Harv currently writes for Abstract Sports, the Sports History Network, and the magazine Gridiron Greats. Harv wrote the published book "Pro Football's Most Passionate Fans" and as a professional writer has had articles published in an array of sports publications.
NFL Week 14 Short Takes
It’s hard to believe the 2020 NFL season is just weeks away from concluding before the playoffs begin. But that is the case with week 14 in the books and it ended wildly on Monday night with a Baltimore victory over Cleveland in what turned out to be a crazy shootout.
Some teams had impressive performances and others that took major steps backward. The rundown of all the results follows.
Baltimore 47, Cleveland 42. No one could have expected this result. A game Baltimore had to have to stay alive in the playoff chase and for the Browns, Baker Mayfield and his squad had to prove they belong among the league’s elite teams. While the Browns fell just short, if not for Lamar Jackson they probably win this game. They could not contain the Baltimore quarterback who left with an injury only to return to lead the Ravens to the win. Still, both teams proved they are a threat come post-season if they reach that point.
Los Angeles Rams 24, New England 3. I thought this game would be closer and the Rams would win but a blowout came as a surprise. With the win, the Rams have a tie-breaking lead in their division over Seattle. The Patriots drop to 6-7 and will probably be searching for Tom Brady’s replacement soon for 2021 because Cam Newton ain’t it.
Arizona 26, New York Giants 7. The NFC East is the craziest division this season. None of the teams in it want to gain a winning record so at this point The Washington Football Team is out front at 6-7 with the Giants just behind at 5-8 following by the Eagles (4-8-1) and the Cowboys (4-9).
Dallas 30, Cincinnati 7. Incredibly, the Cowboys could still win their division despite being in last place. It probably won’t happen but in this one, Andy Dalton got a bit of revenge on his old team. The Bengals didn’t even show up.
Denver 32, Carolina 27. An outstanding game for Drew Lock who finished with a QB rating of 149.5 and missed on just six passes while tossing four touchdowns along with 280 yards passing. Not to be outdone was Teddy Bridgewater who went 30-40, 283 yards but could not find the end zone.
Chicago 36, Houston 7. Chicago stops the bleeding with a huge win over the Texans with Mitch Trubisky having one of his best games all season throwing for 267 yards with three passing touchdowns. Neither team is over five wins this season.
Kansas City 33, Miami 27. The Chiefs keep winning but their games have been closer. A win is a win, right? Let’s see when the playoffs begin. Credit to the Dolphins for hanging tough. Strange seeing Patrick Mahomes throw three interceptions but he also threw two touchdowns and amassed 393 yards passing. Tua Tagovailoa held his own with 316 yards passing of his own along with two touchdown passes.
Tampa Bay 26, Minnesota 14. The Bucs will be in the playoffs but they are looking like a team that will be one-and-done. The Vikings could have used this win to get a shot at those playoffs but they are not dead yet just one game out of the final wild-card spot.
Tennessee 31, Jacksonville 10. Make it a dozen. Not only did the Jacksonville Jaguars suffer their 12th straight defeat in this game, but they were embarrassed by the final score and by Derrick Henry. The NFL’s leading rusher ran roughshod over the Jags and became the only player in NFL history to have four 200-yard rushing games in his career. He broke a tie with some pretty solid company all of whom had three games of 200 or more yards on the ground (Jim Brown, LaDainian Tomlinson, Barry Sanders). Of Henry’s four 200-yard games, two have come against Jacksonville. Henry loves himself some Jaguars’ football. In this game, he went for 215 yards, two scores, on just 26 rushes while also romping 47 yards on one carry. Go back two years to 2018 and on December 6, nearly to the day of last week’s historic performance, Henry rushed for 238 yards facing the Jaguars on 17 carries and scored four times in that game. A year later in November, playing on his turf he ran for 159 yards, two touchdowns, and had a 74-yard rumble while Jacksonville was in town. I guess you could say he owns the Jaguars.
Indianapolis 44, Las Vegas 27. And so, go the Raiders playoff hopes. They are still alive at 7-6 but are in the 9th slot for a wild card and would have to move past Baltimore and Miami for the final spot. The Colts in the meantime are still trying to win their division but will have to get past the Titans who own the same 9-4 record.
Seattle 40, New York Jets 3. Hang it up, New York. It’s over. They should have had their first victory of the season facing Las Vegas but blew that. Now it appears they won’t win in 2020. Left in their path are the Rams on the road (no chance at all), the Browns at home who are fighting for a playoff spot, and finish in New England. 0-16 here we come.
Los Angeles Chargers 20, Atlanta 17. Just when you thought Matt Ryan showed he isn’t ready for retirement yet; he goes out and throws three interceptions in this game. It’s been an awful year for both teams with L.A. at 4-9 and Atlanta equaling that record.
Green Bay 31, Detroit 24. Green Bay takes the pole spot at top of the NFC seedings and for Detroit, you have to wonder if fans and team personnel may be seeing the end of Matthew Stafford’s career as a Lion and perhaps it's time for a change.
Philadelphia 24, New Orleans 21. This certainly has been the year of the rookie quarterback. 13 were drafted in 2020 and six either became instant starters, worked themselves into the starting role, or had at least one start. Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert were battling it out for Rookie of the Year honors before Burrow suffered a season-ending injury. Herbert is still out there throwing but here come Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts who made his first start last week and he was very impressive. Jake Luton got a start for the Jacksonville Jaguars and unfortunately, Jordan Love is stuck behind Aaron Rodgers. In Dallas, Ben DiNucci got a start when backup Andy Dalton was sidelined. That leaves the following player riding the pine: Jacob Eason (Colts), James Morgan (Jets), Jake Fromm (Bills), Cole McDonald (Titans), Nate Stanley (Vikings), and Tommy Stevens (Saints). But in this game all the buzz was about Hurts and how smooth and calm he appeared. Goodbye Carson Wentz.
Washington 23, San Francisco 15. Fresh off an upset win over the previously unbeaten Steelers The Washington Football Team gets their fourth win in a row and sole possession of the lead in the NFC East. One season after losing in the Super Bowl, the 49ers are in last place in their division.
Buffalo 26, Pittsburgh 15. Everyone wants to discuss what’s wrong with my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After winning the first 11 they’ve now lost two in a row. That has spawned the belief this team is done and while already earning a playoff spot, they will be one and done. Given how they are playing now and the insurmountable injuries on defense, that is highly likely. The Steelers simply can’t run the ball anymore and the number of dropped passes by their receivers is dizzying. While injuries should not be an excuse for losing because Mike Tomlin’s philosophy is “next man up” it is clear that the Pittsburgh Steelers depth is a problem. The Bills are a solid team. They are playing hard and smart. They have three very winnable games left (Denver, New England, Miami) and should finish 13-3 or at worst 12-4. Pittsburgh? They have an easy one this weekend against Cincinnati but then come the Colts and closing with the Browns who may very well need that game to make the post-season.