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2021 NFL season, Week 13: What we learned from Sunday's games

Around The NFL breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action in Week 13 of the 2021 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

Kansas City Chiefs
2021 · 8-4-0
Denver Broncos
2021 · 6-6-0

Grant Gordon's takeaways:

  1. Kansas City out-Ds Denver. The Broncos' calling card has been and is their defense, which entered Sunday's prime-time tilt as the No. 9 overall defense in the NFL. However, after holding the Cowboys' highly ranked offense to nine points in Week 11, the Chiefs' 23rd-ranked defense turned in another stellar outing and proved to be the catalyst for a Kansas City victory. The oft-maligned Daniel Sorensen's pick-six essentially wrapped up a blowout win as Kansas City held Denver to its second-lowest point total of the year. While Sorensen's INT -- one of three Chiefs takeaways -- will garner the most highlight-reel play, linebacker Willie Gay Jr.'s tackle for a loss on a fourth-and-2 play in the second quarter might well have loomed largest on the evening. It put to a close a 20-play, 88-yard march by the Broncos that produced no points. It was an emphatic stop and a play emblematic of the Chiefs defense's ability to find a way to stand tall when needed most (in the case of Sunday evening, it held the Broncos to 4 of 14 on third down). In its run of success over recent seasons, Kansas City has been defined by offense and seemingly always looking to improve its defense. However, Steve Spagnuolo's defense has played big in important spots over the autumns, often getting better as the seasons get later, and right now it is stacking up sensational showings.
  2. Rookies stepping up for Broncos, win or lose. This was a bad loss in a big game for the Broncos. If there is any silver lining, though, it comes with the performances of some first-year talents. With Melvin Gordon inactive, rookie second-rounder Javonte Williams got an opportunity to be a bell-cow back and rung up some good numbers. He had the second 100-yard rushing outing of his season and caught the Broncos’ only touchdown as part of his 76 yards receiving. It was the first time a Broncos rookie has had 100-plus rushing yards and more than 75 receiving yards in a game, per NFL Research. Then there was rookie first-round corner Patrick Surtain II, who had his third interception in two games. Especially for head coach Vic Fangio, the Broncos want to win now, but in the shadows of a disappointing showing, there were some bright lights of what may lie ahead for Denver.
  3. No passing TDs for Pat, no problem. The season-long storyline of what happened to the high-flying Chiefs offense carries on despite a few performances to the contrary (such as Week 6 and 10). For the first time in his already astounding career, Patrick Mahomes has gone consecutive games without a touchdown pass (though he had one score with his legs) -- and both games saw the Chiefs win. Through his career as a starter, Mahomes is surprisingly 5-1 in games he doesn't throw a touchdown. The negative points to the Chiefs needing to find their way on offense, something that still seems a crazy notion in the Andy Reid-Mahomes regime. The positive is the reality of the final results and the standings. The AFC West still runs through K.C. Despite all the concerns that have come with this season's Chiefs, they are still on track for a sixth consecutive AFC West title. In a first-place battle with the Broncos, they won in a fashion that would seem to lend itself to favoring the Broncos' fortunes. Style points seem to matter a whole lot, but they actually don't mean squat in the end. While Chiefs Kingdom, fantasy fans and just fans of exciting football would rather see the Chiefs prevailing in prettier fashion, the bottom line is Kansas City is still winning – five in a row now. This is a first-place team on a roll, no matter how good, bad or ugly it's looked.

Next Gen stat of the game: Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was 6 of 13 for 74 yards and an interception when under pressure.

NFL Research: Patrick Mahomes threw his 12th interception of the season on Sunday (matching his career high, from 2018). According to Pro Football Focus, five of those interceptions have come off dropped passes (most for any quarterback this season) and three -- including Sunday night's -- were dropped by Tyreek Hill (most of any receiver).

