The Tuesday Touchdown

What a week of games we had in Week 13. The GOAT is went up against another one of the new crop of quarterbacks, the Bills found themselves playing on Thanksgiving against America’s Team, with both teams competing for playoff spots, and the Baltimore Ravens, with MVP front runner Lamar Jackson, squared off against the scary San Francisco pass rush. The Titans and Colts continued the hotly contested race for the AFC South, and of course it’s the rematch of “helmet gate” as the Steelers hosted the Browns in a fight for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Let’s take a look back at a thrilling Week 13 in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers 17 – 20 Baltimore Ravens

Yet another Baltimore win and yet another game winning field goal from Justin Tucker. He has now made 38 field goals in a row in the fourth quarter. Does ice just run through this man’s veins?? 

In what could very well be a preview of the Super Bowl, the Ravens get the win in a street fight. The horrible weather in Baltimore set the tone for this one as both teams tried to pound the rock. Lamar Jackson took another big step towards breaking Michael Vick’s rushing record for a quarterback in this one with 102 rushing yards. He only had 105 passing yards, but it really did not matter in the end. Overall he put in another MVP worthy performance in this one, with a passing and rushing touchdown. The Ravens are now 12-0 when Jackson rushes for more than 70 yards. 

Not much for the 49ers in this one, outside of a big performance from Raheem Mostert who managed 146 rushing yards on 17 attempts and added a touchdown. The Ravens ended up finishing the week as the number one team in the AFC. Meanwhile the 49ers continue to be in a dogfight for the NFC West, but have now slipped to the 5th seed in the NFC.

Chicago Bears 24 – 20 Detroit Lions

For only the third time this season the Chicago Bears managed more than 300 yards total offense and for the sixth time this year the Bears get a win. 

In 11 of Detroit’s 12 games this year they have lost by eight points or less. They really need to find a way to win these close games. Granted it doesn’t help when you are forced to play with your third-string quarterback, but David Blough actually played quite well. His final drive looked very composed and gave his Lions a chance to get the win. If it wasn’t for a great sack by Roquan Smith, he might have actually managed it. 

Finally, Mitchell Trubisky got over 300 passing yards in a game. This was the first time in his last 16 games that he managed the feat. The good thing for the Bears going forward is both sides of the ball played well in this game for the most part. The defense is pretty much always good but this time the offense stepped up and helped out. Mathematically the Chicago Bears are still in the hunt, but the postseason remains unlikely. As for the Detroit Lions, that’s them completely done for another year.

Buffalo Bills 26 – 15 Dallas Cowboys

Baltimore Ravens

The Dallas Cowboys are a staple of Thanksgiving Day football, but this is one game that they will hope to forget quickly. In the Cowboys biggest defeat ever at home when both Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have played, it was a former Cowboy that turned the screws for Buffalo. Cole Beasley put on a monster performance and had 110 yards on 6 receptions and added a touchdown to his stat line also. This was only the second time in his last 66 games that he managed to surpass 100 receiving yards, what a time to do it. 

In yet another game this season Josh Allen had both a passing and a rushing touchdown. The Bills are seeing real growth from Allen, and other than the ridiculous Lamar Jackson, Allen is making a case to be the best quarterback from that draft. Josh Brown set a Bills franchise record by being the first wide receiver to throw a touchdown pass, which is always cool to see. 

As for the Cowboys, they need to find a way to beat good teams. They are now 0-6 when playing a team with a record of .500 or better, they are also 0-6 when trailing at the half and 6-0 when leading at the half. That is a pretty telling statistic about the style of football this team has played this year. The Bills are looking like a team that could cause some issues in the playoffs this season. The Cowboys are just lucky that the Eagles haven’t been setting the NFC East alight.

New Orleans Saints 26 – 18 Atlanta Falcons

Drew Brees was not his usual accurate self with only 18 completed passes from 30 attempts, but he led his Saints to their third consecutive NFC South Championship. Although Teddy Bridgewater deserves a lot of the credit for that as well.

This game, however, was won by the Saints defense and the monstrous nine sacks they put up, handing back some of the punishment the Falcons put on them last time they met. This was actually the first time since 2001 that the Saints defense managed nine sacks in one game. Matt Ryan really felt that pressure, throwing two interceptions and on his final drive taking a sack from Cameron Jordan for the fourth time, a feat not managed by a Saints player since 1997.  

