NFL 2015 Week 10 Recap

NFL 2015 Week 10 Recap

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets was the Thursday night game. As much as these teams insisted that it was just a game between teams trying to stay alive in the playoff race, nobody in New York was swallowing that. This was all about Rex Ryan trying to stick it to his old team. Not since the Bill Parcells Tuna Bowls have revenge games been as big with the Jets. In a rare occurrence, both teams wore bright color uniforms with neither team wearing white. This was part of a Nike promotion that will, like everything else the NFL does, only get bigger. The Jets were in all green and the Bills all red.

Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles are about defense, so it was no surprise that much of the first half was a defensive slog. In the first quarter Ryan Bullock hit a 29 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Jets. Late in the half the score stood until the Jets just self-destructed. An interception of Ryan Fitzpatrick set the Bills up with a short field. Dan Carpenter hit a 47 yarder to tie the game 3-3. The Jets fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Bills recovered for a gift touchdown. Although the extra point was no good, the Bills led 9-3. Buffalo got it back and worked the 2 minute drill. A 41 yard field goal by Carpenter at the gun had the Bills up 12-3 heading into the locker rooms.

The Bills took the second half kickoff and quickly marched 80 yards. Tyron Taylor threw a 26 yard touchdown pass to Williams to make it 19-3 Bills. On the first play following a touchback, the Jets fumbled again and the Bills took over at the Jets 23. They reached the 6 but a sack of Taylor forced the Bills to settle for a 29 yard Carpenter field goal. At 22-3, the game seemed over.

It was not. After a touchback, Fitzpatrick finally got going. A 14 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall capped an 80 yard drive and had the Jets within 22-10 after three quarters. in the fourth quarter the Jets took over at their own 31. Fitzpatrick found Eric Decker for 19 yards and again for a 31 yard touchdown as the Jets only trailed by 5 midway through the fourth quarter.

Now it was the Bills in full meltdown mode as the offense had several possessions without a first down. On 3rd and 1 from the Buffalo 29, Williams got the carry and got blasted for a one yard loss. On the punt attempt, the punter fumbled the snap and never got the punt away. The Jets took over at the Buffalo 12 with a golden chance to take the lead. This time it was the Buffalo defense blowing up a Jets runner in the backfield as everything came down to a 4th and 4 from the 8. Fitzpatrick lobbed a pass to the corner of the end zone to absolutely nobody. The pass was fine. The receiver never turned around. Instead of an easy wide open touchdown, the Bills took over with 3 minutes left in an attempt to run out the clock.

Rex Ryan went to his beloved ground and pound, and a first down run by LeSean McCoy forced the Jets to take their last timeout with 2:26 to play. McCoy gained 8 more as the clock hit the two minute warning. One more first down would end the game. On third and 2, the Jets defense got the stop they needed. Buffalo punted, but by the time the Jets got the ball back at their own 36, only 24 seconds remained. Fitzpatrick threw a deep ball and was intercepted. Rex then repeatedly pumped his fists and hugged everybody in sight. No, this was not just another game. Rex got his revenge. 22-17 Bills

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers — Despite losing two straight to previously unbeaten teams, all the 6-2 Packers had to do to right the ship was stomp all over the 1-7 Lions. Detroit President Martha Ford fired her general manager and team president last week, but this was supposed to be another humiliating loss in the mostly awful 58 years since Bobby Layne was traded away. After all, the Lions have lost in Green Bay for 24 straight seasons. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman reminds us, “That’s why they play the games.”

The Packers made it look easy early on as Aaron Rodgers moved them into Detroit territory. After an incompletion on 3rd and 3, Mason Crosby hit a 44 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Packers. After that the Lions defense clamped down for much of the game. Very late in the half a field position game had the Lions starting at their own 47. Matt Prater hit a 49 yard field goal as the teams took a 3-3 tie into the locker rooms.

The Lions took the second half kickoff and Abdullah entered the NFL record books with the longest kickoff return that did not go for a touchdown. He took it 5 yards deep in the end zone and raced 104 yards. However, he was caught at the one yard line. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Matthew Stafford hit Brandon Pettigrew for the touchdown. The extra point was no good, but the Lions led 9-3. The fourth quarter began with the Lions at their own 45. Prater hit a 51 yard field goal and the Lions had a 12-3 lead. They are the Lions, so the question was not if, but how they would screw up this game.

