Pro Football Recap- Week 15

Staff Writer

Thursday Night Football 12/11/14

Arizona (11-3) 12 @
St. Louis (6-8) 6

St. Louis came into the game red hot, outscoring their last two opponents 77-0. This game featured two of the best defenses in the league and was able to live up to the billing. St. Louis got on the board first thanks to a 24 yard field goal. Arizona was able to put their first points on the board thanks to a Tre Mason fumble set up Arizona with great field position. They drove 22 yards to set up a 23 yard field goal. Shortly after that, Arizona converted another field goal to close out the half. The second half was much of the same as Arizona scored another 2 field goals and St. Louis got one with 6 minutes left to make it a one possession game. When they got the ball back they couldn’t move it down field as they were unable to do so all game.

Pittsburgh (9-5) 27 @
Atlanta (5-9) 20

Pittsburgh came out strong jumping out to a 20-7 halftime lead. They connected on two field goals to cap long drives in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Pittsburgh’s William Gay intercepted Matt Ryan and had an electric 52 yard return for a touchdown. Matt Ryan would repent for his mistake before half; he drove Atlanta 85 yards for a touchdown. The scoring play was a 17 yard touchdown pass to Devin Hester. Pittsburgh would quickly respond by putting together a drive that finished when Le’Veon Bell punched the ball in the end zone from 1 yard out. Atlanta made the game closer in the 3rd when they put 2 field goals on the board to make it 20-13. Early in the 4th quarter each team traded a pair of touchdowns. Pittsburgh extended their lead on a Le’Veon Bell touchdown, while Matt Ryan responded with a touchdown pass to Roddy White. Pittsburgh was able to run the last 4:34 off the clock to close out the game. With the win, they were able to keep pace in the AFC North. They are ½ games behind the division leaders in Cincinnati. Atlanta falls out of first place in the NFC South with the loss. They can still clinch the division with 2 straight wins against division rivals Carolina and New Orleans.

Cincinnati (9-4-1) 30 @
Cleveland (7-7) 0

It was the much anticipated debut of Johnny Manziel at quarterback for Cleveland. The home crowd was extremely excited; however they left in sheer disappointment. Cincinnati scored early and often as they controlled the ball and the clock behind the strong running of rookie Running Back Jeremy Hill. Hill scored 2 touchdowns in the first half as his team jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead. Hill finished the game with 148 rushing yards. As for Manziel, he had a tough debut. He went 10-18 passing for 80 yards and 2 interceptions. He was also sacked 3 times. It was the first time Cleveland failed to put points on the board. This loss knocked them out of the playoff hunt while Cincinnati is sitting atop the AFC North division.

NYG (5-9) 24 vs
Washington (3-11) 13

Washington quarterback Colt McCoy reinjured his back early in the game forcing former first round pick Robert Griffin III back into the role he lost earlier in the year. He responded with an early touchdown pass that gave Washington a 10-7 lead. At the end of the first half, Griffin was looking to extend the lead when he dove for the end zone as time expired. While suspended in air, Griffin lost control of the ball and never regained it as he crossed the goal line. As a result, NYG was awarded a touchback for Griffin’s miscue. This call made by the refs angered members of the Washington offense who began to yell at the refs. They received a couple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties as they headed in for half time. WR Santana Moss was ejected for the language he used towards official Jeff Triplette. As a result, NYG kicked off the second half from the Washington 35 yard line. They tried an onside kick and recovered the ball at the Washington 17 yard line. This set up a field goal to tie the score at 10. After scoring 1 touchdown in the first half, Odell Beckham Jr. scored 2 more touchdowns in the second half to put the game out of reach. Beckham finished the day with 12 receptions for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns as NYG has now won 2 straight games.

