Raider fans have long complained about the NFL being biased against their team. This game was a perfect example of that, as one-sided officiating appeared as though it would decide the outcome.
The Raiders were flagged for phantom offsides penalties four times in this contest. One such example had Maxx Crosby offsides even though he was clearly behind the line of scrimmage. This crucial second-quarter play negated an interception. The Chargers ended up scoring a touchdown on the drive, all because of the Crosby call. Later in the game, there was another offsides penalty that helped the Chargers drive that eventually saw Oakland commit a ticky-tack pass interference. Meanwhile, Chargers replacement right tackle Trent Scott got away with a blatant false start. All of this occurred on a possession that gave the Chargers a 24-20 lead in the fourth quarter.
It seemed as though all hope was lost for the Raiders, but Derek Carr finally came alive after struggling for most of the second half. He delivered some accurate throws to his receivers, setting up Josh Jacobs' decisive touchdown on a third-and-1 burst, capping off a 10-play, 75-yard drive.
The Chargers still had a minute and three timeouts remaining to kick the winning field goal, made possible by Daniel Carlson's whiffed extra point. However, Crosby applied heavy pressure on Philip Rivers, forcing a high throw that was intercepted.
This was not a rare occurrence. Crosby lived in the Chargers' backfield the entire evening. The rookie has been impressive this season, but this may have been his best game yet. Clelin Ferrell also put heat on Rivers, who threw three interceptions, one of which was a pick-six. Rivers also had two other would-be interceptions negated by penalties. This was almost a disastrous night for Rivers, who went 17-of-30 for 207 yards, two touchdowns and the trio of picks. His offensive line, missing two starters, gave him no chance.
The Chargers were able to recover from a double-digit deficit in the early going by pounding the ball with Melvin Gordon. The stud back finally looks like his former self. He rumbled for 108 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. Austin Ekeler didn't do much in regard to yardage (6-19; 2-29), but he scored a receiving touchdown to help his fantasy owners.
Hunter Henry (4-30) hauled in Rivers' other touchdown. He trailed Keenan Allen (8-68) and Mike Williams (2-55) in the box score. Allen didn't hurt his PPR owners, but more was expected from both him and Williams in this favorable matchup. However, the Chargers simply ran too often, which would explain why Williams saw just three targets.
Back to the Raiders, Carr had a similar stat line to Rivers, save for the interceptions. He went 21-of-31 for 218 yards and a touchdown. Carr was great in the clutch, but missed several throws he should have made earlier in the evening. This includes an overthrow of Tyrell Williams and a horrible miss of Zay Jones on third down.
No Raider had more than 43 receiving yards. Jalen Richard led the way with four grabs for 43 yards, followed by Hunter Renfrow (4-42) and Darren Waller (3-40). Williams hauled in just three passes for 25 yards in a very difficult matchup.
Jacobs, who scored the winning touchdown, registered 71 yards on 16 attempts otherwise. He also caught three passes for 30 receiving yards. One thing concerning Jacobs is that he was off the field for some reason on a pair of third-and-1 scenarios in this game. The Raiders opted to run with DeAndre Washington, who was stuffed twice. It's unclear why the Raiders didn't run with Jacobs on these plays, but they learned their lesson, as it was Jacobs who ran into the end zone for the game-winner on the final third-and-1 of the evening.
Bears 20, Lions 13
This was initially a very frustrating day for Chicago fans. The Bears seemed to be gifted a victory with Matthew Stafford ruled out with several injuries prior to kickoff, and yet the Lions were able to jump out to a 6-0 lead. The Bears were booed off the field repeatedly as they went three-and-out on several occasions in the first quarter-and-a-half, while Stafford's replacement, Jeff Driskel, was 5-of-6 for 56 yards on his opening possession, which doesn't include an ensuing conversion on a third-and-7 to Marvin Jones. Adding injury to insult, Danny Trevathan suffered a gruesome elbow injury.
It looked like the Bears would suffer an utterly embarrassing home defeat to Driskel, but everything changed on one play. Head coach Matt Nagy decided that his team needed a jump start, so he kept his offense on the field on a fourth-and-1 on his own 29 with 3:20 remaining in the second quarter. David Montgomery moved the sticks, and this ultimately led to a touchdown on the same drive. The Bears ended up scoring twice more after that, as Mitchell Trubisky did a good job of picking up his play following a horribly slow start.
Trubisky finished 16-of-23 for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He made some ugly passes to begin the afternoon, throwing off his back foot on several occasions. He also took a terrible sack in the opening half. However, he cleaned up his play in the final two-and-a-half quarters. His stat line doesn't include a deep throw to Allen Robinson, which drew an interference flag on Darius Slay.
Speaking of Robinson, he was able to get the best of Slay with six catches for 86 yards. He dropped a pass and didn't find the end zone, but Taylor Gabriel (4-39) was able to. Anthony Miller (1-7) is another Chicago player who suffered an injury.
