Posts Tagged ‘ San Diego Chargers ’

NFL Divisional Playoff Recap

The Divisional Playoffs are over with, and we are now into the final four. Super Bowl trips to Miami will be on the line, and it is clear that three of the top four teams in the NFL showed up, and one team has gone back to their roots and decided to crash the party.

Arizona 14, New Orleans 45- All this talk about the Saints faltering was just that… talk. The Saints put on a show in their first ever game as the top seed in the NFC, and the magical run continued with Drew Brees picking apart the Arizona defense much like Aaron Rodgers did with the Green Bay Packers. The only difference in this game: The Saints had a defense to compliment the offense, and behind Brees’ three touchdown passes, and two Reggie Bush touchdowns (one run, one punt return). The Cardinals, the defending NFC East champions, appeared to have set the tone early for a shootout, scoring on the opening drive to go up 7-0, but the Saints responded with 21 unanswered points, and eventually outscored Arizona 45-7 the rest of the way. Arizona set a new NFL record for most points allowed in two playoff games (90), and it could be the end of a career for Kurt Warner, who according to a source, was retiring after the playoffs, but Warner will take time to think his decision through. The Saints will host the NFC Championship game, but against who?

Ravens 3, Colts 20- Peyton Manning went 30-44, for 246 yards, with two touchdowns, and the Colts defense shut down the rushing game of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee and also forced four turnovers as well. Manning threw touchdown passes to Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne in the first half to cruise to a 17-3 halftime lead. The Ravens, whose only scoring came from a Billy Cundiff field goal, just could not get anything going, and a season removed from being a game from the Super Bowl, they get handed their eighth straight loss to Indianpolis, and with the Colts’ victory, Manning got his first win after a bye-week. He was 0-3 coming into the playoffs after a week of rest in his career.

Dallas 3, Minnesota 34- Brett Favre’s revival continues. The opportunity to play for a championship and a Super Bowl was what he wanted, and he had possibly the best game of his career in the postseason. Favre threw four touchdowns (three to Sidney Rice), and the Vikings defense sacked Dallas QB Tony Romo six times and forced him into three turnovers, and Minnesota punched a ticket to New Orleans to face the Saints for the NFC Championship. Favre went 15-24 for 234 yards, but created a stir among the Cowboys, with a late touchdown score. Dallas LB Keith Brooking took exception for that Minnesota was running up the score on his team. Expect a great game in the Duel at the Dome for a trip to the Super Bowl between the Vikings and Saints.

NY Jets 17, San Diego 14- The party crashers have arrived in the form of Gang Green. The New York Jets’ rookies came of age and are maturing in the two short weeks of the playoffs. Shonn Greene ran for 128 yards, including a 53 yard TD run that proved to be the difference, and created yet another San Diego jolt in the team’s recent run. This game reminded the Charger fans of the 14-2 season that led to Marty Schottenheimer’s firing. Philip Rivers threw for 298 yards on 27-40 passing, but he threw a costly interception which led to his counterpart, rookie Mark Sanchez to find Dustin Keller for a 3 yd pass to put New York up 10-7. Greene’s run put New York up 17-7. The Chargers scored on a Rivers’ QB sneak, but the Jets sealed the victory on 4th & 1 to move on and punch their ticket to Indianapolis.

Check back Saturday for the Conference Championhship picks and who will be going to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.

Advertisements

Divisional Playoff Thoughts

Wild Card Weekend over, the Divisional Playoffs begin this weekend. The top teams in both conferences will take the field, and the usual question comes about: rest or rust? Let’s go straight to the games.

Cardinals/Saints- If there was any indication that this game would be like the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history yesterday, the advantage would definitely go to New Orleans. The Saints are an explosive offensive team, but three straight losses to close out the season is not really a good look. You could say the Carolina loss was b/c of reserves, but New Orleans did lose to Dallas and Tampa Bay. Arizona is the dark horse of the NFC, and they can definitely pull off the upset, and it was pretty much shown that they can match the Saints point for point, and there is no better time to do it then the playoffs. Anquan Boldin is a game-time decision, but Steve Breaston and Early Doucet did elevate their games, and the Cardinals have a stronger running game. The advantage goes to Arizona.

Ravens/Colts- These two teams met earlier in the season in Baltimore, with Indianapolis winning 17-15. One thing about the Ravens is that they have a great defense and a great running game. And with the playoff disappointments (except for 2006) that Peyton Manning has had over the years, you could say that the Ravens have the chance to win this game. The difference is that the Colts defense is underappreciated, and very efficient themselves. Also, despite the playoff failures, it is hard to go against Peyton Manning. The advantage definitely goes to Indy at the Big Oil Drum. If the Ravens win, it won’t be a surprise

Cowboys/Vikings- The Cowboys are the hottest and healthiest team in the playoffs. They are clicking on all cylinders. They proved that in two destructions of the Philadelphia Eagles in two weeks. But the Vikings are in the noisiest venues in the NFL. The Metrodome is going to be rocking, and Minnesota is 8-0 in 2009 at the Mall of America Field at the HHH Metrodome. The Vikings will win this game if Adrian Peterson takes care of the football, and Brett Favre continues his efficiency and mission to win a Super Bowl. Flozell Adams will definitely have his hands full with Jared Allen, and you can’t forget about that Williams’ Wall on the run defense. Advantage to Minnesota, but like the other games, it can go either way.

