Sometimes revenge is a dish best served cold and sometimes, it's a dish best served with a side of Cincinnati chili. In his first game back to Cincinnati since being let go by the Bengals, Andy Dalton helped propel the Cowboys to a 30-7 win against the overmatched Bengals.
Although this was billed as Dalton' revenge game, Dalton didn't actually have to do any of the dirty work and that's because the Cowboys defense got revenge on the Bengals for him.
The Cowboys forced a turnover on each of Cincinnati's first three possessions and that was a big reason Dallas was able to roll to the win. The biggest play of the game came on Cincinnati's second possession when Bengals running back Trayveon Williams lost the football on a butt-fumble! Not only was there a butt-fumble, but Aldon Smith ended up picking up the ball and running 78 yards for a touchdown to give Dallas an early 10-0 lead.
The fact that the Cowboys recovered a three fumbles in this game was a minor miracle when you consider that they had only recovered a total of six fumbles in their first 12 games of the year. Going into Week 14, the Cowboys were on pace to have one of the worst defenses in NFL history, but apparently all they needed to do to fix things was play the Bengals.
It was a wild Week 14 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.
With the Cowboys playing so well, they didn't need much help from Dalton, but he decided to provide some anyway. The former Bengals quarterback got the last laugh on his old team when he hit Amari Cooper with a perfect strike for an 11-yard score in the second quarter.
Overall, Dalton threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cowboys still aren't a good team, but the good news for them is that you don't have to be good to win the NFC East. Although they're two games behind Washington in the NFC East, the Cowboys do have one small advantage on their side over the final three weeks of the season: They have the easiest remaining schedule of any team in the division. A lot of crazy things have happened in 2020 and although it feels like the Cowboys are out of the race, let's not completely close the door on them just yet.
Alright, let's get to the grades for every game from Week 14. If you're looking for a deeper dive on the Patriots-Rams game that was played Thursday, be sure to click here.
Dallas 30-7 over Cincinnati
|When you're playing a team like the Bengals, sometimes you just have to let them beat themselves and that's exactly what the Cowboys did. The Bengals lost three fumbles before the first quarter ended, which allowed the Cowboys to jump out to a quick lead. Andy Dalton may not be a a top-tier QB, but he definitely knows how to nurse a lead and that's what he did in this revenge game. Dalton threw two touchdowns and more importantly got to walk off the field a winner against his old team. |
|This game couldn't have gotten off to a more disastrous start for the Bengals. Not only did they fumble on each of their first three possessions, but one of those fumbles was returned for a touchdown as Cincinnati fell in a 10-0 hole before nine minutes had even gone off the game clock. It was an ugly performance all around for a team that will be lucky to win any more games this season.|
Chicago 36-7 over Houston
|With Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills and David Johnson all out, the Texans were missing nearly every one of their offensive weapons and it definitely showed as they couldn't move the ball at all. Their first half was so ugly that the only two possessions that didn't end in a punt ended with a lost fumble and a safety. Of course, even every offensive weapon would have played, it might not have mattered, because Deshaun Watson rarely had time to throw as he got sacked six times. The only thing worse than the Texans' offense was Houston's defense, a unit that gave up more than 400 yards. Defensively, the Texans offensive line was no match for Chicago as the Bears racked up six sacks, including a safety in the second quarter.|
|Matt Nagy's decision to stick with Mitchell Trubisky definitely paid off this week as the Bears quarterback had arguably his best game of the season. Trubisky completed his first nine passes for 75 yards as the Bears offense rolled. The early showing was just a taste of things to come as Trusbisky ended up throwing for 267 yards and three touchdowns. Trubisky wasn't the only one with a big day as Allen Robinson (123 yards receiving, one TD) and David Montgomery (111 yards rushing, one TD) both went over 100 yards of offense. Montgomery set the tone for the day offensively by scoring an 80-yard TD on Chicago's first offensive play from scrimmage.|
Denver 32-27 over Carolina
| Diontae Spencer got the Broncos' scoring party started with an 83-yard punt return TD in the first quarter and then Drew Lock took over from there. Lock, who is hoping to show Denver's front office that he can be the team's QB of the future, looked impressive in Carolina, throwing a career-high four TD passes against the Panthers. Lock's final TD came on a 49 yarder to K.J. Hamler with just 3:54 left that iced the game. Hamler only had two catches on the day, but they were both big as they both went for touchdowns. As for Denver's defense, the unit played shutdown football for the better part of three quarters before surrendering two fourth quarter touchdowns, but those scores didn't matter because the defense came up with a pivotal stop as Carolina was driving for the win in the final two minutes. |