Though Montgomery's fourth-down conversion sparked the Bears, he struggled otherwise, mustering just 60 yards on 17 carries in a very favorable matchup.
The Lions also suffered some injuries, which includes right tackle Ricky Wagner being carted off the field. Losing him was devastating. Meanwhile, backup running back Ty Johnson, who is now the starter, suffered a concussion. This forced J.D. McKissic and Paul Perkins to handle the majority of the workload. McKissic was far better than Perkins, who mustered just nine yards on seven carries. McKissic, on the other hand, gained 36 rushing yards on 10 attempts to go along with six catches for 19 receiving yards.
Driskel actually out-rushed McKissic. He gained 37 yards on five carries, but wasn't as good of a passer. The stats look fine - 27-of-46, 269 yards, one touchdown, one interception - but much of that came in garbage time, as the Lions had severe problems moving the chains following their initial field goal drive. Driskel had just 84 passing yards at halftime.
Thanks to Driskel's limited passing, the Detroit receivers couldn't do much. Marvin Jones (5-77) had fairly decent numbers that were enhanced by garbage time, while Kenny Golladay caught a touchdown, all while hauling in three balls for 57 yards. Golladay, however, dropped a pass and was flagged for a crucial offensive pass interference on what initially was a fourth-down conversion late in the afternoon.
Ravens 49, Bengals 13
The Bengals could do nothing to stop Lamar Jackson, while new Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley wasn't prepared to play this game. The result was a lopsided blowout that was decided by the middle of the second quarter.
Jackson opened this game by launching a 49-yard bomb to Marquise Brown, which eventually led to a touchdown toss to Mark Andrews. The next possession saw Jackson convert a fourth-and-3 to Andrews, setting up another score.
Meanwhile, Finley made some crucial errors. He threw a pick-six when Marcus Peters baited him into a horrible throw, then dropped a shotgun snap. Finley also didn't seem to know where the play clock was and took a delay-of-game penalty in favorable field position as a result. And just when things didn't seem like they could get worse, Finley lost a fumble on a strip-sack, and Baltimore scored yet another defensive touchdown. With this sort of a disparity at quarterback, the Bengals never had a chance.
Jackson was so good that he misfired on just two occasions, going 15-of-17 for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He also scrambled seven times for 65 rushing yards and a fourth score. Jackson was going up against a skeleton crew of a Cincinnati defense, but it was an impressive showing nonetheless.
Jackson made it a point to attack the Bengas' linebackers, which was a good strategy because Cincinnati has the worst linebacking corps in the NFL. Andrews abused these horrible linebackers, catching six of his eight targets for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Nick Boyle (4-76) was another Baltimore tight end who was able to take advantage of this matchup.
Despite what Andrews and Boyle did, Marquise Brown led the Ravens in receiving, with four catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. As mentioned earlier, Brown kicked off the afternoon when he hauled in a 49-yard bomb to set up Andrews' initial score.
With Jackson's usage through the roof, Mark Ingram was able to carry the ball just nine times. Luckily for his fantasy owners, Ingram managed to fall into the end zone, all while tallying 34 rushing yards.
Despite the Bengals trailing throughout, they stuck with the running game, as they wanted to protect their rookie quarterback. Joe Mixon rushed for 114 yards on 30 carries, while catching two passes for 37 receiving yards. Giovani Bernard (4-8) lost a fumble in the second half.
Speaking of the rookie quarterback, Finley's afternoon was mostly disastrous. He made some nice passes, but there were far too many mistakes against a defense that has no pass rush. Finley went 16-of-30 for 167 yards, one touchdown, a pick-six and a lost fumble.
Finley's receiver of choice was Tyler Boyd, who caught six of his eight targets for 62 yards. Auden Tate (3-36) disappointed, whie Tyler Eifert (2-20) snatched the sole touchdown.
Browns 19, Bills 16
If the Browns were well coached, they would have won this game by double digits. Cleveland dominated this contest, yet was a missed field goal away from seeing it go to overtime, thanks to Freddie Kitchens' incompetence.
The Browns were outgaining the Bills in the third quarter, 234-156, yet were winning by just two points. The margin was so slim because of some horrible play-calling in the red zone. The Browns had double-digit snaps inside the Buffalo 3-yard line, yet could come away with just three points in those opportunities. Save for Odell Beckham Jr.'s two drawn pass interferences, nothing positive occurred when the Browns were deep in Buffalo territory. Nick Chubb was stuffed at the goal line six times, as Kitchens wasn't able to scheme any good runs for his star back. Everything was predictable, as Kitchens doesn't seem to have the brain capacity to come up with anything remotely creative. There was even a false start on a fourth-down try, which was probably a good thing the Browns were forced into settling for a field goal.
Despite this, the Browns somehow prevailed even though Mayfield was showing no signs of life. He took a safety because he held the ball too long in the pocket. He was lucky that several potential interceptions were dropped. He looked terrible, so things seemed bleak when the Browns were down by four in the final minutes of the game.