Jets/Chargers- The Jets defense against one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Chargers have won 11 in a row, but have experienced more playoff failures than the Colts, and the Jets who weren’t even supposed to be in the playoffs, let alone the divisional round are proving they belong. Mark Sanchez is home, so expect him to play with a lot of inspiration for his family, and he will manage the game. If Vincent Jackson can do what a lot of wide receivers could not do this season, and solve the problem of Darrelle Revis, the Chargers should pull it off. Either way San Diego has too many weapons on both sides of the ball for the Jets to handle. The Jets run should end.

So the final picks: Cardinals over Saints, Colts over Ravens, Vikings over Cowboys, and Chargers over Jets. Be back next Saturday for the Conference Championship previews. Until then, enjoy the games!

NFL Recap Week 17- The Finale

The last weekend of the NFL Regular Season, and this will be the last NFL Recap of the season. One of the sad times, but it is time for the playoffs. There were still things to sort out, like the NFC seeding picture for everyone 2-6, and the Wild Card in the AFC. Let’s go to the recap and see how the teams fared.

Indianapolis 7, Buffalo 30- From the snow off Lake Erie in a meaningless game for both teams, Ryan Fitzpatrick went 16-25 for 155 yards and three touchdowns, and the Buffalo Bills finished their season on a winning note by taking out the Indianapolis Colts in a game that the Colts once again rested their starters after the second drive, letting the second string not do too much. Fitzpatrick threw all three touchdowns in the first half, an 11 yard pass to Fred Jackson, a 21 yard pass to Lee Evans, and 41 yard pass to Terrell Owens. Peyton Manning went 14-18 for 95 yards and an interception, and Mike Hart scored the only touchdown for the Colts. The Colts go into the playoffs with a bye and two straight losses, but should be in good shape for the playoffs in two weeks in the divisional round. The Bills end the season on a winning not, but with a lot of questions, more importantly: who will be head coach? Bill Cowher maybe? Colts (14-2), Bills (6-10)

New Orleans 10, Carolina 23- The Saints rested Drew Brees, and it was not conducive to the team gaining any kind of momentum going into the playoffs. Jonathan Stewart ran for 125 yards,including a 67-yard run in the opening minutes of the game, and the Carolina Panthers finished exceptionally strong with their third straight win over the NFC South Champion Saints. Stewart’s performance gave him 1,133 yards, making him and DeAngelo Williams (who was inactive for the game with an ankle injury) the first running backs since the AFL-NFL Merger (1970) to run for 1,100+ yards in a single season. The Saints will be well-rested for their divisional round game, where they have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while the Panthers face an offseason of uncertainty, in which if John Fox will be around for another season (essentially a lame-duck season), will Julius Peppers return, and who will be the starting QB: Jake Delhomme, who had a horrible year of 2009 or the emerging young QB Matt Moore, who had a strong game, throwing for 162 yards and a touchdown, finishing this season 4-1 as the starting QB. Foggy road ahead for Carolina. Saints (13-3), Panthers (8-8)

Jacksonville 17, Cleveland 23- This might be crazy, but the Cleveland Browns really have something to build upon for 2010. Jerome Harrison ran for 127 yards, and a touchdown, Josh Cribbs also ran for a touchdown, and the Cleveland Browns closed a season on a winning note, eliminating the Jaguars, and giving them their first four game winning streak since 1994 and the first four-game win streak since being reactivated via expansion in 1999. The win was another notch in Eric Mangini’s campaign to stay retained as head coach of the Browns as new president Mike Holmgren takes over on Monday. The Jaguars did not get anything started until the second half, down 20-3 when David Garrard, who went 22-39 for 202 yards threw the first of two touchdowns to make it 20-10. After a Phil Dawson field goal, he threw another one to Zach Miller to pull Jacksonville within six. The Jaguars, who were in the drivers seat for a playoff spot, collapsed and finished below .500 yet again in a disappointing campaign. Head coach Jack del Rio has been under fire, but he is expected to be back, especially for a team that wasn’t supposed to do too much. Jaguars (7-9), Browns (5-11)

Chicago 37, Detroit 23- Jay Cutler had a great game, going 22-36 for 276 yards, and tying a career high with four touchdowns, and the Chicago Bears finished their season strong with a win over their NFC North rival Detroit. Cutler hooked up with Greg Olsen, Devin Aromashadu twice, and Desmond Clark. It was Cutler’s second straight game with four touchdowns, but after 26 interceptions (23 in the nine straight losses), the Bears were plagued for most of the season, and it could mean the end of the Lovie Smith era in Chicago, who has not reached the playoffs in three straight years after making the Super Bowl in 2006. The Lions were led by Daunte Culpepper, who possibly played for the last time in a Lions’ uniform, going 23-34 for 262 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Jim Schwartz has a lot of work to do, it won’t be easy to undo a decade of losing with a team that went 33-111 since 2001 and is the first NFL team to have 30 losses in a two season span. Bears (7-9), Lions (2-14)

New England 27, Houston 34- The Houston Texans wanted a playoff berth and a winning record for the first time in team history. They got one of the two. The Texans set a franchise record in wins with their ninth win of the season after coming back from 14 down to beat the New England Patriots 34-27. Houston was down 27-13 in the fourth quarter, but rookie running back Arian Foster ran for two late touchdowns from one and three yards out to give Houston. Matt Schaub went 24-39 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. The Texans did not clinch a spot in the playoffs due to the New York Jets win over Cincinnati. The Patriots will go into the playoffs as the #3 seed, but lost a HUGE part of their offense in Wes Welker, who is done for the season with a torn ACL & MCL after a tackle by Bernard Pollard, who also took out Tom Brady’s knee in 2008. The Patriots will play the Ravens next Sunday in Foxborough in the Wild Card round. Patriots (10-6), Texans (9-7)

