It took 13 weeks, but the Detroit Lions finally picked up their first victory of the season and like most games involving the Lions this season, there was drama down until the final second.
Detroit's first win of the year wasn't locked up until Jared Goff hit Amon-Ra St. Brown on the game's final play to give the Lions a wild 29-27 win over the visiting Vikings. The throw by Goff capped a 14-play, 75-yard drive and set up off a celebration in Detroit that got so crazy, it almost made you think the Lions had just won the Super Bowl.
In a season where the Lions have basically mastered the art of losing close games -- including one thatcame on a 66-yard field goal -- this one seemed like another loss waiting to happen after Kirk Cousins hit Justin Jefferson for a touchdown with 1:50 left to give Minnesota a 27-23 lead.
After losing a heartbreaker to the Vikings earlier this year, Goff did everything in his power to make sure it wouldn't happen again. The beleaguered quarterback came up in the clutch, completing 9 of 14 passes for 80 yards on the final drive, including the 11-yard throw to St. Brown that gave Detroit the win.
The throw capped a huge day for Goff, who threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns. Although Goff did make multiple mistakes in the fourth quarter -- he threw an interception and lost a fumble -- the resilient Lions defense played well enough to keep Detroit in the game.
The win wasn't just big for the Lions, it was also big for Goff and that's mainly because this victory marked the first time in his career that he's won a game without Sean McVay. Going into Week 13, Goff had been 0-16-1 in his career in games where he wasn't coached by McVay.
For St. Brown, he became an unlikely hero. The rookie receiver caught 10 passes for 86 yards and the game-winning touchdown, which was extra impressive considering that he had caught exactly zero touchdown passes going into Week 13 (He had also never even caught eight passes in a single game).
For the Lions, this win came nearly one year after their last win. Before Sunday, the last time the Lions won a game came on Dec. 6, 2020.
Not only did the Lions pick up their first win of the season, but they remained mathematically alive to make the playoffs (no kidding). But nobody in Detroit cares about that right now, all they care about is the fact that their team isn't going to become the fourth in NFL history to finish a regulation season with zero wins.
Alright, let's get to the grades for every game from Week 13. If you're looking for a deeper dive on the Cowboys' win over the Saints that was played on Thursday, be sure to click here.
Detroit 29-27 over Minnesota
|In one of the most embarrassing losses by any NFL team this year, the Vikings imploded in the first half, then fought back to take the lead late in the fourth quarter before letting the Lions drive straight down the field to score a game-winning touchdown with no time left. The Vikings continue to be one of the most baffling teams in the NFL. One week, they'll beat the Packers and then in another week, they'll lose to the Lions. The loss overshadowed a huge game from Justin Jefferson, who caught 11 passes for 182 yards and a TD.
|The Lions might not deserve an "A" for this game, but we're giving them one anyway for picking up their first win of the season. After a Vikings TD with just 1:50 left to play, it looked like the Lions were going to blow another lead, but then the impossible happened: Jared Goff led a game-winning drive. Over the final 110 seconds of the game, Goff threw for 80 yards, including an 11-yard scoring pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown on the final play of the game to give Detroit the win. The Lions won despite turning the ball over twice and that's mainly because their defense came up with big plays when Detroit needed them the most.
Vikings-Lions grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New England 14-10 over Buffalo
|With blustery 60 mph winds blowing in Buffalo, Josh McDaniels and the Patriots' coaching staff came up with a crazy game plan for Monday night: They decided not to throw the ball. And the craziest part is that the plan worked. In a game plan straight out of 1950, the Patriots ran the ball 45 times while only throwing three passes. The plan worked because the Patriots' run game was so effective. Damien Harris totaled 111 yards, including a 64-yard TD run in the first quarter that gave New England an early lead. Overall, the Patriots totaled 222 yards on the ground. The Patriots' defense also did its job, holding the high-powered Bills offense to just 230 total yards. Nick Folk also came up big, hitting two field goals (41, 34) on a night where every field goal attempt came with some risk. As for Mac Jones, he only threw three passes in the win, which is the second-fewest pass attempts a team has had in a win since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
|Considering this game was played in Buffalo, you'd think the Bills would have been prepared to play in ugly weather, but instead, they looked absolutely lost trying to run their offense on a night where the wind gusts reached up to 60 mph. Due to the high winds, most of Josh Allen's throws were off-target, which would have been fine if the Bills had any sort of run game to back him, but they didn't. Speaking of the run, the Bills' defense got absolutely steamrolled by a Patriots ground attack that totaled 222 yards. The Bills also had some serious troubles in the red zone. The Bills' offense drove inside of New England's 15-yard line twice in the fourth quarter, but came away with zero points due to a missed field goal (which was kicked into the wind) and a failed fourth down. The Patriots' decision to have Buffalo go against the wind in the fourth quarter ended up paying off.
