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 the first loss for the Packers, four awful prime time games capped off by a power outage in Candlestick, the Raiders choking, the Colts finally winning, one of the most brutal injuries I have ever seen while watching football on the Johnny Knox hit in the Bears/Hawks game, Drew Brees continuing to statpad so he can break Dan Marino's record and the entire NFC East being shaken up again in what has been a pretty mediocre division this year.
NFC BEast? No, NFC LEast.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Atlanta Falcons Recap - December 15, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Matt Ryan and Roddy White hooked up on two touchdowns and the Falcons completely shut down the Jaguars en route to a 41-14 throttling at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons (9-5), who scored 24 unanswered points in a comeback win over the Panthers on Sunday, put up the first 41 points Thursday night to cruise to their fourth win in five games.
Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Recap - December 17, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - After a pair of late-game collapses, the Cowboys made sure they weren't going to blow a 28-point lead against the Buccaneers Saturday night. Dallas is alone atop the NFC East, at least until Sunday afternoon. Tony Romo threw for three first-half touchdowns and ran for another score as Dallas earned a 31-15 victory, dealing Tampa Bay its eighth consecutive defeat. More importantly, the Cowboys (8-6), who suffered heart-breaking losses against Arizona and the Giants the previous two weeks, are now a half-game ahead of New York for first place in the division.
Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo Bills Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Reggie Bush carried the ball 25 times for a career-high 203 yards and a touchdown, as the Miami Dolphins held off the struggling Buffalo Bills, 30-23, in Todd Bowles' first game as interim head coach. Bush's 203 rushing yards was the most by a Dolphin since Ricky Williams had 216 against the Bears on December 9, 2002. Tony Sparano was fired on Monday after leading the team to a 4-9 start. Bowles was promoted from his position as secondary coach.
Tennessee Titans vs Indianapolis Colts Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Donald Brown ran for 161 yards, including an 80-yard score to put the game away late in the fourth quarter, as the Indianapolis Colts earned their first win of the season with a 27-13 triumph over the Tennessee Titans. Reggie Wayne caught three balls for 33 yards and a score for Indianapolis (1-13), which won its first game without Peyton Manning under center since December 14, 1997 when Jim Harbaugh led the Colts to a 41-0 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Cincinnati Bengals vs St. Louis Rams Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott both ran for touchdowns in the second half, as the playoff-hopeful Cincinnati Bengals beat the St. Louis Rams, 20-13, on Sunday. Rookie Andy Dalton completed 15-of-26 passes for 179 yards and threw one interception for the Bengals (8-6), who avoided a third straight loss. "We started a little slow, but we were able to get the win in the end and that's all that matters," Dalton said. Cincinnati remains in a battle for the AFC's second wild card spot.
New Orleans Saints vs Minnesota Vikings Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Drew Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns on 32-of-40 passing, leading the New Orleans Saints to a 42-20 drubbing of the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field. Brees went over the 300-yard mark for the 11th time this season, breaking his own record of 10 set in 2008. New Orleans played without running back Mark Ingram, who missed his second straight game with a toe injury, but Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory filled the void. Thomas finished with 44 yards and a score on eight carries, while Ivory ran for 74 yards on 18 carries.
Carolina Panthers vs Houston Texans Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Rookie Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes to help the Carolina Panthers beat the newly crowned AFC South champion Houston Texans, 28-13, at Reliant Stadium. Newton completed 13-of-23 passes for 149 yards and added 55 rushing yards for Carolina (5-9), which has won three of its last four games. "For us to come in and beat this team -- the No. 1 ranked defense, a quality running game -- does speak to our abilities and what we can become," said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.
Washington Redskins vs New York Giants Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - The New York Giants certainly didn't compete like a team in the midst of a playoff race on Sunday. Needing a victory to tie Dallas atop the NFC East standings, the Giants instead suffered a demoralizing 23-10 defeat at the hands of the Washington Redskins. Eli Manning threw three interceptions in the loss, as the Giants (7-7) fell for the fifth time in six games. They play at the Jets on Saturday before taking on Dallas at home on New Year's day. A home finale shouldn't provide much solace, however, as New York has lost its last three games at MetLife Stadium.
Green Bay Packers vs Kansas City Chiefs Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - On one sideline stood Romeo Crennel, celebrating with his Chiefs players and dripping wet from a sports drink shower as the clock ran down on a victory. On the other stood Aaron Rodgers the Packers, defeated for the first time in a year. Crennel's defense was dominant, the Chiefs' offense did just enough in Kyle Orton's first start, and Kansas City ended Green Bay's 19-game winning streak with a 19-14 win at Arrowhead Stadium.
