Week 13 was unlucky for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they finally lose their “0”. That was just one of a whole host of storylines to come out from the weekend’s action so here are the Full10Yards crew to give you the main takeaways from the last few days in the NFL.
Let Baker cook!
Baker Mayfield put up one of the best perfomances by any QB in the NFL in a first half this season and possibly one of his best performances in a Browns uniform, looking like his rookie self.
Baker Mayfield became the first Browns player in the Super Bowl era to throw four pass TDs in the first half of the game as the Browns stuck up 38 points before the break on a Titans team that had just beaten then Colts for first place in the AFC South. He threw to 10 different receivers and we even had a big man touchdown.
Not only did he do all of that, he even threw in a bit of air photography for Rashard Higgins.
Many people will point to the final score and his second-half performance, but make no mistake, this was as comfortable as it gets for Browns fans. The Titans sold out to stop the run, which they did, but Baker still showed he still has it in him to pick apart a defence when asked.
Can Baker keep cooking? Or will he burn the Kitchen down (probably would work better if Freddy Kitchens was still around).
Big Ben is in Big Bother
Many will have pegged the Steelers losing to Washington as an upset this past Monday night, however some of us did try and tell you! Make no mistake about it, the Steelers had been the least convincing 11-0 team in NFL history over the past month and finally their luck ran out. On a night where the best start in the franchise’s 87-year history came to an end, the Steelers appeared to be in firm control. A 14-0 lead at home usually means invincibility at Heinz Field, but not this time.
Alex Smith, under heavy pressure much of the night, finally got something going late in the first half. A Hopkins field goal got the team on the board in the final seconds. A one-yard touchdown run by Peyton Barber midway through the third quarter pulled Washington within 14-10, and a lob from Smith to a wide-open Logan Thomas for a 15-yard touchdown tied it.
Pittsburgh drove into field goal range but tried a 4th down play instead of a 45 yard field goal. Roethlisberger’s heave to rookie running back Anthony McFarland Jr fell incomplete and Smith calmly drove Washington 45 yards in nine plays to set up the winning score. To cap the night, Big Ben was then picked off as Washington added an insurance field goal as the Steelers ran out of time on the ensuing final drive.
The Steelers have no running game to speak of, even when James Conner suits up. Stone-hands tight end Eric Ebron has reappeared and other receivers are dropping passes with regularity. JuJu Smith-Schuster managed just 28 yards on 7 receptions and outside of one big play, Chase Claypool was a non-factor. The defence has held up its end of the bargain throughout the season but it can not continue to prop up this offence. Fortunately for the Steelers, the wheels might be only finally dislodging in Week 13 with post-season football all but secured. They have plenty to sort out before being considered serious Super Bowl contenders however.
Patrick Graham will be a HC next season
On Sunday night, the Giants pulled off one of the shocks of the week when they rolled into CenturyLink Field and held the Seattle offence to just 10 points…
Russell Wilson had what looks like a fairly decent stat line, 27-of-43, 263 yards and a TD, but he also threw a pick and was sacked five times. The Giants defence came to play and boy did they. Ex-Jet Leonard Williams is going to the Pro Bowl. Many questioned his move across from the green to the blue of New York, but he is having a terrific season, posting another 2.5 sacks and 5 QB hits in this game. He now has 7.5 sacks on the season, already a career-high.
The Seattle offensive line just could not contain the dominant pass rush of the Giants and Wilson, usually so good under pressure, wasn’t able to provide the spark that he had the week before. DK Metcalf was held to 80 yards and no TDs, no explosive game that he had the week before against Philadelphia. Their only TD came from a 28-yard pass to RB Chris Carson in the final quarter.
Over the last seven games, the Giants are 5-2. They have pulled away from the thoroughly abysmal pack in the NFC East and look like they’re only going to get better. They have held teams to under 20 points for three games in a row for the first time since 2009. Patrick Graham absolutely coached circles around Pete Carroll. He’s going to be a star.
No half measures for McVay
In a crucial matchup against the Cardinals, the Rams reinstalled themselves as favourites for the tough NFC West division crown, going on to win 38-28 after a late Troy Hill pick-six sealing the victory for LA.
In that game, the Rams had a 14-7 lead.
Why is this important? Well, one stat that will continue to be banded about until it’s broken is the fact that Sean McVay is now 33-0 when his team leads at half-time.
Quite the feat. Yes he’s only been with the Rams but to have a record knowing that going into the break with the lead, you are 100% winning the game, say a lot about their ability to close out the game. Arizona have pulled off miraculous comebacks already this season, but could not quite do so here, leaving McVay’s half–time record intact.
Waller lot of yards!
