Before last season, Jon Gruden made the questionable decision to trade one of the most dominant players in the NFL, when he sent Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears.
Mack had been holding out for a contract extension, one that the Bears gladly paid him after trading for the former Defensive Player of the Year. The six-year, $141 million contract made Mack the highest-paid defender in NFL history.
Since then though, Mack has proven that he is worth every penny, as he has helped transform the Bears into having a Super Bowl-caliber defense. Meanwhile the Raiders defense has been abysmal.
Coming into the matchup between the Bears and Raiders this week, all eyes were on Mack, as he squared off against his former team for the first time.
The Bears came into the game as heavy favorites, but they did not live up to that hype on Sunday. In a game that was played in London, the Raiders dominated for a majority of the contest and came away with the win.
The Raiders scored the first 17 points of the game and entered the second half without allowing a single point to the Chicago Bears.
In the second half though, it appeared the cream was rising to the top, as the Bears scored 21 unanswered points in the third quarter to take the lead from Oakland at 21-17.
Everything changed though on a punt play in the fourth quarter, as momentum finally swung back in the Raiders favor.
Oakland was forced to punt deep in their own territory, when they caught a huge break as the Bears ran into their kicker. That penalty set up a fourth-and-one situation and Gruden called a fake punt that kept the drive alive.
After the play was reviewed, the runner’s elbow was ruled down before the fumble and the Raiders retained possession. Derrick Carr then drove his team all the way down the field for the game-winning touchdown.
On the Bears last possession, backup quarterback Chase Daniel throw his second interception of the game and Chicago walked away with their second loss of the season.
Mack only had three tackles against his former team and the Bears failed to sack Carr once. On the other hand, the Raiders sacked Daniel four times.
Both teams will now have their bye week, which can’t come at a better time for the Bears.
They hope that starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky can return from his shoulder injury after the bye, especially after today’s performance by Daniel.
Kansas City Chiefs Hold Off Patriots, Ending Their 21-Game Home Winning Streak
When teams travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts to play the New England Patriots, they are generally always going to come away with a loss.
In fact, the Patriots came into their matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs this week with a 21-game winning streak when playing in Gillette Stadium.
That all changed though, as the Chiefs defense stifled Tom Brady and the Patriots just enough to end the streak.
While the Patriots home winning streak ends at 21 games, that does not make it any less impressive, as it was one of the greatest streaks we have ever seen.
The Patriots weren’t going down easily though, even after the Chiefs stretched out a 20-7 lead in the first half.
After halftime, New England’s defense and special teams buckled down. They began to make plays and force turnovers to help out their struggling offense.
The blocked punt by New England set up a touchdown which allowed them to cut the Chiefs led to 10 points.
Then the Patriots made another excellent play, as Devin McCourty stripped Travis Kelce in impressive fashion.
The Patriots do have some room to criticize the officiating in this game. Not only did they cost them a touchdown by blowing the whistle on that fumble by Kelce, but they also cost them on the ensuing possession.
Brady hit wide receiver N’Keal Harry on a pass in the red zone and the rookie did a great job toeing the sideline and extending across the pylon for what should have been a touchdown.
Only for the refs to say he stepped out of bounds.
The Patriots had already used both of their challenges, so their was no way for the ruling on the field to be overturned. Even though it was a clearly a mistake.
New England was forced to settle for a field goal, which cut the Chiefs lead to just one touchdown.
Kansas City’s defense was able to stop the Patriots from that point on, barely hanging on for the victory.
In doing so, the Chiefs clinched the AFC West, winning the division for the fourth-straight year.
Kansas City is now in a great position to secure a first round playoff bye as well.
They are just one game behind the Patriots with three to play and now own the head-to-head tie-breaker.
Tennessee Titans Move Into First Place in AFC South with Win Over the Raiders
The Tennessee Titans had a large mountain to climb in the AFC South early in the season, as they began the year 2-4.
