Tom Brady makes NFL history… again, plus the Ravens might be in trouble


Good Monday morning, sports fans. I hope this newsletter finds you well-rested and with your fantasy team still alive in the playoffs.

Mine, unfortunately, is going to miss by just a hair… but I’ll power through the heartbreak and bring you everything you need to know from a wild Week 14 — and much more.

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

TOM BRADY AND THE TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Break the NFL completions record? Check.Throw your 700th career touchdown pass (including the playoffs)? Check.Have that 700th career touchdown pass also be the game-winner in overtime? Check.

That was all in a day’s work for Tom Brady, who found Breshad Perriman for a 58-yard walk-off score as the Buccaneers beat the Bills, 33-27.

For much of the afternoon, it didn’t look like any heroics would be needed, because:

Tampa Bay led 24-3 at halftime, with Brady and Leonard Fournette both rushing for touchdowns and Brady tossing a touchdown to Mike Evans.But Josh Allen led a remarkable Bills second-half comeback with a rushing touchdown and passing touchdowns to Dawson Knox and Gabriel Davis.In overtime, Buffalo punted on its first drive. Shortly thereafter, Brady found Perriman streaking across the field. Perriman outran the Bills’ defense to the endzone.

It was far from perfect, but Tampa made enough plays when it needed to, says NFL our writer Tyler Sullivan:

Sullivan: “While the defense did allow 24 points to the Bills over the final two quarters of regulation, they were able to merely bend and not break as Buffalo brought the football all the way down to the Tampa Bay 7-yard line with less than 30 seconds to play. … In overtime, the unit looked more like what we saw in the first half and forced a quick three-and-out, which then gave the ball back to Brady, who would eventually hit Perriman for the walk-off touchdown.” Honorable mentions: And not such a good morning for…

LAMAR JACKSON AND THE BALTIMORE RAVENS 

The story of the Baltimore Ravens’ season has been overcoming injury after injury. The latest one could be the toughest one to come back from, though. Lamar Jackson was carted off with a high-ankle injury in the second quarter of a 24-22 loss to Cleveland.

There are no quarterbacks who rely on their mobility as much as Jackson. While backup Tyler Huntley did well in relief, he’s not Jackson.

With Baltimore’s second straight loss, the AFC North has become anyone’s division, writes our NFL expert Bryan DeArdo:

DeArdo: “Who will win the North is anyone’s guess. Each team has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. One thing that is  almost certain is that the North won’t be decided until Week 18, when the four teams face each other in two games that will ultimately determine a champion.”

The Ravens have been wracked with injuries — only the Giants have more players on IR — and their schedule is absolutely brutal. Baltimore’s next three games are against the Packers, at the Bengals (who won the first meeting 41-17) and against the Rams. If they have to play any of those games without Jackson, it will be even tougher.

Not so honorable mentions:Packers rally after shaky first half, prove they still own Bears 🧀

If you checked the halftime score of Bears-Packers last night, you probably did a double-take. If you checked it again once the game had ended, things had returned to normal.

Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes — including two to Davante Adams — and the Packers outscored the Bears 24-3 in the second half to beat Chicago, 45-30.

The Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead and led 27-21 at halftime thanks to some strong plays from Justin Fields and the league’s first punt return touchdown this season from Jakeem Grant.

But Green Bay dominated both sides of the ball after halftime, writes our NFL expert Cody Benjamin.

Benjamin: “After a slow start in which they punted on consecutive series, they basically moved the ball at will. And that takes a toll on a team like the Bears, who was inferior to begin with. Rodgers looked as comfortable as he has all year once he settled in, routinely floating completions to open targets off his back foot.”

The Packers kept pace with the Buccaneers for the No. 2 seed in the NFC. They’re both a half-game behind the Cardinals, who play the Rams tonight. 

Cowboys take control of NFC East with dominant defense 💪

The Cowboys jumped out to a 21-0 lead in Washington and then hung on for a 27-20 win, extending their NFC East lead to three games.

The Cowboys forced four turnovers for the second straight game — the first time they’ve done so since 2007 — and racked up five sacks. The defense is looking better and better as it gets key pieces back, writes our Cowboys guru Patrik Walker:

Walker: “With the return of [Randy] Gregory and [Neville] Gallimore to a unit that saw All-Pro pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence retake the field a week ago, the Cowboys’ defensive front made [Taylor] Heinicke wish he stayed in bed.”

Micah Parsons also continued his Defensive Rookie of the Year-worthy (and maybe Defensive Player of the Year-worthy?) season with a pair of sacks. And it was a good thing the defense was dominant because the offense, once again, fell flat.

Dak Prescott and company racked up just 323 yards — their fewest in a win this season — and the only reason the game was close at all was Prescott’s pick-six in the fourth quarter. Ezekiel Elliott finished with under 50 rushing yards for the fifth straight game. Even with all the big names on offense, the Cowboys will go as far as their defense takes them, writes our NFL insider Jason La Canfora:

La Canfora: “Don’t get it twisted. Dak Prescott ain’t winning any MVP awards, Zeke Elliott is beat up, and all of those receivers are nice, but it was the defense that opened and closed a big win over a surging Washington team on the road, and it is the big-play defense that will have to take the lead in the postseason.”The Longhorns aren’t back yet, but they have a new quarterback 🏈
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Texas may have lost six of its last seven games and failed to qualify for a bowl game, but the Longhorns picked up one of the biggest wins of the offseason so far.

Quinn Ewers — the top overall recruit in the 2021 class and “one of the all-time highest-rated quarterback recruits” — is transferring in from Ohio State.

It was a huge day for Steve Sarkisian’s program, writes our college football expert Shehan Jeyarajah:

Jeyarajah: “The Longhorns put together a massive recruiting day for Ewers and five-star offensive lineman Kelvin Banks, who flipped from Oregon to Texas after the Ducks’ coaching change. … The Longhorns rotated quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Hudson Card, but both struggled to build much consistency.”What we’re watching Monday 📺

🏀 Warriors at Pacers (+4.5), 7 p.m. on NBA TV🏈 Rams at Cardinals (-2.5), 8:15 p.m. on ESPN🏀 Suns at Clippers (+3.5), 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV



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