What we learned from Sunday's Week 15 games

Print
  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
More Columns >

Here's what we learned from Sunday's Week 15 slate of games:

Philadelphia Eagles 30, Los Angeles Rams 23


1. Without Carson Wentz and with their playoff chances hanging by a thread, Nick Foles and the Eagles returned to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, where their stunning Super Bowl run began last season, and pulled off one of this year's most stunning results. Philadelphia handed Los Angeles its first loss at home in 2018 with a balanced effort laden with big plays and big hits. Alshon Jeffery worked Aqib Talib en route to a season-high 160 yards on eight receptions. The Eagles' maligned offensive line held Defensive Player of the Year favorite Aaron Donald and Dante Fowler in check. Members of Philly's injury-riddled secondary, led by Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox, played outside themselves against what was one of the league's most dynamic offenses. The Eagles were up by 17 points in the fourth quarter before Los Angeles mounted a slow-motion comeback. Philly nearly blew the three-score lead in the final frame when Jake Elliott missed what would have been a game-sealing field goal with just over a minute to go. But the Rams mismanaged the clock on the ensuing drive, failing to get out of bounds on two plays, and Jared Goff's last-gasp 18-yard heave to Josh Reynolds flew high and out of the end zone with Maddox in coverage. In front of a Coliseum crowd filled with Eagles supporters, Philly rediscovered the magic and unpredictability that propelled last year's run with a familiar face in Foles at the helm. For the underdog Iggles, it might be déjà vu all over again.

2. The Rams team that went shot for shot with the Chiefs in mid-November and inspired writers worldwide to muse that the NFL would never be the same and that Sean McVay had remade the game in his own image, hasn't shown up for three weeks. Post-bye, Los Angeles has been a shadow of its former self on offense, averaging just 324 yards per game against Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. Jared Goff was an inaccurate turnover machine again on Sunday night, throwing two picks and regularly missing wide-open receivers. The Eagles swarmed the quarterback like the Bears did one week prior, sacking Goff just once but hitting him seven times and forcing a silly game-changing interception. L.A. targeted Todd Gurley (124 yards) way more out of the gate than it did in Chicago (10 touches in the first quarter), but went away from him after he suffered a knee injury in the third quarter. Los Angeles finished with an unhealthy 56:18 pass-run balance. By the time the Rams were able to string together a few scoring drives, time was running out and players weren't sharp. JoJo Natson fumbled a punt that nearly killed Los Angeles' comeback chances. Gerald Everett and Gurley both made crushing decisions on the final drive to stay in-bounds to gain negligible yardage. As McVay told reporters, "We've got to figure this out and figure it out fast." The playoffs are but four or, if L.A. isn't careful, three weeks away.

3. Philly saved its playoff chances with Sunday's shocking win. The 7-7 Eagles kept pace with the Vikings (7-6-1) and Redskins (7-7) in pursuit of the sixth seed; the 6-7 Panthers play host to New Orleans on Monday night. Philadelphia closes with Houston at home and Washington on the road, but needs Minnesota to lose one of its final games (at DET, CHI) to sneak into the dance. Meanwhile, the 11-3 Rams lost ground in pursuit of home-field advantage in the NFC. Already behind New Orleans due to a head-to-head tiebreaker, Sunday's loss puts L.A. at risk of not only losing the No. 1 seed, but falling out of a first-round bye. Chicago is just one game behind the Rams at 10-4 and also holds the tiebreaker. But Los Angeles finishes with the cellar-dwelling Cardinals and 49ers and is unlikely to lose another game, save for another shocker like that on Sunday evening.

-- Jeremy Bergman

Pittsburgh Steelers 17, New England Patriots 10


1. The Steelers snapped a five-game losing streak, including the postseason, against the Patriots with a hard-fought win and improved to 8-5-1 on the season. The Steelers did it with a stellar running game anchored by rookie Jaylen Samuels, who exploded with 142 yards on 19 carries, and a stout defensive effort, which limited one of the NFL's top offenses to 10 points. And, of course, Ben Roethlisberger outdueled Tom Brady when it mattered most, engineering a scoring drive with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. The Steelers' win kept them as the No. 4 seed atop the AFC North, but also affected the AFC playoff picture. The Patriots fell out of the No. 2 seed to No. 3 after being leapfrogged by the Houston Texans, who improved to 10-4 with a win earlier in the afternoon.

