Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2021 Week 12 Part One


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Welcome to Part I of my Monday Morning Quarterback Post for Week 12. Since my Cowboys already played on Thanksgiving, it was hard to get too excited for the games on Sunday. Things didn't get any better when I watched a couple of lousy games. It wasn't the most exciting week of NFL action, but I guess we have to take the good with the bad.

Typical at this point of the season, some teams took a big step forward while other took a big step back. The top of the playoff races are becoming clearer, but the bottom gets a little muddier each week. With 17 games in the regular season this year and seven playoff slots available in each conference I assume things will go down right to the wire once again.

This post will cover half the slate on Sunday while Part II will go over the rest of the games on Sunday and the Monday night game. The Cardinals and the Chiefs both had a bye this week.

Just remember I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm extremely biased. Feel free to agree or disagree about anything mentioned here. All comments are welcome.

Game Of The Week


The Colts couldn't slow down Leonard Fournette

Buccaneers 38 Colts 31

This wasn't the top matchup on paper heading into Week 12, but it did end up being the best game of the week. A true back and forth affair that wasn't settled until the game's final seconds.

There are several ways to beat the Buccaneers. Turning the ball over five times isn’t one of them. The Colts gave the Bucs some fits, but in the end Brady and the Bucs pulled out a tough road victory.

The game got off to a muddled start for both teams. The Colts did kick a field goal in the 1st quarter, but the rest of the period featured 5 punts and a fumble by both teams. The Colts fumble came late in the quarter and set up a short field for Tampa Bay.

The Bucs took advantage of that short field early in the 2nd quarter to score the game’s first TD. That score kicked off a wild 2nd quarter that saw lots of points. The Colts responded with a TD drive of their own and then a Tom Brady interception set up Indy for another TD drive. The Colts went ahead 17-7.

Brady fired back with a TD pass to Leonard Fournette to cut Tampa’s deficit to three points. Yet Indy squeezed in one last long TD drive before time ran out to take a 24-14 lead into halftime. 35 total points were scored by both teams in the 2nd quarter.

The Colts received the ball first in the second half and had a chance to extend their lead, but instead started to commit the turnovers that cost them this game. They took that initial possession all the way down to the Tampa 20-yard line, but a strip sack gave the ball back to the Bucs. With the aid of a 37 yard pass interference penalty Tampa converted the turnover into a TD.

The Colts turned the ball over again on their next possession when Carson Wentz threw an interception. Once again Tampa converted the turnover into a TD. The Bucs retook the lead 28-24 and held it into the 4th quarter.

Tampa Bay started the 4th quarter with a punt that the Colts muffed. The Bucs recovered the ball on Indy’s 19-yard line. The Colts defense made a stand and held Tampa to a field goal that increased their lead to 31-24. At this point the Colts finally decided to hold onto the ball and running back Jonathan Taylor led a TD drive to tie the game up at 31-31. The problem at that point for Indy was there were still 3 and half minutes left on the clock.

Tampa Bay embarked on a long drive that chewed up those final minutes. Leonard Fournette capped off the drive with a 28 yard TD run that gave Tampa the lead 38-31 with 29 seconds left in the game.

The Colts got a huge 72 yard return on the kickoff by Isaiah Rodgers to give them a final chance to tie the game from the Bucs 32-yard line. Yet after an incomplete pass, Wentz threw his final pick of the day and time expired.

Gritty win for Tampa Bay. Tom Brady (25/34, 226 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) didn’t have his best stuff, but made plays when it mattered the most. Throwing the ball to Rob Gronkowski (7 receptions, 123 yards) accounted for the bulk of his stats. Leonard Fournette (17 rushes, 100 yards, 3 TDs, 1 receiving TD) was the real star on offense.

The Tampa defense got roughed up, but saved the day by forcing turnovers. It wasn’t a pretty win by any means, but contributions by the offense, defense and special teams all added up. Tampa Bay improved to 8-3, first place in the NFC South. They will travel to Atlanta next week. Outside of a game against Buffalo, the rest of the Bucs schedule is pretty soft. They are in an excellent position to make a run at the #1 seed in the NFC.

Painful loss for the Colts. They were in a strong position to win this game and gave it away with turnovers. That seems to be the biggest issue with Carson Wentz (27/44, 306 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs, 1 fumble). When he is on Indy can score with the best of them, but he gives up the ball way too often. Jonathan Taylor (16 rushes, 83 yards, 1 TD) was a forgotten man early in the game, but when the Colts needed a 4th quarter TD he led the team into the endzone.

The Indy defense contained Tom Brady, but got run over by Leonard Fournette. They struggled to stop the Bucs from converting all those turnovers into points. The Colts dropped to 6-6, seond place in the AFC South. They head south to Houston next week.