With the Packers facing 3rd and 12, Rodgers found Randall Cobb for 20, Abbrederis for 32, and non-relative Richard Rodgers for the 4 yard touchdown to get the Packers within 12-10 with 6 minutes left. The Lions stayed aggressive, and Stafford found Golden Tate for a 43 yard completion. Stafford hit Moore for the 4 yard touchdown. The game was over…except…Prater for the second time on the day missed the extra point. Detroit only led 18-10 with 1:57 to play. These are the Lions.

Rodgers moved the Packers down the field. With less than one minute left, Rodgers hit Perrillo for the 11 yard touchdown. These are the Lions. The 2 point conversion would tie the game. Yet Rodgers threw incomplete. The Lions led by 2 with 32 seconds left. All they had to do was recover the onside kick. The Packers recovered it after Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, the team’s best player, could not corral it. These are the Lions. A couple quick throws by Rodgers set up Mason Crosby from 52 yards out with 5 seconds left. A successful kick meant a 19-18 Packers miracle comeback. After all, these are the Lions.

Crosby was no good! The Lions tried to lose, but this time they failed. Instead, Mike McCarthy’s Packers at 6-3 have lost 3 straight. Rodgers threw a franchise high 61 times, completing 35 passes for 333 yards and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Yet after 24 years, the Lions won in Green Bay. Jim Caldwell was so elated he almost made a facial expression. 18-16 Lions

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers — The Cowboys are an injured mess while the Buccaneers are quietly improving under Lovie Smith. This was not the most hideous game of the season, but it was close. Dan Bailey hit a 42 yard field goal in the first quarter to make it 3-0 Cowboys. Connor Barth connected from 52 to start the second quarter to tie the game. Bailey responded from 53 as the Cowboys led 6-3 at halftime. The second half was even more hideous.

Late in the fourth quarter Matt Cassel threw incomplete on third and one. A short punt gave the Buccaneers one final chance at their own 44 with 4 minutes left. After playing stout the whole game the Dallas defense wilted. It all came down to Jameis Winston on 3rd and goal from the 4 with one minute left. Winston gained 3 yards and fumbled, with the Cowboys recovering in the end zone. Yet defensive holding instead meant 1st and goal from the one yard line. Winston got in and the Buccaneers had the lead. From the Tampa 45, Cassel went deep to the end zone and was intercepted. One year after going 2-14 and a few weeks after losing their opener at home by 28, the Buccaneers are now 4-5. The Cowboys have lost 7 straight. 10-6 Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers at Tennessee Titans — One week after firing their coach, the Titans had to prepare for the unbeaten Panthers. Carolina only scraped by the last couple weeks against weak teams, and Tennessee tried to put up a fight. Early on the Titans punted, Carolina marched down the field, and Stewart ran for a 16 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Panthers. The Titans came back. On 3rd and 5 from the Carolina 44, Marcus Mariota hit Anthony Fasano for 19 yards. Dexter McCluster then ran for a 25 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

Early in the second quarter, Cam Newton hit Dickson for a one yard touchdown to make it 14-7 Panthers. The game turned into a defensive slugfest. Ryan Succop hit a 45 yard field goal as the Titans trailed 14-10 at halftime. At the end of the third quarter Graham Gano hit a 48 yarder as the Panthers only led 17-10.

In the fourth quarter Ted Ginn returned a punt 23 yards to the Tennessee 43. Carolina got to the Titans one yard line but twice could not get in. Riverboat Ron Rivera took no chances this time. Garo hit the 19 yard field goal to make it 20-10 Panthers. The Titans punted again and Carolina got it back at their own 36. Newton milked the clock and Carolina pounded Tennessee into the ground. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Newton got in to put the game away. Tennessee fought hard, but fell to 2-7 while the 9-0 Panthers kept rolling. 27-10 Panthers

Chicago Bears at St. Louis Rams — The Bears have been much improved. While it was expected that John Fox was bring more wins, Jay Cutler has been playing solid football. After leading a comeback win on the road last week, the Bears played the hot and cold rams who can win anywhere but also lose anywhere.

