NFL Week 13 Report Cards: Grades for Every Team
NFL Week 13 had a bunch of surprises, but none bigger than Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer running the clock out on his own team.
The Cleveland Browns beat the Miami Dolphins, but they once again did their best to lose. This isn't to say the Dolphins were playing much better, but these teams aren't leading their respective divisions right now because of bad luck.
The Chiefs beat the Broncos, but it wasn't a "return the favor" blowout many Chiefs fans were hoping for.
Peyton Manning opened his game with a pick, and that's something he needs to work on.
But enough babbling, let's get to the grades.
What do you say about a team that jumps offsides on fourth down? What do you say about a team that jumps offsides on fourth down when the quarterback is begging them to jump offsides?
What do you say about a quarterback who runs down the clock on his own team when there still is a timeout, and a field goal won't win you the game anyway?
I wish there was a lower grade I could give for the Bengals, a team that had the game won and then decided it wanted the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft more.
The Bengals probably want a quarterback.
Didn't the Broncos just completely blow out the Chiefs a few weeks ago?
Seriously. It's not like this team got decimated with injuries in the last three weeks. In fact, the team actually has gotten a little healthier.
No excuse for not being able to adjust like that.
San Diego Chargers
Forget any stats you read for this team for this game. The Chargers have one of the best offenses in the league and finally have been playing up to their potential.
The Raiders were playing poorly the last few weeks, and the Chargers had a real opportunity to gain at least a share of the division lead.
They blew it. You don't blow a game like this and expect anything less than an F.
Can we just have the NFC West officially forfeit the rest of their games this season and be done with it?
The Cardinals now are down to starting their third quarterback, another rookie, and with Max Hall injured, they may start scouting local high scools for quarterbacks who can manage the game better than Derek Anderson.
We'd talk about the Cardinals defense, but I just ate.
Kerry Collins started at quarterback for the Titans, and the Titans have done quite well with Collins behind center, so there's no excuse for the performance against the Jaguars.
Yes, the Jaguars qualify as one of the biggest surprises in the NFL this year, but the Titans were supposed to be a playoff team.
The question now is, where do you start fixing the mess the Titans have become?
OK, so you're the Buffalo Bills. Nobody believes in you, your record is lousy, but you have the "Nobody Believes In Us" chip on your shoulder.
You open the game by knocking out the starting quarterback, and not just any quarterback, and the Vikings' main running threat, Adrian Peterson, is supposed to be nursing an ankle injury.
Final score 38-14, and it wasn't that close. That was even with Tarvaris Jackson throwing three picks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick picked a bad week to have a bad week.
Donovan McNabb threw another two interceptions in another day full of unfulfilled expectations.
When you look back at the beginning of the year, everyone pretty much expected the Panthers and Bills to be awful. I knew the Bengals and the Cowboys were smoke and mirrors at the beginning of the year, but I thought the Redskins were legitimate playoff threats.
This was a division game, and the Redskins just didn't bring their best. The real question here is how much of this is a surprise to Mike Shanahan.
The Panthers held a lead, which qualifies them for a less-than-failing grade. However, Jimmy Clausen continued to show why 31 other teams passed on him in the draft by throwing for zero touchdowns and one pick with only 169 yards passing.
Good luck with that.
The Dolphins contained Peyton Hillis, and the Browns showed them no other offensive threat other than a few passes to Ben Watson.
Dan Carpenter kicked a 60-yard field goal, but the Dolphins didn't take advantage of any of the opportunities their defense gave them, and the Chad Henne of last week was nowhere to be seen.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have so much potential, it's silly. Troy Smith is a mobile quarterback with a lot of upside, while the defense isn't as bad as a lot of people might think, despite the record.
The Niners even kept the game competitive for a little bit before Aaron Rodgers just took over. With Frank Gore out for the year, the Niners just have too many strikes against them.
Bottom line is the Niners could do better, but there's a lot of talent being wasted on that field.
To blame Ed Hochuli for the loss would be oversimplifying the situation. The Lions played the Bears really well, and a game never should come down to one bad call by the refs, no matter how much that call might affect things.
No team should put themselves in a situation where one bad call could ruin the outcome of a game, but Hochuli's roughing-the-passer penalty on Ndamukong Suh was pretty bad. With how many questionable calls Hochuli has been a part of the last few years, it's not unfair to question why he's still a head referee.
The Lions put up a good fight, but it just wasn't good enough.
Poor Peyton Manning.
The question isn't why Manning is throwing more interceptions, but whether or not the coaching staff can do anything to stop them. Manning is working with receivers who shouldn't be starting in the NFL, but injuries have given them an opportunity.
They're not doing much with it, running poor routes and not fighting for the ball. It doesn't help the Colts have no running game at the moment, and this is why they lost in overtime.
Considering how poorly the Houston Texans defense has played this year, it's actually a miracle this score wasn't 75-24.
The Texans are a great offense that has been sabotaged by other factors, and this year Michael Vick is almost unstoppable.