As for the kickers, Will Lutz was a perfect 4/4 on field goals and 2/2 on extra points. Compare that with Younghoe Koo who missed a field goal and an extra point, and the game could have been closer for the Falcons final drive. Not a lot of positives for the Falcons in this one other than the fact they recovered two cleverly thought through onside kicks, which does not happen often. The Saints are now fighting for the number one or two seed, whole the Falcons are officially done for the year and have some tough decisions to make this offseason.

Washington Redskins 29 – 21 Carolina Panthers

Despite having a 14-point lead in this one and recovering a beautifully executed on-side kick, the Carolina Panthers lose this one at home. With it they may also have lost their chance at the postseason. 

For the first time since 1998 the Redskins travelled to Charlotte and got a win. Dwayne Haskins gets another win in his professional career but once again this one had very little to do with him. With only 147 passing yards and no touchdowns, the most positive bit about Haskin’s day was the fact that he did not give the ball to the Panthers defense. 

What he did well was give it to his running back. Derrius Guice had himself a day, averaging 12.9 yards per carry as he totaled 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns. After going 14 points down the Redskins scored 29 unanswered, before holding on for the win. I say held on when I really mean clung on by the skin of their teeth. Kyle Allen got the Panthers in the end zone on a nice 17 yard run to get within eight points, with Carolina then recovering the ensuing onside kick. Unfortunately, Allen was later sacked on fourth down at the Washington 26-yard line and the fumble ended the game, handing the Redskins their third win off the season. 

Unbelievably, the Redskins remain alive in the playoff hunt, thanks to the incompetence of the Cowboys and Eagles. The Panthers have no such luck, as their loss handed the Saints the NFC South.

New York Jets 6 – 22 Cincinnati Bengals

How can a team look so good one week, sticking it to the Raiders, and then come out the next week and get blown away by the win-less Bengals? 

Jets fans have to be one of the most frustrated groups amongst all sports fans. A game with very little running attack from either side is not really a surprise here. The Bengals have struggled all year to get anything going on the ground and yet again Le’Veon Bell could not get over 100 yards for the Jets. Is he missing that Pittsburgh offensive line yet? 

Andy Dalton came back into the team and got the Bengals their first win of the season off a decent outing. Not far from 300 yards and a passing touchdown will cement his place as the starter for the rest of the season, and perhaps make hima  consideration for some teams in free agency. In getting a touchdown he surpassed Ken Anderson for the most Bengals touchdowns in history. If this is the end of his time in Cincinnati, at least he ends with his name in the record books for now. The race for the number one pick in the draft gets interesting with this result, as the Bengals now have just a one-game lead.

Tennessee Titans 31 – 17 Indianapolis Colts

A big game in the AFC South where the winner could have finished the week tied with the Houston Texans for the lead in the division. Going into the fourth quarter the game was tied and the Colts had a chance to step up and take the lead with a field goal. Adam Vinatieri steps up, kicks the ball and before he knows it Tye Smith has ran the ball all the way back for a Titans touchdown after the kick was blocked.

Two plays later, Brissett threw an interception, and then three plays after that Titans found the end zone again to take a 14-point lead. For the rest of the fourth quarter all the Colts could manage was another fumble. The Titans take a big step in the race for the playoffs, but Colts lose again to leave them struggling in their division and the wildcard race.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 – 11 Jacksonville Jaguars

Big away win for Tampa Bay in this one. The Jaguars could get nothing going at all and eventually benched Nick Foles to bring back the moustache of Minshew into the fold. Foles started the game with an interception and then two fumbles. That was followed with nothing better than punting the ball away. Eventually at the half they decided to bring Minshew back. Unfortunately for him, Foles had left him in a hole and he could do nothing about it. 

Jameis Winston threw the ball well and put the Buccaneers in position to run the ball strongly, in which Peyton Barber duly obliged. Of course despite the decent play from Winston there was still his usual giveaway, which in this one was a fumble in the third quarter. This victory belong to the defense and the running game, which must be a nice change for Buccaneers’ fans. Both these teams are now out of playoff contention realistically, with 9-7 being the est either could manage from here.

Cleveland Browns 13 – 20 Pittsburgh Steelers

Quack quack quack Mr. Tomlin, quack quack quack. 

