NFL 2010–Week 15 Recap

Before getting to the NFL, my coed touch football team, known as Team Awesome, made the playoffs and faced a wildcard rematch against the pink team who throttled us earlier in the year when our best players were away. The pink team took us to overtime in the finals last time before we won. Revenge came easily this time, and the pink team was dispatched. The next playoff game came against the green team, and our light green team barely beat the darker green team. In the finals we played the blue team, and massacred them. I am now a 3 time champion. I was away on vacation in Miami because I got the date of the games wrong. So I did not play once. Yet I did play this season, and if Jeremy Shockey gets credit for his 2 Super Bowl rings despite contributing nothing, then my championship counts. Next week I will make an announcement about my football future.

Now on to the NFL. As John Randall reminds us in December, “This is when the big dogs come out.”

San Francisco 49ers @ San Diego Chargers was the Thursday night game. A pair of overrated teams with overrated coaches met. Norvelous Norv Turner lead a Chargers team that for some reason at 7-6 has everybody gushing. We keep hearing that nobody in the playoffs wants to [lay them. Everybody except Indy wants to play them because they blow up in the playoffs. Yet Mike Singletary, after a brief flurry of wins against awful teams, is back to channeling his inner Ray Rhodes, scowling without results. Yet the 49ers at 5-8 and the Chargers are both only one game back in their respective worst divisions. The Chargers were at home against an inferior team, and this was one game that went as expected.

Vincent Jackson may have been a problem child in the offseason and earlier this ear, but on the field he was the golden receiver. Less than 2 minutes into the game, Philip Rivers went deep to Jackson for a 58 yard touchdown as the Chargers led 7-0. The teams each punted twice, and the 49ers took over late in the opening quarter at their own 42.

The second quarter began with the 49ers facing 4th and 8 at the San Diego 20. A routine 38 yard field goal by Reed was good, but the Chargers were called for unsportsmanlike conduct due to leverage. Singletary decided to take the points off the board. It was a reasonable decision, and on 3rd and goal at the 7, Alex Smith ran around the end for the score. Yet this time Turner challenged the call. On further review, Smith was ruled out of bounds inches short of the goal line. Again points came off the board. On 4th and goal inside the one, Singletary again decided to go for it. Again it was a reasonable decision. Yet with Frank Gore on injured reserve, Dixon was blown up in the backfield for a 2 yard loss as the 49ers came up empty.

On 3rd and 1 from the 12, Jacob Hester picked up just enough. Then on 1st and 15,  Mike Tolbert gained nothing. Yet instead of 2nd and 15, an inexplicably dumb penalty on defender Smith for shoving an official resulted in a 15 yard penalty, an automatic 1st down, and Smith’s ejection. On the next play Rivers hit Sperry for 35 yards, and then hit Jackson for 15 more. On 4th and 2 from the San Francisco 7, Turner opted for the field goal. Nate Kaeding hit the 25 yarder. The 13 play, 7 minute, 90 yard drive turned what could have been a 7-7 game into a 10-0 Chargers lead.

The Chargers got the ball back at their own 13 with 4 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 10 Rivers hit Washington for 36 yards, with another 15 yard personal foul for unnecessary roughness moving the ball to the San Francisco 22. Rivers hit Jackson for an 11 yard touchdown with a little over one minute left in the half to deliver the dagger as the Chargers led 17-0 at the break.

The 49ers had one last ray of hope when Ted Ginn returned the second half kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown. Yet for the third time in the game, points were taken off the board as an illegal block ended the lack of suspense in this lopsided game. The Chargers took over at their own 42. From the San Francisco 47, Tolbert ran for 11. On 3rd and 8 from the San Francisco 22, Rivers hit McMichael for 10. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Tolbert got stuffed. Turner decided to go for it, and on 4th and 1 Tolbert picked up 2. Tolbert then carried it in to put the Chargers up 24-0.

The 49ers punted, and Rivers led a 10 play, 6 minute, 69 yard drive into the fourth quarter. On 3rd and 10 from the San Francisco 45, Rivers hit McMichael for 22. On 3rd and 8 from the 21, Rovers went to Jackson for the touchdown, their third connection of the game. 12 minutes still remained, but at 31-0 the outcome was not in doubt. The Chargers won the week earlier by that very score, and at this point were playing for consecutive shutouts. Smith would get intercepted, setting the Chargers up at the San Francisco 35. Kaeding kicked a 39 yard field goal to make it 34-0 Chargers with 7 1/2 minutes to play.

The 49ers took over at their own 30, and a pass from Smith to Morgan went for 36 yards with a personal foul tacked on. 3rd and 1 from the 10 saw Dixon gain 3, and Bryan Westbrook ran for the 3 yard touchdown. It was a microcosm of the entire San Francisco season, a horrendous start with some very late flurries to fail to mask an overall pathetic effort.

As for the Chargers, consecutive wins by a combined 65-7 should not be magnified. They won both games at home, one against a bad team and the other against an overachieving team with their quarterback injured and a backup who has never won an NFL game playing. The Chargers are 8-6, and still fighting to win the division. They have gone 6-1 in the last 7 games but have tough road games coming up. 34-7 Chargers

New Orleans Saints @ Baltimore Ravens–The 10-3 Saints and 9-4 Ravens are both one game back in their respective divisions, but this could be a Super Bowl preview. Sean Payton leads a prolific offense under Drew Brees against John Harbaugh with the typical ferocious Ravens defense under Ray Lewis and friends.

The Saints began their second drive at their own 40. On 3rd and 6 Brees hit Marquis Colston for 12. On 3rd and 1 from the Baltimore 35, Pierre Thomas picked up 2. Roughing the passer tacked on 15 and Brees then found Graham for the 18 yard touchdown to have the Saints up 7-0.

The Ravens took over at their own 24, and helped along by defensive pass interference, moved to the Saints 45. On 3rd and 1, Flacco picked up 2. On 3rd and 10 from the 34, Flacco found Dickerson for the touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

After a punt, the Ravens took over at their own 42. On 3rd and 1 Ray Rice went nowhere, but Harbaugh decided to go for it. On 4th and 1, Rice barreled for 20 yards. In the second quarter, on 3rd and 3 from the Saints 10, Rice again bulldozed for the score as the Ravens led 14-7.

The Saints punted again, and Lardarius Webb returned it 26 yards to the Saints 34. On 2nd and 7 Flacco hit Rice for 14. On 3rd and 10 from the 17, Rice continued his clinic as a pass from Flacco went for another touchdown to have the Ravens up 21-7.

With 3 minutes left in the half, the Saints took over at their own 8. Brees quickly found Colston for 27. Brees hit Reggie Bush for 8, again for 20 more, and then for another 5. Brees found Devry Henderson for 16, Bush for 5, and Jeremy Shockey for 10 down to the one. Brees hit Graham for the score to have the Saints down 21-14 at the half.

The third quarter became a field position game, and the Saints would begin a drive at the Baltimore 49. Brees found Shockey for 11 and Colston for 17 more, but the Baltimore defense would hold the Saints to a 47 yard Garrett Hartley field goal to get the Saints within 21-17.

The Ravens took over at their own 26, and after a false start, Flacco found Rice on a screen pass that Rice took for 32 yards. From the Saints 43, Willis McGahee ran over people for 28 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Flacco was sacked for a 10 yard loss as a 33 yard field goal put the Ravens up 24-17.

The Saints took over at their own 20, and Julius Jones gained 2 on 3rd and 1 to keep the drive going. From the Baltimore 46, Brees found Devry Henderson for 26 yards. On 3rd and goal from the 15 Brees hit Moore for the tying touchdown as the 24-24 game had 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Ravens took over at their own 20 and needed one play to regain momentum. Rice had been torching the Saints all game, and a 50 yard run with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness had the Ravens at the Saints 15. The efense held, but Billy Cundiff made the 32 yard field goal to have the Ravens up 27-24 with 10 minutes left.

The kick was good, and the Saints needed a miracle finish. They took the kickoff at the goal line, and several laterals later they were at their own 43 before falling short. Both teams are now 10-4 and playoff bound, but the Saints may have lost their chance to win the division. The Ravens are still in contention for theirs as this potential Super Bowl preview lived up to its billing. 30-24 Ravens

Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers–Nobody cares. The Cardinals at 4-9 can still win their division while the Panthers may get the top pick in the draft.

After a punt the Panthers took over at their own 33, and Jimmy Stewart ran for 35 yards. Jon Kasay would make a 28 yard field goal to have the Panthers up 3-0. The Panthers got the ball back on their own 9, and Jimmy Clausen led a 14 play, 80 yard drive that took over 6 1/2 minutes. The drive stalled again and a 29 yard Kasay field goal had the Panthers up 6-0.

