2020 NFL season, Week 14: What we learned from Sunday's games

NFL.com breaks down what you need to know from all of Sunday's action around the league in Week 14. Catch up on each game's biggest takeaways using the links below:

1) Josh Allen runs and guns and is truly fun to watch as he comes into his own. Despite any criticism, Allen's shown the raw ability and exciting potential all along. Expecting a breakout season wasn't all that difficult to fathom. However, it's valid to wonder just how good Allen would look in 2020 if not for the addition of Stefon Diggs. Surely headed for his initial Pro Bowl trip, Diggs is turning in the best season of an already impressive career from his days with the Vikings. On Sunday, Diggs had another stellar showing and did so against a phenomenal Pittsburgh D. With game-highs of 10 catches and 130 yards to go with a touchdown, Diggs now leads the the NFL with 100 catches, which is tied with Eric Moulds for the Bills' single-season record, and has set a career-high with 1,167 yards receiving. This wasn't any old win on Sunday night. With all the world watching, the Bills (10-3) downed the Steelers (11-2) and made a really exceptional case for being among the top two teams in the AFC. And it's hard to believe this success would've come to be without Buffalo bringing in Diggs.

2) Prior to kickoff Sunday night, the Steelers clinched a playoff berth thanks to losses by other teams. This was the third straight week in which Pittsburgh had a shot at clinching a spot and it finally backed in. For just about any team, an 11-2 record would be reason for jubilation. But the Steelers have lost two in a row, their offense is sputtering, the run game is non-existent and in today's NFL, the defense can only do so much. Failing to make the playoffs last year is evidence enough considering the Steelers' D was sensational then, as well as now. Perhaps panic is too strong a word, but the Steelers have some worries. They have Super Bowl aspirations and over the last three games have hardly looked like a team that can contend for a title. In the eyes of many, Sunday night's game was a de facto showdown for the No. 2 spot in the AFC behind the Chiefs. The Bills made a statement and the Steelers just struggled (again).

3) With such a noticeable decline from its play over the past couple seasons, the Buffalo defense has rightfully taken some hits for its performance this year. But with perhaps the best defense in the NFL opposing it, the Bills defense played superior ball on Sunday night. Taron Johnson's 51-yard interception return for a score turned the game for good despite coming in the second quarter. Buffalo was trailing, 7-3, before Johnson's histrionics and never trailed after it. Johnson was lost to a concussion thereafter, but the defense's impressive play carried on for the most part. The Bills held the Steelers to just 224 yards of offense and had two takeaways -- Levi Wallace 's interception sealing the game. This is Buffalo's most impressive victory so far and one of its finest defensive showings. On both sides of the ball, the Bills are putting things together at just about the best time possible.

-- Grant Gordon

1) A 10-2 team with a playoff berth already clinched isn't exactly an ideal matchup for a rookie quarterback making his first start. Neither is the added pressure of replacing the former No. 2 overall pick, yet Jalen Hurts handled it excellently, helping the Eagles build a 17-0 lead in the first half and getting the support needed from his teammates -- Miles Sanders rushed for 115 yards and two scores on 14 carries -- to hang on in one of the biggest upsets of 2020. Hurts' first start saw the Eagles (4-8-1) adjust their offense slightly, leaning more on the option to run for Hurts, who became just the second quarterback with 100-plus rushing yards in his first career start (the other: Baltimore's Lamar Jackson). He completed 17-of-30 passes for 167 yards and an impressive touchdown, standing tall in the pocket with the Saints' rush bearing down on him on fourth and two and firing a pass to Alshon Jeffery for the score. Hurts would've engineered another scoring drive just before the end of the first half, too, gaining a big chunk of yards with his legs, but Jake Elliott clanged a 22-yarder off the left upright to end the drive empty-handed. No matter. Hurts secured a win the Eagles desperately needed more for their morale than anything else. Warm those microphones up, because the debate surrounding the quarterback position in Philadelphia isn't cooling off any time soon.

