Week 14 NFL Roundup
Thursday December 6, 2012
Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
The Broncos doubled up the Raiders 26-13 on Thursday night to win their 8th straight game after yet another solid performance by Peyton Manning. Manning became the first Bronco in franchise history to throw for 30 touchdown passes when he hooked up with Joel Dreessen from 6 yards out. Manning also joined Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 5000 career completions. Denver welcomed Knowshon Moreno into the starting RB role after the injury to Willis McGahee and they gave him a heavy workload. He rushed the ball 32 times for 119 yards and a touchdown and may give Denver the running game they need to be successful in the postseason. Oakland on the other hand welcomed back Darren McFadden but gave him just a third of the carries Moreno saw.
Sunday December 9, 2012
St. Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills
This battle between two 5-7 teams turned to be as exciting as expected, until the final minute of the game. It was cold and rainy in Buffalo and the Rams found themselves down 7-12 but that wasn’t enough to stop Sam Bradford. Bradford led the Rams on a long drive and found Brandon Gibson with just 48 seconds left on the clock. After a successful two-point conversion St. Louis led 15-12 and that’s how it would end. It may have been a great drive by Bradford, or it was a win by default due to George Wilson’s inability to pick him off. Twice the safety had a Bradford pass in that final drive hit him directly in his hands, only to fall to the ground incomplete. The Rams are .500 this late in the season for the first time since 2006 but let’s not kid ourselves, neither of these teams are making the playoffs. Adding insult to injury the Bills found out that RB Fred Jackson injured his MCL and will miss the remainder of the season.
Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Dallas Cowboys had a lot to deal with coming into this game and they found themselves down 9 in the 4th quarter. The Cowboys Jerry Brown died from injuries sustained after starting defensive lineman Josh Brent flipped his car. The two and other alleged players were partying late into Friday night and alcohol use may have played a role in the events in which Brent was charged with intoxicated manslaughter. With a heavy heart the Cowboys held together and QB Tony Romo led his offense to 10 4th quarter points to leave Ohio with a 20-19 victory. Romo found WR Dez Bryant for a 27 yard touchdown with less than 7 minutes on the clock, it was the pairs 7th TD in the last 5 games. Too bad it will likely be the last for the two this season, as Bryant suffered a broken index finger which may require season ending surgery. Both the Bengals and the Cowboys are in the hunt for playoff spots but the Cowboys may be without their hottest offensive player.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns
The Chiefs are coming off of an emotional win after the tragic events of LB Jovan Belcher last week but this week they were running on fumes. Jamaal Charles started the game off by taking the first play from scrimmage 80 yards for a touchdown and giving the Chiefs a 7-0 lead. From that point Kansas City didn’t add a single point to the board and accumulated just 230 offensive yards in 59:48. Charles would finish the game with 165 yards and his score and the only other productive player, Dwayne Bowe 2 catches for 70 yards, left the game early. The Browns running back tied a record set by Jim Brown when he ran in for his 2nd 1 yard rushing touchdown of the day. It was Trent Richardson’s 9th rushing touchdown of the season, tying Brown’s franchise record. Cleveland added 3 field goals by Phil Dawson and an exhilarating 93 yard punt return for a touchdown by rookie Travis Benjamin. Cleveland would win 7-30 and it is the team’s third straight win and 5th of the season and the club may win its 6th game for the first time since 2007.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
The Titans traveled to Indy to face off against the #1 overall pick who had led his team to 6 wins in their last 7 games. Tennessee got up early leading 20-7 going into halftime, but someone forgot to remind them that Luck and the Colts have loved coming from behind all season long. Not in the reach-around manner but in the coming back from deficits to win the game manner. After one of the worst passes I’ve seen in a while, Colts CB Cassius Vaughn picked off Titans QB Jake Locker and walked in three yards for a touchdown. The Colts had fought back to a 20-21 lead but the Titans would pull ahead again in the 4th behind a short Bironas field goal. Andrew Luck didn’t perform as admirably as he had in his previous 5 game-tying or winning drives but he did just enough to allow Adam Vinatieri prove that he’s still got it. Vinatieri blasted in a 53 yard field goal to give the Colts the lead and added to that with a 40 yarder on the following drive. Indy is in the driver seat for the Wild Card spot as the Colts and Luck have won 7 of their last 8 games.
Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Adrian Petersons strike again as AP proves that he can literally put an entire team on his shoulders and win. The very first play from scrimmage was a 52 yard scamper down the sideline and before the 1st quarter ended he had rushed for over 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Peterson got the rock 31 times and the game with 154 yards bringing his season total to 1600. This time Vikings QB didn’t single handedly lose the game for Minnesota but he didn’t do much completing just 11 passes for 91 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Peterson has had an incredible season and should be considered a front-runner for MVP but he plays for a team that may not make the playoffs. Jay Cutler did all that he could to lose the game for Chicago throwing two interceptions, one that sailed over his target and into Vikings rookie safety Harrison Smith’s hands. Smith returned that interception for a touchdown, the deciding points of the game. Chicago is slipping losing 4 of their last 5 games but as of right now they still hold onto a Wild Card spot. The Vikings are just a game behind Chicago but face the Rams and Texans on the road before finishing the season at home against the Packers.
San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers snuck away with a victory against the Ravens last week behind the arm of the oldest player in the league. This week they welcomed back Big Ben but the Chargers came to town to spoil Roethlisberger’s big return back to Heinz Field. The rumors are already beginning to swirl around San Diego that a complete overhaul of the front-office is in order, including the dismissal of Norv Turner. Despite all of that Philip Rivers and San Diego managed to put 34 points up on the road and hold the Steelers to 24. Rivers passed for 3 touchdowns, 2 of which were thrown to his new favorite receiver Danario Alexander. Big Ben threw for 3 touchdowns of his own, 2 to Mike Wallace, but it was Nick Novak’s leg and Quentin Jammer’s fumble recovery in the end-zone that made the difference. Technically the Chargers are still “mathematically” in the hunt for a playoff spot but we all know what that means. Pittsburgh on the other hand is in a better situation but has tough games against the Cowboys, Bengals and Browns.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Eagles are another team that will see a lot of changes at the end of the season but when you’ve lost 8 games in a row after starting 3-1 there’s nowhere to go but up. They traveled to Tampa to face another team that has ridden highs and lows. The Bucs are riding a two game losing streak after winning their previous 4 but a daring performance by Nick Foles added to that slide. Foles and the Eagles were staring their 9th loss in a row directly in the eyes down 11 with 7 minutes left in the game. Foles would hook up with Clay Harbor to cut that lead down to 5 and would eventually throw the game-winner to Jeremy Maclin with 0:00 on the clock. Foles threw for 381 yards, 2 touchdowns and for the 2nd game in a row didn’t turn the ball over. He also added another touchdown on the ground with an additional 27 yards. The sad part was that he was the team’s leading rusher and Bryce Brown’s recent hot streak fizzled out as he had 12 rushes for just 6 yards. The Bucs had a solid game from Vincent Jackson and the “Muscle Hamster” Doug Martin but once again their pass defense lost them the game.
Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins
The Ravens were surprised at home by the Charlie Batch led Pittsburgh Steelers last week and this week they traveled an hour south to face the Redskins in our nation’s capital. Baltimore jumped out to a lead behind 3 touchdown passes from Joe Flacco, 2 to Anquan Boldin. A 4th quarter touchdown run by Ray Rice with less than 5 minutes left had Baltimore up 8 points. Rookie phenom QB RGIII took to the field in hopes of starting some late game heroics. Griffin was taken out of the game with a serious looking knee injury and in walked fellow rookie QB Kirk Cousins. Cousins came in and made a perfect pass to the front corner of the end-zone hitting Pierre Garcon for what could have been the game-tying score. They were the first pair of rookie QBs to throw for touchdowns in the same game since the eary 1960’s. If Griffin were still in the game the Redskins would likely call a QB draw and they decided that was the playcall with Cousins too. Cousins got into the end-zone with relative ease to tie the game up and force overtime. Baltimore would win the toss go three-and-out and punt to Washington who would then return it to the Raven’s 24. Kai Forbath would come in after a few quick runs by Alfred Morris to lock in the win and boot the 34 yard game-winner. Baltimore has now lost 2 straight and are beginning to look very vulnerable, which is probably why they fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Monday.
