NFL Week 15 Games Recap
COVID-19 Can't Stop The NFL!
Despite its best efforts, coronavirus couldn't put a stop to the juggernaut that is the NFL. Here are all the latest scores and recaps from the Week 15 games.
Chiefs: 34 (10-4), Chargers: 28 (8-6) Final/OT
Final Line: KC -3.0 Jake's Pick: KC
The Chiefs are back! At the end of October, they were 3-4 and sat just outside the playoff picture. Now, the Chiefs sit at 10-4, are on a seven-game winning streak, and are on track to win the AFC West. In other words, watch out for the Kansas City Chiefs!
Travis Kelce had a career-high 191 receiving yards and scored on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes in overtime as Kansas City rallied for a 34-28 victory over the Chargers on Thursday. Kelce was all over the place in the second half as he caught the game-tying TD pass with just over a minute left before ending the game with his catch-and-run. Kelce is the best receiving tight end in the NFL, and I don't think anyone will argue with me.
Mahomes had a few mistakes, but he bounced back nicely, finishing with 410 passing yards and two TDs against one INT. In addition to Kelce balling out, Tyreek put together another fantastic game, hauling in 12 receptions for 148 yards and a TD. It is his fourth game this season with at least 11 catches.
For the Chargers, it is yet another heartbreaking home loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes. Herbert threw two TDs and ran for a score, but the Chargers failed to score three red zone drives and went 2-5 on fourth down.
After Andre Roberts took the opening kickoff 75 yards, LA drove it down to the five before turning it over on downs on four straight completions from Herbert. The Chargers could've kicked a field at the end of the half, but HC Brandon Staley chose to stick to his aggressive nature, but Hebert could not connect with Keenan Allen. Early in the fourth, the Chargers had it deep in KC territory again, but RB Joshua Kelly coughed it up on the goal line and turned it over.
The Chargers looked to be in complete control for most of the game as they were running all over the Chiefs' defense. After scoring on a two-yard run, RB Austin Eckler scored a TD for the sixth straight game to extend the Bolts' lead to 21-13 early in the fourth. It is the third time since 1994 a Chargers player has reached the end zone in at least six consecutive games.
The Chargers played with a heavy heart throughout the game after TE Donald Parham Jr. appeared to lose consciousness after slamming his head on the turf in the first quarter. He was helped off on a stretcher and taken to a hospital, where he is in stable condition. You always hate to see these types of injuries happening in pro sports, but you can only hope now that Parham is ok.
The Chiefs look to keep their winning streak intact as they play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers next week.
The Chargers will head to Houston next week to take on the Texans. That should be an easy win, but you never with the NFL this season.
Patriots: 17 (9-5), Colts: 27 (8-6) Final (SAT)
Final Line: IND -1.0 Jake's Pick: IND
Jonathan Taylor continues to steal the show for the Colts. Thanks to a dominating performance upfront by the o-line, Taylor was able to find plenty of holes en route to a 170-yard performance. Indy's stout defense led by all-pro MLB Darius Leonard forced rookie Mac Jones to throw two INTs as the Colts proved worthy of a playoff spot by knocking off the number one team in the AFC. It was Indy's first win over New England since 2009.
Taylor iced the game with his 67-yard TD run with 2:01 left in the fourth quarter to seal the deal for Indy. Taylor has now scored in 11 straight games, tying Hall of Famer Lenny Moore for the longest streak in franchise history. Furthermore, Indy's E.J. Speed became the first player since Ed Reed (2003) to record two touchdowns off blocked punts this season. Notice I haven't talked once about Carson Wentz, and for a good reason. The QB only attempted 12 passes and was 5-12 for 57 yards with one TD and one interception.
Bill Bellichick thought he had a game plan to stop the Colts' rushing attack, but Taylor flipped the script on him. Mac Jones suffered the first road loss of his young career as the rookie QB was 26-45 with 299 yards, two TDs, and two INTs. Throughout the game, the Colts dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. For Bellichick, all he can do is move on to the next one.
The game had a little bit of everything, including a fight that led to the ejections of Patriots safety Kyle Dugger and Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
The Colts will have another crucial test when they travel to Glendale to take on Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Day.
The Patriots have one final meeting with the Buffalo Bills to decide the AFC East.