It was a good effort, but not good enough.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs may have won, but it took pretty much the whole game to get it done, and the score was 10-6.
Matt Cassel wasn't bad, but 196 yards and one touchdown after the beatdown a few weeks ago doesn't set hearts aflutter. Cassel did play well; he just didn't play great.
The running game saw Jamaal Charles get 116 yards, but the end zone was elusive for the Chiefs.
When you de-emphasize your passing game to the point where the opposing defense leaves the secondary on the sideline, what does that say about your offense?
Just about every play called seemed to be a run, and they all went to Peyton Hillis because the Browns backfield isn't good enough to give him a rest, or to try and preserve him for the end of the season or next year.
So predictability got the Browns 57 yards on the ground while quarterback Jake Delhomme somehow didn't get intercepted on three different occasions. He did throw for a touchdown, but it was Phil Dawson's last-second kick that proved to be the difference.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams, an NFC West team, went out and beat the Cardinals, another NFC West team. They did it by...oh who cares besides the Rams' fans?
Apologies to Rams fans, your team is going to be very good, possibly next year, but don't let this year's record fool you—the rest of your division is just that much worse.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers continue to be a thorn in the side of the NFC South, and the league in general. They refuse to roll over and be a bad team.
The Bucs have a poor record against teams with winning records, 0-5, but that doesn't mean they didn't put a good scare into the Falcons.
The Bucs kept it close, and it only was a late interception by Josh Freeman that really sealed the game for the Falcons.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints shouldn't have had to work this hard to beat a team with a record this bad, but the Bengals do have enough talent on their team that scares like this happen.
Plus, it's not like the Saints haven't lost games they shouldn't have lost before this season.
But give credit where credit is due—Drew Brees got the Bengals to jump offsides, and he executed the touchdown play with the opportunity the Bengals gave him.
The Bears went out and beat the Lions, which isn't as difficult a task as beating the New England Patriots, but the Lions are an improving team.
But the offense wasn't firing on all cylinders, and the defense let Drew Stanton throw for 178 yards and one touchdown.
That's not something to get excited about.
The Jaguars are playing much better this year than most analysts predicted, but only beating a crumbling Tennessee Titans team by a score of 17-6 says more about the Jags defense than it does their offense.
Despite Maurice Jones-Drew running for 186 yards, David Garrard threw for only 126 yards and didn't throw for a touchdown.
While MJD may be a beast, it's not enough in the playoffs if your quarterback doesn't show up.
The Ravens punched, kicked and threw their way to a very close game with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens came out on the losing end of a very close contest, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
The Steelers were just a little better at taking advantage of opportunities given them, and now the Ravens are playing for a Wild Card.
The Seattle Seahawks, an NFC West team, beat a team not in the NFC West.
But it was the Panthers, who qualify as an NFC West team.
So instead, enjoy Pete Carroll's rendition of "Ave Maria."
Green Bay Packers
The Packers went out and got the job done on Sunday, beating the San Francisco 49ers, but they miss the "A" because the 49ers actually stayed in the game much longer than they should have.
The Eagles fast are becoming the team to beat in the NFC. Along with the Falcons, it's tough to find a team with so few flaws, or at least a team that has flaws that show up on a consistent basis.
The Eagles took on a Texans team that should be charging toward the playoffs instead of prepping for next year's draft, but that's the way it is, and the Eagles stood up to the Texans offense and came out winners.
The Cowboys are a completely different team now. In retrospect, Wade Phillips should've retired after last season.
The Cowboys came out, had Peyton Manning's reads down to a science, Jon Kitna moved the offense, and the Cowboys pulled it out in overtime.
Hats off to the Raiders. They had an opportunity to gain some traction in the division and they took advantage of it.
They played well, didn't make as many mistakes as the Chargers, and took advantage of the opportunities they were given.
Their playoff hopes may still be remote, but they still keep those dim hopes alive with a win here.
After sinking to the lowest of the lows, the Vikings remembered how to win games, and they did it without Brett Favre, who was injured on his first pass attempt on Sunday.
The Bills, who normally put up good fights even in their many losses this year, didn't put up a big fight today, and Adrian Peterson picked up the slack, running for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns.
New York Giants
The Giants, after a rough few weeks last month, have come out the last few weeks and told the league they are not going anywhere.
In a division game with more at stake for the Giants than the Redskins, the Giants proved they wanted that victory more than the Redskins, who kept turning the ball over in a very sloppy performance.
The Steelers, behind the hobbled, broken-nosed Ben Roethlisberger, gutted out every hard hit and uncalled penalty to earn a 13-10 victory over the Ravens.
This game was all about the defenses, and the offenses just tried to survive.
Another tough game, another Falcons victory.
The Buccaneers have not been the pushover team some analysts predicted at the beginning of the year, and the Falcons got a tough game out of them.
Matt Ryan threw for two touchdowns and Michael Turner had 88 yards rushing and one touchdown on the day. It was well-earned, and the Falcons remain one of the top teams in the NFC.