Archive for the ‘MILITARY’ Category

My confession to Oprah

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Oprah, Lance Armstrong, and my struggle with performance suppressors

Dear Oprah,

Thanks to you and Lance Armstrong, it is time for me to finally come clean and face my demons.

For years I have been using performance suppressors.


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eric aka the Tygrrrr Express

NFL 2012 Week 17 Recap

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 17 Recap This is what football is all about. The last week of the regular season is do or die. Break out the John Randall megaphone. This…is…when…the…big…dogs…come…out.

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Here is the NFL 2012 Week 17 Recap.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons–The 13-2 Falcons have locked up home field throughout the playoffs and may  rest everybody. The Buccaneers started 6-4 but lost 5 straight. When the game started, Mike Smith had his starters playing. The Bucs took over after a punt and moved from their 10 the Atlanta 30 before Josh Freeman threw incomplete on 3rd and 2. Connor Barth hit from 48 to make it 3-0 Buccaneers on the road. Matt Ryan moved the Falcons from their 28 to a 1st and 10 at the Bucs 16, but a 3rd and 10 scramble came up 4 yards short. Matt Bryant hit from 28 to make it 3-3.

The second quarter still had the Atlanta starters in, and the Bucs began their first drive of the second quarter with 2nd and 12 from their 34. Freeman hit Stocker for gains of 17 and 23 and Lorig for 12. On 3rd and 7 from the 8, Freeman fired to the end line of the end zone and Mike Williams got his feet down for the touchdown to make it 10-3 Buccaneers with 9 minutes left in the half. Atlanta punted from their 37 with 6 minutes left in the half, and it was blocked by Watson. The Bucs took over at the Atlanta 26, although the drive got no further than the 4 yard line. Barth hit from 22 to make it 13-3 Buccaneers with 3 minutes left in the half.

In the third quarter Tampa Bay moved from their 20 when Freeman hit Mike Williams for 23 yards. On 3rd and 6 from their 47, Freeman hit Doug Martin for 12. On 3rd and 9 from the Atlanta 40, Freeman hit Vincent Jackson for 16. Yet 3 straigh incompletions meant a 42 yard Barth field goal and a 16-3 lead for the Buccaneers.  Despite losing defender Dunta Robinson in the first quarter to injury, Mike Smith kept his starters in the game that did not matter. They played the whole game. On 3rd and 7 from their 28, Freeman was intercepted, giving Atlanta the ball at the Tampa 21. Michael Turner raced for a 17 yard touchdown and the Falcons only trailed 16-10 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter.

Tampa made it look easy after a touchdown. Doug Martin ran for 10 and 3. Freeman found Jackson for 27 yards. Martin broke free for a 40 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion failed but the Buccaneers led 22-10 with fourth quarter to go. A field position game had the Falcons taking over at their own 48 with 11 1/2 minutes left. Ryan hit Jaquez Rodgers for 5, Jones for 18, Gonzalez for 8, Rodgers for 13, and Douglas for the 7 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Falcons were within 5 points.

Atlanta got it back at their own 19 with 3:44 to play and a chance to win it. On 1st and 10 from their 33 with 2:24 left, Ryan threw 4 straight incompletions to end it. Greg Schiano likes to attack on teams kneeling on the ball, and also does not seem like kneeling himself. He called several runs to end things, apparently not familiar with the Miracle at the Meadowlands. His lack of class at the end of games does not change the fact that the Buccaneers ended 7-9 and are improving.

As for the Falcons, their critics will call this a disaster. Yes they are 13-3. Yet they lost at home to an inferior team when their starters played the whole game. In addition to Robinson, pass rusher John Abraham left the game with injuries. Had they lost with backups, this would not be a big deal. Yet now the entire NFC sees them as paper tigers, a very soft top seed. Until the Falcons win a game, Mike Smith and Matt Ryan will not silence the critics. Respect is earned, and a great regular season record does not earn that. 22-17 Buccaneers

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills–Neither team is going to the playoffs, although Mark Sanchez got his job back when the third stronger suffered a concussion. Sanchez moved the Jets from their 24 to the Buffalo 29, but 3 plays netted 0 yards after that. Nick Folk hit a 47 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jets. The Jets got it back and soon faced 3rd and 5 from their 15. Sanchez threw a perfect pass to Scott, who plays defense for Buffalo. Scott took it back 20 yards for the interception touchdown return to make it 7-3 Bills. Rex Ryan asked if any Jets fans in the stands could play quarterback while Eva Longoria wondered who her next boyfriend would be.

Sanchez may have been allowed to start, but he was not allowed to throw. Rex Ryan called 5 straight runs. An incomplete pass came when the defense had 12 men on the field. 4 more runs had the Ground and Pound with 2nd and 10 at the Buffalo 29. Sanchez threw incomplete twice as the Jets settled for a 47 yard Nick Folk field goal to lead 3-0. On the next Jets series Sanchez actually completed a pass for a 3 yard gain to set up 3rd and 5 from their 15. Sanchez was then intercepted by Scott, who returned it 20 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-3 Bills. New Yorkers demanded that Sanchez stay in the game, but those were Buffalo fans.

From their 34, the Jets moved 14 plays in over 7 1/2 minutes with a heavy dose of Shon Greene. With 11 minutes left in the half the Jets had 3rd and goal at the 5. Sanchez threw incomplete. Folk hit the 23 yarder as the Jets trailed 7-6 with 11 minutes left in the half. Buffalo went 3 and out and the Jets faced 3rd and 16 from their 29. Sanchez threw a short pass to Kerley, who took it for a 40 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the 16, a completion came up 2 yards short. Rex Ryan opted for the field goal and Folk from 28 put the Jets up 9-7 with 4 minutes left in the half.

The lead lasted less than 30 seconds. On 3rd and 10 from their 34, Ryan Fitzpatrick  hit CJ Spiller with a short pass that went for a 66 yard touchdown to put the Bills up 14-9. The second half saw the Bills from their 27 fumble on the first play from scrimmage and the Jets recover at the Buffalo 15. On 3rd and 12, Rex Ryan did not trust Sanchez to throw. Powell only got 6 yards and a 30 yard field goal try was blocked. A 6 minute drive in the third quarter saw Ryan Lindell miss a 50 yard field goal in a game of who wanted it least. From the Jets 40, Sanchez was sacked and fumbled. Buffalo took over at the Jets 34, gained only 6 yards, and Lindell from 46 missed again.

The Jest went 3 and out and from the Buffalo 20, Fitzpatrick went deep to Stevie St Johnson for a 37 yard gain with a roughing the passer penalty adding 15 more. On 3rd and 1 from the 19, Fitzpatrick hit Spiller for 6. Brad Smith used to play for the Jets, but on 3rd and 1 from the 4, he took a wildcat snap against his former team and got in the end zone to make it 21-9 Bills with 11 minutes left in the season.

With 1:14 left in a game that was not in doubt, the Bills faced 4th and 4 at the Jets 13. With Lindell having missed twice, Chan Gailey just decided to run the ball. The Jets were playing for pride, and they had none. Tashard Choice ran for the 13 yard touchdown as the JETS acronym of Just End The Season mercifully happened soon after. Both coaches may be fired and may not. As for the Jets, they may get rid of all 3 of their quarterbacks. 28-9 Bills

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals–The Ravens stop their 3 game slide to get to 10-5 and lock up the division. The Bengals clinched a wildcard and are locked into their six seed. Marvin Lewis says he is playing to win rather than resting people, while the Ravens still have a slim chance at moving up from the 4 to the 3 seed, which usually means nothing.

John Harbaugh concluded early on that New England was not going to lose at home given they had everything to play for. Therefore, he decided late in the first quarter to rest his starters and give Tarod Taylor the quarterbacking reins from Joe Flacco. Marvin Lewis left his starters in for the first half, but the second half was a game of backups as the Ravens settled into the 4 seed and the Bengals the 6 seed.

With Ray Rice from Rutgers getting rest, a drive late in the first quarter from the 20 saw Pierce gain 7 and 14, Taylor scramble for 28, Pierce gain 9 more, and Allen run for 20 and then the 2 yard touchdown. The Ravens led 7-0 without Taylor throwing a pass. A field position game with 2:07 left in the half had the Bengals taking over at the Baltimore 42. On 3rd and 5 Andy Dalton hit AJ Green for 17 and 9 and Jones for the 11 yard touchdown to make it 7-7.

Bruce Gradkowski began the second half for Dalton and midway through the third quarter took over for the Bengals at their 48. Roughing the passer was just enough to set up Josh brown from 47 yards out as the Bengals led 10-7. Cincy got it back at the Baltimore 40 after a 30 yard shanked punt. On 3rd and 6 defensive pass interference meant 21 yards, again enough for another field goal and a 13-7 Bengals lead with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

Baltimore faced 3rd and 7 from their 22  when a deep ball and defensive pass interference moved Baltimore 25 yards. The fourth quarter began with the Ravens facing 3rd and 11 from the Cincy 40. Taylor hit Dickson for 15, Allen ran for 7, and Taylor gained 15 more. Taylor got in from one yard out to make it 14-13 Ravens with 13 minutes left in regulation. Cincy went 3 and out and Baltimore took over just past midfield. Rookie Justin Tucker came in for a 45 yard field goal to extend the lead. Tucker has had a good year, but this one was no good with 10 minutes left.

From their own 35, Gradkowski went deep to Tate for a 44 yard gain. Josh Brown would hit a 38 yard field goal to put the Bengals back up 16-14 midway through the fourth quarter. The play of the game happened 2 plays later with the Ravens facing 3rd and 7 from their own 23. Taylor was intercepted by Dunlap, who returned it 14 yards for the score to make it 23-14 Bengals with 6 minutes left to play.

Needing 2 scores, Baltimore actually decided to punt on 4th and 1 from their 32. Yet it was a fake that succeeded. Taylor moved the Ravens in position for a 49 yard field goal try. Tucker was good, and the Ravens were within 6. Yet only 1:21 remained, and a failed onsides kick ended things as the Bengals in successive weeks beat Pittsburgh and Baltimore, although again this game featured backups. Both teams are 10-6, but the Ravens had clinched the division the week earlier.

The Bengals had consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 30 years, although 1982 was a strike year. The way the Bengals can quiet the critics is by winning a playoff game, which they have not done in the decade Marvin Lewis has coached them. They will be at collapsing Houston, while Baltimore will host Indianapolis. 23-17 Bengals

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions–The once 7-1 Bears briefly stopped their slide and won last week to get to 9-6. They need a win and a Minnesota loss to make the playoffs while Detroit has lost 7 straight to fall to 4-11. Megatron Calvin Johnson has a chance to be the first receiver to reach 2,000 yards in a season.

After an exchange of punts, the Lions moved from their own 9 to a 3rd and 1 at the Chicago 26. Matthew Stafford was hit and fumbled, but it was ruled on further review an incomplete pass Old Reliable Jason Hanson hit from 44 yards to make it 3-0 Lions. Chicago struck back quickly. on 2nd and 8 from their 22, Jay Cutler hit Matt Forte for 18 and then found Bennett, who outraced everybody down the sideline for a 60 yard touchdown to make it 10-3 Bears.

With 4 minutes left in the half, the Lions took over at their 33. Stafford was sacked by Israel Idonije, and Julius Peppers recovered as the Bears took over at the Lions 10. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Cutler threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal form the one. Forte got in to make it 17-3 Bears. 2 plays later Stafford was intercepted, and the Lions took over at the Detroit 23. The defense held, and Olindo Mare hit from 40 to make it 20-3 Bears with 1:54 left in the half.

Stafford rallied the Lions. On 3rd and 1 from their 29, Matt Leshoure got the yard. Stafford hit Bell for 10, Brandon Pettigrew for 6, and Bell for 9. On 3rd and 3 from the Chicago 38, Stafford hit Leshoure for 13. With 17 seconds left in the half, the Lions faced 3rd and 10 from the Chicago 25. Stafford went deep to Durham for the touchdown as the Lions only trailed 20-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter after a Bears punt and a touchback, Stafford ran for 5 and Leshoure gained 9 and 13. Stafford found Johnson for 18  and again for 24. On 3rd and goal from the 10, Stafford hit Will Heller for the touchdown to get the Lion within 20-17 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Lions got it back and soon faced 2nd and 6 from their own 12. Leshoure fumbled the ball, and the Bears took over at the Detroit 13. On 3rd and 8 from the 11, Cutler fired to Brandon Marshall in the end zone but Marshall was out of bounds. Chicago settled for the 29 yard Mare field goal and a 23-17 lead with 2 minutes left in the third quarter.

Chicago got it back to start the fourth quarter at their own 39 and on 2nd and 5 from the Detroit 44, Cutler hit Bennett for a 28 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the 14, Cutler hit Marshall for 10. Yet on 3rd and goal from the 2 Cutler threw incomplete. Another field goal had the Bears up 26-17 with 11 minutes left.

Detroit soon faced 3rd and 5 from their 25 when Stafford hit Scheffler for 7. On 3rd and 10 from the 32, a very questionable unnecessary roughness penalty on the defense kept the drive going just past midfield. Stafford hit Brian Robiskie for 21, Heller for 19, and Robiskie for the 9 yard touchdown as the Lions only trailed by 2 points with 7 minutes left.

Detroit got it back at their 9 and faced 3rd and 6 from the 13 with 4 minutes left when Stafford threw incomplete. Jim Schwartz punted and the Bears took over at their 40 with 3:40 left. The Lions had all their timeouts. It came down to 3rd and 3 from the Chicago 47. Cutler scrambled for 19 yards and stayed in bounds. The Lions took their last timeout but Forte gained 13 at the 2 minute warning and that was it.

The Lions saw Matthew Stafford break the all time NFL record for pass attempts in a season, breaking the 1994 mark held by Drew Bledsoe. Calvin Johnson did break the all time receiving yards record in a season held by Jerry Rice since 1987, but Megatron fell short of 2,000 yards. Who cares? The Lions, one year removed from the playoffs, lost their last 8 games to fall to 4-12. Jim Schwartz is probably safe, but some changes are coming. As for the Bears, they went 10-6 and watched the Minnesota game against Green Bay. If Minnesota lost, Chicago is in the playoffs. A Minnesota win eliminates the Bears. Lovie Smith is on the hot seat, which is insane for a 10-6 team. 26-24 Bears

Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts–Houston can lock up the top seed and home field throughout the playoffs with a win, but they could fall as low as the 3 seed and lose the first round bye altogether. Indianapolis is locked in as the 5 seed wildcard, giving them nothing to play for. Yet the return of Chuck Pagano could fire up the team at home. Pagano played his starters, and the Colts began at their 25.

Andrew Luck hit Reggie Wayne for 17 and Ballard for 9. Ballard ran for 7 and Luck hit TY Hilton for 12. On 3rd and 3 from the Houston 24, Luck hit Allen for 20. On 3rd and goal from the 1, Luck threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a new set of downs. Luck hit Fleener for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Colts. Houston moved from their 20 to a 2nd and 4 and the Indy 24. Yet a false start and a sack ended the drive. Shane Graham did hit a 51 yard field goal to get the Texans within 7-3 as the first quarter ended. In the second quarter Houston got it back at their 37 and Matt Schaub found Andre Johnson for 39 yards. On 3rd and 2 form the 16, Arriun Foster lost 3 yards. Graham hit from 37 to get the Texans within 7-6.

Houston got it back at their own 3 yard line and moved to a 1st and 10 from their 30 Schaub was intercepted by Vonte Davis, who returned it 26 yards to the Houston 39. Ballard gained 20 and on 3rd and 9 from the 18, Luck hit TY Hilton for 17. Ballard got the one yard touchdown at the 2 minute warning to make it 14-6 Colts.

The Texans began the third quarter with 3rd and 1 from their 25. Schaub hit Johnson for 2 an again for 20. On 3rd and 5 from the Indy 43, Schaub hit Kevin Walter for 14. On 3rd and 7 from the 26, Schaub threw incomplete but defensive holsing saved the drive. Schaub hit Casey for 8 and Foster ran for the 13 yard touchdown. Gary Kubiak decided against the 2 point conversion with plenty of time left as the Texans trailed 14-13.

Indy went 3 and out and the Texans took over at their own 26. Schaub hit Johnson for 10 and Foster broke free for a 39 yard gain. On 2nd and 7 from the Indy 19, Schaub threw incomplete twice. Graham did hit the 37 yard field goal as the Texans led 16-14. The lead lasted for 12 seconds as Karim returned the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a score to make it 21-16 Colts. Early in the fourth quarter the Texans faced 3rd and 4 at the Indy 27. Schaub was sacked for an 8 yard loss. Graham came in for a 52 yard field goal but it was no good with 13 minutes left in regulation.

With 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation the Colts after a penalty faced 3rd and 23 from their own 30. The starters were still in for a game that did not matter. Try telling that to Chuck Pagano. Gary Kubiak needed one score to get the Texans back on top, and Michelin Man Wade Phillips is known for defense. Yet somehow Luck went deep to Hilton, resulting in a shocking 70 yard touchdown that gave the Colts a 28-16 lead. Houston needed only 90 seconds to move from their 29 to the Indy 30. Schaub went for it all and was intercepted in the end zone by Vonte Davis as the Houston situation got more desperate.

Andrew Luck is a rookie, but this was veteran leadership down the stretch as he led a time consuming drive that killed the clock. On 3rd and 1 from their 29, Allen gained 2. Defensive pass interference added 24 yards. Offsides added 5 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Houston 40, Luck gained 2. Ballard gained 3, 7 and 8. On 3rd and 2 from the 20, Pagano called a pass. Luck hit the short pass as the 2 minute warning came with the Colts firmly in command. Nearly 10 minutes remained when the Colts got the football, and the Texans never saw it again.

Luck took 3 knees and the Colts had the emotional win to get to 10-6. The Texans have never beaten the Colts in Indy. Even worse, the once 11-1 Texans are in free fall, losing 3 of 4 to finish 12-4. That happened to Philadelphia in 1980 but they had home field anyway. Houston does not. Barring a miracle, the top seed is gone and the second seed is as well. Instead of home field advantage, the Texans will tumble to the 3 seed and lose the first round bye. They will host Cincinnati in the opening round while Indianapolis will travel to Baltimore. 28-16 Colts

Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints–Neither team is going to the playoffs, although both teams have rebounded from miserable starts. Each team may have a new coach next year. Saints fans got a break before the game started when Sean Payton agreed to a 5 year contract extension. Joe Vitt was coaching his last game as the interim coach once Payton returns from his suspension.

After an exchange of punts, Cam Newton moved Carolina from their 22 to a 1st and goal at the Saints 2. Yet Tolbert got stopped and Newton threw incomplete twice. Ron Rivera went for the field goal, and Graham Gano hit the 20 yarder to make it 3-0 Panthers. Graham Gano would miss a 54 yard field goal in the second quarter. Carolina got it back at their 18 and Newton hit LaFell for 16. Deangelo Williams then broke free for a 65 yard gain down to the one, and Tolbert took it in on the next play to make it 10-0 Panthers with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half.

The Saints took over at their 24 and Mark Ingram gained 17 and 4. Drew Brees went deep to Lance Moore for a 39 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 11 Brees hit Darren Sproles to set up 4th and 1 from the 7. The Saints went for it and Brees hit Marquis Colston for the touchdown to get the Saints within 10-7. Carolina quickly faced 2nd and 6 from their 24, and Newton was intercepted by Jonathan Vilma. Vilma was supposed to be suspended this year, but Paul Tagliabue reversed Roger Goodell. Vilma reversed Newton’s laws of motion with an 18 yard touchdown return to make it 14-10 Saints with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half. From their 27, Williams ran for 22 and Newton hit Louis Murphy for 17. Yet 1st and 10 from the 15 saw the drive stall. Gano hit from 31 to have the Panthers trailing 14-13 just before the half.

The Saints had only 34 seconds to work with from their own 18. They had all 3 timeouts. Brees hit Moore for 14, Graham for 17, and Sproles for 14. Garrett Hartley drilled a 53 yard field goal to make it 17-13 Saints at halftime. The second half was a pinball machine as a meaningless game became a thriller.

The Saints began the third quarter facing 3rd and 12 from their 18. Brees went deep to Moore for a 51 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 26, Brees hit Graham for 6 and again for the 19 yard touchdown to make it 24-13 Saints. Yet to describe what followed defies belief. Facing 3rd and 18 from their own 12, Cam Newton went deep to Lousi Murphy for a 34 yard gain. Deangelo Williams then got free again for a 54 yard touchdown to get the Saints within 24-20.

After an exchange of punts, the Saints had it at their 22. Brees was intercepted by Patrick at the Saints 36. Newton hit Steve Smith for a 31 a yard gain and Tolbert got the last yard to put the Panthers up 27-24 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

Carolina began the fourth quarter at their 20 and Newton hit Tolbert for 22 yards with a personal foul adding 15 more. Newton came out for a few plays. On 3rd and 2 from the Saints 35, backup Derek Anderson threw incomplete but a penalty on the defense kept the drive going. On 3rd and 4 from the 24, Anderson hit LaFell for 12 and 11. Tolbert got the last yard as the Panthers now led 34-24. The Saints went 3 and out and punted. Edwards took the punt and raced 69 yards all the way to the Saints 12 yard line. One play was enough for Williams to run it in as 28 unanswered pointed had the Panthers up 41-24 with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Yet now the Saints had their turn.

From the Saints 19, Brees moved the Saints to the Carolina 30 before throwing 3 straight incompletions. On 4th and 10 Brees hit Moore for 17 and Colston for 4 and then the 9 yard touchdown to get the Saints within 41-31 with 5:15 to play. The onsides kick failed, and a personal foul on the Saints had the Panthers at the Saints 29. The Saints took their timeouts and held the Panthers to a 42 yard Gano field goal and a 44-31 lead with 4 minutes left.

After a touchback, brees hit Graham for gains of 9, 14, and 9. Defensive pass interference added 15 more and Brees found Sproles for a 33 yard touchdown as the Saints cut the 17 point deficit to 6 points. With 3 minutes left, the onsides kick again failed and Williams gained 3 and 11. With 1:16 to play the Panthers had the 3rd and 2 at the 6. Tolbert got the 2 yards as Carolina ran out the clock.

Both teams finished 7-9, but Carolina went 5-1 down the stretch, possibly giving Ron Rivera another year. Brees finished with 396 yards and 5,177 for the season, the only quarterback to ever top 5,000 yards twice. He finished with 4 touchdown passes on the day and 43 for the season, the only quarterback to top 40 in consecutive seasons. Yet the Saints gave up 7,042 yards on defense, breaking the record held by the 1981 Baltimore Colts by about 250 yards. 44-38 Panthers

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants–This could be the last game every for Walrus Lite Andy Reid as coach of the Eagles. The Giants saw their 6-2 start collapse as they are now 8-7 and clinging to playoff life. They need to win and get tons of help to have a shot at winning it all again.

Andy Reid is a proud guy, and he sparked the Eagles by calling a successful onsides kick to start the game. Yet Michael Vick is back, and he may also be playing his last game for the Eagles. On 3rd and 13 from the Giants 43, Vick was intercepted by Brown, who returned it 48 yards to the Eagles 26. Wilson did much of the rest, running for 10, 13 and 3. Eli Manning threw a 3 yard touchdown to Randle to make it 7-0 Giants.

Philly went nowhere and the Giants took over at their 26. Manning hit Rnnadle for 10 and Victor Cruz for 9. on 3rd and 1 from the Giants 45, Ahmad Bradshaw gained 17 yards. On the next play Manning went deep to Randle, who outjumped Nahmdi Asomugha, made the catch, and fell into the end zone for a 38 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Giants.

Philly went 3 and out and the Giants soon faced 3rd and 4 from their 31. Manning hit Bradshaw deep for a 41 yard gain. Wilson then ran for 13 and caught the 15 yard touchdown from Manning as the Giants led 21-0 after the first quarter. The Eagles finally got something from their 20 when Vick hit McCoy for a 36 yard gain. Brown gained 13, and the second quarter began with the Eagles facing 4th and 10 at the Giants 31. Vick hit Avant for 15. On 4th and 1 from the 7, Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for the touchdown as the Eagles were on the board down 21-7.

The Giants got it back at their 27 looking to bury the Eagles. From their 33, Bradshaw ran for 10 and 12 and Manning hit Cruz for 12 and 7 and to Randle for 7 more. Bradshaw ran for 10 and on 3rd and goal from the 7, Manning threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference on Asomugha set up bradshaw from one yard out to make it 28-7 Giants with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half.

With 34 seconds left in the half the Eagles had 2nd and 5 at midfield. Vick threw incomplete twice and Reid went for it. Vick hit Maclin for only 4 yards as the Giants took over at their 46 with 17 seconds left. Manning hit Dominic Hixon for a 30 yard gain and then went deep to Cruz for the 24 yard touchdown as the Giants led 35-7 at halftime. The second half was a snoozefest. Manning led a 14 play, 78 yard drive that took 9 1/2 minutes off the clock and culminated in a one yard touchdown pass from Manning to Hynoski to complete the scoring. Manning finished with a career high 5 touchdown passes.

Walrus Lite Andy Reid saw his once proud team fall to 4-12, the worst season during his tenure. After 14 seasons, he will most likely be fired by Jeffrey Lurie. This would be a tremendous mistake, but it is Lurie’s team. A very warm greeting after the game came between the always classy Reid and the equally classy Tom Coughlin. Until last year, Coughlin spent every waking minute on the verge of being fired despite winning games. This year the Giants had the exact same season as last year. They started 6-2, and stumbled down the stretch to fall to 8-7, and won their last game to finish 9-7. Last year it was just enough to make the playoffs. This year it was not as the Giants were eliminated a few minutes after their game ended when Chicago hung on to knock them out. The defending champions are now out of the playoffs. 42-7 Giants

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers–Neither team is going to the playoffs. The Steelers lost at home last week to Cincinnati, so a home loss to Cleveland one week later would be unthinkable. The Browns organization will be blown up next year due to new ownership, but the team will most likely still perpetually suck. The Browns did not start Brandon Weeden or Colt McCoy, as Pat Shurmur began his final game with 3rd stringer Lewis. Early in the second quarter Phil Dawson missed a 39 yard field goal as the league wondered how this game could be canceled.

Midway through the second quarter Shawn Suisham made a 41 yarder to make it 3-0 Steelers. Phil Dawson would make a 51 yarder to make it 3-3 with 4 minutes left in the half. After 28 minutes of awful football, Cleveland fumbled in their own territory and Pittsburgh took over at the Browns 24. Defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Ben Roethlisberger hit Leonard Pope for the touchdown to make it 10-3 Steelers at halftime.

The third quarter had the Browns punting on 4th and 5 from their 25. Pat Shurmur knows it is his last game, and he coached like it, gambling on a fake punt. Ventrone gained 35 yards. Defensive pass interference on the next play meant 1st and goal at the 5. Lewis threw a 7 yard touchdown to little and the game was tied 10-10. Pittsburgh took over at their 20 and Jonathan Dwyer gained 12 and 4 and the Steelers moved to a critical 3rd and goal at the Cleveland 9. Big Ben scrambled around and fired to Antonio Brown in the middle of the end zone for the score to make it 17-10 Steelers.

With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation Cleveland fumbled at their own 35 and the Steelers took over at the Cleveland 27. on 3rd and 1 Redman gained 6 and Roethlisberger hit former and now current teammate Plaxico Burress for the 12 yard touchdown to put the game out of reach. Pittsburgh got to 8-8 while Cleveland finished another miserable season, with the changes to come again on Black Monday. 24-10 Steelers

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans–Both of these teams are awful, but the Jaguars have a shot at the top pick in the draft. Tennessee fell behind by 55 points last week but led a furious rally to lose by 48. Both teams may make coaching changes after the season.

Tennessee quickly faced 3rd and 5 from their 26 when Jake Locker hit Nate Washington for 21 yards and Antrell Hawkins for a 42 yard gain. Chris Johnson ran for 9, and on 3rd and 1 from the 2, got the touchdown to make it 7-0 Titans. Chad Henne borught the Jaguars back. On 3rd and 10 from their 24, Henne hit Justin Blackmon for 17. Boston ran for 11 and 14 and Murphy ran for 9 and 14 against an awful Titans defense. On 3rd and 4 from the 5, Henne hit Jeremy Shipley for the score to make it 7-7. Jackonville got it back at their 39, and the second quarter began with them facing 3rd and 10 from the Titans 30. Henne hit Blackmon, who took it for the touchdown to make it 14-7 Jaguars.

After that the Jaguars showed why they are 2-13 and why Shad Khan may fire everyone. Bud Adams is on the verge of firing his staff as well, but the Titans did not even need an offense the rest of the way. Defense and special teams turned a deficit into a blowout. Brown intercepted Henne and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. Then Darius Reynaud returned a punt 69 yards for a score to make it 21-1 Titans at halftime. In the third quarter Reynaud did it again, returning a punt 81 yards for another touchdown to make it 28-14 Titans. Then Brown struck again, intercepting Henne for a 30 yard touchdown return and a 35-14 Titans route. The Titans scored 28 unanswered points without running an offensive play from scrimmage. Then Henne was intercepted again and the offense had to take the field.

In the fourth quarter the Titans tacked on a field goal. The Jaguars did get a special teams touchdown of their own with a blocked punt that was returned 19 yards to complete the scoring. The Jaguars at 2-14 will have the second pick in the draft at worst, and even get the top pick if somehow a miracle occurs and Kansas City goes on the road and beats Denver. The Titans are bad, just not as bad. 38-20 Titans

Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos–The Chiefs have a sot at the top pick in the draft, while Denver is currently the 2 seed with a first round bye. If they win and Houston loses, Denver is the top seed. Yet if Denver loses and New England wins, Denver falls to the 3 seed. Peyton Manning may win his 5th NFL MVP, and no other player has won more than 3 of them.

For those wanting suspense and the mother of all upsets, this was not why they play the games.

After a punt, Denver took over at their 31. Peyton Manning hit Brandon Stokley for a 29 yard gain and Eric Decker for 9 and 14 more. On 3rd and 6 from the 10, Manning hit Jacob Hester for 7 and Knowshon Moreno got the 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Broncos. For some reason, the rest of the game was played.

Denver got it back at their own 9 and moved to the Chiefs 31. Yet a fumble was picked up by Brandon Flowers and returned 64 yards to the Denver 12. On 3rd and 3 from the 5 to start the second quarter, Brady Quinn did what he does, which is throw incomplete. Ryan Succop hit the 23 yard field goal as the Chiefs got within 7-3, concluding Chiefs highlights for the day. Kansas City got it back at their 35 and moved to the Denver 15. On 3rd and 6 Quinn threw incomplete, and Succop missed the 33 yarder. After that Denver put it away.

On 2nd and 8 from the Denver 26, Manning hit Green for 11, Thomas for 9, Decker for 10 and Joel Dreesen for 12. Moreno gained 17 and Manning hit Decker for the 11 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Broncos. With 1:37 left in the half Denver got it back at their 41. Maning hit Stokley for 11, Jacob Tamme for 13 and Stokley for 9. Hester ran for 8 and Manning spiked the ball with 15 seconds left in the half. He then threw a 16 yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker to make it 21-3 Broncos at halftime.

The second half was a formality. Manning led an 11 play, 6 minute drive to start the third quarter from the Denver 20. On 3rd and 7 from the Chiefs 13, Manning found Denarius Thomas, who made a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone to make it 28-3 Broncos. Manning would lead another 74 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive that saw Ball take his namesake into the end zone on 3rd and goal fromt he one to make it 35-3 Broncos. Denver would tack on a field goal to complete the scoring.

Kansas City dropped to 2-14 and assure themselves the top pick in the April 2013 Draft. Romeo Crennel may not be around to see it, since tomorrow is Black Monday for coaches. He is a good man that had a terrible season. As for John Fox, his Broncos won 11 straight to end the season and go 13-3. With Houston stumbling, Denver locked up home field throughout the playoffs. John Elway brought Peyton Manning to town, and John Fox came one play away from a Super Bowl win of his own. Now he has a team that is in a strong position to get them all another ring. 38-3 Broncos

Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings–Green Bay right now is the 2 seed, but if they lose and San Francisco win, they could fall to the 3 seed and lose the first round bye. Minnesota is the 6 seed wildcard now, but if they lose they are out of the playoffs altogether. Surrounding this doe or die matchup is Adrian Peterson, who is 108 rushing yards short of 2,000 and 214 yards away from topping Eric Dickerson.

Minnesota moved from their 23 to a 4th and 2 at the Green Bay 36. Leslie Frazier brought in his hot kicker and Walsh leveled a 54 yarder to make it 3-0 Vikings. Green Bay went 3 and out and Minnesota soon faced 3rd and 11 from their 39. Christian Ponder went to Toby Gerhart for a 21 yard gain. Adrian Peterson took over, gaining 6, 22, 5, and the 7 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Vikings. Green Bay went 3 and out again and Minnesota took over at their 47. On 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 44, Leslie Frazier went for it and Peterson gained 6. The second quarter began with Ponder throwing incomplete on 3rd and 4 from the Packers 19. Walsh hit from 37 to make it 13-0 Vikings.

Green Bay finally got a spark with 9 minutes left in the half when a 32 yard punt return by Ross had the Packer starting at the Minnesota 42. harris ran for 12 and 2. On 3rd and 8 from the 28, Aaron Rodgers hit Jones for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the 14, Rodgers went t Greg Jennings for 8. On 3rd and goal at the 5, a completion only gained one yard, but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 3. On 3rd and goal Rodgers hit Jennings for the score to get the Packers within 13-7.

Sherels returned the ensuing kickoff to the Minnesota 40, and Ponder hit Wright for 17. At the 2 minute warning on 3rd and 4 from the Green Bay 36, Ponder hit Simpson for 10. Peterson gained 18 and Ponder hit Wright for the 8 yard touchdown as the Vikings led 20-7 with one minute left in the half. After a touchback, Rodgers hit Jennings for 14, Jermaine Finley for 16, and Jordy Nelson for 12. With one second left in the half Mason Crosby came in for  51 yard field goal. He has had a terrible year, but nailed this one as the Packers trailed 20-10 at halftime. Yet this game was just getting warmed up, and so was Peterson.

After a touchback to start the second half, Harris gained 5 and Rodgers hit Jones for 30. On 2nd 18 from their 47, Rodgers hit Jennings on a short pass that went for a 45 yard gain. Rodgers hit Jennings for the 5 yard touchdown to get the Packers within 20-17. Minnesota punted and the Packers faced 3rd and 7 from midfield. Rodgers was sacked and fumbled and Jared Allen recovered at midfield for the Vikings.

Ponder hit Simpson for 21. On 2nd and 16 from the 35, Ponder hit Felton for 17. A penalty pushed Minnesota back to a 2nd and 27 from the Green Bay 35. Peterson did what he does, gaining 28. He broke 2,000 yards, and now the record was in sight. on 3rd and goal at the 5, Ponder threw incomplete but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 2. Ponder threw to Peterson for the score to make it 27-17 Vikings. The lead barely lasted as Green Bay quickly faced 3rd and 4 from their 19. Rodgers went deep to Nelson for a 73 yard gain. On the next play, Rodgers hit Jones, who fumbled at the goal line with Minnesota recovering in the end zone for a touchback. Yet on further review, it was ruled the ball broke the plane of the goal and was reversed to a touchdown as the Packers trailed only 27-24.

Minnesota punted, and a facemask on the Vikings had the Packers beginning the fourth quarter at midfield. On 3rd and 4, Rodgers hit Jones for 5 and Jennings for 11. On 3rd and 4 from the 22, Rodgrs threw incomplete. Crosby hit from 40 as the game was tied 27-27 with 12 1/2 minutes left in a game that had plenty of action remaining.

From the Minnesota 21 and everyone expecting Peterson, Ponder went deep and connected with Wright for a 65 yard gain. From the 14, Peterson gained 12. On 3rd and goal from the 12 after an offensive penalty, an illegal use of hands on the defense meant 1st and goal at the 7. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Ponder hit Jenkins for the score. With 8 minutes left the Vikings led again 34-27.

