NFL Week 13 takeaways, stat leaders: Browns put up 41 points, and the Jets find a new way to lose

Week 13 in the NFL saw some wild endings and near upsets. The Raiders needed a deep-ball touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III in the closing seconds to avoid a loss to the winless Jets, while the Vikings were forced to overtime against the one-win Jaguars before hitting a game-winning field goal. The Lions overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Bears, and the Saints survived a late push from the Falcons to secure a playoff berth. And the Browns racked up 38 points in the first half to defeat the Titans, despite a four-TD second half from Tennessee.

In the afternoon slate on Sunday, the Giants shocked the Seahawks to move to 5-7, while the Patriots blew out the Chargers with a big special-teams performance. The Eagles pulled Carson Wentz, and the Rams made moves in the NFC West playoff race.

All that and more in Week 13's biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:

New Orleans Saints 21, Atlanta Falcons 16

Standout performer: Saints QB Taysom Hill, 232 passing yards, 2 TDs (and 83 rushing yards)

The Saints are 3-0 with Taysom Hill at quarterback (even though he temporarily lost his grip on his best performance to date with a costly fumble early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win). And the defense came up with a huge red zone stop late in the game to seal the Saints' ninth consecutive victory and clinch a playoff spot. The Saints (10-2) should eventually get Drew Brees back, but even without him, they keep showing they can handle adversity and win in a variety of ways. That should bode well in the playoffs. -- Mike Triplett

Next game: at Eagles (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Falcons still don't have an identity. After a promising week of defense against the Raiders, it appeared that could be their strong suit, but they followed it up with a poor performance against the Saints. With an offense that continues to struggle, Atlanta is looking for any sort of positive consistency on either side of the ball at this point. -- Harry Lyles Jr.

Next game: at Chargers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Cleveland Browns 41, Tennessee Titans 35

Standout performer: Browns QB Baker Mayfield, 334 passing yards, 4 TDs

The Browns finally have a winning season. Behind a first-half performance unparalleled in franchise history, Cleveland defeated Tennessee to move to 9-3, clinching its first winning record in 13 years. The Browns also took another big step toward snapping the league's longest postseason drought. Spearheaded by quarterback Baker Mayfield, Cleveland scored 38 points in the first half, breaking a franchise first-half record. Mayfield himself had a record half, becoming the first Browns quarterback since Otto Graham in 1951 to pass for four touchdowns in a first half. If Mayfield keeps playing this way, the Browns could be more than just a threat to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Once there, they could actually do some damage. -- Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Ravens (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Dec. 14)

The Titans came out with little life against the Browns and gave up 38 points in the first half. The ugly defensive performances on third down resurfaced this week, with Tennessee giving up 10 conversions on 16 third-down opportunities. Tennessee is still in first place in the AFC South, though, thanks to a 3-1 record in the division. -- Turron Davenport

Next game: at Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Indianapolis Colts 26, Houston Texans 20

Standout performer: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, 110 receiving yards, 1 TD

The Colts can't sit back and relax too much after beating Houston to move into a first-place tie with Tennessee atop the AFC South (although the Titans hold the tiebreaker). They're back on the road in Week 14 to face a Las Vegas team that's breathing down their necks for the final playoff spot in the AFC. A loss to the Raiders (7-5) would hurt the Colts' chances at making the playoffs if they don't win the AFC South. -- Mike Wells

Next game: at Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Texans' slim chance at a run at the AFC South ended with a fumble on the 2-yard-line in Sunday's loss, but Houston might have found a pair of playmakers with a future for this franchise. After Kenny Stills was released and Will Fuller V was suspended, the Texans had a need at the position, and receivers Keke Coutee (eight catches for 141 yards) and Chad Hansen (five catches for 101 yards) took advantage of their opportunities. -- Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Bears (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Minnesota Vikings 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 24

Standout performer: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, 120 rushing yards (and 59 receiving yards)

Sure, a win is a win, but the Vikings' overtime victory against the Jaguars was ugly, and the team knows it. "We've got to play better than what we're playing," coach Mike Zimmer said before noting how the Vikings gave up three touchdowns off turnovers in consecutive weeks and fumbled on the 1-yard line against the Jaguars with a chance to take a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. "We can't do those things and continue to win football games. It's a credit to their heart right now that they're winning games by making these kind of mistakes, to be honest with you." If the Vikings want to improve their résumé for the playoffs, they have to earn a convincing win against a team with more than one victory. They have a prime opportunity to do that in Tampa Bay next Sunday. -- Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

