NFL 2008–Week 13 Recap

The Tygrrrr Express is cognizant of world events, which have been tragic in recent days. My Sunday column deals with the National Football League, and only the National Football League. Football cannot solve every world problem, but it can be a welcome respite. Escapism is legitimate. The world can wait until Monday.

As for the Plaxico Burress situation, I will be waiting and seeing just like everybody else. The Giants wide receiver accidentally shot himself in the leg with a gun that he brought into a nightclub. New York law is very strict, as is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. We shall see. For now, football attention is focused on Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving is about tradition, and one of the great traditions of Thanksgiving that I personally give much thanks for is an abundance of the National Football League. This is the only stretch of the year where 5 straight days of football takes place. The NFL has 3 games on Thanksgiving Thursday. Friday is normally a college game. Growing up the Friday after Thanksgiving was the annual Oklahoma vs. Nebraska game. Then Saturday was traditional college games followed by the NFL on Sunday and Monday night.

Yet Thanksgiving in 2008 means a potential mismatch between the best team in the league and the worst team in the league. The 10-1 Titans faced the 0-11 Lions. This reminds me of several years ago when the 9-1 Oakland Raiders were facing the 0-10 Chargers in San Diego. I was scared to death, and so were my friends rooting for the Raiders. We knew the Chargers were hungry. They were going to get a win. In the season opener the Raiders beat the Chargers only by a score of 9-6. A safety broke a scoreless 3rd quarter tie. I bring this up because every team has dignity, and the Lions will not go 0-16. As for the Chargers that year, they did win a game, but thankfully not that week. Sebastian Janikowski kicked 5 field goals, including one with seconds left. The Raiders survived 15-13. Raider fans were right to be scared. Any given Sunday absolutely still exists in the NFL.

With that, back home from North Carolina in front of my football den in Los Angeles, is the Week 13 NFL Recap.

Tennessee Titans @ Detroit Lions was the Thanksgiving Day morning game. This game ended as quickly as it began. Detroit needed 2 plays to fumble the ball away. Starting from the Detroit 34, Tennessee needed 2 plays to score. Jones ran for 28 yards to set up a 6 yard run by Chris Johnson for a 7-0 Tennessee lead. After a Detroit field goal, Johnson burst through for a 58 yard touchdown to make it 14-3. Dante Culpepper was the intercepted by Ball, who rumbled 15 yards for a touchdown to put the Titans up 21-3 after the first quarter. For some reason, the game continued.

A 13 yard Detroit punt let up Tennessee with another short field at the Detroit 31. Lendale White ran it in from 6 yards out to make it 28-3. After a better Detroit punt, Kerry Collins led a 91 yard drive that ate up 15 plays and 8 ½ minutes of clock. On 3rd and 7 from their own 37, an incomplete pass was nullified by an illegal contact penalty. On 3rd and 9 from the Detroit 46, Collins hit Justin McCareins for 23 yards. White ran it in from 2 yards out to put the Titans up 35-3.

Tennessee made one mistake in the game, which they will only use to improve in later weeks. Instead of running out the clock to end the half, Collins went back to pass and add more.  Collins was hit and fumbled. Detroit took over at the Tennessee 2 yard line, and Culpepper completed the touchdown drive to make it a 35-10 game. The Tennessee Titans used to be the Houston Oilers. The Oilers once blew a 35-3 lead. History would not repeat itself in this second half. Jeff Fisher had other ideas.

Rob Bironas once kicked 8 field goals in one game. In the second half of this game, he kicked 4 field goals. Things got so out of hand that Vince Young came in for the first time since Week 1. On 3rd and 1 he completed a short pass that went for 50 yards. Even on 3rd and 37 from midfield, a running play picked up 25 yards for Lendale White to set up a field goal. Drew Henson came in for Culpepper. The Lions remain a winless mess, and the Titans still have the top record in the AFC by 2 games. 47-10 Titans

Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys was the Thanksgiving day afternoon game. Tony Romo made it look easy for the Cowboys as Mike Holmgren continued to have a miserable final year in Seattle. Romo quickly fired a 32 yard strike to Jason Witten before hitting Bennett for 16 yards to put the Cowboys up 7-0. Marion Barber took over on the next Dallas drive, as a 17 yard run was followed by a one yard touchdown run and a 14-0 Dallas lead. The game was beginning to look like a rout, and it was.

