I never expected for either of the FOX announcers to say, "Seattle's defense has been outstanding all night," but those were words uttered by Troy Aikman as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The Seahawks snapped their two-game winning streak by limiting the Cardinals to just 21 points.
I'm not sure the Seahawks' defensive effort can be characterized as "outstanding," but it was certainly better than normal. It helped that Kyler Murray suffered some sort of shoulder injury when he took a rough hit in the first quarter. He winced in pain as he was warming up on the sideline following every drive, and some of his throws were uncharacteristically off the mark. Murray had just 89 passing yards in the opening half, with Arizona generating just 107 net yards of offense by that point.
Murray played better in the second half, and he had the Cardinals in position to tie on the final drive. The magic wasn't quite there as it was on Sunday versus Buffalo, however, as the Seattle defenders made great plays to either break up Murray's passes or sack him on the final play of the game.
Meanwhile, Russell Wilson snapped out of his funk. Wilson was a turnover machine against the Bills and Rams, and he seemed mentally checked out versus the latter opponent. I questioned if he could rebound just a few days later, and he certainly did. In fact, Wilson misfired on just five occasions. He took some sacks despite battling a pedestrian pass rush, but Wilson was precise throughout the evening. He finished 23-of-28 for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He also scrambled 10 times for 42 rushing yards.
Wilson's passing yardage number is low, but it should've been much greater. D.K. Metcalf caught a 41-yard pass that was negated by a hold, and he later dropped two passes, one of which was in the end zone when the ball doinked off his helmet. It was a surprisingly error-prone game for Metcalf, who hauled in three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. He also drew an interference penalty.
Metcalf finished behind Tyler Lockett, who led the Seahawks with nine grabs for 67 yards and a touchdown. No other Seahawk logged more than 20 receiving yards. Greg Olsen (2-20) was third on the team in receiving, but he suffered a non-contact injury in the second half.
Carlos Hyde started and did well, rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. He also caught two passes for 16 receiving yards. Hyde fumbled the ball late in the game, but was lucky to recover.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, got very little out of their running game. Kenyan Drake was a predictable disappointment, rushing for just 29 yards on 11 carries, though he saved his fantasy owners with a touchdown. Chase Edmonds was a better threat, catching four passes for 36 receiving yards and a touchdown. Edmonds should be playing over Drake.
Murray, despite his poor first half, finished with some nice stats, going 29-of-42 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. He shockingly didn't run very much, scrambling only five times for 15 rushing yards. Murray didn't have as many touchdown opportunities as he should've had because his offense was bogged down with constant penalties. Arizona committed 10 infractions, four of which were false starts.
Murray and DeAndre Hopkins had one of their games where they didn't click properly for some reason. The two had some misconnections, though Hopkins was still able to catch five passes for 51 yards, finishing behind only Larry Fitzgerald and his eight grabs for 62 yards. It's safe to say that the Arizona receiving numbers were impacted by Murray's first-half shoulder injury.
Browns 22, Eagles 17
The Eagles and Browns meet just once every four years, but the group that produces the football follies videos may petition for more frequent matchups. Philadelphia and Cleveland traded gaffes throughout the afternoon in an epically ugly game.
Philadelphia kicked things off with a seemingly great drive that went into Cleveland's 5-yard line, but Miles Sanders' lost fumble negated a scoring opportunity. The Browns then put together an apparently terrific possession, but Baker Mayfield missed a wide-open Austin Hooper for a touchdown, and then Kareem Hunt's touchdown run was negated by replay review. Another positive drive by Philadelphia was ruined when Wentz tossed a pick-six. Wentz was hit as he threw, but only because he held the ball too long as a result of hesitating despite having an open receiver at his disposal. Field vision has been a huge issue for Wentz all year, and this game was not any different.
The pick-six resulted in the only points in this ugly contest until four minutes into the second half. The Eagles and Browns traded missed throws, sacks and other blunders in rainy conditions. One such mistake was when Mayfield was strip-sacked in the early stages of the third quarter. This led to the first offensive points of this contest when Wentz found a wide-open Richard Rodgers for a touchdown to tie the game at seven.
Despite this sudden surge of offensive potency, both teams continued to shoot themselves in the foot. Nick Chubb knocked his team out of field goal range with a huge, negative play. Wentz then took a safety, which ultimately decided which team covered the spread. Wentz then heaved a pass into the end zone despite there being quadruple coverage. The pass appeared to be picked, but replay review overturned it.
This review was bad luck for the Browns, but they had good fortune after that when a Mayfield fumble in the red zone was nullified because the officials blew the play dead prematurely. Cleveland was able to salvage the drive with points, and the Eagles didn't have the same result on an ensuing possession when Wentz heaved an ugly pick into the end zone that stood this time. This effectively ended this extremely ugly game.
Wentz's final stat line doesn't look too bad, as he went 21-of-35 for 235 yards, two touchdowns and a couple of interceptions. However, the numbers don't appropriately display how horrific he was. Wentz, as mentioned, took a safety and had an interception negated by replay. He also saw a potential pick that was dropped. Wentz doesn't seem to have any sort of clue what's happening on the field. It's like he's playing blindfolded sometimes. It's unclear what has happened to him, but if the Eagles want to salvage his career, they'll find a better offensive coach for him. They should als consider benching him in favor of Jalen Hurts.
