The Tuesday Touchdown
Finally the Cleveland Browns showed the world what they can do on the offensive side of the ball. Jarvis Landry had a big day against his former team and his college teammate Odell Beckham Jr backed him up pretty well. A backup quarterback was replaced by his backup and Derrick Henry had yet another huge game against the Jaguars. That all happened before the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens embarrassed opponents in prime time. Another week of football is in the books and as we march to the postseason everything is heating up, lets take a look at what happened.
Green Bay Packers 8 – 37 San Francisco 49ers
In a battle of two NFC Giants only one of them ever got anything going at all. Within the first two minutes the Packers felt the full force of the deadly San Francisco pass rush which forced Aaron Rodgers into a fumble in the shadow of his end zone. On the very next play the 49ers made it count and punched it in. The Packers never recovered and Rodgers couldn’t get the offence going all night.
After starting with a fumble, six punts and a turnover on downs the Packers finally found the end zone for their only points of the game. The 49ers pass rush dominated this game and stopped Rodgers completing a pass of more than 10 yards all night, keeping him to just 104 yards in total. San Francisco got a much needed statement win after three closely fought affairs against divisional foes. Green Bay are now in a dog fight with Minnesota for the NFC North.
Indianapolis Colts 17 – 20 Houston Texans
In a vital AFC South matchup the Colts had their talented lead wide receiver back. T.Y. Hilton loves playing in NRG Stadium, having previously ripped the Texans defense apart in this fixture. This time however he may be the reason they lost. With only three catches for 18 yards, Hilton didn’t exactly light the scoreboard up, but it was two plays in the second half that seemed to doom the Colts to defeat. Late in the third, Colts had a 3rd-and-4. Jacoby Brissett found Hilton with a pass but the wide receiver couldn’t hold on with pressure from Vernon Hargreaves. Then on their next possession, 3rd-and-4 again, but once again Hilton couldn’t hold onto the pass under pressure. Normally Hilton would pull these in and move on, but something was off on this occasion and it cost the Colts.
On the other side of the ball, the deep shot was key for Houston in this game. Unsurprisingly, this coincided with the return of Will Fuller V. Deandre Hopkins ended the game with two long touchdown catches, and Fuller himself had 140 yards on 7 receptions, two of them going for 94 yards in total. Despite not having Marlon Mack the Colts still decided to run the ball down the throat of the Texans, but it just wasn’t enough as Watson and Hopkins connected for a 30-yard touchdown to win the game. The Texans take the lead in the AFC South but I don’t see a team from this division reaching the Super Bowl anytime soon.
Seattle Seahawks 17 – 9 Philadelphia Eagles
In the midst of the race for MVP, Russell Wilson didn’t have one of his best games in this matchup. With an interception and a lost fumble blotting his copy book, he managed just 200 passing yards and one passing touchdown. However, he still led his team to the win, and is that not what great quarterbacks do? Win in adversity.
Luckily for Wilson his defense gave Carson Wentz a torrid time on the other side of the ball. With three fumbles (two of which he lost) and two interceptions, Wentz had a game Jameis Winston would be proud of. The Seattle defense held the Eagles running backs to under 100 rushing yards, a feat an Eagles back hasn’t managed in 39 straight games now. Rashad Penny on the other hand had a great game running the ball for Seattle. 129 yards on 14 attempts, including a 58 yard touchdown. He averaged 9.2 yards per carry, frankly a huge number. It is even more significant when you consider the fumbling problems of Chris Carson.
Seattle get to 9-2 and keep the pressure on the 49ers for the NFC West. Eagles slip to below .500 with a record of 5-6. They now likely need to win out if they are to make it to the playoffs this season.
Detroit Lions 16 – 19 Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins have not been able to celebrate a home win since Week 7 of the 2018 season, but Dwayne Haskins delivered for Washington and got it done in this one. Well I use the phrase Haskins delivered very very loosely, as in reality he was simply the starting quarterback in a game that was settled by numerous field goals and one long kick return by Steven Sims for the Redskins. After starting the season 2-0-1, the Lions have lost four straight and seven of their last eight, meaning you can stick a fork in them now for this season. The fork has been well and truly stuck in Washington for some time now, but at least they get a home win for their fans in this one.
