By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
When the NFL’s 101st season began back in September, a record 10 Black quarterbacks started under center on Opening Weekend. From MVP’s to first-round picks, the Field Generals ran the gamut of pro football’s landscape.
All season long, we here at BASN Newsroom have chronicled their exploits on the field. Through the ups and downs; the highs and lows; the good, bad, and Aunt Esther, 2020 has been one of the most notorious campaigns in league history.
As we prepare for the postseason party, we’ll take a quick look back at another bizarre week of football.
Cam Newton, New England (Win vs. N.Y. Jets)
In looking back at No. 1’s tenure in Foxboro, it seemed that he was never quite the same after contracting COVID-19. There were glimpses of the former MVP’s form, but it was never sustained due to many factors that Newton could not control. Sunday’s likely finale in Massachusetts was another reminder on what Newton is still capable of. Newton gained 79 yards rushing on 11 carries against the Jets, finishing the season with three games with at least 75 yards rushing in 2020. It was his 12th game overall with at least 75 yards rushing. Newton is also the first Patriots quarterback with a receiving touchdown after he caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from WR Jakobi Meyers in the third quarter. It was Newton’s second reception of the season and third reception overall.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (Win at Cincinnati)
Is there a hotter team and quarterback heading into the postseason than LJ. In Sunday’s dismantling of Cincinnati, the Ravens ran for a team record 404 yards and a season high of 525 total yards. As for No. 8, he became the first quarterback 1st QB in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards in multiple seasons and the first player in NFL history with 7,000 passing yards & 2,500 rushing yards in his first three seasons. However, the pundits keep focusing on one stat: He’s 0-for-2 in the playoffs. Now he gets the chance avenge last year’s bitter loss to the Titans on Sunday in Music City.
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Win at San Francisco)
In a sluggish affair in which the Seahawks had to rally for a win against a game 49er squad. The win against San Francisco improved Seattle’s record to 12-4, though the win wasn’t enough to improve Seattle’s playoff seeding. The Seahawks had a chance to improve their playoff seeding with a win, but only if they got some help from the Bears and/or Panthers, who played Green Bay and New Orleans. The Packers and Saints both won, however, meaning Green Bay is the No. 1 seed and gets a bye, while New Orleans is the No. 2 seed. As the No. 3 seed, the Seahawks will host the Los Angeles Rams, who beat the Cardinals to secure the No. 6 seed. It will be the second meeting between those teams at Lumen Field in three weeks, with the Seahawks beating the Rams 20-9 last weekend. As for No. 3, he led two touchdown drives in the final 11 minutes to secure the victory.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Loss at L.A. Rams)
For a team that owned a 5-2 and 6-3 record at one point, derailing to a final 8-8 record wasn’t how it was supposed to go. Win and you’re in — and the Cardinals are out. Mr. Murray went out after the first possession, his ankle wrenched during a sack. It turned out to be the death knell. But for the game, the Cardinals gained just 214 yards, 102 of which came in the fourth quarter when the Rams (10-6) already had control — and the Cards weren’t able to generate any points. Murray’s first drive back quickly moved the Cardinals to the Rams 7, but eventually, a field-goal try was blocked.
Deshaun Watson, Houston (Loss vs. Tennessee)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Despite another outstanding performance from Mr. Watson, the Texans would lose in the end. Over the final five games, No. 4 threw nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. He averaged 324.4 yards per game and had an average 111.6 passer rating without his main receivers. On the day, Watson completed 28-of-39 passes for 365 yards, three touchdowns, one interception and a 115.9 passer rating.
Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina (Loss vs. New Orleans)
The Panthers finally looked like a young and short-handed team after fighting through so many issues lately and generally being competitive. They were 3-8 in games decided by one score or fewer this year. In Sunday’s loss to the division champs, Carolina’s bend but don’t break defense was badly broken as well as Bridgewater. He was pulled in the third quarter because he didn’t look the same after an ankle injury in the first half — though the two interceptions in the end zone made it look like a reasonable decision.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia (Loss vs. Washington)
Okay, where do we start with this? The Eagles trailed only 17-14 when Head Coach Doug Pederson made the call to bench Hurts and insert backup Nate Sudfeld in the third quarter. Hurts, in his fourth start, had a most impressive performance, given everything the Eagles had going on with the shifting personnel on offense. He also recognized when Washington brought pressure, and he was decisive when he left the pocket. Hurts also threw the ball well from the pocket and, despite the threat of Washington’s speed and attacking defense, Hurts kept his composure and moved the offense. It’s a damn shame he was sabotaged from within.
STAT OF THE WEEK
New England’s Cam Newton passed for 242 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions for a 127.4 rating and had his first-career touchdown reception in the Patriots’ Week 17 win. He’s the fifth quarterback with at least three touchdown passes and a receiving touchdown in a single game in NFL history, joining Ray Buivid (December 5, 1937), Jim McMahon (September 29, 1985), Frank Ryan (October 30, 1960) and Deshaun Watson (December 1, 2019).
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.