NFL 2012 Week 13 Recap

NFL 2012 Week 13 Recap

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano was once asked after a tough loss if the loss was hard to accept. He had recently lost a child to a tragic accident, and replied “Death is hard to accept. Everything else is an inconvenience.”

Tragedy shook the NFL on Saturday with the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. After careful consultation, the Chiefs decided to play their Sunday home game against the Carolina Panthers. While football is a game, it is also the occupation of the players and the organizations. So while there will be heavy hearts on this NFL Sunday, the business of football does continue.

Here is the NFL 2012 Week 13 Recap.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons was the Thursday night game.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons was the Thursday night game. The Saints clawed their way out of an 0-4 hole, but a loss last week dropped them to 5-6 and in trouble. The Falcons are 10-1, with their only loss coming a few weeks ago to the Saints. This was about revenge, and about Atlanta quieting the doubters. Drew Brees came in with an NFL record 54 straight games with a touchdown pass.

Early on it was all Atlanta. After a touchback, Matt Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for 9 yards. Michael Turner ran around the end for a 35 yard gain and then again for 5 more. Jaquez Rodgers broke free for a pair of 14 yard gains. This was textbook smashmouth, and Michael “the Burner” Turner ran it in from 3 yards out to make it 7-0 Falcons.

The Saints soon faced 3rd and 8 from their 22. Drew Brees went deep to Morgan for a 38 yard gain and it looked like the pinball machine was on. On 2nd and 7 from the Atlanta 37, Brees went deep again and was intercepted in the end zone by Decoud. The expected shootout turned into a puntfest.

Atlanta took over at the Saints 49. Ryan hit Cox for 8 and Julio Jones for 7 and 18. The second quarter began with the Falcons facing 2nd and 11 at the Saints 17. Ryan went deep to Tony Gonzalez for the touchdown as the Falcons led 14-0. Early on it came easy, but over the final three quarters nothing would come easy for either team.

With 10 minutes left in the half, the Saints took over at their own 35. Brees was intercepted by Weatherspoon, the second pick of the day. Atlanta took over at the Saints 29. The Falcons went nowhere, but Matt Bryant hit a 45 yard field goal to make it 17-0 Falcons.

The Saints quickly faced 3rd and 9 from their 21. Brees went deep to Lance Moore for a 32 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Atlanta 45, Brees hit Marquis Colston for 12. On 3rd and 3 from the Atlanta 26, the defense jumped offsides. Brees then hit Colston for 11. Pierre Thomas ran for 9 and Mark Ingram got the last yard for the score. With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half the 11 play, 5 1/2 minute, 80 yard drive had the Saints on the board down 17-7.

Atlanta went 3 and out and the Saints used their timeouts to get the ball back at their own 29. Brees hit Moore for a 29 yard gain at the 2 minute warning and Colston for 21 more. Brees hit Sproles for 14 yards and with 51 seconds left in the half, the Saints had 1st and goal at the 7. Brees hit Sproles for the touchdown and the Saints seemed right back in it down 17-14. Yet they were not.

Graham was called for offensive pass interference, nullifying the score. From the 17, Brees hit Sproles for a 12 yard gain as the clock ticked down. The Saints had no timeouts, but they had time. 12 seconds remained with 2nd and goal at the 5. Brees could have spiked the ball to stop the clock. He will go to the Hall of Fame one day but not on this day. He threw a 2 yard completion to Sproles in the field of play. The Saints tried to spike the ball but the clock ran out. There would not even be a field goal attempt as the Saints trailed 17-7 at halftime. That clock management error would loom large later on.

The Saints began the third quarter at their 14 and engaged in a 15 play drive that consumed over 6 1/2 minutes off the clock. Thomas gained 7, 11, and 13 sandwiched around Brees hitting Colston for 7, and Moore for 12. On 3rd and 9 from the Atlanta 35, Brees hit Sproles for 10 and Graham for 17. Yet on 3rd and goal from the 8, a completion to Thomas came up 3 yards short. 86 yards were needed, and only 83 came. Garret Hartley this time did get his chance from 21, and the field goal had the Saints within 17-10.

Atlanta again went nowhere and the Saints got it back at their 30. Brees hit Moore for 12 and Thomas gained 8. On 3rd and 2 from midfield, Thomas ripped off a pair of 8 yard gains. Yet on 3rd and 2 from from the Atlanta 34, Brees went deep and incomplete. Hartley came in for the 52 yard field goal and drilled it to have the Saints within 17-13 with four minutes left in the third quarter. While the Atlanta offense was practically non-existent after the first quarter, the last 18 minutes of the game were a nightmare for Drew Brees.

Matt Ryan threw 3 straight incompletions after a touchback and the Saints got it back with great field position. Yet with 2nd and 5 from their own 48, Brees was intercepted for the third time, this time by Moore. Atlanta took over at the Saints 41. Ryan hit Gonzalez for 18 and Roddy White for 20. Yet despite 1st and goal at the 4, Atlanta then went backwards. The fourth quarter began with Bryant hitting a 29 yard field goal to make it 20-13 Falcons. After three quarters, Brees did not have a touchdown pass.

The Saints moved from their 20 to a 2nd and 1 at the Atlanta 32. Thomas tried an end around, and lost 4 yards. On 3rd and 5, Brees was sacked to push the Saints out of field goal range. They punted and Atlanta took over at their 20 with 10 minutes left in regulation.

Matty Ice moved the Falcons from their 20 to a 4th and 8 at the Saints 37 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Then came the big decision. Falcons Coach Mike Smith may look like an average non-descript white guy named Mike Smith, but this guy has a brass pair. He sent in Matt Bryant for a 55 yard field goal try. This was a very questionable decision, since a miss would give the Saints excellent field position down by 7 with perhaps the best signal caller in the game today. A punt or going for it made more sense. Yet Matt Ryan is not the only Matty Ice on this team. Bryant drilled the kick as Mike Smith pumped his fist. The Falcons led by 10, and now it was up to Brees to try and lead a miracle comeback.

The Saints took over at their own 21. On 3rd and 10 from their 35, Brees threw his fourth interception of the day, this time to Julian Babineaux. With 3 1/ minutes left, all Atlanta had to do was grind down the clock. Then chaos ensued. Turner got the carry. Although the play seemed over as several defenders were on him, the whistle had not blown, The ball was ripped out of his hands and landed on the ground. Bush picked it up for the Saints. Everyone still thought the play was over. Bush got up and raced 71 yards for a touchdown. With 2 1/2 minutes to play, the Saints were within 23-20. However, all scoring plays are reviewed. On further review, the ball was fumbled. However, Bush was down by contact. The Saints were still down by 10, but had the ball at their own 30. Drew Brees still did not have  a touchdown pass.

On 2nd and 10 from their 45, Brees fired a pass over the middle. It bonked right off of the helmet of defender Peters, popped slightly in the air, and was somehow intercepted by Peters. Drew Brees had never thrown 5 interceptions in a game before. It seemed now he had, but John Abraham had jumped offsides on the defense. With 2:06 to play the Saints had life.

Brees then went deep and a diving interception was made by Moore. Replays showed that Moore secured the ball and landed inbounds. The thrilling catch was Brees’s 5th interception. This one counted. There would be no comeback.

Several weeks earlier Ryan had thrown 5 interceptions in a game. Now Brees has. The streak was over. The only streak the Saints now have is a 2 game losing streak dropping them to 5-7 and the brink of playoff elimination. Atlanta is 11-1 and has all but locked up the division. While many people will never give the Falcons credit until this team wins a playoff game, they showed a lot of grit and guts in this game. The high powered offense was not as good as usual, but the defense stepped up big throughout the game when it counted. 23-13 Falcons.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Buffalo Bills-Neither of these teams are any good, but the Jaguars have shown some fight the last couple weeks with Chad Henne replacing Blaine Gabbert. Outside of Chan Gailey doing his best impersonation of the unabomber with his sinister looking beard, there is no reason to watch this game.

After a Jacksonville punt, Buffalo soon faced 3rd and 8 from their 36. Ryan Fitzpatrick ran for 11. On 2nd and 20 from their 48, Fitzpatrick went deep to Graham for a 51 yard gain. Fitzpatrick got the last yard to make it 7-0 Bills.

The second quarter featured more action. It began with Fitzpatrick getting intercepted and the Jaguars taking over at the Buffalo 32. The Jags got to the 18 before Henne threw 3 straight incompletions. Josh Scobee hit the 36 yarder to get Jacksonville within 7-3.

Buffalo moved to a 4th and 5 from the Jacksonville 37. Chan Gailey decided to go for it and Henne threw incomplete. Jacksonville needed one play to draw a 24 yard defensive pass interference penalty. Henne then hit Chris Shorts for another 24 and Mercede Lewis for 12 more. Henne ran it in on a bootleg from one yard out to have the Jaguars up 10-7.

Buffalo was right back on the march when Easley returned the kickoff 55 yards and unnecessary roughness on Jacksonville tacked on 15 more. From the Jaguars 26, Brad Smith took a wildcat snap and gained 11 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the 11, Fitzpatrick hit Chandler for the score as the Bills retook the lead 14-10 at the 2 minute warning.

On the first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Henne was sacked and fumbled. Buffalo took over at the Jacksonville 14. Yet 3 plays netted only 3 yards and the Bills settled for a 29 yard Ryan Lindell field goal to take a 17-10 lead into the locker rooms.