For those wondering who Ken Whisenhunt has playing quarterback now, it is Skelton. Wearing the red jersey, he did resemble Red Skelton early on. An interception was returned 34 yards to the Arizona 16. Clausen needed one play to find King for the score as the Panthers led 13-0 at home.

A bad punt had the Cardinals starting just shy of midfield with 4 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 4 form the Carolina 30, Skelton scrambled for 6, On 3rd and 10 from the 24, Skelton did what Arizona quarterbacks should do, going deep to Larry Fitzgerald for 20. Naturally it led to a field goal and the Cardinals trailed 13-3 at the half.

A terrible football game between terrible teams did not produce an exciting third quarter unless one is riveted by Jon Kasay. He hit field goals of 24 and 43 yards to have the Panthers up 19-3 after three quarters. Had the Panthers been 0-13 it would have been a story, but at 1-12 they were just another bad team.

With 8 minutes left in regulation and the Panthers looking to close out, they fumbled the ball away and the Cardinals took over at their own 26. On 4th and 1 Tim Hightower gained 3. Skelton hit Fitzgerald for 17 and Steve Breaston for 35. Skelton passed to Hightower, who fumbled it at the 5. Luckily for the Cardinals, Breaston fell on it in the end zone as the Cardinals got the touchdown. The 2 point conversion failed, and they were down 19-9 with 6 minutes left.

With 1:49 to play the Panthers faced 4th and 9 at the Arizona 36. Jon Fox played it safe and called a running play that ended one yard short. From the Arizona 34, Skelton hit Fitzgerald for 41 yards, with a facemask tacking on 15 more. Needing 2 scores, a 30 yard field goal had them within 7 with one minute left. The onsides kick failed and that was that. 19-12 Panthers

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals–The Browns at 5-8 are fighting hard for Eric Mangini, keeping the Walrus Mike Holmgren in the executive office. The 2-11 Bengals have lost 10 straight and quit on Marvin Lewis.

The Browns took over at their own 25, and Colt McCoy was back in the lineup. He delivered right away, as a 20 yard pass to Royal had the Browns up 7-0. In the second quarter Carson Palmer took time away form throwing touchdowns to the defense to lead the Bengals 91 yards in 10 plays over 6 minutes. Cedric Benson would run for an 18 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. Cincinnati would get the ball back and Palmer would lead a 13 play, 68 yard drive that took 7 1/2 minutes. It only led to a 25 yard Stitser field goal, but the Bengals had shocked the football world by leading 10-7 at halftime.

The Bengals may have a pair of prima donna receivers who tweet endessly and have reality tv show while losing games, but at least they have a Stitser. He made field goals of 39 and 34 yards to have the Bengals leading 16-7 after three quarters in the Ohio Bowl. The fourth quarter allowed Phil Dawson to kick a 23 yard field goal to get the Browns within 16-10, but the Bengals rode their Super Stitser to a fourth field goal, as a 20 yard kick had the Bengals up 19-10 in a game even less thrilling than it sounded.

After 56 minutes of awful football, the Browns took over at their own 12. McCoy hit Watson for 15. On 3rd and 7 McCoy found Watson for 24 yards and then found Robiskie deep for the 46 yard touchdown. The onsides kick failed, and everything came down to the Bengals facing 3rd and 3 from the Cleveland 37 with 1:55 to play and the Browns out of timeouts. Cedric Benson gained 4 and the Bengals ran out the clock to end a game as miserable as Ohio itself. The Brown now have another losing season while the Bengals are who we thought they were despite the win. 19-17 Bengals

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys–The biggest disgrace on the 5-8 Redskins was Albert Haynesworth, but now it is egomaniac Mike Shanahan. Shanahan was right to get rid of Haynesworth, but his treatment of Donovan McNabb is disgraceful. Rex Grossman is nowhere near as good as McNabb, and hopefully he will get better treatment from his next team. The man has been attacked by Rush Limbaugh, Terrell Owens, the Philly NAACP, and now Shanahan. McNabb deserves better than the pathetic Redskins. As for the Cowboys, Jason Garrett has them turned around.

A 38 yard kickoff return had the Cowboys starting at their own 46. Jon Kitna found Gronkowski for 12 and Felix Jones gained 11 more. A 42 yard David Buehler field goal had the Cowboys leading 3-0. The Redskins went nowhere, and a 31 yard punt return had the Cowboys setting up at the Washington 30. Kitna hit Jason Witten for 26 yards. On 2nd and goal at the 1, Kitna threw incomplete. A false tart moved them back, and then Kitna got the 5 yards back. On 4th and goal at the 1 Garrett decided to go for it and Tashard Choice ran into a Washington brick wall.

From the 2, Rex Gross man went straight to the air. Good Rex showed up with a 20 yard completion to Santana Moss. Then Bad Rex showed up with an interception by Sensabaugh as the goal line stand was wasted. Dallas took over at the Washington 27. On 3rd and 8 Kitna hit Witten for 22 and then found Miles Austin. Despite dating a Kardashian, Austin caught the ball for the 3 yard touchdown to have the Cowboys up 10-0.

A 23 yard punt return late in the opening quarter had the Cowboys at the Washington 35. On 3rd and 13 from the Washington 23, Kitna found Choice for just enough. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 2 Kitna threw incomplete. One goal line stand was enough for Garrett, so this time a 20 yard Buehler field goal had the Cowboys up 13-0 early in the second quarter.

The Redskins took over at their own 22. On 3rd and 3 Grossman found Armstrong for 19 and Sellers for another 27. Grossman would hit Ryan Torain for a 19 yard touchdown because Shanahan is a genius. The Redskins still trailed 13-7.

The Cowboys began at their own 9, and Felix Jones gained 11. On 2nd and 9, Kitna hit Choice for 11. Garret then went to the bag of tricks. Choice took a direct snap, handed it to Felix Jones, and Jones pitched it back to Kitna. Kitna went deep to Jones for a 32 yard gain to the Washington 36. On 3rd and 5, roughing the passer negated an incomplete pass. Instead of a punt or long field goal, Dallas kelt moving. On 3rd and 9 from the 14, Kitna found Witten for the score as the Cowboys led 20-7.

Dallas would miss a chance to extend the lead when a 36 yard field goal attempt at the end of the half was no good. That would loom large later on.

Bad Rex continued his misery as the third quarter began by getting sacked and fumbling. The Cowboys took over at the Washington 15. On 3rd and 6 Kitna found Witten for 9, and Choice ran it in for a 3 yard touchdown to have the Cowboys winning a laugher 27-7

From the Washington 29, Good Rex returned, and actually turned into Very Good Rex. Grossman went deep to Armstrong for 47 yards and back to Armstrong for 14 more. A 10 yard toss from Grossman to Santana Moss had the Redskins within 27-14

The Cowboys took over at their own 18. Felix Jones gained 16 and Choice added another 12. A 33 yard completion to Witten went to the Washington 20. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Cowboys faced 4th and goal at the 2. Jason Garrett opted for the field goal as the Cowboys led 30-14.

The Redskins took over at their own 22. Grossman went deep to Chris Cooley for 27 yards. On 4th and 2 from the Dallas 43, Grossman found Armstrong for 10. On 3rd and 5 from the 28, Grossman hit Moss for 7. Torain ran for 15 yards as the fourth quarter began with the Redksins at the Dallas 6. On 3rd and goal from the 11, an incomplete pass was nullified by roughing the passer. On 3rd and goal at the 5, Grossman hit Moss for the score. Grossman found Cooley for the 2 point conversion and all of a sudden the Redskins were only down 30-22.

A short Dallas punt had the Redskins at their own 44. Grossman found Torain for 7 and then for 20 more. Torain ran for 9 and caught a 4 yard pass to have the Redskins at the Dallas 16. A 5 yard touchdown pass to Cooley was Grossman fourth…yes fourth…touchdown of the game. The 2 point conversion failed, but defensive holding gave the Redskins another shot.  Grossman connetced with Sellers and the 20 point deficit was erased in a 30-30 game midway through the fourth quarter.

Dallas punted, and the Redskins were backed up to their own 4. On 4th and 27 from their own 8, the Redskins punted and the Cowboys took over at their own 48 with 3:11 to play. At the 2 minute warning they were at the Washington 42. Kitna hit Austin for 12 as Washington used their timeouts to preserve the clock. With 55 seconds left and the Cowboys facing 4th and 1 at the Washington 21, David Buehler came in for the 39 attempt. It was good, and the Cowboys retook the lead.