Wentz threw a garbage-time score to Dallas Goedert, who finally had a big stat line. Goedert led the team with five catches for 77 yards and a score. Jalen Reagor (4-52) was next on the stat sheet, followed by Rodgers (2-48), who also scored.
Sanders had a great first drive with nearly 50 yards on the ground. Curiously, the Eagles stopped running the ball, so Sanders' final stat line was just 16 carries for 66 yards. It's unclear why the Eagles stopped using Sanders.
Chubb was the leading rusher in this contest, thanks to a 54-yard burst in the fourth quarter to open up a two-score lead for the Browns, extending their advantage from 12-10 to 19-10. Chubb's run was incredible, as he was able to bounce off multiple defenders. Hunt (13-11) made up for his earlier fourth-down stop with a touchdown to finish off the drive.
Mayfield really needed that run; otherwise, it's possible he would have lost this game. Mayfield wasn't as bad as Wentz, but he was still horrible, going 12-of-22 for 204 yards. Mayfield missed several passes and was very fortunate he wasn't charged with a fumble in the second half.
Jarvis Landry was a disappointment with just two grabs for 23 yards, as was Hooper (3-33), though he should've scored a touchdown. KhaDarel Hodge (3-73) and Rashad Higgins (3-65) were the only Cleveland players with more than 33 receiving yards.
Saints 24, Falcons 9
Blue checkmarks on Twitter think they know more than some of the best NFL head coaches, so they were quick to criticize the Saints for starting Taysom Hill over Jameis Winston. It was the right decision, however, as Hill had shown plenty of promise in previous preseasons, while Winston tossed 30 interceptions in 2019.
Things did not begin well for Hill in this game, as he took a sack on a third-and-1 because he held on to the ball forever and then had an interception that was dropped. Hill, however, improved after that, as he was able to move the chains on Atlanta's defense consistently despite some mistakes made by his teammates. For example, there were some drops by Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, while a great, deep pass to Emmanuel Sanders was negated by a hold.
Hill was very precise on his throws. He misfired just five times despite the aforementioned drops. His final stat line was 18-of-23 for 233 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown, but he ran in two scores, leading the team in rushing with 10 scrambles for 51 yards. He committed one turnover, which was a fumble at the end of a long run.
Hill outplayed Matt Ryan, who was part of the other big storyline in this game. The Saints' defense was incredible, holding Atlanta to negative second-half yardage until there were a few minutes remaining in regulation. Part of that was an injury to Julio Jones, who sat out most of the second half with a bum hamstring. He tried to return to action at a point in the fourth quarter, but could barely move. Jones' absence was huge, but keep in mind that the Saints didn't have Marshon Lattimore available.
Ryan barely completed half of his passes, going 19-of-37 for 232 yards and two interceptions, with one being on a Hail Mary at the end of the opening half. Ryan was lucky not to toss a third pick, as the ball sailed through the hands of Janoris Jenkins. Ryan was under siege the entire afternoon, as the Saints' defensive line won in the trenches.
Thanks to the injury, Jones was limited to just two grabs for 39 yards. Demonstrating how brutal the passing day was for the Falcons, Jones was still third on the team in receiving, finishing behind Calvin Ridley (5-90) and Russell Gage (7-58).
Atlanta's running game wasn't working well either, which was not a surprise at all. Todd Gurley was limited to just 26 yards on eight carries.
The Saints, conversely, tallied more than 150 yards on the ground. Hill had about a third of that, barely edging out Kamara (13-45) and Latavius Murray (12-49). Kamara somehow didn't catch a single pass - he was targeted only once, dropping the pass - but he saved his fantasy owners with a touchdown.
With Hill running so much, only three Saints logged more than 20 receiving yards. Thomas led the way with a big game, snagging nine balls for 104 yards. He also drew an interference penalty. Sanders (4-66) and Murray (2-36) were the other two. Sanders appeared to fumble at one point in this game, but replay review showed that he was barely grazed by a defender.
Redskins 20, Bengals 9
The Bengals weren't going to the playoffs this year, but they had plenty of cause for optimism heading into 2021. With Joe Burrow playing well, the Bengals would undoubtedly compete for a postseason spot in Burrow's second season, as a more-experienced Burrow would be surrounded with better talented accumulated through the draft and free agency this upcoming spring.
All that optimism crashed when Burrow's left leg was twisted on a third down in the opening minutes of the second half. Burrow rolled around in agony and was ultimately carted off the field. Burrow was on pace to break records for a rookie quarterback, but that's no longer the case. Burrow is finished for the year, and part or all of his 2021 campaign might be in doubt, based on the severity of the injury.
Burrow was having a great game prior to the injury. He was 22-of-34 for 203 yards and a touchdown, but his numbers would've been much better had it not been for some shoddy play-calling in the red zone during the early stages of this contest. The Bengals failed to score any points in their first two red zone trips, as there were far too many runs called for their untalented backs. Burrow finally scored a touchdown on his third red zone try in three drives, but a missed extra point meant that the Bengals managed just six points on their first three red zone trips.
