As Christmas approaches, some NFL coaches were doing whatever they could to get back on the nice list in the eyes of their owners. Teams that hadn’t been doing a lot of winning this year found ways to get the job done in upset style in Week 14, but some, however, continued to fall face first into the snow (or desert sand).
Peyton Manning highlighted the weekly Thursday night game as he threw for 300 yards for the first time since Week 10 at Carolina, but threw just one touchdown pass after eight in his previous three games. This marks the seventh time in his career that he has thrown 30 or more touchdowns in a season. He also turned the ball over at least once for the sixth straight game, but his Broncos still won their eighth straight, beating division rival Oakland 26-13 on Thursday night to improve to 10-3 on the year. The eight-game win streak is the longest for the Broncos since 1997-98 and with their 10th win of the year, they have hit double-digits in wins for the first time since 2005. The Denver D picked off at least one pass for the ninth straight game. Denver’s five-game lead in the AFC West is tied for the Falcons for the largest division lead through 14 weeks.
Rookie running back Doug Martin, a regular name in this post, became the first rookie running back since 2008 to record 1,500 yards from scrimmage in Tampa Bay‘s last-second 23-21 loss to the Eagles. Philly won for the first time in nine weeks behind Nick Foles, who threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner as time expired. He became the second rookie in as many weeks to win a game with a TD pass as time expired (Luck). All seven of Tampa Bay’s losses this season have been by eight points or fewer. The Eagles now have as many wins (one) since Oct. 1 as the Phillies.
Don’t look now, but the Jets – yes, the New York Jets – have won two straight after picking up their first ever win in Jacksonville Sunday by a score of 17-10 and are now being considered as a team with a chance to sneak into the playoffs. Mark Sanchez was back in there, but the Jets found the endzone twice on the ground and picked Chad Henne off twice en route to their second straight win and third in four games. Montell Owens scored his first rushing touchdown since 2008 for the Jags, who have lost two straight. Sanchez didn’t throw an interception for just the fourth time this year.
The joke that is the Arizona Cardinals just keeps getting funnier as they dropped their ninth straight game after starting the season 4-0. They didn’t just lose though – they lost 58-0 (not a misprint) to the Seahawks. The Seattle defense forced eight turnovers (four fumbles, four interceptions) and led 38-0 at halftime – their largest halftime lead since 1977. Marshawn Lynch ran for three touchdowns on just 11 carries and finished with 128 yards – his first multi-TD game of the year. Larry Fitzgerald remainedinvisible as he caught just one ball for two yards and Arizona quarterbacks John Skelton and Ryan Lindley combined to go 19-of-39 for 111 yards and four interceptions. The 58-point margin of victory is the largest in Seahawks history and the 58 points are the most the team’s ever scored in a single game. Not surprisingly, the 58-point loss is good for the worst in the 92-year history of the Cardinals.
Cincinnati running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis just missed out on his fourth straight 100-yard rushing performance and his Bengals just missed out on a win over the Cowboys, who were playing with heavy hearts and won the game, 20-19, just one day after practice squad player Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident. Dallas has climbed back into the NFC East race and sits just one game behind the Giants with three to go. Josh Brown was good on all four of his field goal attempts, but the lack of touchdowns really hurt the Bengals in the one-point loss. Dez Bryant caught at least one touchdown pass in his fifth straight game, but did end up breaking his index finger. He also became the first Cowboys receiver to go over 1,000 yards since 2009. Dan Bailey kicked the sixth game-winning field goal of his career and Jason Witten led the team in receiving yards for the fourth time this year.
With 64 receiving yards, Reggie Wayne of the Colts reached the 1,200-yard plateau for the sixth time in his career and also recorded at least three receptions in his 61st straight game, adding to his NFL record, in Indy’s 27-23 comeback win over the Titans. Chris Johnson became a 1,000-yard rusher for the fifth straight season to start his career. Andrew Luck led his team to their sixth 4th quarter, game-winning drive of the year, the most a rookie has ever led his team to. Indy would be tied for the division lead or be the division leader if they played in any of four other divisions in the league and not in the same one as the 11-2 Texans.
Jamaal Charles scored an 80-yard touchdown on his team’s first play of the game, but that would pretty much be the only bright sport for the Chiefs as they fell 30-7 to division rival Cleveland. Travis Benjamin paced the Browns as he returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown – the longest in the team’s history. Trent Richardson tied Jim Brown’s Cleveland record for rushing touchdowns by a rookie with his ninth. The 23-point win was the first by that much for the Browns since the 2003 season. This is Cleveland’s first three-game winning streak since the end of the 2009 season when they won four in a row. They have a chance to win more than five games for the first time since 2007 when they host the Redskins next week.
Adrian Peterson said he wanted to break Eric Dickerson‘s single-season rushing record in 2012 and with 154 more yards on Sunday, he just might have a chance to get past his mark of 2,105 set in 1984. Minnesota held on to beat the Bears 21-14 behind two touchdowns from A.P. Chicago has lost four of five since starting the season 7-1. Through 13 games, Peterson has rushed for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also joined LaDainian Tomlinson as the only backs to ever rush for 10 touchdowns in each of their first six seasons. In fact, in the Vikings‘ last seven games, Peterson has more rushing yards (1,101) than Christian Ponder has passing yards (962). With 10 receptions, Brandon Marshall joined an elite group of receivers to have four seasons of 100+ catches (Jerry Rice, Wes Welker and Marvin Harrison).