The Redskins took over at their own 20 with 50 seconds left and 0 timeouts. With 13 seconds left Grossman got them to their own 47. Very Good Rex had a very bad ending as he was intercepted by Terrence Newman. Newman ran around the field until the clock was at double zeroe and then went to the grund to preserve the win. Jason Garrett got to 4-2 since taking over midseason. Good Rex was 25 of 43 for 322 yards and 4 touchdown passes. Bad Rex threw 2 interceptions and lost a fumble. Yet Shanahan screwing over McNabb will be talked about long after these 5-9 teams forget their season. 33-30 Cowboys

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts–The 8-5 Jaguars actually lead the division, but the 7-6 Colts can take control with a win today. Jack Del Rio has his team overachieving, while Jim Caldwell has seen the Colts wracked by injuries.

With all world Peyton Manning passing more than ever, this time it was a 49 yard run by Brown that set up Manning from 3 yards out to Austin Collie to quickly have the Colts up 7-0.

David Garrard led a 15 play, 77 yard drive that consumed over 8 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 7 from the Jaguars 22, Garrard found Thomas for 16, with unnecessary roughness on the defense adding 15 more. On 4th and 3 from the Colts 40, Jack Del Rio decided to go for it. Garrard hit Hill for 14. The Jaguars would get to the 1 yard line when Maurice Jones-Drew was tacked for a 3 yard loss. Early in the second quarter the Jaguars settled for a 22 yard Josh Scobee field goal to have the Jaguars within 7-3.

The Colts took over at their own 8 yard line, but 92 yards for Manning required only 11 plays. Manning hit Garcon for 13 and Reggie Wayne for 13 more. On 2nd and 18 from the Jaguars 43, Manning found Collie for 21. On 1st and 15 form the 27, Manning went deep to Collie again for the touchdown a the Colts led 14-3.

Controversy would ensue with 4 minutes left in the half.  The Colts punted, and Thomas returned it 78 yards for a touchdown. Yet the Colts argued that Thomas called for a fair catch. The Replay showed Thomas did make a fair catch move, although the arm did not go above his head. The refs ruled it a touchdown and the Jaguars were within 14-10.

The Jaguars began the third quarter at their own 30, and for some bizarre reason Del Rio decided to bring back the ghost of Barry Switzer, going for it on 4th and 1 at his own 39. Then rather than run up the middle, Del Rio called a pitchout that Jones-Drew fumbled. The Colts took over at the Jacksonville 38. After a false start, Donald Brown raced for the 43 yard touchdown to have the Colts up 21-10. The Colts would punt on their next possession, but another Jaguars fumble had the Colts as the Jacksonville 21. The defense would hold, but Adam Vinatieri connected from 34 as the Colts led 24-10.

The Jaguars would not go down without a fight, taking over at their own 23. On 3rd and 1, Garrard picked up 3. On 2nd and 15 form the 30, Garrard went deep to Thomas for 39 yards. Garrard then hit Lewis for 25 more and threw the 6 yard touchdown to Mike Sims-Walker to have the Jaguars within 24-17. The Colts punted, and the Jaguars began at their own 25. Garrard found Jones-Drew for 14 and Sims Walker for 23 more. Yet from the Indy 38, Garrard was intercepted by Antoine Bethea on the last play of the third quarter. Bethea returned it 31 yards to the Indy 44.

On 3rd and 8 Manning hit White for 16. The drive would stall in the red zone, but Adam Vinatieri made the 37 yarder. Captain Clutch had the Colts up 27-17 with 10 minutes left in regulation. The Jaguars punted, backing the Colts up to their own 2. The Colts would punt, and the Jaguars took over just shy of midfield with 3:21 left. Garrard hit Jennings for 23 and Lewis for gains of 15 and 9. At the 2 minute warning, facing 3rd and goal at the 1, Garrard hit Sims-Walker for the touchdown.

Trailing 27-24, it all came down to the onsides kick. It bounced straight to Hagler, who raced 41 yards for the clinching Colts touchdown. Speaking of clinching, the Jagaurs could have shocked the entire NFL by winning the game and clinching the division, and even possibly knocking the Colts out of the layoffs, an unfathomable outcome at the season’s outset. Instead both teams are 8-6, having split the season series. When asked his opinion, Jim Caldwell was expressionless. 34-24 Colts

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins–The Bills are out of it while the Dolphins may have saved their season with a road win last week to get to 7-6. The Dolphins win on the road but keep losing at home. On the first Miami drive, a theme for the day would develop when Dan Carpenter missed a 48 yard field goal.

After a scoreless opening quarter that ended with a Chad Henne interception, Buffalo faced 3rd and 1 at the Miami 26. CJ Spiller got nothing, and Chan Gailey decided to go for it. Fred Jackson picked up 2 and Ryan Fitpatrick hit Nelson for 20. A pair of penalties moved Buffalo from 3rd and goal at the 3 back to the 18. Yet Fitzpatrick hit Nelson for the score anyway as the Bills led 7-0 to extend the home woes for Tony Sparano.

CJ Spiller would return a punt 34 yards to the Miami 42. Fitzpatrick then hit Nelson for 23. On 3rd and 1 from the 10, Fitzpatrik threw incomplete. Gailey decided to take the points on the road and Lindell made the 29 yard field goal to have the Bills up 10-0.

With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half, the Dolphins took over at their own 36. Henne found Brandon Marshall for 16, and Ronnie Brown had gains of 9 and 8. Ronnie Brown would take a wildcat snap 6 yards for the touchdown to have the Dolphins down 10-7 at intermission.

In the third quarter the Bills began their second possession at their own 14.  On 3rd and 3 Fitzpatrick hit Roosevelt for 24 yards. On 3rd and 3 Fitzpatrick found Johnson for 6. On 2nd and 14 from the Miami 46 Fitzpatrick hit St Johnson for 18. Spiller ran for 12, and Fitzpatrick hit St Johnson for the 15 yard touchdown to have the Bills up 17-7 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. With 2 minutes left in the third quarter Dan Carpenter missed a 53 yard field goal for Miami. It was Carpenter’s third miss, although the first one came from 60 yards to end the first half.

Early in the fourth quarter Chad Henne led the Dolphins 11 plays and 77 yards in 7 minutes. On 3rd and 3 from the Miami 30 Henne found Duane Bess for 15. From the Buffalo 44, Hennie hit Ricky Williams for 23 yards. Henne would hit Brandon Marshall for a 9 yard score as the Dolphins were only down 17-14 with 7 minutes left in regulation.

The Dolphins took over at their own 20 with 4 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 6 Henne hit Marshall for 13. From the Buffalo 47, Henne found Anthony Fasano for 16. With 1:53 left in the game, Carpenter came in for a 48 yard field goal, having missed three already. A few weeks ago Carpenter was a hero making 5 field goals. He got the game ball from Tony Sparano, who exclaimed “How about that D@mn kicker!” This time, with everything on the line, Carpenter missed for the fourth time. To quote Walrus Paul Maguire, “I hate kickers! They should be paid $50 a game.”

The Dolphins still cannot win at home, and fell to 7-7, eliminating them from playoff contention. The Bills after an 0-8 start have shown a ton of heart for Chan Gailey. Dan Carpenter may feel miserable, but to again paraphrase Maguire, it won’t matter because he might not be a Dolphin next year. 17-14 Bills

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants–These bitter rivals are both 9-4 as the divisions comes to a head today. Walrus Lite Andy Reid has Michael Vick firing like a madman while Tom Coughlin has seen Big Blue return to its roots with ferocious defense and hard running.

The defenses ruled early on when the Giants took over at their own 29 later in the period. On 3rd and 11 Eli Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for 22 yards to midfield. On 3rd and 7 Manning found Mario Manningham for 10. On 3rd and 8 from the Philly 35, Manning went deep to Manningham to complete the 71 yard drive and have the Giants up 7-0.

At the end of the first quarter Manning was intercepted, setting the Eagles up at the Giants 45. Vick scrambeld for 11 with a defensive personal foul tacking on 15 more.  The defense would hold and a 34 yard David Akers field goal had the Eagles within 7-3.

The Giants took over at their own 27, and 3 straight Ahmad Bradshaw carries gained 5, 9, and 9 to midfield. On 3rd and 12 from the Philly 48, Manning found Nicks for 15. On the next play Manning went to Manningham for the 33 yard score as the Giants led 14-3.