From the 22, Rodgers hit Jones for 12. On 3rd and 21 from their 23, Rodgers hit Finley for 20. With 5:45 to play facing 4th and 1 from their 43, Mike McCarthy decided to go for it. Rodgers hit Boykin for 7. On 3rd and 4 from the Minnesota 44, Rodgers hit Jennings for 14. Harris gained 11, and defensive pass interference moved the Vikings 16 more yards down to the two. Rodgers hit Nelson for the score and with 3 minutes left the game was tied 34-34.

At the 2 minute warning the Vikings faced 3rd and 11 from their own 27. Handing off to Peterson was not an option. The game was in Christian Ponder’s hands. He went deep to Jenkins for a 25 yard gain. Now it was time for Peterson, who was only 45 yards away from the record. Peterson gained 7, 4, and then 0. The Vikings took their second timeout with 24 seconds left at the Green Bay 37. Walsh certainly had the leg for a 55 yarder, but there was still for more offense. Peterson got another carry, and gained 26 yards. The Vikings let the clock run down to 3 seconds. Peterson was 9 yards short of the record, but the purpose of football is to win games. Statistics were for the division rivals in Detroit who went 4-12. Peterson was carried off the field as Walsh came in for the 29 yarder to win it. If Walsh missed, Peterson could break the record in overtime. That is not what football is about.

Walsh nailed it, the home crowd went crazy, and Peterson celebrated making the playoffs along the rest of the stadium. Classy Green Bay players hugged Peterson after the game. Minnesota at 10-6 clinched the 6 seed and knocked Chicago out of the playoffs.  They also knocked Green Bay out of the 2 seed at 11-5, down to the 3 seed, costing the Packers the 1st round bye. Peterson came up 9 yards short, but won where it counted. This was a fine football game, and a rematch cannot come soon enough. Luckily for fans everywhere, the rematch will be next week in the wildcard round. This time the game moves from the Metrodome to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field. 37-34 Vikings

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots–Miami is out of the playoffs and the 11-4 Patriots are currently the 3 seed. New England could fall to the 4 seed but if they win and Denver loses, they are the 2 seed. If Houston also loses, the Patriots could even snare the top seed. Before the game started, Baltimore had lost, meaning the Patriots were at worst the 3 seed.

New England moved from their 20 to a 4th and 6 at the Miami 24. There were swirling winds, and Stephen Gostkowski struggled with it in practice. So Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick went for it and Tom Brady threw incomplete. Midway through the first quarter Miami faced 3rd and 8 from their 25. Ryan Tannehill was intercepted and Gregory returned it 13 yards to the Miami 28. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 19 and Wes Welker for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Patriots.

New England got it back and on 2nd and 8 from their 10 Brady hit Wes Welker for 10, Danny Woodhead for 25, and Welker for 23. Vereen gained 9 and the Patriots began the second quarter with 2nd and 1 at the Miami 28. Vereen gained 5. On 3rd and 13 from the 26, Brady hit Branch for 16. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Woodhead only got half. Bellichick gambled on 4th and goal at the one and  Shawn Ridley got in to make it 14-0 Patriots. Miami moved from their 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Patriots 24 when 3 plays netted 0 yards. Nate Kaeding missed the 41 yard field goal.

New England faced 3rd and 1 from their 40 and Ridley gained 3. Woodhead gained 11 and caught a pass for 14. On 3rd and 4 from the Miami 24, Brady hit Welker for 9. On 3rd and 3 from the 8 Woodhead gained 6. Ridley got the 2 yard touchdown to make it 21-0 Patriots at halftime with a second half that offered nothing in terms of suspense. Miami missed one chance to score by fumbling at the goal line and saw a fumble return called back on review. Brady would throw a 23 yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski to end things.

Miami did have a losing season, but Joe Philbin seems to have the team playing hard despite the road loss today against a team on a mission. One year after a failed Hail Mary resulted in a Super Bowl loss, the Patriots had a 12-4 season. With Houston losing, New England snagged the 2 seed and a 1st round bye in the playoffs. They did not get home field throughout, but that has not stopped them before. The Evil Empire of Football is alive and well. 28-0 Patriots

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

Both of these teams are terrible, and both of them have fans who want their own coaches fired and the opposing coach to stay forever. Dennis Allen may be gone, while Norvelous Norv Turner, who saved his job by beating the Raiders in the finale last year, may be out of luck this time.

Before the game there was a hail storm. Buckets of the stuff came down and pelted people. The hail stopped before the game, but the field was a mess. By the end of the game it was raining hard. Yet the Raiders had one ray of hope. Captain Checkdown Matt Leinart would not be playing in place of injured Carson Palmer. After 2 years on the roster but very little playing tme, Terrell Pryor would finally get his chance.

Yet only 12 seconds into the game, the Chargers were on the board. Michael Spurlock took the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 Chargers. Oakland went 3 and out twice and the Chargers once, giving the Chargers the ball at their 29. Philip Rivers hit Eddie Royal for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the San Diego 44, Rivers went deep to Royal for a 31 yard gain with 15 more tacked on for roughing the passer. The Chargers got nothing more but Nick Novak hit from 30 to make it 10-0 Chargers.

After a touchback and a defensive penalty the Raiders faced 3rd and 2 from their 33. Pryor found Rod Streater for 10 and Brandon Myers for 17. Mike Goodson ran for 9 and Pryor hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for 4 as the Raiders began the second quarter at the Chargers 27. McFadden gained 8 and on 3rd and 2 Pryor gained 6. Then on 2nd and 14 from the 17, all hell broke loose. Pryor went to the end zone for Rod Streater and defensive pass interference should have meant 1st and goal at the one. Yet there was a scuffle after the play involving Mike Goodson and Take Spikes. Both men were twisting each other’s facemasks. Terrell Pryor actually showed smart leadership by pulling Goodson away. Yet the damage was done. Offsetting personal fouls meant the original defensive pass interference would be offset as well even though it was after the play and there were 2 penalties on the Chargers to only one for the Raiders. It got worse.

The officials ejected both Goodson and Spikes from the game. This was a severe overreaction by the refs. Neither man threw a punch or bumped an official. It was a scuffle, one that never gets players ejected. Both players were shocked and had to be restrained. The ejections were surprising and wrong, especially in the last game of the season, and even more especially with Spikes maybe on the verge of retirement. The game resumed. On 3rd and 6 from the 9, Pryor found Heyward-Bey for the touchdown as the Raiders were within 10-7 after the 12 play, 7 minute, 80 yard drive.

The Chargers got it back, went 3 and out, and set out to punt on 4th and 1 from their own 28. Norv Turner was coaching like it was his very last game because it was. A fake punt went to Eric Weddle, who gained 6. Rivers then hit Royal for 8 more. and consecutive offsides penalties led to 3rd and 3 at the Oakland 36. Rivers hit Antonio Gates for 4. Rivers hit Battle for 11 and 8 and Gates for the 11 yard touchdown. San Diego moved 14 plays and 81 yards, consuming 9 1/2 minutes off the clock to lead 17-7 with 3 minutes left in the half.

Both teams went 3 and out, but a 19 yard punt return by Denarius Moore with 15 more penalty yards tacked on gave the Raider 1st and 10 at their own 48 with 47 seconds left in the half and 0 timeouts. With 12 seconds left, the Raiders had 3rd and 1 at the Chargers 43. Sebastian Janikowski is the Polish Cannon, and 61 yards for him is doable. The Raiders ran one more play, and Pryor showed his inexperience. He rolled around the end for a 6 yard gain, but did not get out of bounds as the clock ran out and Seabass never got his chance. That mistake would loom large later on.

The Raiders began the third quarter and faced 3rd and 14 from their own 16. Pryor hit Streater for 15, but Streater fumbled and the Chargers recoverd. Yet roughing the passer gave the Raiders the ball where they would have had it anyway. On 3rd and 10 from their 31, Pryor went to myers for 22 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Chargers 41, Pryor gained 8. On 2nd and 5 from the 28, Pryor went to the end zone and was intercepted by Quentin Jammer for a touchback. Again the Raiders came away without points.

Both teams went 3 and out, and the perennial Pro Bowler Shane Lechler had a bad punt under miserable conditions. Lechler did not make the Pro Bowl this year. Nobody on the Raiders did. The 33 yard punt gave the Chargers a short field at the Oakland 47. Rivers hit Battle for 10 and then went deep to Alexander for a 34 yard touchdown as the Chargers led 24-7 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.

On the next series the Raiders went 3 and out, punted on 4th and 4, benefited from a running into the kicker penalty, and with their second chance went 3 and out again. The Raiders got it back with 13 minutes left in regulation and quickly faced 1st and 20 from their 14. On 3rd and 7 from their 27, Pryor found Streater for 14 and 15 and then ran for 9. On 3rd and 7 from the Chargers 41, Pryor went deep to Streater for a 38 yard gain. Pryor ran it in from 3 yards out as the Raiders were within 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Raiders went 3 and out and punted. San Diego took over with 3:16 left at their own 34 and it looked over. The Raiders had all their timeouts, and used them as the defense held. With 2:55 left the Chargers set up to punt, but the Raidersneeded 2 scores. Yet Mike Scifres has had this poblem in recent years, and the Raiders got to him again. He is also a Pro Bowl punter but this was not his day. The punt was blocked, and the Raiders took over at the Chargers 11. Pryor hit Moore for a 5 yard touchdown as the Raiders were only down 3 with 1:52 to play. It came down to the onsides kick. Despite the miserable weather, it was fielded cleanly by the Chargers to end it.

A lot of fun has been had with Norvelous Norv Turner, and with good reason. He is is great offensive coordinator and not a good head coach. Yet he is a good human being, so let’s thank him for the entertainment value. As for Dennis Allen, he will not be fired, which is a mistake. 24-21 Chargers

St Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks–Jeff Fisher has turned around the Rams, who are 7-7-1 and can get a winning record with a win. Pete Carroll has Seattle at 10-5 with 3 straight wins averaging 50 points, outscoring opponents 150-30. Seattle now is the 5 seed wildcard, but if they win and the 49ers lose, Seattle wins the division and gets the 3 seed. If Green Bay also loses, Seattle could vault to the 2 seed and a 1st round bye.

Both teams have very good defenses, and after a scoreless first quarter Seattle took over at the Rams 42 after a punt early in the second quarter. Marshawn Lynch gained 24 yards, which was enough for Steven Hauschka to hit a 43 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Seahawks. From their 24, Sam Bradford hit Kendricks for 8 and Stephen Jackson gained 14. On 3rd and 5 from the Seattle 41, a short pass from Bradford to Givens meant a 37 yard gain. Bradford hit Pettis for a 2 yard touchdown as the Rams led 7-3 with 6 minutes left in the half. On the last play of the half Greg Zuerlein would miss from 51 as the Rams failed to extend the lead.

Seattle began the third quarter facing 3rd and 2 from their 23. Russell Wilson went deep to McCoy for a 49 yard gain. Yet on 3r and 2 from the Rams 20, Wilson was sacked. Hauschka hit from 49 to get Seattle within 7-6. After a touchback, Jackson gained 3, 15, 5, and caught a pass for 4. On 3rd and 7 just past midfield, Bradford hit Pettis for just enough and Givens for 17. Zuerlein hit from 39 to make it 10-6 Rams. From the Seattle 35 Wilson hit Danny Baldwin for 12. On 3rd and 6 from just past midfield, Wilson hit Golden Tate for a 31 yard gain, Lynch for 8 more, and Robinson for the 10 yard touchdown to make it 13-10 Seahawks after three quarters.

A penalty on the Rams had Seattle kicking of from midfield. Pete Carroll tried an onsides kick that failed, giving the Rams the ball at their own 41. Pead gained 7, 7, and 1 and Bradford hit Gibson for 12 as the Rams began the fourth quarter at the Seattle 32. Bradford hit Gibson for 12 more and Pead gained 5. Bradford hit Kendricks for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 4, a critical false start killed the drive. Zuerlein hit the field goal to tie the game 13-13.

Seattle took over at their 10 with 5 minutes left in regulation. Lynch gained 8 and then fumbled, but Seattle was lucky to retain possession and gain 4 more yards. On 3rd and 5 from their 27, Wilson went deep to Tate for 44 yards. From the Rams 19, Wilson ran for 15 more. Wilson got the one yard touchdown as the Seahawks had the 7 point lead with 1:45 to play.

After a touchback, Bradford went deep and defensive pass interference meant 25 yards. On 4th and 5 from the Seattle 35 with one minute left, Bradford gained 6 and got out of bounds. 3 straight incompletions meant 4th and 10 from the 29 with 40 seconds to play. Bradofrd went to the end zone and was intercepted by Pettis. The loss dropped the Rams to 7-8-1, but Jeff Fisher clearly has the team improved. As for Pete Carroll, while this was not a blowout, it was a gutty win that go Seattle to 11-5. They fell short of the division by half a game, so they will not have a 1st round bye or even a home game. Yet they are in the playoffs, and as dangerous as anyone with the 5 seed. They will travel to either Dallas or Washington depending on the night game. 20-13 Seahawks


Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers–Arizona began 4-0 and then lost 9 of 10 while San Francisco got blasted last week in Seattle. Ken Whisenhunt may be fired, while Jim Harbaugh has his team now clinging to the 2 seed and a 1st round bye. If the 49ers lose and Green Bay wins, the 49ers drop to the 3 seed. If they lose and Seattle wins, the 49ers lose the division and tumble to the 5 seed.

Arizona took over at their 47 midway through the quarter and the quarterback for this game was not Kolb, Skelton, or Lindley. It was Hoyer, who hit Larry Fitzgerald for 15, Floyd for 7, and Roberts for 12. The drive died at the 16 but Jay Feely hit a 35 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cardinals. Arizona got it abck and moved from their 13 to 1st and 10 at the Frisco 15 as the first quarter ended. Yet the drive also ended and a 31 yard Feely field goal made it 6-0 Cardinals. Yet like the entire Arizona season, a promising start to this game washed away.

David Akers missed a 44 yard field goal, but midway through the second quarter the 49ers got it back at their 20. Colin Kaepernick shool off the tough start and rapidly hit Michael Crabtree for a 31 yard gain and again for a 49 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 49ers. The 49ers got it back and moved from their 22 to a 3rd and 2 at the Arizona 17. Yet a false start was followed by a 40 yard Akers field goal attempt with 30 seconds left in the half. Again, Akers was no good.

In the third quarter the 49ers moved from their 20 to a 4th and 7 at the Arizona 26. This time from 43, Akers was good and the 49ers led 10-6. Ted Ginn returned an Arizona punt 28 yards to the Cardinals 38. Kaepernick went deep to Walker for a 27 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 7 Kaepernick hit Crabtree for the score to make it 17-6 49ers.

The 49ers got it back at their 28 and Kaepernick moved them over 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 6 from the Arizona 36, Jim Harbaugh decided to go for it. Kaepernick hit Crabtree for 14 as the third quarter ended. Kaepernick began the fourth quarter hitting Frank Gore for 14. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Gore got in to make it 24-6 49ers. Arizona fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the 49ers took over at the Arizona 34. On 3rd and goal at the 3 Kaepernick lost 5 yards, but Akers hit from 26 as 27 unanswered points made it 27-6 49ers.

Arizona would face 4th and 24 from the Frisco 37, and somehow Hoyer was able to go deep to Floyd for the only Arizona touchdown at the 2 minute warning. Despite the defensive lapse, the 49ers finished 11-4-1 to win the NFC West. With Green Bay losing, the 49ers moved back up to the 2 seed they lost a week earlier. The 49ers get the 1st round bye while the Cardinals get a 7 month rest. They may also get a new coach, although everything is uncertain there. 27-13 49ers

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins is the Sunday night game. Last year in Week 17 with everything on the line, Dallas got belted by the Giants. This year the Cowboys can eliminate the Giants and Redskins with a win. The winner of this game wins the division and is in the playoffs with the 4 seed. If Dallas loses they are out. Washington can lose but still eke in as the 6 seed but several other teams would have to lose. This is pretty much do or die for both teams.

A strong punt return had Dallas facing 3rd and 8 at the Washington 25. Tony Romo was then intercepted. Washington moved from their 29 to a 3rd and 2 at the Dallas 19. Alfred Morris got nothing, and mike Shanahan went for the field goal. Kai Forbath doinked a 37 yard field goal off the upright no good. On 2nd and 5 from just past midfield, Romo was intercepted again.

Dallas began at their 11 and started the second quarter and quickly faced 3rd and 6 from their 26. Romo hit Harris for 25 yards. Felix Jones gained 9 and 4 and Romo found Dez Bryant for 20 yards. DeMarco Murray gained 5, 5, and 3 before losing 2. On 3rd and goal from the 9, Romo found Jason Witten for the score to make it 7-0 Cowboys with 8 minutes left in the half.

Washington soon faced 3rd and 7 at their 35. RGIII hot Paulsen for 8 and Morris gained 13 and 12. RGIII ran for 9, Royster added 6 more, and Morris raced around the end for the 17 yard touchdown to make it 7-7 at halftime. Dallas did have 4th and 9 at the Washington 34 with 45 seconds left in the half, but Jason Garrett opted to punt rather than go for it or try the 52 yard field goal.

Washington took over at their 18 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, Alfred Morris went crazy, gaining 1, 10, 5, 6, and 22 to the Dallas 38.RGIII hit Pierre Garcon for 18 and 13. RGIII ran it in from 10 yards out as the Redskins took a 14-7 lead with 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Dallas took over at their 26 and the fourth quarter began with the Cowboys facing 1st and 10 at the Washington 35. Murray ran for 5 but Romo threw incomplete twice. Bailey hit from 48 to get the Cowboys within 14-10 only 45 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Washington got it back at their 26 and RGIII ran for 17. On 2nd and 12 from their 42, RGIII hit Moss for 11. On 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 47, RGIII hit Garcon for 15. On the next play Morris broke free for a 32 yard touchdown as the Redskins had some breathing room up 21-10 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. Dallas punted and Washington punted back. Harris returned the punt 39 yards, with a facemask tacked on. Dallas had gift field position at the Washington 16. On 3rd and 4 Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for the touchdown. Romo hit Harris for the 2 point conversion as Dallas trailed only 21-18  with 6 minutes left.

Dallas got it back at their own 15 with a chance to tie or win it. Romo hit Witten for 14. On the next play, with 3 minutes left, a screen pass was lobbed into the air and intercepted by Jackson. Washington took over at the Dallas 25 but the Cowboys still had all of their timeouts. Morris gained 10. The Cowboys took their last timeout as everything came down to 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 12 with 2:40 to play. Rather than run the clock down to the 2 minute warning, Mike Shanahan decided to be crazy and risk it all with a pass. RGIII threw incomplete and Dallas celebrated the clock stoppage and one more chance. They celebrated too early. A defensive penalty for roughing the passer killed the Cowboys. It was not that bad, but Hatcher did hit RGIII in the helmet. On 3rd and goal at the one with 1:15 left, Dallas desperately needed a stop. Morris got in for his 200th rushing yard and it was game, set, match, division crown, and playoffs.

Mike Shanahan saw his 3-6 Redskins win 7 straight to capture the NFC East for the first time since 1999. For the second year in a row, the Cowboys lost with everything on the line in the last week of the season on the road against a hated division rival. Jason Garrett will most likely keep his job, but with Jerry Jones, only he knows. The Redskins host a very tough Seattle team next week. 28-18 Redskins

eric

More vapid than Barack Obama–The Top 10 Bimbos of 2012

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Top 10 Bimbos of 2012

Some people are more hollow than Barack Obama. Anybody with less substance than him deserves recognition. This brings the Top Ten Bimbos of 2012.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/list-ten-those-top-ten-things-we-enjoy/2012/dec/27/top-10-bimbos-2012/

eric

NFL 2012 Week 15 Recap

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 15 Recap

The National Football League will be holding a moment of silence for the victims of the tragic events in Connecticut a couple of days earlier. The events are not being described here because the issue is one for political blogs and religious institutions. We all deeply care about what happened, but for those lucky enough to escape today, that is what will happen. Narcotics For Leatherheads is about football, so let’s get down to the game of football.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/narcotics-leatherheads-nfl-and-other-sports-storie/2012/dec/16/bountygate-rulings-playoff-expansion-proposal-and-/

With that, here is the Week 15 Recap.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Philadelphia Eagles was the Thursday night game. After 8 straight losses, Walrus Lite Andy Reid saw his Eagles show a ton of heart last week by defeating Tampa Bay on the final play of the game. The Bengals are the potential playoff team that nobody outside of Cincinnati respects because they never beat Pittsburgh or Baltimore. Nevertheless, Marvin Lewis has them in possible position for a wildcard loss.

This was a game of wild momentum swings. The Eagles got the ball first and disaster struck immediately. A short swing pass from Nick Foles to Jeremy Maclin was fumbled, one of five Philly turnovers in the game. Cincinnati began at the Philly 44. Benjarvus Green-Ellis quickly ran for 29 yards. After Andy Dalton hit AJ Green for 8, the Law Firm Green-Ellis did the rest, gaining 5, 1, and on 3rd and goal at the one, the last yard to quickly make it 7-0 Bengals.

Philly punted on their next series and the punt was blocked in the most impressive of ways. The defender could not get to the punter, so they just man-handled the offensive lineman and threw him toward the punter, resulting in it being blocked by the offensive line. The Bengals took over at the Philly 11, but could not convert. Josh Brown hit the 24 yarder to make it 10-0 Bengals, but the defensive stand turned the game. Philly punted on their next series and the Bengals reached 1st and 10 at the Philly 39. 3 straight incompletions was followed by the decision to punt rather than try a 57 yard field goal.

In the second quarter after another exchange of punts, the Eagles finally got a big play facing 2nd and 3 from their 43. Foles went deep to Maclin for a 46 yard gain and then found Riley Cooper for the 11 yard touchdown to get the Eagles within 10-7.

On the next Cincy series, facing 3rd and 9 from their 36, Dalton was sacked and fumbled. The Eagles took over at the Cincy 29 and Foles hit Brown for 11. Consecutive defensive penalties gave the Eagles 1st and goal at the 3. Yet pass-happy Andy Reid does not like to run the football, especially during goal line situations. Foles threw 3 straight incompletions and the Eagles settled for a 22 yard Alex Henery field goal and a 10-10 game.

More punts led to the Bengals having the ball facing 1st and 20 from their 22 at the 2 minute warning. Dalton was sacked again and fumbled again. The Eagles again had gift field position at the Cincy 12. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Reid actually called a run, and Brown got the yard. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 1 Reid reverted to form, and Foles threw incomplete twice. On 4th and goal a t the 1, a disgusted crowd watched Reid play it safe and Henery kicked the field goal to make it 13-10 Eagles.

With 6 minutes left in the third quarter, a field position game had the Eagles at their own 47. Yet then the pendulum swung back. Foles was intercepted, and the Bengals took over at the Philly 40. On 1st and 20, Green-Ellis gained 16 and 4. On 3rd and 9 from the 29, Dalton hit Green for 11. Green-Ellis gained 4 and Dalton added 8. Dalton scrambled for an 11 yard touchdown and the Bengals led 17-13 with one minute left in the third quarter.

In a seas of miscues, even the quarterback-center exchange was failing. Foles fumbled, and the Gilberry picked it up for the Bengals and raced 25 yards for another Cincy touchdown. 2 touchdowns in 30 seconds had the Bengals up 24-13. Philly got it back at their own 9 and Foles hit Harbor for 16. Yet Harbor fumbled it away and the Bengals took over at the Philly 13. After offensive holding, 3 plays gaining 0 yards to start the fourth quarter resulted in Brown hitting from 32 to make it 27-13 Eagles.

Philly was now in full self-destruction mode as they fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The Bengals took over at the Eagles 33. On 4th and 3, Marvi Lewis went for the field goal, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the defense for trying ti simulate the snap count was the final nail in the Philly coffin. Dalton would hit Green for a 5 yard touchdown. 24 unanswered points in a 3 1/2 minute span embodied the entire Eagles season. Marvin Lewis has a team that may actually make the playoffs while The Eagles have their first losing season under Andy Reid since his rookie year. He is a good coach who deserves better, but as Jerry Glanville reminded us all, the NFL stands for Not For Long. 34-13 Bengals

New York Giants @ Atlanta Falcons–The Giants are out of breathing room despite winning big last week to get to 8-5. Dallas and Washington are only one game back, and Tom Coughlin has a tough road game for his team to try and stay ahead. Atlanta was embarrassed last week against a bad Carolina team to drop to 11-2, and Mike Smith will have a true bunch of angry birds at home in the Georgia Dome as Atlanta tries to lock up home field throughout the playoffs.

The Giants took over at their own 13 and Eli Manning quickly completed a pass to Asante Samuel, who plays defense for the Falcons. Atlanta took over at the Giants 16. Michael “The Burner” Turner did the rest, running for 3, 8, 4, and the one yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Falcons. Manning rebounded and moved the Giants from their 30 to a 3rd and 3 at the Atlanta 12. Manning threw incomplete, and Lawrence Tynes missed the 30 yard field goal as Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin saw his Giants still scoreless.

Atlanta soon faced 3rd and 3 from their 27 when Matt Ryan hit Roddy White for 5 and Cox for 11. On 2nd and 4 from the Giants 48, Ryan went deep to Douglas for a 37 yard gain. On 3rd and 11 from the 12 Ryan found Tony Gonzalez for the touchdown to make it 14-0 Falcons. After an exchange of punts, Manning completed a pass to DeCoud, who also plays defense for the Falcons. Atlanta took over at the Giants 27. Yet on 3rd and 1, Douglas lost a yard. Mike Smith opted for the field goal and Matt Bryant hit from 38 to make it 17-0 Falcons.

The Giants moved from their 20 to a 2nd and 2 at the Atlanta 33. 2 carries by Lumpkin netted only one yard and Tom Coughlin went for it on 4th and 1. Wilson got stoned cold. The Giants got it back at their 10 and moved to a 3rd and 1 at the Atlanta 11. Lumpkin again got nothing and again Coughlin went for it on 4th and 1. Manning threw incomplete and the Giants trailed 17-0 at halftime. The second half was even worse for the Giants.

Atlanta began the third quarter facing 3rd and 7 from their 23. Ryan hit Douglas for 10 and Turner gained 14. From midfield, Ryan went to Jones for 10 and then again deep for the 40 yard touchdown to make it 24-0 Falcons. The rout was on. New York moved from their 20 to a 4th and 2 at the Atlanta 25. For the third time Coughlin gambled and lost as Manning threw incomplete. Ryan led a 74 yard drive that took 12 plays and the remaining 7 minutes of the third quarter. On 3rd and goal at the 1 Turner did not get in, and Mike Smith played it safe. Bryant hit the 19 yarder to make it 27-0 Falcons.

In the fourth quarter the Falcons ground the Giants into dust with a 13 play, 69 yard drive that took over 9 minutes off the clock. Ryan would throw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Jones to complete the scoring. Last year the Giants knocked Atlanta out of the playoffs with a 24-2 win at home. This time the field were reversed, and it was the Giants getting blanked only one week after scoring 51 points. The Giants are 2-4 in their last 6 games and clinging to an 8-6 lead. They had a stranglehold on the division lead, and that is gone as now they are tied for it. Even the playoffs are at risk. Atlanta is 12-2 and has all but locked up home field advantage. Many critics refuse to accept them because of their repeated playoff losses. This game was an opening statement. 34-0 Falcons

Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens–This is a dandy of a game. Denver is 10-3 and Peyton Manning has led the Broncos to 8 straight wins. Baltimore is 9-4 but 2 straight losses led John Harbaugh to fire his offensive coordinator. Injuries are hurting the usually stout defense. A Denver win keeps them in the hunt for a 1st round bye and even puts Baltimore at risk in their division. Yet a Baltimore win pretty much wraps up their division and gives them the shot at the bye.

Denver went 3 and out, and Baltimore quickly faced 3rd and 1 at the Denver 46. Flacco took the quarterback keeper, and he fumbled. Denver got it back at their 47. Peyton Manning went to Eric Decker for gains of 5 and 9. On 3rd and 10 from the Baltimore 31, Manning hit Brandon Stokley for 14. On 3rd and 7 from the 14, a completion to Denarius Thomas only gained 5. John Fox opted for the field goal and Matt Prater hit from 27 to make it 3-0 Broncos.

The defenses dug in and Denver took over with one minute left in the quarter at their 22. Knowshon Moreno gained 20 yards and Manning hit Decker for 14 as Denver began the second quarter at the Baltimore 41. Moreno gained 9, 3, 9, and 2 on 3rd and 1 from the 20. Manning hit Decker for 14 down to the one. Jacob Hester got in to make it 10-0 in front of a nervous home crowd.

Just before the 2 minute warning, Flacco quickly moved the Ravens from their 20 to a 1st and goal at the 4 with 30 seconds left in the half. Then came the play of the game. Flacco threw a pass at the goal line, and Harris read Flacco’s eyes the whole way. Harris stepped in front of Boldin at the 2 yard line, intercepted the ball, and went coast to coast for  98 yard touchdown return. Now the crowd was shellshocked as the Broncos led 17-0 at the break.

A 50 yard kickoff return by Jones sparked the Ravens, who began the second half at their 44. Ray Rice ran hard, yet 1st and 10 from the Denver 27 resulted in 3 plays and 0 yards. Justin Tucker hit a 45 yard field goal to finally get the Ravens on the board down 17-3. Yet Manning slammed the door shut a few plays later. From the Denver 21 on 2nd and 6, Manning hit Decker for 15. Moreno ran for 8 and 9. Manning then went for it all and found Decker for a 51 yard touchdown to make it 24-3 Broncos.

The spirit of Christmas was with the Broncos as Holliday returned a punt 27 yards to the Baltimore 39. Manning hit Joel Dreesen for a 28 yard gain and Moreno ran it in from 6 yards out to make it 31-3 Broncos.

In the third quarter the Ravens did move to a 4th and 4 at the Denver 23, but Flacco threw incomplete. The fourth quarter began with the Ravens facing 2nd and 25 from the Denver 31. Flacco went deep to Danny Pitta for the touchdown and the Ravens were down 31-10. Yet there was no miracle comeback. Manning is the master, and he led a staggering 15 play drive that took a ridiculous 10 minutes off the clock. Prater hit a 34 yard field goal to make it 34-10 Broncos. Only one play from scrimmage was enough for Flacco to hit Pitta on a short pass that Pitta turned into a 61 yard touchdown. Yet it was far too little, too late.

Baltimore has lost 3 straight and at 9-5 now only leads their division by one game. They went from possible home field throughout to possibly missing the tournament altogether. John Harbaugh is searching for answers while the Broncos found theirs in Manning. After the 2-3 start, John Elway has seen his best free agent signing win 9 straight. Denver is a solid 11-3 and still has a shot at home field throughout the playoffs. 34-17 Broncos

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears–Chicago at 7-1 have since been exposed as pretenders as Lovie Smith has seen hit guys go 1-4 since. Meanwhile, Green Bay is in position to win the division again after a sluggish start as Aaron Rodgers has the offense moving. Chicago has the home field but Green Bay is still the better team.

This was Black and Blue NFC North football early on. Chicago moved from their 20 to the Green Bay 31, but on 3rd and 1 a false start penalty killed the drive as Lovie Smith opted to punt and play field position rather than try a 54 yard field goal or go for it. In the second quarter Green Bay moved from their 26 to a 4th and 6 at the Chicago 25. Mason Crosby has been having a miserable year, and he missed another one from 43 as a disgusted Mike McCarthy saw the game remain scoreless.

Chicago took over at their 33 and Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for 10. Matt Forte gained 22 and Cutler hit Marshall for a 15 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Bears. Green Bay took over at their 11 and Aaron Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for 19. On 3rd and 6 from their 34, Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for 31 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Chicago 29, Rodgers went deep to Jaquez Rodgers for the score to make it 7-7 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half.

After an exchange of punts with 1:37 left in the half, the Bears took over at their own 37. Cutler was quickly intercepted by Hayward, who returned it 24 yards to the Chicago 26. On 3rd and 7 Rodgers hit Cobb for 13 and then found Jones for an 8 yard touchdown as the Packers led 14-7 at halftime.

Green Bay began the second half at their 21 and Harris immediately ran for 21 yards. On 3rd and 2 from midfield, Rodgers hit Finley for 9 and Jennings for 9. On 4th and 6 from the Chicago 26, Mike McCarthy decided to go for it. This showed his complete lack of faith in kicker Crosby, which was understandable at this point. Rodgers hit Cobb for 12. On 3rd and 13 from the 17, Rodgers threw incomplete but defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. After a delay of game, Rodgers hit Jones for the 6 yard touchdown as the Packers built a 21-7 lead.

Green Bay got it back and was in total control of the game when Ryan Grant got the carry just shy of midfield. He ran 14 yards, but fumbled the ball away. The Bears took over at their 37. Cutler went deep, and a 53 yard defensive pass interference penalty meant 1st and goal at the 5. On 3rd and goal at the one, Forte did not get in. Lovie Smith decided to go for it, and on 4th and goal Cutler hit Jeffery for the score. Yet penalties killed the Bears all day, and offensive pass interference wiped the score off the board. Olindo Mare hit the 34 yard field goal to get the Bears within 21-10 at the end of the third quarter.

Green Bay moved to put the game away in the fourth quarter, and on 4th and 1 from the Chicago 24, Mike McCarthy this time decided to go with his kicker. Crosby doinked the 42 yarder off the upright as an exasperated McCarthy saw his weak link on a good team mess up again.

Things got worse when McCarthy went to his bag of tricks, and the gadget play blew up. Chicago punted, and while the Adelphia Miracle known as home run throwback won Tennessee a playoff game, when the Packers tried the lateral on the punt, it was fumbled. McCarthy’s defense bailed him out when 3 plays from the Green bay 16 netted 0 yards for Chicago. Olindo Mare hit the 34 yarder and the Bears only trailed 21-13 with 7 minutes left in regulation.

Chicago got it back at their 33 with 3:47 to play but with 2:12 left they faced 4th and 9 from their own 45. Despite having only one timeout plus the 2 minute warning, Lovie Smith decided to punt and trust his defense. The Bears took their last timeout with 1:50 to play and the Packers facing 3rd and 6 at the Chicago 41. Grant got the carry and came up one yard short as the clock ticked. On 4th and 1 Mike McCarthy could have brought in Crosby for  54 yarder. That way a missed or blocked field goal could tie the game. Just kidding. He decided not to go for it either, and a perfect punt by Masthay pinned the Bears at their own 3 with 56 seconds left.

The Bears did manager to complete a bomb earlier, but a second offensive pass interference call just killed them. On this last desperation drive, Cutler hit Forte for 10, and on the next play, despite 9 guys in coverage and only 2 rushers, Cutler took forever. The pocket collapsed, and Cutler was sacked. With 2 seconds left and needing 96 yards, Cutler hit Forte for only 18 of them. The Bears acted like the clock was not running out on them. Terrible clock management is one reason why these teams are not both 9-5 as Chicago has lost 5 of 6. Green Bay has won 7 of 8 and at 10-4 has clinched the NFC North. They have an outside but unlikely shot at home field throughout, but a 1st round bye has them well positioned. Chicago at 8-6 may miss the playoffs altogether. 21-13 Packers

Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns–Washington is 7-6 but the entire city held its collective breath when RGIII went down with a leg injury. This was not Joe Theismann broken, but it was bad. He will not be starting this week. Cleveland began the season 2-8 but has quietly won 3 straight games, although 2 of them were against the bottom of the barrel.

After an exchange of punts, it was Kirk Cousins and the Redskins facing 3rd and 10 from their 23. Cousins was intercepted by Ward, who returned it to the Washington 6. One play was enough for Trent Richardson to take it in to make it 7-0 Browns. The defenses controlled the line of scrimmage when a 34 yard punt set up the Redskins at their own 46 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. One play was enough for Cousins went deep to Hankerson for a 54 yard touchdown to make it 7-7.

Much of the first half was a defensive slog and with 9 1/2 minutes left in the half the Redskins took over at their 23. Cousins hit Morgan for 6 and ran for 17. On 3rd and 9 from their 47, Cousins hit Royster for 25 yards. The drive stalled from their, but Kai Forbath hit from 44 to make it 10-7 Redskins with 6 minutes left in the half.