Titans: 13 (9-5), Steelers: 19 (7-6-1)
Final Line: PIT -1.5 Jake's Pick: PIT
A dominating defensive effort helped the Steelers overcome a 10-point halftime deficit to beat the Titans, 19-13. Joe Haden's key fourth-down stop helped seal the deal as Pittsburgh kept their playoff hopes alive with another come-from-behind victory. Haden stuffed Titans receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine inches short of a first down in the game's final seconds. Despite having only 168 yards of total offense, it ended up being enough as the Steelers' defense forced four turnovers, including three fumbles on consecutive Tennessee drives. All seven of Pittsburgh's victories have come by eight points or less. Despite playing some unpleasant football, the Steelers are still alive in an underwhelming AFC North.
BIG BEN IN THE RECORD BOOKS
Ben Roethlisberger finished 16-25 for 148 yards to move past Phillip Rivers into fifth on the NFL's all-time yards passing list. Perhaps more impressive was the sight of Roethlisberger running the football. Big Ben's rushing TD in the third quarter marked his first one since 2018.
Turnovers continue to haunt the Titans as they now have 13 turnovers in their last four games. Through that stretch, they have accumulated a record of 1-3. These persistent miscues have become the theme for Tennessee's offense as they have to find a way to clean up their mess, especially when they have the red-hot Colts breathing down their necks in the AFC South.
The Steelers will travel to Kansas City to take on the surging Chiefs.
The Titans have a short week ahead of them as they host the Niners on Thursday night.
Panthers: 14 (5-9), Bills: 31 (8-6)
Final Line: BUF -13.0 Jake's Pick: BUF
Buffalo finally found success on the ground game from someone other than Josh Allen. RB Devin Singletary sparked what had been a lackluster running game with a season-best 86 yards. Allen, who sprained his left leg in last week's OT loss to Tampa, stayed in the pocket for most of the game, going 19 of 34 for 210 yards with three touchdowns and one INT. Buffalo's defense also accounted for four sacks and forced an INT out of Cam Newton. Overall, it was a much-needed win for the Bills as they snapped a two-game losing skid and are still very much alive in the AFC East.
The Panthers seemed to be doomed from the start as Kicker Zane Gonzalez had to help off the field after hurting his quadriceps in pre-game warmups. The injury left Carolina without a kicker as the Panthers didn't kick the whole game. Despite being without a kicker, the Panthers kept the game close by holding Buffalo's offense to just 17 points in the first half. However, penalties proved costly as three defenders committed severe personal foul penalties to extend Buffalo's scoring drives.
After Sunday's loss, Cam Newton has lost 12 consecutive starts for Carolina, dating back before spending last season with the Patriots. Newton finished the day with 156 yards and an INT, leading the team in rushing with 71 yards. Newton has now recorded a rushing TD in five consecutive games, matching Kyler Murray's record from last year.
The Bills host the New England Patriots in a crucial AFC East contest.
The Panthers will play host to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers next week.
Cowboys: 21 (10-4), Giants: 6 (4-10)
Final Line: DAL -11.5 Jake's Pick: DAL
I don't think you can find a defense as dominant as the Dallas Cowboys are now. Dallas' defense forced four turnovers for the third straight game Sunday. DeMarcus Lawrence forced a fumble and made two other big defensive plays leading to 15 points. CB Trevon Diggs added to his interception tally by recording his league-leading tenth interception, one shy of the team record set by Everson Walls (1981).
That is now three-straight wins (all on the road), and they would have clinched a playoff berth with a Saints loss, but New Orleans beat the Bucs 9-0. Dak Prescott threw a TD pass, and Ezekiel Elliot added a 13-yard TD run. Despite getting production out of their offense, they continue to show signs of regression. The offense carried the load for the first seven weeks of the season. Now, the season seems to have revolved around the defense.
The loss isn't all that bad for the Giants. They stopped Micah Parson's reign of terror for starters by ending his sack streak at six games. Also, they didn't get blown out this time, as they lost their first meeting 44-20. However, they still struggled mightily on offense. The human q-tip, Mike Glennon, threw three INTs before being relieved by Jake Fromm.
Dallas returns home to play Washington on Sunday night for the second time in three games.
The Giants will travel to Philly for a divisional matchup with the Eagles.
Jets: 24 (3-11), Dolphins 31 (7-7)
Final Line: MIA -9.5 Jake's Pick: MIA
The Miami Dolphins became just the second team in NFL history to get to 7-7 after starting the season 1-7. The last team to do that: the New York Jets in 1974. RB Duke Johnson stole the show, as the Miami native rushed for 107 yards and had a career-best two touchdowns. Tua Tagovailoa overcame a rocky start and finished 16 of 27 for 196 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. The playoffs seem to be a longshot for the Dolphins, but they are still alive in the playoff race for now.
