Here’s What We Learned in N.F.L. Week 13

Here’s What We Learned in N.F.L. Week 13


Tom Brady is human, or at least human-ish. He threw for 258 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, but that hardly mattered as the Patriots’ defense led the way in a 23-3 win over Buffalo. Even with a so-so performance, Brady finished the day as the record-holder for most wins against a single opponent, with 27. New England showed some frustration even in victory, with Rob Gronkowski delivering an ugly hit at the tail end of an interception. The hit resulted in an unnecessary roughness call and put Tre’Davious White in the concussion protocol.

Seahawks 24, Eagles 10

Carson Wentz gave Philadelphia plenty of opportunities. He also made the Eagles’ biggest mistake.

Wentz took responsibility after Philadelphia ended its nine-game winning streak in a 24-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. Wentz was brilliant at times, throwing for a season-high 348 yards and a touchdown. He also was left to lament the most critical of Philadelphia’s mistakes: fumbling at the 1-yard line on the opening drive of the second half when the Eagles were on the verge of pulling even.

“We were rolling there. You just can’t put it on the ground,” Wentz said. “I saw the goal line and knew it was going to be close. I made that extra lunge and it cost us.”

Wentz continued, “That’s the story of the game, really. We turned the ball over and they didn’t.”

Still, everything remains in the Eagles’ control. They’re on the cusp of clinching the N.F.C. East. They can still nab the No. 1 seed in the N.F.C. and get home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Yet the loss to Seattle (8-4) exposed some truths about the Eagles. Yes, they can be run on, although it helps to have a quarterback like Russell Wilson. Yes, their run game can be stopped, although having to play from behind in the second half limited the amount of running opportunities.

And yes, for as good as Wentz has been so far this season, he’s still a second-year quarterback prone to occasional mistakes.

None was bigger than his fumble. The Eagles (10-2) went down the field with ease to open the second half and had a chance to tie it at 10. Wentz was headed for the end zone when Richardson reached out his arm and stripped the ball free just shy of the goal line, and it bounced over the end line for a touchback — Seattle’s ball at the 20. Eleven plays later, Wilson hit Tyler Lockett on a 1-yard TD pass to make it 17-3.

Wilson was brilliant while throwing for three scores and using his athleticism to create plays few others can even attempt. But it was Seattle’s defense that may have put together arguably its best performance of the season. Wentz may have thrown for 348 yards, but the Eagles finished with 98 yards rushing and just 8 yards rushing in the second half.

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Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons was repeatedly frustrated by the Minnesota Vikings defense, and the Falcons were held without a touchdown for the first time since December of 2015.

Credit
Erik S. Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency

Vikings 14, Falcons 9

The Vikings frustrated Matt Ryan, blanketed Julio Jones and kept the host Atlanta Falcons out of the end zone.

Minnesota’s eighth straight victory was all about defense.

Case Keenum threw a pair of touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score on the first play of the fourth quarter, but the guys on the other side of the line were largely responsible for the Vikings extending their winning streak to eight in a row Sunday with a grind-it-out, 14-9 victory over the Falcons.

“It was a hard one,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “We’ve got a good bunch of fighters on this football team, and I think maybe they really believe now.”

Keenum strengthened his hold on the starting job by going 25 of 30 for 227 yards. He hooked up with Jerick McKinnon on a 2-yard scoring play in the second quarter and went to Kyle Rudolph for a 6-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, capping an 89-yard drive that consumed more than eight minutes.

Minnesota (10-2) turned in a stellar defensive effort against a team that led the league in scoring last season, and seemed to be finding its stride during a three-game winning streak, averaging nearly 32 points.

The Falcons (7-5) were held without a touchdown for the first time since December 2015, when they were blanked 38-0 by Carolina.

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The Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski making a catch against the Bills’ Tre’Davious White.

Credit
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

Patriots 23, Bills 3

Rex Burkhead scored twice and the visiting New England Patriots (10-2) won their eighth straight in a 23-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills (6-6) in an A.F.C. East showdown overshadowed by injuries and cheap shots.

Bills starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor had a towel draped over his head while being carted off the sideline with a left knee injury early in the fourth quarter.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, meanwhile, was accused of making a dirty hit after pile-driving shoulder-first into the back of the head of Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, who was lying on the field after making an interception with four minutes 50 seconds remaining.

“That’s just dirty football,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said. “There’s nowhere in our game for that.”

Gronkowski was apologetic after the game.

“I’m not in the business of that. It was a lot of frustration,” Gronkowski said. “I just want to apologize to Tre’Davious White. I don’t really believe in those type of shots.”

Ravens 44, Lions 20

The Baltimore Ravens got another ball-swiping performance from their opportunistic defense, and this time — for a change — the offense also contributed to a significant victory.

Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards and two touchdowns, and the Ravens forced three pivotal turnovers in a 44-20 home win over the Detroit Lions (6-6).

Flacco helped Baltimore take a 20-0 halftime lead and directed three scoring drives in the fourth quarter to keep the Ravens in front.

After relying heavily on their defense for much of the season, the Ravens (7-5) finally received an ample boost from the league’s 31st-ranked offense.

Flacco went 23 for 36, Alex Collins ran for 75 yards and two scores, and Baltimore stretched its season-high winning streak to three games with its most complete performance of the season.

Saints 31, Panthers 21

Rookie sensation Alvin Kamara scored two tackle-shedding touchdowns and New Orleans took advantage of a pair of Carolina special teams gaffes to reclaim sole possession of first place in the N.F.C. South with a 31-21 victory over the visiting Panthers.

