NFL 2015 Week 12 Recap

NFL 2015 Week 12 Recap

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions was the Thanksgiving morning game. Two Thanksgiving traditions have been The Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving day and the Detroit Lions being a bad team headed into that game. After making the playoffs last year, the lions started this season 1-7. Then came a front office housecleaning, which seems to have woken the team up as the Lions came into this game having won two straight. As for the Eagles, the Chip Kelly era reached a low point in seeing the team get blasted at home by 28 points to Tampa Bay. With the teams trending in opposite directions, this game accelerated those movements.

Matthew Stafford was red hot in the first half, going 17 of 25 for 201 yards passing, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. An 8 yard touchdown pass to Theo Riddick had the Lions up 7-0 after the first quarter. In the second quarter Mark Sanchez moved the Eagles 80 yards and threw a 2 yard touchdown to Captain Morgan Brent Celek. Although the game was tied 7-7, the rest of the half was all Detroit.

Stafford led a 12 play, 80 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive and threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate to make it 14-7 Lions. Matt Prater tacked on a 48 yard field goal to make it 17-7 Lions. Late in the half Stafford moved the Lions 88 yards. A 25 yard touchdown pass to Megatron Calvin Johnson had the Lions up 24-7 at halftime. Jim Caldwell was so pleased, he almost made a facial expression. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly pondered what college coaching job to take in 2016.

In the third quarter the Lions put the game away. Stafford led a 12 play, 80 yard drive that consumed 8 minutes off the clock. Stafford threw a 4 yard touchdown pass to Johnson for his fourth touchdown pass as the Lions led 31-7. Sanchez was then stripped of the ball, and the Lions recovered the fumble at the Philly 14. Stafford’s fifth touchdown pass was Johnson’s third touchdown catch, a 3 yarder for a 38-7 Lions lead.

The fourth quarter saw the Stafford throw a simple screen pass from the Philly 40. bell took it all the way to the one, inches from Stafford’s sixth touchdown pass. Instead, Bell got the carry and leapt over the top on the next play to make it 45-7 Eagles. A garbage touchdown for the Eagles completed the scoring as Matthew Stafford earned this year’s Turducken. 45-14 Lions

Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys was the Thanksgiving afternoon game. The unbeaten Panthers were somehow listed earlier this week as underdogs against the 3-7 Cowboys just because Dallas was 3-0 with Tony Romo. This game was a dose of reality for both teams. Romo completed three first half passes to the Carolina defense, two of which were returned for touchdowns. One minute into the game, Coleman returned an interception 36 yards for the opening touchdown for a 7-0 Panthers lead. Carolina got it back and Graham Gano hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Panthers. Romo moved the Cowboys deep into the red zone but they got no further than the Carolina 3 yard line. Dan Bailey hit the 21 yard field goal. The Cowboys trailed 10-3 after the first quarter, but that is as close as they would get.

With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half, Gano hit again from 43 as the Panthers led 13-3. Two plays later the game was broken wide open when Luke Kuechly returned an interception of Romo 32 yards for another Carolina touchdown. Kuechly then intercepted Romo again, setting up Carolina at the dallas 29 with 2:23 left in the half. With 16 seconds left the Panthers had 1st and goal at the 2, but Newton threw 3 straight incompletions. Garo hit the 25 yard field goal as the Panthers took the 23-3 lead into the locker rooms.

The second half was a formality. The Panthers bungled their way to a 4th and 40 at their own 2, yet all Dallas could muster with the field position was another field goal. On the next Carolina series they went forward 80 yards in 14 plays and 7 1/2 minutes. Newton got the last 4 yards himself to have the Panthers up 30-6 after three quarters. Romo reinsured his collarbone late in the third quarter and is now out for the season. In the fourth quarter after Gano’s fourth field goal from 50 yards out, backup Matt Cassel threw a garbage touchdown to complete the scoring. Dallas really does deserve to be 3-8, and the Panthers at 11-0 will not be underdogs to losing teams again this year. 33-14 Panthers

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers was the Thanksgiving night game. On a cold rainy night, the improving Bears faced a tall order in knocking off a Packers team that went on the road last week and throttled Minnesota. At halftime, emotions would overflow along with the rain as Brett Favre had his number retired by the Packers. First, there was a football game to play. Chicago was far more resilient than expected.

A field position game saw the Packers take over just past midfield midway through the first quarter. Aaron Rodgers threw a pass to Eddie Lacy that went for a 25 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Packers lead. in the second quarter Lacy fumbled and the Bears took over at the Green Bay 34. On 3rd and goal from the 3, Jay Cutler hit Zach Miller for the score to tie the game 7-7. Janis returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Chicago 33. The Packers moved to the Chicago 5 yard line, but Rodgers threw incomplete on 3rd and goal. Mason Crosby hit the 22 yard field goal as the Packers led 10-7.

Thompson returned the ensuing kickoff 37 yards to the Chicago 42, but only 1:51 remained. Cutler worked the 2 minute drill perfectly. From the Green Bay 20, Cutler found Wilson for 19 yards. Langford got the last yard as the Bears led 14-10. Yet Chicago scored too early. Green Bay took over at their own 32 with 27 seconds left. With 14 seconds left from the Green Bay 45, Rodgers fired to Randall Cobb for 23 yards. Crosby hit the 50 yarder as the Packers closed the half down 14-13.

Halftime was emotional. Favre played 20 seasons, 16 with Green Bay. He started in 321 straight games including the playoffs. Football is a game, and he made the game fun. On this Thanksgiving night, many people were thankful that they got to watch Favre play. With his number retired, he now truly is the 4-Ever Man. The rain was not the only reason there was not a dry eye in Lambeau Field. on the sideline, Favre hugged Bart Starr and Mrs. Starr. Bart Starr is an elderly man who moves slowly, but he got up to greet Favre.

After all the emotion, it was time to get back to the action on the field. After a Chicago punt in the third quarter, the Packers moved from their 22 to a 3rd and 5 at the Chicago 21. Rodgers scrambled for 11 yards, but instead of 1st and goal at the 10, offensive holding means 3rd and 15, Out of the shotgun, a bad snap went past Rodgers. Rodgers fell on it, but it was now 4th and 29 all the way back at the Green Bay 45. A potential touchdown instead had the Packers out of field goal range.

