field goal. Instead Jon Gruden called a pass play. Mariota’s short pass to Zee Jones bounced off his hands and straight into the hands of defender Chris Harris, who returned it 52 yards to the Raiders 32. The Raiders were given a chance to save their season and with 1:54 left they literally threw it away. Mariota ran down Harris and prevented the touchdown. The Raiders took their final timeout on defense with 1:44 left as the Chargers faced 3rd and 2 at the Raiders 25. The defense desperately needed one more stop to even have a chance at getting the ball back. Rather than hand the ball off, Herbert rolled out and got sacked for an 8 yard loss. It was Herbert’s only mistake all game at the worst possible time. Now Badgley would have to try a 51 yarder rather than a 43 yarder. Badgley was again wide no good. The Raiders had again survived. 

The Raiders had 53 seconds left and no timeouts from their own 41 yard line. On 3rd and 10 a completion gained only 9. Jon Gruden went for it on 4th and 1 knowing a stop would give the Chargers excellent field position. Mariota snuck across and then spiked the ball with 4 seconds left. Rather than try a Hail Mary, Carlson came in for an NFL record 65 yard field goal try. He never got the chance as punter AJ Cole fumbled the snap. Cole quickly fell on it rather than go Garo Yepremian. The game was headed to overtime. Very rarely has a coin toss meant so much, given that neither defense did much all game. The Raiders won the toss. They again had a puncher’s chance.

After a touchback, Jacobs was not on the field. His knee was bothering him. Joey Bosa was not on the field for the Chargers. Both teams were missing one of their best players when it mattered most. Davante booker gained 7. Jacobs came back in. Mariota faked a handoff to Jacobs and kept it himself for 13 yards. Mariota then hit Jones for 9. Jacobs banged ahead for 2 and another first down. Mariota went for it all and threw into double coverage. He was lucky it was not intercepted. The defender dropped it. Mariota again faked a handoff to Jacobs and ran for 17 yards. The Raiders were again in field goal range. It was critical they not let Herbert take the field. Mariota threw a swing pass to Jacobs, who faked out defenders and turned nothing into a 9 yard gain. The Raiders had 3rd down and 1/2 a yard at the Chargers 18. Alec Ingold took it up the gut for 2 yards. Jacobs had been bottled up all game, but he barreled over defenders for a 12 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 4. Jacobs gained one and on the next carry slipped and lost 2 yards. The Chargers took a timeout on defense with 3 1/2 minutes left in overtime. On 3rd and goal at the 5, a touchdown would end the game. Mariota threw incomplete. The 13 play, 70 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive came down to Carlson from 23 yards out. Carlson was dead center. The Raiders had the lead, but Herbert would get one more chance with the ball. As awful as the Raiders defense has been, they were beyond well rested. 

After a touchback, Herbert went deep incomplete and drew defensive pass interference against…who else? Mullen. Again. It was a 20 yard gain. On the next play Herbert went bombs away again and hit Guyton for a 53 yard gain down to the Raiders 2 yard line. The Raiders took a timeout on defense with 2:20 left. Herbert lost a yard, but a defensive penalty for a blow to the head meant 1st and goal at the one. Ballage got stopped. Then on 2nd and goal Herbert tried to go over the top on the quarterback sneak. The ball was knocked out. The Chargers recovered the fumble in the end zone, but by rule only Herbert could recover it. It went back to the spot of the fumble. On 3rd and goal at the one, Herbert again tried the sneak. Again he got stopped, but on second effort stretched the ball barley over the pylon. Although his knee was down before he stretched it, the touchdown stood. The Raiders defense is worse than talentless. They are gutless and heartless. A 4-9 team with nothing to play for beat a 7-6 team with everything on the line. At 7-7, the only question would be if the Raiders would have another losing season or somehow find an 8th win. 9-7 with this defense? Forget it. The once 6-3 Raiders have collapsed for the second straight year because the defense is an embarrassment to football. 30-27 Chargers, OT

Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos was the Saturday afternoon game. The 10-3 Bills were steamrolling toward the playoffs while the Broncos were playing out the string. The game was not competitive. The Broncos missed a 51 yard field goal, giving the Bills the ball at their own 41. On 3rd and 8 from the Denver 46, Josh Allen hit Stefan Diggs for 15. On 3rd and 9 from the Denver 30, Allen was intercepted but the defense jumped offside, nullifying the play. On 3rd and 4, Allen hit Cole Beasley for 5. On 3rd and 2 from the Denver 9, Allen hit Diggs for 3 and Knox for the 9 yard touchdown. The 13 play, 59 yard, 6 minute drive had the Bills up 7-0. The Bills got it back a their own 5 and began the second quarter facing 2nd and 8 from their own 17. Allen hit Diggs for 12. On 3rd and 4 from their own 35, Allen hit Diggs for just enough. Allen went Beasley for 17 and Allen for 15. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 24, Allen scrambled all the way for the touchdown. The 11 play, 95 yard, 5 minute drive meant a 14-0 Bills lead.

The Broncos got a break when the Bills fumbled a punt and the Broncos recovered at the Buffalo 35. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 26, Drew Lock ran for 14. On 3rd and 8 from the Buffalo 10, Melvin Gordon ran it in to get the Broncos within 14-7. The Broncos got it back and had to punt on 4th and 8 from their own 7. The Bills got it back at their own 41. Allen hit Diggs for 11, Davis for 11 more, Knox for 27 with 5 more added for roughing the passer. 3 straight offensive penalties had the Bills facing 1st and goal at the 30. It didn’t matter. Allen hit McKenzie for 8 and Kumerow for a 22 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Bills with 1:49 left in the half. After a touchback, Lock hit Fant for a pair of 5 yard gains and Gordon for gains of 9 and 6. On 2nd and 6 from the Buffalo 46, Lock threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant a 15 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Buffalo 25, Lock hit Jerry Jeudy for 19 as both teams called timeout with 11 seconds left. Allen went to Fant for the 6 yard touchdown. Brandon McManus is a great kicker, but he was out injured. His backup, who missed a field goal earlier, missed the extra point as the Broncos trailed 21-13 at the midpoint.

The Bills blew the game open in the third quarter. Roberts returned the second half kickoff 53 yards to set the Bills up with a short field at the Denver 43. Allen hit Beasley for 22 and 10. On 3rd and 7 from the Denver 8, Allen hit Davis for just enough down to the one. Allen got in to make it 28-13 Bills. One play after a touchback, Lock was sacked and fumbled. Hughes picked it up and raced 21 yards for a defensive touchdown as the Bills were winning a laugher 35-13. Tyler Bass hit a pair of 27 yard field goals, one at the end of the third quarter and the other one early in the fourth quarter to make it 41-13 Bills. The Broncos got a garbage touchdown with less than 2 minutes left and missed the extra point. The Bills added an exclamation point when Singletary in trying to run out the clock ran for a 51 yard touchdown to complete the blowout. For the first time since 1995, the Bills are champs of the AFC East. Jim Kelly was running the K-Gun under Marv Levy then. Sean McDermott’s team even has an outside chance at home field throughout the playoffs. After 25 years, the Bills are back in a big way. 48-19 Bills 

Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers was the Saturday night game. The 10-3 Packers can in knowing that if they won their final 3 games, they would have home field throughout the playoffs. The Panthers are done for the year. The Packers made it look easy from the start. On 3rd and 1 from their own 28, Aaron Jones broke free for a 46 yard gain. Aaron Rodgers hit Williams for 12, Tonyan for 7, and Tonyan again for a one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers. After a touchback, Teddy Bridgewater went deep to Moore for a 37 yard gain and then to Thomas for 15 more. Yet on 1st and 10, from the Green Bay 22, a sack of Bridgewater killed the drive. Joey Slye hit a 36 yard field goal to get the Panthers within 7-3. 

In the second quarter the Packers soon faced 3rd and 7 from their own 28. Rodgers went to Devonta Adams for 14. On 3rd and 8 from their own 29, defensive pass interference added 16 more yards. On 3rd and 1 from the Carolina 46, Rodgers hit Adams again for 14. The second quarter began with the Packers facing 3rd and goal at the 6. Rodgers ran it in himself as the 13 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive had the Packers up 14-3. The Panthers came back with a 12 play, 70 yard, 7 minute drive. The key play came on 1st and goal at the one. Bridgewater tried to sneak over the top. He stretched the ball and had it punched out short of the goal line. King picked it up and raced 48 yards to the Carolina 47. From the Carolina 37, Aaron Jones did the rest. Jones ran for gains of 6, 7, 3, 8, 5, and the 8 yard touchdown. With 4 minutes left in the half, instead of only being up 14-10, the Packers led 21-3. 

The Panthers tried to claw back in the second half. A short 38 yard punt had the Panthers just shy of midfield in the third quarter. Davis ran for 9 and 2. Bridgewater went to Moore for 18. On 3rd and 9 from the Packers 21, a completion gained only 4 yards. However, defensive holding meant 5 yards and a first down. Bridgewater ran for a 13 yard touchdown. With 5 minutes left in the third quarter, the Panthers were within 21-10. The Panthers got it back at their own 20 and moved to a 1st and goal at the 8. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Bridgewater ran again and got drilled at the one yard line again and fumbled again. This time the Panthers recovered in the end zone for a touchdown, but the entire play was nullified by offensive holding. On 3rd and goal from the 17, Bridgewater hit Curtis Samuel for 13. On 4th and goal from the 4 and needing 2 scores, Matt Rhule played it safe. Slye hit the 22 yard field goal to get the Panthers within 21-13 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Packers offense had been stymied the entire second half, but after a touchback they looked to put the game away. On 3rd and 7 just shy of midfield, Rodgers hit Lazard for 22. On 3rd and 6 from the Carolina 25, Rodgers was sacked for an 8 yard loss. Instead of a 43 yarder, now it would be a 51 yard field goal try with 3 1/2 minutes left. Mason Crosby was good and the Packers had breathing room up by 11. The Panthers kept fighting as they took over from their own 24. On 2nd and 15 from their own 31, Bridgewater hit Moore for 14. On 3rd and 1 from their own 45, Bridgewater went deep to Moore for a 40 yard gain. With 2:08 to play, Matt Rhule made a very curious decision. Rather than take a couple shots at the end zone, he immediately on first down brought in Slye for a field goal. He wanted the points before the 2 minute warning. Slye barely snuck the 33 yarder inside the upright good. The Panthers trailed by 8 with 2:04 left. Rhule decided not to go onside kick. 

After a touchback, the Panthers had 4 chances to stop the clock instead of 3. With 1:53 left, the Packers faced 3rd and 4 from their own 31. The Panthers were out of timeouts and the Packers took one timeout to talk it over. Rodgers rolled out and was sacked for a 14 yard loss. The Panthers nearly blocked the punt and appeared to have the ball at their own 41. Yet a penalty on the return had the Panthers taking over at their own 20 with 55 seconds left. Intentional grounding meant a loss of 10, a 10 second runoff, and a moving clock. On 3rd and 9 from his own 21 with 30 seconds left, Bridgewater went for the bomb and had Samuel over the middle but it was just overthrown. Samuel could not make the leaping one-handed grab. On 4th and 9 Bridgewater was intercepted but the Packers jumped offside. On 4th and 4 from his own 26 with 18 seconds left, Bridgewater threw incomplete. It was a tough one but the Packers survived. Rodgers became the first quarterback in NFL history to have 3 seasons with at least 40 touchdown passes. The Packers at 11-3 remain atop the NFC and can lock up home field throughout the playoffs with 2 more wins. 24-16 Packers

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys — For decades these teams produced games for the ages. These are not those teams and this was not that game, although it was a good football game between bad teams. Early on the 49ers fumbled a punt and the Cowboys recovered at the San Francisco 22. On 3rd and goal at the one, Tony Pollard got in to make it -7-0 Cowboys. The 49ers fumbled again and the Cowboys had another short field at the San Francisco 24. Red Rifle Andy Dalton threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup for a 14-0 Cowboys lead.

The 49ers soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Raheem Mostert got the yard. On 3rd and 2 from their own 35, Nick Mullens hit Kenrdick Bourne for 12. Mullens hit Aiyuk for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 19, Mostert gained 17. Mullens hit Jordan Reed for a 5 yard touchdown to cap the 13 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and get the 49ers within 14-7. The Cowboys took over at their own 33. Dalton hit Pollard for a 30 yard gain as the first quarter ended. On 3rd and 6 from the San Francisco 21, Dalton was sacked for a 9 yard loss. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein hit a 48 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Cowboys. A touchback and a sack of Mullens had the 49ers facing 2nd and 18 from their own 17.. Mullens went deep to James for 22 and Dwelley for gains of 19 and 9. Mostert ran for 10 and Jeff Wilson added gains of 5 and 7. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Mostert got stopped. Kyle Shanahan went for it. On 4th and goal at the 2, Mullens hit Aiyuk for the score to get the 49ers within 17-14 with 5 minutes left in the half. Mike McCarthy allowed Zuerlein to try a 60 yard field goal late in the half, but it was no good.

Early in the third quarter the 49ers were at their own 30. Mullens went to James for 23 with 15 more added on for lowering the head to initiate contact. On 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 23, Wilson got stopped. This time Kyle Shanahan decided not to gamble on 4th and 1. Robbie Gould hit the 41 yard field goal for a 17=17 game. The Cowboys took over at their own 27. Dalton hit Gallup for 12. On 3rd and 7 from his own 43, Dalton hit CeeDee Lamb for 45 yards and then went to Dalton Schultz for a 12 yard touchdown to make it 24-17 Cowboys midway through the third quarter. After a touchback, Wilson gained 5 and 10. Mullens went to Kyle Juszczyk for 25. On 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 20, Juszczyk gained 3. On 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 14, Mullens went to Reed for 13 down to the one. Wilson got in for a 24-24 game after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter the the 49ers were pinned at their own 2 yard line. On 3rd and 6 from their own 16, Mullens was intercepted and the Cowboys for the third time had a short field at the San Francisco 28. Dalton threw 3 straight incompletions. Zuerlein hit a 46 yard field goal to put the Cowboys back up 27-24 with 10 minutes left in regulation. The 49ers got it back at  their own 29 and soon were just shy of midfield. Mullens was then intercepted by Brown, who returned it 14 yards to the San Francisco 46. The 49ers took their 2nd timeout with 2 1/2 minutes left and the Cowboys facing 2nd and 4 at the Frisco 40. Pollard broke through all the way for the touchdown and the Cowboys led 34-24. 

After a touchback the 49ers faced 3rd and 10 at their own 39 with 1:50 left. Mullens hit Cracraft for 8 with 15 more tacked on for roughing the passer. Mullens was shaken up on the play and 3rd stringer CJ Beathard had to try and lead a comeback down by 10. On 3rd and 11 from the Dallas 39, Beathard hit McKinnon for 23. However, from the Dallas 16, a short pass gained only 3 yards and forced the 49ers to take their final timeout with 42 seconds left. Needing 2 scores, Kyle Shanahan went for the field goal on second down. Gould hit from 31 and the 49ers were within 34-27. Only 6 seconds later, the Cowboys turned out the lights as Lamb returned the onside kick 47 yards for a touchdown to put the Cowboys up 41-27. On the last play of the game, Beathard completed the Hail Mary to Bourne for a 49 yard touchdown, but there were zeroes on the clock. There would not be another onside kick. 41-33 Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks at Washington Indians — The 9-4 Seahawks came in tied for the NFC West lead. The non-Redskins started 2-7 but then won 4 straight to lead the NFC Least by one game. With the Cleveland Indians changing their name, the Washington No-names could adopt that team moniker. Alex Smith was out with an injured calf so Dwayne Haskins got his first start since Week 4. Pete Carroll and Riverboat Ron Rivera both know defense. A 43 yard Jason Myers field goal was the only first quarter score as the Seahawks led 3-0. Myers hit again from 40 in the second quarter to make it 6-0 Seahawks. After a touchback the No-Names moved to the Seattle 27. Haskins went for it all and had his pass tipped by Diggs and intercepted by Griffin at the Seattle 3 yard line. 

Russell Wilson came out throwing and hit DK Metcalf for 6. On 3rd and 3 from their own 20, Wilson hit Moore for 9. Wilson had an earlier 6 yard run on the drive and broke free for a 38 yard gain. Defensive pass interference added 17 more. On 3rd and 7 from the Washington 10, Wilson went to Jacob Hollister for the score. After 28 minutes of defense, the game’s first touchdown had the Seahawk up 13-0 with 1:45 left in the half. Dustin Hopkins did hit a 48 yard field goal for the No-Names to end the half, but after a touchback to start the third quarter, the Seahawks struck quickly. Chris Carson ran for gains of 13 and 9 and Carlos Hyde raced for a 50 yard touchdown to make it 20-3 Seahawks. Haskins threw another interception but the Seahawks did not capitalize. 

With 5 minutes left in the third quarter, the Indians took over at their own 4 yard line. On 3rd and 6 from their own 8, Haskins hit Foster for 9 with 15 more added on for roughing the passer. Haskins then hit Thomas for 7 and 17 and ran for 12. On 3rd and 11 from the Seattle 33, Haskins hit Terry McLaurin for 17. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Haskins hit McKissic for 12 down to the one. On 3rd and goal from the one, Peyton Barber got in. The extra point was no good as the Indians trailed 20-9 after the 14 play, 96 yard, 6 minute drive. The Seahawks after a touchback moved to a 1st and 10 at the Washington 39. Wilson was then intercepted by Payne. The No-Names took over at their own 36. Haskins hit McKissic for 13 and 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Seattle 46, Haskins hit Sims for 10. Runs and short passes led to a 6 yard touchdown pass from Haskins to McKissic. The 2 point conversion try failed as the No-Names trailed by 5 midway through the fourth quarter. Washington got it back at their own 14 with 5 1/2 minutes left. They moved to a 1st and 10 at the Seattle 23 with 1:18 to play. Yet there would been miracle comeback. Consecutive sacks of Haskins had the No-Names facing 4th and 24 from the Seattle 37 with 51 seconds left. Haskins went deep incomplete. The 10-4 Seahawks clinched a playoff spot and with one more win will wrap up the NFC West. They have an outside shot at home field throughout the playoffs. 20-15 Seahawks. 

Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings — Both teams came in 6-7 and clinging to playoff life. A field position game had the Bears at their own 42. Montgomery ran for 19. On 3rd and 3 from the Minnesota 32, Mitchell Trubisky went to Robinson for 24 and to Darnell Mooney for an 8 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Bears lead. The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Kirk Cousins hit Isaiah Smith for 21. Dalvin Cook gained 13. Cousins went to Justin Jefferson for 23. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Cousins hit Adam Thielen for the touchdown and the 7-7 game. 

After a touchback, Trubisky hit Robinson for 14, Mooney for 12 and Robinson for 10. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Minnesota 24, Trubisky threw incomplete. Cairo Santos hit the 42 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Bears. The Bears got it back to start the second quarter at their own 24. Mooney ran for 16 and Trubisky hit Graham for 16 more. Trubisky ran for 8 and Montgomery added 10 and 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 17, Trubisky got the yard. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 13, the defense jumped into the neutral zone. On 3rd and 2, Trubksy gained 7 down to the one. On 3rd and goal from the one, Montgomery got in to make it 17-7 Bears. With 6 minutes left in the half, Mike Zimmer gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 34. Cook got stopped. On 2nd and 4 from the Minnesota 17, Trubisky threw incomplete twice. Santos hit from 35 as the Bears led 20-7 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. 

After a touchback, the Vikings moved to a 2nd and goal at the 6 with 44 seconds left. Cousins threw incomplete twice. Dan Bailey hit the 24 yarder to get the Vikings within 20-10. After a touchback Cousins gained 8 and Cook ran for 4 and 18. Cousins went to Jefferson for 16 with roughing the passer adding 15 more. Cook did the rest, running for 11, 2 and the one yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 20-17. 

The Bears soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 31. Trubisky hit Montgomery for 16. Montgomery ran for 7 and 6. On 3rd and 11 from the Minnesota 41, Trubisky hit Miller for 13. Montgomery ran for 11 and then for the 14 yard touchdown to make it 27-17 Bears with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. After a touchback, Cousins went to Jefferson for 26 and to Conklin for 30 more. Yet on 1st and goal at the 6, Cousins threw incomplete. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Cousins threw incomplete again. Bailey hit the 22 yarder as the Vikings trailed 27-20 after three quarters. The Bears took over at their own 28. From their own 41, Trubisky hit Mooney for 22. The fourth quarter began with the Bears facing 3rd and 4 from the Minnesota 31. A completion only gained one yard but Santos hit the critical 48 yard field goal to make it 30-20 Bears.