After a Seattle field goal, Romo led the Cowboys again in the 2nd quarter down the field. He hit Terrell Owens for 26 yards, Witten for 10 more, Barber for 13, and Witten for another 13. Romo Hit Crayton for 9 yards, and finished off the aerial clinic with a 7 yard toss to Witten. The Cowboys led 21-3, and coasted from there.

The Cowboys led 24-6 at the half, but with the game at 24-9, Romo hit Owens for 33 yards to set up his 19 yard touchdown pass to Owens. After seeing a 3-0 team fall to 4-4 with Romo nursing an injured pinkie, the Cowboys have now won 4 straight and are every bit as loaded as last year. The Seahawks fell to 2-10, with no end in sight. 34-9 Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles was the Thanksgiving day night game. The Cardinals were trying to clinch their first division title since 1975 and their first home playoff game since 1947. The Eagles were trying to save their season, and perhaps the jobs of Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb. If this game was an indication, they succeeded.

McNabb opened the game by leading the Eagles 70 yards over 7 minutes and 12 plays. A 5 yard touchdown pass to Bryan Westbrook had the Eagles up 7-0. McNabb had a dream day, while Kurt Warner had a nightmarish one. His first interception had the Eagles starting at the Arizona 41. Westbrook did the rest, running for 5, 16, 17, and 1 yard to put the Eagles up 14-0 after the opening quarter.

After a punt, the Eagles took over at their own 40. McNabb hit Hank Baskett for 20 yards, and Westbrook continued to run wild. Westbrook scored from 2 yards out to have the Eagles cruising 21-0. Warner finally got the Cardinals going. He hit Tim Hightower for 26 yards and Pope for 25 yards to set up Warner’s 1 yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals were within 21-7, but the Eagles were far from done. David Akers nailed a field goal at the end of the half to put the Eagles up 24-7.

In the 3rd quarter, Westbrook scored again, this time from 9 yards out. At 31-7, the Eagles were on their way to a blowout. The Cardinals tried to make a game of it when Warner threw short touchdown passes to Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald after hitting Fitzgerald on a 40 yarder to set up the latter touchdown. Yet trailing 34-20 with the ball, Warner was hit and fumbled. McNabb took over at the Arizona 19 and ended up hitting Jackson for a 5 yard touchdown pass to end any suspense.

McNabb finished with 4 touchdown passes, while Warner suffered through 3 interceptions. Yet the Cardinals remain on track for the playoffs even at 7-5 in the NFC West, while the Eagles at 6-5-1 remain in last place in their tough NFC East. 48-20 Eagles

Miami Dolphins @ St. Louis Rams–The Rams have been getting blown out, with their last 3 games effectively ending by halftime. Yet this time they came out playing tough for Jim Haslett. A pair of field goals had the Rams up 6-0 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Miami mounted a 91 yard drive that consumed 12 plays and 5:46 of clock. Chad Pennington hit Ted Ginn for gains of 19 and 13 yards before hitting Bess for 19 yards. Ronnie Brown ran it in from 3 yards out to give the Dolphins the 7-6 lead. That would be the only touchdown of the game.

The field goal kickers had the Dolphins leading 10-9 at the half and 13-21 after 3 quarters. With 10 minutes left, Marc Bulger was intercepted, setting up the Dolphins at the Rams 40. Another field goal with 6 1/2 minutes remaining had the Dolphins up by 4 points. With 35 seconds remaining in the game, Bulger was intercepted again, as Miami left behind their 1-15 season and moved to 7-5 with the win. 16-12 Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers @ Buffalo Bills–This game started with a flourish and ended with people falling into a sleep induced coma. The 49ers took the opening kickoff and went 72 yards in 14 plays, eating over 8 minutes off of the clock. Sean Hill hit Isaac Bruce for the 12 yard touchdown pass that had the 49ers up 7-0. The final 52 minutes of the game could not end soon enough. In the 2nd quarter, the Bills decided to kick a field goal on 4th and goal from the 2. Ryan Lindell hit the upright. In the 4th quarter, on 4th and 2 from the San Francisco 7, the Bills failed to convert. 10-3 49ers