Pittsburgh 30, Miami 24- The Steelers went out with a win, but they miss out on the playoffs. The Steelers dominated the Dolphins, taking out Chad Henne with an eye injury, and the Pat White with a head injury. Ben Roethlisberger went 18-27 for 220 yards and three touchdowns, but after the Texans win over New England, and later, the Ravens victory over the Raiders, the Steelers were eliminated from the playoff picture, as the Steelers needed the Jets, Ravens, and Texans to lose. However the Texans won, and sealed the fate of the defending champs, whose five game losing streak really hurt them. Not only did Houston’s win eliminate Pittsburgh, it eliminated Miami, who had a very distant shot to begin with, and the defending AFC East champions were in the playoff hunt at 7-6, but lost three straight to miss the playoffs. Davone Bess led Miami with five catches for 85 yards in the loss. Steelers (9-7), Dolphins (7-9)

NY Giants 7, Minnesota 44- After lackluster performances over the past few weeks, it appears as if the the Minnesota Vikings are back. At least for now. Brett Favre went 25-31 for 316 yards and threw four touchdowns, and the Vikings easily got the second seed and a first-round by annilhating a Giants defense that just quit a long time ago. In less than three quarters, Favre threw touchdown passes to Visanthe Shiancoe, Sidney Rice (twice), and Naufahu Tahi. Adrian Peterson ran nine times for 54 yards and scored a touchdown. The Giants just did not look like the team that got off to a 5-0 start and appeared like the team from New York that would make the playoffs. It’s going to be a long season and what will be the fate of this team. Danny Ware, a rookie out of Georgia starting for Brandon Jacobs, scored their only touchdown, and had five carries for 22 yards on the day. Giants (8-8), Vikings (12-4)

San Francisco 28, St. Louis 6- Vernon Davis tied the NFL record for most touchdown receptions by a tight end with 13, Frank Gore ran for 107 yards on 23 carries, and the San Francisco 49ers finished with a .500 record for the first time since 2002. The 49ers started out slow in the first half, but came on strong in the second half to obtain victory. Steven Jackson ran the ball 20 times for 63 yards, but the Rams finished the season winless at home, and 1-15 for the season, but they do get the #1 pick in the draft. Ndamukong Suh anyone? 49ers (8-8), Rams (1-15)

Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 10- Matt Ryan went 23-35 for 223 yards and two touchdowns, including the go ahead TD pass to Roddy White from 12 yards, and the Atlanta Falcons dispatched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 9-7 record, which gives them their first back-to-back winning seasons in the 44 year history of the franchise, which is a good consolation prize moving towards the future. Ryan also threw a two yard TD pass to Justin Peelle; Matt Bryant kicked two field goals for the Falcons. Josh Freeman had a rough day, going 16-32 for 174 yards with a touchdown to Antonio Bryant but he also threw two late interceptions that sealed the deal. Jason Snelling, filling in for the injured Michael Turner, ran 25 times for 147 yards, most of them coming off the Freeman turnovers. The Buccaneers started 0-8, but finished pretty strong at 3-13, and have something to look forward to in Freeman and he and the team will get better as the years go by. Falcons (9-7), Buccaneers (3-13)

Green Bay 33, Arizona 7- Two teams took two different directions in this game. The Arizona Cardinals decided to rest their starters early, and the Green Bay Packers were playing for seeding and momentum, the Cardinals were playing depending on the Vikings game. After the Vikings blew out the Giants, and killing any chance for a #2 seed and a first round by, the Cardinals played their reserves, and Green Bay took advantage. Aaron Rodgers went 21-26 for 235 yards and a touchdown (he also ran for one), Charles Woodson took a Matt Leinart interception 45 yards for a score, and the Green Bay Packers finished the season strong, and the Cardinals came more prepared for their rematch with Green Bay next week in Glendale with much more on the line. WR Anquan Boldin is questionable with an ankle injury for this weekend, so it could have an impact on the game next Sunday. Packers (11-5), Cardinals (10-6)

Philadelphia 0, Dallas 24- No Dallas December/January collapses this year, and by blanking the Eagles, the Cowboys get a home game at the Jones’ Palace. The Cowboys broke a nine year hex on season finales, had a winning December for the first time since 1996, and they exercised their demons of losing 44-6 last year to Philadelphia by posting their second straight shutout, something they never did in their 50 year history. Tony Romo went 24-34 for 311 yards and threw two touchdowns, Felix Jones ran for 91 yards, including a 49 yard run that put the nail in the coffin for the Cowboys to win the NFC East championship and host a playoff game at Cowboys Stadium against: The Eagles. Philadelphia will get a chance for revenge after they came into the game with the second spot and were trying for a first round bye, which all they needed was a victory. Instead they are on the road, and looking for answers. Brent Celek had seven catches for 96 yards, Donovan McNabb threw for 223 yards, but Dallas dominated from start to finish. Their late emergence makes is even more difficult to find out who truly will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Prepare for a rematch Saturday night in Arlington. Eagles (11-5), Cowboys (11-5)

Kansas City 44, Denver 24- From 6-0 to 8-8. Haven’t the Denver Broncos been in this scenario for the past few years. Another year where they started off fast, and faded just as quickly happened when the Chiefs got their first win in nine tries at Invesco Field. Jamaal Charles had a monster game, with 25 carries for 259 yards and two touchdowns, Derrick Johnson took two Kyle Orton interceptions back for two touchdowns, and not only did the Broncos lose the game, but lost any shot at a playoff berth. Kyle Orton threw for 431 yards passing, but three interceptions (and two of them run back for touchdowns) proved costly. The scratch of Brandon Marshall for this game was a big factor, and it could also mean the end of his time in Denver. The new year, same story occurs and leaves this team wonderingif they can keep the same intensity at the start of the season for the whole season. The Chiefs have the tools for the future, and it can only get better for this young team from here. Chiefs (4-12), Broncos (8-8)

