After spending the first 11 weeks of the season quietly climbing into the MVP race, Derek Carr crashed-and-burned his way out of it on Sunday with one of the most disastrous performances that we've seen from any quarterback in the NFL this year. In a loss that probably gave Raiders fans some serious deja vu, Carr turned the ball over four times during an embarrassing 43-6 loss to the Falcons. Overall, the Raiders turned the ball over five times and those turnovers led to 23 points for Atlanta, which is how this blowout happened.
Although the Falcons gave a gutsy defensive performance, most of the blame for the Raiders' loss has to fall on the shoulders of Carr, who looked absolutely lost on the field. Before Sunday, Carr had never turned the ball over more than three times in a game in his career.
Carr's first turnover came with just over eight minutes to play in the first quarter and it came on a play where he should have been able to hold on to the ball. As he tried to step up in the pocket, Carr's arm got hit by Atlanta's Foye Oluokun, and somehow, the ball came out.
Even though the Raiders defense held the Falcons to exactly zero yards on the ensuing possession, Atlanta was able to get a field goal out of the possession, which means Carr gave the Falcons three points.
It was a wild Week 12 Sunday and there's a lot to go over. John Breech, Ryan Wilson and host Will Brinson break it all down on the Pick Six Podcast; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
The only thing worse than giving a team three points is giving them seven and that's what Carr did in the second half. With the game still within reach at 16-3 and the Raiders driving for a potential score, Carr threw a pick-six to Deion Jones that basically iced the game. As you can see below, Carr threw way behind his receiver, which helped turn the play into an easy score for Jones.
The Raiders quarterback finished 22 of 34 for 215 yards to go along with his pick-six.
Carr has been so good this season, it's hard to say what led to Sunday's disaster, but if you're a Raiders fan, you're probably at least a little worried and that's because this year is starting to feel a lot like last year. In 2019, the Raiders had a 6-4 record heading into a Week 12 game in the eastern time zone that they were supposed to win. In that case, the Raiders ended up losing 34-3 to the Jets, and after that, their season spiraled out of control. In their final six games, the Raiders would go 1-5 to finish 7-9.
This year, a 6-4 Raiders flew to Atlanta to face a Falcons team they were favored by to beat and fell flat on their face. The biggest problem for the Raiders is that they don't really have a margin for error anymore. At 6-5, they're currently in the ninth spot of the AFC playoff race.
Although the Raiders have the benefit of playing an easier schedule down the stretch with games against the Jets, Chargers and Broncos still left to play, the fact that they're "easy" doesn't mean anything, especially when we're talking about a team that got blown out in a game they needed to win.
Alright, let's get to the grades for every game from Week 12. If you're looking for a deeper dive on the Washington-Cowboys game that was played on Thanksgiving, be sure to click here. On the other hand, if you'd like a deeper dive on the Texans' win over the Lions, be sure to click here.
Atlanta 43-6 over Las Vegas
|You can't turn the ball over five times in the NFL and expect to win and that's exactly what the Raiders did on Sunday. Not only did the Raiders have to deal with four turnovers from Derek Carr, but Josh Jacobs also fumbled the ball away once. Jacobs and the Raiders only totaled 40 yards on the ground, which is the lowest total of the Jon Gruden era. The turnovers were highly uncharacteristic for a Raiders team that had only turned the ball over a total of three times in their past five games combined. This game marked just the second time in the past five years that the Raiders have turned the ball over five or more times.
|The Falcons went into this game with one of the worst defenses in the NFL, but they're probably going to be feeling pretty good about themselves after their performance on Sunday. It's hard to say what was more impressive, the fact that they forced five turnovers (including a pick-six from Deion Jones), the fact they limited Josh Jacobs to just 27 yards on the ground, the fact that they sacked Derek Carr five times or the fact that they didn't surrender a touchdown. It you can't tell by now, it was one of the most dominant performances the Falcons have had all season long.
N.Y. Giants 19-17 over Cincinnati
|The Giants almost blew a 19-10 lead over the final 2:35, but they held on for the win because their defense came through with a strip-sack with under one minute to play. The fumble recovery on the play was one of three turnovers that that the Giants forced and they needed all three. Besides the strip-sack, the other two turnovers led to six pivotal points. All six points came from Graham Gano, who hit a total of four field goals (32, 39, 40, 49). Overall, the Giants limited the Bengals to just 155 yards, marking the first time since 2010 that New York has held an opposing offense under 160 yards. This wasn't a pretty win, but when you play in the NFC East, no one expects pretty.
|With Joe Burrow out, the Bengals offense looked inept for most of this game, but they were still almost able to pull off an upset due to the play of their defense and special teams. The biggest play of the game came from Brandon Wilson, who returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. The Bengals defense also gave an inspired performance as the unit didn't surrender a single touchdown following the Giants' opening possession. As for Cincy's offense, it was as ugly as everything thought it would be without Burrow. The Bengals turned the ball over three times and none of those was bigger than Brandon Allen's lost fumble with under a minute left that came while the Bengals were driving for a potential game-winning field goal.