Pittsburgh Steelers
2021 · 6-5-1
Baltimore Ravens
2021 · 8-4-0

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. A funny thing happened in this one. Late in the second half with the game on the line, a Steelers running game that's been near useless at times this season showed some life against the NFL's second-ranked rush defense. It wasn't fancy -- handoffs up the middle, and none broke free for a big one -- but it was an effective element to the Steelers' game-winning drive. Najee Harris had runs of 13 and eight yards on the drive, and Benny Snell then entered for runs of 8 and 5 yards. It was an integral part of a must-have touchdown march to help keep the Steelers in the playoff picture, as Harris finished with 71 yards for the fifth-highest total of his rookie year. If the Steelers are going to make more of a playoff push, some long-awaited consistency in the running game could do wonders for their offensive identity.
  2. T.J. Watt put on an absolute show. The Steelers' star pass rusher showed why he's worth his new contract, amassing 12 pressures (an NFL single-game high this season, per Next Gen Stats), six quarterback hits and 3.5 sacks. Watt now has an eye-popping 16 sacks on the season, and made easy work of Ravens right tackle Tyre Phillips, who had to replace an injured Patrick Mekari. As a group, the Pittsburgh pass rush harassed Lamar Jackson to the tune of seven sacks for 34 yards in losses. Jackson's elusiveness frustrated Pittsburgh for several rushing first downs, but more importantly, he didn't have time to throw. Watt willed this win in large measure.
  3. The Ravens defense was a tale of two halves. Baltimore dominated the first half in an old-school fashion befitting a Steelers-Ravens game, scoring only seven points but winning repeatedly on third downs, on both sides of the ball, for a ridiculous 23:30 - 6:30 edge in time of possession entering the break. The Steelers converted just four first downs in the first half and were 0 for 4 on third down, while compiling just 93 total yards. Even uglier, Pittsburgh had run just 10 offensive plays by the time it took over a possession with under two minutes left in the half. It was a trend the Steelers had to break in the second half, else their defense would not have had the stamina to hold up. QB Ben Roethlisberger helped turn things with a pair of touchdown passes to Diontae Johnson, one of which was set up by a 40-yard completion to Chase Claypool. The aforementioned running game helped a bit as well, but Roethlisberger (21 of 31, 236 yards) was the difference maker.

Next Gen stat of the game: Ravens coach John Harbaugh's decision to go for two points with 12 seconds remaining, rather than kicking a PAT for a tie and a likely overtime period, reduced Baltimore's win probability by 7.6 percent.

NFL Research: Ben Roethlisberger led his 10th game-winning drive against the Ravens, the most against the Ravens of any quarterback, and the 51st of his career overall.

Los Angeles Rams
2021 · 8-4-0
Jacksonville Jaguars
2021 · 2-10-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. The Jaguars came to L.A. at just the right time. Los Angeles had lost three straight entering Sunday, but welcomed the NFL's second-worst team (and arguably the worst when not considering overall record) and capitalized. A sluggish first half ended up not mattering much by the time the dust settled thanks to some much-needed halftime adjustments that saw Matthew Stafford throw three second-half touchdown passes. And perhaps most encouraging was the performance of Sony Michel, who broke 70 rushing yards for the first time in his still-young career in Los Angeles, finishing with 121 yards and one touchdown on 24 attempts. If Michel can make this a weekly occurrence, the Rams will end up climbing out of their struggles in time to catch fire as we near the new year.
  2. The Rams' Robert Woods replacement might just wear No. 12. Van Jefferson again helped fill the void created by Woods' season-ending injury, catching six passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. It'll continue to be a group effort to replace the contributions provided by Woods, but the second-year wideout is proving he can be counted on to produce. So did Odell Beckham, who shied away from contact and cost the Rams a likely touchdown pass, but made up for that effort later by winning a jump ball in the end zone for his second touchdown as a Ram. The contributions of the two -- which marked the sixth straight game in which Jefferson broke 40 receiving yards -- should help provide some balance for the Rams offense, which put up 37 points but still isn't quite firing on all cylinders.
  3. Not much to say about the Jaguars other than they're one week closer to the offseason. Jacksonville mounted one drive of significance all afternoon -- a 13-play, 61-yard touchdown drive -- then proceeded to go three-and-out on four straight possessions. The most yards Jacksonville gained on an individual drive from there was 38, and that possession ended with a turnover on downs at the Rams' 37. Without much help from the offense, an overmatched Jaguars defense spent the rest of the game attempting and ultimately failing to keep the Rams from building a lead. What resulted was a 30-point loss without much to use to maintain any remaining positive morale. Five weeks to go, Duval.