The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Cousins went to Beebe for 9. On 3rd and 5 from their own 44, Cousins threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 12 yard gain. Cook gained 9 and one. On 3rd and 5 from the Chicago 29, Cousins hit Jefferson for 9 and Conklin for the 20 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Vikings were back within 30-27. The Bears moved from their own 29 to a 3rd and goal at the Minnesota 6 with 3 minutes left. A touchdown would ice the game. Instead Trubisky was intercepted for a touchback. On 3rd and 1 from their own 29, Cook got stopped as the Clock hit the 2 minute warning. On 4th and 1, Cousins threw incomplete. Yet 3 runs by Montgomery only gained 5 total yards. Matt Nagy was not going to let Trubisky throw the ball. The Vikings took their timeouts on defense. With 56 seconds left, santos hit from 42. The Bears led by 6, but the Vikings took over at their own 30 with a chance to win. Cousins hit Beebe for 12, Conkin for 7, Smith for 11 and Jefferson for 7. With 7 seconds left, it came down to 3rd and 3 from the Chicago 33. Cousins went to the end zone and his Hail Mary was intercepted. 33-27 Bears

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins — The Patriots 19 year dynasty was on the verge of collapse, and even those great Patriots teams lost to the Dolphins in Miami in December. This year the Patriots were 6-7 and the Dolphins at 8-5 were in position to make a playoff run. An ugly first half saw Nick Folk hit second quarter field goals of 45 and 36 for a 6-0 Patriots lead. Jason Sanders missed a 52 yard field goal to end the half. The Dolphins began the third quarter facing 2nd and 5 from their own 33. A run gained 4 but a defensive facemask added 15. Tua Tagovailoa hit Hollins for 10. Bowden gained 9 and Matt Breida gained 14, 2 and 7. On 3rd and 1 from the Patriots 6, Tagovailoa gained 5. Salvon Ahmed got the last yard to put the Dolphins up 7-6. The Patriots fumbled, the Dolphins failed to capitalize, and the Patriots got it back at their own 8. From their own 19, Cam Newton hit Meyers for 35 and ran for 11. On 3rd and 10 from the Miami 35, Newton hit Meyers for only 8. On 4th and 2 from the Miami 27, Bill Belichick opted for the field goal. Folk hit from 45 as the Patriots led 9-7 with 4:20 left in the third quarter and were smelling upset.

The Dolphins took over at their own 10. From their own 22, Ahmed gained 31 and Breida gained 8, 3, 2, and 0. On 3rd and 8 from the New England 34 and the Patriots smelling pass, Brian Flores called a shotgun run. Laird took the draw for 12 yards. The Patriots began the fourth quarter with too many men on the field as the Dolphins had 2nd and 2 at the New England 14. Tagovailoa hit Smythe for 6. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Tagovailoa ran it in. Flores went for 2 and Tagovailoa hit Ahmed for the score as the Dolphins led 15-9. The Patriots moved from their 25 to a 3rd and 5 at the Miami 24. Newton threw incomplete. For the 4th time on the day, the Patriots had to settle for a field goal. Folk hit from 42 but the Patriots trailed 15-12 with 9 minutes left in regulation. 

After a touchback, Ahmed gained 13. Tagovailoa hit Smythe for 10. Breida gashed the defense for 24 and 9. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 2, Ahmed got the yard. Tagovailoa got the last yard. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Dolphins finally put the game away. The Patriots quickly moved after a touchback to a 1st and 10 at the Miami 30 with 2:16 to play. Newton was then sacked. On 3rd and 15 at the 2 minute warning, Newton hit James White for 12. Needing 2 scores with 1:14 left, Bill Belichick inexplicably went for it rather than try a 41 yard field goal with a kicker who was 4 for 4. On 4th and 3, Newton was sacked. Brian Flores took over a Dolphins team that had been mediocre and worse since they won their last division title in 2008. While the AFC East is out of reach, the Dolphins at 9-5 are in the playoff chase. The Patriots accomplishments have been staggering. 19 Straight winning seasons from  2001-2019. 17 straight playoff seasons from 2003-2019. 11 straight AFC East titles from 2009-2019. 17 straight years winning or tied atop the AFC East from 2003-2019. 8 straight AFC Title Game appearances from 2011-2018. 9 Super Bowl appearances. 6 Super Bowl victories. At 6-8 the Patriots are out of the playoff and need 2 more wins for their 20th straight non-losing season. Brian Flores is a Bill Belichick disciple. Like the early Patriots teams, Flores has built a team that wins with defense. 22-12 Dolphins 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens — The Ravens won a 47-42 Monday night thriller over Cleveland and at 8-5 had to defeat the 1-12 Jaguars to have a good shot at the playoffs. Sometimes a bad team can go on the road and win a shocker. This was not that game. Early on, Lamar Jackson threw a deep ball that was intercepted. The Jaguars took over at their own one yard line. The Ravens defense came up with a safety to start the scoring. The Ravens took the free kick at their own 32. On 3rd and 2 from their own 40, Dobbins gained 8. From midfield, Jackson hit Andrews for 18, Brown for 28, and Miles Boykin for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 9-0 Ravens. After a touchback the Jaguars moved to a 4th and 5 at the Baltimore 47. Doug Marrone went for it and Gardner Minshew was sacked. With a short field just past midfield, Jackson hit Andrews for 27. On 3rd and 1 from the Jags 13, Dobbins gained 3, fumbled, and recovered it for another 3 yards. Dobbins began the second quarter by running for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 16-0 Ravens. The Ravens got it back at their own 32 and moved to a 2nd and 5 at the Jags 27. Jackson threw incomplete twice but Justin Tucker hit from 46 to make it 19-0 Ravens. Doug Marrone gambled again on 4th and 5 from the Baltimore 43. Minshew threw incomplete. Jackson hit Dobbins for 17 and Brown for 11. On 3rd and 8 from the Jags 11, Jackson hit Dez Bryant for the score to make it 26-0 Ravens. 

Tucker did miss a 57 yard field goal to end the half, but the second half was pointless. Each team scored one touchdown in each of the final two quarters. At 9-5, the AFC North is out of reach but the Ravens are in a position to make the playoffs. The 1-13 Jaguars can clinch the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by losing their final two games. 40-14 Ravens

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons — The Buccaneers at 8-5 were in the playoff picture while the Falcons were out after blowing several large fourth quarter leads this season. They have had several famous collapses in the last decade. In the 2012 NFC Title Game, the Falcons blew a 17-0 halftime lead and lost to the 49ers 28-24. In the 2016 Super Bowl, The Falcons blew a 28-3 third quarter lead and lost to the Tom Brady-led Patriots 34-28 in overtime. In the 2020 regular season, the Falcons blew a 39-24 fourth quarter lead and lost to the Cowboys 40-39 after refusing to cover an onside kick. In this game they began by facing 3rd and 9 from their own 26. Matt Ryan hit Todd Gurley for 10. On 3rd and 1 from their own 45, Ryan went to Gage for 27 and to Gage again for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Falcons. In the second quarter the Falcons faced 3rd and 2 at their own 43. Smith gained 3. Raheem Morris gambled on 4th and 2 from the Tampa Bay 46. Ryan hit Gage for 7, Smith for 13, Treadwell for 14 and Calvin Ridley for the 12 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 65 yard, 5 minute drive made it 14-0 Falcons. The Falcons got it back at their own 11 with 3:40 left in the half and moved 75 yards in 13 plays. Despite 1st and 10 from the Tampa 13 with 33 seconds left, Ryan threw a completion that lost yard followed by 2 more incompletions. Younghoe Koo hit a 32 yard field goal as the Falcons led 17-0 at the break. Falcons fans have seen this movie before.

The Buccaneers began the third quarter at their own 20. Brady hit Antonio Brown for 20 and Cameron Brate for 14. Leonard Fournette ran for 9 and 4. Brady went to Mike Evans for 32 yards down to the one. Fournette got the yard and the Buccaneers were within 17-7. After a touchback, Ryan went to Ridley for 13 and 28. From the Tampa 25, Matty Ice hit Smith for 4, Gage for 14 and Hayden Hurst for the 7 yard touchdown. Midway through the third quarter, the Falcons led 24-7. Falcons fans have seen this movie before. 

The Buccaneers soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Brady hit Evans for 26, Fournette for 16, Evans for 24, and Chris Godwin for the 4 yard touchdown to get the Buccaneers within 24-14. The Buccaneers quickly got it back at their own 24. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 17 and Miller for 14. Defensive pass interference and a defensive facemask on the same incompletion added 28. Brady hit Fournette and Brown for a pair of 8 yard gains down to the one. Fournette got in at the end of the third quarter to get the Buccaneers right back in it down 24-21. The Falcons again went backward and a 21 yard punt return gave the Buccaneers the ball just shy of midfield to start the fourth quarter. The Buccaneers moved to a 3rd and 6 at the Atlanta 9. Brady threw incomplete but Ryan Succop hit a 27 yard field goal to tie the game 24-24 with 11 minutes left in regulation. The 17 point lead had evaporated. Falcons fans have seen this movie before. 

After a touchback, Ryan hit Smith for 11 and Ridley for 33 yards. Yet on 2nd and 6 from the Bucs 27, Ryan threw incomplete. Then on 3rd and 6 he was sacked. Koo drilled a 52 yard field goal as the Falcons reclaimed the lead 27-24 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. From their own 22, the Buccaneers responded quickly. Brady hit Brate for 18, Godwin for 13, and Brown for a 46 yard touchdown. The Buccaneers led by 4 points with 6:19 left. With 2:02 left the Falcons aced 4th and 16 at their own 6. Ryan hit Ridley for 13 and the Falcons had blown another game. The Buccaneers are 9-5 and have an outside shot at winning the NFC South. Brady has now had 20 consecutive winning seasons and is on the verge of 18 straight playoff appearances. 31-27 Buccaneers 

Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans — The Titans came in 9-4 and tied atop the AFC South. The Lions are done for the year. The Titans began facing 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Ryan Tannehill hit Antonio Brown for 6. On 2nd and 14 from their own 35, Tannehill hit Smith for 19, AJ Brown for 10 and Pruitt for 10. Derrick Henry ran for 9, 5 and the 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans. The Lions soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 31. Matthew Stafford hit Marvin Jones for just enough. Stafford went to Agnew for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the The Titans 42, Stafford hit TJ Hockensen for 11 and Jones for 12. Adrian Peterson rushed for 7, 8 and 3. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Stafford hit Jones for the touchdown to cap the 14 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive and make it a 7-7 game. 

Yet 12 seconds later the Titans had the lead again. Tannehill connected with Corey Davis for a 75 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Titans. The Titans got it back at their own 7 yard line early in the second quarter. Henry ran for 12 and 8. Defensive pass interference added 23. Henry ran for 13 and 6. On 3rd and 4 from the Detroit 31, Tannehill hit Davis for 7. Henry ran for 7 and Tannehill ran for a 17 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Titans.

After a touchback the Lions moved to a 3rd and goal at the one. D’Andre Swift got the carry and fumbled. The Titans recovered at their own 3 yard line. Yet a safety got the Lions within 21-9. Agnew returned the free kick 13 yards to his own 45. On 3rd and 2 from the Titans 47, Stafford hit Jones for 6 and then again deep for 39. This time from the 2, Swift got in. The extra point was no good but the Lions were within 21-15 with one minute left in the half. The Titans took over at their own 28. Henry ran for 8 and Tannehill hit Brown for 14. On 3rd and 10 from midfield, Tannehill hit Davis for 14 and Smith for 16. Stephen Gostkowski hit a 38 yard field goal to end the half with the Titans up 24-15. After a touchback to start the third quarter the Lions moved to a 3rd and 1 from the Titans 21. Hockenson got the carry and the yard, but Mike Vrabel challenged the call. It was reversed to a fumble recovered by the Titans. The Lions got it back at their own 7. Swift ran for 10 and Stafford went to Cephu for 36. Defensive pass interference added 12. On 1st and 10 from the Titans 35, Stafford threw 3 straight incompletions. Matt Prater hit a 53 yard field goal as the Lions only trailed 24-18 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. 

After that the Titans slammed the door shut. On 3rd and 11 from their own 16, Tannehill hit Anthony Firkser for 20. Tannehill hit Davis for 14. Henry ran for 4, 5, and on 3rd and 1 from the Detroit 36, a 33 yard gain. Tannehill ran for a 3 yard touchdown. Henry rushed in the 2 point conversion to make it 32-18 Titans early in the fourth quarter. The Lions faced 4th and 4 from their own 31 with 12 minutes left and opted tp punt. They called a fake punt that gained only 3 yards. It turned out that the special teams coach called a fake punt on his own without consulting the other coaches. He was fired after the game. With a short field, Tannehill hit Evans for 24. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Tannehill hit Brown for the score to make it 39-18 Titans. The Lions did get one more touchdown with 6 1/2 minutes left, A failed onside kick meant another short field for the Titans. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Tannehill hit Darrynton Evans for the last touchdown to complete the blowout. The 10-4 Titans remain tied atop the AFC South, and they have the tie-breaker. 46-25 Titans

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts — The Texans are done for the year, but the 9-4 Colts barely survived a 26-20 win at Houston earlier this year. Early on the Colts faced 3rd and 3 at their own 26. Philip Rivers hit Jacob Doyle for 7. On 3rd and 3 from their own 40, Rivers hit Zach Pascal for 13. Jonathan Taylor gained 12 and Nyheim Hines added 23. Taylor ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Colts. The Texans moved from their own 23 to a 3rd and just past midfield. Watson was sacked and fumbled and the Colts took over at the Houston 42. On 3rd and 5 from the Houston 37, Rivers went to Pascal for 26 and again for the 11 yard touchdown as the Colts led 14-0 after the opening quarter.

Midway through the second quarter the Texans faced 3rd and 7 from their own 24. Watson hit Chad Hansen for 17. On 3rd and 15 from their own 36, Watson hit Johnson for 26 and Hansen for a 38 yard touchdown. With 3:46 left in the half the Texans were within 14-7. Then came a bunch of field goals. Despite 2nd and goal from the 5 with 16 seconds left in the half, Watson threw incomplete twice. Kaimi Fairbairn hit from 23 to get the Texans within 14-10. In the third quarter the Colts moved to a 1st and 10 at the Houston 17. A completion gained nothing followed by 2 Rivers incompletions. Rodrigo Blankenship hit from 35 to make it 17-10 Colts. The Texans moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Colts 7. Then came a false start and a completion that lost 2 yards. Fairbairn hit from 31 to get the Texans within 17-13. The Colts moved to a 3rd and 5 at the Houston 35. Rivers threw incompletion. 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, Blankenship hit from 53 to make it 20-13 Colts.

The Texans took over at their own 20. Watson hit Johnson for 14 and 5. On 3rd and 1 from their own 43, Johnson got stopped. On 4th and 1, Watson gained 4. Watson hit Warring for 23. Watson hit Akins for 6, Johnson for 8 and Keke Coutee for a 9 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the game was tied 20-20 after the 10 play, 80 yard, 6 minute drive. The Colts faced 3rd and 2 from their own 33. Rivers hit Burton for 8. Taylor gained 14. On 3rd and 7 from the Houston 42, Rivers hit Pittman for 6. On 4th and 1 from the Houston 36 with 3:20 to play, Frank Reich gambled rather than try a 54 yard field goal, also a gamble. Jacoby Brissett gained 2. Offensive pass interference had the Colts facing 2nd and 20 from the Houston 44. Rivers went deep to TY Hilton for a 41 yard gain as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. Rivers hit Pascal for a 5 yard touchdown as the Colts retook the 7 point lead. The Texans took over at their own 25 with 1:47 left and 2 timeouts. In the earlier game the Texans lost 26-20 when Watson fumbled near the goal line trying to take the led. This time with 28 seconds left the Texans faced 4th and 5 at the Indy 15. Watson went to Coutee for 13, and he fumbled the ball away. The Colts recovered in the end zone for a touchback. The Colts at 10-4 are tied atop the AFC South, but they do not have the tie-breaker. 27-20 Titans 

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals — The Eagles are pretty much eliminated even in the NFC Least while the Cardinals at 7-6 were clinging to playoff life. The Eagles looked revitalized when Jalen Hurts won his first ever NFL start lsat week in place of the benched Carson Wentz. Early on it was all Cardinals. They moved from their own 25 to a 1st and goal at the 9. Kyler Murray hit Deandre Hopkins for 4 but hopkins fumbled and the Eagles recovered at their own 8. On 3rd and 8 from their own 10, The Cardinals defense produced a safety for a 2-0 lead. The Cardinals took over at their own 34 and defensive unnecessary roughness had them just shy of midfield. Murray went to Williams for a 42 yard gain and then ran for the 8 yard touchdown himself to make it 9-0 Cardinals. The Eagles punted on 4th and 19 from their own 42. The punt was blocked and rolled out of bounds at the Philly 6. From there, Chase Edmonds ran it in as the Cardinals were dominating 16-0 after the first quarter. 

The Eagles took over at their own 26. Hurts hit Reagor for 10, Alshon Jeffery for 24 and Dallas Goedert for 16. The second quarter began with a sack of Hurts that set up 3rd and 20 at the Arizona 32. Hurts went to Quez Watkins for the touchdown to get the Eagles within 16-7. One play after a touchback, Murray went deep to Hopkins for a 45 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the Philly 24, Murray hit Kirk for only 2. Kliff Kingsbury decided not to gamble on 4th and 2. Mike Nugent hit the 40 yard field goal to make it 19-7 Cardinals. The Cardinals got it back at their own 17. From their own 30, Murray was sacked and fumbled and the Eagles recovered at the Arizona 21. Myles Sanders ran for 10, 4, 3, and on 3rd and 3 from the 4, nothing. Doug Pederson gambled, and on 4th and 3 Hurts hit Greg Ward for the score. With 6:20 left in the half the Eagles were within 19-14. The Cardinals soon faced 3rd and 5 from their own 30 when the Eagles jumped into the neutral zone. Murray went to Arnold for 21, to Larry Fitzgerald for 6, to Arnold again for 23, and to Fitzgerald again for a 14 yard touchdown. With 2:13 left in the half the Cardinals led 26-14. 

At the 2 minute warning the Eagles had 2nd and 6 at their own 26. Hurts hit Reagor for 12 and went deep to Ertz for a 42 yard gain. Defensive pass interference added 12. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Hurts hit Ward for the score. Doug Pederson likes to go for 2 point conversion in completely unnecessary situations. Only heinous why. Sanders got the carry and got stopped but the Eagles were within 26-20 at the half. Midway through the third quarter, a field position game had the Cardinals taking over at the Philly 43. On 2nd and goal at the 7 with a chance to expand the lead, Murray was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. The Eagles faced 3rd and 1 from their own 29, Hurts hit Goedert for 4. Defensive pass interference added 14. A sack of Hurts and a false start had the Eagles facing 3rd and 29 at their own 28. Hurts hit Reagor for 23. On 4th and 6 just past midfield, Doug Pederson gambled. Hurts scrambled for a 17 yard gain. Defensive pass interference added 26 yards. Hurts ran for a 7 yard touchdown. With the game tied, Pederson again inexplicably went for 2. Ertz got stopped. The Eagles had come all the way back, but instead of them having the lead, the game was tied 26-26 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter began with the Cardinals having to punt on 4th and 2 from their own 33. Kliff Kingsbury called a fake punt and a short pass from punter Lee to Turner gained 26 yards. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Philly 32, Edmonds lost a yard. Kingsbury gambled and this time on 4th and 2 from the Philly 33, Murray threw incomplete. The Cardinals got it back and soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 16. Murray hit Hopkins for a 44 yard gain. ,Murray hit Edmonds for 12. On 3rd and 2 from the Philly 20, Murray rolled all the way to his left. Just before being knocked out of bounds, Murray fired to Hopkins, who made an acrobatic catch on the sideline and somehow got his feet down inbounds. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Cardinals reclaimed the 7 point lead.

The Eagles had 3rd and 7 from their own 27. Hurts hit Ward for 12. On 3rd and 12 from their own 37, Hurts went deep to Jeffery for 39. On 3rd and 2 from the Arizona 16, Hurts hit Watkins for 5. Yet on 1st and 10 from the Arizona 11, Hurts was sacked twice and threw incomplete. On 4th and 21 from the Arizona 22, Hurts threw incomplete again with 1:55 left. The Eagles took their timeouts on defense. On 3rd and 5 from their own 27, Murray only gained 4. Only 20 seconds came off the clock as the Eagles got it back at their own 22 with 1:35 left. On 4th and 7 from their own 25, Hurts hit Fulgham for 12, Goedert for 14, and Fulgham for 18. With 15 seconds left the Eagles had 1st and 10 at the Arizona 31. Hurts had 3 shots at the end zone and all 3 Hail Marys went unanswered. The Cardinals survived to get to 8-6 and remain alive in the playoff chase. 33-26 Cardinals

New York Jets at Los Angeles Rams — The 9-4 Rams began the day tied atop the NFC West. They held the tie-breaker, and 3 more wins would make them division champs. All they had to do was steamroll over the 0-13 Jets. The Rams were 17 point favorites. The Jets began at their own 26. Sam Darnold went to Herndon for 12. On 3rd and 5 from their own 43, Darnold went to Ty Johnson for 8. Frank Gore gained 4, 2, and on 3rd and 4 from the Rams 43, 5 and a first down. Darnold gained 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 29, Darnold hit Johnson for 6. On 3rd and 5 from the Rams 18, Darnold went to Johnson for the touchdown. The 13 play, 74 yard, 7 minute drive had the Jets up 7-0. The second quarter began with the Rams punting on 4th and 19 from their own 38. The punt was blocked and the Jets took over at the Rams 27. Darnold threw incomplete on 3rd and 4 but Sam Ficken hit a 39 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Jets. The Rams faced 4th and 1 at their own 28 and Sean McVay lined up to go for it. The Jets jumped. Yet on the next play Jared Goff was intercepted by Hall, who returned it 20 yards to the Rams 22. On 2nd and goal at the 3, Gore lost 4 and Darnold threw incomplete. Yet Ficken hit a 25 yard field goal. Midway through the second quarter, the Jets led 13-0.

