By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus
Another week and another opportunity for the Field Generals to jockey for playoff positions or put something on film for free agency and beyond. As usual, we saw the swing of momentum of the week’s games take over the narrative as well.
It appears that the Chiefs may have awakened from their season-long slump while the Cowboys are winning, but have been playing down to their competition much like K.C. was doing in the early stages of the season.
Seattle is still trying to squeeze every bit of their “playoff possibilities” with another impressive road win while the Bears and their budding star tried their damnest to pull off the upset on the frozen tundra before caving in the second half.
All those stories and more are a part of this week’s action. Let’s take a look back.
LAST WEEK: 4-4 (65-60 overall)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (Win vs. Vegas)
So the Raiders decided it was wise to stomp on the Chiefs’ logo at midfield shortly before kickoff Sunday. In the words of that noted gridiron analyst Nancy Kerrigan, “WHHHHHHHHY?” Mr. Mahomes threw his first two touchdown passes in nearly a month, Clyde Edwards-Helaire added two more scores on the ground, and the Chiefs’ suddenly stingy defense forced five turnovers in rolling to a record-setting victory over Vegas that kept them comfortably atop the AFC West. The reigning AFC champions built a 35-0 first-half lead before cruising to their sixth consecutive win. They’ve won eight of their last nine against the Raiders (6-7), outscoring them 89-23 in two meetings this season.
Tyler Huntley, Baltimore (Loss at Cleveland)
For the second time this season, Huntley had to relieve No. 8 after he went down on the first play of the second quarter and didn’t return. The 2019 NFL MVP was unable to put any weight on the ankle, a frightening and concerning sight for the AFC North-leading Ravens, who have been overrun by injuries this season. Eventually, the Browns (7-6) built a 24-3 lead and held off the injury-riddled Ravens (8-5). Huntley spent much of the second half scrambling from trouble, but he kept Baltimore close, and the Ravens, who trailed 24-6 at the half, pulled within 24-22 on his 8-yard TD pass to Mark Andrews with 1:17 to go. Baltimore then recovered an onside kick, but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-6 as Ward tackled receiver Rashod Bateman well short of the marker and the Cleveland crowd could finally exhale. On the day, Huntley went 27 of 38 for 270 yards — 225 after halftime.
Dak Prescott, Dallas (Win at Washington)
The Boys from Arlington made good on Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s “We’re going to win this game” guarantee by holding on to beat Washington and snap their rival’s winning streak at four. Dallas led 24-0 and 27-8 before Kyle Allen replaced Taylor Heinicke and led a 73-yard TD drive and Cole Holcomb intercepted Prescott and ran it back for a pick-6. Washington’s comeback bid came to an end when Allen fumbled with 2:24 remaining. Prescott, who was 23 of 39 for 211 yards, still looks like he’s a bit off-center since sitting out against Minnesota a few weeks back. The Cowboys staked themselves to such a big lead thanks to a big first-half showing by their defense. Dallas forced four turnovers and had five sacks.
Cam Newton/P.J. Walker, Carolina (Loss vs. Atlanta)
In a real lackluster performance, Newton lost his third straight start since his re-signing with Carolina. He ran for a 12-yard touchdown on Carolina’s first possession, but turned the ball over twice and was replaced twice during the game by Walker including midway through the fourth quarter. The Panthers (5-8) had three giveaways in all and have lost eight of their last 10 games under second-year coach Matt Rhule. Newton called the turnovers “game killers.” “To jeopardize the game the way I did today is inexcusable,” said Newton, who has lost his last 11 starts as Carolina’s starting QB dating back to 2018.
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver (Win vs. Detroit)
The Broncos honored the late Demaryius Thomas by wearing his number 88 on their helmets, his jersey on their backs, and his memory in their hearts. They then took the field with just 10 men in honor of Thomas. As the crowd chanted, “DT! DT!” the Lions (1-11-1) declined the delay of game penalty. It was all part of an emotional win over Detroit. Notorious slow starters, the Broncos scored touchdowns on their first two drives as the first quarter ended with the Broncos holding a 14-0 lead, an 11-0 advantage in first downs, and a yardage disparity of 135 to minus-1. Ironically, the thrashing was capped appropriately with an 88-yard touchdown drive.
Russell Wilson, Seattle (Win at Houston)
No. 3 threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns to help the Seahawks win consecutive games for the first time this season. His favorite target, Tyler Lockett had 142 yards receiving to give him 1,023 yards this season. He joins Hall of Famer Steve Largent as the only players in franchise history to have at least 1,000 yards receiving in three straight seasons. Also, Rashaad Penny ran for a career-high 137 yards with two touchdowns. He scored Seattle’s first touchdown on a 32-yard run in the first quarter and his 47-yard scamper extended the lead to 33-13.
Justin Fields, Chicago (Loss at Green Bay)
To their credit, the Bears led 27-21 at halftime but after Green Bay scored the first 24 points of the second half it became just another Packer victory. Aaron Rodgers threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns to continue his mastery of the Bears as the Packers won again on Sunday night. Chicago led after a wild second quarter that featured a combined 45 points, the fourth time since 1991 that teams have combined to score at least that many points in a quarter. But the Bears couldn’t keep it up. As for Mr. Fields, he went 18 of 33 for 224 yards with two touchdown passes, but he also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Jakeem Grant scored twice for the Bears, including a 97-yard punt return.
Kyler Murray, Arizona (Loss vs. L.A. Rams)
In a key NFC West battle, the Cardinals came up short at home against the rival Rams. The Cardinals (10-3) will have to wait at least one more week before clinching their first playoff spot since 2015. Mr. Murray threw two interceptions that led to Rams touchdowns. Overall, he finished with 383 yards passing as the Cardinals tried to catch up late. The Rams (9-4), who won their second straight, pulled within one game of the Cardinals in the division and look rejuvenated following a three-game losing streak in November. The Cardinals had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds after recovering an onside kick. But a holding call wiped out Murray’s long run on the first play of the drive and Arizona couldn’t produce a last-second miracle. On the final play, Aaron Donald charged toward Murray and the quarterback fell to the turf instead of getting run over by the 280-pound defensive lineman.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Seattle’s Russell Wilson passed for 260 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions for a 115.2 rating in the Seahawks’ 33-13 win over Houston. Wilson has 89 career games with at least two touchdown passes and surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino (88 games) for the second-most such games by a quarterback in his first 10 seasons in NFL history. Only Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (92 games) has more.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.