The Steelers have found their starting quarterback for the remainder of the season and his name is Duck. Couldn’t resist a throwback to The Mighty Ducks with Devlin “Duck” Hodges getting the start in this one. Despite all the pressure coming into this game after the TNF debacle, Hodges went 14-for-21 for 212 yards and a score, and more importantly got the win. Not much got going in the run game for Pittsburgh but a tip of the hat for Benny Snell getting his first career TD in this one. James Washington had himself another big game, surpassing 100 receiving yards and finding the end zone on only four targets. It was another big game for the Steelers defense, with four sacks and rather fittingly the game was won on an interception from former Browns player Joe Haden. Somehow the Steelers are right in the playoff hunt in what everyone believed was a lost season. 

A disappointing loss for the Browns who were attempting to sweep the Steelers, and now will struggle to make the playoffs. After harping on all week about being the dominant force in this rivalry, the Steelers show the Browns that they are still the top dog in this one.

Green Bay Packers 31 - 13 New York Giants

Aaron Rodgers put on a show at the meadowlands and really stuck it to this struggling defense. Yet another game with over 300 passing yards, as he also added four passing touchdowns. The Giants defense simply couldn’t cope with that production. At the half the Giants were within a score but the Packers turned it up a gear and put this game out of reach. 

Daniel “Loose Change” Jones had yet another game with multiple giveaways, as he continues to have at least one in every game he has played. Another doom and gloom stats for the Giants is that they lead the league in games with 2 plus giveaways this year, which has largely been on Jones.

A very small positive for them is that Saquon Barkley managed to rush for 83 yards and get back to semi-normality for him. The Packers keep themselves in the race for a bye in the postseason, and with Aaron Rodgers at the wheel they have every chance of going the distance.

Philadelphia Eagles 31 – 37 Miami Dolphins

After seeing the Dallas Cowboys lose on Thanksgiving, the Philadelphia Eagles had the chance to tie Dallas at the top of the NFC East. They got off to a great start intercepting Fitzpatrick on the very first play of the game and then turning that into seven points. Things were looking great for the Eagles at the start of third as Carson Wentz threw his third touchdown pass of the game and gave his Eagles a 28-14 lead. 

Then up stepped Ryan Fitzpatrick, with the Miami defense also coming to life. Miami scored three touchdowns and a field goal, while their defense, that looked so weak in the first half, held the Eagles to a measly field goal. Quite simply a game of two halves in this one as the Eagles started so well before fading terribly in the humidity of Florida. Travelling to Miami is not a gimme in those conditions, and they have a team willing to fight until the end.

Once again, the Eagles couldn’t manage to get a running back over 100 yards, and have lost out massively in the hunt for the postseason. Miami get their third win of the season, which is huge for that locker room, while remaining in the top-four of the draft. However, victory really means it is becoming impossible for them to get the number one pick in the draft. However, the commitment and effort they are showing for their coach and franchise may be even more important than getting that first pick.

Los Angeles Rams 34 – 7 Arizona Cardinals

In a game that has been fondly been dubbed “The Kurt Warner Bowl”, only one quarterback showed up. By the end of the second quarter Jared Goff had surpassed the 250 passing yards mark, while Kyler Murray wasn’t even at 100. 

Goff needed a big game as he, along with his Rams, have been struggling recently. In fact, his passing touchdown in the second quarter was his first passing TD since Week 8. Goff finished with 424 yards and two passing touchdowns, to Higbee and Kupp. Murray only managed 163 yards and an interception. 

The Rams finished the game with two receivers both surpassing 100 yards and Todd Gurley was only five yards shy from 100 on the ground. The Cardinals offence had nothing all day, starting the game with six punts and an interception to take them into the third quarter. The interception by the way was returned for a touchdown, and by this point the Rams were up 34-0. With this defeat the Cardinals are now officially done for the year, while the Rams remain in the hunt for a playoff spot, just.

Oakland Raiders 9 – 40 Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes was held to under 200 yards for the second game in a row and yet the Chiefs still put up 40 points on their divisional rivals. Halfway through the third quarter the Chiefs were up 31 and there was no way back for Oakland. They managed a late touchdown in the fourth but it was far too little too late.