2. With the postseason looming on the horizon, would anyone be surprised if the Steelers seriously considered going away from kicker Chris Boswell? Sure, he nailed a 48-yard kick late in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 17-10, but Boswell also missed a 32-yard field goal attempt, which sailed wide right in the third quarter. Pittsburgh signaled a vote of confidence in Boswell after sticking with him despite bringing in kicker Kai Forbath the past week. But Boswell, who made the Pro Bowl last year and signed a four-year extension during the offseason, has missed seven kicks this season, including two in a Week 15 loss. The Steelers would be playing with fire surrounding Boswell's inconsistency if the team advances to play in January, where close games typically await in the march to the Super Bowl.

3. With an 8-yard completion to running back Rex Burkhead in the third quarter, Brady became the fourth quarterback in league history to throw for 70,000 career yards, joining all-time leader Drew Brees (73,908), Peyton Manning (71,940) and Hall of Famer Brett Favre (71,838). That was the good to come out of Sunday for the Patriots in a sea of bad. From dropped passes to a staggering 14 penalties for 106 yards, the Patriots had plenty of reasons to bemoan the defeat. Sunday's loss marked the first time the Patriots have lost consecutive games in December since 2002.

-- Herbie Teope

San Francisco 49ers 26, Seattle Seahawks 23 (OT)


1. Just two weeks after throttling the 49ers in Seattle, the Seahawks blew an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth by falling to their division rivals in Santa Clara. After scoring a touchdown on their opening drive, the Seahawks spent the rest of the game playing from behind because of a missed Sebastian Janikowski extra point and an ensuing Niners kick return TD. Behind Chris Carson (148 total yards) and Doug Baldwin (77 yards, 2 TDs), the Seahawks eventually pulled back when Janikowski kicked a game-tying field goal with five minutes left to lock things at 23. In overtime, Seattle got the ball first and nearly broke through with a deep pass to J.D. McKissic. But the play was called back thanks to a holding penalty by Ethan Pocic. A pass interference foul on third down on San Francisco's next possession led directly to Robbie Gould's game-winning 36-yard field goal. Those game-changing flags were two of 14 penalties committed by Seattle for a franchise-record 148 yards. After looking so assuredly in the postseason picture, the Seahawks (8-6) now find themselves just a half-game ahead of Minnesota and one game ahead of Washington in the wild-card race. Up next: "Sunday Night Football" in Seattle against the 11-3 Chiefs, who could potentially clinch the AFC West with a win.

2. The 49ers' upset victory was their first win over Seattle since December of 2013, when Jim Harbaugh was roaming the sidelines, Colin Kaepernick was under center and fans were perched up high at the Stick. But enough about the past. The future looked bright in rainy Santa Clara. San Francisco saw impressive afternoons from its young studs in the front seven. DeForest Buckner reached 11 sacks on the season with a dynamic two-sack, 10-tackle performance. Fred Warner was special again in the middle of Robert Saleh's defense. Unfortunately for general manager John Lynch and Niners brass, San Francisco did lose a lot of ground in the race for the draft's No. 1 overall pick. After entering Sunday with the top slot, the 49ers (4-10) fell to fourth in line for the first selection with the win, behind the Cardinals (3-11), Raiders (3-11) and Jets (4-10). One step forward, one step back, I suppose.