Cleveland soon faced 3rd and 5 from their 30 when Brandon Weeden hit Gordon for just enough and again for 12 more. Weeden then went to Greg Little for a 30 yard gainand Josh Cribbs to a wildcat snap 16 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 7 at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and goal at the one, Richardson got in to have the Browns up 14-10 at halftime.

The game changed in the third quarter when Weeden began from his 27 by throwing an interception to Jackson. The Redskins took over at the Browns 15 and moved quickly. Cousins hit Morgan for 12 and Morris ran in the 3 yard touchdown as the Redskins led 17-14.

A short 32 yard punt gave the Redskins great field position at their 40. Cousins hit Santana Moss for 17 and 20. Morris ran for 6 and 11. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Cousins hit Hankerson for the touchdown to have the Redskins up 24-14 midway through the third quarter.

Cleveland quickly moved from their 32 to a 4th and 3 at the Washington 41. Pat Shurmur decided to go for it and Weeden threw incomplete. On the next series from their 17, Weeden needed only 2 plays to move to the Washington 43. Yet on the next play Weeden was intercepted by London Fletcher. Washington took over at their own 33.

On 3rd and 6, Cousins hit Paulsen for 19 as the Redskins began the fourth quarter at the Cleveland 44. Cousins hit Pierre Garcon for 15. On 3rd and 2, Cousins hit Garcon again for 6. Royster ran it in from 4 yards out to give the Redskins a comfortable 31-14 lead. Comfort quickly disappeared 3 plays later. On 3rd and 7 from their 31, Weede went deep to Benjamin on the last day of Hanukkah for a 69 yard touchdown as the Browns were only down 31-21 with 10 minutes left in regulation.

Cousins turned out the lights from the Washington 24, starting with a 32 yard completion to Morgan. On 3rd and 4 from the Cleveland 38, Cousins hit Paulsen for 10. On 3rd and 8 from the 26, Cousins hit Santana Moss for 7, and Moss fumbled it. A scramble ensued, and Washington recovered their own fumble at the Cleveland 8. Morris took it in on the next play with 5 minutes left to complete the scoring. Cleveland fell to 5-9 but is fighting hard down the stretch. As for Washington, Mike Shanahan has 2 quarterbacks he can count on after years of having none. Washington has won 5 straight and turned a 3 1/2 game division deficit into a first place tie with 2 weeks left. The playoffs are within reach. 38-21 Redskins

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans–The 9-4 Colts are the feel-good story of the year but Andrew Luck showed mortality at New England. Houston is 11-2 and were also embarrassed by New England last week, although they still have a one game lead for home field throughout the playoffs. These teams play twice in the final 3 weeks, and theoretically Indianapolis could win the division. Yet if Houston wins this game the division is locked up. Indianapolis has a virtual stranglehold on the top wildcard spot in the conference. Andrew Luck will have his work cut out for it against Wade Phillips and the Houston defense.

After a touchback Matt Schaub immediately went to Andre Johnson for 9 yards and then went deep to Johnson for a 52 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the 13, Arriun Foter only got half. Gary Kubiak went for the field goal and Shane Grham hit the 29 yarder to make it 3-0 Texans.

Indy went 3 and out and Houston took over at their own 43 with 1st and 5. Schaub hit Owent Daniels for 8 and on 3rd and 5 from the Indy 40, Schaub found Daniels for 8 more. A 9 yard toss to Casey set up 3rd and 9 from the Indy 19. Schaub found Johnson for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Schaub and Johnson connected again for the touchdown to make it 10-0 Texans.

In the second quarter a field position game had the Colts starting at the Houston 38. Indy got to the one yard line when Mewelde Moore got the carry and fumbled at the goal line to kill the drive. The defense held, and Indy got it back again with a short field at the Houston 34. Ballard gained 19 and 10. Yet from the 5, Ballard lost 3, Andrew Luck threw incomplete twice, and the Colts settled for a 26 yard Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 10-3 deficit.

With 5 1/2 minutes left in the half the Texans faced 3rd and 7 from their 23. Schaub threw incomplete but roughing the passer was a killer penalty. On the next play Schaub went deep to Posey for 36 yards, with another personal foul tacking on 13 more. From the 13, the drive died, but a 35 yard Shane Graham field goal made it 13-3 Texans with 4 minutes left in the half.

With 1:54 left in the half, the Colts punted on 4th and 16 from their 29. Then Braman got the trifecta as he blocked it, recovered it, and took it in for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 20-3 Texans. Yet give the Colts and Luck some credit. From their own 26, Luck hit Avery for 13 and then went deep to TY Hilton for a 61 yard touchdown as the Colts got right back into it 20-10. The Texans missed a chance to pad the lead on the last play of the half when Graham missed a 50 yarder.

The Colts had momentum, but in the third quarter they began by going 3 and out. The Texans got it back and bled the clock by moving from their 13 to a 2nd and goal at the Indy 8. Schaub was sacked to end the drive, but Graham hit from 27 as the 11 play, 78, 6 1/2 minute drive made it 23-10 Texans midway through the third quarter.

Indy fought hard, and after a touchback, Ballard gained 15 and Luck added 7. Ballard gained 9, 1, and 12. On 1st and 10 from the Houston 31, Ballard gained 23 and Luck hit Allen for the 8 yard touchdown as the Colts were right back in it down 23-17 and thinking upset with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

Houston punted and the Colts had a chance to drive for the lead. Yet pinned back deep, they punted it back on 4th and 15 from their own 3. A critical unsportsmanlke conduct penalty on Colts interim head coach Bruce Arians had the Texans starting at the Colts 39 with 12 minutes left in regulation. On 3rd and 1, Foster gained 3. The penalty was a killer as Graham hit a 46 yard field goal to give the Texans a 26-17 cushion with 8 1/2 minutes left.

The Colts moved from their 20, but a critical penalty had them at 4th and 20 from their own 34 with 5 minutes left. Needing 2 scores, Arians decided to punt. Houston was backed up to their own 8, but Arriun Foster killed the Colts. He ran for 3, 26, 9, 25, 2, 2, and 8. By the time Graham hit another field goal from 33, only one minute remained. Michelin Man Wade Phillips saw his defense suffocate the Colts and snuff out any rally.

Gary Kubiak saw the Texans get to 12-2 and lock up the AFC South. The Texans still have a one game lead for home field throughout but Denver and New England are only one game back. Despite the loss, Indy is 9-5 and in very strong position for the wildcard. These teams meet in the finale in 2 weeks in Indianapolis, and the rematch could be a good one. 29-17 Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Miami Dolphins–For some reason this game has to be played. Jacksonville at 2-11 is tied for the worst record in the league, where Miami is just below average. The game nobody in 49 states outside of Florida cared about had little to offer.

Jacksonville moved from their 20 to a 3rd and 8 at the Miami 13 at the start of the game. Chad Henne was sacked and Josh Scobee hit a 37 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jaguars. That concluded the Jacksonville highlights for the game. Miami moved from their 22 to a 3rd and 4 at the Jacksonville 35. Ryan Tannehill threw incomplete but Dan Carpenter hit the 53 yarder to tie the game 3-3 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter after a Tannehill fumble, Jacksonville faced 1st and 10 at the Miami 20. Henne went to Justin Blackmon for the touchdown, but an illegal substitution penalty negated it. On 4th and 1 from the Miami 11, Jacksonville went for it and Henne went up the middle for nothing.

Miami faced 3rd and 8 from their 13 and Tannehill hit Thigpen for 15. On 3rd and 1 from their 37, Tannehill got the yard and then hit Matthews for 11. On 3rd and 4 from the Jacksonville 45, Tannehill threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 13 yard gain. Thomas gained 6 and Tannehill added 9 more. Reggie Bush tacked on 11. Tannehill hit Lane for 4 yard touchdown at the 2 minute warning to make it 10-3 Dolphins. For some reason the second half was played.

In the third quarter, Miami moved from their 19 to a 4th and 4 at the Jacksonville 5. Joe Philbin tried a fake field goal, and the wildcat snap to Fields led to an incomplete pass in this scintillating game. Miami got it back a their 28. Despite having dated a Kardashian, Reggie Bush may now be focused on football as he ran for a 53 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the 12 Bush got the carry and got nothing. This time Carpenter did kick the 30 yarder to make it 13-3 Dolphins. Jacksonville punted, and Miami moved from their 23 to a 4th and 1 at the Jags 13. Another thrilling field goal by Carpenter from 31 made it 16-3 Dolphins.

In the fourth quarter Jacksonville moved to a 4th and 1 at the Miami 15. Owens got the carry, and got nothing. Chad Henne did the world a favor by leading a long drive that would end this awful game as quickly as possible. He moved Miami 85 yards in 14 plays, taking 9 minutes to do it. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Tannehill hit Fasano for the score. The 2 point conversion to Fasano completed the scoring. Miami will not be going to the playoffs, but they have some talent. Jacksonville at 2-12 has the worst record in football and a shot at the top pick. They will feel the wrath of owner Shad Khan after the game. 24-3 Dolphins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints–Tampa Bay is improved, but a tough home loss last week on the final play severely hurt their playoff chances. The Saints lost to fall to 5-8 and will be missing the playoffs.

The Saints began at their own 26 and Drew Brees went right to work. He hit Graham for 13 and Marquis Colston for 13 more. Darren Sproles gained 15 and Brees hit Thomas for gains of 11, 20, and finally the 9 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Saints.

On 3rd and 4 Brees hit Graham for 15 and Devry Henderson got around the end for 11. Brees went to Colston for a 26 yard gain as the Saints began the second quarter with 3rd and goal at the 2. A critical false start ended the drive and the Saints settled for a 25 yard Garrett Hartley field goal to make it 10-0 Saints.

Later in the quarter a 39 yard punt return by Roscoe Parrish had the Buccaneers starting at the Saints 33. Yet on 3rd and 14 from the 26 Freeman was intercepted by Bush, who returned it 40 yards to the Saints 49. On 3rd and 11 from their 45, Brees hit Colston for 21. Mark Ingram gained 9 and Brees hit Colston for 16, Sproles for 7, and Sproles again for the 2 yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Saints with 5 minutes left in the half.

Tampa Bay punted, and a 37 yard punt return by Sproles put the Saints at the Bucs 38 with one minute left in the half. On 3rd and 3 Brees hit Graham for 24. With 12 seconds left from the 7 yard line, Brees put the dagger in by hitting Lance Moore for the score as the Saints took a 24-0 lead into the locker rooms.

In the third quarter Freeman from the Tampa 47 went deep and was intercepted by Quddus. The Saints took over at their own 8 and literally ran Tampa into the ground. Mark Ingra gained 31 and 5, Sproles gained 7, and Thomas gained 1 and 7. On 3rd and 2 from the Tampa 41, Brees hit Graham for 10 and Morgan for a 34 yard touchdown to make it 31-0 Saints. The Bucs would reach the Saints 34 and then the Saints 11 and both times turn it over on downs.

In the fourth quarter the Saints tacked on a 36 yard field goal and turned a sack fumble recovery of Freeman into an 11 yard Ingram touchdown run to close the scoring. Both teams are eliminated from contention while both teams, despite the lopsided score, have reason for optimism for next year. It was the first shutout for the Saints since 1995, and the league had better enjoy the playoffs without them since next year they will be back to form. 41-0 Saints

Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams–Minnesota won a crucial division home game last week and is still hanging around in the playoff race and even has a slim shot at the division. Jeff Fisher has the Rams fighting hard at 6-6-1. The loser of this game is all but eliminated from contention.

Minnesota took over after a Rams punt with a short field at the Rams 45. Christian Ponder began Christmas by hitting Rudolph for 14 and Simpson for 11. On 3rd and 14 from the 20, Ponder hit Burton for 13. Leslie Frazier decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 7. Ponder gained 3. On 3rd and goal from the 5 Ponder got in to make it 7-0 Vikings.

The Rams began the second quart facing 3rd and 4 just past midfield. Sam Bradford went to Danny Amendola for 7, Chris Givens for 22, and Gibson for 12. Bradford hit Quick for the 4 yard touchdown and it was 7-7. Yet just as soon as it was ball game on, it was ballgame off as the roof caved in.

On the first play from scrimmage from the Minnesota 18, Adrian Peterson showed why he is not only the comeback player of the year, but a legitimate candidate for league MVP. He is not just targeting 2,000 yards, but the 2,105 mark set by Eric Dickerson. He entered the game with 1600 yards, and he began here with an 82 yard touchdown run that put the Vikings up 14-7 and broke the game open.

The Rams soon faced 3rd and 2 from their 28 and the snap was fumbled. Minnesota took over there, lost 4 yards, and settled for a 50 yard Walsh field goal to make it 17-7 Vikings. 3 plays later the Rams faced 3rd and 9 from their 21. Bradford was intercepted by Griffen, who returned it 29 yards for the touchdown to make it 24-7 Vikings.

Minnesota got it back at their 32 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half and moved to 2nd and 5 at the Rams 20. Ponder threw incomplete twice but Walsh hit from 38 to make it 27-7 Vikings with 3 minutes left in the half. Desperately needing something, Jeff Fisher brought in Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein to try a 57 yard field goal with one minute left in the half. The kick was no good, and Minnesota took over at their 47. Ponder hit Rudolph for 6, Toby Gerhart for 12 and 9, and Walsh hit a 42 yarder at the gun as the Vikings stormed to a 30-7 lead at intermission. In the third quarter after an exchange of punt, a 25 yard shank by Hekker had Minnesota at their own 40. Walsh hit from 53 to make it 33-7 Vikings in a laugher. Yet Bradford led a furious comeback, finishing 35 of 55 for 377 and 3 touchdowns. This game would get much tighter.

Bradford moved the Rams from their 20 to a 4th and 1 at the Minnesota 21. On the last play of the third quarter, Bradford hit Pettis for 5. Bradford threw a 6 yard touchdown to Danny Amendola one minute into the final quarter. Jeff Fisher opted against the 2 point conversion as the Rams got to within 33-14 but needed over 7 minutes to do it. The Rams got it back at their 12 with 10 minutes left and Bradford was lights out, hitting Pettis for 8, Amendola for 26, Pettis for 6, Richardson for 13, and deep incomplete for a 29 yard defensive pass interference penalty. A 6 yard touchdown to Kendricks and a successful 2 pointer to Amendola had the Rams within 33-22 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Minnesota defense was gassed, but the offense had Peterson. He gained only 8 yards on his first 8 carries before exploding for the 82 yarder. This time the first play from scrimmage saw him rumble for another 52 yards. The drive stalled as a pair of Toby Gerhart runs lost 5 yards. Walsh hit from 51 and Minnesota had some breathing room up 14 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Yet the defense barely had a chance to rest.

After a touchback Bradford needed 2 plays to get the Rams to just shy of midfield. Yet 4 straight incompletions turned it over 4 1/2 minutes left. Minnesota took little time off the clock as the Rams got it back at their 12 with 3:15 to play and one timeout. Bradford moved the Rams to a 4th and 3 at the Minnesota 12 as the Rams took their last timeout with 1:22 to play. A touchdown meant a one score game and an onsides kick try for the tie. Yet Bradford fired incomplete, and the exhausted Minnesota defense bent but did not break. The Rams at 6-7-1 are out of the playoff picture but still have plenty of optimism for next year. Leslie Frazier meanwhile has the Vikings at 8-6 and tied with Chicago and other teams with a serious shot at a wildcard despite the division being out of reach.

The big story in Minnesota is Adrian Peterson. He now has 1,812 yards. 2,000 is well within reach, but he made it publicly clear he is shooting to break the record of 2,105 yards held by Eric Dickerson. Peterson is one of the all time good guys in sports, and coming back one year after a devastating knee injury shows his heart, guts, skill, and tenacity. In a pass-happy league, his ground game is even more noteworthy. 29-17 Vikings

Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals–The Lions are falling apart with three straight fourth quarter meltdowns where double digit leads were blown. Arizona began 4-0 and has lost 9 straight. League rules prevent this game from being canceled. Ryan Lindley was back at quarterback after Ken Whisenhunt asked a reporter to play the position for him. Jim Schwartz, who despite this being Hanukkah is not still not Jewish, has a solid quarterback and an all world receiver but is just as frustrated with a losing team.

Lindley moved the Cardinals from their 20 to a 2nd and 8 at the Detroit 24. A wildcat snap to Patrick Peterson gained 8 more, but offensive holding and a false start killed the drive. On the next series from their 43, Lindley was intercepted. It was fitting that the Frustration Bowl was scoreless after the first quarter in the battle of who wanted it least.

The second quarter began with the Lions facing 3rd and 9 at the Arizona 43. Matthew Stafford hit Smith for 13. On 3rd and 4 from the Arizona 24, Stafford hit Heller for 12 and Megatron Calvin Johnson for 11. Matt Leshoure got the one yard touchdown run and the Lions led 7-0. One week after losing 58-0, the Cardinals were on their way. Then the clouds parted. It was a Phoenix desert miracle. Punting on 4th and 20 from their own 36, the Lions fumbled the punt and the Cardinals recovered at the Detroit 5. Beanie Wells ran it in and the game was tied 7-7.

With 4 minutes left in the half, the Lions faced 1st and 15 from their 2. Stafford went deep for Johnson and was intercepted by Peterson. Peterson returned it 31 yards to the Detroit 3. Wells gained 2 and then the last yard. Despite nothing resembling offense, the Cardinals led 14-7. Stafford moved the Lions from their 20 to a 3rd and 15 at their 43 with 41 seconds left in the half. This time Stafford was intercepted by Johnson, who raced for a 53 yard touchdown. Again, despite 0 offense, the Cardinals led 21-7.

The Lions punted in the third quarter and the Cardinals took over at their 37. On 3rd and 10, in the greatest play in Arizona history 2012, Lindley hit Roberts for 14 and a first down on offense. Lindley then found Larry Fitzgerald for 13. 2 straight completions was just enough offense for Jay Feely to hit a 51 yard field goal to make it 24-7 Cardinals. Detroit moved from their 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Arizona 22, but 3 more plays lost one yard and Jason Hanson hit a 41 yard field goal to get the Lions within 24-10 after three quarters. Arizona would move from their 20 to a 4th and 2 at the Detroit 36, but Ken Whisenhunt decided to punt.

Detroit would have the ball back after some punts with 9 1/2 minutes left at their own 13. Stafford moved the Lions to a critical 4th and 2 at the Arizona 4 with 5 1/2 minutes left. This was the key play of the game, as a touchdown would make it a one score game and signal the 10th straight Arizona loss in a season of collapses. There was a touchdown, but it was all Arizona. Stafford was intercepted by Toler, who returned it 102 yards for a score the other way as the Cardinals now led 31-10, proving that sometimes birds can defeat cats and that Sylvester and Tweety are real.

Late in the game Wells broke free for a 31 yard touchdown to pad the lead. The nightmare is over. The losing is over. The Cardinals after 9 straight losses have tasted victory. Now they and Detroit are just bad teams playing out the string. 38-10 Cardinals
Seattle Seahawks @ Buffalo Bills–Seattle is much improved under Pete Carroll and the team even has a slim chance at winning their division. Buffalo is done for the year, with the only remotely interesting thing in Buffalo being Chan Gailey’s sinister looking beard. Last week Seattle blasted lowly Arizona at home 58-0, in a game they led 38-0 at halftime. Yet they were not going to do this twice in a row, especially on the road. Or maybe they would.

On 3rd and 7 from their own 27 to start, Russell Wilson hit Sidney Rice for 17. On 3rd and 7 from their 47, Wilson hit Zach Miller for 8 and Marcus Robinson for 20. Wilson then found Danny Baldwin for 8 and ran himself for the 14 yard touchdown as 10 plays and 5 minutes meant 76 yards and  7-0 Seahawks lead.

Buffalo lost 9 yards and punted, giving Seattle the ball at their 42. Wilson hit Marshawn Lynch for 14. Wilson then showed why he is a human highlight reel, running for 19 and then again for a 25 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Seahawks.

Buffalo got it back at their own 28 and when CJ Spiller ran for a 14 yard touchdown, the Seattle streak of 72 straight points in only 5 quarters had ended. Bufalo was only down 14-7 after the first quarter, creating the illusion of a game. Like last week, Seattle would have this over by halftime. Seattle began the second quarter at their own 46, and Wilson went bombs away to Golden Tate for a 44 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the 9, a completion to Rice came up one yard short. On the road, Pete Carroll played it safe on 4th and goal and had Hauschka kick the 19 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Seahawks.

Buffalo went 3 and out and Seattle took over at their own 42. Lynch broke free for a 54 yard gain and Wilson hit Miller for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 24-7 Seahawks. In a familiar pattern, Buffalo went 3 and out and lost one yard before punting. Seattle took over at their own 38. Lynch gained 11 and a short pass from Wilson to Rice gained 41 yards. On 2nd and goal from the 13, Wilson ran it in and the Seahawks led 31-7 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter.

The Seahawks again had a shot for 100 points but would again slow down. Buffalo would move 82 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 20, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Stevie St Johnson for the touchdown as the Bills trailed 31-14 with just over one minute left in the half. This time Seattle went 3 and out and Buffalo got it backa t their own 34 with 41 seconds left and 2 timeouts. They reached the Seattle 23 and Ryan Lindell hit a 41 yard field goal at the gun as the Bills only trailed 31-17 at halftime. Buffalo had a ray of hope, but it would be extinguished in the second half fairly easily.

Buffalo fumbled the second half kickoff and Seattle recovered, although on further review the call was reversed and Buffalo retained possession long enough to mess up again. On 3rd and 20 from their own 14 after a sack of Fitzpatrick, he hit St Johnson for 25. Yet 2 plays later he was intercepted by Wright, who returned it 24 yards to the Buffalo 20. Wilson ran for 7 and Lynch carried the final 13. The extra point was blocked, but Seattle had a 37-17 lead and never looked back.

Buffalo moved from their 34 to a 3rd and 4 at the Seattle 39. Fitzpatrick was then sacked at midfield and fumbled. Clemons made the hit, and Irvin picked up the ball at the Buffalo 45 and raced 35 yards down to the 10. 3 Seattle plays gained nothing and a false start mvoed them backward, but Hauschka hit from 33 to make it 40-17 Seahawks only midway through the third  quarter. 3 plays later, on 3rd and 4 from their 31, Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Thomas, who returned it 57 yards the other way for another touchdown. Seattle led 47-17 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. The only question would be if they reached 50 again, and perhaps reach 60. Yes, and no.

Seattle got it back at their own 7, and Wilson led a ridiculous 17 play drive that consumed almost 9 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 4 from the Buffalo 43, Pete Carroll called a fake punt, thinking he was still coaching USC. It worked, and Robinson gained 29 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Wilson hit Rice for the touchdown. Yet on further review the play was reversed and ruled out of bounds. Hauschka hit from 23 and with 9 1/2 minutes left the Seahawks had what Steve Mariucci would call a 50-burger.

Matt Flynn and Tyler Thigpen finished the game as Seattle got to 9-5. Yes Buffalo and Arizona are patsies, but Seattle is for real. They took weaker opponents and blasted them by a combined 108-17 the last couple weeks, and a combined 39-0 at halftime. Seattle is in strong position for the top wildcard spot, and even has a shot at winning the division. They have a showdown at home next week against San Francisco. A jubilant Pete Carroll after the game said that while he used Russell Wilson as a “game manager” early in the season, he is now comfortable unleashing him to win games. 50-17 Seahawks

Carolina Panthers @ San Diego Chargers–Carolina is only 4-9 but they whipped previously 11-1 Atlanta. San Diego won an upset road victory to get to 5-8 and prove that the team always responds just when Norvelous Norv Turner is about to be fired. With San Diego at home, the Chargers were expected to win a blowout. They got the blowout part right.

Ron Rivera began the game by calling for a wildcat snap after a touchback. It only gained 2 yards, but had the Chargers off balance on defense from the start. Cam Newton then hit Barnbridge for 20 and Steve Smith for 7 with a personal foul adding 15 more. Deangelo Williams gained 12, and on 3rd and 1 from the 15, Mike Tolbert gained 4 and 6. On 3rd and 1 from the 2, Newton threw incomplete. With nothing to lose, Rivera decided to go for it. Newton got the yard and on the next play Tolbert got in to make it 7-0 Panthers.

The Chargers soon faced 1st and 15 from their 30, when Philip Rivers continued what has been a mostly nightmarish season. He was sacked and fumbled, and Chandler recovered for the Panthers at the Chargers 21. Newton hit Greg Olsen for 8. After a facemask on the defense, Tolbert ran it in from one yard out to to make it 14-0 Panthers.

San Diego went 3 and out and the Panthers took over at their 28. Deangelo Williams took another wildcard snap and gained 15. On 3rd and 4, Newton hit Olsen for 6 and then a short pass to Williams resulted in a 45 yard touchdown as the Panthers led 21-0 after the first quarter. While on pace to win 84-0, they did not win by that much.

The San Diego defense finally woke up in the second quarter but their offense never did. With only 1:35 left in the half. Carolina got it back at their 24. Newton rapidly moved the Panthers to a 1st and goal at the 5 with 30 seconds left, but offensive pass interference was the closest thing to defense the Chargers could muster. Graham Gano tacked on a 33 yard field goal as the Panthers led 24-0 at halftime. Fans have been calling for Turner’s scalp since he was hired, and they will get their wish after two more games. San Diego blew a 24-0 home lead earlier this year, and this time they had to come back at home down 24-0. They would not.

The Chargers began the third quarter as lifeless as the rest of the game as 3 plays netted 0 yards. Even Pro Bowl punter Mike Scifres had a bad day, shanking a 36 yarder. Carolina got it back at their own 44 and Newton hit Smith for 9 and Olsen for 12. Williams had 3 straight 9 yard gains and one more yard for good measure. Newton hit Smith for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 31-0 Panthers.

San Diego finally cracked the scoreboard one minute into the fourth quarter when Rivers hit Antonio Gates for a 9 yard touchdown. That concludes the San Diego lowlights. Rivers would get the Chargers to the Carolina 18 before being sacked and fumbling it away again. San Diego began their last series at their 20 with 1:52 to play. Rather than risk injury, the Chargers ended with a whimper at home as the Turner reign of Error saw Brinkley run 3 straight times to end the misery.

Norvelous Norv Turner has saved his job after some 8-8 seasons, but now the Chargers have a losing record at 5-9, same as Carolina. The Spanos family has been besieged with emails and letters begging him to keep Turner, but those letters are coming from Chiefs and Raiders fans with coaching issues of their own. 31-7 Panthers

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Dallas Cowboys–In decades past these teams provided 3 exciting Super Bowls. Now they are both fighting for their playoff lives as the loser most likely misses the postseason. Mike Tomlin has Ben Roethlisberger back but the team lost a shocker at home to reeling San Diego. Dallas is simply hot and cold, and every week is a mystery. Yet Dallas is only one game out of their division lead.

After a Pittsburgh punt, Dallas took over at their own 12. Tony Romo found Miles Austin for 17. On 3rd and 1 from their 38, DeMarco Murray gained 8 and Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for 9 more. Murray gained 11. Romo threw an 11 yarder to Austin, but since he dated a Kardashian Mike Tomlin felt safe challenging the ruling. The catch was reversed incomplete. Dallas settled for a 50 yard Dan Bailey field goal and a 3-0 Cowboys lead.

Pittsburgh moved from from their 20 to a 3rd and 6 at the Dallas 44. Ben Roethlisberger, despite still not being Jewish on the last day of Hanukkah, completed a 12 yarder to Mike Wallace. Yet there would be no holiday miracle as this time it was Jason Garrett challenging the call. The play was reversed incomplete and Pittsburgh punted.

From their 20, Murray gained 6 and Romo hit Austin for 8, 13, and 12, temorarily lifting the Kardashian curse. From the Pittsburgh 35, Murray gained 28. Yet from the 7, Murray fumbled and the Steelers recovered to kill the drive. Pittsburgh went 3 and out and Dallas got it back at their 42 early in the second quarter. Romo hit Hanna for 16 and again for 29. Romo then found Jason Witten for a 17 yard touchdown as the Cowboys led 10-0 with 11 minutes left in the half.

Pittsburgh moved from their 20 and reached a 3rd and 2 at the Dallas 14. Big Ben threw incomplete, and Mike Tomlin settled for the field goal. Shawn Suisham hit the 32 yarder as the 12 play, 66 yard, 5 minute drive finally had the Steelers on the board down 10-3 with 6 minutes left in the half. Dallas would punt on 4th and 27 from their 30, and the Steelers took over at their 27 with 2:11 left in the half. On 3rd and 4, Big Ben hit Heath Miller for 13 and Brown for 18. With 47 seconds left in the half, Roethlisberger tossed a short pass to Miller, who turned it into a 30 yard touchdown as the teams went to the half deadlocked 10-10.

After an exchange of punts in the third quarter, Dallas took over after a touchback. on 2nd and 6 Romo hit Vickers for 15, Murray for 4, and Harris for 7 to midfield. A sack of Romo set up 2nd and 23, but Romo hit Harris for 18 and Beasley to 8 on 3rd and 5. From the Pittsburgh 37, Romo hit Austin for 13 and then went deep to Dez Bryant for the 24 yard touchdown as the Cowboys led 17-10 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

The lead lasted 2 minutes as Pittsburgh took over after a squib kick at their 40. On 2nd and 12 Big Ben went deep to speedster Mike Wallace. Tis was not Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swann in the Super Bowl, but it was gorgeous enough beyond double coverage for a 60 yard gain. Dwyer got in from one yard out to tie the game 17-17.

Dallas punted and Pittsburgh took over at their 22. Ian Redman ran for 22 and Roethlisberger hit Wallace for 20 as the Steelers began the fourth quarter at the Dallas 36. Big Ben hit Jerricho Cotchery for 21. On 3rd and 2 from the 7, Big Ben hit Brown for the touchdown as the Steelers now had the 24-17 lead in this seesaw game with 13 minutes left in regulation.

Dallas would punt again, and Brian Moorman boomed a 60 yarder. Brown fielded it at the Pittsburgh 16 and brought it back 22 yards. Yet then he coughed it up and the Cowboys took over at the Pittsburgh 44 with 10 minutes left. Romo hit Bryant for 13, Jason Witten for 9, and Harris for 17. A pair of incompletions meant 3rd and goal at the 3. With Pittsburgh smelling pass, Jason Garrett called a running play. Murray easily got in and this fine football game was tied for the third time at 24-24 with 7 minutes left.

Pittsburgh moved the ball from their 24 to a 3rd and 4 at the Dallas 37. Roethlisberger was sacked for a 2 yard loss. With 3 minutes left in regulation, Mike Tomlin was not gambling on a 57 yard field goal with a kicker whose career long was 52. He decided to punt. Dallas got it back at their own 12. In these situations, Romo is known for throwing touchdown passes. The only question is which team he would throw them to. On 3rd and 5, a completion came up inches short. At the 2 minute warning, we all learned that Jason Garrett is not Barry Switzer. Dallas wisely punted.

Moorman got a great bounce, and a 59 yarder had the Steelers at their own 20.

Roethlisberger hit Brown for 11 and a critical roughing the passer penalty had the Steelers facing 1st and 10 at their 46 with 1:34 to play. Yet consecutive sacks of Roethlisberger meant another punt. Harris took the punt, and raced 39 yards to the Pittsburgh 49. There was a horsecollar tackle that would have already had Dallas in field goal range, but it was not called. Romo had 47 seconds left, 2 timeouts, and needed one first down. On 3rd and 4, Romo threw incomplete. The Cowboys took their last timeout. They were expected to punt, but the entire stadium held their breath when Jason Garrett came in for a 61 yard field goal. A miss would give Pittsburgh excellent field position. Mike Tomlin took Pittsurgh’s second timeout, and at that point Garrett wisely decided to punt and play for overtime. From their own 20 with 25 seconds left, Big Ben took a knee. A pair of 7-6 teams fighting for their playoff lives would need overtime.

The second play of overtime had Pittsburgh facing 2nd and 3 from their 27. Roethlisberger threw a sideline pass and Brandon Carr made a diving interception near the sideline. Carr caught it, rolled over, realized he was not touched, and with a convoy of blockers raced toward the goal line. He dove but came up inches short. On 1st and goal from the one Romo took a knee to center the ball. Tomlin tried to ice the kicker, but from 21 yards that does not work. Bailey ended it as the home crowd erupted. Pittsburgh at 7-7 is now 2 games behind Baltimore with 2 games left, and one game behind Cincinnati, who they play next week in a do or die game for both teams. As for Dallas, they are now in a 3 way tie for first with Washington and New York at 8-6. Dallas plays Washington to end the season. This is football at its most exciting. 27-24 Cowboys, OT

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

This once proud rivalry has hit rock bottom as these teams are a combined 5-21. The Raiders have lost 6 straight to fall to 3-10. Of their 3 wins, 2 of them were against Kansas City and Jacksonville, who are both 2-11. So the Raiders re that awful. Losing this game could finally blow up the Dennis Allen error and give the Raiders a shot at the top pick in the draft. A win will make them an awful team that will watch their hated rival Chiefs get the top pick.

Sometimes awful teams come together to play a great game. This was absolutely not that game. These dreadful teams played in the Stupor Bowl, although one of them was far worse. Both teams are bad on offense and defense, while the Raiders have excellent special teams with punter Shane Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski. Seabass was the only reason to watch this game.

In the first quarter after several punts, the Raiders moved from their 40 to a 3rd and goal at the Chiefs 2. Carson Palmer threw incomplete and Seabass hit from 20 to make it 3-0 Raiders. This would be a common theme on the day. In the second quarter on 3rd and 13 from their own 25, Brady Quinn went deep for Dexter McCluster but it was a McClsterf*ck. Quinn was intercepted by Hanson and the Raiders took over at the Chiefs 39. The Raiders fumbled but retained possession. On 3rd and 1, Darren McFadden lost 2 yards. Sebass hit his second field goal from 50 to make it 6-0 Raiders.

The Chiefs punted, and the Raiders moved from their 25 to a 2nd and 9 at the Chiefs 38. Offensive holding ended the drive but Seabass had a 51 yard try. This time he was no good with 1:35 left in the half. Despite starting at their own 41, the Chiefs went 3 and out and punted. The Raiders were backed up at their own 9 with 56 seconds to work with. A turnover could give the Chiefs a 7-6 halftime lead, but not this time. Palmer hit Rod Streater for 9 and again for 15. He hit McFadden and Denarus Moore for 7 yard gains. A 14 yarder to Brandon Myers was just enough to give Seabass a shot from 57 yards out with 3 seconds left. He blasted the ball through and the Raiders led 9-0 at halftime. For some awful reason, the second half was played. It was worse.

The Chiefs went 3 and out to start the third quarter and the Raiders were pinned at their own 7. Yet Palmer moved them all the way to a 4th and 1 at the Chiefs 12. Having nothing to play for but pride, Dennis Allen showed that fighting spirit and ordered the field goal. After 13 plays, 81 yards, and 7 1/2 minutes, Seabass hit his fourth one from 30 to make it 12-0 Raiders.

The Chiefs moved from their 13 to a 1st and 10 at the Oakland 33. Yet after 2 incompletions and a sack of Quinn, Crennel opted to punt. After a touchback, one play from scrimmage was enough for McFadden to fumble and give the Chiefs the ball at the Oakland 18. Yet 3 plays for the Chiefs lost 2 yards, and on 4th and 12 Quinn threw incomplete as again the Chiefs turned it over on downs.

The inability to reach the end zone kept the woeful Chiefs in the game, and they moved from their 20 to a 4th and goal at the 4. Romeo Crennel decided to go for it, and a delay of game penalty moved the Chiefs back to the 9. Crenel still decided to go for it, and then came the inexplicable. One reason the Raiders are so awful is because Dennis Allen runs the true West Coast Offense. This means dink and dunk passes that pad stats and lead to punts. This is how 3rd and 3 becomes 4th and 1. The Chiefs needed 9, and Quinn hit Jamal Charles for an elegant one yard gain as they turned it over on downs. Dink and dunk equals death for the offense.

The Raiders soon faced 3rd and 8 from their 10, and McFadden gained 15. Mike Goodson then broke free for a 43 yard gain as the Raiders began the fourth quarter at the Chiefs 32. After illegal contact on the defense, 3rd and 6 at the 23 meant Palmer throwing incomplete. For the 5th time in 6 tries, Seabass was good from 41 to make it 15-0 Raiders.