Early on Todd Gurley caught a 31 yard pass from Nick Foles and ran in for a 6 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Rams. This concluded the Rams highlights for the day. Cutler came right back, connecting with Zach Miller on an 87 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Rams moved to a 4th and 1 at the Chicago 8. Jeff Fisher opted for the field goal and Greg Zuerlein hit from 26 to make it 10-7 Rams. The Rams got it back and fumbled the ball away inside their own 20. The Rams held on defense as the Bears settled for a 35 yard Robbie Gould field goal and a 10-10 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter the Bears broke the game open. Cutler threw a 2 yard touchdown to Miller. Then the Bears got it back and scored in one big bite as Cutler connected with Langford for an 83 yard touchdown to make it 24-10 Bears at halftime. A quiet third quarter saw zuerlein hit from 38 to get the Rams within 24-13. In the fourth quarter the Bears just poured it on.

Gould hit a 37 and 36 yard field goals to make it 30-13 Bears.  The Rams turned it over on downs deep in their own territory, and Langford ran for a 6 yard touchdown to complete the scoring. The Bears and Rams are both 4-5, although the Bears with consecutive road wins are clearly on the upswing. 37-13 Bears

New Orleans Saints at Washington Redskins — Some games just cannot be explained. A quarterback was firing at will, but it was not Drew Brees. Kirk Cousins threw a 16 yard touchdown pass to Reed to make it 7-0 Redskins. Mark Ingram then broke off a 70 yard gain. Brees hit Cooks for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 7-7. Cousins came right back, hitting Jones for a 29 yard gain followed by an 11 yard touchdown pass to Crowder to make it 14-7 Redskins after the first quarter. In the second quarter Brees and Cooks combined on a 60 yard touchdown. The game was tied 14-14, but after that the Redskins just blasted the Saints into pieces.

Cousins and Jones connected for a 78 yard touchdown to make it 21-14 Redskins. Dustin Hopkins tacked on second quarter field goals of 35 and 23 and from 40 in the third quarter to make it 30-14 Redskins. A 6 yard Alfred Morris touchdown run had the Redskins up 37-14 after three quarters. In the fourth quarter Brees had an interception returned 35 yards by Golden for another Washington touchdown. Hopkins tacked on one more field goal to complete the blowout. Kirk Cousins was a red hot 20 of 25 for 324 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Drew Brees was 19 of 28 for 209 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.The Redskins are 4-5 and the Saints are 4-6 and perhaps nearing the permanent end of the Drew Brees and Sean Payton era. It was the end of the Rob Ryan era in New Orleans. The defensive coordinator was fired after the game. 47-14 Redskins

Miami Dolphins at Philadelphia Eagles — Miami got on the board first with a 42 yard Franks field goal, but after that the Eagles exploded. From the Philly 36, Sam bradford found Captain Morgan Brent celeb for a 60 yard gain. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Bradford found Huff for the touchdown and the 7-3 Eagles lead. A mistake on the kickoff had the Dolphins starting at their own 1 yard line. Ryan Tannehill was sacked, forcing a fumble out of the end zone for a safety to make it 9-3 Eagles. The Eagles took the free kick and from their own 42 moved easily. Ryan Mathews got in from the one to make it 16-3 Eagles after the first quarter. This was supposed to be an easy blowout win. It was not.

With the Eagles asleep on offense for most of the rest of the game, Franks hit a 22 yard field goal with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half to get the Dolphins within 16-6. The Dolphins then blocked a punt, taking over at the Philly 12. Tannehill found Miller for a 13 yard touchdown as the dolphins only trailed 16-13 at halftime.

Early in the third quarter the Eagles moved to a 4th and 8 at the Miami 38. Their interim coach inspired the world by deciding to punt. Late in the third quarter Bradford was injured and Mark Sanchez came in. On the last play of the third quarter with the Dolphins facing 3rd and 3 just shy of midfield, Tannehill found Matthews for a 43 yard gain. Tannehill began the fourth quarter by throwing a 4 yard touchdown pass to Landry to make it 20-16 Dolphins.

Sanchez led the Eagles from their 20 to the Miami 19. An incompletion on 3rd and 7 meant a 15 play drive resulted only in a 37 yard Caleb Sturgis field goal. The Eagles trailed by a point but 10 1/2 minutes still remained. A field position game had the Eagles taking over at midfield with 6 1/2 minutes left. Sanchez quickly moved them to the Miami 9. With 4 1/2 minutes left and in easy field goal range, Sanchez was intercepted. The Eagles got it back at their 29 with 1:40 left. From the Philly 44, Sanchez threw 3 straight incompletions. With one minute left on 4th and 10, Sanchez completed a 6 yard pass and the Eagles were done. Their were no butt-fumbles, but they fumbled this game away. 20-19 Dolphins

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers — Johnny Manziel got the start. On his first play from scrimmage, Manziel fumbled and the Steelers took over at the Cleveland 12. The defense held the Steelers to a 24 yard Chris Boswell field goal. Starter Landry Jones was injured the play before and injured Ben Roethlisberger had to play the rest of the game. Manuel moved the Browns on their next drive as a 23 yard Travis Coons field goal tied the game. Big Ben moved the Steelers to a 3rd and 2 at the Cleveland 16 before throwing incomplete. Boswell hit from 34 to make it 6-3 Steelers.