New England (11-3) 41 vs
Miami (7-7) 13

New England came into the game looking to clinch the AFC East. They left little doubt as they crushed Miami. After a close first half that saw New England leading 14-13, New England blew the game wide open with flurry of scoring in the third quarter. Their opening drive ended on a LaGarrette Blount touchdown run. Rob Gronkowski got a 27 yard touchdown reception after a Miami turnover. Julian Edelman also received a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to make it 38-13 to end the third quarter. They salted the game away in the fourth quarter. They clinched the division and a spot in the playoffs. They are now looking for home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Kansas City (8-6) 31 vs
Oakland (2-12) 13

Kansas City was able to snap a 2 game losing streak to stay alive in the AFC playoff race. They scored in the first quarter on a De’Anthony Thomas 81 yard punt return. They took a 10-3 lead into half time. They put the game out of reach in the third quarter thanks to 3 touchdown drives. Knile Davis scored a 3 yard rushing touchdown to cap a 70 yard drive. After an Oakland turnover, Alex Smith connected with TE Travis Kelce for a 20 yard touchdown pass. Smith connected for another touchdown pass, this one was a 70 yarder to Knile Davis to put the game out of reach at 31-6. Oakland scored a touchdown with 34 seconds left to make the score look more respectable.

Indianapolis (10-4) 17 vs
Houston (7-7) 10

It was a defensive battle Sunday as Houston got a strong effort from their defense, but could muster little out of their offense. Houston opened the scoring when Kendrick Lewis picked off Andrew Luck and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown. Starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick got injured early in this game. This forced Tom Savage into the role for his first regular season action as an NFL player. He went 10-19 with 127 yards and 1 interception. Andrew Luck’s pair of second quarter touchdown passes to Hakeem Nicks and Dwayne Allen. The teams traded a couple fourth quarter field goals to close out the scoring. Tom Savage’s last effort proved to be fruitless as Indianapolis clinched the AFC South division for the second straight year.

Baltimore (9-5) 20 vs
Jacksonville (2-12) 12

Baltimore won ugly as they were able to keep pace in the tough AFC North. They opened up the scoring with a Kamar Allen 11 yard return off a blocked punt in the first quarter. Jacksonville would respond to take a 12-10 halftime lead behind 4 Josh Scobee field goals. Baltimore scored in the third quarter on an Owen Daniels 3 yard reception from Joe Flacco. Justin Tucker would later extend the lead on a 33 yard field goal with 1:11 in the game. Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense couldn’t move the ball as Baltimore sealed the win.

Buffalo (8-6) 21
Green Bay (10-4) 13

Buffalo’s defense gave Aaron Rodgers fits as he had his worst start of the year. Rodgers threw 2 interceptions in the game bringing his season total to 5. Buffalo got a strong effort from their special teams as kicker Dan Carpenter connected on 4 field goal attempts and Marcus Thigpen had a 75 yard punt return for a touchdown. Buffalo won despite an offense that only gained 253 yards on the day. Their defense was able to hold Aaron Rodgers to 17-42 passing for 185 yards. Buffalo sealed the game late in the fourth quarter. Leading 19-13, Green Bay got the ball back with just under 2 minutes left. On the first play, Mario Williams stripped Aaron Rodgers of the ball and the ball slid into the end zone where Eddie Lacy recovered it for a safety.

Carolina (5-8-1) 19
Tampa Bay (2-12) 17

Carolina got a solid spot start from QB Derek Anderson who filled in for Cam Newton. Newton injured his back in a car accident earlier in the week. He might be able to come back next week. Anderson threw for 277 yard and a touchdown. Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin combined for 215 yards of Anderson’s passing yards. Carolina also got a strong effort from kicker Graham Gano, who connected on 4 field goal tries. Tampa QB Josh McCown cut the score to 19-17 with a 16 yard touchdown run with 3:11 left. Tampa got the ball back late and ended the game when McCown was intercepted by Luke Kuechly as time expired.

NYJ (3-11) 16 @
Tennessee (2-12) 11

This game matched up two of the worst teams in the league. It was an overall pathetic display of 2 inept offenses. The score at half was 5-3 Tennessee. The score was a result of traded field goals and a safety when NYJ QB Geno Smith was called for intentional grounding while in the end zone. This pillow fight quickly turned into a brawl in the third quarter when Geno Smith got a cheap shot taken at him. NYJ took the lead late in the fourth quarter when Chris Ivory scored on a short touchdown run. Tennessee’s last ditch effort almost won them the game as they used multiple laterals to move the ball on the final play of the game. TE Delanie Walker was tackled at the 7 yard line to end the game.

