Welcome to the Week 14 grades!
For just the third time this season, the NFL held a doubleheader on Monday night and it might go down as the best Monday doubleheader in NFL history with both games going down to the wire. In New York, the Giants shocked the Packers by hitting a 38-yard field goal as time expired to pull out a 24-22 victory.
In Miami, the Titans pulled off a miracle 28-27 win over the Dolphins by overcoming a 14-point deficit in the final three minutes. To give you an idea of just how improbable Tennessee's win was, just consider these numbers:
- NFL teams had lost 642 straight games when trailing by 14 points in the final three minutes.
- Teams are now 4-2,074 when trailing by 14 or more points in the final 3 minutes over the past 20 seasons. That's four wins compared to 2,074 losses (The last team to pull off a similar comeback was the Saints in 2017).
- The Titans are the first team in NFL history to make a comeback by 14 point or more in the final three minutes and WIN IN REGULATION.
- The last time a comeback like this happened in a Monday game was Peyton Manning's famous comeback with the Colts in 2003. In that game, the Colts were trailing 35-14 with four minutes left, before pulling out a 38-35 win in overtime.
- This was the largest upset win in the league since the 2021 Colts-Jags regular season finale
This game was also a huge upset. The Titans went into a Miami as a 14-point underdog, which makes this the biggest point spread upset in two years.
Alright, let's get to the grades, starting with the Titans' miracle in Miami.
Tennessee 28-27 over Miami
|The Titans almost gave this game away multiple times, but they were able to pull out the miracle win thanks to the play of Will Levis. The Titans were trailing 27-13 with under five minutes left to play, but Levis erased that deficit by going 9 of 11 for 132 yards and a TD on Tennessee's final two possessions. It was an improbable performance for a QB who had only completed 51.9% of his passes going into that drive. The Titans almost gave this game away with three back-breaking turnovers, including a pick-six from Levis, but the defense somehow managed to keep things close. Harold Landry led a Titans' pass-rush that flustered Tua Tagovailoa for nearly the full four quarters. Landry racked up three of Tennessee's five sacks. Mike Vrabel has been known to produce some masterful defensive game plans and this one was almost certainly his best one of the year.
|The Dolphins probably don't need to panic after this loss, but they should be alarmed. For one, they learned that their offense isn't very good without Tyreek Hill. The receiver missed a chunk of the game due to an ankle injury and while he was out, the offense simply couldn't move the ball. The Dolphins also learned that they need to find some better plays near the goal line. The Dolphins had THREE different possessions in this game where they drove inside of Tennessee's 3-yard line, but didn't get a TD. The Dolphins also learned that nothing is over in the NFL until it's over. It's almost impossible to blow a 14-point lead in the final three minutes of a game, but the Dolphins did it here. Yes, Miami scored 27 points, but the Titans' gift-wrapped three touchdowns for them with inexcusable errors (A pick-six, a muffed punt, a bad pitch from Will Levis to Derrick Henry that Miami recovered at Tennessee's 12). Despite getting those gifts, the Dolphins still couldn't win. The Dolphins are now 2-7 in December/January under Mike McDaniel and that might be the most concerning stat of all for a team that has high aspirations this year.
Titans-Dolphins grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
N.Y. Giants 24-22 over Green Bay
|After winning three straight games, the Packers finally came crashing back to earth on Monday night. The problems that plagued Green Bay early in the season once again showed up in this game. For one, Jordan Love struggled: The Packers QB struggled with his accuracy while also turning the ball over twice in the first half. This loss can't be pinned on Love, though. There were plenty of mistakes to go around. The defense got picked apart by Tommy DeVito during a fourth quarter where the Giants QB went 5 of 6 for 59 yards. The Packers' special teams were also a mess with a muffed punt from Keisean Nixon and a missed field goal from Anders Carlson. This was a high-stakes game for the Packers and they ended up choking in primetime.
|Holy DeVito! Tommy DeVito is going to be the toast of the Big Apple after leading the Giants to this upset win. The undrafted QB didn't put up eye-popping numbers (17 of 21 for 158 yards), but he came up clutch whenever the Giants needed him and that included going 4 of 4 for 53 yards on the drive that led to Randy Bullock's game-winning field goal. DeVito got a lot of help from Wan'Dale Robinson, who caught six passes for 79 yards, including a 32-yarder that helped set up Bullock's kick. Saquon Barkley also bullied his way in the end zone for two short touchdowns. With the offense playing impressive football, the defense took care of the rest. The Giants' pass-rush seemed to rattle Jordan Love, who was sacked twice. This was an impressive win for a Giants team that has suddenly won three games in a row.