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss


Tough day for Ryan Tannehill and the Titans

Patriots 36 Titans 13

The Titans were able to bulldoze the Patriots on the ground, but several costly mistakes robbed them of any chance of winning. You can’t play a sloppy game in New England and a have any hopes of leaving with a victory. This was a close game in the first half, the Patriots ran away in the second.

The Pats struck first as their first possession ended with a Mac Jones TD throw. Their 7-0 lead held into the 2nd quarter, but early on in the frame Ryan Tannehill responded with a TD pass of his own. Tennessee missed the extra point attempt, the first of several miscues, and still trailed 7-6.

The rest of the quarter featured a flurry of scoring drives. New England kicked a field goal, Tennessee missed a field goal attempt. The Pats kicked a second field goal, the Titans lost a fumble. New England kicked a third field goal, Tennessee found the end zone again with a 68 yard TD run by Dontrell Hilliard. New England had a chance to kick a fourth field goal before halftime, but the kick went wide right. Halftime arrived with the Patriots leading 16-13.

The second half was all New England. They were able to tack on two more field goals and two more TDs. The Titans turned the ball over three times in their five second half possessions. The other two ended with a punt and a failed 4th down conversion. One of those turnovers was a real backbreaker for Tennessee as Ryan Tannehill threw an interception in the endzone after the Titans had driven all the way down to the New England two-yard line.

New England really had a chance to run away with this game early, but their drives kept petering out and they settled for a lot of field goals. Yet they were able to keep adding points to the end with the benefit of so many Tennessee turnovers. New England held onto the ball better, they had zero turnovers.

Mac Jones (23/32, 310 yards, 2 TDs) had one of his best games of the season. Kendrick Bourne (5 receptions, 61 yards, 2 TDs) was the recipient of both of his TD passes. New England passed the ball more than usual since they were having so much success in the air. Still the running back committee contributed, they gained 105 yards and a TD on 24 carries.

The Pats defense got run over, but they throttled the passing game as Ryan Tannehill couldn’t even crack 100 yards in the air. Solid effort all around for New England, who improved to 8-4. Don’t look now, but the Patriots have taken over first place in the AFC East. They have a crucial matchup next week as they head to Buffalo for a Monday night game.

Injuries are finally catching up to the Titans. They were able weather the storm for a while, but now have lost back-to-back games. Ryan Tannehill (11/21, 93 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) couldn’t get anything going in the air. It didn’t help that he was missing his top two targets in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones.

Of course Tennessee is also without Derrick Henry, but the backups filled in nicely this week. Both Dontrell Hilliard (12 rushes, 131 yards, 1 TD, 1 fumble) and D’Onta Foreman (19 rushes, 109 yards, 1 fumble) topped 100 yards rushing. The problem was they both fumbled as well.

The Titans defense only let New England score two TD’s in five red zone trips, yet they gave up 5 total field goals. All around rough day for the Titans, who dropped to 8-4. They still lead the AFC South. The Titans have a bye next week which they desperately need to try and get healthier. Even better news for Tennessee is they return with a home game against the Jaguars. That should just be a glorified practice.

Eye Of The Tiger


Joe Mixon shredded the Steelers defense

Bengals 41 Steelers 10

For the second time this season the Bengals kicked the Steelers dupa’s all over the field, this time in Cincinnati. It was the first time Cincy has swept the season series since 2009. If it wasn’t obvious before it sure is now, the balance of power has taken a significant shift in the AFC North.

The Bengals took control of this game from the start and never looked back. Pittsburgh had several players return on defense, but it didn’t matter. Cincy punished the Steelers on the ground early and often. Running back Joe Mixon topped 100 yards on the ground before halftime.

Cincinnati’s first four possessions ended in a TD, field goal, TD and another TD. Pittsburgh’s first four possessions ended in an interception, field goal, punt and punt. Up 24-3, the Bengals were on their way to another score when they made their first big mistake. Joe Burrow was intercepted at the Steelers 21-yard line. With only 37 seconds left in the half Pittsburgh decided to forgo taking a knee and heading into the locker room facing such a huge deficit.

It was a bad idea. Ben Roethlisberger’s first pass was intercepted by cornerback Mike Hilton and returned for a pick six. The Bengals waltzed into halftime with a huge 31-3 lead. The game was essentially over. Cincy tacked on another 10 points in the second half before the Steelers finally found the end zone in garbage time.

Outside of his one interception, Joe Burrow (20/24, 190 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was deadly accurate in picking apart the Steelers secondary. He exploited a mismatch with wide receiver Tee Higgins (6 receptions, 114 yards, 1 TD). Burrow could afford to be patient with his passes since Joe Mixon (28 rushes, 165 yards, 2 TDs) was pounding the Steelers line every time he touched the ball.