Next Gen stat of the game: Matthew Stafford completed 11 of 16 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns against the blitz.

NFL Research: Sunday was Matthew Stafford's first game without a giveaway since Week 8. The Rams are 5-0 in games in which Stafford goes without an interception.

Washington Football Team
2021 · 6-6-0
Las Vegas Raiders
2021 · 6-6-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Washington is a one-score-winning team. The Football Team has now won four in a row, including two straight victories by the same exact score: 17-15. Unlike last week's prime-time win over Seattle, Washington needed a late field goal to take the two-point lead on Sunday. But much like that game, Washington needed its defense to step up to preserve its narrow lead. This week, it arrived by keeping the Raiders from reaching field goal range. And like last week, Washington only reached such a position of importance by taking chunks of time off the game clock in the second half. Instead of grinding down over eight minutes with one possession, Washington did it with two drives, taking off 10:32 between a possession that started in the third quarter and ended in a touchdown, and a drive that began with 10:57 and ended with 6:49. Washington won't light it up, but its grind-it-out style has proven to be successful by slim margins. Add in some Taylor Heinicke excitement and you have a team worth watching -- especially considering their standing in the wild card race at 6-6.
  2. The Raiders need to invest in a bulk order of coffee. Las Vegas again found itself facing a second-half deficit because of a slow start, which was once an occasional occurrence but is now officially a trend for this team. It wasn't without effort: Las Vegas mounted two long drives of 10 plays each, but was forced to punt at the end of the first and was only able to manage a field goal out of the second. Oddly enough, Las Vegas' only touchdown drive of the afternoon came on a five-play sprint. A late field goal gave the Raiders their first lead, but they weren't able to hang on. Perhaps they'd have improved to 7-5 if they'd just turned one of their earlier possessions into something more than that lone field goal -- or if they'd have been able to get off the field quicker than they did on two six-plus-minute Washington possessions. More energy, Raiders!
  3. Washington deserves a medal for its play in clutch moments. The Football Team finished 7 of 13 on third down, watched its recently signed kicker Brian Johnson drill a 48-yarder on the road to take the lead with 0:37 left, and then held on in the game's final seconds, breaking up a deep shot to Zay Jones and keeping everything in front of its defense until the final whistle, breaking up a Derek Carr Hail Mary attempt as time expired to escape with a win. Sometimes, the difference between playoff teams and those spending January at home is the ability to come through in these key moments. Washington has been subjected to quite the nerve-wracking education in the last month and continues to prove it has the mettle to make it out on the winning side of things.

Next Gen stat of the game: Taylor Heinicke completed 18 of 20 passes of fewer than 10 air yards for 108 yards and a touchdown.

NFL Research: Taylor Heinicke has completed 70-plus percent of his passes in four straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL (entering MNF). Washington is 4-0 in those games, giving it the longest active winning streak in the NFC.

Seattle Seahawks
2021 · 4-8-0
San Francisco 49ers
2021 · 6-6-0

Adam Maya's takeaways:

  1. Russell Wilson is back. Mired in the worst slump of his career, Wilson finally looked recovered from the finger injury that sabotaged much of Seattle's season. There might not be enough time to save it -- the Seahawks remain 15th in the conference -- but their star quarterback playing like the Pro Bowler he is at least gives them a chance. For the past three weeks, Wilson was conservative, inaccurate and indecisive. It was bizarre, if not unprecedented. At home against the 49ers, a team he's torched for the better part of a decade, Wilson was savvy and efficient while controlling the clock. The biggest sign of progress was his chemistry with DK Metcalf, which had been lacking since Wilson's return. Two Seattle turnovers inside the Niners' 5-yard line (neither of which were on Wilson) kept this game much closer than it could have been.
  2. Jimmy Garoppolo goes as his run game goes. The 49ers' polarizing quarterback had been on somewhat of a hot streak of late, his passer rating eclipsing 100 over the previous five games. He's had similar stretches in the past. They just don't last long. While health has often been cited as the X factor for Jimmy G, his best play typically coincides with when the Niners can run the ball. They couldn't versus the Seahawks without dynamo Deebo Samuel, and their QB suffered for it. Garoppolo's two interceptions were both thrown directly at Seattle defenders and provided prime scoring opportunities. His lone deep attempt was a 24-yard touchdown pass. After being shut down for almost the entire second half, the veteran starter led an impressive final drive through the air to the Seahawks' 3-yard line. But his final two throws fell incomplete, including a batted pass by Carlos Dunlap on fourth-and-goal as Trent Sherfield stood open. San Francisco gained just 71 yards on the ground (and 2.8 yards per carry) in dropping its first game in four weeks. The team had been averaging more than 100 rushing yards during Jimmy G's roll. The former is the cause, the latter is the correlation.
  3. The West is still wild. This was supposed to be the best and most competitive division in football, with possibly four teams making the playoffs. The Seahawks' win over the 49ers could ultimately leave the NFC West with just two, though both the Cardinals and Rams are Super Bowl contenders. After two-thirds of the season, it's still not clear what San Francisco and Seattle are. The Niners have now been swept by both the Cardinals and Seahawks and have beaten just one team with a winning record. Even had they rallied in Seattle, their formula wouldn't have been conducive to winning in January (10 penalties, three turnovers, special teams TD and safety allowed). This looks like a wild-card team, at best. The Seahawks probably aren't even that, given their three multi-game losing streaks. But a favorable schedule for both teams down the stretch -- Seattle still plays the Texans, Bears and Lions while the Niners, who currently own the seventh seed, also get the Texans as well as the Falcons -- means neither team can be counted out just yet.

Next Gen stat of the game: Russell Wilson went 19 of 20 for 145 yards and a TD on quick passes. His 95.0 completion percentage on such passes is tied for third-best in the NGS era (min. 20 attempts).

NFL Research: Adrian Peterson scored his 126th career touchdown on a 1-yard rush in the second quarter, tying HOFer Jim Brown for 10th-most in NFL history. Peterson also became the fourth player to rush for 120 TDs.

Arizona Cardinals
2021 · 10-2-0
Chicago Bears
2021 · 4-8-0

Jeremy Bergman's takeaways:

  1. Cardinals defense in complete control. On an afternoon when Arizona's offense was getting its sea (desert?) legs back, it was the Cardinals defense that led the way with sure, advantageous football. Arizona turned four Andy Dalton interceptions into 23 points, including two for 14 in the first quarter to set the tone early in Chicagoland. David Montgomery had his way with the Arizona front seven, but the Cardinals brought a strong pass rush on Chicago's passing downs, led by Jordan Hicks (13 tackles, two sacks), Chandler Jones (.5 sacks) and Zach Allen (INT), to force errant Dalton attempts; the QB was pressured on a quarter of his 44 dropbacks, per Next Gen Stats. In the secondary, Byron Murphy (INT), Jalen Thompson (INT), who exited with an injury, and Budda Baker (INT) played with their hair on fire, bending but not breaking against the Bears' laborious operation. Arizona didn't take a shorthanded Chicago side lightly coming out of the bye and withstood all advances in what could have been a trap game. That's a good omen one week out from the Cardinals' most critical clash of the second half, a potential NFC West death-knell game against the rival Rams.
  2. Nuk and Kyler come back with a vengeance. Arizona's aerial assault saw its dynamic duo return to action and tested early Sunday. After missing four weeks of work with a hamstring injury, DeAndre Hopkins looked healthy stretching out in a way only he could on a first-quarter, fourth-down touchdown grab down the near sideline. Hobbled for a month by a bum ankle, Kyler Murray moved with ease on his improvised TD scamper on Arizona's ensuing drive and a second-half score; he had a season-high 59 rushing yards. The pair's production dried up in the second half -- Murray didn't throw much, though he finished with four total TDs, and Hopkins saw just two targets total in 37 snaps -- but their electric entrance was more than enough. Arizona needed only 14 first downs and 15 pass attempts (to 35 rushes) to shrug off Chicago.
  3. Bears unwatchable without Montgomery. What is there to learn about a Bears offense piloted by a veteran backup and molded by a likely lame duck coach in a dour December blowout? Not a whole lot. All that can be said about Chicago's attack, which was without Justin Fields and Allen Robinson again, is that David Montgomery gives it a chance every time he has the ball. When Dalton wasn't throwing field-flipping, game-changing picks, as he did on Chicago's first two drives and four times overall, Montgomery was the Bears' entire offense, their leading rusher and pass catcher on the day. Seemingly built for soggy Soldier Field Sundays like this one, Montgomery motored his way to a game-high 141 total yards and a score in his most complete performance of the season.