Midway through the second quarter the Steelers broke the game open. Roethlisberger led a 92 yard drive. A 4 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown followed by them connecting again on the 2 point try made it 14-3 Steelers. A Cleveland fumble gave the Steelers a short field, but the Cleveland defense kept them in the game with a goal line stand on 4th and goal at the one. Cleveland just gave it back on a punt as the Steelers took over at the Cleveland 47. A 32 yard touchdown pass to Bryant made it 21-3 Steelers at halftime.

Boswell tacked on a 25 yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 24-3 Steelers. After the teams traded interceptions, Manziel found Barnidge for a 7 yard touchdown to get the Browns within 24-9 after the missed extra point. Big Ben quickly iced the game after that with a 56 yard touchdown pass to Brown. The extra point hit the upright no good but it didn’t matter. Manuel was 33 of 45 for 372 yards and one touchdown, while Roethlisberger in relief was 22 of 33 for 379 yards and three touchdowns. He really is injured. 30-9 Steelers

Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens — This one will be talked about for a very long time, as 2 bad teams put on a competitive game with a very controversial finish. In the first quarter Blake Bortles found Hurns for a 5 yard touchdown to make it 7-0 Jaguars. In the second quarter Bortles was intercepted, setting up the Ravens at the Jags 26. Joe Flacco scrambled for 16 and found Gillmore for the 10 yard touchdown to make it 7-7.

Bottles led the Jaguars on a 15 play, 77 yard, 8 minute drive that reached the Baltimore 3 yard line. Bottles threw incomplete twice and then threw a completion for no gain. Myers hit the 21 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Jaguars. After a touchback, Flacco led the Ravens to a 3rd and 2 at the Jacksonville 21. Flacco went deep to Williams for the touchdown as the Ravens led 14-10 with one minute left in the half. Jacksonville went 3 and out, but on the last play of the half Justin Tucker’s 58 yard field goal try was no good.

On the first play of the third quarter of this ugly game, Flacco was intercepted. From the Baltimore 27, Bortles completed one pass for nothing and threw incomplete twice. myers hit from 45 to get the Jaguars within 14-13. On the next series from the Jacksonville 33, Flacco was sacked and fumbled and the Jaguars took over at their own 41. They moved to the Baltimore 8 where Bortles threw incomplete on 3rd and goal. Myers actually missed the 26 yard field goal late in the third quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter the Ravens fumbled a punt and the Jaguars recovered at the Baltimore 37. Did we mention this game was hideous? Bottles found Robinson for a 15 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Jaguars led 19-14. Flacco led a 10 play, 80 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive. Flacco hit Givens for the 14 yard touchdown. The 2 point try failed but the Ravens led 20-19 midway through the fourth quarter.

After an exchange of punts, the Jaguars took over at their own 20 with 1:06 to play. With 14 seconds left, the Jaguars faced 4th and 4 just past midfield. Bortles was sacked by Elvis Dumervil. The Ravens celebrated but the game was not over. Dumervil pulled Bortles down by his facemark, a completely unnecessary move. The penalty gave the Jaguars one untimed down from the Baltimore 34. Myers came in for a 53 yard field goal try. The kick was good as Dumervil joined Leon Lett and Dwayne Rudd in football ignominy. Did we mention this game was hideous? 22-20 Jaguars   

Minnesota Vikings at Oakland Raiders — Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr are the future of the NFL. Adrian Peterson is as good as ever. Mike Zimmer and Jack Del Rio both know defense, but only one team has one. Bridgewater quickly marched the Vikings 80 yards. An 11 yard touchdown pass to Ellison made it 7-0 Vikings only 4 minutes into the game. The Raiders went nowhere on their first possession. A sack of Bridgewater knocked the Vikings out of field goal range, but not for long. Carr was intercepted, giving the Vikings the ball at the Oakland 41. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Bridgewater threw incomplete. Blair Walsh hit the 20 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Vikings. Despite taking over at their own 40, the Raiders offense did nothing. Walsh would hit a 38 yard second quarter field goal to make it 13-0 Vikings.