Baltimore 21, Oakland 13- Willis McGahee may have lost his starting job at the start of the season, but he threw the Ravens on his back and carried them into the playoffs. McGahee ran for 167 yards on 16 carries, and the Baltimore Ravens grabbed the #6 seed and hung on to beat the Raiders. Baltimore now plays a New England team that they are 0-5 all time against. The Ravens out rushed the Raiders 240-51, Ray Rice had 89 total yards (70 rush, 19 rec) to give him 2,041 yards from scrimmage on the season. The Raiders were led by Charlie Frye, who went 18-25 for 180 yards and a touchdown that kept Oakland in the game, but after he left in the second half with an injured ankle and back, JaMarcus Russell came in and was ineffective again, going 9-14 for 102 yards with an interception and a fumble. Another disappointing season for him and the once-proud Raider franchise. Ravens (9-7), Raiders (5-11)

Washington 20, San Diego 23- The San Diego Chargers are the NFC East Champions. Okay, maybe not, but after their win over the Washington Redskins, they beat all four NFC East teams this season (Philadelphia, at NY Giants, at Dallas, Washington), but this last one didn’t include the usual suspects. Billy Volek led a late rally which was capped off by a two yard touchdown pass to Mike Tolbert with 35 seconds left to give San Diego their 11th straight win, and complete a successful 13-3 season, and a first round by in the playoffs. Volek went 19-30 for 216 yards, and it appeared that the Chargers were going to lose this game, but another loss was the final nail in the coffin in the Jim Zorn era in Washington. Jason Campbell also may have played his final game in a Redskin uniform, going 28-42 for 281 yards. Expect a lot of change in Washington, and can the Chargers be great deep in January? We will see. Redskins (4-12), Chargers (13-3)

Tennessee 17, Seattle 13- Chris Johnson became the sixth player in NFL history to run for 2,000+ yards in a season, joining Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders, Terrell Davis, O.J. Simpson, and Jamal Lewis by rushing for 134 yards on 36 carries, and two touchdowns (including the game-winning one) and the Tennessee Titans bounced back from an 0-6 start to finish 8-8 for the season, and Johnson finished the season at 2,006 yards. he could have had more (and a shot at Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 yards), but a holding penalty negated a 62-yard touchdown run. Vince Young threw for 171 yards for Tennessee in the victory, and finished 8-2 since regaining the starter’s job for Tennessee. Matt Hasselbeck went 15-30 for 175 yards with a touchdown and interception, and the Seahawks are on their worst run in 16 years, only having nine wins in the past two season. The last time that happened was 1992-93. Titans (8-8), Seahawks (5-11)

Cincinnati 0, NY Jets 37- In the final NFL game at the Meadowlands (barring that Baltimore and the Jets play in the AFC Championship. Thomas Jones ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns, Brad Smith ran for 92 yards, and the New York Jets defense shut down the Cincinnati Bengals early and went on to shut them out to clinch the #5 seed and earn themselves a rematch with the Bengals next week in Cincinnati and Paul Brown Stadium. Mark Sanchez did not have a stellar game, but he was efficient in managing the offense, and did not turn the ball over. The Jets defense was stellar as well, as they held Carson Palmer to 1/11 passing for 0 yards. Chad Ochocinco, who said if Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis would shut him down, he would change his name back to Chad Johnson. Revis shut 85 down. These two teams will go at it again Saturday in Cincinnati in the first wild card game. Expect a different Cincinnati team. Jets (9-7), Bengals (10-6)

Stay tuned to TSX for final thoughts on the teams that did not make the playoffs. Great NFL Regular Season, See you in the playoffs!

Christmas Night NFL Recap Week 16

The NFL happened on Christmas night, as the San Diego Chargers went to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans. With playoff implications in this one, would the Chargers get the bye, or would the Titans continue on a improbable run? To the recap…

San Diego 42, Tennessee 17- Phillip Rivers went 21-27 for 264 yards and threw two touchdowns, and LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles each ran for two touchdowns, and the San Diego Chargers defense took advantage of mistakes by Vince Young and rolled to a 42-17 victory, securing the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye. The win was the 10th straight for the Bolts, and their 18th straight victory in the month of December, which is an NFL record. San Diego put up two runs of 21 straight points, the first after the Titans took an early 3-0 lead, and the second was after the Titans scored at halftime to make it 21-10. The lone bright spot for Tennessee was Chris Johnson, who had 21 carries for 142 yards, and a 30 yard TD run. Johnson’s 142 yards puts his season total at 1,872, leaving him 118 shy of 2,000 and becoming the sixth player in NFL history to reach the 2,000+ yard plateau. He is also 234 yards shy of setting the NFL record of 2,105 by Eric Dickerson. Vince Young was ineffective throwing, going 8-21 for 89 yards and two interceptions, but he did run six times for 40 yards and had a touchdown. The loss is a huge blow for the Titans, who are virtually out of the playoff picture, but have a chance if they win and everyone else is even with them at 8-8. Even then, it’s a long shot. The remarkable turnaround from an 0-6 start is still amazing. San Diego has the momentum in December, but can they translate that to wins in January? We shall see. Chargers (12-3), Titans (7-8).