Patriots-Bills grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tampa Bay 30-17 over Atlanta
|Going into Sunday, Tom Brady had never lost a game to the Falcons in his career so the Buccaneers apparently decided to just let him win the game for them. Brady got off to a hot start with 139 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter and then ended up finishing with 368 yards and four touchdowns on 51 throws. Chris Godwin ran circles around the Falcons secondary, catching a franchise-record 15 passes for 143 yards. Defensively, the Buccaneers' defensive front overwhelmed Atlanta's offensive line. Both Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh recorded two sacks in a game where the Buccaneers finished with five total.
|The Falcons kept this close through the game's first two quarters, but then they completely fell apart in the second half. After piling up 17 points in the first half, including a pick-six of Brady, the Falcons didn't score again for the rest of the game. The offensive line simply had no answers for a Buccaneers pass rush that sacked Matt Ryan five times. One of the few bright spots for the Falcons in this game was Russell Gage, who caught 11 passes for 130 yards.
Buccaneers-Falcons grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Miami 20-9 over N.Y. Giants
|If the Giants were hoping to get an offensive spark from the firing of Jason Garrett, that definitely didn't happen. With Daniel Jones out due to a neck injury, Mike Glennon led the hapless Giants offense to exactly zero touchdowns, meaning New York has scored just two TDs in their past three games. With the offense sputtering, the Giants' defense actually played pretty well, but struggled in the red zone as the Dolphins came away with a TD on both trips inside of New York's 20.
|A big reason the Dolphins have won five in a row is because no one can score on their defense and a big reason no one can score is because of Jaelan Phillips. The rookie linebacker is doing his best to enter the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation and he definitely feels like a candidate after a game where he recorded two of Miami's three sacks. The Dolphins actually got a huge game from rookies on both sides of the ball. Besides Phillips, Miami saw Jaylen Waddle have another huge day, catching nine passes for 90 yards. The return of DeVante Parker also gave a spark to the Dolphins' offense, as he caught five passes for 62 yards. At quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa wasn't flashy, but he did continue to play highly efficient football: The second-year QB completed 73.2% of his passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Tua iced the win with a huge scoring throw to Isaiah Ford on third down in the fourth quarter.
Giants-Dolphins grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Indianapolis 31-0 over Houston
|The Colts strategy for winning games this year has been pretty simple: Give the ball to Jonathan Taylor on offense and then let the defense do the rest. That recipe for success worked once again on Sunday as Taylor ran all over the overmatched Texans. Taylor rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and now has scored at least one TD in 10 straight games, which is the fifth longest streak in the NFL since 1950. Defensively, this was a masterpiece from the Colts. Not only did they pitch a shutout, but they limited the Texans to just 141 yards, which means Taylor had more rushing yards than Houston had in the entire game. This game marked just the fourth time since 2000 that Indy has pitched a shutout and the first time since 2014 the Colts have held a team under 150 yards of offense.
|The Texans' offense fell on its face to start the game and things only got uglier after that. On their first four possessions alone, the Texans threw an interception, lost a fumble and had two three-and-outs. Tyrod Taylor was so bad (5 of 13 for 45 yards and one interception) that he got benched in the second half. The Texans only had one possession the entire game that even made it into Colts territory.
Colts-Texans grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Arizona 33-22 over Chicago
|Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins didn't simply return this week, they had their way early against a Bears defense that simply had no answer for whatever the Cardinals' offense presented on any given play. The same can be said about the Bears' offense, led by Andy Dalton, which looked like a deer in headlights to start the game. Interceptions by safeties Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker turned into touchdowns for Hopkins and Murray, and all of that damage was done in the first quarter -- on the first four pass attempts by Dalton. The game appeared competitive as it went on, but it never truly was, as the Cardinals clamped down again on defense with two more interceptions and Murray added more touchdowns to his four-TD return.
|Another week without rookie first-round pick Justin Fields meant another start for Dalton, who threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the afternoon against the Cardinals and then followed it up with another INT on his very next drive. The two turnovers stole any hope whatsoever the Bears might've had for an upset, with their offense getting off to an abysmal start that was matched by their defensive counterparts delivering the exact same. Dalton was able to make one or two big plays to keep it from being a blowout (it was mostly one anyway), but there was never a point when you thought the Cardinals were in danger. They escape a failing grade only because they at least showed some grit after being continually punched in the face.
