The Dallas Cowboys are perfectly capable of winning a Super Bowl. If they don’t have the best defense in the league, it’s on a short list.
And on Sunday, the Cowboys had no idea what to do with Trevor Lawrence. When it looked like the Cowboys were finally getting the one game they needed, they had to feel like they got away. Lawrence had the ball loose at the end of a nice run and the Cowboys recovered the fumble with a three-point lead and less than two minutes left in the rules. Then the Dallas offense couldn’t get a scoop. When the Cowboys punted, it felt inevitable that Lawrence would beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to at least a tie.
That’s what great quarterbacks do; they put fear in every defense, even the good ones. Lawrence’s laser pass between the arms of Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson found Zay Jones for enough yards to put the Jaguars in range of the field goal, and Riley Patterson hit a 48-yarder to tie him as time expired in regulation. Rayshawn Jenkins returned an interception to the end zone for the 40-34 Jaguars walk-off victory in overtime.
Sunday’s win was a huge moment for Lawrence. It was a look at where the Jaguars franchise is going. It’s probably an important moment for the league as a whole, officially ushering in a new superstar quarterback behind the velvet rope.
Jenkins provided the final highlight, but this victory was over Lawrence. There is no doubt about him anymore. Ask the Cowboys defense. He completed 27 of 42 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns. Even if the Jaguars don’t make the playoffs this season — and they don’t quite count in catching the Tennessee Titans for the AFC South crown — it shouldn’t be long before Lawrence and the Jaguars take over the division.
There are signs that Lawrence is going to be a mega star this season. There was the comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens and another great game against the Titans last week. There was also some hesitation. Lawrence looked really good for a short while, then followed it up with a dud.
It’s time to stop worrying. Lawrence has arrived. He looks like he could be just the player he pulled out of Clemson as the first overall draft pick last year. Lawrence shredded the Cowboys’ defense on Sunday.
Lawrence wasn’t great last season, but he also played for Urban Meyer, the NFL’s worst coach in decades. Everything was a mulligan for Jacksonville last season.
Still, Lawrence didn’t immediately make a Dak Prescott/Joe Burrow/Justin Herbert impact as a rookie. His second season started with some ups and downs. At one point, Lawrence had to make the throws. Meyer was no longer in debt.
If you watched the Cowboys game, there should be no lingering question about where Lawrence’s career is headed. He made all the throws. He looked spectacular against an elite team with a fantastic defense. And it didn’t stop at one game. In the six games leading up to Sunday, Lawrence had 1,362 yards, 10 touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 111.7. Then he had his big moment against the Cowboys to validate that hot streak.
The NFL needs star quarterbacks. The 2021 concept class is struggling to live up to the hype, and so was Lawrence until recently. It turns out that all those servants and conscripts were right about Lawrence after all. Before his second season is over, he looks like a surefire star. He looks like a future MVP.
If Lawrence relapses at all after this, it will be disappointing. Not that he won’t play bad games anymore, but the worries about him should be behind us. Lawrence is already one of the best quarterbacks in football. If you’re not already buying that, watch Sunday’s game again.
Here are the rest of the week 15 NFL season winners and losers:
Jalen hurts: Hurts had a shaky start to Sunday’s game. He threw two interceptions. The Philadelphia Eagles were surprisingly in a tight game against the Chicago Bears.
In the end, Hurts got it done. Hurts scored three rushing touchdowns and the Eagles improved to 13-1 with a 25-20 victory over the Bears.
Hurts’ first touchdown came when a huge lane opened up for him during a Bears blitz. He rushed in for a fairly easy 22-yard touchdown. Then he scored a pair of 1-yard touchdowns. Hurts also threw for 303 yards.
Hurts took over as the MVP favorite after last week. His rushing touchdowns and 300-yard play should keep him in the lead for now.
And also Patrick Mahomes: The MVP race should be fun the rest of the way.
The Kansas City Chiefs struggled to beat the Houston Texans despite being heavy favorites, but Mahomes didn’t let the Chiefs lose.
Mahomes completed 36-of-41 passes for 336 yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown, and after a fumble by the Texans in overtime, Jerick McKinnon walked away with a 26-yard rushing touchdown. It wasn’t the best win the Chiefs have had, but the 30-24 win was a huge win in the race for the AFC’s top seed.
It was a strange game for the Chiefs. They dominated most of the game, but fumbles from Isiah Pacheco and JuJu Smith-Schuster led to two Texan touchdowns. That kept Houston in the game. The game went into overtime after Mahomes got the Chiefs into field goal range, but Harrison Butker missed. The Kansas City defense and McKinnon made the big plays in overtime to clinch the win.
Mahomes did what he had to do to win. The MVP race is not over yet.
Mitchell Trubisky: Trubisky took the blame for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ struggles early this season. He didn’t play well, but it wasn’t all his fault that the Steelers didn’t play well. And it was also inevitable that rookie Kenny Pickett took over as starter at some point.
Trubisky received a second injection and he delivered it on Sunday. Trubisky played well against a better-than-you think Carolina Panthers defense in a 24-16 win. A field goal with just over a minute left sealed the win. Trubisky completed 17 of 22 passes for 179 yards.
Trubisky is unlikely to resurface as a starter anytime soon. He has a two-year contract with the Steelers and Pickett is the one they want to succeed as a long-term starter. But Trubisky could have a long career as a high-paying high-level backup. Games like Sunday help solidify him as that sort of option for the Steelers, or anyone after Pittsburgh in his career. There are worse ways to make a living.
New York Jets Defense: The Jets defense needed to know that with Zach Wilson back at quarterback, they had to win Sunday’s game. Wilson played pretty well then. And the Jets’ defense couldn’t shut the door.
Detroit Lions tight end Brock Wright caught a short pass on the fourth and the inch and was all alone. He ran 51 yards for a go-ahead touchdown just inside the two-minute warning. Then Greg Zuerlein’s 58-yard effort missed after the time expired, and the Lions pulled off a huge 20–17 victory.
The Jets hold on to playoff hopes. The Jets offense didn’t score much on Sunday, but it was good enough. The defense didn’t get the play it needed to win. That will haunt them in the playoff race.
A once promising Atlanta Falcons season: There was a time when the Falcons were a feel-good story. They were 4-4 after a victory over the Carolina Panthers in overtime. That wasn’t great, but you don’t have to be great in the 2022 NFC South.
Then the wheels fell off.
The Falcons have lost five of six. Sunday’s loss was particularly brutal. They battled the New Orleans Saints with rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder taking over on offense. Knight was no good, but the Falcons were in the game. Then Drake London lost a fumble just before the two-minute warning with the Falcons en route to at least a field goal. The Saints held on for the 21-18 victory.
Knight struggled for most of the game, completing 13 of 26 passes for 97 yards. He wasn’t the answer to solve the Falcons’ problems, at least not on Sunday. He will continue to get more shots this season, but it’s all about the future for the Falcons right now.
They were somehow still kind of in the NFC South race until Sunday. The loss to the Saints should put an end to those dreams.