In what has been a crazy NFL season so far, Week 12 provided its fair share of craziness. Here are my thoughts about scores and events around the league this week.
Houston Texans (3-7) vs Detroit Lions (4-6)
Final Score: Texans win, 41-25
Player of the Game: Deshaun Watson: 17/25, 318 yards, 4 TDs; 8 carries, 24 yards
While they may have lost this Thanksgiving day battle, it gave Lions fans something to be thankful for. Their blowout loss to the 3-7 Texans seemed to be the last straw for Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp, and she finally fired General Manager Bob Quinn and Head Coach Matt Patricia. This was a move fans had been begging to take place for almost two years. For the Texans, it brought forth a new question: does interim Head Coach Romeo Crennel have what it takes to be their future Head Coach? Since Bill O’Brien’s firing, Crennel and the Texans are 3-3, and Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been playing the best football of his career. There is an old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and I think it would be wise for Houston to follow this logic and stick with Crennel.
Washington Football Team (3-7) vs Dallas Cowboys (3-7)
Final Score: Football Team wins, 41-16
Player of the Game: Terry McLaurin: 7 catches, 92 yards, 1 tackle
Based on record alone, this might seem like it was a battle of bottom-feeders. But due to these teams both playing in the vaunted NFC East, it was a crucial game in the race for the division. Washington’s win in this game actually vaulted them into first place in the division until around 4 pm on Sunday due to a Giants win (which will be discussed later). Washington showed that their defense is legit in this game, forcing two turnovers and sacking Andy Dalton four times, albeit against a depleted Cowboys offensive line (three injured starters). Washington has a great future in this league if they can figure things out on the offensive side of the ball, which they managed to do Thursday (against one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but still), mostly on the back of a great performance by Runningback Antonio Gibson (20 carries, 105 yards, 3 TDs; 5 catches, 21 yards). Normally, a performance of this caliber would warrant player of the game consideration, but the hustle of Terry McLaurin to chase down Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith on an interception and save a touchdown, a 4 point play if you will, earns him the honors for me this week. As for the Cowboys, their season is over due to injuries, and head coach Mike McCarthy does not seem to have control over the locker room.
New York Giants (3-7) vs Cincinnati Bengals (2-7-1)
Final Score: Giants win, 19-17
Player of the Game: Logan Ryan: 6 tackles, 1 Pass Breakup, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Fumble Recovered
The Giants came into this game riding the momentum of a three game win streak. Their defense played very well, albeit against a bad Bengals team, and they were able to hold on. They came out of Cincinnati with a four game win streak, but with one huge question: “How bad is Daniel Jones’ injury?” Jones has been working with trainers on a very limited basis all week and seems like he will not play in the Giants next game against the Seahawks. As for the Bengals, with Joe Burrow out, their season is over, no questions asked.
New Orleans Saints (8-2) vs Denver Broncos (4-6)
Final Score: Saints win, 31-3
Player of the Game: Latavius Murray: 19 carries, 124 yards, 2 TDs; 1 catch, 2 yards
The Broncos came into this game with all four of their quarterbacks on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, emphasizing the importance of mask-wearing in the midst of this pandemic that is far from over. They turned to practice squad WR Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback for three years in his college days at Wake Forest, to lead their offense, and boy was this game a mess. Hinton threw nine passes, completing only one while throwing two interceptions. The Broncos ran the ball 33 times with five different players. The Saints, also missing their starting quarterback, took a similar approach, running the ball 44 times in this monster blowout.
Baltimore Ravens (6-4) vs Pittsburgh Steelers (10-0)
Final Score: Steelers win, 19-14
Player of the Game: T.J. Watt: 7 tackles, 2 sacks, 3.5 TFLs
This game was the definition of sloppy. The Ravens came into the game missing a whopping 18 players due to COVID-19, and it clearly showed in their performance. QB Lamar Jackson was one of these players who tested positive, so the Ravens turned to Robert Griffin III. Griffin, whose career has been derailed by injuries, once again got hurt, and so Baltimore had to turn to their 3rd string quarterback, TikTok legend Trace McSorely. McSorely ended up throwing a 70 yard touchdown pass, but ultimately could not complete the comeback for the Ravens. The Steelers defense stifled Baltimore the whole game, but didn’t come out of the game unscathed; EDGE Bud Dupree suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. With their win, the Steelers improved to 11-0 and their quest to 16-0 seems more realistic now than ever before.