Brad Smith returned the second half kickoff to the Bufflo 39. CJ Spiller gained 8, 1, and 3. Fred Jackson added 15 more. Brad Smith took another wildcat snap 17 yards. After all that running, Fitzpatrick hit Stevie St Johnson for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 24-10 Bills.

Jacksonville moved from their 27 to a 4th and 5 at the Buffalo 39. They went for it and Henne threw incomplete. Buffalo then just turned everything over to Fred Jackson, who gained 4, 9, 5, 6, 3, and 3. Jackson on 3rd and 4 from the Buffalo 31 caught a pass, but that lost a yard. Lindell hit from 50 to make it 27-10 Bills.

Buffalo got it back and began the fourth quarter at their 37. Fitzpatrick hit Smith for 12, Jackson gained 7, and Spiller raced for a 44 yard touchdown to have the Bills leading a 34-10 blowout.

Buffalo would fumble a punt a few minutes later to give the Jaguars the ball at the Buffalo 5. Henne hit Shorts for the score and Owens ran in the 2 point conversion, but the final 11 minutes saw nothing else. With 6 minutes left on 4th and 8 from the Buffalo 39, Henne threw incomplete. With 2 minutes left on 4th and 5 from the Buffalo 27, Henne threw incomplete. Henne’s last pass was an interception. Jacksonville fell to 2-10 and still has a shot at the top pick in the draft. 34-18 Bills

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears–These teams are both in the playoff picture with Seattle hanging on at 6-5 and the 8-3 Bears one game up in the NFC North. Both teams have physical defenses, although both Seattle corners may be suspended for Adderall use. Until then, Pete Carroll and Lovie Smith are gonna see their guys lay the lumber.

An early Marshawn Lynch fumble had the Bears taking over just past midfield. On 3rd and 10 a completion came up short, but defensive holding extended the drive. On 3rd and 12 from the Seattle 46, Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for a 23 yard gain. Marshall fumbled, recovered his own fumble, gained 6 more yards, and say yet another 5 tacked on due to a Seattle delay of game on defense. Cutler then hit Bennett for the 12 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bears.

Chicago got it back and moved all the way from their 20 to a 3rd and 2 at the Seattle 16 early in the second quarter. Matt Forte only got half of it and Lovie Smith decided to go for it on 4th and 1 at the 15. Michael Bush got the carry and got stopped cold.

Nidway through the second quarter Seattle got the ball at their own 6 and faced 3rd and 4 from the 12. Russell Wilson hit Golden Tate for 18 and 5 and then Sidney Rice for 8. On 3rd and 6 from their 47, Wilson went deep to Tate for a 49 yard gain. Lynch got the 4 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

Seattle got it back with 1:36 in the half at their own 37. Wilson hit Leon Washington for 6 with a horsecollar tackle tacked on. On 3rd and 4 from the Bears 34, Wilson hit Baldwin for 20. With 16 seconds left in the half, Seattle faced 3rd and 10 at the Bears 14. Wilson hit Edward for the touchdown, but the officials review every score. On further review it was reversed incomplete. Steve Hauschka hit a 31 yard field goal as the Seahawks led 10-7 at intermission.

The game was a defensive bonelock when Chicago got it back after an exchange of punts at their own 6 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter. On 3rd and 7 from their 9 Cutler threw incomplete, but a critical illegal use of hands penalty kept the drive going. Cutler ran for 7 and another unnecessary roughness call on Seattle added 15 more. Cutler then hit Weems for 18 and Marshall for 13. Forte ran for 10. On 3rd and 4 from the 12 Cutler went to Forte for 11. Lovie Smith challenged that Forte was down, and the challenge was successful. Officials reversed the call and ruled it a touchdown. The 12 play, 6 minute, 94 yard drive put the Bears back on top 14-10.

The defenses took over, and this time with only 3:40 to play in the entire game, the Seahawks were pinned at their own 3 yard line. Wilson hit McCoy for 11. Lynch caught a pass for 10 and ran for 11 more. Wilson scrambled twice for gains of 13 and 6. With 1:41 to play Seattle faced 3rd and 14 at their own 41. Wilson hit Danny Baldwin for 11. On 4th and 3 from the Bears 48 with 1:11 left, Wilson hit Zach Miller for 7 and then went deep to Rice for a 27 yard gain. With 32 seconds to play, Seattle took their second timeout. Wilson then found Golden Tate for the touchdown as Seattle matched the 94 yard Chicago drive with a 97 yard one of their own. This time Wilson to Tate did not require replacement refs, and was not disputed. The Seahawks led 17-14 with 24 seconds left.

The Bears were in a hole when Weems ran out the kickoff and was stopped at the Chicago 14. Only 20 seconds remained and the Bears needed a miracle. They got one. The Hail Mary giveth and it taketh away from Seattle. Cutler threw a parayer in the air and Marshall came down with it for a 56 yard gain. With 9 seconds left Forte gained a couple and the Bears called their second timeout with 3 seconds left. It was up to Robbie Gould, and from 46 yards he nailed the field goal. The wild emotion swings in the final seconds had a fine football game going into overtime 17-17.

Seattle got the ball after a touchback and Wilson ran for 11. Lynch gained 14 more. On 3rd and 2 from the Chicago 47, Wilson gained 5. On 3rd and 5 from the Bears 37, Wilson gained 12. On 3rd and 10 from the Chicago 25, Wilson hit Baldwin for 12. Now the Seahawks were well within field goal range, but a touchdown would end it without Chicago ever seeing the ball. From the 13, Wilson dumped it off to Rice. Rice headed toward the end zone and got blasted at the goal line. His helmet came off and he lost the ball. Chicago recovered it in the end zone. Yet the officials correctly ruled that the ball broke the plane of the goal. It was a touchdown, not a touchback, and the game was over.

The Bears on defense are exactly who we thought they were, but so are the Seahawks. A rematch between these teams in the playoffs would be worth it. Chicago fell to 8-4 and tied for their division lead. Seattle at 7-5 moved to 1 1/2 games out in their division. Pete Carroll and Lovie Smith both know defense, and it was fitting that this game ended on a hard hit. 23-17 Seahawks, OT


Indianapolis Colts @ Detroit Lions
–While Indy is vastly improved and Detroit is reeling, The Lions are tough at home. Indy has won some home games, but on the road against tough teams usually does them in.

After an exchange of punts, the Lions took over at their own 42. On 3rd and 2, Matthew Stafford hit Andrew Luck for 14. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Indy 29, Stafford threw incomplete. Old Reliable Jason Hanson hit from 48 to make it 3-0 Lions. The Colts struck back rapidly. On 3rd and 6 from their 24, Andrew Luck went deep to TY Hilton for a 60 yard gain. On 3rd and 11 from the 17, Luck found Avery for the touchdown to make it 7-3 Colts.

Detroit took over at their 13 and from the 17 Stafford hit Bell for 15 and Tony Scheffler for a 39 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Indy 25, Stafford hit Scheffler for 6 and Brandon Pettigrew for a 16 yard touchdown to put the Lions back on top 10-7.

Detroit began the second quarter facing 3rd and 1 from their 44 and Matt Leshoure got the yard. Stafford then hit Pettigrew for a 17 yard gain and went deep to Megatron Calvin Johnson for a 32 yard gain. Leshoure ran for the 6 yard touchdown to make it 17-7 Lions. Again Indy came tight back after a touchback as a short pass from Luck to Allen went for a 40 yard gain. Luck then went deep to Fleener for a 26 yard touchdown and the Colts were within 17-14. On the next series Luck was intercepted, giving the Lions the ball at the Indy 20. Yet Detroit failed to capitalize and settled for a 33 yard Hanson field goal to lead 20-14 midway through the second quarter.

Indy went 3 and out and the Lions got it back at their own 36. Stafford hit Johnson for gains of 6 and 7. He hit Leshoure for 13 and Leshoure ran for 5 more. Yet a pair of incompletions meant a 52 yard field goal try by Hanson. For a guy collecing Social Security, Hanson is pretty good. His third kick of the day had the Lions up 23-14 at halftime. The second quarter ended with both quarterbacks throwing interceptions and neither team capitalizing, but this game was just warming up.

After a touchback in the third quarter, Ballard ran for 3 and 13. Luck then went deep to Avery for a 42 yard gain. Ballard did the rest, gaining 7, 4, and the 11 yard touchdown to quickly have the Colts within 23-21. A field position game late in the third quarter had the Lions facing 3rd and 7 from their 45. Stafford hit Johnson for 11. On 3rd and 12 from the Indy 46, Stafford went deep to Johnson, who just did what he does. The touchdown had the Lions up 30-21 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter the Colts punted twice and the Lions once, but all of that only took 4 minutes off the clock. The Lions got it back with 11 minutes left and a penalty gave them 1st and 20 from their own 20. Yet Bell got the carry, and was off for a 67 yard gain. Yet 3 more plays gained nothing, and Hanson hit his fourth field goal of the day from 31 yards out. Detroit had a 33-21 lead, but with 8 1/2 minutes left had not put the game away. Detroit has had some late game collapses this year, and this one game was enough to bring back the Alcoa Fantastic Finishes from the 1980s.