Burrow's absence, however, put a dark cloud over the entire team. The defense suddenly had no answer for the Redskins, who failed to do much of anything prior to the injury. They scored quickly, as Alex Smith found Steven Sims for a touchdown to give the Redskins a 14-9 lead. The Redskins actually couldn't be stopped after that, as the Bengals looked like they gave up because they knew they didn't have a chance with Ryan Finley replacing Burrow.
Alex Smith had an ugly first half - 80 yards and an interception - but he was able to bounce back to finish 17-of-25 for 166 yards, one touchdown and the pick, which was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Smith was very lucky that the Cincinnati defense gave up when it saw its quarterback go down.
There was only one Redskin who logged more than 26 receiving yards, and it should be no surprise that this was Terry McLaurin, who caught five balls for 84 yards. Smith's lone touchdown went to Steven Sims (3-13).
Antonio Gibson also scored, rushing for 94 yards on 16 carries. J.D. McKissic chipped in with 69 total yards with three receptions.
The Bengals failed to run nearly as well on the Redskins, as Finley's 19-yard scramble allowed him to tie the team lead in rushing with Samaje Perine (5-19). Giovani Bernard (9-18) really struggled on the ground, though he caught four balls for 37 receiving yards.
Finley, by the way, was absolutely miserable, going 3-of-10 for 30 yards and an interception. I'd suggest the Bengals should find a better backup quarterback, but they're better off losing in order to obtain a better draft choice.
Tyler Boyd led the Bengals with nine catches for 85 yards, while A.J. Green (4-41) caught Burrow's lone touchdown. Tee Higgins did very little (3-26) despite seeing 10 targets. All of these players can be dropped in fantasy leagues with Burrow done for the year.
Steelers 27, Jaguars 3
There was a question of whether or not the Steelers would be unfocused for this game. They were coming off a divisional victory and had to play against the arch-rival Ravens on Thanksgiving in just four days. They had every reason to look past the pathetic one-win Jaguars.
It certainly looked like Pittsburgh was flat in the early stages of this affair. The Steelers allowed a field goal on the opening drive and then saw Diontae Johnson drop a pass on third down. Ben Roethlisberger was then nearly guilty of a pick-six, which a Jacksonville defender also dropped. It looked like yet another Steelers-Jaguars affair that would be determined in the final seconds despite the former team being heavily favored.
The Steelers were up just 3-0 after the first quarter, but they picked up their play following their sluggish start. They put together a touchdown drive, and then Minkah Fitzpatrick sparked the team with an interception off a tipped pass. Johnson then made a great catch along the sidelines just shy of the goal line, setting up another touchdown to give Pittsburgh a two-score lead. The Steelers actually should've led by 17 heading into halftime, but Roethlisberger heaved an irresponsible pass into the end zone that was picked. That didn't end up mattering, however, as the Steelers dominated the second half, outgaining Jacksonville, 115-69 following intermission.
Roethlisberger had some ugly moments in this game with his stupid interception and a dropped pick-six in the opening half, but did some great things. He abused a Jacksonville secondary that was missing two cornerbacks (C.J. Henderson, Sidney Jones) by going 32-of-46 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and the interception. It's worth noting that Rodgers didn't have to deal with Jacksonville's top edge rusher, Josh Allen, very much, because Allen left this game early with an injury.
Diontae Johnson didn't catch a touchdown, but he had a huge game, ultimately leading the Steelers in receiving. He caught 12 of his 16 targets for 111 yards. Chase Claypool (4-59) and Eric Ebron (4-36) both scored, with the former drawing an interference flag. JuJu Smith-Schuster disappointed with four catches for only 19 yards, thanks to a toe injury that knocked him out of the game.
James Conner didn't score either, as he was vultured by Benny Snell (7-15). Conner, however, was able to run for 89 yards on 13 carries. He had a nice run on one play where he was bottled up on a run off left tackle, but circled back and picked up a big gain on the right side.
Conner outgained James Robinson by a bit, as the rookie runner gained 73 yards on 17 tries. Robinson also caught two passes for 21 receiving yards.
This was a rough outing for Jake Luton, who looked lost while trying to combat Pittsburgh's defense. He failed to complete half of his passes, going 16-of-37 for only 151 yards and a whopping four interceptions. The Jaguars missed Gardner Minshew's mobility in this matchup, though not really because each loss gets them closer to Justin Fields, or perhaps Trevor Lawrence.
With Luton struggling, D.J. Chark was limited to four catches 41 yards, and yet, he ended up leading the team in receiving! Tyler Eifert (2-32) and Keelan Cole (2-26) were close. Chris Conley (1-13) dropped a gain of about 20 yards, and he was also responsible for one of Luton's interceptions.
Titans 30, Ravens 24
Prior to kickoff, the Tennessee players congregated on the logo at midfield, effectively claiming that they own the Ravens after beating them in the playoffs this past January. They lived up to their proclamation with this surprising upset win. Down numerous players, including two offensive linemen and several starters in the secondary, the Titans were able to prevail in overtime.
