Arizona became the first team to reach 10 wins this season, and the return of its star quarterback in Week 13 was key to that.
Quarterbacks had been off in recent days, in terms of our weekly roster, being relegated to the background to stars from other positions, but Week 13 saw three quarterback performances that ranked among the best of Sunday night.
Among them, no one shined more than an explosive quarterback making his comeback after a forced absence due to injury.
The Cardinals got Kyler Murray back after missing him since Week 8 with an ankle injury. They were clearly pleased with what he brought back.
The Arizona quarterback completed 11 of 15 passes for 123 yards with two touchdowns through the air, adding 10 carries for 59 yards with two touchdowns, to rise as the most outstanding player of Week 13, leading the Cards to becoming the first team to reach double-digit wins for the year, and retaining the top spot in the NFC seed.
One of his touchdown passes went to DeAndre Hopkins, another key player recovered by the Cards this day, and the Arizona defense responded greatly in addition with a performance of four interceptions and three sacks, to re-cement the club among the favorites. to reach Super Bowl LVI after a month of ups and downs in the level of play.
What is clear is that, with Murray healthy on the trigger of the offense led by Kliff Kingsbury from the headphones, the Cardinals are a notoriously more explosive team.
The only question that remains now is whether Murray is in time to get back into the NFL MVP argument that he dominated earlier in the season.
Tom Brady, quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When Brady is plugged in, the Bucs’ offense is like a perfectly timed orchestra, each piece with a specific role. Brady completed 38 of 51 passes for 368 yards with four touchdowns against an interception, abusing a fragile passing defense of Atlanta, a team that loves to face the quarterback.
Dallas Goedert, tight end, Philadelphia Eagles. Philly had to jump onto the field without its starting quarterback, but Goedert was critical to the offense missing Jalen Hurts as little as possible, with six receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns on Gardner Minshew II’s throws. It was the game Eagles fans had been waiting for all year, particularly after the team fell apart via the Zach Ertz trade.
Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, Minnesota Vikings. With Adam Thielan hurt and out of the game, the Vikings offense required extraordinary effort from Jefferson, and he got it, with 11 catches for 182 yards with a touchdown. It was unfortunate, however, that Minny’s defense was unable to echo that effort, giving up the score on the final play for one more defeat this season, and this time against a team that didn’t know how to win.
Diontae Johnson, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers. It took the Steelers a miracle to win this afternoon at home to the Ravens, but Johnson put them in position to win with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a game that seemed to elude them early in the game. Johnson had eight receptions for 105 yards, and while he couldn’t fully shake off the dropped passes he’s gotten us used to, he was instrumental in putting Pittsburgh behind a three-game winless streak.
Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams. We hadn’t seen a great Stafford game for a while, and the Rams were hungry for one. The Jags had to visit for it to happen, but it happened. The quarterback connected on 26 of 38 attempts for 295 yards with three touchdowns without interceptions, annihilating the Jacksonville defense.
Jonathan Taylor, running back, Indianapolis Colts. Another week, and another appearance by the best running back the 2021 NFL regular season has at this point. Taylor had 32 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns in the Colts’ beating of a Texans who just enjoyed the show.