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Yates Leads Comeback-Houston isn’t supposed to pull off late-game comebacks, let alone win games with T.J. Yates at quarterback. But Yates did just that on Sunday as Houston clinched its first-ever playoff appearance with a, 20-19, victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Texans won their first AFC South title, thanks to Yates’ efforts on their final possession, a 13-play, 80-yard drive, including a 17-yard scramble by Yates on 3rd and 15 at Cincinnati’s 40. Yates will not be asked to do much with a two-headed monster in the backfield in Arian Foster and Ben Tate along with a top-tier defense. If Yates can provide Houston with even a smidge of balance on offense, Houston’s once-promising Super Bowl aspirations will seem more feasible.
Tebow’s World-By now you are all likely familiar with the weekly script the Denver Broncos have fed us during Tim Tebow’s tenure as starting quarterback. You know, the one where Tebow and Denver does little to nothing on offense all day, only to storm back late in the game when it seems like nothing more than a last-ditch effort. Except Tebow leads the unlikely comeback and Mile High rejoices after an unlikely Broncos win. Yet again, Denver had the ball down 10-0 with 4:34 left in the game. Tebow led the Broncos to their first score with 2:08 left in the game, trailing, 10-7. Even then, Chicago recovers the onside kick with no timeouts left on the Denver sideline. Best case scenario, Denver gets the ball deep in their territory with less than 20 seconds left. Marion Barber decides to run out of bounds and preserve an additional 40 seconds. Again, Tebow leads Denver down the field for the, wait for it, game-tying 59-yard field goal. Yes, 59 yards, albeit in Denver, but 59 yards is 59 yards. Once again, Chicago won the coin toss and had been closing in on field-goal range, only to give Denver the ball back as Barber fumbled on a run in which he looked headed for the end zone. We’ve yet to find an explanation for this seemingly divine intervention.
Eli, Romo, Save Giants Season-Losers of four straight, the New York Giants season hung in the balance as a loss to the Cowboys would’ve all but eliminated them. Eli Manning, a fourth-quarter specialist with 5 game-winning drives this season, was given life after Tony Romo was unable to seal the deal. With 2:25 remaining, Dallas was faced with a 3rd and 5 at their own 25. The Giants sent an all-out blitz, leaving single coverage on Dallas’ wide receivers. Miles Austin beat his man and had a clear path for a touchdown and the game-clincher, the dagger to New York’s season. Only thing was, Romo overthrew him, giving the Giants life. Manning did what he’s done all season, lead the Giants down the field in crunch time, giving New York the lead for good on a 6-play, 58-yard drive capped off by a Brandon Jacobs touchdown. Dallas lost in grand fashion, a failed field goal attempt for a second straight week as Dan Bailey’s attempt was blocked by Jason Pierre-Paul. Dallas’ late-game collapses are hard to explain, as this has become a trouble pattern for the Cowboys. One possible explanation: Dallas seeks LeBron for change of a dollar, leaving them with no fourth quarter.
Packers 13-0-The game became out of reach rather quickly, as Green Bay led, 31-0, midway through the second quarter. The offense remained its usual, productive self, but the defense was impressive, containing an Oakland Raiders unit that had become more proficient, albeit without several stars on offense. Green Bay avoided a major scare when Greg Jennings left the game with a knee injury. What was feared to be a torn MCL was only a sprain as Jennings will likely sit as Green Bay will have Jennings rest until their Divisional Round game. Since Green Bay clinches the top seed in the NFC with one more win, the only thing in question is the Packers pursuit of an undefeated season. Do they continue to pursue history while keeping everyone in rhythm, or do they rest players down the stretch to avoid potential injury scares? Stay tuned.
49ers Slip Against Cardinals-Up 19-7 midway through the third quarter, San Francisco seemed headed towards another victory while keeping pace with the Packers for the top seed in the NFC. Then San Francisco slipped up and got caught as Arizona stormed back for a, 21-19, upset win. A troubling game for the 49ers as they sat on a comfortable lead for most of the game and their defense failed to maintain it, against the Cardinals? When San Francisco fell behind and needed a score late in the game, Alex Smith and the 49ers offense stalled in the fourth quarter. It’s a troubling sign for San Francisco because with the potential to face teams like the Packers, Saints, or Giants, teams who can light up scoreboards, the defense is given little to no room for error with an offense that seems incapable of rallying late in games.
Jets Make It Look Easy-Granted, it was against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Jets look like they’re hitting their stride after a 37-10 romp. The blowout has to be taken with a grain of salt as Kansas City is 5-8 and not much of a challenge at this point of the season. On one Jets touchdown drive, the Chiefs were penalized five times for 81 yards. That being said, New York is rounding into form and may sneak into the playoffs after Oakland, Tennessee, and Cincinnati all lost Sunday, giving the Jets a one game lead for the final Wild Card spot with three weeks left.
Patriots Survive Redskins-More of the same from the Patriots, Tom Brady was Tom Terrific and Rob Gronkowski was impossible to bring down once more; on a 49-yard reception, DeAngelo Hall didn’t even try to tackle Gronkowski, he knew it was of no use. The defense, too, was more of the same, as they made Rex Grossman look like a viable starting quarterback. New England was bailed out by Santana Moss, as Washington was inside New England’s 10 with less than 2 minutes to go. Grossman hit Moss cutting across the field with a touch pass. Moss tried to haul it in, but inadvertently shoveled the pass to a New England defender who held on for the interception. Next up, the Denver Tebows.
Lions Hold On-A win is a win, but this one wasn’t Detroit’s most inspiring. Detroit kept pace with the rest of the NFC teams fighting for a Wild Card spot, with a 34-28 victory over the Vikings. The Lions actually led this game by 21 points, but allowed Minnesota to claw back into this game, as the Vikings were actually in position to pull off the comeback win. Minnesota had a 1st-and-Goal at Detroit’s 1 yard line, but Detroit held on, or got away with a no-call by the officials, depending on how you look at it. Joe Webb, who replaced Christian Ponder in the third quarter, fumbled after DeAndre Levy all but ripped off Webb’s facemask. How the officials missed that call, nobody knows, but the Lions will take it.
Chargers Rounding Into Form-Either the talk of losing his job sparked the team, or San Diego is up to its old tricks, turning up their play in December like they always do. Head Coach Norv Turner is looking to save his job, but it might be too little, too late. San Diego blew past Buffalo, 37-10, as Philip Rivers and the offense gave everyone what was to be expected on a weekly basis. The Chargers stand at 6-7, two games behind the Wild Card and the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. Had the Bears held on against Denver, San Diego would’ve been one game back. Unless Tebow and the Broncos fall flat on their face the final three games, San Diego will miss the playoffs and Turner will likely be gone.
Colts Lose, Again-There’s not much to say here, asides from Indianapolis ruining many bets with a backdoor cover, losing, 24-10. As for the Peyton Manning-Andrew Luck situation, good luck to having your cake and eating it too. If Manning is healthy and able to provide several more years of Hall-of-Fame ability, Indianapolis can’t trade him to see him possibly win a Super Bowl(s) elsewhere. Luck would definitely benefit from learning under one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But how long is he willing to sit and wait for his turn? We’re months away from this playing out, but what else is there to talk about regarding the Colts? They, are, atrocious.