With 4 minutes left in the game, Quinn threw incomplete on 4th and 1 from the Chiefs 38. The Raiders mercifully ran out the clock.

Despite not reaching the end zone, Palmer finally had a running game to help him. Darren McFadden was the workhorse he was always meant to be, gaining 110 yards on 30 carries. Mike Goodson gained 89 on only 13 carries as the Raiders had over 200 yards rushing. Yes the Raiders blew their chance at the top pick, but in this league nobody tanks games for draft picks. The goal is to win and it is nice that for one week the Raiders showed some pride in this miserable season. The Raiders are one of the worst teams at 4-10 and have now missed the playoffs for 10 straight years, second to Buffalo and their 13 year drought. Yet the Raiders are not the very worst, as Kansas City at 2-12 is tied for that. 15-0 Raiders

San Francisco 49ers @ New England Patriots was the Sunday night game, and what a game it was. New England was the scene of a grisly act two days earlier, and the President addressed the nation from Connecticut while this game was played. Before the game the league observed a moment of silence and lit 20 flares, one for each child lost. Yet once the game started, it was simply a contest between two teams with legitimate Super Bowl dreams. Despite hard rain all game, by the time the game ended, it was already an instant classic.

New England began at their 15 and on 3rd and 1 from the 24, Shawn Ridley lost 2 yards. The 49ers took over at their 37 and Colin Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree for gains of 11 and 13 and Randy Moss for 12. On 3rd and 7 from the Patriots 24, Kaepernick went deep to Moss for the touchdown to make it 7-0 49ers only 4 minutes into the game.

New England took over at their 25 and Tom Brady hit Brandon Lloyd for 23 yards. They got nothing else and punted. The 49ers were pinned at their own 8, and on 3rd and 1 from the 17, Kaepernick fumbled the snap. The 49ers were lucky enough to retain possession and punted. The Patriots took over at their 20, and Brady was immediately intercepted by Rogers, who returned it 53 yards to the Patriots 5. Yet when Kaepernick went to Walker for one yard, Walker fumbled and Aqib Talib recovered for the Patriots at the New England 10. The Patriots went 3 and out and the 49ers moved from their 41 to a 4th and 3 at the Patriots 21. David Akers missed from 39. The 49ers were dominating, but only led 7-0.

Three plays later the Patriots faced 3rd and 11 from their 29. Brady hit Vereen for 4 yards, but now it was Vereen who fumbled, and Culliver recovered for the 49ers at the Patriots 34. On 3rd and 1 from the 25, Frank Gore got stopped cold. On the first play of the second quarter, Jim Harbaugh decided to go for it on 4th and 1 rather than try the 43 yard field goal in the rain with a kicker who had missed from closer. Kaepernick fumbled the snap again, and recovered it short of the sticks in another wasted opportunity for the 49ers.

From their 25, Tom Brady led a methodical 16 play drive that consumed 6 1/2 minutes and led to a 3rd and goal at the Frisco 7. Brady was sacked, and the Patriots settled for a 32 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal to trail 7-3. From their 20, a defensive pass interference penalty moved the 49ers to their own 45. Gore gained 8 and 3, and Kaepernick then went deep to Walker for a 34 yard touchdown that had the 49ers up 14-3 midway through the second quarter.

New England went 3 and out and the 49ers took over at their 18 with 6 minutes left in the half. That was after a 17 minute delay that gave 49ers fans nightmares of last year’s NFC Title Game. 2 fumbled punt returns cost them the game. This time a punt looked like it clearly bounced off a return man. Yet after a lengthy review and an enraged Bellichick, it was ruled that the ball was not touched. The 49ers retained possession, but it sure looked like the ball was touched. The 49ers dodged a bullet.

This time it was Kaepernick bleeding the clock so Brady would not see the ball. With 8 seconds left in the half, the 49ers had 2nd and goal at the 4 and one timeout. They tried to cross up the Patriots with a run, but Gore only got half. On 3rd and goal from the 2 with 3 seconds left, Harbaugh played it safe and Akers it from 20 to give the 49ers a 17-3 halftime lead. The first half was a slog. The second half was a pinball machine.

The 49ers began the third quarter moving from their 30 to the Patriots 33. Yet Kaepernick went to the end zone and was intercepted by McCourty for a touchback. Brady rapidly moved the Patriots to the Frisco 40, and Ridley gained 9 more. Yet he fumbled the ball again, and Goldson picked it up at the Frisco 28 and began rumbling the other way for the 49ers. He brought it back 66 yards, with 3 more tacked on for a penalty to set up 1st and goal at the 3. For the third time in the game, Kaepernick fumbled the snap and then things got bizarre. Gore picked up the ball all the way back at the 9, found a seam, and scored the touchdown Keystone Cops style to make it 24-3 49ers just like they drew it up in practice on the sandlot.

A touchback and defensive unnecessary roughness had the Patriots at their 35. Brady threw a short pass that was batted around and bobbled and caught on the tip drill by defender Aldon Smith, who brought it back 6 yards to the Patriots 27. Harbaugh immediately went for the kill, and Kaepernick went deep to Crabtree for  another touchdown in front of a shellshocked home crowd. Only 4 1/2 minutes into the second half, and the 49ers had a 31-3 lead. The biggest comeback in NFL history was 32 points, and that game was in the third quarter before the rally began. The rest of this game was simply incredible.

The Patriots quickly faced 3rd and 10 from their 27, and one more turnover would have most likely made it a 35 point deficit. Yet Brady hit Hernandez for 17 and the Patriots finally got going. On 3rd and 9 from the Frisco 21 and anyone expecting pass, Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick called a run. Danny Woodhead gained 15 and then the 6 yard touchdown to get the Patriots within 31-10 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

The 49ers punted and the Patriots got it back at their 14. Brady hit Hernandez for 20, Brandon Lloyd for 13, Welker for 9, and then deep to the incredibly hard to spell and pronounce Hoomanawanui for a 41 yard gain down to the 3. On 3rd and goal at the one, Ridley did not get in. The fourth quarter began with Bill Bellichick deciding to go for it on 4th and goal at the one. Just like in last year’s AFC Title Game, Brady took the quarterback sneak and leapt over the top for the score, extending the ball past the goal plane. The Patriots were within 31-17 with the entire fourth quarter to play.

The 49ers again went 3 and out and the Patriots got it back at their 34. On 3rd and 2 Brady threw incomplete. With a full 13 minutes left in regulation, Bellichick decided to go for it on 4th and 2 from his own 42. At first it looked like theyw ere just trying to draw the defense offsides, but Bellichick has gambled on 4th and 2 much deeper in his own territory before. That one blew up and lost the game. This one saw Brady roll out and throw a screen to Wes Welker for a 15 yard gain. On the next play the Patriots tried a flea flicker and howled when defensive pass interference did not get called. Just as Brady was about to snap the ball on 2nd and 10, Harbaugh called timeout to give his exhausted defense a rest. An angry Brady spiked the football, believing he ahd snapped the ball before the timeout. When play resumed, Brady went bombs away again and this time did get defensive pass interference at the 5 yard line. Brady hit Hernandez for the score, and with 12 minutes left now the Patriots only trailed 31-24.

The next drive was even worse for the 49ers, as a sack of Kaepernick meant 3rd and 22 from their own 13. The 49ers did not convert and punted. With 10 minutes left the Patriots took over at their own 8. Brady hit Lloyd for 10 and then went deep to Lloyd for a 53 yard gain. Brady took a quick snap and gained 5 and then threw to Deon Branch for 13 more. Encroachment tacked on 5, Brady ran for 5 more, and Woodhead got the last yard for another Patriots touchdown. New England became the first team in NFL history to score 500 points in 4 different seasons. 28 points in just over one quarter of football turned a 31-3 deficit into a 31-31 tie with 6:45 to play.

The 49ers were reeling and the Patriots were rolling, yet the tie did not last for long. The 49ers desperately needed a spark, and James provided it. He took the kickoff at the goal line, and ran it back 62 yards to the Patriots 38 before being tackled by the very last line of defense. On the first play from scrimmage, Kaepernick went deep to Crabtree for the touchdown. Only 18 seconds after giving up the lead, the 49ers took it back 38-31.

Consecutive sacks of Brady had the Patriots facing 4th and 22 from their 38. They punted, and the 49ers took over at their 28 with 4:40 to play. Harbaugh played it very conservatively, and on 3rd and 4, James got the carry and got only one yard. The Patriots took their first timeout, but a perfect punt pinned New England back at their own 3 yard line with 3 minutes left. On 3rd and 1, Brady threw incomplete. Bellichick then made a very questionable decision.

Down by 7, he decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from their own 12. There was still 2:24 left and the Patriots had 2 timeouts plus the 2 minute warning. A failed conversion practically guaranteed a 2 score game. Bellichick decided to trust his red hot offense rather than his defense. Brady threw incomplete again and the 49ers took over. Harbaugh took no chances, and 3 straight runs led to the critical 28 yard field goal try at the 2 minute warning. Akers was good, and the 49ers led 41-31. New England took over at their own 20 with 0 timeouts needing 2 scores.

Brady hit Lloyd for 12, and with 1:24 to play the Patriots faced 4th and 3 from their own 39. Brady hit Branch for 8, and with one minute left it came down to 4th and 4 at the Frisco 47. Brady hit Lloyd for 24 and then raced to the line to spike the ball and stop the clock with 43 seconds left. Needing 2 scores from the Frisco 23, Bellichick immediately brought in Gostkowski for a 41 yarder. He made it, and the Patriots were within 7. Now it was time for the onsides kick. It bounced straight to Walker, and he immediately went to the ground to finally give the 49ers the game.

Both quarterbacks were magnificent in different ways. Coming from behind, Brady was forced to throw the ball a career high 65 times. He completed 36 of them for 443 yards and one touchdown, with the 2 interceptions. Colin Kaepernick was only 14 of 25 for 216, but he had 4 touchdowns and only one interception. Each team had 3 turnovers, as the Patriots lost both of their fumbles. The 49ers had tremendous luck. They fumbled 6 times, but only lost one of them.

The Patriots saw their 7 game win streak snapped, and this was also their first December home loss since 2002, a decade of Winter perfection. They are still 10-4 and AFC East Champions, but they are now one game back in the race for the first round bye. The 49ers have the slightest amount of breathing room in the NFC West. Had they lost they would have led Seattle by only half a game, and the game next week at Seattle would have been for the division lead. Instead they lead by 1 1/2 games with 2 to play, so even if they lose next week they can still control their own destiny. A first round bye is also a possibility, but right now they would not have it. This was almost the Super Bowl last year, and it could still be this year. It would be a thriller. 41-34 49ers

New York Jets @ Tennessee Titans was the Monday night game. Sometimes bad teams can come together to produce a thrilling game for the ages. This was not that game. The Titans are done for the year, while the Jets might be the worst 6-7 team in years if not ever. A pair of Jets wins over patsies actually has this team with a slim shot of making the playoffs. The NFL is considering expanding the playoffs, and this Jets team is the reason that proposal should be killed. The Jets came in fighting for their playoff lives, although the biggest losers were the fans who watched this whole game. It was ugly right up to the very end.

The Titans moved from their 22 to a 3rd and 1 at the Jets 18. A pitchout to Chris Johnson lost 10 yards. Then the 46 yard Rob Bironas field try was blocked. It got uglier. The Jets would move from their 37 to a 3rd and goal at the Titans 4. Mark Sanchez hit Cumberland for the touchdown, but on further review the ball was ruled incomplete. The Jets settled for a 22 yard Nick Folk field goal and a 3-0 lead. With 9 minutes left in the half, the Titans faced 2nd and 9 from their own 6. This time Chris Johnson raced up the middle, and outran everyone for a 94 yard touchdown run to make it 7-3 Titans. Sanchez would throw one interception later on. For some reason, the second half was played.

The Jets began the third quarter quickly facing 2nd and 20 from their own 38. Sanchez threw his second interception. It got uglier. The Titans had a short field, but on 2nd and 9 from the Jets 35, a run lost 3 and offensive holding killed the drive. It got uglier. The Jets moved from their 12 to a 3rd and 5 at the Titans 46. Sanchez was sacked. It got uglier. The Titans punted on 4th and 13 from his own 5, and a shanked punt went only 30 yards.

From the Titans 35, McKnight ran for 20. On 2nd and 6 from the 11, McKnight fumbled the ball. Yet Sanchez dove on the ball to set up 3rd and 12 from the 17. While taking a knee and kicking a field goal may have been the best idea, Sanchez rolled out and under heavy pressure found Cumberland for the touchdown as the Jets led 10-7 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. From the Titans 36, Jake Locker hit Preston for 21, Nate Washington for 12, and Wright for 13. On 2nd and 8 from the 13, Locker ran it in himself as the Titans had a 14-10 lead after three quarters. The Jets needed one touchdown to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The fourth quarter began with the Jets facing 3rd and 2 from their 38. A false start was followed by a sack of Sanchez and another punt. It got uglier. After several punts, the Jets got it back at their 23 and midway through the fourth quarter had 1st and 10 at their 34. Sanchez was intercepted for the third time by Griffin, who returned it 40 yards as the Titans took over at their 40. It got uglier. The Jets took over at their own 8  with 5 1/2 minutes left and moved all the way to a 1st and 10 at the Titans 23 at the 2 minute warning. They had plenty of time. Sanchez then went deep and was intercepted for the fourth time at the 2 yard line as Griffin picked it off again. It got uglier.

From their own 2, Mike Munchak played it very conservatively, handing off 3 straight times up the gut. The Jets used their timeouts, and with 53 seconds left the Titans were punting on 4th and 6 from their 6. Rex Ryan went with a punt block strategy rather than set up a return. The punt was almost blocked, and again Kern shanked it miserably. His earlier 30 yarder was beautiful compared to this awful 19 yard punt. With 47 seconds left, the Jets were set up on the Titans 25. Yes Sanchez had time for a 5th interception, or maybe even another butt-fumble. Maybe a touchdown would win it and launch the Jets toward the playoffs.

Out of the shotgun, the snap was low. Sanchez dropped it. When he tried to pick it up, his running back moving in motion accidentally kicked it away from him. The 5th turnover would be a fumble, and not an interception. Nevertheless, the Titans recovered and this miserable game was over as once again JETS stood for Just End The Season. Well they did, as the playoffs will somehow survive without them. Is Eva Longoria going to date Tim Tebow? Does Gang Green require moving all 45 body parts? Will the NY Post headline be hilarious? Don’t care, don’t know, and absolutely. 14-10 Titans

eric

NFL 2012 Week 13 Recap

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

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

NFL 2012 Week 11 Recap

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 11 Recap

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills was the Thursday night game. The game was delayed at the start due to a security risk when police mistakenly thought that the Unabomber was on the sideline. It turned out to be Buffalo Head Coach Chan Gailey sporting a very sinister looking beard. As for the game, it would not replace Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in the pantheon of epic matches.

Miami went 3 and out and punted, and Leodis McKelvin returned it 79 yards for a touchdown. Just 90 seconds into the game, the Bills led 7-0. Later in the quarter Miami fumbled and Buffalo took over at their own 48. On 3rd and 10 Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Stevie St Johnson for gains of 15 and 16. Ryan Lindell would hit a 32 yarder to make it 10-0 Bills. Yet 12 seconds later it was the Dolphins with their own special teams touchdown as Thigpen took the ensuing kickoff 96 yards the other way. The Dolphins were down 10-7, although viewers could have turned off the television at that point.

Much of the rest of the game was a slog. Buffalo moved from their own 24 to a 3rd and 1 at the Miami 16. Fitzptrick threw incomplete and Chan Gailey decided not to go for it. Lindell hit his second field goal from 34 yards to make it 13-7 Bills after the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Bills faced 3rd and 5 from their own 17. Fitzpatrick threw incomplete but a 31 yard defensive pass interference call moved the chains. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the Miami 17, Fitzpatrick was sacked. Lindell hit his third field goal from 42 yards to make it 16-7 Bills.

At the 2 minute warning Miami punted on 4th and 15 from their own 2. Buffalo took over at their own 47. CJ Spiller caught a pass for 13 yarda and then ran for 20 and 4. On 3rd and 8 from the 18 Fitzpatrick hit St Johnson for 14 but onl 15 seconds remained. On 1st and goal at the one with 6 seconds left, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete. Chan Gailey again opeted for the field goal and Lindell’s fourth kick from 19 yards out made it 19-7 Bills at the half. Buffalo took the rest of the night off, and Miami for the most part did as well.

In the third quarter Buffalo moved from their 21 to a 2nd and 7 at the Miami 36. Yet a pair of incompletions was followed by Chan Gailey playing it safe and punting. Miami moved from their 36 to a 4th and 7 at the Buffalo 32. Dan Carpenter came in for a 50 yard field goal, which was no good.

In the fourth quarter, Miami took over and soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 27. Ryan Tannehill hit Duane Bess for 9 yards. Defensive pass interference on the next play added 30 more yards. Reggie Bush gained 11 and Tannehill hit Bess for 14 more. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Tannehill hit Bess in the end zone. Initially Bess was ruled out of bounds, but Joe Philbin challenged the call. On reversal, the Dolphins were within 5 points after the 11 play, 81 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. 8 1/2 minutes still remained.

Buffalo would punt, and Miami was trapped at their own one yard line with 4 1/2 minutes left. After barely avoiding a safety, the Dolphins moved to their own 32 at the 2 minute warning. Tannehill went deep and Byrd made a diving interception, literally robbing away a reception. The acrobatic pick appeared to ice the game. Yet the Dolphins had all of their timeouts, and on 3rd and 1 from their own 44, Buffalo saw Spiller get belted back for a one yard loss. Miami would have one more chance at their own 16 with 0 timeouts and 1:24 to play.

Tannehill hit Bess for 18 and Ryan Mathews for 19, and despite being down all game Miami had a chance to win. On 1st and 20 from their 43, Tannehill was intercepted again by Scott. It was not pretty but the Bills escaped for a win that will not affect the playoff race in any way. 19-14 Bills

Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons–A bad team that has lost five straight games travels on the road to play a very good team angry over losing their first game after winning eight straight. This is not why they play the games.

A surprising start had Atlanta start at their own 27 and Matt Ryan get intercepted on the first play by Johnson. Johnson returned it 34 yards to the Atlanta 9. Larod Stephens-Howling gained 6 and then the final 3 as the Cardinals led 7-0 only one minute into the game. Atlanta then went 3 and out without gaining a yard, and the Cardinals took over at their own 30. Stephens-Howling then broke free for a 40 yard gain. The Cardinals ot nothing more, but Jay Feely drilled a 48 yard field goal to put Arizona up 10-0 in front of a stunned home crowd.

Things got uglier as the Falcons faced 2nd and 10 from the Arizona 29. Ryan was intercepted for the second time. They would not capitalize, and the Falcons faced 3rd and 6 from their own 11. For the third time in the first quarter, Ryan was intercepted. Arizona took over at the Atlanta 18. On 4th and 1 from the 9, Ken Whisenhunt played it safe. Feely hit the 28 yarder as the Cardinals looked like the 4-0 team from early this year as they led 13-0.

The Falcons woke up in the second quarter which began with them facing 3rd and 6 from their 24. Ryan hit Roddy Rhite for a 9 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from their 35, Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for 12. On 3rd and 7 from midfield, Ryan hit Jaquez Rodgers for 9. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Arizona 32, Jason Snelling got blown up in the backfield for a one yard loss. Matt Bryant hit the 51 yard field goal to get the Falcons on the board down 13-3.

While it was John “Red” Skelton startig the game, the second quarter saw Lindley come at quarterback with the Cardinals at their own 14. On 3rd and 3 from their 21, Lindley was hit by John Abraham and fumbled. Julian Babineaux picked it up and raced 15 yards for a score to get the Falcons within 13-10. This was a microcosm of the entire Arizona season for Ken Whisenhunt.

Atlanta would take over midway through the second quarter at their own 9 and Ryan went deep to White for gains of 37 and 19. Yet despite 1st and goal at the 10, a failed run and a pair of incompletions meant Matt Bryant from 28 yards. With 1:56 left in the half the game was tied 13-13.

Arizona began at their own 6 yard line with 1:45 on the clock. Stephens-Howling immediately broke free for a 52 yard gain. Lindley hit Floyd for 17 more. Yet Lindley threw incomplete on 3rd and 5 from the Atlanta 20. Feely hit from 38 to make it 16-13 Cardinals. Atlanta got it back after a touchback but with only 32 seconds on the clock. Matty Ice hit Snelling for 13 and Rodgers for 17 to midfield. Ryan hit Julio Jones for 20 as the Falcons took their last timeout with 2 seconds left at the half. Bryant hit the 48 yarder as each kicker made 3 field goals in sending the game to halftime deadlocked 16-16.

Despite the action of the first half, the second half was lifeless.

Arizona saw a promising drive end with a sack of Lindley. Atlanta fumbled away an opportunity. Late in the third quarter after a touchback Matt Ryan threw his fourth interception. Arizona took over at the Atlanta 16. The defense held, but on the first play of the fourth quarter Feely hit his fourth field goal from 27 yards out to make it 19-16 Cardinals.

After an exchange of punts, Atlanta took over at their own 30. Ryan hit Douglas for 11 and then again for 26 more. Ryan then went to White for 18. On 3rd and 5 from the 10, Ryan hit Gonzalez for 9. Michael Turner got the last yard as the Falcons led by 4 points with 6 1/2 minutes to play.

Arizona went 3 and out and Atlanta had it on their own 36 with 5 minutes left. Yet rather than grind down clock, Mike Smith had Matt Ryan keep throwing. Ryan threw his fifth interception, this time to Acho. With 4 minutes left, Arizona had been given gift field position at the Atlanta 32. Yet on 4th and 2 from the 24, Lindley threw incomplete.

The Cardinals were out of timeouts, and everything came down to 3rd and 2 at the Atlanta 32 just shy of the 2 minute warning. Yet Rodgers gained 6 yards allowing Atlanta to run out the clock. Matt Ryan was 28 of 46 for 301 yards, but he had 5 interceptions without a touchdown. Yet Atlanta won. The last time a quarterback with 0 touchdowns and 5 picks one a game wa Bart Starr with the 1967 Packers. They won it all, and that means winning ugly sometimes. Lombardi was not concerned with beauty, and neither are coaches today. Arizona is all but done, while Atlanta is 9-1 and showing their resiliency. 23-19 Falcons

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers–Greg Schiano has seen his Buccaneers get to 5-4 after a couple of wins over AFC West teams. Carolina is having a miserable year, but with the Panthers one does not know what to expect.

Tampa Bay punted and Carolina fumbled it away, giving the Buccaneers the ball at the Carolina 29. On 3rd and 1, Freeman gained 2. Freeman would hit Byham for a 3 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Buccaneers. The Buccaneers got it back at their own 48 and and Josh Freeman hit Vincent Jackson for 19 yards. That was enough for Connor Barth to hit a 51 yard field goal to have the Buccaneers up 10-0.

The Buccaneers were in total control of the game when the Panthers punted on 4th and 26 from their own 4. Tampa took over just shy of midfield and was marching toward a possible early knockout blow as they faced 3rd and 8 from the Carolina 30. At that moment the game change as Freeman was intercepted by Munnerlyn, who returned it 74 yards the other way as the Panthers were only down 10-7 after the first quarter.

Momentum had changed, and in the second quarter the Panthers got it back at their own 23. Jimmy Stewart gained 11 and caught a pass from Cam Newton for 30 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Tampa 28 Newton hit Steve Smith for 11 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the 11 Newton threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Stewart got in as the Panthers led 14-10. With 3 minutes left in the half it was the Panthers looking to widen the lead as they faced 3rd and 9 from the Bucs 12. Newton threw a touchdown to Steve Smith, but Smith was called for offensive pass interference. Medlock missed the 40 yard field goal as the game remained 14-10 at halftime.

Early in the third quarter the Panthers faced 4th and 6 at their own 41. Ron Rivera gambled on a fake punt, and it didn’t work. Nakamura was tackled for a loss and the Bucs took over at the Carolina 37. Freeman went deep right away but was intercepted. In the fourth quarter Freeman led a time consuming drive from the Tampa 19 to a 4th and 1 at the Carolina 2. Doug Martin got the carry and the first down, but right at the goal line was hit and fumbled. Carolina recovered in the end zone for a touchback. Greg Schiano challenged the call, and it appeared that the ball may have just broken the plane of the goal. Yet the call was upheld and the score remained 14-10 with 10 1/2 minutes in regulation.

On 3rd and 2 from their own 28, Newton hit Brad LaFell for 20. On 3rd and 4 from the Tampa 46, Newton hit Smith for 17 and then went deep to Lafell for the 29 yard touchdown. Newton did his Superman pose and with only 6 minutes oleft in the game the Panthers led 21-10.

Yet this Tampa team under Schiano is very resilient. Freeman quickly moved the Bucs from their 20 to a 3rd and 2 at the Carolina 22. Freeman hen threw incomplete, and needing 2 scores, Schiano opted for the field goal. Barth hit from 40, but the Bucs were still down 21-13 with only 4 minutes left.

After a touchback, Newton hit Smith for 11 as the Bucs were forced to use all of their timeouts. With 3 minutes left Carolina faced 3rd and 11 from their own 30. Newton hit Louis Murphy for 12 and a critical first down, but Murphy ran out of bounds to stop the clock. Nevertheless, unable to stop the clock, it all came down to the 2 minute warning and the Panthers facing 3rd and 12 at their own 40. Newton scrambled himself and came up one yard short as the clock ticked down. On 4th and 1 just past midfield, Ron Rivera decided to punt. The Bucs would get it back after a touchback with 0 timeouts and only one minute left.

Freeman hit Tywuon Underwood for 18 yards, and unnecessary roughness tacked on 15 more and stopped the clock. With 32 seconds left, facing 3rd and 4 at the Carolina 41, Freeman found Vincent Jackson for 17 yards. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, only 20 seconds remained. Freeman went deep to the end zone and found Jackson for the 24 yard touchdown in front of a disbelieving home crowd. Carolina called a timeout before the 2 point conversion try. It didn’t matter, as Freeman faked the handoff and found Jackson in the back of the end zone. The miracle comeback meant a 21-21 ballgame and overtime.

Tampa won the coin toss and took over at their own 20. Doug Martin was the one man wrecking crew, rushing for 11 and 27. Freeman hit Mike Williams for 13. Then Martin gained 7 and 2. On 3rd and 1 at the 9, Freeman hit Jackson for 4. Freman then fired to Dallas Clark, who raced for the 15 yard touchdown in front of a crowd that was now stone cold silent. Carolina would never get the ball as 17 unanswered points late in the fourth quarter and overtime ended things. Carolina is only a two win team for a reason. As for the Bucs, Schiano has turned them around. They have won 4 straight and 5 of 6 to get to a 6-4 record, very much in the playoff hunt. 27-21 Buccaneers, OT

Cleveland Browns @ Dallas Cowboys–The Browns are terrible, while Dallas got a much needed divisional road win to get to 4-5 and perhaps save their season.

A field position game had Dallas punting twice, and Cleveland beginning their second possession at the Dallas 48. On 3rd and 2 Brandon Weeden hit Trent Richardson for 7 and Gordon for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the 11, Ogbayanna got the yard. On 3rd and goal from the 10 Weeden hit Watson for the touchdown as the 7-0 Browns lead had Jerry Jones threatening to blow up his 1.2 billion dollar metropolis if they lost to Cleveland.

Cleveland began the second quarter facing 3rd and 5 at the Dallas 47 when Weeden hit Gordon for 13. That was enough for original Dawg Pound member Phil Dawson hit a 51 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Browns. Dallas was lifeless on offense as Cleveland got it back at their own 27. On 3rd and 8 from their 45, a Weeden incompletion was offset by unnecessary roughness on the defense. That was enough for the Browns to move in position for Dawson to connect again from 37 yards. Shellshocked home fans saw the 2-7 Browns beating up Dallas 13-0 at intermission.

After a punt in the third quarter, Dallas took over at their own 20. Tony Romo hit Dez Brant for 13 and Felix Jones gained 12. Yet on 2nd and 6 from the 19, Romo was sacked. Dan Bailey did hit a 44 yard field goal, but the Cowboys still trailed 13-3 after three quarters. Just remember, these are the Browns.

A surprise squib kick failed, yet from their own 44, Cleveland went 3 and out. Dallas got it back at their own 11. Romo hit Bryant for 6 and again for 30. Romo hit Ogletree for 10 and defensive pass interference on the next play added 13 more yards. Dallas began the fourth quarter with 2nd and 5 at the Cleveland 18. Romo hit Jason Witten for 5 and Bryant for 11. Jones got the last couple as the Cowboys were within 13-10.

Cleveland again went 3 and out and the Cowboys got it back at their own 42. On 3rd and 1 from the Cleveland 44, Felix Jones went nowhere. On 4th and 1 Jason Garrett decided to go for it. Romo hit Vickers for 3 to keep the chains moving. On 3rd and 6 from the Cleveland 37, Romo hit Witten for 9. Romo then went deep to Brant for a 28 yard touchdown. The Cowboys led 17-13 as the football world conceded that these are the Browns.

Cleveland took over at their own 12, and with 6 minutes left faced 2nd and 10 from their 29. Weeden was sacked and fumbled, and Dallas took over at the Cleveland 18. These are the Browns. Yet looking to now ice the game, offensive holding and a sack of Romo forced him to fumble, and the Browns got it back at their own 35. This year, these have been the Cowboys. 5 minutes remained.

Weeden hit Little for 17 and Gordon for 23 more. On 3rd and 3 from the 16, Weeden hit Watson for 10. Trent Richardson gained 5 as Dallas used their timeouts to preserve the clock in case Cleveland scored. On 3rd and goal at the one Richardson leapt over the top and got belted backward. With 1:47 to play it came down to 4th and goal at the one. Weeden threw a fade route so far to the corner that it was caught way out of bounds. These are the Browns. The goal line stand did not end things because the Browns had all 3 of their timeouts. Jason Garrett went more conservative than Rick Perry, hammering Jones into te line 3 times. Dallas took only 19 seconds off of the clock.

On 4th and 8 from their own 4, Dallas punted. Josh Cribbs returned it 21 yards to the Dallas 32. A questionable horsecollar tackle came went Joshua Cribbs was pulled down by his long hair. While that may be bush league, it is not against the rules. From the Dallas 17, Cleveland needed one play for the famed Weeden to Watson combination. Only 1:07 remained and th Browns were up 20-17. Dallas was 80 yards away from the end zone without a timeout. The only thing in their favor was that they were playing the Browns.

From the 24, an incompletion was nullified by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Cleveland. These are the Browns. Romo hit Miles Austin for 12. Romo went deep incomplete, but a 35 yard defensive pass interference penalty made it 1st and 10 at the 14. These are the Browns. On 3rd and 5 from the 9 with 12 seconds left, a delay of game penalty and incompletion left only 6 seconds and 4th and 10. Bailey hit the chip shot from 32 as the game went into overtime tied 20-20.

Dallas moved from their 20 to a 3rd and 2 at the Cleveland 41 in overtime. Yet an incompletion meant a punt, and the game now became sudden death. Cleveland went 3 and out and Harris returned the punt 20 yards to the Cleveland 48. Romo hit Austin for 9 and Dunbar gained 7. On 3rd and 2 from the 24, Dunbar gained 3. At this point Dunbar gained one more yard just to center the ball. On 2nd and 9 from the 20 with 6 minutes left in overtime, Bailey came in for the 38 yarder to win it. It was good, and Dallas survived a scare to get to 5-5, only one game out of the NFC East division lead. Jason Garrett kept his job for another week as Jerry Jones did not hit the detonate button. As for 2-8 Cleveland, everyone say it with me. These are the Browns. 23-20 Cowboys, OT

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions–The Packers are clicking after early season struggles while Detroit is regressing after Jim Schwartz got them to the playoffs last year. Yet Detroit often plays well at home against NFC North foes.

A field position game had the Packers starting at the Detroit 48. Yet on 4th and 4 from the Detroit 31, Mike McCarth decided to go for it rather than kick a 49 yard field goal. Mason Crosby has been very shaky lately, missing 5 of his last 10. Aaron Rodgers threw incomplete to end the drive. Detroit faced 3rd and 12 from their 29 when Matthew Stafford went deep to Megatron Calvin Johnson. Between 2 defenders, Johnson did what he does for a 53 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 3, Stafford was sacked for a loss. Old Reliable Jason Hanson, who has been kicking field goals since feet were invented, hit the 30 yarder to make it 3-0 Lions.

The Packers moved the ball and the second quarter began with Green Bay facing 3rd and 3 at the Detroit 42. Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for 19, Randall Cobb for 3, and Jermaine Finley for a 20 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Packers.

Stafford took his turn from the Detroit 26, hitting Heller for 17. On 3rd and 9 from their 47, Stafford hit Johnson for 21. On 3rd and 3 from the Packers 25, Stafford again went to Johnson for 14. Leshoure gained 10 and then the final yard as the Lions retook the lead 10-7.

With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Lions had 1st and 10 at the Packers 29. Yet Stafford was intercepted by Hayward, who returned it 20 yards to the Green Bay 48. Rodgers was then quickly intercepted, and the Lions had it back at their 33 with 1:51 left. On 3rd and 10 from the Detroit 43, Stafford was sacked and fumbled. Green Bay took over at the Detroit 42. With 3 seconds lef in the half, Crosby came in for a 50 yard field goal try. He misse dit wide right, but Jim Schwartz did the Mike Shanahan timeout at the last moment that everyone hates so much. Given a second chance, this time Crosby was wide right as a disgusted Mike McCarthy saw the Packers trailing 10-7 at the break.

Midway through the third quarter the Lions faced 3rd and 10 at the Green Bay 44. Stafford fired over the middle to Tony Scheffler, but it bounced off of Scheffler’s fingertips. It caromed straight into the arms of the doctor, MD Jennings. Jennings broke tackles, got to the sideline, had a convoy, and dove just over the pileon for a 72 yard touchdown return. There was a flag on the play, but it was an illegal block against Stafford of all people. The Packers had the 14-10 lead.

Detroit took over at their own 17. Leshoure gained 5 and a facemask on the next play added 15. On 3rd and 2 from the Detroit 45, Stafford hit Pettigrew for 12. Leshoure gained 5 and 12. On 2nd and 20 from the Packers 25, Staffors went deep to Johnson, who did what he does. The touchdown had the Lions back on top 17-14 after three quarters.

Early in the fourth quarter confusion reigned as the Packers faced 4th and 5 at the Detroit 40. Mike McCarthy appeared to be trying a fake field goal when the Packers were called for illegal motion. The Packers punted. Detroit went 3 and out and the Packers got it back at the Detroit 44. On 3rd and 2 from the Lions 20, Rodgers threw incomplete. Crosby came in for the tying kick, this one only from 38 yards out. Again Crosby was no good as his struggles continued with 8 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

From their 28, Leshoure gained 4 and 5. On 3rd and 1 Stafford hit Broyles for a 27 yard gain and Young for 24 more. With 5 1/2 minutes left the Lions had 1st and goal at the 10 with a chance to ice it. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 9, Stafford fired incomplete. Hanson hit the 27 yard field goal, but with 4 1/2 minutes left the Lions only led 20-14.

From their own 18, Starks gained 11. Rodgers hit Finley on a short pass that went for a 40 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Detroit 22, Rodgers fired to the end zone for Randall Cobb. Safety help was one split second too late as Rodgers split the double coverage for the touchdown. The see-saw game had the Packers up 21-20 as the Lions took over at their own 25 with 1:48 to play.

4 incompletions and a false start meant a turnover on downs as 4th and 15 from their own 20 went nowhere. The Lions still had two timeouts, and on 3rd and 10 Mike McCarthy ran it to bleed the clock. With 24 seconds to play Crosbya came in again for a 39 yarder. This time Crosby was good. Down by 4, the Lions needed a touchdown to win.

