Week 15 weekend started out with three great games that all had dramatic endings, but none so great as the biggest comeback in NFL history.
There were six games where neither team scored more than 21 points and two where both teams scored at least 34 points. The weekend contained three overtime games and the ending to the Patriots-Raiders game was perhaps the most unpatriotic play of all time. Points are receding right when fantasy playoffs are kicking off, but there were still plenty of players to make it an exciting set of games to watch.
Miami 29, Buffalo 32
Game-o-the-week contender. The Bills led 21-1 at the half, fell behind 29-21 in the fourth quarter and then threw a touchdown to Dawson Knox and Josh Allen ran in the two-point conversion to tie at 29-29. The Bills drove the field over the final 5:56 and kicked the winning field as time expired. The Dolphins were highly competitive in a hostile environment in adverse weather and almost pulled it off.
Raheem Mostert ran for 136 yards (8.0 YPC) and caught a 20-yard pass and Salvon Ahmed (6-43, TD) ran in an 11-yard touchdown. Tue Tagovailoa passed for 234 yards and two scores between Jaylen Waddle (3-114, TD) and Tyreek Hill (9-69, TD), while no other receivers gained more than 21 yards. Waddle’s score came on a 67-yard catch and run when he was wide open. The Fins drop to 8-6 and host the Packers for Week 16.
Josh Allen came through for fantasy owners. He passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns, plus rushed for 77 yards and even tacked on a two-point conversion he ran in. The Bills didn’t run well, with Devin Singletary (13-42) and James Cook (5-34) used mostly near the end of the game when the snow started coming down. Dawson Knox (6-98, TD) led the receivers while Stefon Diggs (5-60) was held in check. James Cook caught a touchdown but there were no major fantasy contributors outside of Josh Allen. The win lifts the Bills to 11-3 and they clinch a playoff spot. They can officially win the AFC East in Chicago next week.
Baltimore 3, Cleveland 13
The weekend started slowly with yet another defensive battle between the Browns and Ravens. And this game proved that Lamar Jackson makes a difference, since Tyler Huntley only passed for 138 yards and one interception. Mark Anderson (3-31) and Demarcus Robinson (6-29) led the receivers with minor production. J.K. Dobbins ran for 125 yards on 13 rushes and yet never scored. Gus Edwards also ran well with 55 yards on seven carries. The Ravens ended with just the one field goal while Jason Tucker missed a 48-yarder and had a 50-yarder blocked. The loss drops the Ravens to 9-5 and they host the Falcons on Saturday.
Nick Chubb ran for 99 yards on 21 rushes but had no receptions. Deshaun Watson passed for just 161 yards and one touchdown to Donovan Peoples-Jones (4-31, TD) while Amari Cooper (4-58) led the receivers. David Njoku was held to only three catches for 28 yards. The Browns are 6-8 and host the Saints on Saturday.
Atlanta 18, New Orleans 21
The Saints led throughout this game and the Falcons drew within three in the fourth quarter but fell short. The debut of Desmond Ridder saw him completed just 13-of-26 for 97 yards but he had no turnovers. Drake London (7-70) accounted for all but 27 of the passing yards. Tyler Allgeier (17-139, TD) turned in a career-best day while Cordarrelle Patterson (14-52, TD) shared the carries. Ridder also ran for 38 yards on six rushes. The rookie’s first game could have been better, but he honed in on London as the only real weapon that he could use. The 5-9 Falcons head to Baltimore on Saturday.
The Saints squeaked this one past while splitting the quarterback role between Andy Dalton (151 yards, 2 TDs) and Taysom Hill (80 yards, TD). Rashid Shaheen (3-95, TD) and Juwan Johnson (4-67, 2 TD) were the top receivers, while Chris Olave settled for three catches for 53 yards. Alvin Kamara ran for 93 yards on 21 carries and caught two passes for 13 yards. The tight end Johnson had a big day and Shaheed continues to shine. The 5-9 Saints head to Cleveland on next Saturday.
NY Giants 20, Washington 12
These teams entered this matchup with the same 7-5-1 record and played evenly except the Giants had no turnovers and scored on one of the two lost fumbles by Taylor Heinicke. Daniel Jones threw for 160 yards and no scores. Richie James (4-42) and Isaiah Hodgins (4-37) were the top receivers and the Giants mostly just ran Saquon Barkley (18-87, TD) and he added five receptions for 44 yards. It was a defensive matchup with the occasional score. The Giants just made the fewest mistakes. The win lifts them to 8-5-1 and they play at the Vikings on Sunday.
