by Lawrence Vos (@NFLFANINENGLAND & @F10YRetro)
Appetisers – Bite size NFL news from Week 13
- Miami Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders was the first NFL kicker to score a receiving touchdown in the regular season since Denver Broncos booted caught a 25 yard TD in 1977 from Punter/QB Norris Weese.
- Talking of rare touchdowns Houston’s QB Deshaun Watson’s receiving touchdown was only the third time in the Super Bowl era a QB has thrown 3 tds and caught one. We all know the last one was Nick Foles in the big game in 2018. The other was Bears QB Jim McMahon back in 1985.
- The Washington Redskins win was the only one registered by an NFC East this week, just as it was in the division last week too. With four games left the Redskins can still clinch the division crown.
- The Bengals finally won a game and became the final team to register a victory in the 2019 season. Their worst ever season finish was in 2002 when they started 1-13 before beating the Saints in Week 16 to then finish 2-14. With their #1 pick in 2003 they drafted Carson Palmer who went on to become the 13th most prolific passer in NFL history.
- With the Buffalo Bills Thanksgiving win they move just one game behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East. Considering they have made the playoffs just once since the Milllennium this is their best record after 12 games since 1991, when they went 10-1 before reaching Super Bowl XXVI.
- In a meaningless game Denver Broncos rookie QB made a winning start to his career with an overtime win against a bad Chargers team. Lock threw for only 134 yards but his two scores were enough. He is the 7th Broncos QB in just over two seasons.
The top three Week 13 games everyone is talking about
Patriots (10-2) @ Texans (8-4)
You take a look at the final box score and you might be misled to believe the Texans somehow pulled this one out the bag late with some DeShaun Watson body contorting heroics.
Nothing could be further from the truth as the Texans took a 19 point lead with under 10 minutes left in the game before Tom Brady and his faithful servants (James White and Julian Edelman) made the score look respectable. Brady made up late for a first half shocker. The immortal one went 7 of 19 in the opening half with no TDs and one INT, and 15 of 30 in the second, with three scores and no picks.
Brady looked lost in the first 30 minutes and despite being in a dome he looked like he was fighting through a ginormous wind and rain storm.
For the Texans WR Deandre Hopkins was heading for another quiet one, considering his talent, before making a minor bit of NFL history as he ended a 9-play 75-yard Patriots-style drive by passing to none other than Deshaun Watson for the score. This was Hopkins first career completion, his first pass was an interception against the Panthers in Week 4.
Truth be told the Texans dominated for three quarters and the 28-22 final scoreline flattered a flatfooted Patriots team. One ever-present Patriots contributor was WR Julian Edelman who on one third-quarter route managed to wipe out not one but two Texans defensive backs on a downfield block.
The Texans are hitting some form at the right time, and the once invincible Patriots defense finally could not make up for an offense that is looking like the worst it has in 20 years.
49ers (10-2) @ Ravens (10-2)
In a game that could become a Super Bowl rematch the 49ers and the Ravens fought of the the wet and blustery conditions to deliver a game that oozed defensive quality and showed flashes of offensive brilliance.
It began with a gutsy 4th down attempt that resulted in a 33 yard TD between Jimmy Garoppolo and rising star WR Deebo Samuel and ended with the number one ice-veined K Justin Tucker driving a soggy pigskin through the dampness for the winning score with no tickets left on the clock.
Both teams only committed one turnover, including a rare fumble lost for MVP in waiting Lamar Jackson. Lamar was bottled up passing, managing just one td and barely over 100 yards, but he did continue his assault on the NFL record books as the first QB in NFL history to have four 100+ rushing games. By the end of Week 14 against Buffalo LJax could be sitting atop the all-time rushing throne by a QB – with three games to spare.
For the 49ers RB Raheem Mostert, who has always had a healthy YPC throughout his career, earned his own damp Wilson branded souvenir with 146 yards on the ground. If this is to be a rematch in Miami in a few months then there will be no complaints.
Seahawks (10-2) @ Vikings (8-4)
Monday Night Football and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins added another notch to his unwanted NFL record. Entering the game he had a historically bad 0-7 record on MNF, now it stands at 0-8.
Seattle started slowly as did Russell Wilson who threw his second pick-six of the season on a bizarre attempt that went awry that he tried to bat down that instead went into Anthony Harris’s welcome mitts.
17-10 to the Vikings at the half and all sorts of confidence in the lower room for the road team. That confidence crumbled away as the Seahawks in their colour rush luminous green uni’s went on a third-quarter tear with 17 unanswered points including a 60 yard David Moore catch from Wilson.
Wanting to put the game to bed Rashaad Penny’s second score in just over 10 minutes early in the 4th gave the Seahawks an apparently unassailable 17 point lead. This was where Kirk Cousins woke up, and in under 6 minutes he tossed two TDs, one on possibly the biggest blown coverage of the season to the career underperforming Laquon Treadwell, and one to Santa’s right hand man TE Kyle Rudolph.
With seven minutes left it was a 4 point game. The Vikes D held the Seahawks to a 5 play drive that ended in a punt and with just over 3 minutes left Cousins had the chance to become a hero. It was then he realised that he chokes on MNF and his final two passes, including a 4th down attempt were incomplete.
To add a kick in the balls to the punch in the face received Seattle recovered a late onside kick. Seattle now take over the NFC West and will be determined to stay there for the last four weeks. For the men with purple helmets and red faces they remain a game behind the Packers in the NFC North.
Dessert – somethings light and fluffy to finish the meal
Who gets to wear the rushing crown?
With four weeks still to go, and a quarter of the regular season left, five RBs have already eclipsed 1,000 yards, and three more have over 980 yards. We also cannot forget that the number nine rusher is none other than QB Lamar Jackson. In other words there are legitimately almost ten players capable of winning the rushing crown.
Week 13 saw a few rushing milestones met, including Raiders RB Josh Jacobs become the first Raiders rookie to hit the 1k milestone. Elsewhere Titans RB Derrick Henry moved over 1,000 yards too. Vikings RB Dalvin Cook had the opportunity to move to #1 but he got hurt against the Seahawks, and ended up with only 29 yards.
The current king of the hill is Browns second year back Nick Chubb with 1,175 but with the Panthers Christian McCaffrey just 8 yards behind, and the man who lives with a beavers tail poking out the back of his lid, Titans Derrick Henry just 35 yards behind him, its the best rushing race since Norris McWhirter announced Roger Bannister had broken the four minute mile over 65 years ago.
Despite being the third highest fumbler in the league I am going to stick my rather grubby and stubbly neck out and predict Derrick Henry to lift the crown when the season ends.
A little side note – with their 8 game current win streak the Baltimore Ravens have three of the top five YPA (yards per attempt) players for anyone who has had over 75 carries. Obviously Lamar at 7.0, Gus Edwards at 5.1 and Mark Ingram at 5.0.