Time for another look at the games from this past weekend, which wound up turning out a few interesting results.
This week some of those results wound up being Drew Brees statpadding his way to the single season passing yards record in a blowout win, Tebow falling flat on his face, the return of Josh McCown to the NFL (including a dunk over the goalpoast), Indy and Minny trying to mess up the Suck for Luck sweepstakes, Mark Sanchez showing why I think he is one of the most overrated Quarterbacks in the NFL, the NFC LEast still being a mess, and Marshawn Lynch stopping a few streaks for the 49ers Defense.
Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts Recap - December 22, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Dan Orlovsky certainly didn't "Suck for Luck" on Thursday, especially when the oft-maligned quarterback orchestrated a two-minute drill to perfection to give the Colts an unlikely 19-16 victory over the AFC South-champion Houston Texans. When it mattered most down the stretch, Orlovsky guided a 12-play, 78-yard march that ended with Reggie Wayne hauling in a one-yard touchdown pass over his defender with 19 seconds remaining. The dramatic win was Indianapolis' second straight after starting the season 0-13. A loss would have guaranteed the Colts the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft -- and a shot at Stanford standout Andrew Luck -- but they settled for spoiling the Texans' chance at their first ever season sweep in the one-sided rivalry.
Denver Broncos vs Buffalo Bills Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Orchard Park, NY (Sports Network) - The Bills picked off Tim Tebow four times, two of which were returned for touchdowns on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter, as Buffalo rolled over the playoff-hopeful Broncos, 40-14. The Broncos' second straight loss dropped them into a tie with Oakland atop the AFC West with 8-7 records. The Raiders close out the regular season next week with a home game against San Diego, which had a chance to make it a three-way tie atop the division but lost to the Lions on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Carolina Panthers Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Cam Newton broke Peyton Manning's NFL rookie passing record, throwing for 171 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 48-16 win over Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday. Newton needed just 18 yards to break Manning's record of 3,739 yards for rookies. He has 3,893 passing yards this season and is just 107 yards from becoming the first player in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 10 or more touchdowns in a season. Newton also rushed for a touchdown for Carolina (6-9) while DeAngelo Williams ran for 66 yards and two TDs. Brandon LaFell caught three passes for 103 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown -- the longest TD catch in team history.
Minnesota Vikings vs Washington Redskins Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Landover, MD (Sports Network) - Toby Gerhart and Joe Webb came up huge for the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday. After losing running back Adrian Peterson and quarterback Christian Ponder on the first two plays of the second half, Gerhart came in and rushed for 109 yards on 11 carries, while Webb threw for 84 yards two touchdown passes, while also running for a score, leading the Vikings to a 33-26 victory over the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Peterson was lost to a left knee injury after taking a helmet-to-knee hit from Redskins safety DeJon Gomes. He was helped off the field and carted to the locker room once on the sideline. Peterson ran for 38 yards and a score before leaving. An MRI Saturday night confirmed Minnesota's worst fears - a torn anterior cruciate ligament for Peterson. Ponder suffered a concussion after being slammed to the turf on a combined sack by London Fletcher and Adam Carriker. He finished with 68 yards on 8- of-13 passing. Both players did not return to action.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Matt Hasselbeck overcame a pair of interceptions to throw for 350 yards and a touchdown, as the Tennessee Titans kept their playoff hopes alive with a 23-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field. Hasselbeck completed 24-of-40 passes for Tennessee (8-7), which rebounded from last week's loss to the previously winless Indianapolis Colts. "We're still alive in the playoffs and we still have an opportunity. That's all we can ask for," said Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy. The Titans remain one game behind Cincinnati for the AFC's final wild card berth.
New York Giants vs New York Jets Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Victor Cruz had a 99-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for two scores in the second half, helping the Giants hold off the Jets, 29-14, and stay in contention for the NFC East title. The Giants (8-7), who are tied with the Cowboys atop the division, will host Dallas next Sunday night in a winner-take-all scenario for the NFC East crown. The Giants rallied to win the first meeting between the teams, 37-34, at Cowboys Stadium on December 11. Eli Manning completed only 9-of-27 throws, and most of his 225 passing yards were recorded during Cruz's long run. But the Giants' defense was superb in holding off Mark Sanchez and the Jets in the fourth quarter. While Sanchez did score a touchdown midway through the period to pull the Jets within six points, the Giants did give him plenty of trouble. They picked him off once, recovered a fumble and sacked him in the end zone for a safety.
Oakland Raiders vs Kansas City Chiefs Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Sebastian Janikowski kicked three field goals, including the 36-yard game-winning boot in overtime, as Oakland topped Kansas City, 16-13, at Arrowhead Stadium. Carson Palmer threw for 237 yards and one touchdown but was intercepted twice on 16-of-26 passes for the Raiders (8-7), who moved into a tie atop the AFC West standings with Denver, after the Broncos were routed in Buffalo. "I keep telling you this team is not going to quit," crowed Raiders head coach Hue Jackson. "I, sometimes, get all the things that are said, 'left for dead,' or we're not this or we're not that. We're not perfect by no stretch of the imagination. I understand that, but we are a group of men that will fight and that will keep playing and we're going to play this thing out till the end." Denarius Moore finished with 94 yards and a score on four receptions, while Michael Bush added 70 yards on 23 carries.
Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Foxboro, MA (Sports Network) - Tom Brady recorded three second-half touchdowns, as the New England Patriots rallied to beat the Miami Dolphins, 27-24, at Gillette Stadium. Brady connected on a scoring strike to Deion Branch and tied his career high with two TD runs for the Patriots (12-3), who erased a 17-0 halftime deficit to notched their seventh consecutive win and secure a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs. Matt Moore threw three touchdown passes for Miami (5-10), including a 15- yarder to Davone Bess with 1:48 to play. But the Dolphins' comeback bid was thwarted when Brady hit reliable target Wes Welker for six yards on 3rd-and-5 as the AFC East Champions ran out the clock. Although the outcome was the same, Saturday's contest looked drastically different than the first meeting between these teams when Brady threw for a team-record 517 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-24 besting of the Dolphins in the season opener.
St. Louis Rams vs Pittsburgh Steelers Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - The Steelers didn't need Big Ben to beat the Rams. Rashard Mendenhall and a lock-down defense was more than enough. Mendenhall rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown and Charlie Batch played well in place of Ben Roethlisberger, leading Pittsburgh to a 27-0 victory over St. Louis on Saturday.
Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Joe Flacco threw a pair of touchdown passes to help the Baltimore Ravens hold off the Cleveland Browns, 20-14. Flacco completed 11-of-24 passes for 132 yards and an interception for the Ravens (11-4), who went 8-0 at home this year to record the first perfect regular season at home in franchise history. "[Undefeated] at home for the first time in the history of the franchise is a tremendous accomplishment. ...There's not a better stadium in the league than M&T Bank Stadium," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who symbolically gave the game ball to the Baltimore fans.
San Diego Chargers vs Detroit Lions Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Matthew Stafford threw for 373 yards and three touchdowns as Detroit locked up its first playoff berth in more than a decade with a 38-10 decision over San Diego at Ford Field. Calvin Johnson totaled 102 yards and a score on four receptions for the Lions (10-5), who will reach the postseason for the first time since 1999. Kevin Smith posted 49 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries with a TD reception, as Detroit posted a double-digit win total for the first time since going 10-6 in 1995. "We're excited we made the playoffs," Stafford said. "It's a team goal, a team accomplishment." Philip Rivers completed 28-of-53 passes for 299 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Chargers (7-8), who saw their three-game win streak come to an end and were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - With a Giants victory over the Jets earlier Saturday, Philadelphia's playoff hopes were dashed, but it didn't stop the Eagles from putting on another dominant display against the Dallas Cowboys. Michael Vick threw for 293 yards and two scores on 18-of-32 passing as Philadelphia took apart Dallas in a 20-7 win. Jeremy Maclin caught five balls for 72 yards and a touchdown and DeSean Jackson had 90 yards on five receptions for the Eagles (7-8), who have outscored their opponents 91-36 during their three-game winning streak. "We're coming together as a team now," Eagles head coach Andy Reid said. "As a head coach, I've got to make sure that I get that part done sooner than later." Tony Romo left the game on Dallas' opening series with a right-hand contusion. Romo suffered the injury as his follow-through of an attempted pass slammed into the helmet of Philadelphia's Jason Babin. He did not return and third- year pro Stephen McGee took over under center. McGee finished the game with 182 yards and a touchdown on 24-of-38 passing.
San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks Recap - December 24, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Seattle, WA (Sports Network) - David Akers kicked four field goals, including the game-winning 39-yarder late in the fourth quarter to push the San Francisco 49ers past the Seattle Seahawks, 19-17 at CenturyLink Field. Akers now has 42 field goals made this season, establishing a new NFL single- season record. Frank Gore rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries, while Alex Smith threw for 179 yards on 14-of-26 passing for the 49ers (12-3), who have the NFC West crown locked up and can clinch the No. 2 seed and an opening-round bye if the New Orleans Saints fall to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday. San Francisco has won two consecutive games since losing to Arizona, 21-19 on December 11. "We knew what was on the line," Smith said. "They (Seattle) were playing for their playoff lives. They threw everything at us. They were geared up and this is as hostile of an environment as it gets." Marshawn Lynch did two things on Saturday that no one else has been able to accomplish against the San Francisco defense this season. Lynch finished with 107 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. It was the first rushing touchdown the 49ers have given up this season and the first 100-yard rushing game they have allowed in their past 36 contests.
Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers Recap - December 25, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Green Bay, WI (Sports Network) - Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and a career-high five touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing as the Green Bay Packers wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a 35-21 win over the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. "We wanted the path to go through Lambeau," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. "We have a great home-field advantage here." The Packers have won their last 12 home games. The victory also established a new franchise record for wins in a season.
Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints Recap - December 26, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Drew Brees broke the NFL record for most passing yards in a single season on Monday night and helped the Saints secure the NFC South in the process. Brees surpassed the mark set by Dan Marino in 1984 with a 307-yard, four- touchdown performance in a 45-16 victory over the division-rival Falcons. Marino threw for 5,084 yards in the first full season of his brilliant career, but now sits second to Brees, whose 5,087 passing yards will only be bolstered during next Sunday's season-finale against the Panthers. "There was a lot of stake," Brees said. "It feels great to be division champs. ... This game couldn't have been more important." Monday's preview of a potential first-round playoff matchup saw Brees connect with Darren Sproles, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and Robert Meachem on touchdown passes in New Orleans' (12-3) seventh straight win.