Chops316 Monday Morning Quarterback: 2021 Week 12 Part Two
Welcome to Part II of my Monday Morning Quarterback Post for Week 12. This post will cover the late slate on Sunday plus the Monday Night matchup. A couple of good games left to cover, but fair warning lots of stinkers as well.
I'm not going to lie, it was a major chore writing up a few of these games. Some bad, bad football played in Week 12. I'm hoping the slate treats us a little (OK a lot) better next week. If not I'm liable to get grumpy and that is no way to begin the Christmas season.
The Cardinals and the Chiefs were on 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.
Making A Statement
Packers 36 Rams 28
Late afternoon Sunday we got a premier matchup between two of the top contenders in the NFC at Lambeau Field. The Packers made a statement with a convincing win over the Rams. While Green Bay never blew this game wide open, they were in control from the beginning.
Both starting quarterbacks came into this contest with injuries. Aaron Rodgers has been playing with a broken toe. Despite coming off of a bye, it was reported Matthew Stafford has been fighting a sore arm and a stiff back. Watching both guys play it was obvious Rodgers was dealing with his situation much better. He didn’t look hampered. Stafford on the other hand was ailing and it certainly affected his performance.
The Rams received the opening kickoff, but couldn’t move the ball. Green Bay took possession and put together an eight minute 56 yard drive that died on the Rams 38-yard line. Packers kicker Mason Crosby has been erratic this year, so Green Bay eschewed a field goal attempt and punted.
The Packers patience was rewarded as Stafford was strip-sacked and they took the ball at the Rams 6-yard line. Rodgers ran the ball for a TD and a 7-0 lead. Told you his toe didn’t hamper him. The Rams got the ball back and head coach Sean McVay made a head scratching decision. Facing a 4th and one on their own 29-yard line, McVay decided to go for it. His bravado was punished when the Packers stuffed the run. Green Bay had a short field in front of them, but the Rams defense held firm and they settled for a field goal.
Los Angeles finally struck back early in the 2nd quarter when Stafford hit Van Jefferson with a long bomb for a 79 yard TD pass. Green Bay drove into the red zone, but had to settle for another field goal. The Rams punted on their next possession and got lucky when the Packers muffed the kick. L.A. got a short field on the Packers 25-yard line, but Green Bay’s defense forced a field goal. The second quarter ended with both teams trading TD drives. Green Bay took a 20-17 lead into halftime.
The Packers pulled away in the 3rd quarter. They added 10 points to their total with a TD and a field goal. Late in the quarter cornerback Rasul Douglas intercepted Matthew Stafford for a 33 yard pick six. Green Bay went for two, but were denied. Still they held a 36-17 lead heading into the 4th quarter.
The Rams started the final period with a bang as Stafford found Odell Beckham for a long 54 yard TD pass. The Rams went for two and converted, they cut their deficit to 36-25. Then both offenses went sour as four consecutive possession ended with punts. The Packers recovered first, but Mason Crosby missed a 42 yard field goal attempt.
Time was running out on L.A. They managed to kick a field goal, but less than 30 seconds remained in the game. The Rams tried an onside kick, but the Packers recovered. Game over.
Fun game to watch, but kind of a strange one too. The Packers had control all game, but they let the Rams hang around. L.A. struggled to move the ball for stretches of time, yet hit a few fast big TD bombs. The difference in winning for the Packers was a 3 to 1 advantage in turnovers and keeping possession for nearly 40 minutes.
Aaron Rodgers (28/45, 307 yards, 2 TDs, 1 rushing TD) had a great game despite losing his accuracy a few times. His top target was Davante Adams (8 receptions, 104 yards). The running game wasn’t as strong as A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones combined for 92 yards on 30 carries. Those carries did however help string out the clock.
The Packers defense was good overall, sacking Stafford twice and forcing three turnovers. Yet they got burned on two long pass plays that gave the Rams 15 points. Take away those mistakes and this game would have been a rout. Green Bay improved to 9-3, first place in the NFC North. Green Bay has a bye next week. They should get a few pieces back on defense when they return and an extra week off won’t hurt Rodgers’ toe.
Entering November the Rams looked like a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. Three consecutive losses later and things don’t look the same. The Rams defense is getting pushed around and they are struggling to get pressure on the quarterback.
Matthew Stafford's (21/38, 302 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) numbers look good, but nearly half of his stats came from two long throws. Otherwise he was rather ineffective. Cooper Kupp (7 receptions, 96 yards) was held under a hundred yards receiving, which has been rare this year. Playing catch up all game long, the ground attack saw limited action. Darrell Henderson (16 rushes, 55 yards) led a group that only totaled 68 yards on the ground.
