It’s holiday football folks and for Dallas the December script is reading all too familiar. The Cowboys still have legitimate playoff hopes and faced a very underrated Saints team yesterday, who was playing solely for its dignity. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant absolutely torched the New Orleans’ defense in the second quarter by themselves, but saw the game start to slip away until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. And that’s when the gears started clicking.
Romo closed regulation like a stud, playing as clutch as anyone possibly could and vaporizing a 14 point deficit within five minutes to stunningly force overtime. But that’s where the fun ended. At the end of the day, he does play for the Dallas Cowboys (who I’m pretty sure are hexed) and Drew Brees orchestrated a brilliantly flukey pass-catch-fumble and subsequent Saints recovery near the goal line that resulted in the game-ending field goal. Yet, despite the heart-wrenching loss, Dallas can still make the postseason with a victory against Washington next week.
Meanwhile, it was win or go home for both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and the Steelers went home. Much of the game was a defensive struggle, with both quarterbacks throwing two interceptions, and the Bengals lone touchdown came on a pick-six. But it came down to a nail-biting end as both kickers missed long field goals and just when the game looked to go into overtime, Andy Dalton hit AJ Green for a spectacular catch that gave kicker Josh Brown a chance to make up for his mistake a possession earlier.
Goodbye Steelers, few things give me as much joy as seeing you lose. I’m looking forward to a bumblebee-free January.
— The Seahawks gave the 49ers a big, fat prime-time wedgie with a 42-13 thrashing on national TV. It was a very sobering loss for SF and the only way I can spin it is that hopefully they use the experience as extra motivation in the playoffs. Seattle has now outscored their opponents 150-30 over the last three weeks. Who really wants to see them in the postseason? On a related note, the NFC West is no longer the joke of the NFL. That honor belongs to AFC West now.
— With all eyes on Adrian Peterson, Minnesota maybe pulled off the shocker of the day beating Houston 23-6. A.P. lowest rushing total since October means he’ll have to rack up 208 yards against Green Bay next Sunday to surpass Eric Dickerson’s record. Even with said record hanging in the balance, so is a playoff birth for the Vikes. Next week’s finale should be must-see-TV.
— Well, it wasn’t Tom Brady’s finest day as a pro, but it wasn’t like he needed to be anything spectacular against lowly Jacksonville, whom the Patriots dispatched 23-16.
–The good news for Falcons fans? Their 31-18 victory on Saturday – led by Matt Ryan’s four touchdowns – means the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC must pass through the Georgia Dome. The good news for Lions fans? Despite being a lackluster 4-11 on the season, Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s single season reception yards record. There’s a good chance he becomes the first receiver in NFL history to go for 2,000 next Sunday, too.
— Green Bay’s 55-7 dump trucking of the Titans means two things. One, Green Bay is looking like a well-oiled machine headed into the playoffs. And two, there’s only one game left for Tennessee.
— The highlight in the Panthers 17-6 win over Oakland was the broadcast blooper which accidentally showed the Raiders having to convert on 3rd and 61.
— In a game they had to win, Chicago beat Arizona 28-13 keeping playoff aspirations alive. Even more astounding, Larry Fitzgerald had 111 yards receiving.
— Peyton Manning looked like an animal playing with its food during Denver’s 34-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Manning threw for a season-high 339 yards (along with three touchdowns and one pick), and The Factory Of Sadness walked away sans Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden, who were lost to injury.
— “Suck For Luck” looks like a success for the Colts. One year removed from putting up the league’s worst record, Indy’s 10-5 and headed to the AFC playoffs, snagging their spot by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 20-13.
— In a game that meant absolutely nothing playoff-wise, credit Miami for actually giving a damn in their 24-10 victory over divisional foe Buffalo. Reggie Bush, too, for his three touchdowns on Sunday. Being Reggie Bush in Miami has to be a wonderful, wonderful thing (even if the Dolphins play a backseat role to the “other” team in town).
— You can’t call it any other way. The Ravens straight up embarrassed the NYG’s in Baltimore 33-14. AJ’s boy Joe Flacco fired on all cylinders much to Corey Webster’s chagrin as the QB exposed Webster’s side of the field often. The damage remained evident on the ground too as Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for almost 300 all purpose yards. Baltimore clinched the division with the win while the Giants remain a long shot in the hunt playoff hunt.
— The Jets season just gets funnier and more depressing by the second. In his first career start, Greg McElroy was sacked 11 times in a 27-17 loss in what proved to the AFC’s Underachieving Bowl versus the Chargers.
— Josh Freeman may have thrown himself out of Tampa with his second four-interception outing in a row. For the second straight year, Tampa implodes and end their season in shambles. Remember when the NFC South was the scary division?