What we learned in Week 16 in the NFL

What we learned in Week 16 in the NFL

Steelers 13, Raiders 10: The Raiders burned all of their offense on their opening possession. They put together a 14-play touchdown drive to start things off, but then running back Josh Jacobs was stopped, leaving the Raiders’ passing game with plenty of third-and-longs in the snowy, 13-degree weather. The Steelers’ offense didn’t score many points in response for most of the game, but quarterback Kenny Pickett rose to the challenge and scored on a two-minute drive, hitting George Pickens over the middle for the lead. Derek Carr, with three timeouts and 43 seconds to play, threw an interception to Cam Sutton, almost certainly ending the Raiders’ playoff hopes for the year.

Cowboys 40, Eagles 34: If Jalen Hurts had been able to play to win this game, it’s not as if the Eagles would have fallen with Gardner Minshew as their backup quarterback. The Eagles’ offense scored 27 points, thanks in part to Minshew’s willingness to feed his skill players, and their defense had a pick-6 on the Cowboys’ first drive. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys went nuclear after that initial drive mistake, however, and he was too explosive for the Eagles’ defense.

49ers 37, Commanders 20: Brock Purdy isn’t perfect, but he’ll take the ball away from a bunch of the 49ers’ elite skill players. Kyle Shanahan usually makes that look pretty easy too, as he did in this one. Tight end George Kittle had a day himself, scoring a touchdown on a deep post and another on a 33-yard catch and run. The 49ers’ pass rush came behind Taylor Heinicke, where he pressured Carson Wentz on an empty fourth down for an interception that benched him.

Bengals 22, Patriots 18: Each team scored in just one half, with the Bengals leading the way in the first and the Patriots in the second. Joe Burrow dissected the Patriots for the first two quarters, leaning heavily on wide receiver Tee Higgins over the Patriots’ small cornerback group. But a couple of key mistakes – two interceptions by Burrow and a fumble by Ja’Marr Chase – made it difficult for the Bengals to pull away, and the Patriots clawed back, cutting the lead before getting within 10 yards of the Bengals. It could have been a game-winning drive down the line.

Kansas City 24, Seahawks 10: Geno Smith was in hell all day. Kansas City’s pass rush was effective throughout all four quarters, generating plenty of interior pressure led by Chris Jones. Combined with the physical, tight coverage played by Kansas City, it was a tough sled for a Seahawks passing offense that has otherwise carried the team. For Kansas City, the reliable Patrick Mahomes-Travis Kelce connection worked its magic. Kelce had six catches for 113 yards, accounting for just over half of the team’s total yards on the day.

Bills 35, Bears 13: Not many teams throw two interceptions and still come away with a 22-point victory. The Bills aren’t most teams. Josh Allen was mostly good outside of some numbskull plays, the kind of performance that can happen when anything is ready. The Bills’ defense was the real reason for the team’s success, though. Bears quarterback Justin Fields had just seven carries for 11 yards, the first time he’s been held to less than 50 yards since early October.

Ravens 17, Falcons 9: A surging Ravens defense held off the Falcons’ tough running game. The Falcons rushed quarterbacks 33 times, but gained just 115 yards, roughly 3.5 yards per carry. The Ravens ran the ball much better, gaining 5.4 yards per carry, and were able to control the tempo of the game. Atlanta rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder drove the offense into the red zone twice in the fourth quarter, but the first drive ended on downs and the second on a pitch that was too little, too late.

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