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Week 14 in the NFL: More Collapses and a Cloudier Playoff Picture

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Adrian Peterson

We’re not afraid to admit that we thought we might get a clearer picture of the NFL’s playoff qualifiers after Week 14. Indeed, we were certain that Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Atlanta would make it easier to determine which teams either qualified or at least had a lock on the post-season.

What we got was another week of late-game collapses and another week of waiting and hoping as our playoff picture actually got much cloudier than it was when we started the week.

In the AFC, the 11-1 Houston Texans and 10-3 Denver Broncos are in control of the South and West. Baltimore should win the North while New England already has the East in the bag.

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Matt Ryan: Despite loss, Atlanta still 11-2.

As it stands now, the six seeds should be 1. Houston, 2. Denver, 3. New England, 4. Baltimore, 5. Indianapolis, 6. Pittsburgh.

However, there are four teams in the hunt – 7-6 Cincinnati, the 6-7 Jets, 5-8 Cleveland and 5-8 San Diego. It might be hard to imagine, but even with all their problems this season, the Jets, the Browns and the Chargers still have hope.

Over in the NFC, Atlanta has locked up the South at 11-2 while the 49ers at 9-3-1 are in the driver’s seat in the West. The Packers lead the North at 9-4, but Chicago is in control of a wild card spot at 8-5 while the Giants own the East at 8-5 and Seattle should be the final wild card winner at 8-5.

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Houston's J.J. Watt: best defensive player in the NFL.

However, with three weeks left, it’s a long way from over. Washington, Dallas and Minnesota are all 7-6 while the Rams at 6-6-1 still have hope — nice comeback win for the Rams or was it a Buffalo collapse?

So as we head into Week 15, there are 10 teams in each conference with their fingers in the playoff pie. The longest shots are probably Cleveland, San Diego, Minnesota and St. Louis, but who’s to say really? With three games left, anything can happen. Just check out Week 14:

The Cowboys won despite the death of a teammate and the arrest of another. The Redskins came back and won despite an injury to their rookie superstar Robert Griffin III. Minnesota, Cleveland, St. Louis and the Jets all won despite tough games and the Colts won a big one – by coming back late again — after Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati all lost.

This was a monster week. Let’s take a close look at Sunday’s action:

SUNDAY AFTERNOON:

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Christian Ponder: Winnipeg despite the quarterback.

Minnesota 21 Chicago 14

The NFL’s leading rusher, Adrian Peterson carried 31 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns while Harrison Smith returned an interception for a touchdown as the Vikings improved to 7-6 and are still in the Wild Card hunt. Christian Ponder was horrible again, going 11-for-17 for 91 yards and no touchdowns but Peterson bailed out his QB again. Jay Cutler went 22-for-44 for 260 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, but watched as Jason Campbell finished the game by throwing a TD pass to Brandon Marshall. Marshall finished with 10 receptions for 160 yards but Chicago lost its fourth game in five outings and fell to 8-5.

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Sam Bradford: A win is a win.

St. Louis 15 Buffalo 12

Sam Bradford hit Brandon Gibson on a 13-yard TD with 55 second left to win it. Bradford finished 19-for39 for 209 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Gibson caught six passes for 100 yards and Bradford’s only TD pass of the day. Stephen Jackson carried for 64 yards and the Rams other TD. Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick went 25-for-32 for 247 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Rams are now 6-6-1 and Jeff Fisher has to be a coach of the year candidate. Meanwhile, the 5-8 Bills lost in the final minute of a game for the second time this season.

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Cam Newton: Brilliant game.

Carolina 30 Atlanta 20

Here’s a shocker. Atlanta falls to 11-2 while Carolina improves to 4-9. The Panthers Cam Newton was magnificent: 23-for-35 passing for 287 yards and two touchdowns plus nine carries for 116 yards and another touchdown. One of his rushing touchdowns was for 72 yards. Carolina, which racked up 475 yards of offence, built a 23-0 lead and coasted. The Panthers put a halt to a five-game losing streak. Steve Smith caught seven passes for 109 yards. Matt Ryan went 34-for-49 for 342 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Roddy White caught nine passes for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Dallas 20 Cincinnati 19

The day after teammate Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident and another teammate, Josh Brent, was arrested for “intoxication manslaughter,” Dan Bailey kicked a 30-yard field goal with four seconds left to come from behind and win it. Dallas’s Tony Romo finished 25-for-43 for 268 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Dez Bryant caught four passes for 50 yards and a caught a 27-yard TD pass that brought Dallas back to 19-17 late in the game. The Cowboys are now 7-6 while the Bengals collapsed late and fell to 7-6.