Indianapolis Colts @ Cleveland Browns–Peyton Manning had a miserable day in the Dawg Pound as this game was a defensive slugfest. The teams combined for barely more than 400 yards of total offense. The Colts had a 12 play, 7 minute drive, which the Browns answered with a staggering 16 play, 9 1/2 minute drive. Neither drive produced a touchdown. The Colts did face 4th and goal at the 1 in the 2nd quarter, but the ball was fumbled away. Thanks to that goal line stand, in the 4th quarter, the Browns led 6-3. With 10 minutes left, the only touchdown of the game came on defense. Derek Anderson was hit by Dwight Freneey, causing a fumble that Robert Mathis returned 37 yards for the score.

Late in the game Anderson was hit and injured. A team that alternated him and Brady Quinn has now lost both of them for the season, with 3rd stringer Ken Dorsey being their quarterback. As for the Colts, they Colts survived to get to 8-4. 10-6 Colts

Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers–On a day of defense, this was a shootout. Working with a short field after a punt, the Panthers took the 7-0 lead on a 1 yard run by Williams. Both offenses heated up in the second quarter. After a Green Bay field goal, a kickoff return had the Panthers starting at their own 45. A 43 yard run by Stewart set up Jake Delhomme, who ran it in himself from one yard out to put Carolina up 14-3. Aaron Rodgers led a 12 play, 6 1/2 minute drive. A 24 yard run by Jackson set up Rodgers hitting Donald Driver from 6 yards out to make it 14-10. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, a Green bay fumble in their own territory had the Panthers at the Green Bay 17. William ran it in from one yard out to put the Panthers up 21-10 at the half.

The Packers began the 3rd quarter with a field goal, and after a Carolina punt, the Packers took over at their own 5. Rodgers hit Driver for 46 yards. Rodgers then ran for 16 yards before hitting Greg Jennings for 15 more. The 95 yard drive was completed when Rodgers hit Lee for 5 yards. The 2 point conversion went to Jennings, tying the game 21-21 after 3 quarters.

After another Carolina punt, Rodgers hit Nelson for 23 yards before firing 21 yards to Jennings for the touchdown that had the Packers up 28-21 just over a minute into the 4th quarter. Jake Delhomme quickly responded. After a defensive pass interference penalty nullified an interception, Delhomme hit Steve Smith for 36 yards down to the one yard line. Williams crashed through to tie the game 28-28 with 11 minutes left. Rodgers took over on the Green Bay 20 and led a staggering 9 minute drive. On 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 44, Rodgers picked up 6 yards. On 4th and 1 from the Carolina 41, Rodgers picked up 2 yards. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 1 and 3rd and goal form the 1, Green Bay ran into a brick wall of Panthers. On 4th and goal from the 1, with 1:57 remaining, Mike McCarthy made the key decision  in the game by opting for the field goal. The Packers led 31-28.

Jones returned the kickoff to the Carolina 45. Delhomme went for all the marbles on the first play. Superstars Steve Smityh and Charles Woodson fought for position, and somehow Smith came down with the ball at the Green Bay 1 yard line. His acrobatic circus catch set up Williams for the go ahead touchdown with 90 seconds remaining. The Panthers were ahead, but used up only 27 seconds of clock. Yet 21 seconds later, Rodgers went deep and was intercepted. Carolina improved to 9-3, while the Packers fell to the brink of elimination with a 5-7 record. 35-31 Panthers

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals–In the first quarter, Joe Flacco hit Clayton for 45 yards to set up a field goal and a 3-0 Baltimore lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter Flacco led the Ravens deep, but on 4th and goal at the 2, another field goal was in the cards as the Ravens led 6-0. After a punt, Flacco led the Ravens 80 yards, and this time they cracked the end zone. Flacco hit Todd Heap from 4 yards out to put the Ravens up 13-0. With only 1:11 left in the half, the Bengals rapidly moved from their own 8 to the Baltimore 3. Yet a field goal was all they could muster, and trailing 13-3 at the half, the second half was all Ravens.