The Jets couldn't finish things off despite leading at halftime for the first time all season.
The Dolphins will look to keep their streak alive next week when they travel to New Orleans for a Monday Night Football matchup with the Saints.
The Jets will take on Jags in a matchup with huge draft implications.
Cardinals: 12 (10-4), LIONS!?!?!?: 30 (2-11-1)
Final Line: ARI -13.0 Jake's Pick: ARI
Yes, you are reading the score correctly! The Detroit Lions, who came into this game with the worst record in the NFL, upset the Arizona Cardinals, who were looking to clinch a playoff spot. Dan Campbell's squad continues to play with many guts, and they showed that they were the better team on Sunday. In one of the many surprises at Ford Field, Jared Goff outplayed Kyler Murray as he completed 21 of 26 passes for 216 yards and three TDs. Craig Reynolds had a career-high 112 rushing yards, and Amon-Ra St. Brown had a TD and 90 yards receiving.
Since starting the season 7-0, the Arizona Cardinals have lost four of their last seven games. They came into this game tied for the NFL's best record, undefeated on the road and a win away from ending a six-year postseason drought. That wasn't the case on Sunday, and Arizona put together their worst performance of the season against a team they favored to beat by nearly two touchdowns. As Detroit's defense gave him fits all day, Kyler Murray had nowhere to run, and by the time he threw his first TD, there was 4:41 left in the game, and they trailed by 15 points. Colt McCoy ended up taking over for Murray at the end of the game. The Cardinals now find themselves in a similar position to last year, when their playoff hopes disappeared. They will have a chance to clinch next week against the Colts.
The Lions will travel to the ATL to take on the Falcons.
The Cardinals will look to bounce back next week when they play host to the upstart Indianapolis Colts.
Texans: 30 (3-11), Jaguars: 16 (2-12)
Final Line: JAX -4.5 Jake's Pick: HOU
Tremon Smith took a kick off 98-yards to the house as the Houston Texans ended a three-game losing skid by sweeping their season series with the Jags. The kickoff return marked Houston's first one since Oct. 4, 2009. Rookie QB Davis Mills also won for the first time in eight starts as he connected with Brandin Cooks on two TDs. The win on Sunday marks their eighth straight against the Jags, and they swept the series for the ninth time in the last 11 years.
The Jags, playing for the first time since firing Urban Meyer, dropped their sixth consecutive game and 10th straight against AFC South opponents. The one good thing to come out of their loss is that they are in line for the No. 1 pick for the second straight year, thanks to Detroit's victory.
The Texans play host to Justin Herbert and the high-voltage offense of the LA Chargers.
The Jags travel to East Rutherford for a matchup with the New York Jets.
Falcons: 13 (6-8), 49ers: 31 (8-6)
Final Line: SF -9.0 Jake's Pick: SF
It seemed like the Niners were dead in the water two months ago, but that seems like it was ages ago. As we get closer to the playoffs, the Niners have hit their stride and are in prime position for a playoff spot. After beating the Falcons 31-13, the Niners have now won for the fifth time in six games. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 235 yards and a TD, and San Francisco scored on four consecutive drives to make easy work of the Falcons. The win keeps them in wild-card position as the sixth-best team in the NFC.
As a Falcons fan, this game did not surprise me. Atlanta failed to open the scoring on their opening drive by turning it over on downs at the goal line. Matt Ryan was under relentless pressure for most of the game as he threw for 236 yards and one TD. Atlanta struggled to put the ball in the end zone, as they ran 13 plays from inside the 10-yard line without scoring a TD. That's tied for the second-most plays close to the end zone without a TD since 1991. On top of that, Atlanta was stopped on five plays from the one-yard line. Now that's quality football!
The Niners have a short rest ahead of them as they get ready for a Thursday night matchup with the Titans.
The Falcons will head back home for a matchup with the Detroit Lions.
Bengals: 15 (8-6), Broncos: 10 (7-7)
Final Line: DEN -3.0 Jake's Pick: DEN
While the game wasn't pretty, the Bengals squeaked out the victory. In the third quarter, Tyler Boyd's 56-yard touchdown was enough to get the job done and catapult Cincinnati to first place in the AFC North; however, they needed a critical defensive stop to get it done. Despite Joe Burrow's TD pass to Boyd, Kicker Evan McPherson stole the show with his three field goals, including a franchise-record 58-yarder to end the first half. The win puts Cincy in a first-place tie with the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. Next weekend, the two teams will play each other to decide who potentially takes home the division.
