The 32 things we learned from week 13 of the 2021 NFL season:
1. The Arizona Cardinals maintained the league’s best record (10-2) while welcoming QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins, who teamed up for a 20-yard touchdown in Chicago after both missing five. weeks due to injuries. Murray burned the Bears for four scores (2 assists, 2 ground) while the Cards went undefeated on the road.
2. Arizona’s 33-22 triumph at Soldier Field made the Cardinals the third team to win seven straight road games with double-digit margins in one season. The Cards will make history if they can do it again in Week 15… in Detroit.
3. All-Pro Cardinals S Budda Baker won’t get the same criticism he got for being knocked down by Seattle’s DK Metcalf last year… but, Budda, shouldn’t you be able to cheat Andy Dalton to get that elusive pick-six?
4. Have a nice day, TJ Watt. The All-Pro pass thrower and highest-paid defensive player in the league asserted his good faith as he scored 3½ sacks of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Baltimore Pittsburgh Steelers’ 20-19 breakout. Watt, who missed two games with injury and spent the last week on the reserve / COVID-19 roster, has an NFL record of 16 sacks in just 10 games. He’s on the cusp of 24, which would shatter the Michael Strahan Hall of Fame record – 22½, set in 2001.
5. The Ravens (8-4), who maintain a one-game lead in the AFC North, opted to go for the win with a two-point attempt after Jackson’s touchdown pass to WR Sammy Watkins scored 20- 19 with 12 seconds to go. . However, Jackson – with Watt in his grill – didn’t give TE Mark Andrews a good assist on the tie-break.
6. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin threw a post-game quote when asked about Baltimore coach John Harbaugh’s bet: “They’re playing aggressively analysis, so from that point of view. sight, they are predictable. “
7. Perhaps Ben Roethlisberger, 39, is also the Pittsburgh quarterback in tears after what could be his last game against the Ravens at Heinz Field. Big Ben (236 yards and 2 passing TDs) would not confirm whether the 2021 season will be his last, but Sunday’s game could mean he will still play football until January.
8. Still, nothing is going to spoil this weekend for the Harbaugh family with Michigan, coached by Jim Harbaugh – with help from former Ravens assistant Mike Macdonald – make their way to the college football playoffs for the first time after winning. the Big Ten crown.
9. Baltimore’s setback knocked the Ravens out of first place in the AFC… and catapulted the New England Patriots, who play in Buffalo on Monday, to first place. However, a victory for the Bills will put them back on top of the AFC East while also lifting the inactive Tennessee Titans to first place in the conference.
IMAGE OF NFL Playoffs:AFC and NFC are both wide open with no team dropping out
ten. Los Angeles Chargers QB Justin Herbert was drafted after Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa in 2020, but it’s pretty hard to imagine Herbert wouldn’t replace Burrow as No.1 in a reshuffle scenario. Herbert (317 yards, 3 passing TDs) largely outscored Burrow (3 turnovers) in their first professional meeting on Sunday as the Bolts beat the Bengals 41-22, overtaking Cincy in the AFC wildcard standings.
10a. Herbert’s 15 career games with at least 300 passing yards are already a record for a player in his second season.
11. For the record, we’d rather see fun teams like the Chargers and Bengals flex in the Sunday night window rather than the current iteration of the Chiefs.
12. The Los Angeles Rams are winners for the first time since Halloween and could figure that offense without Robert Woods. WR Van Jefferson and Odell Beckham Jr. have both caught touchdown passes in each of the last two games.
13. Curious move by the Carolina Panthers to slip into their decision to fire offensive coordinator Joe Brady just after Sunday’s games kick off and at the end of the team’s week off. Difficult result for Brady, who had to deal with the turnover of the quarterback and the low availability of RB Christian McCaffrey all season. A highly regarded assistant coming out of LSU after the 2019 Tigers National Championship run, it remains to be seen whether Brady – he interviewed for NFL head coaching positions last year – remains in the league or returns to the league. university ranks.
14. Who is the sexiest team in the NFC? Would you guess the Washington football team, winner of four straight games and new owner of the second conference wildcard?
15. Who is the coldest team in the NFC (and the NFL)? Would you guess the New Orleans Saints, now in a five-game free fall that coincides with QB Jameis Winston’s ripped ACL?
16. A new reminder that Philadelphia QB Gardner Minshew II is more than a usable save. He brought the Eagles back to the winning column by separating the New York Jets with 20 completed passes on 25 throws for 242 yards and two scores. Now that Philly fans have figured out what he can do, don’t be surprised if a flaw in the camp of injured starter Jalen Hurts…
16a. … especially since Minshew makes a good Maverick Mitchell.