On 3rd and 10 from their own 37 with 3 seconds left, the Lions were out of Hail Mary range. The hook and ladder was the only chance. Stafford found Johnson for a 30 yard gain to the Packers 33, but the first lateral went straight to Green Bay. The Packers got to 7-3 while the Lions are slipping out of contention. 24-20 Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans–This is absolutely not why they play the game. One of the worst teams in the league at 1-8 goes on the road to play one of the best teams at 8-1. This could get very ugly very early on.

Houston made it look easy at the start from their own 16. Matt Schaub hit Andre Johnson for 7, 22, and then deep for a 45 yard gain. A 9 yard touchdown pass to Martin quickly had the Texans up 7-0 as the league reconsidered its policy of canceling games. Jacksonville would fumble on their first possession, but when the Texans failed to capitalize the game became surprisingly competitive.

With 4 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter the Jaguars took over at their own 19. Blaine Gabbert had gotten injured earlier in the game when he fumbled, and now Chad Henne was in. Henne went deep to Justin Blackmon for a 63 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 from the 13, Henne hit Mercedes Lewis for the score to make it 7-7 after one. The second quarter began with Houston facing 4th and 6 at the Jacksonville 36. Gary Kubiak decided to play it safe and punt. Jacksonville took over at their own 19. From their 33, Henne hit Chris Shorts on a short pass that suddenly became a 67 yard touchdown as the Jaguars led 14-7 on the road.

Martin returned the kickoff 54 yards to the Jacksonville 48. Schaub found Johnson for 15. Forsett gained 9 and 3 and Arriun Foster gained 9, 6, and 3. Yet with the running game doing it all, from the one yard line Schaub crossed up the Jaguars and threw the touchdown to Casey to make it 14-14 midway through the second quarter.

Jacksonville kept moving the ball from their 31 as Paralee gained 12 and 2 and Henne found Lewis for a 26 yard gain. The drive would stall, but Josh Scobee hit a 43 yard field goal. The Jaguars are 1-8 and the Texans are 8-1, but it was Jacksonville up 17-14 with 3 minutes left in the half.

Yet a few seconds later and special teams had Houston starting at the Jacksonville 31. The drive stopped but Shane Graham hit a 42 yard field goal as the teams went to the locker rooms tied 17-17.

Jacksonville kept the pressure on in the second half. After a touchback, Henne went deep to Blackmon for a 39 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 Henne hit Blackmon again for 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Houston 22, Henne threw incomplete. Scobee hit from 40 as the Jaguars led 20-17. Houston soon faced 3rd and 17 from their own 26 when Foster lost 4 yards and fumbled. The Jaguars took over at the Houston 11. Henne hit Michael Spurlock for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 1, Henne hit Lewis for the score as the Jaguars led 27-17.

Houston moved from their 26, helped along by a 30 yard completion from Matt Schaub to Graham. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Jacksonville 9, Foster got nothing. On 4th and 1 Gary Kubiak, needing 2 scores, opted for the field goal. Graham hit from 27 to get the Texans to within 27-20.

The fourth quarter began with the Jaguars punting from their own 23. Martin returned the kick 71 yards to the Jacksonville 23. Yet 2 plays later Schaub was intercepted. Jacksonville after a sack and penalty faced 3rd and 21 from their own 19. Henne went deep and found Justin Blackmon, who bounced off a couple of terrible attempts at tackling and completed the 81 yard touchdown. Wade Phillips may be the best defensive coordinator in the game, but his defense was being shredded by the worst team in football. This game was supposed to be a laugher, but now the Texans were fighting for their lives. Instead of a 27-27 game, they were down 34-20 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The issue would be if Jacksonville could finish things.

On 3rd and 1 from their 29, Foster got the yard. Schaub then hit Casey for 8, and then played pitch and catch with Graham for gains of 5, 8, 6, and 19. Unnecessary roughness moved the bal to the 12. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Foster got just enough. From the one, Foster got stopped twice as the clock kept ticking down. On 3rd and goal at the one, Schaub went back to Graham for the score as the Texans were within 34-27 with 5 1/2 minutes to play.

Jacksonville went 3 and out and the Texans were backed up to their own 10 with 4 minutes left. Schaub went deep to Johnson for 20, to Walter for 11, to Owen Daniels for 18, Walter for 13, Johnson for 7, and Johnson for 14 to make it 1st and goal at the 7 at the 2 minute warning. Schaub threw a 5 yard touchdown pass to Graham as his passing clinic when it counted tied the game 34-34. Jacksonville had blown a 14 point lead late. They went 3 and out and were in full self-destruction mode.

1:07 still remained, the Texans were at their own 35, and they had 2 timeouts left. On the first play Schaub went deep to Johnson for a 35 yard gain as the Texans were already in field goal range. Gary Kubiak bled the clock, and with five seconds left on 3rd and 4 from the 24, Shane Graham came in for the winning 42 yard kick. A false start moved Houston back from 5 yards out, and from 47, Graham was no good. Jacksonville had life.

Houston won the toss and began overtime at their 20. Schaub hit Johnson for 11 and and Foster for 9. On 3rd and 1 from their 40, Foster got the yard. Schaub hit Daniels for 9 to midfield. Foster gained 6 and 3 and Schaub hit Walter for 12 down to the 29. Foster gained 7. On 3rd and 2 from the 21, Schaub threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference put the ball on the 9. On 3rd and goal at the 7 Schaub threw incomplete. Shane Graham hit the 25 yarder to complete the 80 yard, 7 minute drive. Yet under the new overtime rules the game was not over. Houston had the 3 point lead, but Jacksonville would get one chance with the football.

Jacksonville took over at their 32. Henne gained 4 and threw incomplete, but unnecessary roughness meant 1st and 10 just past midfield. A run gained nothing and Henne fired incomplete twice. Jacksonville took a timeout as everything came down to 4th and 10 at the Houston 49. Henne found Blackmon for 15 and again the Jaguars were still alive. Parmalee then broke free for a 28 yard gain. The Jaguars had 1st and goal at the 6. Now even winning the game was as possible as the tying field goal. Parmalee got the carry again and lost 4 yards as the both teams took their second and final timeouts of overtime back to back with 4 1/2 minutes left.

On 2nd and goal from the 10, a false start followed by a pair of incompletions meant Scobee from 33 yards out to tie it. He was good, and the game stayed tied 37-37. Now it was sudden death, and the Texans took over at their 20 with 4:20 left. Last week saw the first tie in 4 years, and this had the chance to be the second one in 2 weeks.

From the Houston 39, the roller coaster continued as Schaub was intercepted by Cox. Cox returned the ball 16 yards and now the Jaguars had a short field at the Houston 47. A pair of incompletions and a failed run meant 4th and 10 from the 47. With 2 1/2 minutes to play and neither team having a timeout, the decision was whether to punt and play field position or gamble and risk giving Houston great field position. Jacksonville is 1-8, so why the hell not go for it? They did, Henne threw incomplete, and Houston took over. On 2nd and 5 from the Jacksonville 48, Schaub threw a short pass to Johnson, and the beast broke free for the touchdown. Jacksonville remained the worst team at 1-9 while Houston survived the megascare to get to an NFL best 9-1. Chris Berman reminds us that “That’s why they play the games.” Yes it is, and while this was not one of the all time greatest upsets in football, it was still a fantastic game from beginning to end. 43-37 Texans, OT

Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs–The Bengals got a stunning win last week against the defending champions, and this week play one of the worst teams in football. The Bengals have a slim chance to save their season.

After an exchange of punts the Chiefs took over at their own 25. Matt Cassel hit Moeaki for 22 yards. Jamal Charles ran for 17, 2, 10, and 5. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the Cincy 19, a completion to Dexter McCluster came up 2 yards short. Romeo Crennel went with Ryan Succop, who hit the 34 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Chiefs. After not leading all year until last week, the Chiefs have a lead in consecutive weeks.

Cincinnati could not gain a first down but Marvin Lewis decided to go very bold by calling for a fake punt on 4th and 3 from his own 29. Peerman took the direct snap and gained 32 yards around the end. Then the Bengals again decided to go for it on 4th and 7 from the Chiefs 36. This time Andy Dalton gained 11 yards. Dalton hit Gresham for 18 yards and AJ Green for a 4 yard toudown to make it 7-3 Bengals after the first quarter. The first quarter ended with Peyton Hillis fumbling and the Bengals taking over at the Chiefs 34. Yet the second qurter saw 3rd and 2 from the 26, where Dalton was sacked. Mike Nugent missed the 50 yard field goal. The Bengals would get it back at their own 43. Dalton went deep to Green for a 40 yard gain, with unnecessary roughness setting up 1st and goal at the 8. On 3rd and goal at the 11, Dalton hit Gresham for what was initially ruled a touchdown. Yet on further review it was 4th and goal at the 1. Again Marvin Lewis decided to go for it and again he was rewarded as Dalton got in to make it 14-3 Bengals midway through the second quarter.

The Bengals got it back at their 21 with 6 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 7 Dalton hit Gresham for 11. Ben-Javis Green-Ellis baked blackbirds in a pie with some extra by gaining 4 and 21. Peerman gained 17 and Dalton hit Gresham for 17 more. The Bengals fumbled but retained possession. Green-Ellis ran it in from one yard out to make it 21-3 Bengals.

With 53 seconds after a touchback, Matt Cassel did lead the Chiefs to a 1st and 5 at the Cincy 15. Succop hit from 33 as 21 unanswered points finally saw the Chiefs on the board again. Their 3-0 lead a distant memory, the worst team in football trailed 21-6 at halftime. League rules were the only thing that forced the second half to be played. An uneventful second half would see Dalton throw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Sanu in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring in this snoozefest. 28-6 Bengals

New York Jets @ St. Louis Rams–The Jets are an imploding mess as the Rex Ryan circus seems to have worn thin on Woody Johnson. Meanwhile, Jeff Fisher has the Rams fighting hard, as they went on the road and took the 49ers to a tie last week.

The Jets moved from their 20 to a 3rd and 6 at the Rams 40. Sanchez was then sacked to kill the drive. the Rams began at their own 14 and Stephen Jackson gained 11, 5, and 2. On 3rd and 3 from their 32, Sam Bradford hit Danny Amendola and McNeil for 9 yard gains. On 3rd and 4 from their 47, Bradford went deep to Pettis for a 36 yard gain. From the 1 yard line on 2nd and goal and 3rd and goal, Jeff Fisher called pass plays rather than go smashmouth. A pair of incompletions meant 4th and goal from the 1. Fisher decided to go for it, and he called another pass play. Bradford hit Gibson for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Rams and complete the 14 play, 6 1/2 minute, 86 yard drive.

The Jets soon faced 3rd and 3 from their 44 and Sanchez hit McKnight for an 18 yard gain. That was enough for Nick Folk to drill a 51 yard field goal to get the Jets within 7-3 after the first quarter. The second quarter began with the Rams facing 3rd and 10 from their own 17. Bradford was intercepted by Smith, giving the Jets gift field position at the Rams 13. They squandered it as a 26 yard Folk field goal was blocked. Yet with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half and the Rams facing 2nd and 8 at the Jets 31, disaster struck the Rams again. Bradford was sacked for a 12 yard loss and fumbled. Bart Scott returned the fumble 38 yards to the Rams 28. 2 plays later Sanchez threw a 25 yard pass to Chaz Schilens as the Jets led 10-7.

With 3 minutes left in the half the Jets took over at their 34 and on 2nd and 16 Sanchez found Kerley for a 32 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 10 a completion came up 3 yards short. Nick Folk hit the 51 yarder as the Jets led 13-7 with one minute left in the half. Drama ensued as Givens returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. Yet rather than 14-13 Rams, it was an illegal block and a 13-7 haltime lead for the Jets.

With 6 minutes left in the third quarter the Jets took over at their 37. Sanchez gained 8 and hit Dustin Keller from midfield for a 10 yard gain. Sanchez hit Schilens for 9 and on 3rd and 3 from the Rams 23, Sanchez found Reuland for 18 yards. The fourth quarter began with the Jets facing 3rd and goal at the 5. Powell took it up the middle to have the Jets up 20-7. On the next series the Rams fumbloed at their own 35, and the Jets took over at the Rams 38. Gates gained 12, and on 3rd and 9 Sanchez hit Powell for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the 11, Powell again went up the middle for the touchdown as the Jets had a commanding 27-7 lead.

Givens returned the kickoff 48 yards to the Rams 44. Bradford would throw a 2 yard touchdown to Gibson with 6 minutes to play, but it was too little, too late. The 2 point conversion failed, and the Jets had the road win. Woody Johnson said he did not sign up for a 3-6 season, and Rex Ryan and everyone else may be on the chopping block. Yte while 3-7 is game over, 4-6 is a sliver of hope. 3 years ago rookie head coach Rex Ryan had a 4-6 team that lost 6 of 7 after a 3-0 start. They then went 5-1 down the stretch and took a 9-7 team to the AFC Title Game. 27-13 Jets

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins–Walrus Lite Andy Reid and the Eagles are on the ropes, and now with Michael Vick injured Nick Foles will get his first NFL start. Jeffrey Lurie is expected to clean house, with everything but rehiring Donovan McNabb an option.

One knock on Michael Vick is that he turns it over too much. Yet this was the Nick Foles era. 3 plays into the game, on 3rd and 8 from their 23, Foles was intercepted by Hall. Hall returned it 22 yards to the Philly 9. Robert Griffin III hit Young for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Eagles less than 2 minutes in.

The Eagles did move the ball, and the second quarter opened with Philly facing 3rd and 8 at the Washington 23. Foles threw incomplete and the Eagles settled for a 41 yard Henery field goal to trail 7-3. Yet RGIII came right back. On 3rd and 6 from the Washington 24, RGIII gained 10. From just past midfield, RGIII went for it all and found Robinson for a 49 yard touchdown to make it 14-3 Redskins.

The game stayed the same as the Eagles had 1st and 10 at their own 12 with 36 seconds left in the half. Just trying to run out the clock, Walrus Lite Andy Reid watched as McCoy coughed it up and Washington took over at the Philly 14. Reid vowed never to run the ball ever again. Curious play calling lost yards, and with 2 seconds left Mike Shanahan sent in Forbath on 3rd and 3 from the 7 to kick it. It was good from 25, and the Redskins led 17-3 at halftime.

After a Washington punt in the third quarter, the Eagles had a short field at the Washington 47. On 3rd and 5 from the 42, Foles hit Captain Morgan Brent Celek for 22 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the 19, Foles was sacked and fumbled. The Eagles retained possession, and Henery hit a 42 yarder to get the Eagles within 17-6. Yet Washington soon buried them. On 3rd and 14 from their own 16, RGIII scrambled for 23 yards. RGIII then went deep to Santana Moss, who between a couple defenders came down with it, and broke free from both of them a couple yards away from paydirt and dragged his way into the end zone. Just like that, the Redskins led 24-6.

In the fourth quarter Washington got it back at their own 45. Morris gained 17 around the end. On 1st and 20 from their 48, RGIII ran around the end for 28 and Morris gained 9 more. On 3rd and 7 from the 17, Griffin hit Paulsen for the touchdown as the Redskins were now winning a blowout in what will have Jeffrey Lurie perhaps ready to fire everyone. 31-6 Redskins

New Orleans Saints @ Oakland Raiders–After an 0-4 start, the Saints have won four of five and face a collapsing Raiders team that gave up a franchise worst 55 points last week. The Raiders have given up over 40 points in consecutive weeks under Dennis Allen, which did not happen in half a century under Al Davis. Drew Brees could break 100 points passing against the Raiders.

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Despite not having Darren McFadden or Mike Goodson, there are no excuses in football. From the Oakland 23, Marcel Reece got the Raiders going by running for 17 and then 8 yards. A holding penalty wiped out another first down and on 3rd and 9, a pass from Carson Palmer to Rod Sreater only gained 6 yards. From their own 47 the Raiders punted. After a touchback, Drew Brees and the Saints made it look easy.

Brees hit Marquis Colston for 14. Mark Ingram gained 16 and Pierre Thomas added 14 more. Brees went to Cadet for 17. Thomas gained 6 and caught a 5 yard pass from Brees to set up 1st and goal at the 8. On 3rd and goal at the one, Brees hit Graham for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Saints. After an exchange of punts, the Raiders had good field position at their own 48. Yet Palmer was intercepted by Malcolm Jenkins, who returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 Saints.

Oakland took over at their own 16 and Reece ran for 14 and 2. On 3rd and 8 from their 32, Palmer hit Brandon Myers for 9. On 3rd and 7 from their 44, Palmer went to Criner for 13 and Derek Hagan for 17 more. The second quarter began with the Raiders facing 2nd and 16 from the Saints 32. Palmer connected with Reece for a 20 yard gain. On 4th and 1 from the 3, Dennis Allen decided to go for it. Palmer gained 2, and the Raiders had 1st and goal at the one. First Reece lost a yard. Then offensive pass interference on an incompletion pushed the Raiders back On 3rd and goal at the 7, Palmer was intercepted in the end zone by Roman Harper to kill the threat.

The Raiders got it back at their 19 and soon faced 3rd and 5 from the 24. Palmer found Reece, who turned a short play into a 56 yard gain. Palmer went deep and defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal at the one. This time Palmer hit Myers for the score as the Raiders were only down 14-7 with 4 minutes left in the half. Yet as has been the case with the Dennis Allen Raiders, the roof caved in.

The Saints took over at their own 10. Ingram gained 9 and Brees hit Colston for 24 more. On 3rd and 4 just shy of midfield, Brees hit Colston for 16. With one minute left in the half the Saints faced 3rd and 13 from the 38, not yet in field goal range. It didn’t matter as Brees found a wide open Lance Moore deep for the touchdown as the Saints led 21-7.

The Saints pretty much ended the game when the second half kickoff was returned by Cadet 75 yards to the Oakland 27. One play from scrimmage was enough for Ingram to race around the end for the touchdown to make it 28-7 Saints.

From the Oakland 33, Reece gained 4 and Palmer hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for 13 and Myers for 6 more. On 2nd and 18 from the Saints 45, Palmer hit Stewart for a 23 yard gain. Yet on 1st and 10 from the 22, 3 straight incompletions ended the drive. Sebastian Janikowski hit the 40 yarder to get the Raiders within 28-10.

After an exchange of punts, the Saints took over at their own 42. Ingram gained 4, Brees hit Cadet for 8, and Ingram gained 6 more. From the Oakland 40, Chris Ivory ran for 25 and Brees hit Moore for the 15 yard touchdown to make it 35-10 Saints.

It got worse. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Raiders went for it on 4th and 1 from the Saints 40. Reece got nothing. Garrett Hartley would tack on a field goal to make it 38-10 Saints. A 3 yard garbage touchdown from Palmer to Criner completed the scoring as the Raiders lost another game by double digits.

After the 0-4 start, the Saints are 5-5. Brees has now thrown a touchdown in 53 straight games. Reece did gain 103 yards on 19 carries and Palmer was 22 of 40 for 312 and 2 touchdowns with 2 interceptions. Yet Brees was 20 of 27 for 219 and 3 touchdowns. Most importantly, the Raiders have given up 135 points in the last 3 weeks. That is the worst 3 game span since the first 3 games of 1961 when the Raiders gave up 141 points to start the season 0-13 before winning their finale. In other words, the Dennis Allen era is worse than Joe Bugel, worse than Norv Turner, and worse than Lane Kiffin. 38-17 Saints.

San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos–The Chargers may lose this game on purpose just to finally get Norvelous Norv Turner fired. Earlier this year San Diego blew a 24-0 halftime lead and lost to Denver 35-24. Peyton Manning is licking his chops at giving Denver a stranglehold on the AFC West.

Midway through the first quarter after some punts Denver faced 1st and 10 from their 25. Peyton Manning went back to pass and was intercepted by Eric Weddle. Weddle returned it 23 yards for a touchdown as the Chargers had the surprising 7-0 road lead. Manning did lead the Broncos from their 20 to a 4th and 6 from the San Diego 37. Last year in the Rockies Matt Prater hit a 59 yarder. This time from 55 he doinked the upright no good.

The game changed in the second quarter, which began with Willis McGahee from the Denver 44 gaining 15 yards. On 3rd and 5 from the Chargers 36, Manning found Willis for 10. McGahee gained 8, and from the 13 a pass to Thomas in the end zone was ruled incomplete. John Fox challenged the call, and on further review there was a reversal. Thomas caught the ball inbounds for the touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

On the next play from scrimmage after a touchback, Philip Rivers was intercepted by Woodyard, who returned it 25 yards to the San Diego 8. A 3rd and goal from the 7 pass from Manning to Ball came up one yard short. The home crowd grumbled, but on 4th and goal from the one John Fox brought out Prater. The 19 yarder made it 10-7 Broncos.

At the 2 minute warning of this close game, the Chargers were punting on 4th and 18 from their 36. Chargers special teams continued to be a nightmare. 2 years ago they had 5 punts blocked. They corrected the problem last year but last week Mike Scifres had one blocked. Scifres is a Pro Bowler. It’s not his fault that the protection team has been atrocious. This time Scifres had his punt blocked by Irving. From the Chargers 31, Manning immediately went for the kill to Brandon Stokley. The touchdown ahd it 17-7 Broncos at halftime, and the Chargers never recovered.

The Chargers tried an onsides kick to start the second half, and it worked. Yet they lost yards and punted. Denver took over at their own 2 yard line. Manning was sacked for a safety as the Chargers got within 17-9.

After an exchange of punts the Chargers faced 3rd and 4 from their 46. Rivers was sacked, and Woodyard recovered the resulting fumble. Woodyard returned it 12 yards to the San Diego 25. On 3rd and 5 from the 20, Manning found Eric Decker for the score as the Broncos led 24-9.

San Diego took over after a touchback. Ryan Mathews gained 7 and Rivers hit Malcolm Floyd for 10 and Alexander for 15. On 3rd and 10 from the Denver 48, Rivers hit Floyd for 15. On 3rd and 4 from the 27, Rivers found Robert Meachem for 10 and Ronnie Brown for 5. On 3rd and 1 from the 8 Rivers hit Alexander for the score to complete the 80 yard, 12 play, 6 1/2 minute drive. The Chargers were only down 24-16 after three quarters.

Denver took over at their 21 and Hillman gained 19. On 3rd and 3 from their 47 early in the fourth quarter, Manning hit Jacob Tamme for 7 yards. Ball gained 14 and Manning hit Joel Dreesen for 11. On 3rd and 13 from the 24, a Manning pass to Stokley came up one yard short. On 4th and 1 from the 12 again John Fox played it safe. Crowds like to go for it, but the 30 yard Prater field goal was the smart call as it made it a 2 score game again at 27-16 Broncos.

With 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Chargers went for it on 4th and 9 from the Denver 41. A delay of game penalty on Rivers was followed with another interception. Denver moved from their 29 in a time consuming drive that finally stalled at the San Diego 14. Prater hit from 32 to make it 30-16 with only 4 1/2 minutes to play.

After a touchback Rivers led a furious rally that came down to a 4th and 1 at the Denver 21 with 90 seconds to play. Rivers went to Alexander in the end zone, and Alexander appeared to make an acrobatic catch. Despite the replay showing that the ball did hit the ground, the review upheld the touchdown. The Chargers were within 7 points and needed the ball back.

The Chargers took their timeouts, but did not get the ball back until 23 seconds remained. They were at their own 13. Rivers was sacked by Elvis Dumervil to end the game. San Diego could have gotten to 5-5 and only one game out in the AFC West. Instead they are 3 games back of the 7-3 Broncos, which is actually a 4 game deficit since Denver swept San Diego. Norvelous Norv Turner has pulled Lazarus acts to avoid getting fired, but he may finally be out of miracles. Manning threw his 421st touchdown pass, moving ahead of Dan Marino and trailing only Brett Favre. Manning won his 148th game, moving him past Marino, tied with Elway, and again trailing only Favre. 30-23 Broncos

Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots–For a decade, this was the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Yet with the collapse of Indy last year and the departure of Manning ended the rivalry. Yet Andrew Luck is a solid quarterback, and he and Tom Brady both are leading 6-3 teams. It won’t ever be the same, but it could be worth watching.

Indy looked impressive early on. On 3rd and 1 from their 29, Hughes gained 5 and Ballard added 20. From the Patriots 46, a deep ball drew defensive pass interference for a 40 yard gain. Ballard gained 5 and Donald Carter got the last yard as the Colts led 7-0.

New England came right back. On 3rd and 6 from their 23, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for 18 and Rob Gronkowski for 36 and 16 more. On 2nd and goal from the 4 Brady hit the Gronker for the score to tie the game 7-7.

The Colts got it back at their 16 and Andrew Luck hit Hilton for 13. Ballard gained 9 and 4. On 3rd and 7 from the Indy 45, Luck found Brazill for 25. Ballard gained 15 and Luck hit Hilton for the 14 yard touchdown as the 10 play, 84 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Colts up 14-7 after the first quarter. 2 drives made it look easy, but the rest of the game belonged to the experienced Patriots.

Brady moved the Patriots from their 25 to the Indy 18, but Stephen Gostkowski missed a 36 yard field goal. The Colts had the momentum, but they punted and Julian Edelman made them pay. His 68 yard return for a touchdown tied the game 14-14 with 12 minutes left in the half. 2 plays later on 2nd and 1 from their 31, Luck was intercepted by nely acquired Aqib Talib. The Tampa castoff started in the middle, got to the right sideline, and crossed diagonal all the way to the left corner end zone for a 59 yard touchdown return as the Patriots took a 21-14 lead they would not relinquish.

Luck led a 12 play, 5 minute drive from the Indy 19 to a 1st and 10 at the Patriots 29. Yet 3 straight incompletions had the Colts settling for a 47 yard Adam Vinatieri field goal as the Colts trailed 21-17. Brady did likewise, moving the Patriots from their 25 to a 2nd and 7 from the Indy 13. Brady threw incomplete twice, and at the 2 minute warning Gostkowski hit the 31 yarder. The Patriots only led 24-17 at halftime, but by the end people would have forgotten this game was competitive. Luck did move the Colts from their 10 to a 4th and 6 at the Patriots 40, but Vinatieri was no good from 58 as the half ended.

The Patriots began the second half at their own 24 and quickly moved to put the dagger in. On 3rd and 11 Brady hit Edelman for 17 and Welker for 11. Ridley gained 11 and Brady found Gronkowski for a 31 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 2 Brady found Edelman for the score to make it 31-17 Patriots. Luck would lead the Colts from their 20 to a 3rd and 4 at the Patriots 39, but an incompletion was followed by the decision to punt. Indy got it back and faced 3rd and 7 at their own 29. Luck was sacked and fumbled, and Ninkovich recovered for the Patriots at the Indy 24. One play was enough for Brady to hit Gronkowski again for the touchdown as a close game was broken open 38-17 after three quarters.

Luck moved the Colts all day, and on the next drive he got them from their 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Patriots 23. Yet the first play of the fourth quarter was Luck being intercepted by Dennard. Dennard raced the other way for an 87 yard touchdown return and a 45-17 Patirots blowout. Luck would throw a 43 yard touchdown pass to Hilton a coupe minutes later, but they were still down 45-24 and New Engalnd was not done.

On 3rd and 8 from their own 22, Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick kept throwing. Brady hit Gronkowski for 11, and Welker for 14 Edelman took the end around 47 yards, and Ridley got the last 3 yards to make it 52-24 Patriots.

New England got it back at the Indy 39 and Brady kept throwing, hitting Vereen for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the Indy 25, Brady hit Welker for 13. Vereen then gained 5, 3, and the 4 yards for the score to finally complete the scoring. New England tied the most points in franchise history that they set three years ago. Normally a 35 point win is celebratory, but afterward the news was bittersweet. Gronkowski was injured, and would be out 4 to 6 weeks. The Colts at 6-4 are vastly improved, but the 7-3 Patriots are as good as ever and just getting warmed up. They made a statement today, and the league noticed. 59-24 Patriots

Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers is the Sunday night game. Normally this game is exactly why we watch football. These teams under John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin are mirror images of each other, playing hard nosed defensive bonelocks that have produced epic games. This time Baltimore is 7-2 and Pittsburgh is 6-3. Yet this game may miss some of the intensity. Ray Lewis is still out for the Ravens, while Big Ben Roethlisberger is out with an injured shoulder and rib. In fact, the rib injury is a threat to his aorta, meaning if he plays, he could die. Therefore, Byron Leftwich will be guiding the Steelers. Both teams will still bring the lumber.

Everybody expected the Steelers to go conservative with Byron Leftwich in for Big Ben, but Mike Tomlin had other ideas. After a touchback, on the first play from scrimmage, Tomlin had Leftwich roll out and go bombs away. Defensive pass interference meant a 4 2yard gain. Gilreath gained 7, and on the next play Leftwich rolled out, scrambled, evaded a tackler, and lumbered for 31 yard touchdown. Only 43 seconds into the game, the Steelers led 7-0. Leftwich actually hurt himself on the play without being touched. He stumbled in the end zone and landed hard on his shoulder. Charlie Batch would come in for him, but Leftwich would return to gut it out in the Roethlisberger tradition. However, the Steelers would not reach the end zone for the remaining 59 minutes. As for the Ravens, their offense did not reach the end zone at all. This game was exactly what we thought it was, and it was as great as ever.

A few minutes later the Steelers faced 3rd and 10 from their own 14. Leftwich found Mike Wallace for a 15 yard gain, but Wallace had his arm chopped by Chris Johnson, forcing a fumble. Ball hawk Ed Reed recovered the fumble and returned it 17 yards to the Pittsburgh 12. Yet despite their best field position of the whole game, 3 plays netted only 4 yards. Justin Tucker hit the 26 yard field goal to get the Ravens within 7-3.

Late in the first quarter, the Steelers punted on 4th and 10 from their 12. Jones fielded the punt, and got past everybody down the sideline for a 63 yard touchdown. The Ravens led 10-7 after the first quarter. The final three quarters were all defense, as these teams just beat the hell out of each other.

After a scoreless second quarter, the Steelers began the third quarter by moving from their 15 to a 3rd and 8 at the Baltimore 38. Leftwich was intercepted by Graham, who returned the pick 20 yards to the same spot at the Baltimore 38.

Joe Flacco is more than a game manager, but in this game that is what he was required to do. He did go deep to Anquon Boldin for 23 yards, and on 3rd and 6 from the 35 he hit Ray Rice for 8. Yet on 2nd and 4 from the Pittsburgh 21, Flacco threw incomplete twice. In a game where points came at a premium, Tucker hit a 39 yarder to make it 13-7 Ravens.

The Steelers soon faced 2nd and 14 from their 12. Leftwich hit Dwyer for 15. Tomlin then went to the gorund game and Dwyer gained 7 and 11. Rashard Mendenhall gained 4 and 5. On 3rd and 1 from the Baltimore 46, Batch gained 3. Leftwich went deep to Sanders for 20 yards, with unnecessary roughness adding 11 more to the Baltimore 12. On 3rd and 2 from the 4, Leftwich went to Wallace in the end zone. At first it looked like a touchdown, but there would be no 14-13 Steelers lead. Wallace was ruled out of bounds. Shawn Suisham hit the 22 yard field goal. The Steelers trailed 13-10 after three quarters, and the fourth quarter was a last gladiator standing war of attrition. With Ben Roethlisberger and Ray Lewis cheering on opposite sidelines, the fourth quarter told the story.

With 11 minutes left and the Steelers facing 3rd and 9 from the Baltimore 46, Leftwich was sacked by Haloti Ngata. On 3rd and 11 from the Baltimore 43 with 4:40 to play, Leftwich was sacked again.

On 3rd and 7 from their 38 just before the 2 minute warning trying to run out the clock, Flacco was sacked. Yet the Steelers were offsides. It did not matter. On 3rd and 2, Flacco was sacked again.

Pittsburgh got it back at their own 16 with 1:05 to play. Leftwich found Mendenhall for 12 and then found Jerricho Cothery deep. Yet Cotchery got blasted by Pollard to force an incompletion. Leftwich fumbled on the next play but Pittsburgh retained possession. With 12 seconds left, on 4th and 10 from their 28, the hook and laterals did not work.

Had the Steelers won, both teams would have been 7-3. Instead, 8-2 Baltimore has a 2 game lead on Pittsburgh, and the rematch in 2 weeks is in Baltimore. Mike Tomlin and John Harbaugh have built up expectations for these matchups, but those expectations keep being met. This grudge match is why we watch football. The rematch in 2 weeks cannot come soon enough. 13-10 Ravens

Chicago Bears @ San Francisco 49ers is the Monday night game. While these are not the teams from the 1980s, they both have nasty defenses and quarterbacks that do not get their fair share of credit. Chicago lost a tough game last week but are still 7-2 while the 49ers had a stunning tie that got them to 6-2-1. These teams know how to hit, and it could be a slobberknocker.

With Jay Cutler and Alex Smith both out with concussions, it fell to backups Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick to make the difference. The tone was set from the first play with the 49ers at their own 18. Kaepernick hit Mario Manningham for 8 yards with unnecessary roughness tacking on 15 more yards. Kaepernick then went to Vernon Davis for 22 yards and then 12 more. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Chicago 14, Kaepernick fired incomplete. Jim Harbaugh just had a heart procedure, and perhaps he was not in a gambling mood. David Akers hit the 32 yard field goal to make it 3-0 49ers.

Chicago soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 28 when Campbell was sacked. The 49ers got it back at their own 37. On 3rd and 7 Kaepernick went deep to Williams for a 57 yard gain. On the next play Kaepernick hit Davis for the 3 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 49ers.

Chicago punted again and the 49ers took over at their own 4. Frank Gore ran for 13, Kapernick hit Randy Moss for 12, and Gore gained 7 more. On the first play of the second quarter Kaepernick went deep to Davis for 32 yards. Gore gained 13, and Kendall Hunter ran up the middle for a touchdown to make it 17-0 49ers. On the next series Campbell was intercepted, and the 49ers took over at the Chicago 44. Gore gained 14, and on 3rd and 11 Kaepernick hit Michael Crabtree for 20. A sack of Kaepernick stalled the drive but Akers hit from 37 to make it 20-0 49ers at the half.

The second half was more of the same as Chicago punted and the 49ers took over at their own 38. Gore gained 11 and Kaepernick hit Manningham for 37. On 3rd and 6 from the 10 Kaepernick hit Crabtree for the score as the 27-0 49ers blowout ended any suspense.

Campbell would throw a 13 yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall to make it 27-7, but another interception of Campbell meant another short field, setting up Akers in the fourth quarter from 32 to make it 30-7 49ers.

The final indignity came with the Bears facing 3rd and 28 from their own 8, as Campbell was sacked and fumbled. The resulting safety was the exclamation point. Lovie Smith has seen his Bears lose 2 straight and are now only tied for the division lead with a resurgent Green Bay. San Francisco righted the ship after it’s tie last week and is firmly in command of the NFC West. 32-7 49ers

eric

General Petraeus–It’s about Ambassador Stevens

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

General Petraeus–The other naked body

Ever since General David Petraeus resigned in disgrace as the head sled at the Central Intelligence Agency, the media has been focused on his relationship to another naked body. The lack of clothing matters, but the media laser is pointed on the wrong body.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2012/nov/13/general-petraeus-and-other-naked-body/

eric

Veteran’s Day and the General Petraeus tragedy

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Veteran’s Day and David Petraeus–When heroes fall

To American Veteran’s everywhere, thank you and welcome home. May those currently serving experience the appreciation shown on Veteran’s Day for years to come.

Yet Veteran’s Day 2012 comes with more than a tinge of sadness due to the fall of General David Petraeus.

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2012/nov/11/veterans-day-2012-and-david-petraeus-when-heroes-f/

eric

NFL 2012 Week 9 Recap

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 9 Recap

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers was the Thursday night game. The Chargers have lost 3 straight to fall to 3-4 while the Chiefs have dropped four straight to become a woeful 1-6. Norvelous Norv Turner must have compromising photos of the Spanos family because it seems he cannot get fired. Seeing the Chargers blow a 24-0 lead was not enough. Losing to woeful Cleveland 7-6 was not enough. Yet losing at home to the Chiefs would have been enough. That meant the Chargers would probably win.