The Giants had success on offense, just without finishing drives. Taylor Heinicke threw for 249 yards and one score to Jahan Dotson (4-105, TD) while Terry McLaurin (6-70) and Curtis Samuel (3-44) handled almost all of the receiving. Brian Robinson only rushed 12 times but gained 89 yards and caught an 18-yard touchdown, while Antonio Gibson gained just 21 yards on five runs. The Commanders could have won this game in a number of ways but the two turnovers proved critical. The 7-6-1 Commanders play in San Francisco on Sunday.
Philadelphia 25, Chicago 20
The Eagles led throughout but the Bears were in this until the end. Justin Fields threw for 152 yards and two scores, plus rushed for 95 yards on 15 runs. Brian Pringle (2-39, TD) and David Montgomery (3-38, TD) were the top receivers, with Cole Kmet (4-25) the leader on catches. Montgomery ran for 53 yards and a second score for one of his best efforts of the season. It was yet another game where the Bears played well, just not well enough. They fall to 3-1 and host the Bills on Saturday.
Jalen Hurts had a standard monster game as a fantasy player, but just good enough as a quarterback. He ran for 61 yards and three touchdowns while throwing for 315 yards and two interceptions. A.J. Brown (9-181) and DeVonta Smith (5-126) were the only receivers with more than nine yards. Miles Sanders ran for 42 yards on 11 carries and lost a fumble early on. The Eagles offense was limited to almost nothing outside of Hurts, Brown and Smith. They rise to 13-1 and maintain their two-game lead over the Vikings for the NFC No. 1 seed. The Eagles play in Dallas on Sunday in a game that doesn’t matter as much as it seemed.
Detroit 20, NY Jets 17
The Lions took this low-scoring win thanks to a 51-yard touchdown pass to Brock Wright with 1:49 left to play. Jared Goff threw for 252 yards and one score. Amon-Ra St. Brown (7-76) and Kalif Raymond (5-53) were the top receivers while DJ Chark (1-18) and Jameson Williams (no catch) were not as involved this week. D’Andre Swift ran for 52 yards on eight runs and added five catches for 23 yards. Jamaal Williams (13-33) had a small game since he didn’t score any touchdowns. The Lions’ offense didn’t do much with only one offensive touchdown and they opened the game with a 47-yard punt return for a score. They reach 7-7 and head to Carolina for Saturday.
The Jets under Zach Wilson threw for 317 yards and two scores with one interception. Garrett Wilson (4-98) and Jeff Smith (4-77) were the top receivers though C.J. Uzomah (2-41, 2 TD) did all the scoring. Zonovan Knight only ran for 23 yards on 13 carries while Michael Carter was limited to only 15 yards on four runs and he caught a 16-yard pass. The Jets had a chance to tie as time expired but Greg Zuerlein missed his 58-yard field goal. The loss drops the Jets to 7-7 and they face the Jaguars on Thursday.
Pittsburgh 24, Carolina 16
This close game saw the Steelers take a second-quarter lead and the Panthers never caught up even though it was a close game throughout. Mitchell Trubisky only threw for 179 yards and no scores, but ran in a touchdown. Diontae Johnson (10-98) surged with Trubisky there to throw short passes while George Pickens gained 53 yards on just two catches. Najee Harris (24-86, TD) and Jaylen Warren (11-38, TD) benefitted from the run-heavy approach but the Steelers’ defense also deserved credit in this road win. The 6-8 Steelers host the Raiders on Saturday.
The Panthers had no rushing game with D’Onta Foreman (10-9) and Chuba Hubbard (4-10) unable to do anything. Sam Darnold threw for 225 yards and one score to DJ Moore (5-73, TD) while Hubbard (3-57) and Terrance Marshall (3-51) were the only other receivers with more than 25 yards. The touchdown happened in the second quarter and the Panthers only managed three fourth-quarter field goals the rest of the way. The loss drops the Panthers to 5-9 and they host the Lions on Saturday.
Dallas 34, Jacksonville 40 OT
Game-o-the-week contender. The Cowboys led 27-10 with five minutes left in the third quarter but the Jaguars ripped off three straight touchdown passes to lead 31-27. The Cowboys finally scored with 3:02 left to take the lead 34-31 but the Jaguars kicked a tying field goal at the end of regulation to send it into overtime. The game ended when Dak Prescott threw a pass that was tipped to a defender and it was returned it for a touchdown.