Packers-Giants grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cincinnati 34-14 over Indianapolis
|The Colts had a chance to make a huge statement in the AFC playoff race, but instead, they laid a giant egg in Cincinnati. After Ronnie Harrison tied things up at 14 with a pick-six just before halftime, it looked like the Colts were back in it, but then they completely imploded in the second half. The offense couldn't move the ball and the absence of Jonathan Taylor was noticeable with the Colts totaling exactly zero rushing yards in the second half before getting 10 on the final three plays of the game. Defensively, the Colts played like they had never seen a screen pass before with the defense getting burnt multiple times by the short throws. This was a no-show performance in a high stakes game and it could cost the Colts big time in the playoff race down the stretch.
|It appears that Jake Browning was NOT a one-game wonder for the Bengals. Six days after dicing up the Jaguars, Browning threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Colts. The Bengals played it safe with their offensive game plan with mostly short passes and that strategy paid off with Chase Brown catching three screens that went for a total of 80 yards, including a 54-yard TD. Browning wasn't a one-trick pony though, he also took a couple of deep shots (Tee Higgins had two catches in the game that went for more than 25 yards). Browning did make one big mistake with a pick-six in the second quarter, but that didn't end up mattering because the Bengals defense shut out the Colts in the second half. This was an impressive all-around performance by a Bengals team that suddenly looks like a serious contender for a wild-card spot.
Colts-Bengals grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Chicago 28-13 over Detroit
|For the second time in three weeks, the Lions got beat up for three quarters by the Bears, but this time, there was no magical fourth quarter comeback. For the Lions, this game fell apart during a third quarter where they couldn't get out of their own way. Not only did they total just 21 yards in the quarter, but Jared Goff lost a fumble on a snap that set Chicago up with the ball on Detroit's 29-yard line. The Bears ended up scoring five plays later, and from there, it was all but over. Goff's turnovers are starting to become a problem while the defense is losing some of its bite. This marked the fifth straight game that the Lions defense has surrendered at least 330 yards. This team has now lost two of its past three games and they're no longer looking like a serious Super Bowl contender.
|The Bears were actually trailing in this game at halftime, but they were able to run away with the win thanks to a dominating second half performance. Most of the dominance came from a Bears' defense that absolutely shut the Lions down. The Lions had six possessions in the second half and they ended like this: Three punts (all three-and-outs), two failed fourth downs and two turnovers. The Bears held Detroit to just 76 yards over the final two quarters. Offensively, the Bears got a huge spark from D.J. Moore, who scored both a rushing TD and a receiving TD. Justin Fields, who totaled 281 yards and two touchdowns, continues to look more comfortable in this offense every week. If the Bears keeps playing like this, they could certainly play the role of spoiler down the stretch.
Lions-Bears grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New Orleans 28-6 over Carolina
|When you're a good team in the NFL, it's tough to win when you make a lot of mistakes. When you're a bad team, it's almost impossible, and the Panthers found that out in this game. In the first half alone, the Panthers had a lost fumble by Bryce Young, a blocked punt that was returned for a TD and TWO failed fourth downs. The Panthers were definitely more aggressive on fourth down, but that doesn't mean anything if you can't convert and they couldn't convert, going 1 of 7. The only reason this isn't an 'F' is because the Panthers defense actually played reasonably well and the offense was able to move the ball on the ground with 204 yards, but that wasn't enough to overcome the many mistakes that this team made.
|This win featured some good news and some bad news for the Saints. The good news is that their defense and special teams came together for a wildly impressive performance. D'Marco Jackson scored a TD off a blocked punt in the second quarter that basically put the game away for New Orleans. Demario Davis led a Saints defense that beat up on Bryce Young, sacking him four times while putting the Panthers QB under constant pressure. Of course, the bad news for the Saints is that the offense still looks like mess. Derek Carr only had 37 yards passing in the game until A.T. Perry made a circus catch for a 44-yard gain with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Saints only totaled 207 yards of offense, which was good enough to beat the Panthers, but it won't be good enough to beat very many other teams in the NFL.