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)

NFL Recap Week 14

Week 14 of the NFL Season is in the books, and the games on Sunday were some good ones. A new NFL record was set; did the Colts & Saints continue their unbeaten run? And which conference playoff picture got tighter in one day? To the recap we go…

New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23- Drew Brees went 31-40 for 296 yards with three touchdowns (two to Reggie Bush), and Jonathan Vilma made a game-saving tackle on fourth down, and the New Orleans Saints survived another close call and keep their perfect season alive with a 26-23 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints were up 23-9, but Chris Redman, starting for the injured Matt Ryan and Jason Snelling, starting for the injured Michael Turner, threw a touchdown pass and scored a touchdown on a one yard run respectively. Garrett Hartley’s field goal with 4:42 left in the game put the Saints up for good after a Redman interception. The Saints have clinched a first round bye with the victory, and are set on going for 16-0, the Falcons are a loss away from not having consecutive winning seasons, which has never happened in their 44 year history. Saints (13-0), Falcons (6-7)

Detroit 3, Baltimore 48- Ray Rice ran for 166 yards and a touchdown, Willis McGahee ran for two touchdowns, and the Baltimore Ravens steamrolled the Detroit Lions into ther 19th straight road loss. Rice also reached 1000 yards for the first time in his career, and the Ravens 548 total yards were a team record along with its five rushing touchdowns (Rice, Le’Ron McClain, McGahee, McGahee, and Troy Smith). Joe Flacco threw for 230 yards and a 62 yard TD pass to Derrick Mason. Kevin Smith led the way for the Lions with 69 yards on 21 carries in the loss. Lions (2-11), Ravens (7-6)

Green Bay 21, Chicago 14- Ryan Grant ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns, including a 62 yard run to open up the game, and the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter, and the Green Bay Packers had to come from behind and get their fifth straight victory by beating the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The Bears blew the game and lost any chance to make the playoffs and put Lovie Smith’s job security in even more doubt after missing the playoffs three straight years after the Bears made the Super Bowl in the 2006 season. Jay Cutler went 23-36 for 209 yards and threw two touchdowns, but also threw a couple of costly interceptions to raise his league high number to 22. Green Bay is now in control of the top Wild Card spot in the NFC, and are still on Minnesota’s heels for the NFC North crown. Packers (9-4), Bears (5-8)

Seattle 7, Houston 34- Matt Schaub threw for 365 yards (336 in the first half) on 29-39 passing, with two touchdowns to Andre Johnson, who finished with 193 yards on 11 catches, and the Texans steamrolled the Seahawks to keep their playoff hopes alive in the AFC and snap their four game losing streak. Schaub opened up the game with a 64 yard pass to Johnson, and then they hooked up again on a 17 yard connection. Ryan Moats also ran for a touchdown for the Texans and Bernard Pollard took a interception from Matt Hasselbeck 70 yards to seal the victory. Hasselbeck went 24-35 for 247 yards with a touchdown and INT. The Seahawks are out of the playoff picture completely with the loss. Seahawks (5-8), Texans (6-7)

Denver 16, Indianapolis 28- It’s hard to go against Peyton Manning, even when he’s doing bad. Manning went 20-42 for 240 yards with four touchdowns, and three interceptions, but the Colts defense held strong and the three TD passes by Manning proved to be the difference and the Colts remained undefeated at 13-0 and set new records with their 22nd consecutive regular season victory, and their 114th win in this decade. Peyton hooked up with Austin Collie and Dallas Clark three times. Although the three interceptions were costly, the Colts defense held strong early, but had no answer for Brandon Marshall. Marshall set a NFL record for receptions in a single game with 21, topping Terrell Owens’ mark of 20 in 2000. He finished with 200 yards and two touchdowns, but the loss for the Broncos tightens the AFC Wild Card race, they still have the top spot, but not by much. The win seals home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for the Colts in the AFC playoffs. Broncos (8-5), Colts (13-0)

Miami 14, Jacksonville 10- In a game with a lot of playoff implications, Ricky Williams ran for 108 yards on 28 carries and a touchdown, and Chad Henne threw for 220 yards, and ran for a touchdown, and the Miami Dolphins overcame three turnovers and knocked off the Jacksonville Jaguars to move into the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. The Dolphins have won seven of 10 since starting the season 0-3 and are 6-0 in the month of December under head coach Tony Sparano. Jacksonville could not get anything going as David Garrard was sacked three times and limited Maurice Jones-Drew to 59 yards and a touchdown. Jacksonville has a short week, and has to deal with the undefeated Colts on Thursday night. Tough road ahead to get to the playoffs. Dolphins (7-6), Jaguars (7-6)

Buffalo 16, Kansas City 10- Rian Lindell kicked three field goals, and the Bills’ defense intercepted Matt Cassel twice in the final 2:11 to give Buffalo a 16-10 win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, and keeping them mathematically alive in the AFC Wild Card picture, putting them two games behind for the final spot. The Bills are now 2-2 under interim head coach Perry Fewell. Ryan Fitzpatrick went 12-20 for 86 yards and a nine yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens, who only had 15 yards receiving. The Chiefs were led by Jamaal Charles, who ran for 143 yards on 20 carries, and the tough times and struggles in Kansas City continue. Bills (5-8), Chiefs (3-10)

Cincinnati 10, Minnesota 30- Adrian Peterson ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and Brett Favre threw for 192 yards and a touchdown, and the Minnesota Vikings made short work and took advantage of the Cincinnati Bengals’ mistakes to reestablish themselves as one of the teams to beat in the NFC. AP also had 40 yard receiving, and set a new franchise records for touchdowns in a single season with 14, helping Minnesota keep pace with the Saints and ahead of the Eagles and Cardinals for a first round bye in the NFC Playoffs. The Bengals did not look like an elite team that has prided themselves on defense, as they allowed 30 points, despite an interception from Favre. Their offense was stagnant as well as Carson Palmer threw for only 94 yards and a 15 yard TD pass to Chad Ochocinco. The only bright spot for them today was Cedric Benson, who ran for 96 yards on 16 carries and got himself his first 1,000 yard season of his career. The Bengals have a showdown with San Diego on the road for the #2 spot in the AFC and a first round bye in the playoffs. If they want to establish themselves as an elite team, they need to beat the elite on the road. Bengals (9-4), Vikings (11-2)

