This weekend the NFL saw a recent MVP fall to injury while other former winners prove that you are never too old to win another trophy. The schedule also called upon some good teams to do what good teams do, which is not overlook a bad team by going out and winning, and then moving on. So without further ado, here is my recap of all the NFL week fourteen action.
Minnesota 36 (6-7), Pittsburgh 28 (6-6-1): Leave it to these two average teams to turn a blowout game into a nailbiter late. The Vikings had their home fans on their feet after taking a 29-0 lead during the fourth quarter … but as anyone who had the Steelers plus the points or the over on their betting ticket, this is when Pittsburgh decided to start playing. The visitors put their first points, a TD, on the scoreboard heading into the fourth quarter before embarking on a feverish comeback which saw them close to within 29-20. Minnesota would then score what would prove to be the game-clinching touchdown of their own, making the last points Pittsburgh scored in trying to complete their comeback meaningless, with the Vikings holding on for the win. Sure this game offer some drama; but if anyone believe these middle of the pack teams deserves a playoff spot, then you have only proven the NFL made a mistake by over expanding the postseason field.
Atlanta 29 (6-7), Carolina 21 (5-8): The NFC South throwback machine provided an entertaining game between two aging QB, with the Falcons’ Matt Ryan getting the better of the Panthers’ Cam Newton. It was a second quarter pick-six thrown by Newton which proved be important since it forced Carolina to play from behind the rest of the game, with Atlanta never giving them a taste of the lead for the entire second half. It was also backup QB P.J. Walker on the field who led a fourth quarter TD drive to pull Carolina close, answering the question why New England released Newton at the end of training camp and why the former NFL MVP was out of the league for a while this season, and may be out again in 2022.
Cleveland 24 (7-6), Baltimore 22 (8-5): The early news from this game was when Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson was carted off the field with a high ankle sprain with the Browns taking full advantage as they jumped out to a 24-6 halftime lead. Cleveland did all they could in the second half, with their defense barely able to hold on against Baltimore’s pass-happy offense who, led by backup Tyler Huntley, closed to within two points in the fourth quarter, which is where the game ended. The Ravens’ went for a two-point conversion after scoring a TD to make the game 24-15, but Huntley’s pass was intercepted, preserving the nine-point lead and changing how both team played the final minutes in a two-possession game. The loss will be part of a shakeup in the AFC Playoff Picture as Ravens fans now being the wait before Lamar Jackson returns to the field.
Dallas 27 (9-4) at Washington 20 (6-7): I write often during the NFL season how important it is for good teams on the road to jump out to an early lead against motivated teams who have a chance to beat them. The Cowboys were one of those teams on upset alert heading into this week, and answered the bell with an 18-0 first quarter as part of a 24-0 first half against their NFC East foes. Washington did their best to comeback, offering up a trick play for their first TD midway into the third quarter with their defense adding a pick-six late in the fourth quarter to close to within seven points … but they fell so far behind that even with Dallas trying to give the game away with their own weekly series of mistake, even the ‘Boys couldn’t blow this one. Washington still has four more divisional games left on their schedule, but having Dallas on their home field and not winning was a tough way to start the final phase of their 2021 season. As for the Cowboys, they are on their way to an NFC East crown and at least one home game for Jerry Jones and Mike McCarthy.
Tennessee 20 (9-4), Jacksonville 0 (2-11): As it was revealed last week how little Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer thinks of his assistant coaches, it was his team who went out Sunday against the AFC South leaders and did nothing anywhere on the field. The hosting Titans defeated the Jags with two pairs, posting two touchdown and two field goals as their defense posted a shutout against a helpless offense. No one truly needed to do anything special for Tennessee to win this matter-of-fact game. To their credit, the Titans didn’t overlook the Jaguars for a second, doing what they needed to do, take the win and keep pushing forward towards the AFC Playoffs.
Kansas City 48 (9-4), Las Vegas 9 (6-7): To say that KC was happy to see the Raiders come to town this weekend would be an understatement … and the Silver and Black came in from the desert apparently ready to be friendly houseguests this weekend during their stay in the Midwest. Their kindness started on the first play from scrimmage, when, after huddling on the KC logo in the end zone, promptly fumbled the ball on a running play, allowing their host to scoop and score a TD mere seconds into the game. From there it was the Raiders’ defense who was told to offer little resistance to their hosts, allowed KC to score the game’s first 35 points before a late FG put Las Vegas on the board right before halftime. KC did their best not to embarrass their guest in the second half, and if wasn’t for a 51-yard TD run in the fourth quarter, they may have done so … however, the Raiders are just playing that bad now as KC is making their postseason push. With these two facts coming together, you get what you saw on Sunday, an ugly blowout.
