Dec 28, 2022
Week 16 in the NFL. Christmas week. The majority of these games were played on Saturday. To add to the wintry feel, much of the US experienced extremely low temperatures and snowfall, which made some of the games played this weekend the coldest games played for some time. So, let’s see what happened.
The Last Kick Of The Game
The New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings are the two teams that have surprised the NFL this year. The 11-win Vikings have just come off the biggest comeback in NFL history, while the Giants finally won in primetime to keep their post-season dreams alive. Minnesota has clinched the division, the Giants know that with a win and other results going their way, they are in the playoffs. So, how would the game hold inside when the outside was beyond freezing go?
The game started with 4 consecutive punts. As we have seen over this season, both sides struggle to get their offense going in the first quarter, so this was not surprising. What could have also been classed as not surprising was the fact that it was the Vikings who scored first.
The Vikings scored through a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Cousins to T.J. Hockenson. Things got better for the Vikings on the next Giants drive. At the beginning of the second quarter, Giants receiver Daniel Bellinger fumbled the ball. This was then recovered by the Vikings at their own 36-yard line. The Vikings would then convert this possession into a 40-yard field goal from Vikings kicker Greg Joseph. This gave the Vikings a 10-point lead, which is triple the lead they had at any time during their game against the Colts last week.
The Giants would quickly strike back on their next drive. Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones and company would drive the ball down to the Vikings’ 7-yard line. Then, Jones would pair up with Isaiah Hodgins for a 7-yard touchdown pass. Two more drives after this one that ended in punts meant that at halftime, the Vikings would have a 10-7 lead over the New York Giants.
This lead would not last long after halftime. On the opening drive of the second half, Giants kicker Graham Gano would score a 44-yard field goal to tie things up at 10-10. Gano would score another 44-yard field goal on the Giants’ next drive to put them into the lead for the first time.
The next Vikings drive was interesting. A Kirk Cousins pass to Adam Thielen was intercepted by the Giants. This interception was then reviewed by the replay official, and they ruled that the play would be reversed, ruling the play now was an incomplete pass to Thielen instead of an interception for the Giants. The Vikings would take full advantage of this, and drive the ball down into the Giants’ red zone. The drive ended with a 15-yard pass from Cousins to Hockenson which went for a touchdown and put Minnesota back into the lead.
The last drive featured an interception that was overturned. This drive featured an interception that was not overturned. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones recorded a now rare interception. What could the Vikings do with this possession? Not a lot, as they struggled to move the ball a great distance and ended up turning the ball over on downs back to the Giants. Unlike the Vikings, the Giants took full advantage of the gain in possession. From a drive that went nowhere, Graham Gano kicked a 55-yard field goal to bring to lead to one point.
It then became hard for the Giants. After a drive that went nowhere, their punt was blocked and recovered by the Vikings giving them a strong field position. Unlike the last time they turned the ball over, this time they managed to convert this into points, and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson. This gave the Vikings an 8-point lead with 3 minutes to go.
This is normally the point in the game where the New York Giants score points to keep them in the game. Today was no exception. On 4th down, Saquon Barkley scored a 27-yard rushing touchdown. To add to the risk-taking, the Giants then decided to go for 2 points. I say decided, they had no choice but to do so if they wanted to stay in the game. They went for 2 and scored 2 points. With 2 minutes to go, the scores were level.
All the Vikings had to do was to get the ball into field goal territory and score. They struggled to move the ball, and at a point, it was looking like this game would be going to overtime. The Vikings managed to move the ball to the Giants’ 42-yard line, meaning that Greg Joseph had to kick a 61-yard field goal to win it. He did, and the Minnesota Vikings beat the New York Giants 27-24.
It always seems to be the Giants who seem to lose games to freak-of-nature field goals. Kicks that against any other team would never make it, but for some reason, they do against the Giants.
With this win, the Vikings improve to 12-3 on the season. The Giants fall to 8-6-1. However, while they did not win, the other results went their way, meaning that all they need to do next week is a win and they make the playoffs. That game is against the Indianapolis Colts, while the Vikings face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
The Bills Comeback to Win Their Division
The Buffalo Bills were on the verge of winning a third consecutive AFC East divisional title. This should not be surprising to anyone, as the Bills are the best team in the division. All they had to do was to defeat the Chicago Bears, a team who has struggled all season long. This should be an easy win for the Bills with no drama whatsoever.