With 4 minutes left in the half, the Giants took over at their own 38. On 3rd and 8 Manning found Hagan for 16 and Bradshaw for 11. With 52 seconds left in the half the Giants had to settle for a 25 yard Lawrence Tynes field goal, as the Eagles were lucky to only be down 17-3. Yet they could not get to the locker rooms just yet as a fumble was recovered at the Philly 30 by Phillips and returned to the 8 yard line. The Giants had 9 seconds to work with, and Manning hit Nicks for the score as the Giants led 24-3 at breaktime.

With 5 minutes left in the third quarter and the Giants in total control of the game, they fumbled deep in their own territory. The Eagles took over at the Giants 25, and Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for an 8 yard touchdown to have the Eagles within 24-10.

With 13 minutes left in regulation the Eagles returned he favor. From the Philly 20, Vick hit Desean Jackson for 30 yards, but Jackson fumbled. The Giants took over at the Eagles 47. Manning would end up hitting Kevin Boss for an 8 yard touchdown. The Giants led 31-10 with 8 1/2 minutes in regulation. Barring the mother of all collapses at home, the Giants were 1/2 a quarter away from control of the division.

The Eagles took over at their own 25. Vick hit Maclin for 10. On the next play, Vick threw a short pass to Captain Morgan Brent Celek. Terrible tackling turned a short gain into a 65 yard touchdown. Out of nowhere, the Eagles had struck. Yet they still trailed 31-17. The Giant were then caught sleeping on 2 consecutive plays as Andy Reid called an onsides kick and David Akers executed it to perfection.

The Eagles took over at their own 43. Vivk hit Jackson for 13 yards. Whle the Giants corraled Vick in the first half, he ran wild in the fourth quarter. A 35 yard scramble led to Vick taking it in himself from 4 yards out. 2 touchdowns in 3 minutes turned a laugher into a 31-24 Giants lead with 5 1/2 minutes still to play. The Giants took over at their own 35.

On 3rd and 1 Ahmad Bradshaw gained 2, and the Eagles used all of their timeouts. With 4 minutes left, the Giants faced 2nd and 6 at the Philly 38. Yet a false start and an incomplete passe killed the drive and preserved the clock. A good punt had the Eagles at their own 12 with 0 timeouts. Yet they still had 3 minutes.

On 3rd and 10 form the 12, Vick got loose again and ran for 33 yards. Vick hit Avant for 13, and scrambled loose again for 22 yards to the Giants 20 at the 2 minute warning. Vick hit Celek for 7 and Maclin for the 13 yard touchdown. In front of a shellshocked crowd, the Eagles had come back from down 21 to tie it 31-31. The Giants took over at their own 36 with 1:10 to play in a game that will be talked about by football fans all over forever.

After a pair of incomplete passes, the Giants faced 3rd and 10 at their own 36 with one minute left. Manning was sacked to end the drive. Yet the Eagles could not stop the clock. The Giants let it wind almost all the way down and then called timeout with 14 seconds left. Coughlin explicitly told his punter to kick it out of bounds. They could figure out the rest in overtime. One out of bounds punt would give the Giants time to regroup.

The snap was high. Punter Dodge managed to pull it down, and got off a 36 yard punt to the Philly 35. The punt was inbounds. Desean Jackson fumbled it. Then he picked it up again. Then he split the seams, and in front of a catatonic crowd, raced toward the goal line. Jackson reached the goal line and then smartly ran sideways to make sure the clock was at double zeroes. Jackson then crossed the goal line as Tom Coughlin exploded at his punter and anyone within yelling distance.

In the 1970s the Giants only needed to take a knee to defeat Philadelphia at home. Instead Joe Pisarcik tried to hand the ball off, resulting in a fumble recovered by Herman Edwards and returned 20 yards for an Eagles touchdown and a 19-17 Philly win that is forever known as the Miracle at the Meadowlands.

This one may be more shocking. The Eagles scored 28 points in the final 7 1/2 minutes, with 14 of those points in the final 1:16 and the last score on the final play. The Eagles are now 10-4 and have beaten the 9-5 Giants 2x to put a stranglehold on the division. While the Giants are still most likely playoff bound, this game will haunt them for years if not decades unless they knock Philly out of the playoffs. The only reason this is not Miracle at the Meadowlands Part II is because this horror occurred in their new stadium. Vick finished 21 of 35 for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. Manning was 23 of 39 for 289 yards and 4 touchdowns. Each quarterback was intercepted once. Wellington Mara is rolling over in his grave, and New York Giants fans are on suicide watch after this one. 38-31 Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs @ St. Louis Rams–The 8-5 Chiefs are actually in first place by half a  game, but got throttled last week 31-0 without Matt Cassel. The Rams at 6-7 are tied for first in the horrendous NFC Worst.

The Rams began at their own 28 and Sam Bradford led an 8 minute drive. Yet on 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 9, back to back false starts killed the drive and the Rams settled for a 37 yard Josh Brown field goal to lead 3-0.

The Chiefs took over on their own 14, yet on 2nd and 1 and 3rd and 1 Todd Haley called pass plays that Matt Cassel fired incomplete. The Chiefs punted and Danny Amendola returned it 42 yards to the Chiefs 36. The Rams went nowhere but Josh Brown nailed a 52 yard field goal to lead 6-0.

The Chiefs finally got going in the second quarter. A key Todd Haley decision had the Chiefs gambling on 4th and 1 at their own 48. Battle picked up 7. Cassel went deep to Dwayne Bowe for 28 yards, and on 3rd and 1 from the 2 Cassel found Pope as the Chiefs had their first lead 7-6.

After a punt the Chiefs took over at their own 41. Unnecessary roughnes on the defense was followed by Cassel hitting Moeaki for 12 and Cassel scrambling for 13  down to the 20. On 2nd and 13 Cassel hit Jones for 16. Just past the 2 minute warning, on 3rd and goal from the 2, Jamal Charles took it in to have the Chiefs up 14-6 at halftime.

The Chiefs began the third quarter at their own 17. On 3rd and 6 Cassel hit Moeaki for 8. On 3rd and 1 from the 38, the aptly named Battle gained 2. Thomas Jones ran for 10 and Cassel hit Charles for 14. The drive stopped, and Ryan Succop was brought in for a 53 yard field goal. He nailed it, and the Chiefs led 17-6. A field position game favored the Chiefs as they began the fourth quarter at their own 46. Cassel hit Bowe for 25 yards, and on 4th and 1 from the Rams 20, Todd Haley opted for another field goal. Succop connected form 38 as the Chiefs led 20-6 with 12 1/2 minutes left.

After an exchange of punts, the Rams rook over at their own 28 with 8 1/2 minutes left. Sam Bradford began with a 15 yarder to Amendola. On 3rd and 1 from the Chiefs 37, Jackson gained 4. A 16 yard completion to Amendola led to 3rd and 1 at the 8. Bradford hit Amendola for 3 and Jackson then ran it in to get the Rams to within 20-13 with 4 minutes left.

The Chiefs took over at their own 18, and one play was all they needed to quiet the crowd. Jamal Charles broke free for an 80 yard run. Thomas Jones carried the final 2 yards as the Chiefs put it away. In the worst division in football history, the Rams at 6-8 under Steve Spagnuolo still are tied for the division lead. The 9-4 Chiefs remain one game up in their division. 27-13 Chiefs

Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers–The Buccaneers at 7-6 have not beaten anybody good, but at home against woeful Detroit they should pad their record to keep their playoff hopes alive. Early on Josh Freeman led the Bucs to a 4th and 6 at the Detroit 39, but Raheem Morris decided to punt. Later in the quarter the Lions took over at their own 32. On 2nd and 12 Drew Stanton found Calvin Johnson for 20 to the half stripe, and Stephan Logan ran for 13 more. Morris picked up 8 and 3, and Stanton hit Johnson for 16. Stanton then found Nate Burleson for the 10 yard touchdown to have the Lions up 7-0 on the road.

On the last play of the first quarter, the Buccaneers faced 3rd and 13 at their own 37. Freeman found Cadillac Williams for 18. On 4th and 2 from the Detroit 37, this time Morris decided to go for it. Freeman hit Ben for 13 and then found Williams for a 24 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

The Buccaneers would take the lead when a 77 yard drive was finished off by a 39 yard touchdown run by Blount to have them up 14-7. Yet Stanton kept the Lions in the game, moving them 61 yards late in the half in 10 plays. A 41 yard field goal by Dave Rayner had the Lions only down 14-10 at halftime.