Next Gen stat of the game: Arizona had seven players with at least two QB pressures: Chandler Jones, Jordan Phillips, Jordan Hicks, Zach Allen, Isaiah Simmons, Corey Peters, Dennis Gardeck.

NFL Research: Kyler Murray became the first Cardinals QB with at least two passing TDs and two rushing TDs in a game since Josh McCown in Week 15, 2004.

Indianapolis Colts
2021 · 7-6-0
Houston Texans
2021 · 2-10-0

Jelani Scott's takeaways:

  1. Colts D pitches shutout. Facing a 2-9 team offers little in the way of potential drama, but the Colts made sure it didn't result in a drop off. From the moment Kenny Moore II made an impressive interception on the game's first play, Indy's defense seized control of the game and refused to let go. Moments after the offense capitalized on the TO with a TD, Moore followed his display of toe-drag swag with a forced fumble that the Colts recovered. Moore's performance headlined a standout day for a secondary that didn't surrender a reception to a receiver until the 3:17 mark of the third quarter. Add in another smothering showing by a defensive line led by Al-Quadin Muhammad and Kemoko Turay's four sacks and it's no wonder this game felt over before it began.
  2. Texans add to their lowlight reel. When a bad team decides to bench its starting QB down 21-0, said team might as well start making plans for the offseason. Tyrod Taylor's benching late in the third quarter amidst a 5-of-13, 45-yard day served as a microcosm for just how trying of a campaign 2021 has been for Houston. Dejected Texans fans were treated to another helping of rookie Davis Mills in his place; his 6-for-14, 49-yard output did nothing but worsen his already poor numbers. From finding themselves well behind the sticks on multiple occasions to getting outgained 389 to 141, the Texans look no closer to finding any answers on either side of the ball.
  3. The JT experience rolls on. At the rate Jonathan Taylor has been playing, it's hard to imagine a world where his stellar play is no longer exciting. His effort on Sunday was the latest submission for what has been an MVP-caliber season for the 22-year-old stud. For the fourth time in five weeks, Taylor eclipsed 100 yards rushing, turning in 143 yards on 32 carries against a defense that had no business even being on the field with him. Taylor added two more tuddies to his resume, tying him with Lenny Moore for the franchise record for most rushing scores in a season (16, 1964). Not a bad way to build on his ascending status as the game's top RB (not named Derrick Henry) heading into the bye week.

Next Gen stat of the game: Kemoko Turay had six QB pressures and two sacks on 11 pass rushes (54.5 pressure percent).

NFL Research: The Colts' 59-point differential in their two meetings with the Texans this season (31-3 win in Week 4) is their highest point differential vs. HOU in franchise history. It is also the highest by IND vs. any opponent in a season over the last 50 seasons.