From the Chicago 14, the Bears moved 83 yards in 15 plays, taking 7 1/2 minutes to do it. Yet on 2nd and goal from the one, Matt Forte got the carry and lot 2 yards. On 3rd and goal Cutler threw incomplete. with 12 minutes left in regulation, Robbie Gould hit the 21 yard field goal to put the Bears up by four points.

With 9 minutes left, again the league saw a controversial call by the officials, although this one was not as obvious. On 3rd and 5 from the Green Bay 37, Rodgers barked out a hard count and the Bears jumped offsides. Knowing he had a free play, Rodgers went deep and threw a perfect pass to a wide open receiver. The ball was caught and it looks like the Packers had the lead. Yet the officials blew the play dead before the throw.

Encroachment stops a play. So does a player unabated to the quarterback. Neither of those situations occurred. Mere offsides or neutral zone infractions do not stop a play. Yet the whistle was blown. All Green Bay got was a 5 yard gain and 1st and 10 at their 42. A pair of incompletions followed by a sack saw the Packers punting again. Rolls were reversed when the Bears were on the move with 3rd and 11. A bad snap got away from Cutler. He fell on it but the bears had to punt. With 4 minutes left, the Packers took over at their own 10. With Favre and Starr in the stadium, it was up to Rodgers to try and be the hero.

A pair of scrambles and a completion quickly had the Packers at midfield. Then Rodgers threw a short pass that was intercepted. The Packers still had all of their timeouts, but with 3:19 left, the Bears from their own 45 tried to run out the clock. An offensive holding penalty hurt the Bears. The Packers took their second timeout as the Bears faced 3rd and 14 with 3 minutes left. Langford got the carry and gained 13 yards as the crowd held their breath. The Packers took their final timeout as the Bears punted on 4th and 2 from the Green Bay 46. After a touchback, 2:46 still remained. The defense bailed out Rodgers. Now it was up to the former Super Bowl MVP and NFL MVP to deliver.

A couple of short passes and a run had the Packers with 1st and 10 at midfield at the 2 minute warning. A completion to Cobb went for a 31 yard gain. With 1:47 left, time was no longer a factor. The Packers were already at the Chicago 19. On 3rd and 7, Rodgers fired over the middle to Devonta Adams for 1st and goal at the 8. A pair of incompletions meant 3rd and goal with 36 seconds left. Rodgers went back, somehow avoided a sack, and fired to James Jones in the end zone. Tracy Porter was defending, but Jones had it and dropped it.

On 4th and goal from the 8 with 27 seconds left, Rodgers again avoided a sack, and fired to Devonta Adams. Adams was well covered by Bryce Callahan. The throw was high but catchable. It bounced off of Adams’s fingertips out the back of the end zone incomplete. John Fox and his much maligned quarterback Jay Cutler got to 5-6 while Mike McCarthy has seen his Packers lose 4 of 5 after a 6-0 start to fall out of the division lead. Rodgers does have a Super Bowl ring, but losing at home with Favre and Starr in attendance has to sting. 17-13 Bears

New Orleans Saints at Houston Texans — Drew Brees will be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Bryan Hoyer will not be. Yet early on it was all Hoyer. An 11 play 70 yard, 6 minute drive saw Hoyer hit Griffin for a 10 yard touchdown on 3rd and 3 for a 7-0 Texans lead.  The texans got it back at midfield. Hoyer threw a 3 yard touchdown to Cecil Shorts to make it 14-0 Texans. In the second quarter Kai Forbath hit a 30 yard field goal as the Saints trailed 14-3. Forbath then hit a 57 yarder to send the Saints to the locker rooms down 14-6.

In the third quarter the Texans moved 80 yards. Alfred Blue ran for an 8 yard touchdown to make it 21-6 Texans. Nick Novak tacked on a 34 yard field goal as the Texans defense did the rest. JJ Watt and company shut down Brees as the Texans won their fourth straight game on the strength remained very much alive in the woeful AFC South with a 6-5 record. 24-6 Texans

Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons — Minnesota moved 78 yards in 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Adrian Peterson got in from the one to make it 7-0 Vikings. An 31 yard Shane graham field goal in the second quarter had the Falcons within 7-3. The Falcons in the third quarter moved inside the Minnesota 10, but on 3rd and goal Matt Ryan was intercepted in the end zone. Blair Walsh hit a 29 yard field goal to make it 10-3 Vikings. The Vikings then chewed up 8 1/2 minutes of clock. With 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation, Walsh snuck a 39 yard field goal try just inside the right upright for a 13-3 Vikings lead.

With 4 1/2 minutes left the Falcons faced 4th and 1 at their own 48. Mike Zimmer’s defense closed the door as Ryan was sacked and fumbled, and the Vikings recovered. Adrian Peterson then ran for a 35 yard touchdown to make it 20-3 Vikings. Peterson finished with 158 yards on 29 carries. Atlanta finally scored a garbage touchdown but Dan Quinn’s squad has lost 5 of 6 after a 5-0 start. Meanwhile, the Vikings at 8-3 are back in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. 20-10 Vikings

St. Louis Rams at Cincinnati Bengals — An 8-0 start was followed by consecutive losses, but this was the day the Bengals looked to right the ship. Red Rifle Andy Dalton found AJ Green for a 10 yard touchdown to quickly make it 7-0 Bengals. In the second quarter Dalton threw incomplete on 3rd and goal at the 3. Mike Nugent hit a 21 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Bengals. Jeff Fisher then went to the bag of trips. A direct snap to Todd Gurley was handed to Tavon Austin, who got around the end for a 60 yard gain. Austin got around the end again for a 5 yard touchdown to get the Rams within 10-7. Dalton brought the Bengals back 80 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes. A 22 yard touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert made it 17-7 Bengals.