Atlanta Falcons @ Carolina Panthers
Last week the Falcons won their 11th game for the 5th time in the franchises last 14 years, going back all the way to the Dirty Bird days. This week they traveled to Carolina and got beaten up by a Panthers team that was 1-5 at home and 3-9 for the season. Cam Newton finally had a performance comparable to his record breaking rookie season as he and his teammates tallied 475 offensive yards. Newton Ran for 116 yards and rushed for a touchdown while also throwing for 287 yards and passing for 2 more scores. Atlanta failed to score any points in the first half and were down 0-16 going into the locker room. That lead grew to 0-23 after Newton’s 72 yard rushing touchdown and it just became too much for the Falcons to overcome. Atlanta would cut the lead to 20-30 after a garbage touchdown by Michael Turner with less than a minute left in the game. The Falcons have looked strong all season but are once again looking vulnerable at the worst time possible. The Atlanta Falcons were hoping that this was the season that they wouldn’t be one and done in the postseason but it seems like history may repeat itself.
New York Jets @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville decided to untarp the upper deck of the stadium to welcome home their hero, thy Tim Tebow. Jets head coach Rex Ryan played into the folly naming Tebow the backup and making McElroy inactive, just a week after coming into the game and throwing for a touchdown. Could you imagine a Jets QB throw a touchdown? It didn’t happen on Sunday and neither did Tim Tebow seeing the field. Ryan didn’t even put Tebow in once and the Jets ran away with the game, literally. Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell both rushed for 77+ yards and a touchdown. There was just 1 rush difference between the two and Mark Sanchez threw just 19 passes for 111 yards. Jacksonville was just happy that the Jaguars could field a team and third string running back Montell Owens ran for 91 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. Chad Henne and Justin Blackmon tried to continue their success from a few weeks ago and the rookie wideout pulled down 6 balls for 57 yards on 12 targets. Henne has proved that he is no longer the answer and never should have been thought of the Jags answer at QB. Maybe the Jets release Tebow at the end of the year, or they spend an early draft pick on a prospect. The Jets on the other hand legitimately have a chance to make the playoffs if they win out. Their schedule is favorable and they could possibly squeak in.
Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers proved yet again that they are a team built on stout defense and rushing the football. Frank Gore scored another rushing touchdown and surpassed 1000 rushing yards on the year, something he’s done for 6 straight seasons. The Colin Kaepernick experiment for coach Harbaugh turned more in his favor when the young athletic QB scampered into the end-zone from 50 yards out. That is exactly the type of play that Kaepernick can make and Alex Smith cannot. The Dolphins offense struggled accumulating just 227 yards of offense. Aldon Smith continued his trend of punishing the quarterback tacking on 2 more sacks to increase his league leading total to 19.5. Smith is now just 3 sacks behind Michael Strahan’s record setting season from 2001 when he was with the Giants. San Francisco’s late TD run from Kaepernick capped off a 13-27 victory and has the Niners breathing a little more easy. They are currently the #2 seed in the NFC bracket of the playoffs, just behind the Atlanta Falcons and the team is hoping to challenge them for home field advantage throughout. Miami on the other hand was a surprising team early at 4-3 but they have vanished since then losing 5 of their last 6.
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants
This game had big playoff implications because if the Saints were capable of knocking off the Giants there would have been a 3-way tie in the NFC East division. David Wilson and the New York Giants made sure that scenario didn’t take place, at least not this week. The first points came for the Saints when Elbert Mack returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff rookie RB David Wilson returned it 97 yards for a touchdown and in 13 seconds there were two touchdowns scored. It was the first of Wilson’s 3 touchdowns on the day, the other 2 came on the ground. Wilson would rush for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns while Ahmad Bradshaw had just 33 yards on 11 carries. Eli added 4 touchdown passes of his own, along with 2 picks, to help New York blow out the Saints 27-52. Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz both caught touchdown passes and combined for 12 receptions and 188 yards. Drew Brees threw for over 350 yards and a touchdown but also threw 2 interceptions bringing his season total to 32 and 18 (TDs/Ints). The only two offensive touchdowns the Saints scored were by flex RB Darren Sproles who ran one in from 13 yards out and caught one from 9. New York has a little bit of breathing room between them and the Cowboys and Redskins but there is little room for error. The Saints biggest news is that former commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled in favor of the Saints players and have rescinded their suspensions. How’s that for a severance package for not making the playoffs?
Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
This was just an embarrassment from the beginning and it’s hard to think that the Cards only road victory this season came in New England against the Patriots. Arizona’s 4-0 start is long behind them and nothing sums the way their season has been going like a 0-58 whooping at the hands of the Seattle Sea-Chickens. Seattle scored e 38 points in the first half, the most in franchise history, and did so behind Marshawn Lynch and their defense. Lynch had 2 rushing touchdowns in the first half, as did the Seahawks defensive unit. Richard Sherman picked off John Skelton and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. Sherman would finish the game with 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery along with 3 pass deflections. Just a couple possessions later Malcom Smith recovered a fumble in the end-zone. The second half wasn’t any better as Lynch ran it in from 33 yards out for his 3rd touchdown of the day on their opening drive of the 2nd half. Eventually the Seahawks just let Leon Washington run one in, the final touchdown in the 4th quarter that capped the game off. Seattle forced 8 turnovers in this game, the same amount that the Indianapolis Colts have forced as a team all year. Skelton completed 50% of his passes for 74 yards, no touchdowns and 4 interceptions and Larry Fitzgerald must really feel like crying this week.
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
The Lions have been one of the most gutless teams of the year and for the 3rd week in a row Detroit gave up a double digit lead in the 2nd half and went on to lose the game. Detroit jumped out to a quick lead when QB Matt Stafford play action bootlegged on 4th and 1 easily walking into the end-zone and capping it off with his best LaDainian Tomlinson TD impersonation. That lead grew to 14-0 after Stafford found TE Tony Scheffler from 3 yards out early in the 2nd quarter. Green Bay’s first points surprisingly came off of the shaky foot of Mason Crosby who drilled a 49 yard field goal. The Lions had worked themselves towards midfield when Matt Stafford was sacked and stripped of the ball. Defensive lineman Mike Daniels picked up the rock and rumbled his way 43 yards for a touchdown cutting the Lions lead to 14-10. Aaron Rodgers would rush one in from 27 yards out on the opening drive of the 2nd half to give the Packers the lead for good. It was the longest touchdown run of Rodgers career, not to mention the longest rush of the season for any Packer. Rodgers had a decent day but he failed to throw a touchdown at Lambeau Field for the first time in 36 games. DuJuan Harris got to see some playing time at RB with James Starks’ injury and he would get into the end-zone early the the 4th quarter for his first career touchdown. The Packers also gave Ryan Grant a ceremonial rushing attempt late in the game to which he heard a roar from the crowd. The Packers would win the game 20-27 and now just need a victory in Soldier Field next week against the Bears to lock up the NFC North title.
Monday December 10, 2012
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
The Houston Texans have been talking all week about this being the biggest game in their franchises young history. It would have been nice if they decided to show up. Houston was down 21-0 in the first half and seemed to be playing uninspired football, despite the circumstances. Tom Brady threw 3 first half touchdowns, 2 to TE Aaron Hernandez and another to WR Brandon Lloyd. Brady’s 4th passing TD came when he hit a streaking Donte Stallworth for a 63 yard score. Stallworth was just re-signed to the team earlier this week, glad to see murderers can still get work. Arian Foster would get his scoring a 1 yard TD run in the 3rd but over the last two games he has rushed for just 84 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Patriots would score again in the 4th on a weird fumble recovery in the end-zone by Brandon Lloyd and again when Stevan Ridley ran one in from 14 yards out. The Patriots were up 7-42 with just over 7 minutes left in the game and for the 2nd time this year the Houston Texans were embarrassed on national television.