It took 13 weeks, 11 losses and a quarterback getting benched only to get his job back, but the Cincinnati Bengals finally pulled off their first win of the season on Sunday, and they did it in dominating fashion.
With Andy Dalton under center, a revived Bengals team stunned the New York Jets 22-6 on Sunday in front of the smallest crowd in history of Paul Brown Stadium, which opened in 2000. Although no one in Cincinnati really showed up to watch, Dalton and the defense still put on a show for the 39,804 fans who did decide to attend the game.
After spending three weeks on the bench, Dalton didn't show any rust while playing in his first game since Oct. 27. The Red Rifle led the Bengals to a score on three of their first four possessions, including a first quarter touchdown that ended with Dalton throwing a laser between two defenders for a 17-yard score to Tyler Boyd.
It probably won't be enough to keep the Bengals from drafting a quarterback in April, but with every throw that Dalton does make like that, he's increasing his trade value, which is good news for the Bengals if they decide to deal him this offseason.
Week 13 is almost in the books and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break everything down on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
Dalton finished the game with 243 yards and one touchdown, but that touchdown number actually could have been higher if not for two drops by Bengals receivers.
Although Dalton's return was the feel-good story for the Bengals, the real story in this game was how badly their defense dominated the Jets. Going into Sunday, the Bengals defense was giving up more yardage than any other team (417.2), but they clamped down against New York, surrendering just 271 yards.
Carlos Dunlap basically had Sam Darnold seeing ghosts. In a game where Darnold was sacked four times, Dunlap came up with three of those, including one in the fourth quarter that basically killed any chances the Jets had of making a last ditch comeback.
The Bengals defense also tallied a safety after the Jets were called for holding while Darnold was in the end zone.
Darnold, who was held to just 239 yards passing, didn't throw a single touchdown pass for just the second time this season. The Bengals held the Jets to just six points, which marked the first time since 2015 that they've held a team to less than a touchdown. It was a surprising performance considering the Jets came into Sunday having averaged 34 points per game over the past three weeks.
The good news for the Bengals is that although they won, their main competition for the top pick in the draft -- the Redskins and Dolphins -- also won, which makes this win definitely worth a Gatorade bath.
With four weeks to play, the Bengals' main competition for the top pick is now the 2-9 New York Giants, but that's actually good news for Cincinnati since the Giants won't be looking to select a quarterback if they land the top pick.
Cincinnati 22-6 over N.Y. Jets
|When you lose to a team that came into the game 0-11, you get an "F." This game was a disaster from start to finish for the Jets, who actually seemed like they were getting worse as the game progressed. The most surprising part of this loss is that the Jets offense simply couldn't move the ball against a Bengals defense that went into Week 13 giving up more yardage per game than any other team in the NFL this year. The most embarrassing part of this loss for the Jets is that not only did they give the Bengals their first win of the season, but they also handed the 0-7 Dolphins their first win of the season back in Week 8. If Adam Gase wasn't on the hot seat before, he should be after two losses like that. |
|There's a good chance that no one was happier about Andy Dalton's return than the Bengals receiving corps. With Dalton on the field, the receivers actually had a few passes thrown their way. As a matter off fact, Dalton's 22 completions went to seven different receivers, including Tyler Boyd, who caught five passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. As for the Bengals defense, they were so good that the Jets didn't have a single offensive drive the entire game that made it inside of Cincinnati's 20-yard line.|
Miami 37-31 over Philadelphia
|The Eagles had a chance to move into a first place tie in the NFC East on Sunday, but instead they fell flat on their face. The Eagles secondary has been a huge weakness for them all season, and it was easy to see why in Miami. Philly had no answer for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who diced up the Eagles defense for 365 yards and three touchdowns. The Eagles defense was especially bad on fourth down, allowing the Dolphins to convert all three of their attempts in the game. The most devastating one came in the fourth quarter when the Dolphins ran a trick play on fourth-and-goal that ended with Miami's holder throwing a touchdown pass to the kicker. It was a demoralizing day for the Eagles defense and a demoralizing loss for the team.|
|The Dolphins won this game by sprinkling some FitzMagic on Philadelphia's defense and then throwing the kitchen sink at the Eagles to finish them off. Not only did Ryan Fitzpatrick torch the Eagles for 365 yards and three touchdowns, but he did most of his damage by throwing to Davante Parker, who kept getting open no matter what the Eagles tried to do to stop him. Parker caught seven passes for a career-high 159 yards and two touchdowns. Brian Flores coached this game with no fear. Not only did he go for it on three fourth downs (converting them all), but he also called a wild trick play on a fourth-and-goal that ended with holder Matt Haack throwing a one-yard touchdown pass to kicker Jason Sanders. The Dolphins' red zone offense was on fire as they scored a touchdown on four of their trips inside Philly's 20-yard line.|