With one minute left in the half, the Rams took over at their own 39. Goff went to Tyler Higbee for 17, Cooper Kupp for 6 and Robert Woods for 8. On 1st and 10 from the Jets 27 with 21 seconds left in the half, Goff hit Higbee for 16. Yet on further review it was reversed to an incompletion. Goff threw 2 more incompletions. Matt Gay hit a 45 yard field goal but the Rams trailed 13-3 at the intermission. The Jets began the third quarter at their own 28. Darnold hit Crowder for 10. On 3rd and 2 from their own 46, Gore gained 3. Darnold went to Brad Perriman for 21 and Herndon for 22. On 3rd and goal at the one, Gore got stopped as both teams took their first timeout of the second half. With absolutely nothing else left to lose, Adam Gase went for it. On 4th and goal at the one, Old Reliable Gore got in. with 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, this game was turning into a shocker. Entering as 17 point underdogs, it was the Jets leading by 17 by a score of 20-3. 

The Rams have the offensive firepower to come back, and they did. After a touchback, Goff connected with Higbee for a 44 yard gain. Cam Akers ran for 11. On 3rd and 5 from the Jets 15, Goff hit Woods for the touchdown to get the Rams within 20-10. After a touchback, Gore gained 8 and Darnold hit Herndon for 14. On 3rd and 3 from the Rams 46, Darnold hit Crowder for big gains of 16 and 24. On 2nd and goal at the 3, rather than ride Gore, Adam Gase called pass plays and Darnold threw incomplete twice. Ficken hit the 21 yard field goal to have the Jets up 23-10 after three quarters. 

After a touchback, Goff hit Kupp for 9. Woods took an end around 40 yards on the last play of the third quarter. Defensive pass interference added 11. Goff hit Higbee for a 3 yard touchdown. The Rams were within 23-17 only one minute into the fourth quarter, plenty of time for the Jets to collapse. The Rams got it back and soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 33. Goff hit Woods for 16. Akers ran for 7 and 6 sandwiched around a 13 yard completion from Goff to Everett. On 2nd and 4 from the Jets 18 midway through the fourth quarter, Akers ran for an 18 yard touchdown. The extra point would put the Rams up 24-23 and make the Jets collapse complete. Except the touchdown was nullified by offensive holding. On 3rd and 15, a pass from Goff to Malcolm Brown gained only 6. With 6 1/2 minutes left and his team with all the momentum, Sean McVay decided to play it safe, kick the field goal, and trust his defense. Gay hit from 42 to get the Rams within 3 points. 

Rather than run Gore and grind down clock, Adam Gase again kept throwing and Darnold threw incomplete twice, taking only 10 seconds off the clock. A 3rd and 10 completion gained only 2 yards. Then a 34 yard punt return had the Rams with gift field position at the Jets 43. The Jets were giving the game away, as winless teams often do. 5 1/2 minutes still remained. On 2nd and 6 from the Jets 39, Akers ran for 22 yards to the Jets 17. Yet an illegal block nullified the run. On 3rd and 4 from the Jets 37, Goff threw deep incomplete. The tying field goal would be 55 yards. With 4 minutes left, Sean McVay decided to go for it. Goff again went deep incomplete. The Jets from their own 37 this time fed Gore, who gained 3 and 8 for a critical first down. With 2:17 to play and the Rams out of timeouts, it all came down to the Jets facing 3rd and 6 at the Rams 48. Darnold hit Gore at the marker, and the officials called it a first down. The Jets erupted in celebration and relief as Darnold took 3 knees. 

The 1976 Buccaneers popped champagne corks. Adam Gase would not be worse than Rich Kotite. The Jets would not be 0-16. The Rams at 9-5 fell one game back in the NFC West. Sean McVay expressed deep embarrassment at losing to a winless team. This was not Super Bowl III in 1968 or the 2001 Super Bowl, but it was a stunning Jets win and an equally stunning Rams loss. With the win, the Jets are no longer a lock for the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. They are tied with Jacksonville with one win apiece. If Jacksonville loses their last two games, Jacksonville gets the top pick, expected to be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Some Jets fans expressed disappointment because they wanted the Jets to purposely lose so they could draft Lawrence. Thankfully the Jets as a team care more about the integrity of the game than those fans. Tanking represents the worst of sports. Losing on purpose should be a mortal sports sin. Thankfully there is no tanking in the NFL. The players have pride. They want to win. 1-15 makes you a joke that year. 0-16 is forever. The Jets played their guts out and avoided that permanent ignominy. If ever there was a game that defined ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman’s maxim, this game was it. “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES!” 23-20 Jets

Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints — This was a potential Super Bowl preview. The Chiefs were rolling at 12-1 atop the AFC. The Saints came in 10-3 and tied for the NFC lead. They also got Drew Brees back from injury, and this would be the first time the all time passing leader would face off against Patrick Mahomes. The fans allowed to attend got their money’s worth. In the third quarter the Saints faced 3rd and 5 from their own 27. Brees was then intercepted to set up the Chiefs at the Saints 36. On 3rd and 9 Mahomes hit Travis Kelce for 11. Mahomes ran for 13. On 3rd and 4 from the Saints 5, Mahomes hit Tyreek Hill for the score to make it 7-0 Saints. The Chiefs got it back at their own 20 and MahomEs hit Leveon Bell for 14. A sack of Mahomes meant 2nd and 18 from their own 26. Mahomes hit Sammy Watkins for 10 and on 3rd and 8 found Watkins again for 23. Mahomes then went to Robinson for 23. On 3rd and 15 from the Saints 23, Mahomes hit Hill for 19. On the first play of the second quarter, Mahomes hit Kelce for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Chiefs.

The Saints took over at their own 34. On 3rd and 10 from their own 46, Brees went deep to Emanuel Sanders for a 51 yard gain. Taysom Hill came in and gained 2 followed by a one yard touchdown to get the Saints within 14-7. With 25 seconds left in the half, the Saints had to punt on 4th and 2 from their own 36. Robinson fielded it near his own goal line and fumbled it backward into the end zone. Robertson had a chance to fall on it for the tying touchdown, but it squirted out of his hands out the back of the end zone. The safety had the Saints within 14-9 with 3 seconds left in the half. On the first play of the third quarter after a touchback, Brees went to Smith for 25 with roughing the passer adding 15 more. On 2nd and 14 from the Chiefs 39, Brees threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 19 yard gain. On 2nd and 14 from the Chiefs 24, Brees went to Latavius Murray for the touchdown. The 2 point conversion try failed but the Saints led 15-14.

After a touchback, Carl Edwards-Helaire for 16. Mahomes hit Kelce for 13. On 3rd and 5 from the Saints 41, Mahomes hit Watkins for 20 and Mecole Hardman for 9. Bell gained 3 and 4. Mahomes hit Hardman for a 5 yard touchdown as the Chiefs reclaimed the lead 21-15 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. A field position game had the Saints punting on 4th and 16 from their own 11. The Chiefs got it back at their own 41. Mahomes hit Kelce for a pair of 9 yard gains. The fourth quarter began with the Chiefs facing 3rd and 1 at the Saints 29. Mahomes gained 2. One minute into the fourth quarter, on 2nd and 9 from the Saints 26, Mahomes threw incomplete. However, a personal foul for throwing a punch on Jordan meant  13 yard gain. Worse for the Saints, Jordan was ejected. On the next play Bell ran for the 13 yard touchdown, Mahomes went to Kelce for the 2 point conversion and the 29-15 Chiefs advantage.

The Chiefs got it back at their own 22. On 3rd and 10 from their own 34, Mahomes was sacked and fumbled. The Saints desperately needed a spark, and they got it and took over at the Chiefs 25. Brees hit Alvin Kamara for a 14 yard touchdown. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Saints were within 29-22. After a touchback, Mahomes hit Hill for 16 and Watkins for 7. Mahomes ran for 24. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Mahomes threw incomplete. Harrison Butker hit the 22 yard field goal. With 4:18 to play the Chiefs had breathing room up 32-22.

The Saints quickly faced 4th and 2 at their own 33. Brees went deep to Jared Cook for 21. Brees then hit Humphrey for 12, Emanuel Sanders for 5 and 12, and Humphrey for a 17 yard touchdown. With 2:06 to play, the Saints were within a field goal. With 2 timeouts and the 2 minute warning, Sean Payton decided to kick it deep rather than go onside. This was a big gamble with the reigning Super Bowl and regular season MVP on the other sideline. On 2nd and 8 from their own 27, Mahomes went to Kelce for 10 and a key first down. With 1:45 left on 2nd and 5 from their own 42, Bell got just enough with a defensive facemask adding 15 and putting the final nail in the Saints coffin. Mahomes took 3 knees as the young and old competing superstar quarterbacks met for a lengthy friendly chat after the game. The Saints have lost 2 straight and at 10-4 fell one game back in the overall NFC. They still lead the NFC South by one game and need one more win to wrap the division up. Meanwhile, the 13-2 Chiefs are a juggernaut high atop the AFC, making Andy Reid a most happy walrus indeed. 32-29 Chiefs 

Cleveland Browns at New York Giants was the Sunday night game. The 9-4 Browns still had a very outside shot at the AFC North title, but they were in a strong position to make the playoffs. The 5-8 Giants entered the week one game back in the NFC Least and be tied for the division lead and hold the tie-breaker with a win. A strong opening kickoff return had the Giants starting at their own 48. On 3rd and 5 from the Cleveland 8, McCoy threw incomplete. A 26 yard field goal would be a chip shot, but Joe Judge called a fake. Punter Dixon is the holder, and he threw incomplete. The Browns moved to a 4th and 2 at the Giants 43. Kevin Stefanski decided to go for it. Baker Mayfield threw incomplete as both teams turned it over on downs. The Giants moved to a 1st and 10 at the Cleveland 18. McCoy then completed a pass that lost a yard and threw incomplete twice. Graham Gano hit a 37 yard field goal as the Giants led 3-0 after the first quarter. After that reality set in.

After a touchback, the Browns soon faced 2nd and 12 from their own 34. Mayfield hit Hooper for 17, Bryant for 10, Higgins for 22 and Bryant for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the 7, Mayfield gained 2. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Mayfield hit Hooper for the touchdown. The 13 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive had the Browns up 7-3 lead early in the second quarter. The Giants took over at their own 27 and moved 68 yards in 12 plays and over 7 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the Browns 10, a draw play out of the shotgun gained only 4 yards. Joe Judge again gambled rather than kick an easy field goal. On 4th and 2 from the Cleveland 6, Wayne Gallman only gained one. From their own 5, Karim Hunt gained 14. Mayfield hit Hunt for 7, Donovan Peoples-Jones for 18, Jarvis Landry for 15 and Njoku for 22 at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 1 from the Giants 10, Nick Chubb gained 4. With 21 seconds left in the half, Mayfield hit Landry for the touchdown. Cody Parkey is the king of doinks, and he doinked the extra point off the upright no good. Nevertheless, the 10 play, 95 yard, 5 minute drive had the Browns up 13-3 at the intermission. 

The Browns unleashed their defense in the second half. The third quarter was scoreless.  The Browns again began a drive at their own 5 yard line and again broke the backs of the Giants defense. On 3rd and 4 from their 11, Mayfield ran for 5. On 3rd and 7 from their own 19, Mayfield went to Higgins for 20. Mayfield hit Chubb for 8 and Chubb then ran for 15. Mayfield went to Landry for 22. A clipping penalty nullified a touchdown run and meant 1st and goal at the 21. Mayfield went to Higgins for 17. After a false start, Mayfield hit Chubb for 8. On 3rd and goal at the one, Chubb got in. With 13 minutes left in regulation the Browns led 20-3. All the Giants could muster was another field goal with 4 minutes left. The Giants fell to 5-9 and remain one game back in the NFC Least. The 10-4 Browns have an excellent chance of making the playoffs and are only one game back in the AFC North. The Browns last went 10-6 in 2007 but did not make the playoffs that year. They have not been to the playoffs since 2002. They have not won a playoff game since 1994. The Dawg Pound is starving for a playoff win, and 2020 may be the season they get it. 20-6 Browns

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals was the Monday night game. The Steelers came in 11-2 and atop the AFC North. The Bengals were a 2-10 mess. The Steelers had beaten the Bengals 10 straight times. Yet the Steelers were going in the wrong direction. They started 11-0 and lost 2 straight. They fell behind in the overall AFC race for home field by one game. Ben Roethlisberger made remarks that were critical of his offensive line. Nevertheless, beating up on the team they always beat up on would right the ship. The Bengals were playing with backup Ryan Finley at quarterback. Then came shock after shock after shock, delivered courtesy of the Bengals defense. 

From their own 19, Roethlisberger fumbled and the Bengals recovered at the Pittsburgh 20. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Finley was sacked for an 11 yard loss. Austin Siebert hit a 34 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bengals. Late in the first quarter missed a 55 yard field goal try that would have extended the lead. The Steelers soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 48. Roetholisberger completed a pass to Juju Smith-Schuster, who got absolutely blasted by Bell. The Bengals recovered at the Pittsburgh 38. The Bengals began the second quarter with 3rd and 3 at the Pittsburgh 31. Finley hit Higgins for 14. On 3rd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 12, Finley hit Higgins for 8. Giovani Bernard ran for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Bengals early in the second quarter. The Steelers moved from their own 35 to a 3rd and 14 at the Cincy 48. Big Ben threw over the middle and was intercepted by Alexander, who returned it 21 yards to the Pittsburgh 41, with 15 more tacked on for a late hit out of bounds. Bernard ran for 11 and caught a 14 yard touchdown pass from Finley. In an absolute stunner, the Bengals led 17-0 at halftime due to 3 Pittsburgh turnovers.

There was plenty of time for the Bengals to collapse and have everyone roll their eyes and say, “These are the Bengals.” Early in the third quarter the Steelers faced 3rd and 3 from their own 40. Roethlisberger connected with Chase Claypool for a 37 yard gain and then hit Diontae Johnson for a 23 yard touchdown to get the Steelers within 17-7. The Steelers soon got it back at their own 26 and moved to a 1st and goal at the 10. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Roethlisberger completed a pass for no gain. Chris Boswell hit a 25 yard field goal as the Steelers were only down 17-10. The Steelers got it back again and soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 41. Bennie Snell got the carry up the middle and got blown up in the backfield by Bynes for a 2 yard loss. The Steelers punted and momentum shifted again.

From their own 20, Bernard gained 5 and 7. Finley hit AJ Green for 10. Bernard gained 9, one and 4. On 3rd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 39, Finley on a designed run gained 8. Perine added 8 more. This was pure ground and pound. Finley then saw an opening up the middle and raced all the way for a 23 yard touchdown. 80 yards took up 6 minutes of clock. With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Bengals led 24-10. 

The Steelers soon faced 3rd and 6 from their own 29. Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for 21 to midfield. Roethlisberger went to Snell for 14. On 3rd and 4 from the Cincy 26, Roethlisberger hit Claypool for 8 and 9. On 2nd and 1 from the Cincy 9, Roethlisberger threw incomplete. On 3rd and 1 Snell got belted in the backfield again for a 3 yard loss by an inspired Bengals defense. Then came a moment that gave all the Bengals doubters doubts. Earlier in the drive Jackson had dropped an easy interception on a ball thrown right to him. This time on 4th and 4 from the Cincinnati 12, Roethlisberger threw incomplete. However, defensive pass interference on Jackson meant an 11 yard gain and 1st and goal at the one. This time Snell got the yard. With 5 1/2 minutes left after the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive, the Steelers were within 24-17. There was time for the Bengals to fall apart.

The Bengals faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34 with 4 minutes left. Finley got the yard and the clock kept ticking. On 3rd and 3 from their own 42, Finley again tried to keep it and had only one defender in his way. Finley tried to turn the corner but Minkah Fitzpatrick made the saving tackle for a one yard loss. A short 35 yard punt had the Steelers taking over at their own 24 with 2:22 left. Big Ben threw 3 straight incompletions as the Bengals took their first timeout with 1:56 left. On 4th and 10, Roethlisberger threw high for his 4th straight incompletion. With 20 seconds left the Bengals faced 3rd and 1 at the Pittsburgh 15. Bernard got stopped and the Steelers took their last timeout with 16 seconds left. After initially trying to go for it, it seems Zac Taylor did not lose his mind. His attempt to draw Pittsburgh offside failed. On 4th and 1 Seibert came out for the 33 yard try to lock up the win. A blocked field goal returned for a touchdown would tie the game or give Pittsburgh the win. Instead, Seibert was good. 

David beat up Goliath. The Bengals beat the Steelers. More than that, they beat them up. Roethlisberger had only 170 yards passing. Finley only threw for 89 yards, but he only threw 13 passes, completing 7 of them. The Bengals rushed for 152 yards, including 47 by Finley on 10 carries. A frustrated Mike Tomlin had no answers as the Steelers lost their third straight game and have virtually no shot at home field throughout the playoffs. They are now only one game up in the AFC North. Again, this is why we watch football and why ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman’s maxim keeps being proven right. Games are not won on paper or decided by Vegas oddsmakers. No matter how much of a mismatch a game seems on paper, Berman’s truism still remains. “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES!” 27-17 Bengals

NFL 2020 Week 15 Prequel

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah: NFL Week 15 Preview – Bettor’s Guide

Top 5 choices to be the next Raiders defensive coordinator

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020

Top 5 choices to be the next Raiders defensive coordinator. 

Five potential Raiders replacements for Paul Guenther

NFL 2020 Week 14 Recap

Sunday, December 13th, 2020

NFL 2020 Week 14 Recap

December football. This is when the big dogs come out. 

New England Patriots at Los Angeles Rams was the Thursday night game. The Patriots began their dynasty by shocking the Rams in the 2001 Super Bowl. Bill Belichick won a slugfest over Sean McVay as the Patriots topped the Rams in the 2018 Super Bowl. This regular season game had the 6-6 Patriots trying to survive against the 8-4 Rams. After a touchback Jared Goff hit Tyler Higbee for 25. Cam Akers ran for 35. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Goff hit Cooper Kupp for 3. Sean McVay went for it on 4th and goal at the one. Goff took the quarterback sneak over the top and got the ball over the plane of the goal for a 7-0 Rams lead. The Rams quickly got it back at their own 23 and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Patriots 25. Intentional grounding led to 3rd and 18. Goff hit Akers for 16. This time McVay did not gamble on 4th and 2 from the 17. Matt Gay hit the 35 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Rams. The Rams got it back at their own 13 and soon faced 3rd and 4 from their own 29. Goff was intercepted by Bryant. The Patriots took over at the rams 32. On the first play of the second quarter from the Rams 19, Cam Newton was intercepted. Kenny Young returned it 79 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 17-0 Rams lead. The Rams defense did the rest. New England managed only a second quarter field goal. In the third quarter the Rams moved on a back breaking 16 play, 90 yard drive that took nearly 10 minutes. Goff hit Kupp for a 2 yard touchdown. The fourth quarter was scoreless. The Patriots had won at least 10 games for 17 straight seasons. That streak is now broken. The Patriots are barely alive at 6-7 and the Rams at 9-4 got a small measure of revenge. 24-3 Rams. 

Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Buccaneer started 6-2 but came in losing 3 of their last four. The Vikings started 1-5 but have gone 5-1 since. Midway through the first quarter the Vikings took over at their own 16. Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 15. Dalvin Cook ran for 8 and 2. Cousins hit Thielen for 15. On 3rd and 7 from the Tampa Bay 36, the defense jumped. On 3rd and 2, Cook gained 3. Cook ran for 9 and 4. The Vikings began the second quarter with 1st and goal at the 5. Cook ran for 4 and then for the one yard touchdown. The 14 play, 84 yard drive took 8:15 off the clock. The Vikings led 6-0 after Dan Bailey missed the extra point. The Vikings missed a chance to extend the lead when Bailey, also missed a 36 yard field goal try. After that the Buccaneers took over the game.

The Buccaneers took over at their own 26. On 3rd and 4 from the Minnesota 48, Tom Brady with all kinds of time went bombs away to Scottie Miller for the touchdown and the 7-6 Buccaneers lead. With 4:42 left in the half, Bailey’s nightmarish day continued when he missed another field goal from 54 yards out that would have given the Vikings the lead. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Buccaneers took over at their own 44. Brady hit Chris Godwin for 16. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 28, Ronald Jones gained 3. On 3rd and 6 from the Minnesota 21,  Brady hit McCoy for only 3 but a defensive personal foul for lowering the head to initiate contact meant 1st and goal at the 9. On 2nd and goal from the 7, Brady was intercepted at the one yard line. Yet defensive pass interference instead meant 1st and goal at the one. With 44 seconds left in the half, the Buccaneers led 14-6. 

The Vikings went 3 and out and Bruce Arians took his timeouts on defense. The Buccaneers got it back at their own 28 with 21 seconds left. Brady hit Cameron Brate for 9 and Antonio Brown for 16. Brady spiked the ball to stop the clock with one second left. From the Minnesota 47, Brady threw the Hail Mary. Officials never call defensive pass interference on the Hail Mary, but Tom Brady gets every single call. Defensive pass interference on the Hail Mary meant 1st and goal at the one with one untimed down. This time the ultra-aggressive Bruce Arians went conservative and opted for the field goal. Ryan Succop hit the 18 yard field goal for a 17-6 Buccaneers lead at the half. The Buccaneers faced 3rd and 2 at their own 33 to start the third quarter. McCoy gained 10, 5, 3, and on 3rd and 2 just past midfield, 14 more. Brady went deep to Mike Evans for 29. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for a 2 yard touchdown to break open a close game and make it 23-6 Buccaneers. The extra point was no good.