Minnesota 28-27 over Carolina
|Teddy Bridgewater's return to Minnesota definitely didn't go as planned. Not only did he complete just 52.8% of his passes, but he also threw a back-breaking interception in the red zone in a game where the Panthers offense was only able to muster 13 points. The other 14 points for the Panthers came from Jeremy Chinn, who set an NFL record when he scored a defensive touchdown on consecutive plays. During a wild sequence in the third quarter, Chinn returned two fumbles for two scores. The Panthers had a chance to win on the final play, but Joey Slye missed badly on a 54-yard field goal attempt.
|Don't give that offensive rookie of the year award to Justin Herbert just yet, because there's another Justin who might be more deserving by the end of the season. The Vikings were able to overcome an 11-point deficit in the second half thanks in large part to Justin Jefferson, who caught seven passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns. The second score came late in the fourth quarter and gave Minnesota a chance to win. Although the offense tried to give this game away by handing the Panthers two touchdowns, Minnesota's special teams and defense helped the Vikings overcome those mistakes. The Vikings blocked a field goal and the Minnesota defense only allowed one touchdown.
Miami 20-3 over N.Y. Jets
|The first time these two teams played each other this season back in Week 6, the Dolphins pitched a shutout, and although they weren't able to do it again, Miami's defense was still impressive. The Dolphins picked off two passes in the second half, including one by Nik Needham that came after the Jets had moved the ball into Dolphins' territory in the third quarter. Offensively, it was the Devante Parker show for the Dolphins as he caught eight passes for 135 yards.
|The return of Sam Darnold didn't do much to spark the Jets offense that now has gone two games this season without scoring a touchdown against the Dolphins. The only reason this grade isn't an 'F' is because the Jets defense played just well enough to keep the Jets within striking distance until the fourth quarter. Not only did the unit force two turnovers, but they also sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick four times with 1.5 of those coming from Quinnen Williams. Of course, this is the Jets we're talking about, so you know there were plenty of mistakes. In this game, Darnold threw two picks and their kicker missed a 29-yard field goal.
Cleveland 27-25 Jacksonville
|The Browns rolled up 459 yards of offense and more than half of that came from just two players: Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry. On Chubb's end, this was his third game back from injury and for the third straight time, he topped the 100-yard mark. Chubb steam-rolled the Jaguars defense for a season-high 144 yards. As for Landry, he caught eight passes for 143 yards, including a first-quarter touchdown. Although the Browns were the better team on paper, they let Jacksonville hang around for longer than they should have. This game wasn't decided until the Browns defense made a stop on a Jaguars two-point conversion with two minutes left to play.
|The fact that the Jaguars were on their third quarterback of the season in this game (Mike Glennon) didn't really matter and that's because Jacksonville's offense now revolves around James Robinson. The undrafted rookie almost single-handedly kept Jacksonville in this game with 159 total yards and a touchdown (128 yards on the ground, 31 yards through the air). As for Glennon, despite making his first start since 2017, the quarterback didn't look too rusty as he threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
New England 20-17 over Arizona
|The Cardinals are currently a better football team than the Patriots, but they didn't play like it. Arizona appeared like they were going to run away with this game at various points in the first half, but they never really put their foot on the gas to put New England in the dust. Despite winning the turnover battle, creating more yards on offense, and having nearly a ten minute time of possession advantage, they couldn't squeak out the win. Zane Gonzalez's missed 45-yard field goal was, of course, a key moment in the game, but the Cardinals really shouldn't have let it get to that point.
|It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but New England did just enough to win this game. The defensive stand at the end of the first half prevented the Cardinals from blowing this game wide open and the Patriots defense seemed to carry that momentum into the second half. While that unit was able to keep Kyler Murray and company at bay, they did commit a couple of killer penalties late in the game that eventually allowed Arizona to tie it at 17. Meanwhile, the offense did struggle to put consistent drives together. Cam Newton had two picks and threw for just 84 yards through the air but was able to help lead the game-winning drive that ended with a Nick Folk 50-yard field goal. Again, it wasn't pretty, but they found a way to get the W.