The Bengals defense stuffed the Steelers running game early and forced them to become one dimensional as the offense piled up the points. As we’ve seen this season, forcing the ball into Roethlisberger’s hands is a key to success against Pittsburgh. The Bengals improved to 7-4, second place in the AFC North. They host the Chargers next week.

It has become painfully obvious it is time for a rebuild in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have relied on their defense to keep them in games this year, but the D collapsed in Cincinnati. The running attack, led by Najee Harris (8 rushes, 23 yards), never found their footing and only gained 51 yards in the game.

That forced the bulk of the offense into the hands of Ben Roethlisberger (24/41, 263 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs). Ben is an old quarterback with a reconstructed arm and that is certainly what he looked like in Cincinnati. He needs a strong ground attack to prop him up. He isn’t getting it this year and the results are bad. When Pittsburgh falls behind Roethlisberger struggles to make the downfield throws needed to get them back into a game.

The Steelers fell to 5-5-1, third place in the AFC North. They host the Ravens next week and the schedule doesn’t get easier from there. Pittsburgh’s final six games are against playoff contenders. Not only are the Steelers in serious danger of missing the playoffs, they could be facing their first losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin. Tomlin has held the top job in Pittsburgh since 2007.

Around The League

Dolphins 33 Panthers 10

What has got into the Miami Dolphins? After defeating the Patriots in Week One, Miami proceeded to drop seven games in a row. Hell they even lost to Jacksonville. However since the calendar turned into November they suddenly are looking like the team that narrowly missed the playoffs last year instead of the bozos they were in the season’s first two months. With a trouncing of the Panthers Miami went a perfect 4-0 in November.

Miami received the opening kickoff, but went nowhere and punted. No problem since the defense and special teams were ready to play. After forcing the Panthers into a three and out, the Dolphins blocked Carolina’s punt and returned it two yards for a TD.

The Panthers responded with their first, and only, good drive of the game. Cam Newton set the Panthers up with a 64 yard pass play and finished the drive himself with a one yard TD run to tie the game at 7-7. It was all downhill for Carolina from there.

Cam Newton was intercepted twice on the Panthers next two possessions and Miami converted one of those turnovers into a short field TD. The Dolphins offense added another TD late in the second quarter to move ahead 21-7. Miami made their only big mistake right before halftime as they fumbled the ball to Carolina with one second left on the clock. The Panthers kicked a field goal to cut their deficit to 21-10 at halftime.

It didn’t matter as the Panthers offense was completely dead in the second half. Newton even got benched. The Dolphins offense kept chugging along, adding 12 more points to their total. The only blip for Miami in the second half was a missed extra point attempt as they cruised to an easy win.

The Dolphins seemed to lose faith in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa early in the season, but he has picked up his game recently. Tua (27/31, 230 yards, 1 TD) was excellent on Sunday. He has been helped by the emergence of rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (9 receptions, 137 yards, 1 TD).

The Dolphins running game still isn’t good, but it has been serviceable and that helps support Tua. The running back committee gained 111 yards and 2 TDs on 39 carries. Those numbers were a little skewed by some kneel downs at the end of the game

The Dolphins defense was dominant as they held the Panthers to under 200 yards of total offense. They registered 5 sacks and three interceptions. Top to bottom the best performance of the season for Miami. The Dolphins improved to 5-7, third place in the AFC East. Miami is making some noise, but it might be too late to salvage a playoff berth. They host the Giants next week.

The honeymoon between Cam Newton and the Panthers came to a screeching halt against Miami. Newton (5/21, 92 yards, 2 INTs, 1 rushing TD) was horrendous and eventually benched. His backup P.J. Walker (5/10, 87 yards, 1 INT) wasn’t much better. Even worse for the Panthers is Christian McCaffrey (10 rushes, 35 yards) was injured again and will miss the rest of the season.

The Panthers supposedly strong defense was picked apart by Tua and Weddle. Everything that could have went wrong did as the Panthers were embarrassed. Carolina fell to 5-7, last place in the NFC South. They host the Falcons next week. The schedule gets much tougher after that, it seems Carolina’s playoff chances are done.


Giants 13 Eagles 7

Oh boy this was one ugly game. The Eagles had turned their season around by giving up on the chuck and duck offense and embracing the running game. It resulted in them winning three out of four games. So what did they do against the Giants and their 28th ranked rush defense? Go back to chucking and ducking. Good Grief. Philadelphia realized the error of their ways in the second half, but by then it was too late as their offense never found a rhythm.

The Giants fired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett after last week’s debacle and Freddie Kitchens took over the playcalling. It didn’t matter, the offense still stunk. Maybe the Giants will now realize their offense is simply lacking in talent on the offensive line.