That is not how the game started. The Bears had the opening possession of the game, and they did something with it. On their drive, led by the very mobile quarterback Justin Fields, the Bears moved the ball quickly down into the Bills’ RedZone, even at one point touching their one-yard line before penalties forced them back. However, this did not stop the Bears, as a few plays later, Fields’ 6-yard pass to Dante Pettis found the endzone for a touchdown. How would the Bills respond?
It turns out, the Bills responded quickly to the surprise touchdown from Chicago. On their opening possession, Bills quarterback Josh Allen and company drove the ball down the field. This was similar to the Bears’ opening drive, but this never reached the 10-yard line. Not because of the Bears’ defense stopping Allen, but due to a 19-yard touchdown pass from the Bills quarterback to Gabe Davis. However, Bills kicker Trevor Bass missed the PAT kick, giving the Bears a one-point lead.
The next two drives did not end well for either offense. Fields could not convert on a 4th and 3 attempt, while Allen was intercepted by the Bears. This was the 12th interception that Josh Allen has had this season. After the next two drives ended in punts, it would be the Bears who would score next. Their drive stalled on the Bills’ 19-yard line and resulted in a 37-yard field goal to increase their unlikely lead.
But, as we have seen before in this game, The Bills had to reply to what the Bears did in the same way. The Bears score a touchdown, the Bills then had to score a touchdown. The Bears turn the ball over, the Bills turn the ball over. The Bears score a field goal, and The Bills miss a 38-yard field goal attempt, giving the Chicago Bears a 10-6 lead at halftime.
Halftime can cause many changes to a team. As we have seen many times this season, teams can come out of the locker room for the second half and be a completely different team from what they were in the first half. We saw this again today. Buffalo had the opening drive in the second half, and it resulted in points, through a 33-yard Devin Singletary rushing touchdown. To add to their points tally, the Bills successfully attempted a 2-point conversion, giving them a 14-10 lead over the Bears.
Things got even better for the Bills soon after. A Devin Montgomery fumble was scooped up by the Bills in Chicago territory. From this, it took the Bills 3 plays to score a 27-yard touchdown to increase their lead. Chicago had a bit of luck late in the third quarter when they recovered a Bills’ fumble. But, their 4th down attempt was originally ruled as successful but was overturned due to a Bills challenge. This handed the ball back into the arms of Josh Allen.
It did not stay long in those arms, as he was intercepted again. That is the 13th interception this year, which puts him second on the list for the season, tied with Davis Mills and Matt Ryan, with only Derek Carr above them. The Bears were given the ball on the Bills’ 18-yard line. They could only move the ball one yard and ended up with a 35-yard field goal.
The Bills would score two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. A 4-yard rushing touchdown from Allen would be the first, and a 13-yard receiving touchdown by Dalton Knox would be the second. Justin Fields would be intercepted on the last play of the game to give the Buffalo Bills a 35-13 win over the Chicago Bears.
With this win, the Bills improve the 12-3 on the season and win the AFC East. On the other hand, Chicago fall to 3-12, and could potentially have the number one pick in the draft. Next week, two young quarterbacks come face to face on Monday night as the Bills travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals, while Chicago goes to Detroit to play the Lions.
The Cowboys Present The Eagles With A Loss
The Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys. Two rivals that have had very good seasons. In the ultra-competitive NFC East, they have both gained a lead over the New York Giants and have both claimed playout berths. Coming into this week, the Eagles had only lost one game all year. But, with the news that quarterback Jaylen Hurts would not be playing and it would be backup quarterback Gardner Minshew playing, this gave the Cowboys hope. Could they get revenge over their divisional rivals?
The Eagles had the opening drive. Any hope that the Cowboys had that Minshew would struggle went completely out of the stadium, when he drove the ball down deep into the Dallas RedZone, mostly aided by a 48-yard pass to A.J Brown. However, this drive stalled in the red zone and resulted in a 25-yard field goal from Eagles kicker Jake Elliott.
