Ian Evans NFL Week 14 Love/Hate Weekend Recap
Week 14 just might be the best weekend of football we have seen this year. From a rookie quarterback beating a solid playoff team, to witnessing the game of the year, Week 14 provided the most entertainment of the 2020-2021 Regular Season. We saw the Jets lose by 37 (that’s not new), Washington winning a second straight game, and Mitch Trubisky absolutely ball out. Wild times. We also saw teams either hurt or help their playoff chances as well. From the best performances to the worst, here is what I loved and hated from Week 14.
Love: Game of the Year
Photo Courtesy: Associated Press/Fulton Sun
There have been some great games this year, but none of them top the Monday Night Football Game between Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. Simply put, 89 points were scored in this game. No Monday night game before December 14th put up more than 60 points. At halftime, the Ravens lead 21-14 in a rather regular 1st half. However, the 2nd half might have been the most dramatic half of football NFL fans have seen in a long time. In the 4th quarter, quarterback Lamar Jackson leaves the game with “cramps” (he had to go to the bathroom) and heads to the locker room. Trace McSorely steps in and drives Baltimore down to Cleveland’s 41. On a crucial 3rd down McSorely tries to rush for the 1st down but gets injured on the play. Who’s the next man up at quarterback? Doesn’t matter as Lamar Jackson comes running back from the locker room in Superman-Esque fashion to play the down. What does he do on 4th down? Throws a 44-yard touchdown to Marquis Hollywood-Brown to go up 42-35.
Baker Mayfield (343 yards, 3 total TDs, 1 INT) immediately answers right back. On a 4-play drive that took only 47 seconds to score, Baker, throws a strike to Kareem Hunt to tie the game at 42 with 1 minute left to play. Baltimore then proceeds to drive on their next drive into Cleveland territory. With 2-seconds left and no timeout left, Justin Tucker nails a 55-yard field goal to seal a win for the Baltimore Ravens. However, the game is STILL not over yet. On the very last play of the game, which was filled with a multitude of laterals saw Jarvis Landry catch a lateral in the end zone and get tackled out of bounds. A safety ends the game at 47-42 with the Ravens leaving Cleveland victorious. A total of NINE rushing touchdowns were recorded in this game. From the drama and speculation to an offensive shootout and heart-pounding moments, this game had everything NFL fans asked for. As the Ravens advance to 8-5, the Browns fall to 9-4 in a crucial AFC North rivalry game. All in all, both teams have nothing to be ashamed of.
What. A. Game.
Hate: The New Orleans Saints
Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Derik Hamilton
Squandering opportunities have been a trend for some teams. From the Jets and Patriots to the Buccaneers and Cardinals, these teams had opportunities to help their respective playoff cases but failed to do so. One team that did that this past weekend, surprisingly, was the New Orleans Saints. Of all the times to advance to 11-2 and contend for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, Sunday was the time to do so. And they deliberately let a weak NFC East team, the Philadelphia Eagles, led by rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts, defeat them 24-21. With that loss, the Packers are now the No. 1 seed as they have the tiebreaker over the Saints on head-to-head win percentage. Hopefully, for New Orleans, Drew Brees comes back sooner than later. Although Taysom Hill has done a solid job taking the helm, it is evident that they need their leader back, especially this close to the playoffs.
Love: The Washington Football Team
Photo Courtesy: Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports
On the opposite end of the “squandering opportunities” spectrum, the Washington Football team capitalized on an opportunity to increase their chances of winning the NFC East. On Sunday, WFT defeated a depleted San Francisco 49ers team 23-15. This defense is no joke as every single touchdown Washington scored was accounted for by the defense. They had a pick-6 as well as a scoop-and-score by stud rookie edge rusher Chase Young. After beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13, they followed it up with a convincing win against the 49ers, advancing to 6-7. I think it is safe to say that the Washington Football team will be representing the NFC East in the playoffs as they have Seattle, Carolina, and Philadelphia left on their schedule. For a team that was heavily ridiculed and taken lightly, they have turned their season around after a rough offseason. Well done. Keep it going.