The Raiders finally woke up on offense. From the Oakland 32, Carr got them going. On 3rd and 8 from the Minnesota 10, Carr found Clive Walford for the 10 yard touchdown to get the Raiders within 13-7. The Raiders got it back at their own 26 with 3:21 left in the half and moved quickly. At the 2 minute warning on 3rd and 8 from the Minnesota 34, Carr found Andre Holmes for the touchdown. The Raiders led 14-13 and had all the momentum. 13 seconds later it was gone. Cordarelle Patterson fumbled the kickoff, regrouped, and raced 93 yards for a touchdown in front of a deflated home crowd. The Vikings led 20-14 and almost extended the lead further after the Raiders fell apart on offense. Walsh missed a 53 yard field goal to end the half, but the Raiders went into a shell.

The Vikings again could not extend the lead in the third quarter when a 39 yard Walsh field goal try was blocked. Yet The Raiders had no offense. With only 4 minutes left in the game, after a 10 play, 5 1/2 minute drive, Walsh finally connected again from 34 to make it 23-14 Vikings. Needing 2 scores, Carr rapidly moved the Raiders from their 21 to the Minnesota 11. Well within field goal range, Carr threw a jump ball. Holmes and Newman fought for it as it was batted up in the air. Newman had the position and the interception. Insult to injury was the next play. Just trying to run out the clock, Peterson broke free for an 80 yard touchdown run.

The Vikings at 7-2 are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North while the Raiders lost their second straight to drop to 4-5. Carr was 29 of 43 for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns, but 2 killer interceptions. Bridgewater was only 14 of 22 for 140 yards and 1 touchdown with 0 interceptions, but that is elusive. He evaded several sacks, proving as durable as he is elusive. Meanwhile, Peterson rumbled for 203 yards on the ground. The Raiders were gashed for 273 yards on the ground only one week after giving up over 200 yards rushing to Pittsburgh. This was a complete team loss for the Raiders. 30-14 Vikings

New England Patriots at New York Giants — Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick have four Super Bowl rings, but they seem cursed against Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin. This one went down to the wire and was very controversial. Brady moved the Patriots 80 yards on the opening drive and hit Chandler for a one yard touchdown and a 7-0 Patriots lead. Eli Manning quickly found O’Dell Beckham for an 87 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. Once again, the Giants were going to give the Patriots a fight.

In the second quarter Stephen Gostkowski hit a 31 yard field goal to make it 10-7 Patriots. After the Giants fumbled to end one drive, they got it back and Josh Brown hit a 37 yard field goal to make it 10-10. Big Blue got it back and very late in the half Manning found the for 31 yards down to the one. Manning found Harris for the touchdown as the Giants led 17-10 at halftime and were smelling upset.

In the third quarter the Giants took the ball and marched in position for Josh Brown to hit a 38 yard field goal to make it 20-10 Giants. The Patriots got right back in it when Danny Amendola returned a Giants punt 82 yards to the Giants 7 yard line. LeGuarrette Blount got in from the one as the Patriots were within 20-17. The Giants responded as Brown hit a 53 yarder to make it 23-17 Giants after three quarters.

The Giants had several chances to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Their first opportunity came when the Patriots fumbled, giving the Giants a short field. Manning was sacked for a 13 yard loss to push the Giants out of field goal range. A couple plays after punting, Brady found rob Gronkowski for a 76 yard touchdown as the Patriots retook the lead 24-23.

The Giants punted and Brady found Brandon LaFell for a 54 yard gain. Now it was the Patriots with a chance to put the game away. Instead, on 2nd and goal from the 5, Brady was intercepted. Manning moved the Giants again, and with just over 2 minutes to play, the Giants had 1st and goal at the 5. The Patriots had only one timeout left. The Giants could have bled some time off of the clock. Scoring a touchdown would have been fine. Manning through to Beckham in the end zone. Beckham caught the ball, got both feet down, and only then had the ball chopped out of his hands. The referees ruled it incomplete.