Things got worse for the Cowboys soon after. On their opening drive, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was intercepted by the Eagles, who would then run the ball into their endzone for a Pick 6 touchdown. Prescott would redeem himself on the next drive. In a drive that was a mixture of Prescott throws and rushes from Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys moved the ball down to the Eagles’ one-yard line. Then, Zeke would score a one-yard rushing touchdown to put the Cowboys on the board.
On the first play of the second quarter, Minshew would be intercepted at around the 50-yard line. From this, CeeDee Lamb would score a 36-yard receiving touchdown to put the Cowboys into the lead. This lead would not last long. On the Eagles’ next drive, Minshew would move the ball down to the one-yard line. Then on 4th down, he would score a 1-yard rushing touchdown to give the lead back to the Eagles. A pair of field goals, ending long drives by each team would rule out any time gaining an advantage before halftime, where the Philadelphia Eagles would have a 20-17 lead over the Dallas Cowboys.
The Eagles would score first in the second half. A 14-yard pass from Minshew was caught by DeVonta Smith, who found the endzone to increase the Eagles’ lead to 10 points. The Cowboys would quickly reply to this with a score of their own. However, their drive stalled on the Eagles’ 26-yard line, resulting in a 44-yard field goal, which made it a one-possession game.
The Eagles could not hold on to this lead, and the ball for that matter. On their next drive, Minshew fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by the Cowboys’ defense. From this, Prescott would combine with Michael Gallup to score a 12-yard touchdown to tie the game at 27-27.
The Eagles would score again on their next drive. Another touchdown from DeVonta Smith, this time from 9 yards, gave the Eagles a 7-point lead. This lead lasted for about 5 minutes when the next Dallas drive culminated in a 7-yard touchdown from Lamb, which again tied things up with 5 minutes left to play.
Gardner Minshew would then be intercepted by the Cowboys’ defense for the second time. This would give the Cowboys possession with enough time for a game-winning drive. This did not happen, as their drive stalled at the Eagles’ 29-yard line, resulting in a 48-yard field goal. This may have given Dallas the lead, but Philadelphia had enough time to score the winning touchdown.
That would have been the case if Miles Sanders had not fumbled the ball. This ball was recovered by the Dallas defense in the Eagles’ red zone. But still, even with the amazing field position to score the game-winning touchdown, the Cowboys struggled, and the drive ended in another field goal. This gave them a 6-point lead with 2 minutes left to play.
The Eagles final drive began with Mishew moving the ball down to the Dallas 19-yard line. Less than a minute was on the clock, meaning that they had to score a touchdown to win the game. They had 4 attempts to do this, but they all failed. This meant that the Dallas Cowboys had beaten the Philadelphia Eagles 40-34.
With this win, the Cowboys improve to 11-4 on the season, while the Eagles record their second loss of the year, falling to 13-2. Those two losses were against their NFC East opponents. Could they lose once more against the Giants in the final week? It would be a meaningless game for the Eagles, as they have already clinched the division. Next week, the Cowboys visit the Titans on Thursday night, while Philadephia welcomes the New Orleans Saints.
Another Brady Comeback
Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are having a mixed year. They have struggled at times, but at other times they have performed well. If it was not for Brady, this team would constantly struggle. Actually, if it was not for the fact that the Buccaneers are in the NFC South, they would not even be challenging for the playoffs. But, they are, and there is a high possibility that a team with a losing record will make the playoffs. This week, the Buccaneers faced the Arizona Cardinals, a team that has also struggled this year. So, what would happen between these two struggling teams with different goals at the end of the season?
Tampa Bay would score the opening points of the game on their opening drive. Their drive would stall at the Cardinals’ 20 yards, which resulted in a 38-yard field goal from Buccaneers kicker Ryan Succop.
It was looking like the Cardinals would reply to this field goal. On their opening drive, Cardinals quarterback Trace McSorely who is playing due to injuries to both Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy drove the ball down to the Buccaneers’ 13-yard line. It looked like this would turn into something. Then, McSorely was sacked and fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by the Tampa Bay defense. Luckily for the Cardinals, the Buccaneers could not do anything with this, and would turnover the ball after a failed 4th down attempt.
A few drives later, the Cardinals would finally put points on the board. Their drive would stall at the Tampa Bay 38-yard line, but Cardinals kicker Matt Prater would successfully kick a 56-yard field goal to tie things up.