While the underhanded Titans winning is a nice story, the primary focus has to be on Lamar Jackson, who continues to be far worse than he was during his MVP campaign in 2019. Jackson was lucky to see an interception dropped on the opening drive, which was part of a first half in which he completed just four passes. Jackson was able to connect on more throws following intermission, but he also made some horrible mistakes. This includes an interception on a horrible deep throw and a blatant whiff of Mark Andrews on a third down. He also missed Marquise Brown for a deep touchdown. Jackson took a big loss in overtime in which he nearly fumbled, forcing a punt that gave the Titans their winning possession.
Jackson was just 17-of-29 for 186 yards, one touchdown and an interception despite going against a Tennessee secondary missing Adoree Jackson, Kenny Vaccaro and Kristian Fulton. He was a factor as a scrambler, but not nearly as much as he used to be, registering 51 yards on 13 runs. The offensive line continued to be a huge factor in Jackson's struggles, as it couldn't protect him very well. The Ravens sorely miss both Ronnie Staley and Marshal Yanda.
Despite Jackson's struggles, the Ravens led throughout the second half. The Tennessee key play-makers really stepped up to help their team secure the win. A.J. Brown was huge despite two earlier drops, as he scored a fourth-quarter touchdown when caught a pass four yards shy of the line to gain on a third down, then proceeded to break three tackles and carry a fourth defender with him into the end zone. It was one of the best run-after-catch plays you'll ever see. Brown (4-62, TD), who drew a deep interference flag on the opening offensive drive, finished only behind Corey Davis (5-113) on the stat sheet. Davis did all of his work following halftime, making two catches in overtime.
Derrick Henry was also key in this win. He barely did anything in the opening half, mustering only 37 yards on 13 carries, but he pummeled the shorthanded Baltimore defensive line, wearing them down late in the game. Henry ultimately scored the decisive touchdown in overtime, finishing with 133 yards on 28 carries. He was blasted on a third-quarter hit and appeared to be concussed, but he didn't miss much action.
Ryan Tannehill did not do a good job in the game-manager role in the opening half, as he made some mistakes in the early stages of this game. Tannehill threw an interception when he was hit violently and then missed a wide-open Brown on third down. He also had two consecutive passes in which he fired behind Davis and then skipped a pass to the same receiver. He was also lucky that a strip-sack of his by Yannick Ngakoue trickled out of bounds. Tannehill, however, was very sharp in the second half and overtime, going 15-of-18 for 217 yards and a touchdown following intermission.
Tannehill's final numbers were 22-of-31 for 259 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. He was much more than a game manager in the second half, doing a great job of rebounding after his horrible start.
As for the Baltimore play-makers, Andrews did very well, catching five passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. However, he would've eclipsed the century mark had Jackson not missed him on a crucial third down. Dez Bryant (4-28) and Marquise Brown (no catches) both dropped passes. Brown should've scored on a deep reception, but Jackson threw the ball way late.
Mark Ingram continued to waste downs, as his two carries went for a mere two yards. J.K. Dobbins was much more explosive with 70 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Texans 27, Patriots 20
The Patriots were written off following three consecutive losses to the Broncos, 49ers and Bills, but two victories versus the Jets and Ravens suddenly put them in playoff contention. All they'd need to do to reach .500 was to defeat the two-win Texans, whose only victories this year came against the Jaguars.
That seemed easy enough, but defending Deshaun Watson certainly was not. Watson had an excellent game, picking up where Joe Flacco left off after three quarters in that close Monday night affair a few weeks ago. Despite Stephon Gilmore returning from injury, the Patriots had no answer for Watson's passing or rushing, as the fourth-year quarterback put on a show.
Watson went 28-of-37 for 344 yards and two touchdowns to go along with six scrambles for 36 rushing yards and a third score. The Patriots couldn't get off the field on most drives against Watson, who didn't see much of a pass rush despite missing two offensive linemen, including Laremy Tunsil. New England's inability to pressure Watson decided this game.
Bill Belichick is often the master of erasing one aspect of an offense, so I believed he would blank either Brandin Cooks or Will Fuller, and then have Gilmore shut down the other. Instead, neither wideout was removed from the game plan. Cooks caught four passes for 85 yards, while Fuller snatched six balls for 80 yards. Fuller, dropped a pass, but had a 17-yard reception negated by a hold. Cooks, meanwhile, saw a touchdown negated by an illegal player downfield.
Watson led the Texans in rushing by a large margin. Duke Johnson did nothing on the ground, as he was limited to just 15 yards on 10 carries.
The Patriots were expected to run all over Houston's worst-ranked run defense, and it appeared as though this would happen when Damien Harris scored an early touchdown. However, Harris had just four rushing yards in the second half, which was the result of Houston's big lead. Harris finished with 43 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts.
