NFL Week 12 superlatives – (Yardbarker) Saints News
Where we look at the best (and worst) of NFL Week 12, all in one place.

Best Game – Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers


This one was supposed to be one of the top games of the day, and it didn’t disappoint. With major NFC Wild Card implications on the line, the Seahawks handed the Panthers their first home loss of the season, coming back to win the see-saw battle, 30-27.

Russell Wilson engineered two scoring drives in the final half of the fourth quarter to erase a seven-point deficit. On 4th and 3 at the Carolina 35-yard line, Wilson tossed a perfect pass to David Moore for a touchdown to tie the game at 27.

Then after a missed Carolina field goal, Wilson moved the Seahawks 45 yards on seven plays in 1:40 to kick their own game-winning field goal. Seattle led for just five minutes in the game, which was tied four separate times, prior to the game-winner from Sebastian Janikowski.

With the Seattle victory, both the Seahawks and Panthers are now 6-5, and the Seahawks hold the important tiebreaker.

Best Redzone Defense – Seattle Seahawks

The Broncos were stout in this area as well, but the reason Seattle won this game was because of its redzone defense. Carolina scored touchdowns on just three of seven trips inside the Seattle 20-yard line.

On the other four possesses, the Panthers settled for two field goals, threw an interception and turned the ball over on downs. The Panthers failed to score any points on trips inside the Seahawks 10-yard line twice.

Best Fight – Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills

Normally, ‘Best Play’ or ‘Best History’ follows ‘Best Game’ on our list of superlatives, but there’s just something about a good old fashion brawl that we all love.

After Donte Moncrief made a beautiful catch along the sidelines, chaos ensued between the Jaguars and Bills.

The scrap led to ejections for Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette and Bills defensive end Shaw Lawson. Both could face fines or even suspensions.

It turns out Jacksonville could have really used Fournette. 

Moncrief’s catch was originally ruled a touchdown, but after review, the officials ruled he was down at the 1-yard line. Without Fournette, Jacksonville was unable to legally punch it in. After a holding penalty and a sack, kicker Josh Lambo then missed a 42-yard field goal.

Buffalo went on to win, 24-21.

Best Plays – Josh Allen 74-yard touchdown strike & Ben Roethlisberger’s 97-yard touchdown toss

This week, two long passing plays took home this honor. Allen’s was the best passing play during the early-games window, as he threw the longest touchdown of any Bills rookie in history.

Wide receiver Robert Foster hauled in the 74-yard score. All the sudden, Foster has at least 94 receiving yards in two consecutive games, and the Bills have won two straight for the first time this season.

Not to be outdone, though, Big Ben threw a 97-yard score to wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster against the Denver Broncos. That gave Pittsburgh a touchdown lead, but it was the last score for the Steelers all day.

Pittsburgh fell in the biggest upset of the afternoon, 24-17, to the Denver Broncos.

Biggest Bonehead Throw – Roethlisberger late interception 

The Steelers and Broncos played a weird one in Week 12. Fans saw a blocked field goal, a fake field goal for a touchdown (more on that in a minute), and a 97-yard touchdown, but perhaps the weirdest fact was the Steelers outgained the Broncos by more than 200 yards and lost.

Four giveaways will do that. All four were equally bad, but the last one was the most devastating for the Steelers. On 3rd & goal at the Broncos 2-yard line, the Steelers appeared to run this awkward run-pass option/play action pass play. 

It was doomed from the start.

The snap was wide, which threw off the timing, and then Roethlisberger and James Conner bumped into each other. Seconds later, “Big Ben” threw an inexcusable pass to Antonio Brown that two different Broncos could have intercepted.

And that was the ballgame. A victory would have moved the Steelers to within half a game of the Kansas City Chiefs for home field advantage, but the loss drops them all the way to the No. 4 seed. The Steelers are also now just 1.5 games ahead of the Baltimore Ravens.

Best Trick Play – Fake Field Goal, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh managed to head into halftime tied because of a brilliantly run fake field goal. Pittsburgh’s two-minute drive stalled at the 2-yard line, but the Steelers snapped the fake field goal straight to kicker Chris Boswell, who found a wide open Alejandro Villanueva for a touchdown.

That seemed to be the spark Pittsburgh needed to keep its winning streak alive Sunday, and it helped the Steelers take an early second-half lead. But three giveaways in the second half doomed Pittsburgh.

This may seem like a typical Pittsburgh loss to a below average team, but don’t sleep on the Broncos. Denver has beaten the Chargers and Steelers in each of the last two weeks, and the Broncos could easily go on a run with Cincinnati, San Francisco, Cleveland and Oakland up next.

Denver is one of three teams in the AFC with a record of 5-6.

Best History – Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

Completion percentage is overrated, but 25 in a row is nothing to sneeze at — even in this passing era.

With Drew Brees off this Sunday, the man who replaced him with the Chargers earns our ‘best history’ superlative. Philip Rivers completed his first 25 passes against the Arizona Cardinals and threw just one incompletion the whole game, going 28 of 29 for 259 yards and three touchdowns.

The day gave Rivers’ two NFL records — most consecutive completions to start a game, and highest completion percentage in a game. Mark Brunnell had 22 straight completions to begin a game for the Washington Redskins in 2006, and Kurt Warner previously held the completion percentage record when he went 24 of 26 against Jacksonville in 2009.

Top Waiver Wire Addition – Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

ESPN’s Eric Williams reported Sunday night that Melvin Gordon suffered an MCL injury against the Cardinals on Sunday. He left in the third quarter after rushing for 61 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

The seriousness of the injury hasn’t been reported as of Sunday night, but it’s very unlikely Gordon will be ready to face the Steelers next week. Austin Ekeler becomes a must-start running back in every league, but the running back who could see the most increase in playing time is Jackson.

