Article Written By: Andre Datyelian
This NFL Sunday included wild weather, lots of touchdowns, and unfortunate injuries.
First off, condolences to those who were hoping that Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and/or Rob Gronkowski would lead them to victory in their fantasy football leagues.
The early games gifted us with a thriller between New England and Cleveland, where once again it looked like the Patriots were heading to a loss only to come back and win in the fourth quarter. With 1:01 left in the fourth quarter the Patriots scored two touchdowns. The first being a pass to Edelman for his second touchdown of the game, followed by a recovered onside kick and a drive where Amendola caught the game winning touchdown after not doing much early in the game. The game winning touchdown drive included a questionable pass interference call that put the Patriots at first and goal, although some may argue this was karma after the non-call at the end of the Carolina game a few weeks back. Speaking of that non-call, Rob Gronkowski suffered an injury early in the game that is believed to be a torn ACL, tough break for him, the Patriots and his fantasy owners.
Other thrillers in the early games included match-ups between the Steelers and Dolphins plus an unexpected great matchup between the Ravens and Vikings. The Steelers and Dolphins went back and forth most of the game and the difference ended up being Daniel Thomas having one of his better games of the season rushing after Lamar Miller went down with an injury, makes you think maybe this offense needs to feed one back more rather than split carries. The game ended with the Steelers trying to lateral their way to the end zone as the clock ran out and they would have scored if Antonio Brown didn’t slightly step out of bounds but instead Miami wins and keeps up for the wild card spot.
The Ravens also fighting to keep their wildcard spot had an intense game with the Vikings who surprisingly had a lot of fight in them even with Ponder out (not that he’s much better than Cassel) but also Adrian Peterson stepped out early due to an injury that looked pretty bad when it happened. Cassel made Greg Jennings look like the multi-year contract guy they thought he was and Cordarrelle Patterson look like the first round pick he is. Gerhart stepped up big time when Peterson went out and if he stays out longer Gerhart could get his chance to earn a bigger contract at the end of this season when he becomes a free agent. Even with this momentum all going the Vikings way they still failed to win as Joe Flacco went on to be the hero with rookie receiver Marlon Brown to win the game.
Other games of note included shootouts that ended up being one sided in Philadelphia between the Eagles and Lions plus a shootout in Cincinnati between the Colts and Bengals. The snowstorm in Philadelphia didn’t stop the Eagles offense as ‘Shady’ McCoy ran for over two hundred yard plus two touchdowns to lead his team to a victory. Although Calvin Johnson wasn’t injured he was a disappointment this week if you counted on him in fantasy because he was covered well, not by a corner, but rather by the snow. The Bengals owned the Colts at home and Dalton had three touchdowns spreading it around to Green, Jones, and Gresham for scores. Luck threw four touchdowns but it wasn’t enough as the Bengals won handily 42-28.
Other early games of less excitement included Green Bay winning over the Falcons in a close game to keep in the playoff hunt (remember when they won the Super Bowl they just snuck in on the last week). The Jets beat Oakland in a meaningless game that includes QB’s who probably won’t be starting for those teams next year. Tampa Bay dominated Buffalo as the Glennon project may manage to save Shiano’s job. Finally Kansas City continued to dominate and RG3 plus the rest of the Redskins continued to slump.
The afternoon games included a wonderful match between the Seahawks and Niners. The game included great defensive plus offensive plays. The Niners won with a strong run by Gore in the 4th quarter plus Phil Dawson’s leg and a late interception by the Niners to seal the victory. Also the Broncos faced off with the Titans who put up a better fight than expected. The Broncos won but the part that stuck out to me is how quickly everyone is ready to defend Peyton Manning and his play in cold weather. He had a great game and the weather was very frigid but does Manning really need everyone coming to his defense, he’s close to breaking the single season touchdown mark, that doesn’t sound like someone who needs a every announcer and writer telling him he’s great.
Meanwhile, Eli Manning on the other hand lost another game to the Chargers who keep their playoff hopes alive although dim with match ups against the Broncos and Chiefs coming up in the next three weeks. The Cardinals won a game where they showed off how great their defense is, because besides a long play by Tavon Austin, the Rams defense struggled to get scoring opportunities. Finally Sunday night ended with the Saints gaining control of their own fate to keep their first round bye in the playoffs. The Saints also showed why they need home field advantage as their offense looked unstoppable and Graham did what he always does, score touchdowns.