Panthers-Saints grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
N.Y. Jets 30-6 over Houston
|This was a nightmare day for the Texans' offense. Houston was already short-handed going into the game with Tank Dell and Dalton Schultz out, and then things got uglier with the loss of Nico Collins. With his top three guys out, C.J. Stroud struggled to find any open receivers on a day that ended with him completing just 10 of 23 passes for 91 yards. It was easily the worst game of his career and to make things worse, he was knocked out of the game with an injury late in the fourth quarter. This game wasn't just a low point for Stroud, it was a low point for the entire Texans offense. Houston couldn't convert on third down (1 of 12) or fourth down (0-for-3) and the offensive line struggled to protect Stroud and Davis Mills, who got sacked five times combined. This was a huge step back for a team that has been one of the biggest surprises of the season.
|The Jets turned back to Zach WIlson at quarterback this week and he made that gamble pay off big time. Wilson threw for 301 yards and the most impressive part is that 209 of those yards and two touchdowns came during a second half where he was nearly unstoppable. Wilson got a lot of help from Garrett Wilson, who caught nine passes for 108 yards. It was an unexpected performance from a QB who's struggled for a good chunk of the season. The only thing more impressive than Wilson's performance was the play of a Jets defense that absolutely suffocated the Texans. Houston punted on its first eight possessions of the game and the Jets just never let them get comfortable. Despite being almost completely out of the playoff race, the Jets have proven that there's no quit in their team.
Texans-Jets grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tampa Bay 29-25 over Atlanta
|The Buccaneers threw a wrench into the NFC South race with this win and they earned the victory by coming up with big plays. Although the defense got rolled for 434 yards, the unit also came up with multiple key plays including a first quarter pick by Carlton Davis that set Tampa Bay up at Atlanta's 8-yard line. The defense also picked up a safety just before halftime. Those two plays effectively led to nine points for Tampa Bay and that was the difference in the game. Offensively, Baker Mayfield showed some serious resiliency. Although he struggled with his accuracy for a good chunk of the game (he completed just 14 of 29 passes), be bounced back to throw two TD passes in the second half, including an 11-yarder to Cade Otton with just 31 seconds left in the game. No matter what you thought of the Bucs before the season, this team deserves some props for being in first place in the NFC South heading into Week 15.
|The Falcons have seen a lot of highs and lows from Desmond Ridder this season and they once again got both of those things on Sunday. Ridder looked impressive at times (he threw for 347 yards), but he also threw an interception inside his own 10-yard AND fumbled in his own end zone in the second quarter, which led to a Buccaneers safety. Those are two mistakes you can't make in a huge divisional showdown. The Falcons also got an uncharacteristic performance from their kicker. Younghoe Koo went into Week 14 as the most accurate kicker in NFL history, but he lost the title after missing two field goal attempts against the Bucs. If the Falcons don't win the NFC South, this will probably end up being the loss that hurts the most.
Buccaneers-Falcons grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cleveland 31-27 over Jacksonville
|Trevor Lawrence didn't look like himself, which is understandable given the fact that he was playing on one good leg. With Lawrence compromised, the Browns defense pressured him while forcing several errant passes. Lawrence wasn't helped by his running game and a receiving corps that did not have a great day aside from Evan Engram, who pulled down 11 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Lawrence clearly missed Christian Kirk, who will miss considerable time after getting hurt in last week's loss to the Bengals. While the Jaguars defense did set up 14 points off forced turnovers, it had some ugly moments. The Jags allowed two touchdown passes to wide open receivers and at times made Joe Flacco look like Joe Montana.
|The Browns continue to get winning quarterback play, regardless of who is under center. Cleveland is now just the 13th team since 1950 to have four different quarterbacks start multiple games. Each quarterback has now won at least one of their starts. Joe Flacco was good, but he had help from a group of skill players who out-played their counterparts. David Njoku caught six passes for 91 yards in the first half alone. Amari Cooper played hurt, but still had 77 yards on seven grabs. Elijah Moore and rookie Cedric Tillman caught a combined five passes for 65 yards. Running back Jerome Ford gained a well-earned 82 total yards yards on 15 touches. Defensively, Cleveland shut down Travis Etienne and the Jaguars' running game, thus putting more pressure on Trevor Lawrence. When Lawrence was forced to air it out, the Browns' secondary usually made him pay. One of Lawrence's favorite targets Sunday was Browns defensive back Martin Emerson, who had two picks. We can't forget the play of Browns punter Corey Bojorquez, who had a 72-yard punt and averaged 51.5 yards on his eight punts.
