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TMF: 49ers Victorious Behind George Kittle’s Big Day: ‘That’s a Special Dude,' Plus: Chiefs Teach Raiders a Lesson, More From Week 14
George Kittle is that 'special dude' in San Francisco, Chiefs show Raiders what happens when you provoke the wrong side; much more from Week 14.
While Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots were enjoying a warranted bye week, the rest of the league watched on as not one, but two former Patriots quarterbacks led their team to an overtime victory; both by the way of gripping game-winning touchdown passes.
Although the Tampa Bay Buccaneers squandered a comfortable fourth-quarter lead, they regrouped when it mattered most – in overtime – to beat the Buffalo Bills, 33-27. Tom Brady’s 58-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Breshad Perriman sealed the win for Tampa Bay. The game-winning touchdown pass was the 700th career touchdown pass for Brady. He became the NFL’s career leader in completions earlier in the game, as the records continue to stack up for the seven-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Speaking of Brady and the Bucs, the quote of the week is thankfully brought to you by Brady’s willingness to run the football to get a first down in the win on Sunday. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians was asked after the game about his thoughts on Brady sacrificing his body to run for the first down.
“That’s enough of that sh*t,”
Tell us how you really feel, coach.
The other former Patriots quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, also found himself leading his team on a game-winning touchdown drive in overtime. Garoppolo found wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who was initially ruled out of bounds at Cincinnati’s 1-yard line, but officials determined that Aiyuk’s slippery launch for the endzone stretched the pylon. Touchdown. 49ers win.
In today’s column, we’ll also cover:
George Kittle playing superhero in San Francisco: “That’s a different dude,”
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs motivated by Raiders pregame logo huddle at Arrowhead.
Tom Brady crushes Josh Allen’s hopes for a Bills comeback, as Buffalo heads back to the drawing board down two games in the AFC East.
Justin Herbert’s rocket launcher of an arm.
Ravens are in trouble, with or without Lamar Jackson.
Micah Parsons not only a lock for DROY, but he could receive votes for DPOY too.
Aaron Rodgers and Packers have a shot at No. 1 seed in NFC, and they may need it to beat a familiar foe.
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TMF HEADLINE: George Kittle is ‘a different dude’
We’re not going to tackle the debate of who the best tight end in the NFL is today. Instead, we’ll tackle the 49ers thrilling overtime victory over the Bengals in similar fashion to San Francisco tight end George Kittle – a fierce, spectacular manner. Kittle caught 13 of 15 for 151 yards and a touchdown.
"That's a different dude," Brandon Aiyuk, who delivered a remarkable game himself with the game-winning touchdown catch in overtime, said after the game.
"I’m not sure what he had, but that’s a special dude -- a real special dude."
Michael Buffer famously saying, “Let’s get ready to rumble,” is often what you might picture running brisk through Kittle’s mind as he makes play, after play, after play when Jimmy Garoppolo needed him most. His proclaimed passion as a pro wrestling fan may have something to do with that famed phrase, of course. But it’s still a suitable imaginative correlation given how fiercely he plays the game.
This fourth quarter catch below, to exemplify the point above, is about as clutch a play you’ll see on a football field all season.
On third-and-ten at Cincinnati's 48 yard-line, with the 49ers attempting to drive down the field with hopes of a game-winning field goal attempt, Kittle made a challenging vaulting catch for a 19-yard gain. Remarkable.
San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould would ultimately miss the would-be game-winning field goal, pushing the kick wide right. Kittle’s heroic day didn’t end there, however. It continued into overtime where he made another third-down catch to help move the offense closer to the Cincinnati end zone. On the very next play, Aiyuk would score the game winner on a catch-and-run, gliding his way and extending for the pylon.
"George showed out today," Jimmy Garoppolo said to the media postgame. “When you have a guy you can lean on, it’s a nice feeling for a quarterback."
The 2021 season didn’t start off the way Kittle, or the entire 49ers team, imagined. Kittle suffered a calf injury in the very first game; Week 1 against Detroit, which eventually led him to be placed on injured reserve a few weeks later. Since his return in Week 9, the 49ers have won four of six and have regained control of their playoff ambitions.
Here a few key numbers since Week 9, when Kittle returned from injury:
38 catches (Tied for most amongst tight ends)
530 yards (120 more yards than any other tight end)
6 receiving touchdowns (First among all NFL players)
Also, after Sunday’s dominant day, George Kittle is the first tight end since 1996 (Shannon Sharpe) to have consecutive games with 150+ receiving yards.
So again, we won’t engage in any debate of whether George Kittle is in fact, the best tight end in the NFL today. We will, however, engage in the same ‘hot take’ that Niners fans everywhere remain dug in on: Behind the likes of Kittle, Nick Bosa and company, the 49ers look to be a dangerous out when the postseason arrives.
LEAD TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 14
Chiefs Stomp on Raiders, Play ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on PA as Raiders Leave Arrowhead
Some will say it’s petty, but you might recall that after the Raiders’ Week 5 win over the Chiefs in the 2020 season, they took a “victory lap” around Arrowhead Stadium in their team bus. Well, even if you forget, Kansas City certainly did not. After the colossal 48-9 win over their AFC West division rival, the Chiefs played the awe-inspiring nursery rhyme, “Wheels on the Bus” on the Arrowhead PA system as the Raiders left the field in utter humiliation.
Now, before we talk about holding grudges or pettiness, let’s run back to what Vegas elected to do as prior to kickoff. When pregame warmups concluded, the Raiders were spotted moving their pregame huddle from the 25-yard line to centerfield, directly atop Kansas City’s Arrowhead logo. Vegas players huddled up, shared a pregame hype speech and broke the huddle on the Chiefs logo centerfield.
