Henry stiff-arms his way in to the Titans record books
With the season winding down, each game starts to matter a little bit more than the ones in September. The playoff picture is getting clearer, but even those teams that aren’t fighting for playoff positioning are still fighting for their jobs next season. Players are either trying to pad their stats in a contract year, while others are looking to prove that they still belong on the roster. With that being said, Week 14 featured some crazy individual performances and more than a few upsets.
It started off on Thursday night with the Titans playing the Jaguars. The Jaguars nearly went to the Super Bowl last season, they started off this season by beating the Patriots in Week 2, but now they sit with a record of 4-9 at the bottom of the AFC South. It seems like the future isn’t looking bright in the future either, as they’ll begin their search for a new starting quarterback this offseason.
The Titans have been pretty average this season, but with a 7-6 record they still have a shot at a Wild Card spot, or with some help could catch the 9-4 Texans for the division title. They beat the Patriots a month ago, but since then they’ve been blown out by the Colts and Texans, which hasn’t been helping them gain any ground in the division standings. This divisional game against Jacksonville would be different though, as this time it was the Titans that came out on top in a blowout. The story of the game was Derrick Henry, who ran wild all over the Jaguars to finish with 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries, setting a franchise record in the process.
Luckily for me, I have Henry on my fantasy team. Stapled right to the bench.
As I mentioned earlier, teams are fighting for playoff positioning, or even just to make the playoffs at all. Over in the NFC, the Bears pretty much have the North locked up thanks to their win over the West-leading Rams on Sunday night. The Rams have been the most dominant offense in the NFL this season, but the Bears have one of the best defenses. The old saying goes that defense wins championships, but in recent years teams have been trending towards building teams with a high scoring offense instead. Well, the Bears win served as a reminder of just how dominant a good defense can be.
The Bears made Jared Goff revert back to his rookie form, back when everyone was calling him a bust, as he finished the game with just 180 yards, and those four interceptions shown above. Mitch Trubisky didn’t have his best game either, throwing for 110 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. However, Jordan Howard picked up some of the slack, rushing for 101 yards, while Tarik Cohen added 69 yards on the ground. Right now Khalil Mack is somewhere feeling lucky that he doesn’t play for the Raiders anymore.
Speaking of Oakland, the Raiders upset the Steelers on Sunday afternoon, after Chris Boswell slipped on a last-second field goal attempt.
For once, Oakland’s awful stadium actually turned out to be a good thing for them. It was more than just that slip on the final kick that helped the Raiders though. Ben Roethlisberger missed a large part of the game due to an injury, but while he was in the game he completed 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. While he was out of the game, Josh Dobbs stepped in to complete just 4 of 9 passes for 24 yards and an interception. Derek Carr had one of his best games this season, which isn’t saying much but he still looked throwing for 322 yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders have been a bit of a dumpster fire under Jon Gruden, and they just fired their GM on Monday, but they’ve loaded up on first-round picks and now it’s time to rebuild the team just in time for them to move to Vegas. Life as a Raiders fan sounds horrible.
Now, I didn’t want to talk about it but this was one of those plays that almost never happens so I figured I have to.
As a Patriots fan, this sucked. There’s no other way to explain it. Luckily, with the Steelers and Texans both losing on the weekend the AFC standings stayed the same. Now, right away I had a few thoughts about the end of the game. First, I think that the Patriots should have gone for it on 4th down inside the 5-yard line with less than 20 seconds left. Score and the game is over, but if not then Miami now has to go 95+ yards with around 10 seconds on the clock and no timeouts down by 2.
Second, I think having Gronk in at safety was a mistake. Tannehill doesn’t have the arm to throw a 69-yard Hail Mary, so you know the only chance they have at scoring was exactly how they did it. I love Gronk, but he doesn’t have the speed to keep up on defense and that showed as he stumbled towards Kenyan Drake as he tried to make a tackle. Gronk was on the field to knock a ball down, not make a tackle. This goes back to my first point, and if the Patriots didn’t score on 4th down earlier, then there’s no way Gronk is on the field with the Dolphins needing to go the length of the field.
Lastly, this game wasn’t won or lost on the final play. The Patriots defense struggled all game long, allowing Tannehill to throw for 265 yards and three touchdowns, while Brandon Bolden torched his former team for 60 yards and two touchdowns on just two carries, and Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake added a combined 116 rushing yards. The defense was exposed all game long, and a few missed kicks by Gostkowski ended up proving to be more costly than I’d like to admit.
In case you missed it, check out the Week 13 recap here.