Miami Dolphins
2021 · 6-7-0
New York Giants
2021 · 4-8-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Tua Tagovailoa is starting to come into form. Tagovailoa was sharp for much of Sunday's game, completing 30 of 41 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. He did so by once again turning to rookie Jaylen Waddle, who caught nine passes for 90 yards and might have broken double-digits in receptions and 100 yards in receiving if not for a rare drop on the rookie's part. Tagovailoa's pass catchers did him some favors, with Mike Gesicki making an acrobatic grab on third down to maintain possession late, but overall, it was another strong performance from the second-year quarterback who has had to battle rumors of his expendability and health issues. He's overcome such adversity and is playing his best football right now, which should earn him the opportunity to continue as Miami's starter in 2022. Winning five straight certainly doesn't hurt.
  2. It's about the little things for the Giants. New York found itself in a winnable game all afternoon, but the small details ended up being the difference. In a decision to punt instead of go for it on fourth down, New York failed to properly track down a punt that landed inside Miami's 5-yard line, instead going into the end zone for a touchback and wiping out a chance to win a field-position battle. Backup Mike Glennon missed a couple of throws (to Evan Engram and John Ross) that could have changed the complexion of the game. Later, the Giants entered meltdown mode when Glennon took consecutive sacks and followed it with a delay of game penalty, which combined to wipe out a chance to take the lead in a 10-6 game. Miami responded with a seven-play, 61-yard touchdown drive from which the Giants failed to recover. In a tight contest between two somewhat similar teams, one proved to be better at paying attention to detail, and it wasn't Joe Judge's squad.
  3. Don't look now, but the Dolphins might have themselves a defense. Miami recorded its fifth straight win by following a similar formula: Hold an opponent to 10 points or less (they've done so in four of their five wins), and capitalize when possible. The Dolphins sacked Glennon three times, intercepted him once and held the Giants to 6 of 16 on third down. A narrow time of possession battle ended up swinging in Miami's favor thanks to stout defense played in the fourth, which limited New York to three points in the final quarter and gave the Dolphins' offense opportunities to chew more than eight minutes of clock. It wasn't an offensive explosion, but it didn't need to be for the Dolphins thanks to their defense, which has helped Miami turn around a once-dreadful 2021 season.

Next Gen stat of the game: Miami pressured Mike Glennon on 16 dropbacks Sunday, with Glennon completing just 5 of 13 pass attempts under pressure for 52 yards and a passer rating of 50.8.

NFL Research: Tua Tagovailoa has posted a 100-plus passer rating in each of his last four games. The only player in Dolphins history with a longer such streak within a season was Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who did so in six straight games during his 1984 MVP season.

Detroit Lions
2021 · 1-10-1
Minnesota Vikings
2021 · 5-7-0

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Jared Goff got it done. In a wild game that saw the Lions dominate the first half only to completely give their advantage away in the second, the Detroit quarterback directed a 75-yard touchdown drive with 1:50 on the clock and no timeouts to pull out the Lions' first win of the season. The Vikings defense was generous in the way it covered the middle of the field all day, allowing Goff (25 of 41, 296 yards, three TDs) to connect frequently with targets between the numbers, and soft coverage burned Minnesota at the end on the game-winner to Amon-Ra St. Brown. It was a day the Lions won't forget, and one Minnesota wants to. At 5-7, the Vikings' playoff chances are now near-hopelessly mathematical. Along with the late defensive collapse, Minnesota also coughed up a turnover on downs with :32 left in the first half, setting up three more Lions points that likely could've been avoided with a punt.
  2. Upset wins need unlikely heroes, and Lions LB Charles Harris was one. Harris, playing for the injured Jalen Reeves-Maybin, came up with a pair of first-half sacks to lead Detroit's defensive effort. Harris led an unexpected amount of heat on Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, whose pass protection entered having allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL. It was supposed to have been a mismatch, as the Lions defense ranks 31st in the NFL in sacks, and perhaps that's why Minnesota felt comfortable blocking Harris with TE Tyler Conklin. It shouldn't have. Harris stripped Cousins on his second sack, causing a turnover that set up a crucial touchdown. He notched four hits on Cousins, half of the Lions' eight on the day.
  3. Vikings WR Justin Jefferson was uncoverable on Sunday. There's been no sophomore slump for the second-year star, and he tormented the Detroit secondary mercilessly on Sunday. Minnesota WR Adam Thielen was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury early in the first quarter, and from that point on, double-teaming Jefferson would've been a good idea for the Lions. Instead, Cousins went on to derive more than half his passing yards from Jefferson. The receiver created all kinds of separation in getting open both short and deep, finishing with 11 catches on 14 targets for 182 yards. In a late, clutch moment, he beat single coverage for a touchdown that would've been the game-winner had it not been for Goff's heroics.