The first half was just brutal. The Eagles punted twice and tossed two interceptions. The Giants punted twice, kicked one field goal and missed another. New York led 3-0 at halftime.

It got a tiny bit better in the second half. Not much, just a bit. The Giants finally put a drive together with their first possession in the third quarter and scored the game’s first TD. Philly threw another interception before they figured out they should start running the ball. The Eagles finally found the endzone early in the 4th quarter to cut the Giants lead to 10-7.

More punting followed until the Giants embarked on a seven minute drive that ended with a field goal to go up 13-7 with 3 minutes left in the game. The Eagles still had chances but they blew them. A fumble by Boston Scott gave the ball back to New York. The Giants could have bled out the clock with some first downs, but lost yardage instead and punted back to Philly.

The Eagles had one last shot and drove to the Giants 27-yard line. It was time to put the ball in the hands of one of their playmakers. Instead they targeted Jalen Reagor. Whoops. Reagor dropped back-to-back potential TD passes and the Eagles turned the ball, and the game, over on downs.

Winning ugly counts and the Giants sure won ugly. The defense forced 4 turnovers and the offense could still only score 13 points. Gross. Daniel Jones (19/30, 202 yards, 1 TD) was solid at times, especially during New York’s one lone TD drive. Most importantly he didn’t turn the ball over. The Giants offense is so bad they can’t overcome turnovers.

Jones needs help from the running game, but he never gets it. Mainly because the offensive line is offensive. The Giants take that title too literally. Saquon Barkley (13 rushes, 40 yards) got some touches but found little room to run.

Luckily for New York the defense stepped up because 13 points won’t cut it 99% of the time. The Giants improved to 4-7, last place in the NFC East. They head to Miami to face the red hot Dolphins next week.

The sports shows around Philadelphia have been talking up the Eagles lately, suggesting Philly was making a playoff run. That talk stopped fast as the Eagles laid an egg against one of the worst teams in the NFC. Head coach Nick Sirianni put the offense back onto the arm of Jalen Hurts (14/31, 129 yards, 3 INTs) and the results were disastrous. It should be obvious by now that Hurts can’t lead an offense, he can only complement a good running attack. Maybe Sirianni forgot to watch game film.

Once the Eagles remembered they are better when they run the ball they actually gained some yardage. They totaled 208 yards and a TD on the ground on 33 carries. If they would have come out running from the get go they probably could have run away with this game.

The defense was strong, stopping the Giants from converting most of those turnovers into points. They kept the Eagles into the game until the very end, but the offense never clicked. Philly fell to 5-7, third place in the NFC East. They play in New Jersey again next week, facing the Jets. If they can’t turn things around against the Jets they should just stay home.


Falcons 21 Jaguars 14

I guess somebody had to win this game. It could have ended in a tie, but the Falcons stink slightly less than the Jaguars so it was fitting they won. Atlanta did the bare minimum to win this game as Jacksonville didn’t have the ability to force them into one of their famous late game collapses.

The Falcons scored on TD in each of the first three quarters to build a 21-3 lead. The Jaguars scored some garbage time points to make the final score look close, but in reality it never was. Atlanta was in control the entire game.

Running back Cordarrelle Patterson returned to the lineup this week and boy did the Falcons miss him. He had missed their previous two games and the Falcons scored a total of three points in those games without him. Patterson (16 rushes, 108 yards, 2 TDs) gave the Falcons a running game again. That took the pressure off of Matt Ryan (19/29, 190 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), who wasn’t great but good enough to defeat Jacksonville.

Atlanta didn’t move the ball a ton, but they went 3/3 in the red zone. Defensively the Falcons let the Jaguars make their usual mistakes and forced two turnovers. Not a great showing by the Falcons, but decent is good enough to handily defeat the Jaguars. Atlanta improved to 5-6, third place in the NFC South. They’ll need to play better next week when they host the Buccaneers.

Jacksonville made a lot of mistakes early in this game and found themselves in a 21-3 hole. They aren’t even close to being good enough to overcome that kind of deficit. Trevor Lawrence (23/42, 228 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) has been a massive disappointment this season. In fairness to him he isn’t surrounded by much talent and the coaching staff doesn’t have a clue what it takes to win in the NFL.

James Robinson (17 rushes, 86 yards, 1 fumble) actually got a decent amount of carries in this game and ran well outside of his turnover. This late into the season Jacksonville still has no identity on offense. The Jaguars dropped to 2-9, last place in the AFC South by tiebreaker. They head to Los Angeles next week to face the desperate Rams. I expect it to get ugly.


Sheesh their were some ugly games to start off on Sunday. I need a sanity break before I tackle Part II. A couple of good games yet to come, but a bunch of stinkers too.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below.