Disappointing showing for Los Angeles when you consider they were coming off of a bye. The Rams fell to 7-4, second place in the NFC West. They get a break next week when they host the Jaguars.
Finding Some Gold
49ers 34 Vikings 26
This was another pivotal late Sunday afternoon game featuring two 5-5 teams trying to gain traction in the NFC playoff race. The 49ers dug a little deeper and found gold in the form of a major victory.
San Francisco turned their season around by rediscovering their ground attack. This game was no different as the Niners ran and then ran some more. On the other side of the ball the Niners loaded the box to stop Minnesota from running wild. That put the Vikings offense in the hands of Kirk Cousins. He didn’t have his best game.
The Vikings drew first blood when they picked off Jimmy Garoppolo and took over at midfield. Cousins finished off the drive with a TD pass and Minnesota went ahead 7-0. Garoppolo recovered quickly, connecting on a 37 yard pass and then handing the ball off to Deebo Samuels who scored on a 20 yard TD run. 1st quarter ended up tied at 7-7.
The 2nd quarter played out the same way, with each team scoring one TD. The game was still tied at halftime 14-14.
San Francisco gained control quickly after the half. They received the opening kickoff and used some big runs to score a TD. The Vikings first possession was a disaster as Cousins first pass was intercepted and the Niners returned the pick to the Minnesota two-yard line. One Eli Mitchell run later the Niners suddenly had a 28-14 lead.
Cousins rebounded on the next drive by throwing another TD pass. The Vikings missed the extra point and trailed 28-20. San Francisco added a field goal, but the Vikings countered with a huge special teams play as Kene Nwangwu returned the kickoff 99 yards for a TD. San Francisco retained a 31-26 lead.
The Niners offense stalled and they punted back to Minnesota. The Vikings had a chance to take the lead, but disaster struck again when Dalvin Cook fumbled the ball. The Niners got premium field position on the Vikings 9-yard line, but they couldn’t move the ball and settled for a field goal. The 3rd quarter ended with San Francisco ahead 34-26.
The 4th quarter featured no scoring, just failure by both teams. More failure for Minnesota however. The Vikings had the ball first and drove deep into the Niners territory. Facing a 4th and goal at the three yard line, Minnesota decided to for it. Cousins pass fell short and the Vikings turned the ball over on downs.
San Francisco now had a chance to go up by two scores and ice the game. They marched down to the Vikings 24-yard line, but the drive stalled there. A field goal would have been good enough, but Robbie Gould’s kick went wide right. With two minutes left the Vikings had a final shot to tie the game and force overtime.
It didn’t happen. They made it as far as the Niners 38-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. The Niners killed the clock and left with the win.
The Vikings couldn’t stop the Niners on the ground. Eli Mitchell (27 rushes, 133 yards, 1 TD) and Deebo Samuel (6 rushes, 66 yards, 2 TDs) led the attack that finished with 208 rushing yards. That allowed Jimmy Garoppolo (17/23, 230 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) to pick his spots and he was effective outside of his one turnover.
The San Francisco defense came up with two turnovers in the 3rd quarter that led to 10 points and made two critical 4th down stops in the final quarter to seal the win. The Niners improved to 6-5, third place in the NFC West. The Niners head to Seattle next week to face the reeling Seahawks.
The Vikings fought a back and forth battle until the turnovers gave the edge to the Niners. Minnesota’s running game was well contained, only gaining 67 yards and a TD on 18 carries. Kirk Cousins (20/32, 238 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) had to do the heavy lifting and he didn’t have his best stuff.
The defense struggled to get off the field as San Fran rammed the ball down their throats. The Niners held the ball for over 37 minutes. The Vikings fell to 5-6, second place in the NFC North. They should get back on track next week when they travel to Detroit. If they don’t the franchise should just exit the league and fold.
Prime Time Stinkers
Ah remember the good old days of the NFL when the best games were saved for prime time so everybody can enjoy them? Monday Night Football used to be vital for NFL fans. Then several years ago the league learned ESPN had to buy the Monday Night package no matter how bad it was or their subscriber fees would be cut by 60%. So the NFL started dropping dogs on them so they could save the good games for a bidding war among the other networks.
NBC pays a premium for Sunday Night games and can change them late in the season if the matchup is weak. Unfortunately we haven’t hit that point of the schedule yet. So in Week 12 we got two prime time games nobody really wanted to see. To top it off both games were even worse than I imagined. Ugh, let’s get this over with.
Ravens 16 Browns 10
The prime time shit show started Sunday night. In one corner we had the Cleveland Browns, a team thought to be a Super Bowl contender before the season started. Now they are a sad sack team whose season is slowly spiraling down the drain. In the other corner we had the Baltimore Ravens, a team who is a Super Bowl contender but have hit a major bump in the road lately. They lost to the Dolphins badly and barely squeaked by the terrible Bears.