Cam Newton did his best to lead a comeback, but it fell about 10 yards shy when a Hail Mary of his was completed short of the end zone because he didn't step up in the pocket on his final pass attempt. Newton, who had a dropped pick-six in the opening quarter by Bradley Roby, did well to lead a second-half charge in a deficit, going 26-of-40 for 365 yards and a touchdown. Curiously, he did very little as a scrambler, as he was limited to just six rushing yards on three runs. Newton's passing numbers would've been much better if it wasn't for J.J. Watt repeatedly batting passes at the line of scrimmage. Watt did that four times in this game!
Newton's receiver of choice in this game was Damiere Byrd, who reeled in six of his seven targets for 132 yards and a touchdown. James White was next on the stat sheet with six catches for 64 receiving yards, getting more work than usual because Rex Burkhead suffered an injury. Jakobi Meyers (3-38) was a disappointment.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm very happy to see Phillip Walker win his first start in the NFL. He won me lots of money in XFL DraftKings tournaments in the spring, so I was rooting for him to get this victory.
Expectations were that the Lions would cruise in this game due to Matthew Stafford facing a bad Carolina defense and Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater out of the lineup with a knee injury. But Stafford, who was playing with an injured thumb, just wasn't the same, and the Detroit offense was completely inept.
Lions first-round picks Frank Ragnow and T.J. Hockenson made some drive-killing mistakes in the early going, an illegal formation took away a long touchdown pass to Marvin Jones, and the young Panthers defensive line dominated Detroit's blocking front. Along with Bridgewater being out, the Panthers were down star running back Christian McCaffrey, left tackle Russell Okung, and their best cover corner in Donte Jackson. This was an embarrassing, ugly, and inexcusable loss for Lions head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.
Partway through the first quarter, the Panthers started a drive inside their own 10-yard line and got going with Mike Davis running through defenders and D.J. Moore moving the chains to get out to the 30. P.J. Walker laid out a beautiful deep ball to Moore for a 52-yard completion. Shortly later, Mike Davis charged into the end zone.
Ragnow fired a ground ball on a shotgun snap soon afterward, and Carolina's Marquis Haynes the loose ball recovered inside Detroit's 30. Detroit's defense came up with a clutch stop on which Walker tossed an interception to Amani Oruwariye in the end zone on third-and-goal. The rest of the first half saw drives stall or never get started, because both offenses struggled with penalties and missed blocks. Carolina took a 7-0 lead into the half.
Carolina got moving in the third quarter with a conversion to Robby Anderson to cross midfield, and Walker then hit D.J. Moore to get inside the 25. To finish the drive, Walker lofted in a well placed pass to Curtis Samuel for a 17-yard touchdown.
Stafford responded with a 58-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones (4-51), but in typical Lions fashion, it was called back by an illegal formation penalty. A Brian Burns and Efe Obada sack forced a punt to squander that possession. Joey Slye connected on a 56-yard field goal to extend the Panthers lead to 17-0 entering the fourth quarter.
Detroit moved into Carolina territory, but another Panthers sack killed the drive and Matt Prater shanked a 51-yard field goal attempt. The Panthers continued to use Anderson, Moore and Mike Davis to move the ball inside the 10-yard line. But Walker had an awful miss on third-and-goal, floating a pass to Desmond Trufant for an interception. The Carolina defense continued to dominate, and Detroit was completely inept offensively.
Walker completed 24-of-34 passes for 258 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Aside from those two picks in the end zone, Walker played well in his first NFL start.
Davis ran for 64 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in place of McCaffrey.
Moore (7-127), Samuel (8-70-1) and Anderson (7-46) were very effective for Carolina.
Stafford was 18-of-33 for 178 yards while playing with his injured thumb.
Adrian Peterson (7-18) and Kerryon Johnson (6-17) were completely shut down by a Carolina defense that has struggled to stop the run this year.
Hockenson (4-68) led the Lions in receiving.
Edge rusher Brian Burns and rookie defensive tackle Derrick Brown had excellent games for Carolina.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Why is it that the Broncos suddenly remember they have Phillip Lindsay once every four weeks or so? Lindsay will look great in those games, and then he just disappears, especially when I end up betting on Denver. And then, the cycle just repeats itself.
Miami has made great strides in its second season under head coach Brian Flores, but the young squad showed it still has some growing up to do with a tough road loss at Denver. The Broncos' defensive front produced six sacks and forced an ineffective Tua Tagovailoa to the bench in the fourth quarter. After an early interception, Drew Lock played well enough to extend drives and let the Denver running backs and defense do the heavy lifting. This loss will be a tough blow if the Dolphins fall short of the playoffs, but growing pains are part of the NFL, and the Dolphins are clearly headed in the right direction.
Less than two minutes into the game, Xavier Howard picked off Lock after the young quarterback stared down his target, whom Howard had blanketed. The terrible pick by Lock set up Miami at the Denver 22. Tagovailoa gave it right back with an interception, but a ridiculous holding penalty on A.J. Bouye saved the Miami rookie from his first NFL pick. A few plays later, Tagovailoa lofted in a short touchdown pass to DeVante Parker.
