Monday, December 19, 2011

NFL - Week Fifteen Review

The NFL post-season picture took a dramatic turn with all of the upsets around the league.
Topping them all was the Kansas City Chiefs knocking off undefeated Green Bay, 19-14 at Arrowhead Stadium behind four field goals by kicker Ryan Succop and a touchdown run by Jackie Battle along with stifling defense that limited Aaron Rodgers to just one touchdown pass.
Chiefs' Defensive Lineman Tamba Hali had three sacks in the win, which believe it or not, kept alive playoff hopes for Kansas City, which is 6-8 and finishes the season with huge games against Oakland and Denver.
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos were beaten by the visiting New England Patriots, 41-23 as Tom Brady (pictured right) led the way, passing for two touchdowns and 320 yards and also scoring a rushing TD as well.
Denver's Tim Tebow ran for a pair of touchdowns, but there was no drama in the fourth quarter this week as the Patriots built a big lead and rolled to the easy win.
The Oakland Raiders blew a huge opportunity to catch the Broncos for first place in the AFC West when they lost at home to Detroit, 28-27 as Lions' QB Matthew Stafford threw for four touchdowns and 391 yards to lead a 14-point comeback in the final five minutes of the game for the win. Lions' wide receiver Calvin Johnson had nine catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with just 39 seconds remaining.
The New Orleans Saints crushed the Minnesota Vikings, 42-20 behind the passing of Drew Brees, the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week.
Drew Brees
Brees had FIVE touchdown passes and 412 yards passing (moving him within 305 yards of the all-time passing record of 5,084 yards in 1984 held by Dan Marino) to lead the Saints to the victory, which clinched a playoff spot for them.
On the other end of the spectrum, the two New York teams lost games and had their playoff chances take a hit as a result.
The Jets were demolished at Philadelphia, 45-19 as the Eagles (6-8) built a quick 28-0 lead and never looked back. Philly QB Michael Vick ran for a score and threw a TD pass and running back LeSean McCoy ran wild, going for 102 yards and three rushing touchdowns against the vaunted Jets' defense.
The New York Giants never answered the wake up call as the Redskins rolled into the Meadowlands and dominated from start to finish in a 23-10 win over the Giants.
New York QB Eli Manning threw three interceptions in the loss.
Speaking of throwing picks, the Chicago Bears were throttled at home by the Seattle Seahawks, 38-14 as Bears' QB Caleb Hanie threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for scores by the Seattle defense.
The Bears (7-7) lost their fourth consecutive game since losing QB Jay Cutler to a thumb injury while the Seahawks, also 7-7, notched their third straight win.
Cincinnati kept their playoff chances alive with a 20-13 win over the stubborn St. Louis Rams. The win improved the Bengals to 8-6 as Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott each scored a rushing touchdown.
Carolina pulled off a stunner at Houston against the league's top defense, scoring a 28-13 win as rookie QB Cam Newton threw for two touchdowns and also ran for 55 yards in the win. The Texans (10-4) already have clinched a playoff spot as the AFC South champions.
The Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans, 27-13 to get their first win of the season, assuring there will be no winless teams in the NFL this year.
Donald Brown ran 80 yards for the final score for the Colts, which saw their much maligned defense force three turnovers and limit Titans' running back Chris Johnson to just 55 rushing yards.
The loss pretty much knocks the Titans (7-7) out of the AFC Playoff picture, unless they win out and get a lot of help along the way in the final two weeks.
The Atlanta Falcons completely dominated Jacksonville last Thursday night, 41-14 as QB Matt Ryan had three TD passes and the Falcons' defense dominated the Jaguars pathetic offense while building a 27-0 halftime lead.
Tony Romo
 The Dallas Cowboys went into Tampa bay and put a beating on the Buccaneers, winning 31-15 as they built a 28-0 halftime lead behind the performances of quarterback Tony Romo (249 yards passing and three touchdown passes) and running back Felix Jones, who ran for 108 yards in the absence of DeMarco Murray, who is out for the season with a broken ankle.
The win left the Cowboys (8-6) alone in first place in the NFC East as the New York Giants (7-7) lost at home to Washington. The Cowboys finish their regular season playing division rivals Philadelphia and then the Giants on the road in the the final weekend.
The Arizona Cardinals kept their razor thin wild card chances alive with a 20-17 overtime win against the visiting Cleveland Browns as kicker Jay Feeley nailed the deciding field goal.
Miami knocked off Buffalo in the cold and swirling snow, 30-23 behind a huge game from running back Reggie Bush, who gained 203 yards on the ground, including a 76-yard touchdown run. Both teams are 5-9 and will be looking to be the spoilers in the final two weeks of the season.
In the "prime time" Sunday Night Football game, the San Diego Chargers put a beat down on the visiting Baltimore Ravens, dominating on both sides of the ball in a 34-14 win, which keeps alive the Chargers' playoff hopes.
The win was the third in a row for the 7-7 Chargers as QB Philip Rivers threw a TD pass to Malcolm Floyd while running back Ryan Mathews scored two on the ground. The San Diego offense rolled up 415 yards against the Baltimore defense, which had Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis back after missing several games with a toe injury.
San Diego's defense sacked Ravens' QB Joe Flacco seven times and limited running back Ray Rice to just 57 yards rushing.
Baltimore (10-4) had already clinched a playoff spot as a result of the earlier games played on Sunday afternoon.
 The San Francisco 49ers rode their defense to a 20-3 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night, intercepting Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger three times.
San Francisco running back Frank Gore scored a rushing touchdown and Vernon Davis hauled in a scoring pass from Alex Smith to go with a pair of field goals to provide the outcome.

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