In a game where first place in the AFC West was up for grabs, the Chiefs defense showed up and got the job done. It was easily the best defensive performance of the season, forcing three turnovers and sacking Derek Carr twice. In the Raiders first drive the Chiefs set the tone for the entire game by intercepting Carr, and handing the ball to Mahomes with a short field to operate. 

The Chiefs may actually be in a better position than last season in some respects. Yes, they have a worse record, but they are going to make the playoffs and they are getting wins in different ways. Not simply relying on the magic of Mahomes. Their defense is creating plays and taking some of the pressure of the reigning MVP, which is good to see. The Raiders are now two games behind the Chiefs and struggling after two big defeats. Their only hope now is a wildcard spot and I think they will struggle. Next weeks game with the Titans is huge for them. The Chiefs have a big game next week at the Patriots, which will really test their capabilities, and tell us just where they currently sit in the AFC pecking order.

Los Angeles Chargers 20 – 23 Denver Broncos

This game started with the last quarterback standing from the big-three selected in the 2004 draft at risk of getting benched. After a bad streak from Phillip Rivers he didn’t get off to a great start once again. On his second possession he threw another interception and was being completely outshone by the rookie quarterback Drew Lock on the other side of the ball. 

In his first professional start, Lock had two touchdown passes to Courtland Sutton and looked anything but a rookie. What is more impressive is that instead of hiding away from one of the best corners in the league in Casey Hayward he went right after him and he won. 

Despite getting out to a 17-3 lead the Broncos almost threw it away and early in the fourth they found themselves tied at 17. The fourth quarter was then a shootout of field goals, which the Broncos won 2-1 to get the win. Another one possession loss for the Chargers, and despite the loss and the interception Rivers may well have held onto his job for another week. At 4-8 both these teams aren’t mathematically out but they are as good as out. Could it be time for a new head coach and quarterback in Los Angeles?

New England Patriots 22 – 28 Houston Texans

For the first time in six attempts Bill O’Brien finally got a win against Belichick, and they looked good doing it. The Patriots dynasty isn’t necessarily over, but this is a blow for them. This season their defense has been the shining light, but through three quarters they could not stop Watson, and found themselves down 28-9.  

The Patriots managed two touchdowns in the fourth but their offense up to that point had left them in a hole that they couldn’t escape. Despite being in the same stadium as their incredible Super Bowl come back against the Falcons, they could not conjure up and of the same magic. Tom Brady has now gone seven games in a row with a passer rating of under 100, which is the longest streak of his career. The strange thing for the Patriots is that their defense didn’t show up particularly either. They allowed four passing touchdowns in this game, having given up barely more than that for the majority of the season. 

The Patriots drop out of the number one spot in the AFC, and the Texans remain a game ahead in the race for the AFC South. We will be seeing both these teams in the playoffs, and if the Patriots do not right the ship fast, we may even see a rematch in five weeks time.

Minnesota Vikings 30 – 37 Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks move to the top of the NFC West and take the number two seed in the Conference. Russell Wilson is the Seahawk gathering all the MVP talk, but this one was one by his running backs. Chris Carson finished with over 100 yards and a score and Rashad Penny backed him up with 74 yards and a score himself. Wilson kept them all ticking over with 21-of-31 passing and two touchdowns. The strong run game from Seattle led them to having almost double the time of possession and despite the high score on both sides, they largely had control of this game. 

Kirk Cousins remains win-less on Monday Night Footbal, dropping to 0-8 when playing in that slot. This game though was more about the fact that he simply couldn’t quite pull them back into this game. His stats for the game were actually pretty good, 22-of-38 passing for 276 yards and two scores. Despite the defeat the Vikings can take credit for getting back into a game against a Super Bowl Contender.

The Seahawks now have a chance to go for the number one seed, but realistically their season is likely to come down to the Week 17 showdown hosting the 49ers. The Vikings now need to be perfect down the stretch or they are going to be facing three road games if they want to go to the Super Bowl.

Mark Ross

NFL Analyst

MARK HAS BEEN AN AVID NFL FAN SINCE 2006 AND FOLLOWS THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS. JUST RECENTLY STARTED WRITING ABOUT THE LEAGUE AND HAS DONE ARTICLES FOR @FIRSTANDTEN AND GAME COVERAGE FOR @BYTHEMINNFL. YOU CAN SEE MORE OF HIS ARTICLES ON HIS TWITTER @MARKR1991

5/5

Image credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports, Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports, Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports, USA today