Mayfield, however, came through in the clutch. He completed a pass to Jarvis Landry to reach the red zone, as Landry made a ridiculous adjustment on the play. This set up Mayfield's decisive score to Rashard Higgins. The Bills had one more chance after that, but kicker Stephen Hauschka was wide right from 53 yards. He whiffed from 34 earlier in the afternoon.
Mayfield's improbable, heroic drive allowed him to come away with a decent stat line, as he went 26-of-38 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Again, he was very fortunate not to commit multiple turnovers, and he overshot Beckham on the first play of the game for what could've been a 75-yard touchdown, but perhaps this win will be the boost of confidence he needs.
Mayfield told the media that he was going to target Beckham despite a tough matchup, and he didn't lie. He threw to Beckham 12 times, and the talented receiver caught five of those passes for 57 yards. Beckham, who drew two flags in the end zone, should've caught a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game, but Mayfield overthrew him. Beckham also dropped a ball later in the game.
Landry finished ahead of Beckham, as he reeled in nine of his 10 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown. Given that Landry had a far better matchup, perhaps Mayfield should have targeted him more than Beckham.
Chubb fantasy owners were robbed of a big game, as the talented runner was stuffed at the goal line on six occasions. He still managed to accumulate 116 yards on 20 carries. Kareem Hunt saw action, but wasn't much of a factor as a runner in his first appearance with Cleveland. Hunt tallied 30 yards on four carries, but did way more in the passing game, as he caught seven of his nine targets for 44 receiving yards.
It was disappointing to see Buffalo's young running back, Devin Singletary, not do very much. Singletary carried the ball just eight times for 42 yards, as Josh Allen stole a couple of rushing touchdowns from him. The good news is that Singletary had three more attempts than Frank Gore (5-12), though much of that came in the second half. It's not a coincidence that Buffalo's offense worked better with Singletary on the field. You'd think the Bills' coaching staff would use him more.
Allen had a disappointing passing stat line, as he barely completed half of his passes. He went 22-of-41 for 266 yards. He was able to salvage his fantasy performance with the two rushing touchdowns, but struggled as a passer. He was off on his throws, including a misfire behind John Brown on an early fourth-and-4.
Only three Buffalo players had more than 20 receiving yards: Brown (5-77), Cole Beasley (4-74) and Dawson Knox (4-55).
Titans 35, Chiefs 32
All the Chiefs had to do was run the ball twice, and they would have won this game. Really, that's all they had to do. They were up by five points with 1:36 remaining. They had a third-and-2 in Tennessee territory. Rather than pound the ball with Damien Williams, who had been averaging four yards per carry, Andy Reid had Patrick Mahomes drop back in the pocket. Mahomes didn't see anyone open, so he took a 3-yard sack to keep the clock ticking. The Chiefs then botched a field goal attempt on an early snap, and an intentional grounding penalty by the holder put the Titans in great field position, allowing Ryan Tannehill to score the game-winning touchdown on a pass to Adam Humphries.
There's a good chance the Chiefs would have prevailed had they just run with Williams. Of course, hindsight is 50-50 - as Cam Newton once claimed - but this still seemed like an occasion in which Andy Reid killed his team with some late-game coaching blunders. Reid is a fantastic coach when preparing his team to play and coaching up his quarterbacks, but time management and late-game situations have always been his Achilles' heel.
Despite Reid's blunders and Tannehill's touchdown drive, the Chiefs were still in position to send the game to overtime, thanks to a 23-yard Mahomes dart to Demarcus Robinson. They had a chance with another field goal, but Harrison Butker's attempt was blocked.
The Titans wouldn't have been in position to win the game had it not been for Williams' lost fumble earlier in the afternoon. The Chiefs were up three and driving over midfield, but Williams coughed up the ball, and Tennessee returned it for a touchdown. Williams had a disappointing afternoon as a result, as he rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries to go along with just one reception. He failed to find the end zone.
The series of events at the end of regulation spoiled what was a terrific statistical afternoon from Mahomes, who mostly looked like his old self. Mahomes was a ridiculous 36-of-50 for 446 yards and three touchdowns. I said "mostly" because Mahomes made some mistakes, thanks in part to rust. Mahomes was nearly picked on his first pass attempt, which was a deep bomb. He then missed a wide-open Tyreek Hill for a touchdown to go up 17-0. He was later nearly picked again on a deep throw that was released off his back foot. Still, despite those errors, Mahomes looked healthy, and he was mostly terrific. Once the rust wears off, he'll be unstoppable.
Hill also made some blunders. He dropped a couple of passes; one on a third-and-1, and another that was tipped into the air and nearly intercepted. Hill also had a scary moment where he landed hard on his left shoulder and had to sit out some plays, but managed to return to action. Hill had a monstrous afternoon otherwise, as he hauled in 11 of his 19 targets for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Elsewhere in the Kansas City receiving corps, Travis Kelce reeled in all seven of his targets for 75 yards and a score, though he had a second potential touchdown wiped out by offensive pass interference. Mecole Hardman found the end zone on his lone reception, a 63-yarder. Hardman's blazing speed was apparent on the reception, which was delivered via jump pass by Mahomes.