James Palmer of the NFL Network shared the Raiders pregame flop on camera:
Unsurprisingly, it took a mere seven seconds for Kansas City to take the lead when Chiefs’ cornerback Mike Hughes returned a fumble 23-yards for an early touchdown. The rest of the game played out quite well for the Chiefs, to put it lightly.
"I don't think champions really act in that manner,'' Tyrann Mathieu said after the game.
Kansas City led 35-3 at halftime, and in a growingly bitter rivalry between the two foes, a 48-9 blowout win wasn’t quite enough icing on the cake for the Chiefs.
"There wasn't a lot of conversation about it, but I mean you definitely don't want people coming into your stadium trying to disrespect things that you've kind of built," Mahomes said after the game.
"So, for us, it gave us a little bit more motivation”
Kansas City have now won six straight games and are tied for the best record in the AFC. Over the last six games, the defense is allowing just 10.8 points per game while the offense is scoring an average of 27.2 PPG. Sunday’s win was another reminder as to why no team in the AFC encompasses the potential ceiling to match this Kansas City Chiefs team. Mahomes and the offense are still continuing to improve down the stretch, too.
And that’s a terrifying thought for the rest of the league.
Tom Brady, Buccaneers Crush Josh Allen’s Hope for a Bills Comeback
In a game that saw a Buffalo Bills team stick to a game plan essentially fixated on ‘playing our style of football,’ the Bills eventually met the same fate as prior weeks: a heart-wrenching loss. The Bills called zero run plays for their running backs in the entire first half of Sunday’s game. Oh, and according to the CBS broadcast team, Buffalo is the first team to play an entire first half with no running back run plays since 1991. That statistic is particularly surprising given how pass heavy the NFL has become over the past decade.
Now, if we evaluate where Buffalo’s offense shines, and doesn’t, running the football would certainly sit in the ‘doesn’t shine’ category. Nevertheless, the bold, or not so bold depending on your subjective viewpoint, didn’t seem to translate to success on the field as the Bills found themselves in a 24-3 hole as the first half concluded.
But in the second half, Josh Allen put his team on his back in a heroic effort to elevate his team in a comeback effort. Buffalo would score the final 17 points in regulation; erasing a 27-10 deficit in the fourth quarter. Allen threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 109 yards and a score.
In what could be perceived as Allen’s best game of the season, Tom Brady drove a dagger in Allen’s hopes of a overtime win when Brady found Breshad Perriman down the middle for a 59-yard catch-and-run game winner.
Brady and the Bucs continue to find ways to win games down the stretch. Now down two games to the Patriots in the AFC East, Allen and the Bills head back to the drawing board entering Week 15.
FIVE OTHER THINGS FROM THE WEEK
The popular debate among which NFL quarterback has the strongest arm typically includes the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. Well, Justin Herbert has entered the room, folks. Herbert arguably threw the touchdown of the year on Sunday, when he connected with wide receiver Jaylen Guyton for a 59-yard score. Per Next Gen Stats, Herbert’s pass traveled 63.8 yards in the air; the second longest completion in the NFL this season. Man, it was a pure beauty to watch too.
It was just last season that the Cowboys defense allowed 473 points, 29.6 points per game, the most in Dallas franchise history. Through 14 weeks of the 2021 season, the Cowboys defense ranks 12th in the league, allowing 22.1 points per game. Rookie standout Micah Parsons surely can’t be given all the credit, but he’s more than deserving of a large share of it. Parsons now has 12 sacks on the season, and 9.5 of them have come over the past six games. He’s not only secured the lock to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he is also building a case to receive serious consideration for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
Assuming a healthy toe, Aaron Rodgers has the Packers in prime position to take the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Down the stretch, Green Bay has the schedule advantage over Arizona. Oh, and having the NFC playoffs go through Lambeau is precisely what this team needs to beat Tom Brady, too.
Lamar Jackson left Sunday’s eventual loss to the Browns due to an ankle injury. The scary part for Baltimore is the outcome may not have mattered much. The Ravens have dealt with injury woes throughout the season, and as the weeks go on it’s becoming clearer just how flawed this team is. This was supposed to be the year Lamar Jackson took Baltimore to new heights, and was rewarded with a new contract, making him one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. With or without Jackson, the Ravens have serious holes to fill, both on the field and on the sidelines, if they want to build a team Jackson can lead how he knows best.
ASK ME ANYTHING FROM THE WEEK
–The Falcons have played a lot of their draft class this season, far more than in past seasons. Is this more that Terry Fontenot has selected better players or the roster has so many holes; Arthur Smith has had little choice?
Appreciate you sending me this question, but it’s a tough one to truly answer with an above average confidence level. Rookie OL Jalen Mayfield, for example, has allowed the most sacks at the position (9) in the entire league, per PFF.
Obviously, Kyle Pitts being selected fourth overall is the player most Atlanta fans are most curious about. The most concerning part of Pitts’ rookie season for me, is the touchdowns, or lack thereof. Regardless of what picks Atlanta hit on last draft or not, passing on Justin Fields and Mac Jones is looking worse as the season goes on. So to answer your question, the roster is bad; which naturally means more rookies will see the field.
–Will Mac Jones win OROY?
He’s the betting favorite on most major sites, I believe. I think he’ll win it, yes.
–Bold predictions for the offseason?
The Carolina Panthers swing for the fences to land a high profile quarterback.
–Favorite quarterback in the 2022 draft?
This may surprise you, but I’d still roll with Malik Willis. Especially in RD2.
READ OF THE WEEK
If you’re still holiday shopping for a loved one who enjoys American History, or authentic reads altogether, I’d strongly suggest adding this to your holiday shopping list.
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America
By Clint Smith (Little, Brown & Company)
“Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.
A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted.”