3. Seattle's defense took a minor step backward after an elite evening against the Vikings on Monday. The Seahawks struggled to stop Nick Mullens for the second time in three weeks; the rookie QB completed 65 percent of his passes for 689 yards in two games against Seattle. Poor coverage and a slip by Tedric Thompson led to San Francisco's first offensive touchdown. Jarran Reed and Frank Clark got to Mullens three times in the second half, but the pressure was too little, too late. Oh, and the aforementioned penalties. On one San Francisco scoring drive, Seattle committed three straight 15-yard penalties. If Seattle had this much trouble against Mullens and company, how will the unit fare against MVP favorite Patrick Mahomes and a desperate Chiefs offense?

-- Jeremy Bergman

Indianapolis Colts 23, Dallas Cowboys 0


1. Overseeing a steadily improving defense that has played lights out for three consecutive weeks, Colts coordinator Matt Eberflus should start garnering serious consideration for NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors. Calling the shots against former mentor Rod Marinelli, Eberflus authored the first shutout of the Cowboys since Bill Parcells was running the show in 2003. Darius Leonard was the decisive winner in his Defensive Rookie of the Year clash with Dallas' Leighton Vander Esch, racking up 11 tackles to go with a pair of well-timed pass deflections in coverage. Reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week Denico Autry remained white hot, blocking a field goal, forcing a key holding penalty and adding his sixth sack in the past three games. Indianapolis' no-name secondary deserves credit as well, with the cornerback trio of Pierre Desir, Kenny Moore and Quincy Wilson making wide receivers vanish for the fifth straight week.

2. All of the Cowboys' losses this season have come against mobile quarterbacks, and this game was no exception. Andrew Luck danced out of trouble in the pocket and extended plays with his scrambling ability in an uptempo attack that kept Vander Esch & Co. off balance. Marlon Mack was the star of the show, gashing Dallas' third-ranked run defense for 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 28 touches. Mack is the first Indianapolis running back with three 100-yard rushing performances in the same season since Joseph Addai in 2007. Credit a physical Colts offensive line, which raised its level of play with star center Ryan Kelly back in the lineup for the first time in a month. The division-rival Titans also pitched a shutout on Sunday, which means the Indianapolis-Tennessee matchup in the season finale has a chance to be flexed to Sunday Night Football with the AFC's No. 6 seed potentially on the line.

3. The Cowboys dominated time of possession before falling behind 17-0 early in the third quarter. Ezekiel Elliott's chain-moving attack churned out drives of 10, 15 and 14 plays to start the game, with nothing to show for the effort. Brett Maher's field goal was blocked on the opening drive. Fullback Jamize Olawale botched an easy touchdown catch on the second series, giving Margus Hunt a chance to stuff Elliott in the backfield on fourth down. Tyquan Lewis, one of four second-round rookies for the Colts, sacked Dak Prescott to end the third possession, pushing Dallas out of field-goal territory. An offensive line already playing without All-Pro left guard Zack Martin (knee) lost starting right guard Xavier Su'a-Filo to an eye contusion in the first quarter. The Cowboys remain heavy favorites to capture the NFC East title, but will continue to have trouble finishing drives until the offensive line coalesces.

--Chris Wesseling

Chicago Bears 24, Green Bay Packers 17


1. From the cellar to the penthouse. The Bears clinched the NFC North division title for the first time since 2010 by silencing Aaron Rodgers and the division-rival Packers at Soldier Field. In 14 of the past 15 years, at least one team has finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. Chicago finished last in the division each of the last four seasons. These aren't those Bears. Matt Nagy's team beat the Packers at Soldier Field for first since 2010 season. It didn't come easy. A questionable Chicago fake punt was stuffed to help the Packers erase an 11-point halftime lead. With reminders of their Week 1 collapse to Rodgers floating in the Windy City air, the Bears didn't wilt this time around. Mitchell Trubisky, who performed well all day extending plays and finding targets downfield, helped lead two fourth-quarter scoring drives as the Bears stiff-arm their way to the division crown. One of the most balanced teams in the NFL, Chicago will be a tough out in January.

