Sunday’s Top Performers
Top Passer: Baker Mayfield
The only quarterback to have four touchdown passes in a second half this season? Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield against Cincinnati in Week 7. The only quarterback to have four touchdown passes in a first half this season? Baker Mayfield against Tennessee on Sunday. There are plenty of nits to pick in a performance that produced just 3 points in the second half, but the truth is that Mayfield did so much in the first half of the Browns’ win that nothing in the second half ultimately mattered.
Top Runner: Aaron Jones
Wayne Gallman of the Giants led the N.F.L. in rushing on Sunday, but Green Bay’s Aaron Jones edged him narrowly for the best performance of the day by running for 130 yards, 77 of which came on a touchdown run in the game’s final minutes that sealed a victory over Philadelphia. Jones was nearly brought down 7 yards into the carry, shed another would-be tackler 10 yards later, hit the brakes and let a defender fly right past him with 25 yards left to go, and then cut toward the middle of the field at the last second, leaving cornerback Avonte Maddox no chance of bringing him down on his way into the end zone.
Top Receiver: Darren Waller
The list of tight ends to have a game with 200 or more receiving yards since 1950: Jackie Smith (1963), Pete Retzlaff (1965), Rich Caster (1972), Shannon Sharpe (2002), George Kittle (2018) and Darren Waller (Sunday). Two of those players (Smith and Sharpe) are Hall of Famers and a third (Kittle) is arguably the most complete tight end currently in the league. Not bad company for Waller, who is up to 742 yards receiving for the year and has a chance at topping 1,000 yards for a second consecutive season.
One* Sentence About Sunday’s Games
*Except when it takes more.
Chiefs 22, Broncos 16 Denver gave Kansas City more of a scare than most people predicted, but when the Chiefs needed to wrap up their 11th win of the season, they got a 20-yard go-ahead touchdown from Patrick Mahomes to Travis Kelce, a 48-yard insurance field goal from Harrison Butker and a game-sealing interception from Tyrann Mathieu. So, it was a Chiefs game.
Browns 41, Titans 35 A marquee matchup of two of the N.F.L.’s best running backs largely fizzled, with Nick Chubb outgaining Derrick Henry 80 to 60 in rushing yards. But this game was hardly lacking excitement thanks to Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield and Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill combining for 723 yards passing and seven touchdowns. No matter what happens over the final four games of the regular season, the Browns will finish with a winning record for the first time since 2007.
Colts 26, Texans 20 Houston trailed by just 6 points with less than two minutes left to play, and had driven the ball to the Colts’ 2-yard line. But Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who had been under fairly intense pressure for much of the game, fumbled a snap only to have Anthony Walker of the Colts recover it to preserve a win for Indianapolis.
Giants 17, Seahawks 12 Colt McCoy got his first win as a starting quarterback since Week 8 of the 2014 season. Since McCoy’s last victory, Seattle’s Russell Wilson has won 66 games.
Raiders 31, Jets 28 The Raiders and Jets certainly have their fair share of memorable finishes. There was the infamous “Heidi” game in 1968, in which NBC cut away from the game to show a movie, missing two late touchdowns and a surprising victory by the Oakland Raiders. And 50 years to the day before Sunday’s shocking ending, the Raiders beat the Jets, 14-13, thanks to Daryle Lamonica’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Warren Wells in the game’s final second.
Saints 21, Falcons 16 In the fourth quarter of a fairly close game, the New Orleans defense saw its streak of holding opponents without a touchdown end at 14 quarters. But on Atlanta’s next drive, the Saints forced a turnover on downs to hang on for the win.
Patriots 45, Chargers 0 Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has had a solid rookie season, but there was no doubt that he was part of the problem for Los Angeles in the worst shutout in franchise history. He completed just 26 of 53 passes for 209 yards, and he was intercepted twice.
Packers 30, Eagles 16 Philadelphia kept the game surprisingly close thanks to a solid second half, but Green Bay slammed the door shut — emphatically — with Aaron Jones’s 77-yard touchdown run in the final three minutes.
Rams 38, Cardinals 28 Kyler Murray threw three touchdown passes, but he also lost a fumble and threw a pick-6. The loss dropped Arizona to 6-6, which is two full games behind Seattle and the Los Angeles Rams for the lead in the N.F.C. West.
Vikings 27, Jaguars 24 (overtime) Minnesota’s Dan Bailey missed a 51-yard field goal attempt with 13 seconds remaining in regulation, but when he got another shot in overtime — this time from just 23 yards — he came through with a game-winning kick.
Lions 34, Bears 30 After a 5-1 start, Chicago has lost six consecutive games and this one stung more than most as Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears were leading Detroit by 10 early in the fourth quarter before collapsing against a division rival.
Dolphins 19, Bengals 7 Tua Tagovailoa returned from a thumb injury and threw for a career-high 296 yards, but the most exciting part of this underwhelming game was the tension between the teams that resulted in five ejections and a benches-clearing argument.