Mark Ingram rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown for the Saints (9-3), who own the head-to-head tiebreaker over Carolina (8-4) with four games to go.

Drew Brees passed for 269 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown to Michael Thomas.

Cam Newton passed for 183 yards and two touchdowns — 21 yards to Christian McCaffrey and 24 yards to Devin Funchess. Newton also ran for 51 yards. Jonathan Stewart added a short scoring run for Carolina, which had its four-game winning streak ended.

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The Panthers’ Ed Dickson was upended by the Saints’ A.J. Klein.

Credit
Butch Dill/Associated Press

49ers 15, Bears 14

Robbie Gould kicked a 24-yard field goal in the closing seconds, Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 293 yards in his first San Francisco start, and the 49ers beat the host Chicago Bears 15-14 on Sunday.

Gould made five field goals in his first appearance at Soldier Field since Chicago cut him before the 2016 opener. The Bears’ all-time leader in points and field goals made, he shouted at their sideline after he nailed the winner.

Garoppolo was solid in his first start since the 49ers (2-10) acquired him from New England before the trade deadline in October. The suburban Chicago product completed 26 of 37 passes with an interception. And the 49ers picked up the win after losing their first five road games.

Chicago (3-9) dropped its fifth straight, and coach John Fox fell to 12-32 in three seasons with the Bears.

Packers 26, Buccaneers 20

Aaron Jones had just one carry on Sunday, but he made it count, scoring on a 20-yard run in overtime to give the Green Bay Packers a home win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With the passing game struggling, Green Bay (6-6) wore down the Buccaneers on the ground. Brett Hundley had runs of 18 and 7 yards on the drive to start overtime.

The Packers grinded out a win to stay in the playoff race, though they trail N.F.C. North leader Minnesota by four games. They hope to get starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers back from a collarbone injury in a couple weeks.

Jameis Winston threw two touchdown passes to Cameron Brate in the quarterback’s shaky return from a shoulder injury. But the defense couldn’t hold up in overtime for the last-place Buccaneers (4-8).

Titans 24, Texans 13

LeShaun Sims intercepted a pass intended for DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone with a minute left, and the Tennessee Titans beat the Houston Texans, 24-13, at home to stay atop the A.F.C. South.

Marcus Mariota also ran for a touchdown and threw for another, but the Titans needed the interception to preserve the win with Tom Savage throwing for a career-high 365 yards despite the Texans losing four offensive players to injuries during the game.

The Titans (8-4) won their second straight and sixth of their past seven. The Texans fell to 4-8.

Dolphins 35, Broncos 9

The Miami Dolphins took an early lead for a change, and it grew from there.

Xavien Howard returned an interception for the Dolphins’ second touchdown in a seven-second span during the first half, and they went on to snap a five-game losing streak by beating the visiting Denver Broncos, 35-9.

The Dolphins were ahead at halftime for only the second time all season, and led after three quarters for the first time.

Thanks to a dominating defense, Miami (5-7) won for the first time since Week 7. The Broncos (3-9) went from bad to worse, losing their eighth game in a row to extend the franchise’s longest skid in 50 years.

“It’s a tough situation,” three-time Denver All-Pro linebacker Von Miller said. “A lot of stuff going on. The defense isn’t playing well enough to win. I’m not playing well enough to win. The whole team is included in this one. Tough times.”

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Leonard Fournette of the Jacksonville Jaguars scored a touchdown for the first time in six weeks and his team beat the Indianapolis Colts.

Credit
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Jaguars 30, Colts 10

Blake Bortles threw two touchdown passes, Leonard Fournette scored for the first time in six weeks and the Jacksonville Jaguars beat visiting Indianapolis, 30-10, sweeping the season series against the Colts (3-9) for the second time since they joined the A.F.C. South in 2002.

The Jaguars (8-4) bounced back from a last-second loss at Arizona, reached eight wins for the first time since 2010 and remained in the thick of the playoff picture.

Bortles completed 26 of 35 passes for 309 yards, with touchdown passes to Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole.

Chargers 19, Browns 10

Philip Rivers passed for 344 yards and hit Keenan Allen for a touchdown, and the host Los Angeles Chargers moved into a tie for first place in the A.F.C. West with a 19-10 victory over the winless Cleveland Browns.

Allen had 10 catches for 105 yards in his third straight big game for the Chargers (6-6), who have won six of eight to pull even with Oakland and slumping Kansas City atop the division with four games to go.

New kicker Travis Coons hit four field goals as the Chargers grinded out a win over the Browns (0-12), whose only victory in their previous 30 games was a 20-17 win last Christmas Eve over the Chargers.

Rams 32, Cardinals 16

Jared Goff passed for two touchdowns and Los Angeles took advantage of two early interceptions thrown by Blaine Gabbert as the Rams solidified their grip on first place in the N.F.C. West with a 32-16 road victory at Arizona.

The Rams (9-3) won for the sixth time in seven games to clinch their first winning season since 2003 when they were in St. Louis. They took the season series with the Cardinals for only the second time in the last 14 years.

The Rams had routed the Cardinals, 33-0, in London on Oct. 22 and were in the lead almost from the start of this one. Gabbert’s interceptions helped Los Angeles score 16 early points, including Alec Ogletree’s 41-yard interception return for a touchdown, and the Rams led the rest of the way.



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