Baltimore wide receiver Zay Flowers drew big laughs with his touchdown celebration Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. But Flowers miming stealing gifts on Christmas Day in San Francisco was no laughing matter. Flowers’ act was part of a humiliating loss for San Francisco, which saw Flowers and his teammates do more than just ruin the 49ers’ Christmas.
Baltimore battered and harassed San Francisco quarterback Brock Purdy, a possible MVP candidate, by forcing him into throwing a season-high four interceptions. With the 49ers’ offense stalling out, Baltimore was able to do enough to pick up a 33-19 victory.
Black sports news showed that while Purdy looked flustered, Ravens quarterback and former MVP himself, Lamar Jackson, looked cool and composed. Jackson led the team with 252 passing yards and threw for two scores. He also led the team with 45 yards rushing.
The Ravens have won five straight games and are positioned to grab the top seed in the AFC. With the playoffs quickly approaching, it looks like this could be the year that Baltimore and Jackson finally break through to win the franchise’s third Super Bowl title.
Dolphins Finally Get the Job Done
All season, Miami heard the criticism. Sure, the Dolphins were one of the first teams to reach 11 wins, but Miami’s strength of schedule was criticized. People weren’t sure if the Dolphins could put things together against another playoff contender.
But Miami didn’t just beat the Dallas Cowboys on Christmas Eve. The Dolphins showed precisely how tough they can be. Things looked bleak when Dallas scored its first touchdown on an 8-yard catch by Brandin Cooks to go ahead 20-19.
However, Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa would lead the Dolphins on an impressive drive that ate up the clock and gained big-time yardage. Miami kicker Jason Sanders converted a 29-yard field goal as time expired to win the game. Sanders made five field goals overall, including four of 50-plus yards. With preseason division favorite Buffalo creeping up on the Dolphins, Miami put pressure on the Bills to be perfect down the stretch to steal the division from them.
Party Like It’s 1993
In typical Detroit Lions’ style, nothing came easy. Playing the Minnesota Vikings, who were playing a journeyman quarterback, Detroit needed a late defensive stop to secure a 30-24 victory. But the Lions and coach Dan Campbell don’t care how the victory was earned.
Detroit deserves a break. The Lions picked up their first division title since they won the NFC Central Division in 1993. While winning the NFC North this year won’t guarantee any further success, it does put Campbell in a position to secure more glory for Detroit.
The Lions haven’t won a playoff game since 1991 or an NFL championship since 1957. Detroit is one of the few teams in the league that have never appeared in a Super Bowl.
Cooper Gives Flacco a Top Target
If the Joe Flacco experiment would work in Cleveland, the Browns needed to surround their veteran quarterback with capable targets. Fortunately, Cleveland was able to help Flacco transition from the couch to actively playing again, thanks to having a talent-rich roster at the skill positions. Having Amari Cooper at wide receiver was the perfect partner for Flacco.
Like Flacco, Cooper is a cast-off from another team. Cleveland acquired Cooper before the 2022 season from the Dallas Cowboys for a fifth-round pick. Last Sunday, Cooper broke the Browns’ single-game receiving record by catching passes from Flacco. Cooper grabbed 11 passes for 265 yards and scored twice to help Cleveland beat Houston 36-22.
Josh Gordon held the previous record by finishing with 261 yards in a game in 2013. Cleveland has won three straight games to improve to 10-5. The Browns can win the AFC North Division if Baltimore stumbles down the stretch. That would be an incredible turnaround.
The Browns have played most of this season without star running back Nick Chubb and their big-money quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to current sports news.
Pickens Will Stay Just Where He is
Going on a three-game losing streak will drive any fanbase crazy. The way the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 16 had fans directing their anger toward wide receiver George Pickens. The second-year receiver had missed a block that prevented running back Jaylen Warren from scoring in a brutal loss to the Colts.
There were calls to bench Pickens for last Saturday’s game against Cincinnati. Negativity seemed to be swelling throughout the week, especially with the Steelers’ postseason hopes being so dim. But in a surprising turnaround, Pickens had the game of his life.
Pittsburgh made many changes before beating the Bengals 34-11 to save its season. The most pressing was to abandon backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky and put Mason Rudolph in instead. Rudolph went to Pickens immediately Saturday, finding him for an 86-yard catch-and-run two plays into the game.
It was the start of a wild night for Pickens. Pickens went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career by catching six passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first time Pickens had cracked 100 yards receiving since he did it during a 24-17 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 22 on the road.
Mahomes Shows Some Frustration
Things that have come easy in the past to Patrick Mahomes didn’t seem to go that way Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs lost 20-14 to the Las Vegas Raiders despite their quarterback, Aidan O’Connell, not completing a pass over the final three quarters, according to recent sports updates. Mahomes had a tough time finding open wide receivers, tossing three interceptions.
The stretch that killed the Chiefs happened in the second quarter. Las Vegas scored two touchdowns in seven seconds on defense. One came on an eight-yard fumble return by Bilal Nichols, while Jack Jones returned an interception 33 yards for a score.
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