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Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson: Still in the hunt.

Cleveland 30 Kansas City 7

The Browns are now one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Browns have won three straight and have now won one more game than last year. Brandon Weeden finished 17-for-30 for 217 yards while Trent Richardson carried for 42 yards and two TDs as Cleveland improved to 5-8. The big blow was Travis Benjamin’s franchise-record 93-yard punt return for a touchdown. Brady Quinn returned to Cleveland and went 11-for-22 for 159 yards. Jamaal Charles carried 18 times for 165 yards and K.C.’s only TD. The Chiefs are now 2-11.

Indianapolis 27 Tennessee 23

Another huge comeback led by Andrew Luck. The Colts trailed by 13 in the second half, but Luck engineered his sixth four-quarter comeback this season. Just like last week against Detroit, Luck wasn’t that good. He went 16-for-34 for 196 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, but he did his best work late in the game as the Colts improved to 9-4. Adam Vinatieri kicked two late field goals to take the lead and seal the outcome. Reggie Wayne caught six passes for 64 yards and a TD. Jake Locker went 22-of-35 for 262 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for 4-9 Tennessee.

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Shonn Greene: Shot at the playoffs.

NY Jets 17 Jacksonville 10

Despite all the controversy and shenanigans in New York, the Jets still have playoff hopes. Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell rushed for short touchdowns as the Jets improved to 6-7 with a win over the 2-11 Jags. Mark Sanchez went 12-for-19 for 111 yards, but the Jets defense shut down a horrible Jags offence.

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Philip Rivers: Chargers still alive.

San Diego 34 Pittsburgh 24 

Speaking of shockers. The Chargers put up 34 points and won on the road. Philip Rivers went 21-for-41 for 200 yards and three touchdowns, two to Danario Alexander who caught seven passes for 88 yards. Michael Spurlock caught seven passes for 64 yards. The win was San Diego’s first in 15 regular season visits to Pittsburgh and snapped a four-game losing streak. Ben Roethlisberger returned and went 22-for-42 for 285 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Mike Wallace caught seven passes for 112 yards and two TDs. The Chargers are 5-8 while Pittsburgh fell to 7-6.

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Eagles: Can't stop Vincent Jackson but still win.

Philadelphia 23 Tampa Bay 21

Nick Foles hit Jeremy Maclin on a two-yard TD pass with no time left to come back and beat Tampa at the Pirate Ship. In fact, Foles threw two touchdown passes in the final four minutes to win it, as the Bucs became the fourth of five teams to collapse late. Foles completed 32-of-51 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Jason Avant caught seven passes for 133 yards while Maclin caught nine passes for 104 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Josh Freeman completed 14-of-34 passes for 189 yards and two TDs while Doug Martin carried 28 times for 128 yards and a TD and Vincent Jackson caught six passes for 131 yards and one touchdown. The Bucs fell to 6-7 while Philly improved to 4-9.

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Robert Griffin III: Washington wins despite his injury.

Washington 31 Baltimore 28 (OT)

The Ravens were the fifth team to collapse late in the game and they did it with Robert Griffin III sidelined with a sprained knee. Griffin was hurt with the Redskins trailing 28-20, but they rallied behind Kirk Cousins. Cousins hit Pierre Garcon on an 11-yard TD pass and then ran in the two-point conversion with 29 seconds to play. Then Kai Forbath kicked a 34-yrad field goal to win it 31-28 in overtime. Before his injury, Griffin went 15-for-26 for 246 yards and one TD while Alfred Morris carried 23 times for 122 yards and another TD. Joe Flacco went 16-for-21 for 182 yards and three TDs while Ray Rice carried 20 times for 121 yards and another TD. The Redskins, who have won four straight, are now 7-6 while Baltimore fell to 9-4 and lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2009.

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Frank Gore: Niners win again.

San Francisco 27 Miami 13

Frank Gore finished with 63 yards rushing, had a one-yard TD run and reached 1,000 yards rushing for the sixth time in his career as the Niners improved to 9-3-1. Colin Kaepernick started his fifth straight game at quarterback for San Francisco and completed 18-of-23 passes for 185 yards and rushed six times for 53 yards and a TD. Ryan Tannehill went 17-of-33 for 150 yards and one touchdown for 5-9 Miami.

