The Detroit Lions are the Kings of the 4th quarter comeback, but there’s been a team much luckier than Matt Stafford’s team this season: The Kansas City Chiefs. KC has won six games this season in which it has trailed by a touchdown. Sunday was another bizarre (I prefer lucky) victory: A Matt Ryan pick-six late in the 1st half wiped out an early 13-6 deficit; a 55-yard fake punt for a touchdown in the third quarter put them up two scores. And then Eric Berry’s “pick-two” in the 4th quarter won the game.
The week before? The Chiefs trailed the Broncos 24-16 with two minutes left and came back to win in overtime.
Two weeks before that? Carolina led Kansas City 17-3 with 11 minutes left but the Chiefs stormed back to win on a field goal at the final buzzer. Kansas City needed a pick-six and a freaky fumble by Carolina to pull off the rally.
They can’t keep this up … can they?
DREW BREES DISAPPEARS IN NEW ORLEANS
Drew Brees picked a curious opponent – and terrible time – to have the worst 1st half of his career with the Saints in a 29-13 loss to the Lions. Facing a secondary that spent much of the season in the NFL’s basement of several categories, Brees couldn’t figure the Lions out: 94 yards passing, the team punted three times, and settled for two field goals.
Brees proceeded to throw an interception on the Saints’ first possession of the 2nd half, the team fell into a 19-6 hole and never recovered. Brees tossed two more 4th quarter interceptions, and for the first time in 60 home games, didn’t throw a touchdown pass. The Saints are almost certain to miss the playoffs for a third straight season.
OAKLAND’S FURIOUS COMEBACK
The Raiders were trailing the Bills 24-9 at home in the 3rd quarter and if you felt like looking ahead, an Oakland loss would have meant a Thursday night game in Kansas City with both teams at 9-3. The Chiefs already won their first meeting with Oakland.
But Derek Carr woke the Raiders up, and here were three straight touchdown drives in the second half:
9 plays, 75 yards, TD
5 plays, 38 yards, TD
5 plays, 59 yards, TD
Khalil Mack forced two turnovers – that’s two weeks in a row he’s done that – and between his defensive pressure and Carr’s dominance (260 yards passing, two TDs, no turnovers, no sacks), the Raiders did something they haven’t done since 1963: Win a game trailing by 15+ points in the second half. The Raiders scored 29 straight points in a span of 11:43.
At 10-2, the Raiders could get payback against KC and enhance their chances for the 2nd seed in the AFC.
UGLY FOOTBALL FOR THE 49ERS
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this ugly a passing line from a professional football team: The 49ers were 5-of-15 passing for six yards in a 26-6 loss to the Bears. Colin Kaepernick was 1-of-5 for four yards, and was sacked five times. After he was benched, the 49ers trotted out Blaine Gabbert and he fared no better: 4-of-10 for 35 yards.
The weather was bad, but is that a credible excuse? The 49ers were more than competent offensively in four straight games – three in warm weather, one in a dome – but this one felt weird. Let me just put this out there: The win pushed the Bears to 3-9, and the 49ers fell to 1-11. San Francisco still has a stranglehold on the #2 pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
The 49ers have a significantly worse roster than the Bears.
CARSON WENTZ STRUGGLES AGAIN
Carson Wentz threw the ball 60 times in Cincinnati. That’s got to be some sort of NFL record for rookie attempts in a game. The Bengals led 29-0 late in the third quarter, so the Eagles – desperate to keep their slim playoff hopes alive – had the rookie throw for entire 4th quarter. He finished with three interceptions and a puny 5.0 ypa.
Obviously the Eagles defense has struggled in the last two weeks – a combined 0 sacks vs the Packers and Bengals – but with no running game (they traded DeMarco Murray for a bag of deflated footballs, and he’s 2nd in the NFL in rushing), there’s an unnecessarily heavy burden on the rookie. For as good as he looked early, Wentz now has 11 interceptions on the season, and only 12 TDs.
MIAMI COMES BACK TO REALITY
After six straight wins, Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was suddenly good again! He’s been up-and-down throughout his career, and for a moment, it appeared he was finally headed to the playoffs. Then, he faced a real defense, and the results were predictably bad: Three interceptions, a putrid 5.7 yards-per-attempt and a QB rating of 63.1. The only QBs this week with a lower rating? Three rookies, two guys who participated in mop-up duty, and Tyrod Taylor.
With the Steelers beating the Giants, Miami fell into a tie for the 7th playoff spot. Tennessee, Buffalo and Indianapolis will be tied for the 8th spot after the Colts beat the Jets tonight. Miami still has the Cardinals and Patriots on the schedule, plus trips to cold-weather Buffalo and the Jets. It’s going to be another year with no postseason for Tannehill.
RIVERS GETS PICK-SIXED AGAIN
In a league full of up-and-down QBs, is there any more snakebitten that Philip Rivers? The Bucs couldn’t get Mike Evans going (3 catches, 38 yards), the running game was non-existent (2.7 ypc) but thanks to a pick-six by Rivers, San Diego lost to Tampa 28-21, ending all hopes of making the playoffs.
The interception wasn’t totally the fault of Rivers:
But it’s the third time this season he’s tossed a costly Pick-6 to put his team in a hole. Two weeks ago it happened against Miami, and his pick-six was the game-winner for Miami. In October, Rivers threw a 1st half pick-six against Denver with the Chargers leading 7-3 and driving with the ball. The Broncos never looked back.
This sums up the career of Rivers: Brilliant at times, but man does he make brutal mistakes. And too many of them. The Chargers will miss the playoffs for the 3rd year in a row, and they won’t be in postseason for the sixth time in seven years.