2) Philadelphia's defense has been a problem for some time now, and thanks to the efforts of the Hurts-led offense, it didn't have to be on the field for the majority of the game. When it was out there, it caused issues for Taysom Hill, with plenty of credit due to the Eagles' pass rush. While the Eagles have received a ton of criticism for their inability to protect the passer, it was the Saints who struggled to do so Sunday, giving up five sacks, with three coming in key fourth-quarter situations. Josh Sweat accounted for two of them, stripping Hill to end a New Orleans possession midway through the fourth, and another backed New Orleans (10-3) up on a desperate drive late. Duke Riley had a fantastic first half, picking off a Hill pass for just the fourth interception of 2020 for Philadelphia, bottling up New Orleans' offensive efforts and allowing the Eagles to build themselves a cushion. Without their stifling play, the Eagles aren't celebrating Hurts' first career win as a starter.

3) The timing of the Saints' loss helps ease the pain of their winning streak's demise, because Drew Brees' return is right around the corner. Sunday provided us with a reliable example of why Hill should not be New Orleans' future starting quarterback. Hill's interception came off a deflection due to an errant throw to Alvin Kamara, and he fumbled away a chance to inch closer in the fourth because he held on to the ball too long on fourth down. Even Hill's touchdown passes weren't works of art, but instead excellent grabs made by Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook, who effectively bailed out Hill by making great catches instead of hauling in well-placed passes. And too often -- a trend that stretches back into games the Saints won -- his passes toward the perimeter take nosedives that make catches difficult for those expected to make them. Brees' return should cure these issues, and games like Sunday shouldn't be forgotten when evaluating Hill's value in 2021 and beyond.

-- Nick Shook

1) Miami (8-5) won't have the win to show for it, but it's difficult to not be impressed and inspired by the Dolphins' fight. Miami's defense plays with pride and had reason to be happy with its play, causing Patrick Mahomes' first three-interception game of his already illustrious career. Two came off deflections and arrived in Kansas City's first three possessions, helping Miami build a 10-0 lead, but its offense didn't take full advantage -- ultimately the story of the game. Miami didn't maximize possible points scored off turnovers, getting just three off turnovers in the first half and keeping the door wide open for Kansas City to come roaring back. There was room for encouragement, though, as the Dolphins mounted a valiant comeback effort that fell short, but was commendable. They don't get there without their defensive effort, which also included a fantastic interception from Xavien Howard, who just keeps on racking them up in 2020. A game that easily could've gotten out of hand ended in a one-score finish because of Miami's fight, which didn't get the Dolphins a win, but is exciting for a team that is still in the thick of the playoff hunt.

2) The Chiefs (12-1) won on Sunday because of their premier, elite speed. At one point early in the second half, Tyreek Hill had an absurd stat line: Two touches, 32 rushing yards, 44 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His first came on a jet sweep in which Hill got around the edge and simply outran two defenders to the front pylon, and his second was a case of Hill simply sprinting past the corner and safety for a 44-yard strike of a score in a perfect example of just how explosive the Chiefs' offense can be. Mecole Hardman returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown, too, again slicing through Miami's coverage simply on the power of his elite speed. Even against the most inspired and stingy defenses, Kansas City is still incredibly difficult to slow down. We can count on death, taxes and the Chiefs producing highlight plays.

3) Tua Tagovailoa 's greatest ally is time -- time to throw, time to learn, time to adjust and time to apply his new knowledge. Tony Romo pointed it out amid Miami's comeback attempt in the fourth, in which Tagovailoa graduated from taking the open man underneath to lofting passes to targets in single coverage and down the seam, hitting Mike Gesicki for an excellent touchdown and Adam Shaheen along the boundary to extend drives. Tagovailoa seemed to grow more comfortable as the game progressed, and if he follows this trend in the weeks ahead, he'll only get better, even in a loss.

-- Nick Shook

1) The Tampa Bay pass rush showed up at just the right time Sunday -- in the fourth quarter, when Kirk Cousins is at his best. The Vikings QB entered the game with an NFL-best fourth-quarter passer rating of 132. But the Buccaneers (8-5) held Minnesota scoreless in the final frame thanks largely to a pass rush that overwhelmed with two sacks on each of Minnesota's last two drives. Shaquil Barrett notched two of Tampa Bay's six sacks on the day.

