How the NFC West Was Won Week 13: It’s a two-horse race
As we head into the final four weeks of the NFL season, it’s very clear the NFC West is a two-horse race.
The Arizona Cardinals wanted to be involved in the stretch run, but petered out around turn three and now find themselves closer in the standings to last-place San Francisco than first-place Los Angeles.
The Rams and Seahawks were both very impressive in notching Week 13 wins, while the 49ers got a ‘W’ in the debut of their perceived quarterback of the future.
Here’s a closer look at everything that went down this week in the NFC West.
Los Angeles Rams 32, Arizona Cardinals 16
Apparently not anymore.
The Rams marched into Glendale, jumped out to an early 16-point lead, and left with a 16-point win. It was their third straight win on the Cardinals’ home field and Arizona is now 0-7-1 in its last eight home games against Los Angeles and Seattle.
Los Angeles (9-3) used two first-quarter Blaine Gabbert interceptions to its advantage. The quarterback attempted a long pass on the Cardinals’ first play from scrimmage, but underthrew J.J. Nelson and the ball was picked off by Lamarcus Joyner, who returned it 46 yards to the Arizona 23-yard line. Seven plays later, Jared Goff found Gerald Everett on a 1-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to extend the Rams’ lead to 9-0.
Later in the first, Gabbert threw a pass right to linebacker Alec Ogletree, who returned it 41 yards for a touchdown to make it 16-0.
Arizona would rally, closing the gap to three points in the second quarter, but the Rams got a field goal from Greg Zuerlein right before halftime and went to the break with a 19-13 lead. The Cardinals would get no closer.
Stat of the Game: Gurley riddled the Cardinals’ defense, but more so in the passing game. The third-year running back had 84 yards receiving — the second-highest single-game output of his career. His career-high is 94, which he had in a Week 4 win over the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season.
He Said It (Arizona): “They made more plays today. I’ve got to take my hat off to them. They made more plays on both sides of the ball.” — Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby
He Said It (Los Angeles): “Tough win against a great opponent today. It was a very tough atmosphere. I thought we battled through. It wasn’t always perfect, especially offensively. We have to clean up some mechanics and things like that.” — Rams coach Sean McVay
What’s Next: The Cardinals finish up a three-game homestand against the Tennessee Titans, while the Rams host the Philadelphia Eagles.
Seattle Seahawks 24, Philadelphia Eagles 10
Well, the Seahawks figured them out.
Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes and the Seahawks’ defense allowed just one touchdown against the Eagles’ potent attack to earn an impressive win.
Seattle jumped out early, grabbing a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, highlighted by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to tight end Jimmy Graham.
The Eagles would get on the board thanks to a 26-yard field goal from Jake Elliott midway through the second quarter.
Wilson capped an 80-yard drive in the third quarter with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett and then closed the scoring in the fourth with a 15-yard strike to J.D. McKissic.
The Eagles were able to move the ball, racking up 425 yards, which is the second-most surrendered by the Seahawks defense this year, but were unable to punch it into the end zone. A Carson Wentz fumble at the Seattle 1-yard line that bounced out of the end zone for a touchback was indicative of Philly’s struggles. A score there would have tied the game at 10-10.
Stat of the Game: Sunday marked Graham’s fourth straight game with a touchdown catch and seventh in his last eight contests. Graham leads all NFL tight ends with nine touchdowns in 2017.
He Said It: “It’s December. It’s time to play. It’s time to be great. That’s what we need to do and that’s what we need to continue to focus on.” — Russell Wilson
What’s Next: The Seahawks hit the road and head to the East Coast for a matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers 15, Chicago Bears 14
Robbie Gould, the Bears’ all-time leading scorer, went back to Soldier Field and booted five field goals to give the 49ers their second win of 2017. The final field goal, a 24-yarder, came with just four seconds left in the contest.
All eyes were on San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who made his first start since being acquired from the New England Patriots last month. He completed 26-of-37 passes for 293 yards and an interception in his debut.
Gould got the 49ers on the board first with a 33-yard field goal in the first. Chicago bounced back and took the lead when Mitchell Trubisky found Dontrelle Inman on an 8-yard TD strike late in the first.
Gould kicked another field goal, this one a 28-yarder early in the second quarter to close the gap to one point. Later in the second, Tarik Cohen returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown to give Chicago a 14-6 lead. It also marked the last scoring of the game for the Bears.
Stat of the Game: The 49ers defense limited the punchless Bears to 147 yards of total offense and only 67 in the second half.
He Said It: “I think this is the most confident I’ve been since I’ve gotten here. Every week it gets easier and easier, and we’ll start putting more things in and adding to the repertoire. I think we’re moving in the right direction.” — Jimmy Garoppolo
What’s Next: The 49ers are on the road looking for a second straight win against the 4-8 Houston Texans Sunday.
Offensive Player of the Week: Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks – Wilson had three touchdown passes, giving him seven straight games with at least two TD tosses. In that span, the quarterback has 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams – The beast in the middle of the Rams’ line had three tackles, two sacks and two quarterback hits in the game. Frank Clark and Bobby Wagner of Seattle were also dominant in the Seahawks’ win over Philadelphia.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Robbie Gould, K, San Francisco 49ers – Five field goals. It was Gould’s second career game with five and second this year. He provided all 15 San Francisco points in a three-point loss to the Cardinals in Week 4 this year.
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