Each Week’s Best NFL Game
The 2018 NFL season was one for the ages. Week after week, fans were treated with plenty of excitement. From explosive plays to human highlight reels to nail-biting finishes, 2018 had it all. With only one game to go until the football year concludes, let’s revisit the very best that 2018 had to offer by recapping the best game from each week of the season.
Week 1: Green Bay Packers 24, Chicago Bears 23
In what looked sure to be the Bears’ first win over the rival Packers since 2015, Aaron Rodgers proved once again why you can never count out Green Bay as long as he’s in the game. With all hope looking lost as Chicago went up 20-0 in the third quarter, Rodgers returned from a second-quarter knee injury to bring the game within three late. After a Cody Parkey field goal, Rodgers heaved a 75-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb to put the Packers ahead, where they would stay for the game’s final two minutes. It may not have been an especially kind season to Green Bay, but at least the Cheeseheads had one moment of glory on Sunday night back in week one.
Week 2: Kansas City Chiefs 42, Pittsburgh Steelers 37
If Patrick Mahomes’ four-touchdown performance in week one against Los Angeles is what put him on the map, it was his six-touchdown performance in week two against Pittsburgh that made him a household name. In a wild offensive showdown, Kansas City and Pittsburgh combined for 79 points, 924 total yards and nine combined passing touchdowns from Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger. The Chiefs seemed to put away the game early in the fourth quarter by going up 42-28, but Roethlisberger and the Steelers made it a competition by scoring a safety and late touchdown, ultimately ending up just short of completing the comeback.
Week 3: Cleveland Browns 21, New York Jets 17
For the first time in almost two years, the Cleveland Browns won a football game. But that wasn’t the only thing significant about this game. This Thursday night matchup also marked the first time we got to see rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield make his mark in the NFL. Mayfield made his presence immediate after entering the game late in the second quarter, as he completed 17 of 23 passes, put up 201 yards through the air and got the ball rolling offensively, allowing the Browns to crawl out of a 14-0 deficit and win their first game since 2016.
Week 4: Houston Texans 37, Indianapolis Colts 34 (OT)
Though these teams would end up meeting three times during the season, the first matchup back in week four was the best of the bunch. Indianapolis and Houston traded scores until overtime was needed to decide a victor. Both teams traded field goals, then, after a controversial decision by Colts head coach Frank Reich to go for it on fourth down, Ka’imi Fairbairn sealed the game for Houston with a 37-yard field goal as time expired. This game would end up deciding the course of the season for each of these teams, as Andrew Luck’s 62 pass attempts proved his arm was back in top form, while the Texans snapped a three-game losing streak and proceeded to win their next eight in a row.
Week 5: Houston Texans 19, Dallas Cowboys 16 (OT)
The Texans saw overtime excitement in consecutive weeks thanks to this back-and-forth thriller. Though Dallas went up 6-0 early, the Texans were able to catch up and keep the game tied until the end of regulation. Houston got the ball first in overtime and never looked back, as a wild 49-yard catch-and-run with multiple spin moves from DeAndre Hopkins help set up Fairbairn for yet another game-winning field goal. Though the defense was a larger factor in this one than either offense was, the thrilling overtime conclusion made this a game worth its Sunday night primetime spot.
Week 6: New England Patriots 43, Kansas City Chiefs 40
Looking back at this game, it’s clear to see that both of these teams were something special. In yet another Sunday night thriller, the Chiefs and Patriots combined for 83 points and 946 total yards. Initially, this game looked like a bore, as New England took a commanding 24-9 lead at halftime. But Mahomes and the Chiefs fought until the end and even took a 33-30 lead at one point. Ultimately, Kansas City’s defense could not stop Brady and the Patriots on the final drive, as Stephen Gostkowski booted a 28-yard field goal with no time left to seal a home victory. Thankfully, this would not be the final time these teams met in the 2018 season.
Week 7: Los Angeles Chargers 20, Tennessee Titans 19
In what was easily the most entertaining London game of 2018, the Titans-Chargers match up ended in dramatic fashion. Though Los Angeles seemed to be in control for the majority of the game, Tennessee suddenly made it a contest in the third quarter, trailing by only four. After a field goal to put the Chargers up by seven, Marcus Mariota commanded a 13-play, 89-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. But in similar fashion to fellow first-year head coach Frank Reich three weeks prior, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel made a controversial choice to go for two instead of trying his hand in overtime. The Bolts’ defense made the stop, and Los Angeles ended up with a one-point win.
Week 8: Los Angeles Rams 29, Green Bay Packers 27
Perhaps no game this season ended in more stark fashion than this one. A heated battle all throughout, the Packers found themselves with a 27-26 lead until the final minutes, when Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein knocked through a 34-yard field goal to take the lead. With 2:05 left on the clock, the stage was set for Aaron Rodgers to drive down the field and lead his team to victory once again. But Packers fans were given a rude awakening when kick returner Ty Montgomery fumbled on the ensuing kickoff instead of taking a knee in the end zone. The Rams would recover the fumble and run out the rest of the game clock to seal the victory. Montgomery was traded just two days later.
Week 9: New Orleans Saints 45, Los Angeles Rams 35
In a battle between the NFC’s top two teams and scoring offenses, it should come as no surprise that a lot of points were put on the board. In total these teams combined for 80 points, 54 first downs, 970 yards and one exciting match. In similar fashion to the Chiefs-Patriots match a few weeks prior, the game seemed to be put away at halftime with the Saints leading 35-17. But three consecutive scores from Los Angeles saw the game tied at 35-35 in the fourth quarter, before Drew Brees and company finally put this one to bed. The result of this game would have a profound impact on the NFC playoff picture, as the tiebreaker here would end up securing the No. 1 seed for New Orleans in the postseason.
