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Tar Heels in the NFL: Week 14 Recap

Mitchell Trubisky has the best game of his career, Julius Peppers continues to be an ageless wonder, and the return of T.J. Yates.

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Chicago Bears v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Carolina Panthers 31, Minnesota Vikings 24

The Vikings are one of Julius Peppers’s most common opponents: this was his 20th time playing them! He added to his ridiculous totals against them with a sack to give him a whopping 14.5 career sacks against that one team. He’s sacked everyone from Brad Johnson to Gus Frerotte, from Brett Favre to Donovan McNabb, and from Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel. Your trivia answer of the week: the Carolina Reaper’s first career sack was against Mike McMahon of the Lions, who he actually sacked three times in Week 2 of the 2002 season. Man, that guy was good.

Buffalo Bills 13, Indianapolis Colts 7 (OT)

The Snow Bowl in Buffalo had a little bit of everything, including a particularly wild finish. It took a LeSean McCoy scamper in overtime to dust this one off when it looked destined to be the first tie of the 2017 season. The weather kept the passing game from ever really being a factor, so the only action Brandon Tate saw was to the tune of three kick returns (only one of which came after a score) to the tune of 52 yards.

Dallas Cowboys 30, New York Giants 10

Eli Manning’s return as a starter wasn’t quite the fairy tale that Giants fans might have hoped. Still, they can take solace in the fact that it will take a catastrophic act of god for the Cowboys to make the playoffs in a crowded NFC Wild Card race. Ryan Switzer couldn’t take one to the house this time around, although Jonathan Cooper still hasn’t missed a snap since taking over at left guard in Week 4. (Pro Football Focus rates him as a far better run blocker than pass blocker, for the record.)

San Francisco 49ers 26, Houston Texans 16

You have to feel for Tom Savage. No other player has been such a clear case study for how inept the NFL’s concussion protocol is. After TV cameras showed Savage clearly experiencing the symptoms of a seizure, he still went back into the game. When he was finally shown mercy and pulled out of the game, it was T.J. Yates who took over.

Yates performed well in his first action since 2015, tossing two touchdowns to DeAndre Hopkins and eventually giving the Texans a 16-13 lead, although it didn’t last. But it all feels trite in the fact of what the NFL’s biggest problem is: not the protesting on the sidelines or the fight over a contract extension for its commissioner, but the health of its players. Unless something changes, there won’t be an NFL in ten years. Savage is almost guaranteed to sit out the next game, which means Yates will make his 10th career start for the Texans, with whom he’s 5-4 including the playoffs.

Detroit Lions 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21

Although he didn’t score, Eric Ebron led the Lions in targets (11), receptions (10), and receiving yards (94). It was also his best performance of the year in all three categories, which may or may not have had to do with the fact that Matthew Stafford was playing with a hand injury and needed a reliable checkdown target. Ebron also lost a fumble in the first quarter, but the Bucs failed to score off of it, turning the ball right back over a few plays later.

Chicago Bears 33, Cincinnati Bengals 7

Welcome to the Mitchell Trubisky show! In the ninth game of his young career, he put on a show and had by all accounts his best game yet. He had a Cam Newton (1 passing TD, 1 rushing TD as a QB) and didn’t throw an interception. When the Bengals sent pressure, he was 6 of 8 for 74 yards. It was a far worse day for his fellow Heels on the opposite sideline. Bengals center Russell Bodine maintained his 100% snap streak this season, and Giovani Bernard rushed 11 times for 61 yards, but the Bengals offense was out of sorts all game, and their playoff hopes are likely toast.

Denver Broncos 23, New York Jets 0

Special teamer Bruce Carter missed this game with a groin injury and remains questionable for this coming week against the Saints, but it’s safe to say he didn’t miss much here.

Arizona Cardinals 12, Tennessee Titans 7

It’s a lost season for the Cardinals, who sit at 6-7 and have almost their entire first string offense on injured reserve. One of those players on IR is rookie T.J. Logan, who dislocated his wrist after a nice performance in the Hall of Fame game all the way back in August. The prognosis was originally optimistic, and we thought Logan might be designated to return late in the season, especially once David Johnson hit IR as well. But reports suggest he might have to medically redshirt this first year. Get well soon, T.J..

Cardinals defender Kareem Martin recorded two tackles, and for the Titans Sylvester Williams recorded one tackle. Safety Da’Norris Searcy, meanwhile, only saw the field for a few plays.

Los Angeles Chargers 30, Washington Redskins 13

Neither former UNC defensive player made a big splash in this game—Chargers safety Tre Boston recorded three tackles and Redskins linebacker Zach Brown recorded five tackles and five assists. Brown still leads the Redskins in tackles and it’s not even close. He’s their defensive quarterback for the near future.

Philadelphia Eagles 43, Los Angeles Rams 35

It was the game of the day, marred by the fact that the Eagles had to finish the game after losing their MVP candidate Carson Wentz to a torn ACL. Wide receiver Mack Hollins, who was targeted twice by Wentz although he caught neither ball, will now be fielding passes from Nick Foles as the Eagles try to clinch homefield throughout the playoffs. On the other side of the ball, Rams defensive end Robert Quinn recorded a sack of Wentz, giving him 6.5 for the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Seattle Seahawks 24

This was the second game Nazair Jones has missed due to a lingering ankle injury, and it’s unclear whether or not he’ll suit up for the Seahawks’ game of the season this week against the Rams.

Pittsburgh Steelers 39, Baltimore Ravens 38

His team lost a crucial game against a divisional rival and now has to win out in order to control its own destiny in the AFC Wild Card race, but offensive tackle James Hurst has been an iron man this season, playing all 860 of the Ravens’ 860 offensive snaps, not to mention 61 further snaps on special teams.