NY Giants 52 New Orleans 27

What a game for Giants rookie RB David Wilson. He carried 13 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 97 yards for another TD. Eli Manning went 22-for-35 for 259 yards and four touchdowns as Victor Cruz caught eight passes for 121 yards and one TD. The Giants are now 8-5, first in the NFC East. The Saints fall to 5-8 although Drew Brees went 26-for-43 for 354 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

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Marshawn Lynch: Three TDs

Seattle 58 Arizona 0

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch carried 11 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns as Seattle set a franchise record for points in a game. Arizona (4-9) was shut out for the first time since 2003 against Seattle and lost its ninth straight game. It’s unlikely head coach Ken Whisenhunt will return next season. Despite 58 points, Seattle QB Russell Wilson was just 7-for-13 for 148 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The 8-5 Seahawks are tied with Chicago in the NFC Wild Card race at 8-5.

SUNDAY NIGHT:

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Aaron Rodgers: Another big win.

Green Bay 27 Detroit 20

The Packers are now one win away from clinching the NFC North title. DaJuan Harris rushed for a score in his first NFL game, Aaron Rodgers added the longest TD run of his career, and Mike Daniels returned a fumble 43 yards for another TD. Rodgers finished 14-for-24 for 173 yards as the Packers improved to 9-4. Randall Cobb caught seven passes for 102 yards in a snowy game. Matt Stafford went 27-for-45 for 264 yards and one TD. Calvin Johnson caught 10 passes for 118 yards but no TDs. The Lions built a 14-0 first-quarter lead but still lost their fifth straight game.

MONDAY NIGHT:

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Tom Brady: Throws for 296 yards and four touchdowns.

New England 42 Houston 14

This should have been a good football game, but the New England Patriots used it to make a statement. Tom Brady went 21-of-35 for 296 yards and four touchdowns as the Patriots built a 21-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 10-3 record. The Pats are now tied with Denver at 10-3 and just one game back of 11-2 Houston for the overall lead in the AFC. New England has won 20 straight December home games. Houston, which has clinched at least a wild-card berth, leads Indianapolis by two games in the AFC South and plays the Colts twice in the final three weeks of the season. Houston QB Matt Schaub went 19-of-32 for 232 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.



Week 11 in the NFL: ‘No Great Teams’

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Matt Schaub

Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan were all lucky to win. On a Sunday when the Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons escaped the agony of defeat against inferior opponents, National Football League insiders all concluded: “There are no great teams in the NFL.” He’s probably right, although New England, Green Bay, San Francisco and Denver might have an argument.

“Aaron (Rodgers) pulled us all up together,” Packers center Jeff Saturday told PackerNews.com after Green Bay’s 24-20 win over Detroit. “He said, ‘Look, it hasn’t been a great day for any of us.’ We hadn’t done a whole lot, but now’s the time. We just all united and had a heck of a drive at the end.”

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Aaron Rodgers

It didn’t hurt that Lions quarterback Matt Stafford was absolutely dreadful and turnovers cost Detroit another football game, but what the heck? Rodgers did put up 10 points late in the game to come back from a 20-14 fourth-quarter deficit to win on the road.

In the meantime, Atlanta overcame Matt Ryan’s five interceptions and snuck past Arizona 23-19.

“We had all those turnovers, but we’re still right here,” said Ryan at a news conference after the Falcons win. “As a quarterback, you never want to have those kinds of games, but we won. It happens. It says a lot about our football team that I made the mistakes that I did but I’m surrounded by 52 other guys on the active roster who made plays.”

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Matt Ryan pressured into one of five interceptions.

Yes, indeed, it’s a team game and the Falcons bailed out their quarterback for a change. It also didn’t hurt that they played Arizona, a team that had lost five in a row before Sunday and was now down to its third quarterback.

It was not an easy week for the team’s good teams, but for the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, it was a lot of fun. I have to admit, I called Denver and Green Bay in the 47th Super Bowl and after what happened this weekend, I’ll stick to that call. But, hey, it’s still just Week 11. No telling what might happen.

Let’s take a close look at what did happen on Sunday:

SUNDAY AFTERNOON:

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Peyton Manning

Denver 30 San Diego 23

The Broncos Peyton Manning went 25-for-42 for 270 yards, three touchdowns and one interception as the Broncos scored 30-points or more for the fifth straight game. The Broncos are now 7-3 and still first in the AFC West. Philip Rivers went 24-for-40 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Danario Alexander caught seven passes for 96 yards and two TDs. The Chargers are now 4-6 and Norv Turner must not have long for this job. San Diego has lost five of their last six games.