Tennessee then decided to make a switch at the quarterback position by starting Ryan Tannehill and that move has made all of the difference.
Behind the play of Tannehill and their outstanding running back Derrick Henry, the Titans are riding a winning streak that has vaulted them right to the top of their division.
The latest victory came at the expense of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, with the Titans winning in convincing fashion.
Tannehill was once again fantastic, as he went 21-for-27 for 391 yards and three touchdowns.
The highlight of the game for Tannehill was a 91-yard touchdown strike to A.J. Brown, which is one of the longest touchdowns scored all year in the NFL.
Even when Tannehill made his one big mistake of the game, throwing an interception, he found a way to make a play with an awesome open-field tackle.
Tannehill still relied heavily on Henry to move the sticks, as the running back once again eclipsed 100 yards rushing. Henry also found the end zone twice, putting him in some elite company in franchise history.
Tennessee came into this season as a team predicated on their defense, yet they have suddenly found an identity offensively. In fact, the Titans gained more yards today then they have since they were the Oilers.
Since Tannehill took over as the starter, the Titans have won six of their last seven games. Their current four-game winning streak puts them at 8-5 on season, tied with the Houston Texans after they lost to the Broncos on Sunday.
The division tie makes for an exciting finish, as the two rivals are set to play each other twice over the final three weeks of the season.
Tennessee has a matchup with the mighty New Orleans Saints sandwiched between their two games against Houston, but as long as they handle their business against the Texans, they will win the AFC South.
San Francisco 49ers Win ‘Game of the Year’ Beating the Saints in Thriller
The San Francisco 49ers traveled to New Orleans this week for what was expected to be a very good game between two of the best teams in the NFC.
What we got instead was what many are calling the “Game of the Year”, as these two teams went back in forth for four quarters of non-stop action.
The shootout ultimately became one of those games where whoever gets the ball last, wins. Luckily for San Francisco, they were the ones with possession at the end to come away with the huge victory.
Early on in the first half, it was looking like the Saints had the edge on the Niners, as they jumped out to an early 20-7 lead.
The momentum of the game completely shifted in the second quarter, when Jimmy Garoppolo hit Emmanuel Sanders for a 75-yard touchdown that sparked the frantic game play we saw unfold across the last three quarters.
That touchdown was the first of three that San Francisco scored in the second quarter, as they went into halftime with a 28-27 lead.
Both defenses started to make plays in the third quarter, with the Saints picking off a pass from Garappolo and San Francisco eventually forcing an Alvin Kamara fumble.
When the dust settled, the Saints kicked two field goals and the 49ers scored one touchdown to set up a close finish, as the Niners led 35-33 going into the fourth quarter.
San Francisco scored first in the fourth quarter, as Garapollo threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game.
All told, Garappolo completed 26 of his 35 passes for 349 yards. Even with that brilliant performance, Drew Brees matched him the entire way.
Like Garappolo, Brees also threw for 349 yards, but he just added one extra touchdown pass (5) and no interceptions.
After Brees threw his second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter, the Saints failed to convert a two-point conversion that would have given them a 48-45 lead.
Instead they only held a one-point lead, but the 49ers only had 53 seconds to drive the length of the field for a field goal to win.
With his team down to their final down, George Kittle made the play of the game, bulldozing his way into field goal range with an amazing 39-yard catch and run.
Even with defenders clawing at his facemask, Kittle would not be denied.
Because of the 15-yard penalty for the grabbing his facemask, 49ers kicker Robbie Gould was able to get an easy chip-shot for the win.
While both teams are angling for a first round playoff bye, you can argue that San Francisco really needed this win more.
They are in the tightest division race in NFC, coming into this week with the same 10-2 record as the Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle beat the Niners already this season, so they have to keep pace to give themselves a chance to win the division when they play the Seahawks in the last week of the season.
Every time the 49ers take the field it is becoming must-watch television, but Sunday’s game over the Saints took that to another level.
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