If the Lions front office was looking for a reason to fire Matt Patricia, they might have found one on Sunday. In one of the worst performances by any team this season, the Lions looked like they simply gave up on Patricia during the team's 20-0 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
If you're wondering what the temperature is of Patricia's hot seat in Detroit, just open up your oven before you cook your turkey on Thanksgiving and you'll have a good idea. In this embarrassing loss, the offense couldn't move the ball, the defense couldn't stop a former XFL quarterback (P.J. Walker) and all of that led to the Lions getting shut out for the first time since 2009.
The mistakes started early for Detroit, with one of the ugliest ones coming on a shotgun snap from Frank Ragnow to Matthew Stafford in the first quarter. On the play, Ragnow short-hopped the snap, and Stafford -- who had been dealing with a sore thumb all week -- just couldn't hold on to it, and eventually the Panthers ended up with the ball.
If one play epitomized the Lions' day, it was definitely that one.
It's almost a blessing for Stafford that the snap didn't get to him, because anytime the ball ended up in his hands, he was getting destroyed. The Lions quarterback was sacked five times and faced constant pressure from a Panthers defense that made the Lions' offensive line look like a turnstile at a concert where all the tickets were free.
The Lions simply couldn't do anything on offense, and on the few times where they did, Patricia killed the drives by punting. On two consecutive drives in the second quarter, the Lions PUNTED the ball from Carolina territory. Patricia should have shown some faith in his offense and gone for it, because in the worst case scenario, he was giving it back to a Panthers offense that was led by a former XFL QB. Instead, he punted both times and the Lions would never threaten to score a touchdown in this game.
The Lions didn't reach the red zone a single time and they only drove inside of Carolina's 30-yard line one time. This was a game the Lions had to win and they fell flat on their face.
The Lions were sitting at 4-5 going into Sunday and they even seemed to have an outside shot at getting back into the NFC playoff race, but that won't be happening now. The only question that seems to remain in Detroit is whether or not Patricia will survive the season.
Alright, let's get to the grades for every game from Week 11. If you're looking for a deeper dive on the Cardinals-Seahawks game that was played Thursday, be sure to click here.
Carolina 20-0 over Detroit
|Not only did the Lions struggle on offense, but their defense wasn't exactly impressive in this game, either. Although they did pick off P.J. Walker twice, their biggest problem is that they simply gave up too many big plays. On Carolina's first TD drive, the Lions surrendered a 52-yard pass that set up the touchdown. On Carolina's second TD drive, the Lions gave up two plays that went for more than 18 yards. The defense is supposed to be Matt Patricia's specialty and if he can't even come up with something to stop a former XFL quarterback, it might be time for the Lions to move on. |
|The Panthers didn't have their starting quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) or their starting running back (Christian McCaffrey), but they won this game anyway thanks to stellar defensive play and a gutsy performance from P.J. Walker. Defensively, the Panthers terrorized Matthew Stafford, sacking him five times in the game. The Panthers held the Lions to just 185 total yards, marking the first time since 2017 that they held an opponent under 200. More impressively, the Panthers pulled off a shutout, which marks the first time since 2015 that Carolina has held a team scoreless and just the seventh time in franchise history. As for Walker, he threw for 258 yards and a TD, and although he made two mistakes with two interceptions, he outplayed Stafford, which is about all you can ask for from a former XFL player. |
New Orleans 24-9 over Atlanta
|Coming off a bye, the Falcons had an extra week to prepare for this game, but apparently they didn't take advantage of that. With Drew Brees out, Taysom Hill gave the Falcons defense fits as he rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Offensively, although the Falcons moved the ball well in the first half, they couldn't punch the ball in the end zone. In the second half, Matt Ryan and the offense went ice cold as the Falcons weren't able to cross into Saints territory a single time until there was under six minutes left in the game. Ryan got sacked eight times and rarely had time to throw, and that showed, as he threw two interceptions while completing just 51.4% of his passes.|
|The Saints didn't have Drew Brees in this game and Alvin Kamara was held without a catch for the first time in his NFL career, but despite that, New Orleans was still able to dominate Atlanta. The blowout win came thanks in large part to a Saints defense that spent four straight quarters harassing Matt Ryan. The Saints racked up eight sacks in the game, including three by Cam Jordan. Also, let's not forget about Taysom Hill, who showed why Sean Payton views him as a human Swiss army knife. Starting in place of an injured Brees, not only did Hill throw for 233 yards, but he did something you never see from Brees: He rushed 10 times for 51 yards and two touchdowns.|
