Starting early with the NFC heavyweight matchup in New Orleans, the NFL Week 14 schedule featured some awe-inspiring quarterback performances. As usual, there were some stinkers on the slate as well.
Looking back at the action, these are the quarterbacks who stood out — both in positive and negative ways — for their respective teams.
Best: Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Brees put on a show
Here’s how bonkers Sunday’s NFC heavyweight clash between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints was: Drew Brees passed for 349 yards and scored six touchdowns, and the Saints lost the game.
Interestingly, Jimmy Garoppolo finished with the same yardage total, though he threw “just” four touchdowns to lead San Francisco to victory.
The back-and-forth battle between Brees and Jimmy Garoppolo was really something to behold. Both teams came into Sunday’s game with some impressive defenses. But it was like they didn’t exist. In the end, it was Garoppolo’s clutch throw to George Kittle (and the tight end’s beast-mode run after the catch) on fourth down with under a minute left in the game that made the difference.
Worst: David Blough, Detroit Lions
The Minnesota Vikings are good defensively and have two of the best pass-rushing defensive ends in the league. So it’s not all that surprising that undrafted rookie David Blough had a rough go of it in Minneapolis on Sunday.
Without much help from the run game (70 yards total), Blough was under fire all too often as he dropped back to pass. He endured five sacks, threw two interceptions and completed just 24 of his 40 attempts for 161 net passing yards.
Best: Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears hosted the Dallas Cowboys Thursday night in a huge game with playoff implications for both teams. Showing his early-season struggles are behind him, Trubisky not only wasn’t a detriment for Chicago, he was a big reason why the Bears won the game to improve to 7-6 on the season.
Trubisky was an efficient 23-of-31 for 244 yards and three touchdowns passing the ball. He also scored a fourth time on a jaw-dropping run to ice the game in the fourth quarter.
Worst: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Going against an unraveling Cleveland Browns team, Cincinnati had a realistic chance to win their second game in a row after opening the season 0-11. Unfortunately, Andy Dalton could not replicate the success he found last weekend and had a poor outing in a losing cause.
After an auspicious scoring drive to open the game, Dalton’s next opportunity ended in tears as he threw an extremely inaccurate pass that resulted in a 61-yard pick-six for Denzel Ward.
It was pretty much all downhill from there. Dalton managed to complete just 22-of-38 passes for 262 yards, didn’t throw a single touchdown and Cincinnati managed only six points in the second half.
Best: Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
What a game for the second-round pick out of Missouri! Drew Lock finished the first half with a 157.8 quarterback rating, which is the highest by a Bronco in the first half since John Elway (158.3) against Dallas way back on Sept. 13, 1998.
The young quarterback missed just five of his 27 attempts Sunday as the Broncos stunned the Houston Texans. He also passed for 307 yards, becoming just the third rookie in team history to throw for 300-plus yards in a game. Topping all that off, Lock threw three touchdowns and one interception as Denver beat Houston, 38-24.
Worst: Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
In similar fashion to Jameis Winston, Deshaun Watson did some good things Sunday (like this) but also committed some crucial turnovers. Unlike Winston, Watson turned the ball over twice late in the game and doomed his team to a loss.
Watson and the Texans fell into a shocking 31-3 hole in the first half. But then he came charging back with two touchdown-scoring drives in the third quarter. Then, trying to keep the momentum going in the fourth, he finished with a whimper, tossing two interceptions on the game’s final three drives.
Best: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
It wasn’t a high-volume performance from Lamar Jackson on Sunday as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Buffalo Bills. But, the second-year wonder made his opportunities count.
Jackson completed 16-of-25 passes for just 145 yards. However, he threw three touchdowns (including this 61-yard gem while being blasted), and the Ravens won, 24-17, against one of the best teams in the AFC.
Though he didn’t break Michael Vick’s single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback, Jackson did eclipse 1,000 yards and shook one poor defender right out of his jockstrap.
Worst: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
The Browns did win Sunday against the Bengals. But the win didn’t happen because Baker Mayfield had a strong day under center. Rather, it happened in spite of quite a bad game from the second-year former first-overall pick.
Aside from his awesome Superman-leap touchdown in the second quarter, Mayfield was a liability. He completed just 11-of-24 passes for 192 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Thankfully for Cleveland, only one of them resulted in points for Cincinnati.
The Browns, at 6-7 on the season, are still alive for a wild-card spot in the AFC. They won’t get in if Mayfield doesn’t sharpen up his game in the next few weeks.
Best: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
The Miami Dolphins have to be shaking their heads wondering where this version of Ryan Tannehill was when he was in South Beach. Since taking over for Marcus Mariota, the former first-round pick has been one of the best in the league.
On Sunday, as Tennessee took on a desperate Oakland team in the Bay Area, Tannehill was once more sensational. He completed 21-of-27 passes for an absurd 391 yards with three touchdowns and one interception as the Titans routed the Raiders in their own building, 42-21.
He’s on fire right now, and so are the Titans, who’re very much in the thick of the playoff race.
Worst: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
The No. 1 overall pick of this year’s draft, Kyler Murray, has been pretty darn good all season long. But on Sunday as his Cardinals hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers, Murray had his worst game as a professional in a losing cause.
Completing 20-of-30 passes, Murray threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns. That’s the positive. The negative was that the rookie threw three second-half interceptions, which the Cardinals were lucky the Steelers only turned into seven points.
Murray will learn from this rough outing, but he was clearly overwhelmed by the dominant Pittsburgh defense, which is among the league’s best.
Best: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
Facing a ton of pressure to get right, Philip Rivers pushed back hard against the notion he’s ready to be put out to pasture with a vintage performance Sunday as the Chargers rocked the Jacksonville Jaguars, 45-10.
Rivers attempted just 22 passes. Completing 16 of them, he threw for an incredible 314 yards and three touchdowns. Best yet, Rivers didn’t turn the ball over — a huge problem for him this season. Despite this strong day, one wonders if Rivers figures into the Chargers’ plans in 2020 and beyond.
Best/Worst: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston’s stat line on Sunday, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers edged the Indianapolis Colts, is a microcosm of the former No. 1 overall pick’s entire career. The fifth-year quarterback piled up 456 yards and five total touchdowns (four throwing, and one rushing).
However, Winston also threw three interceptions, two of which went to linebacker Darius Leonard, who took one of them to the house for six points. There’s a lot to love, and quite a bit to hate, about Winston’s game.
His future in Tampa Bay is, therefore, not surprisingly in doubt as the Bucs wrestle with the question of whether he can ever be cured of his turnover woes.