Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened in the Week 16 Sunday afternoon games...
Things That Made Me Giddy
Seahawks Win the West the Old-Fashioned Way: How far we’ve come from the “Let Russ Cook” days—it’s back to defense (and a little help from Jared Goff’s atrocious play), timely playmaking from Russell Wilson and an overall conservative outlook on life. The third-quarter goal-line stand will be one they talk about in the NFC West championship VHS.
Ben Roethlisberger, Like a Young Ponce De León: That’s the stuff. Down 24-7 in the second half, the Steelers started attacking downfield and Roethlisberger even—gasp!—took a couple of hits in the process. The result was 342 passing yards (the most he’s had since Week 16 of the 2018 season) and three touchdowns in a comeback win to clinch the AFC North.
Diontae Johnson Redemption: You know about the drops, and he left a touchdown on the field when he made the wrong read on a downfield route against the Colts. But this connection belongs in the Louvre...
Chiefs Live on the Edge Because … They Feel Like It?: For 58 minutes it was an absolute grind against an inferior opponent in a game they had no right winning. Then, repeatedly on the final drive (except for the near-interception that A.J. Terrell dropped) Mahomes had all the time in the world and multiple weapons running uncovered downfield. Sunday was as ugly a win as they’ve had in the Mahomes era, but the common thread is: Whenever it’s time to turn it on, the Chiefs turn it on.
Those Andy Dalton Cowboys Can’t Be Stopped: According to Mike McCarthy’s analytics department, Dallas has 108 (one-hundred and eight) points during a three (3)-game winning streak.
Cowboys Receivers vs. Eagles DBs: It was the biggest mismatch we've seen since, well, probably Saleh vs. Kingsbury on Saturday.
Chase Young Dominant Again: After a third-quarter strip-sack (actually his second of the day, though the first one was incorrectly ruled an interception, statistically), play-by-play man Ian Eagle remarked, “Chase Young, making his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year.” Which is a bit like saying, “Gheorghe Muresan, making his case for tallest man in the room.”
Chargers Find a Way to Win a Game They Led By 13 Points in the Fourth Quarter: That’s a three-game winning streak for Anthony Lynn’s guys, which should be enough to save his job.
A Jets Winning Streak!: And their 335 yards of offense was their second-highest total of the season. They’re locked into the No. 2 pick, have a second first-rounder and a total of five picks in the top 100 of April's draft, and get the guy who’s supposed to be the nerve center of their defense (C.J. Mosley) back.
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Why Did They Set Up That Week 18 Again?: The league office making yet another team suit up less than 48 hours after losing an entire unit to COVID protocols shows a complete lack of understanding of how an NFL team functions.
Colts Can’t Close It on Offense: After taking a 24-7 lead, they punted three times—including two three-and-outs—threw an interception and picked up a total of two first downs over four drives. Offense closes out games in 2020, and Indy had none of it in the second half in Pittsburgh.
Explain Yourself, Jared Goff:
Dwayne Haskins Is an Absolute Mess: The new coaching staff did him no favors, but yeesh, Sunday was as ugly as it gets. Six points, three turnovers, and Taylor Heinicke outplayed him in relief. Football Team still wins the division with a victory in Philadelphia next week.
Younghoe Koo Pushes It: He’s had a Pro Bowl year in Atlanta, hitting 35 of 36 going into Sunday before pushing the potential game-tying kick from 39 wide right. It was an on-brand ending to the loss at Kansas City.
Things Get Rocky for Jalen Hurts: The Eagles aren’t built for sustained offense, and the Cowboys’ kept everything in front of them after a long first-quarter touchdown to DeSean Jackson. Philly managed just a field goal over the game’s final 50 minutes, with Hurts adding two Wentz-ian red-zone turnovers (one ugly interception, one questionable fumble on a scramble).
Steelers’ Desperate Struggle to Get a Yard: Which is why they punted on a fourth-and-1 from midfield when a conversion would’ve sealed the win.
This Trubisky Interception: This, on first-and-goal, is maybe the worst piece of quarterbacking of the post-merger era.
Even Brandon Allen Is Picking on This Texans Defense!: No offense to Brandon Allen—well, I wouldn’t blame him if he took some offense to that statement—but Allen threw for 371 yards and put up 37 points in Houston (his highs in his previous six career starts were 240 and 24).
Brandon McManus’s Fresh New Take on the Double-Doink: In his return to the field, the Broncos kicker doinked the left upright from 42, got another chance from five yards closer due to an offsides penalty, and promptly doinked the left upright again.
Nsimba Webster’s Ball Security: The Rams have had one of the worst special teams units in the league this season (haunted by the ghost of Bones Fassel!), and Webster, who returns punts, just avoided losing a disastrous fumble on a third-quarter punt. It would have been his second big turnover the month; he's trending toward fair-catch-only territory.
Exhibit B in the Case to Abolish the Draft:
What a Neat Franchise the Jaguars Are: Nothing like staging a game in the midst of a raging pandemic that involves a team with no interest in competing because the NFL has built a system that provides disproportionate rewards for gross incompetence. What’s the point of sending them to Indianapolis next week? Anyway, enjoy playing for your new team, Trevor Lawrence.
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Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Slot Receiver-to-Slot Receiver TD: Bill Belichick’s heart grew three sizes that day.
“Roughing” the Passer: Sometimes you just gotta laugh at yourself. Or someone else. Like whoever it was who threw this flag.
DeSean Jackson Getting Behind the Defense: Ahhhh, that takes me back…
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What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
NFC East Death Match!: The Eagles have been eliminated, and the remaining teams (Cowboys, Giants and Football Team) play a three-way game on a cubic field to decide who gets to represent football’s saddest division in the postseason.
The Bears Control Their Fate—and, in a Way, the Fate of Us All: Wait, no, just the first part. Mitchell Trubisky is pretty much the same guy, but they’ve built a more QB-friendly offense and are trusting him to do things like, say, throw the ball beyond the line of scrimmage on third-and-6. They’re kidding themselves if they think a long-term marriage will work, but Trubisky will be a nice backup/developmental project for a smart coach. And if the defense stands on its head in January, who knows what might happen in the tournament.
Rams Have Their Backs Against the Wall: If the Bears beat Green Bay, the loser of Rams-Cardinals would be going home. The Rams have no one to blame but themselves—well, more specifically...
What to Do About Jared Goff?: A long-term question, as they’re not going to be able to make changes to personnel or system at this point, but he’s been brutal over the second half of the season. We’ve seen him get it done in the past—as recently as the comeback in Buffalo back in Week 3, and he was great down the stretch last season. But the Rams offense has no downfield element, and Goff's decision-making is getting progressively worse, especially late in the down. As we head into January, his play couldn’t be more discouraging.
Dolphins Win Again on Sunday: In the form of the Texans’ loss to the Bengals, which now has Miami holding the third overall pick of April’s draft. Which raises the question: Should they take another quarterb—never mind, we'll talk about it later.
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