Jaguars-Browns grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Baltimore 37-31 over L.A. Rams (OT)
|The Rams couldn't make it four straight victories, but the offense looked pretty great against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Matthew Stafford threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns while Kyren Williams rushed for 114 yards. Cooper Kupp added 115 receiving yards and a touchdown in the losing effort. There are some concerns about the defense, though, which allowed plenty of splash plays.
|The Ravens got the win, which is all that matters. But it wasn't the flashiest of victories. The offense was inconsistent and the vaunted defense allowed 410 yards of total offense. It looked like we were headed for a tie until Tylan Wallace housed a 76-yard punt return touchdown in overtime. I don't think the Ravens did enough Sunday to prove they are the best team in the AFC, but they still showed resolve in their 10th win of the season and they still have control over the all-important No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Rams-Ravens grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Minnesota 3-0 over Las Vegas
|The Vikings defense carried Minnesota for 58 minutes, before the offense finally shot to life with Nick Mullens. Wait? What?! Nick Mullens?!? After watching Josh Dobbs struggle for three and a half quarters, Kevin O'Connell decided to bench his QB the decision paid off. On the only scoring drive of the entire game for either team, Mullens threw for 48 yards with to set up Greg Joseph's game-winning field goal with just 1:57 left. Everyone on the Vikings defense should get a game ball for a performance that saw Minnesota pitch just its second shutout since 1994. The defense sacked Aidan O'Connell four times while also forcing three turnovers. This ugly win did come at a serious cost with the Vikings losing Justin Jefferson to injury (You ).
|NFL teams had won 251 straight games when surrendering three points or less, but that streak came to an end on Sunday thanks to the ineptitude of the Raiders' offense. If you're wondering how bad the offense was, it was this bad: The Raiders only had one drive in the entire game that made it inside of Minnesota's 40-yard line and that drive ended with a lost fumble from Hunter Renfrow. Maxx Crosby racked up two of the Raiders' five sacks in the game on a day where the defense did its best to carry the Raiders to a win, but the punchless offense wouldn't let that happen. With this loss, it feels like Raiders fans can probably give up any hopes of making the playoffs.
Vikings-Raiders grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 24-7 over L.A. Chargers
|The Broncos defense has been playing impressive football for nearly two straight months and that stretch continued in Los Angeles with a dominant game against the Chargers. Jonathon Cooper came up with one of the biggest plays of the game in the first quarter when he picked off a pass that set the Broncos up with the ball at the Chargers' 3-yard line. The Broncos' pass-rush beat up on a Chargers offensive line that surrendered six sacks. Things looked dicey for the Broncos when Russell Wilson threw an interception on Denver's first offensive play from scrimmage, but this one was never really in doubt thanks to a defense that didn't let the Chargers convert a single third down. Wilson also was able to rebound from his interception to throw for 224 yards and two touchdowns. This was a solid all-around win for a Broncos team that feels like a dark horse in the AFC playoff race.
|With their backs against the wall, the Chargers came out and looked punchless. Yes, they did lose Justin Herbert to injury, but he was on the field for five possessions and the Chargers didn't score a single time before he left the game (Herbert also threw a tipped pick inside his own 5-yard line that set up Denver's first TD). The offense also didn't convert a single third down with or without Herbert (0-for-12). The Chargers got out-played on both sides of the ball and they got out-coached. This might be the loss that seals Brandon Staley's fate in Los Angeles.
Broncos-Chargers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Buffalo 20-17 over Kansas City
|Buffalo was able to find a way to pull out a gutsy win in one of the toughest environments in the NFL. On a night when the wide receivers were unable to make an impact, Josh Allen found other outlets in the passing game like James Cook, while also making plays with his legs. Buffalo built up an early lead thanks to an early turnover and a 14-0 run by the offense, which forced K.C. to play from behind from the jump. In the second half, the defense continued to come up big in the clutch, forcing a key three-and-out by the Chiefs right before the go-ahead field goal drive. The Bills weren't firing on all cylinders, but they made the necessary plays to come out on top and keep their playoff hopes alive.
|The Chiefs had an opportunity to win this game, but couldn't get out of their own way. Travis Kelce caught a deep pass from Patrick Mahomes and the tight end lateraled the football to wideout Kadarius Toney, who ran it in for what was thought to be the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute to play in regulation. However, Toney lined up offsides and erased the play altogether. Kansas City wide receivers continued to put the team behind the eight ball as the position group had a handful of drops and a key second-half turnover on top of the Toney infraction. That contributed to their sluggish start to this game, which found them playing from behind for the entire afternoon. The defense kept them within striking distance throughout the game, but the offense is still missing another reliable weapon outside of Kelce.
