You didn’t need to be at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday to feel the shock as Jimmy Garoppolo was carted off the sphere in the primary quarter against the Miami Dolphins. The season had mostly been on an upward trajectory for the San Francisco 49ers since Garoppolo took over for an injured Trey Lance in Week 2. With Garoppolo, who already knew the playbook, under center and many of the 49ers’ limitless offensive weapons healthy and productive, San Francisco were suddenly a team to reckon with. When they traded for Christian McCaffrey in October, they became a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
But with Lance out for the season and Garoppolo suffering what would later be revealed to be a broken foot, the probabilities of victory suddenly seemed grim. The Niners defense is great, the league’s best actually, but who was going to be sure this team scored points? Enter Brock Purdy, the Iowa State alum who the 49ers took with the last pick of the 2022 draft. Yep, Purdy is essentially the most recent Mr Irrelevant.
It couldn’t have been a more daunting situation for the rookie. The Dolphins, with their high-octane offense, were ahead 7-3 after Tua Tagovailoa hit former 49er Trent Sherfield up the seam for a 75-yard touchdown on the primary play from scrimmage. Tensions were high: Kyle Shanahan was facing his former protege Mike McDaniel, now head coach of the resurgent Dolphins. McDaniel now has several former 49ers on his roster. It was an enormous game for each teams by way of playoff standings and private victories.
But the stress didn’t seem to increase to Purdy, who waltzed in and led the 49ers on a touchdown drive and a 10-7 lead: they might not trail in the sport again. The drive heavily featured McCaffrey but Purdy capped it off by completing a brief pass to fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Purdy was stiff and tentative at first but gained confidence and poise because the game went on. One other well-executed drive by Purdy ended with a touchdown pass to McCaffrey and gave the Niners a 17-10 half-time lead. Within the second half, Purdy hit more strikes up the center and utilized more play motion. He wasn’t perfect but it surely’s hard to assume a third-stringer, who normally practices with the scout team, performing higher in his situation. Purdy finished with 210 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception. The 49ers won 33-17 and maintained their lead within the NFC West.
It’s no wonder Purdy was so confident. Any 49ers starting quarterback is immediately thrust into an almost ideal situation. No NFL team offers such a set of offensive playmakers in any respect levels of the sphere, not to say an elite left tackle in Trent Williams.
Purdy is raw, but not that raw. He was a four-year starter at Iowa State and passed for 12,170 yards and 81 touchdowns. With that have under his belt, Malcolm Gladwell may even consider Purdy a quarterbacking expert.
In fact, Purdy’s confidence was aided by witnessing his team’s ridiculously talented defense rattle Tagovailoa all game. Nick Bosa sacked the poor Dolphins quarterback 3 times, and leads the NFL with 14.5 on the season. And when the defense wasn’t pressuring Tagovailoa physically, its mere threat looked as if it would unsettle him. Except for Tagovailoa’s opening touchdown, and a later strike to Tyreek Hill, he was uncharacteristically off beam the entire game.
The postgame smiles were wide from 49ers brass after such an emotional win, but it surely wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Shanahan announced that Garoppolo must undergo surgery that may end his season.
That leads us back to Purdy, who will now must be greater than a one-game wonder. He’s suddenly the likely 49ers starter for the remaining of the season. Next up is one other formidable challenge: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady. “He’s been playing football longer than I’ve been alive,” the 22-year-old Purdy said of Brady, 45. “Having the primary start against the GOAT is pretty cool. I’ve just got to do my thing, be efficient and play football”.
If he might be as efficient as he was against Miami – and get a little bit help from his offensive weapons and defensive friends – there’s no reason the 49ers can’t proceed to notch wins, even when a Super Bowl is now almost actually out of the query for San Francisco.
49ers linebacker Fred Warner agrees. Referencing Purdy’s work on the scout team, Warner said: “He’s played against the most effective defense within the league for the past 13 weeks. He’ll be advantageous.”
The quarterback injuries have been tough for a superb Niners team that may almost actually need to wait for next season to mount a Super Bowl challenges. But for a moment, let’s appreciate a Sunday fairytale. For all of the underdogs on the market and anyone who’s ever felt irrelevant, congratulations. You might have a latest quarterback to root for.
MVP of the week
Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals. If the Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs are going toe-to-toe, there’s an honest shot Burrow leads to this section. Burrow and company continued their ownership of the Chiefs, winning their third straight against KC. This one was by the identical rating because the last season’s AFC Championship game: 27-24.
