No team in the NFC North won a game this week, despite two of the teams playing against other. More on that in a bit.
The football gods have all but handed the Detroit Lions the NFC North division title, and they are doing everything in their power to give it back. With the Bears and Packers both losing their starting quarterbacks this month, all Detroit had to do was beat the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers to maintain sole possession of first place in the division. Well, they didn’t, and now the Lions will host Green Bay on Thanksgiving with the division lead on the line.
Matt Stafford threw four interceptions. The last one bounced out off Calvin Johnson’s hands and was the dagger that effectively ended the game. Bucs rookie Mike Glennon outplayed Stafford throwing two touchdowns and 247 yards despite only 21 passes. Tampa’s defense held on late despite losing Darrelle Revis to a groin injury in the first half.
Somehow, the Bucs have survived MRSA infections, Josh Freeman, Greg Schiano and an 0-8 start to win three straight games and return to the realm of respectability. It’s too bad all that has to come to a screeching halt when they travel to Carolina next week to play the hottest team in football. It was fun while it lasted though.
For the second time in three games, Tony Romo marched his team down the field to score a last minute victory. This time it put the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East standings (they currently hold head-to-head tiebreaker with the Philadelphia). All roads seemingly lead to a Week 17 matchup with the Eagles in Dallas for Romo and company, and we’re either going to get to make a bunch of jokes and memes about Romo, or he’s going to shut us up like he did in this game.
The Giants came back from down 21-6 in the third quarter to tie the game with an Eli Manning touchdown pass and two point conversion with four minutes to go, keeping their hopes of going from 0-6 to the playoffs alive. That was short lived as on the final drive Romo threw two big third down passes to Dez Bryant – after Dallas had failed to convert a 3rd down for the previous three weeks – and eventually Dan Bailey kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired.
The Cowboys have a short week, as they’ll host the Raiders in their annual Thanksgiving game in Dallas. Depending on how fast Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler come back, the schedule looks very favorable for Dallas in December. But will “Mr. November” be able to get it done with two big division games to close out the season, or will we get to break out our memes again this year?
Words by J. Tinsley
– Alex Smith had 294 yards and three touchdowns, including what looked like the game-winner to Dwayne Bowe with less than 90 seconds left. Jamal Charles had 115 yards on only 14 carries. And Kansas City had 395 total yards of offense. That type of explosion would lead most to believe the Chiefs waltzed to victory rather easily. Wrong. Kansas City’s vaunted defense was nowhere to be found as Philip Rivers orchestrated one of the best one-minute drills you’ll see all season. His 26-yard toss to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds left put the game on ice and kept the Chargers’ playoff hopes alive with a 37-34 win. His celebration was pretty awesome, too.
– By now, the Texans and Falcons – both of whom were in their conference championships last season – should just fold the rest of the season and focus on landing as high a draft pick as humanly possible. Each sit on identical 2-9 records following divisional losses to Jacksonville and New Orleans.
– Speaking of Jacksonville, what the hell are you doing? Lose! Keep losing! Not win! Teddy Bridgewater depends on it.
– At 5-6, don’t look now but the Steelers are quietly attempting to weasel their way into the playoffs. A 27-11 win over the Browns helps that cause.
– Adrian Peterson and Eddie Lacy both had over 100 yards rushing, but Green Bay and Minnesota ended in a 26-26 tie. And somehow, the tie didn’t hurt the Packers as much because…
– As we Bansky highlighted earlier, Detroit fell in a stunner to Tampa Bay as did Chicago. Josh McCown and Brandon Marshall both had big days statistically, but St. Louis’ Benjamin Cunningham and Robert Quinn fourth quarter touchdowns turned a six-point Rams lead into a laugher 42-21. Thanksgiving’s Green Bay/Detroit game now holds a boatload of significance in terms of controlling a NFC North that appears as discombobulated as the NFC East.
– Carolina made it seven in a row with a 20-16 win over Miami highlighted by an impressive clutch drive with big plays from Cam Newton, Steve Smith and Greg Olsen. And on the topic of Cam, remember when Dwyane Wade hit a game-winner on the Bobcats last season and he and LeBron did the Superman celebration while Cam giggled from his court side seat? Well, turns out Heisman Newtown decided to repay the favor and do LeBron’s celebration (which LeBron got from Nick Van Exel).
– The Ravens beat the Jets 19-3. That’s about the best I’ve got from this game. Oh, this, too. Geno Smith is not a full-time regular NFL starter.
– Believe it or not, Titans/Raiders was a battle for the sixth and final AFC playoff sport. The Raiders messed around and let Ryan Fitzpatrick not only throw for 320 yards and two touchdowns, but throw the game-winning score to Kendall Wright with 10 seconds left in regulation. Tennessee skated away with the 23-19 victory.
– Ayo! The Arizona Cardinals are 7-4, riding a four-game winning streak and as of this very moment hold sole possession of the sixth and final spot in the playoffs (pending what San Francisco does tonight). They delivered haymaker after haymaker to the Colts ultimately securing a dominating 40-11 win that including 314 yards from Carson Palmer and two touchdown grabs from Larry Fitzgerald. Also, want to hear a joke? Trent Richardson had seven carries for 15 yards. One of those carries went for eight yards. Feel free to laugh, but just know those numbers are legit.
– Trust us, we desperately wanted to lead with this game, but it lasted longer than any of us expected. And we actually like getting a few hours of sleep, too. Despite that disclaimer, Broncos/Patriots instantly catapulted itself as one of 2013′s more exciting games. After spotting the Peyton and the Broncos a 24-0 lead, Sir Thomas Brady, Julian Edelman and the Broncos awoke in the second half to 31 unanswered points.
A late fourth-quarter drive from Denver culminated in a Peyton-to-Demariyus Thomas strike. The Patriots ended up winning 34-31 following Tony Carter mistakenly touching the ball on a Wes Welker called fair catch deep in Denver territory. Even in a loss, a big salute goes out to Knowshon Moreno for his 37 carries and 224 yards
But really, this was the highlight of the game.
Photos: Getty GIFs: Larry Brown Sports, Yahoo! Sports, Jose3030