The Bengals put the game away in the third quarter. 72 yards required only 90 seconds and 3 plays, as an 18 yard touchdown pass from Dalton to Green made it 24-7 Bengals. Nick Foles was then intercepted by Hall, who returned it 19 yards to complete the scoring. The Rams at 4-7 are all but done while the 9-2 Bengals are very much alive for a 1st round playoff bye. 31-7 Bengals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Indianapolis Colts — Jameis Winston may or may not have been alive when old man Matt Masselbeck and dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Yet Hasselbeck has played well as Andrew Luck remains out injured. Both teams moved the ball but could not reach the end zone early on. Adam Vinatieri hit a 49 yard field goal for the Colts and Connor Barth answered with a 38 yarder for a 3-3 game after the first quarter. In the second quarter Vinatieri hit from 27 and Barth answered from 30 to make it a 6-6 game. The end zone was finally cracked when Winston threw a 20 yard touchdown pass to Brate. The extra point failed but the Buccaneers led 12-6 at break time.

In the third quarter Vinatieri hit a 26 yarder to get the Colts within 12-9. A 20 yard punt return had the Colts taking over at the Tampa 46. Hasselbeck threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to TY Hilton. The Colts finally cracked the end zone for a 16-12 lead. The Buccaneers moved in position for Barth to try a 54 yard field goal, but the kick was no good. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play had the Cotls starting at the Bucs 41. Vinatieri hit from 44 to make it 19-12 Colts with 1 minute left in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was about old man Hasselbeck. He led a 15 play, 76 yard drive that ate up 7 1/2 minutes off the clock. Hasselbeck hit Hilton for the 3 yard clinching touchdown as the Colts at 6-5 stayed in a first place tie for the AFC South lead. The Buccaneers at 5-6 are still alive in the NFC. 25-12 Colts

New York Giants at Washington Redskins — A hideous NFC Least game saw Dustin Hopkins hit a 41 yard field goal in the second quarter to make it 3-0 Redskins. The next time the Redskins got the ball, they needed one play and 11 seconds. Kirk Cousins found Desean Jackson for a 63 yard touchdown to make it 10-0 Redskins. The Redskins got it back and moved 80 yards. Cousins got the last yard to make it 17-0 Redskins at halftime. An even uglier second half saw Hopkins hit again from 33 to make it 20-0 Redskins.

With  just over 10 minutes left in regulation, the Redskins had a chance to slam the door shut as the Giants faced 4th and 16 at the Washington 40. Eli Manning went deep to Reuben Randle for the touchdown to get the Giants within 20-7. Big Blue got it back at their own 23. With 5 minutes left the Giants faced 3rd and 2 at the Washington 21. Manning went deep to O’Dell Beckham, and the phenom just did what he does. Another great catch in the end zone had the Giants within 6 points. The Redskins ground down the clock. By the time the Giants got the ball back at their own 16, only 19 seconds remained. With 7 seconds left after a couple of West Coast Offense dink and dunk passes, the Giants tried the hook and laterals from their own 32. It failed as both teams are now 5-6 and tied atop the pathetic NFC Least. 20-14 Redskins

Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans — Three straight losses have the 4-6 Raiders on the brink. A loss to 3-7 Tennessee would end their season. Despite having the field position advantage, the Raiders did not capitalize. Each team punted twice. The Titans then took over at their own 12. Mariota went deep to Melanie Walker for a 36 yard gain. A personal foul on the defense had Tennessee at the Oakland 20. Mariota went deep to Steven, who made a juggling catch for a 6-0 Titans lead. The extra point was blocked and returned all the way the other way. Under the new NFL rules, that would be 2 points for the Raiders. Yet one of the laterals was an illegal forward pass as the score stayed 6-0.

From the Oakland 23, the Raiders finally got going. Derek Carr found Seth Roberts for a 38 yard gain. After a sack of Carr, a short pass to Latavius Murray gained 23 yards. Carr threw a 7 yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree for a 7-6 Raiders lead. The Titans went 3 and out and the Raiders for the third time in the game started just shy of their own 40 yard line. The second quarter began as the Raiders quickly faced 3rd and 2 at the Tennessee 36. A pass was dropped, one of several drops early on. Jack Del Rio decided to go for it on 4th and 2 rather than try a 54 yard field goal. The snap out of the shot gun was bad, and Carr ended up throwing a wild deep ball out of bounds as the Raiders again squandered a golden opportunity.

The Titans went 3 and out, and punted on 4th and 5 from the Oakland 47. A roughing the punter penalty gave the Titans new life with a 1st and 10 at the Oakland 32. In field goal range, the Titans went to the bag of tricks. A double reverse fooled nobody and lost 4 yards. On 3rd and 9, Mariota was sacked to push the Titans out of field goal range. Again the Raiders were flagged on the punt, but at least time this time they got to keep the ball. Oakland started way back at their own 3 yard line.

On 3rd and 3, Carr went deep to Amari Cooper, who out jumped a defender for a 30 yard gain. On 3rd and 2 from the Oakland 48, out of the shotgun, Latavius Murray took a handoff 6 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Tennessee 22, Carr fired over the middle to Seth Roberts for a 17 yard gain at the 2 minute warning. Despite 1st and goal at the 5, the drive bogged down. Sebastian Janikowski hit the 24 yard field goal. Despite the Raiders dominating the game and Carr throwing for nearly 200 yards in the first half, Oakland only led 10-6. A 16 play, 90 yard, 8 minute drive meant only a field goal. With one minute left in the half, the Titans took over at their own 26.

As expected, the sad Oakland secondary gave up big yards on 2 straight completions. With 17 seconds left in the half, the Titans faced 3rd and 2 at the Oakland 44. This time Mariota threw incomplete. The Titans decided to go for it. The 4th and 2 pass was broken up incomplete. Now the Raiders had 10 seconds to try something. With 2 seconds left from the Titans 47, Seabass pleaded to try a 65 yard field goal. Jack Del Rio told the Polish Cannon no.  Rather than try the Hail Mary, Del Rio opted for the hook and ladder. Del Rio coached a game in Jacksonville where a bunch of laterals by the other team meant a touchdown on the final play. This time the Raiders got close before a bunch of laterals had them moving backward. By the time the ball was lateraled back to Carr, he was back at the Oakland 46. To avoid risking a turnover and a touchdown the other way, Carr smartly went to the ground to end the half.