2) Just a day after Vikings coach Mike Zimmer gave kicker Dan Bailey a vote of confidence, Bailey gave his coach more reason to be concerned. Bailey missed a PAT, his third missed PAT in the last two weeks, and missed field goals from 36, 54 and 46 yards. It was the kind of performance that can put a kicker suddenly out of work on a Monday morning. If Bailey is still Zimmer's guy, he'll need to rediscover his stroke quickly as the Vikings (6-7) are in danger of playoff elimination.

3) The NFL's No.1 rushing defense looked ordinary at best against Vikings running back Dalvin Cook. The fourth-year pro had 49 yards in the first quarter alone against the Bucs, behind some impressive blocking up front, and consistently broke away from initial contact. Once Tampa Bay built a double-digit lead, Minnesota turned more to the passing game, but Cook still finished 22 for 102 to become the first 100-yard rusher against Tampa Bay since Week 9 of 2019 (Chris Carson).

-- Chase Goodbread

1) In something of an up-and-down rookie season, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor definitely found a peak on Sunday. He won a footrace with defensive backs for a 62-yard score to highlight a career-best 150-yard day. The Colts (9-4), who traded up to take Taylor No. 41 overall in the draft, sprung him for 7.0 yards per carry in Week 13, then 7.5 per carry against the Raiders. His north-south style was an ideal complement to Nyheim Hines.

2) Setting aside the spectacular athleticism the Colts' Kenny Moore showed on a second-quarter interception, the play was quite the momentum swinger for Indianapolis. The play thwarted what could've been a TD pass to Darren Waller in the end zone, and the Colts capitalized on the ensuing possession with a field goal and a 20-14 halftime lead. Moore leaped in front of Waller and, fully outstretched, made a one-handed grab in front of Waller for his 10th career interception and second in as many weeks.

3) What does a dominant day look like for an offensive line? How about a goose egg in the sack column and a 6.8-yard rushing average for the Colts' front? Center Ryan Kelly and left guard Quenton Nelson are an imposing pairing in the running game. Along with the aforementioned Taylor's 150 yards, Hines was seven for 58 on the ground. On the OL topic, the Raiders (7-6) weren't bad either, blanking the sack column themselves.

-- Chase Goodbread

1) On the first drive of the game, former Giants edge rusher Markus Golden blasted Daniel Jones, forced a fumble, and scooped it up to set the tone for the blowout win. The Cardinals' defense smothered an immobile Jones with a bevy of stunts. Arizona compiled eight sacks on the day, including a franchise-record five by Haason Reddick. Jones, who missed last week with a hamstring injury, was clearly limited. Unable to escape the pocket, Danny Dimes was a sitting duck for a defense that smelled blood and attacked, sacking the gimpy QB six times. Jones was mercy-benched with 2:34 left in favor of Colt McCoy, who was sacked by Reddick on his first snap. The Cards' defense deserves credit for forcing five three-and-outs and allowing just 10 first downs. The Giants offense, however, was an anemic operation. Big Blue totaled just 58 yards in the first half, including 15 net pass yards. It finished with 159 total yards and was a putrid 3-of-12 on third downs. When Jones isn't able to use his legs, New York's offense becomes a predictable operation easily stymied.

2) DeAndre Hopkins owns MetLife Stadium. The star receiver earned his fourth 100-plus yard game in four career games at the arena. Nuk dominated a good Giants defense, catching nine passes on 11 targets for 136 yards. Kyler Murray missed some throws early, but settled down and made plays when necessary, including a mini-Hail Mary to Dan Arnold for a TD to blast open the scoreboard. For the first time in weeks, Murray was able to use his legs, dashing for 52 yards on 10 rushes. The Cards offense was atrocious in the red zone (2-of-7) but didn't need to be perfect with the defense dominating the game.

3) With Arizona running 79 offensive plays (4.9 yards per play), a previously stingy Big Blue (5-8) defense couldn't compensate for its nonexistent offense. The loss snaps the Giants' four-game win streak and lets their grip atop the NFC East slip. New York's blowout defeat coupled with a Washington win puts Joe Judge's team behind the eight-ball heading into the final three games. With the next two games coming against the Browns and Ravens, before a Week 17 matchup versus Dallas, Big Blue will need to pull another upset to leap back into the division lead. The Cards' victory, coupled with the Vikings' loss, pushes Arizona (7-6) back into prime position for the final playoff spot. Snapping a three-game losing streak, Arizona next faces a floundering Philadelphia team to cement its spot in the postseason.

