NFL Week 12: Quarterbacks beware Sunday and Monday night

Nov 23, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland (26) returns an
Nov 23, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland (26) returns an / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With the exception of the Green Bay Packers’ 29-22 upset of the Lions at Ford Field, there wasn’t a lot of competitive football on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

What there was in each of the four games were some big plays from the defensive side of the ball. In each of the four contests, there was at least one touchdown scored by a team’s defense.

In that aforementioned Packers’ victory over first-place Detroit, Green Bay safety Jonathan Owens scooped up a Jared Goff fumble and raced 27 yards to the end zone.

Later that afternoon at AT&T Stadium, Cowboys’ defensive back Daron Bland made NFL history with his fifth interception return for a touchdown this season. He took back a pass by Commanders’ quarterback Sam Howell 63 yards for a score in the fourth quarter of Dallas’ 45-10 victory.

Later that day at Seattle, Pete Carroll’s club was pushed around by the first-place 49ers. The Seahawks’ lone touchdown in a 31-13 loss came when linebacker Jordyn Brooks picked off Brock Purdy and scored from 12 yards out.

The best came for last. With less than a minute before halftime on Friday at MetLife Stadium, both Dolphins’ quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Jets’ Tim Boyle served up pick-sixes. New York defender Brandin Echols returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown with 58 seconds before intermission. Tagovailoa threw another pick and it set up Boyle’s “Hail Mary” pass with two seconds left in the quarter. It fell short of the end zone and into the hands of Miami’s Jevon Holland, who took it back 99 yards for a touchdown.

All told, there was a total of five defensive TDs scored in four games. That included four interceptions. In the first 11 weeks of the NFL 2023, a total of 164 contests, there was 28 interceptions taken back for scores.

What could be in store this Sunday and Monday night? Will the defenses rise again and take matters of scoring into their own hands?