Green Bay 31-13 over N.Y. Giants
|One week after getting beat down in San Francisco, the Packers rebounded with one of their best offensive performances of the season. With snow falling in New York, Aaron Rodgers probably felt like he was playing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. The Packers quarterback thrived in the cold weather, throwing for 243 yards and four touchdowns. The unsung offensive hero of the game for Green Bay was Allen Lazard, who caught three passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. All three of Lazard's receptions gained more than 20 yards. Defensively, the Packers had a field day against Daniel Jones, picking off the rookie three times.|
|This might not have been Daniel Jones' worst game of the season, but it was definitely the worst one he's played at home. Although Jones got off to a hot start with a touchdown pass in the first quarter, he fell apart after that. On the scoring drive, which ended with an 18-yard TD pass to Sterling Shepard, Jones went 6 of 8 for 61 yards, but on every other possession in the game, he went just 14 of 31 for 179 yards with three interceptions. Jones' three picks tied his season-high.|
Washington 29-21 over Carolina
|Whenever you hear someone say that NFL games are won in the trenches, this is the type of game they're talking about. The Redskins absolutely dominated the trenches on both sides of the ball, and it's hard to say who was more impressive: their offensive line or defensive line. Offensively, the Redskins O-line steamrolled the Panthers to open up giant holes for Derrius Guice, who rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on just 10 carries (that's 12.9 yards per carry). Adrian Peterson was almost as impressive, rushing 13 times for 99 yards and a TD. Overall, the Redskins rushed for 248 yards, marking the team's highest total since 2012. Defensively, the Redskins sacked Kyle Allen a total of seven times, with Chris Odom -- who had two sacks -- leading the way. The Redskins did have some issues when they tried to throw the ball, but that doesn't matter when everything else is clicking for the team as well as it did against Carolina.|
|Blowing a 14-0 lead to a team that went into Sunday with a 2-9 record isn't easy to do, but the Panthers managed to do exactly that against the Redskins. After getting off to a hot start with two touchdowns on their first two possessions, the Panthers offense completely disappeared over the final three quarters of the game. The Panthers lost this game because their offensive line couldn't do anything to slow down the Redskins. With the line failing, Christian McCaffrey didn't have any room to run (44 yards on the day) and Kyle Allen didn't have any time to throw (sacked seven times). Losing to a team like Washington is the type of loss that might cause owner David Tepper to overhaul the everything this offseason.|
Tampa Bay 28-11 over Jacksonville
|The Buccaneers defense took absolute control of this game, starting with Jacksonville's opening possession and then basically suffocating the Jaguars for four straight quarters. Before the first quarter had even ended, the Bucs defense had already forced three turnovers and scored a touchdown. The score came after Shaq Barrett forced a Nick Foles fumble, which Devin White returned 14 yards for a touchdown. White also had one of Tampa's two interceptions in this game. Overall, the Bucs forced four turnovers in this game. Offensively, the Bucs didn't get much going, but they didn't have to, since their defense was so dominant.|
|Nick Foles was so bad in this game that the Jaguars ended up benching him at halftime. The Jags almost had no choice but to make the decision after they got a disastrous first half from Foles that included an interception and two lost fumbles, including one that was returned for a touchdown. After Gardner Minshew took over in the second half, the Jags offense was much better, but they were unable to dig themselves out of the 25-0 hole that Foles had left them in at halftime.|
Pittsburgh 20-13 over Cleveland
|The Browns were unable to defeat a Steelers team that was starting an undrafted rookie quarterback who was playing without JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner. Cleveland sorely missed Myles Garrett, as the Browns were unable to get consistent pressure on Hodges, who completed 66.7 percent of his passes. Equally disappointing was the Browns' offense, as Mayfield failed to throw for over 200 yards against Pittsburgh's defense for a second time in three weeks. Cleveland's play calling was also questionable, as the Browns went away from their running game after having early success. The Browns also shot themselves in the foot with pre-snap penalties, something they had improved upon during their three-game winning streak. The offensive line's issues protecting Mayfield also reared their ugly head, as the Browns will need to re-tool their offensive line during the offseason.|
