These teams did not go quietly into the night in Week 13, their seasons may be done but they gave their home fans at least one last smile to take into the holidays

These teams did not go quietly into the night in Week 13, their seasons may be done but they gave their home fans at least one last smile to take into the holidays

Seahawks, Steelers, and the MF-ing Lions pulled out some nail biters in Week 13

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled These teams did not go quietly into the night in Week 13, their seasons may be done but they gave their home fans at least one last smile to take into the holidays
Image: Getty Images

Be honest with yourselves because I’m about to be honest with you, I didn’t expect much from this Week 13 slate of the NFL season. With just over 1/4th of the regular season remaining, there were four teams on a bye week and the only one of those four teams has a record under .500 (the Carolina Panthers).

Most of this week’s games were favorites toppling teams that should be more focused on the 2022 NFL Draft at this point, but the games that delivered suspense instantly saddened me at their conclusion, because of the reminder that there are only five Red Zone Sundays left in this season.

These three games were not the best played of the 2021 NFL season, but they were necessary adrenaline shots of football as college football shifts to the postseason and dusk now falls at 4:00 p.m.

Advertisement

2 / 5

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks

Image for article titled These teams did not go quietly into the night in Week 13, their seasons may be done but they gave their home fans at least one last smile to take into the holidays
Image: Getty Images

What a wonderful late-game window this West Coast matchup turned out to be. The 49ers had been rolling with three consecutive victories and the Seahawks hadn’t won a game since Halloween. These two rivals played at the Seahawks’ famously noisy home stadium and the master of ceremonies for this occasion, the always fired up Kevin Harlan.

By the 8:33 mark, I thought Harlan was going to blow like a power cord attached to an extension cord plugged into a surge protector that has five other extension cords in a college dorm.

By this point in the game, the Seahawks had taken a fake punt 73 yards for a touchdown, Seahawks’ tight end Gerald Everett had fumbled deep in their own territory and 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garappolo had thrown an interception deep in his own territory.

Harlan was running so hot that at one point he hyped up color commentator Tiki Barber’s new sports talk radio position as if Barber had just taken a handoff 75 yards for touchdown. As the 49ers continued to make mistakes in the third quarter Harlan settled a bit as the Seahawks took the lead.

The 49ers entered the game without standout wide receiver Deebo Samuel and two starting linebackers, Dre Greenlaw and All-Pro Fred Warner. There was a slim margin for error even against the struggling Seahawks. The 49ers ended up committing three turnovers, losing the penalty and time-of-possession battles, but still had a chance at 4th-and-goal on the Seahawks’ three-yard line with 22 seconds remaining.

How did that play go, “The press box is shaking,” Harlan said from Lumen Field in Seattle.

Even with the injuries, the fact they were playing a division rival, and the 49ers still clinging to the final NFC playoff spot, this is a terrible loss. The Seahawks had only won three games prior to Sunday, and now the 49ers have three of their final five games on the road. All three of those games are against teams currently in the playoffs.

Advertisement

3 / 5

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Image for article titled These teams did not go quietly into the night in Week 13, their seasons may be done but they gave their home fans at least one last smile to take into the holidays
Image: Getty Images

Nobody was special in this game from start to finish, but it was the special plays made and the special plays missed that decided the outcome.

The Ravens offense had their way with the Steelers defense in the first half, especially on offense, but a Lamar Jackson first-quarter interception and some timely defense from the Steelers resulted in the Ravens only holding a 7-3 lead at halftime.

It would take the Steelers offense another quarter still to wake up, but they finally turned off the snooze button for good and came out firing in the fourth quarter. They scored every single time they had the ball, including a two-point conversion late in the fourth that would be the difference in the game. Then the Steelers’ kickoff went out of bounds and Jackson had his best passing drive of the game. He led the Ravens from their 40-yard line into the end zone, but his two-point conversion pass attempt sailed just past the outstretched arms of tight end Mark Andrews.

As ineffective as the Steelers were through three quarters yesterday, coming off of last week’s embarrassing loss to another division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s report that Roethlisberger is going to retire following this season, the Steelers could’ve folded down 10-3 late in the third with their missed opportunities and the huge time of possession disparity.

Instead, they made one more play than the Ravens did on Sunday evening and currently have a 6-5-1 record on the season. The Ravens are still atop the AFC North and the Steelers don’t have an opponent with a record under .500 left on their schedule, including a regular-season finale on the road against the Ravens. However, for one night, one quarter, the Steelers, specifically Roethlisberger, were that Toby Keith lyric that Tony Romo bungled in the fourth quarter — no shade to Romo, I’m typing in my home while he’s live on air at a stadium — they may not be as good as they once were, but on Sunday, they were as good once, as they ever were.

Advertisement

4 / 5

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions

Image for article titled These teams did not go quietly into the night in Week 13, their seasons may be done but they gave their home fans at least one last smile to take into the holidays
Image: Getty Images

Of course, I have to conclude with the Lions.

Were the Vikings without star running back Dalvin Cook, their starting left tackle, some defensive linemen, two starting linebackers, a cornerback, and lost wide receiver Adam Thielen in the first half? Yes.

Did the Vikings fail to convert 2-point conversion attempts on both of their second-half touchdowns on plays that appeared to lack any cohesion or creativity? Yes.

Still, this is a sports business that deals with feelings, and anyone not rooting for the Vikings should’ve felt at least the slightest warm tingly feeling watching the Lions win their first game of the 2021 season Sunday.

The Lions have been so close this year, including a game they lost to the Vikings in October that ended on a 54-yard field goal as time expired at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. This game ended at Ford Field in Detroit with a Jared Goff touchdown pass as time expired. That game-winning drive followed the Vikings taking their first lead since early in the second quarter following a strip-sack of Goff.

A depleted division foe is always a good opportunity for a win, but the Lions had to pull this one out with their claws. They had to overcome a Goff interception earlier in the fourth and hold the Vikings to nothing those final three drives. They also held the Vikings scoreless in the second quarter.

Regarding the standings, the only effect this loss has is it hurts the Vikings. They’ve played in so many close games this season, and recent wins against the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers gave them real credibility. Now the Vikings have lost two consecutive games, including one to a winless team, and find themselves on the outside of the NFC playoff picture.

Clearly, this is not a good look for the Vikings, but for just a bit, let’s just stay positive and congratulate the Lions. No matter how many millions you make, losing is miserable. For one afternoon they and their fans were able to revel in victory and it took a whole 13 weeks to get there. They should all enjoy it, especially, on the heels of the Michigan Wolverines making their first College Football Playoff.

Advertisement

5 / 5