Monday, December 11, 2006

NFL Roundup: Week 14

Some observations, comments and opinions about last weeks NFL games.

San Diego 48, Denver 20
With chants of "L.T! L.T!" pouring from the stands, LaDainian Tomlinson delivered a record and a division title for San Diego. Tomlinson scored three touchdowns Sunday, including the final two in a span of 47 seconds late in the game, to break the NFL single-season record with 29 TDs. Tomlinson had three scores overall. The victory, coupled with Kansas City's 20-10 loss to Baltimore, gave the Chargers (11-2) their second division title in three seasons. Denver (7-6) lost its fourth straight game.

Arizona 27, Seattle 21
Edgerrin James topped 100 yards rushing for the second game in a row and Matt Leinart threw touchdown passes of 56 and 5 yards to lead the Cardinals (4-9) to their third victory in four games. The Seahawks fell to 8-5 on the season.

Buffalo 31, NY Jets 13
The Bills (6-7) looked more like the playoff contender than the Jets (7-6), winning for the third time in four games. Willis McGahee scored on a 57-yard run, Lee Evans had a 77-yard TD catch and Nate Clements returned an interception 58 yards for a score. McGahee had 125 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. He has gained 100 or more yards in each of his last five games against New York.

Green Bay 30, San Francisco 19
Brett Favre passed for 293 yards and hit Donald Driver for a 68-yard touchdown as the Packers (5-8) snapped a three-game losing streak with the win over the 49ers (5-8). Driver had nine catches for 160 yards as Favre went 22-for-34 and surpassed 3,000 yards passing for the 15th straight season to extend his own NFL record.

Jacksonville 44, Indianapolis 17
Rookie Maurice Drew ran for a career-high 166 yards and two touchdowns, had a 93-yard kickoff return for a score, and the Jaguars literally ran the Colts out of town and maybe out of contention for home-field advantage in the AFC with a surprising victory. Fred Taylor was equally effective against the league's worst run defense, gaining 131 yards on nine carries before leaving the game with a sore right hamstring. The Colts (10-3), who were looking to clinch their fourth consecutive AFC East title. Now, they will try to regroup from a third loss in four games. The Jaguars improved to 8-5 on the season. Marvin Harrison became the fourth player in NFL history with 1,000 receptions Sunday, joining Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Cris Carter. Harrison had six catches for 101 yards.

Miami 21, New England 0
Miami sacked Brady four times, forced him to fumble twice, held him to 78 yards passing and shut out the Patriots for the first time since the perfect-season Dolphins of 1972. The Patriots (9-4) still lead the AFC East, but the loss hurt their chances of earning a first-round bye in the playoffs. They lost on the road for the first time in six games this season. Miami (6-7), virtually eliminated from the playoff race a week ago, won for the fifth time in six games.

Tennessee 26, Houston 20 OT
Vince Young ran for a 39-yard touchdown in overtime for a third straight comeback victory and fourth win in a row. Two weeks ago, the Titans (6-7) rallied from a 21-0 deficit in the final 9.5 minutes to beat the Giants. Last week, Rob Bironas' 60-yard field goal in the final seconds beat Indianapolis. The Texans fell to 4-9.

Cincinnati 27, Oakland 10
Carson Palmer threw for a pair of touchdowns and Rudi Johnson ran for two more to strengthen Cincinnati's playoff chances. The Bengals (8-5) have won four in a row, moving to the forefront of the AFC wild card race. Two Bengals receivers - T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson topped 100 yards, and a running back also ran for 100 yards - Johnson had 117 yards - the first time that has happened in franchise history. The Raiders fell to 2-11 on the season.

Philadelphia 21, Washington 19
The Eagles intercepted two passes - one was returned 84 yards for a TD by Michael Lewis - and Jeff Garcia threw two TD passes. Garcia was threw for 164 yards in another solid outing to improve to 2-1 as the starter since Donovan McNabb's season-ending injury. Brian Westbrook had 88 yards rushing and 38 receiving for the Eagles (7-6), who have swept the Redskins (4-9) four times in the last five years.

Baltimore 20, Kansas City 10
Steve McNair hooked up with Mark Clayton for an 87-yard score and Ed Reed had two interceptions Sunday, leading the Ravens to victory. Baltimore (10-3) maintained its two-game division lead over Cincinnati, which beat Oakland. The Chiefs fell to 7-6.

Minnesota 30, Detroit 20
Artose Pinner had career highs with 125 yards rushing and three touchdowns to lift the Vikings (6-7) to the win against his former team. Despite losing five of the previous six games and being under .500, the Vikings still have a shot at playing in January. The Lions (2-11), meanwhile, have lost five straight.

Atlanta 17, Tampa Bay 6
The NFL's top rushing team lost Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood within a span of five plays of the third quarter, but Justin Griffith came in to finish a 71-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown burst to lead the Falcons (7-6) over the Bucs (3-10), who have lost six of seven.

NY Giants 27, Carolina 13
Tiki Barber rushed for 112 yards, Manning threw three touchdown passes and the Giants snapped a four-game losing streak. Weinke, making his first start in more than four years in place of the injured Jake Delhomme, threw for a team-record 423 yards, but had three second-half interceptions for the Panthers (6-7), losers of three straight. The Giants (7-6) remained in the top spot in the NFC wild-card race. Barber went over 10,000 career yards rushing in the second quarter on the way to his fifth 100-yard game of the season.

Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 7
Willie Parker broke the single-season Steelers rushing record with 223 yards to lead Pittsburgh to the victory over the Browns on Thursday. Parker, the first player in Steelers history to have two 200-yard games in a season, broke John "Frenchy" Fuqua's record of 218 yards against Philadelphia in 1970, two years before Fuqua was the intended receiver on Harris' famous Immaculate Reception against Oakland. Pittsburgh (6-7) has now won three straight games, while Cleveland fell to 4-9.

New Orleans 42, Dallas 17
Drew Brees finished 26 of 38 for 384 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Saints to the easy victory over the Cowboys on Sunday night. The Saints (9-4) grabbed sole possession of the second-best record in the NFC, putting them in position for a luxury the franchise has never enjoyed: a first-round playoff bye. With the loss, Dallas fell to 8-5 overall and 5-2 with QB Tony Romo as the starter.

With the season fast coming to a close, the Chargers and the Saints have emerged as the possible teams to beat in the playoffs.

With Chicago struggling on offense and the rest of the NFC mediocre, New Orleans made a huge statement with its blowout win over Dallas and are now 8-1 against the NFC this season. The Saints are hot and with a two-game lead in the division, Brees and company can focus on that elusive prize - a first round bye in the playoffs - something New Orleans has never had in its long-suffering history.

San Diego has won seven straight and have the best balance of offensive and defensive talent in the entire league.

The Colts are in a tailspin, having lost two straight and giving up an amazing 375 yards rushing against the Jags, the second highest total in league history. If Indy can't stop Drew or Taylor, how will they ever stop L.T.? As a matter of fact, the Colts could actually lose the playoff bye if they stay cold and Baltimore keeps winning.

Who would of thought at the beginning of the season that a Chargers-Saints Super Bowl was a possibility?

On Monday night, the Bears (10-2) hope to stay two steps ahead of the Saints in their quest for home-field advantage when they take on the struggling St. Louis Rams.

The Rams have lost six of seven after a 4-1 start, but are amazingly still alive for a playoff berth. QB Marc Bulger called out some of his teammates after a lackluster performance against Arizona last week and it will be interesting to see how they respond. The Rams are 31st against the run so look for a steady diet of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson to try and take the pressure off of beleaguered QB Rex Grossman.

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