Cardinals-Bears grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
L.A. Chargers 41-22 over Cincinnati
|Justin Herbert and the Chargers looked unstoppable to begin this game as they opened up a 24-0 lead out of the gate. However, they allowed the Bengals to claw their way back within two points, which was largely thanks to two critical fumbles by Austin Ekeler. That's enough to firmly keep them out of the "A" range, but you do also need to give them credit for ultimately not surrendering the lead and coming up clutch on the defensive side of the ball. They were able to take advantage of a Joe Mixon fumble and return it to the house to break the game wide open and spark a 17-0 run to end the game. This helps the Chargers in their hopes to land a playoff spot, but it shouldn't have been as big of a sweat as it turned out to be.
|You're not going to win many games when you let your opponent score the first 24 points. The Bengals struggled to defend the deep ball early as Los Angeles was able to move down the field courtesy of a number of chunk plays. While they allowed the Chargers to build a sizable lead over the first quarter and a half, Cincinnati did show some resiliency by grinding its way back into the contest by going on a 22-0 run sandwiched between halftime. All this came as Joe Burrow played through a pinky injury to his throwing hand, so the Bengals do deserve some credit for making this a game. However, Mixon's fumble at the beginning of the fourth quarter eliminated any sort of chance the Bengals had of pulling off the comeback. That turnover was picked up and returned 61 yards for a score to push the L.A. lead back up to two possessions. Just too many mistakes to expect any other result than a loss.
Chargers-Bengals grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 33-18 over N.Y. Jets
|There isn't much else you can say about Gardner Minshew's performance. Minshew was near perfect in his first start with the Eagles, having a perfect passer rating in the first half and leading Philadelphia to three touchdown drives on three possessions. His lone incompletion was a throw away under pressure, which showcased how good Minshew was and how efficiently he ran the offense. Minshew may have sparked a quarterback "controversy" in Philadelphia, even though the Eagles said Jalen Hurts is the quarterback. Minshew's performance sparked the Eagles' running game, which ran for 175-plus yards again and the defense shut out the Jets in the second half. Whether it's Hurts or Minshew, the Eagles are in the playoff race.
|Great start for the Jets, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions -- only to have their efforts thwarted by two missed extra points by Alex Kessman and a failed two-point conversion attempt. Zach Wilson had two touchdown passes in the first half, but the defense couldn't get off the field -- allowing the Eagles to score on seven consecutive possessions to start the game. Linebacker C.J. Mosley even indicated the Jets weren't prepared for Minshew to start, as he completed 14 of his first 15 passes against them. The Jets have a foundation on offense with Wilson and Elijah Moore, but that defense needs a lot of work if they want to compete in the AFC East in 2022 and beyond.
Eagles-Jets grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Washington 17-15 over Las Vegas
|The Washington Football Team has now won four straight games with Taylor Heinicke, who continues to play pretty good ball. He overcame a fourth-quarter interception, which ultimately helped the Raiders grab the lead, to guide his team on a game-winning drive of his own. He marched Washington 44 yards down the field on eight plays and Brian Johnson -- who was playing his first game for Washington -- converted on a 48-yard game-winning field goal. This was a low-scoring affair that caused many to doze off in the first half, but Washington yet again found a way to win without Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Landon Collins or J.D. McKissic.
|Remember when Derek Carr lit up the Cowboys' defense on Thanksgiving even without star tight end Darren Waller? We thought this passing attack may have turned over a new leaf with DeSean Jackson and Zay Jones now stepping up in the offense, but we didn't get much action in Week 13. Carr led one touchdown drive and then helped put the offense in field goal position after a Heinicke interception, but that was all we really got on offense. The defense played solid for the majority of the matchup, but allowed Heinicke to engineer a game-winning drive without breaking much of a sweat.