Denver (11-3) 22 @
San Diego (8-6) 10

Denver clinched the AFC West for the third straight year with the victory. Denver was tough defensively as they held San Diego to 288 yards of offense and forced 2 turnovers. Denver also got 5 field goals from kicker Conner Barth. Their loan touchdown was scored on a Peyton Manning pass to Demaryius Thomas. Thomas had a great day as he caught 6 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. CJ Anderson also rushed for 85 yards for Denver.

Seattle (10-4) 17 vs
San Francisco (7-7) 7

Seattle knocked their bitter rivals out of playoff contention with the victory. San Francisco took a half time lead 7-3 thanks to a Frank Gore 10 yard touchdown run that finished an 11 play 85 yard drive. Seattle used the powerful running of Marshawn Lynch to take the lead in the second half. Lynch scored from 4 yards out as he finished the day with 91 rushing yards. They extended the lead on a drive that was extended thanks to a questionable roughing the quarterbacks call on San Francisco on a 3rd and long. Paul Richardson would cap the drive with his first career touchdown reception from Russell Wilson.

Detroit (10-4) vs
Minnesota (6-8) 14

Minnesota jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to touchdowns by Matt Asiata and a Teddy Bridgewater pass to Greg Jennings. Bridgewater finished the day with 315 yards passing, but did throw 2 interceptions. Matthew Stafford got the scoring started when he connected with Golden Tate on a 7 yard touchdown pass. The play was set up by a Bridgewater interception that was returned to the 11 yard line. On Bridgewater’s next passing attempt, he was again intercepted in his own territory again. This set up a Matt Prater field goal. In the second half with Minnesota up 14-13, Detroit blocked a 26 yard field goal to deny them from scoring. After the blocked field goal, Detroit drove 65 yards for set up the field goal that took the lead for good. The game ended when Blair Walsh missed a 68 yard field goal try for Minnesota. Detroit is now tied with Green Bay atop the NFC North, thanks to the Green Bay loss earlier in the day.

Game of the Week
Dallas (10-4) 38 @
Philadelphia (9-5)

Dallas came in looking to take sole possession of first place and ended up doing just that. Dallas took a commanding 21-0 lead early in the second quarter thanks to 2 touchdown receptions by Dez Bryant and a Demarco Murray touchdown run. Philadelphia came storming back to take a 24-21 lead in the third quarter behind a Dallas turnover and 3 short runs for touchdowns by Chris Polk and Darren Sproles. Murray and Bryant struck back for Dallas when they both scored touchdowns again in the 3rd and 4th quarter respectively. Cody Parkey’s field goal with 10:45 left cut the game to a 35-27, but a Dan Bailey field goal made it a 2 possession game with 4:37 left. Philadelphia’s undoing came thanks to 4 turnovers. Quarterback Mark Sanchez tossed 2 interceptions, while a couple of his receivers also lost fumbles.

Monday Night Football 12/15/14

New Orleans (6-8) 31 @
Chicago (5-9)

Coming into the game with the same record, Chicago is playing for next year while New Orleans is still in the playoff hunt thanks to being part of the weak NFC South division. After a scoreless first quarter, New Orleans got on the board in the first place of the second quarter with a Josh Hill 8 yard touchdown reception from Drew Brees. This touchdown capped a demonstrative 7 play 85 yard drive. New Orleans put together another long drive right before half time. This drive was 95 yards long and was capped by another Drew Brees touchdown. This time he connected with Marques Colston. New Orleans got the ball to start the second half and put together another long drive for a touchdown. Brees connected with Josh Hill once again for the score. Brees had a dominating performance in the cold Chicago weather. He went 29-36 passing for 375 yards and 3 touchdowns. His counterpart for Chicago, Jay Cutler, went 17-31 for 194 yards with 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Both of Cutlers touchdowns came in the 4th quarter, long after the game had been decided. New Orleans can now clinch a playoff spot next week with a win over Atlanta and a loss by Carolina.

Stats of the Week
· Tom Brady has won 43 straight home starts against AFC foes. His last home loss to an AFC foe? 2006 vs. NYJ.

· Kansas City’s receiving corps has not caught a touchdown pass this year. It has been over a calendar year since one of them has scored a receiving touchdown.

· San Francisco has been held to under 20 points in 7 of their last 8 games.