Denver responded with a game-tying drive on which Lock fired a conversion to K.J. Hamler, Phillip Lindsay ripped off a 20-yard run, Lock used his feet to run for 14 yards on a third-and-13, Lock laced a 15-yard pass to Nick Vannett, and Melvin Gordon plunged into the end zone from a yard out. The Broncos kept moving the ball on the next possession, with Lock hitting Tim Patrick for 41 yards, but Miami produced a stand inside the 10-yard line to force a field goal.
The Dolphins started moving the ball with a couple of conversions to Parker before Salvon Ahmed taking off on a good run, but the Denver defense produced a third-down sack to force a game-tying field goal from Jason Sanders. In the final drive before halftime, Melvin Gordon ripped off a 25-yard run and Jerry Jeudy (3-37) caught a 23-yard pass to set up a field goal that put the Broncos up 13-10 at the half.
Denver added to its lead late in the third quarter with a touchdown drive. It got started with a 16-yard pass to Hamler, and Gordon raced into the end zone from 20 yards out to put the Broncos up 20-10.
Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter, providing a spark to the Miami offense. Fitzpatrick connected with Mike Gesicki (4-43) for 26 yards, and that produced a 53-yard field goal by Jason Sanders. Denver put together a drive to nearly put the game away, but Gordon fumbled the ball away to Miami at the 1-yard line. With 5:13 remaining, Fitzpatrick took over and started moving the ball. A roughing penalty on Bradley Chubb helped, and Fitzpatrick hit Parker for 21 yards to get inside the Denver 30, but with a minute remaining, Fitzpatrick tried to force a pass into the end zone to Parker and Justin Simmons picked off the pass to secure the Denver victory.
Lock was 18-of-30 for 270 yards with an interception.
Gordon (15-84-2) and Lindsay (16-82) ran well for Denver, but Gordon's fumble was nearly catastrophic.
Tim Patrick (5-119) led the Broncos in receiving, thanks to a deep reception on the final play of the game.
Tagovailoa was 11-of-20 for 83 yards with a touchdown. He was rattled by Denver's rush and struggled to move the ball. Fitzpatrick was 12-of-18 for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Ahmed led the Dolphins on the ground with 43 yards on 12 carries.
Parker paced Miami with six receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Chargers 34, Jets 28
The Chargers won this game by just six points, but make no mistake about it; this was a blowout from start to finish. The Chargers had leads of 24-6, 31-13 and 34-19 before Joe Flacco threw a back-door touchdown with a few minutes remaining, thanks to fourth-and-5 and third-and-7 conversions. This was painful for Charger bettors, but the team will celebrate finally winning a one-score game, even though this wasn't really a one-score game.
Justin Herbert was excellent in this contest, going 37-of-49 for 366 yards and three touchdowns. Herbert had a dream matchup going up against a Jets secondary missing its top cornerbacks. As a result, Herbert was unstoppable.
Herbert was once again locked in on Keenan Allen, who caught an absurd 16 passes (19 targets) for 145 yards and a touchdown. As crazy as it sounds, Allen's stat line could have been much better. He dropped a pass and drew two interference flags. He also lost a fumble at the Jets' 1-yard line in the opening quarter.
Elsewhere in the Charger receiving corps, Mike Williams caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown, while Hunter Henry (4-48) also scored.
Kalen Ballage handled the majority of the workload. He didn't do much on the ground - 16 carries, 44 yards - but he caught seven passes for 27 receiving yards.
You know Allen's fumble at the Jets' one-yard line? That didn't end up mattering at all because on the very next possession, Flacco tossed a pick-six on a very lazy throw to the outside. This ended up being Flacco's only turnover, but he was lucky that he wasn't charged with a lost fumble on a strip-sack, with replay review ruling the play incomplete.
Flacco finished 15-of-30 for 205 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but all of this occurred in garbage time. Flacco was just 3-of-8 for 30 yards and the pick-six in the opening half.
It was disappointing to see Jamison Crowder do nothing in garbage time, as he finished with just one catch for 16 yards. Instead, it was Denzel Mims (3-71), Breshad Perriman (2-54) and Chris Herndon (2-32). The latter two caught touchdowns.
The Jets promised that they would use young running back Lamical Perine over Frank Gore, but Adam Gase's obsession with the decrepit, old back continued. For some reason, Gore had way more carries than Perine, 15-8. Gore outgained Perine, 61-33, and both scored touchdowns.
Colts 34, Packers 31
This truly was a roller-coaster game in which the expected winner changed on numerous occasions. It initially seemed like the Packers would win easily when they went right down the field on Indianapolis following a Mo Alie-Cox fumble. However, things swung in Indianapolis' direction after that. The Packer defense allowed a long touchdown to Michael Pittman on a blown coverage. This prompted FOX color analyst Troy Aikman to remark, "I don't know what Green Bay's defense was doing." Making matters worse, Aaron Rodgers also had two first-quarter turnovers: a fumble on a botched snap and an interception on an underthrown pass.
Green Bay quickly took control after that, outscoring the Colts, 21-7, in the second quarter. The Colts had severe problems with holding penalties that disrupted their own drives, logging nine such infractions overall! Rivers was also picked on a tipped pass. The Packers, meanwhile, attacked Indianapolis' secondary. Rodgers threw three touchdowns, and that doesn't even include Marquez Valdes-Scantling's deep pass interference that set up Green Bay's touchdown to give the team a 28-14 lead.