A short kickoff to start the second half had the Lions at their own 42. On 3rd and 5, Stanton hit Johnson for 7 and Burleson for 25. On 3rd and 3 Stanton hit Tony Scheffler for 4. Morris ran for the 10 yard touchdown as the Lions led 17-14. With one minute remaining in the third quarter after an exchange of punts, the Buccaneers took over at their own 21. The fourth quarter began with the Buccaneers throwing incomplete on 3rd and 5, but defensive pass interference keeping the drive alive.

A 27 yard run by Blount had the Buccaneers at the Lions 12. On 1st and goal at the 1, a run went nowhere. 2nd and goal lost a yard. 3rd and goal from the 2 saw the go ahead touchdown nullified by holding as the Bucs were back to the 12. With 9 minutes remaining a 30 yard Connor Barth field goal tied the game 17-17.

The Buccaneers got the ball back at their own 35 with 6 minutes left. On 3rd and 10 Freeman found Michael Spurlock for 19. On 2nd and 6 Freeman hit Williams for 13. At the 2 minute warning the Buccaneers faced a critical 3rd and 1 at the Lions 20. Detroit jumped offsides. Yet the Lions despite the blunder still had all 3 of their timeouts. On 4th and 3 from the 8, Barth made the 26 yard field goal. The Lions got the ball back at their own 32 with 1:32 to play and 0 timeouts down by 3.

Stanton hit Johnson for 19 and a 23 yarder to Calvin Johnson. With 22 seconds left, the Lions faced 3rd and 10 at the Tampa 22. Stanton hit Scheffler for 12. With 2 seconds left, Rayner came in for a 28 yarder to tie it. He did, and at 20-20 the game went into overtime.

The Lions won the toss in overtime and took over at their own 21. Morris ran for 26 yards, and Jahvid best ran for 14 more. On 3rd and 8 from the Tampa 37, Stanton hit Johnson for 12. On 4th and 1 from the 16 only 5 minutes into overtime, Rayner came in again to win it. From 34 yards out, he was good. The Buccaneers never saw the ball in overtime, and the loss at home dropped them to 8-6 and the brink of playoff elimination. The 4-10 Lions have won 2 straight games, and won a road game for the first time since the turn of the century or something like that. Jim Schwartz is slowly erasing the Rod Marinelli era. 23-20 Lions, OT

Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans–Both of these teams have collapsed to get to 5-8, as the Titans have lost 6 straight. Gary Kubiak is on the hot seat, and even the normally safe Jeff Fisher is feeling some heat. That heat led to a stunning decision early on. With the Titans facing 4th and at the Houston 42, Fisher decided to go for it. Kerry Collins went deep to Williams for a 39 yard connection and then hit Nate Washington for the score to have the Titans up 7-0. Matt Schaub quickly moved the Texans to 3rd and 1 at the Tennessee 35, and then threw incomplete. Gary Kubiak decided to go for it as well, and Arriun Foster was blasted in the backfield for a 4 yard loss.

From the Titans 39, Collins immediately went for the kill, going deep to Kenny Britt for 59 yards down to the 2. On 3rd and goal Chris Johnson ran it in to have the Titans up 14-0. A shanked 23 yard punt had the Titans starting at the Houston 44. On 3rd and 1 Johnson gained 3. Collins found Britt for 21, and Johnson ran for the 11 yard score to have the Titans up 21-0.

With 6 minutes left in the half, the Texans finally got on the board with a 37 yard Neil Rackers field goal to trail 21-3. Yet when the Texans got the ball back, Schaub was intercepted. The Titans took over at the Houston 21 with 47 seconds left in the half. Rob Bironas connected from 30 as the half ended to have the Titans up 24-3.

The Texans began the second half at their own 34. On 3rd and 8 from the Houston 48, Matt Schaub hit Dreessen for 14 and Owen Daniels for 23. A 12 yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson had the Texans within 24-10. The Titans took over at their on 36 and Collins to Cook for 27 and to Britt for 16 more. Yet on 3rd and 10 from the Houston 21, Collins was intercepted. Schaub led the Titans from their own 16 to a 3rd and 3 at the Titans 33. Yet a sack of Schaub killed the drive and the Titans took over at their own 20.

Collins kept firing, hitting Washington for 17 and Britt for 13. Chris Johnson ran for 42 yards and Ringer took it the final 7 to have the Titans up 31-10 just before the third quarter ended.

With 11 minutes left in regulation the Texans took over at their on 17. Schaub hit Walter for 18, and Jones for a pair of 11 yard completions. On 3rd and 10 from the Titans 43, Schaub hit Walter for 14. On 3rd and goal from the 7, an incomplete pass was nullified by defensve pass interference. Schaub hit Walter for the 4 yard touchdown but the Texans still trailed by 14 with 6 1/2 minutes left.

Schaub moved the Texans to a 4th and 5 at the Titans 28 with 3 1/2 minutes to play. On incompletion later, and any comeback was snuffed out. Bud Adams and Jeff Fisher saw the 6 game losing streak snapped, while Bob McNair and Gary Kubiak have seen the Texans lose 7 of  8. It will be an ugly offseason for one and maybe both of these teams. 31-17 Titans

Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks–Jim Mora Jr. coached both of these teams, which is a polite way of saying there is no major storyline. The Falcons at 11-2 need to win against a Seahawks team that at 6-7 leads the NFC Worst.

Seattle began the game at their own 20 and Matt Hasselbeck led them 80 yards in 12 plays over 7 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 5 Hasselbeck hit Marshawn Lynch for 17. From the Atlanta 15, Lynch carried it to the 1 and ran it in on the next play as the Seahawks led 7-0.

Weems returned the kickoff 46 yards to the Atlanta 49. Matt Ryan matched the Seattle drive with a 15 play drive that took over 8 minutes. On 3rd and 6 from the Seattle 37, Ryan hit Douglas for 10. On 4th and 1 from the 18,  Average Non-Descript White Guy Monthly Magazine cover guy Mike Smith continued to avoid blandness and go for it. Matty Ice picked up just enough. On 4th and 1 from the 8, Smith gambled again. Turner got the yard. As the second quarter got underway, 3rd and goal at the 3 resulted in Ryan hitting Snelling for the score to tie the game 7-7.

Seattle punted, and the Falcons took over at their own 40. On 3rd and 1, Turner gained 3. From midfield, Ryan hit White for 15. On 3rd and 6, Ryan hit Snelling, who fumbled. Yet White recovered it for the Falcons, as the total play went for 7 yards and a 1st down. The Falcons reached the 9 yard line and no further, as Matt Bryant hit a 27 yard field goal to have the Falcons up 10-7 after the 14 play, 7 minute drive.

Seattle punted, and the Falcons took over at their own 33. On 3rd and 10, Ryan was intercepted as the Seahawks took over at the Atlanta 27. The defense held, and Olindo Mare made a 38 yard field goal to tie the game 10-10.

With 2:05 left in the half, the Falcons took over at their own 20. On 3rd and 2 Ryan hit White for 7 as the Falcons took timeout with 1 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 2 from the Atlanta 43, defensive holding stopped the clock with one minute left in the half. On 3rd and 10 from the Seattle 43, Ryan hit White for 15 as the Falcons took timeout with 35 seconds left. On 3rd and 6 from the 24, Ryan went deep to Jenkins for the backbreaker touchdown as the Falcons led 17-10 after the 13 play drive.

The Falcons punted on their first drive of the third quarter, and the Seahawks began on their own 4. Hasselbeck went back to pass in his own end zone, was sacked and fumbled. Babineaux fell on it for a defensive touchdown as a tight game was broken open in a 24-10 Falcons lead. Hasselbeck was intercepted on the next Seattle series, and the Falcons took over at the Seattle 37. It would lead to  25 yard Brant field goal and a comfortable 27-10 Falcons lead. Hasselbeck was the intercepted again, setting the Falcons up at the Seattle 21. Ryan hit White for 5 yards, and a tie game just before the half was now a 34-10 blowout after three quarters.

Pete Carroll had seen enough, and benched Hasselbeck for Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst did lead an 88 yard drive in the fourth quarter, scrambling for 6 on 4th and 4 at the 7. Whitehurst took it in himself. Whitehurst found Obomanu for the 2 point conversion but it was way too little, way too late. At 12-2 the Falcons have all but clinched their division and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The 6-8 Seahawks are ineligible for a BCS Bowl Game for Pete Carroll, but they are shockingly enough still tied atop the NFC Worst Division. 34-18 Falcons

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders–The Raiders at 6-7 are clinging to playoff life, and face a Broncos team at 3-10 with an interim coach. Yet a wild card in this game is that Kyle Orton is injured, and Tim Tebow will make his first NFL start. Tom Cable saw his Raiders throttle Denver 59-14 on the road, but this is the type of game the Raiders struggle with, one they must win. For more on the game of the day, go to

Denver went 3 and out and the Raiders began at their own 29. One play from scrimmage was enough for speedster Jacoby Ford to take an end around 71 yards for a touchdown as the Raiders quickly led 7-0. Yet unlike the earlier game, this one would be much tougher.