Oakland Raiders 3 – 34 New York Jets
The New York Jets put it to the Oakland Raiders at the Meadowlands. Sam Darnold had another strong outing and seems to put have put his ghostly woes behind him. With two touchdown passes and a rushing one to go with them, Jets fans are finally seeing the quality that Darnold has. One thing the Jets can’t do is get their elite running back going. In yet another game where Le’Veon Bell struggled to get any traction, he ended the game with just 49 rushing yards. That is not what the Jets would have expected when they signed him to a bumper deal. The upside was that he ranked third for the Jets in receiving yards with 59, but it is not enough output from someone of his quality.
There is not really anything positive to say about the Raiders in this one. After scoring a field goal on the opening drive they then had 12 further possessions and couldn’t even get another field goal. One to forget for Oakland and a big dent in their playoff hopes.
Carolina Panthers 31 – 34 New Orleans Saints
Another game with a player being mentioned in the MVP race. Christian McCaffrey once again had a multiple touchdown game and ended with 133 total scrimmage yards. This game had lots of offense on both sides of the ball, with each quarterback throwing three touchdowns and both throwing for over 250 yards, with Brees going over the 300-yard mark.
This game in the end came down to another dodgy pass interference call against the Saints that gave the Panthers a 28 yard field goal to win the game with two minutes left. Up stepped Joey Slye, who had already missed two extra points attempts. With a chance to give the Panthers a lead, he missed another kick. What followed was typical Saints football. Brees marched the Saints down the field and put Will Lutz in position to nail the game winner as time expired.
The Saints now sit at 9-2 and may have ended not only Carolina’s playoff hopes but also McCaffrey’s MVP hopes. Furthermore for the Saints, Michael Thomas had another big game with 101 yards on 10 receptions and a touchdown. Should he be getting mentioned in the MVP race?
Miami Dolphins 24 – 41 Cleveland Browns
Even though it was the Miami Dolphins, the Browns offense finally showed us what they can do. Mayfield threw for over 300 yards and only had the one blemish of an interception. The two LSU products finally put it together and had the sort of game we were all expecting every week. Odell Beckham Jr. got a touchdown to go with 84 receiving yards. Jarvis Landry was two yards away from surpassing 150 receiving yards and found the end zone twice.
The Browns defense didn’t seem to miss Miles Garrett as they easily handled the Ryan Fitzpatrick led dolphins. Browns fans get another win and don’t have a sour taste left in their mouth at the end of this one. Interestingly, they remain firmly in the wild card race.
Pittsburgh Steelers 16 – 10 Cincinnati Bengals
This is a game that nobody, Steelers and Bengals fans included, were looking forward to. Two backup quarterbacks, one of whom in his previous outing threw four interceptions, going at it. The win-less Bengals probably thought they had a chance in this one against a banged up Steelers team missing Conner, Smith-Schuster and Pouncey, but even with all that going for them they couldn’t get it done.
With a game that had very little offense for either team, the Steelers turned to their backups backup and put Devlin “The Duck Caller” Hodges into the game. With his second pass attempt, he only went and threw a 79 yard touchdown, although a lot of credit must go to James Washington. Even so he has given Mike Tomlin something to think about heading into Week 13. Without James Conner the Steelers rush offense was not expected to produce much, but up stepped Benny Snell who returned 98 rushing yards, at 4.7 yards per carry. The Steelers stay in the wild card mix, but that offense has to do something or they are going to be watching football instead of playing come January.
New York Giants 14 – 19 Chicago Bears
At the half in this one it felt like another same old performance from the Chicago offense. Six possessions and all the Bears had to show for it was one field goal and a Trubisky interception. Luckily for the Bears the Giants offense isn’t exactly playing good football, and they only managed just one touchdown and a pair of missed field goals themselves.
The Bears got the ball to start the second half, and after five plays Trubisky found Robinson for a 32-yard touchdown. Then on their next drive they got a field goal and the one after that they put it in the end zone again. To be honest the second touchdown should really be credited to Khalil Mack who battered Daniel Jones into fumbling the ball (doesn’t take much), giving the Bears offenae a chance to punch it in from the 3-yard line.
This gave the Bears a 19-7 lead, and they would not be caught. The Giants made it close when Jones found Golden Tate for a touchdown on a fourth-down completion, but yet again the Giants couldn’t do enough and they drop another game. The Bears keep their very slim playoffs hopes alive, and the Giants focus remains on their quarterbacks development and what lies ahead next season.
Denver Broncos 3 – 20 Buffalo Bills
The Bills are looking good for a wild card spot and who knows, could they challenge the Patriots for the AFC East title. This was another game this weekend that didn’t have a great deal of offense at all. Neither quarterback managed over 200 passing yards, and the Broncos quarterback didn’t even manage 100.