2. Aaron Rodgers' NFL record streak of 402 passing attempts without an interception was snapped late in the fourth quarter. Bears safety Eddie Jackson swiped a tipped pass in the end zone as the Packers were threatening to cut into a double-digit lead. It's fitting that Rodgers' streak ended on the day Green Bay's season was squashed. There will be no R-E-L-A-X, magical run this time around. With Aaron Jones leaving early with a knee injury, the Packers ground game did little, forcing Rodgers to throw into the teeth of one of the best defenses in the NFL. The signal-caller, who appeared to tweak his leg on a Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half, was off-target most of the day, completing just 59.5 percent of 42 attempts for 274 yards and no touchdowns. Rodgers couldn't find the range deep at all, missing several open wideouts that could have changed the tenor of the contest. Officially eliminated from the postseason, Green Bay can now look toward the rest of the offseason changes that are coming.

3. Credit Vic Fangio's defense with discombobulating Rodgers. The Bears gobbled up five sacks, taking advantage of an injured Green Bay offensive line. Khalil Mack continued his dominant ways, compiling 2.5 sacks -- including half of one that he earned with his back (seriously) -- two tackles for loss and three QB hits. Leonard Floyd, who has become a perfect complement to Mack, also generated two sacks. Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith was all over the field, snatching 10 tackles. Kyle Fuller smothered Davante Adams much of the game, earning two PBUs. And Jackson earned the pick to go with two pass breakups. At every level, the Bears dominated the Packers. Defenses travel in the playoffs, even in today's high-flying NFL, and the Bears boast one that will make noise when the tournament starts.

-- Kevin Patra

Minnesota Vikings 41, Miami Dolphins 17


1. What does a Kevin Stefanski offense look like? The sample size is limited, but Minnesota's newly anointed play-caller gave coach Mike Zimmer what he asked for right away, as the backfield pairing of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray rotated touches on a super-crisp opening drive capped by a 13-yard scoring strike from Kirk Cousins to Stefon Diggs. That doubled as an effective tone-setter as the run-happy Vikings gashed Miami for 220 rushing yards while Cook piled up 88 total yards in the first quarter alone en route to a brilliant 20-touch, 163-yard, two-score afternoon in a must-win affair for the Vikings. A killer mistake by Cousins -- we'll get to that below -- helped the Dolphins chip away at a 21-0 Minnesota lead, but the Vikings worked through their issues to steamroll Miami for 418 total yards in a must-win affair.

2. The glow of the "Miami Miracle" failed to follow the 'Fins to Minnesota as this AFC hopeful looked utterly lost out of the gate before losing Frank Gore to an ankle injury. Miami at one stage had 15 total plays to Minnesota's 15 first downs, but the game shifted when rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick took a Cousins pick 50 yards for a score. First-year runner Kalen Ballage spun hope and masked the loss of Gore with a stunning 75-yard scoring gallop to open the third quarter, but too many drives went nowhere as Ryan Tannehill was tossed about like Raggedy Ann for an outrageous nine sacks against a dazed-and-confused Miami line. Going a putrid 2 for 12 on third down with just 193 total yards and no pass catcher topping 30 yards through the air, Sunday was another reminder these Dolphins just aren't the same team on the road.

3. The win leaves the Vikings (7-6-1) locked in as the NFC's sixth seed with a road bout in Detroit before closing the year at home against the Bears. The loss for Miami (7-7) leaves this hot-and-cold operation backed into a corner with a home tilt next week against Jacksonville before a road finale with the Bills.

-- Marc Sessler

Buffalo Bills 14, Detroit Lions 13


1. Josh Allen hit a streaking Robert Foster for a 42-yard touchdown that gave the Buffalo Bills a 14-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, and the Bills would hold on to late to earn their fifth win of the season. Given the expectations for Buffalo entering the season, Sean McDermott should warrant some Coach of the Year consideration. It's not always pretty with Josh Allen, but the strong-armed rookie is making strides each week. With the Lions focusing on not allowing Allen to scramble this week (16 yards on nine carries with a three-yard TD scamper), the No. 7 overall pick was forced to move the ball with his arm. Allen's accuracy remains an issue, especially deep. The Bills could have blown the game open early had the rookie been slightly more accurate on a few deep shots. However, his willingness to fling it deep is refreshing, and he displayed his cannon arm firing the ball into a few tight windows. His numbers were pedestrian -- 13/26, 204 yards, TD -- but Allen continues to display growth getting through his progressions and raising the play of his gaggle of No. 2 and 3 receivers. The development the past few weeks from Allen has been encouraging, and he'll give Bills fans something to watch the last two weeks heading into the offseason.