Denver went 3 and out again, and the Raiders soon faced 2nd and 13 at their own 31. Jason Campbell tried to throw with men all over him, and he was intercepted. The Broncos took over at the Oakland 26, and a facemask against Denver led to the Broncos facing 3rd and 24 at the Oakland 40. The Raiders were in complete control as Tebow went back to pass, saw a lane, ran up the middle, and raced toward the goal line, taking a tackler with him into the end zone. Just like that, the game was tied 7-7 with many more big plays to come.

The Raiders took over at their own 24, and from their own 43 tried another end around. The first time it went for a touchdown. This time McFadden never got the ball to Ford. As he was about to get hit, he should have just taken the loss. Instead, he tried to pitch it anyway, resulting in a fumble that the Broncos recovered at the Oakland 32. On 2nd and 11, Tebow went deep and somehow got the ball over 2 defenders in the end zone to a sliding Brandon Lloyd. Initially it was ruled incomplete but Eric Studesville challenged the call. On further review, it was ruled a touchdown as 2 straight gifts had the Broncos up 14-7.

The Raiders took over at their own 31 and McFadden quickly gained 19 to midfield. On 3rd and 1, Marcel Reese gained 2. From the Denver 38, McFadden went around the end 36 yards to the 2 yard line. Michael Bush banged it in from a yard out and the game was tied 14-14 only 11 1/2 minutes into the game.

The Broncos began at their own 30. Ball gained 8, and then Tebow broke free again for 15 yards. Tebow hit Correll Buckhalter for 18. The second quarter began with the Broncos facing 3rd and 3 at the Raiders 24. A false start led to Tebow finally being corraled as the Broncos settled for a 46 yard Hauschka field goal as the Broncos led 17-14 less than one minute into the second quarter.

The Raiders took over at their own 19 and Campbell turned into Tebow by scrambling for 24 yards. Campbell then Louis Murphy for 14. A roughing the passer penalty had the Raiders at the Denver 26. On 2nd and 6, a 5 yard McFadden run that would have been 3rd and 1 instead was offensive holding and 2nd and 14 from the Denver 30. On the next play Campbell went deep to Zach Miller for a touchdown, but a very questionable illegal formation penalty nullified the score. The Raiders clearly had 7 men on the line of scrimmage, but the refs only saw 6. The call cannot be challenged. One play after the horrendous call, Campbell was intercepted again.

The pinball machine pace finally slowed as Denver and the Raiders punted twice. Yet what ended the sequence of events was very strange. With 2 1/2 minutes left in the half from their own 16, punter Shane Lechler was on the sidelines. Kicker Sebastian came in and punted for the very first time. It could have been a disaster, and it was…for Denver. The short 33 yard punt was fumbled, and the Raiders had the ball at their own 46.

Campbell again scrambled and gained 20 yards at the 2 minute warning. The drive stalled, and Seabass this time came in for his normal role, kicking long field goals. From 49 yards he got it, and the game as tied 17-17 at halftime.

An analysis of the first half would show that the Raiders running game was working brilliantly, gaining over 200 yard sin the first half. The passing game was killing them. Yet the Raiders insisted on continuing to try to pass and it kept failing. Denver on the other hand had no running game outside of Tebow. Yet they kept trying to run the ball and it kept failing. On September 11th of 2006 with jets flying overhead in Oakland, Philip Rivers started his very first NFL game. He had shackles on him the whole game, yet San Diego won 27-0 to go 14-2 while Oakland went 2-14. This time it was Tebow who had shackles on him despite showing he could throw.

The Raiders began the second half at their own 27, and Campbell hit Zach Miller for 27 yards. Another end around with Ford gained 4 yards, but offe nsive holding forced the Raiders into passes that failed. Shane Lechler was back in from whatever injury ailed him earlier and did what he does as well as ever as the Broncos were backed up to their own 3 yard line. A running play lost 2 yards. The Broncos barely avoided the safety and punted.

A booming punt was field at the Oakland 39 by Miller and returned 22 yards, with 15 more tacked on for a facemask. From the Denver 24, the Raiders insisted on passing rather than run. Hue Jackson is a good offensive coordinator for Tom Cable, but sometimes being predictable is a good thing if basic plays cannot be stopped. On 3rd and 4 from the 18, Campbell threw incomplete. The Broncos were called for roughing the passer while Campbell was simultaneously called for intentional grounding. It made no sense. Campbell was down and walked off the field, as Kyle Boller came in for a replay of 3rd and 4. McFadden gained nothing, but Seabass nailed the 35 yard field goal to have the Raiders up 20-17.

Tim Tebow showed brains in his first start by not throwing anywhere near lockdown corner Nahmdi Asomugha. As every other quarterback in the league does, he targeted Stanford Routt, who is usually good for a penalty or two. From the Denver 36, defensive pass interference on Routt moved the ball to the Oakland 40. Tebow hit Lloyd for 19 yards. On 3rd and 12 from the 24, Tebow again scrambled but was stopped after 7 yards. Hauschka hit the matching 35 yard kick to again tie the game 20-20.

The Raiders took over at their own 34 ad on 2nd and 7 Campbell hit Ford for 25 to the Denver 38. Michael Bush gained 7, 1 more on 2nd and 3, and only 1 more on 3rd and 2. On 4th and 1 from the Denver 29, Tom Cable went very conservative. Seabass nailed the 47 yard kick to put the Raiders up 23-20, but going for it would have been reasonable despite the previous 2 stops.

The Broncos took over at their own 36. On the last play of the third quarter, with Denver facing 3rd and 1, a false start killed the drive. The Raiders began the fourth quarter after a punt at their own 27. For the second time on the day, they needed only one play. Campbell tossed a short pass to Reece, who faked a defender out of his skin and raced 73 yards for the touchdown. The Raiders had some breathing room up 30-20.

Tebow was not done. From the Denver 25, he went deep to Jabar Gaffney for 32 yards. On 3rd and 2, Ball gained 3. The drive was stopped, but Hauschka matched Seabass 3 for 3 as his 45 yarder had the Broncos within 30-23 with 10 minutes left in regulation.

The Raiders took over at their own 35 and McFadden ran for 20 yards and then 5 more. Yet with the running game dominating, again the inexplicable decision to move away from it led to a pair of incomplete passes that killed the drive.  Lechler again got off a great one, backing the Broncos to their own 6. This time it was the Broncos remaining stubborn. While passing in that situation with a guy starting the first time is risky, Tebow was the only one making plays. Instead Ball tried to run and was blown up in the backfield for a 4 yard loss. From the 2, Buckhalter got the carry and got blasted in the end zone for the safety that eluded the Raiders earlier. With 7 1/2 minutes left the Raiders led 32-23 and were receiving the free kick.

A 27 yard return by Miller with unnecessary roughness tacked on had the Raiders starting at the Denver 47. On 2nd and 8 Campbell hit Ford for 15. With 4 1/2 minute left, the Raiders faced 4th and 2 at the Denver 22. This time Cable decided to go for it. Campbell hit Zach Miller for 5. On 1st and 15 from the 22, Campbell passed to McFadden, who took it 21 yards to the one yard line. Michael Bush ran it in to ice the game. An odd occurrence came with 2 1/2 minutes left and the Broncos facing 4th and 14 at their own 27 needing 2 scores. They decided to punt. and did not get the ball back.

Denver at 3-11 now has a quarterback controversy next year. Quarterbacks should not lose their job to injury, but Tebow looked very impressive. He was only 8 of 16 for 138 yards and one touchdown, but did not turn the ball over. He also rushed 8 times for 78 yards. The Broncos cannot keep Tebow and Kyle Orton happy.

The Raiders have a weak link at quarterback with Bruce Gradkowski unable to stay healthy. Campbell is better than the # 2 who destroyed the team last year, but he is benefitting from a strong running game. He is not bad, but maybe average or slightl better. The Raiders were fantastic on defense against the run with Rolando McClain leading the charge. They held Ball to 20 yards on 15 carries, Knowshon Moreno to 5 yards on 4 carries before he left with injury, and Buckhalter to 3 yards on 6 carries, including the critical safety. On offense, McFadden averaged 6 yards a carry, with 119 on 20 carries. Bush only had 12 carries for 24 yards, but got the important ones. Reece only had 3 carries for 9 yards, but also the 73 yard pass reception touchdown. Ford had the one carry for the 71 yard touchdown.