In the 3rd quarter a halfback option pass had Clayton throwing a 32 yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason after receiving the handoff from Flacco. Flacco later added a 70 yard touchdown pass to Clayton as the Ravens poured it on. A 35 yard interception for a touchdown by Leonhard wrapped up the scoring. The misery continued for the Bengals, while the Ravens moved to 8-4 with their rookie head coach and rookie quarterback. 34-3 Ravens

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers–A 3-3 game in the 2nd quarter saw the Bucs drive to the New Orleans 5, where they were forced to settle for another field goal and a 6-3 lead. Drew Brees finally got going, hitting Marquis Colston for 37 yards before hitting Moore for the 13 yard touchdown. The Saints led 10-6 at the break.

The Buccaneers began the second half at the Saints 46. Williams ran it in from 8 yards out to put the Buccaneers ahead 13-10. Another New Orleans punt again had the Bucs starting in Saints territory. Jeff Garcia threw a 39 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Bryant to give the Buccaneers a 20-10 lead after 3 quarters. The Saints then mounted an 82 yard drive that took 11 plays and 5:44 of clock. Brees hiit Devry Henderson for 20 yards before hitting Thomas for a 20 yard touchdown pass. The Saints were within 20-17, with 12 minutes remaining.

7 minutes remained when the Saints took over at the Tampa Bay 48. Brees hit Jeremy Shockey for 21 yards, setting up the tying field goal with 5 1/2 minutes left. With 2 1/2 minutes left, Brees made the mistake of the game when he was intercepted by Phillips. The Buccaneers began at the New Orleans 17. Yet the New Orleans Defense forced the Buccaneers into a field goal with only 29 seconds coming off of the clock. The Buccaneers had the lead, but the Saints had 1:55 left. It did not matter. Brees was intercepted again, this time by Philip Buchanon. The Buccaneers under Jon Gruden improved to 9-3 while the Saints fell to the precipice at 6-6, which is the cellar of their division. 23-20 Buccaneers

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins–In the Thursday night opener, the defending champions looked terrible in a 16-7 win over the Redskins at home. However, given how improved Washington is, the Giants victory is more impressive in context. This time the Giants let another foe know that they intend to repeat. Eli Manning hit Amani Toomer for a 40 yard touchdown to put the Giants up 7-0. The Giants added a pair of field goals to lead 13-0, but the Redskins came back. A 29 yard run by Thomas had the Redskins within 13-7. Both teams missed opportunities, with the Giants failing to convert 4th and 1 at the Washington 38, and the Redskins missing a field goal.

The second half saw the Giants defense unleashed. On offense, starting from the Washington 48, Brandon Jacobs ripped off a 23 yard gain. The bruising Jacobs scored from one yard out to put the Giants up 20-7. With 11 minutes left, on 4th and 1 from their own 39, Clinton Portis went nowhere. The Giants added a field goal and upped their record to 11-1. The Redskins remain in the hunt at 7-5. 23-7 Giants

Atlanta Falcons @ San Diego Chargers–The Atlanta Falcons are one of two teams along with Baltimore that are winning with a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach that looks like the poster child for Non-descript Caucasian Monthly Magazine. The Charger are led by Norvelous Norv Turner, who is leading his 3rd franchise into the ground. The Falcons led 3-0 and stopped the Chargers, but a fumbled punt had the Chargers starting at the Atlanta 18.  Rivers hit Ladanian Tomlinson for 15 yards, and Tomlinson ran it in the final 3 yards to put the Chargers up 7-3. The Falcons added another field goal to pull within 7-6 after the opening quarter.

In the 2nd quarter a punt return by Douglas had the Falcons at the San Diego 46. On 4th and 1 from the 20, Mughelli picked up 2 yards. Matt Ryan then hit Peele for the touchdown to put the Falcons up 13-7. A key play in the game came when Philip Rivers was called for intentioanl grounding in his own end zone. The safety put the Falcons up 15-7, and they took the free kick and went right down the field. Eating up 7 minutes of clock, they reached the San Diego one yard line with one minute left in the half. Yet Mughelli failed to get in on 3rd down, and on 4th and goal from the 1, Michael Turner hit a brick wall. Instead of turning out the lights, San Diego was within one score at halftime.