-- Kevin Patra

1) The Washington Football defense dominated, scoring twice and pummeling the San Francisco 49ers into submission. On a day in which Washington's offense was scuttled before and after Alex Smith went out due to injury, the defense proved it's playoff-worthy. The Teamers (6-7) walloped Nick Mullens for four sacks and 12 QB hits. Ron Rivera's D earned a pick, 11 passes defended, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Washington destroyed San Francisco at the point of attack, holding Kyle Shanahan's offense to 4.5 yards per play on 76 plays. Chase Young all but clinched the Defensive Rookie of the Year. The No. 2 overall pick was the best player on the field, wrecking everything the 49ers tried. Young compiled a sack, six tackles, two QB hits, a tackle for loss, a pass defended, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a score. His touchdown completely flipped the tenor of a game in which San Francisco controlled until that point. Young is on the verge of helping lead his team to the postseason as a rookie.

2) Smith completed just 42.1% of 19 first-half pass attempts for 57 yards and an INT before exiting at halftime with a calf injury. Dwayne Haskins took over and fared little better, completing 58.3% of 12 attempts for 51 yards. The biggest statement from Sunday's game is how important Antonio Gibson is to Washington's offense. Sans the rookie runner, the Football Team struggled to move the ball consistently in any facet. After opening the second half with an 11-play 72-yard drive, Washington spent the fourth quarter punting the ball back to the Niners at every turn. Haskins led four straight fourth-quarter three-and-outs. Smith was little better, with three three-and-outs of his own in the first half. On a day the offense scored just three field goals, Washington's defense picked up the slack to vault Rivera's club into the NFC East lead.

3) Shanahan isn't getting the production from his quarterback to overcome all the injuries to both sides of the ball. Deebo Samuel exited on the first play from scrimmage due to an injury and never returned. The latest injury put more pressure on Mullens. The signal-caller struggled with Washington's pressure, panicking too often. Mullens went 25-of-45 passing for 260 yards with a TD, an INT and a fumble for a Washington TD. He's lucky there weren't more turnovers on a plethora of passes aimed too high over the middle. A day in which the 49ers defense held an opponent to 193 total yards, three FGs and 3 of 15 on third downs, San Francisco (5-8) lost due to the offense's inability to protect the football. With the loss all but ending the Niners' postseason dreams, it'll be interesting to see if Jimmy Garoppolo indeed returns for the final weeks.

-- Kevin Patra

1) The Packers are NFC North champions, again. Are they more than that? They currently own the conference's top seed but will eventually have to prove their worth against better teams than those they've beat up on in recent weeks. Still, they clinched a second straight division title with a workmanlike performance against the Lions, a team they lost to four straight times at the end of the Mike McCarthy era. Green Bay (10-3) shut down the run and controlled the clock Sunday, two traits that will play in the postseason. Matt LaFleur is probably taken for granted by some because of his quarterback, but he absolutely deserves coach of the year consideration. This is not what the Pack looked like two years ago despite featuring a similar cast of characters.

2) There might be a new MVP front-runner. At least there should be. Whether measuring by standard or advanced stats, Aaron Rodgers is slightly outplaying presumptive favorite Patrick Mahomes. Hours after Mahomes tied a career-high with three interceptions, Rodgers extended his NFL lead in passing touchdowns to 39 and ran for another. He's now thrown fewer picks (four to five) and has taken fewer sacks (13 to 18) than his State Farm buddy after avoiding both all afternoon. Mahomes' Chiefs own a better record, of course. But let's not pretend like Kansas City and Green Bay are equal otherwise. While the award is far from decided, Rodgers' latest performance will help set the narrative straight.