Time for a bit of tight end love now. Darren Waller had himself an absolute day in the NFL and fantasy managers with him starting in their teams rejoicing in a crucial match-up week in most leagues.
Darren Waller ended up with 13 catches for 200 yards against the New York Jets and became the ONLY tight end since at least 1950 to hit all these marks in a single game.
The former sixth-round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens as a receiver (but they know how to pick a tight tnd!) had his troubles early on in his career, suffering suspensions after violating the substance abuse policy. These caused him to miss the first four games of the 2016 season and all of 2017.
He was waived by the Ravens and placed on their practice squad before the Raiders came calling. When the Raiders were on Hard Knocks in 2018, we got a bit more insight into Waller’s troubles with substance abuse.
“I was just like a vegetable – I was getting high like literally every day, plotting to sabotage my way out of the league so I didn’t look like a quitter.”In 2016 training camp with the Ravens,” He says he used substances including opiates, Xanax and cocaine
Waller went on to say that “I just want to be someone that’s consistent and can be there 16 games.” He’s done just that.
We all hope Waller continues his upward trajectory and enjoys the spotlight he now has on him as one of the best TEs in the league this year.
2019 saw his breakout with 90 receptions, 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. This week’s performance takes him to 7 TDs this season and he is on pace to beat his total yardage from 2019.
John Gruden, his HC, said in June 2019 that Waller was “going to be one of the best-kept secrets in the league”. Well, the secret is well and truly out now.
Hot seats and cold shoulders
There are a couple of head coaches who are under more pressure after the dust settled on Week 13.
Anthony Lynn’s Chargers were embarrassed at SoFI stadium, with his team laying a goose egg as they were shut out against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Belichick’s record against rookie QBs is second to none and is now 25-5 against first- year signal callers.
- Justin Herbert vs Patriots: 209 total yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
- Justin Herbert average in 10 other games: 320 total yards/game, 26 total TD, 7 INT
While the Patriots didn’t necessarily play well on offence, it was a team effort by the Patriots with Gunner Olszewski scoring on special teams and a receiving touchdown too. Great name for a special teamer in Gunner too. Rolls right off the tongue.
However, for the Chargers and Anthony Lynn who now fall to 3-9 and the current #4 overall pick in the 2021 draft, you have to wonder whether Lynn will be there to make that pick.
Elsewhere, Doug Pederson used his ‘play your new rookie QB’ card as they fell to the Packers.
Pederson has been awkward the past couple of weeks when he has been questioned about Wentz, the offence and the best move going forward. On Sunday, with the team 20-3 down, he pulled Wentz to the bench and in came Jalen Hurts midway through the third quarter. Wentz went 6-of-15 and couldn’t even muster 100 yards but he did reach another milestone: being sacked for the 50th time by Week 13.
The former Alabama and Oklahoma Sooner QB did create a spark though when he came into the game, completing a bomb downfield to Jalen Reagor for 34 yards. That sparked life in to the Eagles team as they managed to reduce the deficit to one score before a long Aaron Jones run sealed the win for the Pack.
Hurts did have a lovely touchdown throw to Greg Ward for his first NFL touchdown pass and I wonder if Doug, to give himself a bit more time, will allow Jalen the opportunity to throw more next week against the Saints.
One person who isn’t in the know is Carson Wentz.
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Finally, we head to the Windy City and Chicago, who are in absolute freefall after going 5-1 in their first six games.
Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles have been back and forth as the signal caller, and the former Number 2 pick was in for this one. They had a 10-point lead going into the break and looked comfortable, only to collapse in the fourth quarter after a 4th-and-1 stop by the Lions. Adrian Peterson eventually found the end zone and the Bears just couldn’t pull any rabbit out of the hat. This is a Lions team that has just fired their HC Matt Patricia. Maybe the owners of the other three teams mentioned are looking for a similar course of action to remedy the ills of their respective teams?
One of the more suprising contests this weekend saw the Vikings sneak past Mike Glennon and a continuously plucky Jaguars team.
They need two possessions in overtime but kicker Dan Bailey, who has had his struggles this year, was able to boot it through the uprights, taking the Vikings to the current #7 seed in the NFC play-off picture.
Bailey has missed three XPs and three field goals this season and it’s amazing that the former Cowboys and Pro Bowler continues to struggle with his kicking, though did have a decent year in 2019.
There are plenty of teams in among the race for the #7 seed but I think it’s fair to say that as long as the Adam Thielen, Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook powered offence stays hot, a Wild Card berth is theirs to lose.
They have upcoming games against Tampa, Chicago, New Orleans and Detroit, and they’ll probably need to win three of those. Captain Kirk Cousins will get another chance to prove his worth, and no doubt, so will Dan Bailey.