Week 15 in the NFL. Teams are now starting to either clinch a playoff position or clinch a high spot in the draft. So, who clinched what this week?
The Greatest Comeback Of All Time
The Minnesota Vikings suffered a defeat last week to the in-form Detroit Lions. This weekend, the Vikings visited the Indianapolis Colts for what on paper should have been an easy game. In reality, it was anything but an easy game.
The opening possession was with the Colts, who managed the break down the Vikings’ defense to allow them to reach deep into the Vikings’ territory. This drive did stall there and resulted in a 26-yard field goal for the Colts, which was the best-case scenario for Minnesota. When the Vikings were given the ball, quarterback Kirk Cousins could not do anything with it, forcing the Vikings to punt.
But, the punt was blocked and recovered by the Colts, who would run the ball in for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead. Things became even worse for the Vikings when Dalvin Cook fumbled the ball, which like the punt, was recovered by the Colts’ defense. On their subsequent possession, Colts Quarterback Matt Ryan and company drove the ball again down to the Vikings’ 1-yard line, when a touchdown pass from Ryan to Deon Jackson increased the Colts’ lead to 17 points.Embed from Getty Images
On their next two drives, Minnesota did manage to move the ball in the right direction. Both drives started on the Vikings’ 22-yard line and ended on their 31-yard line after a failed fourth down attempt. Alternatively, the Colts scored two field goals on their drives in the same period, increasing their lead to 23-0. The Colts would score again soon after Cousins was intercepted by Julian Blackmon, who ran the ball in for a Pick 6 and a 30-point lead. A 27-yard field goal just before halftime would mean that the Indianapolis Colts had a 33-point lead over the Minnesota Vikings, who did not score a single point.
I do not know what happened or what was said in the Minnesota locker room at halftime, but I think something that was said worked. The Vikings would finally get points on the board early in the second half, as a 2-yard pass from Cousins to K.J. Osborn found the endzone. The Colts would add to their lead soon after through a 52-yard field goal. But from this moment on, it felt like you were watching a different Minnesota Vikings side.
A 1-yard C.J. Ham rushing touchdown gave the Vikings their second touchdown. Cousins and Justin Jefferson would team up for an 8-yard touchdown at the beginning of the 4th quarter to bring the gap to 15 points. Adam Thielen would score off a 1-yard touchdown pass with 5 minutes left to play to make the game a one-possession game. If you had told anyone at halftime that with 5 minutes left to play this game would be one possession, only the most optimistic Vikings fan would believe you.
After a few drives where both teams failed to convert on 4th down, history was made in one play. A 64-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Dalvin Cook, followed by a successful 2-point conversion, tied the scores at 36-36. Two drives that ended in punts meant that we would be going to overtime. Is there anything this game could not do?
The overtime period, like many of them this season, was not the best. 2 long drives that ended in punts This gave the Vikings possession, and with time nearly out, Kicker Greg Joseph scored a 40-yard field goal to complete the biggest comeback of all time. The Minnesota Vikings had beaten the Indianapolis Colts 39-36.
With this win, the NFC North-winning Vikings improve to 11-3, while the Colts fall to 4-9-1. Colts quarterback Matt Ryan now has the unfortunate title of being involved in both the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history as well as the biggest comeback in NFL history. That is his legacy. Next week, the Vikings face the New York Giants, while the Colts face the Los Angeles Chargers next Monday night.
The Bills Beat The Dolphins In The Snow
A couple of weeks ago, the city of Buffalo was under 6 feet of snow. The Bills were to play a home game that weekend, but due to safety concerns, this game was moved to Detroit. This weekend, Buffalo was again covered in snow, but this time their game against the Miami Dolphins could go ahead at the usual venue.