Matt Ryan had the Falcons driving in the second half, again looking to put the game out of reach. Instead a fumble by Brad Finneran was returned 86 yards for a touchdown by Weddle. Although the 2 point conversion failed, a potential blowout was now a 15-13 game. Yet Matty Ice stayed calm, as he has all year. He led an 11 play, 72 yard drive that ate up 5:46. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Ryan hit Douglas from 5 yards out to put the Falcons up 22-13.

With 11 1/2 minutes remaining, Nate Kaeding came in for a 43 yard field goal to make it a one score game. The kick was blocked. Yet Michael Turner fumbled, and Quentin Jammer recovered to put the Chargers at the Atlanta 45. They reached the 10 before the drive stalled. The field goal attempt was good this time, and the Chargers were within 6 points with 5:15 left. San Diego got the ball back, but went nowhere. They fell to a Norvelous 4-8. The Falcons with their coach, who happens to be named Mike Smith, movd to 8-4 with the win. 22-16 Falcons

Denver Broncos @ New York Jets–The Jets at 8-3 had just won road games against New England and previously unbeaten Tennessee, who they walloped from the undefeated ranks. The Broncos at 6-5 had just lost at home to a Raiders team that entered the game at 2-8. This is why the games are played in real life and not on paper. In New York, the Broncos dominated.

Although Brett Favre played the game, a key play occurred when Smith substituted for Favre at quarterback on a gadget play. The result was a fumble that the Broncos returned 23 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Thomas Jones broke through for a 59 yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7. Yet the Broncos added a 59 yard play of their own when Jay Cutler found Eddie Royal to put Denver back in front 14-7. The Broncos added a field goal before the first quarter ended.

In the 2nd quarter, Jones added to his 59 yard run with another touchdown, this time from 29 yards out. He appeared down, but rolled on bodies, stayed on his feet, and kept going. His alert play had the Jets within 17-14. Yet after that, Denver rolled. Cutler hit Tony Scheffler for 22 yards to set up a one yard touchdown run by Patrick Hillis to give Denver a 24-14 cushion. After a punt, with 3 minutes left in the half, Cutler moved Denver from their own 16 to the New York 17 to set up a field goal and a 27-14 Broncos lead at intermission.

Late in the 3rd quarter, on 3rd and goal from the Denver 7, Favre was sacked. The Jets settled for a field goal, and were blanked the rest of the game. A 36 yard pass from Cutler to Brandon Stokely salted the game away. Despite only being 7-5, the Broncos are in firm command of their division. The Jets at 8-4 are clinging to a one game lead in theirs. 34-17 Broncos

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots–Early in the game, Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted, alowing the Patriots to start at the Pittsburgh 14 in a game featuring rain and snow. Sammy Morris scored from 2 yards out to put the Patriots up 7-0. It was Pittsburgh’s only turnover of the day. Big Ben led an 11 play drive that took almost 6 minutes, but on 4th and 1 from the 2, Mike Tomlin decided to put the points on the board on the road. The field goal made it a 7-3 game. In the second quarter New England faced 4th and 2 at the Pittsburgh 11, and Bill Bellichick also went with the field goal to make it 10-3. Yet when Big Ben hit Santonio Holmes for a 19 yard touchdown pass, the game was tied 10-10 at halftime.

In the second half, New England turned the ball over 5 times. Matt Cassel had people forgetting about his predecessor, but today it was Cassel who was forgettable. Pittsburgh moved from their own 14 to the New England 7 in 14 plays and 7 minutes. Yet a field goal was all the Steelers could muster, making it 13-10. After that the Patriots collapsed. A fumble on the ensuing kickoff had the Steelers beginning at the New England 8. Big Ben hit Hines Ward for the touchdown to put the Steelers up 20-10. Cassel was then hit and fumbled. The Steelers moved to the New England 1 yard line, but again Tomlin opted for the field goal, giving the Steelers a 23-10 lead entering the final quarter.