Prescott threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns but also two interceptions. CeeDee Lamb (7-126) and Noah Brown (6-49) were the only receivers with more than 31 yards. Ezekiel Elliott (16-58, TD) and Tony Pollard (19-75) handled the rushing and Pollard added four catches for 31 yards. Dalton Schultz was held to just two catches for 15 yards. The Cowboys didn’t throw as well as the Jaguars and had more turnovers. That drops the Cowboys to 10-4 which may still be the No. 5 seed but the NFC East will go to the Eagles regardless of what happens on Saturday when Philly plays in Dallas.
Trevor Lawrence is playing very well. He threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys, connected with Zay Jones (6-109, 3 TD), Christian Kirk (6-92), and Evan Engram (8-62). Travis Etienne ran for 103 yards on 19 carries and added two catches for 24 yards. While it could be argued that Dallas was caught looking past the Jags to their matchup with the Eagles this week, these Jaguars are far better than their 6-8 record suggests. They head to New York to play the Jets on Thursday.
Kansas City 30, Houston 24 OT
The Chiefs got away with this attempt to mail in a win, but it required overtime to get there. Patrick Mahomes passed for 336 yards and two scores. The passing was distributed among several receivers – Travis Kelce (10-105), JuJu Smith-Schuster (10-88), Jerick McKinnon (8-70, TD) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (3-26, TD). The Texans sport one of the worst run defenses and Isiah Pacheco (15-86) and Jerick McKinnon (10-52) combined for a solid game but not as much as other teams have gained. They couldn’t keep the Texans from tying the score but Mahomes led a drive that ended with McKinnon scoring on a 26-yard run to take the win. The 11-3 Chiefs host the Seahawks on Sunday.
The Texans were in this one despite having only marginal stats. David Mills threw for 121 yards and two scores but Chris Moore (4-42) and Amari Rodgers (2-26) were the top receivers. Mills also ran in a score even though Jeff Driskell also threw four passes and ran four times in their committee-quarterback situation. With Dameon Pierce gone for the rest of the season, Dare Ogunbowale (8-14) and Royce Freeman (11-51) handled the backfield with marginal effect. The Texans almost trapped the Chiefs but finally fell in overtime. They drop to 1-12-1 and play in Tennessee on Saturday.
Arizona 15, Denver 24
The Broncos were on a five-game losing streak, so a win was refreshing even if it finally happened when Russell Wilson wasn’t playing. Brett Rypien passed for 197 yards and one score, so about what Wilson would have done anyway. Jerry Jeudy (7-76) was the only receiver with more than 30 yards but the game mostly went through Latavius Murray (24-130, TD) and Marlon Mack (5-37, TD). Mack also added four catches for 26 yards. The Broncos trailed 9-3 in the third quarter and then scored three straight touchdowns for the winning margin. They rise to 4-10 and play at the Rams on Christmas.
The Cardinals were not only down to starting Colt McCoy, but he suffered a concussion in the third quarter and gave way to Trace McSorley but they combined for only 173 yards and three interceptions. DeAndre Hopkins (7-60) and Trey McBride (4-55) were the only notable receivers. James Conner ran for 63 yards and a score on 16 rushes and added three catches for 28 yards. The Cardinals drop to 4-10 and host the Buccaneers on Sunday.
Tennessee 14, LA Chargers 17
Not a lot of scoring and it was tied 7-7 entering the fourth quarter when both teams scored a touchdown but the Chargers kicked a 43-yard field goal with four seconds left for the win. Ryan Tannehill threw for 165 yards and one interception while leaving the game after a hard hit but later returning. Derrick Henry was most of the offense. He ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries and was also the leading receiver with four catches for 59 yards. Chigoziem Okonkwo (4-59) and Austin Hooper (2-33) were the next-best receivers. The Titans tied the score with only 48 seconds left but couldn’t keep the Chargers from getting into field goal position. They drop to 7-7 with their fourth-straight loss and are only one game up on the Jaguars in the AFC South. The Titans host the Texans on Saturday.
The Chargers faced one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, and Justin Herbert passed for 313 yards and two interceptions with no scores. Keenan Allen (8-86) and Mike Williams (4-67) were the top receivers. Austin Ekeler (12-58, TD) and Josh Kelley (10-24, TD) both scored but did little as a receiver. The game came down to Herbert connecting on two long completions with Mike Williams to set up the game-winning field goal. The 8-6 Chargers play in Indianapolis next Monday.
