As for this past week's games, the New England Patriots (11-4) destroyed the host Baltimore Ravens, 41-7 as they scored 21 points in the final two minutes to cement the blow out victory that clinched the AFC East division title.
Patriots' running back LaGarrette Blount scored two rushing touchdowns and the defense registered two scores as well. Baltimore (8-7) blew a golden opportunity as Miami (8-7) lost earlier in the day at Buffalo.
The Bills (6-9) shutout the Dolphins, 19-0 as the defense dominated, limiting Miami to only 103 yards in total offense, including just 14 yards rushing.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers kept pace for a possible playoff berth in the AFC by winning their games.
The Steelers (7-8) survived with a 38-31 win over the host Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score while the defense scored a touchdown and came up with two turnovers in the win. The Packers blew a late chance to tie the game as they were thwarted near the goal line on an incomplete pass as time expired.
The host San Diego Chargers (8-7) beat the Oakland Raiders, 26-13 as kicker Nick Novak made four field goals and running back Ryan Mathews ran for a touchdown while QB Philip Rivers threw for another score to pace the win, which kept alive playoff hopes for the Chargers.
Back in the NFC, the Carolina Panthers knocked off the visiting New Orleans Saints, 17-13 as QB Cam Newton threw a 14-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left in the game to push the Panthers (11-4) into first place in the NFC South. Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly had 24 tackles in the win, earning him Heftyinfo NFL co-Player of the Week.
The Saints (10-5) lost their second straight game and now must win next week to make the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys (8-7) pulled off a last second win at Washington, 24-23 as QB Tony Romo threw a 10-yard TD pass to RB DeMarco Murray to make the difference and keep alive the Dallas playoff hopes.
On Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) crushed the visiting Chicago Bears, 54-11 as they racked up 514 yards in total offense, including a whopping 289 yards on the ground.
League leading rusher LeSean McCoy scored twice while gaining 133 yards on just 18 carries and QB Nick Foles threw two TD passes while the Eagles' defense sacked Chicago QB Jay Cutler five times and returned an interception for a score. The Bears (8-7) blew the chance to wrap up the NFC North title and will face the Green Bay Packers next Sunday in Chicago to determine the division winner.
The Arizona Cardinals (10-5) kept alive their own playoff chances with a surprising 17-10 road win against the Seattle Seahawks as QB Carson Palmer connected with WR Michael Floyd for a 31-yard scoring pass with just over two minutes left to play to get the win.
The Cardinals' defense limited the 'Hawks to just 89 passing yards in the game and 192 total yards for the game. Seattle (12-3) lost at home for the first time in nearly two years but has already clinched a payoff spot.
The Detroit Lions, once upon a time with a 6-3 record and in control of the NFC North, lost at home, 23-20 in overtime to the New York Giants. The loss eliminates the Lions (7-8) from the playoff race. The key point of the game was an interception thrown by Lions' QB Matthew Stafford that resulted in a touchdown return for score by New York safety Will Hill that tied the score at 20-20 with 4:57 remaining in regulation.
|Peyton Manning sets a new standard.|
Elsewhere Around the National Football League . . . . .
The Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) clinched the AFC North and also kept alive hope for a first round playoff bye with a 42-14 home win against Minnesota as QB Andy Dalton had 366 passing yards to go with four touchdown passes . . . The Indianapolis Colts (10-5) got a 23-7 road win at Kansas City (11-4) as RB Donald Brown ran for a score and also caught a TD pass from QB Andrew Luck in a likely first round AFC playoffs match up in two weeks . . . The New York Jets (7-8) beat the visiting Cleveland Browns, 24-13 as QB Geno Smith threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score . . . Tennessee (6-9) won at Jacksonville, 20-16 as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 30-yard TD pass to WR Nate Washington in the fourth quarter to make the difference in the game . . . The St. Louis Rams (7-8) won at home 23-13 against Tampa Bay behind stellar defense that limited the Bucs to only 170 yards in total offense . . . The San Francisco 49ers (11-4) clinched a playoff spot in the NFC with a 34-24 home win over Atlanta on Monday Night Football as Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore scored rushing touchdowns and linebacker NaVorro Bowman returned an interception 90 yards for the clinching score in the final regular season football game played at Candlestick Park.