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Tom Brady and Andrew Luck

New England 59 Indianapolis 24

The Pats’ Tom Brady completed 24-of-35 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns. The big story might have been Julian Edelman who carried once for 47 yards; caught five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown and returned two punts for 116 yards and another touchdown for 221 all-purpose yards. The Colts Andrew Luck went 27-for-50 for 334 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Two of the INTs were returned for touchdowns. The Colts are now 6-4 while the Pats are 7-3. Pats TE Rob Gronkowski broke his arm and is out indefinitely.

 Week 11 in the NFL: ‘No Great Teams’

Aaron Rodgers celebrates the winning score.

Green Bay 24 Detroit 20

The Packers have won five straight as Detroit’s Matt Stafford was absolutely vomit-inducingly bad. He went 17-for-39 for 266 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and threw away a 20-14 lead late in the game. The over-rated Lions defense wasn’t a whole lot better. Aaron Rodgers went 19-for-27 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception as Green Bay improved to 7-3 and could move into a tie for first if Bears lose to San Francisco on Monday night. The Lions are 4-6 and are probably the most inconsistent and over-rated team in the NFL although Calvin Johnson caught five passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.

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Andre Johnson scores for Houston

Houston 43 Jacksonville 37 (OT)

Andre Johnson took a flare pass from Matt Schaub 48 yards for the winning touchdown in overtime. Houston came back from a 14-point deficit. Schaub went 43-for-55 for 527 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. Houston is now 9-1 while Jacksonville falls to 1-9 and head coach Mike Mularkey has to be in trouble. Meanwhile, Johnson caught 14 passes for 273 yards and the game-winning TD. Jags backup quarterback Chad Henne went 16-for-33 for 354 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Washington 31 Philadelphia 6

Andy Reid just about has to be done in Philly. He has no offensive line and, as a result, no offence. Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III was magnificent for Washington. He went 14-for-15 for 200 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions and carried 11 times for 85 yards. He threw a TD pass in each quarter. Rookie Nick Foles, replacing the concussed Michael Vick, went 21-for46 for 204 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Horrendous. Philly is now 3-7 and have lost six straight.

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Tony Romo runs for his life.

Dallas 23 Cleveland 20 (OT)

Cleveland tried to snap an 11-game road losing streak, but Dallas got so many penalty calls in their favour – nine calls saved first downs — that even though the Browns had a 20-17 lead in the final minute, there was no way they could hold on – even with seven sacks on Tony Romo. And with the CBS announcers – Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf — cheerleading for the Cowboys (it was sickening), it was almost impossible to listen to, let alone watch. In fact, this one really looked like the fix was in for Dallas at home (especially after the Miles Austin fumble in overtime). The outcome was a blight on the NFL’s credibility. Dan Bailey kicked a 38-yard field goal to win it. Dallas is 5-5, Cleveland is 2-8.

New Orleans 38 Oakland 17

Drew Brees went 20-for-27 for 219 yards and three touchdowns as the Saints got to 5-5. The Raiders lost their third straight game despite the fact Carson Palmer went 22-for-40 for 312 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Lance Moore caught two of Brees’ touchdown passes as the Saints won for the fifth time in six games.

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Dallas Clark

Tampa Bay 27 Carolina 21 (OT)

Josh Freeman hit Dallas Clark with the winning touchdown in overtime as Tampa came back from 21-13 late in the game to tie it and win on the road in OT. Freeman went 25-for-46 for 248 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has to be out of lives.

Atlanta 23 Arizona 19

Boy, was Atlanta lucky: Six turnovers and they still won. This might have been the worst game in Matt Ryan’s career – 28-for-46, for 301 yards, no touchdowns and FIVE interceptions. Roddy White did catch eight passes for 123 yards, but if it wasn’t for the fact Arizona lost No. 2 quarterback John Skelton to injury and had to go with No. 3 Ryan Lindley (nine-for-20 for 64 yards), Arizona might have won this one. As it is, the Falcons go to 9-1 and the Cardinals fall to 4-6 with their sixth straight loss.

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Andy Dalton

Cincinnati 28 Kansas City 6

The Bengals Andy Dalton finished 18-for-29 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Benjarvus Green-Ellis carried 25 times for 101 yards and another TD. A.J. Green caught six passes for 91 yards and a TD. The ninth straight game in which Green has caught a TD pass. 5-5 Cincinnati now plays its next four games against teams with losing records. Romeo Crennel’s Chiefs have lost seven straight are now 1-9 as Matt Cassel went eight-for-16 for 93 yards. What a sad football team.