Next Gen stat of the game: Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown averaged 3.9 yards of separation on his 14 targets.

NFL Research: Kirk Cousins lost his first game as a Viking against the Lions. The Minnesota QB had been 7-0 against Detroit.

Philadelphia Eagles
2021 · 6-7-0
New York Jets
2021 · 3-9-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. The Eagles' move for Gardner Minshew paid off Sunday. Minshew was sharp Sunday, completing 80% of his passes for 242 yards, two touchdowns and a 133.7 passer rating that looked much like it appeared in the stat sheet. Minshew didn't throw an incompletion until 1:25 was left in the half, connecting on his first 11 attempts of the game. His first three possessions in his first game as the Eagles' temporary starter resulted in touchdowns. It wasn't until the final possession of a game that was in hand that Philadelphia didn't produce points from an offensive possession. Much of the credit for that is due to Minshew and Miles Sanders, who was consistently productive on the ground (24 carries, 120 yards) before exiting with an ankle injury. Jalen Hurts is still the guy in Philadelphia, but it sure is nice to have an experienced backup capable of filling in when needed.
  2. There are positives to take from this loss for the Jets. Zach Wilson finally found the end zone again with his arm, throwing two touchdown passes Sunday and scoring another on a goal line sneak. Elijah Moore caught half of his 12 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown, and in a fourth-and-goal situation, Wilson was able to prove Robert Saleh's aggression to be worthwhile when he connected with Ryan Griffin for a touchdown. New York went toe to toe with Philadelphia for a half, matching the Eagles with touchdown drives and trailing only because its newest kicker couldn't make a point-after attempt. The Jets lost because they couldn't get a stop defensively, giving up 418 yards of offense, and at times couldn't get out of their own way, committing six penalties. It's typical of a team still figuring out how to win, but it's much better than some of the results the Jets have produced this season. It's just going to take some time -- to both learn how to win and for Saleh to cool off after he was seen shouting at officials in a fit of rage near the end of a game that included some questionable calls.
  3. Dallas Goedert is making Howie Roseman look good. The Eagles parted ways with longtime tight end Zach Ertz in a move most everyone had seen coming for some time, shifting pressure on the shoulders of Goedert to embrace and fulfill the expectations that come with being Philadelphia's top tight end. He's answered the call and even proved to be a trusty target for a backup quarterback Sunday, twice beating the Jets for explosive touchdown receptions. Goedert finished with six catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns, putting together another game in which he proved he can be a go-to target for Philadelphia regardless of who is throwing him the ball. That four-year, $57 million extension is looking good right now.

Next Gen stat of the game: Gardner Minshew completed 4 of 6 passes of 10-plus air yards for 111 yards and two touchdowns, and finished 13 for 14 for 160 yards and a touchdown on passes down the seams.

NFL Research: Eagles-Jets was the first game since 1978 in which the two teams combined to score an offensive touchdown on each of the first six drives of the game.

Los Angeles Chargers
2021 · 7-5-0
Cincinnati Bengals
2021 · 7-5-0

Chase Goodbread's takeaways:

  1. Chargers pass rush came through in a big way. With their best quarterback hunter, Joey Bosa, missing more than three quarters of the game due to a concussion, the Chargers still managed to generate a great deal of pressure on Bengals QB Joe Burrow. They sacked him half a dozen times, including a pair by Uchenna Nwosu, who beat left tackle Jonah Williams for one of them, causing and recovering a fumble on the play. Bosa's replacement, Chris Rumph II, notched a sack of his own. The Chargers pass rush totaled 11 hits on Burrow and pressured him on 37% of his dropbacks -- three Chargers had at least five pressures, led by Nwosu's seven. Missing on the Bengals offensive line was RT Riley Reiff, who was designated inactive with an injury. His absence was felt. Between the Chargers' pass rush and a first-quarter pinky finger dislocation on Burrow's throwing hand, it was a rough day for the Bengals' signal-caller.
  2. Burrow, Chase miss long again. The deep-ball connection between Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase that lit up the league in the first half of the season has completely disappeared. The two haven't connected on a deep pass since Week 8, per Next Gen Stats, and when they tried it again on Sunday, disaster resulted. Chase not only dropped a perfectly thrown pass down the right sideline, he tipped it up in the air for an easy interception by the Chargers' Michael Davis. Five plays later, Los Angeles cashed in the error for six points on a TD pass from Justin Herbert to Keenan Allen. Chase had a respectable five catches for 52 yards, but this offense needs him to take the top off of defenses, and, of late, the opposition hasn't allowed it. The drop was his eighth of the season.
  3. Turnovers plagued both teams, but only one served as the turning point. Cincinnati RB Joe Mixon lost the handle on a second-half handoff from Burrow, and CB Tevaughn Campbell scooped it for a 61-yard touchdown return to put the Chargers ahead, 31-22. It marked an emphatic end to a furious comeback of 22 unanswered points by the Bengals to close the gap to 24-22. From there, all the air left the Bengals' sails as the Chargers extended their lead. Neither offense protected the ball -- the Bengals gave away four turnovers and the Chargers gave away three -- but Mixon's fumble hurt more than any of them.