Hate: The Houston Texans
Photo Courtesy: Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
The Houston Texans have had a very tough season so far. They traded one of the best wideouts in the league in DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona, fired head coach Bill O’Brien, Will Fuller V has been suspended, and their starting safety Justin Reid is out for the season with a hand injury. On Sunday they face the Chicago Bears in Chicago and got absolutely trounced 36-7. Houston allowed 410 total yards on 6.9 yards per play. Deshaun Watson (219 yards, 1 TD) was sacked 7 times as the offense seemed to struggle all game long. On top of two fumbles, it looked as if Houston was unready from kickoff. The Texans are now 4-9, and their road is far from over and difficult as they have the Colts, Bengals, and Titans left on their schedule. This game saw Mitch Trubisky outplay Deshaun Watson, which makes you wonder about that 2017 draft class that saw Mitch get taken before Deshaun. Something to think about? Maybe, but don’t read too much into it Watson is the better player. However, Mitch does have a better win percentage than Watson.
Love: Jalen Hurts
Photo Courtesy: Glenn Erby/USA TODAY Sports
Doug Pederson finally made the decision to start rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts over Carson Wentz Sunday afternoon. And boy did it pay off. In his first start as an NFL quarterback, Hurts helped beat a stout New Orleans Saints team 24-21. Not only did he assist in the victory, but he also assisted in keeping the Philadelphia Eagles’ playoff hopes alive as they advance to 4-8-1. Hurts threw for 167 yards, rushed for 106 yards, and threw a touchdown as well. Many fans have been calling for Hurts to start this season, seeing that Carson Wentz has had a very inconsistent year. Pederson has already named Hurts the starter for Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals. Even if the Eagles don’t make the playoffs, we could potentially see a major quarterback change for Philadelphia in the future, as the chances of seeing Wentz and Hurts on the same roster in 2021 are slim. Personally, I would say start Hurts. He has more to offer.
Hate: Cam Newton
Photo Courtesy: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
I am still rooting for comeback players like Alex Smith to perform well. However, it is incredibly tough to root for Cam Newton, who has had a below-average year. On Thursday night, the New England Patriots suffered a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams 24-3, falling to 6-7. Newton completed only 9 passes for 119 yards and an interception that accumulated to a 2.9 QBR. That interception was the only “touchdown” he actually threw, which was a pick-6. Yikes. He was also sacked 4 times as Newton looked frustrated all game long. New England is still in the playoff hunt but will most likely need to win out in order to make the playoffs. However, that will be no easy feat as they will play Miami, Buffalo, and the New York Jets left on their schedule. If they can squeak past Miami and Buffalo the Jets should be no issue for them. Cam will need to improve his play in order to keep their hopes alive. Otherwise, it’s a wrap for their season.
Love: Derrick Henry
Photo Courtesy: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
Derrick Henry is an absolute beast and he showed the NFL world why Sunday afternoon against a deplorable Jacksonville Jaguars team. In a 31-10 rout of Jacksonville, Henry rushed for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns, as the Jaguars defense had no answer for him whatsoever. Ryan Tannehill played well (212 yards, 2 TDs) but Henry’s performance is the main reason why the Titans are now 9-4 and sitting atop of the AFC South. In a close divisional race with the Colts, it is evident that the Titans will lean on Henry to deliver them to the playoffs by any means necessary. Next up for them will be Detroit, Green Bay, and Houston, who all have porous rushing defenses. Expect Henry to continue his streak of dominance.
Hate: Ben Roethlisberger
Photo Courtesy: Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
After losing to a team with no name, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a tough matchup against a surging Buffalo Bills team that has now won 3 straight games. The Bills simply had Ben Roethlisberger's number Sunday night as the Steelers dropped their second straight game losing 26-15. Big Ben threw for 187 yards, 2 touchdowns, and coughed up 2 interceptions as he and his receivers were having a tough time finding a rhythm against a lethal Bills defense. Although his receivers were dropping passes left and right, Big Ben could have been more accurate with the ball as well as providing opportunities for his receivers to make a play. This game, in my opinion, proves that the Steelers, although 11-2, are not the team that poses the biggest threat to the Kansas City Chiefs. Pittsburgh still has a chance to secure the No. 1 seed, but must pray that the Chiefs slow down. The Steelers have two tough matchups left on their schedule as they must face the Steelers and Browns in Weeks 16 and 17. We could see the Steelers fall or remain where they are because I don’t see them getting better based on how they played Sunday night. Instead of dancing on logos, it is time to start prioritizing NFL games and opponents over Tik Toks (talking to you JuJu and Chase). Enough dancing, get to work.