The Vikings soon faced 3rd and 6 from their own 29. Cousins went to Conklin for 14 and Ham for 8. On 3rd and 2 from just shy of midfield, Cousins hit Ham for 9 and 5. On 3rd and 1 from the Tampa Bay 31, Ham got stopped. Mike Zimmer went for it and Cook got the yard. On 4th and 6 from the Tampa 26, Cousins hit Conklin for 7. Cousins hit Smith for a 14 yard touchdown. Zimmer inexplicably went for 2, perhaps out of disgust with his kicker. Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for the 2 point conversion. The 15 play, 75 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive was great ball control, but killing the clock is not good when you’re losing. The Vikings trailed 23-14 after three quarters. With 9 minutes left in regulation and needing 2 scores, the worst and perhaps final game of Dan Bailey’s career in Minnesota saw him miss his third field goal from 46 yards out. Bailey missed 10 points, and the Vikings were losing by 9 points. Succop hit a 48 yard field goal to extend the lead with 5 minutes left. After a touchback the Vikings quickly moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Tampa 38. Cousins was sacked for a loss of 10, then threw incomplete, and on 4th and 13 was sacked again with 2:14 left to extinguish any hopes. The Buccaneers are 8-5 and the Vikings at 6-7 are still mathematically alive. 26-14 Buccaneers

Arizona Cardinals at New York Giants — The 66 Cardinals came in losing 3 straight. The 5-7 Giants came in winning 4 straight and tied for the NFC Least lead. Daniel Jones fumbles a lot. From midfield, Jones got blown up and fumbled. Golden got the trifecta with the hit, the fumble recovery, and the runback 30 yards to the Giants 9 yard line. Yet on 3rd and goal at the one, Kenyan Drake got stopped. Kliff Kingsbury went for it. On 4th and goal from the one, Kyler Murray faked the handoff to both running backs, rolled to his right, and threw high and incomplete. The goal line stand was wasted as the Giants went 3 and out and the Cardinals returned the punt 24 yards to the Giants 38. Mike Nugent hit a 34 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cardinals. In the second quarter the Cardinals again had excellent field position at their own 47. On 4th and 1 from the Giants 44, Kliff Kingsbury went for it. Drake gained 3. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 34, Murray hit Arnold for 20. A false start killed the drive but Nugent hit again from 37 to make it 6-0 Cardinals. 

The Giants immediately fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Cardinals had another short field at the Giants 21. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Murray fred high to the end zone and Arnold hauled it in for the touchdown and the 13-0 Cardinals lead. The Cardinals began the third quarter facing 3rd and 1 at their own 32. Murray hit Deandre Hopkins for 4. On 3rd and 3 from their own 43, Murray gained 5. Drake their ripped off a 36 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 9, Murray hit Williams for 8. Drake leapt over the top and broke the plane of the goal for the one yard touchdown. The 11 play, 77 yard, 6 minute drive made it 20-0 Cardinals. The Giants did reach the end zone once but the Cardinals added a pair of fourth quarter field goals to cap off the decisive win. The Cardinals are 7-6 and the Giants are 5-8, with both teams being alive for a playoff spot. 26-7 Cardinals

Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins — The 11-1 Chiefs came in tied for the best record in the AFC while the Dolphins at 8-4 were one game back in the AFC East. Patrick Mahomes had a pass deflected by a defender and intercepted. The Dolphins failed to capitalize, missing a field goal. The Chiefs got the ball back at their own 35 and had one of the worst drives in NFL history. Out of the shotgun, a bad snap meant a 6 yard loss. On 3rd and 12, Mahomes scrambled and was eventually tackled for a 30…yes, 30…yard loss. The Chiefs on 4th and 42…yes, 4th and 42…from their own 3…punted. The Dolphins took over with a short field at the Chiefs 44. On 3rd and 11, Tua Tagovailoa hit Mike Gesicki for 14. On 3rd and 5, Tagovailoa hit Grant for 19 and then fired over the middle to Gesicki for a 7 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Dolphins. After a touchback the Chiefs faced 1st and 10 at their own 38. Mahomes threw a high pass that bounced off a receiver’s hands and was intercepted again. It was the first game all year where the Chiefs had multiple turnovers. Rowe returned the interception 22 yards to the Chiefs 47. On 3rd and 6 from the Chiefs 13, Tagovailoa through a high pass to the end zone just out of reach as the receiver could not haul it in. Sanders hit a 31 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Dolphins. Then reality set in.

After a touchback, the Chiefs finally got going in a big way. Mahomes hit Kelce for 21 and 9 and Robinson for 13. Tyreek Hill raced for a 32 yard touchdown to get the Chiefs within 10-7. The Dolphins got it back at their own 22 and soon faced 3rd and 7 from their own 37. Tagovailoa threw a deep ball that should have been caught. Instead the defender was able to bat it up in the air, where it was intercepted. With 3 minutes left in the half the Chiefs took over at their own 26. Mahomes went to Kelce for 16 with 15 more tacked on for roughing the passer. On 3rd and 1 from the Miami 34, Leveon Bell gained 8. Mahomes went to Sammy Watkins for 15 and to Kelce for a 6 yard touchdown as the Chiefs led 14-10 with 1:37 left in the half. The Chiefs had taken the Dolphins best punch and were in the lead. The rest was inevitable. After a touchback, Mahomes went to Carl Edwards-Helaire for 26 and then went deep to Tyreek Hill for a 44 yard touchdown and a 21-10 Chiefs lead. One minute later the Dolphins punted and MeCole Hardman followed a perfect wall of blockers. Hardman got to the sideline and weaved his way through traffic for a 67 yard punt return touchdown and a 28-10 Chiefs lead. The Chiefs would fumble away another scoring chance but it didn’t matter. Tagovailoa was sacked in the end zone for a safety as the Chiefs led 30-10. Mahomes would throw another interception for a touchback. Despite 4 turnovers including uncharacteristic 3 interceptions by Mahomes, the Chiefs were still winning easily. They really are that good. 

Momentum shifted after the Chiefs failed to put the dagger in. From their own 20 Tagovailoa hit Gesicki for 13, Perry for 5, Hollins for 23, Shaheen for 10 and Gesicki for a 29 yard touchdown. With 12 minutes left in regulation the Dolphins were within 30-17. The Dolphins got it back with 10 minutes left at their own 25. From their 36, Tagovailoa hit Hollins for 6, Bowden for 9 and Smith for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 40, Laird gained 3. Tagovailoa hit Hollins for 18. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 10, Tagovailoa gained 2. Three defensive penalties meant 1st and goal at the one. Tagovailoa got in. The 14 plat, 75 yard, 6 minute drive had the Dolphins within 30-24 with 4 minutes left. 

After a touchback, Mahomes hit Edwards-Helaire for 11 with 15 more added on for a defensive facemask. On 3rd and 1 from the Miami 40, Edwards-Helaire got stopped. A 58 yard field goal try would lock up the win, but that was too risky. Andy Reid decided to go for it, knowing that failing to convert could cost the Chiefs the game. Andy Reid hates running the ball, and the pass-happy coach let Mahomes hit Hill for a 22 yard gain. Reid finally did run the ball, and Edwards-Helaire lost 3 yards and then lost 8 yards. Reid vowed never to run the ball again. With just over one minute left, a short field goal try was now a 46 yarder. A miss would again give the Dolphins a golden chance to win. Butker’s kick was good and the Chiefs led 33-24. Needing 2 scores after a touchback, Tagovailoa rallied the Dolphins to the Chiefs 26. Sanders hit a 44 yard field goal with 16 seconds left but the onside kick failed. The Dolphins dropped to 8-5 but still in the playoff picture. It wasn’t pretty, but the Chiefs at 12-1 locked up the AFC West for the 5th straight year, making Andy Reid a most happy walrus indeed. 33-27 Chiefs

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars — The 8-4 Titans came in tied atop the AFC South against the 1-11 Jaguars. Aldrick Rosas came in for a 53 yard field goal to give the Jaguars the lead, but the kick was blocked. On 2nd and 3 from midfield, Tannehill hit Swaim for 13 and then went deep to AJ Brown for a 37 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans. In the second quarter the Titans fumbled to set up the Jaguars at the Titans 40. On 3rd and 5 Mike Glennon threw incomplete, but Rosas hit a 53 yard field goal to get the Jaguars on the board. After a touchback, Derrick Henry did everything. He ran for 8, 22, 5, 4, and on 3rd and 1 from the Jacksonville 36, all the way for the touchdown. With 40 seconds left in the half, the Titans led 14-3. That was enough time for the Jaguars to self destruct. They ran 3 plays, lost 15 yards, and the Titans took their timeouts on defense. The Titans got it back at their own 37 with 9 seconds left. Ryan Tannehill went to Davis for 19 and Smith for 9 with 2 seconds left. Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 53 yard field goal to make it 17-3 Titans. 

The second half was pointless. After a touchback, Tannehill hit Brown for 13 and Brown for 9. Henry took it up the gut for a 47 yard gain. Tannehill went to Swaim for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 24-3 Titans. Glennon was quickly intercepted to set up the Titans at the Jags 48. On 2nd and 17 from their own 45, Tannehill hit Brown for the exact amount  with 15 more added for a defensive facemask. Tannehill hit Swaim for 16 down to the one and Henry ran it in for make it 31-3 Titans. At 9-4 the Titans were in a good position for a playoff run while the 1-12 Jaguars saw their season of misery continue. Doug Marrone will most likely not be fired before the end of the season, but Black Monday will be brutal for the normally patient Shad Khan. Jacksonville got a garbage touchdown in a garbage season. 31-10 Titans  

Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals — Neither team is going to the playoffs. Word has leaked that Jerry Jones will not be firing Mike McCarthy, in his first season with the Cowboys. However, changes to their dead last defense will be coming. The Bengals began by fumbling, setting up the Cowboys at the Cincinnati 32. That led to a 34 yard Greg Zuerlein field goal to make it 3-0 Cowboys. The Bengals moved from their own 25 to a 2nd and 3 at the Dallas 20. Williams got the carry and fumbled. Smith picked it up and rumbled 78 yards for a defensive touchdown and a 10-0 Cowboys lead. The Bengals moved from their own 25 on a 13 play, 60 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. On 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 15, Perine got stopped. Zac Taylor decided to go for it to start the second quarter. Erickson got the carry and got stopped and fumbled. The Cowboys took over at their own 12. On 3rd and 1 from their own 21, Ezekiel Elliott gained 3. On 3rd and 14 from their own 20, Red Rifle Andy Dalton hit Amari Cooper for 20. On 3rd and 5 from the Dallas 45, Dalton hit Cooper for 13. On 3rd and 6 from the Cincy 38, Dalton hit CeeDee Lamb for 14, Michael Gallup for 12, and Cooper for an 11 yard touchdown. The 15 play, 88 yard drive took more than 8 minutes off the clock and had the Cowboys up 17-0. The Bengals managed a touchdown before the half but nothing else. The Cowboys added a field goal in each of the final 2 quarters and a 7 yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Pollard after the 2 minute warning. 30-7 Cowboys 

Houston Texans at Chicago Bears — Neither team is going to the playoffs. On their first offensive play from scrimmage, David Montgomery broke through the line and raced for an 80 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bears. The Bears got it back at their own 21. Mitchell Trubisky hit Allen Robinson for 14, Jimmy Graham for 12 and Robinson for 7. On 3rd and 3 from the Houston 46, Trubisky hit Robison for 9, Kmet for a pair of 7 yard gains and Mooney for 10. The Bears began the second quarter facing 1st and 10 at the Chicago 13. Trubisky hit Graham for a 5 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 79 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive made it 14-0 Bears. 

The Texans soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 22, Deshaun Watson ran for gains of 4 and 7. On 3rd and 3 from their own 33, Watson connected with Johnson for a 48 yard gain. Watson ran for 14 and hit Coutee for a 5 yard touchdown to get the Texans within 14-7. They would get no closer.

The Texans got the ball back at their own 19 and disaster struck. Watson was sacked for a 10 yard loss. Then he was sacked again in the end zone by Khalil Mack for a safety and a 16-7 Bears advantage. The Bears took the free kick at their own 34. Montgomery ran for 13 with 15 more tacked on for defensive unnecessary roughness. Trubisky hit Miller for 6, Robinson for 9, Montgomery for 11, Mooney for a 12 yard touchdown. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half the Bears were dominating 23-7. The Bears got it back with 1:45 left in the half. On 3rd and 6 from their own 27, Trubisky hit Robinson for 8 and again for 22. On 2nd and 18 just shy of midfield, Trubisky hit Kmet for 16. On 3rd and 2, Montgomery gained 11. Trubisky hit Robinson for 16. With 11 seconds left the Bears 3 yards away. Trubisky hit Robinson for the touchdown to make it a 30-7 Bears landslide at the intermission. A useless second half saw the Bears kick a field goal in each of the final two quarters to end their 6 game losing streak. 36-7 Bears

Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers — Neither team is going to the playoffs. The Panthers punted on 4th and 4 from their own 27. Spencer got it, made it to the sideline, and outraced everyone for an 83 yard punt return touchdown and a 6-0 Broncos lead. The extra point was no good. In the second quarter the Broncos moved from their own 10 to a 2nd and 9 at the Carolina 32. Jeremy Chinn has been a one man wrecking crew this season. He belted Drew Lock, who fumbled. Obada recovered it and rumbled 54 yards to the Denver 3. Davis ran in the 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Panthers. The Broncos soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 32. Lock hit Fumagalli for a 4 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Denver 38, Lock threw incomplete but roughing the passer kept the drive going. Lock went deep to Jerry Jeudy for 31 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the Carolina 12 out of the shotgun, Melvin Gordon gained 9. On 2nd and goal at the 4, Gordon got stopped but a mindless defensive penalty for taunting meant 1st and goal at the 2. Lock hit Vannett for the touchdown. The 12 play, 75 yard drive had the Broncos up 13-7 with 1:37 left in the half.  

The Broncos took over in the third quarter. From their own 37, Lock hit Jeudy for 11. Gordon gained 15. Lock went deep to Hamler for a 37 yard touchdown. The extra point was again no good as the Broncos led 19-7. The Panthers soon faced 3rd and 7 from their own 28. Teddy Bridgewater hit Robbie Anderson for 10. On 3rd and 3 from their own 45, Bridgewater hit Anderson for 21. Yet on 2nd and 5 from the Denver 17, Bridgewater threw incomplete twice. Joey Slye hit the 35 yard field goal to get the Panthers within 19-10 midway through the third quarter. The Broncos soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 27. Lock hit Fumagalli for 14 and then went deep to Patrick for 32. On 2nd and 14 from the Carolina 31, Lock connected with Fumagalli for a 29 yard gain. Lock hit Patrick for the touchdown. Vic Fangio went for a 2 point conversion to make it a 3 score game, but Lock threw incomplete. The Broncos led 25-10 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

After a touchback Bridgewater hit Pierre Cooper for 12 and Smith for 9. On 3rd and 1 from their own 46, Smith gained 6. Bridgewater went to Samuel for big gains of 19 and 17. On 3rd and 5 from the 7, Bridgewater out of the shotgun took the draw up the middle for the touchdown. Only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Panthers were within 25-17. The Panthers took over at their own 18. Bridgewater hit Curtis Samuel for 14, Anderson for 8 and 23, and Samuel again for 16. Samuel ran for 10. On 3rd and goal at the 7, the Panthers suffered a costly delay of game penalty. Then a short completion gained only 4 yards. With 5:15 to play, Matt Rhule decided to play it safe. Slye hit the 26 yard field goal. The 10 play, 74 yard, 5 minute drive had the Panthers within 25-20. 

After a touchback, the Broncos truck quickly. Rather than grind down clock, Lock ran for 6, hit Gordon for 20, and went deep to Hamler for a 49 yard touchdown. With 4 minutes left th Broncos had breathing room up 32-20. After a touchback the Panthers needed only 30 seconds to strike back. Bridgewater hit Davis for 20. Defensive pass interference added 13 more. Bridgewater then went to Cooper for 32. Davis out of the shotgun ran for a 10 yard touchdown. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Panthers were back within 5. Matt Rhule opted to trust his defense rather than go with an onside kick. A low line drive squib kick was headed toward the end zone and died just short of it. The Broncos were backed up at their own 7 yard line. The Panthers got it back at their own 27 with a full 2:48 to play. Yet on 3rd and 8, Bridgewater threw incomplete twice with 1:50 left. The Panthers were out of timeouts, and Lock took 3 knees. 32-27 Broncos

New York Jets at Seattle Seahawks — The 8-4 Seahawks came in tied atop the NFC West while the 0-12 Jets suffered a crushing last second defeat last week and fired their defensive coordinator. The Jets after a touchback moved to the Seattle 27 and then bogged down. Castillo hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jets. Then reality set in. After a touchback, Russell Wilson hit DK Metcalf for 14. Moore ran for 9, Chris Carson added 10 and Hart gained 19. Wilson hit Swain, for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Seahawks. Wilson on his next series threw an interception but the Seahawks got it back at their own 30. Wilson went to Tyler Lockett for 10. On 3rd and 4 from their own 46, Wilson hit Lockett for 15. Carlos Hyde ripped off gained of 15 and 18. On the first play of the second quarter, Wilson went to Metcalf for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Seahawks. On the very next Jets play from scrimmage, Frank Gore fumbled and Bobby Wagner recovered for the Seahawks at the Jets 32. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 24, Carson only gained one. Pete Carroll decided not to gamble on 4th and 1. Jason Myers hit the 41 yard field goal to make it 17-3 Seahawks. 

Castillo missed a 37 yard field goal try with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. From their own 31, Wilson hit Metcalf for 8 and 6, Carson for 9 and 4, and Hollister for 20. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 14, Wilson hit Metcalf for 9. With 30 seconds left in the half, Carson ran for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 23-3 Seahawks. The extra point was no good. Castillo then missed a 41 yard field goal try. For some reason the second half was played. On 3rd and 3 from their own 32 to start the third quarter, Wilson hit Lockett for just enough. On 3rd and 8 from their own 37, Wilson threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. These are the Jets. On 3rd and 7 from their own 45, Wilson was sacked but illegal contact on the defense kept the drive going. These are the Jets. From midfield, Carson ran for 4, 28 and 8. Wilson hit Dissly for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 30-3 Seahawks. The Jets then punted on 4th and 16 from their own 4. The Seahawks took over at the Jets 40. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Wilson hit Moore for a touchdown to make it 37-3 Seahawks. The Seahawks added a fourth quarter field goal to lead 40-3. The Jets fell to 0-13 as Just End The Season had the Jets 3 games from 0-16. Adam Gase is somehow still employed. The Seahawks at 9-4 are in a strong playoff position.  

Indianapolis Colts at Las Vegas Raiders — The Raiders needed a miracle over the winless Jets to get to 7-5 while the 8-4 Colts were in a good playoff position. This was the first of 3 straight Raiders home games, and they got back Josh Jacobs, Jonathan Abram and big Trent Brown from the injury list. However, Paul Guenther’s defense remained awful as Philip Rivers completed passes with ease. On the first play from scrimmage after a touchback, the Raiders committed a defensive pass interference penalty for a 4 yard Chargers gain. Taylor gashed the Raiders for a pair of 13 yard gains. Rivers hit Taylor for 20. Taylor then ran for 18. On 3rd and goal at the 6, a false start was followed by a pass that gained only 4 yards. Rodrigo Blankship hit the 25 yard field goal. The 10 play, 68 yard, 6 minute drive made it 3-0 Colts. The Raiders ran 3 plays and gained only 2 yards. The Colts soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 31. Rivers went to Michael Pittman for 19 yards to midfield. Nyheim Hines gained 13. On 3rd and 8 from the Raiders 35, Rovers went to TY Hilton for 17. On 3rd and goal at the 7, Rivers fired to Hilton for the touchdown. The 11 play, 72 yard, 5 minute drive gave the Colts a 10-0 lead.

The Raiders finally woke up. From their own 24, Jacobs ran for 7. Carr hit Henry Ruggs for 6 and Darren Waller for 4. Jacobs ran for 12. Carr then went deep to Foster Moreau, who juked a defender for a 47 yard touchdown to end the first quarter with the Raiders down 10-7. The Raiders got it back to start the second quarter at their own 17. On 3rd and 3 from their own 35, Carr went deep to Nelson Agholor for a 36 yard gain. Carr hit Jacobs for 8 and then went deep to Agholor for a 21 yard touchdown and a 14-10 Raiders lead.

Yet the Raiders defense remains awful. From their own 32 the Colts made it look easy. Rivers went deep to Pittman for 23 and deep again to Hilton for a 41 yard touchdown. Just like that the Colts were back on top 17-14. The Raiders then spent much of the second and third quarters moving the ball well and not finishing drives. After a touchback the Raiders moved to a 3rd and 8 at the Colts 13. Carr threw a fade to Waller in the end zone, but Kenny Moore made a leaping one handed interception for a touchback with 3 12 minutes left in the half. The Colts soon faced 3rd and 15 from their own 15. Rivers threw incomplete but defensive holding on…who else, Trayvon Mullen…meant an automatic first down. The Raider gave the Colts another first down with encroachment. On 3rd and 6 from their own 29, Rivers went to Zach Pascal for 27 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Raiders 34 with the defense smelling pass, Taylor gained 15. With 6 seconds left the Colts faced 3rd and 4 at the Raiders 13 with one timeout. The Raiders again expected pass and Hines carried the ball and appeared headed to the end zone. He was upended at the 2 yard line but the Colts got the timeout with one second remaining. Blankenship hit the 20 yard field goal as the 13 play, 78 yard drive put the Colts up 20-14 at the half.