It would be the Dolphins who would score the first points. After a long drive that took them into the Bills’ RedZone stalled, the Dolphins had to settle for a 39-yard field goal. The Bills would quickly respond to these points, by scoring a touchdown of their own. A 14-yard pass from Bills quarterback Josh Allen to Quintin Morris found the endzone. The Dolphin’s reply? Another field goal, this time one from 21 yards.Embed from Getty Images
The scoring would continue on the game’s next three drives. First, Allen would find the endzone again with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Nyheim Hines. The Dolphins would score next through an 11-yard Salvon Ahmen rushing touchdown, but the Bills would strike again on their next drive, with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Allen to James Cook. This meant that at halftime, The Buffalo Bills had a 21-13 lead over the Miami Dolphins
The Bills would punt on the first drive in the second half, ending the high-scoring streak, but that did not stop the Dolphins. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa found Jaylen Waddle for a 67-yard touchdown pass. They also decided to go for 2, but this attempt failed. After a few more punts, the Dolphins would score another touchdown. The 20-yard touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to Tyrek Hill gave the Dolphins a 5-point lead.
At the beginning of the 4th quarter, Josh Allen would be sacked and then fumble the ball, losing possession. Luckily for the Bills, the Dolphins could only convert this into a 47-yard field goal, which kept the Bills in the game. Allen would redeem himself on the next drive, throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dawson Knox, bringing the lead to 2 points. They decided to go for a 2-point conversion, which Allen successfully rushed the ball into the endzone to tie the scores with 10 minutes to go.
The following Miami drive did not go anywhere so all Buffalo had to do was score a field goal and win. Their drive was a slow-moving drive, but it did what it needed to do. With time about to run out, Bills kicker Trevor Bass successfully kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Buffalo Bills a 32-29 win over the Miami Dolphins.
With this win, the Bills improve to 11-3 and clinch a playoff spot. The Dolphins fall to 8-6. Next week, the Dolphins welcome the Green Bay Packers while the Bills visit Chicago to face the Bears.
Danny Dimes Finally Wins In Primetime
The New York Giant’s season is at a crossroads. After an amazing 7-2 start, they have struggled in their last 4 games, falling to a 7-5-1 record. To make things harder for the Giants, this game against divisional rivals the Washington Commanders was moved to Sunday Night. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has never won in primetime and this game was a must-win to keep their playoff dreams alive. So, would the Giants’ poor streak continue?
This game was never going to be a good game in terms of action. After two drives that ended in punts, the Commanders scored first through a 41-yard field goal. On the Commanders’ next drive, it would all go wrong for them.
Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke was sacked and fumbled by the number 5 pick in this year’s draft Kayvon Thibodeaux. He would then score the touchdown to put the Giants into the lead.
The Giants would increase their lead soon after. In a drive that started at the Giants’ own 3-yard line, Quarterback Daniel Jones and company drove the ball right into the Commanders’ endzone. This drive was topped off by the 3-yard rushing touchdown from Saquon Barkley. This gave the New York Giants a 14-3 lead over the Washington Commanders at halftime.
The Commanders would get the opening score of the second half to keep them in the game. A 19-yard pass from Taylor Heinicke to Jahan Dotson found the endzone. However, the PAT missed. The Giants quickly struck back through a 50-yard Graham Gano field goal to give the Giants an 8-point lead. Washington would score a 50-yard field goal at the beginning of the 4th quarter to make it a 5-point game with everything still to play for.
On a 3rd and 4th on the Giants’ 5-yard line, Taylor Heineke was sacked. This play was reversed by the Giants’ appeal, striking the play out of the books. On the second attempt, Taylor Heineke was sacked again. But this time, he fumbled the ball which the Giants scooped up. From this, the Giants scored another 50-yard field goal.
Washington had one more chance to score. And they did. A 1-yard rushing touchdown. But it was overturned due to penalties on the play. Then, on 4th down, a Heineke pass to the endzone was ruled incomplete. There has been a lot of debate in the last few days as to whether there was any pass inference on this play, but (and putting on my Giants hat for a second) as the referees did not flag anything, it did not happen. The New York Giants had beaten the Washington Commanders 20-12.
With this win, the Giants improve to 8-5-1 and keep their playoff dreams alive. This win also gave Daniel Jones his first-ever win in primetime, and it was the first time in his career that he was not sacked. The defense, who have been struggling recently shone in this game. Washington fall to 7-6-1, and next week will face the San Francisco 49ers, while the Giants face the Minnesota Vikings.