Moving on to the winners, Tannehill was the hero at the very end, but this game didn't go well for him in the early stages. He was strip-sacked by Chris Jones and then saw a potential interception of his dropped. Tannehill had just five completions in the opening half, but he came up big in the clutch. Tannehill finished 13-of-19 for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
Tannehill's touchdowns went to Anthony Firkser (3-36) and Humphries (1-23). The Firkser score had to infuriate Jonnu Smith owners, as Smith caught just four passes for 30 yards, but saw the other tight end get the six fantasy points. A.J. Brown couldn't do anything, hauling in just one of his four targets for 17 yards.
Derrick Henry had a monster performance. He tallied 188 yards on two carries, with the bulk of that coming late in the game. Henry had just 48 rushing yards by intermission, but he wore down Kansas City's defense toward the end of regulation.
Falcons 26, Saints 9
This was supposed to be the blowout of the day, as New Orleans was the largest favorite on the Week 10 slate. No one told this to the Falcons, who treated this game as if it were their Super Bowl. They seemed to play with way more energy than the Saints, who thought they would walk away with an easy victory by just showing up.
Instead, the Falcons sat on the ball and kept Drew Brees off the field. They won the time-of-possession battle by five minutes in the opening half, outgaining the Saints by 42 net yards. Drew Brees could never get into a rhythm as a result, and New Orleans trailed 13-6 going into the third quarter.
The Saints seemed like they would get momentum from a great Tre'Quan Smith catch in the middle of the third frame. Smith hauled in the ball despite taking a jarring hit, causing his helmet to pop off. The announcers speculated that this could give New Orleans the kick start it needed, but Brees was sacked on second down during the ensuing red-zone trip, forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal. New Orleans then couldn't get off the field on the next drive, as the Falcons were able to move the chains on a third down via one of countless hands-to-the-face penalties on New Orleans. This moved Atlanta deep into Saints territory, and that turned into a touchdown that put this game away.
Brees' performance was troubling, and he might be injured. He grabbed his rib/chest area in the second quarter in discomfort, and he never really took shots downfield after that. Brees was also sacked on six occasions, the most times he has been sacked in his career. Brees finished 32-of-45 but for only 287 yards.
Only three Saints had more than 13 receiving yards. Michael Thomas led the way with 13 receptions for 152 yards. This includes a ridiculous tip-toe grab along the sideline in the first half. He nearly scored a touchdown, but was ruled down inches shy of the goal line on the final play of the afternoon. On the bright side, Thomas became the quickest receiver to reach 400-career catches on his career.
Jared Cook snatched six of his 10 targets for 74 yards. The third Saint with more than 13 receiving yards was Alvin Kamara, who collected eight of his 10 targets for 50 receiving yards. He should've caught a ninth catch, but Brees missed him. Kamara and Latavius Murray split the carries evenly, with Kamara (4-24) outgaining Murray (5-12).
Matt Ryan didn't have a monstrous statistical performance, but he played better than he has in most games, at least for the most part. Most of Ryan's production this year has come via garbage time, so that would explain why he didn't even cross the 200-yard barrier in this contest. However, Ryan did a great job of moving the chains and keeping Brees on the sideline. He made one big mistake late in the afternoon when he lofted an interception when trying to run out the clock late in the afternoon, but this was just one blemish on what happened to be a strong performance. His final numbers were: 20-of-35, 182 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.
Thanks to Ryan's stat line being low, only one Falcon registered more than 28 receiving yards. That was Julio Jones, who caught three balls for 79 yards against Marshon Lattimore before the Saints' top cornerback exited with an injury. Calvin Ridley (3-28) disappointed his owners, while Austin Hooper (4-17) scored a touchdown. Hooper got hurt in the second half.
Devonta Freeman also suffered an injury in the second half. That would explain why Brian Hill had more rushes than he did, 20-10. Hill outgained Freeman on the ground, 61-38, and Hill caught a passing touchdown, which probably would have gone to Freeman.
Buccaneers 30, Cardinals 27
I had the Cardinals as my belated October NFL Pick of the Month, and I was happy to see them cover the spread. However, they easily could have won this game outright. A number of mistakes ended up costing them the victory.
The blunders were apparent immediately. Following a predictable Jameis Winston interception on a lazy throw on the opening drive, Kyler Murray missed two wide-open receivers, one for a touchdown, and another one to convert a third-and-14. Arizona's defense was then out of place on a third-and-15, allowing a first down on a Ronald Jones short reception. The defense continued to struggle, as Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones granted the Buccaneers some free first downs with penalties.
All of this occurred in the opening half, and things got worse after intermission. Maxx Williams dropped a pass on fourth down in the third quarter. No one was close to him, but he couldn't locate the ball on a fourth down, negating a trip deep into Tampa territory. The Cardinals then came away with no points on another red-zone trip when David Johnson lost a fumble inside the Buccaneers' 10-yard line. And if that wasn't enough, a THIRD red-zone opportunity resulted in nothing because Murray tossed a careless, underhanded interception. It was unbelievable that the Cardinals had three trips deep inside Tampa territory and came away with nothing, and yet still lost by just three points.