Cardinals-Patriots grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tennessee 45-26 over Indianapolis
| Derrick Henry is going to steal the headlines with his 178-yard, three-touchdown outing, but this was definitely a team win. A.J. Brown caught four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown, and also returned an onside kick 42 yards to the house to wrap things up! The offense racked up 449 yards of total offense, while the defense held the Colts to just 5 of 13 on third down conversions. The Titans certainly looked like the best team in the AFC South on Sunday, and they are now in the driver's seat of the division.
|Not much went well for the Colts on Sunday. The defense allowed Derrick Henry to go off for 140 yards and three touchdowns in just the first half and they allowed a couple of big plays in the secondary. The offense recorded just 56 yards rushing, Philip Rivers was inaccurate at times and there were issues with clock management. Bottom line, the Colts just got destroyed.
Colts-Titans grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Buffalo 27-17 over L.A. Chargers
|It was not a terrible performance by the offense or the defense. Joey Bosa went ballistic with all three of Los Angeles' sacks. The Chargers were unable to achieve any level of success on the ground and their inability to convert on third down ultimately sunk their ship. The defense did a great job forcing turnovers in the fourth quarter to give the offense a chance but the offense was never able to cash in on those opportunities. Justin Herbert did top 300 passing yards for the sixth time in 10 games but Anthony Lynn would like to avoid his young quarterback throwing 50-plus passes in a single game.
|The Bills did a great job of applying pressure on Justin Herbert. They forced two fumbles and intercepted Herbert once. Josh Allen was reckless with the football. He is prone to launching the ball aimlessly as he is being tackled. The team was responsible for three turnovers and nine penalties. It is uncommon to see a team play such a sloppy football game and walk away with the win. At the end of the day, wins are all that matters but Buffalo had some learning moments in this one.
Chargers-Bills grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
San Francisco 23-20 over L.A. Rams
|Nick Mullens, who went 24-of-35 for 253 yards, out-played Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who threw two interceptions while failing to reach 200 passing yards. The 49ers' defense, which gladly welcomed the return of Richard Sherman (who recorded a first-half interception of Goff) did not allow the Rams to convert on a single third down in the second half. San Francisco's defense, after allowing the Rams to score one minute into the fourth quarter, ended the game by forcing four consecutive punts. While Robert Saleh's defense was excellent, Samuel was just as — if not more — essential to the 49ers' win, as the second-year receiver accounted for nearly one-third of the 49ers' offensive production.
|When you commit four turnovers, you seldom win the game. That was the case for the Rams, who on Sunday tied a season-high for turnovers committed. Aside from the turnovers, the Rams struggled to establish the run while also struggling to stop the 49ers' run during the game's first 20 minutes. While the Rams eventually figured out the run on both sides of the ball, their struggles early on allowed the 49ers to build a 17-3 lead. Los Angeles really struggled to get anyone going on offense with the exception of Robert Woods, who caught seven passes for 80 yards. Cooper Kupp, who didn't catch a pass during the first half, finished with just 41 yards on two receptions. The Rams did receive a stellar performance from Aaron Donald, whose sack of Nick Mullens a series after his forced fumble helped set up a Cam Akers touchdown. Donald's forced fumble on Raheem Mostert moments earlier set up Troy Hill's fumble return for a score that almost propelled the Rams to the win.
49ers-Rams grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New Orleans 31-3 over Denver
|The Saints defense is still great (they allowed just one touchdown in the last four games) and their rushing attack is just as dangerous with Latavius Murray -- who finished with 19 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Saints rushed for 229 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, including two from Taysom Hill. The only blemish on the scorecard is Hill throwing the football, as he finished 9 of 16 for 78 yards and an interception. Hill missed reads in the flat and looked uncomfortable in the pocket on several throws during the game. His best throw was a 24-yard strike to Michael Thomas that set the Saints up for a field goal right before half. New Orleans just needs more from Hill over the next few weeks -- even with the easy schedule in front of them.
|I mean, what else can Denver do here? This game was a lost cause for Denver, as all their quarterbacks were on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Kendall Hinton is the first QB since Ryan Leaf in 1998 to have more incompletions than touchdowns in a game (1 for 9, 13 yards, 2 INT) as he finished with a paltry 1.4 yards per attempt. Hinton didn't even know he was starting 24 hours before kickoff and threw just eight passes in college since 2018 (he was a wide receiver his last few years at Wake Forest). The Broncos tried running a Wildcat offense and gained some yards, but they were stuck in an impossible situation against one of the NFL's best defenses.