Cincinnati 34, Tampa Bay 23
The Buccaneers led 17-0 in the second quarter but the Bengals peeled off six scoring drives to score 34 points near the end of the fourth quarter. The Bucs scored a touchdown in the final minute, but it was too little and too late. It was the same error-prone play that has dogged them this year. Tom Brady threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns but had two interceptions and lost two fumbles. Chris Godwin (8-83, TD), Mike Evans (5-83), and Russell Gage (8-59, 2 TD) were the top receivers. Leonard Fournette (10-44) and Rachaad White (11-38) were only marginally effective. The loss leaves the 6-8 Buccaneers only one game ahead of the entire NFC South and they play in Arizona on Sunday. The home loss was also the first time that Tom Brady ever lost after leading by 17+ points, so he’s still setting records.
The Bengals happily accepted all four of Tom Brady’s turnovers, and Joe Burrow only threw for 200 yards and yet four touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase (7-60, TD), Tyler Boyd (5-35, TD), and Tee Higgins (5-33, TD) were all light on yardage but scored. Joe Mixon (11-21) and Samaje Perine (7-24) are still splitting the carries though Mixon added five catches for 33 yards. The 10-4 Bengals play in New England on Saturday.
New England 24, Las Vegas 30
Playing professional sports is a hard way to make a living and it is easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize and pretend we know anything compared to what the athlete does. But I will say, after covering this for 27 years, this game ended in the dumbest play I have ever seen. Hands down. The Raiders tied the score 24-24 with 32 seconds left to play. The Patriots tried to move into field goal range and reached their own 45-yard line with three seconds left to play.
They ran Rhamondre Stevenson and he gained 23 yards, clock expired but instead of going down, he lateralled to Jakobi Meyers as if it were a do or die play and not just the last one before overtime. Meyers doubled down by throwing backward to the Raiders DE Chandler Jones who shoved Mac Jones out of his way and then ran 48-yards to win the game. Did that just happen? Yes, yes it did.
Mac Jones was already bad, completing just 13-of-31 for 112 yards. Jakobi Meyers (2-47) was the only receiver with more than 24 yards and that doesn’t count his production from hitting the wide-open Chandler Jones. Stevenson was questionable entering the game and so was limited to only 172 yards on 19 carries with one score. The Pats had little working other than Stevenson who had the only offensive touchdown. They fall to 7-7 and are jeopardizing their wild-card hopes. The Pats host the Bengals on Sunday.
GAME-O-THE-WEEK: Indianapolis 36, Minnesota 39 OT
What? Did we all live long enough to see Frank Reich’s NFL 32-point record comeback erased as the biggest? It has been 30 years, and ironically, he was the Colts’ head coach until five games ago when he was fired. The Jeff Saturday era already included Week 14 when they gave up 33 fourth-quarter points to the Cowboys. Now, he holds a new record that no one would want because it will last a very long time, and every game that has a major imbalance on the scoreboard will prompt the announcer to say, “Well, you know one time the Vikings were down 33 points to the Colts…”
The Colts built a 33-0 lead at halftime even though they had only scored one offensive touchdown. They returned a blocked punt and an interception for scores, plus Chase McLaughlin kicked four field goals. He kicked a fifth one in the third quarter that ended the Colts’ scoring. Matt Ryan ended with 182 yards and one score to Deon Jackson on his only catch. Michael Pittman (10-60) and Jelani Woods (1-36) were the top receivers. The Colts lost Jonathan Taylor to start the game after he had just one catch and no carries. In the second half, the Colts went conservative on offense, though a lack of success when passing was also an issue. Zack Moss (24-8) and Deon Jackson (13-55) combined for 37 carries as another sign that they were playing to not lose and kill the clock. Ryan only passed for 64 yards in the second half. The loss drops the Colts to 4-9-1 and extends their losing streak to four games. They play the Chargers on Monday night, so there is plenty of time to rehash the greatest choke job in NFL history.
It was a tale of two halves for the Vikings. By halftime, they had been humiliated in their own stadium, the same one that saw them lost to the Cowboys 40-3 a few weeks back. Kirk Cousins had just 43 yards and one interception. Justin Jefferson led the team with 17 receiving yards. The Vikings reeled off 36 points in the second half to tie the game with 2:15 left to play and the game went into overtime when they kicked the 40-yard field goal with only three seconds left. By the end, Cousins passed for 460 yards and four touchdowns. The top receivers were K.J. Osborn (10-157, TD), Justin Jefferson (12-123, TD), Dalvin Cook (4-95, TD) and Adam Thielen (3-41, TD). Somehow, T.J. Hockenson (3-33) was the only one left out of the fun though he had nine targets. Cook also rushed for 95 yards on 17 carries. It was a monster game right when fantasy owners needed it. The Vikings rise to 11-3 and have clinched the NFC North. They host the Giants on Saturday.