The Raiders began the third quarter facing 3rd and 10 at their own 25. Carr found Hunter Renfrow, who leapt in the air over 2 defenders to get just enough for the first down. Carr went to Waller for 15. Jacobs gained 6 and Carr added 5. From the Colts 38, Jon Gruden went to the bag of tricks. Carr threw a backward pass to Zee Jones, who threw a halfback option pass to Agholor for a 29 yard gain. Yet the offense again could not finish the drive. On 2nd and goal from the 7, Carr threw incomplete twice. Daniel Carlson hit the 25 yard field goal to cap the 13 play, 68 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive and get the Raiders within 20-17. The Raiders defense remained horrendous. On 3rd and 1 from their own 34, Wilkins gained 3. Taylor then raced through a wide open hole for an easy 62 yard touchdown. The Raiders were kicking field goals and the Colts were scoring touchdowns as the Colts led 27-17 midway through the third quarter.

After a touchback it was deja vu all over again. The Raiders moved to a 1st and goal at the 10 but could not finish the drive. A completion gained nothing. Then came an incompletion. On 3rd and goal from the 10, Carr inexplicably threw a short pass that gained only 5 yards. For some reason throwing past the marker was not an option. For those who despise the West Coast Offense, this is how teams lose. Carlson hit the 23 yard field goal to get the Raiders within 27-20 after three quarters. The 14 play, 70 yard drive took over 7 minutes but was the third time the Raiders drove deep only to be denied a touchdown. The Raiders offense was malfunctioning near the goal line while the Raiders defense was determined to continue melting down everywhere. 

After a touchback to start the fourth quarter, Rivers hit Hilton for 14. On 3rd and 5 from from their own 44, Rivers hit Hilton for 7. Hines ripped off a 31 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Raiders 7, the defense desperately needed a stop. Instead they jumped into the neutral zone. On the next play Taylor ran it in for a 3 yard touchdown and a 34-20 Colts lead with 9 1/2 minutes left. One play after a touchback, the Raiders collapse was complete. A West Coast Offense dink and dunk pass lost one yard and was fumbled. The Colts recovered at the Raiders 26. Blankenship hit a 35 yard field to make it 37-20 Colts. Needing 3 scores in 5 1/2 minutes, the Raiders kept the West Coast Offense dinking and dunking. The result was inevitable. A short pass from Carr bounced off of Jalen Richard’s hands and was intercepted by Willis, who returned it 49 yards for a touchdown to make the game a blowout with the Colts up 44-20.

The Raiders got a garbage touchdown to close out the scoring. The Colts at 9-4 are playing like a playoff team. The Raiders last year began 6-4 before collapsing down the stretch with a 1-5 record to go 7-9. This year the team insisted that they were not the Faders. They are. After starting 6-3 and nearly sweeping the defending champions, the Jets have gone 1-4 to fall to 7-6. Their only win in that stretch was over a winless team, and they needed a miracle to do it. The defense has not been fixed. The secondary is awful. Jon Gruden had finally had enough. After the game, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was fired. Wade Phillips is available. So is Jeff Fisher, although the Buddy Ryan disciple probably would not settle for less than a head coaching job. Start with the Michelin Man and son of Bum Phillips. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will be the interim defensive coordinator for the final three regular season games. 44-27 Colts

Washington Anonymous Surnames at San Francisco 49ers — Both teams came in 5-7, but the Washington No-Names had won 3 straight including a shocking road win over previously unbeaten Pittsburgh. Playing football is illegal in Santa Clara, so the game was played in Arizona. With 5 minutes left in the opening quarter, the Non-Redskins missed a long field goal to give the 49ers great field position at their own 43.  Raheem Mostert had a pair of 9 yard gains sandwiched around a 17 yard completion from Nick Mullens to Aiyuk. Wilson ran for 11 and then for the one yard touchdown as the 49ers led 7-0 after the first quarter. After that Ron Rivera’s defense dug in.

Dustin Hopkins hit a 51 yard field goal with 6 minutes left in the half to get the No-Names on the board. The 49ers quickly fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and the No-Names recovered at the San Francisco 26. Hopkins hit a 31 yard field goal to get the No-names with 7-6. At the 2 minute warning, Alex Smith was intercepted to give the 49ers the ball at their own 38. Two plays later Mullens was hit and fumbled by Chase Young, who got the trifecta. He got the sack, the forced fumble, and the fumble recovery that he took for a 47 yard defensive touchdown to put the Washington Gridlock up 13-7. In the third quarter the Washington Deficits moved 72 yards in 11 plays and 5 minutes. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Smith threw incomplete.Hopkins hit the 21 yard field goal to put the Anonymous Surnames up 16-7. The 49ers moved from their own 8 yard line to a 2nd and 2 at the No-Names 24. The 11 play, 68 yards 5 minute drive turned disastrous on the last play of the third quarter. Mullens had a pass intercepted by Curl, who followed blockers down the sideline for a 76 yard defensive touchdown and a 23-7 lead for the Riveras. 

Despite not having an offensive touchdown, the Riveras led by 16. The 49ers faced 3rd and 9 from their own 26. Mullens hit Reed for only 5, but roughing the passer added 15 more. On 3rd and 10 from their own 46, Mullens hit James for 16 and Dwelley for 6. Mostert gained 14. Kyle Juszczyk caught a pass for 9, ran for 33, and caught a 6 yard touchdown pass from Mullens. Mullens hit Kendrick Bourne for the 2 point conversion to get the 49ers within 8 with a full 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. At the 2 minute warning, the 49ers were facing 3rd and 2 from the Washington 44. Mullens fired over the middle to Bourne for a 22 yard gain. Yet offensive holding nullified the play. An incompletion set up 4th and 12. Mullens hit Bourne, but he was able to only gain 10 yards before he was wrapped up by the defense short of the sticks. The 49ers held on defense and got the ball back at their own 25 with exactly one second left. Mullens hit Aiyuk for 19 but the hook and laterals did not reach midfield. The 6-7 Non-Redskins had a one game lead in the NFC Least while the 49ers at 5-8 play in a real division and are all but out of it. 23-15 Anonymous Surnames

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles — The 10-2 Saints took on the 3-8 Eagles in a battle of backups. Taysom Hill started his 4th game in place of Drew Brees while Jalen Hurts started his first ever NFL game over the benched Carson Wentz. The Eagles from their own 24 held the ball for 13 plays and over 8 minutes yet only moved 39 yards. On 4th and 2 from the Saints 34, Doug Pederson passed up a 52 yard field goal try and went for it. Myles Sanders was hit for a 3 yard loss. The Saints moved from their 37 to a 4th and 2 at the Philadelphia 27. Sean Payton opted for the field goal and from 45 yards out, Wil Lutz was no good. The Eagles soon aced 3rd and 7 from their own 38. Hurts hit Reagor for 39 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Saints 16, Sanders only gained one. A field goal try would only be 33 yards but Doug Pederson again went for it. Hurts went to Alshon Jeffery for the first down and the touchdown to make it 7-0 Eagles early in the second quarter. 

Midway through the second quarter, an interception of Hill had the Eagles at the Saints 32. On 3rd and 4 Hurts threw incomplete. Jake Elliott hit the 44 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Eagles. With 2:13 left in the half the Eagles were pinned at their own 4 yard line. Hurts gained 11. Sanders then broke off tackle and outran everyone for an 82 yard touchdown. With 1:35 left in the half the Eagles were winning a stunner up 17-0. The Eagles got it back at their own 23 with one minute left and moved to a 1st and goal at the 8 with 9 seconds left. Hurts threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 1st and goal at the 4. Only 2 seconds remained. Doug Pederson played it safe and Elliott came in for the chip shot 22 yard field goal. The kick was doinked off the upright no good. 

The Saints finally got going in the third quarter from their own 35. Hill hit Michael Thomas for 13 and Johnson for 11. On 3rd and 6 from the Philadelphia 35, Hill hit Cook for 8. Hill hit Alvin Kamara for 11. Kamara then ran for 4 and for the 5 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 65 yard, 5 minute drive had the Saints within 17-7. The Eagles after a touchback moved to a 4th and 1 at the Saints 40. Doug Pederson went for it and Hurts got stopped cold. On 3rd and 9 from their own 41, Hill went to Thomas for 22 and to Emanuel Sanders for a 37 yard touchdown. The Saints were right back in it down 17-14 after three quarters.

The Saints in the fourth quarter moved from their own 5 to a 4th and 2 at the Philly 42 with 10 minutes left in regulation. Hill was sacked and fumbled and the Eagles took over at their own 47. Hurts ran for 9 and hit Ward for 14. Reagor ran for 19 and Sanders added 7. Sanders ran for a one yard touchdown as the Eagles led 24-14 with 6 1/2 minutes left and were smelling upset. After a touchback and needing 2 scores, Hill moved the Saints to a 3rd and 8 at the Philly 31. Hill was sacked. On 4th and 16, Sean Payton brought Lutz in to try a 57 yard field goal at the 2 minute warning. The kick was no good. The Eagles were in total control but in just trying to run out the clock, Hurts fumbled the ball and the Saints recovered just shy of midfield with 1:44 left. Hill went deep to Smith for 31 and to Cook for a 20 yard touchdown. This all took 20 seconds. With 1:24 left the Saints were within a field goal. The onside kick was a beauty, and it nicked off a Philadelphia player. The Saints appeared to recover but after a mad scramble the Eagles had it. Hurts took 3 knees as he won a stunning upset in his very first game. The Saints had their 9 game winning streak snapped. At 10-3 they have a near stranglehold on the NFC South. However, the loss dropped them into a tie atop the NFC and the Saints do not have the tie breaker. 24-21 Eagles

Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Chargers — Neither team is going to the playoffs. The Chargers from their own 17 saw Justin Herbert hit Austin Ekeler for 9. Ekeler ran for 9 more. On 3rd and 1 from their own 44, Kenny Ballage gained 4. Ekeler ripped off a pair of 13 yard gains. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 26, Herbert hit Johnson for just enough. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 16, Herbert hit Keenan Allen for 6 and again for a 10 yard touchdown. The 15 play, 83 yard drive took 9 1/2 minutes off the clock and had the Chargers up 7-0. After a touchback Todd Gurley for caught a pass from Matt Ryan for 8, ran for 2, caught a pass for 4, and ran for 8 and 4. On 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 39, Gage took the direct snap and went deep to Calvin Ridley for the touchdown and a 7-7 game.  

The Falcons got it back at their own 33. Ryan went to Gage for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Chargers 25, Ryan hit graham for 7. On 3rd and 10 from the Chargers 18, Ryan was sacked. Younghoe Koo hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Falcons. Adderly returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the Atlanta 23. The Chargers wasted the field position. On 3rd and 4 Herbert threw incomplete. Mike Badgley hit a 35 yard field goal for a 10-10 deadlock. After a touchback Ryan hit Ridley for 32 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Chargers 40, Ryan went to Ridley for 19 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 12, Smith gained 3. Ryan hit Laquon Treadwell for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Falcons with 5 minutes left in the half. 

After a touchback the Chargers moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Atlanta 8 and took their final timeout with 22 seconds left. Ballage got the carry and got stopped. In a desperate attempt to hurry up the field goal, the Chargers committed an illegal shift. That meant an automatic 10 second runoff and the end of the half as the Chargers totally wasted a 16 play, 62 yard, 5 minute drive. This is why they lose games. In the third quarter the Falcons moved from their own 22 to a 1st and 10 at the Chargers 43. Ryan went for it all and was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. Herbert hit Ekeler for 12. On 3rd and 3 from their own 39, Herbert hit Allen for 8 and Hunter Henry for 11. Ekeler gained 13 and caught a pass for 13 more. On 3rd and goal from the 12, Herbert hit Johnson for the touchdown. The 13 play, 80 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive tied the game 17-17 after three quarters. The fourth quarter was truly a battle of who wanted it least between two teams known for blowing close games late. 

With 9 minutes left in regulation a 20 yard punt return gave the Falcons the ball at their own 41. With 4 minutes left they faced a 2 and 7 from the Chargers 16. Then came offensive holding. Then Ryan was intercepted by Addae. The 11 play, 5 minute drive gained only 33 yards and came up empty. The Chargers moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 2 at the Atlanta 45 with one minute left. Herbert fired over the middle and was intercepted by Wreh-Wilson at the Atlanta 38. From the Chargers 45, Ryan was intercepted by Davis. A personal foul on the return against the Chargers had them taking over at their own 26 rather than their own 41 with 30 second left. On 3rd and 2 from their own 34, Herbert hit Henry for 15. Herbert then threw a perfect pass to Johnson for 25 yards with 16 seconds left. Anthony then called a safe run as the Chargers took their final timeout with 2 seconds left. Badgley came in for a 43 yard field goal try for the win. The kick was good as the Chargers finally got a bit of relief in the midst of a tough season. 20-17 Chargers

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions — The 9-3 Packers took on the 5-7 Lions. The Lions began facing 3rd and 9 from their own 26. Matthew Stafford went deep to Mohammed San for 21. On 3rd and 2 from the Green Bay 45, Stafford hit Marvin Jones for 8. Stafford hit Sanu for 16 and Danny Amendola for 15 down to the one. Stafford hit TJ Hockenson for the touchdown. The 11 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive made it 7-0 Lions. After a touchback the Packers struck quickly. Aaron Rodgers hit Davantae Adams for 4, St. Brown for 15, and Adams again for a 58 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game. 

The Packers got it back at their own 31. Rodgers hit Marques Valdez-Scantling for 10. On 3rd and 4 from their own 47, Rodgers gained 5. On 3rd and 1 from the Detroit 39, Williams gained 2. Rodgers hit Austin for 5 and Adams for 12. Rodgers began the second quarter by hitting Valdez-Scantling for a 14 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 69 yard, 7 minute drive had the Packers up 14-7. With 5:40 left in the half the Lions faced 1st and 15 at their own 15. Stafford hit Swift for 17 and Cephus for 8. Stafford went to Adrian Peterson for 23 and Johnsonbahd Hockenson for 10 each. On 1st and 20 from the Green Bay 21, Stafford went to Hockensen for 13 but defensive holding instead meant 1st and 10 from the Green Bay 16. Stafford hit Amendola for 10. Swift ran for the 3 and then for the 3 yard touchdown. With 90 seconds left in the half the game was tied again 14-14. 

The Packers began the third quarter facing 3rd and 7 from their own 28. Rodgers there incomplete but defensive holding meant a new set of downs. On 1st and 20 from their own 23, Rodgers hit Lazard and Valdes-Scantling for a pair of 14 yard gains. On 3rd and 14 from the Detroit 42, Rodgers went deep to Valdes-Scantling for 21. On 3rd and 4 from the Detroit 15, Rodgers hit Lazard for just enough.On 3rd and goal from the 6, Rodgers got around the end and scored the touchdown. The 14 play, 75 yard drive took nearly 9 minutes and put the Packers up 21-14. The Packers got it back at their own 21. Rodgers hit Valdez-Scantling for 15. On 3rd and 3 from his own 43, Rodgers hit Tonyan for 11. Williams gained 11. Aaron Jones gained 8 to end the third quarter and 9 and 7 to start the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 1 from the Detroit 8, Williams gained 4. Rodgers hit Tonyan for the 4 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 79 yard, 8 minute drive put the Packers up 28-14 with 12 minutes left in regulation. 

After a touchback the Lions soon faced 3rd and 10 from their own 35. Stafford hit Jones for 12. On 3rd and 7 from the Green Bay 45, Stafford threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Stafford hit Hockensen for 13. On 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 11, Stafford ran for 6 with defensive holding adding 3 more. Johnson ran for the 2 yard touchdown. The 13 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Lions within 28-21 with 6 1/2 minutes left. The Packers moved from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Detroit 35. A run gained one yard and Rodgers threw incomplete twice. A 52 yard field goal try resulted in a false start. Matt LaFleur now had a big decision to make. With 3 1/2 minutes left, LaFleur gambled big on Mason Crosby. Now it was a 57 yard try. Crosby nailed it to to give the Packers breathing room up 31-21. 

Making matters worse for the Lions, a hit on Stafford in the first half was finally too much to bear. Chase Daniel came on in relief in a desperate situation and moved the Lions to a 3rd and goal at the 4. Daniel scrambled and scored at the 2 minute warning, but offensive holding nullified it. After an incompletion, Matt Prater hit a 32 yard field goal to get the Lions back within 7. The onside kick was a good one and it appeared that Killebrew recovered for the Lions. Yet the officials ruled that Killebrew was out of bounds. After a lengthy review, the call stood and the Packers had the ball at the Detroit 45. The Lions took their final timeout on defense. Everything came down to the Packers facing 3rd and 5 at the Detroit 40 with 1:40 left. When the other team is out of timeouts, you run the ball. Every. Single. Time. Instead Matt LaFleur trusted his future Hall of Fame quarterback. Rodgers hit Tonyan short of the sticks, but Tonyan leapt in the air over a couple defenders to get past the sticks. Rodgers took a knee to get the Packers to 10-3. The Packers clinched the NFC North and are tied atop the overall NFC. The Packers hold the tie-breaker. 31-24 Packers

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills was the Sunday night game. The 11-1 Steelers lost their first game last week but had already clinched a playoff spot. They have almost clinched the AFC North and entered the week tied atop the AFC. The 9-3 Bills came in one game ahead in the AFC East. With snow flurries coming down, this game was all about defense. A scoreless game saw its first break with 9 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Bills fumbled and the Steelers recovered at the Buffalo 30. Ben Roethlisberger hit Washington for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Steelers. The Bills moved from their 26 to a 1st and 10 at the Pittsburgh 16 at the 2 minute warning. Josh Allen threw 3 straight incompletions. Tyler Bass hit the 34 yard field goal to get the Bills within 7-3. After a touchback, the Steelers faced 2nd and 5 from their own 47 with 52 seconds left. Ben Roethlisberger threw a short pass and Johnson jumped the route. He returned the interception 51 yards for a touchdown and a 9-7 Bills lead. The extra point was no good. 

The Bills began the third quarter facing 3rd and 2 at their own 40. Allen found Stefan Diggs for 6 and Knox for 8. Singletary gained 14. Allen hit Diggs for 12 and again for a 19 yard touchdown and a 16-7 Bills lead. The Steelers punted on 4th and 19 from their own 16. A 21 yard punt return had the Bills at their own 43. Allen hit Diggs for big gains of 22 and 19 and then went to Davis for a 13 yard touchdown as the Bills were breaking open a close game up 23-7 midway through the third quarter.

The Steelers took over late in the third quarter at their own 19. Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 5, Johnson for 6 and Eric Ebron for 17. The Steelers began the fourth quarter at the Buffalo 47. Roethlisberger hit Samuels for 8, Washington for 9, Johnson for 17, and Juju Smith-Schuster for 7. Roethlisberger threw a 3 yard touchdown to Smith-Schuster. The 2 point conversion was successful. The 10 play, 81 yard drive had the Steelers within 23-15 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Bills took over at their own 34. Josh Allen hit Cole Beasley for 9. On 3rd and 10 from their own 47, Allen hit McKenzie for 12. On 3rd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 36, Allen threw a deep ball incomplete and drew a defensive pass interference call to set up 1st and goal at the one. The Bills went backward after that, but Bass nailed a 23 yard field goal to put t he Bills up by 11 midway through the fourth quarter. Roethlsberger was then intercepted. The Bills faced 1st and 20 at their own 19, but Allen led a drive that consumed the remaining 7 minutes. On 3rd and 11 from his own 28, Allen hit Knox for 16. On 3rd and 1 from the Pittsburgh 19, Moss gained 2 to lock up the win. The 11-2 Steelers are one game back in the AFC while the Bills at 10-3 now lead the AFC East by 2 games. 26-15 Bills

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns was the Monday night game. The 9-3 Browns took on the 7-5 Ravens in a crucial AFC North battle. The Browns went right to work from their own 19. Baker Mayfield hit Njoku for 20. On 3rd and 4 from their own 45, Mayfield hit Karim Hunt for 10. Kevin Stefanski then went to the bag of tricks. Mayfield lateraled to Jarvis Landry, who threw the halfback option pass to Nick Chubb  for 12. Mayfield then went to Bryant for 4, Njoku for 11, and Higgins for 9 and 4. Chubb ran straight up the middle for a 7 yard touchdown. The 11 play, 81 yard, 6 minute drive made it 7-0 Browns. The Ravens soon faced 3rd and 6 from their own 31. Lamar Jackson scrambled for 7 with defensive holding adding 5 more. On 3rd and 7 from their own 46, Jackson went deep incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 29 yard gain. Jackson ran for 13 and 6. On 3rd and 3 from the 5, Jackson ran for the touchdown. 73 yards took 6 minutes and made it a 7-7 game.

After a touchback, the Browns moved to a 4th and 4 at the Baltimore 34. Kevin Stefanski went for it. Mayfield threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant an 11 yard gain. A false start killed the drive. On the first play of the second quarter, Cody Parkey came in for a 39 yard field goal try to give the Browns the lead. The kick was no good. The Ravens took over at their own 20. JK Dobbins gained 11. Jackson added 10 and Dobbins gained 13. Jackson hit Willie Snead for 10. Jackson ran for 20 and Edwards ran for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Ravens midway through the second quarter. The Browns soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 27. Mayfield hit Landry for 11 and deep to Donovan Peoples-Jones for 27 yards. Chubb ran for 8 and then for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 14-14 with 4 minutes left in the half.