Indy took over at their 20 and quickly moved to the Detroit 40. Yet on 3rd and 10, Luck was intercepted by Carey, who returned it 28 yards to the Detroit 45. Only 6 1/2 minutes remained, and after one first down, Stafford incompletions stopped the clock. Indy got it back at their own 15 with 4 minutes to play needing 2 scores.

With 3 1/2 minutes left, it came down to 4th and 2 from the Colts 23. Luck ran for 8 yards, with a horsecollar adding on 15 more. On 3rd and 5 just past midfield, Luck hit Ballard for 7. From the Detroit 42, Luck went deep to Brazill for the touchdown. Down only 33-28 with a full 2:47 to play, the Colts decided to kick it deep.

The Colts did give up a 21 yard defensive pass interference penalty, but that does not move the clock. They took their timeouts, and at the 2 minute warning it came down to 3rd and 5 at the Detroit 49. Jim Schwartz this time played it very safe, running up the middle. Detroit would have to punt, but by the time the Colts got it back at their own 2 with 0 timeouts, only 1:07 remained.

Luck ran for 9 and on 3rd and 1 found Reggie Wayne for 26 yards. By the time Luck spiked the ball only 37 seconds remained. Luck then ran for another 16 and got out of bounds. Luck hit Allen for 10, and Allen got out of bounds. There would be no need for a Hail Mary. With 18 seconds left in regulation, the Colts had 1st and 10 at the Detroit 14.  Luck would have 4 chances and Matthew Stafford on the sideline had his head buried in his hands, unable to watch. Luck threw incomplete 3 times, and with 3 seconds left it all came down to 4th and 10.

The receivers and defenders all went to the end zone, and instead Luck checked down and threw a dumpoff pass to Avery, who had only green in front of him. He raced in untouched in front of a shellshocked home crowd and disbelieving defenders. Detroit saw its misery continue while Indianapolis only one year after going 2-14 is now 8-4. This team is for real. 35-33 Colts

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers–Early in the season Minnesota looked like a surprise team while the Pack struggled. Minnesota is 6-5 while the Packers saw their five game win streak snapped last week to fall to 7-4. Green Bay is one game back in the NFC North, and should right the ship at home against the overachieving Vikings.

Green Bay jumped on Minnesota at the start. On 3rd and 3 from their 32 Aaron Rodgers threw incomplete, but the Vikings jumped offsides. Rodgers then ran for 8 and Green added 9 and 5 more. From the Minnesota 32, Rodgers went deep to Jones for the touchdown and the 7-0 Packers lead.

Green Bay got it back at their own 36 and Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for 7 and Starks added 6 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 42 Rodgers hit Crabtree for 15. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 24, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for 10. Yet on 2nd and 10 from the Vikings 14, a touchdown pass to Jones was nullified due to holding. Minnesota would settle for the Mason Crosby field goal and the 10-0 lead.

Minnesota got it back at their own 29 with 4 minutes left in the opening quarter. Adrian Peterson may not win most valuable player, but he should be a shoo in for comeback player of the year. He looks like the superstar he was before the knee injury. On this drive he began with gains of 3, 5, 8, and 3. Christian Ponder brought Christmas early by hitting Rudolph for gains of 7 and 5 and then Felton for 13 more.  The second quarter saw Minnesota facing 3rd and 1 at the Packers 18. Peterson gained 2 and 9. On 1st and goal at the 3, Ponder fumbled, but Minnesota retained possession. From the 7, Ponder hit Rudolph for the score and the Viking were within 10-7.

A field position game saw the Vikings take over at their own 9. On 3rd and 1 Peterson got the carry and raced 82 yards for a touchdown. Yes, he is still very good. The Vikings led 14-10 at halftime, which ended with Crosby missing a 53 yard field goal.

Crosby further provoked Mike McCarthy’s wrath by kicking the second half kickoff out of bounds. Minnesota took over at their own 40, and Peterson again went crazy, rumbling for a 48 yard gain. He then added 4 more. Yet on 2nd and 6 from the 8 with the Vikings having all the momentum, Ponder was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback.

Green Bay faced 3rd and 9 from their 21 when Rodgers hit Jermaine Finley for a 21 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from their 49, Rodgers hit Kuhn for 6. On 2nd and 15 from midfield, Rodgers hit Jennings for 18. The drive stalled, and this time Crosby was good from 47 to get the Packers within 14-13.

On the next Green Bay series Rodgers went deep and was intercepted, but it functioned as a punt. Minnesota failed to convert on 3rd and 1 from their 15, so no harm was done. The Packers got it back just shy of midfield, and Green ran for 11 and 7. Rodgers hit Jennings for 11 and Starks then raced for a 22 yard score as the Packers retook the lead 20-14. Minnesota quickly moved from their 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Green Bay 25. Yet on the last play of the third quarter, Ponder was intercepted again, this time by Burnett. Green Bay would begin the fourth quarter at their own 14.

Champions win in many different ways, and Aaron Rodgers is a champion. The fourth quarter would contain zero flash, but show another way to win. Mike McCarthy is pass-happy, but began calling a couple running plays. On 3rd and 8 from the Green Bay 28, Rodgers hit Jennings for just enough. On 3rd and 2 from their 44, Rodgers ran for 3. On 3rd and 5 from the Vikings 48, Rodgers hit Finley for 7. On 3rd and 12 from the Minnesota 43, Rodgers went deep to Randall Cobb for a 33 yard gain. The drive would finally stall, but after a staggering 18 play drive that moved 76 yards, Crosby came in for a 31 yard field goal. Crosby was good, and 11 minutes were bled off the clock. Only 4 minutes remained.

Needing 2 scores, Ponder moved the VIkings from their 17 to a 4th and 3 at the Minnesota 24. Leslie Frazier went with the field goal, since they would need the onsides kick anyway. Yet from 42 yards out Walsh was no good, and the Vikings were done. Minnesota fell to 6-6 despite 210 yards rushing from Peterson. Green Bay is 8-4 and now again tied for the lead in the Black and Blue Division. This one wasn’t pretty, but NFC North football often isn’t. 23-14 Packers

Carolina Panthers @ Kansas City Chiefs–Forget about football. This was supposed to be the worst game of the day between 3-8 Carolina and 1-10 Kansas City. Then in a few tragic moments, football game secondary. The shocking murder-suicide committed by Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher will be the only thing anyone remembers from this Sunday at Arrowhead. He killed himself at the stadium with Coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli. The Chiefs fans were very classy when they hosted the Giants after 9/11, and the Panthers were also classy at home against New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. This game will be brief escapism from the pain.

Emotion carried the Chiefs early on as expected. From their 26, Jamal Charles ran for 5 and 10. Brady Quinn went deep to Dwayne Bowe for a 21 yard gain and then Baldwin for a 34 yard touchdown as the Chiefs took the quick 7-0 lead.

Carolina got the ball at their 25 and Cam Newton hit Brandon LaFell for 10. On 3rd and 1 from their 44, Mike Tolbert gained 9. Newton hit Greg Olsen, who did the rest for a 47 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

After a touchback, Charles caught a pass for 4 and ran for a pair of 16 yard gains. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 35, Peyton Hillis ran for 3 and 2. A 3rd and 8 pass completion came up 2 yards short and Romeo Crennel went with the field goal. Ryan Succop hit from 42 to make it 10-7 Chiefs.

Carolina soon faced 3rd and 4 from their 26 and Newton hit Tolbert for 10. On 3rd and 11 from their 35, Newton went to Steve Smith for a 19 yard gain. In the second quarter from the Chiefs 41, Williams gained 11. On 3rd and 3 from the Chiefs 23, Newton went to Steve Smith for the touchdown as the Panthers led 14-10.

Midway through the second quarter the Chiefs took over at the 20 and soon faced 3rd and 2 from the 28. They failed to convert on the ground but defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 6 from their 37 Quinn hit Bowe for 18. On 3rd and 1 from the Carolina 36, Quinn hit Dexter McCluster for 12. Quinn bled the entire second half of the second quarter, and with 42 seconds left in the half, Hillis did not get in on 3rd and goal from the one. Crennel took the clock down to 2 seconds and decided this time to go for it on 4th and goal from the one. Quinn hit Moeaki for the score as the Chiefs led 17-14 at halftime.

After a Carolina punt in the third quarter, the Chiefs took over at their 13 and led a drive that all but ended the third quarter. Charles gained 9 and 2. On 3rd and 7 from their 27, Quinn hit Hillis for 9. From their 39, Quinn hit Moeaki for 25 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Carolina 36 Quinn hit Moeaki for only 9. With 6 minutes left in the third quarterm Romeo Crennel again decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 27. Hillis gained 5. Again came 4th and 1 at the 13 and again Crennel was going balls out. Hillis got the tough yard. Charles then gained 9 and Quinn hit Baldwin for the 3 yard touchdown as the Chiefs led 24-14 after the staggering 13 play, 87 yard drive that took up 10 minutes.

After a touchback the Panthers faced 3rd and 1. Newton gained 3 and then scrambled for a 28 yard gain. Williams gained 8 as the Panthers began the fourth quarter at the Chiefs 32. Williams gained 4, Newton scrambled for 20 more, and Newton hit Louis Murphy for an 8 yard touchdown to get the Panthers within 24-21 only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter.