Carolina 10, New England 20- Wes Welker had 10 catches for 105 yards, including five on the tie-breaking drive, and the New England Patriots overcame in-house issues and sloppy first half play to beat the Carolina Panthers, who have eliminated themselves from playoff contention. Welker’s five receptions set up a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson for five yards. Kevin Faulk also scored on a three yard run in the first half and two field goals by Stephen Gostkowski sealed the deal for the Patriots, who are now 7-0 at home and maintain a one game lead on the AFC East over the Dolphins and New York Jets. Steve Smith had two catches for 83 yards, including a 41 yard touchdown reception from Matt Moore, who started for Jake Delhomme again after Delhomme had not healed from his broken finger. The Panthers will miss the playoffs again after making it a year before, and the inconsistency could mean the end for head coach John Fox in Carolina. Panthers (5-8), Patriots (8-5)

NY Jets 26, Tampa Bay 3- Thomas Jones ran for two touchdowns and 99 yards, and Jay Feely kicked four field goals (40, 24, 49, 49) and the Jets defense allowed only 124 yards (43 rushing) and picked off rookie QB Josh Freeman three times, and Gang Green sailed to an easy victory and put themselves in good position for playoff contention. Kellen Clemens, starting for the injured Mark Sanchez, managed the game well, and went 12-23 for 111 yards, and allowed the team to do their thing: run the ball and play good defense against one of the NFL’s worst teams. The win was the third in a row for New York, and are above .500 for the first time since their win at Oakland five weeks ago. Tampa Bay’s growing pains continue, as Freeman has thrown eight interceptions in the last two quarters and being held to 15 first half yards won’t get the job done against anybody. Kellen Winslow led the way with four catches for 26 yards. Jets (7-6), Buccaneers (1-12)

Washington 34, Oakland 13- Jason Campbell went 16-28 for 222 yards and threw two touchdowns to Fred Davis, and Quinton Ganther ran for two touchdowns, and the Washington Redskins easily handled the Oakland Raiders for their first road win of the season. The Skins lost three straight coming in and after Campbell got off to a 1-5 start it appeared to be another long day, but he overcame it and went 15-23 the rest of the way. Ganther, the Redskins fourth running back this season, scored on two fourth quarter touchdown runs, and Brian Orakpo, the rookie defensive end from Texas, had four sacks in the game, tying the franchise record for most in a single game. The Redskins really went off in the sacks department when JaMarcus Russell came in the game for Bruce Gradkowski after Gradkowski had two injured knees. The boos rang out, and Russell was sacked six times and was very ineffective, as he has been since the 2007 NFL Draft. Justin Fargas scored the lone touchdown for Oakland. Redskins (4-9), Raiders (4-9)

St. Louis 7, Tennessee 47- Chris Johnson ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns, and caught a 66 yard touchdown pass from Vince Young, and the Tennessee Titans improved to 6-1 when Young starts and kept their playoff hopes alive by easily dismantling the Rams. Young left the game in the second quarter with a strained right hamstring, Kerry Collins entered the game and went 11-19 for 154 yards, and a touchdown to Alge Crumpler to finish the victory for Tennesee. Rob Bironas kicked four field goals (27, 36, 44, and 50). The Titans defense made all kinds of trouble for rookie Keith Null, who was making his debut for an injured Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller at game time. Null went 27-43 for 157 yards and a touchdown, but he threw five interceptions: two to Keith Bulluck, two to Cortland Finnegan, and one to Vincent Fuller, who took it back 45 yards for a touchdown. Tennessee needs to win out and get a lot of help along the way. Rams (1-12), Titans (6-7)

San Diego 20, Dallas 17- Phillip Rivers went 21-32 for 272 yards and a touchdown, and the San Diego Chargers held off the Dallas Cowboys for their 16th straight December victory (all of which since Rivers became San Diego’s starting QB), and sending Dallas into another December loss under Wade Phillips and Tony Romo. LaDainian Tomlinson scored a touchdown early to start the game in his home state of Texas, and Nate Kaeding kicked two field goals for San Diego. The Cowboys scored twice in the second half off two Romo touchdown passes: one to Miles Austin at the end of the third quarter to tie the game at 10, and one to Patrick Crayton with two seconds left in the game. He finished with 249 yards on 19-30 passing. The difference had to be in the first quarter when the Chargers stuffed the Cowboys four times on the San Diego 1 yard line. Bigger news was DeMarcus Ware, the star linebacker for Dallas left the game on a stretcher with a sprained neck, and his status for Saturday night’s game against New Orleans in the Superdome is up in the air. The Cowboys lead the Giants by one game in the NFC Wild Card and now trail the Eagles by a game in the NFC East. They must find a way to stop the December bleeding. The Chargers can clinch a first round bye with a win over Cincinnati next Sunday. Chargers (10-3), Cowboys (8-5)

Philadelphia 45, NY Giants 38- DeSean Jackson came back from his concussion and had a 72 yard punt return for a touchdown, and a 60 yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb, giving him eight touchdowns of 50+ yards, tying a NFL record, along with 178 yards receiving, and the Eagles outscored the New York Giants in a shootout on Sunday night, 45-38. Donovan McNabb went 17-26, for 265 yards and two touchdowns (one to Jackson, and one to Brent Celek). Mike Vick scored his second rushing touchdown of the season, and Leonard Weaver and Sheldon Brown had touchdowns for Philadelphia. Eli Manning did all he could to keep his team in the game, going 26-41 for 382 yards and three touchdowns, but it was two touchdowns to Mario Manningham that were out of bounds, and a costly fumble that was confirmed by video review that still have Big Blue on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. the one thing they have going is that they have a tiebreaker on Dallas, and are a game behind the Cowboys for that Final NFC Wild Card. Philadelphia now has sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Eagles (9-4), Giants (7-6)

This concludes the NFL Recap for Week 14. Tune in tomorrow for the Monday Night Recap between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers.