2. It was all Kenny Golladay in the first half. The rising receiver made a bevy of strong catches down the field. The Lions wideout posterized Bills DBs in the first two quarters, earning four catches for a career-high 115 yards, the most by a Lions receiver in the first half since Calvin Johnson recorded 131 yards in 2014 versus the Giants. Golladay finished with seven catches for 146 yards. As Buffalo quieted the wideout in the second half, the Lions offense went in the tank. Matthew Stafford and the Lions earned 117 yards in the final two quarters on six possessions, including three three-and-outs and a missed go-ahead field-goal attempt. The anemic second half was a fitting way for Detroit to see its team eliminated from the playoffs. Stafford and the offense have struggled to move the ball consistently since trading Golden Tate and Kerryon Johnson suffering an injury. The Lions will need to upgrade the skill position next season and could be looking for a new offensive coordinator if coach Matt Patricia decides to replace offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter.

3. The Bills earned the win despite riding with their fourth-string running back much of the game. With LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory inactive due to injury, Marcus Murphy got the start but left early with a dislocated elbow. That left rookie Keith Ford as the only running back active. At one point Ford went down with an ankle injury, giving new meaning to a Zero RBs strategy. Ford returned later after getting taped up. The running back situation underscores the need for Buffalo to buffer Allen with playmakers across the offense this offseason.

-- Kevin Patra

Tennessee Titans 17, New York Giants 0


1. Rain, wind and cold set up perfect conditions for the Titans to impose a physical will on the overmatched Giants. Tennessee did it on both sides of the ball, as Derrick Henry paced a punishing ground attack with 170 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries and the defense limited the Giants to 260 total net yards of offense. Henry's game marked a second consecutive 150-plus yards effort, and he allowed the Titans to hold an overwhelming 35:52-24:39 edge in time of possession. Defensively, the Titans swarmed a Giants offense without wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (quad), and limited rookie running back Saquon Barkley to 31 yards rushing on 14 carries. The win improved the Titans to 8-6 on the season and kept Tennessee in the hunt for the playoffs with two games to go.

2. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota contributed to the physical nature of the game early in the second quarter with a sinus-clearing block on Giants linebacker Alec Ogletree to spring Henry down the left sideline. With no regard for himself, Mariota launched with his right shoulder exposed to level Ogletree. This is the kind of play from a quarterback that will forever endear him to teammates.

3. The Giants entered Week 15 mathematically alive for the postseason, so it would be reasonable to expect a motivated effort. The uninspiring performance Sunday, however, eliminated the Giants and captured everything that went wrong the entire 2018 regular season. The Giants were undisciplined, totaling 10 penalties for 58 yards. Offensively, quarterback Eli Manning and Co. failed to generate any consistency, as receivers dropped passes and the unit went 3 for 16 on third-down attempts. Manning also had two back-breaking turnovers (interception and fumble) in the third quarter to seal New York's fate. Defensively, the Giants couldn't stop the Titans' ground game, which totaled 216 yards on 44 carries. The loss dropped the Giants to 5-9 on the season and left them preparing for offseason vacations.

