By David McDonnell
I usually start every week with a load of superlatives about just how good the NFL was the previous evening and today I am going to bang the same drum once again as the NFL served up a Sunday dinner and dessert full of sporting drama.
There is quite a lot to get through so sit back, put on your seat-belt and let me drive through the most important stories and a lot of thrilling finishes across the National Football League.
Ravens v Jaguars
Yesterday might go down as a seminal moment in the NFL career of one William Trevor Laurence.
The former Clemson quarterback won a National Championship in college and he came to the NFL with a well-earned reputation that saw him selected as the first overall pick of the 2021 draft.
For most of the season Laurence, like most of the quarterbacks in their sophomore season, has struggled at times for form and consistency but he looked every inch the superstar as he led an impressive winning drive against the Ravens.
I can’t think of a more notable moment in his professional career.
Let’s fast forward to when Jacksonville kicker Riley Patterson kicked the Jags into a one-point lead with four minutes remaining.
Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson threw a deep ball to veteran 35 -year-old receiver Deshaun Jackson for a 62 yard completion.
Jackson, the Lamar one, then found former Jag Josh Oliver for a go-ahead touchdown and a two-point conversion that saw the scores poised 27-20.
With two minutes to go, the ball was put in Trevor Laurence’s court and to mix up my sporting metaphors, the QB stepped up to the plate.
With the game on the line, Laurence found Christian Kirk for 33 yards, threw for another 20 to Zay Jones and then finished off the 75-yard drive by throwing to Marvin Jones for a six-pointer.
Instead of kicking the game into overtime, Doug Peterson decided to risk it by going for the two-point play and Trevor threw a bullet this time to Zay Jones for a go-ahead score with 10 seconds remaining.
Cue pandemonium in the sunny Jacksonville November stadium, but the drama wasn’t over yet.
The 14 seconds left on the clock were enough for Lamar to set up a 67-yard field goal attempt for Justin Tucker, who holds the NFL record at 66 yards. His effort looked to be sailing straight between the uprights but dropped just short.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s face told a story as it is the fourth time this season his side have lost double digit fourth-quarter leads.
Bengals v Titans
It leaves the Ravens joint-top of the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals, who also left it late to overcome the Titans in Tennessee.
The Titans best score came after Treylon Burks followed up a great run by Derek Henry for a second quarter touchdown.
In the fourth Tennessee led 16-20 and Burrow, as has become his wont, led the Bengals down the field and threw for Tee Higgens to score a go-ahead touchdown.
Higgins has been stepping up in a major way since the injury to Ja’Marr Chase and when Chase returns to the lineup, possibly next weekend, this team will be very difficult to stop if Burrow is afforded too much time in the pocket.
Chargers v Cardinals
There was more last gasp drama as the San Diego, I mean the LA Chargers won another entertaining match-up at the death against the Cardinals.
This was a ding-dong battle throughout with Kyler Murray was back after injury and he found DeAndre Hopkins for the opening touchdown
Very late in the fourth quarter the Cards led 24-17 and Herbert found Austin Ekeler for a touchdown for the Chargers to trail 23-24.
Just like in Jacksonville, the Bolts decided to go for the win and their risk was also rewarded when Herbert threw to Ger Everett with 15 seconds left in the contest.
It secured a win that sees the LA franchise who are now 6-5 and in the play-off hunt after overcoming a poor start to the season.
Falcons v Commanders
Another team who had a poor record early in the season but also are back in the mix are the Commanders who at 7-5, to currently sit inside the play-off positions. Interestingly, if the season was to end today all four teams in the NFC East would be playing football in January.
This was another game that went to wire as Washington, leading by six points, managed to pick Marcus Mariota on second and goal with only a minute remaining. Deron Payne deflected the pass and Kendall Fuller got his hands on the ball for his second interception in two games.
Packers v Eagles
Those who were expecting a low scoring encounter would have been majorly disappointed, as this turned out to be a wild affair.
After 15 mins and 6 seconds, five touchdowns had been scored as the game caught fire from the off.
On the opening drive Hurts who was outstanding all night picked up two third downs with his legs and brought the play down to first and goal for Kenneth Gainwell to punch it in and almost immediately the Eagles defence intercepted Aaron Rodgers.
This time it was Miles Sanders who took maximum advantage and the home side opened up a 0-13 lead inside the opening six minutes.
It looked by that stage that it could be a long night for Green Bay but when the lights are brightest Rodgers usually comes to play. On the next drive the Packers hit back immediately and a Rodgers led drive finished in the endzone when AJ Dillon powered over for a six pointer from 20 yards.