NFL Recap Week 13

Week 13 of the NFL Recap is here, and the trend for this week is going home again: The return of a one-time face of the franchise with a new team after a second chance, and a hometown hero returned home and shocked one of the elite teams in the NFL coming in, and one of the unbeatens of the NFL nearly tripped up, but survived. Which was it? Let the recap begin…

Philadelphia 34, Atlanta 7- What a homecoming for Mike Vick. Initially hearing boos coming out the tunnel into the field where he electrified crowds at the Georgia Dome and revived the downtrodden franchise. We all know what happened to Vick and the Falcons over the last couple of years, but the Atlanta crowd really showed their love and appreciation for #7 by chanting “We Want Vick”, he responded with a five yard touchdown run, his first since Oct. 15th, 2006 and his first passing touchdown since the final week of the 2006 season, and went 2-2 for 48 yards, and rushed four times for 17 yards and the Eagles easily trounced the Matt Ryan and Michael Turner-less 34-7. Donovan McNabb threw for 238 yards and a touchdown and Sheldon Brown took a Chris Redman interception 83 yards for a score. Chris Redman threw two interceptions in the game and a very late touchdown pass to Roddy White. The Eagles are now in control of the Wild Card hunt, and are in a tie for first place in the NFC East, but the loss for Atlanta is damaging to their playoff hopes. They will need help from Baltimore on Monday night. Eagles (8-4), Falcons (6-6)

Tampa Bay 6, Carolina 16- Without Jake Delhomme, the Panthers looked like a different team. After a broken finger sidelined the maligned starting QB, backup Matt Moore played well, throwing for 161 yards, and Jonathan Stewart ran for 120 yards on 26 carries and the only touchdown of the day, and the Panthers knocked off the Buccaneers. Despite being gained 469-309, it was Moore’s game management and the ability to take chances and the Carolina defense intercepting rookie QB Josh Freeman five times, with three in the red zone. The Panthers are mathematically still in the hunt, but would need a ton of help and with the most brutal four game stretch, it’s not going to be easy. Tampa Bay’s rebuilding project continues and they will get better over time. Buccaneers (1-11), Panthers (5-7)

St. Louis 9, Chicago 17- Jay Cutler threw for 143 yards and a touchodown, Matt Forte ran for another, and the Chicago Bears defense held off the hard charging and gutsy St. Louis Rams to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Bears defense played very well after allowing 537 yards of offense to Minnesota a week ago, by allowing only 233 (112 yards rushing from Steven Jackson). As the Rams prepare for next year, the Bears are still in the playoff picture mathematically, but much like the Panthers, would need loads of help to have a legitimate shot. Rams (1-11), Bears (5-7)

Detroit 13, Cincinnati 23- Chad Ochocinco had 137 yards receiving (season high) and Cedric Benson came back from his hip injury and ran for 110 yards, tying a Bengal franchise record with his fifth 100+ yard game of the season, and the Cincinnati Bengals clinched their second winning season in 19 years and moved closer to an AFC North Division title. The Bengals defense came alive after being down from a Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson TD pass for 54 yards with a 45 yard interception return for a touchdown by Jonathan Fanene. Carson Palmer threw for 220 yards and 36 yard touchdown pass to Ochocinco, who followed up the score by sporting a sombrero. The Lions did suffer a blow when Stafford went down with a shoulder injury (the same shoulder from the game against the Browns). He is considering sitting out to let it heal. Lions (2-10), Bengals (9-3)

Tennessee 17, Indianapolis 27- Joseph Addai ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns, and Peyton Manning threw for 270 yards and a touchdown, and the Indianapolis Colts did not have to come from behind to win, but they managed the clock and used ball control to take out the Titans and win their 21st straight regular season game (tying a NFL record), winning 12+ games for the seventh straight year, and tying the all-time mark for wins in a decade with 113. Vince Young threw for 241 yards and a couple of touchdowns and Chris Johnson had 27 carries for 113 yards, and although it snapped his streak of six straight games with 125+ yards, he tied the franchise record with seven straight 100+ yard games, joining the great Earl Campbell. The loss was a blow to the Titans playoff hopes, and their first loss since Vince Young took over at starting QB, If Indianapolis wins and San Diego and Cincinnati loses next week, the Colts will have home field throughout the AFC Playoffs. Titans (5-7), Colts (12-0)

Houston 18, Jacksonville 23- David Garrard threw for two touchdowns, and the Jaguars defense forced the Texans into three turnovers and swept the season series once again, and handing Houston its fourth straight loss. The Texans were rallying back into the game, and RB Chris Brown, who costed the Texans in the first meeting with the Jaguars in Houston, threw an interception on a halfback pass on 1st & goal. The three turnovers were interceptions by three different players: Brown, Matt Schaub, and Rex Grossman, who threw an interception on his second pass after Schaub went out with a separated shoulder. The win for Jacksonville was their fifth in a row at home, and puts them in the last AFC Wild Card spot for right now. They could really be a problem in the postseason. The Texans hopes are fading fast, and the hopes of a winning season are fading fast. Texans (5-7), Jaguars (7-5)