For several years officials have struggled to define what is a catch and what is not a catch. Players have to make at least one football move, which is also not exactly defined. Beckham got his feet down. If he had the ball at the one and dove over the goal post before having it knocked out, it would be a score. This was not the play Sterling Marlin made 4 years ago for the Patriots in the AFC Title Game against Baltimore. In that case the receiver clearly never secured the ball. Beckham had control and both feet down. Yet the incompletion stood. Manning threw incomplete again as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and goal, Manning was sacked as the Patriots took their last timeout. with 1:50 left. Brown hit his fourth field goal from 29 yards. The Giants led 26-20, but they did not close the door.

A touchback followed by 3 Brady incompletions meant 4th and 10. One more stop and the Giants had the win. Instead, Brady found Amendola for 12. The Patriots had life. A deep ball by Brady should have been intercepted but was dropped. A few completed passes later, and Gostkowski came in for a 54 yard field goal try with 4 seconds left. Gostkowski drilled it and the Patriots survived again to get to 9-0. The Giants at 5-5 are still in strong position in the woeful NFC Least, but this was the second time this year they lost a 27-26 heartbreaker in the waning moments. That is what separates an average squad from a 7-3 team. The Giants have led in the fourth quarter of every single one of their losses. The 1990 Giants team was 10-0. This team could have been, but is now far from it. 27-26 Patriots

Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos — After starting 7-0, the Broncos had a close road loss last week. Playing against the woeful Chiefs, this was the week Denver was supposed to right the ship. Instead, it became a game that may end up being talked about for a long time despite the final score never being in doubt. It was the best of Peyton Manning and worst of Peyton Manning on the same Sunday. A 4 yard completion early in the first quarter gave Manning the all time NFL passing yards record previously held by Brett Favre. At some point he is expected to capture Favre’s touchdown record as well.

It was also his worst statistical day as a pro. Manning had numbers that used to belong to Tim Tebow before Manning was brought to Denver to replace him. Manning has had the perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 that nobody understands how to calculate. On this day he was 5 of 20 for 35 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions for a passer rating of 0.0.

Manning first throw was intercepted, giving the Chiefs a short field. West got in from 4 yards out to make it 7-0 Chiefs. Carlo Santos then did the rest, hitting five field goals. Santos connected from 48 in the first quarter. Manning’s second and third interceptions in the second quarter set up Santos from 49 and 34. Santos also hit a 33 yard second quarter field goal and a 50 yard third quarter field goal to make it 22-0 Chiefs. Manning then threw his fourth interception. At this point the unthinkable happened.

Gary Kubiak benched Manning. To be fair, Kubiak insisted that Manning was benched because he was injured. The only times in his career he has been benched against his will were when his teams had locked up home field throughout the playoffs. Not this time. Manning was injured, and Kubiak wanted him to heal. Manning has always been a company man. When Favre almost got benched, he just refused to come out. Manning came out and Brock Osweiler played the end of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter.

Osweiler was 14 of 24 as Denver scored some garbage points to make the final score look like slightly less of a beating. Kubiak announced the day after the game that Manning would be out next week. Osweiler was starting, but Kubiak was emphatic that Manning was the starter when healthy. Last year Manning was injured down the stretch. The Broncos were beaten soundly in their first playoff game. Kubiak and John Elway desperately want Manning to be healthy for the stretch run, and giving him a week off with the AFC West firmly in hand is their decision. The Broncos at 7-2 are a full three games ahead of the 4-5 Chiefs and Raiders.

This could turn out to be nothing, but it could be the beginning of the end only 2 years after Manning threw 55 touchdown passes and only 10 interceptions. This year Manning has 17 interceptions and only 9 touchdown passes. Manning is finding out what Favre now knows and what Tom Brady will eventually know. The only undefeated one forever is Father Time. 29-13 Chiefs

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks was the Sunday night game. This was a strange game in every sense of the word as the Cardinals try to end Seattle’s reign atop the NFC West. The Legion of Boom is not what it was, while Bruce Arians has an offense every bit as explosive as the team that was on its way to home field last year before Carson Palmer got injured. In the previous two seasons, the only team to beat Seattle in Seattle was Arizona. After a scoreless first quarter, the Cardinals exploded in the second quarter.

Chandler Catanzaro hit a 33 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Cardinals. From the Seattle 12, Russell Wilson was sacked in the end zone for a safety to make it 5-0 Cardinals. The Cardinals took the free kick and began at their own 41. Palmer found Michael Floyd for a 27 yard touchdown to make it 12-0 Cardinals. The Seahawks punted and Patrick Peterson returned it 24 yards to the Seattle 45. 3 plays later Palmer went back to Floyd for a 35 yard touchdown as the Cardinals led 19-0 in front of a shellshocked home crowd in Seattle.

