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What We Learned From Week 12 of the N.F.L. Season

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With the coronavirus sweeping through the N.F.L. at a greater extent than it had all season, Week 12 had an uneasy edge to it, with several teams having to cobble together solutions brought by player absences that resulted from positive tests and close contacts. The league soldiered on, however, getting all 12 of Sunday’s games in regardless of the issues. But a Tuesday game in which as many as 20 Ravens players could be out because of a coronavirus outbreak still looms.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Sam Darnold is not the answer for the Jets. With a 55-yard opening drive that ended in a 38-yard field goal, the winless Jets took a 3-0 lead over the Miami Dolphins. From there, things only went downhill. Darnold, in his first action since Week 8, was far less effective than Joe Flacco had been in his place, leading his team on drives that resulted in six punts, two interceptions, a missed field goal and a turnover on downs in which the ghost of Frank Gore was knocked back for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 play in the red zone. After that 3-0 start to the game, the Jets lost by 20-3.

    The 0-11 Jets have only one game remaining against a team that currently has a losing record.

*Except when it takes more.

Bills 27, Chargers 17 Buffalo’s defense did most of the heavy lifting in this win at home, but Josh Allen threw a 2-yard touchdown pass, and ran in a 3-yard score, giving him 15 career games with both a passing and a rushing touchdown. Allen trails only Cam Newton, who had 20, for the most such games in a player’s first three seasons.

Chiefs 27, Buccaneers 24 Patrick Mahomes threw for 462 yards and Tyreek Hill had 269 yards receiving, but of all those yards, the last 8 were potentially the most vital as the short pass from Mahomes to Hill with 1 minute 15 seconds remaining gave Kansas City a first down and allowed the team to run out the clock in a game that had been slipping away from them.

Titans 45, Colts 26 Indianapolis got 295 yards passing from Philip Rivers, and two rushing touchdowns from backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, but that wasn’t nearly enough to compete with Tennessee, which could have taken the entire second half off on offense and still won.

49ers 23, Rams 20 Running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson returned from injury — a most welcome sight for San Francisco — but this upset was powered more by wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who had 11 catches for 133 yards, and defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who had a 27-yard pick-6.

Patriots 20, Cardinals 17 Arizona came into the day averaging 414.3 yards a game, but New England limited the Cardinals to a respectable 298. Kyler Murray was held without a touchdown pass for the first time since Dec. 1, 2019, 14 starts ago.

Browns 27, Jaguars 25 Florida’s warm weather helped wake up Cleveland’s passing game, with Baker Mayfield throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns. But the Browns are unlikely to change their run-heavy approach going forward since Mayfield also missed badly on several other potential touchdowns while running back Nick Chubb raced for 144 yards on 19 carries.

Vikings 28, Panthers 27 In one of the more impressive make-good moments you’ll see, Minnesota wide receiver Chad Beebe muffed the catch on a punt return late in the fourth quarter, letting Carolina extend its lead with a field goal, only to then score the go-ahead touchdown on his team’s ensuing possession.

Saints 31, Broncos 3 While Denver was limited to 13 yards passing, New Orleans managed just 78 in Taysom Hill’s second career start at quarterback. That will be plenty as long as the Saints’ running game can generate 229 yards and four touchdowns every week.

Giants 19, Bengals 17 Despite losing quarterback Daniel Jones to a hamstring injury in the third quarter, Big Blue was able to fight its way past a Joe Burrow-less Cincinnati. Backup quarterback Colt McCoy didn’t do much, but the Giants scored three field goals following Jones’s injury, which was enough to secure the team’s third straight win. The 4-7 Giants are tied with Washington for first place in the N.F.C. East ahead of 3-6-1 Philadelphia’s game on Monday against Seattle.

Falcons 43, Raiders 6 After the Raiders’ loss last week, much of the talk centered on how well quarterback Derek Carr had played against Kansas City. He turned that narrative on its head by losing three fumbles and throwing a pick-6 in a humiliating loss to Atlanta.

Dolphins 20, Jets 3 Because of a thumb injury on Tua Tagovailoa’s throwing hand, Ryan Fitzpatrick was forced into a start against one of his many former teams, and he helped get Miami back on track following last week’s loss to Denver by throwing for 257 yards and two touchdowns.


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