NFL Recap Week 15

Well, the NFL Recap is here for Sunday, and it looks like the playoff picture in the NFC is getting clearer by the weeks. The AFC however, is messier than before. During this recap, which features MANY wild finishes, we’ll sort all this out. To the recap we go…

New England 17, Buffalo 10- Many people thought Randy Moss quit. He has not, and he showed up against the Buffalo Bills. Moss had five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown, and Laurence Maroney ran for 81 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, and the Patriots rolled to their 13th straight victory over the Buffalo Bills, and their first road win this season in the United States (the other one came in London against Tampa Bay). Tully Banta-Cain led the way for the Patriots defense with three sacks, and the defense for New England played so well, that interim head coach Perry Fewell benched Ryan Fitzpatrick for Trent Edwards, but Edwards injured his ankle three plays later, forcing Fitzpatrick to come back in and throw a touchdown pass to Lee Evans. The Patriots now have move a step closer to clinching the AFC East, and can clinch the division with a win next week vs. Jacksonville or with a Miami and NY Jets loss. Patriots (9-5), Bills (5-9)

Arizona 31, Detroit 24- The Arizona Cardinals jumped out to a 17-0 lead, but allowed the Lions to get back in the game in the third quarter to tie the game at 17, but Kurt Warner found Anquan Boldin with 1:54 left to break a 24-24 tie and gave the Cardinals a 31-24 victory to move a step closer to the NFC West championship. Warner went 23-37 for 233 yards, and Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower were effective on the Cards’ running game, each scoring a touchdown. The Lions were led by Maurice Morris’ 126 yards on 17 carries including a 64 yard touchdown runs. All the Lions’ 24 points came after Drew Stanton, the Lions backup quarterback entered the game for an ineffective Daunte Culpepper, but they just fall short of getting their third win of the season. Cardinals (9-5), Lions (2-12)

Cleveland 41, Kansas City 34- In another shootout against a team that is not as good on paper as they are, the Cleveland Browns went on an offensive explosion again. Joshua Cribbs had kickoff returns of 100 and 103 yards for touchdowns, tying the single game record for most returns in a game, and setting a new career record for returns (kickoff & punt) with eight, and Jerome Harrison put on a show of his own, setting the third best single game rushing performance in NFL history with 286 yards on 34 carries, and three touchdowns, and the Cleveland Browns held off the Kansas City Chiefs in a shootout. Matt Cassel went 22-40 for 331 yards and two touchdowns and Jamaal Charles ran for 154 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown, and the Chiefs just did not have enough to stop Cleveland from getting their second straight win. Browns (3-11), Chiefs (3-11)

Atlanta 10, NY Jets 7- The Atlanta Falcons’ shot at the playoffs were gone when Dallas beat New Orleans on Sat. night, but they decided to take the New York Jets down right along with them. Matt Ryan found Tony Gonzalez for a six yard touchdown, and the Falcons knocked off the Jets in the Meadowlands. In a defensive battle, Ryan went 16-34 for 152 yards, but the Jets’ miscues killed themselves. Mark Sanchez threw for 226 yards, but had three interceptions, Jay Feely missed a field goal, and had another blocked, and Kellen Clemens botched a snap as well. The lone bright spot for New York was a 65 yard strike from Sanchez to Braylon Edwards (who finished with 105 yards on five catches). The Jets had a great opportunity to take control of the playoff picture, but are back in the middle of things. Facing the undefeated Colts next week is not going to help matters either. Falcons (7-7), Jets (7-7)

Houston 16, St. Louis 13- Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson had big games to keep Houston alive in the playoff picture. Schaub threw for 367 yards on 28-40 passing and a touchdown, and Johnson had nine catches for 196 yards, and the Texans used three field goals from Kris Brown to hold off the competitive Rams. The only touchdown from Houston came from Kevin Walter, and as a team, Houston only ran for 52 yards. In a game that was only attended by 46,256 people in the Edward Jones Dome (the lowest since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995), Keith Null passed for 173 yards in his second start, and threw a touchdown to Danny Amendola, and Steven Jackson had 123 yards from scrimmage (82 rush, 41 rec). Two more games and the long season will be over for the Rams. Texans (7-7), Rams (1-13)

Miami 24, Tennessee 27 (F/OT)- Rob Bironas kicked a 46 yard FG in overtime and lifted the Tennessee Titans to a huge victory over the Miami Dolphins and complicated the AFC playoff picture even more, as the Titans beat the Dolphins, but lost to the Jets, and the Dolphins beat the Jets twice. Vince Young came back from his strained hamstring, and threw for 236 yards on 14-27 passing and three touchdowns. Ricky Williams ran for 80 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown, and Chad Henne threw for 349 yards and led the Dolphins back from an 18 point deficit to tie the game, but Henne threw an interception to Michael Griffin in overtime, and then a personal foul on Greg Camarillo for a late hit set up the field goal for the win. The Titans hopes are still alive, and the Dolphins first loss in December may have costed them the AFC East, and a possible Wild Card spot. Dolphins (7-7), Titans (7-7)

Oakland 20, Denver 19- JaMarcus Russell threw a 10 yard pass to Chaz Schilens with 35 seconds left for the game-winning touchdown, and the Oakland Raiders picked up a huge upset over the Denver Broncos, damaging the Broncos playoff hopes, and putting them just a game ahead of six teams in the playoff picture for the final wild card spot. Michael Bush led the Raiders with 133 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, and Charlie Frye was the starting quarterback before getting hurt in the fourth quarter. Denver could not capitalize inside their own five yard line leading 16-13, settling for a field goal by Matt Prater to make it 19-13, which led to the game winning TD pass by Russell. Kyle Orton went 19-34 for 278 yards and a touchdown to lead the Broncos in a losing effort. Raiders (5-9), Broncos (8-6)

