It’s common knowledge in sports that if you take care of your own business, you don’t have to worry about anybody else as far as the standings are concerned.
While this is entirely true, getting some help along the way is never a bad thing. This column will be completely dedicated to the results of the other three NFC South teams throughout the season; hopefully we’ll be able to bask in their failures together.
This article series’ sole purpose will be to take a look at the weekly performances of the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers and to look at how the NFC South is shaping up week in and week out.
Minnesota Vikings 28, Carolina Panthers 27
In one of the most exciting early window games, the Vikings eeked out a victory at the last second against the Panthers to register their fourth win in five games since their bye week.
It was a mostly inconsequential first half, with a 10-7 scoreline going into the break, before things were broken open early in the third quarter. Panthers rookie Jeremy Chinn made history by becoming the first NFL player ever to score defensive touchdowns on two consecutive plays (both fumble recoveries), before Kirk Cousins orchestrated three consecutive scoring drives to complete a comeback.
Teddy Bridgewater did a great job of maneuvering Carolina into position for a final field goal attempt for the win, but for the third time this season Joey Slye missed a very long FG attempt for the win as time expired.
Cousins had 307 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, as he’s been heating up the last few weeks. He lost the first fumble recovered for a touchdown. Dalvin Cook was bottled up to the tune of 61 rushing yards on 18 carries, also losing a fumble which was recovered by Chinn in the process. Bisi Johnson led the team with 74 receiving yards but Justin Jefferson caught two touchdown passes.
Bridgewater had 267 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. Mike Davis had 55 rushing yards on 15 carries. Robby Anderson had a game high 94 receiving yards along with a score.
New Orleans Saints 31, Denver Broncos 3
This was the game that dominated headlines coming into Sunday afternoon, with every one of Denver’s quarterbacks deemed ineligible to play due to COVID protocols. Practice squad wide receiver and former Wake Forest quarterback Kendall Hinton took the reins of the position.
It went about how you would have expected. New Orleans’ defense absolutely dominated. The only points Denver scored came from a drive which started at the Saints’ 40-yard-line off an interception. The Broncos never crossed midfield on drives that started in their own territory and had seven drives where they totaled fewer than 10 yards. For the Saints, It was about as easy of a win as you could achieve in the NFL.
Taysom Hill had 78 passing yards, no passing touchdowns and an interception. He added 44 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. Latavius Murray powered the New Orleans offense to the tune of 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Michael Thomas had a game high 50 receiving yards.
Hinton had one completion for 13 passing yards, along with two interceptions. Royce Freeman had 50 rushing yards. Noah Fant had the only reception for the Broncos.
Kansas City Chiefs 27, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24
In what ended up being a tight matchup, Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their 10th win of the season against a Buccaneers team that just couldn’t keep up.
Andy Reid’s squad got out to a quick 17-0 lead in the first quarter, using Tyreek Hill’s speed as their primary form of attack. They were in position to add to that lead deep in the red zone when Mahomes fumbled and gave the Bucs the turning point they needed.
Despite the Chiefs using more of Hill in the second half to re-establish a late 17-point lead after the Bucs did what they could to cut the deficit, Tom Brady and the Tampa offense got into a rhythm in the fourth quarter and had back to back touchdown scoring drives in the final period to get within three.
When Mahomes got the ball back with 4:10 remaining, however, he orchestrated a drive which bled out the rest of the clock and didn’t allow Brady an opportunity to see the field again.
Mahomes added to his MVP credentials with 462 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. All three scores went to Tyreek Hill, who exploded for 269 receiving yards. Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the team with 31 rushing yards.
Brady had 345 passing yards, three touchdowns and what ended up being a costly two interceptions. Ronald Jones led both teams with 66 rushing yards, and he added a 37-yard touchdown reception. Rob Gronkowksi led the team with 106 receiving yards.
NFC South Standings after Week 11
1. New Orleans Saints (9-2 overall record; 5-0 division record) - Next at Falcons
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4 overall record; 1-2 division record) - Next BYE
3. Atlanta Falcons (4-7 overall record; 1-2 division record) - Next vs. Saints
4. Carolina Panthers (4-8 overall record; 1-4 division record) - Next BYE