What We Learned

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2022 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 2022 NFL season. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

SUNDAY NIGHT

LATE GAMES

EARLY GAMES

Dallas Cowboys
2022 · 9-3-0
Indianapolis Colts
2022 · 4-8-1

Grant Gordon's takeaways:

  1. Malik's revenge leads takeaway blitz. There were revenge games aplenty on Sunday. Thus, it's safe to write many slept on the Malik Hooker revenge game! Quietly putting together an excellent season in Dallas, Hooker came up huge to turn away his former squad. The safety hauled in a first-half interception that he returned 26 yards and followed it with a 38-yard fumble return in the second half for his first career touchdown. Hooker led a takeaway feast for the Cowboys defense, which forced five turnovers on Sunday, including four in a 33-point fourth quarter. On paper, this appeared to be a laugher. The Colts hung tough for a while, though, before the Cowboys turned in an avalanche of turnovers down the stretch to turn it into the lopsided result prognosticated by many. Hooker, an unheralded member of the defense, got things going in a big way against the franchise that made him a first-rounder back in 2017.
  2. Colts' season hits new low. It's often opined that blowouts are easier to get past than nail-biters. Less than a week after Colts interim head coach Jeff Saturday was left answering questions about time mismanagement in a close loss to the Steelers, Indianapolis was absolutely obliterated by Dallas in front of a prime-time audience. In a game in which Indy started with a 3-0 lead, the Colts suffered their most lopsided loss of the season, falling by 35 points. The offense had more turnovers (five) than third-down conversions (four). The defense, ranked sixth in the league coming in, allowed three fourth-quarter offensive touchdowns as the Cowboys scored a franchise-record 33 fourth-quarter points. At the onset of the 2022 campaign, the Colts looked to have a roster ready for a deep playoff run. After Sunday night, the Colts have lost three straight for a second time under a second head coach this season. These are hard times for the Colts, and nothing's getting any easier any time soon.
  3. As OBJ visit looms, Cowboys WRs shine. There's been far more conversation about a wide receiver who's not even on the roster than CeeDee Lamb or Michael Gallup 'round Dallas lately. With Odell Beckham scheduled to continue his world tour Monday in Big D, Lamb offered more evidence that he's settling into his WR1 role, while Gallup had his first multi-score outing since 2020. Lamb's statistics were rather pedestrian (five receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown), but if you're old enough to remember when this game was close, it was his stellar 20-yard touchdown that gave the Cowboys their first lead. It was an astounding effort as Lamb pulled off a Barry Sanders-esque spin off a tackler to avoid hitting the ground by rolling over the defender's body. Lamb is truly emerging this season, Gallup is finding his stride and Noah Brown has shown promise. Dak Prescott's wide receiver corps is in great shape. Could Beckham's addition make it even better? Perhaps we'll find out.

NFL Research: The Cowboys are the third team in NFL history to score 33 or more points in the fourth quarter of a game, joining the 2007 Lions (Week 4 versus the Bears) and the 1925 Cardinals (Week 13 vs. Milwaukee Badgers).

Next Gen stat of the game: The Cowboys had a 30% QB pressure rate with 10 players recording at least one QB pressure.

Cincinnati Bengals
2022 · 8-4-0
Kansas City Chiefs
2022 · 9-3-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Bengals punch back for third straight win over Chiefs. Cincinnati swung first, hitting the Chiefs in the mouth by scoring touchdowns on back-to-back drives to open the contest. K.C. battled back, finding its offensive mojo to take a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter. But Joe Burrow and the Bengals answered with ferocity, scoring 10 unanswered in the final frame to knock out the Chiefs for the third time in the calendar year. After red zone miscues allowed K.C. to jump ahead, Cincy played grittier, battling for yards and first downs like a starving tiger. Samaje Perine trucked his way for 106 rushing yards on 21 carries and caught several big passes to move the chains. The dirty work by Joe Mixon's replacement was massive. Ja'Marr Chase returned from a hip injury to inject big-play ability, catching seven targets for 97 yards, including muscling his way for a big first down late. Burrow then capped the game by threading the needle to Tee Higgins for the game-sealing first down. Every one of Cincy's playmakers stepped up in crunch time.
  2. Chiefs stumble down the stretch. Patrick Mahomes got his Michael Jordan moment, leaping over two defenders for a go-ahead touchdown, capping back-to-back TD drives to open the second half. K.C. was on the move again the following possession, but Travis Kelce's fumble near midfield changed the game's tenor. Leading by four at the time, the Chiefs could have dropped a hammer. Instead, Cincy took over and rumbled for the three-point lead. On the next drive, Mahomes was sacked on third-and-short, and Harrison Butker missed a 55-yard field goal that would have tied the game. The miscues highlighted a day in which the Bengals defense wiped out the big plays. The Chiefs generated just two plays of 20-plus yards (both catches by Marquez Valdes-Scantling). K.C. tried to air it out, with Mahomes averaging 10.1 air yards per attempt, but often came up shy. Even with Mahomes throwing for just 223 yards, K.C. still had a chance to extend its lead but fumbled it away.
  3. Bengals D steps up huge down the stretch. Once again, Lou Anarumo's defense kept Mahomes at bay for much of the contest, negating the deep strikes and forcing the Chiefs to play a station-to-station game. Linebacker Germaine Pratt came up with the game's biggest play, ripping the ball from Kelce's hands to force a turnover. Later, Joseph Ossai sacked the QB to force a long field-goal miss. Sam Hubbard (one sack) and Trey Hendrickson (five QB pressures) provided steady pressure, and the secondary played solid all game. When it looked like the Chiefs offense might steamroll through the second half, the Bengals D stopped them in their tracks.