After an exchange of punts midway through the fourth quarter, the Chiefs took over at their own 27. Quinn went to Moeaki for 19 yards and a defensive personal foul on the next play added 15 more. The drive stalled, but Succop came in for a 52 yard field goal with 5 minutes to play. Succop was good, and the Chiefs had a 6 point lead. Carolina took over at their own 19.

Carolina went 3 and out and with 4 minutes left Ron Rivera decided to punt and trust his defense. The Panthers used their timeouts and with 3 1/2 minutes to play it came down to 3rd and 6 at the Chiefs 34. Quinn took it himself and got just enough as the clock wound down. By the time the Panthers got the ball back they were at their own 14 with only 18 seconds to work with.

Newton hit Smith for 14 and Edwards for 11 more. With 3 seconds to go from the Carolina 39, the entire Arrowhead Stadium held its collective breath. The entire world new that Newton had the arm strength for the Hail Mary. They also knew he would be looking for all world receiver Steve Smith. Newton fired the Hail Mary Deep, and Steve Smith caught it. It was a miracle.

Yet miracles go both ways. Smith only caught it at the 8 yard line, and got no further. After a 24 hour nightmare that the Chiefs will need weeks if not years to recover from, they fought hard for their city. There are no words to describe what this win meant for this city on this day. With all respect to Carolina, the Chiefs had to win this game. They may be 2-10, but they have pride and heart and character and guts. 24 hours ago Romeo Crennel saw a man die in front of him. To coach this win shows a lot about him as well. This win mattered. 27-21 Chiefs

New England Patriot @ Miami Dolphins–New England is the far better team, but over the years they have occasionally stumbled at Miami with some classic fourth quarter meltdowns. Miami is clinging to playoff survival while New England is looking for its 9th division crown in 10 years.

This was a mismatch at the start. Miami fumbled the snap on a punt, giving the Patriots the ball at the Miami 12. On 3rd and 8 Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for 10 and Shawn Ridley got the 2 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Patriots. New England missed a chance to extend the lead when a 50 yard field goal try was no good.

Tom Brady had gone 202 passes without being intercepted, but he was picked off by Jones, who intercepted Brady at midfield. Jones returned it all the way down the sideline for the touchdown, but an illegal block on the return set up the Dolphins at the Patriots 34. The Dolphins would settle for a 44 yard Dan Carpenter field goal to get within 7-3.

In the second quarter New England would punt, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Patriots the ball back at their own 44. Brady hit Wes Welker for 14 and Hernandez for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the 9, Ridley got 2. Brady hit Welker for the 7 yard score to make it 14-3 Patriots.

Miami soon faced 3rd and 4 from their 26, when Ryan Tannehill was sacked and fumbled. New England took over at the Miami 25. A sack of Brady forced the Patriots to settle for a 43 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal, as the Patriots led 17-3. Yet on this day, the pesky Dolphins would not go away.

It looked bad for the Dolphins as they faced 1st and 25 from their own 5. Yet Tannehill hit Anthony Fasano for 14 and Reggie Bush ran for 16. Defensive holding added 5, Tannehill ran for 9, and Bush gained 8 and 6. On 3rd and 3 from the Patriots 30, Tannehill hit Hartline for 17. On 2nd and 12 from the 15, Tannehill hit Thomas for the 12. Tannehill ran it in from 2 yards out with 30 seconds left in the half as the Dolphins only trailed 17-10 at the break.

The defenses ruled the second half as the third quarter was scoreless. On 3rd and 6 from their own 24, Brady hit Hernandez for 8. The fourth quarter began with the Patriots facing 3rd and 1 at the Miami 35. Brady hit Hernandez for a 31 yard gain, and a facemask meant 1st and goal at the 2. Yet Brady was sacked, and another field goal fro 32 yards made it 20-10 Patriots with 13 1/2 minutes to play.

After a touchback Bush gained 14. On 3rd and 11 from their 33, Tannehille hit Brad Hartline for 22 with defensive pass interference on the next play adding 14. On 4th and 1 from the Patriots 22, Joe Philbin decided to go for it. Thomas gained 9. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the 7, Tannehill was sacked. Carpenter came in for the 33 yard field goal and it was good to get the Dolphins within 20-13. Yet every time Miami got it to a one score game, New England did just enough to get breathing room as 8 1/2 minutes remained in regulation.

On 2nd and 7 from their 23, Brady hit Hernandez for 8. Ridley gained 8, 9, 5, 11, and 2. From the Miami 28, Brady hit Lloyd for 10. On 3rd and 2 from the 10, Ridley gained 2, 3, and 3 more. The 2 minute warning came with the Patriots facing 3rd and goal at the 2 and Miami out of timeouts. Brady actually lost a yard, but 45 more seconds came off the clock. The grind it out 16 play, 77 yard drive consumed 7 1/2 minutes off the clock. Now the Patriots led 23-13 and Miami had only 1:10 to work with from their own 20.

Tannehill quickly hit Mathews and Hartline for a pair of 28 yard gains. An incompletion left 36 seconds remaining. Needing 2 scores, Joe Philbin smartly brought in Carpenter for a 42 yard field goal to preserve time. Carpenter connected and again Miami was within 7. Yet the onsides kick failed and Miami was done. The Patriots clinched the AFC East again in their decade of dominance as Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady have not lost a regular season game in the second half of the season in 3 years. 23-13 Patriots


Arizona Cardinals @ New York Jets
–These teams are both 4-7, but they are much worse than their records. The last time the Jets played at home on Thanksgiving, they lost by 30 and saw quarterback Mark Sanchez fumble after ramming his own head into his offensive lineman’s posterior. As for the Cardinals, after a 4-0 start they have had their heads up their own hides, losing 7 straight.

Fireman Ed Anzalone quit as the team’s unofficial mascot before this game. Apparently players from both teams did as well. It may not have been the worst game ever played, but it was the worst game in recent memory. Ryan Lindley was 10 for 31 for 72 yards and one interception. Mark Sanchez was 10 for 21 for 97 yards and 3 interceptions. Rex Ryan had finally had enough. Sanchez was benched, but it was not Tim Tebow who took over. McElroy would come in and complete 5 of 7 passes for 29 yards. McElroy also did something nobody else in tis game did.

The first Sanchez interception came 3 minutes into the game, giving the Cardinals the ball at the Arizona 26. On 2nd and 2, Chris “Beanie” Wells got one. On 3rd and 1 Wells got nothing. On 4tha nd 1 Ken Whisenhunt decided to go for it and Wells got nothing. The Jets would move from their 18 to the Arizona 28. A 46 yard Nick Folk field goal try was no good. Late in the first quarter Sanchez was intercepted again. This game got no better.

In the second quarter Sanchez was intercepted for the third time. Lindley threw an interception right back. This game got no better. The Jets moved the ball from their 20 to a 2nd and 5 at the Arizona 39. Then Sanchez was sacked. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half the Cardinals took over at their own 9. With 1:11 left in the half, the Cardinals set up to punt on 4th and 7 from their own 25. Ken Whisenhunt may be out of his mind, but he called a fake punt. Johnson took the snap and raced 40 yards to the Jets 35. On the last play of the half, Jay Feely came in for a 48 yard field goal. Stunningly, it was good and the Cardinals led 3-0 in the Stupor Bowl.

The third quarter was so incredibly awful that elaboration would be a detriment to NFL fans everywhere. With 4:48 remaining in the third quarter, Rex Ryan had had enough. Sanchez was out and McElroy was in. He handed the ball off for no gain, but the Cardinals jumped offsides. Powell then gained 17 and 4. On 3rd and 6 from the Arizona 43, Powell did the unthinkable. He completed a pass for 8 yards and a Jets first down. A couple plays later defensive unnecessary roughness meant 1st and 10 from the Arizona 14. Powell gained 10 and 2 and Greene got one more. After 3 quarters of the Stupor Bowl, the Jets trailed 3-0. Yet on the first play of the fourth quarter, on 3rd and goal at the 1, McElroy did something more shocking. He completed a one yard pass to Cumberland for a touchdown. The Jets led 7-3.

Arizona went 3 and out, and the Jets faced 3rd and 6 from their 35. McElroy completed a 2 yard pass, but then Bell fumbled it away. Arizona had the ball at the Jets 35. Ryan Lindley even completed a pass for a 16 yard gain. Yet asking him to complete another one from 3rd and 8 at the 17 was too much to ask. Feely hit the 35 yarder as the Cardinals were down by one point with 10 1/2 minutes left in this lifeless exhibition game disguised as regular season. It would now all come down to who wanted it least as both coaches cried that Kurt Warner and Boomer Esiason were firmly retired.

Both teams went 3 and out as expected and the Jets took over at their 26 with 8 minutes left. There was no way they would run out 8 minutes of clock, so the question would be if they would give up the winning field goal or if the Cardinals would miss it.

Shone Greene ran for 5 and then 19. With 5 minutes left the Jets faced 3rd and 3 at the Arizona 43. Illegal contact kept the drive going. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Jets faced 3rd and 9 from the Arizona 37. The Jets had not thrown a pass on this drive. Was Rex Ryan crazy enough to allow a pass. Would it actually be completed. In a shocker, McElroy hit Kerley for 13 yards. The Cardinals took all of their timeouts and it came down to 3rd and 4 at the 18. Surely there was no way another throw was coming. It was not, and the run was stopped. Yet the Cardinals jumped offsides.