In the 4th quarter Cassel was intercepted again, leading to a field goal. The final dagger came when Cassel had the Patriots at the Pittsburgh 14. Cassel was intercepted by Timmons at the 10, who returned it 89 yards before exhaustion led to him being taclked inches from the goal line. Russell finished things on the ground. The Steelers moved their record to 9-3 to keep a one game lead in their division, while the Patriots are 7-5, one game out of their divison lead. 33-10 Steelers

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders–As pathetic as the Raiders have been in 2008, they thrashed Denver on the road last week. They were at home against 1-10 Kansas City. The Raiders beat the Chiefs badly in Arrowhead 23-8 earlier in the year. Potential back to back wins had people claiming the Raiders running the table and winning the division at 8-8. As somebody who does not smoke crack, I just wanted to see 4-8. For more on the game of the day, go to:

http://www.justblogbaby.com

Yet the Raiders simply have a long way to go before even being an average team. They dominated the first half, yet were well on their way to giving away the game. Starting at their own 13, they opened up the playbook. A defensive pass interference penalty put the ball on the Oakland 35. JaMarcus Russell hit Zach Miller for 28 yards. From the Kansas City 30, Russell threw a quick swing pass to Ronald Curry, who pitched it to Darren McFadden. The hook and ladder had Oakland at the Kansas City 14. Yet when it comes to conventional offense, the Raiders still do not execute. 2 plays on 2nd and 3 from the 7 yielded nothing. Sebastian Janikowski had his 25 yard field goal blocked, but yet somehow it still went through to put the Raiders up 3-0.

The Chiefs responded with an 11 play, 7 minute drive of their own that tied the game 3-3. Yet it was the Raiders that blundered on 2 consecutive possessions in the second quarter to turn an easy win into a deficit. On 4th and 10 from the Kansas City 25, a field goal would have put the Raiders up 6-3. Instead the Raiders tried a fake field goal. Shane Lechler is a great punter, but not a quarterback. The snap was fumbled and picked up by Leggett, who raced 67 yards for a gift touchdown. Herm Edwards did win the Miracle at the Meadowlands, but this was just pathetic execution. Instead of being down 6-3, the Chiefs led 10-3.

On the next Oakland possession, Russell led a drive from the Oakland 9 to the Kansas City 22 that ate up 7 minutes and 11 plays. On 4th and 3 from the 22, rather than again kick a field goal, Tom Cable decided to go for it. A roll out pass by Russell was just overthrown past a diving Ronald Curry in the end zone. Rather than be up 9-3, the Raiders still trailed 10-3 at halftime.

Early in the 3rd quarter, the Chiefs tried to give the game back. Tyler Thigpen was intercepted by Chris Johnson at the Kansas City 45. Johnson, who has been playing brilliantly in place of the cut Deangelo Hall, returned it to the one yard line. Justin Fargas leapt over the top like Marcus Allen used to do, tying the game 10-10. Now if the defense, which had given up no touchdowns in the game, could continue playing well, the Raiders would be fine.

Instead Tyler Thigpen moved the Chiefs 91 yards in a staggering 16 play drive that ate up 9 1/2 minutes. From the 9, Thigpen hit Tony Gonzalez for 23 yards. On 3rd and 10 from their own 32, Thigpen hit Gonzalez again, for 16 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Oakland 44, Larry Jonhson picked up 3 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the Oakland 40, Thigpen hit Gonzalez for 12 yards. After a decade of doing this, perhaps the Raiders might have noticed that covering Gonzalez might be a good idea. As the 4th quarter began, on 3rd and 4 from the 11, Thigpen ran himself up the middle 9 yards, and Johnson finished the drive to put the Chiefs up 17-10.

The Raiders needed one play to self destruct, as Justin Fargas fumbled. The Chiefs added a field goal to lead 20-10 with 9 minutes remaining. As desperation set in, with 5 minutes remaining, the Raiders were forced to go for it on 4th and 7 from their own 24. Russell ran it 20 yards, and the Raiders had life. A  51 yard field goal by Seabass had the Raiders within 7 points. 2:55 remained, and Oakland had all 3 timeouts.