-- Herbie Teope

Baltimore Ravens 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12


1. A sloppy Sunday in Baltimore almost became the Ravens' undoing, but ultimately, it was what these new Ravens have become -- a running team -- that propelled them to victory. After Tampa Bay broke the scoreless tie with a touchdown, it didn't find that patch of grass for the rest of the game thanks to a Baltimore defense that woke up, and a Ravens offense that dominated time of possession by riding the ground attack. Gus Edwards rushed 19 times for 104 yards (which included a 26-yard run right before the two-minute warning to seal the win) and a touchdown. Lamar Jackson ran 18 times for 95 yards, and frequently kept the ball in Baltimore's hands by scrambling past the line to gain on third down. It had to be frustrating for Tampa Bay, which had defensive stops in reach many times and couldn't secure them.

It also spoke to the value of Jackson, who was playing in unfavorable, wet conditions as he continues on his path to comfort in the passing game, yet was the main reason Baltimore defeated Tampa Bay. His passing touchdown was a shovel pass to Chris Moore on a well-timed misdirection jet sweep play, and perfectly summed up the day, which the Ravens won by being the old-school, grind-it-out AFC North team it has morphed into in the last month -- but with a modern flair.

2. Baltimore deserves some credit for its resilience. Fresh off a heartbreaking loss to the Chiefs, the Ravens looked flat early and appeared primed for an upset defeat that would have seriously hindered their postseason aspirations. They instead bounced back, shaken from their slumber by Tampa Bay's early scores. Baltimore rode on the shoulders of Jackson, and then relied on its stout defense in key moments. Marlon Humphrey's timely interception and the defense's two-play stonewall of Peyton Barber and a Winston attempt to Chris Godwin produced a huge turnover on downs that all but ended Tampa Bay's chances.

3. There aren't many positives for the Buccaneers from this game, but we can dig a couple out of the offense. Barber ran well (19 carries, 85 yards, one TD) against the league's No. 4 rushing defense; Mike Evans broke 120 receiving yards on just four catches, thanks in part to a 64-yard reception; and Godwin exists on this team, even though he didn't have a catch Sunday. Unfortunately, the unit's inability to muster much of anything and failure to capitalize on Ravens fumbles put Tampa Bay's defense in a difficult spot, tasked with stopping a productive Ravens rushing attack (242 yards on 49 attempts) on a wet afternoon. This team will have a different coach next season and return a healthy amount of promising talent. Here's to hoping they can do something with it.

-- Nick Shook

Cincinnati Bengals 30, Oakland Raiders 16


1. The Bengals' ended their five-game losing skid, but lost yet another key starter in the process. Shortly after becoming the first Cincinnati wideout not named A.J. Green to reach the 1,000-yard mark since Chad Johnson in 2009, breakout receiver Tyler Boyd went down with a knee injury. Boyd and second-year tailback Joe Mixon (130 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 29 touches) have carried the offense, emerging as nucleus players with Green and starting quarterback Andy Dalton lost to injured reserve for the final month of a lost season.

2. After falling to last place in many key stats entering December, the Bengals defense has stiffened in back-to-back weeks with head coach Marvin Lewis calling the plays and veteran linebacker Vontaze Burfict sidelined by a concussion. In addition to handling blocking duties in short-yardage situations on offense, rookie pass rusher Sam Hubbard recorded two sacks and a third hit on Derek Carr to lead a spirited defensive effort. All-Pro Geno Atkins pitched in with three sacks of his own, bringing his season total to 10. Considering the concussion issues and his declining level of play, Burfict's roster spot might just be in jeopardy for 2019.

3. Playing without both starting guards, the Raiders shot themselves in the foot with ongoing fumbling issues. Derek Carr lost his career-high sixth of the season while scatback Jalen Richard dropped his second in three weeks. Recently pilfered from Baltimore's practice squad, tight end Darren Waller was a bright spot for Oakland, rushing once for 21 yards and hauling in a Carr pass for another 44 yards. Waller is the great grandson of jazz legend Fats Waller.

