The BALTIMORE RAVENS and CLEVELAND BROWNS stamped an exclamation point on a thrilling week of NFL action by carving their names next to a record that had stood undisturbed for 98 years.
Until Monday night, when Baltimore and Cleveland combined for nine rushing touchdowns, only a pair of 1922 games had ever included as many touchdowns on the ground.
Then, the Ravens and Browns decided the game in the air.
LAMAR JACKSON threw a 44-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass to MARQUISE BROWN to give Baltimore a 42-35 lead with 1:51 remaining. Then, after Cleveland’s KAREEM HUNT scored on a 22-yard pass from BAKER MAYFIELD with 1:04 left, the Ravens’ JUSTIN TUCKER converted a 55-yard, game-winning field goal in the final seconds.
Was it the game of the year?
In a season stocked with game-of-the-year candidates, it may have won the Oscar. But there are 48 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, 48 more scripts left to unfold, 48 more opportunities for lead actors and supporting casts to contribute historic performances.
The Final 48 starts in 48 hours.
HISTORY FUELS PLAYOFF HOPES: In each of the past 42 seasons (1977-2019, excluding 1982, when divisional play did not occur), at least one team has won its division the season after missing the playoffs. This week, with either a Cleveland loss on Sunday or a win on Monday Night Football at Cincinnati (8:15 PM ET, ESPN), the PITTSBURGH STEELERS (11-2) can extend that streak.
- Since 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before.
- At least two teams have won their divisions the season after missing the playoffs in 16 of the past 17 years.
- And in 15 of the past 17 seasons, at least one team finished in first place in its division the season after finishing in last or tied for last place. In fact, of the 48 teams in league history to go from “worst-to-first,” 25 of them have done so in the past 17 years (2003-19), including an NFL-record three such teams in 2005 and 2006. Two teams during that span, the 2009 New Orleans Saints and the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, won the Super Bowl after finishing in last place in their divisions the season before.
SATURDAYS ARE SPECIAL IN DECEMBER: The NFL kicks off its annual schedule of Saturday games this week when the BUFFALO BILLS (10-3) travel to play the DENVER BRONCOS (5-8) at Empower Field at Mile High (4:30 PM ET, NFLN). In Game 2 of the doubleheader, the CAROLINA PANTHERS (4-9) are at the GREEN BAY PACKERS (10-3), who clinched the NFC North title last week, on Saturday night (8:15 PM ET, NFLN).
- Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN ranks sixth in the NFL with a career-high 3,641 passing yards and could become just the second player in Buffalo history to reach 4,000 in a single season, joining DREW BLEDSOE (4,359 passing yards in 2002).
- Denver rookie wide receiver KJ HAMLER caught two touchdowns in the team’s road win last week. Hamler is one of nine NFL rookies with at least three receiving touchdowns this season.
- Green Bay wide receiver DAVANTE ADAMS had seven receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown in the Packers’ Week 14 win. He has recorded a touchdown reception in eight consecutive games, tied for the third-longest streak within a single season in the Super Bowl era. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (12 games in 1987) and A.J. GREEN (nine games in 2012) have longer streaks.
BATTLE OF PLAYOFF-BOUND TEAMS ON SUNDAY DOCKET: The KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-1), who lead the league with 429.2 total yards per game and rank second with 31.0 points per game, square off against the NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-3) on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, CBS). The Saints are allowing the NFL’s second-fewest yards per game (298.4) and the league’s fourth-fewest points per contest (20.4).
- Kansas City tight end TRAVIS KELCE, who leads the NFL with 1,250 receiving yards, is bidding to become the first tight end in league history to lead the league in that category. Previously, the highest an NFL tight end has ranked in receiving yards is second (PETE RETZLAFF with 1,190 in 1965, and Pro Football Hall of Famer KELLEN WINSLOW SR. with 1,290 in 1980).
- Last week, Kelce became the first tight end in NFL history to record at least 90 receptions in three consecutive seasons. Kelce, who leads NFL tight ends this season (90), had 103 catches in 2018 and 97 in 2019.
- Kelce now has 25 career games with at least 100 receiving yards, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer KELLEN WINSLOW SR. (24 games) for the third-most by a tight end in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer TONY GONZALEZ (31 games) and ROB GRONKOWSKI (29) have more. Kelce, who had 1,336 receiving yards in 2018 and 1,229 receiving yards in 2019, is the first tight end with at least 1,200 receiving yards in three seasons in NFL history. 0
- Chiefs quarterback PATRICK MAHOMES leads the NFL with 4,208 passing yards this season. Mahomes, who had 4,031 passing yards in 2019 and 5,097 passing yards in 2018, is the third player with at least 4,000 passing yards in three of his first four seasons in NFL history, joining PEYTON MANNING and Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO.
- Mahomes has 26 career games with at least 300 passing yards, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer KURT WARNER (26 games) for the most by a player in his first four seasons in NFL history. Mahomes’ 14 career games with at least 350 passing yards are the most by a player in his first four seasons in NFL history.
- Entering Week 15, Mahomes has six consecutive games with at least 315 passing yards, tied with DREW BREES (six consecutive games from 2012-13) and RICH GANNON (six consecutive games in 2002) for the most consecutive games with at least 315 passing yards in NFL history.
- Chiefs wide receiver TYREEK HILL, currently in his fifth season, has 14 career games with at least two touchdowns, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer LANCE ALWORTH (14) for the second-most such games by a wide receiver in his first five seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (18 games) has more.