Saints-Broncos grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 27-24 over Tampa Bay
|When you have a receiver go off for 205 receiving yards and two touchdowns, it's a great day that deserves a high grade. When that's in the first quarter alone, it's an A+ day regardless of the outcome of the game, especially when said receiver -- Tyreek Hill -- then finishes the game with an eye-popping 269 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the day (Hill's yardage total is tied for the 15th highest single-game total in NFL history). The connection between Hill and Patrick Mahomes was explosive and the Chiefs got help from their defense by way of two interceptions on Tom Brady, making sure he lacked enough rabbits in his hat to steal a win in crunch time. The only way the Chiefs would've graded higher (A+) is if they didn't take a nap in the second and fourth quarters.
|You'd think someone, anyone on the Bucs secondary would be able to at least slow down Tyreek Hill, but nope. The speedy wideout gutted Tampa Bay like a fish reeled into a canoe, so confident he couldn't be stopped that he taunted the Bucs fans in attendance by pretending to take a call and then saying out loud, "Help is on the way! They can't stop me!," before getting back to racking up more production. To make matters worse, the connection from Tom Brady to Mike Evans has still yet to become a consistent thing, although they did link for a much-needed TD in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late -- Brady's two interceptions in the third quarter not helping the effort. Credit them for not giving up though, forcing the Chiefs to bite their nails.
Chiefs-Buccaneers grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Green Bay 41-25 over Chicago
|Give Allen Robinson, David Montgomery and Eddie Jackson credit for fighting. And props to Mitch Trubisky for coming out calm and confident. But our compliments end there. Trubisky undid his early inspiration about five times over thanks to an incredibly erratic performance that included two near-inexcusable picks, a costly fumble and maybe a dozen crucial misfires with the game already out of hand. The Bears staff remains unable to figure out when and where to run the ball (did anyone on their sideline actually watch their own running back carry the ball?). And the defense, apparently the best in the NFL in the red zone? Totally lost without Akiem Hicks up front. The free-fall might continue for weeks to come.
|Save for the Bears' opening drive, when Mitchell Trubisky actually looked decent and David Montgomery broke off a huge run, the Packers never once looked inferior on Sunday night. Aaron Rodgers hardly had to try thanks to the dominance of Green Bay's run game right up the gut of Chicago's "D" sans Akiem Hicks, but when he did, he was spot on. The defense, meanwhile, got a few gifts from Mitchell Trubisky but still deserves credit for capitalizing. What more can you say? Whenever you thoroughly pummel a division rival to maintain first place, you deserve props. The Packers are very good.
Bears-Packers grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 23-17 over Philadelphia
|The Seahawks defense didn't really show up for the first 10 weeks of the season, but all of the sudden, it's looking like one of the best units in the NFL. In what was easily the defense's best performance of the year, the Seahawks sacked Carson Wentz six times, picked him off once and held the Eagles to just 250 yards of total offense. Offensively, the Seahawks weren't cooking like they usually do, but they did have their moments and most of those moments came from DK Metcalf, who caught 10 passes for 177 yards. Metcalf's biggest catch was a 52-yarder that came on third-and-13 in the second quarter. The long catch led to the Seahawks' first TD and was one of just two third-down conversions Seattle had in the game.
|If Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson were trying to save their jobs on Monday, they definitely didn't do anything to prove they should stick around. Wentz and the Eagles offense got off to a disastrous start as Philadelphia went three-and-out on its first five possessions during a first half where the Eagles only totaled 74 yards. Although the offense did show signs of life in the second half, it was too little, too late. As for Pederson, he made some inexcusably bad decisions, including going for it on a fourth down from Seattle's 15 in the fourth quarter. At the time, the Eagles trailed 20-9 and a field goal would have cut the lead to one score, but the Eagles went for it and the play ended with a Wentz interception. The play was basically emblematic of Philadelphia's entire season with Pederson and Wentz both letting the team down.
Pittsburgh 19-14 over Baltimore
|Leading up to this game, there was a point where the Ravens went more than a week without practicing and from an offensive standpoint, they definitely came out and played like a team that went more than a week without practicing. The Ravens shot themselves in the foot early with some ugly mistakes, including a lost fumble and a pick-six thrown by Robert Griffin. The Ravens offense also botched a sequence at the end of the half that ended with them scoring zero points even though they were at the 1-yard line. Despite those errors, the Ravens were able to keep this game close thanks to an inspired performance by a defense that only allowed one offensive touchdown and a special teams unit that came up with a big turnover in the first half that set up an early TD. Third-string quarterback Trace McSorley also helped to make things interesting by throwing a 70-yard TD pass in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
|If we learned one thing from this game, it's that the Steelers defense can destroy you on any day of the week. Led by T.J. Watt and Joe Haden, the Steelers defense carried the team to victory in a game where the offense made several sloppy mistakes. On Watt's end, he racked up two of Pittsburgh's three sacks. As for Haden, he had a first quarter pick-six that gave the Steelers an early lead. Offensively, the Steelers could have put this game out of reach early, but they struggled in the red zone, and a big part of that was because the receiving corps kept dropping passes. This win wasn't pretty, but when you're playing on a Wednesday during a pandemic, you don't expect pretty.