Before we turn our attention to the Bears and Monday Night Football, let’s take a quick tour around the league to see how this week has gone so far.
The Terrible Twos
We’ll kick this week’s action off in Baltimore, where Jon Harbaugh cost his team a win in a narrow defeat to Green Bay, but he wasn’t necessarily wrong in his call. After Tyler Huntley pulled the Ravens to within a point of the Packers with a rushing touchdown with just 42 seconds to play, Harbaugh decided to go for two and a win over the Packers.
You’ll remember that Harbaugh made this call, unsuccessfully, in a Week 13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers as well, and once again…
The Ravens have now lost two one-point games in a matter of three weeks on failed two-point conversion attempts on the final drive of the game, and while the Ravens are now 8-6 and tied with Cincinnati for the AFC North lead, I still don’t blame Harbaugh for making the call that he did. Aaron Rodgers was 23-for-31 with 268 yards and three touchdowns, and the Packers scored at will for the majority of the game, so it’s pretty possible that Harbaugh didn’t feel confident that his defense could stop Rodgers in overtime.
Rodgers even said as much himself after the game:
Aaron Rodgers said he knew the Ravens would go for the 2-point conversion: "I think it’s the same reason they went for it backed in their own territory down by 11; they just didn’t feel like they could stop us. … I respect it."
— Ryan Mink (@ryanmink) December 20, 2021
I agree with Harbaugh’s call, and the notion that his defense wasn’t going to stop the Packers in overtime was accurate. If I’m a Ravens fan, I’m not even as mad about the call itself as I am the play. Check this out:
The dots on the 2-point try will not help any Ravens fans’ hangover this morning. Look at Huntley and look at Hollywood.
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) December 20, 2021
Marquise Brown was WIDE OPEN over the middle, and Huntley locked onto Marc Andrews, who was flanked by Eric Stokes and Darnell Savage. The win for the Packers was No. 11 on the season, and it clinched yet another NFC North title for Green Bay. With Tampa’s loss to New Orleans, the path to the Super Bowl in the NFC now likely runs through Lambeau Field.
Saints 9, Buccaneers 0
No, there’s no typo there. On Sunday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints blanked Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. The whitewash by New Orleans was the first time Brady was shutout since December 10, 2006, in a 21-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins. This game was so boring that the NFL’s Twitter account was literally cutting punting highlights.
But in all seriousness, hats off the Saints’ defense who held Tom Brady to just 214 yards and no touchdowns on 48 attempts. The Saints moved to 7-7 with the win over Brady and the Bucs’, but while they’re in the hunt for a Wild Card berth at this point, it’s probably a little soon to consider the Saints a “team to watch for” as we enter the final leg of the regular season. But the Saints do play Miami, Carolina, and Atlanta to close the season, so maybe?
The Bucs’ loss allowed Green Bay to move into the top spot in the NFC, and as I said, home field now probably belongs to Green Bay.
Steelers 19, Titans 13
Pittsburgh just keeps on finding ways to win ballgames, this time topping the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field on Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 148 yards and zero touchdowns, and the Steelers didn’t have one play rush for more than 18 yards, but the Pittsburgh defense held Tennessee to a touchdown and a pair of field goals.
Chris Boswell hit four field goals, T.J. Watt logged a sack and a half, and the Pittsburgh defense racked up four takeaways in the win. Pittsburgh is now 7-6-1 while the Titans fall to 9-5 and just one game ahead of Indianapolis in the AFC South.
Uh, Cardinals … What’s Going on?
What the heck is going on with the Cardinals?
happy holidays ya'll pic.twitter.com/2bM9W2Okj2
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 19, 2021
The Cardinals were thumped by the Lions in Detroit and have lost back-to-back games since beating up on the Bears in Week 13. The Cardinals are now just a game ahead of the Rams in the NFC West race and close the regular season with games against the red-hot Colts, the Cowboys, and the Seahawks. Kliff Kingsbury will be on a hot seat throne if the Cardinals cough up this division to the Rams down the stretch.
Meanwhile, the Lions have won two of their last three games and are 2-2-1 since their Week 9 bye… #BACK. (Totally kidding, the Lions stink.)
Colts 27, Patriots 17
The New England Patriots needed to be knocked down a peg or two after they rattled off seven wins and leapfrogged the Bills for the top spot in the AFC over the last two months and the Indianapolis Colts were just the team to do it. Despite Carson Wentz being ridiculously bad (5-of-12 for 57 yards with one touchdown and one interception), Jonathan Taylor rumbled for 170 yards on 29 carries and punched it into the endzone once.
Look, I know that the MVP is usually a quarterback’s award, but Jonathan Taylor is making as good a case as possible to be the first running back to win the honor since Adrian Peterson won it in 2012. The Colts’ second-year running back has 1,518 yards and 17 touchdowns on 270 carries (5.6 YPC) this season, and he’s almost single-handedly carrying the Colts to a possible AFC South title (now just one game behind Tennessee).
The Rest of Sunday’s Slate
• Bengals 15, Broncos 10
SO IT'S OUR BALL! WHAT A PLAY FROM @khalid_kareem53
Watch on CBS pic.twitter.com/TMM3AtoKaL
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 19, 2021
• 49ers 31, Falcons 13
• Bills 31, Panthers 14
• Dolphins 31, Jets 24
• Cowboys 21, Giants 6
• Texans 30, Jaguars 16
Cruising off with the dub ✌ pic.twitter.com/Ez2FggWqx0
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) December 19, 2021
• Every Week 15 touchdown from NFL RedZone:
• It’s a double-serving of Monday Night Football today with the Browns-Raiders getting things going at 4:00 pm (ct) and the Bears-Vikings capping things off at 7:15 pm (ct) tonight.