40 things we learned in Week 12 of the 2017 NFL season
Check out the top moments that helped define the outcomes of Sunday’s NFL matchups. USA TODAY Sports
The 40 things we learned from Week 12 of the NFL season:
1. Sunday’s clear hero was Antonio Brown. One week after his miraculous helmet catch, the Steelers receiver reeled in another astounding reception with a toe-dragging grab that helped put Pittsburgh in position for a last-second, game-winning field goal over the Packers. In the last two weeks, Brown has accounted for 20 catches for 313 yards and five touchdowns.
2. It’s difficult to tell if this was another case of Pittsburgh playing down to its opponent, but the defense presented cause for concern. With Jamaal Williams and Davante Adams scoring on TD receptions of 54 yards and 55 yards, respectively, Pittsburgh has now given up five passing TDs of 50+ yards in the last three games.
3. Green Bay came up short, but Brett Hundley bounced back nicely after being shut out at Lambeau last week. He threw for a career-high three touchdowns and repeatedly attacked the Steelers secondary for big gains. Perhaps most impressive was his composure on a 12-play, 77-yard drive that tied the game late in the fourth quarter.
4. Remember when Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry predicted Miami would sweep the Patriots in 2017? He told Sports Illustrated earlier this year: “It’s time for a change … they’re not our big brother anymore.” No, Jarvis, Tom Brady and Co. are actually still your daddy after Sunday’s 35-17 beatdown.
5. With the victory, the Pats ensured their 17th consecutive season with a winning record, a streak dating to 2001, Brady’s first season as the starter.
6. Alshon Jeffery’s prediction is in much better shape. “I guarantee you we’ll win the Super Bowl next year,” the Eagles receiver said in January … when he was a member of the Bears. Jeffery caught a TD on Sunday in a 31-3 drubbing of his ex-mates. “I never said a team, though,” Jeffery hedged of his foresight earlier this week.
7. How high are the Eagles soaring? At 10-1, they have the league’s best record and have won each of their last five games by double digits, the average margin of victory 23.4 in that stretch. With a win next week or loss by the Cowboys on Thursday, Philadelphia will become the first team this season to wrap up a division title.
8. Chicago’s 140 total yards were its fewest in a game since 2010. The Bears didn’t have a first down in the first half, the first team since 2012 failing to notch a first down before halftime since 2012, per NFL Research.
9. The Falcons (7-4) seem to be back. Winners of three in a row, their largely disappointing offense exploded for 516 yards in Sunday’s win over the Bucs. Atlanta’s second-best output this year had been 403 yards. Last year, they averaged 416 yards under previous OC Kyle Shanahan.
10. Julio Jones’ 253 yards Sunday were the most by any receiver since … Julio Jones gained 300 on Oct. 2, 2016. Jones has now exceeded 200 receiving yards three times in his seven-year career.
11. If the Falcons ever need to bench QB Matt Ryan, they should put WR Mohamed Sanu under center. Sanu threw a 51-yard TD pass to Jones on Sunday and is now 6-for-6 for 228 yards, three TDs and a perfect 158.3 passer rating in his five-year NFL career. A triple-option quarterback in high school, Sanu would probably be the best passer in Cleveland.
12. Speaking of Cleveland, the quarterback the Browns “wanted,” Bengals backup AJ McCarron, was seen exchanging hugs and handshakes with Browns coach Hue Jackson and owner Jimmy Haslam on the field prior to Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. We can only assume McCarron was thanking them for blowing the deal.
13. Maybe Cleveland should be targeting Bengals starting QB Andy Dalton, a noted Browns killer. Dalton has now won his last seven starts against Cleveland and has 15 TD passes and zero INTs in his past six outings against the in-state rivals.
14. The Browns joined the 1976-77 Buccaneers, who lost 26 in a row, as the only teams since the 1970 merger to start consecutive seasons with 0-11 records.
15. The Titans swept the Colts for the first time since 2002. Tennessee had lost 11 in a row to Indianapolis entering this season.