Big Ben Can’t Figure Out Brady and the Patriots
The NFL was treated with a glimpse into the future in Week 15, as the Patriots and Steelers met in Pittsburgh in a matchup that we’ll likely see again in the AFC Championship game. Over his career, Tom Brady has been dominant against the Steelers, owning a 11-2 record against them. However, things seemed different heading into this game. Pittsburgh held the top spot in the conference, and the Patriots looked underwhelming in their Week 14 loss to the Dolphins. The underwhelming play from New England continued in this game, and the Steelers built up a 17-10 lead by halftime. But once again, Brady showed why he’s considered the greatest, leading the Patriots to a 11 point 4th quarter, including a 5 play 77 yard drive that took just 1:10 to take a 27-24 lead. The Steelers still had some time, and it looked like they had scored a late-game touchdown of their own.
With time running out, the Steelers decided to run another play rather than taking a field goal, a decision that came back to haunt them in the end.
With the win, the Patriots now own the top spot in the AFC. The Patriots finish their season with games at home against the Bills and Jets, while the Steelers have the Texans and Browns left. Assuming both teams finish with the same record, the Patriots will have home field advantage through the playoffs, and the Steelers will have the #2 seed in the conference. With no other real threat in the AFC, get ready for a rematch between these two teams next month.
While the Patriots and Steelers have been fighting for the #1 seed, the Raiders and Cowboys have just been trying to fight for a wild card spot. Neither team has had the season that they pictured at the start of the year. The Raiders, who were set for a playoff run last season before Derek Carr went down with a broken leg, haven’t been able to live up to their expectations. For Dallas, they’ve struggled without Ezekiel Elliot in their lineup, but the good news for them is his 6 game suspension is now over. This was a big game for both teams, with their playoff hopes still barely alive.
The Raiders came out flat in the first half, but luckily for them so did the Cowboys. Dallas built up a 10-0 lead at the break, but the Raiders began to fight their way back into the game with a 10 point 3rd quarter, and later tied the game at 17 in the 4th. But there were two plays late in the game that stood out above the rest.
The Cowboys kicked a field goal later in the drive to take a 20-17 lead, and with time running out the Raiders were driving towards the endzone.
With the game on the line, Carr was playing for the win rather than forcing overtime, and came up just short. The turnover pretty much ended the game, and all but officially ended the playoff dream for Oakland.
In the NFC Wildcard picture, the Green Bay Packers were still hanging on to their last hope of a playoff appearance and they finally had their star quarterback again. Rodgers had been out since Week 6 with a broken collarbone, but was back with enough time to save the season for Green Bay. His first game back was against a tough opponent in the Panthers, and Rodgers definitely showed some signs of rust. He was intercepted 3 times, but despite that the Packers were in the game until the end. Rodgers finished the game with 290 yards, with 3 touchdowns and those 3 interceptions, and the Packers lost 31-24. After the Falcons beat the Tampa Bay on Monday night, the Packers were officially eliminated from playoff contention, and Rodgers was placed on injured reserve to end his season.
In case you missed it, check out the Week 14 recap here.