The Raiders at 7-7 are still alive for the playoffs. They cannot realistically make it as a wildcard. They will have to win the AFC West. They trail 8-6 San Diego and 9-5 Kansas City. The Raiders are 5-0 in the division and could become the first team to sweep the division and miss the playoffs. THey have not swept the division since the 1976 team won it all. The Raiders have a tough game at home against the Colts next week, but if they win and Kansas City loses, and San Diego loses once, the Raiders final game will be at the Chiefs on January 2 of 2011. The winner would win the division. It will no be easy, but the Raiders are fighting tooth and nail for Tom Cable. 39-23 Raiders

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers–The 9-4 Jets have lost 2 straight and face a 10-3 Steelers team still with hopes of a 1st round bye and one game back of home field throughout. Both of these teams have a defense, but Mike Tomlin has some offense, while Rex Ryan is in danger of seeing his teams be as one dimensional as his father Buddy. Mark Sanchez is on the hot seat.

With the Terrible Towels waving, Brad Smith silenced the crowd only 12 seconds in by taking the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Jets lead. The defenses took over as expected. Pittsburgh crossed midfield on both of their opening drives, but with snow coming down, Mike Tomlin opted to punt on 4th and 2 from the Jets 45 and on 3rd and 5 from the Jets 34. The Jets then reached the Pittsburgh 25, but offensive holding pushed them back and from the 34, Rex Ryan also decided to punt. The first quarter ended with the Steelers at their own 4 yard line.

Rashaard Mendenhall ran for 9 and 3, and on 3rd and 10, Ben Roethlisberger hit Sanders for 12. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 48, Big Ben hit Sanders again for 13. On 3rd and 18 from the 33, Roethlisberger hit Hines ward for exactly 18. 18 i a lucky number in Jewish culture although Roethlisberger is still not Jewish. On 3rd and 4 from the 9, Roethlisberger hit Spaeth for the touchdown to complete the 16 play, 8 minute, 96 yard drive to tie the game 7-7.

The Jets took over at their own 37, and on 3rd and 2 Sanchez hit Braylon Edwards for 4. Sanchez went deep to Edwards for 38 yards, and then the drive bogged down. Nick Folk nailed the 25 yarder to have the Jets up 10-7.

The Steelers took over at their own 23, and Roethlisberger hit Spaeth for 13 at the 2 minute warning. On 2nd and 5 from the Pittsburgh 45, Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace for 16. With 33 seconds left in the half, Shawn Suisham hit a 42 yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 at intermission. As expected, bad weather and good defense meant low scoring. The defense would decide the game later on.

The Steelers began the second half at their own 26. From the 36, Big Ben hit Wallace for 23. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 33, Roethlisberger hit Wallace for 8. Mendenhall ran for 21, then 2 more, and then the final 2 to have the Steelers up 17-10. The Jets took over at their own 34. On 3rd and 1 Sanchez hit Dustin Keller for 11. A 15 yard completion to Edwards and 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness wold lead to 4th and 1 at the 7. This time Ryan decided to go for it. With everybody plowed up the middle, Sanchez fooled everyone including the cameramen as he took the naked bootleg and walked into the end zone to tie the game 17-17.

The Steelers punted, and the Jets took over at their own 34. On 3rd and 1, Sanchez gained 2 as the third quarter ended. On 3r and 9 from the Jets 46, Sanchez found Edwards for 16. On 3rd and 4 from the Steelers 32, Ladanian Tomlinson ran for 8. On 4th and 2 from the 16, this time Ryan went with the field goal. Nick Folk made the 34 yarder to complete the 13 play, 7 minute drive and put the Jets up 20-17 with 10 minutes left in regulation.

A sack of Roethlisberger forced a Steelers punt, and with 3 minutes left the Jets faced 4th and 5 at the Pittsburgh 32. Again Ryan decided on a punt, not trusting a 50 yard field goal in miserable weather conditions. He did trust his punter and his defense, and the Steelers took over at their own 3 yard line. While the Steelers did move 96 yards in the first half, it was not going to happen again. Mewelde Moore was blown up in the backfield for a safety as the Jets led by 5 and prepared for the free kick with a chance to run the clock out.

From the 33, a pair of runs forced the Steelers to take a pair of timeouts. Yet on 3rd and 3 from the 40 in a game where both coaches took virtually zero risks, Rex Ryan decided to have Sanchez throw a pass. A similar decision by Baltimore against Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago led to a sack and a fumble that got the Steelers the win. This time Sanchez merely threw incomplete. Yet it stopped the clock and allowed the Steelers to preserve their final timeout. Another great punt had the Steelers at their own 8.

Big Ben scrambled for 22 yards at the 2 minute warning. Roethlisberger hit Sanders for 11 more. A sack and a fumble was retained by the Steelers, but they faced 3rd and 24 at their own 27. Roethlisberger went deep to Sanders for a 27 yard gain as Jets fans saw another monumental collapse in the works with 1:12 to play. On 3rd and 10 from the Jets 44, Big Ben hit Wallace for 18 and spiked the clock with 29 seconds left. On 3rd and 10 again, Roethlisberger hit Brown for 16 and spiked the clock again with 9 seconds left. Roethlisberger fired to the end zone incomplete, and it all came down to one final play with 2 seconds left.

Big Ben avoided the pressure, rolled to his left, and fired to he end zone. The receiver was defender perfectly and the ball fell incomplete as Rex Ryan pumped his fists. There would be no collapse on this day, and these are not the same old Jets. At 10-4 they will most likely not win the division but are well positioned for the playoffs. The Steelers are also 10-4 and now back into a tie for the division lead, although they own the tiebreaker. This would be another potential rematch that would make for a thrilling playoff scenario. 22-17 Jets

Green Bay Packers @ New England Patriots is the Sunday night game. The 8-5 Packers are one game out of the division lead, but Aaron Rodgers is out with a concussion. The Packers have not clinched a playoff spot, and New England at 11-2 for Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick is still in the lead for home field advantage. Mike Flynn made his very first start for Green Bay, as Aaron Rodgers remains about 300 games shy of his predecessor’s start record.

Mike McCarthy went to the bag of tricks to start the game, beginning with a perfectly executed onsides kick that the Packers recovered at their own 47. On 3rd and 3 from the Patriots 35, Kuhn gained 5. On 2nd and 6 from the 7, Flynn was sacked and the Packers settled for a 31 yard Mason Crosby field goal to lead 3-0 after the 11 play, 6 minute drive.

The Patriots took over at their own 27. On 3rd and 5 Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 11. On 3rd and 17 form the halfstripe, Brady hit Deion Branch for just enough. On the next play Green-Ellis ran for the 33 yard touchdown as the Patriots led 7-3. On the first play of the second quarter, the Packers faced 3rd and 7 at their own 34. Flynn was thought to just be managing the game, but instead he threw a 66 yard touchdown bomb to Jones as the Packers went back on top 10-7.

Midway through the second quarter the Packers took over at their own 18. On 3rd and 9 an incomplete pass was nullified by offsides. On 3rd and 4 Flynn hit Jones for 9. On 3rd and 4 from the 39 Flynn hit Jones for 16. Unnecessary roughness on the next play added 15 more. On 3rd and 10 from the 15 Flynn found Kuhn for 12. Flynn hit Greg jennings for the one yard touchdown and the Packers were leading on the road 17-7 in a stunner after the 13 play, 82 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive.

With 2:17 left in the half, a short kickoff was fielded by lineman Connolly at the New England 25. In the greatest return in the history of Big Man With Football recordkeeping, Connolly lumbered 71 yards down to the Green Bay 4. On 3rd and goal at the 2 with 1:13 left in the half, Brady hit Hernandez for the score as the Patriots were only down 17-14 at halftime.

The Packers began the second half at their own 10. On 3rd and 3 from the Green Bay 30, Flynn was intercepted by Arrington. Arrington broke through 4 different mistackles to eventually end up in the end zone as the Patriots had retaken the lead 21-17 without their offense running a second half play.

Yet Flynn showed incredible poise for a young man making his very first start. From the Green Bay 31, he rallied the Packers again. On 3rd and 1, Kuhn gained 3. Conservative short passes and runs followed by a defensive facemask led to 3rd and 5 at the 6. Flynn hit Kuhn for the touchdown to complete the 13 play, 69 yard, 7 minute drive and have the Packers up 24-21.