|If you can't stop big plays, you're not going to win, and the Panthers couldn't stop big plays on Sunday. Overall, the Panthers surrendered a total of seven plays that went for 20 yards or more, including two receiving touchdowns that went for 37 and 49 yards along with a punt return TD that went for 83. Offensively, the Panthers did next to nothing in the first half and that slow start is what eventually doomed them.|
Tennessee 31-10 over Jacksonville
|The Titans broke out their bag of tricks for this game, but it turns out they didn't actually need them and that's because Derrick Henry ran wild. The Titans running back feasted on the Jaguars defense, rushing for 215 yards, which was the second-highest of Henry's career and second-highest of any NFL player this season. As for those tricks, the Titans A.J. Brown caught a 37-yard TD off a flea flicker for Tennessee's first score of the game. The Titans also converted on a fake punt and blocked a field goal while dominating the Jaguars in all three phases of the game.|
|If you want to know how this game went for the Jaguars: They benched their starting quarterback (Mike Glennon) to go back to the guy who they benched earlier this season (Gardner Minshew). The only thing uglier than the Jaguars' QB situation was their watching Jacksonville's defense try to tackle Derrick Henry. The Jaguars surrendered 249 rushing yards, which is the most they've given up all season on the ground.|
Arizona 26-7 over N.Y. Giants
|Credit the Cardinals offense for not giving up after being bullied for much of the first half. It took a fumble recovery from Arizona's special teams to help them get their first touchdown late in the second quarter, but they never looked back from there. The defense, led by a career-best five sacks on the day by linebacker Haason Reddick, beat Daniel Jones into submission -- so much so he nearly got pulled far before he eventually did. The Cardinals defense was lights out and gave up only one big play, but little else. They were rewarded with long drives by Murray in the second half, en route to snapping a four-game slide and staying in the mix for an NFC wild card berth.|
|This would've easily been a failing grade, and with flying colors, if not for the efforts of the New York defense. It was the only unit that came to play football on Sunday against the Cardinals, holding Arizona to just 13 points in the first half. That included standing firm multiple times in the red zone, routinely forcing Kyler Murray and Co. to accept field goals instead of touchdowns, but when the inept offense led by a returned Daniel Jones couldn't stay on the field, things changed in the second half. The defense was gassed and could no longer stop Murray from extending drives, and Jones was ultimately pummeled time and again, and so was Colt McCoy -- who came in to finish up the contest with the outcome already determined. This was a winnable game for Big Blue, if only the offense and special teams could've matched serve with their defense.|
Cardinals-Giants grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tampa Bay 26-14 over Minnesota
|If you just watched the first quarter, you'd give the Vikings an 'A' and come away with the belief that they were going to win. That wasn't the case, however. Even with a largely dominant start to this game, the Vikings failed to produce more than six points in the opening quarter, which kept Tampa Bay hanging around. Part of the problem for Minnesota offensively was in the kicking department, as veteran Dan Bailey missed all three of his field-goal attempts and botched an extra point try. In all, the Vikings missed out on 10 points due to Bailey's miscues and essentially took the wind out of their sails for the bulk of the contest. Mike Zimmer's club also had a couple of untimely penalties, including a DPI in the end zone on a Hail Mary pass by Tom Brady that gave the Bucs the ability to kick a field goal they otherwise wouldn't have had.|
|Despite coming away with the win, the Buccaneers still look like a team that is trying to figure itself out, especially on the offensive side of the ball. While you may be able to chalk it up to bye week rust, Tom Brady continued to show signs that he's out of sync in Bruce Arians' offense early in this contest with missed throws to Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans, and others. Thanks to the struggles with Minnesota's kicking game, they were able to overcome a lackluster start to walk away with the win and put up 23 unanswered points, but it was hard to come away super impressed with this unit. Defensively, they did a solid job slowing down Adam Thielen and even Dalvin Cook following a hot first quarter by the Vikings offense.|
Vikings-Buccaneers grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 33-27 over Miami
|While it wasn't his best game, Patrick Mahomes still made several incredible plays that involved getting the ball to his playmakers. The Chiefs again received big contributions from Tyreek Hill (who had a 32-yard touchdown run and a 44-yard touchdown catch) and Travis Kelce, who caught eight passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs received scores from their offense, defense (on Chris Jones' third quarter safety) and special teams on Mecole Hardman's 67-yard punt return and Harrison Butker's 44-yard field goal with 20 seconds left. Kansas City's defense received another stellar performance from safety Tyrann Mathieu, whose second quarter interception of Tua Tagovailoa (the QB's first career interception) set up the Chiefs go-ahead score. Mathieu, after recording two interceptions during the season's first 10 games, now has four interceptions over the past three games.|