After a scary collision, Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) was carted off the field and taken off the field. Thus, Drew Locke took over and kept them in the game. They had a chance to take the lead late in the game, but a late turnover ended their hopes of winning. In other words, despite a solid showing from their defense, they couldn't get the same production out of their offense. You can only hope that Bridgewater is ok following the unfortunate injury.
The Bengals have a crucial matchup with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, potentially deciding the AFC North.
The Broncos will travel to Vegas for a critical AFC West showdown with the Raiders.
Packers: 31 (11-3), Ravens: 30 (8-6)
Final Line: GB -9.0 Jake's Pick: GB
The Green Bay Packers were the only team to clinch their playoff berth on Sunday by holding off the Ravens 31-30 to win the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes and tied Brett Farve for the franchise record in TD passes (442). The win didn't come without drama as they squandered a 14-point lead late in the game but survived when the Ravens missed a 2-point conversion in the final minute.
The Green Bay Packers became the first team to clinch a division this season. They have now won the NFC North three consecutive times.
With Lamar Jackson (ankle) ruled out for Sunday's game, Tyler Huntley nearly led the Ravens back from a 31-17 deficit. Huntley's 8-yard run in the fourth quarter put the Ravens down by one, but his two-point pass was off the mark. That's now the second time this season when Baltimore's loss came down to a failed 2-point conversion. Huntley finished with 215 yards passing and two TDs, in addition to 73 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Mark Andrews connected on both TDs as the tight end finished 136 receiving yards. Even without Lamar, I thought the Ravens offense looked promising, and Huntley continues to improve with every outing.
The loss moves Baltimore into a tie with Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North. If Cleveland wins Monday Night, they will join the two teams at the top.
The Packers will play host to the Cleveland Browns on Saturday.
The Ravens will travel to Cincinnati on Sunday to take on the Bengals.
Saints: 9 (7-7), Buccaneers: 0 (10-4)
Final Line: TB -11.5 Jake's Pick: TB
The Saints, led by a strong performance by their defense, came into Tampa and shut out Tom Brady and Buccaneers 9-0. Brady does not have a good track record against the Saints, as the defense gave him fits. On Sunday night, Cameron Jordon was all over the place as he accounted for two sacks and forced a fumble en route to the Saints' seventh straight over the Bucs and fourth straight regular-season win over Tom Brady. Taysom Hill went 13 of 27 for 127 yards and put the Saints in position for three field goals from Brett Maher. It marks the first time Brady has been shut out since 2006.
Once again, Brady had no answer for the Saints' defense as he was uncomfortable all night. The Bucs came into this game needing a win to clinch their first NFC South title since 2007. Brady came into the game leading the lead in passing yards (4,348), TDs (36), completion (404), and attempts (602), but he was just 26 of 48 for 213 yards and one INT. The loss on Sunday ended Brady's streak of 255 consecutive games without being shut out.
It also didn't help that three of Tampa's best offensive playmakers left the game with injuries. WRs Chris Godwin (knee) and Mike Evans (hamstring) left the game in the second quarter, while RB Leonard Fournette (hamstring) departed in the third quarter. Godwin will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL, and Evans is day-to-day, with a possibility of suiting up for Sunday's game against the Panthers.
The Saints have a Monday Night showdown with the red-hot Miami Dolphins.
The Bucs have an NFC South showdown with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Raiders: 16 (7-7), Browns: 14 (7-7) Final (MON, moved from SAT)
Final Line: LV -3.0 Jake's Pick: LV
Initially, the Raiders were displeased with moving the game to Monday from its original Saturday slot. The Raiders were on the bus about to leave for the airport when the NFL told them to stay put. Because of COVID, the game was moved from Saturday to Monday. That didn't stop Daniel Carlson from nailing a 48-yard field goal in the final seconds to keep the Raiders' playoff hopes alive.
Down by a point with under two minutes left, Derek Carr led the Raiders into Cleveland territory to set up Carlson's game-winning kick. The win came after owner Mark Davis voiced his displeasure about postponing the game. That all seemed forgotten as the Raiders brushed it off and got the much-needed win to keep them in the playoff mix.