At the 2 minute warning the Jets had 1st and goal at the one and the Cardinals could not stop the clock. Rex Ryan is not known for being the classiest guy on Earth but he did not try to score. Besides, if McElroy slammed his head into his offensive lineman’s posterior, the fumble could be returned 99 yards the other way. So McElroy took 3 knees and Gang Green cut out the cancer for one Sunday with what may have been the ugliest win in franchise history. The Cardinals have lost 8 straight while the Jets at 5-7 proved something to somebody somewhere. Rumors now have Eva Longoria dating McElroy and Fireman Ed wearing his jersey. Had the Jets lost this game they would have been forced to change their name to the New Jersey Jets. 7-6 Jets

San Francisco 49ers @ St Louis Rams–Despite the 49ers being the far better team, these teams played to a tie in San Francisco. Back in the 1980s and 1990s when the 49ers dominated this series, they usually struggled at home and blew the Rams out on the road. That could be the case again.

The 49ers punted once and the Rams twice as the 49ers took over at their own 40. Frank Gore took off for a 23 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Rams 33, Colin Kaepernick ran for 7. On 3rd and 1 from the 17, Brandon Jacobs gained 3. On 3rd and 4 from the 8, Kaepernick hit Mario Manningham for 7. Gore banged in the last yard to make it 7-0 49ers.

The rest of this game was all defense, a Jim Harbaugh and Jeff Fisher saw both sides dig in deep in the trenches. There was no scoring the rest of the first quarter. There was no scoring in the second quarter. Greg Zuerlein would miss a 58 yard field goal. The offenses did not score in the third quarter. Yet the 49ers were backed up to their own 4, and moved to the 17 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Under heavy pressure, Kaepernick was pushed all the way back to his end zone where he threw the ball away to avoid a sack. Intentional grounding meant a safety, and the Rams trailed 7-2 after three quarters.

The 49ers had miserable field position all game, and after being backed up to their 4, now they were pinned at the one. Offensive holding almost meant another safety, but the ball was ruled on the one again. Yet Harbaugh did not go conservative. Kaepernick went back to pass again, and he hot Michael Crabtree for 10. On 1st and 15 from the 6, Kaepernick hit Crabtree again for 22 yards as the third quarter ended.

The fourth quarter saw roughing the passer tack on 15 yards. On 3rd and 8 from their 47, Kaepernick again went to Crabtree for a 30 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the 16, Kaepernick hit Manningham for 7. The drive stalled at the 5, and after 8 minutes, 94 yards, and 13 plays, the 49ers had to settle for a 23 yard David Akers field goal and a 10-2 lead with 9 minutes left in regulation.

With 5 mintues left Sam Brdford threw incomplete on 3rd and 4 from midfield. Jeff Fisher decided to punt and trust his defense. The 49ers took over at their own 10. What happened next should never happen. On 3rd and 3 from the 17, Jim Harbaugh went for an elaborate gadget play that blew up. Kaepernick faked a handoff and then tossed a pitchout in the other direction. The pitchout sailed over the runner’s head and a mad scramble ensued. It was recovered by the Rams for a defensive touchdown. The 2 point conversion was good. These teams tied the first game, and were now tied 10-10 after 57 minutes in this one. Jim Harbaugh vowed to burn the playbook, or at least remove that play from it.

After a touchback, Colin Kaepernick showed why he is playing and Alex Smith is holding a clipboard. Kaepernick has dangerous scrambling ability. He hit Crabtree for 16 yards. Then he did his Steve Young impersonation, and not just the part where he waits for years behind Joe Montana to get his turn. He scrambled and by the time he was done had a 50 yard gain. At the 2 minute warning the 49ers had 1st and 10 at the Rams 14 and were in total control. Yet rather than run it, Jim Harbaugh again curiously called a pass play. It was incomplete. A holding penalty pushed the 49ers back. Akers would kick a 33 yard field goal, but the 49ers only led 13-10 and Rams still had one timeout left and 90 seconds of their own to work with.

They had 0 offense the entire game, scoring all 10 points on defense. Yet after a touchback, Sam Bradford turned into Colin Kaepernick. He ran for 14, and then again for 11 with unnecessary roughness adding 15 more. With 21 seconds left facing 3rd and 10 at the Frisco 40, a short pass to Givens gained 5. On 4th and 5 with 2 seconds left, Zuerlein came in for a 53 yarder. He leveled it. The first game between these teams ended in a tie, and now this one was also headed to overtime. The last time two teams tied twice in the same season was 1963.

The defenses reasserted themselves in overtime, yet a key play came  midway through the period. A 14 yard shank punt set the 49ers up at midfield. They moved to the Rams 33, and David Akers came in for the 51 yarder to win it. It was close until the end, and was no good. 4 minutes remained in overtime.

The Rams took over at their 41. On 3rd and 3, Bradford hit Givens for 6. With 1:21 left in overtime, the Rams faced 3rd and 3 at the Frisco 39. Stephen Jackson gained only 2 yards as the Rams took their second and last timeout of overtime with only 30 second left in the extra session. Zeurlein came in for a 54 yarder. A miss would mean another tie.

Zuerlein hit it hard, and this one was close until the end as well. It snuck just inside the upright, good. The Rams had the win to get to 5-6-1 while the 49ers fell to 8-3-1. These 2 defensive coaches played 2 slugfests, and the 49ers won neither of them. The 49ers could have kept a stranglehold on the division, but they now lead it by only 1 1/2 games. As for Zuerlein, he is ridiculous. 16-13 Rams, OT

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans–Houston at 10-1 is healthy and resilient, but they have other AFC teams breathing down their necks in case they stumble. Tennessee is not very good, but dangerous enough at home to possibly pull off the upset.

Early on it came easy for Houston from their own 34. Matt Schaub for gains of 4 and 6. On 3rd and 8 from their 46, a short pass to Jean turned into a 54 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Texans lead.

Tennessee came back from their 22 as Jake Locker hit Cook for  25 yard gain to midfield. Chris Johnson ran for 26 more. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the 19 Locker threw incomplete and the Titans settled for a 37 yard Rob Bironas field goal and a 7-3 deficit.

Late in the second quarter a 42 yard punt return by Martin had Houston at the Titans 20. On 4th and 1 from the 11 Gary Kubiak decided to go for it. Arriun Foster gained 6 yards, and on the next carry Matt Schaub hit Casey for the 5 yard score to make it 14-3 Titans after the first quarter.

Turnovers killed the Titans in this game. In the second quarter they reached the Houston 33 before Johnson fumbled it away. Tennessee got it back at their own 10 and Locker was quickly intercepted by Dobbins, who brought it to the Titans 3. Foster ran for one and then the last 2 to make it 21-3 Texans. With 10 seconds left in the half the Titans faced 3rd and 8 from their 29. Locker was intercepted again by Quin. Yet Quin returned it 22 yards to the Titans 19 rather than just go down. The clock ran out as the Titans dodged a bullet.

In the third quarter facing 3rd and 10 from their 19, Locker ran for 15 but fumbled the ball away. Houston took over at the Titans 36. Shane Graham would hit a 50 yard field goal to make it 24-3 Texans.

Late in the third quarter the Titans finally showed some life from their 20. Locker hit Kenny Britt for 6, Cook for 12 and Wright for a 38 yard gain. Locker went back to Britt for  a 34 yard touchdown as the Titans were within 14. A couple of breaks could get them back in the game.

In the fourth quarter the Titans moved from their 19 to a 4th and 3 at the Houston 7. On the verge of making it a one score game, Locker threw incomplete twice. On 4th and 3, Locker was sacked and the Titans never threatened again. With 4 1/2 minutes left Locker threw incomplete on 4th and 5 from the Houston 33, as the fourth quarter was scoreless.

Mike Munchak has seen the Titans regress in his second year, while a lesson about continuity has been shown in Houston. Bob McNair almost fired Gary Kubiak a couple year ago. He stuck with him, brought in Michelin Man Wade Phillips to run the defense, and saw them win the division last year. This year they are 11-1 and have just clinched the AFC South with 4 games still left. They lead the race for home field advantage. Yes, they are that good. 24-10 Texans


Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Denver Broncos–
Greg Schiano has seen his team vastly improved in his rookie season as the Bucs at 6-5 have showed grit. Yet Denver at 8-3 is now fully Peyton Manning’s team, and he is playing like a man possessed. At home, Manning should throw wild, even against this good defense.

Tampa went 3 and out and Denver took over at their own 35. Peyton Manning hit Thomas for 8, Jacob Tamme for 6 and 10, and Eric Decker for 12.  On 3rd and 8 from the 23, Manning threw incomplete but defensive pass interference on Ronde Barber put the ball on the 18 and offsides added 5 more. Moreno gained 12 and Manning threw a 1 yard touchdown pass to Unrein on a tackle eligible to make it 7-0 Broncos. Yet Denver’s offense was shut down the rest of the half.

After a touchback, a facemask had the Bucs at their own 40. Josh Freeman hit Doug Martin for a 26 yard gain. Martin gained 9 and Freeman hit Stocker for 11. The drive stopped, but Connor Barth hit a 31 yarder to get the Bucs within 7-3. Denver punted and the Buccaneers got it back at their 30. From the 37, Freeman went deep to Mike Williams for a 40 yard gain. Martin gained 7 and 5, and Freeman hit Dallas Clark for an 11 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 after the first quarter. The second quarter was scoreless, but after an exchange of punts in the third quarter, the entire game changed.