For the second consecutive week -- and third time in the past four games -- the Jaguars came close to snapping their losing streak and picking up their second victory, despite being down four of their top five cornerbacks and their best pass-rusher, and being on their sixth kicker of the season. It's an indication this shouldn't be a long rebuild for the new GM. Take the quarterback with their top pick, hit on the other three picks they have through the first two rounds and spend wisely in free agency, and the Jaguars could be a vastly improved team in 2021. -- Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Titans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Miami Dolphins 19, Cincinnati Bengals 7

Standout performer: Dolphins LB Kyle Van Noy, 8 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup

In his first game since being benched for poor play and injuring his left thumb, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa bounced back in a big way. He showed he could fight through first-half adversity, as offensive rust wore off at halftime, making way for a big third quarter. Tagovailoa threw for a career-high 294 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers as the Dolphins' up-tempo offense and continued dominance on defense gave some reason for optimism as they continue a playoff push. -- Cameron Wolfe

Next game: vs. Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Last season, Cincinnati's overtime defeat to the Dolphins sealed the right to draft quarterback Joe Burrow and showed signs of fight under new coach Zac Taylor. On Sunday, hope and optimism were the last things to be found in Miami. The loss was arguably the low point for the Bengals in Taylor's two seasons as a coach. The Bengals let a halftime lead slip away, were absolutely dominated in the second half and showed a stunning lack of discipline that hadn't been seen since Taylor was hired in 2019. It was a lot of the same tune for a Bengals team that has struggled to find ways to win. Cincinnati fell to 1-5 when leading at halftime and 2-9-1 overall, which keeps Taylor at four wins in two seasons. "It's frustrating when these games, you don't pull them out in the end," Taylor said. -- Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Cowboys (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Detroit Lions 34, Chicago Bears 30

Standout performer: Lions QB Matthew Stafford, 402 passing yards, 3 TDs

He had already been in the locker room, been given a game ball by quarterback Matthew Stafford and had time to cool down after the Lions came from behind to stun the Bears on Sunday. But even then, interim head coach Darrell Bevell -- in his first game as an NFL head coach -- couldn't contain his excitement. "My emotions right now," Bevell said. "I can't even think straight." It's understandable. Bevell brought a different level of energy in Detroit's first game since Matt Patricia was fired, and it showed. The Lions played with confidence, and the change at the top yielded something positive for the Lions in what has felt, thus far, like a lost season. -- Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Packers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Blow it all up. The Bears (5-7) are done. Finished. Over. Chicago pulled off the impossible on Sunday when it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against a Lions team that just fired its head coach and general manager. The Bears have now lost six consecutive games and appear in serious danger of having to make major offseason changes. The loss is particularly galling because Detroit accomplished on Sunday what the rest of the league has not: The Lions made the Bears' 31st-ranked offense look good for the most part. And the Bears still found a way to lose. The incessant calls to fire coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace -- and, well, everyone in the building -- are about to reach a fever pitch. It's going to be an excruciating final four weeks in Chicago. -- Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Texans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Las Vegas Raiders 31, New York Jets 28

Standout performer: Raiders TE Darren Waller, 200 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Among the many mottos Al Davis ingrained into the Raiders' DNA was this: It doesn't matter how ugly it looks, so long as you win. Yeah, a spin of his more iconic "Just win, baby" slogan. But against a winless and rudderless team such as the Jets, it was more than appropriate. Behind a record day by tight end Darren Waller, and a miracle finish courtesy of a 46-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs III with five seconds to play, the Raiders ended a two-game losing streak to improve to 7-5 and stay firmly in the AFC playoff race. Now the Raiders embark upon three consecutive home games, including two against teams with whom they are competing for a playoff spot (Colts and Dolphins). -- Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Colts (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Jets dropped to 0-12 in crushing fashion, as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams inexplicably called an all-out blitz with 13 seconds left in the game, and rookie cornerback Lamar Jackson got beat by Ruggs for a 46-yard touchdown. It was a horrible call that was criticized by safety Marcus Maye. Let the finger-pointing begin. The Jets are an embarrassment. -- Rich Cimini

Next game: at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Los Angeles Rams 38, Arizona Cardinals 28

Standout performer: Rams QB Jared Goff, 351 passing yards, 1 TD (and 1 rushing TD)