Washington-Raiders grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Pittsburgh 20-19 over Baltimore
|The Ravens squandered a golden opportunity to take a commanding lead in the AFC North division race. Instead of a two-game lead over the rest of the field, Baltimore is just a game ahead of Cincinnati in and 1.5 games ahead of the Steelers. Baltimore lost despite controlling the ball for nearly 37 minutes. The offense largely went away from Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman after the duo gained most of the team's 75 yards on the game's opening drive, a drive that ended with a Lamar Jackson interception. Baltimore's defense, after dominating Pittsburgh's offense for three quarters, was unable to come up with a big stop during the fourth quarter. They provided little pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, who completed nearly 68% of his passes with two touchdowns and no picks.
|Given what transpired in Cincinnati last week (the Bengals won by 31), the Steelers edging the Ravens by a point deserves a high grade. Ben Roethlisberger engineered three fourth quarter scoring drives that included two touchdown passes to Diontae Johnson. Former Raven Chris Wormley tallied 2.5 of Pittsburgh's seven sacks of Lamar Jackson, who also got picked off by Minkah Fitzpatrick on Baltimore's opening drive. This was a win the Steelers desperately needed and they got it in a thrilling fashion, stopping the Ravens' two-point conversion attempt at the end that decided the game.
Ravens-Steelers grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
L.A Rams 37-7 over Jacksonville
|The Jaguars' offense has been a total disaster for over a month now and it might have finally hit rock bottom in this game. Not only did the Jags have their second-lowest offensive output of the year with just 197 yards, but they also lost two fumbles, which especially hurt, because the Rams ended up scoring touchdowns after both turnovers. The only thing worse than the Jags' offense might have been their defense, which gave up more than 400 yards and had no answers for Cooper Kupp or Sony Michel.
|After a winless November, the Rams looked determined to start off December by destroying their opponent and that's exactly what they did. This game was never close and that's mainly because the Rams' defense dominated the Jaguars, holding them to under 200 yards and forcing two turnovers. The defense was so good that the Rams could have won this game if they had scored just 10 points, but the offense decided to put on a show and a lot of that came from Kupp, who continued his wildly successful season with eight catches for 129 yards and a TD. Michel also had a huge day in relief of the injured Darrell Henderson, rushing for 121 yards and a TD on 24 carries.
Jaguars-Rams grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 30-23 over San Francisco
|With the 49ers running the ball so well over the past few weeks, there hasn't really been a lot of pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo, but that pressure was finally there on Sunday and he wilted. Garoppolo had two ugly interceptions, including one that came in the third quarter, which led to the game-winning TD by Seattle. The 49ers lost this game because they made too many huge mistakes. Besides Garoppolo's interceptions, Travis Benjamin also lost a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half. The 49ers also handed the Seahawks two points in the third quarter when Garoppolo got sacked for a safety. George Kittle came up big for the 49ers (nine catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns) but he was about the only player powering the 49ers' offense in this game. The loss on Sunday marks San Francisco's fourth straight loss to Seattle. The Seahawks just seem to be the one team the 49ers can't beat.
|With their season on the line, the Seahawks came through with arguably their most well-rounded performance of the season. The offense, defense and special teams all came up with huge plays in the upset win. The big plays started early when Travis Homer ran 73 yards for a TD on a fake punt that capped the Seahawks' opening possession. Defensively, not only did the Seahawks force three turnovers -- with two interceptions and a fumble recovery -- but they also recorded a safety in the third quarter that tied the game up at 23. As for Seattle's offense, it wasn't perfect, but it came up with big plays when it had to and none was bigger than Russell Wilson's 12-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett on a third-down play in the third quarter. That TD ended up being the game-winning score. The Seahawks might not be back in the playoff race, but with teams like the Bears, Texans and Lions still on their schedule, they have an outside chance to get there.
49ers-Seahawks grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 22-9 over Denver
|The defense played pretty well! The offense … was ugly. It was a chore matriculating the ball downfield all game, and they could not get any explosive plays at all. If it weren't for Javonte Williams breaking (approximately) 1,542 tackles, this game might have been uglier. Williams finished with 178 total yards while also scoring Denver's only touchdown.
|They got a win, which they needed to pull even with three other teams for the top record in the AFC. The defense continued to look much improved, and had Teddy Bridgewater off balance all night. But that offensive explosion against the Raiders a few weeks back is looking more like an aberration. Good performance, but they need to be better going forward.
Broncos-Chiefs grades by Jared Dubin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
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