Cincinnati 24, San Diego 27- With heavy hearts on their fallen teammate, Chris Henry, the Cincinnati Bengals played on. Playing inspired football, and playing hard pressing forward, as Henry has done before his death last Tuesday, the efforts just fell short and the San Diego Chargers won their 17th straight game in December with a dramatic field goal from Nate Kaeding with three seconds left to give the Bolts a 27-24 victory. The win, coupled with a Denver loss gave the Chargers the AFC West crown, and moved them closer to a first round bye in the AFC Playoffs. Phillip Rivers went 24-38 for 308 yards and three touchdowns, but he threw a couple of interceptions that allowed Cincinnati to get back in the game and tie it at 24. Carson Palmer went 27-40 for 314 yards and two touchdowns, including a 49 yard pass to Chad Ochocinco, who paid tribute to Henry in the endzone. The Bengals for the second straight week, failed to clinch the AFC North division, and will try again next week at home against Kansas City. The Chargers have won nine in a row, and nobody is really talking about them, which could mean a lot when January comes around. Bengals (9-5), Chargers (11-3)

Chicago 7, Baltimore 31- Joe Flacco had a career day, going 21-29 for 234 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, and the Ravens defense picked off Jay Cutler three times, increasing his league-high total to 25, and the Baltimore Ravens are back in the drivers seat with the top Wild Card spot with a huge 31-7 victory over the Chicago Bears. Flacco passed two touchdowns to Todd Heap, Demetrius Williams, and Derrick Mason caught one each. The Bears only touchdown came on special teams on a 49 yard punt return by Earl Bennett. Cutler went 10-27 for 94 yards, and is not having the season that he nor the Bears envisioned when he wanted the trade out of Denver to Chicago. Lovie Smith’s job is on the line even more now after this loss, and the Ravens are now a game behind the Bengals for first place in the AFC North. Bears (5-9), Ravens (8-6)

San Francisco 13, Philadelphia 27- Donovan McNabb went 21-36 for 306 yards, and had two touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush), and DeSean Jackson had six catches for 140 yards, and the Philadelphia Eagles clinched a playoff spot with a 27-13 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did the Eagles clinch a playoff spot, the 49ers loss put them out of contention for the NFC West championship, which went to the Arizona Cardinals for the second straight year. Alex Smith threw for 177 yards, and a touchdown pass to Josh Morgan, but he threw three interceptions that were costly for the 49ers. Frank Gore also had 107 yards rushing to lead the 49ers. The Eagles clinched a playoff spot for the eighth time this decade, and it was so routine that it wasn’t celebrated, as they have Super Bowl aspirations ahead of them. 49ers (6-8), Eagles (10-4)

Green Bay 36, Pittsburgh 37- Ben Roethlisberger threw for 503 yards on 29-46 passing, and three touchdowns, including the game winning 19 yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace as time expired, and the Pittsburgh Steelers snapped a five game losing streak and kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Green Bay Packers 37-36. The win also snapped Green Bay’s five game winning streak. Down 36-30 with three seconds left, Big Ben rolled left, and threw a desperate strike to Wallace, who did a great job keeping his feet in the endzone to give Pittsburgh the dramatic victory. Wallace also had a 60 yard reception at the beginning of the game for the Steelers, who also may have saved Mike Tomlin’s job as well. Aaron Rodgers went 26-48 for 383 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for one as well. The Packers are still in the top Wild Card spot in the NFC, and the loss clinched the NFC North for the Minnesota Vikings. Packers (9-5), Steelers (7-7)

Tampa Bay 24, Seattle 7- Josh Freeman went 16-26 for 205 yards and threw two touchdowns, and the Buccaneers defense forced the Seahawks into five turnovers by Matt Hasselbeck (four interceptions, one fumble), and the Buccaneers got a huge confidence boosting win and sent the Seahawks to probably their most demoralizing loss and really shown how far this team has fallen off after dominating the NFC West from 2002-2007, with a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. Freeman’s two touchdowns came in the third quarter after Tampa Bay was up 7-6, hooking up w/ Carnell Williams and Derrick Ward to put Tampa Bay up 21-7. Three field goals by Connor Barth kicked three field goals and the last one capped 24 unanswered points after Hasselbeck threw a 29 yd pass to John Carlson for a touchdown. The Buccaneers got a confidence boosting second win, and the Seahawks are just trying to figure out answers. Buccaneers (2-12), Seahawks (5-9)

Minnesota 7, Carolina 26- The Carolina Panthers made the most of their Sunday night appearance with their 5-8 record, and Matt Moore made the most of his opportunity as starter. Moore went 21-33 for 299 yards and three touchdowns (two in the fourth quarter) and the Carolina Panthers defense harassed Brett Favre so much, that head coach Brad Childress pondered taking him out of the game so Julius Peppers would not get to him so much. After Adrian Peterson put the Vikings up 7-6, the Panthers racked up 20 4th quarter points and took 26-7, Favre and Childress got into a “heated discussion”, and more importantly the Vikings may have given home-field advantage to the New Orleans Saints. The win also helped players in Carolina rally around John Fox, who has been on the hot seat all season long. Vikings (11-3), Panthers (6-8)

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