Denver 44, Kansas City 13- On a day where the late Derrick Thomas’ number was retired, the Kansas City Chiefs looked like they retired early in the game against the Broncos. Kyle Orton threw for 180 yards and showed head coach Josh McDaniels why he was the better choice over Matt Cassel. Knowshon Moreno ran for two touchdowns and Correll Buckhalter ran for 113 yards and the Broncos outgained the Chiefs 413-222 and ran for 245 yards on the ground, and they are in control of the #5 seed in the AFC and some much needed momentum going into next week’s game against Indianapolis. The Chiefs were showing flashes of brilliance, but are back to the same old Chiefs again. Broncos (8-4), Chiefs (3-9)

New England 21, Miami 22- Chad Henne threw for a career high 335 yards on 29-52, and he led a game-winning 51 yard drive that led to a 41 yard field goal by Dan Carpenter and gave the Miami Dolphins a much needed boost to their playoff hopes and pull them (and the New York Jets) within a game of the Patriots in the AFC East. The loss for the Patriots was their fifth on the road in the US (the only road win was in London). Tom Brady went 19-29 for 352 yards with two touchdowns, but it was two late interceptions that cost the Pats the game. New England has shown they are not the dominant team that they once were, and the Dolphins are showing that they are not quite out of the playoff picture by any means. Patriots (7-5), Dolphins (6-6)

Oakland 27, Pittsburgh 24- In what was a see-saw 4th quarter, the hometown hero playing for the Raiders, Bruce Gradkowski, found Louis Murphy with nine seconds left, and the Raiders looked like a team that actually started to care about winning, as they upset the defending Super Bowl champions at Heinz Field. The Raiders were trailing 10-6 when Gradkowski found Chaz Schilens for a 17 yard pass. Pittsburgh responded with a three yard touchdown run by Rashard Mendenall. The next Raider drive, Gradkowski and Murphy for their first touchdown, a 75 yard connection. With less than two minutes left, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes, and then the game winner to Murphy. Gradkowski has been very efficient, and his 308 yards and 3 touchdowns has been beneficial to the Raiders’ success as of late. The Steelers are in grave danger of missing the playoffs after a Super Bowl championship for the second time in four seasons. Raiders (4-8), Steelers (6-6)

New Orleans 33, Washington 30 (F/OT) The Redskins played their hearts out, but destiny seems to be with the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees had a great day, going for 419 yards passing, but it was some twists of fate that kept the Saints unbeaten. Down 30-23, the ‘Skins had a chance to put the game at hand, but Shaun Suisham missed a 23 yard field goal, Drew Brees drove down the field and found Robert Meachem on a 53 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 30. In overtime, Mike Sellars fumbled the ball (which was the result of an overturned call by the Replay Asssistant), and the Saints got an 18 yard field goal from Garrett Hartley to win the game. The win locks up the NFC South crown for the Saints, and the Redskins suffer another heartbreaking loss, and the Jim Zorn era is setting in Washington quick. Saints (12-0), Redskins (3-9)

San Diego 30, Cleveland 23- LaDainian Tomlinson ran 64 yards and scored his 150th career touchdown, and passed Cleveland Browns’ great Jim Brown for eight on the all-time career rushing list and Phillip Rivers threw for 373 yards and two touchdowns and the Chargers held off a furious Browns’ rally for their seventh straight win and to keep pace with the Cincinnati Bengals for second spot and a first round bye in the AFC. Brady Quinn threw for three touchdowns, and showed that he can be effective against the elite teams. The Browns woes continue as they are among the worst teams in the NFL. Chargers (9-3), Browns (1-11)

Dallas 24, NY Giants 31- Brandon Jacobs ran for 39 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 74 yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning and the Giants made plays that mattered and tightened up the NFC East race. Domenik Hixon also ran back a punt for 79 yards and the talks about a December Downer for Dallas have begun. At least Dallas can not blame Tony Romo, as he went 41-55 for 392 yards. The win puts Dallas in a first place tie with the Eagles in the division, and both of them lead the Giants by one game. The final four games will really hold the fate of Wade Phillips and test the ‘Boys and see if they are up to make the playoffs and come through when it counts. Cowboys (8-4), Giants (7-5)

San Francisco 17, Seattle 20- Olindo Mare kicked the game-winning 30 yard field goal as time expired, and the Seattle Seahawks played spoiler on the 49ers playoff hopes and kept their own hopes of a winning season alive. Despite 310 yards passing from Alex Smith, the Seahawks played good defense and the reliable Mare came through when his team needed him. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 198 yards and Julius Jones ran for 67 yards in his first game back from injury. With the Cardinals win on Sunday night, the NFC West title is up for grabs for Arizona next Monday night and it will be up to the 49ers to prevent that from happening. 49ers (5-7), Seahawks (5-7)

Minnesota 17, Arizona 30- If teams forgot about the Arizona Cardinals, they reminded the NFL that they were the hottest team around this time a year ago. Kurt Warner came back from a concussion last week and threw for 285 yards and three first half touchdowns, and Arizona’s defense sacked Brett Favre three times and intercepted him twice, and the Cardinals showed why they are not to be slept on. Favre also threw for two touchdowns, but the Vikings are now two games behind New Orleans for home field advantage in the NFC. The Cardinals can clinch the NFC West with a win next Monday night in San Francisco. Vikings (10-2), Cardinals (8-4)