NFC East stages late-season turnaround

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Philadelphia Eagles players celebrate after winning an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The NFC East is no longer the laughingstock division in the NFL.

After combining to win just two of their first 21 non-division games this season, the teams from the NFC East have been knocking off some powerhouses in recent weeks.

Philadelphia beat NFC leading New Orleans last week in the first game with rookie Jalen Hurts starting at quarterback. That came a week after Washington handed Pittsburgh its first loss of the season and the New York Giants upset Seattle on the road.

With Washington winning again last week against San Francisco and Dallas knocking off Cincinnati, the NFC East won three non-division games in the same week for the first time since Week 3 in 2018.

In all, NFC East teams have an 8-5 record the past four weeks when playing games outside the division, the most wins of any division in that span.

For the season, NFC East teams are 10-23-1 (.309 winning percentage) when playing teams outside the division, the worst in the NFL this season. But after being in danger of setting the record for the worst season for a division since the merger, the NFC East is assured of not breaking the mark set by the 2008 NFC West, which combined to go 10-30 (.250).

The NFC East is actually outperforming its mark from last season when its teams went 12-28 outside the division. With two wins in the final six-non division games this season, the NFC East can top that mark.

MONDAY MAYHEM: The Monday night thriller between Baltimore and Cleveland proved to be one for the statistical history books.

The nine rushing touchdowns in the Ravens 47-42 win tied an NFL record for the most in a game that was last accomplished in 1922.

The teams combined for 20 points in the final two minutes, starting with Lamar Jackson coming out of the locker room after getting treated for cramps to throw a fourth-down, 44-yard TD pass to Marquise Brown on his first play back with 1:51 to play.

After the 2-point conversion put Baltimore up seven, Baker Mayfield answered 47 seconds later with a game-tying 22-yard TD pass to Kareem Hunt.

That left Jackson enough time to put the Ravens in position for Justin Tucker’s 55-yard field goal with 2 seconds left. Baltimore added a safety on the final play when Jarvis Landry was forced out of bounds in the end zone on a lateral play.

It marked just the third time in the past 20 seasons that teams combined for at least 20 points in the final 2:00 of regulation. Baltimore and Minnesota scored 28 points on Dec. 8, 2013, and Detroit and Tennessee combined for 21 on Sept. 23, 2012.

Jackson had his ninth career game, including the playoffs, with at least 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing, breaking the record held by Michael Vick. No one else has done that more than four times.

Mayfield lost for the second time when leading his team to at least 42 points, having also done it in a 45-42 overtime loss to the Raiders in 2018. There have been 15 games in the Super Bowl era where a team lost despite scoring at least 42 points and Mayfield is the only QB to lose two of them.

COMEBACK CHIEFS: When Kansas City overcame a 10-0 deficit to beat Miami, it was one of 39 games this season that a team came back to win after trailing by double digits. That’s the most ever through 14 weeks in NFL history.

That the Chiefs managed to do it shouldn’t be a surprise. With Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, Kansas City is 9-5 in the regular season and playoffs in games the Chiefs have fallen behind by at least 10 points, including all three postseason wins in last season’s Super Bowl run.

No other team has a winning record since 2018 after falling behind by double digits, with the winning percentage for everyone else coming in at .157.

DYNAMIC DUO: Green Bay’s Davante Adams and Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill are putting together some impressive receiving seasons.

Adams has 1,144 yards and 14 scoring catches despite missing two games with injuries, while Hill has 1,158 yards and 14 TDs.

Before this year, there had been only six times that a receiving had at least 1,100 yards receiving and 14 TDs through 13 games since the merger. It hadn’t happened since 2007 when Randy Moss and Terrell Owens both did it for the second time in their careers.

Owens also did it in 2004 and Moss in 1998. The only other player to do it is Jerry Rice, who also accomplished the feat twice, in 1986 and ’89.

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