|Miami failed to take full advantage of its two early interceptions of Patrick Mahomes, as the Dolphins scored just three points off of those turnovers. Jason Sanders missed a 45-yard kick shortly after Byron Jones recorded the Chiefs' first interception of Mahomes. And without running backs Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida and with three rookies on their offensive line, the Dolphins struggled to run the ball (80 yards and 33 carries) while relying too much on Tagovailoa, who fell to 4-2 as Miami's starting quarterback. The Dolphins' defense, which had little issue applying pressure on Mahomes early, was not able to provide that pressure on a consistent basis during the second half. The Dolphins' defense did receive solid efforts from cornerback Xavien Howard and Jerome Baker. Howard's fourth quarter interception of Mahomes jump-started the Dolphins' late comeback bid, while Baker's sack of Mahomes in the first half set up the game's first score: Tagovailoa's seven-yard touchdown pass to Mike Gesicki. Gesicki, whose 29-yard touchdown pulled the Dolphins to within 13 points at the start of the fourth quarter, left the game with an apparent shoulder injury during the fourth quarter.|
Chiefs-Dolphins grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 40-3 over N.Y. Jets
|If for some reason you needed more proof that the Jets are the worst team in football, this game was more proof. They could't run the ball, they couldn't throw the ball and their kicker even missed three field goals. The highlight of this game for the Jets came in the first quarter when Marcus Maye picked off Russell Wilson, but other than that, it was four quarters of sloppy football for the Jets.|
|This game got so out of hand that the Russell Wilson didn't even have to play the fourth quarter. The Seahawks were able to move the ball at will in a game where Wilson threw for 206 yards and four touchdowns before being benched near the near of the third quarter. Of course, the biggest surprise in this game might have been the fact that the Seahawks held the Jets under 200 yards (185), marking the first time since 2018 that Seattle has held an opponent under 200.|
Green Bay 31-24 over Detroit
|When Aaron Rodgers is on fire the Packers are nearly impossible to beat,, and Aaron Rodgers was on fire. Not only did the Packers QB throw three TD passes, but he also rushed for one. The Packers also got a big game from kicker Mason Crosby, who's one of two kickers this year who still hasn't missed a field goal. Crosby iced the game late in the fourth quarter when he drilled a 58-yarder, which tied his career long. Defensively, the Packers did a good job of putting pressure on Matthew Stafford, who got sacked four times.|
|The Lions' ground game got absolutely shut down (51 yards), which means if Detroit was going to win, it was going to have to come on the shoulders of Matthew Stafford, and he almost did enough to pull off the upset. Stafford completed passes to nine difference receivers in a game where he threw for 244 yards and a touchdown. From a defensive standpoint, the Lions just couldn't do anything to get the Packers off the field. Not only did the Packers convert eight of 11 third-down opportunities, but they also had the ball for more than 35 minutes.|
L.A. Chargers 20-17 over Atlanta
|The Falcons might have won this game if not for a second half meltdown by Matt Ryan, who threw three interceptions in the half, including two over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. The three interceptions from Ryan led to 10 points from the Chargers and proved to be the difference in the game. Ryan's meltdown overshadowed impressive offensive performances from both Calvin Ridley (124 receiving yards, one TD) and Russell Gage, who not only finished with 85 receiving yards but also threw a gorgeous 39-yard TD pass.|
|In a season where the Chargers perfected the art of blowing a second-half lead, they did something smart in this game: They never actually held a second-half lead until the final play. The Chargers picked off three passes in this game and none of them were bigger than the one by Michael Davis, who set up Michael Badgley's game-winning field goal when he intercepted Matt Ryan with under 40 seconds left to play. Offensively, Austin Ekeler was a spark for the Chargers offense in just his second game back from injury as he totaled 146 yards (79 rushing, 67 receiving).|
Washington 23-15 over San Francisco
|Washington is now on a four-game win streak and has its defense to thank for that. The talent this defensive line possesses was on full display again this Sunday, especially when it comes to rookie pass-rusher Chase Young. The No. 2 overall pick recorded six total tackles, one sack, two passes defensed, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a touchdown. We didn't see much from the offense, as both Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins struggled with accuracy, but they did enough to secure the win. Don't look now, but Washington is in control of its own destiny in the NFC East.|
|The 49ers did mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, and that's the only reason they did not receive a failing grade this week. The offense recorded just one good drive in the first three quarters of action. I understand that sounds like a joke or a mistake, but it's not. The 49ers' seven-play, 57-yard drive that resulted in a Jeff Wilson touchdown at the end of the first quarter was the only drive in the first half that went over seven plays. At the end of the third quarter, Nick Mullens and Co. were putting their longest drive of the game together with an 11-play, 68-yard possession. Unfortunately, it was ended by a pick-six. This loss is virtually the death knell for San Francisco's playoff chances.|
Washington-49ers grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 24-21 over New Orleans