|The Steelers unleashed Devlin "Duck" Hodges after mostly limiting him to safe passes during the early stages of Sunday's game. Hodges, now 2-0 as a starter, led Pittsburgh on four consecutive scoring drives while hooking up with James Washington for completions of 31, 30 and 44 yards that included his game-tying catch just before halftime. For a second straight week, Benny Snell did a solid job on the ground, scoring his first NFL touchdown in the second half. The Steelers' defense, led by T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Joe Haden and Javon Hargrave, held the Browns to just three points in the second half while sacking Baker Mayfield five times. Pittsburgh's special teams was also above the line, with Chris Boswell making both of his field goal attempts.|
Browns-Steelers grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tennessee 31-17 over Indianapolis
|I guess the Titans are for real? While it wasn't the prettiest win, the Titans used a huge fourth quarter to propel themselves to their third win in a row. It kicked the Colts out of second place in the AFC South and put the Titans in great position to secure a wild card spot. The Titans picked off Jacoby Brissett twice and returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for their first lead of the game. Derrick Henry also rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown, his third game in a row with over 100 yards rushing. It just seems like this team comes up big when it matters most. They beat the Chiefs with a blocked field goal a few weeks ago and another blocked field goal on Sunday propelled them to victory. Tennessee looks a lot better with Ryan Tannehill under center, Henry is playing some of his best ball and the defense is coming up big despite being shorthanded in the secondary. You have to be impressed by the Titans.|
|The Colts didn't do much wrong on Sunday, but they didn't rise to the occasion with the season on the line. Brissett's two interceptions were huge, Adam Vinatieri had two kicks blocked and the defense gave up a couple of big plays. They had the homefield advantage, they had second place in the division, they had the talent on paper and they had won the past three games against the Titans. The Colts racked up almost 400 yards of offense on Sunday, but it doesn't mean anything if you can't turn that into points.|
Titans-Colts grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Baltimore 20-17 over San Francisco
|You could make a case the 49ers deserve an "A," because they went into Baltimore and limited the MVP front-runner and his red-hot playoff contender to two touchdowns, keeping things knotted up for much of the day. They also put up solid numbers across the board. The "it" factor just wasn't there on Sunday, though, with Jimmy Garoppolo faring just OK and the Niners failing to convert on some crucial fourth downs. They'll be fine in the long run.|
|Baltimore wasn't perfect at home, but they were darn close considering the conditions -- both literally, with the rainy weather, and figuratively, against one of the NFL's top defenses. Lamar Jackson did little through the air but did more than enough on the ground, and the Ravens wisely game-planned around his legs, taking advantage not only of the climate but of San Francisco's quietly so-so run "D." It wasn't their Monday night blowout, but it was big.|
49ers-Ravens grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 40-9 over Oakland
|The Chiefs just outclassed the Raiders in this one, but head coach Jon Gruden didn't abandon his game plan to keep Oakland in it. The Raiders rode Josh Jacobs to eight carries for 55 yards in the first quarter, but two interceptions by Derek Carr took away Jacobs from having an effect on the game (Raiders were down three scores at halftime). Oakland averaged over six yards per play for the majority of the game, but went just 3 of 9 on third down. Having 12 penalties for 99 yards, including two that extended Chiefs drives that led to scores didn't help either. |
|Andy Reid is 18-3 after the bye week for a reason. The Chiefs dominated the Raiders, even though their high-powered offense only had 259 yards and quarterback Patrick Mahomes went just 15 of 29 for 175 yards and a touchdown. Kansas City's defense turned in its finest performance of the season, holding Oakland to nine points and forcing three Raider turnovers in the first half (one being returned for a touchdown) to put the game away. The Chiefs didn't give Raiders quarterback Derek Carr any options to throw to outside of tight end Darren Waller until the game was way out of hand. Oakland wide receivers had just one catch for seven yards (Zay Jones) until 4:51 remaining in the game when the Chiefs were up 38-3. The Chiefs defense showed they can play at a high level, which will be needed if they want to reach the Super Bowl. |
Raiders-Chiefs grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 23-20 over L.A. Chargers
|The Chargers finding a new way to Charger a game away seems to happen every week, and this game was no different. After shutting down the Broncos for nearly the entire second half, the Chargers defense fell apart down the stretch, allowing the Broncos to put together two key scoring drives over the final 8:51 of the game. The Chargers actually looked like they were going to take this thing into overtime until Casey Heyward was hit with a pass interference penalty with just three seconds to play. The penalty then put the Broncos in a position to hit a 53-yard game-winning field goal on the final play of the game. The Chargers have now lost all eight of their games this season by seven points or less. Overall, it was a lackluster effort, especially considering that Von Miller wasn't playing for the Broncos and that the Chargers were coming off a bye.|
