Week 14 NFL Game Recaps
Broncos 26, Raiders 13
Another peculiar thing was the three sacks Manning took. Manning is seldom sacked and the Raiders don't ever put pressure on the quarterback, so this was puzzling. This can actually be explained though, as starting guard Chris Kuper was out of the lineup. The Denver coaching staff also told the NFL Network sideline reporter that Oakland was giving Manning some looks he had never seen before and that adjustments would be made at halftime. The Broncos kept their promise.
Oakland did enough to give itself a chance in this game, but it continuously screwed up in typical Raider fashion. Tyvon Branch dropped a potential pick-six on the first drive, but it would've been negated by a defensive hold anyway. Later in the first quarter, Palmer completed a pretty 58-yard bomb to Rod Streater (4-100), but the next play was an interception thrown way behind Brandon Myers. Palmer was also strip-sacked by Von Miller, as mentioned earlier. And then there were the penalties. The Raiders were whistled for 11 infractions, while Denver had only three. A high percentage of the yellow flags thrown on Oakland were on right tackle Khalif Barnes, who had no chance against Miller.
Rams 15, Bills 12
It's a borderline miracle that St. Louis was able to pull out this win - or at least it would have seemed that way early on because Sam Bradford didn't appear to have a chance. He was 5-of-17 for 37 yards and an interception in the opening half. The Bills were getting tons of pressure on him, which forced a number of errant throws. He deserves credit, however, for the aforementioned decisive drive. The key play was a 4th-and-1 conversion to Austin Pettis for nine yards, though the wideout needed to make a spectacular catch because the ball was thrown behind him.
I don't understand what the hell Gailey was thinking; his refusal to involve Spiller in this offense has cost his team multiple victories. It's bad enough to do it once or twice, but this has occurred at least half-a-dozen times already this season. He has to be axed because he clearly can't learn from his mistakes.
Panthers 30, Falcons 20
Everyone is going to be asking what's wrong with Atlanta, but it didn't really need to win this game. At 11-1, well ahead of everyone in the NFC, why care about some stupid 3-9 Carolina squad? The Falcons consequently played like they were half-asleep, failing to get into the red zone until the 7:30 mark of the third quarter. They had just 35 yards of offense and two first downs in the opening half. They completely mailed it in.
Cowboys 20, Bengals 19
Tony Romo was absolutely lethal in the fourth quarter, going 11-of-15 for 118 yards and a touchdown in the final period. His impressive comeback pretty much nullified all of the dumb mistakes Dallas made throughout - and there were plenty of them. For example, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was whistled for a 15-yard personal foul penalty for throwing a flag in the third quarter. His defense was then called for 12 men on the field when the Bengals reached the red zone. The Cowboys also were guilty of getting the plays in late yet again, which cost them a timeout in the two-minute drill of the first half.
Browns 30, Chiefs 7
Colts 27, Titans 23
Jake Locker started hot, completing his first seven passes for 69 yards and a touchdown to go along with a 32-yard scramble. However, he was just 7-of-15 for 49 yards and two interceptions after intermission. One of the picks was returned for a score, as he telegraphed his throw from his own goal line. It wasn't surprising to see both good and bad from Locker, as he has been inconsistent thus far in his brief NFL career.
As for Andrew Luck, he went 16-of-34 for 196 yards, one touchdown and two first-half interceptions. Neither pick was his really his fault; one was on a Hail Mary just prior to intermission, while the other occurred as he was falling down. The ball sailed right into the arms of linebacker Will Witherspoon, who took it back for six. However, replay showed that Luck's knee was down as he heaved the ball. The shady official, however, ruled that the play stood as called - and I say this as someone who bet on the Titans.
Luck's numbers could have been better had Donnie Avery caught a long touchdown in the fourth quarter; the ball bounced off his helmet. Luck had issues with pressure the entire afternoon, however. He was sacked four times, twice by Karl Klug, and constantly had to hurry his throws.
Jets 17, Jaguars 10
Well, the Jets did exactly that - but only with Mark Sanchez under center. Tebow didn't even see the field to the chagrin to all those who bought tickets to this game.
Henne was especially brutal in the second half, going just 9-of-24 for 95 yards and an interception after the break, though he did endure some drops. He's gotten worse and worse each week, and it's gotten to the point that the front office can't go into the 2013 season with him as their starter. The Jaguars will have to draft or sign a quarterback this offseason.
Vikings 21, Bears 14
Things looked very bleak when the Vikings went 80 yards on their opening drive, thanks to a 51-yard Peterson run on the first play. However, Chicago's stop unit didn't allow a single point after that. The offense, on the other hand, self destructed and was responsible for this loss.
Jay Cutler essentially tossed two pick-sixes. The first wasn't his fault; Alshon Jeffery slipped, allowing Josh Robinson to take it back into the end zone. The replay review showed that Robinson stepped out of bounds near the 5-yard line, but Minnesota scored an easy touchdown. In the third quarter, Cutler overthrew his intended target in Minnesota territory, giving Harrison Smith a pick-six.
It was amazing how inept Chicago was once they crossed midfield. They were in Vikings' territory seven times and were able to come away with just two touchdowns and no field goals - though the latter became improbable when Robbie Gould suffered a minor injury in pre-game warmups. He was still able to attempt extra points, but wasn't going to try any long kicks.
