NFL Week 13 Recaps
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
The 5-6 Chicago Bears pulled off a win against the New York Giants last week and came into Detroit looking to pull off their second win over the Lions this season. Meanwhile, the 3-7-1 Detroit Lions were still without quarterback Matthew Stafford and now backup Jeff Driskel was dealing with a hamstring injury, leading to the first career start of undrafted rookie David Blough. Blough started off the game hot but was unable to drive the offense further in the second half as the Bears battled back to win 24-20 in the fourth quarter.
Bears Offense, Defense Show Up Just In Time
The Bears offense got started quickly with a touchdown drive to begin the game that was helped out immensely by a 57-yard kickoff return by Cordarelle Patterson before going three-and-out twice, turning the ball over on downs, and finishing with a field goal to end the half down 10-17. The defense was lost on the first drive by the Lions, giving up a 75-yard touchdown and then failing to stop a 78-yard drive that also ended in a touchdown. The defense would make up for it by only allowing a field goal in the second half before they ended the game by picking off Blough’s hail mary attempt. Though Mitchell Trubisky threw an interception to start the second half, he gave the team the lead with two nine-play drives for touchdowns and played a solid game overall. He completed 29 of 38 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns, showing flashes of what Bears fans have been waiting to see all year. He wasn’t shy about testing the Lions downfield with 18 of his 38 passes thrown 10 air yards or deeper with 11 of them completed. Meanwhile, rookie running back David Montgomery finally received the carries he’s been looking for, feasting on the Detroit defense for 75 yards on 16 carries.
Solid First Career Start for Blough
David Blough, the undrafted rookie quarterback the Lions traded the Cleveland Browns for at the end of preseason, made his first career start against the Bears with Matthew Stafford still injured and Jeff Driskel dealing with a hamstring injury. Blough was known for being the lowest-rated quarterback in Madden at 48 and promised $250 to the first person who won League MVP and a Super Bowl with him as the starting quarterback on the hardest difficulty. Blough was off to a fast start with two touchdown drives to start the game but cooled off through the rest of the way, though he nearly pulled off a final game-winning drive that ultimately ended in an interception. Blough was elusive in the pocket and certainly did not look in over his head in his first career start. He finished 22 of 38 with 280 yards and two touchdowns. Unlike Week 10 when the Lions played the Bears, the run game was able to grind out yardage with Bo Scarbrough leading the way with 83 yards on 21 carries.
San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens
The 10-1 San Francisco 49ers faced off against the 9-2 Baltimore Ravens in a wet and windy battle of AFC and NFC powerhouses in Baltimore. As has been the trend throughout the season, the Ravens relied upon the athleticism of Lamar Jackson to create opportunities while the 49ers leaned on the run game, as Raheem Mostert put up a career-high 146 rushing yards against his former team. Both teams were tied at 17 in the third quarter all the way to the very end, but it was the Ravens who ran out the final six minutes of the game before kicker Justin Tucker nailed the 49-yard game-winner. Both teams are now at 10-2 and have given fans a taste of what could possibly be this year’s Super Bowl matchup.
Lamar Jackson Nearing QB Rushing Record
With a perfect scheme and all the confidence in the world, Lamar Jackson ended Week 13 only 62 yards shy of Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record. Although Jackson was held to 105 yards on 14 completions out of 23 attempts, his athleticism is hard to stop as he carried the ball for 101 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Although he was stripped on a long run to start the second half and the next two drives sputtered out with the game tied at 17, Jackson came back with a final 12-play, six-minute drive to bring the Ravens into field goal range to win the game. For much of the game, he fooled the aggressive San Francisco defense with play-action and option plays as they struggled to stop him from converting first downs as the Ravens picked up 14 of their 21 first downs through rushing. Running back Mark Ingram provided a powerback skillset with 59 yards on 15 carries.
49ers Riding Defense and Run Game
With such terrible throwing conditions, the 49ers found themselves relying on backup running back Raheem Mostert to carry the team and he did, to the tune of 146 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Jimmy Garoppolo was solid-but-unspectacular with 15 completions out of 21 attempts for 165 yards and a touchdown, but was also stripped on a sack in the first half that led to a Ravens touchdown. He only threw six passes deeper than 10 air yards, connecting on three of them, and largely kept his throws short and safe. Still, the team was close to a win as the defense held the explosive Baltimore offense to 283 yards, a far cry from their season average of 429.4 yards per game.
Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
Despite an incredibly hot start to their season, the 7-4 Kansas City Chiefs found themselves just one game ahead of the 6-5 Oakland Raiders despite winning their first meeting of the season. The KC defense has been torn apart both on the ground and through the air but showed up big against a strong Raiders run game, holding the visitors to only nine points while the Chiefs defense forced turnovers and scored a touchdown of their own. With their 40-9 win, the Chiefs are now comfortably at the top of the AFC West at 8-4 with only four games left while the Raiders are still looking to find their place in the playoffs at 6-6.
Raiders Caught Off Guard Early By KC Defense
Nothing was going right for the Raiders in the first half, starting the game off with an interception by Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu and a fumbled kickoff before ending the first half with Derek Carr throwing a pick-six to fast rookie safety Juan Thornhill and Daniel Carlson missing a 44-yard field goal. The defense contained Carr’s receivers and forced him to throw primarily to checkdown options. Tight end Darren Waller led the Raiders with 100 receiving yards while Zay Jones was their most productive receiver with only 14 receiving yards and two catches.