Bills-Chiefs grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
San Francisco 28-16 over Seattle
|Drew Lock started in place of the injured Geno Smith and acquitted himself fairly well for a while, but eventually his over-aggressiveness got the best of him and he was picked off twice. DK Metcalf had a fantastic score on the opening drive... but then did nothing the rest of the game until he was ejected late in the fourth quarter. The defense forced three consecutive scoreless possessions early on, but also gave up too many big plays. Seattle was under-manned, but also under-performed.
|The Niners took care of business even in a game where they surprisingly trailed midway through the second quarter. Their core skill position players racked up gains of 20, 23, 25, 25, 27, 30, 44, 45, and 54 yards. The defense clamped down after Seattle's opening drive touchdown, and San Francisco wasn't seriously challenged after re-taking control of the contest.
Seahawks-49ers grades by Jared Dubin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Dallas 33-13 over Philadelphia
|After starting the season 10-1, the Eagles are suddenly flailing. For the second straight week, this team got destroyed and it was as ugly as the score indicates. A big problem for the Eagles is that their best players couldn't hold on to the ball: Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith all lost a fumble in the game. The other problem for the Eagles is that their defense had no answers for a Cowboys offense that piled up nearly 400 yards. This team is suddenly headed in the wrong direction and if it can't right the ship soon, the Eagles won't be playing for very long in January.
|The Cowboys needed a statement win on Sunday night and that's exactly what they got. In what was easily their most impressive win of the season, the Cowboys embarrassed the Eagles: They were better on offense, they were better on defense and they were better on special teams. The Cowboys scored on every possession they had in the first half and that was thanks to an impressive performance from Dak Prescott, who threw for 157 yards and two touchdowns the first two quarters alone. Overall, the Cowboys had five different receivers finish with at least 35 receiving yards. Defensively, this game was felt like it was over at halftime because the Eagle couldn't move the ball on the Cowboys. Dallas also has one of the best kicking weapons in the NFL in the form of Brandon Aubrey, who became the first player in NFL history to make two field goals of 59 yards or more in the same game. The Cowboys finally won a big game and if they keep playing like this, it won'd be surprising if there are some even bigger wins in their future.
Eagles-Cowboys grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New England 21-18 over Pittsburgh (Thursday)
|After an offensive drought that lasted nearly a month, the Patriots finally snapped out of it and they did it with the help of Bailey Zappe and Ezekiel Elliott. Zappe's performance was arguably the biggest surprise of the game, especially during a first half where he helped the Patriots jump out to a 21-3 lead by throwing three TD passes (One of the TD passes came on a 24-yard dart to Hunter Henry that you can see here. It was arguably the best throw made by either QB on the night). Henry hauled in two of Zappe's three touchdown passes. The Patriots offense also got some huge help from Elliott, who totaled 160 yards and a touchdown on 29 touches. Defensively, the Patriots put together another strong performance that included two sacks along with an interception by Jabrill Peppers that set up a first quarter touchdown. The defense also came up with two key fourth down stops in the second half, including one that came on fourth-and-2 at New England's 8-yard line in the third quarter. The Patriots' might have an ugly record this year, but this team definitely hasn't quit on Bill Belichick.
|The was a total and complete disaster by the Steelers, who looked they forgot that a game was being played on Thursday. In the first half alone, the Steelers defense got gashed up for 21 points by a Patriots team that had not scored 21 points in its past three games COMBINED. Although the defense improved immensely in the second half, that didn't really do much to help a Steelers team that was undone by poor quarterback play and poor coaching. With Kenny Pickett out, the Steelers turned to Mitchell Trubisky, who threw an ugly interception in the first half that gave the Patriots' the ball at Pittsburgh's 11-yard line (The Patriots would score a TD two plays later). As for the coaching, the Steelers made several questionable decisions with the most bizarre one being the fact that they decided to throw it deep on fourth-and-2 with the game on the line in the fourth quarter (You can see the play here). This was an embarrassing loss for a Steelers' team that's suddenly on the outside looking in on the playoff race.
Patriots-Steelers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)