The tie would last one drive. Albeit, a long drive. Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Buccaneers would slowly move the ball up the field. This drive lasted for nearly 8 minutes and was 15 plays long. The drive stalled at the Cardinals’ 17-yard line and resulted in a 35-yard field goal from Succop to give Tampa Bay the lead again.
This game is not a game for the offense. Many drives in the second ended in punts. Brady was intercepted during this period, but the subsequent Cardinals’ drive lead to nothing. Arizona would score just before halftime, through a 53-yard field goal. This meant that at halftime, the teams were tied 6-6.
Earlier, I mentioned that halftime can change a team’s fortunes and lead to a massive improvement. This was not one of those moments. The second half began just as the first half ended. With punts and both offenses struggling. Brady was intercepted again late in the third quarter, and this time the Cardinals did gain some points from this mistake, through a 39-yard field goal. This gave them the lead in the game.
In the early part of the fourth quarter, the game would see its first touchdown. This came from the Cardinals, as James Conner scored a 22-yard rushing touchdown to increase the Arizona lead. But touchdowns in sluggish games are like buses. You wait hours for one, and then two come at the same time. On the next drive of the game, Brady’s offense finally woke up and moved the ball down to the Cardinals’ 3-yard line. Then, a Brady pass to Rashaad White found the endzone to score the touchdown and reduce the Cardinals’ lead to 3 points.
McSorely would then fumble the ball, which was scooped up by the Tampa Bay defense. They would have enough time to have a game-winning drive. Except, we did not see a game-winning drive, we saw a game-tying drive. The Buccaneers’ drive stalled at the Cardinals’ 24-yard line, resulting in a 42-yard field goal to tie things up with 2 minutes to play.
These 2 minutes were not great. 2 punts. Then, with 43 seconds left on the clock, the Cardinals had possession. Could they score something to give them the win?
No. McSorely would be intercepted as time ran out, meaning that we were going to overtime.
This was a typical overtime period for Tampa Bay. The Cardinals failed to score on their opening drive, meaning that a field goal would win the game. Then, as he has done so many times, Tom Brady lead his team in a game-winning drive down to the 22-yard line. Ryan Succop would kick the winning 40-yard field goal to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 19-16 overtime win against the Arizona Cardinals.
With this win, Tampa Bay improve to 7-8 on the season and are still top of the NFC South. This team could make the playoff as the number 4 seed! Arizona fell to 4-11 on the year. Next week, Tampa Bay has a very important game as they welcome divisional rivals the Carolina Panthers to Florida, while the Arizona Cardinals face the Atlanta Falcons.
Finally… A Win
Houston and Tennessee’s NFL franchises will always have a connection. This is due to the Houston Oilers’ move to Tennessee in 1996. This team would later become the Tennessee Titans, while Houston would have to wait until 2002 for the Texans to arrive. In those 20 years, the Texans have never had a season this bad. But in the last two weeks, they have come so close to victory. Would this finally be the week in which they win a game?
This game was delayed by an hour due to a decision taken by the Mayor of Nashville in relation to the extremely cold weather conditions that had been affecting much of the United States that weekend.
The hour delay did not seem to affect either team. After both teams punted on their opening drives, it would be the Titans who would score first. Titans quarterback Malik Willis struggled to move the ball, but running back Derrick Henry did not. He would score a 48-yard rushing touchdown.
Houston would reply to this quick touchdown drive with a slow drive. But it does not matter how quickly you move the ball, but how far you move it. On their drive, the Texans moved the ball far, right up to the Titans’ 6-yard line. Then, in a bizarre play, Texans quarterback Davis Mills scrambled and reached the 1-yard line. He then fumbled the ball, which was recovered in the endzone by the Texans, giving them a touchdown.
The Texans would increase their lead on their next drive. A 33-yard pass from Mills to Brandon Cooks found the endzone. But, there were offensive holding penalties against Houston on the play which wiped the touchdown off. Houston would end the drive with points but through a 25-yard field goal instead of the touchdown. Three more drives before the half that ended in punts meant that the Houston Texans would have a 10-7 lead over Tennessee at halftime. Will it happen again?
