32 things we learned from Week 12 of 2022 NFL season: QB Mike White moves Jets into playoff field




The 32 things we learned from Week 12 of the 2022 NFL season:

1. With two-thirds of the regular season complete, the AFC and NFC playoff pictures are beginning to come into focus. If the postseason began tomorrow - it doesn't - three teams from each conference (Baltimore Ravens, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Commanders) who didn't make it in 2021 would advance into the field.

1a. Since 1990, at least four teams every season have made the playoffs after failing to qualify the previous year.

2. (Very) early returns on the Jets' decision to bench Zach Wilson in favor of backup Mike White? Spectacular. White completed 22 of 28 passes for 315 yards and three TDs (two to rookie WR Garrett Wilson, who has yet to catch a scoring strike from Zach Wilson) - and a sublime 149.3 QB rating - as the NYJ mauled the Chicago Bears 31-10.

2a. In 20 NFL starts, Zach Wilson has never had a three-TD passing day and has posted a passer rating in excess of 100.0 (101.1) once. White also passed for 405 yards and three scores (107.9 rating) in a 34-31 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last season in his first career start when Wilson was out with a knee injury.

Jets QB Mike White (5) won his first start of the 2022 season.
Jets QB Mike White (5) won his first start of the 2022 season.  

3. The Jets' win combined with the New England Patriots' loss on Thanksgiving night moved New York back into the AFC bracket as the seventh seed (third wild card) with the Pats on the outside looking in.

4. Of course Jets fans should temper their enthusiasm given their team didn't have to face Bears QB1 Justin Fields, who sat Sunday while recovering from an injury to his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Chicago's three wins this season have come with Fields besting 2021 quarterback draftmates Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers), Davis Mills (Houston Texans) and New England's Mac Jones. Fields was taken 11th overall in 2021, nine spots after Wilson went to the Jets at No. 2.

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5. The man whom Wilson replaced, Carolina Panthers QB Sam Darnold, made his 2022 debut Sunday after missing most of the year with a high ankle sprain suffered in preseason. But even while knocking the rust off, Darnold also looked better than Wilson - passing for a TD and recovering his own fumble in the end zone for another score while avoiding the turnovers that plagued his time with the Jets. Even at 4-8, the Panthers' win brought them within 1½ games of the NFC South lead.

6. Panthers interim head coach Steve Wilks improved to 3-4 since the firing of new Nebraska coach Matt Rhule. Wilks was 3-13 in 2018, his lone season as HC of the Arizona Cardinals.

7. Unrelated, does free agent WR Odell Beckham Jr. getting kicked off a plane Sunday in Miami officially rule out the Dolphins and Jets as potential suitors? Askin' for a friend.

8. The Los Angeles Chargers and Cardinals entered Sunday among teams wallowing at .500 or worse but with an opportunity to still make a playoff push. It was the Bolts who pushed forward in the desert with a 25-24 victory. And give LA coach Brandon Staley credit - though he often makes head-scratching analytics-based decisions, his call to go for two points and the win after the Chargers scored a TD with 15 seconds left proved successful and decisive.

9. The Bolts (6-5) are one game out of the AFC's final playoff spot, while the fading Cards (4-8) are three back in the NFC.

10. All things considered, the Chargers are currently Hollywood's darlings. The reigning champion Rams and coach Sean McVay had another rough go, losing 26-10 to the Chiefs in Kansas City. It's the first time the Rams have dropped five straight in McVay's six seasons ... and the first time he's taken one to the jaw from one of his players on the sideline.

11. The Chiefs, though improving to 9-2, didn't look especially sharp while turning the ball over twice against QB3 Bryce Perkins, making his first NFL start, and the undermanned Rams.

12. Though, in fairness, these teams were never going to live up to that 54-51 shootout won by the Rams four years ago in the LA Coliseum - the first time in league history when both teams reached 50 points in a game.

13. The surging San Francisco 49ers won their fourth in a row, blanking the New Orleans Saints 13-0 while moving into sole possession of first place in the NFC West. The Niners' 4-0 division record will make it even harder for the second-place Seattle Seahawks to unseat them.

14. It was the first time in 332 games - the longest active streak in the league, dating to the 2001 season - that the Saints were shut out. The last team to whitewash them was also San Francisco, courtesy of QB Jeff Garcia and WR Terrell Owens.

15. For the first time in his six-year career, Saints RB Alvin Kamara fumbled twice in the same game - once on the opening drive and another at the goal line. The 49ers recovered both.