Next Gen stat of the game: The Chiefs defense generated a season-low 15.6 QB pressure percentage (25.7 from Weeks 1-12).

NFL Research: Joe Burrow is the first NFL QB to defeat Patrick Mahomes in three straight head-to-head matchups. Burrow joined Tom Brady (3-3) as the only QBs to defeat Mahomes three times. Burrow is the only QB to face Mahomes multiple times and be undefeated in head-to-head matchups (including playoffs).

Las Vegas Raiders
2022 · 5-7-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Davante Adams put on another ridiculous show. The Raiders took a strange approach to the opening of Sunday's game, opting not to target their best wide receiver in the first 18-plus minutes. That spanned four drives, which unsurprisingly ended in a punt, fumble, interception, punt. Once the Las Vegas coaches did a little sideline self-scouting, they realized their error. And once the Raiders started feeding Adams, they flipped a 10-0 deficit on its head and dominated the game from that point on. Go figure! Adams caught eight passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns, giving Asante Samuel Jr. the business most of the game. On Adams' first TD early in the third quarter, he ripped off a beautiful double move to shake free of Samuel and give the Raiders the lead. Adams scored again fewer than four minutes later, completely tilting the game to the Raiders. Chargers cornerback Bryce Callahan had a pick-six that gave Los Angeles an early lead. But once he found himself singled up against Adams in inside trail technique with no deep safety help … as Morgan Freeman once said in that voice, "Good luck." Michael Davis broke up what would have been Adams' third TD with a fingertip, but Adams was virtually uncoverable all game. The Raiders paid a stiff price for him, and the playoffs might be out of reach at 5-7, but they have a true gamebreaker to anchor this offense for years to come.
  2. The Chargers are holding back Justin Herbert with play-calling, bad OL play. Herbert is one of the great young talents at quarterback in the NFL. But he can't do what he can do with what the Chargers have and what they're asking him to do. For three quarters, Herbert was under fire from the Raiders, a team that ranked 31st in sack percentage entering Sunday's game. The Chargers got smoked in the trenches, but especially their offensive line versus the Raiders' front. Granted, this is a unit without Trey Pipkins and Corey Linsley, so it's far from peak form. But if the Chargers want to get serious and maximize the special QB talent they have -- especially while he's on his rookie deal -- they need to get better talent and depth up front. Jamaree Salyer had a particularly tough game, but no one viewed him as an NFL left tackle. Most of the passes Herbert is asked to throw are short and intermediate because of this. Down two scores, with the Raiders sitting more back in coverage, Herbert was able to display his special talent. But once DeAndre Carter couldn't haul in Herbert's pass on fourth-and-9 with just over two minutes left, and the Chargers ran out of time to tie it up. At 6-6, the Chargers are suddenly in some trouble to make the playoffs. There's plenty of blame to spread around, but this Herbert malpractice is chief among the major grievances we have with this team.
  3. Chandler Jones broke out in a big way. Finally. When the Raiders signed Jones to a three-year, $51 million contract, it was with the idea that he and Maxx Crosby could form maybe the best pass-rush duo in the NFL. Jones, 32, had double-digit sacks in six of the past seven seasons, after all, with only the 2020 season (when he played five games) as an outlier. Through his first 11 games with the Raiders, however, Jones had only a measly half-sack he picked up against the lowly Texans. Sunday was Jones' reckoning, though, as he racked up three sacks in the game's first 22 minutes. The first two came on third downs, and the third was a 9-yard loss that led to a punt. And though he went quiet for a bit after his early sack spree, Jones did bat down a big third-and-12 pass with the Raiders protecting a lead midway through the fourth quarter. (Yes, the Chargers scored on the next play, but Jones deserved credit.) The Raiders' pressure was a big reason they won the rematch, with five sacks and 14 QB hits on Herbert's 52 dropbacks.

Next Gen stat of the game: On the 31-yard TD from Derek Carr to Davante Adams, the pass traveled 47.1 yards of air distance, featured a target separation of 0.8 yards and had a completion probability of only 23.8%. Adams has caught a league-high eight TDs this season on vertical routes.

NFL Research: With 85 TDs and counting, Davante Adams now has the fifth-most receiving touchdowns in a player's first nine seasons in NFL history. Only Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison and Terrell Owens had more in such a span.