The Patriots punted and the Packers took over at their own 46. Flynn hit Johnson for 11 and Jennings for 16. Jackson ran for 12. On the last play of the third quarter, the Packers faced 3rd and 7 at the 11. Kuhn picked up 9 as the Packers began the final quarter with 1st and goal at the 2 and a chance to do serious damage. Kuhn picked up only 1 yard on 2 carries. On 3rd and goal at the 1, Flynn fired incomplete. One minute into the fourth quarter, Mike McCarthy made a critical decision. On 4th and goal at the 1, having seen enough, he opted for the field goal. Crosby hit the 19 yarder and the Packers led 27-21.

The Patriots took over at their own 27, and Brady went deep to Wes Welker for 35 yards. The drive would stall, but Shane Graham nailed a 38 yard field goal to have the Patriots within 27-24 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Green Bay went 3 and out and the Patriots took over at their own 37. Brady hit Danny Woodhead for 12, and Woodhead ran 2x for 12 more. Brady hit Branch for 16, Woodhead ran for 13, and Brady hit Hernandez for the 10 yard touchdown. The 5th lead change of the game had the Packers up by 4 midway through the fourth quarter.

Shields returned the kickoff from the goal line to the Green Bay 45, and the Packers were in business. They wasted the opportunity, and punted on 4th and 7 from the Patriots 40. New England went 3 and out and again the Packers had very good field position at their own 43 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Flynn was intercepted, but defensive illegal use of hands negated it. On 3rd and 1 from the New England 38, Flynn gained 3 at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and 4 from the 29, Flynn hit Dinald Driver for 5 as the Packers took their second timeout with 1:05 left.

For 59 minutes, Flynn looked poised, far from a guy making his very first start. Yet the final minute saw chaos and confusion. First Flynn was sacked, and the Packers took their last timeout with 53 seconds left. Flynn hit Jones for 7 but the Packers took way too much time to get the play in and get to the line. On 3rd and 11 with 29 seconds left, Flynn found Driver for 10. There was total chaos as the Packers sideline and Mike McCarthy could not get a play in. Since it was 4th and 1, Flynn could not spike it. Yet players were not even rushing to the line. Somehow 29 seconds turned into only 5 seconds when the ball was snapped on 4th and 1 from the 15. Flynn was sacked and fumbled to end the game.

Flynn was 24 of 37 for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns, with one interception and the end of game fumble. The Packer held the ball for over 40 minutes to about 19 for the Patriots. Tom Brady was a pedestrian 15 of 24 for 163 yards and a touchdown. Yet it was New England at 12-2 who had all but clinched home field throughout the playoffs. The Packers went from a good chance at their division crown to an 8-6 team fighting for its playoff life with a showdown against the equally desperate Giants next week. 31-27 Patriots

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota Vikings is the Monday night game. For the first time since 1981, the Vikings are playing a home game indoors. AFter 321 straight starts, Brett Favre will now miss 2 games in a row with injury. Tarvaris Jackson started one straight game before getting injured, so Leslie Frazier has turned to 3rd stringer Webb. The road game may feel like a home game for the Bears, who normally play outdoors. The 9-4 Bears lead the division by one game but were exposed last week at home. Minnesota at 5-8 is playing for pride.

Then the game started and all hades broke loose. On game day Brett Favre was updated from out to questionable. He started, and those agonizing over the Joe Webb era will have to wait. The Iron Man of football has done it again. The question is how rusty he would be, especially without Adrian Peterson, who was out with injury.

Favre began handing off at the Minnesota 40 to Toby Gerhardt, who gained 3, 6, and 9 on 3rd and 1. Favre was lucky enough to have Percy Harvin back from injury, and Favre connected with Harvin for 11 yards. Gerhart gained 8 more, and Favre then found Harvin for a 23 yard touchdown pass. The Gunslinger ran around and jumped on people, as game 1 of his next 321 game streak began. No, not really, but the Vikings quickly led 7-0.

The Bears reached the Minnesota 44 but punted after a 3rd and 4 Jay Cutler pass was incomplete. The Vikings took over on their own 14. Favre is the all time NFL leader in touchdowns, but also the all time NFL leader in interceptions. He already had the touchdown, so naturally the interception came next when a pass was deflected by Henry Melton and intercepted by Julius Peppers at the Minnesota 14. The defense held, and the Bears settled for  29 yard Robbie Gould field goal to trail 7-3.

Minnesota took over at their own 31. On 3rd and 8 from the shotgun, a high snap sailed over Favre’s head created 4th and 30 as the Vikings punted. The Bears took over at the Minnesota 47. Consecutive offensive holding penalties had the Bears facing 1st and 30 at their own 33. So all Jay Cutler could do at that point was go deep to Johnny Knox for a 67 yard touchdown bomb as the Bears led 10-7.

The Vikings took over at their own 20 and Gerhart quickly picked up 21 yards. Yet on 3rd and 2 Gerhart went airborne and got blasted by Chris Harris. On 4th and 1 from midfield, Leslie Frazier decided to punt. Chicago went 3 and out and the VIkings took over at their own 34. Favre hit Sidney Rice for 12 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Chicago 48, Favre got sacked for a 12 yard loss. Worse, he got slammed to the ground and his head hit the hard ice. He would not return, as this time Joe Webb did come in. Favre critics now call him injury prone, as he has failed to finish 2 straight games. Those people need to have their own heads examined after hitting in on the ice with a defender on top of them.

The Bears took over after the punt at their own 30. Matt Forte took over, gaining 14, 2, and 8 with a an 8 yard reception from Cutler mixed in. Cutler hit Bennett for 23 and Devon Hester for the 15 yard touchdown as the Bears led 17-7 with 7 minutes left in the half.

The Joe Webb era began with Minnesota at their own 29. His legacy commenced with a false start by Harvin. 2 plays later Webb experienced his first NFL sack, followed by a punt. If Webb is starting in 2030 Favre’s accomplishments will be meaningless.

While Hester had the receiving touchdown, the Vikings were not willing to punt to him. Every special teams coach in the league knows that. The Minnesota punter was specifically instructed not to punt to Hester. For those wondering what happens when a punter disobeys that type of edict, just ask Tom Coughlin if he was willing to get out of Dodge, or more specifically get Dodge out of New York. Every punt in this half was out of bounds, denying Hester a chance.

Lovie Smith responded by allowing Hester to return the second half kickoff, since kicking that out of bounds would not have been a viable option. Hester did not go the distance, but Lovie did not mind coming up just short as Hester took it all the way to the Minnesota 6 yard line. The Bears could not convert, as a Gould field goal made it 20-7.

Minnesota punted again, and this time Kluwe did not listen. Hester fielded it at the Chicago 36, and this time would not rely on the Chicago offense to complete a 6 yard drive. Hester’s 64 yard touchdown return was his 14th return touchdown in his career, making him the all time NFL leader. One day the NFL Hall of Fame voters will drop their anti-special teams bias and admit Hester. Until then, Chicago fans had to settle for a 27-7 lead.

Chicago offense comes through special teams, while Minnesota needs luck. From the Minnesota 31, a 42 yard defensive pass interference penalty led to Webb hitting Harvin for 13 yards and then Webb scrambling in himself, just getting past the pileon to make it 27-14.

A short kickoff was returned 17 yards to the Chicago 47. Cutler hit Hester for 8 and Knox for 11. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 31, Cutler hit Olsen for 11. Forte gained 11 more, and Cutler found Davis for the 9 yard touchdown to make it 34-14. After a short punt, the Bears took over at the Minnesota 45. A roughing the passer penalty led to a 34 yard field goal and a 37-14 lead as the third quarter was ending.

Minnesota saw its first drive of the fourth quarter end with a fumble at the Chicago 19 and the next drive result in Joe Webb completing a pass to Chris Harris, the same defender who gave Webb his job by knocking out Favre. From the Minnesota 32, another defensive unnecessary roughness penalty was followed by a Matt Fore run that should have been for a couple yards. Thinking the whistle had blown, Fore kept his legs moving with guys hanging on him, dragging them 14 yards. Another short field goal with 7 minutes remaining made it 40-14.

The Bears at 10-4 have clinched the NFC North. While several teams have all but clinched, the Bears are actually the first team to officially clinch their division. At 5-9 the Vikings saw Favre have only his second losing season in his entire career. The Bears also have the tie breaker advantage with regards to seeding. If they win their final 2 games, they would be the # 2 seed with a 1st round bye. They still have a very slim chance of the top seed. 40-14 Vikings


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.