It seemed as though the Packers would run away with this game, but the Colts dominated the third quarter. Thanks to five consecutive scores, helped in part by a fumbled kickoff return and numerous Green Bay offside penalties, they took a 31-28 lead when Rodgers drove deep into Indianapolis territory. However, the Packers were able to send this game into overtime, as the tying field goal was made possible by a penalty-ravaged Indianapolis drive and a 47-yard reception by Valdes-Scantling on a third-and-10 on the ensuing drive.
The Packers suddenly had momentum heading into overtime, and this was emphasized by the team winning the coin toss. With Philip Rivers hobbled with a lower-leg injury, Green Bay seemed like the probable winner. However, disaster struck for the Packers when Valdes-Scantling went from hero to goat, losing a fumble on the opening possession of overtime. The Colts recovered and quickly drilled the game-winning field goal.
Despite the loss, Rodgers went 27-of-38 for 311 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on an underthrown pass. Rodgers was excellent outside of the pick, but was betrayed by the error-prone Valdes-Scantling.
Valdes-Scantling was second on the team in receiving with three catches for 55 yards. He trailed only Davante Adams, who made the most of his tough matchup against Xavier Rhodes. Adams snatched seven balls for 106 yards and a touchdown. Robert Tonyan (5-44) also scored.
Speaking of tough matchups, the Colts have the best run defense in the AFC, so Aaron Jones wasn't expected to be overly productive. He was limited to just 41 yards on 10 carries, but helped his owners with a touchdown run. He also caught four passes for 30 receiving yards.
The Colts had more success running the ball, which was hardly a surprise, given Green Bay's poor rush defense. Jonathan Taylor gained 90 yards on 22 carries. He didn't score, but broke numerous tackles. He had a touchdown wiped out by a hold. Nyheim Hines, who was limited to just two yards on six attempts, also had a touchdown negated by a hold. Hines caught three passes for 31 receiving yards.
Rivers, who dealt with that aforementioned lower-leg injury, went 24-of-36 for 288 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. We'll have to wait and see how severe Rivers' injury is, though it was a positive sign that he jogged into the locker room just prior to overtime.
Pittman led the Colts in receiving with three grabs for 66 yards and the aforementioned score. Zach Pascal (3-54) and T.Y. Hilton (3-36) were next on the stat sheet. Trey Burton (2-25) also scored.
Cowboys 31, Vikings 28
The Bears were the most overrated team in the NFL when they were 5-1. The Vikings took that baton when they beat Chicago on Monday night, and that was apparent in this game. A Viking defense missing its top two edge rushers, two primary cornerbacks and a starting linebacker had no chance against Dallas' offense despite going up against Andy Dalton.
Dalton did well despite being, well, Andy Dalton, as his receivers had great matchups against the Minnesota cornerbacks. This includes CeeDee Lamb, who made one of the most ridiculous catches you'll ever see. He extended his arms and reached behind him while falling down, securing the touchdown in the second quarter. Amari Cooper, meanwhile, came up clutch with a fourth-and-6 conversion that ultimately gave the Cowboys the lead.
Cooper ended up with six catches for 81 yards, while Lamb tallied four receptions for 34 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Dalton Schultz (4-25) also scored. Michael Gallup didn't do as well - two receptions, 29 yards - and he had an ugly drop in which the ball bounced off his helmet.
Andy Dalton did well to take advantage of Minnesota's liabilities. He went 22-of-32 for 203 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in which Dalton didn't appear to see Eric Kendricks, who made a diving catch.
It was surprising to see the Cowboys run well on the Vikings. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 103 yards on 21 carries, marking the first time Elliott eclipsed the century mark this year. Elliott, however, was effectively vultured by Tony Pollard, albeit on a 42-yard scamper. Pollard dashed for 60 yards on five carries.
Dalvin Cook ended up outgaining every other back in this game, which was hardly a surprise. Cook rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries to go along with five catches for 45 receiving yards. He appeared to get injured when he took a huge hit from Donovan Wilson, which resulted in a lost fumble, but he was able to remain in the game.
Speaking of Wilson, he forced a strip-sack from Kirk Cousins on the opening drive. Cousins played well after this turnover, going 22-of-30 for 314 yards and three touchdowns. However, Cousins came up small on the final drive, resulting in a crucial loss for the Vikings, who really needed to win to have a good chance at obtaining a wild-card spot.
While Lamb had the best catch in this game, Adam Thielen also made a very impressive snag on one of his touchdowns. Thielen scored twice while catching eight passes for 123 yards. Justin Jefferson (3-86) also found the end zone.
Chiefs 35, Raiders 31
Andy Reid is often automatic off a bye, but the Chiefs unexpectedly found themselves in a tight game against the Raiders. Derek Carr looked like the second coming of Joe Montana in this affair, as Kansas City had absolutely no answer for him. The Raiders scored on nearly every possession, with Carr missing on just three throws in the opening half.
