New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has announced his retirement, ending one of the NFL’s most dominant and colourful careers.
I learned two things about the Kansas City Chiefs this week. Firstly: their home stadium is not actually in Kansas. Secondly: their seemingly straightforward march to the top seed of the AFC has hit a snag.
Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, was the venue for the AFC West clash between the Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Chargers took a while to adjust to the cold and the 75,091 fans were soon on their feet when quarterback Phil Rivers threw an intercept on his first pass attempt.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was up to his usual tricks, running to the sideline to find Demarcus Robinson in the end zone.
It was 14-0 when Mahomes hit Darrel Williams for an 11-yard score.
The Chargers made it 14-7 with a touchdown and their defence was doing a good job of keeping attacking ace Tyreek Hill quiet.
Hill took a massive hit as he caught a 33-yard bomb from Mahomes in the third quarter, and two plays later Damian Williams scored to make it 21-7 to the home team.
LA soon hit back and went into the last quarter trailing by seven.
With just eight seconds on the clock, Phil Rivers passed to Mike Williams in the end zone to make it 28-27 to the Chiefs. The Chargers went for a do-or-die two-point conversion. It paid off and Kansas City suffered their first home defeat of the year.
These sides are now locked at 11-3 at the top of the AFC West, only the tie-break keeping the Chiefs ahead – however, they could slide from first to fifth in the seedings if they lose again.
Green Bay Packers visited the Windy City to take on the Bears. Chicago looked in control, taking a 14-3 lead into the second half.
A field goal, a touchdown and a two-point conversion by the Packers levelled it at 14-14.
Bears fans were left scratching their heads when quarterback Mitch Trubisky went to wide receiver for one play. The running backs fumbled, giving the Packers possession with good field position.
The Packers couldn’t take advantage and a final quarter touchdown pass from Trubisky to Trey Burton restored the Bears’ lead.
Chicago won 24-17 and took their first divisional title since 2010.
Two of the game’s great quarterbacks clashed in Pittsburgh, where Ben Roethlisberger’s Steelers took on Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring through Vance McDonald, before a brilliant pass from Brady found wide receiver Chris Hogan who ran in for a 63-yard touchdown.
Antonio Brown caught a Roethlisberger pass in a crowded end zone to give the Steelers a 14-7 lead at halftime.
Despite the reputation of the quarterbacks no side could register a touchdown in the second half.
Down 17-10 in the final two minutes, Brady threw a deep pass to Julian Edelman for a first down at the Steelers’ 31. A final pass into the end zone was knocked away, much to the delight of the 65,280 crowd.
Pittsburgh go to 8-6-1, just half a win ahead of the Baltimore Ravens at the top of the AFC North.
Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles had a great game when he stepped in for the injured Carson Wentz against the Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles pulled off the biggest upset of the season to win 30-23. At 7-7 the Eagles are one win behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
The New Orleans Saints toughed it out for a 12-9 road win against the Carolina Panthers. The game featured an unusual two-point score for the Panthers from an intercept of a two-point conversion attempt by the Saints.
A Baker Mayfield inspired last quarter drive gave the Cleveland Browns a 17-16 win over the Denver Broncos.
The Baltimore Ravens running game was on song as they brushed aside the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-12.
The New York Giants slim hopes of making the playoffs were dashed on a wet and dismal day in East Rutherford. The 17-0 loss to the Tennessee Titans sends the Giants to 5-9 while the Titans at 8-6 are still alive.
In Indianapolis, the unfashionable Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys 23-0. A tough Colts defensive effort gave the Cowboys their first shutout for 15 years. For all the talk of a re-build season, the Colts could be a tricky playoff opponent.
In other games, the Houston Texans beat New York Jets 29-22, the Buffalo Bills pipped Detroit Lions 14-13, Cincinnati Bengals beat the Oakland Raiders 30-16, while the Atlanta Falcons thrashed Arizona Cardinals 40-14.
The Minnesota Vikings trounced the Miami Dolphins 41-17, Washington Redskins beat Jacksonville Jaguars 16-13 and San Francisco 49ers upset the Seattle Seahawks 26-23.
The divisional leaders after week 15 look like this:
AFC: Kansas City (11-3), Houston (10-4), New England (9-5), Pittsburgh (8-5-1)
NFC: New Orleans (12-2), LA Rams (11-3), Chicago (10-4), Dallas (8-6)
The teams in the wildcard places are:
AFC: LA Chargers (11-3), Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
NFC: Seattle (8-6), Minnesota (7-6-1)
The Ravens travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers and the Steelers are on the road against the Saints in a host of matches with playoff ramifications next week.
Week 15 saw the Saints confirm their top place in the NFC while the Chiefs cling to the lead of the AFC by their fingernails. Bring on Week 16!