Happy Monday morning, everyone. What a weekend of football (and basketball, and soccer, and golf and... yada yada yada). I'm still glued to my couch and don't plan on getting up until Patriots vs. Bills ends later tonight.
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Good morning to everyone, but especially to...
It was happening again: the Lions were going to find a way to lose. A brutal interception. A questionable-at-best decision to go for it on fourth down deep in their own territory, which resulted in a fumble. A go-ahead score given up late.
Lions fans, you'd seen this movie too many times. But this time the movie had a new ending.
- Jared Goff engineered a 14-play, 75-yard drive in one minute and 50 seconds, capped by a game-winning touchdown to Amon-Ra St. Brown as time expired.
- The Lions won for the first time this season, beating the Vikings 29-27.
It was their first win since exactly one year ago today: Dec. 6, 2020. And it earned a well-deserved "A" grade from NFL scribe John Breech:
- Breech: "The win wasn't just big for the Lions, it was also big for Goff and that's mainly because this victory marked the first time in his career that he's won a game without Sean McVay. Going into Week 13, Goff had been 0-16-1 in his career in games where he wasn't coached by McVay."
Listen, it's easy to make fun of the Lions. They've given us plenty of reasons to do so. But these guys care, and moments like these mean a lot. Listen to first-year coach Dan Campbell after a heartbreaking loss in Week 5... and then listen to him yesterday after the win.
The Lions are 1-10-1. This is the first step in what may still be a long, long rebuild. But it's an important step. It's a winning step. And it's a
good -- scratch that... -- it's a great morning for the Lions.
- If it hadn't been for the Lions, the Chargers would have occupied the highly coveted Good Morning top spot after a statement 41-22 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati. Justin Herbert tossed three touchdowns and the Los Angeles defense forced four Bengal turnovers, including three from Joe Burrow. "Whatever got into the Chargers... they need to bottle it up and take it with them," writes NFL insider Jason La Canfora.
- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected on two touchdown passes in Sunday's 30-17 win over the Falcons. That makes it 90 career touchdown connections for the duo -- good for second all-time behind Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison's 112.
- Have yourself a weekend, Alabama! Shortly after Nick Saban's football team demolished Georgia in the SEC Championship (more on that later), Nate Oats and the men's hoops squad earned a similarly impressive win, topping Gonzaga 91-82. It prompted a big jump for the Crimson Tide -- and a small drop for the Zags -- in Gary Parrish's latest Top 25 And 1.
- A month after winning the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, Viktor Hovland won the Hero World Challenge. The win provided "confirmation that Hovland is one of the 10 best golfers on the planet," writes golf reporter Kyle Porter.
And not such a good morning for...
As good of a morning as it is in Detroit, it's an equally bad morning in Minneapolis. There are few other ways to put it: this is an awful loss for the Vikings.
- Already without Dalvin Cook (among several other starters), the Vikings saw Adam Thielen exit with an ankle injury.
- Minnesota sleepwalked through the first half and trailed 20-6 at halftime.
- Then it took the lead with under two minutes to go before giving up a game-winning drive to a team that had specialized in finding ways to lose games all season. The game-winning score they allowed was shockingly easy.
And here's a wild stat: the Vikings have led by at least four points in every single game this season -- the only team to do that -- and are 5-7. Sunday continued Minnesota's befuddling tradition of being unable to do anything consistently except be inconsistent.
They have now followed impressive mid-November wins against the Chargers and Packers with disappointing losses to the 49ers and now the previously winless Lions. Plus, the latest loss came on a day when fellow NFC Wild Card contenders Philadelphia and Washington both won.
The Vikings face a short turnaround (they play the Steelers on Thursday), and their margin for error going forward is non-existent.
Not so honorable mention:
- The Giants were already without Daniel Jones on Sunday, and fill-in starter Mike Glennon got hurt in New York's loss to the Dolphins. Giants veteran defensive back Logan Ryan offered his services as emergency quarterback postgame, saying "I'm a lot like Tua [Tagovailoa], I can throw two-yard passes to the left." It was an oddly timed swipe at the Miami quarterback, who had just finished going 30 for 41 for 244 yards and two touchdowns against Ryan and the rest of the Giants defense.
Here's a quick question for you: Who is the last Broncos quarterback to beat the Chiefs? If you answered Peyton Manning, you're right... and that was way back in 2015.
Kansas City beat Denver 22-9 on Sunday night for its 12th straight win over the Broncos and its fifth straight win overall.
- The Chiefs' defense continued its impressive midseason turnaround, picking off Teddy Bridgewater twice -- including a game-sealing pick-six by Daniel Sorensen.
- During Kansas City's 3-4 start, the team allowed 29 points per game and 405 yards per game. On its currently five-game winning streak, it has allowed 11.2 and 316, respectively.
For all the good on the defensive side of the ball, the offense still doesn't look like its old self. For the first time ever as an NFL starter, Patrick Mahomes has gone back-to-back games without a passing touchdown. He registered a 57.3 passer rating, the worst of his regular-season career. The Chiefs' 267 yards were their fewest this season.
We tend to think of the Chiefs as a high-flying offensive juggernaut, but this year, they're just not that, writes NFL expert Cody Benjamin:
- Benjamin: "[Defensive coordinator Steve] Spagnuolo's defense is the new Andy Reid offense. ... Mahomes obviously contributed, scoring with his legs on a scramble and finding Darrel Williams for a couple of big gains, but this 'W' belongs to the defense. And that shouldn't be too surprising considering the way this season has gone for Kansas City."
The College Football Playoff -- and all the other bowl matchups -- are set 🏈
Conference championship weekend has come and gone, and Sunday revealed a relatively drama-free College Football Playoff field:
- Orange Bowl (semifinal): December 31, 7:30 p.m. - (2) Michigan vs (3) Georgia
- Cotton Bowl (semifinal): December 31, 3:30 p.m. - (1) Alabama vs (4) Cincinnati
- Cobb: "The first thing that jumps out is that there is no overreaction to Georgia's loss against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Bulldogs showed their dominance throughout the season; that they are a touchdown favorite against the No. 2 seed Wolverines is a sign of respect for their overall body of work."
Here's the list of all of the games this bowl season.