|In the first start of his career, Drew Lock wasn't perfect for Denver, but he did have an impressive first quarter that included two touchdown passes to Courtland Sutton. The star of the game for the Broncos was kicker Brandon McManus, who came through with multiple big field goals, including a 53-yard that won the game as time expired. McManus also hit from 52 and 31 yards on a day where he scored 11 of Denver's 23 points. Defensively, the Broncos didn't have Von Miller, but they still came through with multiple big plays, including three sacks (two by Derek Wolfe) and a first quarter interception by Dre'Mont Jones that set up Lock's second touchdown pass.|
L.A. Rams 34-7 over Arizona
|It took 13 weeks, but the Rams offense that we all thought we were going to see in 2019 finally showed for a game. The Rams looked like the greatest show on turf as they moved the ball up and down the field on an overmatched Cardinals defense. Jared Goff ended his cold streak with a performance that included 424 passing yards and two touchdowns. The most surprising performance came from wide receiver Robert Woods, who caught 13 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown. Todd Gurley also got in on the action with 95 rushing yards and a score. The Rams piled up 549 yards of total offense, which was their highest of the season and their second-highest total since hiring Sean McVay in 2017.|
|When you have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach, sometimes you're going to play like you have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach, and that's exactly what happened to Arizona in this game. Although Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury have helped the Cardinals overachieve this year, Arizona was simply overwhelmed in this game. Their defense had no answers for a Rams defense that put up nearly 550 yards. Offensively, Murray didn't get great protection from his offensive line. The Cardinals quarterback was sacked six times, and was pressured often, which was a big reason why he completed just 19 of 34 passes for 163 yards.|
Houston 28-22 over New England
|The Patriots offense has been struggling all season, so it wasn't a total shock to see them having problems in Houston. However, it was a surprise to see the Patriots defense have so much trouble on Sunday night. Going into the game, the Patriots had the second best pass defense in football and were giving up fewer points than any other team, but they had no answer for Deshaun Watson, who threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots' vaunted secondary got torched by multiple Texans pass-catchers, including DeAndre Hopkins, Kenny Stills and Duke Johnson. The Patriots offense sputtered all night, and although the game ended up being close, most of New England's yardage came in garbage time.|
|With a national television audience watching, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson put on a show. Not only did throw three touchdown passes against the Patriots, but Watson was also on the receiving end of another touchdown (the play was a basically an option that ended with Deandre Hopkins throwing a short forward pass to Watson). Watson was nearly perfect, completing 18 of 25 passes for 234 yards. As for the Texans defense, they absolutely crushed Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback faced constant pressure on a night where he was sacked three times. The Texans went into Sunday's game with one of the worst secondaries in the NFL, but despite that, the unit still managed to shut down Brady, and that was mainly due to the fact that the Patriots receivers couldn't get any separation against Houston's defensive backs. It was a big win for the Texans, who now have total control of the AFC South.|
Seattle 37-30 over Minnesota
|The Vikings almost pulled off the upset on Seattle, but they came up just short thanks to a disastrous third quarter where they were outscored 17-0. Every mistake the Vikings made in this game pretty much came in the quarter. Minnesota touched the ball three times and those possessions ended with a punt and two turnovers. The third quarter struggles overshadowed a strong performance from Kirk Cousins, who almost engineered a comeback with two fourth quarter touchdown passes. The Vikings defense wasn't great, but it did force two key turnovers, including a wild pick-six in the first half, that kept Minnesota in the game. The 218 rushing yards surrendered by the Vikings was the second most they've given up since hiring Mike ZImmer in 2014, and the second highest the team has given up since 2006.|
|The Vikings went into Monday's game with one of the NFL's best rushing defenses, but that clearly didn't bother the Seahawks, who steamrolled Minnesota for 218 yards on the ground, which is their highest rushing total of the 2019 season. Chris Carson did most of the damage with 23 carries for 103 yards. Carson basically iced the game with five carries for 19 yards late in the fourth quarter. Rashaad Penny also came up big with 107 total yards and two touchdowns. Russell Wilson also managed to stay in the MVP conversation by throwing for 240 yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yard TD pass to David Moore that put the Seahawks up 27-17 in the third quarter. The Seahawks also saw their special teams and defense come up with multiple big plays. The win means the Seahawks will now move up to first place in the NFC West and the second overall seed in the NFC.|