The Broncos as a team managed 82 passing yards and only 85 rushing yards. It was the Bills rushing offense that sealed the game for them. Devin Singletary had himself a game, with 106 rushing yards, and Frank Gore made history, moving into third all-time in rushing yards with the 65 he managed in this game. Josh Allen threw his first interception in six games, but still managed two touchdown passes and 56 rushing yards. You can stick a fork in the Broncos for the year but these Bills could be a dark horse come January.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35 – 22 Atlanta Falcons
In a battle of two teams who appear to be out of playoff contention you can probably now stick a fork in both of them after this week. Even with the worse record, the Falcons came into this one having won two on the bounce, and I felt more confident about them getting a wild card spot than the Buccaneers. With them losing here both of these teams are done for 2019, unless something bizarre happens.
Even when Jameis Winston throws for multiple touchdowns and over 300 yards, he still finds a way to dampen the spirits by throwing another two interceptions. However, he did find Chris Godwin seven times for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Despite this I think Bruce Arians spends the offseason looking for a new quarterback to lead his Buccaneers, as Winston now has a career high for interceptions in a season with 20, and leads the league in giveaways with 24. My favorite part of this game was a Buccaneers defensive tackle recording a receiving touchdown, and setting a record for the heaviest player to ever record a touchdown reception.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 – 42 Tennessee Titans
The Titans showed that they are not going anywhere in the battle for the AFC South. This was a close game until the third quarter when the Titans put it in fifth gear and racked up 28 points. Derrick Henry is a nightmare that the Jacksonville Jaguars have to keep living. After setting a franchise record in rushing last season against the Jags, Henry had another big game in this one as his Titans blew the Jags away. We saw yet another long touchdown where he kept throwing Jaguars defenders away, and will leave the Jacksonville head office wondering what the hell they need to do to stop this beast.
Henry finished with 159 yards on the ground, two touchdowns and he almost managed a passing one as well. He is hitting form at the perfect time with the Titans now firmly in the race for the division. Since 2017, Henry has racked up 1493 yards in games played on or after the 10th November. He has scored 16 touchdowns in that time and averages 5.7 yards per carry. He is at his best when opponents are wearing down, and it is perfect for the Titans and their fans.
The Titans keep their hopes of the playoffs alive, but the Jags are done and in the offseason have a decision to make with who they want leading their offense in the future. Will it be the very expensive Foles or the cheaper and more fun option in Gardner Minshew?
Dallas Cowboys 6 – 13 New England Patriots
This game pitted the leagues best offense against the leagues best defense in terrible conditions in Foxborough.
Despite not being the offense everyone was talking about heading into the game there were more offensive woes for the Patriots. Through two quarters Brady had managed just 7-of-16 for 102 yards.
However, the Patriots had the lead at the half thanks to the dominance of their defense and special teams. A blocked punt set the Patriots up for their only touchdown and then a Stephon Gilmore interception set the Patriots up for a field goal. Dallas couldn’t get the offense going either in the terrible conditions, and the Patriots secondary held Amari Cooper to zero catches.
Despite the Patriots struggles they are still getting wins and at the end of the day that’s all that matters. If they want to win the whole thing again the offense will need to get better as I don’t see the defense stopping everyone from here on in. The Cowboys still sit top of the NFC East with a winning record, but the Eagles are not far behind. This result means the Patriots have a 10-win season for the 17th consecutive year and the dynasty keeps marching on.
Baltimore Ravens 45 – 6 Los Angeles Rams
There is no better team in the NFL right now than the Baltimore Ravens. Going up against the most exciting offense from last year and they completely embarrassed them. The Rams opening six drives ended with 2 field goals, a kneel-down (to end the half) and three, three-and-outs.
In contrast, the Ravens opening six drives ended with six touchdowns. Lamar Jackson had 169 passing yards, 5 passing touchdowns and he also ran for 95 yards. There is no one hotter in the race for MVP right now than him. The Ravens rush game is also unstoppable as they piled up 285 yards onto a porous Rams defense. Compare that with the Rams who only managed 22 yards rushing and you can see why this was a blowout. Jared Goff had another two interceptions on a forgettable night for his offense. and Sean McVay seems to be out of ideas.
The Ravens sit second in the AFC behind the Patriots. but look the best team, while the Rams are struggling to stay relevant in a competitive NFC.
Teams on Bye:
Minnesota Vikings 8-3, Los Angeles Chargers 4-7, Arizona Cardinals 3-7-1, Kansas City Chiefs 7-4
Image credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports, AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Scott Galvin, USA TODAY Sports, Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports