By Brian Willwerth
JETS 28, BILLS 24 – We’ll start at the Meadowlands for our Game of the Day. It was a matchup between a pair of teams in desperate need of a win. Mark Sanchez was the hero for the Jets. He threw four touchdown passes, including the game-winner to Santonio Holmes with just over a minute remaining. He completed barely half of his passes, but came through when he needed to. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three TD passes for Buffalo in a losing effort. Another thing that will be talked about is the play of Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson. After catching a TD pass, his ensuing celebration won the “poor taste” award, since he made fun of the Plaxico Burress nightclub incident from three years ago, (if you saw the game, you know what I mean). Then late in the fourth quarter, he was wide open down the middle of the field, and dropped a pass that would’ve gone for a huge gain. In the end, the Jets swept the season series from the Bills.
FALCONS 24, VIKINGS 14 – At the Georgia Dome, Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes as Atlanta hung on to beat Minnesota. Here’s the stat of the game: Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 104 yards late in the fourth quarter, but did not score a touchdown. The Vikes ended up getting stuffed by the Falcons’ defense.
BENGALS 23, BROWNS 20 – What a wild finish at Paul Brown Stadium. With less than two minutes to play, Phil Dawson missed a 55-yard FG that would’ve given Cleveland the lead. Cincinnati raced right back down the field, courtesy of a 51-yard pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green. Mike Nugent’s 26-yard FG allowed the Bengals to improve to [7-4], and remain very much alive in the AFC playoff picture.
TITANS 23, BUCCANEERS 17 – This was the breakout game Chris Johnson has been waiting for. He rushed for 190 yards. But ultimately it was Matt Hasselbeck’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Damian Williams on fourth down that gave Tennessee the win at home. The Bucs drove down the field in the closing seconds, but Josh Freeman fumbled a snap on fourth down that sealed Tampa Bay’s fate. There were nine turnovers in this sloppy game: five by the Bucs, four by the Titans.
PANTHERS 27, COLTS 19 –Carolina won its first road game in nearly two years. DeAngelo Williams rushed for two touchdowns as the Panthers sent the Colts to [0-11] on the season. It doesn’t get any easier for Indy; a trip to Foxboro awaits them next Sunday.
CARDINALS 23, RAMS 20 – This was a good game between a couple of struggling teams. The star of the game was Arizona running back Beanie Wells, who set a franchise record with 228 yards on the ground, including a 71-yard touchdown. Patrick Peterson also returned a punt for a TD for the fourth time this season.
TEXANS 20, JAGUARS 13 – Houston keeps losing quarterbacks, but continues to win games. In Jacksonville, Matt Leinart injured his throwing shoulder in the Texans’ victory over the Jags. They’ve already lost Matt Schaub for the season with a right foot injury. T.J. Yates played the rest of the way on Sunday. Fortunately for the Texans, their defense is outstanding. They sacked Blaine Gabbert six times.
PATRIOTS 38, EAGLES 20 – At one point, the score was 10-0 Philadelphia. Then Tom Brady and company got down to business. Brady was (24-34, 361 yards and three touchdowns), including two to Wes Welker. The Pats also got two rushing touchdowns from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. New England is [8-3], while the Eagles – a team that had such high expectations – fell to [4-7].
RAIDERS 25, BEARS 20 – In Oakland, the Raiders stayed in first place in the AFC West. Sebastian Janikowski tied a team-record with six field goals, four of them from 40+ yards. Chicago QB Caleb Hanie, filling in for the injured Jay Cutler, was picked off three times.
REDSKINS 23, SEAHAWKS 17 – Washington scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to rally for the win in Seattle. The game-winner was a 50-yard scoring pass from Rex Grossman to Anthony Armstrong with just over six minutes remaining. The Redskins snapped their six-game losing streak.
BRONCOS 16, CHARGERS 13 (OT) – In San Diego, it took nearly five full quarters of football to determine the winner. Matt Prater kicked 37-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining in overtime as Denver won its fourth straight and kept pace with the Raiders in the division. Earlier in OT, Nick Novak missed a 53-yarder that would’ve won the game for San Diego. Tim Tebow threw for 143 yards and rushed for 67 more.