Week 15 Monday Review Column
By David McDonnell
Yesterday we put another incredibly exciting weekend in the books with three walk-off wins, two of them in overtime.
Most of the rest of the games were just very close for the most part so let’s get to it and review the best of yesterday’s action.
The best place to start is in Las Vegas which finished in the most unpatriotic way for the Patriots.
For anyone who was on the wrong end of the Pats playing mistake free football and grinding out wins for almost a quarter of a century, yesterday they got some payback and then some more, with what can only be described as a wonderfully unexpected epic finale.
It was the Master versus the Apprentice as Belichick came up against his long-time offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in what turned out to be a very entertaining contest.
The Raiders were healthier than they have been on offence all season with both Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller in the starting line-up and it was the latter that got things going when he ghosted past the defence to catch a touchdown pass.
In the third quarter, safety Kyle Duggar showed his offence how to score touchdowns when the veteran read Derek Carr like a book for a pick-six.
Rhamondre Stevenson had been the standout player on the Pats offence with 172 rushing and with less than four minutes left in the game, the running-back cut through the Raiders defence for a touchdown.
It put the ball back in Derek Carr’s court and the QB didn’t disappoint and retook the lead when he found Keelan Cole in single coverage with a great throw over the top to tie the game with 32 seconds left.
It was a controversial call as one of Cole’s feet looked to have gone out of bounds, which wouldn’t have made the Pats head coach very happy.
Worse was to come for Belichick.
Just as we prepared ourselves for the third overtime of the night, we got one of the most memorable plays of his reign in New England when Jacoby Myers made a game deciding brain fart after the clock had already reached zero.
What a crazy NFL moment, one for the ages!!!!
Let’s take a look from another angle.
It must have been a very satisfying score for Chandler Jones, who was traded away from the Pats a number of years ago.
In fairness to Belichick, he didn’t throw Jacobi Myers under the bus in the press conference afterwards.
Cowboys v Jaguars
In the second quarter the Dallas Cowboys must have thought they were well on their way to securing their playoff position when they took a 14-0 lead but it didn’t turn out that way as this game went to overtime before it was decided.
Trevor Laurence has just turned the corner in recent weeks and the many doubts about him delivering on his unquestionable potential are fading by the week. Ever since he got that late win against the Ravens a few weeks ago, he has been excellent and this week it was all about keeping up with the Jones.
Laurence found his favourite target Zay Jones for three touchdown passes, the best of which was this Trev throw on the run for a 59-yard score.
It reduced the Cowboys lead to 10 points and it was game on!!!
Dak Prescott has been inconsistent of late and threw an interception and the Cowboys were duly punished when Laurence found Marvin Jones on third down late in the third quarter to leave just three points separating the sides.
Dak then led a drive to retake the lead when he found the very impressive Noah Brown with the minutes remaining. At the very end of regulation, Riley Patterson kicked over from 48 yards to send the game to overtime.
The game was decided when a ball thrown by Dak was deflected and Rayshawn Jenkins capped a red letter day, where he had 18 tackles and two interceptions, with this walk-off 52-yard pick-six.
With it the Jags playoff chances are greatly renewed and they are now only one game behind the Tennessee Titans, who have lost their winning mojo.
The best moment of the Titans v Chargers game was this heads up play by corner-back Roger McCreary, who jumped out of play and passed the ball midair to Joshua Kalu for an amazing interception.
Justin Herbert has been balling of late and he found Mike Williams late in the game to set up a field goal, which Cameron Dicker dispatched for the win.
The result puts the Chargers in the sixth position in the AFC on 8-4, just ahead of the Miami Dolphins after beating them in their head-to-head matchup a week ago.
The third walk off win of the night came as the Texans surprisingly brought the Kansas City Chiefs to overtime.
With the score tied 24-24, the Texans stopped the Chiefs first drive in overtime and had the chance to drive for a game0winning field goal. However, Frank Clark punched the ball clear from Davis Mills for a fumble and on the next play Jerrick McKinnon ran in from 26 yards for the walk-off win.
The Texans have won only one game all season but they are competing hard every week and general manager Nick Caserio has knocked their draft class out of the park and given this franchise a solid base to build on going forward.
Lovie Smith seems to be enjoying his seat at the top table and this Texans team is heading in the right direction.
Jets v Lions
A game that had huge playoff significance saw the Lions win the sixth game in their last seven outings, this time against the New York Jets.
The first score of the contest was a 47-yard punt return from Kalif Raymond.
Zach Wilson was under centre for the New York franchise and he had a good day throwing for 317 yards and two touchdowns. He routinely found Garrett Wilson and threw an excellent pass to CJ Uzomah in the second quarter.
Wilson did throw a costly interception in the third but he found Uzomah for a second TD that saw the Jets into a late fourth quarter lead.
The Lions responded when Dan Campbell went for it on fourth and inches, which resulted in a play-action call that saw Brock Wright go for a 50 yard touchdown.
It gave Detroit a three-point lead and Wilson managed to put them into field goal range but Greg the Leg couldn’t force overtime with his 58-yard kick.
There was another late finish as the Saints won on the road against their divisional rival Falcons.
The New Orleans offence can be unpredictable with their two QBs continuing to rotate and both Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill found Juwan Johnson for touchdowns.
It was third-round pick Desmond Ridder’s first NFL start for the Falcons but it wasn’t enough to bring home the W. Instead, it was another rookie that caught the eye on the day as running-back Tyler Allgeier averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Ridder did have a chance to lead a late drive with the scores 18-21 but rookie Drake London caught the ball to pick up a first down, but lost it in contact and the Saints recovered it to effectively end the game.
The Bengals are now the top seed in the AFC North after staging a second half comeback against the Bucs.
It was an impressive win but an even more so a demoralising loss as the Buccaneers went from leading by 17 points late in the second quarter to trailing by 17 by the middle of the fourth quarter.
A lot of it was of their own making.
First Gio Bernard seemed surprised to be snapped the ball during a punt, then a 23 yard sack on Burrow was called off for a foul. This was followed up by fumbles by Brady and Fournette on successive drives. Inextricably, the Bucs didn’t even manage to get out of their own half for the entire third quarter.
All these mistakes were punished on the scoreboard and the Bengals led 20–17 by the end of the third quarter. Burrow then found Chase at the start of the fourth in an all too easy turnaround.
The Steelers defence shut down Carolina’s rushing attack with Chuba Hubbard their leading rusher with a mere 10 yards. The best of the Steelers three touchdowns was this angry run from Najee Harris, who got into the endzone for the fourth game in a row.
Bret Rypien threw 21/26 as the Broncos overcame a tame second half challenge from the Arizona Cardinals that had Trace McSorley replace the injured Colt McCoy at quarterback.
The Eagles extended their record to 13-1 after a hard fought affair with the Bears in Chicago.
Justin Fields almost won Touchdown of the Week for the fourth time this season, but he was judged to have stepped out of play with this amazing effort.
He did find Montgomery soon after to finish the touchdown drive. However, Jalen Hurts showed what he could do with ball in hand and ran for two touchdowns in helping the Eagles to another road win.
All four teams in the NFC East currently occupy playoff positions after the Giants won against the Commanders that also had its share of late drama.
Here is a link to that match report: https://tinyurl.com/bdxpj8er
Watch out for our Monday Night Football preview a little later.