The result was one of the most pathetic NFL games I’ve ever seen. The Ravens couldn’t stop throwing interceptions, the Browns refused to take advantage of them. Somehow the Ravens blundered their way down the field enough to win. By a nose.
Cleveland received the opening kickoff, drove the ball down the field and missed a field goal. Fitting start to this mess. A few punts followed before the Ravens broke the ice and kicked a field goal. 3-0 Baltimore at the end of the 1st quarter.
The 2nd quarter was a disgrace for both teams. The NFL should track down all the available footage and erase it. It started off with another Baltimore field goal. The Browns took possession and fumbled it away. The Ravens were so overjoyed they returned the ball right back with an interception. The Browns kicked a field goal.
Somehow things got worse. Lamar Jackson threw another interception. The Browns fumbled away the ball again. Lamar Jackson threw another interception, his third of the quarter. The Browns punted and the first half mercifully ended.
Jesus H. Christ. The 2nd quarter saw nearly as many turnovers (5) as points (6). The league should have called the game right there for not reaching professional standards.
The 3rd quarter resembled a real NFL game. For a few minutes at least. Each time made one, their only one, decent drive that ended with a TD. The crap returned for the 4th quarter. Lamar Jackson kicked it off with his 4th interception of the game. Of course Cleveland failed to take the advantage. Again.
The rest of the game saw several punts, a Baltimore field goal, a turnover on downs and thankfully a kneel down so this abomination could finally end.
I’m not even going to break down any stats. Everybody had awful numbers. The Browns picked off Lamar Jackson 4 times and converted all those turnovers into three lousy points. Disgraceful. Baltimore wasn’t any better. They forced two fumbles and not only didn’t they cash them in for points, they turned the ball over back to Cleveland each time.
Baltimore was very lucky to walk away with this win. Any other team, except the Lions and maybe the Jets, would have topped them. The Ravens “improved” to 8-3, first place in the AFC North. They head to Pittsburgh next week.
The Browns had multiple chances to run away with this game and blew them all. Cleveland has officially hit rock bottom. The Browns fell to 6-6, last place in the AFC North. They have a bye next week. I suggest they practice. A lot.
No-Names 17 Seahawks 15
The Monday Night game wasn’t a disgrace, but it wasn’t much of a game either until the very end. The low score was less about good defense and more about dysfunctional offense.
The No-Names filled up the stat sheet: 79 plays on offense for 371 yards with a time of possession of nearly 42 minutes. What they didn’t fill up was the scoreboard.
The Seahawks were simply bad with the ball. Six drives ended with a three and out. They punted the ball eight times. Yet they had a chance to steal the win because Washington did so little with their possessions.
Seattle scored a TD in the 1st quarter, then their offense died until it was resuscitated with 3 minutes left in the game. The special teams tried to bail them out by blocking a Washington extra point attempt and returning it for a defensive two point conversion.
The No-Names scored sporadically throughout the game: field goal in the 1st quarter, TD in the 2nd and another TD in the 3rd. Washington took a 17-9 lead into the 4th quarter.
The last quarter started with a few punts and then Washington put together a drive to ice the game. They made it all the way to the Seattle 3-yard line where they faced a 4th down. The normal thing to do would be to kick a field goal and take a two score lead. Washington’s problem was their kicker got injured and they had nobody to attempt the kick. They went for it instead and failed.
Seattle took the ball on their own 4-yard line with two and half minutes left in the game, down by eight points. All of a sudden Russell Wilson came alive and passed the Seahawks all the way down the field for a TD. Now down by two points, Seattle attempted a two point conversion, but Wilson’s pass was intercepted. A last ditch onside kick was recovered by the No-Names and the game was over.
Not a pretty game at all, but at least the final few minutes had some action. Washington did just enough to win. Taylor Heinicke (27/35, 223 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) was alright. Lots of short to intermediate passes. The ground game controlled the ball by rushing for 152 yards and TD on 42 carries with Antonio Gibson (29 rushes, 111 yards) leading the way.
The No-Names defense contained Seattle for most of the game, then almost blew it by falling apart on the Seahawks last drive. Washington improved to 5-6, second place in the NFC East. They travel to Las Vegas next week.
Seattle has now dropped six of their last seven games and are just a complete mess. Without Chris Carson their running game is dead. Russell Wilson (2 carries, 16 yards) was the team’s top rusher. Ouch. Wilson (20/31, 247 yards, 2 TDs) was awful most of the game, he nearly redeemed himself with the last drive.
The Seahawks defense didn’t give up many points, but they couldn’t get the No-Names off the field to give their own offense a chance. The Seahawks only ran 45 plays on offense, compared to Washington’s 79 plays. Seattle dropped to 3-8 and last place in the NFC West. Their season is dead. They host the 49ers next week.