3) Maybe it's the interim honeymoon. We've seen similar, immediate upticks in Atlanta and Houston following coaching changes. But it doesn't take away from how competitive Detroit (5-8) has been in two weeks with Darrell Bevell after being a mess for much of November under Matt Patricia. And the longtime offensive coordinator is doing it with a roster that, because of a rash of injuries that now might involve Matthew Stafford, isn't as good as the one his predecessor was working with for most the year. The Lions played error-free football as they either led, tied or trailed the Packers by just one possession for more than 52 minutes. They simply lost to a superior opponent. The organization will have tough decisions to make this offseason regarding its future, but Bevell looks to be setting himself up for at least another OC job.

-- Adam Maya

1) After last week's stunning loss to the Giants, this win was the get-right game Seattle (9-4) needed. Sure, beating a winless team doesn't sound that special on paper, but the victory placed the Seahawks in a crucial tie with the Rams atop the NFC West. A week removed from taking five sacks and posting his second-worst passer rating (78.0) of the season, Russell Wilson bounced back big time. Save for a nice tip-drill pick by Marcus Maye, Wilson played largely without flaw, completing 21-of-27 pass attempts for 206 yards and four TDs. This was his fifth game with four-plus TD passes this season. He also took zero sacks and logged a 122.6 rating before former Jet Geno Smith replaced him late in the third with the 'Hawks up by 34.

2) After taking an early 3-0 lead, which was a surprise in and of itself, the Jets (0-13) proceeded to turn in another on-brand performance. Whatever mojo New York's offense unlocked during its season-high 376-yard output in Week 13 did not carry over whatsoever. Against Seattle, the Jets amassed a season-low 185 total yards. The lost fumble and five punts were bad. The three missed Sergio Castillo FGs were brutal to watch. But the worst part about the evening came via a milestone set by a very familiar face. After logging a second-quarter sack of Sam Darnold, Jamal Adams reached 8.5 on the year, the most by a DB in a season all-time. Woof.

3) Among the many players that made an impact for the Seahawks, perhaps none were more important than Chris Carson. Playing in his third game back from injury, Carson was afforded another valuable chance to get his legs underneath him. His 76 yards (12 carries) were his highest since Week 4 and his five-yard TD run gave him five on the season. It goes without saying that Carson's presence, combined with Carlos Hyde (15/66), transforms Seattle's offense. With a huge clash against the vaunted Washington defense up next, it was key for Carson and the O-line to improve their chemistry as the season winds down.

-- Jelani Scott

1) Andy Dalton's victorious return to Cincinnati was supported by a high-flying Cowboys defense that had a knack for creating turnovers. Each of the Bengals' first three possessions ended with lost fumbles; Demarcus Lawrence creating the first, Aldon Smith returning the second for a 79-yard touchdown (Smith's first career score) and the third coming off a big hit made by Darian Thompson. All 17 of the Cowboys' first-half points were scored off those takeaways and the defense sustained a violent tone into the second half when Bengals pass-catchers heard footsteps and the offense failed to score any points. Two turnovers on downs in the fourth quarter sealed a Cowboys victory in what must be considered the defense's best performance of the year.

2) The Cowboys' defensive effort was necessary given the offense's continuing struggles. The Cowboys (4-9) were outgained in total yards (309-272), on the wrong end in time of possession, just 5 of 11 on third down, and settled for two field goals inside the red zone. Dalton went 16 of 23 for 185 yards and two TDs, but there were a handful of missed opportunities downfield and his second TD in the fourth quarter was of the garbage time variety. Ezekiel Elliott mustered just 48 yards on 12 carries behind a battered offensive line and failed to find the end zone on the ground -- something he hasn't done since Week 5.

3) Despite the offense digging an early hole, Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen had a respectable day under center. Allen finished 27-of-36 for 217 yards passing (one TD) and led an offense that had no real issues gaining yards, but plenty of problems holding on to the ball. Giovani Bernard had his first fumble in seven years (since Oct. 6, 2013) on the second play of the game, and the play broke the NFL's longest active streak without a fumble (830 attempts). Bernard was benched in the subsequent drive, but Trayveon Williams quickly coughed it up on a play that resembled Mark Sanchez's infamous butt fumble. It was that kind of day for the Bengals offense, but Allen toughed it out for the Bengals (2-10-1) despite leaving the game late in the fourth with a lower right leg injury. A.J. Green did haul in his 65th career receiving TD though, leaving him one short of Chad Johnson for the Bengals all-time record.