17. Even without the Hurts, the Eagles still managed to run for 185 yards… although their three-game 200+ rushing streak was broken.
18. The Miami Dolphins are the fourth team in NFL history to score five straight wins after starting a season with a 1-7 record. They’ll hit 0.500 if they can beat the Jets to the other side of a Week 14 pass.
COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININEWatt wasn’t the only one dealing with protocol last week. Likewise Titans S Kevin Byard, Vikings CB Patrick Peterson, Colts C Ryan Kelly and Patriots S Kyle Dugger. The Dallas Cowboys appear to be going through the worst of their mini-epidemic, including the absence of coach Mike McCarthy on Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have seen two players suspended, including WR Antonio Brown, for distorting their vaccination status, even though coach Bruce Arians said the team were fully vaccinated ahead of the season. It remains to be seen what the Arians and Bucs will do with AB once their three-game ban is lifted.
20. WR Jaylen Waddle’s 86 catches are already the most important for a Dolphins rookie.
21. Philadelphia is now 12-0 against the Jets, the highest rating a team has against any other among the league’s current franchises.
22. By the way, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is 8-0 against the Denver Broncos.
23. Incidentally, Tom Brady is now 10-0 against the Atlanta Falcons.
23a. TB12 is on a league-high 34 touchdown passes after hitting four more in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 30-17 win in Atlanta. Brady found longtime teammate Rob Gronkowski for two scores – Gronk’s 24th game with multiple touchdowns (most of the tight ends in the Super Bowl era). It was also the first time Brady had played six games in a season with at least four touchdowns.
23b. Brady and Gronkowski have now signed 90 regular season touchdowns. Only Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (112) were a more productive scoring duo.
24. The Jacksonville Jaguars have lost 16 in a row to NFC competition, their last interconference victory coming to the New York Giants… in Week 1 of the 2018 campaign.
25. Not only did the Colts beat the Texans 31-0 on Sunday – they’ve swept Houston 62-3 this season – Indianapolis limited their AFC South nemesis to 2.8 yards per game.
25a. Colts RB Jonathan Taylor has scored twice, giving him at least one rushing touchdown in 10 straight games. His 18 touchdowns are mostly in the NFL in 2021 and two short of Hall of Famer Lenny Moore’s single-season franchise record, set in 1964.
26. Participation trophy for Texans LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, who made 20 tackles Sunday – three behind the line of scrimmage – in a valiant effort mounted amid a desperate cause.
27. He’s sure to burn Cowboys LB Micah Parsons as the Defensive Rookie of the Year. But with 10 sacks (a team rookie record), 72 tackles and 16 best tackles for losses after Thursday’s win, Watt could be the only top defensive player. player Nominee of the Year at Parsons.
27a. Parsons spearheaded a defense that put Dallas back on track at New Orleans, racking up four turnovers – including a pick-six, the team’s fourth of the season – as the Cowboys pulled back. improved to 6-1 in matches against NFC competition.
28. Give Saints QB Taysom Hill credit for his tenacity as he played through a finger injury to his passing hand similar to the one that sidelined Russell Wilson from Seattle earlier this season. But Hill became the first player in 45 years to rush for 100 yards … while making at least four interceptions.
29. “My Cause, My Crampons” – still one of the coolest shows in the NFL, and we wouldn’t mind seeing it extended.
30. And kudos to the Detroit Lions, who won their first game in 364 days – while avoiding a winless 2021 season – by knocking down the Minnesota Vikings 29-27 in the last game of the game, an 11-yard pass from Jared Goff TD to rookie Amon. -Ra St. Brown.
30a. The Lions also won their first game since 2010 without QB Matthew Stafford and scored 20 points for the first time since their Week 1 loss to San Francisco.
31. Still, let’s leave it to ever-moved Detroit coach Dan Campbell to share the success of his first win with the grieving community of nearby Oxford High School. Campbell dedicated a game point to Oxford, which lost four students in last week’s school shooting. “I just want us to remember those names,” Campbell said, naming the victims – four dead and seven injured. “Madisyn Baldwin, Hana St. Juliana, Justin Shilling, Tate Myre, Phoebe Arthur, John Asciutto, Riley Franz, Elijah Mueller, Kylie Ossege, Aiden Watson and Molly Darnell, who is a teacher.” Well done, coach.
32. The NFL put particular emphasis on Myre, a tight end with the Oxford football team, who has been credited with trying to stop the Oxford shooter. RIP, Tate. You and your classmates were taken far too early.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.