San Diego exploded out of the gate. On 3rd and 5 from their 25, Philip Rivers found Ajirotutu for a 28 yard gain and Antonio Gates for 21 more. A 14 yard touchdown pass to Gates quickly had the Chargers up 7-0. The rest of the first three quarters was an unwatchable slog worthy of the AFC Worst.

San Diego got it back at their own 22 and Rivers led a 12 play drive that consumed over 8 minutes off of the clock. With 9 minutes left in the half, a 3rd and 9 completion from the Chiefs 14 came up 2 yards short. Norv Turner opted for the field goal and Nick Novak hit from 25 to make it 10-0 Chargers.

Kansas City then played ball control, which was good because it would get this game over with more quickly. They moved from their own 20 to a 3rd and 1 at the San Diego 31. Peyton Hillis got nothing, and on 4th and 1 Romeo Crennel opted for the field goal. Ryan Succop hit from 49 as the Chiefs trailed 10-3 at halftime. The CHargers missed a golden opportunity to put the game away just before the half when they moved from their 37 to a 3rd and goal at the one. Rivers went to the end zone and was intercepted.

The third quarter was even uglier. On 3rd and 1 from their own 35, Dexter McCluster got the carry and got nothing. The Chiefs punted, the Chargers fumbled it, and the Chiefs recovered at the Chargers 24. 3 plays netted only 3 yards, and a 39 yard field goal try by Succop was no good. The Chiefs got it back at their own 7, and moved all the way to a 4th and 5 at the San Diego 23. This time Succop was good from 41 and the Chiefs only trailed 10-6 after three quarters. Would Romeo Crennel be fired, or would Norvelous Norv Turner finally go?

The Fourth quarter was decisive, From their own 20, Ryan Mathews gained 31 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Chiefs 31, Brown gained 7 and 9 more. Rivers threw a 13 yard touchdown to Malcolm Floyd as the Chargers led 17-6 with 11 1/2 minutes to go. The Chiefs soon faced 2nd and 13 from their own 5. Matt Cassel was sacked, fumbled, and Shawn Phillips recovered it in the end zone for a gift touchdown as the Chargers led 24-6. A few plays later facing 2nd and 8 from the San Diego 46, Cassel was intercepted by Williams. Williams returned it 59 yards for a touchdown and the Chargers now led a blowout 31-6.

Norv Turner is an offensive guru, and his game plan was to have 2 defensive touchdowns as Matt Cassel helped the other team. As for Rivers, he only threw 20 passes, completing 18 of them. Norv lived to coach another day. The Chiefs did score a garbage touchdown, which is fitting because they are playing like garbage. 31-13 Chargers

Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals–Peyton Manning is must-see tv, but the Broncos themselves are not and neither are the Bengals. Yet these teams did put together a good football game, which is all Americans ask for on an NFL Sunday.

After a Cincy punt, Denver faced 3rd and 4 from their 26. Manning found Thomas for 5. On 3rd and 3 from their 38, Manning found Bell for 7. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the Cincy 26, Jon Fox decided to cross up the Bengals with a running play. It gained one yard, and a 43 yard Matt Prater field goal made it 3-0 Broncos. After an exchange of punts, Cincinnati took over at their 33. Andy Dalton went deep to AJ Green for a 37 yard gain. On 3rd and 3 from the Denver 23, Dalton hit Green for 5. The Bengals began the second quarter with second and goal at the 10. The Bengals got no further as a 28 yard Mike Nugent field goal made it 3-3.

On 3rd and 2 from their 28, Manning found Thomas for 3 and then went deep to Thomas for a 45 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the 13, Manning found Eric Decker for the touchdown as the Broncos led 10-3. Defenses controlled the rest of the half with the closest thing resembling action being a missed Bengals field goal to close it out.

The third quarter exploded with action as Holliday took the kickoff 5 yards deep in the end zone and raced 105 yards to make it 17-3 Broncos. Yet the Bengals came right back. Dalton ran for 11 and found Gresham on a short pass that went for a 52 yard hain to the Denver 11. From the 10, Dalton hit Green for the score as the Bengals were within 17-10.

Manning moved the Broncos from their 17 to a 2nd and 7 at the Denver 9. Yet he was intercepted in the end zone by Terrence Newman to kill the threat. Cincinnati faced 3rd and 7 from their 234 and Dalton went deep to Sanu for a 34 yard gain. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the Denver 24, a sack of Dalton meant a Nugent attempt from 49 yards out. He was good, as the Bengals crept within 17-13 after three quarters.

The very end of the third quarter saw something bizarre. The ensuing kickoff after the field goal was downed by Ball at the one yard line. Perhaps he thought he was in the end zone, but Denver began in a hole. On 3rd and 8 from their 3, Manning was intercepted again as Cincinnati took over at the Denver 27. The fourth quarter began with Dalton hitting Green for 19 yards and Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis running it in from 2 yards out as 17 unanswered points had the Bengals up 20-17.

Denver faced 3rd and 3 from their 27 and Manning went to Decker for 30 yards and Thomas for 13 more. A deep ball drew a 29 yard defensive pass interference penalty, and on 1st and goal at the one, Manning hit Dreesen for the score. The Broncos retook the lead 24-20 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

With 9 minutes left the Bengals faced 3rd and 25 from their own 18. Dalton went deep and was intercepted. Denver took over at the Cincy 46 looking to put the game out of reach. On 3rd and 5, Manning found Brandon Stokley for 15. On 3rd and 1 from the 17, Willis McGahee gained 12. On 2nd and goal from the 4, Manning hit Decker for the touchdown. Only 3:40 remained, and Denver led by 11.

Needing two scores, Red Rifle Andy Dalton rapidly moved the Bengals from their 30 to a 3rd and 8 at the Denver 17 with one minute left. Yet Dalton was then sacked. The Bengals had to burn their last timeout. Nugent hit from 41 to make it an 8 point game, but the onsides kick failed. Manning overcame his two interceptions with three touchdown passes, as Denver stayed ahead in the AFC Worst while the Bengals under Marvin Lewis continued wasting their talent. 31-23 Broncos

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns–The Ravens have been devastated by injuries and despite being 5-2, their loss to Houston last week was a reality check. They have the benefit of a Cleveland team that has pretty much given up for the next decade. cleveland runs the West Coast Offense, which means throwing an incomplete pass on 3rd and 1 rather than run the ball. After the punt, Baltimore took over at their 30. Ray Rice ran for 7 and Joe Flacco hit Anquon Boldin for 6 more. On 3rd and 8 from their 45, Flacco found Boldin for just enough. Rice gained 11 and 4, and Flacco hit Dickson for 8 and Boldon for 16. Rice ran the final 8 yards as the Ravens made it look easy going up 7-0. They made it look this way because it was.

It was deja vu all over again as Cleveland faced 3rd and 1 at their own 32. Again, the West Coast Offense rather than a power run meant an incomplete pass and a punt. Baltimore soon faced 3rd and 5 from their 39 when Flacco hit Boldin for 6. Rice gained 9 and Flacco went to Torry Smith for a 26 yard gain. On 3rd and 1 from the Cleveland 12, the Ravens tried something unique called running the ball. Pierce got all of it for the touchdown as the Ravens led 14-0.

Cleveland would mount their version of a furious rally in the second quarter. They would face 3rd and 9 from the Baltimore 16. They run the West Coast Offense, which meant a 2 yard completion to pad the stats and a 32 yard field goal by Phil Dawson. Throwing past the marker on third down is not allowed as the Browns trailed 14-3. The Browns would get it back and it was again deja vu all over again yet again as they faced 3rd and 8 at the Baltimore 15. The West Coast Offense meant another dink and dunk pass, this time for 4 yards. Again, throwing past the marker is not allowed as Dawson hit from 29 to have the Browns trailing 14-6.

Cleveland would get it back at their own 39 and moved the Baltimore 11 with 5 seconds left in the half. Dawson connected from 29, but had the Browns had more time to work with they could have thrown an incompletion on 3rd and 1, so kicking the field goal early spared everybody and moved the game along as the Browns trailed 14-9 at halftime.

Brandon Weeden would throw an interception in the third quarter, but the Ravens cooled considerably after their early hot start. Midway through the third quarter the Browns got it back and faced 3rd and 2 at the Baltimore 48. In a stunning turn of events, they called a running play and Trent Richardson gained 3 yards. Unnecessary roughness on the next play had the Browns with 3rd and 4 at the Baltimore 24. Weeden gained 6. Yet on 3rd and 7 from the 15, Weeden threw incomplete. Dawson’s fourth field goal of the day from 33 yards had the Browns within 14-12 after three quarters.

With 12 minutes left in regulation, Cleveland faced 3rd and 6 from their 47. Defensive pass interference meant 7 yards and 1st and 10. Weeden hit Gordon for 12, Greg Little for 10, and on 3rd and 6 from the 18, Gordon for the touchdown. It was a miracle. Cleveland had reached the end zone. naturally, the play was wiped out by illegal formation. Phil Dawson’s 5th field goal from 41 yards out had the Browns winning 15-14. Would a major upset be in the cards?

Of course not. Despite giving up 5 straight field goals, the Ravens rubbed the sleep out of their eyes and the boredom than affected John Harbaugh’s team since going up 14-0 early on. From their 19, Flacco went deep to Boldin for a 40 yard gain. Roughing the passer would add 16 more yards. Ray Rice had a pair of 10 yard gains. On 3rd and 10 from the 19m Flacco hit Smith for the touchdown and Boldin for the 2 point conversion. The Ravens led 22-15 with 4 1/2 minutes left.

Yet asking the Browns to score one touchdown in two consecutive weeks was too much to ask. On 4th and 2 from their own 28, Pat Shurmer decided to go for it rather than punt and trust his defense with 4 minutes left. Weeden threw incomplete, and the Ravens were already in field goal range. Tucker hit from 43 to lock up the victory. The Ravens got to 6-2 while winning ugly while the Browns fell to 2-6 by losing ugly. These teams have been doing exactly this for years. 25-15 Ravens

Arizona Cardinals @ Green Bay Packers–Arizona began winning straight and then lost 4 straight. Now they travel to Green Bay to face a Packers team that is starting to get some of its mojo back after early season stumbles. Early in the game John “Red” Skelton was sacked and Arizona punted. Yet despite great field position thanks to a Randall Cobb return, Aaron Rodgers was sacked and Mason Crosby missed a 44 yard field goal to keep the game scoreless.

Green Bay took over at their own 16 and Rodgers went to work. From the 19, Rodgers hit Jones for 9 and Jermaine Finley for 19 and 6. Green ran for 21, and on 3rd and 18 from the Arizona 18, Rodgers scrambled up the middle for 9 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 13, Rodgers found Randall Cobb for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Packers.

On the first play of the second quarter, The Packers faced 2nd and 4 from their 40. Rodgers was intercepted, giving the Cardinals the ball at the Packers 43. Skelton went deep to Roberts for a 40 yard gain. Larod Stephens-Howling got the one yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

After a touchback, Randall Cobb took a pair of end arounds for gains of 11 and 12. Starks took one for 9 yards and then ran conventionally for 3 and 4. On 3rd and 6 from the Arizona 38, Rodgers threw incomplete but the defense was offsides. On 3rd and 1, Green gained 2. On 3rd and 10, Rodgers found Donald Driver for just enough and on the next play Rodgers went deep and again found Cobb for the 21 yard touchdown. Green bay led 14-7, with more to come.

Green Bay got it back at their own 25 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the halfStarks gained 5 and then fumbled, but the Packers held on. Green caught a pass for 6 and ran for 2 and 5. On 3rd and 3 from their 45, Rodgers found Jones for 7 and Green for 19. At the 2 minute warning, Rodgers went deep to Jones for a 28 yard touchdown as the Packers were firmly in control 21-7.

Early in the third quarter Skelton was intercepted, giving the Packers gift field position at the Arizona 17. Green Bay failed to move the ball and settled for a 33 yard Mason Crosby field goal to lead 24-7. After an exchange of punts Arizona took over at their own 13. Skelton hit Malcolm Floyd for 17 and on 3rd and 10 found Housler for 11. Skelton went to Roberts for 23, and on 3rd and 5 from the Packers 31, hit Larry Fitzgerald for the score to get the Cardinals within 24-14.

Arizona got it back at their 24 and Stephens-Howling gained 11. Skelton hit Housler for 10 and again for 22. A 14 yard completion to Roberts and a 9 yard toss to Fitzgerald set up a critical 3rd and 1 from the 2. Stephens-Howling got the carry and got stoned cold. Now Ken Whisenhunt had a big decision to make. On 4th and 1 from the 2, he opted from the field goal. Jay Feely hit the 20 yarder as the Cardinals were only down 24-17 with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. Yet 2 plays later the game was iced. Rodgers went deep to Crabtree for a 72 yard touchdown.

The fourth quarter was scoreless as Arizona went 3 and out twice and saw their final gasp with 2 1/2 minutes die when a 4th and 3 pass from the Green Bay 34 was incomplete. Arizona has lost 5 straight and Mike McCarthy sees his Packers firmly in the hunt. Rodgers was only 14 of 30 for 218 yards, but four touchdown passes are more than enough on most days including this one. 31-17 Packers

Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans–One of the worst teams travels on the road to play one of the best. This is not why they play the games. Sometimes Goliath takes David, beats him up, and steals his girlfriend and lunch money. League rules required that this game not be canceled.

Yet the Bills were surprisingly game, and they hung tough for most of the day. A mostly defensive first quarter saw the Texans take over at their own 23 late in the period. Matt Schaub hit Walter for 18 and Andre Johnson for 6 more. Arriun Foster gained 14 and Schaub went deep to Owen Daniels for a 39 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Texans after the first quarter. The Texans moved in the second quarter from their 27 to the Buffalo 19. Yet a sack and a penalty meant a 46 yard field goal try by Shane Graham. It was blocked. Buffalo took over at their 36 and Fred Jackson gained 13. Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Dickerson for 13 more and Jones for 14. Yet on 3rd and 9 from the 11, a completion left 4th and 2 at the 4. Chan Gailey opted for the field goal and Ryan Lindell hit the 22 yarder as the Bills were only down 7-3 with 1:45 left in the half. Houston went 3 and out and Buffalo took over at their own 33 with 52 seconds left to work with. Fitzpatrick hit CJ Spiller for 12 yards and Jones for 19. Spiller gained 22 and with 16 seconds left in the half Buffalo had 1st and 10 at the Houston 14. Yet Fitzpatrick was sacked and Buffalo settled for a 38 yard Lindell field goal. The Bills only trailed 7-6 at intermission.

Buffalo went 3 and out to start the third quarter with 3 straight incompletions. Martin returned the punt 26 yards to the Buffalo 43. On 3rd and 5 Schaub went deep to Johnson for a 34 yard gain. Foster gained one and then the last 3 yards as the Texans were doing just enough on offense to lead 14-6.

Buffalo took over at their own 23. Fitzpatrick kept throwing, finding Jones for 15 and Chandler for 27 yards. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the Houston 21, Fitzpatrick threw incomplete. Again Chan Gailey decided to play it safe, and Lindell hit from 39. The Bills were still hanging around down 14-9 after three quarters.

Houston took over at their own 32 late in the third quarter and Schaub hit Walter for 10, Daniels for 12 to midfield, and Johnson for 14. The fourth quarter began with Foster running for 8 and 3 more. Schaub hit Johnson for 18 to the 9. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Schaub hit Graham for the touchdown to put the game out of reach.

Houston was sluggish most of the game, but they scored touchdowns while Buffalo kicked field goals. It was hardly beautiful, but Houston is 7-1 while Buffalo is on the verge of extending the longest playoff drought since the 1999 season when an Adelphia Miracle ended their season. Now their seasons end in October. 21-9 Texans

Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts–Despite being two of the worst teams in the league last year would be in the playoffs today if the season ended. President Obama decided to give a speech in South Florida at the same time as this game. Luckily the game is a road game for Dolphins fans. Nevertheless, a few thousand people may go watch Mr. Obama while 70,000 will watch the game. Anybody wondering which will have higher ratings on television needs to understand the power of the NFL.

Indy came out throwing from their 30 as Andrew Luck hit Avery for 16 yards. On 3rd and 12 from their 44, Luck found Allen for 22 more. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Miami 25, Donald Carter got stopped. After a false start, Adam Vinatieri missed from 48 to keep it scoreless. Miami took over at their 39 and Ryan Tannehill hit Duane Bess for 14 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Indy 43, Tennehill found Brad Hartline for 13 yards. A sack of Tannehill meant a 37 yard field goal try from Dan Carpenter. He made it to make it 3-0 Dolphins.

The Colts came back and soon faced 3rd and 2 from their 28. Luck hit Reggie Wayne for 9 yards. On 3rd and 14 from their 33, Luck hit Hilton for a 25 yard gain. Defensive pass interference added 32 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 9 Luck hit Wayne for the score to make it 7-3 Colts after the first quarter.

After a touchback Tannehill went deep to Hartline for 35 yards and again for 10 more as the Dolphins began the second quarter with 1st and 10 at the Indy 35. Tannehill went deep to Clay for a 31 yard touchdown as the Dolphins retook the lead 10-7. After the touchback, Luck came right back with a 48 yard completion to Avery. On 3rd and 3 Luck hit Ballard for 14. Yet the drive got no further than the 5. Vinatieri hit from 23 as the game was tied 10-10.

Miami got it right back and on 3rd and 8 from their 22 Ryan Tannehill hit Reggie Bush for 19 and Thomas for 11. Thomas then ran for 20. On 3rd and 1 from the 19, Thomas got the yard. On the next play, despite his having dated a Kardashian, Reggie Bush ran for the 18 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Dolphins.

Indianapolis missed a chance to get closer when a 54 yard Vinatieri field goal try was blocked. Yet with only 1:15 left in the half, the Cotls got it back at their own 13. Luck hit Allen for 12, Wayne for 13 and 12 to midfield, ran for 5 himself, and hit Brazill for 6. On 3rd and 20 from just past midfield, Luck hit Hilton for the 20 needed. Yet the Colts had to take their last timeout with 12 seconds left. Vinatieri hit from 47 to have the Colts within 17-13 at intermission.

With 6 minutes left in the third quarter the Colts faced 3rd and 6 from their own 22. Luck hit Ballard for 15. On 3rd and 16 from their 31, Luck found Brazill for 19. Carter gained 9 and 5, and Luck went deep to Hilton for a 36 yard touchdown as the Colts had the 20-17 lead.

Miami took over at their 35 and Tannehill hit Hartline for 15. The fourth quarter began with Miami facing 3rd and 5 at the Indy 42. Tannehill hit Bess for gains of 13 and 16, but 1st and 10 from the 13 was followed by 3 incompletions. Carpenter hit the 31 yarder as the game was tied 20-20 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

On 3rd and 11 from their own 5, Luck hit Allen for a pair of 20 yard gains. On 3rd and 3 from the Miami 45, Luck hi Wayne for 6. Ballard gained 10 and 2, but on 3rd and 6 from the Miami 25, Luck threw incomplete. After 13 plays and 7 minutes, the tie game came down to Vinatieri from 43 yards. He nailed it and the Colts had the 3 point lead.

Miami would punt on one possession and get it back at their own 17 with 2:40 to play. With 1:48 left Miami faced 4th and 15 from their 45. Tannehill rolled to his right, threw across the middle of the field, and somehow completed a duck to Thomas. Yet Thomas was one yard short of the marker, and offensive holding would have nullified the play anyway. Tannehill was decked on the play and the Colts had the tough win.

This was a fine football game, and these teams are no longer losers. Joe Philbin has a 4-4 team and the Colts are 5-3. Luck set the rookie record with 433 yards passing, going 30 of 48 and a pair of touchdowns. Tannehill is turning out to be very good as well, going 22 of 38 for 290 yards and one touchdown. There were zero turnovers in this game, which is another reason these teams are vastly improved. 23-20 Colts

Miami got it right back and on 3rd and 8 from their 22 Ryan Tannehill hit Reggie Bush for 19 and Thomas for 11. Thomas then ran for 20. On 3rd and 1 from the 19, Thomas got the yard. On the next play, despite his having dated a Kardashian, Reggie Bush ran for the 18 yard touchdown to make it 17-10 Dolphins.

Indianapolis missed a chance to get closer when a 54 yard Vinatieri field goal try was blocked. Yet with only 1:15 left in the half, the Cotls got it back at their own 13. Luck hit Allen for 12, Wayne for 13 and 12 to midfield, ran for 5 himself, and hit Brazill for 6. On 3rd and 20 from just past midfield, Luck hit Hilton for the 20 needed. Yet the Colts had to take their last timeout with 12 seconds left. Vinatieri hit from 47 to have the Colts within 17-13 at intermission.

With 6 minutes left in the third quarter the Colts faced 3rd and 6 from their own 22. Luck hit Ballard for 15. On 3rd and 16 from their 31, Luck found Brazill for 19. Carter gained 9 and 5, and Luck went deep to Hilton for a 36 yard touchdown as the Colts had the 20-17 lead.

Miami took over at their 35 and Tannehill hit Hartline for 15. The fourth quarter began with Miami facing 3rd and 5 at the Indy 42. Tannehill hit Bess for gains of 13 and 16, but 1st and 10 from the 13 was followed by 3 incompletions. Carpenter hit the 31 yarder as the game was tied 20-20 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

On 3rd and 11 from their own 5, Luck hit Allen for a pair of 20 yard gains. On 3rd and 3 from the Miami 45, Luck hi Wayne for 6. Ballard gained 10 and 2, but on 3rd and 6 from the Miami 25, Luck threw incomplete. After 13 plays and 7 minutes, the tie game came down to Vinatieri from 43 yards. He nailed it and the Colts had the 3 point lead.

Miami would punt on one possession and get it back at their own 17 with 2:40 to play. With 1:48 left Miami faced 4th and 15 from their 45. Tannehill rolled to his right, threw across the middle of the field, and somehow completed a duck to Thomas. Yet Thomas was one yard short of the marker, and offensive holding would have nullified the play anyway. Tannehill was decked on the play and the Colts had the tough win.

This was a fine football game, and these teams are no longer losers. Joe Philbin has a 4-4 team and the Colts are 5-3. Luck set the rookie record with 433 yards passing, going 30 of 48 and a pair of touchdowns. Tannehill is turning out to be very good as well, going 22 of 38 for 290 yards and one touchdown. There were zero turnovers in this game, which is another reason these teams are vastly improved. 23-20 Colts

Detroit Lions @ Jacksonville Jaguars–The Lions have regressed since last year while the Jaguars may be the worst team in football. Jacksonville may be the only city in America where a political rally will get almost as many fans as an NFL home game, not counting road fans of course. Old reliable Jason Hanson was not so in the first quarter, doinking a 47 yard field goal try off the upright. That was the closest thing to a highlight.

Late in the opening quarter Detroit faced 3rd and 7 from their own 12. Matthew Stafford went to Megatron Calvin Johnson for 10 yards and Leshoure ran for 14 more. A 26 yard completion to Johnson had the Lions at the Jacksonville 37 as the second quarter began. Stafford went to Johnson again for 18. On 3rd and 3 from the 12, Stafford hit Broyles for 5. Leshoure ran the final 7 yards to make it 7-0 Lions. Detroit got it back at their own 47. On 3rd and 9 Stafford hit Brandon Pettigrew for 11. On 3rd and 8 from the Jacksonville 39, Stafford went deep to Johnson for a 38 yard gain. Leshoure got the last yard to make it 14-0 Lions.

Detroit got it back and faced 3rd and 4 at their 35 with under 4 minutes left in the half. Stafford threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference added 20 yards. Stafford found Johnson for 12, and faced 3rd and 7 from the Jags 40 with 1:20 left in the half. Stafford hit Bell for 12 and Titus Young for 17. An 8 yard touchdown run by Leshoure had the Lions up 21-0 at halftime.

The Lions coasted because they could, as a scoreless third quarter was followed by a 42 yard Hanson field goal early in the fourth to make it 24-0 Lions. Blaine Gabbert would throw a 5 yard touchdown to Michael Spurlock with 9 minutes remaining, and the 2 point conversion had the Jaguars down 24-8. There would be no comeback as the Lions moved to ice the game. Stafford hit Johnson for 18 after a touchback and on 3rd and 2 from their 46 Stafford hit Broyles for 7. Bell caught a 14 yard reception and then ran for 11, 7, and the 10 yard touchdown to make it 31-8 Lions.

Jacksonville would get one more garbage touchdown, but garbage is exactly how the Jaguars played in front of their own fans. Jim Schwartz knows his Lions need to get better, but a convincing road win over a bad team is what good teams are supposed to do. The Lions did. 31-14 Lions

Chicago Bears @ Tennessee Titans–The Bears again under Lovie Smith are not as good as their record while the Titans have regressed since last year under Mike Munchak. Yet Jay Cutler and veteran Matt Hasselbeck know how to throw the ball. On the first play from scrimmage, Hasselbeck found Kenny Britt deep for a 43 yard gain. Of course Britt fumbled the ball away. Midway through the first quarter the Titans punted from their own 20. It was blocked by McManis and recovered by Wootton, who returned it 5 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 Bears.

Chicago got it back and quickly faced 2nd and 14 from their own 5. Webb was called for an offensive holding in the end zone, resulting in a safety. The Titans were within 7-2, but the free kick resulted in them punting it back on 4th and 27 from their own 9. The nightmare for Tennessee was just getting started, and by the end of this game it would be hard to believe it started 0-0.

Devon Hester returned the punt 44 yards to the Tennessee 8, ever so close to extending his own NFL touchdown returns record. Matt Forte needed one play to run into the end zone to make it 14-2 Bears. 2 plays later Matt Hasselbeck put the game out of reach by throwing an interception to Brian Urlacher. Urlacher returned it 46 yards for a score and all of a sudden it was 21-2 Bears. On the next play from scrimmage the Titans fumbled and the Bears took over at the Tennessee 16. On 3rd and 7 Jay Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for the 13 yard touchdown. The Bears set a franchise record for most points in the first quarter. They led 28-2 after one and could have won 112-8 had they tried harder.

The Bears would pile it on but even they did not get as much as they could have. They tacked on a field goal in the second quarter and with 1:15 left in the half had 1st and 10 at the Titans 14 on a drivbe that had them backed up to their own 9. Yet Cutler was sacked and fumbled. That led to a Tennessee field goal as the half ended, but it was hard to fault the Bears for being up by 26 instead of 36.

Tennessee did try to make a game of it in the third quarter when Hasselbeck threw a 30 yard touchdown to Nate Washington. Yet down 31-12, the Titans would see the Bears continue their avalanche of points. After the touchback, Forte ran for a 46 yard gain with a horsecollar tackle adding 15 more. A 3rd  and goal from the 5 pass to Forte lost 2 yards, but a 25 yard Robbie Gould field goal made it 34-12 Bears. Deja vu all over again had the Bears moving from their 20 to a 3rd and goal at the 4. Yet Cutler threw incomplete and Gould hit from 22. Once again it is hard to criticize a team up 37-12, although Lovie Smith will talk about improvements in goal line situations.

In the fourth quarter Cutler would throw a 39 yard touchdown to Marshall, and Tennessee needed one play from scrimmage to turn it over again. The Bears recovered the fumble at the Titans 2 yard line, and on 3rd and goal at the 5 Cutler hit Marshall for the score. With 10 1/2 minutes still to play, the Bears had a 51-12 lead.

Tennessee would get a touchdown when Chris Johnson broke free for an 80 yard run. The 2 point conversion had the Titans within 31 points. The onsides kick failed, and the Bears took over at the Tennessee 42. Lovie Smith kept it on the ground rather than throw the ball like classless coaches do in this situation. Allen ran for 10, 3, 6, 5, 3, 8, 0, and 2 to set up 3rd and goal at the 5. Allen took the ball again and lost 7 yards. On 4th and goal from the 12 with 4 minutes left, a classy Lovie Smith decided not to bring on the field goal unit to run up the score. He handed it to Allen for the 10th straight time up the middle for a 2 yard gain and left it at that.

The game was a statement, but perhaps a bigger statement needs to be made. While these Bears are not the 1940 Monsters of the Midway or the 1985 Super Bowl Shufflers. Yet they are 7-1. Various Bears teams in 2001, 2005, and 2007 have coasted on an easy record to the playoffs and lost badly at home. Even the 2006 Super Bowl team was not as good as the top 4 AFC teams that year. Yet despite the legendary Dennis Green scream that “the Bears are who we thought they were,” maybe that is not the case this year. They could still be pretenders, but 51 points on the road is not who we think even good teams are. This is a quality Chicago football team. 51-20 Bears

Carolina Panthers @ Washington Redskins–Carolina is a woeful 1-6 while Washington is vastly improved. Last year’s phenom Cam Newton is struggling while Robert Grffin III is this year’s playmaker. Carolina hung tough and lost a heartbreaker at the gun last week, and this week they moved from their 20 to a 4th and 9 at the Washington 38. Ron Rivera decided to punt and play field position.

Washington would face 3rd and 10 from their own 3 when a completion only got half. Yet roughing the passer gave the Redskins a second chance. On 3rd and 6 from the Washington 27, Griffin hit Morgan for 16 and Paulsen for 12. The drive stalled, but Forbath hit from 47 to make it 3-0 Redskins.

Carolina came back and had 3rd and 1 from their 40. Newton gained 3 and the ground game did the rest. Stewart took an end around 17 yards, Newton went around the end again for 10 more, and a third straight run around the right end was a 30 yard Deangelo Williams touchdown run to make it 7-3 Panthers.

In the second quarter Washington began after a touchback and held the ball for a staggering 10 minutes. On 4th and 3 from the Carolina 38, Mike Shanahan went for it and RGIII hit Morgan for 6 yards. On 4th and 1 from the 10 Shanahan went for it again and Young gained 3. On 3rd and goal at the 4, a completion only got half of it. On 4th and goal at the 2, for the third time on the drive, Shanahan kept throwing. RGIII got nothing. From their 2, Carolina soon faced 3rd and 2 from the 10, Newton gained 11. On 3rd and 6 from the 25, Newton hit Greg Olsen for 17 and Stewart for 6. Roughing the passer added 15 more and Newton went back to Olsen for another 8. Defensive pass interference tacked on 7 more yards to make it 1st and 10 at the Washington 19. On 3rd and 10 Newton went to Steve Smith for the touchdown as the Panthers took the 14-3 lead at halftime.

The third quarter belonged to the defenses, although Washington did move from their 23 with RGIII finding Hankerson for 25 yards. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the Carolina 11, a running play gained only half of it. Shanahan would not be gambling this time as Forbath connected from 25 as the Redskins still trailed 14-6 entering the fourth quarter.

The first play of the fourth quarter was the play of the game. From their own 9, Newton went deep and connected with Edwards for an 82 yard gain to the Washington 9. Defensive pass interference moved the ball to the one and Newton took it in. The Panthers had a commanding 21-6 lead with 13 minutes left in regulation. With 6 minutes left in the game the Redskins faced 4th and 10 from their 43 after 3 incompletions. RGII was sacked to end the threat. The Panthers would miss a 50 yard field goal, but at this point it did not matter. A Washington touchdown with 1:34 to play made the score look respectable, but after a failed onsides kick it was over. This one was a surprise, as the shootout turned out to be a defensive hard fought road win for beleaguered Carolina and a head-scratcher for Washington. 21-13 Panthers

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

The Raiders at 3-4 have won consecutive games against two of the worst teams in the league. A home game against another subpar Tampa Bay team separated the Raiders from a .500 record. Yet The battle of pirates has been misery for the Raiders overall. It has been a decade since the Buccaneers shellacked the Raiders in the Super Bowl, beginning their decade long slide. A couple of years later the Raiders won the game but an injury late ended Rich Gannon’s career. The 2012 Pirate Bowl was once again a nightmare for the Silver and Black.

This game saw only 3 points in the opening quarter, 14 in the second quarter, 21 in the third quarter, and a 36 point fourth quarter explosion for 17 first half points and 57 second half points.

A slugfest early on saw the Buccaneers on their second drive move from their own 10 to a 4th and 7 at the Oakland 17. 30 yards in penalties against the Oakland defense started the drive. Yet the 35 yard Connor Barth field goal try was blocked by Lamar Houston to keep the game scoreless. Houston returned the blocked kick 34 yards to the Tampa 44. On 3rd and 3, the Bucs jumped offsides. Darren McFadden was hurt on his very first carry with a high ankle sprain, but he stayed in the game. He rushed for only 17 yards on his first 7 carries, but on this drive gains of 5 and 7 moved the Raiders along. Carson Palmer hit Mike Goodson for an 11 yard gian to set up 1st and goal at the 10. Yet as has been the case too often with the Raiders, the red zone was the dead zone. McFadden lost a yard and Palmer threw incomplete twice as the Raiders settled for a 29 yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal to lead 3-0 after the opening quarter.

The second quarter began with the Buccaneers facing 3rd and 15 at their own 15. Josh Freeman then went deep to Vincent Jackson, who burned the Raiders repeatedly when he was in San Diego. Jackson did it again, catching a 64 yard completion. A taunting penalty on Jakson moved the Bucs back, but from the 36 the Raiders were introduced to Oakland born running back Doug Martin. Martin would gash them before the day was over. On this drive he ran for 3 and 13, and Freeman went back to Jackson for a 20 yard touchdown as the Buccaneers led 7-3 early in the second quarter.

The next drive was just a blunder bowl, with some big plays thrown in. On 3rd and 3 from their 27, Palmer hit Denarius Moore for 21 yards. Yet a sack of Palmer had the Raiders punting on 4th and 20 from their 38. Yet roughing the kicker instead meant 1st and 10 at the Tampa 47. Palmer went deep to Derek Hagan for a 47 yard touchdown, but offensive holding nullified the score. On 4th and 13 from midfield, Shane Lechler came out to punt again. Dennis Allen called a fake punt, and Lechler completed the pass to Taiwan Jones. Yet Jones fumbled the ball. He recoverd it, but the Raiders only gained 6 yards and turned it over on downs.Yet on 4th and 5 from the Oakland 38, Greg Schiano opted to punt it back.

With 1:42 left in the half, the Raiders took over at their own 29. Palmer went deep to Darrius Heyward-Bey for a 46 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 Palmer fired to Rod Streater for the touchdown as the Raiders led 10-7 at halftime. They led Miami at halftime before getting blown out 35-13. The second half was too bizarre to fathom.

The third quarter was almost as nightmarish as the Super Bowl a decade earlier. Tampa faced 2nd and 3 from their 27 and Martin ran for 10 and 6. Freeman hit Ware for 12 yards, and Martin rambled for a 45 yard touchdown as the Bucaneers regained the lead 14-10. Oakland went 3 and out, and the Bucs faced 3rd and 5 from their 45. Freeman hit Williams for a 37 yard gain. Martin gained 6 and 1, and on 3rd and 3 from the 11 Lamar Houston was offsides. Freeman hit Williams for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 21-10 Buccaneers.

Palmer moved the Raiders from their 20 to 1st and 10 at the Tampa 38. Yet dinking and dunking under Dennis Allen only increases the chances for disaster, and Palmer was intercepted by Johnson. From the Tampa 33, Martin broke into the clear again, rumbling for a 67 yard touchdown as the 21 point Buccaneers third quarter had the Raiders trailing 28-10 going into the fourth.

After a touchback, Palmer hit Moore for 12, Brandon Myers for 11, and Marcel Reece for a 26 yard gain. Palmer went back to Reece for 15 more as the Raiders began the fourth quarter at the Tampa 21. Palmer hit Goodson for 12 and Myers for a 4 yard touchdown as the Raiders were within 28-17 less than one minute into the fourth quarter. Yet only seconds later they were down by 18 again as one play from scrimmage was enough for Martin to break free yet again for a 70 yard touchdown. This keystone cops effort by the run defense had the Buccaneers back up 35-17. At this point Palmer mounted a furious rally.

From the 20, Palme hit Streater for gains of 8 and 15 and Moore for 26 more. On 3rd and 5 from the Tampa 21, Palmer hit Streater for 6. Defensive pass interference put the ball on the one, and Palmer hit Myers for the touchdown to get the Raiders within 35-24 with 10 minutes to play.