Rain came down to start the second half. From the Oakland 31, four straight runs by Murray meant 3rd and 5 at the Oakland 47. Carr then went deep to Cooper for a 41 yard bomb down to the 12. On 3rd and 8 from the 10, Carr fired a short pass to Roberts in the flat. The defender went for the hit rather than the tackle, and Roberts bounced off the hit, somehow maintained his footing, and leapt into the end zone for a 17-6 Raiders lead. With the rain coming down harder, it was up to the Oakland defense to protect the lead.

On 2nd and 10 from the Titans 20, Mariota threw incomplete. Defensive pass interference on Carrie kept the drive going. On 3rd and 5 from the Tennessee 39, Mariota threw incomplete. Defensive holding on Carrie kept the drive going. From the Oakland 13, Mariota threw a touchdown pass to Douglas. Defensive pass interference was just insult to injury. Mariota found Green-Beckham for the 2 point conversion in the back of the end zone. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, the Titans were right back in it down 17-14. The Oakland defense as expected failed to close out the game. Now it was up to the offense in the rain to prevent another total collapse.

These are the Raiders. If there is one thing they know how to do, it is self-destruct. Trying to fight for one more yard on the kickoff return meant the game’s first turnover as the Titans took over at the Oakland 18. A sack of Mariota had the Titans facing 3rd and 10. Mariota completed a pass over the middle for what seems like 1st and goal, but this time it was Tennessee getting called for offensive pass interference. On 3rd and 20, Mariota threw a duck that was intercepted at the Oakland 21 by Amerson. The Raiders tried to give the game away but the Titans wouldn’t take it. The much maligned secondary dodged a bullet and came up big.

Both teams punted twice. The Raiders took over at their own 23 and gained a couple first downs on the ground to the Oakland 46. Disaster then struck as Carr fumbled the quarterback center exchange and the Titans recovered at the Oakland 43 with 9 minutes left ins regulation. On 3rd and 11, Mariota found Andrew over the middle for a 14 yard gain. Now the Titans were in field goal range. On 3rd and 1 from the 20, the Titans got the yard. Even worse, unnecessary roughness on Khalil Mack meant 1st and goal at the 10. With 6 minutes left the Raiders were again just giving away a game. on 3rd and goal, the Raiders again had a chance to get one stop. Mariota threw incomplete out the back of the end zone. Yet defensive pass interference meant 1st and goal. The Raiders are just too dumb. The ball could not have been caught, but the Raiders got what they deserved. Mariota threw a one yard touchdown pass to Fowler. Now the Titans led 21-17. Once again the Raiders had blown a fourth quarter lead. 13 years of idiocy continued.

The Raiders took over at their own 10 with 4 1/2 minutes to go after yet another penalty on the Raiders, this time on the kickoff. It takes all 3 phases of a team to lose a game, and yet the Raiders still had a chance to win. Carr found Cooper for 16 and Roberts for 31 more. A helmet to helmet flag on the defense was inexplicably picked up. The replay clearly showed helmet to helmet, but there was not call. On 2nd and 8 from the Tennessee 36, Carr threw incomplete twice as the clock hit the 2 minute warning. On 4th and 8, Carr went for all the marbles. A bomb thrown into double coverage was bobbled and fell incomplete. The Raiders were done.

Then came the penalty flag, and this time it was on the Titans. Defensive holding meant 1st and 10 at the Tennessee 31. The Raiders had life. Carr went to Mychel Rivera for 19 yards. Then as he was being hit, he fired to seth Roberts in the end zone for a 12 yard touchdown. With 80 seconds left, the Raiders led 24-21. Tennessee took over after a touchback. Now the defense needed to do their jobs.

On 3rd and 10, Mariota went deep to Walker for a 27 yard gain. Tennessee was one more completion from long field goal range with 50 seconds left. Mariota went deep again and was intercepted by Allen at the Oakland 31. It was hideously ugly, but the Raiders got the win. For a few days, the python was removed from the necks of the Raider Nation. Mariota finished 17 of 37 for 218 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Carr was a magnificent 24 of 37 for 330 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. He came through when the Raiders needed it most. Cooper and Roberts both finished with over 100 yard receiving as the Raiders racked up over 400 yards of offense. Yet as Al Davis always said, “Just win baby.” This time, they did. 24-21 Raiders

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs — A pair of 5-5 teams fighting for a playoff spot saw Tyrod Taylor go deep to Sammy Watkins for a 48 yard gain. Yet on 2nd and 4 from the 9, Taylor threw incomplete twice. Dan Carpenter hit the 27 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Bills. The Bills came back and Taylor threw a 28 yard touchdown pass to Watkins for a 10-0 lead. In the second quarter the Chiefs moved 80 yards as a 3 yard touchdown run by Ware got the Chiefs within 10-7. The Bills came back 75 yards as a 21 yard touchdown pass from Tyler to Watkins made it 16-7 Bills after the failed extra point. The Chiefs needed only 2 plays to come back 80 yards as Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin connected on a 41 yard touchdown to get the Chiefs within 16-14.

In the third quarter the Chiefs moved 64 yards. A 15 yard touchdown pass from Smith to Kelce now had the Chiefs up 21-16. Taylor was then sacked and fumbled on 3rd and 6 from the Buffalo 39. The Chiefs took over at the Buffalo 34 but did little. Cairo Santos hit the 49 yard field goal to make it 24-16 Chiefs. The Bills moved 70 yards and Taylor threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to LeSean McCoy. Rex Ryan decided to go for 2 to tie the game even though it was only the third quarter. Taylor scrambled around and was eventually sacked back at the 20 yard line as the Bills trailed 24-22.