Carr threw what may have been a game-winning touchdown against most other quarterbacks in the final two minutes of this contest. However, 1:43 with a timeout is an eternity for Patrick Mahomes. The MVP front-runner didn't even need all of that time, as he drove down the field to score a touchdown in just 1:15. Mahomes found Travis Kelce in the end zone for the decisive score, improving his team to 9-1.
Mahomes extended his MVP consideration lead, as he finished 34-of-45 for 348 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The pick wasn't his fault, as Demarcus Robinson ran the wrong route in the red zone. This gaffe by Robinson ruined a potential score that would've given the Chiefs the lead heading into halftime. Instead, Kansas City had to constantly play from behind, though that was no issue for the best quarterback in the NFL.
Kelce, who had the game-winning score, capped off his monstrous night with eight catches for 127 yards and the score. Kelce made amends for a couple of mistakes he was guilty of earlier in the contest, committing a drop and an offensive pass interference penalty.
Elsewhere in the Kansas City receiving corps, Tyreek Hill snatched 11 balls for 102 yards and a touchdown, though he was guilty of a drop as well. Robinson (6-44) seemingly hurt his team by being responsible for Mahomes' interception, but it ultimately didn't matter for the non-betting crowd.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire scored twice, rushing for 69 yards on 14 carries. He wasn't alone in finding the end zone on the ground, as Le'Veon Bell also ran in a touchdown. Bell rushed for 25 yards on seven tries.
Josh Jacobs may have had a chance at two touchdowns as well, but a Jason Witten false start on the Kansas City 1-inch line at the end of regulation ruined that opportunity. This put the goal line out of reach for Jacobs, who gained 55 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
As mentioned, Carr had an amazing game. He went 23-of-31 for 275 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, which was a desperation heave at the very end of the game. Carr's team lost, but if he continues to play this well, the Raiders will have a chance to make a deep run into the playoffs. Of course, it'll help if the opposition has as many miscommunications and blown coverages as the Chiefs were guilty of in this contest. Kansas City's defensive performance was underwhelming, to say the least.
Nelson Agholor was a stud, catching six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. He also drew an interference flag. Agholor tied Darren Waller (7-88), who also scored. Agholor's transformation in the Raider offense has been amazing, and both Jon Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson deserve major credit for this.
Rams 27, Buccaneers 24
We saw Patrick Mahomes engineer a final drive to win the game Sunday night against the Raiders in less than two minutes. Tom Brady was put into the same situation, also down by three, but with a bit more time remaining. Brady picked up a couple of first downs to open the drive, but he immediately air-mailed a pass toward Cameron Brate right out of the 2-minute warning. The pass never had a chance, as the Rams snatched the easy interception.
Brady is no longer in the elite class of quarterbacks in the NFL, and he greatly struggled in this contest, particularly when throwing the deep ball. It didn't help that he was without stud guard Ali Marpet and saw left tackle Donovan Smith get hurt on the first play of the game, but that's not much of an excuse for Brady throwing up a lollipop like he did on the final drive. It also doesn't excuse Brady not seeing safety Jordan Fuller on his earlier interception that gave the Rams a 24-17 lead in the second half.
Brady went 26-of-48 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and the pair of interceptions. He was lucky he wasn't picked a third time when a pass of his to Mike Evans was dropped by a Los Angeles defender. Brady arguably has the best receiving corps in the NFL at his disposal, but he's not performing up to their standards. He needs to improve his play, or the Buccaneers will quickly lose in the playoffs.
Jared Goff outplayed Brady, though he also made some mistakes on a pair of interceptions. Goff telegraphed a screen to Darrell Henderson that was picked, and he later failed to see safety Jordan Whitehead, who snatched an interception and ran the ball back into Rams territory.
Despite these gaffes, Goff played well overall, otherwise moving the chains at will against a soft Tampa zone that allowed Sean McVay to scheme open receivers all night long. Goff went 39-of-51 for 376 yards, three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods did a terrific job of finding these open voids in the Buccaneers' horrible zone. They both notched double-digit receptions, with Kupp snatching 11 passes for 145 yards. Woods collected 12 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. No other Ram logged more than 32 receiving yards.
Goff, Kupp and Woods really needed to produce because their running game didn't work against the best ground defense in the NFL. Malcolm Brown was the leading rusher with just 20 yards, while Cam Akers (5-15) scored a receiving touchdown on his only reception of four yards. Van Jefferson (1-7) also found the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
The Buccaneers didn't fare much better with their running backs. Leonard Fournette scored a touchdown, but had a miserable night overall. He gained 17 yards on seven carries and dropped a whopping three passes. Ronald Jones, meanwhile, was limited to just 24 yards on 10 attempts.
Both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans managed to score, with Godwin hauling in seven passes for 53 yards. Evans had five receptions for 49 yards, and he drew an interference flag. Evans' touchdown was a thing of beauty, as he muscled his way into the end zone like he was some fullback or perhaps even A.J. Brown.
Neither Godwin nor Evans led the team in receiving. That distinction belonged to Antonio Brown, who reeled in eight balls for 57 yards. Brown, however, dropped a deep pass in the third quarter.
For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.