At the beginning of the second half, both teams’ offenses came out swinging. On their opening drive, the Texans attempted a 4th down attempt. This failed, handing the possession to the Titans at around the 50-yard line. The Titans would take full advantage of this good field position and would move the ball down to the 14-yard line. where quarterback Willis would score a 14-yard rushing touchdown to give Tennessee the lead.
Things would get worse for the Texans soon after when Mills would be intercepted. That was his 13th of the year, putting him tied with Josh Allen. What different fates these two quarterbacks are having this year, one struggling to win a game, the other hoping to win it all. The interception did not mean anything in the game, as the Titans turned the ball over on downs on their next drive. This was followed by a few drives that ended in punts.
It would be the Titans who would make the next mistake. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the usually reliable Derrick Henry fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by the Texans’ defense. On the very next play, Davis Mills fumbled the ball, but he recovered it. It was lucky that he did, and he helped move the Texans deep into the Titans’ red zone. The drive then stalled and resulted in a 22-yard field goal, reducing Tennessee’s lead to one point.
With around 3 minutes left on the clock, the Texans would find the endzone, through a 6-yard touchdown pass from Mills to Cooks. The Texans would then attempt a 2-point conversion to make it a 7-point lead. This failed, and gave possession back to Tennessee, with their offense knowing that one touchdown would win the game. Would Houston come so close and lose the game again?
The Houston defense was working overtime. On the Titans’ drive, they moved the ball down to the 50-yard line. Then, Willis was intercepted by the Texans’ defense. But, the game was not over yet. Another Davis Mills self-recovered fumble highlighted a drive that stalled and ended in a quick punt. With one minute left on the clock, could the Texans hold on for victory?
They could. Willis was intercepted on the last play of the game, to give the Houston Texans a 19-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
With this long-awaited win, the Texans improve to 2-12-1. With the Chicago Bears losing, it means that the number one pick in the draft is still up for grabs. The Titans fall to 7-8 on the season and face an interesting situation in the AFC South. Next week, the now 2-win Houston Texans face the current AFC South leaders in the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Titans face the Dallas Cowboys.
What Happened In The Other Games This Week?
In what may be the last game Zach Wilson plays in a Jets’ uniform, The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the New York Jets 19-3, to put the Jags on top of the AFC South and closer to a surprise playoff spot
The New Orleans Saints arrived in a very cold Cleveland to face the Browns. After going 10 points down, the Saints fought back to defeat the Browns 17-10
The Kansas City Chiefs dominated the Seattle Seahawks in their 24-10 win. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes continued his bid for MVP by throwing 2 touchdowns
Joe Burrow and his Cincinnati Bengals took a 22-0 lead over the New England Patriots at halftime. The Pats then fought back, but it was not enough as the Bengals held on for a 22-18 win.
The in-form Detroit Lions struggled against the Carolina Panthers. Lions quarterback Jared Goff threw for 3 touchdowns, but the Panthers would defeat the Lions 37-23
In a game that was full of field goals, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Atlanta Falcons 17-9
49ers quarterback Brock Purdy proved that he can lead a team, as the San Francisco 49ers beat the Washington Commanders 37-20. This gave San Francisco their 8th straight win and could make them a massive challenge in the playoffs.
After last week’s win against the Patriots, The Las Vegas Raiders went to Pittsburgh to face to Steelers in a game that honored the legendary Franco Harris, who was involved with the “Immaculate Reception” which happened 50 years ago this week. The Steelers would defeat the Raiders 13-10
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa struggled in the Miami Dolphins game against the Green Bay Packers. Tua threw 3 interceptions, as the Packers won 26-20.
On paper, nobody would care about this game. In reality, people did care (probably because this game was shown on Nickelodeon in the US). On the field, the Los Angeles Rams destroyed the Denver Broncos 51-14. And they said that Denver would challenge for a Super Bowl this year.
After last week’s second-half collapse against the Minnesota Vikings, the Indianapolis Colts returned to action to face the Los Angeles Chargers. The Colts struggled in their 20-3 defeat. This win gave the Chargers a place in the playoffs.
So that was week 16 in the NFL. There are two weeks left in the regular season, and there are still playoff spots to earn. Let’s see if the playoff picture becomes clearer next week. Merry Christmas, and a happy new year.