The Packers D then managed to turn the ball over on a short field by stopping Hurts on a QB sneak on both third and fourth down and Green Bay took a one point lead when Rodgers found Randell Cobb in the endzone
Before the first quarter was over Jalen Hurts had set off on another run to the two-yard line and would end the quarter with over a 100 rushing yards. On the first play of the second quarter they had their third TD of the night.
There were defensive turnovers from both sides which ended when Rodgers found running back Aaron Jones, who made an excellent scramble-drill adjustment and caught the ball at the back of the endzone to tie the game 20-20.
The first half scoring wasn’t finished and with 13 seconds left Hurts found Quez Watkins from 30 yards with his best throw of the night.
The game settled down after the break somewhat and AJ Brown got in on the scoring act to extend Philly’s lead to 14 points.
Aaron Rodgers then needed to leave the field with an injury and Jorden Love, remember the first round pick who has been riding the bench since he was drafted in the first round in the 2020 draft?
Love came on and almost immediately made a splash when he connected with Christian Watson on a crossing route and the rookie took off down the left sideline for a terrific touchdown to make it a one-score game.
Both sides added field goals as a wild night in Philly ended 33-40 as the Eagles go 11-1.
I wrote in my preview of this game that I expected the Eagles to go back to their winning formula and let their O-line lead them to another victory and that is exactly what they did. They ran the ball down the Packers’ throats all night and by the end Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders combined for 300 rushing yards with the rest of the team adding a further 64 yards.
Raiders v Seahawks
Another team, well one man who had a special rushing performance was Josh Jacobs who broke the Raiders franchise record with over 300 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns.
In contrast, rookie running back sensation Kenneth Walker led the Seahawks in rushing with only 26 yards but he did manage to punch in two touchdowns including this effort.
This was a very exciting game as the teams went toe to toe from start to finish. In the second quarter, Derek Carr found an unmarked Mack Hollins for a score with a flea-flicker set-play that caught Seattle off guard.
The game was a ding-dong battle and entering the fourth quarter the tie was evenly poised 27-27 a piece.
The Seahawks took a lead with five minutes remaining when Travis Homer found the end zone from 18 yards but Carr hit back. First Devante Adams managed to grab the ball despite Michael Jackson catching hold of his other hand.
A few plays later Carr found Foster Moreau in the endzone to tie the scores 34-34. Geno did have a late chance to lead a winning drive but Maxx Crosby sacked him on third down.
In overtime Crosby came up trumps again with his 10.5 sack of the season. I know it’s already week 12 but I’m calling that Crosby will break the sack record this season. Watch this space!!!
Soon after, it was all over when Jacobs ripped off an 86-yard walk-off touchdown to win the game for the Raiders.
On the day Jacobs was sensational, rushing for 228 yards on 28 carries and caught 74 more. Afterwards, I think it’s fair to say that his coach Josh McDaniels was happy with his running-back’s performance.
Another game that had late, late drama came as the Buccaneers visited the Browns.
Tom Brady led the Bucs to a 17-10 lead but Jacoby Brissett found David Njoku to level the scores with 32 seconds left.
The game went to overtime and running-back Nick Chubb burst in from close range for a walk-off win in Cleveland.
Mike White had a day to remember as he led the Jets to an impressive 10-31 win against the Bears, who were missing Justin Fields and had Trevor Siemien starting under centre.
White was in sensational form and will no doubt continue in this role for the medium-term future as he had a QB rating of 149.3 and threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns.
The most eye-catching was his throw to Garrett Wilson in the first half.
The 49ers won their fourth game in succession and very impressively in each of the last four games, they held their opposition to zero points in the second half.
Here they went one better and handed New Orleans their first duck egg on the scoreboard since 2001. DeMeco Ryan’s defence shut down their run game and Andy Dalton was the leading Saints rusher with 21 yards.
The 49ers have the ability to ratchet up the intensity and have play-makers all over their roster and they are getting healthier by the week. It is no surprise to me that they are regarded as genuine Super Bowl contenders.
The Chiefs were never in trouble against a Bryce Perkins led Rams. Of note Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce for his 12th touchdown of the season.
Tua made light work of the Texans and as the Dolphins took a 30-0 lead into half time. They even had the luxury of resting their starting QB at the break, and gave Skylar Thompson the second half.
Sam Darnold was back in the starting lineup and led the Panthers to a win against the disappointing Broncos to give Steve Wilks the fourth win of his interim coaching tenure.
And that’s it.
What a night of action. My fingers are tired from tip-tapping away at the laptop but thank you for your time. All socials media help will be greatly appreciated.
Later we will post a preview for Monday Night Football, as the Steelers face the Colts.