New Orleans 30 (6-7), NY Jets 9 (3-10): For the first three quarters of this game, New Orleans went to MetLife Stadium determined to win the time of possession battle, which they clinched by controlling the ball for nearly 30 of the game’s first 45 minutes. In the fourth quarter, with a Jets’ defense unable to stand up against a light breeze, the Saints posted 17 points to turn a close game into the blowout it deserved to be after they manhandled New York from start to finish. The Jets’ offense has regressed with the return of Zack Wilson from injury and the team’s head coach, a former defensive coordinator has already learned it is not about schemes but players in the NFL, and right now the Jets don’t have the depth or talent to survive a head coach like Sean Payton, who played with them as if they were puppets on Sunday afternoon.
Seattle 33 (5-8), Houston 13 (2-11): Like many bad teams this season, the Texans played well for the first half of their game against the Seahawks, only falling behind 16-13 at halftime. Starting in the second half, however, prove of why Seattle has had a bad season and Houston is playing to their talent level showed up, allowing the Seahawks to post the game’s final 17 points and come away with the win. Houston doesn’t need to win anything this season, and they won’t; Seattle may want to win some more games to salvage their pride in an otherwise lost year, and they will have their moments as they did in this game. Overall, however, even going 9-8 won’t be enough for the Seahawks this season, so winning out may sound great; but what will it get them?
Denver 38 (7-6), Detroit 10 (1-11-1): Those “red hot” Lions showed up in the second quarter against the Broncos, winning the second stanza 10-3. The problem that Detroit had was the other three quarters were also played, and they were outscored 35-0. Denver scored the first two TDs of the game in the first quarter to take a lead they would never give up — and they would tack on two more TDs in the third to end the suspense and put the Lions away for good. The win keeps Denver in the AFC playoff mix while things returned to normal for Detroit football fans.
LA Chargers 37 (8-5), NY Giants 21 (4-9): When this game was still in the balance, the Chargers had control of both sides of the football and did what they wanted to on the field. After New York scored their only meaningful TD during competitive action to tie the game 7-7, LA scored the next 23 points over the second and third quarters to take command of the contest. Sure the Big Blue Garbage Time team scored two TDs in the fourth quarter, but those points were window dressing on a house that should be condemned this offseason. That’s why stats tell only part of the story, and in this game, get rid of the fourth quarter stats, because that game was over after 45 minutes and when it hung in the balance, it was the Chargers who earned the win on Sunday.
Tampa Bay 33 (10-3), Buffalo 27 (7-6) OT: If a team knew in the mist of a comeback that they may never be given to chance to do anything but tie the game if they would continue their efforts? Yes, I know the Bills did have the first overtime possession against the Buccaneers in this game, but if they knew they were going to lose anyway, does coming back from 21 points in the second half count as a moral victory for a team now one game over .500? Or would they have felt it more important to lose big and try to reset themselves for the season’s final four game? The comeback much more entertaining than the CBS broadcasting crew of Jim Nantz and Tony Romo … but all these two teams did was fight to a draw with two possessions deciding the outcome.
San Francisco 26 (7-6), Cincinnati 23 (7-6) OT: Bengals’ fans saw their team score the game’s final 14 points to force overtime, and then score the first points of the extra session when they kicked a field goal. Cincy’s defense then gave up all the offense had worked for by giving up a TD pass that a replay review needed to call from the booth to give San Francisco the win. Perhaps this game illustrates the difference in experience between 49ers’ QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the Bengals’ Joe Burrow since the first knew a touchdown would win the game, and he went out and got it; while the latter hoped a FG would be enough in overtime, and it wasn’t. It takes some experience to know how to win in the NFL, and on this day, it was Jimmy G over Joey B by three.
Green Bay 45 (10-3), Chicago 30 (4-9): NFL fans were afforded a one quarter break in this game with the Bears posting the only points, a FG in the first 15 minutes. It was in the second quarter when the scoreboard started changing faster than a pinball machine. After the teams traded TDs to make the score 10-7 Bears, the Packers defense was gifted a pick-six by rookie Chicago QB Justin Fields. Fields rebounded well enough with a 54-yard TD pass of his own to give the Bears back the lead. Chicago’s special team added a TD on a 97-yard punt return to extend their lead to 24-14 late I the first half before Aaron Rodgers, taking advantage of another first half possession, replied with a TD drive of his own. The Bears ended the exciting second quarter with a FG to take a six-point lead into the locker room. Sadly for Bears fan (and many at NBC), the second half was all about Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, who posted 17 unanswered points in the third quarter and added a fourth quarter TD to ice the game going away, adding to Rodgers’ 2021 MVP candidacy.
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NFL Week Fourteen Recap | TooAthletic.com