|The Saints have been playing too well to lose to a dumpster fire like the Eagles, but they were outplayed on offense, defense, and special teams by Philadelphia. They had little answer for Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' run offense, allowing Philly to rush for over 240 yards. The Saints, who hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 56 games, surrendered two 100-yard performances to Miles Sanders and Jalen Hurts. Taysom Hill fumbled once and threw an interception, which led to 10 points by the Eagles. Wil Lutz also missed two field goals. This team needs Drew Brees back if they want to win the NFC. Period. |
|When you beat the No. 1 seed in the NFC, that's nothing short of an "A" grade. Jalen Hurts was the first Eagles quarterback to run for 100 yards in a game since Michael Vick in December 2010 while also only turning the ball over once, a fumble while trying to run out the clock late. The Eagles offensive line did not give up a single sack as the offense rushed for over 240 yards and put up 413 yards against the No. 1 defense in yards allowed. The defense forced two turnovers and sacked Taysom Hill five times. Miles Sanders and Jalen Reagor were brilliant and Alshon Jeffery had a touchdown catch. What an upset win for the Eagles. |
Saints-Eagles grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Indianapolis 44-27 over Las Vegas
|Considering Indianapolis lost Anthony Castonzo and Darius Leonard to injuries, it was impressive to see the Colts win and win convincingly. Philip Rivers and the Colts offense were aggressive and productive through the air in the first half, but they leaned on the running game in the second half as they methodically pulled away from the Raiders in this game and in the AFC playoff race. Jonathan Taylor had a big night as Frank Reich's offense topped 200 rushing yards in a victory.|
|An absurd play in the end zone by Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II not only prevented the Raiders from scoring before halftime but it enabled Indianapolis to get points of its own. The series of events before halftime and the pick-six at the end of the game are a big reason why the score looked so lopsided. Jon Gruden unleashed some creative plays and Derek Carr found the Island of Misfit wide receivers for big gains down the field, but it was not enough to achieve victory. The Raiders' postseason odds are on the ropes and can ill afford to feel sorry for themselves. They must win the final three games to keep their playoff hopes alive. |
Colts-Raiders grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Buffalo 26-15 over Pittsburgh
|They were in it until the end, but honestly, this never felt that close once the Bills went up two scores midway through the third quarter. Big Ben hung in there but wasn't great. The system and supporting cast around him tried to play dink-and-dunk again, sometimes with success, but neither are ideal when you're down 23-7 against a contender. Defensively, meanwhile, they sorely missed Joe Haden, as that secondary had no answer for Stefon Diggs -- or, heck, even Dawson Knox at key points. It wasn't a totally deflating loss against a tough AFC foe, but it does spell some legitimate concerns for their hopes of going deep in the playoffs.|
|Yes. Oh yes. If this team, in your mind, isn't creeping at least a little closer to the Chiefs in terms of both entertainment and on-field value, you must not be watching. Josh Allen is giving us so much more good than bad with his never-say-die play, and Stefon Diggs somehow looks better by the week as his No. 1 target. The ground game wasn't spectacular, and the O-line allowed a few of Allen's passes to be delivered haphazardly, but those are nitpicky issues. The "D" absolutely eliminated Pittsburgh's run game, got in Big Ben's face and played strong around the ball. This looked like a team that could find themselves in a rematch with the Steelers in the playoffs and win tough a second time. They're fun. They're dangerous. They deserve props.|
Steelers-Bills grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Baltimore 47-42 over Cleveland
|The Ravens were able to pull of one of the wildest wins of the NFL season thanks to Lamar Jackson, who actually had to leave the game in the fourth quarter due to cramps only to return to lead an improbable comeback. After missing the entire quarter, Jackson returned at the two-minute warning and promptly threw for 82 yards on two possessions that both ended with Baltimore scores, including Justin Tucker's game-winning 55-yard field goal. On the possession before the kick, in his first play back from the locker room, Jackson threw a 44-yard TD to Marquise Brown on fourth-and-5 that saved the game for Baltimore. It was a remarkable game for Jackson, who also rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns. It was also a remarkable win for the Ravens, who kept their playoff hopes alive with the victory.|
|The Browns did almost everything right in this game, they just couldn't stop Lamar Jackson when it counted most. The Browns actually looked to be left for dead early in the fourth quarter with the Ravens leading 34-20, but then Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and rushed for another as Cleveland stormed back. It was one of Mayfield's most impressive performances of the season although he did make one mistake in the form of an interception that led to a Ravens TD in the third quarter. The Browns didn't win this game because they simply couldn't stop the run and they couldn't slow Baltimore down in the red zone. Not only did the Browns give up 231yards on the ground, but they also allowed the Ravens to score a touchdown on all five of their trips to the red zone.|