Sunday proved to be the most eventful day of football in the 2012 season. Numerous divisions are experiencing log jams at the top, and Week 15 did little to change that. No division better exemplifies this chaos than the NFC East, which features a three-way tie for first. After a first half full of uncertainty, Dallas did its part to throw itself into that grouping by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime, 27-24.
A competitive contest from start to finish, the game ended with Ben Roethlisburger throwing a costly interception to Brandon Carr that perfectly set up a Dan Bailey field goal. Dallas finishes the season against New Orleans at home and Washington on the road, a brutal final stretch. This team will have to play extra-inspired to make it into the postseason, but give them credit for making it this far.
A possible Super Bowl matchup went the way of the NFC in Sunday’s nightcap. It looked for a minute like the Patriots were poised for an improbable comeback, scoring 28 unanswered points to turn a 31-10 fourth quarter deficit into a 31-all tie halfway through the quarter. But Colin Kaepernick (who tossed four TDs) threw a dart to Michael Crabtree, who abused cornerback Kyle Arrington for a 35 yard touchdown. The Patriots wouldn’t recover, but probably aren’t too worried about wrapping up the AFC East: Jacksonville and Miami are their final opponents.
— After an embarrassing beat down courtesy of Tom Brady and the Patriots, the Texans responded by locking down the AFC South with a win over the Indianapolis Colts. Andre Johnson came alive to the tune of 11 catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. Andrew Luck had a decent game, but he’ll have to be a little bit better to shock some teams deeper into the playoffs.
— Carolina’s 31-7 curb stomping of San Diego continued the Panthers run to end the 2012 campaign on a good note. Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, Cam Newton’s put up 13 touchdowns his last five games. In that same span, he’s also had zero interceptions.
— Per Greg Whitt: “The Cleveland factory of sadness churned out a giant lump of coal for its fans’ stockings in the form of a 17 point loss to the Redskins. After a shaky start, rookie QB Kirk Cousins performed well in place of the injured RGIII, throwing for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. Trent Richardson had two touchdowns to break the Browns rookie record for rushing TDs formerly held by the great Jim Brown, but could only muster a paltry 28 yards. Brandon Weeden’s two interceptions sealed the deal, and helped halt Cleveland’s winning streak at three games.”
— Eat your heart out Peyton Manning. Adrian Peterson just vultured your Comeback Player of the Year and MVP as another 200 yard game means he’s one step closer to the all-time mark for yards in a season. All of this while putting a QB-less team (sorry Christian Ponder) on his back for a playoff run. Not bad for a guy coming of ACL surgery.
— Kansas City and Oakland played and…um…you’ve probably stopped reading already so here’s a picture of Bria Myles because butts.
— The Giants fell into their usual late season trap by getting shellacked 34-0 in Atlanta. Eli’s suspect pass right into Asante Samuel’s hands on the first drive told the tale for the game well before Atlanta took a 17-0 lead at halftime. Matt Ryan must’ve played on Easy, or against the hapless Giants secondary, as he racked up 270 yards and 3 touchdowns: two connections to Julio Jones and one for Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons remained perfect at home and are on pace for a first round bye this postseason. Meanwhile, NY picked the wrong weekend to be out of song as the loss relinquishes them of first place in the NFC East and merely “in the hunt” for a wildcard berth.
— Remember when Matt Flynn was supposed to be the Seahawks high-priced new quarterback? Yeah, me neither. For the second straight week Seattle hung half-a-century on the score board following a 50-17 victory over Buffalo. Think about it like this. The ‘Hawks have had one of the better defenses all year. Now their offense is clicking on all cylinders? Who really wants to see them come January?
— At this point, if you’re a Jacksonville fan, these next two games cannot end quick enough. Sunday’s 24-3 loss in Miami improved them to 2-12. Improved in the sense of solidifying draft position in April. And don’t look now, but Reggie Bush has a shot at his second consecutive 1,000-yard season.
— Things got real ugly real quick in The Big Easy as Drew Brees’ four touchdowns led New Orleans’ 41-0 knee-slapper against Tampa Bay.
— It only took 78 days, but the Arizona Cardinals ended their nine game losing streak with a 38-10 W against the disappointing Detroit Lions. While he won’t be a MVP candidate due to his team’s 4-10 record, Calvin Johnson’s 10 catches for 121 yards ensured he became the only receiver in league history with two consecutive 1,600-yard seasons.
— Denver won it’s first game of the season against a probable playoff team by knocking off the Ravens in Baltimore. Traveling east and playing against a quality team, Denver continued their torrid march towards the post season; the number one overall seed is very much in play. As for Baltimore? As they currently stand, it’s hard to imagine any team fretting over a playoff matchup against Joe Flacco and co.
And Knowshon Moreno used Ed Reed as a human hurdle.