The Chiefs moved from their 21 to the Buffalo 20 before stalling. Santos hit from 38 as the Chiefs led 27-22 with 13 minutes left in regulation. The Chiefs got it back and Smith played the much derided game manager role well. The Chiefs moved from their own 11 to the Buffalo 12 before a penalty killed the drive. 11 plays chewed up 6 1/2 minutes of clock. santos hit from 37 as the Chiefs were back up by 8. With 2:16 to play, Buffalo faced 4th and 9 at their own 21. Taylor fumbled the ball, picked it up, and raced to what the Bills insisted was a first down. The referees said taylor was short of the marker. Rex Ryan challenged the call, lost, and saw his team lose their last timeout. On 3rd and 3 from the Buffalo 22, Ware’s third straight carry gained 4 yards as the Chiefs ran out the clock. The bILLS AT 5-6 are still alive, but looking up at the 6-5 Chiefs. 5 straight wins after a 1-5 start has made Andy Reid a most happy Walrus Lite indeed. 30-22 Chiefs.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets — A pair of AFC East teams fighting for a playoff spot saw the Jets early on go 72 yards in 12 plays and 6 minutes. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 17 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall to make it 7-0 Jets. An ugly rest of the half finally saw some action when the Jets got it back at their own 8 with less than 3 minutes left. Fitzpatrick moved Gang Green 92 yards in 11 plays. A 16 yard touchdown pass to Smith with 8 seconds left in the half made it 14-0 Jets. In the third quarter Justin Kerley returned a punt 58 yards to the Miami 25. On 3rd and goal at the 2, Fitzpatrick hit Eric Decker for the touchdown and the 21-0 Jets lead.

The Dolphins finally got on the board when Ryan Tannehill hit Landry for a 5 yard touchdown as Miami trailed 21-7. In the fourth quarter the Jets put the game away. Fitzpatrick led a 10 play, 79 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive that culminated in a 3 yard touchdown pass to Marshall. Chris ivory then broke off a 31 yard touchdown run to make it 35-7 Jets. Tannehill finished 33 of 58 for 351 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception, but most of that including the last two touchdowns were during garbage time and sandwiched around a Jets field goal. Fitzpatrick and his beard finished 22 of 37 of 277 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions as the Jets got to 6-5 in the wildcard race. 38-20 Jets

San Diego Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars — The Jaguars are actually in the playoff race. They began this game by marching inside the red zone but settling for a 22 yard Myers field goal to lead 3-0. Myers tacked on a 51 yarder to make it 6-0 Jaguars. In the second quarter the Chargers moved 63 yards. Philip Rivers hit Inman for a 2 yard touchdown to make it 7-6 Chargers. The Jaguars again moved deep but could not finish the drive as illegal motion nullified a touchdown pass. Myers hit his third field goal from 27 yards out. The Jaguars led 9-7, but after that Rivers got going.

The Chargers moved 83 yards in 13 plays and 5 minutes. A 9 yard touchdown pass to Antonio Gates made it 14-9 Chargers. Blake Bortles was the intercepted with one minute left in the half, setting up the Chargers at the Jacksonville 22. Rivers hit Gates for a 12 yard touchdown to make it 21-9 Chargers. In the third quarter the Jaguars again drove deep and again bogged down in the red zone. myers hit his fourth field goal from 28. Meanwhile Josh Lambo hit a 28 yarder of his own to make it 24-12 Chargers.

A 12 play, 80 yard, 5 minute drive finally saw the Jaguars reach the end zone. Blake Bortles hit Julius Thomas for a 21 yard touchdown to get the Jaguars within 24-19 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Rivers then led a 14 play, 80 yard, 6 minute drive. A 5 yard touchdown pass from Rivers to Johnson had the Chargers up 31-19 with 5 minutes left. After a touchback, Bortles rallied the Jaguars. With 2:10 left, the Jaguars faced 4th and 11 at the San Diego 29. A Bortles completion came up 2 yards short of the sticks as the Chargers took over at their own 20 with 2:01 left.

The Jaguars used their timeouts on defense. With 1:37 to play the Chargers punted from their own 34. Mike Scifres had his punt blocked, and the Jaguars took over at the san Diego 14 with 90 seconds left. Bortles hit Robinson for an 8 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, but it did not matter. The Jaguars were down by 6 and needed the onside kick. They did not get it and the game was over. Rivers was a fantastic 29 of 43 for 300 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions as the Chargers snapped their 6 game losing streak and all but eliminated the Jaguars as well. Bortles was 30 of 49 for 329 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. However, the Jaguars settled for too many field goals, and that was the difference. 31-25 Chargers

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers — Arizona is one of the best teams in the league and San Francisco is one of the worst. Earlier this year the Cardinals blasted the 49ers by 40 points in the desert. Yet early on this game was a defensive struggle. With Colin Kaepernick on injured reserve and most likely never playing for the 49ers ever again, Blaine Gabbert got the start. Gabbers led the 49ers to the Arizona 29, but a 2nd and 5 run lost four yards and a sack pushed the 49ers out of field goal range. The Cardinals took over at their own 1 and soon punted, but the 49ers fumbled the punt. From the Frisco 39, the Cardinals moved to a 2nd and 3 at the San Francisco 8. Carson Palmer threw incomplete twice as the Cardinals settled for a 26 yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal and a 3-0 lead. Gabbers was then intercepted, setting up Arizona at the San Francisco 42. On 3rd and 7 from the 13, a touchdown pass was nullified by an offensive illegal touch. Catanzaro hit from 41 early in the second quarter as the Cardinals only led 6-0. The 49ers got a 53 yard field goal from Phil Dawson on the last play of the half to trail 6-3.

Arizona finally reached the end zone in the third quarter as a 76 yard drive culminated in a one yard David Johnson touchdown run for a 13-3 Cardinals lead. The 49ers soon followed with a 77 yard drive. Gabbers hit Vince McDonald for an 8 yard touchdown to get the 49ers within 13-10. The 49ers got it back after a touchback and moved in position for Dawson, who hit from 33 to tie the game 13-13.

