Week 15 saw many surprises. A win from the Jets, JuJu dancing his way into Bengals anger and another Brady comeback. Here are NFL analyst Wade Zanchetta’s top storylines.
Winless No More!
The New York Jets are no longer winless, but may be out of the Trevor Lawrence Sweepstakes as they defeated the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 thanks to the Jets’ defensive front and Sam Darnold’s efficient play.
As they moved behind the Jacksonville Jaguars for the first overall pick, New York avoided joining the rare company of having a winless season. Sam Darnold on the day showed why he should remain as the Jets’ quarterback if Lawrence is not available as he commanded the offence well and made key throws to advance his team downfield.
With the loss, the Rams struggled to cement themselves in this year’s playoff picture as they suffered the most embarrassing loss of the NFL season. If they are to rebound from this, they will need to find creative ways to kick start the run game and open up play action off of it for Jared Goff.
Former Oklahoma Sooners Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts combined for over 700 yards of offence in a 33-26 win for the Arizona Cardinals over the Philadelphia Eagles. While the young signal callers went back and forth in the desert, the big plays were made by DeAndre Hopkins who was unguardable all game long.
Hopkins finished the day with nine catches for 169 yards and the touchdown shown above, but was able to make crucial catches late in the game to help seal the deal.
The Cardinals also broke a trend which saw them win a game when Murray rushed for less than 31 yards. The sophomore finished with 29 on the game, but his 400 passing yards were more than enough against a depleted Eagles secondary.
Brady Bests Falcons Again
After being down 17-0 at the half, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stormed back and eventually won the game 31-27 to place themselves in position to win out and take the five seed and face the winner of the NFC East.
Brady was able to distribute the ball to all his play makers as he connected with eight different players including Antonio Brown for the game winning touchdown. Mike Evans was also able to get going after an inconsistent year as he had 110 yards on the day.
For Atlanta, this is another large lead blown to Tom Brady, someone who has plagued the franchise since their Super Bowl matchup which saw Brady erase a 28-3 deficit. In a down year for Atlanta, interim coach Raheem Morris has shown promise, but the team will have a lot of questions to address in the offseason.
Herbert Dives for Glory
In Las Vegas, the Raiders had their hands full with Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. After coach Anthony Lynn took the ball out of his rookie quarterback’s hands despite being able to move the ball at ease.
Once they limped into overtime, Herbert was able to make plays once again as he launched a ball to the goal line before diving in for the touchdown himself.
While Las Vegas had to deal with the loss of Derek Carr, backup Marcus Mariota put everything on the line and gave his team a chance to win the ball game late. With Mariota at the helm, the Raiders still have a chance to make the playoffs but will need help after dropping more games late this season.
Steel Town Slump
After starting 11-0 the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their third straight game after the Cincinnati Bengals took down Ben Roethlisberger 27-17 on Monday night.
Despite the pregame dancing of JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Bengals were the only team celebrating on prime time. They limited the Steelers to 40 yards in the first half and forced three turnovers to give themselves a commanding lead at half.
While Mike Tomlin has never experienced a losing season, the lack of postseason production and utter meltdown this year should be drawing questions about the coach.
With such a talented roster, the inability to run the ball and undisciplined style of play is something that should fall on Tomlin.
Want to see what happened in week 14. Check out Wade’s storylines here.