Denver took over at their 48 with 11 minutes left into the third quarter. Manning hit Thomas for 13 and Tamme for 15. Defensive pass interferences added 16 more and an 8 yard touchdown from Manning to Thomas put the Broncos up 14-10. Tampa punted and the Broncos got it back at their 43. Manning hit Tamme for 14, Knowshon Moreno for 5, and Tamme for 9. From the 23, Hillman gained 9 illegal use of hands added 5, and Manning hit Thomas for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 21-10 Broncos. The roof caved in when Freeman 2 plays later was intercepted by Von Miller, who returned it 26 yards for another Denver touchdown. Denver took their 28-10 lead into the fourth quarter.

A strong kickoff return had the Broncos all the way at the Tampa 40. Yet on the first play from scrimmage Manning was intercepted by David, who returned it 27 yards to the Denver 48. The Bucs would settle for a 50 yard Barth field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to trail 28-13.

Yet there would be no comeback. Manning just bled the clock, leading Denver on a 14 play drive that consumed about 7 1/2 minutes. On 2nd and 6 from the 12, Manning threw incomplete twice, but the damage was done. Matt Prater hit the 31 yarder to make it 31-13 Broncos.

Tampa Bay tried to mount a comeback. After Prater missed  a 47 yard field goal that would have made it a 21 point blowout, Barth kicked a 55 yard field goal to get Tampa within 31-16 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Tampa got it back at the Denver 47 and 2 1/2 minutes still remained. Freeman hit Williams for 14, 28, and then the 5 yard touchdown. With 2 1/2 minutes left Tampa was only down by 8 points. Yet the onsides kick failed and Denver had the win.

Greg Schiano saw the Bucs fall to 6-6, on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. John Fox has a 9-3 Broncos squad that has officially clinched the AFC West. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have the same record. It seems like old times. 31-23 Broncos

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens–Normally these two matchups are the games of the year, and the game 2 weeks ago in Pittsburgh was the typical headknocker. The Ravens got the gutty 13-10 win, yet this time these teams are not equal. Pittsburgh is reeling without injured Ben Roethlisberger, as Charlie Batch will start again. Pittsburgh had 8 turnovers last week in losing to lowly Cleveland. Baltimore is 9-2. They know Pittsburgh is wounded, and a Ravens win here at home could finish off their hated rival and end the suspense in the division. They will.

After a Baltimore punt, the Steelers faced 3rd and 5 from their 29. Charlie Batch hit Emanuel Sanders for 12. On 3rd and 2 from their 49, Batch hit Johnson for 3. Dwyer gained 14. That was enough for Shawn Suisham to make a 46 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Steelers. The rest of the quarter was the typical slugfest, and it was game on.

Late in the first quarter the Ravens faced 3rd and 4 from their 40. Joe Flacco hit Pierce for 5, Anquon Boldin fo 6, and Vonte Leach for 11. One minute into the second quarter after a 3rd and 3 incompletion, Justin Tucker hit a 45 yarder to tie the game 3-3.

Pittsburgh punted, and Baltimore partially blocked it to get the ball back at their own 42. Ray Rice ran for 10 and on 3rd and 10 Flacco hit Torrey Smith for 13. On 1st and 15 from the Pittsburgh 40, defensive pass interference meant 30 yards and 1st and goal at the 10. Yet after Rice gained 6, a pair of incompletions meant another field goal. Tucker hit from 23 and the 6-3 Ravens lead was everything the teams and audience expected.

Pittsburgh went 3 and out, Flacco was intercepted, and then Batch was intercepted right back. With 5 minutes left in the half the Ravens took over at their 31. On 3rd and 5 Flacco threw incomplete but defensive holding meant a first down. At that point Flacco went bombs away, hitting Boldin for 31 yards and again for the 28 yard touchdown. With 3 minutes left in the half the Ravens led 13-3, and wanted to put the game away early. That would not happen.

They got a needed spark when Chris Rainey returned the ensuing kickoff to the Steelers 40. On 3rd and 8 from the Baltimore 47, Batch hit Heath Miller for 17. Suisham would connect from 41 as the Steelers only trailed 13-6 at halftime.

Pittsburgh got the ball to start the third quarter and faced 3rd and 3 from their 29. Ian Redman gained 8 yards. Batch then went deep to Miller for 43 yards. Dwyer took an end around 16 yards for the touchdown as the game was tied 13-13.

Baltimore would punt on 4th and 26 from their own 23. Pittsburgh soon faced 3rd and 11 from their 28 when things got strange. Batch found Sanders for a 21 yard gain and Sanders had nobody around him. He may not have scored, but he did have the potential for a much longer gain. Without being touched, merely trying to switch the ball into his other hand to avoid a fumble, he fumbled it. The Ravens recovered, and naturally it was Ed Reed who came up with the football.

Baltimore took over at their 37 and Pierce gained 11. On 3rd and 11, Flacco hit Pitta for 19. 2nd and 10 is not as much pressure as 4th and 29, but Ray Rice again took a handoff, escaped everybody, got to the sideline, and scored the 34 yard touchdown to make it 20-13 Ravens with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.

After an exchange of punts, the Steelers began the fourth quarter moving from their 20 to the Baltimore 20. Yet Batch went to the end zone and was intercepted by…who else? Ed Reed. Now Old Man Reed is the only corner in the league who does not get yelled at by his coach for taking an interception 7 yards deep and not just downing it. He actually thinks he will return it the distance, because he has. John Harbaugh nearly had a lump in his throat when Reed was hit at the one yard line. Yet somehow Reed maintained his balance and got to the 27 yard line. He truly is in a class by himself.

Yet for all of that, 2 plays later, on 3rd and 5 from their 32, Flacco got hit and fumbled. Pittsburgh got it back at the Baltimore 27. Ray Lewis could only watch from the sidelines as the story has been the same since the days of Trent Dilfer. The defense does its job, and the offense messes up. Batch went to Sanders for 17 yards and to Miller for the touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, another Steelers-Ravens game was deadlocked 20-20. Baltimore went nowhere, and Pittsburgh got it back with 6 minutes to go at their own 15. Ben Roethlisberger watched from the sidelines with everything resting on the shoulders of 15th year veteran and mostly backup Charlie Batch.

On 3rd and 7 from their 18, Batch hit Mike Wallace for 15 and 7. Batch hit Brown for 4 and 9. At the 2 minute warning from the Baltimore 44, a 10 yard completion to Wallace was followed with a critical roughing the passer call. It was not blatant, but it was called. Now from the 19 with 1:46 to play, after a false start Mike Tomlin played it conservative and ran 3 straight times into the line for 0 yards. The Ravens were out of timeouts. With 3 seconds left, Suisham came in for a 42 yarder with a hostile crowd jeering in the background.

Suisham was perfect, and these teams each won 3 point games on the other’s home turf. The Ravens could have locked up the division for the most part, but now at 9-3 they are only 2 games up on Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The Ravens were cruising towards a first round bye, but not anymore. Charlie Batch went to the sidelines after the win, buried his head on Big Ben’s shoulders, and cried. He completed his last 8 passes. He will return to the bench soon, but this win meant a lot to him and showed people he was better than many thoughts. Mike Tomlin has his team alive, although still looking up at Baltimore. 23-20 Steelers


Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders
–For more on the game of the day, go to http://www.justblogbaby.com

Both of these teams are 3-8. Despite other teams with worse records, these are 2 of the worst teams in football. Cleveland forced 8 turnovers last week and barely won by 6 points at home. As for the Raiders, the Dennis Allen version may be the worst since 1961 if not ever. This team is worse than what Lane Kiffin and Joe Bugel put on the field. If the Raiders lose at home to this pathetic Cleveland team, then owner Mark Davis should blow the entire thing up.

Early on this game was every bit as ugly as one would expect from 3 of 8 teams despite both quarterbacks playing well on the day. Oakland moved from their 14 to a 3rd and 1 at the Cleveland 40. Darren McFadden is still injured, and Stewart got the carry. He lost a yard and the Raiders punted. Cleveland moved from their 14 to the Oakland 33. Brandon Weeden was then intercepted a tthe 3 yard line by Matt Giordano, who returned it 24 yards to the 27. Oakland punted and the Browns took over at their 20.

Weeden led a 13 play, 6 1/2 minute drive to a 3rd and 3 at the Oakland 21. Weeden found Trent Richardson for a 2 yard loss, which is how the West Coast Offense works. With 13 minutes left in the half, Phil Dawson hit a 41 yarder to make it 3-0 Browns. Oakland went 3 and out and the Browns took over at their 38 and made it look easy. Weeden hit Little for 18 and then went deep to a wide open Gordon for a 44 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Browns.

Midway through the second quarter after an exchange of punts the Raiders took over at their own 30. Stewart gained 11 and 14. Carson Palmer hit Denarius Moore for 11 as the Raiders had 1st and 10 from the Cleveland 33. Palmer then threw 3 straight incompletions. Sebastian Janikowski came in for a 51 yarder. Seabass drilled it and the Raiders were down 10-3.