-- Michael Baca

1) Wide receiver A.J. Brown's touchdown reception on Tennessee's opening drive was not only a rock-solid catch-of-the-week candidate, it was a clinic in hand-fighting technique. On a flea-flicker, Brown got a step on Jaguars CB Sidney Jones and, as Ryan Tannehill's deep pass arrived, Brown stuck his left forearm in the crook of Jones' right elbow. That left Jones unable to contest the catch, which Brown made with his right hand only to highlight a win in which the Titans improved to 9-4.

2) On a yards-per-second basis, you won't find a more efficient hurry-up drive than the one Tennessee posted before the half: Two plays, eight seconds, 28 yards, three points. The Titans took possession with :09 left from their own 39. Tannehill immediately picked up 19 on a completion to Corey Davis, who got out of bounds to stop the clock at :05. Then it was a quick slant to Jonnu Smith and a timeout with :01 left before Stephen Gostkowski connected on a 53-yard field goal for a 17-3 halftime lead.

3) Jacksonville's James Robinson joined Tennessee's Derrick Henry, who had 215 yards and two scores on Sunday, and Minnesota's Dalvin Cook as the NFL's only 1,000-yard rushers so far this season, although he was bottled up by the Titans defense for most of the day. Robinson broke a 46-yard run in the fourth quarter to reach the milestone. As big a mess as the Jaguars are, Robinson has justified his team's preseason dump of former first-round pick Leonard Fournette. Perhaps the 1-12 Jaguars won't string out the season with Mike Glennon at quarterback. Once the Derrick Henry Show put the outcome to bed, and after Glennon ended a rough day with a poorly-thrown interception, the Jaguars resurrected Gardner Minshew. Summoned off the bench to play for the first time since Week 7, the second-year pro quickly led the Jaguars' only TD drive of the day. Albeit against a Titans secondary playing softer with a runaway lead, Minshew threw for 178 yards in less than a half.

-- Chase Goodbread

1) Mitchell Trubisky's first half was a floating dream for Matt Nagy and the Bears. Chicago (6-7) gave the QB easy, quick reads and rolled him out of the pocket often. The smart scheme torched a Texans defense that is softer than Charmin. The bevy of short throws allowed Trubisky to build confidence against a bad D, tossing for 178 yards and three TDs in the first half. Finally eschewing his wayward accuracy for a half, the QB hit players in stride for YAC and had several nice throws pinpoint throws to Allen Robinson, including a great anticipation throw for Trubisky's third TD of the first half. Beating Deshaun Watson after having to answer questions all week about the 2017 draft should feel good for Trubisky. It helped that the Bears' first play from scrimmage went for an 80-yard touchdown run by David Montgomery to settle the QB. The offense got slightly muddled in the second half, with Trubisky missing some throws, but it mattered naught on this day against one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Now the Bears need to execute a similar game plan against a couple of susceptible defenses the next few weeks.

2) Imagine what this Houston squad (4-9) would look like without Watson. With Brandin Cooks out, Houston's receivers couldn't get open against a good Bears defense. Watson held the ball all day, trying to get receivers open to no avail. Watson was sacked six times. Most of the Texans' positive plays came off of Watson adlibbing and escaping pressure. That's not sustainable offense against good Ds. Watson finished with 219 yards and a TD while completing 70% of his passes. He also rushed seven times for 38 yards. With a limp defense and most of his weapons out, even Watson's magic couldn't provide much of a spark Sunday.

3) Khalil Mack must have been reading those questioning his playmaking recently. The edge rusher was all over early, compiling a sack, a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and a pass defended, along with several other pressures that won't show up on the stat sheet. The Bears' defense finally getting off the mat helped snap Chicago's six-game losing streak. The victory keeps them in the hunt for the final l playoff spot as we zoom through the final three weeks.

