By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
Week 13 proved to be not so lucky for many teams as well as the Field Generals. This was definitely the week of the upsets. How else to do try to understand New York’s improbable win at Seattle or the formerly undefeated Steelers falling to the Washington Traveling All-Stars, Name Plates, and Football Kings?
The first games of December are once again proving to be the dividing line between contenders and pretenders. The Saints and Chiefs have officially been handed their invites to the postseason ball with others just waiting for theirs “in the mail”.
All of this with more COVID-19 detections as well. Let’s take a look back at the action.
Deshaun Watson, Houston (Loss vs. Indianapolis)
If there was ever a game that gave a snapshot of the Texans’ season, it’s Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Colts. Houston was on the verge of adding to the week of upsets, but much like many of the previous games over the past few weeks, they were literally two yards short. As for No. 4, he completed 26-of-38 passes (68.4 percent) for 341 yards and ran for 38 yards and one touchdown on seven carries (5.4 avg.). Even the defense had one of their best games of the season holding the Colts to just 3.8 yards per carry. It also marked the third-successive game where the opponent recorded fewer than 4.0 yards per attempt and the first time the Texans have done this since Weeks 15-17 of 2018.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Loss vs. L.A. Rams)
A crushing home loss to the division rivals from La-La Land not only handed Arizona their third straight setback, it may do even more damage to their playoff hopes. The Cardinals (6-6) not only are likely out of the chase to win the division they once led, they are right now out of the playoff picture they were solidly in, after the Vikings won Sunday to even their record at 6-6 themselves and pulling ahead of the Cards via tiebreakers. The sputtering offense was still struggling as well as Murray. On the day, No. 1 had 173 yards passing (albeit three touchdowns) and only 15 yards rushing. The Cardinals’ 232 yards of total offense was their worst output of the season and the second-lowest since Kliff Kingsbury took over — only bested by the mere 198 yards the Cards managed in a 34-7 loss to the Rams at State Farm Stadium in 2019.
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Loss vs. N.Y. Giants)
Speaking of bad home losses, give Big Blue credit for coming to the Emerald City and literally punching the Seahawks in the mouth on both sides of the ball. As a team, the Giants discombobulated Wilson, taking down the QB for five sacks. No. 3 completed just 62.8 percent of his passes for 263 yards, a TD and an INT. In addition to a season-low point total, the Seahawks were held to 327 yards and a season-low 4.7 yards per play average. With two turnovers Sunday, the Seahawks are now 0-4 this season in games with multiple turnovers. Even after allowing more on the ground than they’d have liked, the Seahawks D did still hold the Giants to 290 yards, 13 first downs and a 5.3 yards-per-play average.
Cam Newton, New England (Win at L.A. Chargers)
We knew the Chargers struggled on special teams, but in the words of Martin Lawrence “DAAAAAAAAAAMN, GINA!!!!! For the second game in a row, New England’s defense and special teams carried the day with a punt return score, a blocked field goal returned for a score and two interceptions. As for Newton, we’ll talk about his game a little bit later. The 45-0 final score was the largest shutout loss the Chargers have ever suffered. And the Patriots did what they had to do to remain relevant in the playoff conversation.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (Loss at Green Bay)
Even though it was extended mop-up duty, the rookie showed some brilliant flashes during the loss to the Packers. Mr. Hurts came off the bench in the third quarter and completed 5 of 12 pass attempts for 109 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The touchdown, a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Greg Ward on a fourth-and-18, was the first scoring throw of his career. He also gained 29 yards on the ground. Prior to Sunday, Hurts completed all three of his pass attempts, but did most of his damage on the ground with 56 rushing yards. This Sunday, Hurts’ starting debut will come against a Saints team that is No. 1 in yards allowed (288.8 per game) and No. 4 in points allowed (20.1 per game).
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Loss vs. Denver)
The Broncos did everything they could be a part of Upset Sunday, however the defending Super Bowl champs found a way to prevail — again. With the exception of two touchdown drives, the Chiefs’ defense held the Broncos in check throughout the game. In fact, Kansas City yielded fewer than 21 points for the eighth time this season, which are the most such games for any team in the NFL this year. As for No. 15, he completed 25-of-40 passes for 318 yards and a touchdown on Sunday night, recording his fifth-straight game with at least 300 yards through the air. That’s the longest active streak in the NFL, and Mahomes’ eight 300-yard games overall this season also lead the league. The reigning Super Bowl MVP also found the end zone for the 22nd straight game, extending his franchise record streak.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Win vs. Dallas)
Nothing like having a struggling defense come to town when a struggling offense is looking to hit their stride again. The Ravens put up 34 points against the Cowboys, in large part due to 294 yards rushing — more than they had in any game last season. Jackson contributed 94 of those yards, including a 37-yard touchdown run up the middle on fourth-and-2. The last time Jackson was having this much fun was on Sept. 13. That’s when he threw for a season-high 275 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-6 rout of the Browns — the same team he’ll face on Monday night.
STAT OF THE WEEK
New England’s Cam Newton totaled three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) in the Patriots’ 45-0 win in Week 13. Newton has four games with at least two rushing touchdowns this season, the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history. Newton has 10 career games with at least two rushing touchdowns, the most by a quarterback in league annals. Newton, who has 11 rushing touchdowns this season, is the first quarterback with three career seasons of at least 10 rushing touchdowns in NFL history. He also had 14 rushing touchdowns in 2011 and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2015.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.