The onsides kick failed, and Tampa took over at the Oakland 44. Yet on 2nd and 3 from the 27, the Raiders received a break when Freeman fumbled and Richard Seymour recovered. The Raiders took over at their own 35. On 3rd and 10 Palmer hit Reece for 20 and Hagan for 6. With 6 minutes left and 4th and 2 from the Tampa 37, Palmer threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference meant a 13 yard gain and new life. On 4th and 2 from the 16, Palmer gained 3 and then hit Reece for the 13 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion to Criner succeeded. The Raiders were down 35-32 with 4 minutes left. The Raiders had all of their timeouts. Despite Martin running wild all day, Greg Schiano called some pass plays rather than grind it out. The Bucs netted one yard, and the Raiders got it back at their own 38 with 2:42 to play and 2 timeouts. A miracle comeback for the ages was still possible.

Then it wasn’t. Palmer went deep and was intercepted by Black. Black returned it 34 yards to the Oakland 22. The Silver and Black desperately needed a stop on defense again, and this time none was coming. Martin gained 13, 8, and then the final yard to put the Buccaneers back up by 10 1:48 to play. Palmer would go deep again and get intercepted again to snuff out the rally.

Freeman was 18 of 30 for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns, but the real star was Doug Martin. He rushed for 251 yards, 10 yards per carry, and 4 touchdowns. Carson Palmer put the ball in the air 61 times, completing 39 of them for 414 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, all late, the last one after the outcome was decided. The Buccaneers are 4-4 and the Raiders fell to 3-5. This was another double digit loss. What Dennis Allen is doing is not working. The offense only moves when Palmer is unleashed. The vertical game actually is working. Yet the dink and dunk West Coast Offense is killing the Raiders in games. In this game the offense was terrible in the first half and the defense was pathetic in the second half. This looks to be a conditioning issue. A couple of wins over awful teams does not change the fact that the Raiders lost a very winnable game. This team appears set to fall apart down the stretch and perhaps go 4-12 like they did under Joe Bugel. Al Davis is rolling over in his grave after another loss to the Buccaneers. 42-32 Buccaneers

Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks–Both of these teams are much improved from last year but still not good enough to quiet the skeptics. Adrian Peterson never should have had skeptics, and he would gash Seattle for 182 yards on the day. After the opening touchback, Peterson gained 5 yards, broke free for a 74 yard run down to the one, and then got the last yard to make it 7-0 Vikings only 90 seconds into the game. Yet on their next possession, facing 3rd and 10 from their own 11, Percy Harvin gained 8 yards before fumbling. Seattle took over at the Minnesota 17. Marshawn Lynch ran for 3 and 8 and Russell Wilson hit Golden Tate for the 6 yard score to make it 7-7.

Later in the quarter Seattle took over at their 22. Wilson hit Tate for 5 and Sidney Rice for a 23 yard gain to midfield. Lynch gained 3 and 10, and then Pete Carroll went to the bag of tricks. Wilson got it to Rice, and Rice threw the halfback option deep to Zach Miller for a 25 yard gain down to the 12. On 3rd and 9 from the 11, Wilson hit Rice for the touchdown as Seattle led 14-7 after the first quarter.

Minnesota came right back from their 20. On 3rd and 7 Ponder hit Jenkins for just enough. Harvin gained 6 and Ponder hit Simpson for 14 as the Vikings began the second quarter at midfield. On 3rd and 4 from the 44, a defensive pass interference penalty went for 24 yards. Ponder hit Reisner for 13 and Peterson ran for 2 and the last 4 to tie the game 14-14.

Seattle failed to convert on 3rd and 1, and Minnesota got it back at their own 24. Ponder gained 8, and Peterson ran wild on consecutive plays, gaining 24 and 15. Harvin gained another 15, but on 3rd and 7 from the 11 Ponder was sacked to kill the drive. Walsh hit a 36 yard field goal as the Vikings led 17-14 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Seattle took over after a touchback and went tothe gorund game. Lynch gained 4, Robinson 6, and Lynch 8 more. On 3rd and 4 from the Seattle 36, Wilson hit Rice for 7. On 3rd and 7 from the Seattle 46, Wilson hit Baldwin but came up one yard short. With 1:52 left in the half, Pete Carroll decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the Minnesota 48. Wilson got the yard, and then went deep to Miller for a 22 yard gain. From the 20, Wilson hit Turbin for 9 and Tate for the 11 yard touchdown with 52 seconds left in the half. The extra point was blocked, but the Seahawks led 20-17 at halftime. The first half was a track meet, but the second half would be considerably slower.

After an exchange of punts in the third quarter, Seattle took over at their 28. Tate gained 13 and 8, and Wilson ran for 8 and 2. On 3rd and 10 from the Minnesota 43, Wilson was sacked. Yet the defense was offsides. On 3rd and 5 Wilson hit Tate for 6. Lynch ran for 23 yards, 3 more, and the final 3 for the touchdown to make it 27-17 Seahawks.

Minnesota again came back from their 19 as Peterson ran for a 28 yard gain. Unsportsmanlike conduct added 15 to the Seattle 41. Seattle gained only 4 more yards, and Walsh leveled a 55 yard field goal to get the Vikings within 27-20 after three quarters.

Seattle would get it back after an exchange of punts and face 2nd and 13 from their 37. Wilson hit Lynch for 23 yards, and Lynch ran for 7 and 2. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 31, Wilson hit Robinson for 16. A sack of Wilson ended the drive, but Hauchska hit the critical 40 yard field goal to make it a 10 point game and put it out of reach. Ponder was quickly intercepted, and Seattle ran out the last 5 1/2 minutes.

Lynch gained 124 yards and Wilson was 16 of 24 for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Ponder was awful, going 11 of 22 for 63 yards and the one interception late. Both teams are 5-4, but Minnesota fans still are not sold on Ponder. 30-20 Seahawks

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Giants–This game was played with the backdrop of heavy hearts from Hurricane Sandy. The decision was made not to move the game. The STeelers decided to come in the day of the game rather than the day before and fly out the same night. This was so they would not take up hotel rooms that were desperately needed by displaced New Yorkers and New Jerseyites. Yet Mike Tomlin and Tom COughlin have no patience for excuses, and both teams knew they had a job to do.

A scoreless first quarter saw the Giants fail to convert on 3rd and 1 and later have Eli Manning throw an interception. Pittsburgh took over at their own 42, and began the second quarter with a critical 3rd and 4 at the Giants 23. Ben Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 5 yards. Ian Redman ran for 7, 5, and 2 and Roethlisberger hit Emanuel Sanders for the 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Giants.

The Giants took over at their own 28. From their 39, Manning went deep and drew a 41 yard defensive pass interference penalty. On 3rd and 2 from the 12, Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 4, 3, and 3. On 3rd and goal at the 2 Manning threw incomplete, but a personal foul on the defense put the ball on the one. Brown got in to tie the game 7-7.

Rainey returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Giants 48. Yet on 2nd and 5 from the Giants 32, major controversy ensued. Roetholisberger went back to pass and was hit as he was throwing. His arm was clearly going forward when the ball slipped out. It was not even a “tuck rule” case. Boley picked it up and raced 70 yards the other way for a Giants touchdown. Yet not only did the replay clearly show his arm going forward, there was also an illegal block on the play. A shocked Roethlisberger saw the officials say that the play stood. Even some of the Giants seemed surprised to be leading 14-7. Roger Goodell was at this game, and thankfully nobody asked him if these were the replacement refs.

The last 90 seconds of the half would be a struggle to see who would score next. Pittsburgh faced 3rd and 7 from the Giants 41. Yet long field goal range became a punt when Roethlisberger was sacked for a 12 yard loss. The Giants quickly moved from their 20 to the Pittsburgh 33. Yet with 30 seconds left in the half, Lawrence Tynes was no good from 51 yards out. From the Pittsburgh 41, Big Ben hit Jerricho Cotchery for 24 yards as the Steelers called their last timeout with 20 seconds left. A 23 yard completion to Heath Miller allowed Big Ben to spike the ball with 5 seconds left. Suisham hit the 30 yarder as the Steelers trailed 14-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Giants moved from their own 7 to a 2nd and 7 at the Pittsburgh 32. Yet the Giants got no further. Tynes nailed a 50 yarder as the Giants led 17-10.

The Steelers got it back at their own 6, and from their 20, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Webster. The Giants took over at the Pittsburgh 33. On 3rd and 1, Brown gained 8. The Giants reached 2nd and goal at the 2, but Brown lost 3 yards. Manning threw incomplete and again the Giants settled for a 23 yard Tynes field goal. Big Blue led 20-10 after three quarters, but this game was far from done.

The fourth quarter began with the Steelers facing 3rd and 5 just shy of midfield. Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace over the middle, and the speedster got to the outside, and just outraced everybody for a 51 yard touchdown. Only one minute into the fourth quarter, the Steelers trailed 20-17.

The Giants went 3 and out after Manning was sacked for an 11 yard loss. Emanuel Sanders took the punt and raced 63 yards, finally being taken down at the Giants 12 yard line. That proved to be key. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Big Ben completed a pass to Redman, who ran into a Big Blue brick wall. On 4th and 1 from the 3, Mike Tomlin decided to settle for the field goal. Yet Tomlin went to his bag of tricks, and it was a fake. A shovel pass to kicker Suisham was snuffed out when Coe, the only Giant in the area, made a perfect tackle. With 10 1/2 minutes left, this hard-nosed game saw both defenses make big stands.

The Giants again went 3 and out and the Steelers got it back just shy of midfield. Roethlisberger hit Miller for 14 yards and Cotchery for 12. On 3rd and 7 from the 14 Redman only gained 5, but the GIants jumped offsides. With 3rd and 2 instead of 4th and 2, Redman gained 8 and then got the final yard for the go ahead touchdown. The Steelers had a 4 point lead with 4 minutes to play.

The Giants yet again went 3 and out and on 4th and 9 from their own 13 but with all 3 timeouts and 3 minutes to play, Tom Coughlin decided to punt and trust his defense. Now it came down to attitude. The Steeler running game would bang into the Giants defense.

A pair of runs went nowhere and the Giants took 2 timeouts. With 2:40 left the Steelers faced 3rd and 9 from their 29. Mike Tomlin has cojones of steel, and he called a pass play knowing that an incompletion would stop the clock while a run would force the Giants into using their last timeout. The gamble paid off as Big Ben hit Sanders for a 16 yard gain. On the next play Redman broke free for a 28 yard gain. Roethlisberger knelt 3 times and the game was over.

This was more than just a tough football game between two classy organizations with good records, the Steelers 5-3 and the Giants 6-3. This was a brief respite from the real pain going on, and both coaches alluded to that. A scary moment came late when Raines got leveled and was on the ground. Players on both teams knelt together in prayer, and Raines eventually walked off the field with help. While neither of these teams would have a first round bye if the season ended, this would not be a bad rematch in February. Last year the Giants began 6-2 before losing 4 straight and then righting the ship. This year they came in 6-2 with a stranglehold on the division by 2 1/2 games. Yet losing today should not set off the panic button. As for both teams, the Rooneys and the Maras have given much to the NFL, and both teams gave the fans a reason to watch today. 24-20 Steelers

Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons is the Sunday night game. Mike Smith may look like an average non-descript white guy named Mike Smith, but he has an unbeaten football team. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys have been one of biggest underachievers this year. While this had the makings of a blowout, as uber-announcer Chris Berman reminds us, “That’s why they play the games.”

Both quarterbacks played well, with Tony Romo going 25 for 35 with 321 yards and a touchdown. Matt Ryan went 24 of 34 for 342 yards. Yet despite the stats, the first three quarters was a defensive bonelock that saw neither team reach the end zone.

Atlanta went 3 and out and Dallas got the first big break of the game when Harris returned the punt 37 yards to the Atlanta 32. Romo hit Miles Austin for 9 and Kevin Ogletree for 10. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 5, Romo threw incomplete. Dan Bailey hit from 23 to make it 3-0 Cowboys. Atlanta moved from their 20 to a 2nd and 2 at the Dallas 18. Yet Michael Turner got nothing and Jaquez Rodgers lost a yard. Matt Bryant came in for the 37 yard field goal to tie it, but it was no good.

Dallas took over and soon faced 3rd and 20 from their own 17. One play made the difference as Romo went deep to Ogletree for a 65 yard gain. Yet on 2nd and 6 from the 14, Romo threw incomplete twice. Bailey hit from 32 as Dallas led 6-0 after the first quarter.

From the Atlanta 27, Ryan went to Julio Jones for 20 yards. On 3rd and 7 from midfield, Ryan hit Roddy White for 18 yards. On the first play of the second quarter, on 3rd and 7 from the Dallas 29, Ryan hit Jason Snelling for only a 2 yard gain. Depite the earlier miss, Bryant was good from 45 as Atlanta trailed 6-3. Dallas moved from their 19 to a 4th and 7 at the Atlanta 36. Bailey came in for a 54 yarder, and it was no good. This gave Atlanta good field position at their own 44. They faced an almost identical 4th and 3 at the Dallas 36. Yet with one missed field goal for each team, Mike Smith at this point decided to play field position and punt. Dallas took over at their own 3 with 6 minutes left in the half. At the 2 minute warning they faced 3rd and 1 just shy of midfield. Tanner got the carry and got nowhere near the halfstripe. They punted, and Atlanta took over at their own 12 with one minute left in the half.

On 3rd and 5 with 37 ticks left, Ryan hit White for 20 yards and scrambled for 8 more. Dallas was charged an injury timeout with 17 seconds left. That lucky break allowed Ryan to hit Gonzalez for gains of 12 and 15. That left 3 seconds for Bryant to try from 46. He was good, and the game was deadlocked 6-6 at halftime.

The third quarter saw both teams move the ball but not translate into points. Dallas moved from their 14 to a 3rd and 7 at the Atlanta 44, but a sack of Romo meant a punt. Atlanta moved from their 14 to the Dallas 25, but from 43 yards out Bryant missed for the second time on the day. Atlanta got it back on their own 19 and Ryan hit White for 16 yards. Michael Turner gained 8 yards and then broker free for a 43 yard gain. Atlanta began the fourth quarter with 2nd and 7 at the Dallas 11. Ryan hit White for 8 and Turner got the 3 yard touchdown one minute into the fourth quarter. After 46 minutes the end zone was cracked as the Falcons led 13-6.

Dallas went 3 and out and Atlanta faced 2nd and 13 from their 17. Ryan hit Julio Jones for a 48 yard gain, and on 3rd and 1 from the 26, Jones gained 8. The drive stalled at the 18, but Bryant hit from 36  to give Atlanta some breathing room up 16-6 midway through the fourth quarter.

Dallas took over at their 22. Romo hit Austin, who despite having dated a Kardashian, for a 20 yard gain. Romo went to Felix Jones for 6 yards, Jason Witten for gains of 7 and 10, Jones again for 14, and finally to Ogletree for a 21 yard touchdown. The Cowboys were within 16-13 and 5 1/2 minutes still remained. If Dallas could get the ball back they had a shot at the upset.

With 4 minutes left Atlanta faced 3rd and 6 from their own 24. Ryan hit Rodgers for a 31 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 43 with 3 1/2 minutes left, Ryan threw incomplete. Yet a killer defensive holding penalty on Scandrick instead meant 1st and 10 as Dallas had to use their last timeout. On 3rd and 5 from the 33, knowing an incompletion would stop the clock, Ryan hit Rodgers for 11 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 16, a first down would end it as only 1:10 remained. Mike Smith kept it on the ground with the cowboys unable to stop the clock. On 4th and 2 from the 14, Bryant hit from 32 for his 4th kick in 6 tries. The Falcons only had a 6 point lead, but only 17 seconds remained. Rather than the squib kick, Smith had it kicked deep, and the result was a touchback.

17 seconds in 80 yards with 0 timeouts is not easy. Romo hit Witten for 7 and 11. On the last play of the game from the Dallas 40, Romo heaved a completion to Felix Jones, who escaped several Falcons. Yet with a nervous home crowd looking on, Jones only gained 39 yards down to the Atlanta 21. The Falcons had survived to get to 8-0. Dallas fell to 3-5. The Cowboys gave the Falcons all they could handle, but Atlanta did just enough to stay perfect at the halfway mark. 19-13 Falcons.

Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints was the Monday night game. Walrus Lite Andy Reid and quarterback Michael Vick are both under fire as Philly as has lost 3 straight. The firing of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo has not turned things around. As for the Saints, despite the 0-4 start under Aaron Kromer, they won a couple although Joe Vitt’s debut last week was less than auspicious. The loser of this game would be in dire straights.

The Eagles moved the ball after a touchback to a 1st and 10 at the Saints 27. Yet then the room caved in as consecutive sacks of vick meant 3rd and 35 and a punt one play later. The Saints moved from their 20 to a 3rd and 3 at the Philly 34. Drew Brees threw incomplete, and Garret Hartley missed a 52 yard field goal try to keep the game scoreless.

The Eagles took over at their own 42, and from the Saints 45 Brown raced for a 40 yard gain. On 2nd and goal from the 6 came the play of the game. Vick fired to Captain Morgan Brent Celek, resulting in a touchdown. Yet it was not Celek in the end zone, as the ball caromed off of him, intercepted by Robinson, and returned coast to coast the other way. The 99 yard touchdown return lit up the Superdome and had the Saints up 7-0.

After a touchback the Eagles moved the ball again and began the second quarter facing 3rd and 3 at the Saints 40. Vick hit Harbor, but came up one yard short. Andy Reid decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 38. The entire world knows Andy Reid refuses to run the ball in that situation. Yet this time he did, and McCoy got in the open for a 34 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 4. Yet after another run gained nothing, Reid abandoned the ground as expected, Vick threw incomplete twice, and the Eagles settled for a 22 yard Henery field goal and a 7-3 deficit.

The Saints soon faced 3rd and 1 from their 33, and Mark Ingram gained 5 yards and then burst for a 23 yard gain. Brees hit Graham for gains of 9 and 8, and Ivory got around the end for a 22 yard touchdown run to make it 14-3 Saints. The Saints got it back with 5 minutes left in the half at their 26. Ingraham gained 7 and Brees hit Graham for 13 more. Ivory gained 8 and Brees hit Graham again for 17. Pierre Thomas gained 19 and 9 and Brees capped off the drive with a one yard touchdown to Marques Colston. Brees extended his own NFL record with his 51st straight game with at least one touchdown pass as the Saints took a 21-3 lead into the locker rooms. The Saints for the most part coasted the rest of the game.

The Saints took the opening kickoff and moved from their 22 to a 1st and goal at the Philly 9. Looking to put the game away early, Brees was sacked and fumbled, and the Eagles took over at their 17. Two plays later Vick did what e is capable of doing when he is at his best. He went bombs away, and found Desean Jackson for a 77 yard touchdown. Rather than a 28-3 game, the 14 point swing had the Eagles only down 21-10.

The Saints then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Eagles the ball at the New Orleans 22. Vick scrambled for 14 yards to set up 1st and goal at the 8. Yet a sack of Vick wasted the opportunity a the Eagles settled for a 37 yard Henery field goal. Two trips to the red zone inside the 10 yard line meant field goals instead of touchdowns. Rather than a tie 21-21 game, the Eagles were down 21-13.

The Saints stayed calm from their own 30 despite giving away 10 quick points. On 2nd and 12 from their 28, Brees hit Ingram for 16, Devry henderson for 8, and on 3rd and 7 from the Saints 47, Moore for 23 yards to the Philly 30. A pair of 7 yard Ingram runs and a defensive penalty meant 1st and goal at the 8. Brees threw a 6 yard touchdown pass to Graham as the Saints built their lead back up to 15 points after three quarters.

Philadelphia got a jolt of momentum on the ensuing kickoff when they redid the Adelphia Miracle made famous in Tennessee and infamous in Buffalo. Boykin tossed the kick to Cooper, who raced all the way for a combined 107 yard kickoff return. Yet unlike that fateful playoff game after the 1999 season, this time it was a forward lateral. Rather than a one score game, the Eagles were backed up to their own 3 yard line and would punt. Philly got it back at their own 26 with 9 minutes to play and reached 1st and goal at the 5 with 4 minutes left. Yet the Eagles self-destructed as consecutive penalties and a sack of Vick meant 3rd and goal from the 22. Vick found Celek for a 14 yard gain but again Celek’s tough night got worse as he fumbled and the Saints recovered at their own 7.

The Saints would punt, but a 66 yard punt backed the Eagles up to their 38 with 1:54 left. Their was not enough time, and despite reaching the Saints 15 with 22 seconds left, 3 straight incompletions finally ended it. The last incompletion went in the area of Celek. The scoreless fourth quarter had both teams at 3-5. Yet the Saints have won 3 of 4 and the Eagles have seen their 3-1 start go up in smoke. Things are definitely not sunny in Philadelphia while the Saints are moving in the right direction. 28-13 Saints

eric

NFL 2012 Week 8 Recap

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

NFL 2012 Week 8 Recap

The only way to recover from a Saturday night of South Beach, Miami revelry is to spend the entire Sunday relaxing and watching football. So let’s do this America. Time for some football.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings was the Thursday night game. The Vikings came in a very strong 5-2 while the Buccaneers were an up and down team. So naturally at home Minnesota would show that they were ready for the big time and take back the NFC North crown. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman says, “That’s why they play the games.”

A field position game early on had Minnesota punting twice and the Buccaneers once, with Tampa taking over at their own 42. Doug Martin, who would gash the Minnesota defense all game, got started with a 41 yard run up the middle. Despite 2nd and 3 from the 10, Josh Freeman threw incomplete twice and the Bucs would settle for a 28 yard Connor Barth field goal and a 3-0 lead. Tampa got it back and soon faced 3rd and 10 from the Minnesota 48. Freeman went deep to speedster Vincent Jackson for a 26 yard gain. Freeman then hit Martin for 9 and Dallas Clark for 10 before capping off the drive with a one yard touchdown pass to Lorig to make it 10-0 Buccaneers.

Minnesota fumbled the ball away on their next series, and Tampa took over at their own 46. Martin quickly gained 12 and 8. On 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 34, Martin got the deuce as the second quarter began. The drive stalled at the 20, but Barth hit from 40 to make it 13-0 Buccaneers in front of a stunned home crowd.

The Vikings finally got a jolt of life when Percy Harvin took a pass from Christian Ponder after a touchback 32 yards. Adrian Peterson gained 11 yards, and a roughing the passer penalty added 15 more. On 3rd and 6 from the 18, Ponder went to Harvin for the touchdown as the Vikings were only down 13-7.

Yet on Minnesota’s next possession, they fumbled the ball away again as the Bucs took over at the Minnesota 37. Martin gained 16 and Freeman hit Clark for 13. On 3rd and goal from the 3 Freeman hit mike Williams for the touchdown as the Bucs led 20-7.

After a touchback, on 3rd and 10 from their 20, Ponder hit Rudolph for 12. On 3rd and 12 from their 30, Ponder went to Simpson for a 33 yard gain. Walsh would hit a 51 yard field goal as the Vikings still trailed 20-10 at the half.

The third quarter had the Buccaneers putting the dagger in very quickly. After a touchback, Freeman hit Clark for 17 yards. Then a short pass to Martin became a 64 yard touchdown as the Bucs immediately led 27-10. Minnesota again went 3 and out as the Buccaneers took o er at their own 42. Martin gained 6, 9, and 4. Barth would hit a 38 yarder as the Bucs were cruising 30-10.

Minnesota had another spark of life when immediately after the ensuing kickoff, Peterson took a handoff and raced 64 yards for a score to get Minnesota within 30-17.

Yet there would be no comeback. Tampa Bay took over after an exchange of punts at their own 13 and entered the fourth quarter with Freeman leading a staggering 16 play, 9 minute, 87 yard drive that just ground Minnesota into dust. On 3rd and 6 from their 23, Freeman hit Jackson for 14. On 3rd and 10 from their 37, Freeman hit Tyquon Underwood for 12. On 3rd and 10 just shy of midfield, Freeman went deep to Williams for a 34 yard gain. On 3rd and 9 from the 16, Freeman hit Williams for 11 and the Vikings defense could not get off the field. On 3rd and goal at the one, Martin got in. The 2 point conversion failed, but it did not matter.

Leslie Frazier has seen calls despite the 5-2 start to replace Christian Ponder. This game did not do anything to silence the critics, as Minnesota looked like pretenders on their home field. Freeman threw for 3 touchdown passes, but the big story was Doug Martin. He ran wild and finished with 214 all purpose yards in a game that was never competitive. 36-17 Buccaneers

Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles–Michael Vick faced off against his former team, but the real story is that Atlanta is 6-0 under average non-descript white guy Mike Smith while Walrus Lite Andy Reid sees his Eagles underachieving for the second consecutive season. Reid fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who was converted from an offensive line position to begin with. It is not always sunny in Philadelphia, and Jeffrey Lurie has everyone on a short leash after not firing anyone last year.

Atlanta dominated at the start. On 3rd and 8 from their 22, Matt Ryan hit Davis for 15 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the 37 an incompletion was offset by defensive holding. On 3rd and 2 from midfield Ryan hit Roddy White for 10. On 3rd and 1 from the Philly 31, Turner got the yard. Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for 11, and on 3rd and 7 from the 15 Matty Ice hit Davis for the touchdown to complete the 16 play, 80 yard, 9 minute drive to make it 7-0 Falcons.

Philly went 3 and out and Atlanta took over just shy of midfield. On 3rd and 4 Ryan found Julio Jones for 7 yards. A 22 yard defensive pass interference penalty meant 1st and goal at the 10. On 3rd and goal, an incomplete was offset by another defensive pass interference penalty. Ryan hit Jason Snelling for a 3 yard score as the Falcons led 14-0.

Philly finally got going and the second quarter began with them facing 3rd and 2 at their own 42. Michael Vick hit Desean Jackson for a 3 yard gain. Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for 9 yards and Captain Morgan Brent Celek for a couple more. A 12 yarder to Maclin and a pair of 7 yard McCoy runs meant 2nd and 3 from the Atlanta 7. Brown gained 5, fumbled the ball, and was lucky that the Eagles retained possession. McCoy got the final couple yards as the 14 play, 7 minute drive had the Eagles within 14-7. After that with rain coming down, the Eagles got washed away as well.

Atlanta took over at their own 27 and struck quickly. Ryan hit White for 14 yards. On 2nd and 14, a short pass from Ryan to Jones went for a 63 yard touchdown as the Falcons were back up 21-7. Philly moved from their 20 to a 2nd and 2 just past midfield. They got nothing else and on 4th and 2 Andy Reid decided to punt. With 2:48 left in the half the Falcons took over at their own 9. They were at their own 20 at the 2 minute warning. Ryan ran for 10 and Rodgers added 10 more. Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for 11. On 3rd and 4 from the Philly 48, Ryan hit Jones for 6 and White for 14. matt Bryant hit a 43 yard field to end the half as the Falcons led 24-7 in front of a disgusted and wet home crowd. The second half would provide no relief from the weather or the Falcons.

Philly would begin the third quarter moving from their 17 to a 2nd and 6 at the Atlanta 15. Yet Vick fired incomplete twice, and the Eagles settled for a 33 yard Henery field goal and a 24-10 deficit. Atlanta matched the Ealges with a 12 play drive that took 5 minutes off the clock, going from their 20 to 1st and goal at the 5. An illegal touch on the offense ended the drive, but Bryant hit from 29 to make it 27-10 Falcons. This was the exact score the Eagles won by in the NFC Title Game after the 2004 season, and Vick again was on the losing end of this game. Atlanta got it back at their own 10 and took 5 more minutes off of the clock. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Bryant hit from 30 as the Falcons led 30-10.

Vick would lead a 16 play, 80 yard, 7 1/2 minute drive, but ball control is not good when down by 20 and needing 3 scores. On 3rd and goal at the 7 Vick would hit McCoy for the score, but that would be it. Philly would turn it over on downs two more times. A disgusted Andy Reid saw his team fall to 3-4, while Mike Smith has the Falcons a perfect 7-0. They are silencing critics with solid wins on the road. 30-17 Falcons

Carolina Panthers @ Chicago Bears–Carolina began the season 1-5 and General Managaer Marty Hurley was fired. Owner Jerry Richardson wants quarterback Cam Newton to be happy, and losing does not help. Lovie Smith has the Bears playing well this season, but time will tell if they are contenders or pretenders. The Bears have fooled us in recent years. A home win against a team having a miserable year would be expected.

Jay Cutler was intercepted early on, but on the next series Chicago took over just past midfield. Matt Forte ran for 16 yards and Cutler hit Brandon Marshall for 18 more. Forte ran for a 13 yard touchdown. The Bears made it look easy going up 7-0, but nothing came easy for them the rest of the half.

On the first play from scrimmage after a touchback, Newton went deep to Brad LaFell for a 62 yard gain to the Chicago 18. The Panthers settled for a 34 yard Medlock field goal to trail 7-3. A sack of Cutler would have the Bears facing 3rd and 21 at their own 32. Cutler was then sacked again, and he fumbled. Carolina took over at the Chicago 16, and Deangelo Williams ran for 7 yards to end the opening quarter. On 3rd and 3 from the 9, Newton fumbled, but Murphy recovered in the end zone for Carolina as the touchdown just the way they drew it up at sandlot practice had the Panthers up 10-7.

Carolina got it back and soon faced 3rd and 3 from their 36. Newton hit Steve smith for 8 yards. On 3rd and 9 from their 45, Newton threw incomplete but illegal contact meant 1st and 10 at midfield. On 3rd and 1 Stewart got nothing, and Ron Rivera gambled on 4th and 1 from the Chicago 41. Newton gained 2 to keep the drive going. Newton would hit Stewart for 15 more, but the drive died at the 10. Medlock hit from 31 to make it 13-7 Panthers. Newton threw for nearly 200 yards in the first half with Cutler throwing for 40, yet the Bears were still in it. With less than one minute in the half, Newton was intercepted. with seconds left in the half Cutler was sacked again and fumbled again.

Carolina dominated the third quarter but critical breakdowns kept them from putting the game out of reach. A long drive from their own 6 to a 2nd and goal at the hicago 4 took 8 minutes off the clock. Yet 90 yards was not enough, and a pair of Newton incompletions meant a 22 yard Medlock field goal. The Panthers led 16-7. Carolina got it back at their 12 and moved to a 1st and 10 at the Chicago 25. Yet they got nothing more and despite Medlock hitting his fourth field goal from 43 yards, the Panthers only led 19-7 after three quarters.

Facing 2nd and 12 from their own 32, Cutler hit Bennett for gains of 24 and 11 yards to the Carolina 33 as the third quarter ended. Cutler hit Marshall for 13, but got no further than the 15. Robbie Gould missed a 33 yarder as the Bears misery continued and they still trailed 19-7 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Carolina got stopped on 3rd and 1, and a 6…yes 6…yard punt had the Bears starting out at the Carolina 38. On 3rd and 8, Cutler hit Marshall for 11, Forte for 9, and Davis for the 12 yard touchdown as the Bears were only down 19-14 midway through the fourth quarter. After a touchback, Newton was intercepted by Jennings, who returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers were giving the game away as 2 touchdowns in 18 seconds had the Bears up 20-19 after the failed 2 point conversion.

After a touchback, a roughing the passer penalty had Carolina moving. On 3rd and 1 from their 45, Newton took an end around 16 yards. With 2 1/2 minutes left, Medlock came in for a 45 yarder. His fifth field goal was good, and 5 for 5 had the Panthers up 22-20. Now it was up to their defense.

Chicago took over at their 22, and at the 2 minute warning Cutler hit Marshall for 8 to the 34. Cutler then hit Bennett for 12. With one minute left the Bears faced 3rd and 3 from the Carolina 47. Cutler hit Marshall for 11 and again for 10. With 4 seconds left, Gould came in for the 41 yarder to win it. Despite his earlier miss, this time he was good. Lovie Smith will keep hearing that his team is not that good. Their offense in particular looked dreadful. Yet they are 6-1. Carolina is 1-6 and they are that bad. They found a way to lose this game, which bad teams do. 23-22 Bears

San Diego Chargers @ Cleveland Browns–With Walrus Mike Holmgren on the way out, the Browns continue their commitment to futility that has define much of the last five decades. Unlike in politics, if you inherit a mess in sports and fail to turn it around in three or four years, you get fired anyway. There are no excuses in football. The Chargers, unlike the Browns, actually have plenty of talent. Yet Norvelous Norv Turner, who somehow cannot be fired in San Diego, has even oversaw his team blow a 24 point halftime lead. Perhaps he has pictures of the Spanos family engaging in illegal activities. A loss to the woeful Browns would really have the San Diego fans calling for Turner’s scalp. While this was not the worst football game ever played, it certainly was fairly awful.

San Diego moved from their 19 to a 4th and 1 at the Cleveland 30. Turner went for it, and Battle got stopped cold. On 3rd and 6 from their 34, Brandon Weeden got just enough. On 3rd and 1 from the Chargers 48, Trent Richardson got the yard and then 11 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Chargers 37, Weeden hit Ogbonnaya for 9. Pat Shurmur decided to go for it, and Weeden gained 2 on 4th and 1. Richardson then broke free for a 26 yard touchdown run. The Browns led 7-0, concluding offensive highlights for both teams for much of the rest of this dreadful excuse of a football game.

With 1:54 left in the half the Browns faced 4th and 8 at the Chargers 38. Shurmur decided to punt, yet a touchback gave San Diego plenty of time. Philip RIvers hit Ronnie Brown for a 25 yard gain, Rosario for 6 more, Brown for another 5, and Rosario for 5 more. With 14 seconds left in the half facing 3rd and 5 from the Cleveland 17, Rivers was sacked. Nick Novak would hit the 43 yard field goal but the Chargers trailed 7-3 at intermission in the Dawg Pound.

A field position game had the Chargers taking over at the Cleveland 43 midway through the third quarter. Ryan Mathews gained 8, McClain added 3, and Matthews had a pair of 3 yard gains and 8 more on 3rd and 4. Yet on 1st and 10 from the 18, an end around got blown up in the backfield. The Chargers settled for a 31 yard Novak field goal as they still trailed 7-6 after three quarters in a game that should see the film destroyed.

The fourth quarter was every bit as heinous as the first three quarters. Both teams began drives at their own 3 yard line, got to about midfield, and punted. With 2 1/2 minutes left and needing only a field goal, San Diego took over at their own 12. With 1:41 to play the Chargers had 1st and 10 at the Cleveland 44. One more first down meant long field goal range and another typical Cleveland loss, another San Diego win, and a repreive for Norvelous Norv Turner. 3 straight Rivers incompletions meant 4th and 10. Turner decided to go for it rather than have Novak try a 62 yard field goal. Rivers threw another incompletion and the Browns had the greatest win in team history except for many of them. The Chargers had one of the worst losses except for many of them. 7-6 Browns

Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions–Pete Carroll has Seattle competitive in the NFC West with a ferocious defense while Jim Schwartz saw his high powered Lions offense run into an NFC North black and blue Chicago wall last week. After a Detroit punt Seattle took over at their own 23. Russell Wilson hit Golden Tate for 18 yards. On 4th and 5 just past midfield, Seattle punted but Detroit was called for an illegal formation on defense. Given second life, Seattle moved to a 3rd and 7 at the 10 where a pass from Wilson to Tate came up 2 yards short. Pete Carroll played it safe and Stephen Hauschka hit the 23 yarded to make it 3-0 Seahawks.

Detroit soon faced 3rd and 2 from their own 26, and Matthew Stafford hit Leshoure for 4 yards. Leshoure gained 12 and Stafford hit Broyles for 19 yards and Tony Scheffler for 20 more. On the last play of the first quarter, Stafford hit Broyles for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Lions. The first play of the second quarter was the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff. Marshawn Lynch took a handoff around the end and raced 77 yards for a score to put the Seahawks back on top 10-7.

Detroit immediately saw a 12 yard sack of Stafford and on 3rd and 24 from their own 6, were lucky to get to punt formation. Seattle took over at their own 44. A defensive pass interference penalty meant a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the 9, Wilson hit Sidney Rice for the touchdown to make it 17-7 Seahawks.

After a touchback Stafford found Scheffler for 14 and Brandon Pettigrew for 18. On 3rd and 11 from the Seattle 46, Stafford went deep to Young for the touchdown as the Lions were back in it down 17-14.

