The NFL product has gotten better and better over the past couple of weeks and Week 12 was not different. Playoff races are heating up across the board and more teams are inching closer to the playoffs. There were some fun and exciting games this week in the NFL.
Tom Brady wins career game No. 200
With the New England Patriots 22-17 victory over the rival New York Jets, Tom Brady tied Peyton Manning with his 200th career win, including the postseason. Brady and company didn’t have their best showing, but Brady was able to lead his team on another game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. Brady finished the game with 286 yards and two touchdowns, both to rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell. This was all without Rob Gronkowski, who left the game in the first half with a back injury. The Jets gave the Pats all they could handle and Ryan Fitzpatrick (22-32, 269 yards, two touchdowns) played well, but fumbled on the final New York drive to seal the win for New England.
2/3 of the Thanksgiving Day games were good
Thanksgiving Day in the NFL started off with a highly competitive NFC North battle that saw the Detroit Lions to take a big step forward in the division with a 16-13 victory over visiting Minnesota. The two teams entered the game tied for first place in the division, but Detroit held the tiebreaker due to a win just a few weeks ago. Detroit yet again trailed in the fourth quarter, extending their NFL record for most games (11) to start a season trailing in the fourth quarters. Matt Prater played hero for the Lions as he kicked two field goals, including the game-winner, in the final three minutes.
Next up was an NFC East battle between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys. This was a really fun game to watch. Dallas won for a 10th consecutive time, despite Kirk Cousins exploding for 449 yards and three touchdowns. The rookies were once again good for Dallas (10-1). Dak Prescott threw for 195 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 39 yards and a score. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 97 yards and a pair of scores. Dez Bryant caught five passes for 72 yards and was engaged in a trash-talking battle with Washington (6-4-1) cornerback Josh Norman.
The Thanksgiving Day finale was a dud as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the undermanned Indianapolis Colts 28-7. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 221 yards and three scores, all to Antonio Brown, who caught eight passes for 91 yards and the three touchdowns. Le’Veon Bell ran for 120 yards and a touchdown. The Colts played without quarterback Andrew Luck, who missed the game as he was still in concussion protocol.
The Buccaneers are right on the Falcons tail
Jameis Winston led the Bucs to a 14-5 (yes, you read that score correctly) victory over the visiting Seattle Seahawks for a third-straight victory. Winston finished with 220 yards in the air and a pair of scores to wide out Mike Evans, who caught eight passes for 104 yards and the pair of touchdowns. The Tampa Bay defense harassed Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson all game, sacking him six time, picking him off twice and limiting him to just 151 passing yards. Tampa Bay (6-5) now trails the Atlanta Falcons (7-4) by a game in the NFC South. The New Orleans Saints, who were a 49-21 victor over the Los Angeles Rams, aren’t out of the race just yet as they sit at 5-6.
The Miami Dolphins have won six in a row
Miami won their sixth-straight game by handing the San Francisco 49ers their 10th loss in a row, 31-24. Ryan Tannehill continued his impressive play and is a big reason this team has won six in a row to improve to 7-4. He finished the game 20-30 for 285 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 34 yards and that put him as the Dolphins all-time leading rusher by a quarterback. Colin Kaepernick continued to excel in Chip Kelly’s offense, throwing for 296 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while rushing for 113 yards. Ndomukong Suh stopped Kaepernick just short of the goal line on the final play of the game. Miami, with the win, currently finds themselves in the second wild card spot due to the outcome of the Sunday night game.
The AFC West will be a fun race down the stretch
Derek Carr suffered a gruesome-looking dislocation of his pinky finger on his throwing hand, but that didn’t stop him from leading the Raiders to a 35-32 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Oakland jumped out to a 24-7 halftime lead, but the Panthers came roaring back to score the first 25 points of the second half to take a 32-24 lead. Carr and company would not be denied, however. Carr led a drive that tied the game on a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Clive Walford and a successful two-point conversion. The drive was aided by a 49-yard completion to Michael Crabtree. Sebastian Janikowski converted a 23-yard field goal late in the game that would hold up as the game-winner. Cam Newton and the Panthers had one last attempt to get in field goal range with over a minute remaining. After Greg Olsen was unable to pull down a third down pass, Khalil Mack converted a strip-sack on Newton to preserve the win for Oakland who improved to 9-2. Mack also had a pick-six earlier in the game to go along with six tackles, enough to earn him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
In the Sunday night cap, the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs squared off to see who would remain a game back of the Raiders. The first half was a defensive battle that saw the Chiefs take a 9-0 lead after a safety and a touchdown return by Tyreek Hill on the ensuing free kick. Denver managed a field goal before the end of the half. The Broncos took a 10-9 lead when Trevor Siemian found Jordan Taylor from six-yards out. Kansas City responded with a three-yard touchdown run by Hill to go back on top 16-10. Denver took a 24-16 lead after a 35-yard touchdown reception from Emanuel Sanders and a 76-yard reception by Bennie Fowler, who the Chiefs lost in coverage. Alex Smith then led the Chiefs on a three-minute drive with no timeouts left that ended up tying the game when Hill caught a pass from three yards out, where he appeared to be down short of the goal line which would have ended the game. After review, the call on the field was overturned when the refs saw that Hill didn’t have possession of the ball until after he was in the end zone. Kansas City converted the two-point conversion to force overtime. In the extra frame, the two teams exchanged field goals to further the game. Gary Kubiak opted to have Brandon McMannus kick a potential game-winning, 62-yard field goal, but the kick sailed wide left. Smith yet again marched his team down the field setting up the game-winning 34-yard field goal from Cairo Santos, who booted the ball off the left upright and over the crossbar for the win. Yes, he called bank. With the loss, Denver fell behind the Dolphins in the wild card standings due to Miami having a better conference record.