It almost seems crazy to write this, but Murray played well otherwise. The missed throws and the pick were horrible, but he did a great job of moving the sticks on many drives. He went 27-of-44 for 324 yards, three touchdowns and the aforementioned pick. One of his scores was a terrific throw to Christian Kirk, though another score to Kirk came on a lucky deflection.
Kirk had a monstrous afternoon, hauling in a whopping three touchdowns. Kirk reeled in six of his 10 targets for 138 yards otherwise. He also drew a pass interference flag. Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald had a positive game as well, catching eight balls for 71 yards. One reception was amazing, as he tapped a ball to himself and then made a one-handed grab.
Murray ended up leading the Cardinals in rushing with three scrambles for 38 yards. This wasn't a surprise, given that the Buccaneers have an elite run defense. What was shocking was that Kenyan Drake had more than double the carries that David Johnson did. Apparently, Johnson was healthy enough to play, but not healthy enough to handle a full workload. Johnson mustered just two yards on five carries to go along with an 8-yard reception. Drake logged 35 yards on 10 tries with six catches for just six receiving yards.
The Buccaneers had a curious running back rotation as well. Bruce Arians said that Ronald Jones earned more carries, yet he and Peyton Barber each had 11 totes. Barber actually outgained Jones, 43-29, and both scored touchdowns. However, Jones was a huge part of the receiving game, catching all eight of his targets for 77 receiving yards.
Jameis Winston, meanwhile, had a big yardage total, but made his usual blunders. He went 30-of-48 for 358 yards and a touchdown, but he tossed two interceptions. The second pick came off a deflection. He also fumbled, but a teammate of his recovered.
Winston's sole touchdown was to O.J. Howard, who finally came alive with four catches for 47 yards. This was more of a matchup-based result, as Arizona hasn't been able to stop tight ends all year.
Elsewhere in the Tampa receiving corps, Mike Evans led the way with four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, though he didn't have as many targets (8) as Chris Godwin (12). Godwin snatched half of those for 74 yards, but couldn't find the end zone.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Jets are getting healthier (slightly), and the Giants suddenly are the New York team with lots of injuries, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the Jets pulled the "upset."
Neither team is a playoff contender, but this was an interesting battle of young quarterbacks and star running backs. Even though Daniel Jones threw four touchdown passes, the Jets' defense was the difference in the game, as Jamal Adams produced a huge score and they completely shut down Saquon Barkley, holding the Giants' star running back to only one yard on 13 carries.
The Jets took up over half of the first quarter with the opening drive of the game, as Sam Darnold went 7-of-7 before finishing the possession with a short rushing touchdown on a zone-read play. A Jamal Adams sack forced a three-and-out to set up the Jets with excellent field position at midfield. Darnold made two excellent passes, including a 23-yard touchdown to Jamison Crowder. Daniel Jones responded with a scoring drive that ended with a short six-point strike to Darius Slayton. A Markus Golden sack got the ball back for the Giants, and Jones-to-Slayton stayed hot, connecting on a crossing route that saw Slayton slash across the field for a 39-yard touchdown. The Jets held on to a 14-13 lead which they took to halftime.
Jamal Adams came on a blitz to run through Saquon Barkley and strip the ball from Daniel Jones in the early in the third quarter. Adams returned the fumble 25 yards for a touchdown. However, the Giants quickly responded with Jones throwing a screen to Golden Tate, who exploded down the field untouched for a 61-yard touchdown. Jones then put the Giants in front with 15-yard touchdown strike to Tate, putting the Giants up by six. Darnold cut the deficit to 27-24 via the drive keyed by him taking off on a 24-yard run.
At the start of the fourth quarter, a pass interference penalty in the end zone by DeAndre Baker put the ball at the 1-yard line, and Le'Veon Bell scored from there to put the Jets up 31-27. A 47-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas (6-84) set up a field goal, and the Jets' defense shut down the Giants' offense to clinch the Jets their second win of the year.
Darnold was 19-of-30 for 230 yards with passing touchdown and a rushing score. Crowder had five receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Bell ran for 34 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown on the ground and made four receptions for 34 yards.
Jones was 25-of-39 for 294 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. Slayton had nine receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Tate snatched four passes for 89 yards and two scores.
Barkley had only one yard rushing with five catches for 30 yards.
Adams was all over the field for the Jets with nine tackles, two sacks, a touchdown and a pass broken up.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Goodbye, Tua. It was nice knowing you. Let's hope Joe Burrow isn't a one-hit wonder!" -- Dolphins fans
The Colts were without starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett and had to have Brian Hoyer fill in as their signal-caller. That led to the Colts losing their second-straight game they probably would have won if Brissett weren't been injured. These two games could prove to be crushing losses in the AFC South divisional race and for wild-card positioning.