For the Browns, a win would've put them in a three-way tie at the top of the AFC North, but instead, it's yet another devasting loss. Due to a virus outbreak, they were without starting QB Baker Mayfield and backup QB Case Keenum, leaving third-stringer Nick Mullens as the only option. The Browns were also without HC Kevin Stefanski, top receiver Jarvis Landry, and edge rusher Jadeveon Clowny. Despite missing all of that personnel, Mullens did all he could do to give them a chance to win. Cleveland came back from a 10-0 deficit in the third and got out to a 14-13 lead, thanks to a 6-yard TD pass from Mullens to Harrison Bryant.
All looked well, especially after CB Greedy Williams intercepted Derek Carr, but Cleveland couldn't muster up the first down, and they gave the ball back to Carr, and the rest is history. The loss puts Cleveland in a log jam in the AFC playoff picture, with just three games left.
The Raiders hope to keep their playoff hopes alive next week when they take on the Denver Broncos.
On Saturday, the Browns have a date with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau.
Vikings: 17 (7-7), Bears: 9 (4-10) Final (MON)
Final Line: MIN -7.0 Jake's Pick: MIN
Moving forward, the Minnesota Vikings know that they have little margin for error as they continue to fight for a playoff spot. Kirk Cousins threw for 2 TDs as the Vikings kept their hopes alive by defeating the struggling and short-handed Bears on Monday night. The Vikings are a part of a seven-team pile-up in the race for a playoff spot.
The Bears played without most of their starting lineup due to COVID, with 14 players (including the entire secondary) on the reserve/Covid list. Not only that, Chicago was minus two of their coordinators. The Bears got screwed on several bone-headed calls from the refs as Chicago committed five personal fouls on nine total penalties. Bears fans made it known that they are tired of seeing Matt Nagy on the sideline as the "Fire Nagy" chants reverberated throughout Soldier Field on Monday. Overall, it was yet another frustrating outing for the Bears.
The Vikings have a date with Matthew Stafford and the Rams on Sunday.
The Bears will travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks.
Seahawks: 10 (5-9), Rams: 20 (10-4) Final (TUE)
Final Line: LAR -7.0 Jake's Pick: LAR
It didn't look like the Rams would be able to field a team due to the amount players they had to place on the Covid list. However, they got healthier leading up to the game, which showed on Tuesday. WR Cooper Kupp continues to add to his record-breaking season, as he caught nine passes for 136 yards and two TDs, and broke Issac Bruce's single-season Rams receptions record with 120. QB Matthew Stafford also became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 50,000 passing yards. The win moves LA into a tie for first with Arizona in the NFC West with three games remaining. The Cardinals still hold the tiebreaker.
The loss gives Seattle their first losing record in nine seasons under Pete Carroll. Despite the loss, the Seahawks (5-9) are still mathematically alive in the playoff race. However, they are going to need a lot of help.
The Rams travel to Minnesota for a matchup with the Vikings.
Seattle will head back home to take on the Chicago Bears.
Washington: 17 (6-8), Eagles: 27 (7-7)
Final Line: PHI -10.0 Jake's Pick: PHI
The Eagles led a dominant running attack against Washington to help keep their playoff hopes alive. Jalen Hurts' three TDs and Miles Sanders rushing for 131 yards was enough to lead the Eagles past the Football Team. Hurts finished 20-26 for 296 yards with one TD and one bad-luck interception that bounced off Dallas Goedert's heal and into the arms of a Washington defender. Goedert made up for his early mistake by catching seven passes for 135 yards. The main story was their running game as the league's best rushing team had 238 rushing yards. Through week eight, the Eagles averaged over 210 rush yards per game.
The Football Team seemed like they were screwed from the start. With no Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen at QB, Washington had to go with Garrett Gilbert, who they signed earlier in the week. While Gilbert didn't look bad, they were still overmatched by Philly's dominant ground game. The loss puts Washington in a bit of a hole with three games left in the season. It doesn't get any easier as their next opponent is the Dallas Cowboys.
Philly will take on the New York Giants in a divisional showdown.
Washington will look to bounce back against the Dallas Cowboys on SNF.
Jake Klausner covers all things sports for ThePyrrhic.com. Keep your eyes peeled for NFL Analysis, World Series Recaps, and more from Jake.
Follow him on Twitter @jake_klausner
Want more US Sports content? Check this out:
Show your love for thepyrrhic.com with this sweet branded t-shirt