Cleveland moved from their 20 to a 3rd and 2 at the Oakland 37. Weeden was intercepted again, this time by Adams. With only 1:10 left in the half, the Raiders were at their own 8. On 3rd and 7 from the 11, Palmer hit Moore for 20. A pair of 10 yard completions to Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brandon Myers was just enough for Seabass to try a 61 yarder as the half ended. It was no good.

The Raiders were actually penalized for unnecessary roughness on the second half kickoff even though it was a touchback. The Browns actually had 4th and 2 at the Oakland 42 and decided to go for it. Weeden found Trent Richardson for a 21 yard gain. Dawson hit a 35 yard field goal and with 9 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter the Browns led 13-3.

Palmer moved the Raider from their 18 to a 3rd and 10 at the Cleveland 35. Yet Palmer was then sacked out of field goal range and the Raiders punted again. Cleveland took over at their own 10. Weeden went deep to Gordon for 20 and deep again to Masaquoi for a 54 yard gain. The defense held, and a 28 yard Dawson field goal try was blocked by Bryant.

The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 5 from their 25 and finally got a spark. Palmer went to Heyward-Bey for 11 and then went deep to rookie Rod Streater. Streater outraced everybody for a 64 yard touchdown. The third quarter ended with the Raiders only down 13-10.

Cleveland was backed up with 3rd and 10 from their own 9. Weeden hit Little for 13. The Browns would punt anyway, and the Raiders got it back at their 27. They moved to a 1st and 10 at the Cleveland 33 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Again the Raiders were in field goal range and again Seabass never got the chance. Palmer went deep and was intercepted by Brown. Yet the Browns were pinned at their own 6 yard line. One stop for the Silver and Black on defense and they could still win it.

On 3rd and 3 from the 13, Weeden hit Gordon for 11 and Watson for 22 more. With 6 minutes to play, the Browns faced 3rd and 1 at the Oakland 45. The Browns even took their last timeout. Weeden got stopped, and it seemed the Raiders would get it back. Yet Pat Shurmur decided to go for it on 4th and 1 with 5 minutes left. Weeden got it again and got 3 yards. On the next play Weeden found Cameron for 23 yards. Now the Browns were in short field goal range, and the Raiders desperately needed a stop.

With 3 1/2 minutes to play the Browns faced 3rd and 1 from the Oakland 10. Then Bryant jumped offsides. The Raiders took their last timeout, but they had no answers. Richardson gained 2 and then the final 3. The 14 play, 6 minute, 94 yard drive had the Browns up 20-10.

This is now the worst Raiders team in history, with perhaps 1961 being the exception. They have had worse records than this year, and other teams have worse records than they do this year. Yet those other teams are still competing hard. The Raiders are losing games by double digits. They are getting blown out. On this day they faced a team that had lost 12 straight road games and was in total disarray. Yet they still were able to take down the Raiders. This is worse than Lane Kiffin or Joe Bugel. This is the Dennis Allen era, and it must end after one season.

No Darren McFadden? No Jacoby Ford? No excuses. This team has no running game and on defense. The Raiders did manage to move from their 16 and go 84 yards in 15 plays, with Palmer hitting Myers for  17 yard touchdown. Yet when they scored, only one second remained. Seabass kicked the onsides kick out of bounds, and nobody should think the final score makes the game respectable.

The Raiders are now after consecutive 8-8 seasons back to their losing ways. They are 3-9, and have now had 10 straight non-winning, non-playoff seasons. Palmer did go 34 of 54 for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns with one interception. Weeden was 25 of 36 for 364 yards and 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Neither team is going anywhere, but at least the Browns showed some pride. The Raiders showed nothing, and there is nothing salvageable in the Dennis Allen era. 20-17 Browns

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Diego Chargers
–31 years ago this game meant a lot. The Bengals have won 3 straight to get to 6-5, but until they win a quality road game the skeptics will have every right to be skeptical. The Chargers lost a game last week by giving up a 4th and 29. Norvelous Norv Turner may finally be out of miracles, while Marvin Lewis keeps his job because nobody else wants it.

The Bengals fumbled the ensuing kickoff and were lucky to retain possession at their own 9. Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis ran for 4, caught a pass for 9, and ran for 6 on 3rd and 1 from their 29. Dalton hit Whalen for 10. On 3rd and 8 from the Cincy 47, Dalton hit Hawkins for 17. On 4th and 9 from the Chargers 35, Marvin Lewis decided to go for it. Dalton threw incomplete, but a killer defensive holding penalty kept the drive going. Dalton hit Gresham for the 19 yard touchdown as the 91 yard, 16 play, 7 1/2 minute drive made it 7-0 Bengals.

San Diego took over at their 19, and Philip Rivers hit Ryan Mathews for 9 and Mathews ran for 2. Rivers hit Malcolm Floyd for 6, McClain for 5, , Floyd for 15, and Antonio Gates for 9. Mathews gained 6 and 3 and Rivers hit Gates for 19 to set up 1st and goal at the 7. Rivers was hit and fumbled, but San Diego retained possession. On 3rd and goal form the 10 Rivers hit Ronnie Brown, but only for 8 yards. Each team had the ball once for half  of the first quarter, and the second quarter began with 4th and goal at the 2. Norv Turner opted for the field goal and Nick Novak hit the 20 yarder to get the Chargers within 7-3.

Cincy took over at their own 23 and Dalton immediately completed a pass to Williams, who plays defense for San Diego. Williams took it 31 yards the other way to make it 10-7 Chargers.

Cincy took over at their own 17 and Dalton hit Hawkins for 7 yards. Green-Ellis then gained 41 yards.  Dalton hit Green for 16. On 3rd and 3 from the 12, Daton hit Gresham for 7. On 3rd and goal from the 1, Dalton threw incomplete. On 4th and goal from the 1, Marvin Lewis played it safe and went with the field goal Nugent hit from 19 to tie the game 10-10.

With 6 minutes left in the half, Cincy moved from their 11 to a 3rd and 3 at the Chargers 39. Yet a critical false start at the 2 minute warning killed the drive. San Diego took over at their own 14 with 1:45 left in the half and soon faced 3rd and 5. Rivers hit Alexander for a 28 yard gain. After consecutive false starts, 3rd and 13 from their 44 saw Rivers hit Floyd for 24 and Alexander for 12.  With 17 seconds on the clock from the 20, Rivers ran for 11. With 9 seconds left Rivers from the 9 hit Brown for 8 yards. With one second on the clock from the one yard line, despite the crowd being unhappy with it, Norv Turner also played it safe. Novak hit the 19 yarder and the Chargers led 13-10 at halftime.

San Diego went 3 and out to start the second half, and the Bengals took over at their own 40. They moved to a 3rd and 10 at the San Diego 33. Dalton was then intercepted by Lynch, who returned it 20 yards to the Chargers 32. On the next series the Bengals moved from their 37 to a 2nd and 3 at the Chargers 43. A short pass to Gresham was fumbled and recovered by the Chargers at their own 39. San Diego moved to a 2nd and 8 at the Cincy 23. Rivers was then sacked, and a penalty meant a 54 yard field goal attempt. It was no good. After a scoreless third quarter, the Bengals took over at their own 45 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

On 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 46, Green-Ellis gained 2. On 3rd and 1 from the San Diego 35, Dalton got the yard. Green-Ellis gained 7, 7, and 1. On 3rd and 5 from the 15, Dalton hit Hawkins for 9. Dalton ran for the 6 yard touchdown as the 14 play, 7 1/2 minute drive put the Bengals up 17-13 with 4 minutes left in regulation.

San Diego got it back and Philip Rivers continued having miserable fourth quarters in a season gone wrong. From their 25, Rivers was sacked and fumbled. The Bengals took over at the Chargers 13 with a chance to ice the game. Yet on 3rd and 10 Dalton hit Hawkins for only 7. On 4th and 3 from the 6 the field goal unit was brought on. Mike Nugent hit the 24 yarder as the Bengals had a 7 point lead with 2:47 to play. San Diego still had a chance.

After a touchback, Rivers hit Brown for 14. On 3rd and 10 from their 34, Rivers hit Alexander for 17 at the 2 minute warning. After a defensive penalty,  Rivers hit Alexander for 11 and Floyd for 16. With 1:11 to play the Chargers had 1st and 10 at the Bengals 17. After 3 incompletions, with 55 seconds left, the Chargers took their second timeout. Rivers fired to the end zone and a diving catch was made by Nelson. Nelson plays defense for the Bengals.

San Diego fell to 4-8. A few years ago they came back from 4-8 to win the division. Given that they are 5 games behind 9-3 Denver, that will not be happening again. As for 7-5 Cincinnati, they have won four straight, but until they beat Baltimore or Pittsburgh they will not be taken seriously. 20-13 Bengals


Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
is the Sunday night game. Walrus Lite Andy Reid has seen the Eagles lose 7 straight to fall to 3-8. Andy Reid is a good man and a good coach, but injuries have decimated his team and may be his undoing. Jason Garrett is also on the hot seat. Dallas runs hot and cold, and if they lose at home to this Eagles team, Jerry Jones may just blow up his 1.2 billion dollar metropolis for the insurance money.