Next Gen stat of the game: Chargers WR Mike Williams, targeted twice on deep passes, caught them both for a total of 88 yards.

NFL Research: The Bengals' Trey Hendrickson picked up a second-half sack to extend the NFL's longest active sack streak. Hendrickson has a sack in eight consecutive games.

Adam Maya's takeaways:

  1. The Buccaneers don't need A.B. Tampa Bay is unbeaten in the five games Antonio Brown has played and lost three of the first four games he missed. That probably wasn't a coincidence, as Brown produced in line with his stellar career norms. But with his favorite early-season target sidelined almost two months now by an ankle injury -- and the next two games because of suspension -- Tom Brady has adapted. He shredded the Falcons defense with a litany of short and intermediate throws to lead Tampa Bay to its third straight win. Fifteen of his 38 completions went to Chris Godwin, the most for any receiver this season. Rob Gronkowski, whose extended absence largely overlapped with Brown's, caught two touchdowns and Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette had seven receptions apiece. This offense is still loaded at receiver, and its passing game is the most productive in the league. The Bucs can stop here with Brown.
  2. Matt Ryan deserves better. Reports of his decline were premature. Despite being without future Hall of Famer Julio Jones all year and Pro Bowler Calvin Ridley for most of it, Ryan has proven he can still play. He had his best game in a month, completing 30 of 41 passes for 297 yards with a limited receiving corps. The Falcons, of course, aren't close to contending, even in what remains a wide open NFC. Ideally, the two sides could part ways a la the Chargers and Philip Rivers a couple years ago, so that the 36-year-old Ryan could provide what's left of his production to a playoff team. His $48.6 million cap hit for 2022 just makes that really complicated. Not unlike Rivers, Ryan needs a lot of protection to be effective. But he remains sharp and accurate, and his arm is live. That makes him an upgrade over at least a dozen starters across the league, some of whom are playing for teams who are a QB away from making the postseason.
  3. Are cracks forming in the Bucs' vaunted defensive front? No defense has been better against the run. Some opposing teams don't even bother trying to be two-dimensional. Maybe they should. Last week, the Colts found immediate success upon turning to Jonathan Taylor in the second half. While that could be written off as the NFL's top rusher playing to form, Atlanta surprisingly ran at will with gadget back Cordarrelle Patterson in the first half of Sunday's divisional battle. Tampa Bay came in allowing 81 rushing yards per game, and Atlanta topped that before halftime. Interestingly, its middling pass rush was relentless, sacking Ryan five times one week after harassing Carson Wentz all day. Six different Bucs generated at least two pressures on Ryan. Perhaps the Bucs have adjusted their coverages to be more well-rounded. Next week's showdown with the Bills will provide a good litmus test.

Next Gen stat of the game: Tom Brady set a new NGS era single-season record for short pass touchdowns in a season (22). His 125.5 passer rating on short passes this season would also be an NGS era single-season record for a qualified passer.

NFL Research: Tom Brady threw his 90th TD pass to Rob Gronkowski, surpassing Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates (89) for the second-most regular season touchdown connections in NFL history.

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