A short punt gave the Ravens the ball back at their own 44 with one minute left. On 3rd and 10, Jackson went deep to Andrews for a 39 yard gain. Jackson then ran for a 17 yard touchdown and a 21-14 Ravens lead. After a touchback to start the third quarter, the Ravens struck quickly. On 3rd and 3 from their own 37, Jackson broke free for a 44 yard gain. Edwards then ran for a 19 yard touchdown to make it 28-14 Ravens. 

After a touchback Mayfield hit Bryant for 9. Chubb ran for 11. Mayfield hit Njoku for 14, Chubb for 9 and Hunt for 26. Hunt ran for a 5 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good as the Browns trailed 28-20 after the 11 play, 75 yard drive. The Browns got the ball back at their own 13. Mayfield was intercepted by Bowser, who returned it 17 yards to the Cleveland one yard line. Dobbins got in. The extra point was blocked but the Ravens led 34-20 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

The Browns soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Mayfield gained just enough with defensive illegal use of hands adding 5 more. On 4th and 4 from their own 46, Kevin Stefanski decided to go for it. Mayfield hit Landry for 12. Mayfield went deep incomplete, but Stefanski successfully challenged that the defense had 12 men on the field. Hunt ran for 10 to end the third quarter with the Browns facing 1st and 10 at the Baltimore 27. On 3rd and 8, Mayfield was able to only get 4. On 4th and 4 from the Baltimore 21, Stefanski went for it again and John Harbaugh had to call a timeout to avoid his defense again having 12 men on the field. Mayfield scrambled and had a running lane. Yet he also had a wide open receiver because the defender fell down. Higgins caught it for the score as the Browns were within 34-26. The 12 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive was capped barely more than one minute into the fourth quarter. Stefanski inexplicably went for a 2 point conversion. Mayfield hung in the pocket and fired over the middle to a receiver. It bounced right off of the receiver’s hands and by sheer luck was caught off the deflection by Peoples-Jones. The Browns were within 34-28 the hard way. 

After a touchback, it was a big surprise to see 3rd stringer Trace McSorly in at quarterback. Jackson was seen jogging to the locker room with an undisclosed problem. Backup Robert Griffin III was on injured reserve. On 3rd and 6, McSorly had a wide open Marquise Brown in the flat. McSorly was past the first down marker and he just dropped it. The Browns took over at their own 30. Mayfield hit Landry for 12. Hunt ran for 5 and 7. Mayfield hit Higgins for 8 and 10. Chubb barreled over people up the middle for 13. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Mayfield avoided a sack, rolled out, found a running lane and got in the end zone. The 12 play, 70 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive tied the game. Cody Parkey had already missed an extra point and a field goal, and a delay of game meant a 38 yard extra point try. Parkey was good and the Browns led 35-34 with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation. 

The Ravens took over at their own 21 and Jackson was still in the locker room. Reports were that he was suffering from cramping. Jackson did have COVID a couple weeks earlier. It was up to McSorly to try and win on the road with a small but hostile crowd in the Dawg Pound. On 3rd and 10, McSorly fired to Snead for a 13 yard gain.  On 3rd and 2 from the Cleveland 41, McSorly faked a handoff and slipped without being touched. He landed awkwardly and hurt his leg as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. The play lost 3 yards. Now the Ravens were without a quarterback on 4th and 5 from the Cleveland 44. Except they weren’t. It was something out of a movie set, but Jackson jogged back on to the field. Jackson rolled out and looked like he was going to run. Instead he found a wide open receiver. Brown caught it for the touchdown. John Harbaugh went for 2. Dobbins banged over a defender and got in. The Ravens led 42-35 but the Browns after a touchback had all 3 timeouts and 1:51 to play.   

Mayfield immediately went deep to Peoples-Jones for 28 yards. Baltimore called a timeout on defense. Mayfield hit Landry for 7, Hunt for 16, and Hunt again for a 22 yard touchdown. Hunt was tackled at the one but lunged and got the ball just past the pylon. Parkey hit the extra point. The Browns had tied the game again 42-42, but they may have scored too early. After a touchback the Ravens had 1:04 on the clock. They also had Jackson. Jackson fired to Andrews for a pair of 14 yard gains as the Ravens took their last timeout with 38 seconds left. Then the Browns took a timeout on defense. Jackson completed a pair of short passes but the clock kept running. Jackson spiked the ball with 7 seconds left. Justin Tucker came in for a 56 yard field goal try to win it. Tucker is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, but 56 yards in the cold with a slight wind is a lot to ask. Tucker snuck it over the crossbar and inside the upright with 2 seconds left. The hook and laterals took forever but went backward and resulted in a safety. The Browns could have been 10-3, one game back in the division, and sent the 7-6 Ravens to the brink of elimination. Instead the Browns are 9-4 and the Ravens are 8-5 and very much alive. The 1980 Browns were the Cardiac Kids. 40 years later, the 2020 Browns are giving us Cardiac Kids II. A playoff rematch between these teams would be a blockbuster. 47-42 Ravens

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NFL 2020 Week 13 Recap

Sunday, December 6th, 2020

NFL 2020 Week 13 Recap

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears — The Lions fired Matt Patricia while the Bears came in on a 5 game losing streak after a 5-1 start. The Bears got a jolt to start the game when Cordarelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff to his own 46. Mitchell Trubisky hit Robinson for 16. On 3rd and 2 from the Detroit 26, Montgomery lost a yard. Cairo Santos hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bears. The Lions moved from their own 20 to a 4th and 1 at the Chicago 29. Interim coach Darrell  Bevell went for it and a completion gained nothing. Trubisky hit Robinson for 17 and Patterson took a pair of end arounds for 12 and 13. Montgomery ran for 8 and then for the 13 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked but the Bears led 9-0. 

The Lions soon faced 3rd and 10 from their own 28. Stafford went to Jones for 15 and Cephus for 14. Adrian Peterson ran for 15, 4 and 2. On 3rd and 4 from the Chicago 18, Stafford hit TJ Hockenson for 14. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Peterson ran it in. Offensive holding on the extra point meant a second try from 43 yards out. Matt Prater doinked it off the upright no good as the Lions trailed 9-6 after the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive. The Bears soon faced 3rd and 6 from their own 29 to start the second quarter. Trubisky went to Robinson for 21 and Mooney for 10. Trubisky hit Sims for 13. Montgomery gained 4 and 10. Patterson ran for the 5 yard touchdown to cap the 10 play, 75 yard, 5 minute drive and make it 16-6 Bears. 

The Lions soon faced 3rd and 12 from their own 26. Stafford went deep to Jones for 25 and then deep again to Quintez Cephus for a 49 yard touchdown to get the Lions within 16-13. The Bears took over at their own 32. Trubisky hit Robinson for 10 and Miller for 15 at the 2 minute warning. Trubisky went to Miller again for 19 and 9. Montgomery ran for a 4 yard touchdown as the Bears led 23-13 at halftime. In the third quarter the Lions took over at their own 34. Stafford went to Jones for 12 and 7. On 3rd and 10 from the Chicago 44, Stafford hit Hockensen for only 9. On 4th and 1 Darrell Bevell went for it and Stafford got the yard. Stafford went deep to Hockensen for 24 and to James for a 9 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 66 yard, 5 minute drive had the lions within 23-20 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. The Bears took over at their own 28. Patterson ran for 13. On 3rd and 6 from their own 45, the defense jumped into the neutral zone. On 3rd and 1, Trubisky gained 2. The fourth quarter began with the Bears facing 3rd and 7 at the Detroit 45. Trubisky went to Mooney for 21. On 3rd and 4 from the Detroit 18, Trubisky went to Patterson for just enough. Trubisky went to Kmet for the 11 yard touchdown. The 12 play, 75 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive had the Bears up 30-20 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. 

With 4 1/2 minutes left the Lions got the ball back at their own 4 yard line with 4 1/2 minutes left. Stafford went to Hockensen for 14, to Danny Amendola for gains of 22 and 17, to Jones for 5, to Hockensen for 13, and to Jones for a 25 yard touchdown. 96 yards came quickly as the Lions were within 30-27 with a full 2:18 to play. The Bears got it back at their own 11. On 3rd and 4, Trubisky was sacked and fumbled. The Lions recovered the gift at the Chicago 7 yard line. Peterson did the rest, running for 2 and then for the 5 yard touchdown. The Lions had the 4 point lead with 1:37 to play. After a touchback it was up to Trubisky to try and redeem himself. Trubisky hit Montgomery for 16 with a horse collar tackle penalty adding 15 more. Trubisky went to Montgomery for 14 and Kmet for 5. With 22 seconds left on 3rd and 5 from the Detroit 24, Trubisky hit Robinson for 4. Only 16 seconds remained. The Bears had timeouts so they could run the ball. On 4th and 1 from the Detroit 20, Matt Nagy called a run and Montgomery got stopped. The Bears have lost 6 straight. The calls for Trubisky’s head will become deafening. As for Darrell Bevell, history will always remember him as the guy who did not hand the ball to Marshawn Lynch. This time he did hand the ball to Adrian Peterson and got his first win as an NFL head coach. 34-30 Lions

Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins — Ryan Fitzpatrick and his magic beard were back on the bench as Tua Tagovailoa returned to the lineup. Meanwhile, Late in the first quarter the Bengals faced 3rd and 2 from their own 28. Backup quarterback Brandon Allen connected with Trevor Boyd, who outraced everyone for a 72 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Bengals lead. The Bengals defense stymied the Dolphins for most of the first half. Jason Sanders hit a 25 yard field goal to get the Dolphins on the board. With one minute left, Randy Bullock missed a 53 yard field goal try. That gave the Dolphins good enough field position for Sanders to hit a 48 yard field goal to end the half with the Dolphins only down 7-6. In the third quarter after a touchback, Tagovailoa hit Gesicki for 17, Parker for 14 and Gaskin for 35 yards down to the 5. Tagovailoa hit Gesicki for the 5 yard touchdown to put the Dolphins up 13-7. Sanders hit chip shot field goals of 23 yards in the third quarter and 19 yards in the fourth quarter. Brian Flores’s defense did the rest. It was far from pretty, but the Dolphins are 8-4 with a shot at the AFC East for the first time since the 2008 season. 19-7 Dolphins

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans — The Colts took over at their own 33. Philip Rives hit TY Hilton for 18. Taylor ran for 12 and Rivers went to Doyle for 12 more. On 3rd and 6 from the Houston 21, Rivers went to Hilton for the score to make it 7-0 Colts. The Texans soon faced 3rd and 10 from their own 25. Deshaun Watson went deep to Coutee for a 64 yard gain. On the next play Watson ran for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-7. The Texans got it back at their own 40 and Watson hit Brandon Cooks for 11. Johnson gained 7 and 3. On 2nd and 7 from the Indy 34, Watson threw incomplete twice. Kaimi Fairbairn hit a 52 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Texans. 

The Colts soon faced 3rd and 9 from their own 29. Rivers threw incomplete, but Frank Reich challenged the call and it was reversed to a 21 yard gain to Hilton. On 2nd and 5 from from the Houston 45, a defensive facemask added 15.  Rivers then hit Zach Pascal for 11 and Hilton for 13 more. Hines ran for a 5 yard touchdown as the Colts led 14-10 after a wild first quarter. The Texans missed a chance to close the gap when Fairbairn missed from 53. Taking over at their own 43, Rivers went to Hilton for 10 and Hines for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 36, a run lost 3 yards. Rather than try a 57 yard field goal, Frank Reich opted to go for it. On 4th and 4, Rivers hit Taylor for the first down and the 39 yard touchdown as the Colts led 21-10. 

The Texans soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 27. Watson went deep to Hansen for 28 yards and to Cook for 13 more. On 3rd and 12 from Indy 15, Watson only gained 11. Yet defensive holding on the play meant 1st and goal at the 6 rather than 4th and 1. On the next play David Johnson ran it in to get the Texans within 21-17. Rodrigo Blankenship hit a 42 yard field goal with 1:12 left in the half to make it 24-17 Colts. Fairbairn answered from 34 to get the Texans within 24-20 at halftime. The first half was all offense. The second  half was all defense. With 6 minutes left in regulation the Texans faced 3rd and 11 from their own 4. Watson went back to pass and was sacked in the end zone by Justin Houston for a safety. The Colts led by 6 but could not take advantage after the free kick. The Texans got it back at their own 20 and moved right down the field. With 90 seconds to play the Texans faced 2nd and goal at the 2. Romeo Crennel decided to have Watson operate out of the shotgun rather than go smashmouth. The snap was fumbled and the Colts recovered. The Texans had it. They choked it away. The Colts got to 8-4 and Frank Reich’s team still has a good shot to win the AFC South. 26-20 Colts 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings — The Jaguars came in losers of 10 straight but started hot against a Minnesota team that had won 4 of their last 5 games. After a touchback, Mike Glennon hit O’Shaughnessy for 24 and Robinson for 8. Robinson then ran for 9 and 6. Glennon went deep to Shenault for a 28 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Jaguars led 6-0. The Jaguars got it back at their own 30 and moved to a 1st and goal at the 6. A completion gained a yard and a run gained only one more. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Glennong threw incomplete. McLaughlin hit the 22 yard field goal to make it 9-0 Jaguars. In the second quarter the Jaguars moved from their own 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Minnesota 21. The Jaguars had all the momentum, but then came a false start. Then Glennon was intercepted by Danzler. 

The Vikings took over at their own 22. Kirk Cousins hit Adam Thielen for 14 and Dalvin Cook for 11. Cousins ran for 10. Cousins then hit Thielen for 12 and Cook for 20. Cousins capped the 10 play, 78 yard, 5 minute drive with a 3 yard touchdown pass to Thielen. The extra point was no good as the Vikings trailed 9-6 at the break. The Vikings got a break to start the second half when the kickoff went out of bounds, setting up the Vikings at their own 40. Yet on the first play from scrimmage, Cousins was intercepted by Schobert, who returned it for a 43 yard defensive touchdown and a 16-6 Jaguars lead. 

After a touchback Cousins came right back, hitting Cook for 10. On 3rd and 10 from his own 36, Cousins hit Thielen for 11. Offensive holding had the Vikings facing 1st and 20 from their own 37. Cousins went to Justin Jefferson for 11 and back to Jefferson on a deep ball for a 40 yard gain. Cousins went to Ham for a 12 yard touchdown to get the Vikings within 16-13. The Vikings got it back at their own 10 yard line. Cook gained 10. Cousins hit Thielen for 9 and ran for 2. Roughing the passer on the next play gave the Vikings 15 more yards. On 3rd and 9 from their own 47, Cousins went to Thielen for 12. Defensive pass interference 2 plays later added 18. Cousins went to Jefferson for a 20 yard touchdown. Late in the third quarter, the Vikings had their first lead of the game up 19-16. Again Dan Bailey missed the extra point.

The Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 5 at their own 30. Glennon came up short and fumbled. The Vikings recovered at the Jags 34. The Vikings began the fourth quarter facing 1st and goal at the one and a chance to put the game out of reach. Cousins fumbled and the Jaguars recovered at their own 2. Yet on 3rd and 8 from their own 4, Glennon was sacked by Ifeadi Odenigbo for a safety as the Vikings led 21-16. The Jaguars then fumbled and the Vikings took over at the Jags 44. On 2nd and 7 from the Jacksonville 30, Cousins threw incomplete twice. Bailey hit the 48 yard field goal to make it 24-16 with 3:50 to play. After a touchback, Glennon hit Cole for 7, Robison for 4, Tyler Eifert for 10 and Conley for 9. On 3rd and 6 from midfield, Glennon hit DJ Chark for 22 at the 2 minute warning. Glennon went to Johnson for 21. Robinson ran for a one yard touchdown. With 1:08 to play, the Jaguars still needed a 2 point conversion to tie the game. Glennon hit Johnson and the game was knotted up 24-24. 

The Vikings after a touchback quickly moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Jacksonville 33 with 23 seconds left. Cousins threw incomplete. It was time for Bailey, who had already missed 2 extra points, to be the hero from 51 yards out. The kick was no good. The Jaguars took over at their own 41 with 18 seconds left. With everyone expecting a pass, Doug Marrone called a run and Robinson gained 15. Glennon spiked the ball with one second left. Now it was up to Chase McLaughlin, who had missed an extra point of his own, to be the hero from 62 yards out. He was also no good as the game went into overtime. In the extra session, the Jaguars soon faced 3rd and 8 from their own 20. Glennon went deep and was intercepted by Smith. The Vikings had a short field at the Jacksonville 46. Cousins hit Thielen for 9 and Conklin for 10. On 3rd and 6 from the Jags 28, Cook gained 10. On 3rd and 3 from the 11, Cook gained 6. With 1:53 left in overtime, on 3rd and goal at the one, a false start moved the Vikings back to the 5. Mike Zimmer had seen enough. Bailey came in for the 23 yard field goal try. It was good and the Vikings got to 6-6 after a 1-5 start. Meanwhile the Jaguars lost their 11th straight. 27-24 Vikings, OT 

 

Las Vegas Raiders at New York Jets — The Raiders began last year 6-4, lost to a bad Jets team 34-3, and finished 1-5 down the stretch. This year they started 6-3, lost 2 straight including a 43-6 drubbing at Atlanta, and now again travel to take on the winless Jets. The Raiders were without Josh Jacobs and Jonathan Abram. On the second play of the game, Damon Arnette collided with Frank Gore and both players went out injured. The Raiders secondary got even more depleted while the Jets lost their workhorse back.The Jets began facing 3rd and 8 from their own 28. Sam Darnold found a wide open Brad Perriman over the middle for a 22 yard gain to midfield. Johnson gained 9 and one. Darnold went to Crowder for 9 more. on 3rd and 1 from the Raiders 20, Darnold hit Mims for 17. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Darnold hit Crowder for the touchdown. The 12 play, 74 yard, 6 minute drive had the Jets up 7-0 and the Raiders looking s heartless as ever on defense. Darnold did not throw a touchdown pass since September, but the Raiders can’t stop anyone. 

Last week Derek Carr had his worst game as a pro. This week after a touchback the Raiders moved to a 2nd and 1 at the Jets 32. Carr threw a short pass to Henry Ruggs. The ball bounced off of Ruggs’s hands and was intercepted by Maulet, who returned it 20 yards to his own 45. This time the Jets went 3 and out without gaining a yard. The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 28. Carr threw deep incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Carr then went back to Ruggs, who atoned for his earlier mistake with a 28 yard gain. Carr went to Darren Waller for 28 more and back to Waller for a 9 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game after the first quarter. 

The Jets got it back at their own 33 and the pathetic Raiders secondary continued to make Darnold look like a Hall of Fame. Darnold hit Crowder for 16 and Griffin for 13. Adams gained 25. On 3rd and 3 from the Raiders 6, Darnold fired to Crowder for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Jets led 13-7. The Raiders after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 7 at the Jets 40. Yet Carr threw incomplete twice and the Raiders had to punt rather than try a 58 yard field goal. The Jets were pinned at their own 9 yard line but 

Darnold hit Mims for 23 yards. Just when it looked like the Raiders were collapsing again, the game turned.

Darnold was sacked and fumbled and the Raiders recovered at the Jets 31. The Raiders offense wasted the opportunity as a run gained one yard and Carr threw incomplete twice. Daniel Carlson hit the 48 yard field goal to get the Raiders within 13-10. The Jets after a touchback easily moved to a 2nd and 3 at the Raiders 38. Yet a short pass resulted in Trayvon Mullen breaking inside and making a one-handed interception. The Raiders took over at their own 34. Carr went to Nelson Agholor for gains of 13 and 14. Carr then went to Waller, who broke tackles along the sideline for a 38 yard touchdown to make it 17-13 Raiders with 1:12 left in the half. The Jets after a touchback began with a false start. On 2nd and 15 from their own 20,  Darnold went to Berrios for gains of 25 and 8. Johnson gained 12. With 34 seconds left in the half the Jets had 1st and 10 at the Raiders 35. Yet Darnold was sacked again and fumbled again. The Raiders took over at their own 40 with 28 seconds left. Carr hit Hunter Renfrown for 18. Yet a sack of Carr took the Raiders out of field goal range. 9 seconds remained as the Raiders faced 3rd and 18 from midfield. Carr was sacked again to end the half. 

The Raiders threw the ball 26 times for 210 yards and ran it only 8 times in the first half for 14 yards. Yet on the first play of the third quarter after a touchback, Davante Booker gained 14 yards. On 3rd and 7 from their own 42, Carr fired to Renfrow short of the marker. Yet Renfrow alertly rolled over a couple times for an 8 yard gain. Carr found Waller in the flat for 19 yards. Waller had 123 receiving yards in the first half and was still rolling. Booker ran for 6, 3, and on 3rd and 1 from the Jets 19, 4 more. Carr hit Waller for 9. On 2nd and goal from the 2, Carr rolled to his right, could not find anyone, and raced to the corner. He stretched the ball over the pylon just with his feet still inbounds for the touchdown. The 13 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive had the Raiders up 24-13. 