In the fourth quarter Palmer led a 14 play, 85 yard drive that consumed 8 minutes off the clock. An offensive holding penalty to start the drive had the Cardinals facing 1st and 17 at their own 8. On 3rd and 8, Palmer found Jermaine Gresham for 9. On 3rd and 19 from their own 17 after another offensive penalty, Palmer threw deep incomplete. Yet this time unsportsmanlike conduct on the defense kept the drive going. On 2nd and 10 from the 32, Palmer was sacked, but roughing the passer kept the Cardinals going forward. On 3rd and 9 from the San Francisco 42, Palmer found Larry Fitzgerald for 11 yards. On 2nd and 14 from the 35, Palmer went deep to Nelson down to the one. After moving backward, Palmer scrambled for an 8 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, but the Cardinals led by 6 with 2:21 to play.

The 49ers began their final drive at their own 21. Could Blaine Gabbert silence all his critics and pull off a miracle? From the Frisco 38, Gabbert found McDonald for 20 at the 2 minute warning and Anquon Boldin for 12 more. On 3rd and 10 from the Arizona 30, Gabbert was sacked. With 1:20 to play, on 4th and 20 from the Arizona 40, Gabbert found Boldin for a completion. However, the play only went for 18 yards, 2 yards short of the first down marker. It wasn’t pretty, but the Cardinals got to 9-2 and in strong position for a first round bye in the playoffs. 19-13 Cardinals

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks — After an exchange of punts, Ben Roethlisberger moved the Steelers from their 16 to a 3rd and 5 at the Seattle 26. Big Ben threw incomplete. Chris Boswell hit the 44 yard field goal to make it 3-0 Steelers. Mike Tomlin and Pete Carroll both know defense, and these defenses ruled for much of the first half. On the last play of the first quarter, a 3rd and 6 pass from the Seattle 31 by Roetholisberger came up 2 yards short. Mike Tomlin began the second quarter by calling for a fake field goal. The Seahawks were not fooled. Landry Jones rolled to his right, threw deep left across the field, and was intercepted by Jeremy Lane. Lane returned the pick 54 yards to the Seattle 24. On 3rd and goal from the 16, Russell Wilson found Doug Baldwin for the touchdown and the 7-3 Seahawks lead.

Jacoby Jones returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards, and a horse collar tackle call added on had Pittsburgh just past midfield. From the Seattle 11, Bryant got around the end and just made it to the pileon as the Steelers led 10-7. The Seahawks then moved 85 yards in 11 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 12 yard touchdown as the Steelers led 14-10 with just over 2 minutes left in the half. Pittsburgh moved from their own 20. From the Pittsburgh 44, Roethlisberger went deep to Wheaton for a 41 yard gain. Deangelo Williams ran it in from 6 yards out as the Steelers retook the lead with one minute left in the half. mike Tomlin likes to go for 2 at random points rather than only do so when necessary. Roethlisberger hit James for the completion as the Steelers led 18-14 at halftime. The second quarter had 29 points and 4 lead changes.

Tyler Lockett returned the second half kickoff 54 yards to the Pittsburgh 48. Yet Seattle could not capitalize, and the Steelers got the ball back at their own 15. On 3rd and 13 from the Pittsburgh 27, Big ben hit Wheaton for 15 and Bryant for a 40 yard gain to the Seattle 11. On fourth and one from the two, mike Tomlin decided to go for it. After failing to draw Seattle offsides, the Steelers drew a delay of game penalty. Boswell hit the 25 yarder to make it 21-14 Steelers with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. Pittsburgh got it back, but Roethlisberger threw a short pass that was intercepted by Rubin. From the Pittsburgh 37, Wilson went deep to Jimmy Graham down to the one. Rawls got in. Steve Hauschka had his extra point try blocked one week after missing two of them. After three quarters, the Seahawks trailed 21-20.

Early in the fourth quarter after a punt and a touchback, the Steelers quickly gave the ball back. Roethlisberger went deep, and Richard Sherman was the only person in the area. Antonio Brown fell down with some help from Sherman, as the Legion of Boom star got his first interception of the year. Quarterbacks refuse to target him. Sherman returned the pick 26 yards to the Pittsburgh 39. wilson threw a 9 yard touchdown pass to Kearse. The 2 point try failed but the Seahawks led 26-21 with a little over 12 minutes left in regulation. 3 plays and 24 seconds later, the Steelers were back in front 27-26 as Big Ben went deep to Wheaton for a 69 yard touchdown. The sixth lead change of the game had Pittsburgh up, but the 2 point try was intercepted by Sherman.

From the Seattle 27, Wilson ran for 10 and found Lockett for 16 more. Wilson found Baldwin for a 13 yard gain and then went back to Baldwin for the 30 yard touchdown. The 2 point try again failed as Rawls was stopped cold on the ground. The seventh lead change of this heavyweight fight had the Seahawks back up by 5 with 8 1/2 minutes to play.

Pittsburgh took over at their own 26. Roethlisberger found Williams for 13 and then went deep to Wheaton for a 28 yard gain to the Seattle 33. Yet Pete Carroll challenged the catch and it was properly reversed incomplete. Wheaton bobbled the ball before securing it. On 3rd and 10 from the Pittsburgh 39, Roethlisberger threw incomplete and got belted down hard. Yet roughing the passer meant 1st and 10 at the Seattle 46. On 3rd and 12 from the Seattle 48, Roethlisberger found Williams for 14. On 3rd and goal at the 10, Roethlisberger scrambled for 7. Mike Tomlin had a major decision to make with 3 minutes left.

On 4th and goal from the 3 in a game with plenty of scoring, Tomlin decided to kick the field goal and trust his defense. Boswell hit the 22 yarder as the Steelers trailed 32-30. Pittsburgh still had 2 timeouts left plus the 2 minute warning. After a touchback, Seattle was on their heels after nearly fumbling the ball away. On 3rd and 10 with 2:14 left, Wilson faced the pressure and zipped a pass to Baldwin. Baldwin broke free and outraced everybody for an 80 yard touchdown as the home crowd erupted. Exactly 2:01 remained. This time Hauschka made the critical extra point as Seattle led by 9 points.

Roethlisberger was 36 of 55 for a franchise record 456 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. Big Ben had been playing injured. Had it been a one score game, he would have almost definitely finished the game. Yet Tomlin is not about stats. He needs his star quarterback for the playoffs, and figured he was not going to get 2 scores in the final 2 minutes. Landry Jones finished the game. Meanwhile, Wilson was phenomenal, going 21 of 30 for 345 yards passing with five touchdown passes and 0 interceptions.