If not for the defense, it could have been a different game with the Chiefs losing running back Darrel Williams to a non-contact hamstring injury. Mahomes was efficient with 175 yards and a touchdown on 15 completions out of 29 attempts, but he also ran for 25 yards on three carries with a touchdown, proving his health after spending most of the early season hobbled by an ankle and knee injury. He completed four out of 11 passes thrown over 10 air yards downfield but largely played the possession game with such a huge lead after going into the second half already up 21-0.
Josh Jacobs, The Only Raiders Positive
Derek Carr finished the game with 20 completions out of 30 attempts for 222 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and only two sacks taken. It’s not enough to simply judge him by those stats, though. Carr completed only seven passes further than five yards past the line of scrimmage. The other 13 were within five yards or behind the line of scrimmage as the Chiefs secondary locked down every option downfield. The only consistent part of the Raiders offense has been rookie running back Josh Jacobs, who continues his remarkable season with 104 yards on 17 carries.
New England Patriots @ Houston Texans
The 10-1 New England Patriots traveled to take on the 7-4 Houston Texans with both teams leading in their respective divisions but feeling pressure from those behind them. The Texans have had an up-and-down season but remain in first place in the AFC South with quarterback DeShaun Watson leading the way. Meanwhile, Tom Brady has not looked remarkably dominant in recent weeks but has been bolstered by an incredible New England defense. The Texans were off to a great start with an interception on Brady’s second drive and held New England to only a field goal while they put up 21 points of their own. The Patriots launched a furious comeback in the fourth quarter but fell just short as the Texans held on for a 28-22 win. It was a much-needed win for the Texans as the Titans pulled off a win over the Colts and now sit one game behind Houston with both of their division games yet to be played in the season’s final stretch. Meanwhile, the Patriots are just one game ahead of the Bills with their second division game occurring in three weeks.
Houston Defense Holds Strong
The Patriots had no answer for the Texans in the first half. After their first drive ended in a field goal, the Patriots lost their next drive to an interception and then punted three more times to end the half. Meanwhile, a defense that has given many quarterbacks problems this season gave up two touchdown drives to Houston. Houston’s defense frustrated Tom Brady with great coverage downfield and forced him to hold the ball for an average of 3.4 seconds, the longest time to throw of Week 13. Brady put up three touchdowns and 326 yards with 24 completions out of 47 attempts but struggled to find his top weapons as the Texans made sure to follow them with multiple defenders all over the field. As a result, Brady took 12 hits and three sacks and even needed to scramble for a first down. Although the Patriots put up three straight touchdown drives to bring them game within reach,
DeShaun Watson Cool Against Patriots Blitz
While the running game struggled with Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde combining for 53 yards on 19 carries, Watson was his typical, magical self against the Patriots as he dodged defenders in the backfield and fired perfect passes to tear apart blitzes. New England only managed to sack him three times and land four hits while Watson delivered for Houston with 18 completions out of 25 attempts for 234 yards and three touchdowns. He even caught a touchdown from receiver DeAndre Hopkins as the Texans offense continuously stumped the Patriots defense. Only seven of Watson’s attempts were thrown further than 10 air yards, but he completed four of them for big gains.
Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks
The 8-3 Minnesota Vikings faced off against the 9-2 Seattle Seahawks for a Monday Night Football battle between two of the top NFC teams. Both are in tight divisions with the Vikings chasing the Packers and the Seahawks just behind the 49ers. It was a game that did not disappoint as the Seahawks once again found themselves in a close match with plenty of highlight-worthy moments from both sides. The Seahawks pulled out the win in the end, 37-30, after trailing in the first half and take first place in the NFC West from the 49ers with Russell Wilson notched another second-half comeback. Meanwhile, the Vikings fall one game behind the Packers as they seek to hang on to their wildcard spot.
Rushing Attack Fuels Seahawks Comeback
In a game where Russell Wilson attempted 11 passes over 10 air yards deep and only completed three of them, running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny carried the load for the offense, with Carson picking up 102 yards on 23 carries and Penny gaining 74 yards on 15 carries. The two created a powerful run game that the Vikings simply were not ready to handle. Meanwhile, Wilson put together a solid game with 240 yards and two touchdowns on 21 completions out of 31 attempts. He was only sacked twice, though the second sack lost 13 yards and made a third down conversion improbable with five minutes left and only four points separating the teams. Mistakes like those nearly cost the Seahawks, with one of Wilson’s lesser moments being when he batted a deflected ball into the hands of Vikings safety Anthony Harris for a pick six in the second quarter, or when DK Metcalf fumbled on a third down conversion that sparked Minnesota’s near-comeback. Still, the Seahawks found a way to win in the end and close wins like this one have been the bread-and-butter for them this season. It is simply the way.
Kirk Cousins Can’t Catch a Break
Just when Cousins plays well in an important game, it just so happens his surrounding cast seems to let him down. In a game where receiver Adam Thielen was inactive, left tackle Riley Reiff left with a concussion in the second quarter, and running back Dalvin Cook left with a shoulder injury in the third quarter, Cousins did everything he could to put the Vikings ahead in the first half and brought the team within a touchdown in the second half after being down by 17 points. This was even after nothing went right for the team in the second half, with Dalvin Cook fumbling on the first play of their second possession of the half after Seattle tied the game, then receiver Stefon Diggs bouncing a pass right into the hands of Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers for an interception, and then fullback C.J. Ham fumbling a kickoff before Cousins could even come onto the field to attempt a game-tying drive. Cousins had two touchdowns and took zero sacks as he completed 22 of his 38 passes for 276 yards, all with Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison combining for only 51 yards on 13 carries. For a quarterback who has been constantly criticized for not being able to put it together in big games, this one was not on him.