The Jaguars Upset The ‘Boys
The Dallas Cowboys are very close to getting one of the wildcard spots in the playoffs. By the way, things are going, they may be joined by at least one of their divisional rivals in these spots. But to make the playoffs, you have to win games. This week, the Cowboys went over to Florida to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After the Cowboys’ opening drive ended in a punt, the Jaguars would not have the best of luck themselves. Jaguars running back Travis Etienne fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Cowboys. Taking full advantage of the good field position, the Cowboys converted this into points, through a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Ezekiel Elliot. The Cowboys would find the endzone again on their next drive, with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to Peyton Hendershot.Embed from Getty Images
The Jags would quickly reply to these scores. In a drive that took them down to the Cowboys’ 5-yard line, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence found Zay Jones for a 5-yard touchdown pass. The Cowboys would reply with a score of their own, a one-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Brown before halftime. This meant that at the half, the Cowboys had a 21-7 lead over the Jaguars.
The second half would open with both teams hitting one field goal each. Then, Trevor Lawrence would be intercepted on a pass intended for Christian Kirk. This mistake would lead to another Dallas field goal. However, Lawrence will be vindicated for that mistake, as on his next drive he threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Zay Jones to reduce the Cowboys’ lead to 10 points.
The lead would be reduced even more after the next turn of events. Prescott would be intercepted deep in their own territory, which would lead to another Trevor Lawrence touchdown, to bring the Cowboys’ lead to 3 points.
On the next Jags drive, Lawrence would score a third consecutive touchdown to give Jacksonville the lead. This did not last long, as the Cowboys struck back with a touchdown of their own to put them back in front with 3 minutes remaining.Embed from Getty Images
On what could have been the Jaguars’ game-winning drive, Trevor Lawrence fumbled and lost possession of the ball. However, the following Cowboys’ drive was over quickly, which gave them one more opportunity to score. From their own 29-yard line, the Jaguars quickly moved the ball up the field, to the Cowboys’ 30-yard line. Then, the Jaguars kicked a 49-yard field goal as time ran out to tie the score 34-34. We are going to overtime again.
The Jaguars had the opening possession in overtime and did nothing with it. However, it was all irrelevant, as on the Cowboys’ drive Dak Prescott’s pass was intercepted by the Jaguars’ defense, who ran it in for a game-winning touchdown. The Jacksonville Jaguars had beaten the Dallas Cowboys 40-34.
With this win, the Jaguars improve their record to 6-8, while the Cowboys fall to 10-4. At the time, the Cowboys were still uncertain about their playoff position, however as the Giants beat the Commanders in the evening, the Cowboys clinched a playoff position. Next week, the Jaguars visit the New York Jets, while the Cowboys welcome the Philadelphia Eagles.
A 7th Straight Divisional Title
The Kansas City Chiefs are on the brink of winning their 7th consecutive AFC West title. Standing in their way were the Houston Texans. Houston has had a poor season, but last week nearly defeated the Dallas Cowboys, so anything is possible, especially with what we have seen this week.
The game did not start well for either side. 4 drives to start the game. 4 punts. It would be the Texans who would break this. An 8-yard pass from Texans quarterback Davis Mills to Teagan Quitoriano found the endzone to give Houston the lead. But in typical Patrick Mahomes fashion, Kansas City would quickly come back on their next drive. A quick 7-play drive ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Jerick McKinnon, to level the game.Embed from Getty Images
The Chiefs would make a costly error soon after, as running back Isiah Pacheco fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by the Texans’ defense. With this excellent field position, the Texans would convert this into a touchdown. A 17-yard Davis Mills rushing touchdown gave the lead back to Houston. The Chiefs would score just before halftime. Unlike the majority of Kansas City drives when they are trailing, this drive was a long and slow affair. It ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Marquez Valdez-Scanting. However, the Harrison Butker PAT missed, giving the Texans a 14-13 lead over the Chiefs at halftime.