Week 10: Dallas Cowboys 27, Philadelphia Eagles 20
Sunday night sure had a lot of highlights this year. In what would end up being a marquee victory for the Cowboys’ defense, a 3-5 Dallas team charged into Lincoln Financial Field in mid-November as 7.5-point underdogs. What came next was a heated battle that included a 10-point Dallas lead overcome in the third quarter. With the teams tied at 20 in the fourth, a 75-yard touchdown drive put Dallas ahead by a touchdown with 3:19 remaining. After a pair of failed possessions, the Eagles had the ball once again with 38 seconds on the clock, but it proved to be too much to overcome, as the Cowboys came out on top. The win would redirect the course of the Cowboys’ season, as Dallas would go from 3-5 to 8-5 in the blink of an eye.
Week 11: Los Angeles Rams 54, Kansas City Chiefs 51
Week 11 may have been the most exciting week all year, as close competitions in Seattle, Baltimore, Detroit, Atlanta and Jacksonville all made for must-watch television. But they all pale in comparison to the spectacle that was held on Monday night. In what was likely 2018’s best game and perhaps one of the greatest games of all time, the Chiefs and Rams made history by being the first two teams to score 50 or more points in the same game. In a game that saw 10 total passing touchdowns, 1,001 total yards and even three defensive scores, the Chiefs and Rams more than lived up to the billing. It was Los Angeles who got the last laugh, scoring the deciding touchdown with only 1:49 remaining, as two late interceptions from Patrick Mahomes sealed the deal. It may be a long time until we see another NFL game as insane as this one was.
Week 12: Seattle Seahawks 30, Carolina Panthers 27
Though week 12 didn’t quite have the same excitement that week 11 did, there was still plenty to be had in this battle for postseason positioning. The star of this one was Christian McCaffrey, whose 125 rushing yards, 11 receptions, 112 receiving yards and two total touchdowns put Carolina in position to take the home win. But Russell Wilson and the Seahawks wouldn’t go away quietly, and the score was tied 27-27 with less than four minutes to go. After a missed 52-yard field goal from Carolina’s Graham Gano, the Seahawks had excellent field position to pull off the road upset, and they did not disappoint. Seattle would go on to win all but one of its remaining regular season games, while Carolina would do just the opposite, finishing 7-9 after a 6-2 start.
Week 13: Los Angeles Chargers 33, Pittsburgh Steelers 30
Of all the ridiculous comebacks we saw this season, perhaps none were more insane than this one. Pittsburgh blasted to a commanding 23-7 lead at halftime, but the Chargers would not be stopped. After three consecutive touchdowns and two successful two-point conversions in the late third quarter and early fourth quarter, Los Angeles suddenly had the lead. Though the Steelers would knot up the score with 4:10 remaining, Philip Rivers was able to run out the clock and set up the game-winning field goal for Los Angeles. After a wild slew of penalties against the Pittsburgh defense, kicker Mike Badgley put it through the uprights and completed the Chargers’ comeback bid. Did we mention that this was yet another Sunday night game?
Week 14: Kansas City Chiefs 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 (OT)
Though the rematch between Dallas and Philadelphia could have well taken this spot due to its dramatic ending, the edge here goes to the back-and-forth struggle between Kansas City and Baltimore that occurred earlier in the day. Rookie Lamar Jackson and sophomore sensation Patrick Mahomes duked it out in a tightly contested battle, but it was the latter that got the last laugh. In a game-saving play late in the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes scrambled and side-armed a 48-yard bomb to Tyreek Hill to convert a fourth-and-9 and keep the drive alive, sending the game to overtime, where Harrison Butker put the Chiefs up by three and the defense was able to stop Baltimore from doing any further damage.
Week 15: Los Angeles Chargers 29, Kansas City Chiefs 28
Like week 12, week 15 had plenty of fantastic moments to showcase, but it’s the showdown on Thursday night that takes the cake. In a battle for AFC West supremacy, Kansas City and Los Angeles threw down in one of 2018’s very best matches. The Chiefs looked like surefire victors after going up 28-14 in the fourth quarter, but Philip Rivers commanded two lengthy touchdown drives within the game’s final four minutes to give Los Angeles a fighting chance. Ultimately, the game was decided by a two-point conversion with only four seconds remaining, giving the Chargers the road victory. Although Los Angeles got the win here, Kansas City would still end up winning the division.
Week 16: New Orleans Saints 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 28
Like most of week 16’s games, postseason implications ran wild with this one. Pittsburgh needed a win to stay afloat in the playoff race, while New Orleans looked to secure the NFC’s top seed with a home victory. The game reached its climax in the fourth quarter, as the Steelers, up 28-24 at the time, opted to attempt a fake punt in order to run out the clock and preserve the win. However, this strategy failed, and New Orleans was given a golden opportunity to take the game right back. Of course, Drew Brees didn’t disappoint, as he found Michael Thomas in the end zone to put the Saints up for good.
Week 17: Dallas Cowboys 36, New York Giants 35
Though the result of this game was meaningless, as the Cowboys had secured the NFC’s fourth seed and the Giants were long eliminated from postseason contention, that didn’t seem to matter to either team. Though the first quarter saw no points put in the board, the explosion suddenly occurred in the second quarter and it never stopped. With the Giants leading 35-28 late in the game, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys refused to quit, as a nine-play, 70-yard drive capped off with a Cole Beasley touchdown found Dallas within one. Like Los Angeles two weeks before, the Cowboys opted to go for the win instead of overtime, and they succeeded off the hands of Michael Gallup. It may not have been week 17’s most important game, but it sure was fun to watch.
All in all, 2018 had plenty of thrilling moments to keep football fans satisfied for its 17 weeks of play. We can only hope that the 2019 season will be just as entertaining.
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Broadcast Journalism