The Rams joined the Browns by winning their third straight, 15-12, over the Bills, but they had gone much longer without a three-game win streak. In fact, the last time they did it was to end the 2006 season. C.J. Spiller had his lowest rushing total (37) since Week 5. Even though they finished with 15 points, the Rams only scored touchdowns in the game. Buffalo allowed less than 90 rushing yards for the fourth straight week. Brandon Gibson caught six balls and reached 100 yards for the first time this year.
The Steelers lost for the third time in four games to the struggling Chargers, 34-24, in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger did throw for three touchdowns in his first game back from injury, but the defense couldn’t get the job done as they let up a season-high 34 points. The Chargers got the first three scores of the game and Pittsburgh didn’t even run a play on their side of the field until there were 28 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. Shaun Suisham has made 29 straight field goals of less than 50 yards. All 11 of Philip Rivers‘ 3rd down completions went for 1st downs.
Cam Newton led the Panthers to perhaps the upset of the day as his two two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown helped Carolina to get by the NFC-leading Falcons, 30-20. His remarkable career continued as he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 250 yards, rush for 100 yards and score with both a touchdown pass and run in the same game. It was the first time all year that Atlanta had been held scoreless through the 1st half. The Falcons had three receivers go over 60 yards, but could not take advantage of that. Atlanta had won eight of nine against the Panthers before Sunday’s loss. The Falcons have scored 24 points or less in four straight games (3-1).
The crowd in Washington held its collective breath as Robert Griffin III went down in his team’s 31-28 overtime win against the Ravens and did not return. An MRI revealed that Griffin has a Grade 1 LCL sprain. Kicker Kai Forbath hit the game-winner for the Redskins in overtime and is now 14-14 on field goals to start his career. Backup quarterback, and fellow rookie, Kirk Cousins, threw the game-tying TD pass in the final minutes. It was the first time that two rookies threw a touchdown pass for a team in the same game since 1965. The ‘Skins are also just one game behind the Giants in the NFC East with three to play. Interestingly, Washington is 6- 1 this year with Pierre Garcon in the lineup and 1-5 without him. It is the first time in his career that Joe Flacco has lost back-to-back starts, though he did throw for three touchdowns and the first time since 2003 that the Ravens were without both Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs in the same game.
Some guy by the name of David Wilson had a career day in the Giants‘ 52-27 win over the Saints as he broke the team record with 327 all-purpose yards. Wilson’s 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was the longest by a Giant in the regular season since 1964. He also became the first New York player since 1948 with a kick return TD and a rushing TD in the same game and helped to set a Giants record for kick return yards in a game as the team finished with 287. As if those weren’t enough, Wilson became the first player in NFL history with 200-plus kickoff return yards and 100-plus rushing yards in the same game. New York scored over 50 points for the first time since 1986 and Eli Manning beat Drew Brees for the first time in his career (1-3). New Orleans has turned the ball over 11 times in its last three games (all losses). Safety Stevie Brown intercepted Brees twice and mustered 91 return yards off the picks.
Aldon Smith sacked Ryan Tannehill twice on his way to breaking the 49ers single-season record with 18.5 in their 27-13 win over the Dolphins. Colin Kaepernick‘s 50-yard touchdown run to seal the win was the longest by a quarterback in San Francisco history. The 49ers have won nine games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2001 and 2002. Their 3-0 record against the AFC East under Jim Harbaugh will be put to the test as they travel to New England next week. Frank Gore scored his seventh rushing TD of the year.
The Packers beat the Lions at home for the 21st straight time with a 27-17 win on Sunday night and improved the longest active division win streak to 11 games. Aaron Rodgers had a TD run, but no TD passes for the first time in 36 home games. Detroit tied an NFL record by losing three straight games when leading by 10 points in all of them. Calvin Johnson came up just short of his sixth straight 125-yard game as he finished with 118 in the Lions’ fifth straight loss. The win, coupled with the Bears’ loss, lifted Green Bay into first place in the NFC North. The Pack scored 17 straight points after falling behind 14-0. The Lions have not won at Lambeau Field since 1991.
The Patriots have not lost a December home game since 2002 as they shook up the AFC power rankings by manhandling the conference’s top team on Monday night. Tom Brady led the Pats with four touchdown passes in their 42-14 nationally televised drubbing of the Houston Texans and his team improved to 21-0 in the second half of the season since 2010. Brady reached 150 career wins faster than any other starting quarterback in history and did it with only 44 losses in the process. In his career, Brady improved to 4-0 when facing a team with a 9-3 record or better at home and has also won five straight Monday night games. His 18th career four-touchdown game is good for fourth all-time. MVP? Welker only had three catches, but he did extend his streak to 107 straight games with at least one reception, the fourth-longest in the NFL. A Stevan Ridley rushing touchdown gave the Pats a running back with 10-plus rushing touchdowns in each of the past three seasons. Houston fell to 0-35 when trailing by 21 points or more in a game in their history. The 13 straight December wins by New England are good for the second-longest streak in NFL history. J.J. Watt did not have at least one batted pass, sack or tackle for loss for the first time this season. No team has ever won the Super Bowl after losing a December game by 28 or more points. Bill Belichick has won 10-plus games in 10 straight seasons, the longest streak ever.
The Foles TD pass marked the third time this year that a rookie has thrown a game-winning touchdown pass with no time left on the clock. From 1970-2011, only two rookies had done that.
Some information taken from ESPN Stats & Info.
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