The Chiefs would open the scoring in the second half through a 27-yard field goal, to finally give the Chiefs the lead. They would then make the same mistake that they made in the first half. After having a penalty against them overturned, Houston would then cause the Chiefs to fumble the ball, which the Texans would scoop up. This would then be shortly converted into a touchdown, through a 12-yard pass from Mills to Jordan Atkins. Then, just like in the first half, Kansas City would score immediately after. This time, it was a 5 yard-rushing touchdown from Mahomes. The Chiefs then decided to attempt a two-point conversion, which was successful and gave them a 3 point lead.Embed from Getty Images
This lead did not last long. On their next drive, the Texans’ drive stalled deep in the Chiefs’ red zone. This led to them kicking a 29-yard field goal to tie things up with 5 minutes to play. The Chiefs’ drive was a slow, controlled movement up the field. They knew that all they had to do was for them to score a field goal as time ran out for them to win. Unfortunately, their drive struggled to move around the Texans’ 30-yard line, meaning that with 8 seconds left on the clock, Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker had to kick a 51-yard field goal to win. He attempted it, but it went wide. Overtime was upon us (again)
The Chiefs had opening possession, but they punted the ball away, meaning that all Houston had to do was score, and a massive upset would happen. On their opening play, Houston fumbled the ball and lost possession. It then took, Kansas City one play to score a touchdown and win 30-24.
With this win, the Chiefs win their 7th consecutive division title, and improve to 11-3 on the season, while Houston fall to 1-12-1. Next week, Kansas City welcomes the Seattle Seahawks to Arrowhead, while the Texans visit Tennessee to face the Titans.
What Happened In The Other Games This Week?
Backup quarterback Brock Purdy again lead the San Francisco 49ers to victory on Thursday night. He threw for 2 touchdowns as the 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-13 to win the NFC West division and clinch a place in the playoffs.
In what was the second game played on Saturday, the Cleveland Browns faced the Baltimore Ravens, in what was Brown’s quarterback Deshaun Watson’s home debut. The Browns would win the game 13-3, but this game would generally be forgotten, as it was the disappointing middle game between two amazing classics.
Newly crowned NFC East champions the Philadelphia Eagles returned to action to face the Chicago Bears. In a game that was closer than many people would have imagined, Jalen Hurts scored 3 touchdowns as the Eagles beat the Bears 25-20.
This week, the Atlanta Falcons benched quarterback Marcus Mariota and replaced him with former Cincinnati Bearcat quarterback Desmond Ridder. In his first game, Ridder threw for 97 yards, as the Andy Dalton lead New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons 21-18.
In the last couple of weeks, the Detroit Lions have been a high-scoring team. In their game against the New York Jets, they struggled. This game also saw the return of Zach Wilson, as Mike White is still injured. There was a chance at the end of the game that this game would also go to overtime. However, the Jets’ kick missed, giving the Detroit Lions a 20-17 victory.
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Carolina Panthers 24-16.
In the battle of the backup quarterbacks, it was the Brett Rypien lead Denver Broncos who beat the Colt McCoy lead Arizona Cardinals 24-15.
In a Patriots mistake on the last play of the game, the Las Vegas Raiders scored. This score gave them a 30-24 shock victory over the New England Patriots.
Kicker Cameron Dicker scored a 43-yard field goal as time ran out as the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Tennessee Titans 17-14
This weekend was the first encounter between Joe Burrow and Tom Brady. It may also be the last encounter between the two as well. Burrow threw for 4 touchdowns, while Brady threw for 3 of them, as the Cincinnati Bengals beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-23.
Both of these teams have had less-than-stellar seasons. But, the Green Bay Packers have recently shown a little bit of improvement. Aaron Rodgers threw for one touchdown as the Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams 24-12. Is this the worst title defense in history? I think so.
So, that was week 15 in the NFL. Games this weekend are on Saturday, due to it being Christmas on Sunday. The Giants can clinch on Saturday if results go their way, so that will be a very nice Christmas present for me.