Chargers 34, Steelers 24
And so history was made. The Chargers dominated this game. They had Pittsburgh outgained 226-153 when the score was 27-3. The Steelers continuously screwed up. For example...
- They were offside multiple times on one San Diego scoring drive.
- Mike Wallace had a drop for what would have been a big completion, prompting the crowd to boo him. Antonio Brown then had a deep pass fall through his hands.
- The defense surrendered a converted first down on a 3rd-and-13 run when the Chargers were just trying to get into better field goal position.
- San Diego scored a defensive touchdown when Ben Roethlisberger carelessly threw a lateral pass that doinked off a player's rear end.
Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
Tampa Bay was lucky to almost get this win as Philadelphia outplayed the Buccaneers for the majority of the contest. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles was simply awesome. He was deadly on third down and would've had an even bigger day if his offensive line could've produced just an average performance.
It all went wrong for the Eagles in the third quarter with a 10-point swing in the Buccaneers' favor. A muffed punt by Damaris Johnson set Tampa Bay up at Philadelphia's 6-yard line. Josh Freeman threw a touchdown to Mike Williams (3-18).
Foles put together a decent drive, but a short field goal was shanked by Alex Henery. The Bucs took the lead when Freeman laced a rope into Vincent Jackson. Doug Martin added another touchdown to make it 21 unanswered for the home team and a 21-10 lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, Foles turned into Brett Favre with two jaw-dropping touchdown drives to get a walk-off winner. The rookie quarterback dominated Tampa Bay's anemic secondary. To get the comeback started, Foles had a superb possession that ended with a touchdown toss to Clay Harbor (6-52). The 2-point attempt went incomplete and left Philadelphia needing another touchdown.
Foles' final drive was legendary as he ripped the ball down the field. On fourth-and-5, the rookie drilled a 22-yard bullet to Avant to the 1-yard line. The Eagles managed to spike the ball fast enough to leave two seconds on the clock and time for one more play. Foles rolled out and threw a fastball to Jeremy Maclin (9-104) for a touchdown.
Redskins 31, Ravens 28
The victory was important, but the concern was Griffin. The rookie signal-caller smiled and laughed in front of the media at the podium and told them that it was not a torn ACL. Indeed, he was correct; his MRI came back clean, which is obviously terrific news for the Redskins and their supporters.
49ers 27, Dolphins 13
By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell
The first half of the game was a defensive battle, and the 49ers clawed to a 6-3 lead. The Dolphins' defense played excellently led by Cameron Wake, who had three sacks and a forced fumble. In the third quarter, Miami gifted a touchdown to the 49ers. Marcus Thigpen muffed a punt inside the 10-yard line that San Francisco recovered. Gore (16-63 rushing, 2-22 receiving) banged the ball into the end zone a few plays later.
Kaepernick then dropped in a perfectly thrown bomb in the end zone to Randy Moss, but the veteran dropped it. Gore took the drive over with some powerful runs and a 19-yard reception. He moved the ball down the field to set up a short Anthony Dixon (2-9) touchdown plunge.
Kaepernick put the game on ice with a 50-yard touchdown off a of a read option with 2:10 left in regulation. Jared Odrick blew contain to open up the side of the field. Kaepernick finished 18-of-23 for 185 yards with six carries for 53 yards and a score. Michael Crabtree (9-93) played well, while Moss (2-30) continued to prove he's a washed-up waste of a roster spot.
Tannehill's final drives were shut down. He finished 17-of-33 for 150 yards with a score and zero interceptions. Tannehill played better than his stats indicate against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Davone Bess (5-50), Reggie Bush (14-65 rushing, 5-38 receiving) and Brian Hartline (2-34) were kept out of the end zone.
Giants 52, Saints 27
Take a look at what went wrong for the Saints:
- Marques Colston lost a fumble at midfield on the opening drive.
- Jed Collins also lost a first-quarter fumble in New York territory. On the following drive, he had a hold to negate a 19-yard gain.
- Lance Moore stepped out of bounds prior to making a reception that would have moved the chains on a third down in the red zone.
- The Saints allowed the Giants to average a ridiculous 56.8 yards per kickoff return. Rookie David Wilson took one back for six.
- Drew Brees tossed two picks, one of which bounced right off the hands of Jimmy Graham.
Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0
- The Arizona quarterbacks were sacked three times. Two of the sacks resulted in fumbles.
- The Cardinals lost a whopping four fumbles.
- Seattle's secondary collected four interceptions, two by Richard Sherman.
- The Seahawks scored two defensive/special teams touchdowns - one on a pick-six; another on a muffed punt.
- Arizona was held to zero points.
Packers 27, Lions 20
That's when the momentum turned. The Lions' offense was never the same after that, and it didn't help that Brandon Pettigrew left the game with an injury. With Pettigrew, Ryan Broyles, Nate Burleson and Titus Young all out, Stafford had no one to throw to besides Calvin Johnson. He had to keep forcing it to someone named Kris Durham, who ran the wrong route on one play, resulting in an interception.
Stafford eventually became so frustrated that he began heaving the ball off his back foot on what seemed like every other throw. He finished 27-of-45 for 264 yards, one touchdown and a pick.
For thoughts on Patriots-Texans, check out my updated 2012 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.
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