The Dolphins got their second win of the season, and this win will make it difficult for them to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft because the Bengals are still winless.
The Colts' defense helped pick up the slack on the opening drive of the game when Darius Leonard forced a fumble from Mike Gesicki to set up their offense at midfield. Indianapolis moved close to the end zone, but Miami defensive back Steven Parker ripped the ball away from Eric Ebron in the end zone to notch an interception. Ryan Fitzpatrick led a field goal drive to give the Dolphins the first lead of the game, and on their next possession, Fitzpatrick converted a fourth down to get inside Indianapolis' 25-yard line, but the Indianapolis defense came up with a stop on fourth-and-goal to save some points.
Hoyer demonstrated terrible field vision late in the opening half, staring down his receiver and throwing an interception to Bobby McCain that was returned 32 yards to the Colts' 12-yard line. A few plays later, Fitzpatrick ran into the end zone from about 10 yards out, giving the Dolphins a 10-0 lead they took into the locker room.
The Colts' offense got rolling in the third quarter with gains from Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines, but the drive stalled into a short field goal. Good field position set up another field goal for Indianapolis, and then Darius Leonard picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick to put the Colts at the Miami 34. A few plays later, Hoyer found Jack Doyle (3-44-1) wide open for a short touchdown pass, but Indianapolis missed the extra point, which turned out to be a critical miss because it forced the Colts to go for a touchdown later in the fourth quarter rather than tying the game with a short field goal. Fitzpatrick responded by leading the Dolphins to field goal and the 16-12 lead.
The Colts had one final chance to get a win, and Hoyer moved the ball to inside the 20, but the drive stalled and Ebron was stopped short on a fourth-down reception, clinching Miami's second victory of the season.
Fitzpatrick was 21-of-33 for 169 yards and an interception plus had a rushing touchdown.
Kalen Ballage ran for 43 yards on 20 carries. Parker led Miami with five receptions for 69 yards.
Hoyer was only 18-of-39 for 204 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Indianapolis is going to be hard pressed to win if Brissett continues to miss time.
Ebron caught five passes for 56 yards to lead the Colts in receiving. Mack ran for 74 yards on 19 carries.
Packers 24, Panthers 16
The Packers were in complete control of this game, owning a 24-10 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. However, Kyle Allen did his best to engineer a comeback. He led the Panthers on a touchdown drive and came inches shy of a second one to potentially take this game into overtime. Allen converted a fourth-and-10 to get his team near the goal line. He handed the ball off to Christian McCaffrey on the final play of regulation, but McCaffrey was ruled barely shy of the goal line. In fact, McCaffrey may have even crossed the plane, but there was no replay angle to overturn the call on the field.
Green Bay may have won, but Allen put his team in position to win despite battling the Packers in snowy Lambeau. Allen played mostly well in the fourth quarter, but he had an uneven contest otherwise. He had a rocky start when he lost a fumble on a shotgun snap and then threw an interception in the red zone when he didn't see Adrian Amos. He also had a potential pick-six that was dropped.
Allen, however, showed a tremendous amount of grit on the final drive despite the dropped pick-six. Allen, who grew up as a Packer fan visiting Lambeau Field, finished 28-of-43 for 307 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
The Packers were able to establish a two-touchdown lead on the backs of Davante Adams and Aaron Jones. The latter scored thrice, all while rushing for 93 yards on 13 carries. Jones and Jamaal Williams (13-63), who was stuffed by Gerald McCoy at the goal line prior to halftime, had tremendous success against a leaky Carolina run defense that the Titans didn't seem to want to exploit with Derrick Henry last week for some reason.
As for Adams, it's quite apparent that he's healthy now. Adams reeled in seven of his 10 targets for 118 yards. He also drew a pass interference flag. Adams made some great catches, and his presence is a huge boon to Green Bay's passing attack that saw Rodgers throwing exclusively to running backs previously because the receivers were so bad. Save for Adams and Jimmy Graham (2-59), no Packer logged more than 27 receiving yards. Marquez Valdes-Scantling (0 catches) and Geronimo Allison (3-6) have all but vanished.
Speaking of Rodgers, the future Hall of Famer went 17-of-29 for 233 yards. He had 143 passing yards by halftime, and his stats would've been far better if the Packers weren't content to run out the clock in the fourth quarter. That's not to say that Rodgers didn't make any great those. He delivered several terrific passes, including a 30-yard bomb to Adams on a second-and-26 from his own end zone late in the third qaurter to jump start what would end up becoming a touchdown drive.
Allen, meanwhile, was able to utilize two receivers and a tight end very effectively. D.J. Moore caught nine of his 11 targets for 120 yards, while Curtis Samuel (4-35) found the end zone. Greg Olsen had a monster game with eight grabs for 98 yards, as it's apparent that the Packers have extreme difficulty defending tight ends.