Joe Burrow continued his mastery of the Kansas City Chiefs. Photograph: Jeff Dean/AP
Burrow played high-level, clean ball, completing 25-of-31 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. He also set the tone by scoring the sport’s first touchdown together with his legs. The Bengals got off to a shaky start this season, and gave the impression to be in a Super Bowl slump, but Burrow has elevated his game and shown once more how he can churn out clutch moments with the most effective of them.
Video of the week
When it mattered most, with the Washington Commanders down 20-13 to the Latest York Giants with under two minutes left, Josh Doctson turned a fantastic catch into an incredible display of a wideout dominating in space. Doctson’s touchdown led to extra time, which led to 20-20 tie. The Commanders now have a 70% probability of constructing the playoffs, in accordance with FiveThirtyEight.
The most effective of our sports journalism from the past seven days and a heads-up on the weekend’s motion
Quote of the week
Commanders offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr had an interesting assessment of playing to a tie that I present without comment.
Charles Leno on the tie: “I heard this from one in every of my coaches: It’s such as you kissed your sister. And it is sensible. Give it some thought. If you happen to were a child back within the day, ‘Oh, did you kiss a lady? No. But I kissed my sister.’ It’s not technically a win. But it surely’s not a loss.”
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 4, 2022
Stat of the week
The Denver Broncos scored fewer than 17 points for the tenth time this season. One other week, one other situation where the Broncos’ elite defense should fly first-class and make their pulseless offense take a bus home with a bunch of crying babies. The most recent example showcased a wildly overpaid Russell Wilson sputtering his offense to precisely nine points. No touchdowns, three field goals. And so they wasted a valiant effort by the defense, losing 10-9 to the Baltimore Ravens, who lost Lamar Jackson early in the sport to injury (he is anticipated to return later this season). The three-9 Broncos have only scored 14 touchdowns on the season heading into Week 14. Although Wilson was a solid 17-22 passing, he led a Broncos offense that was just 2-12 on third down and made zero trips into the Red Zone. Just an utter embarrassment.
Elsewhere across the league
Jalen Hurts gave his MVP campaign (one other) boost on Sunday with a dominating performance within the Philadelphia Eagles’ 35-10 walloping of the Tennessee Titans. Hurts threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns and added a rating on the bottom. Two of those touchdowns were to former Titan AJ Brown, who reminded Tennessee how idiotic they were to trade him away. And the Eagles defense made Derrick Henry an entire non-factor (13 touches, 38 yards). The Eagles’ 11-1 record is a testament to what an entire roster this team fields.
Jalen Hurts has barely put a foot mistaken this season. Photograph: Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports
The Detroit Lions, arguably the NFL’s hottest team, put a beatdown on the Jacksonville Jaguars, winning 40-14. It was one other masterly performance by the offense, who scored on all eight of their meaningful possessions (4 touchdowns, 4 field goals). The Lions have now won 4 of their last five and sit at a good 5-7. “It is a game that may catapult us through the remaining of December,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. The Lions are still 2.5 games behind within the playoff race, with the Minnesota Vikings and Latest York Jets on the docket the subsequent two weeks. Playoffs or not, Campbell has completely shifted the culture and made the Lions something they haven’t been in many years: an entertaining watch.
For much of the Packers-Bears tilt in Chicago, it appeared that Aaron Rodgers’ possible last start as a Packer can be his first loss to the Bears in 4 years. Justin Fields was the higher quarterback in the primary half. But Rodgers’ first dagger fell when he hit rookie wideout Christian Watson for a 14-yard rating on fourth-down with 23 seconds left in the primary half. The Packers dominated the remaining of the sport, outscoring Chicago 18-3 within the second half. The 28-19 win was Green Bay’s eighth straight against Chicago and the franchise’s 787th win, essentially the most in NFL history.
This was the NFL’s annual My Cause My Cleats week, when players get a reprieve from the league’s militant uniform policy. The causes – from combatting sleep-related infant deaths to ending gun violence to allowing women the fitting to decide on – make for a strong collection. But I urge the NFL to spread this platform throughout the season, so we will delve deeper into each player’s relationship to their chosen cause. The players and their causes deserve far more attention.
The Cleveland Browns defeated the hapless Houston Texans 27-14 because of a fumble returned for a touchdown, a punt returned for a touchdown and a pick six. Deshaun Watson, who has $184m left on his fully guaranteed contract, was 12-of-22 for 122 yards and an interception in his Browns debut.