16. The Seahawks suffered a brutal 40-34 overtime loss at home to the Las Vegas Raiders, who won in Seattle for the first time since 1998 - when both teams were still affiliated with the AFC West.

16a. The backbreaker was delivered by Vegas RB Josh Jacobs, who exploded up the gut for an 86-yard TD with OT halfway over. Jacobs, whose fifth-year option was declined by the Raiders' new management team in the offseason, finished with a franchise record franchise-record 229 rushing yards. His 303 yards from scrimmage are also a team record and seventh most by a player in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

17. ICYMI, and you probably did, Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson threw one TD pass in Sunday's loss at Carolina. But Wilson became the 14th player in league history with 300 regular-season touchdown throws.

17a. Broncos fans will probably wince given Wilson tied Hall of Famer John Elway on the all-time list. Let's ride ...

18. The first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers' overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns means all four teams in the NFC South have a losing record. It may be a poor division, but it could offer compelling theater down the stretch given only one of its members will likely reach the postseason. No club has more than five wins or fewer than four.

19. Bucs rookie TE Ko Kieft became the 96th player to catch a TD pass from Tom Brady during the quarterback's 23-year career.

20. RB Nick Chubb's game-winning TD in OT was the Browns' first since 1991.

21. Cleveland's win leaves the Browns at 4-7 with QB Deshaun Watson's suspension ending. A lot of ground for Watson and Co. to make up with his new team three games out of the AFC's final wild-card slot with six games to go.

22. Meanwhile, the Commanders' victory over the Atlanta Falcons ensured both the NFC East and AFC East's constituents all remained above .500.

22a. As things stand now, the NFC East would become the first division to send all four of its clubs to the playoffs.

23. Even with RB Joe Mixon (concussion) and WR Ja'Marr Chase (hip) out, the Cincinnati Bengals won their playoff rematch with the Tennessee Titans 20-16. Cincinnati (7-4), which also ousted the top-seeded Titans in Nashville in January, moved into a first-place tie in the AFC North.

24. Seems like Baltimore Ravens K Justin Tucker is just about perfectly calibrated. He drilled an NFL record 66-yard field goal last year (indoors) in Detroit. Sunday, Tucker's game-winning attempt from 67 yards (outside) in Jacksonville came up just short in Baltimore's 28-27 loss. Tucker scored 13 of the Ravens' points.

25. But give the Jaguars credit. Second-year QB Trevor Lawrence capped his best day as a pro (321 yards, 3 TDs passing and 129.8 rating) with a 10-yard TD pass and subsequent two-point pass with 14 seconds left in the one-point triumph.

26. Also, the Ravens can be forgiven for being traumatized Sunday by Jags mascot Jaxson de Ville and that banana hammock.

27. For the first time since 1994, when the NFL adopted the option for two-point conversions, multiple games were won on two-point scores after touchdowns in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter.

28. After surviving the Lions on Thursday, the Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen became the first quarterback to notch wins against Detroit, the Dallas Cowboys and in prime time on Thanksgiving. All three of those victories occurred in the past four seasons.

29. NFL touchdown leader Jamaal Williams, who's reached the paint 13 times, needs four more to tie Hall of Famer Barry Sanders' single-season Lions record, set in 1991.

30. Thursday afternoon's meeting between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants averaged 42 million viewers - across television and digital platforms - making it the most-watched NFL regular season game on record. Probably not a huge surprise when you pair up America's Team with the country's biggest media market.

30a. And what a showcase for Dallas WR CeeDee Lamb, who's starting to make a case he's got the league's best hands after a six-catch (106 yards) effort in the 28-20 win against the Giants.

31. The Thanksgiving tripleheader - the Vikings outlasted the Patriots 33-26 in the late game - marked the NFL's most watched Turkey Day ever. According to Nielsen, the 138 million total unduplicated audience number blew past the previous record (126 million in 2016) and represented a 34% increase from last year.

31a. This Thanksgiving was also the first since 1926 featuring a trio of games that all finished with one-score margins.

32. It's been 15 years since Washington Pro Bowl S Sean Taylor was mortally wounded by a gunshot during a break-in at his South Florida home. The organization for which he played all of his four seasons has essentially attempted to deify him ever since. Decide for yourselves if they hit the mark with what seemed an awfully hasty reveal of a memorial to him - announced last week and unveiled Sunday at FedExField with Taylor's family members in attendance.

***

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFL scores and more, Week 12: Jets make right call with Mike White

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