-- Kevin Patra

1) The amount of self-destructive energy displayed by each of these teams in recent years seemed almost too much to have a game reach its conclusion without the earth splitting in two at the 50-yard line. But by the grace of the football gods, Stan Kroenke's masterpiece of a stadium was saved, thanks to the foot of Mike Badgley, who drilled a game-winning 43-yard field goal to end a game that seemed destined for overtime. A smattering of interceptions made the final quarter thrilling, if not hilarious, with neither team taking advantage of the opposition's mistake to take control of the tie game. It wasn't until Justin Herbert hit Tyron Johnson with a 25-yard strike that it became apparent someone might actually win this one. The battle of identical Spider-Men ended with the field goal, providing Anthony Lynn's team a boost in a season filled with disappointment.

2) Herbert has dazzled the league for much of the season, but he didn't exactly light it up for most of Sunday. Herbert completed 36-of-44 passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (which seemed as if it would doom the Chargers (4-9) until Matt Ryan one-upped him with an even worse pick), and the Chargers converted nine of 15 third-down attempts, but this contest was deadlocked at 17 for an entire quarter before Herbert finally led the Chargers to the narrow win. While not incredible, Herbert gave us another reason to be excited about his future: He found a way to lead his team to a win, even when all odds -- traditional and supernatural -- seemed to be working against his Chargers.

3) This just in: The time of possession battle is overrated when the offense winning that battle isn't turning possessions into points. Atlanta (4-9) lost the battle by more than nine minutes, yet managed to lead and hold onto a tie because of its efficiency on scoring drives. Each of Atlanta's scoring possessions finished inside four minutes, going 75 yards in 3:36 for the Falcons' first touchdown (a 39-yard pass from Russell Gage to Calvin Ridley ), 40 yards in 3:46 to set up Younghoe Koo's 45-yard field goal, and 75 yards in 3:22 on a drive that ended in a nine-yard touchdown pass to Laquon Treadwell (yes, seriously). At the end, though, possession mattered, and while neither team seemed to want it all that much, the Chargers finished with the ball in their control last. Even Ridley's eight grabs for 124 yards couldn't save Atlanta in this one.

-- Nick Shook

1) After getting off to a slow start (punt, punt, fumble), Drew Lock connected with Jerry Jeudy for a 31-yard completion late in the second quarter to set up a two-yard TD pass. Known for the trouble his big arm often gets him into (13 picks), Lock was conservative in the first half, going 12 of 16 for 85 yards. The Jeudy completion appeared to flip a switch, as Lock proceeded to launch the missiles. He hit wideout K.J. Hamler for a 37-yard TD on Denver's first drive of the third quarter. Another deep shot on the ensuing drive, this time to Tim Patrick for 32 yards, helped set up another Broncos score. In all, Lock notched a season-high five completions of 25-plus yards. A 49-yard bomb to Hamler with less than four minutes in regulation gave Lock a career-best four TD passes. He went 21-of-27 for 280 yards and threw zero (!) picks for the first time since Week 2.

2) For all of the good Carolina's defense did, the miscues cost it greatly at the end of the day. Early in the second, DROY candidate Jeremy Chinn burst through Denver's protection untouched and blasted Lock for a strip-sack. Efe Obada scooped it up for a 54-yard return to set up a Mike Davis TD. The momentum from that stop was quickly erased by untimely penalties from Brian Burns and Jermaine Carter that extended the Broncos' next drive and led to their first score. Big plays over the top sank the Panthers (4-9) in the second half; Rasul Douglas found himself on the wrong end of several as he struggled to stick with Hamler. The group did impressively force two late-game punts, one of which the offense capitalized to make it 25-20. Unfortunately, the second Hamler score rendered Carolina's ensuing TD null and void as the Panthers left with their seventh one-score loss of 2020.

3) Not much has gone Denver's way, but getting to the QB is an area it's had success in. Entering Week 14, Denver (5-8) ranked ninth in the NFL with 32 sacks. Against the Panthers' ailing O-line, the Broncos made Teddy Bridgewater's day a rough one. Linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu sacked him for a loss of eight to stall Carolina's second drive, while defensive end DeMarcus Walker notched one to disrupt the third drive. Denver would add two more in the second half, including one from tackle Dre'Mont Jones that stymied a comeback bid with under three minutes remaining in the game.

-- Jelani Scott

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