Last but not least, McCaffrey came inches shy of scoring his second touchdown at the end. He had another big game with 108 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries to go along with six catches for 33 receiving yards. McCaffrey's sole blemish, aside from being stuffed on the final play, was a fumble in the third quarter. However, a teammate of his recovered the football.
Steelers 17, Rams 12
The Rams were favored by four points, and most of the betting action was coming in on them, and yet this result should have been very predictable. Jared Goff easily gets frazzled by pressure, and the Steelers' defensive front puts a tremendous amount of heat on opposing passers. The Rams, whose offensive line is one of the worst blocking units in the NFL, had absolutely no chance against T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree and Cameron Heyward. In fact, had it not been for some gaffes by the Steelers' inept offense, this result would've been a hideous, one-sided blowout.
Goff was as atrocious as I expected him to be. He was guilty of three turnovers, one of which was a lost fumble that was returned for a touchdown. I thought his arm was going forward, but replay review disagreed. He also tossed two picks. One was a poor decision where Goff lobbed a pass into double coverage, while the second came on a deflection. Goff barely completed half of his throws, as he went 22-of-41 for 243 yards, no touchdowns and the three turnovers. He was fortunate not to have six give-aways. He threw a backward pass in the early stages of the afternoon, but the ball trickled out of bounds before a Steeler could scoop it up. Goff also fumbled, but saw a teammate recover the loose football. He later appeared t throw an interception, but the potential pick was dropped.
The Rams barely crossed midfield and converted just 1-of-14 third downs. Goff was woeful, but it didn't help that some of his teammates dropped passes. This includes Cooper Kupp, who was guilty of this twice. Kupp didn't log a single reception, though he was able to draw an interference flag. Only Robert Woods (7-95), Gerald Everett (8-68) and Josh Reynolds (3-49) had more than 22 receiving yards.
Todd Gurley once again didn't handle much of a workload, as he had just 12 touches in this contest. All 12 were carries, which translated into 73 rushing yards. Gurley also saw four targets, but couldn't come up with a single reception. One misfire was the result of Goff throwing behind Gurley in the flat on what should've been a routine completion.. Malcolm Brown (5-10) and Darrell Henderson (4-4) split the workload evenly behind Gurley.
Making matters worse for the Rams, they lost their starting center, Brian Allen, to a knee injury in the opening half.
Meanwhile, the Steelers' offense seemed like they did all they could to keep the Rams hanging around. The trouble started early when a botched high snap went the other way to give the Rams a 7-0 lead. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Jaylen Samuels all dropped important passes in the opening half. James Washington fumbled the ball after a big gain because he held the ball carelessly. In the second half, Vance McDonald dropped a pass that would've moved the Steelers into field-goal range. Mason Rudolph also took a dumb safety because he dropped way back in the pocket deep in his own territory.
This was a very mixed performance for Rudolph. He made some blunders but also did a good job of moving the chains at times, particularly on throws to Washington, who had a monster performance. Washington led the Steelers with six catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. Rudolph went 22-of-38 for 242 yards and a score.
Aside from Washington, only two Steelers logged more than 14 receiving yards. Predictably, it was Diontae Johnson (4-64) and Smith-Schuster (3-44). Both had drops referenced earlier, but Johnson made a great juke move to pick up a first down on a third-down reception.
The Steelers predictably struggled to run the ball well. Samuels mustered just 29 yards on 14 carries, while Trey Edmunds logged a single yard on four attempts. However, Edmunds caught a pass on a key fourth-and-1 in the final quarter.
Vikings 28, Cowboys 24
Jason Garrett versus Mike Zimmer is a colossal coaching mismatch in Minnesota's favor, and that was apparent throughout the evening. It seemed as though the Vikings were always a step ahead of what Dallas was doing at all times. The Vikings held a double-digit lead on numerous occasions, but their secondary betrayed them in the second half. They couldn't do anything to stop a Dak Prescott onslaught with passes to Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb. Nothing, that is, until the Cowboys stopped themselves.
The Cowboys trailed by four late in regulation, and moved into the red zone very easily. Prescott fired some great throws, and he had Minnesota's beleaguered secondary on its heels. A pass set up a second-and-1, and that's when Garrett decided to run twice against a pass-funnel defense. Ezekiel Elliott, who had been struggling all evening, was predictably stuffed twice, forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down.
The narrative exiting this game from the clueless national media is that Kirk Cousins can finally win in primetime, but this is an insanely stupid take, primarily because the Cowboys would have prevailed if Garrett knew how to coach professional football.
Also, there's the fact that Dalvin Cook did all of the work offensively. All Cousins had to do was hand off and toss screens to Cook, who had a monstrous performance. Cook accounted for nearly half of the team's offense, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries to go along with a team-leading seven catches for 86 receiving yards. Alexander Mattison (8-52) also gashed a heartless Dallas defense that couldn't do anything to stop the run.
Cousins, conversely, was just window dressing. Any game manager could have prevailed in this game, so the narrative of him choking in the clutch should not change. Cousins didn't make any mistakes, but he wasn't in a position to do so. He went 23-of-32 for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
Cousins' two scores were on play-action fakes at the goal line to Kyle Rudolph (4-14). With Cousins just checking down to his running backs most of the time, Stefon Diggs had a disappointing output with three catches for 49 yards.