After replacing Gordon on Sunday, Jackson rushed for 57 yards on seven carries against the Cardinals. He and Ekeler are both worth starting next week in deeper leagues, especially if Steelers defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt misses another game.

Best Celebration – Minnesota Vikings

For the third week in a row, the best touchdown celebration came in primetime. The Vikings had a few great celebrations, but none were better than the touchdown limbo.

With the schedule they have coming up, the Vikings may have saved their season Sunday with a 24-17 victory against the Packers. 

As for Green Bay, the Packers are in real trouble at 4-6-1. Back-to-back years without playoff appearances could mark the end of the road for coach Mike McCarthy.

Biggest Comeback – Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles looked down and out on Sunday against the Giants. An early holding penalty nullified a long touchdown run for Josh Adams, and New York jumped out to a 19-3 lead with four minutes left in the first half.

But like the Rocky movie series, the Eagles weren’t ready to die just yet.

Carson Wentz drove Philadelphia down the field to score a touchdown late in the second quarter, and the Eagles defense held the Giants to just 51 yards after halftime to make a comeback possible.

The Eagles took the lead with about 10 minutes remaining. New York kicked a field goal to tie the game, but Jake Elliott answered for Philadelphia, kicking the game-winner with 22 seconds left.

Biggest Swing – Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts

The results from the Seahawks-Panthers and Steelers-Broncos matchups will end up having major implications in the playoff race. But this one will too.

At the start of the fourth quarter, it appeared Miami was going to keep pace with the Ravens for the sixth seed in the AFC and improve to 6-5. Instead, the Colts rallied from a 10-point deficit with 13 unanswered points and kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired.

So now the Colts are 6-5 and could be a game out of first place by the end of Monday. The Dolphins dropped to 5-6 and seem to be fading with losses in four of the last five.

That’s quite a swing.

Best Rookie Performance – Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

Two weeks ago, I wrote the best decision the Browns have made recently was to trade Carlos Hyde and let Nick Chubb take over the backfield. Although that was good judgement, the decision to fire Hue Jackson looks even better right now.

In the last three games since Jackson was fired, Baker Mayfield has played his best football, throwing for an average of 8.7 yards per attempt, nine touchdowns and one interception. On Sunday against the Bengals, Mayfield went 19 of 26 for 258 yards and four touchdowns.

The Browns crushed the Bengals, 35-20, and snapped a 25-game road losing streak.

Best Catch – Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns 

If not for Mayfield, Chubb could have easily won the rookie performance superlative. Instead, he’ll just have to settle for the catch of the week.

With a little more than two minutes left in the first half, Mayfield under threw Chubb in the front corner of the endzone, but it didn’t matter, as Chubb made a tremendous athletic grab off the defender’s back for the score.

That made it 21-0 and the rout was on.

Weirdest Celebration – Damarious Randall, CB, Cleveland Browns

After an interception late in the first half took Randall onto the Bengals sidelines, the Browns defensive back handed the ball to former Cleveland coach and current Bengals assistant Hue Jackson.

Was it to honor his coach who was fired just weeks ago? Maybe it was a troll job? The answer isn’t exactly clear. 

“That’s just something I always said I was going to do,” said Randall according to Cleveland.com. “I never gave him one when he was with the Browns, so I felt he needed one.”

Ok, then. The Browns-Bengals rivalry just got a little more interesting.

Greatest Defensive Sequence – Matthew Judon, LB, Baltimore Ravens

This one was a close game for awhile, but in typical Ravens fashion, they sealed the deal with defense and special teams.

With just under six minutes left, Judon recorded a strip sack of Derek Carr, and Terrell Suggs picked up the fumble and returned it for a touchdown. Judon started the next possession with a sack as well and helped pressure Carr on second down for a third straight sack.

Baltimore returned a punt for a touchdown as well to beat Oakland, 34-17.

Best Special Teams Play – Baltimore Ravens

Technically, the Steelers fake field goal was a special teams play, but why not include this one as well?

Although the Ravens won by 17, Cyrus Jones’ 70-yard punt return for a score was a big play. It came early in the second quarter with the Ravens trailing 7-3. Lamar Jackson struggled at times, but Baltimore never trailed again after the punt return touchdown.

Worst Coaching Decision – Todd Bowles, New York Jets

This decision came in the first quarter, and the New England Patriots ended up winning, 27-13, so it might not have mattered. But Bowles decision to accept an offensive pass interference penalty was still baffling.

New England committed that foul on 3rd and 2 from the Jets 24-yard line. But the result of the play was an incompletion, so instead of electing for 4th and 2, Bowles accepted the penalty, and gave Tom Brady another chance on 3rd and 12 from the 34-yard line.

Note to Bowles: never give Brady another shot. On the next play, Brady found a wide open Rob Gronkowski for a 34-yard touchdown.

That tied the game at seven. It remained a one possession game until midway through the fourth quarter.

Best Apparel – Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers

It’s been a rough year for Shanahan. Injuries at quarterback and running back derailed his big plans on offense, and then Sunday, the team had no choice but to cut former first-round pick Rueben Foster, who has been accused of domestic violence for the second time this year.

Yes, that’s the same Foster that general manager John Lynch was widely celebrated for trading back up to the No. 31 spot to take in 2017.

Anyway, things can’t be much worse for Shanahan. The 49ers lost to a bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad, 27-9, on Sunday.

But in light of the wildfires in California, fans had to love the hat he supported on the sidelines in Week 12.

Dave Holcomb began working as a sports writer in 2013 after graduating from Syracuse University. Over the last six years, he’s covered the NFL, NHL, MLB, fantasy sports, college football and basketball, and New Jersey High School sports for numerous print and online publications. Follow Holcomb on Twitter at @dmholcomb.

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