It was an ugly game in St. Louis, as San Francisco came within a minute of tying the Rams for second consecutive time this season. And while the narrow 16-13 loss will inexplicably fuel more fire to the quarterback debate out west, the blame for this one should fall squarely on Jim Harbaugh.
How else do you explain the call for Colin Kaepernick to throw a risky toss to Teddy Ginn Jr. with 3:04 left in the game while nursing an 8 point lead? The Niners dynamic coach should have gone the conventional route with a simple run, burning some clock and putting all the pressure on Sam Bradford and the Rams. Instead, Janoris Jenkins recovers the Ginn fumble (fall on the ball, Ginn. Don’t try to scoop it up!) for a score and the Rams convert the two point conversion to tie the game.
Hold on though, it gets worse. On the following possession, after getting into field goal range thanks to a phenomenal 50 yard sneak by Kaep, the overaggressive Harbaugh opted for a pass, which fell incomplete and stopped the clock. Throw in a stupid penalty and St. Louis gets the balls back with 1:34 on the clock, enough time to force overtime and linger around for the upset.
Peyton Manning Andrew Luck showed everyone his veteran-level poise, and once again why he was the number one overall pick in the draft this year. After a miserable 3.9 quarters of football and needing a TD to win, the Colts quarterback had four tries to score from 14 yards away. On the first two attempts Luck was obviously locking on Reggie Wayne and the Lions defense were having none of it. But on fourth down, he avoided a sack after the pocket broke down and had the awareness to target Donnie Avery on a dinky, but well-placed pass to put the receiver in position to stroll into the endzone untouched, clinch a victory, and come another step closer to an unprecedented wild-card spot.
— Mark Sanchez FINALLY got the boot but thanks to
church a rib injury, Tebow was inactive and rookie Greg McElroy got the call. Rex Ryan may have just created a three way quarterback controversy. Brownie points for Sexy Rexy.
— Charlie Batch (and James Harrison) worked extra hard to help the Steelers redeem themselves after last week’s meltdown. Score one for the Ben-less squad as they defeated the Ravens 23-20. Week 16’s Steelers-Bengals game looks bigger than ever.
— It was a snoozefest in Oakland, as the Browns and Raiders put up meaningless points in a meaningless game with a meaningless outcome. Did I mention it was meaningless?
— The Jaguars fell to Buffalo 34-18, basically etching in stone the #2 pick come April.
— With Sunday’s victory over the Dolphins, the Patriots solidified their ninth AFC East title in 10 years.
— Speaking of rookie QB’s doing work, Russell Wilson’s first year in the league continues to get better and better. Seattle beat Chicago 23-17, increasing the ‘Hawks playoff chances in the process.
— The Bucs tried to make it interesting in the fourth quarter, but Peyton and company secured their ninth victory of the season and AFC West title with a 31-23 W.
— Despite Adrian Peterson continuing to redefine what “comeback player of the year” means with is 210 yards rushing, the Vikes fell 23-14 in Green Bay. No seriously, A.P. is a freak of nature. That’s the only way to describe him.
— Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Browns are on a two game winning streak altering beat Oakland 20-17.
— If they weren’t before, the Bengals are now officially in the thick of things in the AFC race for the playoffs after being lowly San Diego 20-13. At 7-5, with two winnable games against Dallas and Philly on their plate, their fate lies in their own hands at this point.
— Led by Tony Romo’s 303 yards and three touchdowns, Dallas’ playoff chances still have a heartbeat. On another note, and here’s your fun fact for the day. The Eagles (and Cardinals) haven’t won a single game in the past two months.
— In the wake of the Javon Belcher tragedy, the Kansas City Chiefs played a difficult game and defeated the Panthers, 27-21. And even though their victory on the field meant a lot to team and the city, it was quarterback Brady Quinn’s words during the postgame life in perspective for everyone off the field.