Conversely, the Cowboys' receivers posted some tremendous numbers. Cooper, Cobb and Gallup all hauled in touchdowns. Cooper led the way with 11 catches for 147 yards, which includes three absolutely ridiculous toe-tapping plays along the sideline. Cobb also eclipsed the century mark with six grabs for 106 yards, while Gallup (4-76) had a solid stat line, but didn't convert half of his targets (10).
Prescott had a great game for the most part, as he went 28-of-46 for 397 yards, three touchdowns and an interception at the very end on a Hail Mary. Prescott looked jittery in the pocket on the first couple of drives, but eventually got into a groove and couldn't be stopped - unti Garrett did so with his atrocious play-calling.
Elliott, as mentioned, couldn't do anything against Minnesota's pass-funnel defense. Elliott mustered just 47 yards on 20 carries, yet Garrett thought that giving him the ball twice at a crucial time was the smart thing to do.
This, by the way, wasn't Garrett's only mistake. He asked his kicker to try a 57-yard field goal on the opening drive. Brett Maher predictably missed, which allowed the Vikings to score a quick touchdown on a short field.
Seahawks 27, 49ers 24
For the 49ers to prove that they can compete for a Super Bowl, they'll need Jimmy Garoppolo to play at a B- level at the very least. What we saw in this game didn't resemble anything remotely close to a B- grade, as Garoppolo failed in grounded grayscale.
Garoppolo got the 49ers out to a 10-0 lead, but then disaster struck on one play. The 49ers suffered injuries to Emmanuel Sanders and center Weston Richburg on the same snap. Richburg's absence downgraded the offensive line, though he eventually returned to action. And with Sanders joining George Kittle as absent pass-catchers, Garoppolo had no one to throw to, and this created a huge problem that allowed the Seahawks to lead for most of the second half.
San Francisco's 10-0 lead quickly vanished, all because of Garoppolo and his replacement receivers. Garoppolo was strip-sacked, and Jadeveon Clowney scored a defensive touchdown. Backup receiver Kendrick Bourne then had a pass bounce off his hands. The throw was a bit too high, but Bourne still should've caught it. The pass was intercepted, and the Seahawks suddenly had the lead because of the pick. Garoppolo was then strip-sacked once more, setting up a Chris Carson touchdown. Suddenly, the Seahawks were up 21-10 despite not really doing anything offensively.
The Seahawks got a taste of their own medicine when Russell Wilson was strip-sacked, and the loose ball was returned for a touchdown. The Seahawks still led in the final minute, but Garoppolo managed to put the team in field goal range, albeit with some horrible clock management. Rookie backup kicker Chase McLaughlin hit the kick, but he didn't have as much success in overtime. The 49ers trusted McLaughlin for some reason, opting to eschew getting closer when they drove into Seattle territory. McLaughlin predictably whiffed from 47, which gave the Seahawks another chance for Wilson to move the team in position for his kicker, Jason Myers, to win the game. Myers did just that, giving San Francisco its first loss of the year.
Garoppolo lost this game. He was mostly responsible for the result, as his constant blunders transformed a double-digit lead into a second-half deficit. His coaches didn't trust him as a consequence, leading to that McLaughlin miss. Garoppolo barely completed half of his passes, going 24-of-46 for 248 yards, one touchdown and three turnovers. As bad as those numbers are, it could have been far worse for Garoppolo, who had numerous potential interceptions that were dropped. He looked absolutely lost without Sanders and Kittle. In fact, Deebo Samuel (8-112) was the only 49er with more than 42 receiving yards.
Wilson, conversely, put his team in position to win. He made two big mistakes - a horrible interception in overtime in addition to his strip-six - but he made up for it in many other instances. Wilson went 24-of-34 for 232 yards, one touchdown and two turnovers to go along with six scrambles for 53 rushing yards. Wilson is the MVP leader at the moment.
Wilson threw 10 times to each of D.K. Metcalf and Jacob Hollister. Metcalf caught six passes for 70 yards, while Hollister had a monster night, logging eight receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Conversely, Tyler Lockett struggled in a tough matchup. He caught three balls for 26 yards, and to make matters worse, he missed overtime with an injury.
Carson had a solid performance, gaining 89 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He also caught three passes for 12 receiving yards. He maintained his control of the job over Rashaad Penny, who lost a fumble on one of his two carries.
The 49ers couldn't run the ball nearly as well, as the Seahawks stacked the box and dared the 49ers to throw. Tevin Coleman (9-40) and Matt Breida (10-18) both disappointed their fantasy owners.
If the 49ers will continue to miss Kittle and Sanders, they'll need to hope that Bourne doesn't continue to sabotage more games. He dropped several balls, had a deflected pass that turned into an interception, and was nearly responsible for another pick. On the bright side, he caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.