- New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA ranks third in the NFL with 1,422 scrimmage yards and tied for third with 14 scrimmage touchdowns. He also leads all NFL running backs with 77 receptions and needs three catches against the Chiefs to become the third running back in NFL history with four seasons of at least 80 receptions.
- Since entering the league in 2016, Saints wide receiver MICHAEL THOMAS leads all players with 510 receptions, the most by a player in his first five seasons in NFL history.
- On defense, Saints defensive end CAMERON JORDAN (6.5 sacks in 2020) is the NFL’s only player with at least six sacks in each of the past nine seasons (2012-20). DEMARIO DAVIS is one of two players (LAVONTE DAVID) with at least 400 tackles (447) and 40-or-more tackles for loss (45) since 2017. Defensive end TREY HENDRICKSON ranks tied for third in the NFL with a career-high 10.5 sacks this season.
10,000 AND COUNTING: In Seattle last week, RUSSELL WILSON’s 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end WILL DISSLY pushed the NFL over the 10,000-point threshold this season. The league enters Week 15 with 10,262 points through 208 games, the most points scored through 14 weeks in NFL history. The single-season league record is 11,985 points in 2013.
- The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-4), who rank third in the NFL with 30.2 points per game, travel to meet the WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (6-7) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, FOX).
- Dating back to the start of the 2018 season, the Seahawks have won 11 of their past 12 games in the Eastern Time Zone, including postseason.
- Washington is 4-0 since Week 11 – the longest active winning streak in the NFC – and has excelled on defense over that span, ranking first in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (64.8), second in points allowed per game (14.3), tied for third in takeaways (eight), tied for fifth in sacks (12) and seventh in total yards per game (297.3) during the winning streak.
- In their Week 14 win, two Washington rookies scored defensive touchdowns: Safety KAMREN CURL (76-yard interception return) and defensive end CHASE YOUNG (47-yard fumble return). It marked the fifth time since 1970 that a team has had two rookies record a defensive touchdown in the same game and the first since the BALTIMORE RAVENS in Week 8, 2006.
- Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON, who passed for four touchdowns with one interception for a 122.6 rating last week, has 15 career games with at least four touchdown passes, tied with PEYTON MANNING (15) for the second-most by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (16 games) has more.
- Last week, Wilson registered his 35th career game with at least three touchdown passes and a passer rating of 100-or-higher, surpassing Manning (34 games) for the most such games by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history.
- Also in Week 14, Seahawks safety JAMAL ADAMS, who has a career-high 8.5 sacks this season, surpassed ADRIAN WILSON (eight sacks in 2005) for the most sacks by a defensive back in a single season since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
ROYAL RESUMÉ: Running back DERRICK HENRY can check off another accomplishment when the TENNESSEE TITANS (9-4) host the DETROIT LIONS (5-8) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Henry, who leads the NFL in rushing yards (1,532) and is tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns (14), needs one rushing touchdown to become the fourth player in NFL history with at least 1,500 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons.
- Last week, Henry rushed for 215 yards and two touchdowns to become the first player in NFL history with four career games with at least 200 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. What’s more, Henry has seven career games with at least 170 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (seven games) for the third-most such games in NFL history. Only Pro Football Hall of Famers LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (11 games) and JIM BROWN (nine) have more.
- Henry, who rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6 and rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns in Week 12, is the fifth player with three games of 175-or-more rushing yards and two-or-more rushing touchdowns within a single season in NFL history, joining JAMAL LEWIS (2003), JOE MORRIS (1986), Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON (2006) and RICKY WILLIAMS (2002).
BOOMER SOONER: Two former Oklahoma quarterbacks will meet at State Farm Stadium when rookie JALEN HURTS and the PHILADELHIA EAGLES (4-8-1) face off against KYLER MURRAY and the ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-6) on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, FOX). Making his first career start last week, Hurts passed for 167 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions and added 106 rush yards in the Eagles’ 24-21 win over New Orleans. He joined LAMAR JACKSON (119 rushing yards in Week 11, 2018) as the only quarterbacks with at least 100 rushing yards in their first career start in NFL history.
- Murray, who has thrown for 3,231 yards and 23 touchdowns this season, needs 269 passing yards to become the fifth player in NFL history with at least 3,500 passing yards and 20-or-more touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons, joining ANDREW LUCK (2012-13), PEYTON MANNING (1998-99), BAKER MAYFIELD (2018-19) and JAMEIS WINSTON (2015-16).
- Last week, Arizona linebacker HAASON REDDICK had a career-high five sacks with three forced fumbles in the Cardinals’ win. Reddick is the first player with at least five sacks and three forced fumbles in a single game since VONNIE HOLLIDAY (five sacks and three forced fumbles) in Week 16 of the 2002 season.
WEEK 15 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 19-21
(All times Eastern)
|Thursday, December 17|
|Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders||8:20 PM||FOX/NFLN/Amazon|
|Saturday, December 19|
|Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos||4:30 PM||NFLN|
|Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers||8:15 PM||NFLN|
Sunday, December 20
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||CBS|
|San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts||1:00 PM||CBS|
|New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Seattle Seahawks at Washington Football Team||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 PM||FOX|
|New York Jets at Los Angeles Rams||4:05 PM||FOX|
|Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints||4:25 PM||CBS|
|Cleveland Browns at New York Giants||8:20 PM||NBC|
|Monday, December 21|
|Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals||8:15 PM||ESPN|