Steelers 16, Ravens 13: Somehow, some way, Coach Mike Tomlin again has the Steelers alive with playoff hopes in the final week of the season. Tomlin may have himself a quarterback too. The rookie Kenny Pickett finished off a mostly nondescript performance with a stellar winning touchdown drive. After a smattering of throws over the middle to move the ball inside the red zone, Pickett bailed to his left on a third-and-8 to find running back Najee Harris near the front left pylon with 56 seconds left. It was a clear display of Pickett’s improvisational abilities that got him drafted in the first round. For Baltimore, the loss will make it very tough to win the AFC North over the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Ravens already have a wild-card berth wrapped up.
Buccaneers 30, Panthers 24: The Panthers were the better team for three quarters and change. Sam Darnold played one of his best games of the season, finding three touchdowns with beautiful ball placement. But that wasn’t enough to win the game and take the division with Tom Brady and Mike Evans relentlessly targeting Carolina downfield.
Falcons 20, Cardinals 19: Quarterback Desmond Ridder has gotten better little by little over his three starts, and that’s really all the Falcons could have hoped for to end this season. Though explosive plays were hard to come by, Ridder got the ball out quickly and picked up efficient gains. The Falcons were lucky that the Cardinals’ offense was depleted, though. Arizona started its fourth quarterback of the season: David Blough, a career backup who struggled to get over 5 yards per attempt in Kliff Kingsbury’s high school offense.
Lions 41, Bears 10: This was a real game for one quarter. Justin Fields ran for more than 100 yards in the first 15 minutes of play, literally carrying the Bears to 10 points. That was all Fields and the Bears had in the tank, though. From that point on, the Lions’ pass rush terrorized Fields, while their offense rained down points on Chicago’s young defense. Detroit quarterback Jared Goff spread the ball around to 11 different targets, while running backs Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift combined for over 200 yards rushing.
Saints 20, Eagles 10: The Eagles missed Jalen Hurts. Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew wasn’t terrible for most of the game — he did well to feed his two star receivers and keep the offense on track — but the explosive plays and rushing value usually provided by Hurts just weren’t there. The Eagles more or less abandoned the run, and Minshew crumbled in the fourth quarter, throwing a pick-6 to Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore as he jumped a slant pass. The Eagles will probably be fine, but they should have won this game.
Brown’s 24, Commander’s 10: The Commanders’ dice roll at quarterback was bad. Carson Wentz threw two interceptions in the first half and did little to make up for them. For the Browns, all it took was a steady serving of Nick Chubb carries and occasionally successful shot plays in the passing game to outscore the Commanders and effectively ruin their opponents’ postseason chances.
Jaguars 31, Texans 3: Trevor Lawrence threw no touchdowns and one interception, and it didn’t matter whatsoever. Lawrence was lethally efficient outside of the interception, setting up a number of drives in which the Jaguars finished things off on the ground. Three Jacksonville backs scored, including rookie Snoop Conner earning his first touchdown as a pro.
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