Washington 20-9 over Cincinnati
|The only thing anyone in Cincinnati cares about right now is the health of Joe Burrow, who is likely out for the season after injuring his left knee in the second half. Before Burrow was knocked out of the game, he threw for 203 yards and a touchdown while leading the Bengals to a 9-7 lead. After the Burrow injury, the Bengals seemed absolutely deflated on both offense and defense. Ryan Finley was under center for five possessions and the Bengals offense was a disaster during that span: They punted three times, threw an interception and turned the ball over downs.|
|Ron Rivera must have given a hell of a halftime speech, because after looking lifeless in the first half, Washington came out ready to play in the third quarter. Defensively, Washington forced five straight punts to start the second half, and after Joe Burrow went down, the defense feasted on backup Ryan Finley, sacking him four times. The defensive momentum also seemed to spark the offense as Washington scored on three consecutive drives in the second half to put the game away. Antonio Gibson averaged 5.9 yards per rush and Alex Smith came up with several big plays, including a 42-yard pass to Terry McLaurin, as the Washington's offense played just well enough to win. The victory mark the first time since November 2018 that Smith has won a game.|
Cleveland 22-17 over Philadelphia
|At this point, the Eagles seem to get an F every week. Somehow they find a way to play worse than the previous week. Carson Wentz threw two interceptions and was sacked in the end zone for a safety -- but the way the offense is structured sets him up to fail. Doug Pederson doesn't roll Wentz outside the pocket enough and the offensive line can't protect him. The Eagles defense was worn down as a result, as the Browns offense continued to pound the football until the Philly D broke in the fourth quarter. The Eagles were terrible again on third down, marred by turnovers and inconsistent quarterback play. This isn't getting any better with the Seahawks, Packers, and Saints looming on the schedule over the next few weeks. It's not always sunny in Philadelphia|
|Was this game a pretty victory? Far from it, but the Browns know what they are going to do each and every week -- pound the football until the opposing defense wears down. Cleveland got an impressive 54-yard run from Nick Chubb that broke the Eagles' back in the fourth quarter, as the Browns scored 10 points in the final frame. The yards per carry wasn't impressive at 3.4, but the Browns refused to let Baker Mayfield lose the game for them (Mayfield threw no interceptions but his lost fumble led to an Eagles touchdown). Cleveland's defense had a pick-six which gave them the lead for good and also recorded a safety -- one of four sacks on the day. The Browns are 7-3, but there's work to be done.|
Eagles-Browns grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Houston 27-20 over New England
|For a moment, it looked like the Patriots were going to roll, starting the day off offensively with an 84-yard touchdown drive. After that, however, they largely went silent, only managing three more points in the first half while watching as the Texans jumped out in front. The running game was particularly quiet outside of that first drive as Damien Harris finished with just 43 yards on 3.9 yards per carry. Defensively, Bill Belichick's club had no answer for Deshaun Watson and had an extremely tough time getting off the field on third down. While they didn't commit any turnovers to shoot themselves in the foot, this average showing wasn't enough to get them their third win in a row.|
|This win falls on the shoulders of Deshaun Watson, who was flawless throughout but particularly in the first half, when he had three total touchdowns to put the Texans out in front. Even with Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills going down with injuries early in this game, he was still able to find his tight ends to move the chains along with Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller. While Watson was giving the Patriots fits throughout, the defense was able to step up nicely against Cam Newton and the Patriots defense. Despite having statistically the worst run defense in the league, Romeo Crennel's club held the Pats to just 86 yards on the ground and one touchdown. J.J. Watt was also clutch on a key Patriots drive late in the fourth quarter when he batted down a pass from Cam Newton to force fourth down. While Houston hasn't had much to celebrate this season, they can hang their hats on this win. |
Patriots-Texans grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tennessee 30-24 over Baltimore (OT)
|This wasn't a perfect outing for Tennessee, but it really showed just how resilient this team is. The Titans had to deal with multiple injuries suffered today on both sides of the ball and a double-digit deficit in the third quarter. Still, they had enough fight to battle back and win in overtime, 30-24. Derrick Henry was again the player of the game, as he rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Tennessee needed him to step up, and that's exactly what he did in overtime -- as he scored the 29-yard game winner. This was a statement win for Mike Vrabel and Co., and one that sets them up in prime position to take back first place in the AFC South.|