Wilson did throw a 1 yard touchdown pass after the 2 minute warning to Tukuafu to get the Seahawks on the board, but the Cardinals were not done. Catanzaro hit a 43 yard field goal to make it 22-7 Cardinals at the half. In the third quarter the Seahawks slowly began to chip away further. Steve Hauschka hit a 31 yard field goal to get the Seahawks within 22-10. An interception of Wilson set up Catanzaro again from 43 as the Cardinals led 25-10. Late in the third quarter Wilson found Doug Baldwin for a 33 yard gain and went back to Baldwin for a 32 yard touchdown. The Seahawks only trailed 25-17 after three quarters. The fourth quarter was just plain bizarre.

The fourth quarter began with the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Palmer went back to pass and got nailed by Cliff Avril, resulting in a fumble. The Seahawks recovered at the Arizona 2 yard line. Marshawn Lynch went full Beast Mode and barreled his way into the end zone. The 2 point try to tie the game failed but the Seahawks were within 25-23. On the next Arizona series Palmer again went back to pass, and again disaster struck. Palmer was hit by KJ Wright, and another fumble occurred. Wright returned it for a touchdown. The 2 point try again failed but the Seahawks now led 29-25.

The last time the Cardinals gave up consecutive fourth quarter touchdowns in this manner was the infamous game where Matt Leonard collapsed, Kurt Warner expressed disbelief from the sideline, Devon Hester put the dagger in for Chicago, and Dennis Green exploded after the game that, “The Bears are who we thought they were” and “crown their @ss!”

At USC, it was Leinart who won consecutive championships for Pete Carroll and came seconds away from three straight college titles. In the pros, Leinart was the bust and Carson Palmer is the Pro Bowler.

Palmer moved the Cardinals 83 yards, hitting Gresham for a 14 yard touchdown pass as the Cardinals reclaimed the lead 32-29. Seattle punted. with Arizona trying to run down the clock, Andre Ellington got free on the sideline and eluded tacklers for a 48 yard touchdown run. Now the Cardinals had a 39-29 lead. Seattle needed 2 scores and had little time to do it.

Lockett returned the kickoff to the Seattle 32. A few later Hauschka hit a 46 yard field goal to get the Seahawks within 7. Now they needed to recover the onside kick. They got their miracle onside kick recovery in last year’s NFC Title Game. Not this time. The Cardinals ran out the clock to get to 7-2, a full 3 games ahead of the 4-5 Seahawks in the NFC West. 39-32 Cardinals.

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals was the Monday night game. The unbeaten Bengals at home just had to dispatch with the 3-5 Texans. As ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman reminds us, “That’s why they play the games. Marvin Lewis has seen his offense reach soaring heights with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson dialing up plays. Yet Houston defensive coordinator Romeo Crenel brought the heat. For three quarters, this game was a slugfest. Late in the first quarter Mike Nugent hit a 42 yard field goal for the Bengals. In the second quarter Nick Novak tied the game with a 22 yarder. Nugent responded in the second quarter from 39. The Bengals still led 6-3 after a scoreless third quarter.

Bryan Hoyer was knocked out of the game with a concussion late in the third quarter. In came TJ Yates from the Houston 21. On 3rd and 8 from the 23, Yates found Griffin for 15. On 3rd and 13 from the Houston 48, Yates again connected with Griffin for 15. Yates then fired a 22 yard touchdown to Deandre Hopkins, who did a spectacular job of getting his feet inbounds. 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Texans had the upset of the year brewing up 10-6.

After 56 minutes of play Dalton was only 16 of 30 for 131 yards passing, 0 touchdowns, and one interception. With 4 minutes left, the Bengals took over at their own 19. A sack by JJ Watt had the Bengals facing 3rd and 18. Dalton fired a completion to AJ Green for 26 yards. A completion to Giovanni Bernard for 15 more had the Bengals at the Houston 48 at the 2 minute warning. An incompletion by Dalton set up the critical 4th and 6 at the Houston 33 with 50 seconds remaining. Dalton fired to Johnson past the first down marker. Johnson caught the ball with a defender draped on him, but as he was going down a perfectly times hit by a second defender knocked it loose. The fumble was recovered by the Texans. At 4-5, Houston is actually tired for the AFC South lead. At 8-1, the Bengals will make the playoffs but they will not be perfect. THAT’s why they play the games. 10-6 Texans

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