Seattle Seahawks vs Chicago Bears Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Marshawn Lynch rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns, as the Seattle Seahawks used a big second half to take down the Chicago Bears, 38-14. Lynch carried the ball 20 times and became Seattle's first 1,000-yard rusher since Shaun Alexander in 2005. Tarvaris Jackson completed 19-of-31 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown for the Seahawks (7-7), who have won three in a row. "We're really just taking one game at a time, and letting it take care of itself," Jackson said. "I feel like we've done a great job of staying focused on our opponent for that week and letting everything else take care of itself when it comes. We can't play for everybody else; we can only play one game at a time."
Detroit Lions vs Oakland Raiders Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - Calvin Johnson caught nine passes for a career- high 214 yards and two touchdowns, including a six-yard score with 39 seconds remaining to lift the Detroit Lions over the Oakland Raiders, 28-27. Trailing 27-14 late in regulation, Matthew Stafford got the comeback started with a three-yard TD pass to Titus Young with five minutes to play. After forcing Oakland to punt, Detroit took over at its own two-yard line with 2:14 left. Johnson made a nice 21-yard catch along the left sideline to put the ball at the 39. The star wide receiver then beat the coverage and caught a 48-yard pass over the middle. A defensive pass interference penalty put the Lions at the six-yard line. Stafford completed the seven-play, 98-yard march with a strike to Johnson in the back of the end zone for a 28-27 lead. The Raiders moved the ball to the Detroit 47 with four seconds left on the clock. Sebastian Janikowski tried a 65-yard field goal as time expired, but it was blocked by Ndamukong Suh. The defensive tackle returned from a two-game suspension.
New England Patriots vs Denver Broncos Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Tom Brady watched the resurgent Broncos score on their first three possessions, then led the Patriots to 27 straight points en route to a 41-23 victory to help New England clinch the AFC East for the ninth time in 11 years. Brady threw for 320 yards with two touchdowns and ran in another score in the sixth straight win for New England (11-3), which trailed 16-7 early in the second quarter before taking control. Aaron Hernandez had game-highs of nine receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown, and the Patriots' defense overcame a slow start and an injury to Andre Carter to silence the streaking Broncos. "We knew it was going to a 60-minute game," Brady said. "I thought we played well for 60 minutes for the first time this season." Tim Tebow, the undeniable catalyst behind the Broncos' 7-1 run, had two rushing TDs and threw for 194 yards on 11-of-22 passing. But there was had no fourth-quarter magic that has become commonplace over the past two months in Denver (8-6), which still leads the AFC West by one game thanks to the Raiders losing to the Lions on Sunday. The Broncos uncharacteristically started fast and ended with a thud.
New York Jets vs Philadelphia Eagles Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - LeSean McCoy broke the Eagles single- season touchdown record with three scores and Michael Vick threw for 274 yards and a touchdown as Philadelphia routed the New York Jets, 45-19. McCoy finished the game with 102 yards on 18 carries for Philadelphia (6-8), which kept its slim playoff hopes alive. McCoy has 20 touchdowns on the season, which passed Steve Van Buren for the Eagles single-season touchdown mark. Van Buren scored 18 touchdowns in a 10-game season in 1945. "It feels good to still have a chance to even be considered in the playoff race. We've been through a lot and this team is really resilient," said Vick. "We have a great deal of resolve and we just try to go out each and every week and get better."
Baltimore Ravens vs San Diego Chargers Recap - December 18, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - Philip Rivers threw for 270 yards and a touchdown, and Ryan Mathews rushed for 90 yards and two scores as the San Diego Chargers took a 34-14 decision over the Baltimore Ravens. Rivers completed 17-of-23 passes, including a 28-yard touchdown to Malcom Floyd, in the Chargers' (7-7) third straight victory after a six-game losing streak. The Chargers are now tied with Oakland for second place in the AFC West and sit a game back of Denver for the top spot in the division. "It was good to win a big game like this at home against a good team," Rivers said. "It was a rough six-game stretch, but we hung tight together and have now fought our way back to .500 with two to play. We're still alive."
Pittsburgh Steelers vs San Francisco 49ers Recap - December 19, 2011 - NFL - SB Nation
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - The lights at Candlestick Park were erratic Monday night, but the San Francisco 49ers played steady, mistake-free football to win in a battle of playoff teams. The same couldn't be said for the Pittsburgh Steelers, or more specifically, Ben Roethlisberger, who battled through a high ankle sprain but committed four turnovers in a 20-3 setback. Alex Smith connected on 18-of-31 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown, while Frank Gore ran for 65 yards and a score on 18 carries for the NFC West- champion 49ers (11-3), who stayed in contention for a first-round bye. "It was a great team win," 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I would like to recognize our defense for an NFL record for not allowing a rushing touchdown for 14 games." The Steelers (10-4) had a chance to take control of their division with a fifth straight win, but fell back into a tie with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North.