Jacoby Jones made a major mistake on the ensuing kickoff return. He should have let it go out the end zone to preserve the 2 minute warning as an extra timeout. Instead he fielded it, only got to the Pittsburgh 18, and the Steelers lost that clock stoppage. Jones threw a short pass to Williams that went for a 34 yard gain. Needing two scores, Landry went deep for Bryant. The ball was batted up in the air and intercepted by Kam Chancellor at the 7 yard line. As they went to the ground, Bryant ripped it out of Chancellor’s hands. The referees let the interception stand, and it appeared the ball was ripped out after the play had ended. It was a close call.

The Steelers took their last timeout with 84 seconds left as the Seahawks faced 3rd and 1 at their own 16. Derrick Coleman got the carry and got the yard to finally put the game out of reach. 10 years ago in the Super Bowl, the Jaw Bill Cowher finally got his Super Bowl ring as the Walrus Mike Holmgren saw his Seahawks lose to the Steelers. A decade later, both of these teams are 6-5 and fighting for playoff survival. At least this time the refs did not decide the game. 39-30 Seahawks

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos is the Sunday night game. Those in a state of hysteria over Peyton Manning need to calm down. Last September everybody said Tom Brady was washed up before he went undefeated the rest of the way and won his fourth Super Bowl. Brock Osweiler is not Peyton Manning, but this Denver team was built by John Elway to win with defense anyway. Bill Bellichick and Tom Brady are still unbeaten this year, while Denver has seen it’s position atop the AFC West become more precarious.

Denver went 3 and out and a shanked 25 yard punt had the Patriots starting at the Denver 47. 3 plays were all Tom Brady needed as a 23 yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski made it 7-0 Patriots early on. Denver again went 3 and out and the Patriots started just shy of midfield. Yet this time the defense held. The Broncos finally got going, as they moved from their 12 to a critical 4th and inches at the New England 32. Gary Kubiak decided to go for it and the 6 ft 8 Osweiler did his best Tom Brady impersonation by taking the quarterback sneak ahead for 3 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the New England 21, Osweiler made a major mistake. A sack resulted in a 13 yard loss as the Broncos were now out of field goal range, wasting a 12 play drive.

Things got worse for Denver in the second quarter when Osweiler was hit as he threw. The ball popped straight up in the air and was intercepted by the Patriots at the Denver 15. On 3rd and 4, Brady found Scott Chandler for a 9 yard touchdown to make it 14-0 Patriots. Meanwhile, a light snow that began before the game got heavier. midway through the second quarter the Broncos finally put together a complete drive from their own 23. From the New England 28, Ronnie Hillman gained 9 and then ran for the 19 yard touchdown. The 10 play, 77 yard, 5 1/2 minute drive had the Bronocs only down 14-7 with 2:15 left in the half.

In the third quarter with snow really coming down and swirling winds, Denver moved from their 11 to the New England 30. Gary Kubiak decided to let Brad McManus try a 48 yard field goal. McManus had missed only once all year, but he is not Adam Vinatieri. Vinatieri’s kick was only 45 yards. McManus was no good by a Rocky Mountain mile. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Patriots faced 3rd and 8 at their own 37. Brady went deep to Brandon Bolden, who shook off a would-be tackler and raced for a 63 yard touchdown to make it 21-7 Patriots.

After a touchback Osweiler threw 3 straight incompletions, but Denver received a break when the Patriots fumbled the punt and the Broncos recovered at the New England 36. On 3rd and 6, Osweiler hooked up with Emanuel Sanders for a 22 yard gain. On the next play CJ Anderson got around the end for a 14 yard touchdown run. With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation, the Broncos were right back in it down 21-14.

A holding penalty after a touchback had the Patriots facing 1st and 20 at their own 10. On 3rd and 11, Brady went deep Martin for a 51 yard gain. Yet another offensive holding call instead meant 3rd and 20 and another incompletion. Denver fumbled the punt, but was lucky enough to retain possession at their own 45. Osweiler found Owen Daniels for 11 and CJ Anderson for 20 more to set up 1st and goal at the 10. The clock ticked down to 6:16 as the Broncos took a timeout as they faced 3rd and goal at the 3. Osweiler threw incomplete and Gary Kubiak did not hesitate to make a decision, immediately opting for the field goal. McManus hit from 22 as the Broncos trailed 21-17.

After a touchback, Gronkowski dropped a pass that was thrown behind him. On 3rd and 5, Brady found Gronk for 10, but offensive pass interference on Gronk instead meant 3rd and 15. Brady then went bombs away and got rocked as soon as he threw it. It traveled 60 yards, just beyond the fingertips of the receiver. The Broncos now had a chance to win the game with 4 1/2 minutes left and the ball at their own 37. After one incompletion, Osweiler had to burn Denver’s second timeout. A pair of very catchable balls were dropped as Osweiler got blasted on third down. Denver used only about 25 seconds of time so when the Patriots got it back at their own 25, there was still 4:12 to play.

A completion to Gronk went for 14 yards and kept the clock moving. On the next play Brady fired to Gronk incomplete. Not only did it stop the clock with 2:49 left, but Gronkowski stayed down in obvious pain. Gronkowski was helped off the field and carted off on the stretcher. In a very classy move, the Denver fans cheered Gronk and Denver defenders came over to make sure he was ok. Meanwhile, another incompletion stopped the clock again. On 3rd and 10 Brady threw again, and this time the ball was caught. Although it was 4th and 3, the Broncos took their final timeout with 2:39 left. with 2 1/2 minutes left, the Broncos took over at their own 16.

Osweiler went deep to Denarius Thomas, who at that point had 10 balls thrown to him for 0 receptions and 0 yards. His first catch was a good one, resulting in a 36 yard gain to the New England 48 at the 2 minute warning. On the next play a pass to Thomas was bobbled straight into the arms of a New England defender, who luckily for Denver also dropped it. On the next play Osweiler went deep to Sanders for 39 more yards. With time no longer a factor for Denver, New england took a timeout on defense with 90 seconds left and Denver facing 1st and goal at the 8.