|This wasn't the worst performance from the Ravens this season, but they were just far too inconsistent to get back into the win column on Sunday. Lamar Jackson threw some nice passes downfield but missed others, the offense went three-and-out in overtime despite receiving the first possession and the secondary allowed more than a few huge plays downfield in the second half. Baltimore isn't out of the playoff race by any means, but John Harbaugh needs to get this team back on track, and back to believing that they are a contender.|
Titans-Ravens grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Pittsburgh 27-3 Jacksonville
|Pittsburgh had a balanced offensive attack that featured Diontae Johnson and James Conner, who combined to amass 210 all-purpose yards. The Steelers' defense contained the Jaguars' talented receiving duo of D.J. Chark and Keelan Cole, who combined to catch just six passes for 77 yards. Pittsburgh's pass rush, led by Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Stephon Tuitt, was able to apply consistent pressure on quarterback Jake Luton, who threw four interceptions that included two picks apiece to Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds. Pittsburgh's slow start (which included Chris Boswell's first missed field goal of the season) is the only thing that prevented them from receiving a perfect grade of an A+.|
|Jacksonville, playing without cornerbacks Sidney Jones and C.J. Henderson (they also lost linebacker Josh Allen in the third quarter), failed to apply pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, who was not sacked and seldom touched. On offense, the Jaguars were unable to stay on the field, as they were just 4-of-13 on third down. Jacksonville did receive another strong game from rookie running back James Robinson, who had 94 yards on 21 touches.|
Steelers-Jaguars grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 20-13 over Miami
|Miami's defense had been so impressive during their win streak but Sunday was a bit of a setback. Denver found big plays and consistent gains on the ground. The Dolphins offense was unable to move the ball and there were more questions presented in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa, who got benched in the fourth quarter in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Although their five-game winning streak has come to a close, the Dolphins still have a lot to play for this season as they're still within striking distance of the AFC East and a playoff berth.|
|Denver still had some unnecessary penalties but the defense made the tackles necessary to prevent short gains from turning into larger ones. Drew Lock made a poor decision early that resulted in an interception but took shots throughout the day to put his team in a position to score. Melvin Gordon and Lock each did some good things but also made crucial mistakes that nearly cost the team. There is a lot to clean up but Denver could have packed it in given the current state of the season. Instead, the Broncos fought for their coach and emerged with a victory over a Dolphins team that went into Sunday on a five-game winning streak. |
Dolphins-Broncos grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Dallas 31-28 over Minnesota
|This was almost an A+ simply because it's the Cowboys landing their first win since Week 5, and while that factors into the high grade, it's more so driven by their refusal to lay down and die when the Vikings kept punching them in the face after halftime. Kudos to head coach Mike McCarthy and staff for having his team ready after a bye week -- the defense getting two takeaways in the first half and the offense turning them into nine points. And when things looked bleak and momentum was fully in the Vikings' favor in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys found a way to get stops when they needed them most, and the offense put the ball into the end zone to help seal the deal in one of the more entertaining back-and-forth games of 2020.|
|This was not a failure by the Vikings at all, but instead they land a high grade in the loss because of their perseverance to make the game closer than it might've been otherwise -- even if the second half saw the team continue its struggles from the first. Obvious demerits land in the Vikings' lap for looking unprepared for the Cowboys, which hints at them feeling like it would be easy-going, but credit them for halftime adjustments on both sides of the ball that kept the Cowboys from scoring in the third quarter and lit a fire beneath Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen, with an honorable mention to rookie sensation Justin Jefferson. They simply needed to get either one more stop or one more touchdown, and couldn't. |
Cowboys-Vikings grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Indianapolis 34-31 over Green Bay