The Raiders decided not to try the onsides kick, and Seabass boomed out the back of the end zone. On 3rd and 3 from their own 27, the Chiefs needed to convert. One stop would give the Raiders the ball back. Thigpen hit Bowe for 12 yards. The Raiders took their final timeout. Larry Johnson then ran for 15 yards, and the Raiders never got the ball back. The Chiefs improved to 2-10, and the 3-8 Raiders moved a step closer to 3-13, not 8-8. The Raiders have now had 6 straight losing seasons since their 2002 Super Bowl season. That was the last year they defeated the Chiefs at home. 20-13 Chiefs

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings was the Sunday night game. Both of these teams came in tied for first place in their division at 6-5. Earlier in the year, the Bears won a ridiculous shootout at home 48-41. While Devon Hester was not running back kickoffs, he is now more than a return man. As a receiver he is just as dangerous, and Kyle Orton hit Hester on a pass that Hester took for a 65 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Bears lead.

Early in the second quarter, Adrian Peterson took a handoff from his own 35, and raced 59 yards to the Chicago 6. The Vikings could not capitalize, and had to settle for a field goal. Later in the quarter the Bears began with a short field. From the Minnesota 27, a 26 yard run by Matt Forte moved Chicago to the Minnesota 1 yard line. On 3rd and goal Forte was short. On 4th and goal from the 1, Forte ran into the closest thing Minnesota has had since the Purple People Eaters, or at least Big Dog John Randle. The goal line stand reverberated on the very next play. From his own one, Frerotte went back and fired the bomb to Bernard Berrian, who raced for the 99 yard touchdown. Instead of trailing 14-3, the Vikings led 10-7.

With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Vikings got the ball on their own 14. At the 2 minute warning, they were at their own 25. Adrian Peterson then ran for 16 yards. Frerotte hit Wade for 15 yards on the next play. A personal foul on the defense had Minnesota at the Chicago 21. Frerotte hit Kleinsasser inches from the goal line, allowing Frerotte to sneak it in himself with less than one minute remaining in the half. The Vikings took the 17-7 lead into the locker room.

In the second half, Frerotte had a pass deflected and intercepted by Payne at the Minnesota 40. Payne returned it to the Minnesota 4 yard line. Forte again did not get in on the ground, but instead caught the 2 yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to get the Bears to within 17-14 midway through the 3rd quarter. On Chicago’s next drive, Orton was intercepted, setting the Vikings up at the Chicago 35. Chester Taylor ran it in from 21 yards out to give the Vikings some breathing room at 24-14.

In the 4th quarter, Orton was intercepted by Leber at midfield. Leber returned it to the Chicago 22. There would be no goal line stand for the Bears this time, as Peterson crashed through on 3rd and goal at the one to put the Vikings comfortably ahead 31-14 with 8 minutes remaining. Another Orton interception led to a field goal to take a close game and end it in a rout. Yet this Sunday saw road teams defeat home teams in 10 of 11 games. Yet the night game went for the home team, as the Vikings moved into first place heading into December. 34-14 Vikings

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans was the Monday night game. For the first 55 minutes this was a grind it out game, while the last 5 minutes featured big plays on offense. Unfortunately, the game was already out of hand, and mattered little at the start. Sage Rosenfels led the Texans to a 7-0 early lead with a 31 yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson. After that, both teams fell asleep until late in the game. In the 2nd quarter, the Texans kicked a field goal, and the Jaguars missed one The Texans also fumbled a snap on a field goal when they faced 4th and goal at the 3 as the half ended . In the 3rd quarter, the Jaguars did make one field goal, but the Texans made 2 more. With 12 minutes remaining, on 4th and goal at the 5, David Garrarrd tripped when his lineman stepped on him. With 5 minutes left, the game was still 16-3.

Yet 19 points in 55 minutes was followed by 28 points in the final 5. Garrard was sacked and fumbled, allowing the Texans to take over at the Jacksonville 7. Steve Slaton scored on the next play to make it 23-3. Fred Taylor scored ona  4 yard run with 2:11 left to make it 23-10. The onsides kick failed, and the demoralized Jaguaars gave up a 40 yard touchdown run to Slaton, who burst through untouched. The Jaguars did score a garbage touchdown in the final minute. Both teams are 4-8. After going 12-4 last year, the injury riddled Jaguars areplaying out the strong. As for the Texans, they still have not turned the corner. 30-17 Texans

eric

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