The Raiders do not put games away and their defense cannot stop anyone. These two problems have been true for years. Up by 11 with 1st and 10 at their own 40, a pair of runs set up 3rd and 5. With a chance to turn out the lights, Carr threw incomplete. A great punt had the Jets pinned at their own 4 yard line. It didn’t matter Adams gashed the Raiders defense for gains of 12 and 18 to start the fourth quarter. Darnold hit Crowder for 11. Adams ran for 6, Darnold added 17, and Johnson slashed the Raiders for gains of 16, 5 and 7. Darnold ran for a 4 yard touchdown. 96 yards came easy as 85 of it came on the ground. The Jets did not face a single third down on the entire drive. On the 2 point conversion. Darnold was intercepted. Yet defensive pass interference gave the Jets another chance. This time Darnold hit Mims for the conversion. With 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Jets were right back in it down 24-21. 

The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 34. Carr hit Ruggs for 12 but Ruggs had the ball chopped out of his hands. The Jets recovered at the Raiders 46. With 9 minutes left, it was up to the Raiders defense to completely self-destruct as Paul Guenther’s defense always does. A run gained 5 with a defensive personal foul adding 15. Darnold went to Griffin for 18. On 3rd and goal at the one, Johnson easily got in. The winless Jets were beating the heartless Raiders 28-24 with 5 1/2 minutes left. The rest of the game will be remembered forever as an epic battle of who wanted it least. 

After a touchback Carr hit Jalen Richard for 6 and Agholor for 7. On 3rd and 10 from their own 38, Carr found Waller for a 29 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the Jets 28, Carr threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 5 yards and a new set of downs. These are the Jets. With 2:11 left on 4th and 8 from the Jets 21, Carr threw incomplete but defensive holding meant a new set of downs. These are the Jets. With 1:55 left on 3rd and 3 from the Jets 9, Carr threw incomplete. On 4th and 3, Carr threw to Renfrow in the end zone for the touchdown. Yet offsetting penalties nullified the score. On 4th and 3 again, Carr went to Agholor and Agholor slipped and dropped the ball, but there was clear defensive pass interference. It was not called. These are the Raiders. They had found a way to lose to a winless team. With 1:37 left, all the Jets had to do was run out the clock. A pair of short gains followed by the Raiders taking their timeouts on defense meant 3rd and 6 for the Jets at their own 13. With 1:28 left, a first down would end the game. Rather than run straight ahead, Adam Gase called a sweep. Johnson gained one yard but was thrown out of bounds to stop the clock. These are the Jets. Yet somehow the officials declared Johnson had gone down inbounds. The entire football world saw Johnson go out of bounds, but the clock kept ticking. The Jets punted, but the Raiders got the ball back at their own 39 with 0 timeouts. Rather than have 80 seconds left, they only had 35. The Silver and Black needed a miracle.

Carr hit Waller for 15 and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 19 seconds left. Most defensive coordinators play prevent defense and rely on stopping the Hail Mary. Gregg Williams runs an aggressive defense that relies on heavy pressure. It is feast or famine. The logic is simple. Don’t even let the ball leave the quarterback’s hands. Williams went for it all, and Carr got the throw off. The bomb went to the end zone and Agholor had beaten his man. The ball was overthrown incomplete. 13 seconds remained. On 3rd and 10 from the Jets 46, Gregg Williams dialed up a zero blitz. He sent everyone at Carr. Center Rodney Hudson and the rest of the offensive line gave Carr enough time to step up and throw down the sideline. Ruggs had beaten his man. The miracle was answered. Ruggs caught the 46 yard bomb with 5 seconds left. There were no flags on the field. The touchdown counted. The Raiders were so busy celebrating their miracle win that they forgot about the final 5 seconds. An attempt to squib kick the ball backfired when the Jets fell on it at midfield. They would have time for one Hail Mary of their own. Darnold avoided a sack and somehow got the ball off. It was short of the end zone and knocked down incomplete.

This game will be shown on Raiders highlight videos forever. They were all but dead. Only a team with a defense as bad as theirs could blow an 11 point fourth quarter lead to a winless team. Calls for Paul Guether’s firing would have reached a crescendo had the Raiders lost. Only a winless team could lose this team, and the Jets did to fall to 0-12 to continue the chants of Just End The Season. Somehow Adam Gase is still employed despite being on pace to have a worse record than Rich Kotite. Needing a scapegoat, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was fired on Monday. The Jets gashed the Raiders defense for 206 yards on 34 carries. Without Jacobs, the Raiders rushed for only 72 yards on 25 carries. Yet Carr was 28 of 47 for 381 yards, 3 touchdowns, and the one early interception. Waller was magnificent, with 200 receiving yards on 13 receptions. Ruggs was the hero. As John Madden used to say, speed kills. Al Davis has been gone for nearly a decade, but Ruggs is the epitome of an Al Davis player. One play took a dead team at 6-6 and instead kept them very much alive at 7-5. This was an Al Davis Hanukkah miracle. Just win baby. 31-28 Raiders 

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons — The Falcons started 0-5 but are 4-2 under interim coach Raheem Morris. The 9-2 Saints looked to maintain their lead atop the NFC. The Saints faced 3rd and 7 from their own 16 when Taysom Hill threw incomplete. Yet roughing the passer kept the drive going. A sack of Hill had the Saints facing 2nd and 20 from their own 21. Hill hit Michael Thomas for 14. On 3rd and 6 from their own 35, Hill hit Cook for 7. Hill then scrambled for a 43 yard gain. Hill then went to Smith for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Saints. The Falcons after a touchback moved to a 2nd and 6 at the Saints 33. A completion lost 2 yards and on 3rd and 8 Matt Ryan threw incomplete. Younghoe Koo hit the 53 yard field goal to get the Falcons within 7-3. The Saints missed opportunities to extend the lead. A 15 play, 53 yard, 7 minute drive came up empty on 4th and 4 from the Atlanta 17. After a delay of game, Wil Lutz missed a 40 yard field goal. The Saints got it back at their own 32 and moved to a 4th and 7 at the Atlanta 36. Sean Payton went for it and Hill threw incomplete. 

On the next play Matty Ice went to Jones for a 35 yard gain. On 3rd and 7 from the Saints 26, Smith gained 15. Yet from the Saints 11, a run lost a yard and Ryan threw incomplete twice. Koo hit from 30 to get the Falcons within 7-6. After a touchback Alvin Kamara ripped off a 37 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Atlanta 36, Hill went to Emanuel sanders for 18. On 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 11, Hill went to Jared Cook for the touchdown to make it 14-6 Saints with 1:45 left in the half. After a touchback, Ryan went to Powell for 9 and to Calvin Ridley for 31 more. On 3rd and 9 from the Saints 24, Ryan threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 14 yards and 1st and goal at the 10 with 16 seconds left. Ryan threw incomplete, wasting 11 seconds. Another incompletion left only one second. Koo hit the 28 yard field goal to get the Falcons within 14-9 at the half.

After a touchback to start the second half, Hill went to Thomas for 18 and 10 and to Sanders for 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 40, Hill gained 4. Sean Payton gambled on 4th and 1 and Hill gained 2. On 3rd and 7 from the Atlanta 31, Hill hit Cook for 10. Kamara did the rest, running for 10 and then the 11 yard touchdown. The Falcons were kicking field goals while the Saints were scoring touchdowns as the 12 play, 75 yard, 6 minute drive had the Saints up 21-9. The fourth quarter began with the Falcons fumbling deep in their own territory and the Saints recovering at the Atlanta 18. One more score would put the game away. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 5, rather than play smashmouth, Hill went back to pass and was sacked. He fumbled and the Falcons got the ball back at their own 15.

The Falcons were alive and they took advantage. Ryan went to Russell Gage for 24 and 14 and to Hurst for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the Saints 32, Gurley gained 2 with defensive unnecessary roughness adding 15 more. Ryan hit Gage for a 10 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Falcons were right back in it down 5. The Falcons got it back at their own 15 with 5 minutes left. On 3rd and 3 from their own 22, Ryan went to Ridley for 27. Gurley gained 13. On 3rd and 11 from the Saints 39, Ryan went to Jones for 18 at the 2 minute warning. With 1:49 left the Saints began taking their timeouts on defense as the Falcons faced 2nd and 2 from the Saints 13. Gurley got stopped. Then on 3rd and 2 Gurley got trapped for a 7 yard loss. On 4th and 9, Ryan threw incomplete. It was brutal, but the Saints won their 9th straight to get to 10-2 atop the NFC. With the win, the Saints became the first NFL team to clinch a playoff berth. 21-16 Saints

Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans — Both teams came in 8-3. The Browns moved from their own 25 to a 3rd and 5 at the Titans 8. Yet a false start was followed by a completion that only gained 4 yards. Cody Parkey hit a 27 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Browns. The Titans moved from their own 28 to a 3rd and 1 at the Cleveland 42. Ryan Tannehill threw incomplete and Mike Vrabel went for it. On 4th and 1, Derrick Henry got stopped. Vrabel unsuccessfully challenged the call. On 1st and 15 from their own 36, Baker Mayfield went to Nick Chubb for 26. Chubb ran for 8 more. On 3rd and 2 from the Titans 30, Mayfield pitched it to Jarvis Landry, who then threw a forward pass back to Mayfield for a 6 yard gain with 12 more tacked on for roughing the passer. On 3rd and 6 from the Titans 8, Mayfield hit Higgins for 7. Mayfield fired a 2 yard touchdown pass to Landry to put the Browns up 10-0. The Titans quickly fumbled the ball and the Browns recovered at the Titans 21. Mayfield went to Higgins for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Titans 14, Mayfield hit Landry for 7. The second quarter began with the Browns facing 3rd and goal at the one. Mayfield hit Lamm for the touchdown as the Browns had the shocking 17-0 lead.

The Titans took over at their own 26 and finally got going. Tannehill hit AJ Brown for 12 and then went deep to Brown for a 40 yard gain. Tannehill hit Davis for a 17 yard touchdown to get the Titans within 17-7. Yet 10 seconds later the Browns were in the end zone again. Mayfield on a perfect play action pass went deep to Peoples-Jones for a 75 yard touchdown as the Browns led 24-7. The Browns got it back at their own 10. Mayfield went to Hunt for 11. On 3rd and 10 from their own 21, Mayfield went deep to Higgins for 21 with 15 more tacked on for defensive unnecessary roughness. On 3rd and 3 from the Titans 36, Mayfield got just enough. Mayfield went to Landry for 12 and to Higgins for a 17 yard touchdown as the Browns were up big 31-7 after the 11 play, 90 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. The Browns got it back again at their own 35. Mayfield hit Peoples-Jones for 17 and Landry for 13. Another defensive unnecessary roughness penalty added 14 yards on the next play. On 3rd and goal at the one, Chubb got in as the Browns were obliterating Tennessee 38-7 at halftime. Yes, the Browns are for real.  A few weeks ago the Browns led a road game at Dallas by 27 points, yet nearly blew the game before winning by 11. Surely this time a 31 point halftime lead would mean the game was over.

Not so fast. After a touchback to start the second half, the Titans needed barely more than one minute to get in the end zone. Derrick Henry ran for 10. Tannehill hit Davis for a 43 yard gain. Tannehill hit MyCole Priott for a 22 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Titans were within 38-13. The Titans got the ball back at their own 39. Tannehill went to Davis for 18 and again for 22. Tannehill hit Brown for an 18 yard gain down to the one, but Brown fumbled the ball. By sheer luck, Pruitt picked it up for the Titans at the 3 and took it into the end zone. The Titans got the touchdown the hard way. The freak play was followed by a 2 point conversion. Only 6 minutes into the second half, the Titans were within 38-21. The Browns soon faced 3rd and 12 from their own 23. Mayfield hit Austin Hooper for 16. Nick Chubb raced for 29 more. On 3rd and 3 from the Titans 25, Mayfield threw incomplete. Pakrey hit a 43 yard field goal. With 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Browns were up comfortably 41-21. The Titans took over at their own 24. Tannehill was immediately intercepted, but unsportsmanlike conduct on the defense kept the drive going. The Titans moved 59 yards in 13 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 12 from the Cleveland 33, Tannehill threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 4th and 4 from Cleveland 22, Tannehill threw incomplete. Mike Vrabel challenged the call and it was reversed to a completion and a 5 yard gain. Yet from the Cleveland 17, it was all for naught. Tannehill was intercepted again and this time the call stood. Down by 20 after three quarters, this game was over. 

With 5:43 to play the Titans were still down by 20 and pinned at their own 9. This game was over. On 3rd and 5 from their own 14, Tannehill went to Anthony Firkser for 6, to McNichols for 4, to Firkser for gains of 14, 6 and 11, and to Jeremy McNichols for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the Cleveland 37, McNichols only gained one. One defensive stop would put this game on ice. On 4th and 1 rom the Cleveland 36, Tannehill went to Davis for 10 but offensive holding nullified the play. On 4th and 11, Tannehill hit Davis for 18 and 14 and Humphries for 9. McNichols ran for a one yard touchdown. The Titans were within 41-28, but only 1:23 remained. The onside kick failed. This game was over. On 3rd and 2 from the Titans 37, Karim Hunt only gained one. The Titans took their final timeout on defense with one minute left. On 4th and 1 a punt would have been fine but a first down would have ended it. Things then got bizarre Mayfield snuck across for the first down. The game was over. Except Mayfield had the ball jarred loose. Kenny Vaccaro picked it up and raced 53 yards the other way to the Cleveland 13. On 4th and 5 from the 8, Tannehill hit Cameron Watson for the touchdown. The Titans had reduced a 31 point deficit to 6 points. 28 seconds remained. The Titans needed one more miracle. 

They did not get it. The onside kick failed. Mayfield finally took a knee. The game was finally over. The Browns are 9-3 and the Titans are 8-4. Tannehill was 29 of 45 for 389 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception. Mayfield backed up all his talk over the last 3 years. He was 25 of 33 for 334 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He was helped by a ground game that carried the ball 36 times for 118 yards. Kevin Stefanski might just win coach of the year. The Cleveland Browns are no longer losers. Whatever happens the rest  of the season, they are winners. They have not been to the playoffs since 2002, but they are knocking on the door. 41-35 Browns

New York Giants at Seattle Seahawks — The Giants started 1-7 but have won 3 straight over bad teams. Yet Daniel Jones was out injured and backup Colt McCoy surprised people by still being in the league. The Giants were not going to go on the road and beat the 8-3 Seahawks. Cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES.” Throughout the decade, the Giants have won games with defense. Today was no exception. The Seahawks moved from their own 30 to a 1st and 10 at the Giants 13. Russell Wilson threw 3 straight incompletions. Jason Myers hit a 31 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Seahawks, but then the Giants clamped down. With 30 seconds left in the half, the Giants had to punt on 4th and 4 from their own 11. It was blocked out of the end zone for a safety as the Seahawks clung to a 5-0 halftime lead. 

In the third quarter the Giants took over at their own 20. Wayne Gallman got around the end for a 60 yard gain. Alfred Morris ran for 13 and then the 4 yard touchdown. McCoy hit Sterling Shepard for the 2 point try as the Giants led 8-5. The Seahawks soon faced 4th and 1 from their own 48. Pete Carroll went for it and Wilson threw incomplete. Gallman ran for 3, 13 and 23. McCoy hit Morris for a 6 yard touchdown as the Giants led 14-5 after three quarters. With 11/2 minutes left in regulation, Wilson was intercepted to give the Giants a short field at the Seattle 39. On 4th and 1 from the Seattle 30 with 10 minutes left, Joe Judge did not gamble. Graham Gano hit the 48 yard field goal to make it 17-5 Giants in a shocker. 

The Seahawks soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 27. Chris Carson gained 5. On 3rd and 5 from their own 37, Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for 21 and Carson for 12. On 3rd and 15 from the Giants 33, Wilson threw incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Wilson went deep to Carson for a 28 yard touchdown to get the Seahawks within 5 with 6 minutes left. The Seahawks got it back at their own 20 with 1:48 left. With one minute left the Seahawks had 1st and 10 at the Giants 46. Wilson was going to do it again. After a pair of incompletions, on 3rd and 10, Wilson was sacked. Everything came down to 4th and 18. Wilson scrambled for his life and his prayer was knocked away incomplete. The Giants have won 4 straight and lead the NFC Least while the 8-4 Seahawks can still win the NFC West. 17-12 Giants

Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals — An NFC West showdown produced a wild one in the desert. The Cardinals early on faced 3rd and 9 from their own 26. Kyler Murray was sacked but a defensive facemask kept the drive going. Murray went deep to Arnold for a 59 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Cardinals. The Rams soon faced 3rd and 3 from their own 22. Jared Goff hit Tyler Higbee for 4. On 2nd and 12 from their own 24, Goff hit Higbee for 16 as the first quarter ended. Goff hit Jefferson for 5, Woods for 9 and Jefferson for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the Arizona 38, Goff hit Higbee for 3. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 29, Goff hit Cooper Kupp for 12 with roughing the passer adding 8 more. Cam Akers ran for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 7-7. The Rams got it back at their own 44 and moved to a 1st and goal at the 9. Akers gained 4, 3, and on 3rd and goal at the 2, only one. Sean McVay went for it and Akers lost a yard. Despite the goal line stand, the Arizona offense had to punt on 4th and 11 from their own one, giving the Rams a short field at the Arizona 45. Goff hit Robert Woods for 18 and 4. On 3rd and 10 from the Arizona 27, Goff hit Woods for 10 and 6 to the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and goal at the one with 50 seconds left in the half, Goff hit Higbee for the score to make it 14-7 Rams. On the last play of the half, Zane Gonzalez missed a 48 yard field goal for the Cardinals.

After a touchback to start th third quarter, Goff hit Darrell Henderson for 19. On 3rd and 7 from their own 47, Goff hit Malcolm Brown for 30. On 3rd and 7 from the Arizona 20, an 8 yard completion from Goff to Woods was nullified by offensive pass interference on Woods. Matt Gay hit a 39 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Rams. After a touchback Murray hit Kenyan Drake for 8, Deandre Hopkins for 6 and 10 and Johnson for 6. On 3rd and 1 from the Rams 42, Murray ran for 4. After a pair of incompletions, Kliff Kingsbury decided to go for it on 4th and 12 from the Rams 40. Murray hit Johnson for the precise amount. Murray ran for 7 and Edmonds gained 13 and 3. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Murray hit Hopkins for the touchdown. With 4 minutes left in the third quarter, the 15 play, 75 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive had the Cardinals within 17-14. 

The Rams soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Goff hit Akers for 22, Everett for 6, Cupp for 13, and Jefferson for 9. On 2nd and goal at the 3 to start the fourth quarter, Goff threw incomplete but defensive holding put the ball on the one. Goff got it to make it 24-14 Rams. The Cardinals got right back in it when they punted and the Rams fumbled it. The Cardinals took over at the Rams 15. Drake ran for 11 and then for the 4 yard touchdown. With 13:20 left in regulation, the Cardinals were right back in it down 24-21. 

The Rams soon faced 3rd and 11 from their own 23. Goff went to Everett for 22, Woods for 10 and Cupp for 7. The Rams got in the end zone for a 31-21 lead. The Cardinals then fumbled the ball away but dodged  a bullet when a short field goal was no good. Yet 3 plays later on 3rd and 9 from their own 28, disaster struck the Cardinals. Murray was intercepted by Troy Hill, who returned it 35 yards for a defensive touchdown. with 4 1/2 minutes left, the Rams had a comfortable 38-21 lead. Needing 3 scores on 4th and goal at the 2 with 2:04 to play, Murray hit Arnold for the touchdown. Yet the Cardinals did not get the ball back. Goff was 37 of 47 for 351 yards and one touchdown without an interception. The Rams added 199 yards rushing on 31 carries. The Cardinals lost their third straight to fall to 6-6 while the Rams at 8-4 are tied for the NFC West lead and hold the tie-breaker. 38-28 Rams

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers  Sometimes a bad team can go on the road and shock a good team. This was not that game. Jake Elliott hit a 52 yard field goal as the Eagles actually led 3-0 after the first quarter. Then reality set in. The Packers in the second quarter moved from their own 12. Rodgers hit Devonta Adams for 24, Lazard for 10, Adams for 12 and Lazard for 9. Jones ran for 6, one, and on 3rd and 3 from the Philadelphia 17, 8. On 3rd and goal from the one, Rodgers threw incomplete. Matt Lafleur decided to go for it. Rodgers hit Adams for the score as the Packers led 7-3 and never looked back. The Packers got it back at their own 18. Rodgers hit Lewis for 36, Taylor for 14, and Williams for 5. On 3rd and 4 from the Philly 25, Rodgers went deep to Tonyan for the touchdown. The Packers led 14-3 with one minute left in the half. 

In the third quarter the Packers were pinned at their own one yard line. Rodgers went bombs away with a dangerous ball thrown into double coverage. Somehow Adams came down with it for a 42 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from midfield, Rodgers went to Lazard for 31 more yards. Jones gained 7 and 3. Rodgers hit Adams for a 9 yard touchdown. The extra point doinked off the upright no good but the Packers were cruising up 20-3. After moving 99 yards, the Packers got it back at their own 6 and moved 72 yards in 14 plays and nearly 7 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the Philly 22, Mason Crosby hit a 40 yard field goal. With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Packers were cruising up 23-3.