|The Packers should probably spend some extra time this week working on ball security drills because they basically fumbled this game away. Of the Packers' four turnovers in this game, three of them came on lost fumbles, with the worst one coming from Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who turned it over in overtime to set up Indy's game-winning field goal. The Packers also fumbled a kickoff in the fourth quarter, leading to a field goal that put Indy ahead 31-28. Green Bay could have avoided overtime, but the Packers couldn't punch the ball in the end zone on their final drive of regulation after driving to Indy's 8-yard line. Although the Colts held Aaron Jones in check, the other Aaron (Rodgers) was able to keep Green Bay in this game with a performance that included 311 passing yards and three touchdowns. The loss means the Packers have still never won in Indianapolis in franchise history.|
|The Colts almost gave this game away in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but they managed to hang on thanks to an opportune defense and a kicker who was nearly perfect. The Colts defense forced two turnovers -- one in the fourth quarter and one in overtime -- that led to two field goals for Indy, including the game-winner. Those field goals came courtesy of rookie Rodrigo Blankenship, who went 4-of-5 on field goals (his only miss came from 50 and hit the crossbar). Offensively, the Colts had their way with the Packers defense. Not only did they put up 420 yards of total offense, but they also only punted one time in each half. Philip Rivers kept the Packers secondary guessing by completing 24 passes to 11 different receivers. The Colts have now scored 30 or more points in four of their past five games.|
L.A. Chargers 34-28 over N.Y. Jets
|With the Jets winless, no one would have been surprised if they mailed it in on Sunday, but that's not what happened. Instead, the Jets gave one of their most spirited performances of the season. Although they were trailing 24-6 at the half, the offense came out on fire in the second half, scoring a touchdown on three consecutive possessions to cut the lead to 34-26. The Jets actually had a chance to tie this game with under two minutes left, but their final drive came to an end at the Chargers' 32-yard line. The Jets made one big mistake in this game, which came on a pick-six from Joe Flacco in the first quarter, and when you're the Jets, you can't make mistakes like that and expect to win. |
|If you want to see one of the best rookie performances of the 2020 season, just pop in some film of this game. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns, and the Chargers needed all of it as they spent four quarters fighting off a feisty Jets team. New York's defense had no answers for Keenan Allen, who set a franchise record with 16 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the Chargers weren't great, but they did get a pick-six from Tevaughn Campbell in the first quarter that ended up making a huge difference in the game.|
Kansas City 35-31 over Las Vegas
|It came down to the wire, and for most of the night the Chiefs defense had no answer for Vegas' balanced attack. Patrick Mahomes also got just a little loosey-goosey in picking his spots. But who are we kidding? Offense wins in today's NFL, and they've got an absolute juggernaut. Even their "bad" drives always have pop. With just over a minute to go, the Chiefs were trailing, but everyone knew they were going to score to retake the lead. And that, friends, is why they remain favorites to repeat.|
|This would be an "A" if not for their red-zone failings, which weren't necessarily common as much as they were crucial. They shouldn't be docked too much for giving up 35 to that kind of offense, but if you want to hold that against them anyway, go ahead. Otherwise, this team has a ton of fight. They may not be quite ready for the big stage, but they look awfully close. Derek Carr had himself a fantastic night, as did Jon Gruden the play-caller. If only they had one or two more impact stops (or red-zone conversions) to might have been able to seal the deal.|
Chiefs-Raiders grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
L.A. Rams 27-24 over Tampa Bay
|The Rams had no run game on Monday, but that didn't matter because Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods ran circles around Tampa Bay's secondary. Both receivers went over 130 yards as Kupp tallied 11 catches for 145 yards while Woods racked up 130 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. Although Jared Goff did make two big mistakes in this game, he more than made up for it with three touchdown passes and 376 yards. Defensively, the Rams flustered Tom Brady in the second half, holding Tampa Bay to just 12 yards in the third quarter. The Rams are now the two seed in the NFC and a true force to be reckoned with.|
|Father time might finally be catching up with Tom Brady. The 43-year-old played an absolutely disastrous game and cost Tampa Bay any chance it had of winning. Brady threw two ugly interceptions, including one that came with under two minutes to play on a drive where the Buccaneers only needed a field goal to tie it. Defensively, the Buccaneers couldn't stop the Rams, but they did come up with two big interceptions that turned into 10 points for Tampa Bay, which helped to keep this game close.|