A scoreless third quarter saw Detroit miss an opportunity facing 2nd and 3 from the Seattle 29 when Stafford was intercepted. Wilson throw an interception back several plays later as the Lions took over at their own 44. Stafford hit Megatron Calvin Johnson for 25, and Bell ran for 5 and caught a pass for 9 more. Detroit began the fourth quarter from the Seattle 17, and on 3rd and 4 from the 11 Stafford hit Pettigrew for 9. On 3rd and goal at the one, Stafford got in as the Lions led 21-17 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Facing 3rd and 10 from their 13, Wilson hit Rice for 18. Lynch ran for 9 and Wilson hit Rice for 18 more. On 3rd and 2 from the Detroit 32, Wilson threw incomplete. A 50 yarder is makeable, but down by 4 with 6:40 to play, Pete Carroll decided to go for it. Wilson hit Tate for 6. Lynch then gained 10 and Wilson hit Miller for the 16 yard touchdown as Seattle retook the lead by a field goal with 5 1/2 minutes left.

After a touchback Stafford moved the offense beautifully. A 15 yarder to Johnson got the Lions going, and on 3rd and 5 from their 40 Stafford hit Johnson for 6, Young for 6, Young for 7, and Bell for 5 to the Seattle 36 at the two minute warning. Stafford hit Pettigrew for 11. Bell gained 5 and caught a reception for 8 more as the Lions took their second timeout with 51 seconds left and Detroit at the 12 yard line. On 3rd and 10 Stafford hit Bell for 11 as the Lions had 1st and goal at the one with 42 seconds left.

With 20 seconds left, it came down to 3rd and goal at the one. Stafford fired to Titus Young for the touchdown as the home crowd erupted. The stout Seattle defense were as game as they have been all year, but this time they were beaten. Matthew Stafford added to his already successful young professional career with another thrilling comeback win. 28-24 Lions

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Green Bay Packers–The Jaguars are perhaps the worst team in football and Blaine Gabbert is having a tough year. After a very sluggish start, Mike McCarthy now has the Packes playing like they did during the regular season last year. This was supposed to be an easy win for the Packers. Again, “that’s why they play the games.”

After an exchange of punts, a 3rd and 4 from their own 40 had Gabbert going to Justin Blackmon for a 36 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the 22, offensive holding killed the drive. Josh Scobee hit from 38 yards out to make it 3–0 Jaguars.

From their own 31, Aaron Rodgers hit Jones for 12. On 3rd and 2 just past midfield, Rodgers gained 4. and hit Green for 12. From the Jacksonville 25, Rodgers hit Finley for 20 and Randall Cobb for the 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-3 Packers.

Early in the second quarter Jacksonville had 1st and 10 from the Green Bay 22. Jet Jacksonville fumbled the ball away to waste the opportunity. Things got worse for the Jaguars on the next series. Punting from their own 37, the kick was blocked by House and recovered by Moses for a touchdown to make it 14-3 Packers.

With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Jaguars took over at their own 31. Gabbert hit Jennings for 14 and Shorts for a 35 yard gain to the 10. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 4, Gabbert threw incomplete. With one minute left in the half, Scobee hit a 22 yarder to get Jacksonville within 14-6.

After a touchback, rather than run out the clock, Mike McCarthy went looking for more. Rodgers was sacked and fumbled, and the Jaguars took over at the Green Bay 13. On 3rd and 5 at the 8, Gabbert hit Michael Spurlock for 7 down to the one with 21 seconds left. Gabbert hit Whimper for the touchdown. While the 2 point conversion failed, the easy game was gone as the Jaguars only trailed 14-12 at halftime.

Green Bay had chances to extend the lead but shot themselves in the foot. On 4th and 6 from the Jacksonville 37, Rodgers threw incomplete. Late in the third quarter on 3rd and 1 from the Jacksonville 14, a run went nowhere. Mike McCarthy decided not to gamble, but Mason Crosby doinked a 32 yard field goal try off the upright. Green Bay began the fourth quarter with 3rd and 1 at the Jacksonville 43. Green this time got the yard, and on the next play Rodgers went deep to Jones for a 31 yard gain. ROdgers hit Donald Driver for a 4 yard touchdown as the Packers finally had some breathing room up 21-12 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Gabbert moved the Jaguars from their 20 to a 2nd and 5 at the Packers 12. Yet Gabbert twice threw incomplete, and needing 2 scores, the field goal made sense. Scobee hit from 32 as the Jaguars were back within 21-15.

Scobee kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, but the packers went 3 and out. With 6 minutes left, Jacksonville took over at their own 8. Gabbert hit Jennings for 15, Shorts for 9, and Jennings for 18 to midfield. Yt on 4th and 4 from the Packers 44 with 3 minutes left, Gabbert threw incomplete. The Jaguars had their timeouts, and they took their final one with 2:44 to play and the Packers facing a critical 3rd and 7 from their own 47. One stop would give the Jaguars one more chance for the win. Rodgers threw deep incomplete, but defensive pass interference instead meant a 38 yard gain. On 3rd and 4 from the 9 Green Bay only got half, and Crosby came in for the 25 yarder. Despite his earlier miss, this time he was good and the game was finally out of reach with 30 seconds left. Green Bay is 5-3 and moving in the right direction. Jacksonville is a miserable 1-6 after another tough loss. 24-15 Packers

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets–Anthony Sparano faced off against the team that fired him, but this rivalry is now a battle in the AFC least where nobody is playing well. Miami moved from their own 22 to start the game, and on 3rd and 4 the vaunted Rex Ryan defense jumped offsides. Reggie Bush, despite having dated a Kardashian, ran for 19 yard with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. Ryan Tannehill hit Brad Hartline for 12 more. Dan Carpenter hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Dolphins. Miami even ran a successful onsides kick, but it did not lead to points. Yet with 4 minutes left in the opening quarter, punting from their own 20, the Jets suffered a special teams breakdown. The punt was blocked by Wilson, and bounced straight to Vernon for the touchdown as Miami led 10-0.

The Jets would get it back having failed on defense and special teams. Now the trifecta was complete as the offense failed. From the Jets 37, Mark Sanchez, who probably has lost interest in football now that he is dating Eva Longoria, was sacked and fumbled. Miami took over at the Jets 32. Matt Moore was in for the injured Chad Henne, and he hit Hartline for 11 as the opening quarter ended. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Thomas got in the end zone. The Jets lost a game earlier this year at home 34-0, and they were halfway there already as the Dolphins led 17-0.

Miami would get it back and soon face 3rd and 3 from their own 42. It was the M Moore to M Moore connection as Matt went deep to his teammate for a 37 yard gain. Dan Carpenter would hit from 39 as the Dolphins led 20-0. The Jets got it back with 2:43 left in the half and moved from their 13 to a 2nd and 5 at the Miami 17. Sanchez then threw incomplete twice and Rex Ryan brought in Nick Folk for the 35 yard field goal. The kick was blocked, and Bronx Cheers rained down on the New Meadowlands as Gang Green suffered another reminder that they will never be as beloved as their Big Blue counterparts, especially with performances like this one. League rules required the second half to be played.

Gates returned the second half kickoff to the Jets 46, and on 3rd and 1, Hilliard gained 2. Snachez hit Dustin Keller for 23 to set up 1st and 10 a the 20. 3 more plays meant 0 more yards. This time Folk was good from 38, as the lifeless Jets still trailed 20-3. Thigpen answered by returning the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to the Jets 40. On 3rd and 10 Moore hit Jabar Gaffney for 30 yards. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Moore hit Anthony Fasano for the touchdown as the Dolphins cruised 27-3.

Midway through the third quarter facing 4th and 5 at the Miami 47, Rex Ryan apparently conceded by calling for a punt. The Jets finally created a break when they recovered a Miami fumble and took over at the Dolphins 32. Yet from the 15, Sanchez was intercepted.

In the fourth quarter Sanchez would lead a 94 yard drive that would culminate in a 5 yard touchdown to Chaz Schilens. The 2 point conversion failed, and the Dolphins would tack on one more field goal to complete the blowout. Joe Philbin has his Dolphins hanging around with a 4-3 record while the Jets head into their bye a miserable 3-5. They suck in every phase of team football, and Rex Ryan knows it. Sanchez threw for 283 yards and was 28 of 54, not the ground and pound Rex Ryan wants. With the trading deadline approaching, Ryan may wish to trade all 45 players. 30-9 Dolphins

Washington Redskins @ Pittsburgh Steelers–RGIII came to face off against Big Ben Roethlisberger. In the beginning it was all Pittsburgh as Big Ben led a 12 play, 76 yard drive that took 7 minutes off the clock. A 25 yard completion from Roethlisberger to Heath Miller went to the Washington 46. Roethlisberger also hit Mike Wallace for 8, and on 3rd and 7 from the Washington 31, Big Ben found Emanuel Sanders for 15 and Wallace for 5. On 3rd and goal at the one, Dwyer did not get in. Mike Tomlinson decided to go for it, and on 4th and goal from the one, Roethlisberger hit Pope for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Steelers.

Washington went 3 and out when a 3rd and 1 run meant a 3 yard loss. Pittsburgh took over at their own 28 and Dwyer ripped off a 34 yard run. The drive would stall when a gadget play went awry and Shawn Suisham hit a 48 yarder to make it 10-0 Steelers.

The Redskins finally got moving and by the second quarter beginning, they were at the Pittsburgh 14. On 3rd and 4 from the8 RGIII found Morgan for 5. On 4th and goal at the 2 Mike Shanahan decided to go for it, and Griffin hit Santana Moss for the touchdown. The extra point was blocked as the Redskins trailed 10-6.

From their own 26, Pittsburgh came right back. Roethlisberger hit Sanders for 14, and on 3rd and 2 Rainey gained 3. Roethlisberger from just past midfield hit Brown for 14 and again for 18, and then to Wallace for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 7 Roethlisberger hit Miller for the score to make it 17-6 Steelers.

With 4 minutes left in the half a shanked punt went only 12 yards. The Steelers took over at their own 45 and Roethlisberger quickly hit Sanders for 27 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the 12 a pass to Wallac eonly gained 3, and at the 2 minute warning Suisham came in for a 27 yarder. It was good and the Steelers led 20-6 at halftime.

RGIII moved the Redskins in the third quarter from their 21 as a pass to Paul gained 37 yards. Yet from the Pittsburgh 30, the Redskins went nowhere. Forbath hit a 48 yard field goal to get the Redskins within 20-9.

The Steelers came back after a touchback to put the game away. Dwyer gained 12 and 10. Roethlisberger hit Johnson for 7, Charlie Batch for 8, and Miller for 12. On 3rd and 3 from the Washington 21, Rainey took a wildcat snap and gained 19 yards. Big Ben hit Johnson for the one yard touchdown to have the Steelers firmly in command up 27-9.

Pittsburgh missed a chance to extend the lead when a punt return for a touchdown was called back, but they didn’t need it. Washington again got in the red zone and again settled for a 45 yard Forbath field goal, but it was far too little far too late. With 4 minutes left in regulation, 4th and 17 from the Pittsburgh 24 saw RGIII throw incomplete.

The Redskins are a much improved team, but this time the Steelers had too much firepower at home. 27-12 Steelers

New England Patriots @ St. Louis Rams–The 2001 season saw a Super Bowl shocker when the Greatest Show on Turf under mad scientist Mike Martz was shocked by Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady. A dynasty was launched, but not in St. Louis. Now these are a pair of avergae teams, with the Rams overachieving and the Patriots not up to their usual standards.

After a touchback, Sam Bradford hit Stephen Jackson for 14 yards. On 3rd and 2 from their 47, Jackson gained 3. Bradford then went deep to Givens, and the 50 yard touchdown bobm had the Rams on top first 7-0. New England came right back. On 3rd and 2 from their 30, Brady threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant a 10 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from their 48, Brady hit Danny Woodhead for 24 yards. Ridley gained 9, and on 3rd and 1 Brady went to Lloyd for the 19 yard score to tie the game 7-7.

Reality soon set in for the Rams. From the New England 17, Ridley gained 20, and Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 25 more. Brady found Wes Welker for 9 and then hit Gronkowski again for 25 more to set up 1st and goal at the one to start the second quarter. On 3rd and goal from the 2 Woodhead only got half, and Bill Bellichick decided to go for it on 4th and goal at the one. Vereen got in and the Patriots led 14-7.

New England got it back at their own 22 and Vereen gained 14 yards. Brady hit Gronkowski for 11 more. On 3rd and 4 from the Rams 41, Brady hit Gronkowski again for a 32 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 7, it was again Brady to Gronkowski for the touchdown and the 21-7 Patriots lead.

With 2 minutes left in the half the Rams faced 4th and 4 at the Patriots 35. Jeff Fisher called a fake field goal that blew up, resulting in a 9 yard loss. The Patriots took over at their own 44 and Brady made the Rams pay. Brady hit Woodhead for 15. On 3rd and 4 from the 35 Brady threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference added 15 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the 11 Brady gained 3. On 3rd and goal from the 8 with 17 seconds left in the half, Brady again threw incomplete and again defensive pass interference killed the Rams. From the one yard line, Ridley got in as the Patriots rolled 28-7 at halftime.

New England has not had the killer instinct they have had in past years, but perhaps having to fly all the way to England to play in London’s Wembley stadium and try the disgusting British food made Bellichick crankier than usual. AFter a touchback to start the third quarter, Brady went right to work. He hit Hoomanawanui for 18 yards, and Brady is the only known player to complete a pass to a guy named Hoomanawanui. Ridley then ran for 30 yards. Brady hit Gronkowski for 10, Welker for 9, and Lloyd for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 35-7 Patriots. New England got it back at their own 34 and a 41 yard gain by Ridley led to a 26 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a 38-7 Patriots advantage. In the fourth quarter Brady would throw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Gronkowski to complete the scoring.

The British do like professional football, but they only saw it from one team on this day. The last time Jeff Fisher faced Bellichick and the Patriots, Fisher was with Tennessee, the snow came down, and the Patriots won 59-0. The 2 game total of Bellichick over Fisher is now 104-7. At least the teams could leave behind the miserable London weather and get back to America in time for Hurricane Sandy. 45-7 Patriots

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans–The Colts have been playing inspired football since coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with lukemia. Andrew Luck has certainly hepled matters, while the Titans have old man Matt Hasselbeck in for the injured Jake Locker. The Titans began by moving 13 plays and taking half the quarter to do it. Yet after moving from their 20 to the Indy 17, a failed run, a false start, and a sack of Hasselbeck meant the Titans were settling for a 39 yard Rob Bironas field goal and a 3-0 lead. The Colts came back with a long drive of their own from the Indy 15 to the Tennessee 4 yard line. Yet on 3rd and goal Luck was only able to get half of it. On 4th and goal at the 2 the Colts took no chances and Adam Vinatieri hit the 20 yarder to tie the game 3-3.

Midway through the second quarter of a defensive slugfest, the Titans faced 3rd and 5 from their own 33. Indy jumped offsides to keep the drive going. On 3rd and 5 from their 43, Hasselbeck hit Wright for 7 to midfield and then scrambled for 10 more himself. On 3rd and 2 from the Indy 27, Hasselbeck hit Nate Washington for 5. On 3rd and 11 from the 23, Hasselbeck went deep to Wright for the touchdown with one minute left in the half to make it 10-3 Titans. Luck would rapidly move the Colts from their 19 to a 3rd and 1 at the Titans 19 with 10 seconds left in the half. Luck threw incomplete, and on 4th and one with only 4 seconds left, the field goal was the choice. Vinatieri’s kick from 37 yards out was blocked.

Luck moved the Colts more methodically in the third quarter from their 25 to a 1st and 10 at the Tennessee 30. A sack of luck meant Vinatieri was coming in again, this time from 44. The kick was good and the Colts were within 10-6. The Colts got it back and midway through the third quarter Luck went for it all from the Tennessee 32. He was intercepted for a touchback. Tennessee moved to the Indy 27, but from 45 yards out Bironas missed a field goal.

Tennessee got it back at their own 20 and a pair of Chris Johnson 5 yard gains had them starting the fourth quarter at their 30. Hasselbeck went deep to Cook for a 29 yard gain, and Johnson gained 11 more. Hasselbeck hit Hawkins for 7, and Johnson ran for 14 to set up 1st and goal at the 9. Hasselbeck would fumble and although the Titans retained possession, the drive was done. Bironas this time was good from 30 as the Titans led 13-6 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback, Luck hit Reggie Wayne for 10 and Allen for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Titans 48, Luck gained 7. Luck hit Hilton for 14 and Saunders for 11. On 3rd and 10 from the Titans 17, Luck hit Brazill for 9. With 4 minutes to go, it came down to 4th and 1 at the 7. Donald Carter got the carry, and gained 7 yards. Carter gt the last yard on the next play. After 56 1/2 minutes, the Colts reached the end zone. The 80 yard, 7 minute, 14 play drive had the game tied 13-13. Each team had one more chance with the football in regulation but the game went into overtime, where the Colts won the toss and began at their 20.

Donald Brown gained 4, with 5 more tacked on for a penalty. Brown became a workhorse, gaining 19, 9, 5, and 5 more. Yet on the next carry he lost 3 yards to set up 3rd and 8 at the Titans 36.Luck hit Wayne for 20 yards. Under the new overtime rules, a field goal would give the Titans one chance with the ball. So instead Luck threw a 16 yard touchdown to Ballard. The Titans would not see the ball as the game was over. The Colts were 2-14 last year and are now 4-3 as Mike Munchak saw hit Titans lose a tough one at home. 19-13 Colts, OT

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

The Raiders avoided becoming the worst team in football by eking out a win last week against the worst team. They have won two games this year at home while being down by at least 10 points in both of those games. Meanwhile, they have been blown out in three road games by at least 16 points. Now they face a Kansas City team that is also even worse than they are. If the Raiders are ever going to even be a respectable team, they have to avoid losing these games. 3-4 leaves hope. 2-5 does not. The Dennis Allen era has been rough, but this was a winnable game for the Silver and Black. Brady Quinn was starting instead of a benched Matt Cassell, meaning unless the Raiders benched Carson Palmer and inserted Captain Checkdown Matt Leinart into the game, the Raiders had a golden chance to win. Sometimes bad teams can come together to play a great game. This was not that game.

After a touchback on the very first play of the game, Carson Palmer went for the bomb. He was intercepted by former Raider Stanford Routt, who returned it 17 yards to the Oakland 44. Yet 3 plays netted the Chiefs only 5 yards, and on 4th and 5 from the 39 Romeo Crennel decided to punt. Oakland took over at their own 6, and Darren McFadden lost a yard. Yet Palmer found McFadden for 11 yards and then hit Denarius Moore on a short pass that went for a 58 yard gain to the Chiefs 24. The problem is that the Raiders do not finish drives. Dennis Allen has installed the despised dink and dunk West Coast Offense that confuses yards with points. On 3rd and 8, Palmer threw a dink pass that gained only 4. Sebastian Janikowski hit a 36 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Raiders.

After an exchange of punts, Quinn was sacked and fumbled. The Chiefs retained possession, but on the next play on 2nd and 17 from their 42, Quinn was intercepted by Matt Giordano. Giordano returned it 21 yards to the Chiefs 45. Yet unfortunately for the Raiders, Quinn was injured on the play, meaning Matt Cassel would get to play. He is no star, but he is not Quinn either.

On 3rd and 7 from the Chiefs 42, Palmer threw incomplete, but illegal contact on Stanford Routt kept the drive going. Routt was never that good, drew far too many penalties, and is now despite the earlier interception hurting another team. On 2nd and 6 from the Chiefs 33, Palmer hit Moore for 16 yards as the opening quarter ended. Yet 3 plays yielded 0 yards and Seabass hit from 35. Again the Raiders failed to finish a drive although they led 6-0.

The Chiefs soon faced 3rd and 2 from their 28. Dexter McCluster took a wildcat snap and gained 13 yards. Cassel then went deep to Dwayne Bowe for a 46 yard gain to the Oakland 13. Yet 3 more plays only gained one yard as it was the Chiefs settling for a 30 yard Ryan Succop field goal to trail 6-3.

The Raiders went 3 and out and the Chiefs had excellent field position. A critical 3rd and 6 from midfield saw Cassel find Moeaki for a 20 yard gain. Cassel scrambled for 11. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the 12, Cassel was sacked by Wheeler for a 12 yard loss. Succop hit from 42 as the game was tied 6-6 after 26 minutes. It would all come down to who wanted it least.

That appeared to be the Raiders, who faced 2nd and 21 from their 15 with 3 minutes left. Palmer then found Brandon Myers, who took a short pass for 29 yards. On 3rd and 4 from midfield, Palmer threw incomplete with 1:50 left in the half. Yet the Chiefs wanted it even less than that as they fumbled the punt. The Raiders recovered at the Chiefs 11. Most likely that meant 3 useless offensive plays and another Seabass field goal. Yet this time, on 3rd and 8 from the 9, Palmer found Moore in the end zone. An actual touchdown had the Raiders up 13-6 at halftime. A very curious decision on 3rd and 10 from midfield had Romeo Crennel instrucing Cassel to take a knee rather than try the Hail Mary.

The Chiefs fumbled the second half kickoff, and the Raiders recovered at the Chiefs 18. Palmer hit Moore for 7, but 2 plays for 2nd and 3 were incomplete passes rather than smashmouth runs. Again the Raiders squandered a gift as a 29 yard Seabass field goal was good. Yes the Raiders were up 16-6, but only because the game was being given to them.

The Chiefs would move from their 22 to a 1st and 10 at the Oakland 35. Yet offensive holding pushed the Chiefs back, and they had to settle for a 52 yard Succop field goal. Succop was good as the Chiefs were back within one score down 16-9.

After a touchback, McFadden broke free for a 19 yard gain. Palmer then hit Myers for 16 yards and Rod Streater for 9 more. On 2nd and 8 from the 32, a short pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey went for a touchdown as the Raiders now had a 23-9 lead, which they would carry into the fourth quarter.

The problem with the Raiders is they do not finish drives and they do not finish games. In total control, this was their chance from their 24 with 13 minutes left in regulation. Palmer hit Moore for 6 and McFadden gained 5. McFadden then broke free for a 28 yard gain. Mike Goodson ran for 21 more yards to set up 1st and 10 at the 12. Yet again the Raiders did not finish the drive. A pair of runs lost yards. Seabass even missed a 37 yard field goal, but received a break because the Chiefs jumped offsides. Seabass hit from 32 as the Raiders now had a comfortable 3 score lead up 26-9 with 8 1/2 minutes to play.

Cassel quickly moved the Chiefs from their 20 to a 1st and 10 at the Oakland 24 with 5 minutes left to play. Yet Cassel was intercepted by Lee at the 2 yard line to kill any comeback hopes. A short punt had the Chiefs getting it back at the Oakland 32 ith 3 minutes left, and Cassel hit McCluster from 10 yards out to get the Chiefs from within 10. Yet despite two tries at the onsides kick, the Raiders recovered and McFadden ripped off another 21 yard gain to help run out the clock.

The Chiefs are wretched, and the Raiders won a couple games against the league’s worst. They are 3-4, but have plenty of room for improvement. The offense kicks way too many field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. Yet the defense went on the road and did not give up a touchdown either. Time will tell if these last two games were a mirage or if the Raiders, as we have been told so many times in the last decade, have finally turned a corner. Nevertheless, this was a convincing win. 26-16 Raiders

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys–In the opening Thursday night to stat the 2012 season, Dallas went into New York and shocked the Giants 24-17. Yet since then these teams have taken on what Klaus Von Bulow would call a reversal of fortune, with the Cowboys struggling and the Giants playing like defending champions.

The Giants soon faced 3rd and 9 from their 21, and Eli Manning went deep to Randle for a 56 yard gain. Yet they got nothing more as a 41 yard Lawrence Tynes field goal made it 3-0 Giants. Dallas moved from their 11 to their 45 when Tony Romo was intercepted. Brown returned it 37 yards to the Dallas 27. Yet on 3rd and 2 Ahmad Bradshaw got nothing as Big Blue again settled for a 37 yard Tynes field goal and a 6-0 Giants lead.

Dallas took over at their 14, and it was deja vu all over again as Romo was intercepted again. Webster returned it 38 yards to give the Giants another short field at the Dallas 31. Manning hit Bennett for 12, and Bradshaw ran for 12 and 6. Brown got the last yard as the Giants led 13-0. Dallas punted and the Giants punted it back. Yet that return was fumbled by Dez Bryant. The Giants took over at the Dallas 15. Yet the second quarter began with the Giants again being unable to take full advantage. On 3rd and 3 from the 8 Manning threw incomplete. Tynes hit from 26. The 3 Dallas turnovers in the first quarter had the Giants up 16-0. After a touchback, the fourth turnover was a killer. From their 34, Romo was intercepted for the third time by John Pierre-Paul, who is actually not three different people. All 3 of him ran for the 28 yard interception touchdown return as the Giants led 23-0 less than 2 minutes into the second quarter. Jason Garrett had no answers while Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin was so happy that he almost smiled.

Dallas got it back, went 3 and out, and the Giants took over at their own 40 in total control. Yet football is a game of momentum, and this time it was the Giants fumbling the ball away. The Cowbos took over at their own 48. They did nothing with it, but got it back at their own 28. Romo hit Jason Witten for 9 and Miles Austin for 10 more. Romo then went deep to Austin, who despite having dated a Kardashian, caught the ball for a 24 yard gain. Romo went to Witten for a 20 yard gain, and Felix Jones ran it in from 4 yards out to get the Cowboys on the board down 23-7 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Dallas got it back at their own 12 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. Romo hit Witten for 9 and then found a wide open Bryant deep for a 55 yard gain. The ball was underthrown, preventing a touchdown. That would prove costly as a sack of Romo meant the Cowboys had to settle for a 51 yard Dan Bailey field goal try. He made it, and the Cowboys were within 23-10 at halftime.

Dallas began the second half at their own 14, and defensive pass interference meant a 20 yard gain. Romo then hit Witten for 8 and Bryant for a 30 yard gain. Romo found Witten for 8 more, and on 3rd and 10 from the Giants 16, Romo found Austin for 15. Tanner got the carry twice and ran into a Big Blue brick wall. On 3rd and goal Romo threw incomplete. On 4th and goal at the one, Jason Garrett decided to go for it with 9 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Romo called a naked bootleg, and practically waltzed into the end zone untouched. Dallas was within 23-17, as the early Giants lead had all but evaporated.

The Giants went 3 and out after gaining only one yard, and Dallas got it back at their own 41. Romo hit Philips for 8 and found a wide open Austin over the middle for a 25 yard gain. Romo hit Witten for 6, and on 3rd and 4 from the 20, found Witten for 5 more. Romo went to Witten again for 14 more yards down to the one. Again it was the naked bootleg that fooled the Giants. This time as it looked like Romo was going to run it in, he fired to Phillips for the touchdown. 23-0 was now 24 unanswered Dallas points and a 24-23 Cowboys lead as Jerry Jones held off on plans to blow up his 1.2 billion dollar Metropolis stadium for the insurance money when it looked like they were losing again.

With one minute left in the third quarter, the Giants faced 3rd and 2 at the Dallas 46. Manning found Victor Cruz over the middle for an 11 yard gain, but the salsa dancer got blasted before he could begin dancing. The ball popped in the air, bounced off a defender’s backside and leg, and was caught by McCray for an interception. The Giants finally stopped the bleeding by sacking Romo as the third quarter ended.

The Giants took over at their own 15, and Manning went to Hakeem Nicks for a 29 yard gain and Randle for 12 more. Manning went back to Nicks for 7 yards on 2nd and 6 for another first down at the Dallas 33. Offensive holding pushed the Giants back, and on 3rd and 5 a Manning pass to Dominic Hixon came up 2 yards short. Tom Coughlin sent out Tynes, and the field goal kicker hit from 43 as the Giants went back on top 26-24 with a full 10 1/2 minutes to play.

Dallas took over and quickly faced 3rd and 4 from their 28. Romo hit Witten for just enough. On 3rd and 5 from their 37, Romo found Austin for 15 more. Yet on the next play Felix Jones got hit and fumbled. The Giants took over at the Dallas 45. Ahmad Bradshaw gained 9 and 10, but was stopped on 2 more carries. On 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 24, Manning hit Hixon for only 5 yards. Tynes hit from 37, but the Giants failed to put the game away as they only led 29-24. Dallas took over at their own 22 with 3 1/2 minutes to play.

Illegal contact added 5 yards and Romo hit Witten for gains of 10, 9, and 9 more to the Giants 45 at the 2 minute warning. Romo was then sacked for a 9 yard loss, but instead defensive holding meant 1st and 10 at the Giants 40. Romo found Austin for 12 and Witten for 9. With 2nd and 1 at the Giants 19 with 1:22 to play, the Giants took their first timeout on defense. After an incompletion, major controversy ensued.

On 3rd and 1 Romo went deep, and a penalty flag came down in the end zone. Tom COughlin screamed, but there would be no defensive pass interference. The refs picked up the flag. It was an appropriate non-call. Everything came down to 4th and 1. Romo faded back, was chased by 3 or 4 Giants, retreated over 20 yards backwards, and heaved up a prayer that was intercepted. The 6th Dallas turnover with one minute left finally ended this thriller.

Except it didn’t. The Giants came up inches short of a first down and had to punt. Dallas would have one more chance with 0 timeouts and 44 seconds from their own 30. Romo found Witten for the 16th time, a Cowboys record for receptions in one game. Yet only 25 seconds remained and Dallas was at their own 43. Romo found Bryant for a 16 yard gain at the sideline. With 19 seconds left from the Giants 41, the Cowboys were in Hail Mary range. A useless short pass to Witten was his 17th catch and gained 5 yards as 16 seconds remained. Then it happened.

Romo went deep for the Hail Mary. It came down to Dez Bryant and two defenders. Bryant caught it as the Cowboys went wild and the Giants were shellshocked. 6 seconds still remained, but this was going to be a finish for the ages.

Except again it wasn’t. Bryant clearly caught the ball and held on to it. However, in an attempt to soften his fall, his hand hit the ground before any otherpart of his body. His entire body was in bounds…except for his fingers. The fingers were on the chalk. The miracle catch was incomplete. Instead of a win, it was 3rd and 5 from the Giants 37. There would be one more Hail Mary. Bryant was injured on ther play and despite valiantly walking off the field, he was told to get back to the sidelines and was not on the field for the final play.

Yet the officials added 4 seconds on the clock to make it 10 seconds left. If this game would ever end, it would be an instant classic.

Given the extra time, Romo connected with Witten for the 18th time for an 8 yard gain. From the Giants 28, now came the final final final play. Romo threw for Austin but the throw was high and incomplete.

Yet one second still remained. Had Austin caught it he would have been short of the goal. Bryant came back in. Now there would be the final final final final final final final play unless there was a defensive penalty.

Romo was chased, and heaved the ball high and out the back of the end zone. Perhaps the extra yards they gained worked against them. Romo passed for 437 yards and 18 completions to Witten, but 4 interceptions. NOW it was over.

The Giants got to 6-2, which is where they were last year before losing 4 straight. of course we know how they ended the season. As for Dallas, they are spiraling downward. 29-24 Giants

New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos was the Sunday night game. The Saints have won two straight after an 0-4 start and now get Joe Vitt back for the final 10 games. They even get Jonathan Vilma back until his appeal can be heard. Yet the team that beat Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl saw a man with a chip on his shoulder. He led a 24 point comeback last week, and this week the outcome was never in doubt.

The Saints punted twice and Denver once, with the Broncos taking over at their own 2. Willis McGahee ran for 4, 12, 7, and 3. Manning then went deep to Thomas for a 41 yard gain. On 3rd and 6 from the New Orleans 27, Manning found Jacob Tamme for just enough. McGahee ran for 6, caught a pass for 14 more, and ran for the final yard to make it 7-0 Broncos. It was not “The Drive,” but John Elway had to be pleased at Manning taking the Broncos 98 yards for a score.

On the next Denver series McGahee fumbled, and the Saints took over at their own 45. Drew Brees found Marques Colston for 16 yard, Lance Moore for 7, and on the first play of the second quarter, to Darren Sproles for a 29 yard touchdown to make it 7-7.

With 9 minutes left in the half, the Saints faced 4th and 2 at the Denver 47. Joe Vitt decided to go for it, and Brees was intercepted by Woodyard. Denver took over at their own 44. Manning hit Thomas for a 34 yard gain. From the Denver 24, Hillman ran for 7 and 4, and Manning threw a 13 yard touchdown to Eric Decker to make it 14-7 Denver.

Denver got it back with 4 1/2 minuts left in the half at their own 13. Manning hit McGahee for 19. On 3rd and 6 from their 36, Manning found Decker for 23 more. McGahee ran for 5, 6, and 10. On 3rd and 7 from the 17, a short pass only gained 2 yards. A 33 yard Matt Prater field goal made it 17-7 Broncos as the half expired.

Denver began the second half at their own 7. Since 98 yards came easy enough, a 93 yard drive was a walk in the park. On 3rd and 1 McGahee gained 3. Manning then found Thomas for 26 yards and Hillman ran for 31 more. On 3rd and 2 from the 16, Manning found Thomas for 11 yards. On 3rd and goal at the one, Manning found Thomas for the touchdown as the Broncos led 24-7 after three quarters.

Denver took over with 2 minutes left in the third quarter just shy of midfield. Manning hit Tamme and Thomas for a pair of 23 yard gains down to the 5. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Manning threw a 2 yard touchdown to Decker to make it a blowout 31-7 Broncos.

Denver took over at their own 43 with 9 minutes left, and McGahee gained 5 and 15. Hillman raced for 24 more. The drive stalled, but Prater hit again from 33 to make it 34-7 Broncos. The Saints would get a garbage touchdown late in the game, but this was a stunner. Denver is now in first place in the AFC Worst, while the Saints at 2-5 are hanging by a thread. 34-14 Broncos.

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals was the Monday night game. The 4-0 start by the Cardinals has been exposed as fools gold while the 49ers came in knowing a win would put them in a strong position to run away with the division for the second straight year. This game was a mismatch from the start.

After an exchange of punts, the 49ers took over at their own 23. Alex Smith hit Mario Manningham for 10 and Frank Gore for 11. Hunter gained 9 and Gore picked up 17 more. A 23 yard completion to Walker meant 1st and goal at the 7. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Smith hit Michael Crabtree for the touchdown as the 49ers led 7-0. In the second quarter a field position game had the 49ers taking over at the Arizona 45. On 3rd and 2, Gore gained 3. A sack of Smith set up 3rd and 23 from the Arizona 47. Smith found Crabrtee for a 22 yard gain, one yard short of the marker. Jim Harbaugh played it safe and went with the field goal. David Akers hit from 43 yards to make it 10-0 49ers.

With 4 1/2 minutes left in the half the 49ers got it back at their own 32. Smith hit Manningham for 6, Walker for 15, Crabtree for 8, and Vernon Davis for 25 yards down to the 10. On 3rd and goal at the 9 with less than 2 minutes in the half, Smith hit Crabtree for another touchdown. The 49ers led 17-0, and in the second half the defense just smothered Arizona.

Arizona did move to a 4th and 7 at the San Francisco 37 early in the third quarter, but Ken Whisenhunt opted against the 55 yard field goal try or going for it. Arizona punted, and a touchback allowed the 49ers to put it away easily. On 3rd and 9 from their 21, Smith hit Crabtree for a 30 yard gain. On 3rd and 8 from the Arizona 47, Smith hit Randy Moss, who still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Moss raced to the end zone. The 49ers led 24-0, and just coasted from there.

Arizona moved from their 20 to a 4th and 2 at the Frisco 10. Down by 24 points, Ken Whisenhunt went with the field goal just to avoid the shutout. Feely hit the 28 yarder, but the crowd was not pleased. The fourth quarter would be scoreless. The 49ers moved to 6-2 while Arizona lost 4 straight to fall to 4-4. John Skelton was 32 of 52 for 290 while Alex Smith was almost perfect. He only threw for 232 yards, but was 18 of 19. The final indignity came when Arizona faced 4th and goal at the 7 with one minute left. Skelton hit Larry Fitzgerald, who came up one yard short. 24-3 49ers

eric