Despite neither of these teams being anything special, they put on a very good football game for the fans. After an exchange of punts, the Eagles took over at their own 34. Brown gained 24 and 3. Nick Foles hit Captain Morgan Brent Celek for 16 and Desean Johnson for 13. Brown ran it in from 10 yards out and the Eagles led 7-0.

After a touchback Tony Romo hit DeMarco Murray for 6 and Murray ran for 7. On 3rd and 10 from the Dallas 33, Romo hit Jason Witten for 11 and Beasley for 13. On 3rd and 8 from the Philly 39, Romo ran for 15 and hit Murray for 11 as Dallas began  the second quarter at the Philly 13. Offensive holding ended the drive but Dan Bailey hit a 39 yard field goal to get Dallas within 7-3.

After an exchange of punts again the Eagles faced 2nd and 13 from their 24. Brown broke free for a 39 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the Dallas 33, Foles hit Jeremy Maclin for 21 yards and Celek for 7 more. Brown ran it in from 5 yards out to make it 14-3 Eagles with 6 minutes left in the half as Jerry Jones searched for dynamite online.

Dallas soon faced 2nd and 19 from their own 16, when Romo hit Witten for gains of 15 and 5. On 3rd and 5 from their 41, Romo hit Dez Bryant for 14. On 3rd and 13 from the Philly 48, Romo hit Miles Austin for 19 and Witten for 28 down to the one. Murray got in with only 45 seconds left in the half as the 11 play, 75 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive got the Cowboys within 14-10. From their own 17 with 35 seconds left, Brown gained 20 and Foles found Jeremy Avant for a 29 yard gain. Alex Henery would hit a 43 yard field goal at the gun as the Eagles led 17-10 at halftime.

After a touchback to start the second half, Murray gained 13 and 4. On 3rd and 1 from their 42, Murray raced for a 27 yard gain. Felix Jones gained 7 and 1 and on 3rd and 2 from the 23, Romo found Dez Bryant for the touchdown to tie the game 17-17.

Another touchback saw Philly take their turn. Foles hit Maclin for 14 and on 3rd and 2 from their 45, Brown got just enough. On 2nd and 7 from midfield, Brown gained 17 and Lewis added 11. On 3rd and 3 from the 15, Foles found Riley Cooper for the touchdown to put the Eagles back in front 24-17. Dallas trailed by 7 points after the first, second, and third quarters. With 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, Dallas got it back at their 20.

Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for 8 and Murray gained 2 and 4. On 3rd and 3 from their 37, Romo found Bryant for 15. Murray gained 7, 1, and only 1 on 3rd and 2. On 4th and 1 from the Philly 39, Jason Garrett decided to go for it. Murray got the carry and was stopped cold. Yet Garrett challenged the spot. He won the challenge and the call was reversed for a 1st down. It could have gone either way. Dallas began the fourth quarter at the Philly 38. Romo hit Harris for 11 and then Austin for a 27 yard touchdown. Only one minute into the fourth quarter, the game was tied for the third time 24-24.

Philly took over at their 22 and Foles found Avant for 8 and Brown gained 6 and 10. From their 46, Foles found Avant for 23 yards. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Dallas 24, Foles threw incomplete. Henery came on for the 43 yard field goal. It was good, and the Eagles retook the lead 27-24 with 10 minutes left in regulation.

Dallas took over at their 14 and Jones gained 2 and 6. On 3rd and 2 from their 22, Romo went deep to Bryant for a 35 yard gain. Romo then went deep again to Witten for a 36 yard gain. Romo hit Bryant for the 6 yard touchdown as the Cowboys took the lead 31-27 with 5 1/2 minutes to play.

The Eagles soon faced 3rd and 8 from their 22 when Foles found Avant for 19. With 4 minutes left fro their 44, Brown got the carry. He had run wild all game, but this time he blundered. He got hit and fumbled, and Claiborne picked it up for the Cowboys. Claiborne raced down the sideline for a 50 yard touchdown return. The Cowboys led 38-27, and it seemed the game was over.

Needing 2 scores, Foles moved the Eagles from their 20 an faced 4th and 13 from their 45 at the 2 minute warning. Foles dumped the ball of to Celek, but Ray Rice does not play for Philly and Celek came up 3 yards short. The Eagles used their timeouts, and with 1:42 to play, all Dallas had to do on 3rd and 9 was take a knee. Yet they tried a running play that blew up and Murray lost 11 yards. Then things got even crazier.

The punt was high and deep, and should have gone in the end zone. Return men are taught not to field it inside the 10. Just take the touchback. Ladoucer did not listen, and fielded the ball at his 2 yard line. So how does one keep a coach from screaming when that is done? Return it 98 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, which Ladoucer did. A stunned home crowd saw Philly score with 31 seconds left. The 2 point conversion failed, but the onsides kick had everyone holding their breath.

It was a good kick, but Witten fell on it to seal the win for Dallas. Andy Reid has seen his once proud Eagles lose 8 straight games to fall to 3-9. Dallas at 6-6 is still alive in the playoff chase. Foles was not bad, going 22 of 34 for 251 and one touchdown, but Romo was red hot going 22 of 27 for 303 and 3 touchdowns. Neither quarterback was intercepted. Despite Brown rushing for 169 yards on 24 carries, his fumble was a killer in what has been a self-destructive season for the Eagles. 38-33 Cowboys


New York Giants @ Washington Redskins
is the Monday night game. The Giants got a big home win against Green Bay last week to get to 7-4 and stay 2 games up in the NFC East. Washington is only 5-6 but with RGIII the expectations for the future are very high. These teams are in a division where all 4 teams look different from week to week and home field advantage seems to mean little. The Giants can all but turn out the lights with a win, but if Washington gets it done the division will be a logjam. Both Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin have won 2 Super Bowls, and will have the talent to win a 3rd one at some point.

Washington punted and the Giants took over at their own 10. Eli Manning hit Bear Pascoe for 16 yards. On 3rd and 5 from their 31, Manning hit Jernigan for 9 and Bennett for 22. The drive would stall at the Washington 21, but Lawrence Tynes hit  39 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Giants.

After a touchback, RGIII hit Pierre Garcon for 25 yards and Morris gained 19 and 8. Then things got bizarre from the Giants 28. RGIII ran for a 12 yard gain and then fumbled. The ball popped straight into the arms of teammate Morgan, who took the lucky bounce 13 yards for a touchdown. on further review the play was ruled legal. This was not the Holy Roller, but it was a touchdown and a 7-3 Redskins lead. Manning moved the Giants from their 24 to the Washington 25, but early in the second quarter a 43 yard field goal try by Tynes was no good. Washington punted and the Giants got it back at their 15 with 10 minutes left in the half.

On 3rd and 4 from their 21, Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for 6. On 3rd and 10 from their 27, Manning went deep to Victor Cruz for a 30 yard gain. On 2nd and 16 from the Washington 49, defensive pass interference meant a 21 yard gain. On 2nd and 20 from the 38, Manning found Bennett for a 24 yard gain. Ahmad Bradshaw gained 5, 4, and got the yard on 3rd and 1. Manning hit Bennett for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 10-7 Giants with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half.

From their 34, Griffin found Garcon for 18 and then again for a 35 yard gain. They got nothing else, but a 33 yard field goal by Kevin Forbath tied the game 10-10. The Giants took over at their own 24 with all 3 timeouts but only 35 seconds to work with. Bradshaw gained 13 and Manning hit Randle for 13 more to midfield. On 3rd and 10 from midfield with 12 seconds left, Manning found Bennett for a 28 yard gain as the Giants took their last timeout with 4 seconds left. Tynes hit the 40 yarder as the Giants led 13-10 at halftime.

The Giants punted in the third quarter and the Redskins took over at their own 18. Morris gained 12, and on 3rd and 1 from their 39, Griffin broke free for a 46 yard gain. Yet from the Giants 15, Morris gained 6 yards and then fumbled the ball away to kill the drive. On 2nd and 8 from their 11, Manning again went bombs again to Cruz for a 49 yard gain. Bradshaw gained 7 and Manning hit Nicks for 16. Yet from the Washington 17, the drive died. Tynes hit a 35 yard field goal and the Giants led 16-10 with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

From the Washington 14, Morris gained 10 and 16. Royster gained 3 and Griffin gained 7 to midfield and then hit Morgan for 9. The fourth quarter began with the Giants facing 2nd and 1 from the Washington 41. Young gained 4, and Morris gained 7, 5, and 3. From the Giants 22, RGIII hit Garcon for 14 and again for the 8 yard touchdown as the Redskins took a one point lead with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The defenses took over as the Giants punted twice and the Redskins once. With 4 minutes left, the Redskins took over at their own 27. Griffin gained 8 and Young got 4 more. On 2nd and 8 from the Washington 41, Mike Shanahan called a pass play, trusting his young quarterback to win it. RGIII found Garcon for a 17 yard gain. The Giants took all of their timeouts and everything came down to 3rd and 3 from the Giants 35 with 1:07 to play.

Big Blue needed one stop, and they did not get it as Morris gained 6 yards to end things. The Giants have had every chance to put their division away, but instead by losing 3 of 4 they are now 7-5 and only one game ahead of Washington and Dallas. RGIII set the rookie record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He and Manning split their two meetings, and they will duel for the next few years. The league would benefit if these teams had a third match this year, but most likely only the division winner will make the playoffs. 17-16 Redskins

eric

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