Vikings lose to Cardinals, 23-20
A Dwight Freeney strip-sack of Teddy Bridgewater ended the Vikings chance at tying the game as they fell to the Cardinals in Arizona on Thursday night.
Despite fumbling on the last play, Bridgewater actually had one of his better games of the season against a defense that entered the week third in defensive DVOA according to Football Outsiders. He finished the game 25 of 36 for 335 yards and a touchdown, with the only turnover coming on that last play. He completed passes to 11 different receivers, with Kyle Rudolph leading the way with six catches for 67 yards. In a rarity for the offense, it was the run game that struggled with Adrian Peterson accumulating just 69 yards on 23 carries, including a lost fumble.
The defensive performance was similar to what the Cardinals were able to do, with Carson Palmer having a lot of success through the air with 310 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Floyd had a big game receiving with a touchdown and 102 yards, while John Brown got the other receiving score on a 65 yard reception. While the team only rushed for 3.3 yards a carry, rookie running back David Johnson averaged 4.8 yards a carry for a total of 92 yards.
A Vikings loss with a Packers wins puts them a full game back for the division lead, though with a Week 17 game remaining, they only need to remain within a game of the Packers to have a shot at the division. They also flip places with Seattle in the wild card race and have just one victory against a team with a winning record (Chiefs). Still, with a two game lead and three games remaining, the Vikings are a likely playoff team as the Buccaneers, Falcons, and Eagles try to get back in the picture.
Up next: The Vikings host the Bears in a game that they should win, and would almost seal their playoff appearance.
Bears fall to Washington, 24-21
The Bears let Washington get their first road win of the season on Sunday, after Robbie Gould missed a field goal with less than two minutes to go in the fourth quarter.
Jay Cutler was effective in completing 19 of his 31 pass attempts for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery and Zach Miller combined for over half of the receptions and yards, while also catching both touchdowns. Jeremy Langford and Matt Forte split carries out of the backfield, combining for 82 yards on 21 attempts. A 50 yard completion from Cutler to Jeffery set up Gould for the game-tying field goal attempt that was pushed wide right.
The Bears were able to limit the running game to just three yards a carry on 33 attempts, and a long run of just 11 yards. Most of Washington’s success came from Jordan Reed who had 120 yards on nine catches, as well as the lone receiving score. Former Lion Willie Young had a big day with one sack, three quarterback hits and three tackles for loss. Kyle Fuller also had an interception that set up the game-tying touchdown.
After winning three of four games, with all the wins on the road, the Bears have taken a big step back with losses to Washington and the 49ers. Yes, if Gould had made kicks they may have looked better in the win-loss column, but the team certainly hasn’t played as well as they had been. The offensive line struggled, giving up three sacks, while penalties were an issue again as they had seven fouls for 79 yards. Though the hopes of playoffs are gone, the Bears will be hoping to string together some good play and create some sorely needed optimism for next year.
Up next: The Bears travel to Minnesota as they attempt to play spoiler as the Vikings try to climb closer to the playoffs.
Packers beat Cowboys, 28-7
The Packers rode two fourth quarter touchdowns and a huge day rushing the ball to win comfortably over the Cowboys.
The Packers ran the ball 44 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns, with Eddie Lacy leading the way with 124 yards. James Starks scored on a second-and-25 in the fourth quarter to give the Packers a two-score lead, his second touchdown on the day. The passing game did enough, with 218 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but it was a rare game that the rushing attack was the focal point of the offense, especially in the second half.
The Packers also shut down the anemic Cowboys’ offense outside of a few long runs. Matt Cassel completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 3.9 yards an attempt, including one interception. Dez Bryant was not involved at all, catching just one pass for nine yards on six targets. They were able to finish the game with 176 yards on 8.6 yards a carry, with 95 of those yards came on two long runs by Darren McFadden.
The Packers pulled away at the end thanks to an impressive performance on the ground, but struggled offensively for most of the game. The Cowboys’ offense with Matt Cassel is among the worst in the league, so stopping them at home isn’t exactly something to get excited about, while 14 points in the first three quarters reflected some of the inconsistencies in the Packers’ offense. Still, the fourth quarter performance by Lacy and Starks was impressive, and Lacy has now rushed for at least 100 yards in three of his last four games.
The Packers now have a one-game lead in the division with three games to go, with a potential division-deciding game looming in Week 17 against the Vikings.
Up next: The Packers travel to Oakland for a late afternoon game next Sunday.