By Brian Willwerth
A recap of Week 13 in the NFL – three of Sunday’s games was decided on the final play of regulation, or overtime. We’ll start with those.
PACKERS 38, GIANTS 35 — Our “Game of the Day” will no doubt get some votes for “Game of the YEAR” when all is said and done. Green Bay and New York combined for nearly 900 yards of total offense. Let’s jump right to crunch time. Trailing by eight in the final minute, Eli Manning threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks. The Giants made the two-point conversion to tie the game, but then Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got the ball at his own 20 with 0:58 left on the clock. It only took two big plays for him to lead his team into field goal range. Mason Crosby kicked the game-winning, 30-yard field goal, as time expired, and yes, the Packers improved to [12-0]. Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, while Manning tossed three.
CARDINALS 19, COWBOYS 13 (OT) – What a wild ending in Glendale, Arizona, and one that will be talked about a lot in Dallas for the next few days. With 0:07 remaining, Dan Bailey was lining up for a game-winning field goal attempt. A timeout was called to ice the kicker. But, the stoppage was called by Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. Bailey’s kick, which went through the uprights, did not count. He had to try it again, and came up short. Arizona got the ball to start overtime, and Kevin Kolb hit Larod Stephens-Howling, who danced through the Cowboys’ defense and into the end zone for a 52-yard, game-winning score. And it’s all because Jason Garrett iced his own kicker, wow!
BRONCOS 35, VIKINGS 32 – Don’t look now, but Denver is now tied for first place in the AFC West. And once again, Tim Tebow led his team from behind. He threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Then after the Broncos picked off Christian Ponder with less than two minutes remaining, they marched down the field and Matt Prater kicked a 23-yard field goal as time expired. Tebow is now [6-1] as the Broncos’ starting quarterback.
TITANS 23, BILLS 17 – Chris Johnson is finding his groove. He ran for 153 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee’s victory at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Johnson has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four games.
CHIEFS 10, BEARS 3 – While this was hardly the best game of the day, it may have featured the play of the day or maybe it was just Kevin Harlan’s voice that made it special. The only touchdown of the contest came on the final play of the first half, when Tyler Palko’s “Hail Mary” pass landed in the arms of Dexter McCluster. Chicago suffered a significant blow when Matt Forte left the game with a right knee injury.
DOLPHINS 34, RAIDERS 14 – Here’s the upset of the day. In Miami, the Dolphins made it look easy against the first-place Raiders. Reggie Bush ran for 100 yards and a touchdown. Miami scored two touchdowns within 20 seconds of each other in the third quarter.
PATRIOTS 31, COLTS 24 – They love Rob Gronkowski in Foxboro, Massachusetts, as the tight end scored three more touchdowns, giving him 13th touchdown receptions on the season. His other score was a rushing TD on a lateral. The Pats built a big lead, and then hung on as the Colts scored 21 points in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis is now [0-12], while New England is [9-3].
STEELERS 35, BENGALS 7 – This was a statement game for Pittsburgh. At Heinz Field, Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, as the Steelers swept the season series from Cincinnati, who is now [0-3] against the two teams ahead of them in the AFC North, (PIT and BAL.)
PANTHERS 38, BUCCANEERS 19 – This was all about Cam Newton. Carolina’s rookie quarterback rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another at Raymond James Stadium. Josh Johnson started at quarterback for Tampa Bay in place of the injured Josh Freeman. The Bucs, who at one time were [4-2], and in first place, have lost six in a row.
JETS 34, REDSKINS 19 – At FedEx Field, the Jets kept their playoff hopes alive by rallying for 21 points in the fourth quarter. Mark Sanchez found Santonio Holmes for the game-winning touchdown with 4:49 to play. Washington has lost seven of its last eight.
TEXANS 17, FALCONS 10 – It doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback for Houston; the Texans keep on winning. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates played mistake-free football, and Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan’s last-second pass in the end zone fell incomplete.
49ERS 26, RAMS 0 – We have our first division winner. San Francisco wrapped up in the NFC East with an easy victory at home over St. Louis. Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes, while Frank Gore ran for 73 yards, and became the franchise’s career rushing leader.
RAVENS 24, BROWNS 10 – Neither a driving rainstorm nor Cleveland’s defense could slow down Ray Rice. The Baltimore running back broke loose for a career-high 204 yards, as the Ravens remained in first place in the AFC North. They own the tiebreaker over the Steelers.