Jared Goff and the offense broke out of a slump and the Rams improved to 8-4. Coupled with a Seattle loss, the Rams move into a tie for first place in the NFC West with the Seahawks, whom they hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over. With four games remaining, including two division contests, the Rams are positioned to win a third division title in four seasons under coach Sean McVay. Their chances of winning the division are 58%, according to ESPN's Football Power Index. -- Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Patriots (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The Cardinals (6-6) are now in a four-game fight for their playoff lives after losing to the Rams, the fourth loss in their past five games. As of now, the Cardinals are on the outside of the playoffs, having dropped out of the seventh and final spot thanks to a win by the Vikings. Arizona has lost control of its playoff fate. It's now up to the Cardinals to win, but other teams will need to lose for them to make the postseason, and it doesn't help that they go to New York next week to face a hot Giants team. -- Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

New York Giants 17, Seattle Seahawks 12

Standout performer: Giants DE Leonard Williams, 2.5 sacks, 5 QB hits

Whether they meant to or not, the Giants made a statement, even without starting QB Daniel Jones. Their defense is for real -- and they are a dangerous team. It was one thing for the Giants to beat Washington (Alex Smith), Philadelphia (Carson Wentz) and Cincinnati (Brandon Allen). But this was Russell Wilson whom they confused and shut down. Seattle, which came in averaging more than 30 points per game, managed one touchdown against this ascending Giants defense. New York (5-7) has won four consecutive games and has sole possession of first place in the NFC East, at least until Washington plays on Monday night. It also proved that if it does make the playoffs, it's not going to be an easy matchup, regardless of the team's overall record. Not with this defense. -- Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Cardinals (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

It's hard to consider the Seahawks a legitimate threat to make a deep run in the playoffs after seeing the egg they laid Sunday. They lost at home to a 4-7 Giants team quarterbacked by Colt McCoy, who hadn't won a game as a starter since 2014. Wilson was out of sync all game and took several costly sacks. This might be the most disappointing regular-season loss of the Pete Carroll era considering the opponent and the opportunity the Seahawks had over this supposedly soft stretch of their schedule to pad their lead in the NFC West. It's doubly painful considering the Rams won Sunday. -- Brady Henderson

Next game: vs. Jets (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Green Bay Packers 30, Philadelphia Eagles 16

Standout performer: Packers WR Davante Adams, 121 receiving yards, 2 TDs

For everything good that happened in Sunday's win -- Aaron Rodgers reached 400 career touchdowns, Davante Adams surpassed 1,000 yards for the season and Aaron Jones had a 77-yard touchdown run -- the Packers haven't clinched a playoff spot yet and still trail the Saints in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, so their work is far from done. The Packers (9-3) have feasted on terrible quarterback play by the past two opponents: Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky last week, and now Carson Wentz, who was so ineffective that Eagles coach Doug Pederson pulled him in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts in the second half. -- Rob Demovsky

Next game: at Lions (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Coach Doug Pederson needs to start Hurts next Sunday against the Saints. Hurts provided the Eagles a spark when inserted into the lineup against the Packers. He certainly wasn't perfect, throwing an interception and taking three sacks to go with his first career touchdown. But there was no denying the momentum shift across the team when Hurts replaced Wentz. The rest of the players no doubt felt it, and it would be a disservice to the team if he didn't get at least one start to see if that energy can be sustained. -- Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Saints (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

New England Patriots 45, Los Angeles Chargers 0

Standout performer: Patriots PR/WR Gunner Olszewski, 145 punt-return yards, 1 TD (and 38 receiving yards, 1 TD)

Gunner Olszewski had a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown and added another long return, and the Patriots had a 44-yard return of a blocked field goal for a touchdown, as they made a decisive statement that special teams can authoritatively dictate the outcome of games. Now 6-6, the Patriots' longshot playoff hopes are still alive, and they have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night road game at the Rams (they'll stay in L.A. over the next five days). If they play like they did Sunday against the Chargers, anything is possible. -- Mike Reiss

Next game: at Rams (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Nothing went right for rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers, except the punting. And it's never good when the punter is the only player to have a good game. Ty Long punted four times for a 51.5-yard average, as Herbert (two interceptions), his offensive line and the special teams all struggled. -- Shelley Smith

Next game: vs. Falcons (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Kansas City Chiefs 22, Denver Broncos 16

Standout performer: Travis Kelce, 8 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD

The Chiefs can count on their defense, after all. The Chiefs kicked five field goals and needed help from their defense to outlast the Broncos. This was about the time of year last season when the Chiefs started their dramatic defensive improvement, sparking hopes that a similar turnaround is in store this year. -- Adam Teicher

Next game: at Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Broncos constructed the game they wanted. They created the tempo they wanted, ran the ball like they wanted and an undermanned defense, with backups all over the formation at times, played with the grit the Broncos wanted. The only thing they didn't get was the win as talent, as in Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes' talent, won out in the end. But it showed the Broncos, at 4-8, are still playing with every ounce of what they have for coach Vic Fangio. If the Broncos have the patience and can again muster the effort they had at Arrowhead Sunday night, a close loss could power them to some more wins. -- Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Panthers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Washington Football Team 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Standout performer: Logan Thomas, 9 catches, 98 yards, TD, 8 catches, 136 yards, 1 TD

Washington not only has resolve, it also has some nice talent to build around for the foreseeable future. Yes, it has defensive end Chase Young who has been terrific as a rookie (look beyond the sacks to see his overall impact), and second-year end Montez Sweat has been excellent as well. There's a much different feel around this organization because of the toughness this group has shown, overcoming quite a bit -- a sluggish start, quarterback injuries and more. They lost their top running back, Antonio Gibson, Monday after the first play, yet found a way. Whether Washington wins the NFC East will be irrelevant if it continues to play like this. It has developed a mindset and is figuring out how to win -- against undefeated teams no less. -- John Keim

Next game: at 49ers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Steelers didn't play like an undefeated team for the second game in a row, and this time it cost them. Washington outplayed a sloppy Steelers offense that lacked fluidity and ended the Steelers' undefeated season. Pittsburgh is in the midst of a grind, playing three games in 12 days because of COVID-19 rescheduling, but the team is trending in the wrong direction with its first playoff berth since 2017 nearly within grasp. While the defense failed to force turnover for the first time in more than a month, the more concerning problems lie with the offense. The run game, averaging 1.5 yards per carry, was non-existent for the second week in a row. Sure, the Steelers are 11-1, but they're not playing like it. -- Brooke Pryor

Next game: at Bills (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Buffalo Bills 34, San Francisco 49ers 24

Standout performer: Josh Allen, 375 passing yards, 4 TDs

The Bills have put together a full, four-quarter effort for the first time this season. They've often suffered some sort of lull during their previous 11 games but there was no such lapse Monday, as they raced out to a multiple-score lead in the first half and answered when the 49ers threatened. As a result, Buffalo showed the world a team that can compete for the AFC title. Allen picked apart whatever look San Francisco gave him, and Buffalo's defense forced turnovers while holding the 49ers to just 86 rushing yards. It's exactly the type of game the Bills needed heading into a Week 14 showdown with the 11-1 Steelers. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

With four games to go, the defending NFC champion 49ers are clinging to their postseason hopes by a thread. At 5-7, the Niners likely need to win out to return to the playoffs and defend their NFC crown. That's a daunting task for a team that's been decimated by injury, is currently making its home in Arizona and has remaining divisional games against the Cardinals and Seattle. -- Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Washington (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Dallas Cowboys 17, Baltimore Ravens, 34

Standout performer: Lamar Jackson, 107 yards passing, 94 yards rushing, three total touchdowns

Lamar Jackson showed no effects from testing positive from COVID-19. He actually resembled his NFL MVP self from last season, running for 94 yards and throwing two touchdowns. The Ravens didn't know what to expect from Jackson, who had only one full practice before Tuesday's game. "One thing you do know about Lamar -- you're to get everything he's got," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's all you can ask for. He's going to give you whatever he has. It turned out that he had a lot tonight."-- Jamison Hensley

Next game: vs. Browns (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday)

Guaranteed of their first losing record since 2015 with Tuesday's 34-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Cowboys still cling on to hope that they can still compete in the NFC East even if they are two games back of the New York Giants and Washington Football Team. The Cowboys lost both games to Washington and have one remaining with New York, but if the defense can't improve (294 yards rushing allowed) and the offense can't get in the end zone (two failed red-zone tries, plus three missed field goals) none of it will matter. "That's where we are as a football team," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "The only ones that can change it is us. We didn't get it done. We didn't play well enough to win." -- Todd Archer

Next game: vs. Bengals (1:00 p.m. ET, Sunday)