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Mark Sanchez

NY Jets 27 St. Louis 13

Mark Sanchez protected the football and saved a lot of jobs. Sanchez went 15-for-20 for 178 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions as the Jets improved to 4-6 after a turnover-free game. Bilal Powell ran for the first two touchdowns of his career. Rams QB Sam Bradford went 23-of-44 for 170 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. St. Louis loses at home and falls to 3-6-1.

SUNDAY NIGHT:

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Byron Leftwich

Baltimore 13 Pittsburgh 10

This was a pretty pedestrian game. Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones returned a punt for a touchdown for the Ravens only TD as Baltimore improved to 8-2 and moved four points ahead of 6-4, second-place Pittsburgh. Steelers’ backup quarterback Byron Leftwich, replacing the injured Ben Roethlisberger, went 18-for-39 for 201 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Joe Flacco went 20-for-32 for 164 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions as Baltimore won for the third straight time at Heinz Field.

MONDAY NIGHT:

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Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis celebrate.

San Francisco 32 Chicago 7

Rookie Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick, replacing the injured Alex Smith, went 16-for-23 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Vernon Davis caught six passes for 83 yards and a TD. Chicago QB Jason Campbell, replacing the injured Jay Cutler, went 14-for-22 for 107 yards , one touchdown and two interceptions. Brandon’s Israel Idonije had a tackle, a sack and a half a sack. San Francisco is now 7-2-1 while the Bears fell to 7-3, now tied for the NFC North lead with Green Bay.

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Israel Idonije



A Look Back at Week 2 in the NFL

Two weeks of NFL football are now in the books and seven teams remain undefeated — New England, Buffalo, the Jets and Houston in the AFC and Detroit, Washington and Green Bay in the NFC.

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Tom Brady Just Keeps Winning

Meanwhile, some of the Divisions look crazy after two weeks. Talk about parity (or mediocrity). In the AFC North, all four teams are 1-1. In the AFC East, the Pats, Bills and Jets are 2-0 while the Dolphions are 0-2. In the NFC East, the Washington Redskins are 2-0 while Philadelphia, Dallas and the New York Giants are all 1-1. And in the NFC South, the Saints, Bucs and Falcons are 1-1 while the Panthers, who have put up 854 passing yards in the first two games are 0-2.

Go figure.

It’s a huge week coming up in Week 3. Undefeated New England is at undefeated Buffalo; the Giants are at Philly, but it’s unlikely Michael Vick will be ready for the Eagles; undefeated Houston plays at New Orleans; two rivals, Atlanta and Tampa, go head-to-head at the Pirate Ship; in a pair of NFC North matchups, Green Bay is at Chicago while Detroit plays at Minnesota (the River City Sports Blog will be live at the Metrodome on Sunday); and on Monday night, undefeated Washington is at 1-1 Dallas.

Let’s take a look back at Week 2, just to set us up for Week 3. Dr. Football and I will have our picks posted on Thursday night.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Tampa Bay 24 Minnesota 20

Despite the fact Adrian Peterson rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns, the Buccaneers scored in the final minute to win it. For the second straight week the Vikings blew it in the second half. Last week, Minnesota lead 17-7 at the half and lost 24-17, this week they led 17-0 at the half and lost 24-17.

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Matthew Stafford

Detroit 48 Kansas City 3

Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford was 23-for-39 for 294 yards and four touchdowns, but it was the Detroit defense that simply shut down the Chiefs.

Buffalo 38 Oakland 35

Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a six-yard TD pass to David Nelson with 14 seconds left to play to win it. The Bills scored TDs on all five of their second-half possessions to overcome a 21-3 halftime deficit. Fitzpatrick finished 28-for-46 for 264 yards and three TDs.

Green Bay 30 Carolina 23

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns while Carolina’s rookie quarterback Cam Newton threw for 432 yards and two touchdowns and lost. Newton became the sixth NFL quarterback in history to have two straight 400-yard passing games and the third to lose both.

Cleveland 27 Indianapolis 19

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Cleveland's Peyton Hillis

The Browns Peyton Hillis ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns while QB Colt McCoy threw for a touchdown as Cleveland improved to 1-1 and the Peyton Manning-less Colts fell to 0-2.

New York Jets 32 Jacksonville 3

Jets QB Mark Sanchez threw for two touchdowns while cornerback Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie had two of the Jets four interceptions. The Jags didn’t get inside the Jets 20.