The Rest Of The Garbage
Broncos 28 Chargers 13
Remember when we thought the Chargers turned the page and became legit contenders? It seems so long ago. Probably because it was. The Broncos tried to get Los Angeles back into this game, but the Chargers weren’t good enough to do it.
Denver scored a TD in the 1st quarter and another in the 2nd to take an early 14-0 lead. The Chargers did nothing early, their first four possession ended with 3 punts and a turnover on downs.
The Broncos got the ball with 2 minutes left in the first half and had a chance to salt this game away before halftime. But they are the Broncos so of course they did the opposite instead. Drew Lock threw an interception and Los Angeles took advantage of the short field by scoring a TD. Instead of being up three scores, the Broncos held a 14-7 lead at the half.
That blunder didn’t end up hurting the Broncos because the Chargers could never get their offense going. Los Angeles punted with their first possession of the second half, Justin Herbert threw interceptions on their next two possessions. One of the interceptions was a pick six, the Broncos offense cashed in the other for a TD.
With the Broncos holding a late 28-7 lead it was officially garbage time. Denver backed off on defense to let the clock run and the Chargers scored a meaningless TD to make the final score look better. From there the Broncos ran out the clock with a couple of first downs and claimed victory.
The Broncos won with defense and running the rock. Melvin Gordon (17 rushes, 83 yards) led a rushing attack that gained 147 yards and 2 TDs on 33 carries. Teddy Bridgewater (11/18, 129 yards, 1 TD, 1 rushing TD) got hurt in the 1st quarter and left the game. Drew Lock (4/7, 26 yards, 1 INT) came into the game and stunk the joint out, throwing the interception that briefly let the Chargers back into the game. Bridgewater limped back into the game in the second half to prevent more disasters.
The Denver defense didn’t give up much until garbage time. They sacked Herbert three times and forced the two picks that turned into two TDs. The Broncos improved to 6-5, tied for second place in the AFC West with the Raiders and Chargers. They travel to Kansas City next Sunday for a night game.
The Chargers couldn’t run the ball on offense and couldn’t stop the run on defense. That is a surefire recipe for losing in the NFL. Justin Herbert (28/44, 303 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) felt the pressure and his turnovers helped Denver ice the game. He got very little help from the running game, in fact Herbert (4 rushes, 36 yards) was the Chargers leading rusher. That was not good.
The defense let Denver convert 8/11 3rd down opportunities. Just a bad game all around. Los Angeles fell to 6-5, tied for second place in the AFC West with the Broncos and Raiders. Things won’t get easier next week when they head to Cincinnati.
Jets 21 Texans 14
Naturally I saved the biggest matchup of the week for last. OK, I’m joshing you. Nobody gave a crap about this game between two losers battling for the second overall pick in next year’s draft.
The Texans moved the ball into Jets territory with the game’s opening possession, but a Tyrod Taylor interception killed the drive. The Jets moved the ball some themselves and opened up the scoring with a field goal.
Later in the quarter Zach Wilson returned the favor and threw a pick to the Texans, setting them up with a short field on the Jets 25-yard line. Houston cashed in the favor for a TD. A few possessions later Houston scored another TD to go ahead 14-3. It was their high water mark for the game. The Jets scored a TD before halftime and made a two point conversion to go into the half trailing 14-11.
I guess the Texans had had enough because their offense disappeared in the second half. Literally. In the game’s final two quarters the Texans gained 45 yards of total offense. Against the Jets for Christ’s sake. Double ouch.
The Jets got their running game humming and tacked on 10 more points in the second half to escape Houston with a win, 21-14.
Zach Wilson (14/24, 145 yards, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD) returned to the starting lineup for New York and played like crap against a bad defense. What else would you expect? Luckily for the Jets they found success on the ground. The running back committee gained 157 yards and two TDs on 34 carries.
The Jets defense, which I might add is awful, shutout the Texans in the second half and sacked Tyrod Taylor five times. Outside of their persistent quarterback issues, this was one of the best played games of the year for New York. The Jets improved to 3-8, last place in the AFC East. They host the Eagles next week.
Well Houston, if you needed another hint your season is just a waste of time you lost at home to the Jets. Hard to get lower than that. Tyrod Taylor (17/26, 158 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) was decent in the first half and nowhere to be found in the second. The running back duo of David Johnson and Rex Burkhead only gained 66 yards on 24 carries.
The Texans dropped to 2-9. That is good enough for third place in the AFC South since Houston holds the tiebreaker over the Jaguars. They will host a desperate Colts squad next week.
Well that's a wrap for Week 12. Thank God because that was enough terrible games. The action better pick up next week or my brain might explode.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below.