San Francisco 49ers
2022 · 8-4-0
Miami Dolphins
2022 · 8-4-0

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Nick Bosa leads a dominant defense to victory. Anyone who questioned whether San Francisco's defense was legitimate received their answer in resounding fashion Sunday. Bosa took advantage of an offensive line missing its starting tackles, racking up three sacks and five QB pressures (pressure rate of 16.1%) on 31 pass rushes. That was just the beginning of the total defensive effort for San Francisco, which forced four turnovers, including two interceptions of Tua Tagovailoa. The final numbers say it all: 0-for-7 on third down, 308 yards of total offense for Miami, and just 19:26 of possession in the 60-minute game. Niners DC DeMeco Ryans had quite the challenge in front of him this weekend, and his group delivered well beyond expectation, constantly making things difficult for Tagovailoa, forcing Miami to rely on the pass (Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson combined for just eight carries and 33 yards) and forcing the Dolphins out of their comfort zone in a hostile environment. Ryans' group answered the call and then some, making a statement to the rest of the NFL in the process.
  2. Tua Tagovailoa's MVP candidacy takes a hit. Tagovailoa entered the weekend on quite a hot streak, but after hitting Trent Sherfield for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, the rest of the afternoon proved to be rough for the quarterback. Tagovailoa completed 18 of 33 passes for 295 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, and for a significant portion of the game, he was visibly unsettled. Tagovailoa missed a number of throws he'd typically complete, displaying accuracy issues the Dolphins haven't seen since before the 2022 season. One of his inaccurate throws (intended for Tyreek Hill) ended up in an interception, while another killed a promising drive in a one-score game. In all, Tagovailoa didn't look like the quarterback many have seen as a potential MVP candidate -- instead, he looked more like the quarterback who left Miami's front office unsure of his future with the team. It's just one game, but it was a test of the high-powered Dolphins against a premier defense -- and they fell flat, starting with their quarterback.
  3. Brock Purdy answers the call. San Francisco lost Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending foot injury early in this highly anticipated affair, forcing head coach Kyle Shanahan to look down the depth chart to the 2022 draft's Mr. Irrelevant, Purdy. Instead of leaving the 49ers in a state of offensive irrelevance, Purdy led them to victory with a stunning performance. Purdy operated Shanahan's offense as if he'd spent multiple seasons in it, completing 25 of 37 passes for 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Each of San Francisco's two touchdown drives came in methodical fashion, with Purdy engineering nine- and 11-play scoring marches and capping each with short passes for six points. Stepping into this game without expecting to participate would likely have left most quarterbacks looking lost, or at least slightly unprepared. Purdy, though, appeared ready for the moment and delivered, giving 49ers fans hope their latest replacement under center can keep them afloat.

Next Gen stat of the game: Four 49ers defenders (Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam, Arik Armstead, Charles Omenihu) registered two or more quarterback pressures in Sunday's win over the Dolphins.

NFL Research: The Dolphins had scored 30-plus points in four straight games -- which was tied for the most in club history and the longest active streak in the league -- before the 49ers held them to 17 on Sunday.

Seattle Seahawks
2022 · 7-5-0
Los Angeles Rams
2022 · 3-9-0

Bobby Kownack's takeaways:

  1. Geno Smith overcomes miscues to keep pace with 49ers. Smith started the game on a tear offensively, leading touchdown drives of 80 yards and 91 yards within Seattle's first three possessions. Then costly errors briefly sent things to a screeching halt in the third quarter. Smith fumbled the ball on a strip-sack by defensive lineman Mike Hoecht on the Rams' 40-yard line. Two drives later, Smith gave up an interception in Los Angeles territory again, although it was controversial. Running back Tony Jones Jr. appeared as close to down as you can be before having the ball ripped out. The Seahawks stalling allowed the Rams to take a surprising lead with three minutes and 56 seconds remaining, but Smith kicked things back into gear for a 70-yard drive and an 8-yard TD throw to DK Metcalf that he confidently ripped into a tight window between two defenders. It ended up being Smith's first fourth-quarter comeback since Week 17, 2014 -- a statement drive in yet another statement game for the Seahawks QB.
  2. Seattle's defense must play a full game. The Seahawks' porous defense was a sticking point in an otherwise successful start to the season. The unit allowed 30.8 points per game through five weeks. It had turned things around of late, allowing an average of 17.4 points in its next five contests before letting the Raiders drop 40 on Week 12. Both the good and the bad showed up for Seattle. The pass rush put pressure on Rams quarterback John Wolford all game, making it home for four sacks, forcing a fumble and helping to create two interceptions. Cornerback Tariq Woolen continued his revelatory rookie season with seven tackles, three pass deflections and a pick. However, Seattle also failed to keep an offense of backups off the scoreboard in the fourth quarter. The Rams put up 10 points on their first two fourth-quarter drives to nearly steal one late. That can't happen against better teams.
  3. Bobby Wagner's revenge comes up just short. Wagner claimed the matchup with the Seahawks was "just another game" earlier this week despite winning a Super Bowl and going to eight Pro Bowls in 10 years with Seattle. He didn't play like Sunday was just another game. Wagner was seemingly everywhere in his first showdown against the team that drafted him. He had two first-half sacks to add to his previous total of three in his previous 11 games. As an encore, he recorded his first interception of the year in the third quarter on a play where he ripped the ball from Jones Jr.'s hands. It was a classic example of a player wanting it more. Wagner did, but his best was not enough to power the Rams to victory. He finished Los Angeles' sixth straight loss with seven tackles (three for loss), two sacks, a pass deflection and the interception.

Next Gen stat of the game: WR DK Metcalf caught all five targets on passes of 10+ air yards for 104 yards and a touchdown.

NFL Research: QB Geno Smith set new career highs in passing yards in a game (367) and in a season (3,169). His previous highs were 358 yards in Week 17, 2014, and 3,046 yards during his 2013 rookie season with the Jets.

Philadelphia Eagles
2022 · 11-1-0
Tennessee Titans
2022 · 7-5-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. A.J. Brown gets his revenge game against former Titans teammates. Draft day didn't appear to be a pleasant experience for Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who could be seen shaking his head on camera in the team's war room mere moments after the Brown trade to Philadelphia was made official. Vrabel likely felt similarly on Sunday, watching his former star wideout toast his secondary a few times. Brown and Titans general manager Jon Robinson exchanged pleasantries before the game, but the now-Eagles star -- who has had some fumble issues lately -- turned vengeful in grabbing eight catches (on 10 targets) for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Brown was as wide open as you'll see on his first TD after the Titans defensive back fell down, coming one play after what appeared to be a Brown score was taken off the board because he stepped out of bounds. The second score came on a pump and go, with great coverage from Titans cornerback Trey Avery, but Brown just vacuumed up the ball and found himself on the sideline early in what would be a laugher by game's end.
  2. Teams with strong defensive fronts can hurt the Titans. Last week, the Bengals didn't stack the box against the Titans and Derrick Henry, opting not to blitz that often and typically trusting their four-man defensive line would hold up. It did in a big way, holding Henry to 38 yards on 17 carries and pressuring Ryan Tannehill steadily enough. That seemed to be the formula adopted by the Eagles -- and they arguably pulled it off even better than Cincinnati did. The Eagles did play it a little differently, playing a lot of man defense and lining up predominantly with a "Tite" front that helps jam up everything in between the tackles, with two athletic ends who can help stem the outside runs. (The return of rookie nose tackle Jordan Davis also didn't hurt, even if he played sparingly.) The Eagles used that front to hold Henry to 30 yards on 11 carries (long run of 6) and sack Tannehill six times (and hit him eight times total). The group was relentless all game, led by Haason Reddick (sack, four QB hits) and Josh Sweat (two sacks, three QB hits). The Titans are having trouble blocking right now, and it's a major concern as we creep up on playoff season.
  3. Tough break for Treylon Burks after strong start. A well-circulated video clip made the rounds this week, with Burks apologizing to Vrabel for initially missing his assignment on a play that ended up with Burks recovering a Henry fumble for a TD against the Bengals. That was Burks' first NFL score, but he'd grab his first receiving touchdown Sunday to tie the game early. That was the good news; the bad was that Burks was clobbered by Eagles defensive back Marcus Epps, who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Burks, who was evaluated for a concussion, would not return to the game. Remember, Burks essentially was traded for Brown, with the Titans drafting him with the pick they received in the deal. We'd venture to guess that this game likely also meant a lot to Burks, who has played much better of late but surely wanted to prove himself with Brown starring for the other team.

Next Gen stat of the game: A.J. Brown has gained plus-183 receiving yards over expected on tight-window targets this season, which is 60 more than any other NFL player.

NFL Research: Jalen Hurts now has more games (two) with 300-plus passing yards, three or more passing touchdowns and one or more rushing touchdown than all other Eagles players in the Super Bowl era combined. The only other Eagles player to have such a game was Michael Vick on Monday Night Football against Washington in Week 10 of the 2010 season.

Detroit Lions
2022 · 5-7-0

Kevin Patra takeaways:

  1. Lions offense explodes, dominates listless Jags. Jared Goff diced up Jacksonville's defense, as Detroit didn't punt a single time Sunday. The Lions' nine possessions went touchdown, TD, field goal, FG, FG, TD, FG, TD, kneel, as the Lions gobbled up 437 yards and 31 first downs. Goff had all day in the pocket, completing 75.6% of his passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Amon-Ra St. Brown (11 receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns) torched the Jags secondary, getting wide open repeatedly and easily converted big third downs. The Lions toyed with Jacksonville, getting D'Andre Swift in space for nifty pickups -- the type of plan we expected more of this season. It was a sterling performance from Ben Johnson's offense that made everything look easy at Ford Field.
  2. Trevor Lawrence avoids injury scare but struggles to move the ball. The Jags QB went down in pain on the first half's final play on a nasty-looking sack. He'd return in the second half and didn't look bothered. But it was a forgettable performance from the former No. 1 overall pick, as he couldn't consistently puncture a previously limp Lions D. Lawrence completed just 54.8% of 31 attempts for 179 yards and a TD. The Jags suffered from mistakes, beginning with Travis Etienne's opening-drive fumble and multiple drops. Facing one of the worst defenses in the NFL, Doug Pederson's crew never found consistency, going 3-of-12 on third downs and earning a measly 266 total yards. Jacksonville desperately needs help in the receiver room. Some credit goes to the Lions defense, which has turned it around of late, flying to the football and avoiding coverage breakdowns.
  3. Jameson Williams gets feet wet. The Lions' first-round receiver made his NFL debut Sunday, returning from an ACL tear at Alabama. According to Next Gen Stats, Williams played eight snaps, including two in victory formation. The wideout earned just one target, a deep sideline shot he couldn't corral. The Lions will use the season's final weeks to get Williams reps and gear up for the 2023 campaign.

Next Gen stat of the game: D.J. Chark earned a plus-33.2 catch percent over expected on five receptions for 98 yards versus his former team.

NFL Research: The Lions scored on each of their first eight drives, the most consecutive scoring drives to start a game by Detroit since at least 1993.

Green Bay Packers
2022 · 5-8-0
Chicago Bears
2022 · 3-10-0

Kevin Patra's takeaways:

  1. Christian Watson stays hot as Packers storm back for win over rival Bears. Green Bay nursed a one-point lead at the two-minute warning when the rookie receiver took an end-around and blazed for a 46-yard touchdown, putting the nail in Chicago's coffin. Watson has turned on the jets in recent weeks, as he also caught his seventh TD pass in the past four games. Watson joined Martavis Bryant (2014) as the only rookie WRs over the last 25 seasons to have seven-plus career receiving TDs within their first 25 career receptions, per NFL Research. The 14-yard TD grab on fourth-and-4 with 23 seconds remaining in the first half breathed life into a muddled Packers performance. With Aaron Rodgers nursing thumb and rib injuries, the Packers leaned on the ground game and turned to Watson when they needed a big play. The rookie might have started the season slowly, but he's proven he has the explosive ability to turn games on their head. And it's clear that Rodgers and the Packers coaching staff trust Watson in big spots.
  2. Bears shoot themselves in the foot one too many times. Chicago's offense exploded out of the gate in Justin Fields' return from a shoulder injury. The dual-threat QB made some gorgeous deep shots, including a 56-yarder to Equanimeous St. Brown and a 49-yarder to N'Keal Harry on a scramble drill. Fields did well stepping up in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield to find targets. The QB also blasted off for a 55-yard TD run in the first quarter. It marked the sixth straight game Fields earned 50-plus rushing yards and at least one rushing touchdown, the longest single-season streak for the Bears since Gale Sayers in 1969. But the mistakes killed the Bears. Fields stared down St. Brown late in the fourth quarter leading to an INT. Chase Claypool fumbled in the second quarter when Chicago was on the move. A missed PAT and another game-ending INT in desperation mode were the kickers for a young Bears team still trying to figure out how to close out games.
  3. Jaire Alexander earns redemption with pivotal INT. The highly paid cornerback got beat on the Bears' two big pass plays. He was picked on all game, allowing six catches on seven targets for 128 yards, per Next Gen Stats. But when the Packers needed a play, Alexander came up huge. He read Fields' eyes and stepped in front of the pass for a game-altering pick. It was the type of momentum-changing play Green Bay has lacked this season. It's been a year of struggles for Alexander, but Sunday, he got sweet revenge against the rival Bears.

Next Gen stat of the game: Christian Watson reached a top speed of 21.72 mph on his 46-yard TD run, tying DeSean Jackson for the fastest speed by a WR this season. Watson has reached 20-plus mph on six of 30 offensive touches this season (20%), the highest rate in the NFL (min. 10 touches).

NFL Research: Beating their rivals, the Packers became the winningest franchise in NFL history (787). Aaron Rodgers is 8-0 with 19 passing touchdowns, zero interceptions, a 118.3 passer rating versus CHI since 2019.

Minnesota Vikings
2022 · 10-2-0
New York Jets
2022 · 7-5-0

Eric Edholm's takeaways:

  1. Vikings' two red-zone stands help deliver another late victory. Jets quarterback Mike White was originally ruled down short of the end zone midway through the fourth quarter on his fourth-and-goal rushing attempt before replay overturned it and cut the Vikings' lead to 27-22. Considering that the two teams had traded four scoring drives in the previous 11 game minutes, it didn't feel like that score would hold up, especially after the Vikings allowed White to find Corey Davis for 31 yards on fourth-and-10. But the Vikings defense delivered two big stops, in spite of the Vikings offense doing nothing (six plays, 5 yards) on its final two possessions, giving Minnesota 10 victories and putting the Vikings a step closer to a division title (they would have clinched had it not been for a Lions win). On the first, Zonovan Knight was stuffed twice near the goal line and two White passes fell incomplete (including some Vikings luck, as Braxton Berrios appeared to drop the fourth-down pass). The second ended with Camryn Bynum picking off White on the doorstep of the end zone, and that sealed the win. Those were two giant series for a Vikings defense that has taken some lumps but also found ways to come up big when games are on the line.
  2. Mike White couldn't quite dial up the magic again. This was not the Buffalo game last season when White threw four interceptions. But White was picked off twice -- including in the final minute with the Jets down five points -- was hit eight times and had 26 incomplete passes. Of course, White was asked to throw the ball a career-high 57 times, more than twice as many as he had a week ago, and he did throw for 369 yards and bring the Jets back more than once after they trailed by 17 in the second quarter. White stepped in brilliantly for the benched Zach Wilson last week and provided a huge spark for a team with legitimate playoff aspirations. That poise wasn't gone against the Vikings, but it wasn't as consistent throughout the game. His first INT gifted the Vikings an early field goal, and White and the Jets really didn't get much going offensively until a field-goal drive right before the half. The bright side is that White and Garrett Wilson (eight catches, 162 yards) had great chemistry, and White's clutch throw to Davis on fourth-and-10 in the fourth quarter kept the Jets in the game. But White and the Jets just couldn't quite finish the job in what would have been an impressive road win.
  3. Kirk Cousins starts slow, gets just hot enough. Sunday's win over the Jets was as much about the Vikings not beating themselves as it was anything the offense did specifically. Three Vikings drives netted 235 yards; the other nine drives prior to the end-game kneel down totaled a paltry 53. Cousins was partly to blame early, as he started 1-of-8 passing for 4 yards, although the Vikings' offensive line (without Christian Darrisaw again) struggled to protect well. Cousins did end the half on a 13-of-16 streak, throwing for only 100 yards but also taking care of the ball and leading three second-quarter scoring drives to provide a big lead early. The Vikings couldn't get much going offensively, as Justin Jefferson (seven catches, 45 yards, TD) and Dalvin Cook (20 rushes, 86 yards, TD) had ordinary days by their lofty standards. This might not have been one of the Vikings' best offensive performances -- and the Jets earn some credit for that -- but it was a relatively clean performance overall, with zero turnovers, two offensive penalties and just enough when the clock hit all zeroes.

Next Gen stat of the game: Jets WR Garrett Wilson was expected to gain 5 yards after the catch on his 60-yard reception; instead, he gained 48 YAC. Wilson has recorded plus-169 receiving yards over expected this season, leading all rookies and ranking 11th overall in the NFL.

NFL Research: The Vikings are now 9-0 in one-score games in 2022, which is tied for the most such wins in first 12 games of a season since 1940 (with the 2019 Seattle Seahawks). No team since 1940 has gone 9-0 or better in one-score games through a full season, with the best being the 2009 Colts, who went 8-0 in one-score regular-season games.

Baltimore Ravens
2022 · 8-4-0
Denver Broncos
2022 · 3-9-0

Bobby Kownack's takeaways:

  1. Gut checks, Tyler Huntley give Ravens some breathing room. Baltimore went 1-4 last season without Lamar Jackson, including four straight losses to end the season with an 8-9 record. Given that recent history, Ravens nation likely held its collective breath when the former NFL MVP went down with a knee injury at the end of the first quarter and did not return. Head coach John Harbaugh told reporters following the game that Jackson's injury is not season-ending, but may keep him out for a matter of "days to weeks." With Jackson's immediate future up in the air, a clutch game-winning drive that went 64 yards on 16 plays, including two fourth-down conversions and a Huntley rushing touchdown, has allowed the team to exhale just a bit. The first fourth-down conversion took place on Baltimore's 18-yard line with just over four minutes remaining, a roll of the dice that would have all but handed Denver a two-score lead. Instead, the Ravens converted and continued to convert. Huntley finished the game 27-of-32 for 187 yards and one interception, plus 41 rushing yards and the game-winner. He can hold things down for however long Baltimore needs.
  2. Ravens defense finds redemption. Baltimore's defense has endured a crisis of confidence this season thanks to the Ravens losing three games in which they blew a lead of nine-plus points. The team didn't hold a lead until 23 seconds remained in the game this Sunday, but the defense did close things out and was the main reason the Ravens were in position to sneak away with a victory in the first place. With nothing going on offense for most the game -- Baltimore went over 35 minutes of game time between its first three points and its game-winning score -- the defense held strong. It weathered two straight interceptions by Broncos safety Justin Simmons, including one that put the Broncos just 40 yards away from pay dirt, and held Denver to only three points off the changes of possession. The unit contained Denver through the air (189 passing yards) and on the ground (88 rushing yards) to force seven punts. Consider some of the swagger restored moving forward.
  3. A top-tier defense continues to be wasted. This one might be a new low for the Broncos offense. On a potentially game-changing play, Simmons intercepted Huntley and returned it to Baltimore's 40-yard line, setting the Broncos up to extend a 6-3 lead to a two-score margin. Russell Wilson and Co. sputtered to only eight yards and settled for a 50-yard field goal instead. When Simmons delivered another interception on the following drive -- a pick for a touchback on an ill-advised James Proche trick play -- Denver's offense managed just one first down before punting the ball away. That sequence of drives was a sad microcosm for Wilson and head coach Nathaniel Hackett's first season in Denver. The team ultimately paid the price when Baltimore pulled ahead, 10-9, in the game's waning moments. Wilson did orchestrate a 37-yard drive in response, but his scramble out of bounds instead of finding a receiver for more yards left Brandon McManus with a 63-yard attempt that fell short. It's the sixth time Denver has lost to an opponent that scored fewer than 20 points this season.

Next Gen stat of the game: QB Tyler Huntley threw 46.9% of his passes outside the numbers compared to Lamar Jackson's 35.9% this season.

NFL Research: The Broncos (13.8 points per game) are currently on pace to be the first team in the last 10 seasons to average under 14 points a contest.

Pittsburgh Steelers
2022 · 5-7-0
Atlanta Falcons
2022 · 5-8-0

Michael Baca's takeaways:

  1. Steelers offense finding its identity. Pittsburgh put together its first consecutive wins of the season with an offensive efficiency that promoted results over frills. The Steelers offered a healthy balance of run and pass plays that sustained long drives to keep their defense fresh and five of seven of their offensive possessions resulted in points (not counting the one-play drives). Najee Harris was the catalyst, running the ball 17 times for a game-high 86 yards while Benny Snell (26 yards) and wideout Steven Sims (19 yards) chipped in to help a unit with 154 total rushing yards. The healthy running attack made things easier for Kenny Pickett, who played mistake-free football, completing 16 of 28 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown with zero interceptions. A few errant throws from the rookie killed some drives on third down, but Pickett also kept a couple alive thanks to his scrambling, which prevented the Falcons from getting a sack. Though Pittsburgh had one splash play thanks to tight end Pat Freiermuth's disregard for oncoming tacklers, stretching the field is seemingly all that's needed for the Steelers to mold into a contending football team with a young QB at the helm.
  2. Atlanta's woes could soon conjure QB change. Marcus Mariota's limitations as a passer significantly hamstrung a Falcons team that uncharacteristically struggled to run the football against Pittsburgh. Following a rhythm-less first half during which Atlanta had just 28 rushing yards and zero third-down conversions (10:56 time of possession), the Falcons got back in the game once Cordarrelle Patterson (60 yards) and Tyler Allgeier (52 yards) got the offense going on the ground after halftime. Mariota found tight end MyCole Pruitt for the Falcons' only TD in order to make it a one-score game late in the third quarter, but his ineptitude as a passer caught up with Atlanta in its next red-zone possession, which ended with a disappointing field goal. Offensive penalties in that final scoring drive didn't help the Falcons' cause, but Mariota's fatal flaw pretty much sealed Atlanta's fate with a bad interception on their final offensive play of the game. Mariota went 13-of-24 passing for 167 yards (TD, INT), and his continued struggles, particularly on third-and-long situations, have got to be conjuring the idea of change for head coach Arthur Smith.
  3. Punters need love, too. Mike Tomlin elected to punt with the Steelers on the Falcons' 35-yard line with a minute left to play instead of trying to make it a six-point lead. It turned out to be a phenomenal call thanks to punter Pressly Harvin III. The 24-year-old booted a high-arching ball from midfield that landed right at the 1-yard line and bounced high up and back a yard or two for the Steelers to corral the ball at the 2-yard line. On the very next play, Mariota threw the game-sealing INT from his own end zone, and Minkah Fitzpatrick could've waltzed into the end zone if it were necessary. All that might not have happened if it weren't for Harvin's picture-perfect punt, and it was the ideal ending for a Steelers win that featured big plays from all three phases.

Next Gen stat of the day: Kenny Pickett completed 11 of 16 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown versus zone coverage (3 for 10, 37 yards versus man coverage).

NFL Research: The Falcons and Steelers tied the record for most 45-plus-yard field goals in one game in NFL history with five.

Cleveland Browns
2022 · 5-7-0
Houston Texans
2022 · 1-10-1

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Deshaun Watson returned with plenty of rust. The quarterback's first regular-season action in 700 days -- after he sat out the 2021 season and was suspended 11 games this season for violating the league's personal conduct policy -- went as one might expect. Though he completed 12 of 22 passes for 131 yards, Watson looked unsettled for much of the game and fired a handful of passes into the turf short of his intended target. Cleveland's offense lacked rhythm, which pointed to two factors: Watson's lack of live reps, and Kevin Stefanski's familiarity with his new franchise quarterback. This pairing is going to take time to develop, but there were glimpses of its potential, such as Watson stepping up in the pocket and firing a pass over the middle to Amari Cooper for a first down, and Watson scrambling and evading defenders for a positive gain. More often than not, though, Watson looked skittish and his intended targets appeared frustrated with a lack of catchable passes. Watson isn't going to return to star form overnight, but fortunately for the Browns, they didn't need him to be that player Sunday.
  2. Texans continue to drift toward the draft. At 1-10-1, Houston is clearly the weakest team in the NFL at this point and the Texans played like it on Sunday, starting with quarterback Kyle Allen. The former backup completed 20 of 39 passes for 201 yards and one garbage-time touchdown, while his two interceptions and fumble lost on a sneak produced 14 points for the Browns. Allen consistently missed targets downfield, often by sailing passes over their heads, and his lack of production undercut Houston's offensive chances all afternoon. The bright side is Dameon Pierce is a legitimate stud who should be an integral part of Houston's future. Pierce gained 73 yards on 18 carries Sunday, refusing to go down on first contact and causing headaches for Cleveland's defense. The downside, though, is that's about all Houston produced on the positive side of the ledger. Much of the rest of this offense is on uncertain footing in a season that will be best spent planning for April.
  3. Cleveland enjoys a banner day from its defense and special teams. For much of the 2022 season, the offense has been the least of the Browns' issues. On Sunday, they reversed that narrative in definitive manner, scoring a takeaway on the game's opening possession, and turning two more of them into touchdowns. Houston finished with 283 yards of offense and had chances to score, but Cleveland's defense stood tall along its own goal line and capitalized when presented with opportunities. On the special teams side, the Browns were largely flawless, with Donovan Peoples-Jones returning a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, Corey Bojorquez dropping four punts inside Houston's 20-yard line, and Cade York going a perfect 2 for 2 on field goal attempts. The Browns needed a total team effort to win Sunday and finally saw the other two phases carry the load for the first time in 2022.

Next Gen stat of the game: Deshaun Watson was pressured on 47.8% of dropbacks Sunday, 17.6% higher than Jacoby Brissett's average of 30.1% in Weeks 1-12.

NFL Research: Cleveland scored three non-offensive touchdowns on Sunday, giving them a franchise-best four for the season. The three on Sunday tied the previous season-high total of three set in 2015. Sunday was also only the second time the franchise the team has scored three such touchdowns in a single game in the Super Bowl era. The last time the Browns did so was in Week 1 of the 1989 season.

New York Giants
2022 · 7-4-1

Nick Shook's takeaways:

  1. Giants rediscover their offensive mojo. New York has spent much of the last month struggling to regain its identity with the football, but on Sunday, the Giants started to figure it out. The biggest difference showed in Daniel Jones' running ability, which saw the quarterback gain the most rushing yards in a game (71 on 12 attempts) since Week 7 and pick up five-plus first downs on the ground. Saquon Barkley finished with a per-carry average below four yards, but scored a touchdown and still made an impact offensively. Jones was sharp through the air, too, completing 25 of 31 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown. The biggest issue, though, came down to New York's inability to convert in important situations. The Giants finished 4-of-13 on third down and failed to get into field goal range twice in overtime, which they only reached because they couldn't put away the game when holding a one-touchdown lead in the fourth. Considering where New York was in the last four weeks, Sunday stood as a positive sign, but if the Giants want to reach the postseason, it needs to be a stepping stone, not a plateau.
  2. Commanders keep fighting. Washington had won six of its last seven entering Sunday in just about every fashion imaginable and enters every week with a belief it can come away victorious once again. The Commanders had plenty of reasons to believe their streak might finally come to an end Sunday, especially after the Giants proved they could get after Taylor Heinicke (they finished with five sacks, including a strip sack). And yet, Heinicke worked his magic once again, finding rookie receiver Jahan Dotson over the middle and letting him do the rest of the work on a game-tying 28-yard touchdown reception with 1:45 left to play. From there, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of Washington's defense, which allowed New York to flirt with a field goal but played just well enough to prevent the Giants from regaining the lead. It's a tie, so it doesn't feel great, but it was a well-earned tie in a game that appeared destined for defeat. Get your calculators out, because the tie is going to make things complicated in the NFC standings. And no one likes to complicate the competition more than the Commanders.
  3. What does one write about a tie? This game was entertaining, but it was far from perfect. Heinicke turned it over once via fumble and could have committed a couple more. The same was true for Jones, who flung a few passes into tight windows but luckily came away unscathed. Overtime became a battle of attrition, with both squads ending drives between the 40s. New York had a couple of chances to end it, but botched its first opportunity by dialing up some trickery and watching it fail miserably. The second time around, the Giants ran out of time before they could get Graham Gano within realistic range for a field goal. His 58-yard attempt fell short with a thud, fitting for the end of this one. Two teams that win games in similarly unconventional fashion fought to the end, so perhaps a tie was the perfect result -- even if it wasn't satisfying.

Next Gen Stat of the game: Jahan Dotson's 28-yard touchdown reception included plus-12 yards gained after catch over expected, the most on a Washington touchdown this season.

NFL Research: Sunday was the first tie for the Giants in 25 years. Their last tie came in Week 13 of the 1997 season. Sunday was Washington's first tie since Week 8 of the 2016 season.

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