New Orleans 30 Chicago 13

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was sensational going 26-for-37 for 270 yards and three touchdowns while the Saints defence beat up on poor Jay Cutler. Despite the loss, Brandon’s Israel Idonije had a tremendous game. He had three tackles, three assisted tackles and a sack.

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Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace

Pittsburgh 24 Seattle 0

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger threw for 298 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Mike Wallace caught eight passes for 126 yards and that single TD. The Steelers were much sharper this week. After turning over the ball seven times a week earlier against the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers did not make a major mistake and were quite efficient against a Seahawks defence that was better than its offence. The Seahawks were terrible on offence and didn’t take an offensive snap on the Steelers’ side of the field until midway through the fourth quarter. Seattle was shut out  for the first time since their last visit to Pittsburgh in 2007. As all Vikings fans know, QB Tarvaris Jackson just isn’t the answer for Seattle.

Tennessee 26 Baltimore 13

A bit of a shocker as Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck went 30-for-42 for 358 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens held Titans runningback Chris Johnson to 53 yards on 24 carries, but Hasselbeck beat the vaunted Ravens defense through the air.

Dallas 27 San Francisco 24 (OT)

Receiver Jesse Holley caught a 77-yard pass from Tony Romo to set up the winning field goal. It was the third pass Holley had ever caught in the NFL. Dallas outscored the Niners 13-3 down the stretch. Romo broke a rib on the third play of the game and still came back to win it for the Cowboys.

Washington 22 Arizona 21

Graham Gano kicked a 34-yard field goal with 1:45 remaining to win it for Washington. The Redskins are now 2-0. Washington rallied from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Cardinals for the eighth straight time.

Denver 24 Cincinnati 22

Denver RB Willis McGahee rushed for 101 yards and a and touchdown while QB Kyle Orton threw for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Tim Tebow played briefly for the Broncos, not as a quarterback, but as a “blocking” wide receiver. The Broncos have now lost nine players to injury — six starters.

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Houston QB Matt Schaub

Houston 23 Miami 13

Houston QB Matt Schaub went 21-for-29 for 230 yards and two touchdowns while Ben Tate carried for 103 yards. Tate became only the 11th player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first two NFL games. He joins a list that includes, Alan (The Horse) Ameche, Earl Campbell, Ottis Anderson, Billy Sims, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James and Carnell (Cadillac) Williams. Meanwhile, Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 93 yards and a touchdown as the Texans improved to 2-0 and took sole possession of first place in the AFC South. Meanwhile, he Dolphins gave up a pair of turnovers, had a 22-yard field-goal attempt blocked and missed a 34-yarder to fall to 0-2 for the fifth time in the past six years.

New England 35 San Diego 21

Another great home opener for the Patriots who are now 61-12 (.836) since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. Quarterback Tom Brady completed 31-of-40 passes for 423 yards and three touchdowns, two to tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Pats are now 2-0 this season and have 15 of their last 17 home openers. the Patriots have now won 10 consecutive regular-season games dating back to last season, the longest active streak in the NFL.

SUNDAY NIGHT

Atlanta 35 Philadelphia 31

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Tony Gonzalez (88) and Matt Ryan (2) of the Falcons.

This is how things went for Michael Vick in his return to Atlanta: Great first quarter, so-so-second quarter, a pretty decent third quarter and a concussion. Vick didn’t finish the game, but he left with a 31-21 lead. However, with Mike Kafka at quarterback, Philly did nothing, Atlanta outscored Philadelphia 14-0 in the fourth quarter and came back to win 35-31. Meanwhile, with seven catches on Sunday night, Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez moved past wideout Terrell Owens (1,078 career receptions) for fifth on the all-time receiving list.

MONDAY NIGHT

New York Giants 28 St. Louis 16

On Monday night football, the Giants took advantage of four huge mistakes by St. Louis to score four touchdowns and beat the visiting Rams. Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes and linebacker Michael Boley returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown. It was a tough loss for the Rams who moved up[ and down the field at will, but couldn’t convert in the Red Zone. Sam Bradford threw one TD pass while Josh Brown kicked three short field goals.

The Coach went 12-4 (23-9) straight up last week and 10-6 (19-13)  against the spread. As we prepare to enter Week 3, it would appear most teams are playing according to form and that’s rare, early in the season. 

 



Lots of Wonderful Stuff in Week 12

It was a week of NFL wonder. There was a very nice fight in the Houston-Tennessee game; there was plenty of fight left in ol’ Brett Favre; and there wasn’t much fight at all in the Indianapolis Colts.