Doug Pederson had had enough. Carson Wentz was benched and Jalen Hurts. From his own 27,, Hurts immediately ran for gains of 10 and 13. On 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 44, Hurts hit Zach Ertz for 20 in the first NFL hurts to Ertz combination.Midway through the fourth quarter the Eagles were down to their last gasp facing 4th and 18 from the Green Bay 32. One stop would end it. Instead Hurts went deep to Ward for the touchdown. The Eagles were within 23-10. With 6 1/2 minutes left the Packers punted on 4th and 12 from their own 21. Reagor fumbled the punt, picked it up, and evaded everyone along the way for a 73 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good but the Eagles were within 23-16. With 2:50 to play the Packers faced 2nd and 7 from their own 23 as the Eagles took their first timeout. 2 more stops would give the Eagles a chance to tie it. Instead Jones got the carry, followed his blockers perfectly, and ran for a 77 yard touchdown to put the game on ice. At 9-3 the Packers are in a strong playoff position. The 3-8 Eagles can still win the NFC Least but Doug Pederson is on the hot seat. Even worse, he now has a quarterback controversy. 30-16 Packers

New England Patriots at Los Angeles Chargers — The Patriots started 2-5 but have won 3 of 4 to cling to life in the playoff picture. The Chargers have lost a ton of close games, but nothing was close about this game. After a touchback Cam Newton hit Harris for 15. Harris ran for 7, 8 and 11. Newton added 14. On 3rd and 5 from the Chargers 15, Newton only gained 3. Bill Belichick decided to go for it. On 4th and 2 from the 12, Newton got just enough. On 3rd and goal at the one, Newton barely got in. The 13 play, 75 yard, 7 minute drive made it 7-0 Patriots. Then came the Chargers special teams. A 12 play, 45 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive came up empty when Mike Badgley missed a 46 yard field goal. In the second quarter, it was back to the Chargers special teams. They punted from their own 21. Olszewski fielded it at the sideline, broke through several awful attempts at tackling, and straddled the sideline for a 70 yard touchdown return to make it 14-0 Patriots. 

Olszewski returned the next punt 14 yards to his own 46. Newton gained 9 and Harris added 12 and 3. On 3rd and 19 from the Chargers 29, Newton only gained one yard. Yet illegal use of hands on the defense kept the drive going. On 3rd and 4 from the Chargers 17, Moncrief got just enough. On 3rd and 4 from the Chargers 7, Sony Michel got just enough. Newton ran for a 2 yard touchdown. With 50 seconds left in the half, the Patriots led 21-0. It all came down to Chargers special teams. On the last play of the half Badgley lined up for a 58 yard field goal try. It was blocked and returned 44 yards for a touchdown by Devon McCourty. The Patriots led 28-0. The second half was a formality. Justin Herbert was intercepted to give the Patriots a short field at the Chargers 32. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Newton hit Harry for the score to make it 35-0 Patriots. Herbert was then intercepted again. Jarret Stidham played the fourth quarter with the Patriots up 35. More Chargers special teams saw Gunner Olszewski return a punt 61 yards to set up a field goal. Stidham threw a 38 yard touchdown pass to Olszewski to complete the blowout shutout. The Chargers fell to 3-9 as the Patriots at 6-6 are still alive. Anthony Lynn is on the red hot coaching seat after the worst loss in the 60 year history of the Chargers.

The deal that Evil Hoodie Bill Belichick made with the devil has not expired yet. 45-0 Patriots

Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs was the Sunday night game. The Chiefs have all but wrapped up the AFC West at 10-1. The Broncos played an NFL game last week without a quarterback and got throttled. Drew Lock is back from COVID and will start for the Broncos. The Chiefs got a scare when 7 players tested positive for COVID, but those tests turned out to be false positives. The Chiefs came in having beaten the Broncos 10 straight times. On 3rd and 7 from their own 28 on the third play of the game, Lock went deep to Noah fant for 37 yards. Lock then went deep again and was intercepted at the 9 yard line. It was Lock’s 7th consecutive game with at least one interception. The Broncos would strike first with a 53 yard Brandon McManus field goal. Harrison Butker responded from 35 for the Chiefs for a 3-3 game. 

A bizarre event occurred in the second quarter. On 3rd and 10 from the Denver 40, Patrick Mahomes went bombs away and Tyreek Hill had a step on the defender. Hill briefly had it but the defender appeared to knock it away at the last moment incomplete. The Chiefs punted, but their sideline exploded when replay showed that Hill caught the ball. Walrus Andy Reid never challenged the call. Apparently Hill did not even realize he caught it. The ball was knocked out of his hands but landed against his body without ever hitting the ground. The Chiefs gave up a touchdown once the ball was snapped to punt. 3 plays later the Broncos faced 3rd and 3 from their own 17. Melvin Gordon broke through the middle and raced for a 65 yard gain. Lock hit Fant for 10. Gordon bulldozed up the middle for 6, getting stopped inches short of the goal line. Gordon got in on the next carry but an illegal shift nullified the score. Lock then found Patrick in the flat, and he got to the corner and past the pylon in time for a 10-3 Broncos lead with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half. 

After a touchback Leveon Bell gained 6 with 15 more tacked on for a horse collar tackle penalty. Hill then ripped off a 30 yard gain and Mahoems added 20 more. Yet on 2nd and goal at the one, Bell got stopped. On 3rd and goal, Mahomes lateraled to Hill, but the Denver defense strung out the play for a 5 yard loss. Butker hit from 24 but with 2:45 left in the half, the Chiefs were still down 10-6. With 33 seconds left in the half, Vic Fangio gambled on a 57 yard field goal try. McManus was long enough but wide no good. Leaving Mahomes 28 seconds from his own 47 is dangerous. Mahomes hit Mecole Hardman for 15 and Travis Kelce for 28 to set up 1st and goal at the 10. Mahomes hit Hill for 5 as 7 seconds remained. Mahomes fired over the middle and had the ball barred down with 3 seconds left. Butker hit from 23 but instead of trailing 13-6 or leading 13-10, the Chiefs trailed 10-9. In the third quarter after a touchback, Bell gained 16 and 3. Mahomes went to Kelce for 20, Hill for 12, and Keizer for 15. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 8, Mahomes was sacked. Butker hit his 4th field goal from 31 to make it 12-10 Chiefs.

The Broncos soon faced 3rd and 7 from their own 31. Lock went to Hamler for 8, to Patrick for 21 and to Cleveland for 11. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 15, Lock got the yard. On 2nd and 10 from the Chiefs 14, Lock threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 4 yard gain. Lock threw a 10 yard touchdown to Patrick. Vic Fangio went for 2 but Lock threw incomplete. The 11 play, 72 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive had the Broncos up 16-12 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. After a touchback Mahomes went deep to Hill for a 30 yard gain. Mahomes then went to Kelce for 14 and Sammy Watkins for 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Denver 26, Mahomes ran for 6. Mahomes went deep to Kelce for a 20 yard touchdown. After three quarters the Chiefs led 19-16. 

The Chiefs got it back and moved from their own 26 to a 1st and 10 at the Denver 48. Mahomes hit Kence for 18 but on further review it was reversed to an incompletion. On 3rd and 10 Mahomes went for it all and found a wide open Hill for the touchdown. Yet offensive holding nullified the score and killed the drive. With 6 minutes left the Broncos after an incompletion faced 4th and 3 just shy of midfield. Vic Fangio decided not to gamble. The Chiefs got it back at their own 15. Williams gained 6 and Mahomes hit Watkins for 17. Williams gained 12 and 4. Mahomes hit Watkins for 9 and another first down at the Denver 32 as the Broncos took their final timeout on defense with 2 1/2 minutes left. At the 2 minute warning, the Chiefs faced 3rd and 12 from the Denver 34. A first down would end it, yet an incomplete pass would stop the clock. Yes, Mahomes is superhuman. In this situation you run the ball every single time. Naturally, pass-happy Walrus Andy Reid called a high risk pass play. Mahomes completed it, but for only 9 yards. Butker hit the 43 yard field goal but the Chiefs were called for delay of game. Butker tried again from 48 and again was good. With 1:04 to play the Chiefs led by 6. With 33 seconds left the Broncos faced 4th and 5 from their own 30. Lock was intercepted at midfield. The Broncos were game, but the Chiefs at 11-1 have all but locked up the AFC West, making Andy Reid a most happy Walrus indeed. 22-16 Chiefs  

Washington Gridlock at Pittsburgh Steelers was a Monday afternoon game rescheduled from Sunday due to COVID. The unbeaten Steelers were supposed to steamroll over lowly Washington. After a scoreless first quarter, the Steelers appeared to break the game open in the second quarter. From their own 28, Ben Roethlisberger hit Eric Ebron for 13 and 4 and Johnson for 5. On 3rd and 1 from midfield, Bennie Snell gained 2. On 3rd and 12 from midfield, Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 17. On 3rd and 6 from the Washington 29, Roethlisberger hit Ebron for 15 and Johnson for 8. On 3rd and 7 from the Washington 11, Big Ben hit Chase Claypool for 8 and Johnson for the 3 yard touchdown. The 14 play, 72 yard, 6 minute drive had the Steelers up 7-0. Riverboat Ron Rivera gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 34 and Mckissic got blown up for a 3 yard loss. The Steelers with a short field reached 2nd and goal Roethlisberger threw incomplete but defensive unnecessary roughness meant 1st and goal at the one again. Snell got stopped twice and Roethlisberger on 3rd and goal threw incomplete. Mike Tomlin gambled on 4th and goal at the one and Snell got belted trying to go airborne. Despite the inspired goal line stand, the Gridlock offense punted the ball right back and the Steelers took over at midfield. One play later Roethlisberger connected with Washington for a 50 yard touchdown. With 4 minutes left in the half the Steelers were up 14-0 and thinking blowout.

With 50 seconds left in the half, a relatively short 40 yard punt had the Non-Redskins taking over at their own 41. Alex Smith hit Sims for a 30 yard gain and McKissic for 11 more. Consecutive sacks of Smith ended the drive but Dustin Hopkins hit a 49 yard field goal to end the half with the No-Names within 14-3. The No-Names after consecutive penalties to start the third quarter faced 1st and 23 from their own 5. On 3rd and 14 from their own 14, Smith hit Wright for a 31 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Pittsburgh 38, Smith hit Sims for 9. On 2nd and 12 from the Pittsburgh 31, Smith went deep to Thomas for a 30 yard gain down to the one. McKissic got stopped and Smith threw incomplete twice. On 4th and goal at the one, Riverboat Ron Rivera went for it. Smith threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the one again. Pierre Barber got in. The 14 play, 82 yard, 7 minute drive had the Non-Redskins within 14-10 midway through the third quarter.

The Steelers got it back at their own 18 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. McFarland gained 9. Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 14. On 3rd and 14 from their own 37, Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 16. On 3rd and 2 from the Washington 39, Roethlisberger threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 14 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from the Washington 24, Roethlisberger hit Ebron for only 5 yards. Wright was in place of the injured Chris Boswell, and he hit from 37 on the first play of the fourth quarter. The 11 play, 63 yard drive had the Steelers up 17-10. With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Steelers had to punt on 4th and 12 from their own 8. The No-Names got it back at their own 47. On 3rd and 1 from the Pittsburgh 44, Barber gained 2. McKissic caught passes from Smith for 16 and 8 sandwiched around his running for 3 yards. Smith went to Thomas for a 15 yard touchdown. With 9 minutes left in regulation this supposed blowout was deadlocked 17-17.

The Steelers took over at their own 38 and moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Washington 28 with 5 minutes left. Roethlisberger threw incomplete. A field goal to give the Steelers the lead would be from 46 yards out. Mike Tomlin instead decided to go for it. Roethlisberger went deep incomplete. Smith hit McKissic for gains of 7 and 6. On 3rd and 4 from their own 44, Smith went deep to Sims for 29 yards. The drive died at the Pittsburgh 27. with 2:07 left, Hopkins came in for a 45 yard field goal try. It was good and the No-Names had the 20-17 lead. One play after a touchback, Roethlisberger had a short pass over the middle batted in the air and intercepted by Jeff Bostic. From the Pittsburgh 25, three safe runs took the clock down to 21 seconds. On 4th and 12 from the Pittsburgh 27, there was too much time left just to run around and kill clock. A field goal could be blocked and returned. Ron Rivera trusted his kicker and from 45 Hopkins delivered again. Down by 6 with 17 seconds left, the Steelers needed a miracle. After  touchback, Roethlisberger hit Ebron for 22. However, Claypool could not get out of bounds and the clock ran out.  

Washington at 5-7 is still tied atop the NFC Least. The 1972 Dolphins popped their champagne corks as the last NFL unbeaten of 2020 went down to defeat. They had the No-Name Defense who beat Washington in the Super Bowl, and the 2020 Steelers lost to the No-Name Football Team of Washington. Any Given Sunday is now Any Given Monday as well. Again, cue ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman: “THAT’s why they PLAY the GAMES!” 23-17 Gridlock

Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers was the Monday night game. The 49ers actually play in Santa Clara near San Jose and an hour south of San Francisco. Due to a total COVID lockdown in Santa Clara, the 49ers are now playing home games in the Arizona Cardinals stadium in Glendale near Phoenix. The Bills came in 8-3 atop the AFC East and the 49ers were 5-6. The Bills started after a touchback by moving 74 yards in 11 plays and 6 minutes. On 4th and goal at the one, Sean Mcdermott went for it. Josh Allen threw incomplete. The 49ers moved 97 yards in 13 plays and 8 minutes. Yet on 3rd and goal at the one, Kyle Juszczyk got stopped just short. Kyle Shanahan went for it. Wilson got stuffed as both teams had a goal line stand. Yet one play later out of the shotgun, the handoff exchange was fumbled. The 49ers recovered at the Buffalo 3. Raheem Mostert got stopped twice but there would be no third goal line stand in the same quarter. On 3rd and goal at the 2, a well executed play action pass over the middle from Nick Mullens to Aiyuk went for the touchdown and the 7-0 49ers lead the hard way. The Bills got it back at their own 23. Allen went to Stefan Diggs for 12, Cole Beasley for 35, Davis for 22, Smith for 7, and finally to Beasley for a 5 yard touchdown and a 7-7 game early in the second quarter.

The Bills got it back at their own 31. From their own 43, Allen had a pass deflected and intercepted. However, illegal contact instead gave the Bills a 4 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the San Francisco 44, Allen gained 2. Allen hit Knox for 8, McKenzie for 8 and Beasley for 12. On 3rd and 1 from the 5, Allen tried the quarterback sneak and got stopped. Sean McDermott again went for it. Singletary went around the end and just barely got past the marker. On the next play Allen rolled to his right and fired to Knox for a 4 yard touchdown. The 14 play, 69 yard, 8 minute drive put the Bills up 14-7 with 2:40 left in the half. With 1:05 left the Bills got it back at their own 10. Singletary gained 8. Allen hit Beasley for 7 but with 30 seconds left the Bills were still at their own 25. Allen hit Diggs for 18, Beasley for 20 and Davis for 18. With 4 second left, Tyler Bass came in for the 37 yard field goal try. It was good, and the Bills took a 17-7 lead to the locker rooms. 

The 49ers took over in the third quarter at their own 25. Mullen went to Dwelley for 17. On 1st and 15 from their own 37, Wilson gained 18. Mullens hit Aiyuk for 20. A sack ended the drive but Robbie Gould hit a 45 yard field goal to get the 49ers within 17-10. The Bills soon faced 3rd and 1 from their own 34. Singletary gained 2. Allen hit Knox for 12, Beasley for 6 and Stefan Diggs for 11. On 2nd and 18 from the San Francisco 39, Allen threw incomplete but roughing the passer meant 15 more yards and a first down. Allen then went deep to McKenzie for a 23 yard touchdown. The 11 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive made it 24-10 Bills. 2 plays after a touchback things got worse for the 49ers. Mullens threw over the middle to Aiyuk, who juggled it twice. It then bounced off of a defender’s leg and was eventually intercepted by Micah Hyde. Hyde returned it 28 yards to the San Francisco 5 yard line. On the verge of being obliterated, the 49ers defense made another big stand. On 3rd and goal from the 2, a pair of offensive penalties killed the opportunity. Bass hit the 28 yard field goal to make it 27-10 Bills with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. 

This time the 49ers came back fairly quickly. On 3rd and 2 from their own 33, Mullens hit Samuel for 12. Mullens then went deep to Aiyuk for a 49 yard gain. Mullens then went to Kyle Juszczyk for a 6 yard touchdown. After three quarters the 49ers were back in it down 27-17. After a touchback, Singletary ran for 15. The Bills began the fourth quarter at their own 40. Allen was sacked and fumbled, but the Bills retained possession. On 2nd and 15, Allen hit Diggs for 10. On 3rd and 5, Allen went back to Diggs for 12 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Frisco 34, Zach Moss lost a yard. With 11 12 minutes left in regulation, Sean McDermott got very aggressive on 4th and 2. Allen fired over the middle to Diggs for 7. Two plays later Allen found a wide open Davis for the easiest 28 yard touchdown he will ever catch. The 10 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Bills dominating 34-17 with 10 minutes left. 

After a touchback Mullens went deep to Samuel for 22, Worner for 15 and Samuel again for 9. Mostert ran for 10. Mullens hit Woerner for 18 down to the one. Coleman then got blasted for a 2 yard loss. Mullens fired to Kendrick Bourne, who as he was being tackled barely got the ball across the plane of the goal. Replay showed his knee came down before the ball crossed. On 3rd and goal, Mullens tried to quarterback sneak and got stopped. The 49ers were lucky that Mullens was called for a false start. So instead of 4th and goal at the one, it was 3rd and goal at the 5. Mullens fired to the end zone and thought he had a touchdown, but Tradavius White ripped it out of Wilson’s hands for a spectacular interception. Midway through the fourth quarter the Bills took over at their own 2 yard line. The 49ers would get a garbage touchdown with 43 seconds left but it was far too little too late. Mullens did not play badly. He went 26 of 39 for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns, but with 2 killer interceptions. Allen was a lights out 32 of 40 for 375 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The Bills at 9-3 remain one game ahead in the AFC East race. 34-24 Bills 

Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens was a Tuesday night game rescheduled from last Thursday night due to COVID. The 3-8 Cowboys came in with a shot to win the NFC Least while the 6-5 Ravens were clinging to playoff life. The Ravens welcomed Lamar Jackson back after he missed last week with COVID. The Ravens took over at their own 16 and soon faced 3rd and 6 from their own 33. Jackson was intercepted and the Cowboys had a short field at the Baltimore 34. On 3rd and 4 from the Dallas 13, Red Rifle Andy Dalton threw incomplete. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein hit the 31 yard field goal. The Cowboys led 3-0, but most of this game would be a nightmare for Zuerlein. After a touchback, John Harbaugh went to the ground game. Edwards gained 7, Jackson added 5 and JK Dobbins gained 18. On 3rd and 14 just past midfield, Jackson hit Willson fr only 12. On 4th and 2, John Harbaugh passed up a 55 yard field goal try and decided to go for it. Jackson went up the middle and raced for a 37 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Ravens after the first quarter. 

The Cowboys got a jolt when Tony Pollard returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards to the Baltimore 28. The second quarter began with Dalton hitting CeeDee Lamb for 14 and Michael Gallup for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Cowboys. The Ravens after a touchback moved to a 4th and 4 at the Dallas 13. Justin Tucker hit the 31 yard field goal, but a false start meant he had to try again from 36. The kick was no good. The Ravens still trailed 10-7, but after that they took over with help from Dallas self-destructing.

The Cowboys took over at their own 26. From their own 37, Dalton was intercepted to give the Ravens a short field at the Dallas 38. One play and 7 seconds later the Ravens had the 14-10 lead as Jackson went deep to Boykin for the touchdown. The Cowboys after a touchback moved 53 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. On 4th and 4 from the Baltimore 17, Zuerlein came in for a 35 yard field goal try. A delay of game moved it back. From 40 yards out, Zuerlein was no good with 2:06 left in the half. The Ravens took over at their own 30. Defensive pass interference added 18 to midfield. Dobbins ran for 30. On 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 17, Jackson threw incomplete. Tucker hit from 35 to make it 17-10 Ravens with 42 seconds left in the half. The Cowboys quickly moved from their own 10 to a 4th and 6 at their own 45 with 7 second left. Mike McCarthy went with the Hail Mary and John Harbaugh became the anti-Gregg Williams. Harbaugh sent zero…yes, zero…rushers. Dalton had ages of time to throw a Hail Mary that Lamb had his hands on. Harbaugh was lucky it fell incomplete. 

In the third quarter Zuerlein missed again from 53 and the Ravens took over at their own 43. On 3rd and 6 from their own 47, Jackson gained 7. Dobbins ran for 7, 5 and 5 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Dallas 34, Jackson ran for 14 and threw a 20 yard touchdown to Brown for a 24-10 Ravens lead with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Cowboys took over at their own 22 and moved 44 yards in 12 plays and 5 1/2 minutes. Yet early in the fourth quarter, Zuerlein from 51 yards out missed his third field goal of the game. That gave the Ravens the ball at their own 42. Jackson hit Ricard for 9. Edwards gained 21 and Jackson added 9 more. Ingram gained 6 and 5. On 2nd and goal at the 4, a run went nowhere and Jackson threw incomplete. Tucker hit from 22. The 11 play, 54 yard 6 minute drive had the Ravens comfortably ahead 27-10 midway through the fourth quarter. After a touchback the Cowboys moved to a 1st and goal at the one with 5 1/2 minutes left. Yet 3 runs by Ezekiel Elliot netted negative one yard and took 90 seconds off the clock. Dalton did hit Amari Cooper on 4th and goal at the 2 for the touchdown, but by then only 4 minute remained. The onside kick failed. With a short field, the Ravens put the game away. Dobbins ran for a 5 yard touchdown to end it. The Cowboys fell to 3-9 and 2 games back in the NFC Least. The 7-5 Ravens have playoff life. 34-17 Ravens