-- Chris Wesseling

Washington Redskins 16, Jacksonville Jaguars 13


1. Just enough from the team-trotting Josh Johnson and a trio of field goals from Dustin Hopkins, including a 36-yard game-winner with no time left, propelled the Redskins to a 16-13 triumph over the host Jaguars in a game that kept Washington's slim postseason hopes alive and served as a showcase of offensive ineptitude. Alas it is Week 15, so it's that time of year when quarterbacks such as Johnson, starting for the first time since 2011, and Jacksonville's Cody Kessler, closing out a disastrous season for the Jaguars while the much-maligned Blake Bortles continues to ride the pine, find themselves on the field and in our living rooms. In the matchup of quarterbacks you could have never predicted would've faced off at the season's genesis, it was Johnson, playing for his fourth NFL squad, who did just enough to give his team the win. Better yet, it's more than likely he did less wrong and that's why he was celebrating following Hopkins' final field goal, dropping to the field and slapping his throwing hand on the turf in celebration. Like all the stats in this one, Johnson's were modest (being polite) as he completed 16 of 25 passes for 151 yards and the game's only offensive touchdown (a 6-yard score to Jeremy Sprinkle with 5:52 to go in the game to tie it at 13), while rushing for 49 yards in nine carries. Meanwhile, Kessler struggled to the tune of throwing for just 57 yards and an interception, while scrambling for 68 yards but also giving up a fumble. In the end, it was the two turnovers from Kessler and none for Johnson that truly told the tale.

2. For 60 minutes Sunday, it was an exercise in offensive futility. As the teams entered halftime with Jacksonville leading, 10-3, following a 74-yard Dede Westbrook punt return that was far and away the most exciting play of the game, the teams had combined for some simply horrendous statistics. Ugly incompletions and sparse connections colored the day for Johnson, Washington's fourth starting QB of the year, and Kessler with the squads combining for 153 total yards of offense and eight first downs -- season lows for the league through the first half. Obviously some praise must go to the defenses, but this was truly an offensive offensive display.

3. During an injury-plagued season, the Redskins finally snapped a four-game losing streak, their longest since 2014. But the Jaguars' woes continued in their 2018 home finale as they lost their second in a row and ninth over the last 10. This was more than likely Bortles' last time appearing in a Jags' uniform on their home field and might well be Doug Marrone's final home game with Jacksonville as the team's failure to get anything going on offense continued as it has all year as it scored 20 or fewer points for the 10th time and couldn't find the end zone.

-- Grant Gordon

Atlanta Falcons 40, Arizona Cardinals 14


1. This long-hamstrung Falcons offense finally woke from its slumber against the horrifyingly lost Cardinals. Atlanta (5-9) found a heartbeat in the backfield when Tevin Coleman (145 yards on the ground) ripped off a 65-yard gallop to set up an early field goal before burying the Cardinals with a 43-yard scoring burst midway through the third frame. Coleman also had a 44-yard touchdown romp called back by penalty. Through the air, Matt Ryan leaned on Julio Jones, who managed 82 yards off six grabs but also spent time on the sideline with a rib injury. It was discouraging to see Atlanta settle for field goals on a pair of drives that ended at Arizona's 14- and 7-yard line, but those kicks also helped forge a 26-7 halftime lead against a Cardinals (3-11) team missing the DNA to forge a comeback.

2. The Cardinals might be a lost cause, but Arizona fans still have something to care about in Josh Rosen. The rookie passer authored one of his finest drives all year with an eight-play, 64-yard march highlighted by a deep shot to running back David Johnson, who capped that march with a 1-yard scoring burst. Disaster struck on the following series, though, as a Rosen pass was tipped by Vic Beasley into the waiting arms of linebacker Deion Jones, who raced 41 yards to the house. Two drives later, Rosen lost a fumble when he was blasted by Atlanta's Grady Jarrett, which set up a quick Falcons score for a 17-7 lead. Behind one of the league's shoddiest lines, Rosen took too many violent shots from a slew of Falcons free rushers, threw a second pick and wound up mercy-benched for Mike Glennon inside an offense that managed under 300 total yards for 12th time this season. The Cardinals desperately must find a way to nurture and grow this young player, which starts with a less disastrous front five and a long look in the mirror about the coaches in place around him.

-- Marc Sessler

Print