Week 12 in the NFL produced a number of outstanding performances, as well. And from our friends at the NFL head office in New York, here are a few of the more memorable ones:

1. Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson had nine receptions in the Texans’ 20-0 win over Tennessee. Johnson has 65 catches this year and is the first player in NFL history to chalk up at least 60 receptions in each of his first eight seasons. And then he got in a fight and was ejected.

2. Cleveland rookie cornerback Joe Haden had an interception in the Browns’ win over Carolina, marking the third consecutive game in which he has recorded an interception. He is the first Browns player with an interception in three consecutive games in his first NFL season since Bernie Parrish in 1959.

3.  Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan led the Falcons to a 20-17 win over Green Bay. With the victory, Ryan improved to 19-1 (.950) in his career as the starter at home, tying Danny White for the best winning percentage in a player’s first 20 starts at home since 1966 (the start of the Super Bowl Era). Ryan completed 24 of 28 passes for an 85.7 completion percentage, only the 11th time in NFL history in which a QB has posted a completion percentage of at least 85.7 with 28 or more attempts in a game.

There are more great performances to come, so here you go Sport Select and Fantasy players. A look back at Week 12 of the 2010 NFL season:

Sunday night…

San Diego 36 Indianapolis 14

Mike Tolbert carried 26 times for 103 yards and a touchdown as San Diego won its fourth straight game. Indianapolis has so many injuries, they don’t even look like the Colts.

Sunday afternoon….

Minnesota 17 Washington 13

Adrian Peterson missed the entire second half with an injury, but scored one touchdown while Toby Gerhardt rushed for the other as the Vikings won in Leslie Frazier’s debut as head coach. The Vikes are now 4-7 this season. The Vikes ended a nine-game road losing streak.

Atlanta 20 Green Bay 17

Atlanta’s Michael Turner rushed for 110 yards and touchdown. Matt Ryan completed 24-of-28 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta is now 9-2 on the season.

Cleveland 24 Carolina 23

Carolina’s John Kasay missed a 42-yard field goal on the final play to give Cleveland the win. Peyton Hillis rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns for the Browns.

Pittsburgh 19 Buffalo 16 (OT)

Canadian Shawn Suisham kicked a 41-yard field goal in overtime to win it for the Steelers. Suisham kicked four field goals on the day. Pittsburgh goes to 8-3.

NY Giants 24 Jacksonville 20

The Giants trailed most of the game, but with 3:55 left, Eli Manning hit Kevin Boss for a 32-yard touchdown pass to win it. Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 113 yards for the Jags, his fourth-straight 100-yard rushing game.

Houston 20 Tennessee 0

Houston stopped a four-game losing streak thanks to runningback Arian Foster. Foster carried 30 times for 143 yards and caught nine passes for 75 more yards. The Titans have now lost four straight. Houston defensive back Glover Quin, had never had a pass interception in his career, had three against Tennessee.

Miami 33 Oakland 17

The Dolphins Chad Henne completed 17-of-30 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Ricky Williams gained 95 yards rushing and scored a touchdown.

Kansas City 42 Seattle 24

The Chiefs Matt Cassel threw four touchdown passes. Dwayne Bowe had 13 receptions for 170 yards and caught three of those TD passes. Jamaal Charles carried 22 times for 173 yards and another touchdown. Bowe has 13 TD receptions in the last seven games.

Baltimore 17 Tampa Bay 10

Joe Flacco completed 25-of-35 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Chicago 31 Philadelphia 26

The Bears Jay Cutler completed 14-of-21 passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns. The Bears are now 8-3.

St. Louis 36 Denver 33

First Nation’s quarterback Sam Bradford was brilliant for St. Louis. He was 22-for-37 for 308 yards and three touchdowns.

Tonight, in the Monday Nighter, it’s the San Francisco 49ers in Glendale, Arizona to face the Arizona Cardinals.



It’s Week 2 in the NFL. Here are the 10 things you need to know.

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s Week 2 in the National Football League and we’re here in the press box at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis for a pretty important matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings.

One of these teams will shuffle out of the Humphrey Dome with an 0-2 record and after both teams were borderline dreadful in Week 1, no one will be surprised which of these two teams it is.

As he was called in a headline in the Twin Cities Star-Tribune this morning, Indy’s Peyton Manning is the "rusty, slow, dangerous quarterback." Granted, he and the Colts were drilled at home by Chicago last week, but you can never underestimate the things Manning can do.

