Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/AP/Shutterstock (13661332cw) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) celebrates after running for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif Buccaneers 49ers Football, Santa Clara, United States – 11 Dec 2022
Bills 20, Jets 12
The Buffalo Bills remembered last month’s loss to the New York Jets well heading into Sunday’s opportunity for revenge at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park. Both defenses stuffed the opposition offense through almost the entirety of the cold and wet first half, as the game saw 10 consecutive punts before Buffalo finally broke through with Dawson Knox’s touchdown catch in the half’s final seconds. The rain turned to snow in Buffalo as the second half got started, but it was the Jets who tied the game on their first drive of the third quarter on Zonovan Knight’s 13-yard touchdown carry. After Buffalo retook the lead on Josh Allen’s touchdown run, Jets’ quarterback Mike White was forced to leave the game after a hard hit to the midsection. Joe Flacco replaced White and immediately fumbled the football away. Tyler Bass converted a field goal a few plays later, and Buffalo extended its lead to 17-7 late in the third. Mike White eventually reentered the game for the Jets at quarterback but had his work cut out for him in the fourth quarter after another Tyler Bass field goal extended Buffalo’s lead to 20-7. New York’s special teams provided a potential spark midway through the fourth quarter, blocking a Bills’ punt for a safety and a 20-9 deficit. Needing two scores, the Jets settled for Greg Zuerlein’s 26-yard field goal with 1:18 to play to make it 20-12. Buffalo did what was needed in the game’s final seconds regardless, picking up a crucial win to ensure they’ll hold first place alone in the AFC East before their showdown with Miami.
Next Week: New York: vs. Detroit, Buffalo: vs. Miami
Bengals 23, Browns 10
Both defenses controlled the game through much of the first half between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, but it was Cincinnati striking first midway through the second quarter on Joe Burrow’s 15-yard pass through a tight window to Ja’Marr Chase. Cleveland’s offense managed a second quarter field goal of its own, but Samaje Perine’s six-yard touchdown run extended the Bengals’ lead to 13-3 at halftime. Cincinnati continued its revenge quest in the third quarter with a long touchdown from Joe Burrow to Trenton Irwin, making it 20-3. After six quarters of action without one, Deshaun Watson’s first passing touchdown of the season found David Njoku and pulled the Browns back within 10 points late in the third quarter. Evan McPherson’s field goal extended Cincinnati’s lead to 23-10 in the fourth quarter, leaving the Browns in need of two scores in the final minutes to win. Cleveland’s offense found its way deep into Bengals’ territory with less than six minutes to play, but a fourth-down stand by Cincinnati’s defense held the score where it stood. The Bengals ran out the clock from there, improving to 9-4 and keeping pace atop the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens.
Next Week: Cleveland: vs. Baltimore, Cincinnati: at Tampa Bay
Lions 34, Vikings 23
The Detroit Lions were left for dead earlier this season, nowhere near playoff contention in what appeared to be another lost season despite one of the league’s more explosive offenses. One weapon Detroit had yet to use this season as he recovered from a lower leg injury was Jameson Williams – but the rookie announced his presence with authority on the Lions’ first drive by catching a 41-yard touchdown for his first career reception. Dalvin Cook responded with a touchdown of his own with four minutes left in the first quarter to tie the game. Both offenses would be stymied for several drives following Minnesota’s score, but Detroit eventually struck next on Jared Goff’s long touchdown pass to D.J. Chark. Despite a late missed field goal, the Lions carried a 14-7 lead into the half. Detroit continued its impressive showing in the third quarter, faking a punt in their own territory en route to Jared Goff’s third passing touchdown of the afternoon – this one finding Josh Reynolds for a 21-7 advantage. Minnesota finally responded with Adam Thielen’s touchdown reception, but a failed two-point conversion left the Vikings behind 21-13 with two minutes left in the third. Justin Jackson re-extended the Lions’ lead to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, scampering into the end zone from 15 yards out to make it 28-13. Minnesota’s next trip into Lions’ territory ended with just three points, leaving Detroit with an opportunity to put the game away with a score. The Lions would respond with a field goal of their own to make it 31-16 with four minutes left, but Minnesota kept fighting. Kirk Cousins connected with K.J. Osborn with just under three minutes to go, pulling Minnesota within eight at 31-23. Needing a first down to ice the game, Detroit got creative once again. Jared Goff dropped back to pass and connected with wide-open left tackle Penei Sewell for the first down. The Lions added a field goal with 17 seconds to play, putting the Vikings away once and for all, 34-23.
Next Week: Minnesota: vs. Indianapolis, Detroit: at N.Y. Jets
Jaguars 36, Titans 22
Titans’ running back Derrick Henry has dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars throughout his career and picked up right where he left off last season with a rushing touchdown on the Titans’ first drive of the afternoon. Jacksonville’s No. 1 overall pick from April’s NFL Draft, Travon Walker, helped them battle back into a tie early with a sack of Titans’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill forcing a fumble, which the Jaguars turned into an Evan Engram touchdown catch moments later. Tannehill bounced back with a touchdown pass on Tennessee’s next drive to Chigoziem Okonkwo from 10 yards out, completing a 14-7 first quarter that saw Derrick Henry rush for 96 yards. Jacksonville’s defense created a second turnover to set up another opportunity on Tennessee’s next possession. Andrew Wingard’s interception set up the Jaguars in Titans’ territory, where they’d settle for a field goal and a 14-10 deficit with nine minutes before the half. After another Jaguars’ field goal made it 14-13, their defense forced a third turnover – this time a fumble from Derrick Henry as the first half reached the two-minute warning. Trevor Lawrence connected with Zay Jones before halftime, giving the Jaguars a 20-14 advantage despite being unable to stop Derrick Henry. Jacksonville extended its lead in the third quarter when Lawrence plowed into the end zone himself, making it 27-14 with 7:53 to go in the period. Jacksonville‘s dominance continued when Trevor Lawrence’s third passing touchdown of the game was also Evan Engram’s second receiving touchdown of the game, extending the score to 33-14 Jaguars. A Jacksonville field goal made it 36-14, but Ryan Tannehill’s touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine made it 36-22 with still more than seven minutes to go. The Titans would not muster anything more as the clock wound down, and Jacksonville broke a nine-game losing streak in Nashville. Derrick Henry finished with just two yards rushing in the second half.
Next Week: Jacksonville: vs. Dallas, Tennessee: at L.A. Chargers
Eagles 48, Giants 22
The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants met Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in a battle of teams exceeding expectations within a division exceeding expectations as a whole. After a stop by the Eagles’ defense to begin the chilly afternoon, Philadelphia drove downfield with the help of a penalty on New York’s defense en route to a rushing touchdown by Miles Sanders. On Philadelphia’s next trip into New York territory in the second quarter, the Eagles would elect to go for it on fourth down with 7 yards to go. Not only did they convert, but Jalen Hurts’ pass to Devonta Smith covered 41 yards and put Philly ahead 14-0. Philadelphia’s first half dominance continued with eight minutes to play in the second quarter when Jalen Hurts’ second passing touchdown of the day connected with A.J. Brown. New York finally found a potentially momentum-changing play with just over four minutes before halftime, blocking Philadelphia’s punt from its own end zone. The special teams play for the Giants set up their first score moments later, a 2-yard pass from Daniel Jones to Isaiah Hodgins making it 21-7. A Jake Elliott field goal extended Philadelphia’s lead to 24-7 heading into the intermission. After Philadelphia extended its lead to 27-7 early in the third quarter, the Giants responded with a much-needed Daniel Jones touchdown sneak to make it 27-14. Jalen Hurts’ touchdown run made it 34-14 Eagles late in the third quarter, all but finishing off the New York Giants. A 40-yard run by Miles Sanders for his second score of the game made it 41-14 in favor of the Eagles with six minutes to go, adding to the rout. Even after Philadelphia’s backups entered the fray, the beat went on when Boston Scott plunged past the goal line. New York added a late touchdown when Daniel Jones connected with Richie James Jr. in the end zone, but it didn’t matter. The Eagles’ 48-14 win kept them clear of Dallas in the NFC East standings, with the rivals on a collision course to determine the NFC East champ.
Next Week: Philadelphia: at Chicago, New York: at Washington
Ravens 16, Steelers 14
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers met for the first of two rivalry battles to come this season on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh. Despite Lamar Jackson’s absence with a knee injury, the Ravens jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the early, going behind a Justin Tucker field goal and J.K. Dobbins’ first touchdown run since Week 4. In even more disturbing news for the Steelers, rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett was forced to leave the game last in the first quarter with an injury, replaced by veteran Mitch Trubisky. Trubisky’s first drive of the afternoon under center was a success, ending with Najee Harris’ 1-yard plunge to pull the Steelers back within three. Trubisky would throw two interceptions in the second quarter, allowing Baltimore to extend their lead to 13-7 on Justin Tucker’s field goal before the half. An injury to Ravens’ backup quarterback Tyler Huntley forced rookie Anthony Brown into the game in the third quarter, opening the door further for the Steelers. Baltimore’s special teams came up with a huge play late in the third quarter to keep their lead in place anyway, blocking a field-goal attempt by Pittsburgh. Behind a potent rushing attack, Baltimore extended their lead to 16-7 on Justin Tucker’s third field goal of the game in the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh finally found the scoreboard again with 2:30 to play on Mitch Trubisky’s touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth, making it 16-14 heading into the final moments. Needing a stop when the Ravens took the football back, the Steelers could not get one. Despite being down two quarterbacks in a raucous road environment, Baltimoreescaped with a 16-14 win.
Next Week: Baltimore: at Cleveland, Pittsburgh: at Carolina
Chiefs 34, Broncos 28
The Denver Broncos entered Sunday’s matchup with their division rivals from Kansas City having lost to the Chiefs 13 consecutive times, and few expected them to break that streak anytime soon. Kansas City’s offense moved the ball effectively in the first quarter but settled for two field goals and a 6-0 lead. The Chiefs extended their lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter when Patrick Mahomes connected with a wide-open Jerick McKinnon for a 56-yard touchdown. Mahomes found Jerick McKinnon for yet another touchdown pass on the Chiefs’ next possession, putting them ahead 20-0. The game only got uglier for the Denver Broncos shortly after that. Russell Wilson’s pass was tipped and intercepted with 4:32 before halftime by Willie Gay, who ran the football into the end zone for a 27-0 lead. Josy Jewell finally gave Broncos’ fans something to cheer for when he intercepted Patrick Mahomes two minutes before halftime, and Russell Wilson made the Chiefs pay on the ensuing drive with a touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy. The momentum continued to swing the Broncos’ way moments later, as another interception set up yet another Jerry Jeudy score for a 27-14 score at the half. Denver’s sudden offensive emergence continued in the third quarter, when Russell Wilson connected with Marlon Mack for a 67-yard touchdown to pull the score to 27-21. Kansas City finally re-extended its lead late in the third quarter as Patrick Mahomes put his escapability on display, sprinting outside the pocket before finding JuJu Smith-Schuster in the back of the end zone. The Broncos’ best offensive showing of the season continued to keep them in the game. After Russell Wilson exited the game due to injury trying to run the ball into the end zone, backup quarterback Brett Rypien delivered a strike to Jerry Jeudy for Jeudy’s third touchdown reception of the night to make it 34-28. Josy Jewell’s second interception of the night electrified the Denver crowd with six minutes remaining, a third mishap for Patrick Mahomes that set the Broncos up with a chance to tie the game or take a lead. L’Jarius Sneed picked off Brett Rypien seconds later, ending the threat and putting Denver on the ropes once again. From there, Kansas City controlled the football as the clock expired, preserving its 14th-straight win over the Broncos.
Next Week: Kansas City: at Houston, Denver: vs. Arizona
49ers 35, Buccaneers 7
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoped to build on Monday night’s frantic comeback win over New Orleans as they traveled to Santa Clara for Sunday’s game with the San Francisco 49ers, but nothing has come easy for the Bucs this year. San Francisco jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the opening possession, moving downfield quickly before Deebo Samuel’s 14-yard touchdown rush. 49ers’ backup quarterback Brock Purdy provided the next score for San Francisco on the second quarter’s first play, running the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out to make it 14-0. Brock Purdy’s breakout continued when San Francisco next possessed the football, this time extending the lead to 21-0 on a beautiful pass to Christian McCaffrey. With his parents sobbing tears of joy while in attendance, Purdy’s incredible half continued with an impressive touchdown pass to Brandon Aiyuk for a 28-0 halftime lead. As the second half began, the nightmare only got spookier for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Tashaun Gipson intercepted Tom Brady on Tampa’s first drive of the third quarter, and Christian McCaffrey broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run two plays later to make it 35-0. After a second Tom Brady interception killed another Bucs’ drive, Tampa Bay finally found the end zone late in the third quarter on Russell Gage’s touchdown reception. Both offenses were silent the rest of the way, as San Francisco turned to its backups for much of the fourth quarter. The win moves the 49ers to 9-4, comfortably in the driver’s seat in the NFC West.
Next Week: Tampa Bay: vs. Cincinnati, San Francisco: at Seattle
Panthers 30, Seahawks 24
The Seattle Seahawks could not afford to look past the 4-8 Carolina Panthers if Thursday night’s showdown with San Francisco was to be as meaningful as they hoped. Carolina jumped out to an early lead on their first possession with a field goal and quickly extended the score to 10-0 after Jaycee Horn’s interception set up Sam Darnold’s touchdown pass to Shi Smith. Carolina made it 17-0 early in the second quarter with another bruising drive, this time scoring as running back Chuba Hubbard reached over the goal line. Geno Smith found Tyler Lockett in the back of the end zone to finally get the Seahawks on the board in the second quarter, making it 17-7. After a Panthers’ field goal made it 20-7, Smith and the Seahawks responded with yet another touchdown – this time a pass to DK Metcalf – to make it 20-14 at the break. Seattle added a field goal to kick off the second half’s scoring, pulling within 20-17. After both defenses stood tall for much of the second half, Carolina’s offense picked up a huge score to extend its lead to 27-17 with seven minutes to play on Raheem Blackshear’s 9-yard run. Jaycee Horn’s second interception of the afternoon all but put away the game for the Panthers on the following Seahawks’ drive. Carolina kicker Eddy Pineiro added a late field goal to make it 30-17, but Seattle responded with a touchdown in the game’s final seconds to make it 30-24. The Panthers recovered the ensuing onside kick clinching a huge road win to keep all of Carolina’s playoff hopes alive at 5-8.
Next Week: Carolina: vs. Pittsburgh, Seattle: vs. San Francisco
Chargers 23, Dolphins 14
In what was one of the wilder games on the day, especially in the first half, two of the NFL’s most prolific passing offenses went scoreless in the first quarter against two of the weaker pass defenses in the league. The Chargers did have an over eight-minute drive in the first quarter that covered 73 yards but were stopped on fourth down at the Dolphins 2 to keep it a scoreless first quarter. The Chargers opened the scoring early in the second quarter on a Cameron Dicker 33-yard field goal. After forcing a three-and-out by Miami, Los Angeles found the end zone for the first time on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert to Mike Williams to give the Chargers a 10-0 lead in a game that did not feel nearly that close. With the Dolphins’ offense continuing to struggle, good fortune intervened and got Miami back in the contest. Jeff Wilson Jr.’s fumble bounced into the hands of Tyreek Hill, who raced 57 yards for a touchdown, and despite being dominated in every facet of the game, the Dolphins were within three in the middle of the second quarter. Los Angeles closed out the first half with a 13-play, 90-yard drive that found the end zone and sent this one to the half with the Chargers up 17-7. The 10-point margin does not begin to tell the story of how dominant Los Angeles was in the first half. The Chargers outgained Miami 249-55 and had 16 first downs to just five for the Dolphins. After three straight punts to start the second half, a game completely dominated by the Chargers on the stat sheet was about to get very tight. Tyreek Hill took a Tua Tagovailoa pass and streaked 60 yards down the sideline, and just like that, the Dolphins only trailed by three. Another Cameron Dicker field goal sent this one to the fourth quarter 20-14 Los Angeles. The two sides exchanged field goals in the fourth quarter, keeping it a six-point game inside of two minutes left in regulation. A failed onside kick by the Dolphins after a Jason Sanders field goal allowed the Chargers to line up in victory formation and close out the 23-17 win.
With the win Los Angeles runs their record to 7-6, keeping its playoff hopes alive in the ultra competitive AFC. Miami falls to 8-5, now two games back of the Buffalo Bills for the top spot in the AFC East. Next Week: Los Angeles: vs. Tennessee, Miami: at Buffalo