Ostweiler tried to run on first down but went nowhere. Even worse, he went out of bounds, allowing the Patriots to preserve timeouts. On 2nd down Osweiler got sacked for an 11 yard loss, but defensive holding instead meant 1st and goal at the 4. Osweiler then staked his case for the starting job by throwing a touchdown to Andre Caldwell. 83 yards when it counted had the Broncos up by 3, but they may have scored too early. After a touchback, Brady still had 70 seconds to work with and 2 timeouts left.

Brady hit Chandler for 22 yards and again for 9 more. An injury timeout charged to Denver led to total confusion. 24 seconds remained but the referee wound down the clock. It should have been a clock stoppage. Instead after another play only 10 seconds remained. Bellichick fumed as fans wondered if yet another game would be ruined by the refs. This time the Patriots bailed themselves and the refs out. Brady hit Lafell for 14 yards down to the Denver 29. With 4 seconds left, Gostkowski came in for a 47 yard field goal in the snow. Gostkowski’s kick was not as pressure-packed as Vinatieri’s, because this was only a regular season game. Yet with an undefeated season hanging in the balance, Gostkowski delivered. This thrilling football game went to overtime tied 24-24.

New England got the ball first in overtime. After a touchback, Von Miller sacked Brady to set up 3rd and 17. Brady was nearly sacked again as the Patriots punted and the Broncos took over at their own 42. Denver took a timeout on 3rd and 1. CJ Anderson took the toss, broke a couple tackles, and raced all the way for the 48 yard touchdown. This is not 2007, and the Patriots will not go 16-0 in the regular season. The entire AFC playoff picture just changed as 9-2 Denver is now only one game behind 10-1 New England. Let the Peyton Manning talk wait. Let Brock Osweiler enjoy his moment in the sun, or in this case the snow. He earned it. 30-24 Broncos, OT

Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns is the Monday night game. The 3-7 Ravens were at the 2-8 Browns in a game that made people long for the original purpose of Monday Night Football. Joe Flacco is out injured. Both teams are a mess. Johnny Manziel has been demoted to third string. Having said that, a pair of bad teams put together a very good football game. It may not have been consequential, but it was solid football.

Early on it was all Ravens. Clay returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown. Then Justin Tucker hit a 49 yard field goal to make it 10-0 Ravens after the first quarter. In the second quarter Travis Coons hit a 31 yard field goal, but Matt Schaub found Allen for a 13 yard touchdown to make it 17-3 Ravens. Yet the Browns came back. Josh McCown hit Moore for a 10 yard touchdown pass. Then Cleveland came back and had 1st and goal at the 3 with 18 seconds left in the half. McCown threw 3 straight incompletions. Coons hit a 21 yard field goal as the Browns only trailed 17-13 at halftime.

Matt Schaub was a Pro Bowl quarterback in Houston. Then out of nowhere he began throwing pick sixes on a weekly basis in an astonishing meltdown. Now he is the backup quarterback in Baltimore. In the third quarter on 3rd and 7 from the Baltimore 39, Schaub was intercepted by Karlos Dansby. Dansby returned it 52 yards for a Cleveland touchdown. Schaub’s downward spiral continued as the Browns led 20-17. Yet give Schaub some credit. He shook it off and came back with a 12 play, 80 yard, 7 minute drive. A 15 yard touchdown pass to Kamar Aiken had the Ravens back on top 24-20 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter schlub led a staggering 17 play, 82 yard, 8 minute drive. On 1st and 10 from the Cleveland 17, Schaub threw 3 straight incompletions. Tucker hit a 35 yard field goal as the Ravens led 27-20 with 9 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback the Browns soon faced 2nd and 9 at their own 21. McCown threw an incompletion, but even worse, he was injured on the play. Now Mike Pettine had a choice to make. Both options were bad, and if Cleveland lost Pettine would be pilloried either way.

Johnny Football was demoted to third string for being undisciplined off the field. He betrayed his team, lost the confidence of the team, and was sent to the bench. Yet playing Austin Davis? Nobody knew anything about him. Petting was either going to be accused of standing on principle and cutting off his nose to spite his face, or being unprincipled and putting winning above everything he said to the team.

Petting went with Davis, who threw incomplete on 3rd and 9 as the crowd booed. Cleveland got the ball back at its own 29 with 4:20 to play. Again Davis came in. On 4th and 5 with 2:06 left, Mike Pettine decided to go for it rather than punt. There was just not enough time left. Davis found Brad Hardline for 8. Davis then went to Benjamin for 16. Davis then went deep to Benjamin again for a 42 yard touchdown. With 1:47 to play the game was tied 27-27. The rest of this game was even more exciting and wild.

With 90 seconds left the Ravens faced 4th and 1 from their own 29. John Harbaugh appeared to lose his mind, summoning his inner Barry Switzer to go for it. Like Switzer, who cost his team the game, Harbaugh was just trying to draw the Browns offsides. The bluff failed and after a delay of game, the Ravens punted. The Browns punted back. With 56 seconds left the Ravens took over. Schaub had a chance to be the hero.

Schaub was quickly intercepted. with 50 seconds left, the Browns took over at the Baltimore 46. Again, Davis came in. He had a chance to play hero. He threw a short pass and then scrambled for a few more yards. With 3 seconds left, Coons came in for a 51 yard field goal to win it. Pettine stuck with Davis, and Davis did his job. Now it was up to Coons. At best the Browns win. At worst, overtime.

Yet with the Browns, there is always worse than the worst. In a shocking finish, the kick was blocked by Urban. Will Hill picked it up, shredded tacklers, and raced 64 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. The Browns were stunned. So were the Ravens, as Harbaugh did the classy thing by taking a knee on the extra point try. This was supposed to be two bad teams in one of the worst games in Monday night Football history. Instead, it was a classic finish for the ages. There is nothing in this world like football. One can feel heartsick for the Browns while appreciating what a phenomenal game football is. 33-27 Ravens

Comments are closed.