The Vikings, meanwhile, are a team that didn’t pass the consistency test last week in Green Bay. They lost 24-19, but had a dozen opportunities to win the game. In the end, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw an interception on the final drive to lose it.

One of these teams will snap out of it today and we’ll have all the action and colour right after the final gun.

In the meantime, here are the 10 things you need to know heading into Week 2. (By the way, go see Brad Pitt and George Clooney in Burn After Reading. Spectacular flick.)

1.  By Tuesday morning, only 16 teams will be able to boast about having a perfect 2-0 record. That leaves at least 16 clubs at 1-1 or 0-2. Since NFL realignment in 2002, 42 of the 72 playoff teams (58.3 per cent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2.  Four of the past seven Super Bowl champions began their seasons with a 1-1 or 0-2 record, including the Super Bowl XLII Champion New York Giants. In case you’ve forgotten, the Giants started 0-2 last season and coach Tom Coughlin nearly got his butt fired.

2.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a scoop: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. However, the NFL still has plenty of durable quarterbacks. New York Jets QB Brett Favre (I still have trouble writing, "New York Jets QB Brett Favre), who goes head-to-head against Matt Cassel and the Patriots today (more on that later), holds the NFL record for consecutive regular-season starts with 254. Indy’s Peyton manning will start No. 162 here in Minnie today.

3. Speaking of Peyton, he’s had plenty of success against the Vikings. According to the league, Manning has thrown four touchdowns in each of his two career games against Minnesota. With a similar performance today, he can become the first NFL quarterback to pass for four touchdowns in three consecutive games against an opponent. OK, that’s an obscure milestone, but it’s still pretty good.

4. And on the topic of obscure milestones the Eagles Donovan McNabb can break a 22-year-old record this Monday night when Philadelphia plays the Cowboys in Dallas. McNabb, coming off a three-touchdown performance last week against St. Louis, needs two TD passes against Dallas tomorrow night to surpass former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski (1977-86) as the Eagles’ career leader. Oh yeah, and Jaworski will be covering the game in Dallas for ESPN.

 5. When the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals meet up in the Cards home opener today, history suggests there will not be very many incomplete passes. Dolphins QB Chad Pennington (65.5) and Cardinals starter Kurt Warner (65.1) lead the NFL with the highest career completion percentages. That’s right, Pennington and Warner are 1-2 ahead of No. 3 Steve Young and No. 4 Peyton Manning.

6. Perhaps the most intriguing game of the weekend will feature the New England Patriots and the New York Jets. Before the season began, this was going to be a matchup between Jets QB Brett Favre, the NFL career leader in all the major passing categories, against three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady. But Brady’s gone for the duration (knee surgery) and a seventh-round draft choice from 2005 named Matt Cassel is the quarterback. Cassel, who backed up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinert at USC, hasn’t started a game since high school. However, be fair. Brady was a sixth-round pick who carried a clipboard for a year before replacing the injured Drew Bledsoe. Favre, who now calls himself "a New Yorkian," was a second-round pick who was traded after his rookie year (and no starts) from Atlanta to Green Bay before he got his chance. This will be an intriguing matchup because after Brady’s success, you can’t write off Cassel quite yet.     

7. Atlanta Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan’s 62-yard touchdown pass on his first NFL attempt last Sunday was the first time a player threw a TD pass of 50 or more yards in the first quarter of his NFL debut since Roger Staubach hit Lance Rentzel on a 75-yard TD bomb on Sept. 21, 1969.

8. The Cleveland Browns will try to bounce back, as they did last year, from a 28-10 opening game shellacking at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and end an ugly streak. After losing 34-7 in their 2007 opener to the Steelers, the Browns roared back in Week 2 last year with a 51-45 win over Cincinnati, so they know a quick turnaround is possible (they eventually finished 10-6). Problem is, the Browns are playing Pittsburgh a team that has won nine in a row over the Browns and 14 of the last 15.

9. What a Monday night matchup. Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles amassed  522 yards of total offence while the Cowboys picked up 487, to rank 1 and 2 after Week1. That means, Monday will be the first time since Nov. 19, 2006 (Cincinnati, 545 at New Orleans, 513) that teams have met the week after posting at least 475 yards of offense.

10. Oh yeah, and the quarterbacks were pretty hot last Sunday, too. Philly’s Donovan McNabb threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns while three Eagles receivers (rookie DE Sean Jackson, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett) each  put up at least 100 receiving yards (the first time that has happened for Philly since 1960). Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ Tony Romo threw for 320 yards while putting together four long touchdown drives against the Browns.