Week 13 brought several surprises across the league, none more than the Cardinals defeating the Packers in Green Bay. Moreover, the remaining three teams all lost their fixtures in epic fashion. Thus, the NFC North remains unchanged. However, momentum in the North has certainly been halted for the time being.
Cardinals Arise in Green Bay
The Green Bay Packers hosted the Arizona Cardinals in arguably their most important game of the season. With that in mind, they were still unable to defeat their opposition as the Cardinals emerged victorious, 17-20.
Unbelievably, Josh Rosen’s 11 completions for 149 yards were enough to garner a win in the game. He did, however, have 2 rushing attempts for 32 yards.
In terms of the run game, David Johnson amassed 69 yards on 20 carries, as well as Chase Edmunds’ 53 yards and 2 TD’s on 5 carries.
In addition, they didn’t have too much to boast about in terms of defence. Gerald Hodges had 13 total tackles, whilst Christian Jones gained the only sack of the day. That said, they were successful in forcing the Packers off the field after they forced 9 stops.
Mike McCarthy Packs His Bags
It must be noted that the Cardinals weren’t particularly good in this game to achieve the victory. It was more a case of the Packers being considerably worse than their opponent.
Aaron Rodgers had another poor game within which he missed several open throws. He completed just 31 of 50 throws for 223 yards and 1 touchdown.
Mike McCarthy’s unwillingness to run the ball once again overshadowed what should’ve been an easy win. Aaron Jones was handed the ball just 11 times for just 36 yards and 1 TD. Backup running back Jamal Williams received 7 snaps for 13 yards also.
Finally, Mason Crosby unfortunately found himself in the crosshairs of victory once more. He missed a 49-yard field goal which would’ve forced the game to overtime. The miss marks his seventh of the season.
Incredibly, head coach Mike McCarthy was relieved of his duties after the game. It comes as a surprise to many, due to the fact that the board in Green Bay are stout supporters of their head coach and generally wait until the conclusion of the season to make a change. Regardless, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will occupy the role.
Defensive Dominance at Gillette Stadium
The 8-3 New England Patriots welcomed the Minnesota Vikings to Maine, and they performed a defensive masterclass. The Pats, despite not playing to their full ability, were triumphant in their 24-10 victory.
The Patriots’ secondary were particularly excellent in the game. Rookie free agent J.C. Jackson was targeted often in the game but proved to be effective in shutting down big plays from Cousins. Two of which prevented potential touchdowns in the end zone. In addition, Duron Harmon and Jonathan Jones created two interceptions in the fourth quarter to put the bout beyond doubt.
Tom Brady got the job done on offence; unsurprisingly. He completed 24 of 32 passes for 311 yards and 1 touchdown, but gave up an interception.
He was aided by Sony Michel who contributed 63 yards on 17 rushes as the leading rushed. Furthermore, Rex Burkhead and James White combined for 13 rushing attempts for 46 yards and Jordan Develin converted 2 rushes for 2 touchdowns.
Cousins Capitulation in New England
Despite Kirk Cousins’ stat line (32/44 for 201 yards and 1 TD) he simply was ineffective against the Patriots. Not only did he cough up two interceptions but also failed to convert numerous third and fourth downs. Especially the 4th and 11 dump-off pass to Stefon Diggs that gained a measley 3 yards.
Speaking of Diggs, he entered the game as questionable, however, finished the game as the leading receiver. On the other hand, Adam Thielen was limited to just 5 catches for 28 yards, which only further evidenced the quality of the Patriots’ defence yesterday.
In the ground game, Dalvin Cook averaged 9.3 yards per rush with 9 carries for 84 yards.
The Vikings, like every other NFC North team, lose considerable momentum heading into the dying embers of the season. They remain 2 games behind the Bears.
As for the Patriots, they improve to 9-3 chasing home field advantage for the playoffs.
Lions Defeated in Detroit
The winningest team in football in the LA Rams were hosted by the Lions at Ford Field. They enhanced their winning record to 11-1 after defeating the Lions, 16-30.
The Lions surprised many fans this Sunday against the Rams, as they contended with them for the most part of the game. Matthew Stafford did his best to keep his team in the bout with 245 yards and 1 TD after completing 20 of 33 passes. Ultimately, however, he coughed up an interception to Troy Hill with under a minute remaining in the end zone.
Additionally, LeGarrette Blount saw increased action with Kerryon Johnson’s absence. He participated in 16 rushes for 61 yards, whilst Theo Riddick compiled 32 yards on 8 carries.
OT Taylor Decker deserves a special mention for his incredible ‘big guy’ touchdown reception, of which was the only TD of the game for the Lions.
Defensively, the Lions were pretty great. Quandre Diggs accumulated 6 tackles and an interception. Also, Damon Harrison contributed a strip-sack which he recovered in order to change possession.
Todd ‘Touchdown’ Gurley
Jared Goff had a fairly poor game by his standards. He completed just 17 of 33 (51.5%) of his passes for 201 yards and 1 TD.
It was Todd Gurley who stole the show however, as he generated 132 rushing yards and 2 TD’s on 23 carries. That averages 5.7 yards per carry. Besides, he was effective in the passing game too, after notching 33 yards on 3 receptions.
On defence, Aaron Donald significantly bolstered his push for MVP of the season with 5 tackles and 2 sacks, one of which forced a fumble.
The Rams solidify their position as the best team in football after clinching the NFC West Title, whilst the Lions falter to 4-8 in a pitiful season to say the least.
Bears Bruised in New York
With Mitchell Trubisky out injured for the second week in a row, Chase Daniel was announced as the starter. That said, The Giants still came out on top, this time by the score of, 30-27.
The previously alluded to Daniel appeared desperate on the field, completing just 26 of 39 for 285 yards and 1 touchdown. He often forced the ball down field which certainly contributed to the production of his 2 INT’s.
On the other hand, Tarik Cohen had an absolutely phenomenal game. Not only did he throw a touchdown pass at the 1-yard line, but he created 30 yards on 8 rushes, as well as 156 receiving yards on 12 receptions. He was truly undeniable for a talent that many claimed would never make it to the NFL.
The Bears also rolled back the years with Akiem Hicks’ ‘big guy’ touchdown run demonstrating shades of William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry.
Gigantic Win for the Giants
Eli Manning and co. will be delighted to snag the victory from Chicago, as many of their roster continue to contend for their place in the league.
Manning was similarly poor in his performance with just a 48.5% completion rate for 170 yards, 1 TD and an interception. Oppositely, OBJ scored an immense 49 yard trick play TD pass to Russell Shepard.
Alec Ogletree deserves all the plaudits for his 2 interceptions, one of which he converted into a pick-six. He also had 10 combined tackles on the day.
After the win, the New York Giants increase their win/loss column to 4-8 but remain last in the NFC East. The Bears negate to 8-4 at the top of the North.
A Look Into The Future
Week 14 inches ever closer to the conclusion of the regular season and brings further drama to the forefront. In the only NFC North early game this Sunday, the Packers host the struggling Atlanta Falcons. It will feel like a worthless game but most certainly provides a challenge for the new head coach at Lambeau Field. Then the Lions travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals in another fairly meaningless encounter. Moving forth, Sunday Night Football boasts undoubtedly the game of the week with the Bears taking on the Rams in Chicago. With Mitchell Trubisky returning, the Bears seek to get back into winning ways. Finally, to conclude the week, the Vikings play the Seahawks with both teams in need of a win to maintain their playoff hopes.
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